48% · Democracy · General

The Will

“The will of the people”, she says,

Though the UK is divided

As Brexit drills on, come what May,

Accords wrecked where lies decided

 

The will of the people;

But they do not serve us,

Pretending it feeble

As millions amass;

 

The will of the

Once Great Britain’s

Identity

March, London,

 

The will

Written in grey

Was never this oil spill,

“The will of the people,” she says.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Petition to Revoke Article 50 (reached over 5.5 million, so far)

Countless people waving EU flags and anti-Brexit banners as they march in London
MyLondon.News People’s Vote March

(Alternative Text: Countless people waving EU flags and anti-Brexit banners as they march in London)

Democracy · General

Madame Dictator

 

Madame Dictator, have you not heard

Your deal was voted down historically

And yet you resurrect the interred

Proposal repeatedly, delay after delay

Burning our security & democracy away,

 

Your office not conferred

By any political majority,

You do not listen to a word

From any, except, perhaps, the ERG

Who need an ECG

To find out if they have a heart

Because they seem intent

Only on ripping us apart,

 

But you, Madame Dictator,

Like a modern Bonaparte

Say you hear

But you do not!

Stirring up terror

By running down the clock,

 

Perhaps it’s said best by Andy Serkis;

Your attitude to this rambling failure

Akin to Gollum’s with his ‘precious’;

A gold that deserved the fires of Mordor

But instead you throw our futures in

To that furnace, knowing it will make this nation so much poorer

As the homeless line the streets and food bank ques get longer,

And the extremists get stronger

And injustices reign – those you said you’d bring to order

Yet you disengage to build walls of fire at our borders

And, as for climate change …

 

You focus only on Brexit

But do so without debate

Hushing up all the elected

Tying nation states up in red tape

 

More than

Two years!

Two years

And more!

 

In a cabal of your own

Prescribed parameters,

Your negotiations

In closed door deliberations

And perambulations

As you ignite more tensions

With another deadline gone,

I have literally lost count!

Every time you tell the Commons

There will be later debate

Then roll the calendar on;

The dates for meaningful votes

Eternally postponed,

Except that historic one

Where the deal was trodden on,

The same deal you resuscitate,

 

 

All the while that lie ‘secure and stable’

When there’s nothing on the table

And security service cutbacks

Coincide with terror attacks

And there is legislation against

Generations told to go back

To the commonwealth after decades of life and work in the UK,

So, just because they are black

You citizens to go away,

And now, will more Europeans face the same?

 

I visited Yalswood, while you were Home Secretary,

Children and women fearing their fate,

Caucasian guards, all black and ethnic minority

Detainees – I thought, mine is a racist state,

My friend was denied vital medicine

They took my prints before I could go in

The package of essentials I left

Was only passed on after five days,

She had to fight for legal representation,

Hers not an uncommon story,

I’ve known others, one girl just fourteen,

Britishness part of her identity –

Her humanity you refused to see,

 

How dare you, in self-righteous glory

Proclaim you understand democracy

If you can’t see their lives matter!

 

 

Now,

Your promises in tatters;

When you said you’d listen,

See how skilfully you didn’t,

Your cabinet found in contempt

Of our disjointed constitution,

 

This is wrong! The is so very wrong!

This is becoming authoritarian

And very, very, very dark!

 

You have polluted

“Safe and Secure”

“Meaningful”

“Democracy”

“Listening”

“Vote” –

 

All convoluted

By you

Until the words stick in my throat –

 

And you call this your mission;

To re- enforce your indecent proposition

After the worst historical democratic defeat in the entire history of any Westminster government!

All you are reinforcing are the fault lines of division,

 

And, for the record, I’m not impressed by Corbyn

So, please don’t read this as propaganda

For a weakly lead, anti-Semitic opposition,

Though I will state I’m firmly left of centre

This is less about sides and more concerned

With the slide towards totalitarianism,

 

Only idiots will say it is because you’re a woman,

Though they do, pouring on scorn

For all the agelessly wrong reasons,

As they try to make you dance,

Or comment on your complexion,

In this alone I come to your defence

Yet my complaints could fill a lexicon

From your term feeding hate in the Home Office

Displaying a personal distaste towards migration

To this cutting off of deliberation in Parliament,

It’s not gender defining each subverted action

So, I will not hold back because I’m a feminist;

 

I will call you Madame Dictator,

A title not up for discussion

Unless you decide to govern better

And return the dignities you’ve taken.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

Democracy · General

Unlock

Unlock

This deadlock

Of flailing democracy

Before we’re locked inside

A falling fortress time forgot

Half our number failing to perceive

We are becoming what we are not

A thing our future won’t believe

Warped by horrors of austerity

Fragmented by painful pride

Becoming dark histories

The public outcries

No alibis

For lies

Unmet

Needs

Breed

Crimes

Lines

                           At foodbanks to feed

Lives

                         Identities redefined

     Maligned

                                This is oppression’s seed

                               Partition and hypocrisy

                              Please heed and unlock

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · General

Those Who Build Walls; a Rondeau

 

“Those who build walls are their own prisoners.”

So Ursula K. Le Guin would tell us,

When I look at the world I see this truth

Where-ever our sense of freedom is skewed,

When our prejudice becomes our jailer,

 

Ramparts and barriers have hidden us;

We, captive creatures in a crazed circus

Slowly becoming that old spectacle;

Those who build walls,

 

We can, in large part, blame corrupt leaders

But, for their own power, they must heed us,

We’re our own saviours when we’ve got the gall

But we’re often both guards and criminals

Turning ourselves into the invaders;

Those who build walls.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Culture · Democracy · General

Truths in the Rough

Exit?

Exit what?

Exit our co-creation?

Exit equals mass confusion;

Exit means shut,

Exit Brexit;

Exit

This closing;

This sealing up;

This opening to chauvinism

This echoed forgetfulness,

This separatism,

This

Whispered fascism;

Whispered near borders,

Whispered corners of reason,

Whispered desolation over

Whispered orders,

Whispered

Truths emerge,

Truths are heard,

Truths are complex things,

Truths beyond words;

Truths examine

Truths.

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Culture · General · Personal

Once

I shared a Britain Europeans could call home

In the four decades my skin was called my own,

One day I’ll tell our Islands’ descendants

I shared a Britain Europeans could call home,

Before the dice of jeopardy was thrown

And all that amity was gone and done

In the four decades my skin was called my own,

I shared a Britain Europeans could call home.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

This is the second Triolet I’ve written in as many days, inspired by a challenge set by a wonderful poet whose diverse work can be seen at https://reowr.com/ . My first triolet was 48 Percent Life, which is perhaps a better poem structurally than my second attempt at this form, but I’m enjoying this particular type of poem.

Culture · Democracy · General

Governance

A question for 2019;

What does good governance mean?

Northern Ireland’s parliament is in shutdown

With Stormont in a chronic stalemate,

The default position is uneven centralism,

 

Then governmental stasis in the states,

Meaning more insecurity for North Americans

And every country to which they relate,

Democrats standing up to Trump’s Republicans

Who want them to collude and participate

In a wall built to keep out Mexicans,

A farce millions cannot contemplate,

 

In France, we see the rise of the Gilets Jaunes

Forcing Marcon into the Grand Debate

When riot police could not keep down

The protests; government could not dominate

With gas, batons or flash ball guns,

 

In Brazil, two extremes woo the electorate,

One saturated with corruption, in prison

Still claiming to be compassionate

Though in ten years the nation’s been driven

Into gross inequality, theft, violence,

Knifing the opposition, a man with a mission

But one who counts minorities as less,

 

While in a divided United Kingdom,

Parliament is in an almighty mess,

The cusp of leaving the European Union

Is marked with bilateral anguish

With no agreed, viable solution

To the much- disputed Brexit

Taking up all the air in the room

And consuming all other policies,

Amid worsening living conditions,

Ignoring individual and collective needs,

 

So, I return to my earlier question

About what all this says about democracy

And other forms of administration,

Problems echoed criss-cross countries

So often wrongly blamed on migration,

I see in each the patterns of plutocracy;

Of rights and voice defined by income,

Then, amid hardships, crises of identity

Leading to questioned certainties, divisions

And rife threats to human ties and societies,

Too often undermining the rights of minorities

In rising tides of nationalism,

 

There are examples of covert tyrannies;

Of leaders not resigning when they should

And other top dogs taking uncivil liberties

For their own or their tribe’s preferment,

Encouraging disillusion, discouraging diversity,

Increasing alienation and disenfranchisement

In national emergencies, too often political intent

Seems partisan, not meant to broker agreement,

 

In each case, as in others across continents,

Security is undermined by unstable employment

And people struggling for food, mortgage or rent,

In each case there’s a sense of restricted involvement

Of people in the workings of their government,

Often leading to questions on freedom of movement

When prejudices rise from the undercurrents,

 

In each case, mainstream media plays its part,

Directing direct democracy, or its proxy,

Sources of funding can fuel changes of heart

Affecting each story’s legitimacy,

 

While every situation is different,

Each wrought with seeming infinite complexity,

There seem to be patterns that are consistent;

The need for greater political transparency;

The need for engagement, informed consent

And protections against unreachable governance

Whatever the locale; whatever the distance,

Deficits of democracy are meeting resistance

 

Because deceptions and social disparities

Lead to inequality and festering grievance,

As uprisings against injustice lose clarity,

Destroyed by divide to rule philosophies

Made worse by the walls of isolationists,

 

Maybe this is a question for psychologists,

Maybe we’re either rebels or pragmatists,

Maybe we’re enigmas for archaeologists

Or evidence against climate change denialists,

Maybe we’re each authors of the crisis

Or targets for the powerful’s devices,

 

Whatever the truth of it is

We’re made stronger by who’s beside us,

Beyond cultures, faiths, ideologies,

The need to be heard by our leaders

Whether these lead councils, constituencies,

Countries or cross-national assemblies,

I do not have the answers

 

but

 

I believe this, we are strengthened by unities

And valuing ourselves and our fellow humans,

To embolden interconnected communities

With shared interests and empowered regions

Served by, not serving their parliamentarians.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · General · Remain

Blackmail

She May mean well

But this is blackmail,

After an epic fail

Which she ignores

To carry on

Just as before,

 

She will not move the ruddy lines

Or give the deal-making more time

Or take ‘no deal’ of the table,

‘blackmailer’, a suitable label

For such irresponsible

Holding to ransom

Of those elected by the people,

She’s inciting pandemonium,

Her way or no way at all

Is close to despotism,

Which is near to criminal

At this time of emergency,

With such a short interval,

To misuse the urgency

As political currency

To pass a dead deal

Come what May

It is not OK;

It is blackmail.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

48% · Culture · Democracy · General · Remain

Heptarchy

Once there were seven kingdoms

Of Anglo-Saxon dominance;

Anglia, Kent, Essex,

Mercia and Wessex

Northumbria and Sussex,

Before tenth century unification

Into what became old England,

But not yet it’s modern boundaries;

 

Seven realms called the heptarchy

Founded this new arrangement

Of central management, essentially,

I still see the relative estrangement

Of all other parts of the UK;

An incomplete enfranchisement

Underpins our other ‘unities’

Where heptarchic centricity holds sway,

When it is thought convenient,

To compromise lives, look the other way

And rip up fragile, vital peace agreements,

When some English MPs side-line or deny,

This feels true again today

When I watch Westminster Parliament;

Though I know some ministers care greatly,

The problems stretch out to such an extent

Blinkered thinking seems to be the generality;

 

Despite our interconnections culturally,

Despite interdependence economically,

Despite the shared need for security,

Old England is treated as a relative priority;

 

Northern Irish fears, questions and grievance,

Shelved in Brexit deals, not given real credence,

Indifference buttresses treating another’s existence

As subsidiary to our need for insurance,

Encouraging escalation in cross border violence,

The chance of peace lost is not a cost worth

The elusive ideal of so-called self-governance,

Northern Ireland threatened by the backstop

And an opening for conflict and social chaos,

The reason Westminster speaks of this at all? –

They need Northern Irish votes to seal the deal,

The Northern Ireland that voted to remain,

Where you can travel over to Ire by train,

Why would we trade this for either nation’s pain?

Precious and perilous the amity between men,

Paramilitaries on both sides still have guns,

Brexit can’t be allowed to become

Heptarchia; or a central England predilection

Provoking the smashing of any kingdom,

 

What of the Gibraltians?

98% chose Britain

Over being part of Spain,

Whilst staying fiercely European;

96% also voted to remain,

Will we squander this union?

Are they well protected by the plan –

Or will we treat their needs as alien,

Forgetting their realm in the kingdom;

The so-called United Kingdom?

Where is this debate in parliament?

Oh, I forgot, there isn’t one

Because Gibraltar has been given

No real part in any final decision,

This British Military Bastion

And bridge between continents

Neglected in isolationist vision

Loosed to the currents

Of selectively chosen ignorance,

 

Meanwhile Scotland speaks of a second referendum

To leave the United Kingdom

And stay in the European Union

Westminster promises for further devolution

Postponed season after season,

Amidst Westminster undemocratic deviations,

Scottish Parliament makes preparations

To build post- Brexit resilience for her population,

 

Then Wales and Cornwall, who both voted to leave,

Neither part of the old heptography –

Cornwall long outside English boundaries

Both long over-looked by Westminster priorities,

Treated as political minorities,

Suffering more than their portion of poverty,

Brexit was their sole opportunity

To question the balance of authority,

But was it the EU that was their enemy –

Or the swing of an English majority?

 

What of the Cornish Isles of Scilly?

What of the Scottish Outer Hebrides?

These small communities

Surrounded by sea

With unique histories

And identities

Sometimes as close

To other countries,

Will their ferries and boats

Still move just as freely?

If the answer is ‘no’

‘Hopefully’ or only ‘Ideally’

How can Westminster vote

For such uncertainty?

 

Certain Northern realms and principalities

Long divided into modern counties

Whose borders blurred over centuries

Can be heard by Westminster to a lesser degree,

 

Of the others caught in the undertow,

The fourteen ‘Crown Dependencies’

Not permitted a vote,

How does this affect their families

Safety, economy and futurity?

 

The nations termed ‘Balliwicks’

From the root-word meaning ‘bailiff’,

Once seen as empire’s colonies,

Now proudly autonomous countries,

Yet still, in some complex way legally

Described as British Territories,

Making us ask what Britain really is,

For we share more than a monarchy;

Our Brexit deal with affect their populace

Yet where are their representatives in this?

 

Many of these relationships interlaced

With the family now called Commonwealth

Striving for more parity to be embraced –

Though some do call it theft by stealth

My hope is in its a partnering in trials faced –

A hope for those by climate change threatened,

By drought, war, tides or floods displaced,

That help does come from a community of nations,

A harsh Brexit winter could require such grace

But do we consider their needs in our calculations?

 

How often is apparent worth computed by race?

 

Former realms and current friends in

North and South Atlantic,

Africa, the Indian Ocean

Antarctica and the Pacific

Many with the flag on Britain

Making part of their own flag,

Of our commonwealth cousins

Our mates in Australia

And New Zealand –

Among the closest we have

Despite the distance,

 

They’ve been there for us

Like our kin in India and Pakistan,

Side by side through war’s tumult

Yet here Asian citizens

Are too often thrown insults

 

Here, seeming Anglo-Saxons

Appear treated as higher status

Than those whose origin is thought Celt,

But Caucasian Brits get preference

To almost everybody else,

 

Many nations in the Caribbean

Whose Windrushers rushed to assist

Us in modern Britain’s darkest time,

With them, Britain rose like a phoenix,

 

Then there is land used by our armed forces

Like Akrotiri and Dhekelia –

British Territories in Cyprus,

Names to most Britons, unfamiliar,

Our deal affects Cyprian neighbours,

Do we properly consider this?

 

Last but the opposite of least

Guernsey, Jersey, The Ise of Man –

How do each fit with us with Brexit?

Beyond issues of customs and taxes

Are interlinked histories and narratives

And our dependence on dependencies,

 

If we are to make a truth of the promise

That we will be secure and stable,

Westminster must be far more inclusive

About who sits around negotiating tables

For any Brexit deal to be persuasive –

Or, frankly even workable,

Because there is a fact that is pervasive –

The biggest threats are global

As are families, communities, friendships,

Many opportunities and goals,

A poor deal will tear us all to bits

As we see local groups and businesses

More consumed by trans-national corporations

Whose size and power are bigger than nations,

So, outside nostalgic heptarchic fantasies

People need states to work in collaboration

To find balance sovereignty and union

Because raising the drawbridge is no solution,

 

As I write this, I hope Brexit won’t happen –

I identify as ardently British-European

And do not think we’ve found a deal

That anyone could call a solid foundation,

But whatever is to come we have to get real –

Customs becoming insular will diminish Britain

And that narrowing would be beyond geographical.

 

Once there were seven kingdoms

Who, realising division made them vulnerable,

Banded together to form England,

Like Scottish Clans, the benefits considerable,

Now we risk all unions,

Yet, if we understand each relationship has value

Then horizons can expand

While our societies become more sustainable

And personal and communal sovereignty

Becomes a wee bit more attainable.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

48% · Democracy · General · Remain

Sovereign State of Stupidity

 

First you notice the bare shop shelves,

And thank the lord you stocked up on tins,

You nip in to your nan’s, who doesn’t look well

To make sure she’s got enough in,

Her homecare was cut, so she fell,

16hrs waiting for her to be seen,

 

The news says the country is going to hell,

But who’s still got time for such things

When your travelling daughter calls you to yell

That they’ve cancelled all fights home from Turin,

 

When you went for a meal on a Saturday night,

The pizza place was closed, a curry palace alight,

You hope those who were inside are alright,

There seems to be even more crime on the streets

And you miss the old, old days of bobbies on the beat,

 

The family complain there’s so little to eat,

There’s no fish in the chippy, the docks lie empty

While ministers mangle deals for our fisheries,

Embargoes on veggie meals and most gluten free –

On anything from Sweden to Malta, Denmark to Cyprus,

There’s no Belgium waffles, no sugar for tea,

Who knew they packaged it in Hungary?

 

The neighbours’ children asked why Santa hadn’t been,

His mum said he was stopped at the border and couldn’t get in,

 

Amidst the rising theft and violence

If leaver’s turn to me and shout

How none of this makes sense

I’ll tell them, they let the monsters out,

 

The racists and extremists lurking in the darkness

Given an excuse for their worst excesses,

And it will seem like too many couldn’t care less

As we deal with vicious cuts to basic services;

Services like education, care, police, the NHS,

Charities, social work and security forces,

While small businesses fail because no one invests,

Farmers nosedive as they lose EU subsidies

Ailes empty in local grocers and supermarkets,

Welcome to the Sovereign State of Stupidity,

 

The Ports near closed, food nor people make it through,

When we limit free movement, we limit ours too,

Make ghost towns of Gatwick, Luton, Heathrow,

Stopping freights and ferries from Grimsby to Glasgow,

Perhaps the one temporary winner is the Ozone

 

But too many are hungry, jobless

With dwindling hope and no home,

Too many drained and feeling useless,

No one lives in the house next door;

The bitter irony is priceless,

Without immigrants we are too poor

To handle the housing crisis,

We don’t have their taxes anymore

And homelessness persists,

As wages freeze and prices soar,

Corporations still getting rich,

Less staff on the tills, fat cats on the board,

While young and old crouch by the doors

Of houses and flats so few can afford,

 

Medicine stockpiled, or not getting through,

Prescriptions unavailable, costs sky high,

Surgeries cancelled again as they lengthen the que,

The terrible truth; avoidable pain while the saveable die

And this won’t be eased by anti-migrant curses

When we’ve sent away half the doctors and nurses

Because some of them ‘weren’t from round here’

Or due to funding cuts and restricted resources

While the national debt gets ever heavier

As we pay for twenty-seven national divorces,

 

But gone too are those politicians’ excuses,

Having stocked fires of xenophobic fear,

Those they made stooges for the bruises

Fought back, moved on or disappeared

And most of us miss them and want them here,

 

Don’t blame Europeans or the world, or raise your fists,

Or say it’s all down to EU politics, or just the way it is,

Don’t look to the financiers – they warned us of this,

There were warning signs half the nation chose to miss,

 

So many feel betrayed, denied,

From Belfast, Edinburgh, Gibraltar

We watch as the United Kingdom divides

And pray to God by every name there won’t be war,

Due to fragile peace accords we all but undid

And the callousness we cannot alter

Towards international people who work, live

Study, give and made this nation prosper

Who we treated with distrust, deceit, conceit,

To be really frank, we should’ve known better,

In 1945 we celebrated a fascist defeat –

 

Tantrums saying we expected more

Or this wasn’t what leavers voted for

Won’t help us dig out of the embers,

The EU can’t be wholly criticised

For favouring its members,

I think many member nations tried

To compromise when Brexiters

Just wanted the UK to sever,

But we were stronger together,

 

We are now a third party

Made to follow others’ rules,

 

Desperate people conjure enemies;

All the usual suspects accused,

Amid rising hate crimes and bigotry

As we see a breakdown in society’s rules,

Muslim women harassed in the street

And black children openly bullied in school,

Old prejudices becoming less and less discrete

Of course, some twits will blame Jews

Imagining a grand conspiracy

Though there are no facts to back up their views

And things are made worse by such idiocy,

 

The protections for people with disabilities,

The care for the immobile, ill or elderly,

The ongoing research into curing diseases,

All of it slows down, some of it freezes,

 

Fuel prices higher as they sponsor fracking,

Energy crisis, environmental backtracking,

Wildlife and eco charities losing their backing

We can’t quite believe it, but it’s happening,

We seem to be self-governing our nation collapsing,

As the globe faces the task of a massive remapping,

 

All hale the farce made of democracy,

We are autonomous citizens of hypocrisy.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

(A poem about a worst-case scenario Brexit Britain. I do have more cheery poems too, like ‘Fa La La; a protest song to the tune of Deck the Halls )

Democracy · General · Remain

Contempt

May this contempt;

This contempt of parliament

And more, this contempt

Of democratic procedure,

This contempt of our country,

A United Kingdom; a continent,

Of all here now and here before;

This contempt of everything built

To encourage, protect and ensure

A relative peace taken for granted

We mostly enjoy with neighbours

On nearby shores;

This contempt of the health service

Founded after and because

Of the aftermath of two world wars,

This contempt of millions of workers

Who strive all hours but can’t afford homes;

Struggling parents, low-income earners

Sold lies or made into scapegoats,

Contempt of employees and entrepreneurs,

Including those

Who pay tax but cannot vote;

Those hated, spited as foreigners

And usurpers, even though

Money is not stolen by migrants,

It is the powerful few

Who guard the greatest percent

Of almost every nation’s revenue

And it’s clear most of them

Have not got the smallest clue

Or else were never taught

What duty or honour meant,

Those who place risk over value,

Those who do not know

That integrity, as well as a virtue,

Is now an economic and social essential,

 

Yes, it is contempt of this; contempt,

Forgetting foodbank ques,

Front bench MPs attempt

To push and bully through

A defective Brexit agreement

Whilst concealing the torch of truth

That our Attorney General lent;

 

It is this contempt of parliament;

And thus, contempt of the people

By leading officials in our government

Who would, it seems, mislead us all

In not providing the full legal document

Detailing all actual and potential pitfalls,

It’s disrespect, historic and inexcusable,

 

It is such contempt

That sets a mine beneath Big Ben,

Such deceptions are time ill spent

In arrogance, in acts

Against its citizens

By withholding facts

From those elected to represent,

 

Eight hundred years ago

They drew up a democratic template,

Adding layers along the road;

The foundation of a constitution

But one without a code,

One we have erected our rights upon,

One we’ve seen expand, sow, steal, erode,

Across times, under a mass of hands,

Now, time ticks like a bomb about to explode,

Shattering the security of millions,

 

During the aeon in which the clock tower stands

Have we ever known contempt like this?

MPs from six parties have raised the alarm

Because this goes beyond party politics,

Beyond any rebellion chief-whips could calm,

MPs being strong-armed with a fait accompli,

Denied the agreed legal information,

This contempt, this duplicity, this deceit

Would make not only any EU negotiation

A total mockery, it achieves the feet

Of ridiculing democratic and diplomatic relations,

 

Three times in an hour the proposed deal met defeat,

And so, amidst the conceit, disorder and disrespect

A seed on the winds of consternation;

A rebellion against the corruption of condescension

As the threads of democracy held on

Despite the government taking contempt

To an unprecedented dimension

In the debates of what makes Britain,

 

And Big Ben beats on,

And one day this too will be written;

The racism of some won’t be hidden;

The blinkeredness, short-termism,

Fear, isolationism that makes us alien

To each other and ourselves,

The panic buys, the empty shelves

Will fill tomorrow’s archives,

 

But the story is not yet finished

Our nation’s future can survive

As long as influencers don’t forget

The final draft is not complete,

What will historians ascertain

About this world-shifting week?

 

If we do not bow to contempt

That confuses authoritarian

With authoritative –

If principles don’t break under the strain

Of the rigid and didactic,

 

Almost half we voters voted to remain

And the sane who didn’t

Still did not vote for this.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

Democracy · General · Remain

Lullaby to Democracy; 3,500 Troops

Broken UnionLullaby to democracy,

3,500 troops,

Germany in the 1930s

Or Britain very soon?

 

The menace of martial law

Is the opposite of sovereignty

As we close the door

On civil liberties,

 

Like the right to protest,

Did any soldier join the military

To enforce this mess; this chaos

Or to carry their guns in our cities?

 

Young soldiers could not believe

We could conceive of this,

For the 52%, most of them deceived,

Who went to the ballot box

And voted to leave,

 

This is a ticking bomb, set

By our undemocratic government,

Who are using our military as a threat,

To push forward a dangerous agreement;

The clock ticking on a month’s postponement

In which they’ve gagged the rest of parliament,

 

“Quick, quick,”

The cabinet say,

Tick, Tock, Tick,

As time races away

On the fuse they lit,

 

Silencing calls for a people’s vote

As the populace turns against Brexit

And the government says “No”

To us choosing not to exit.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · Festive Protest Songs · General · Remain

Better Watch Out

This one is written in the horror of knowing a homeless person was set on fire in their sleeping bag in our city. It is part of a wave of rising abuse. I wrote the song to the tune of ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ – I’ve always found the original words a bit sinister. I’m aware the verse would scan better if I’d written ‘The Alt Right’ instead of Far-Righters but I don’t see them as ‘alternative’.  This poem comes with strong trigger warnings.

 

You better watch out, you better not cry
Don’t sit this one out, I’m telling you why, cause
Far-righters are coming to town
They bankrolled Brexit, spreading its worst lies
They’ve got no reason or alibis, cause
Far-righters are coming to town

They burn homeless men while sleeping
Then record it all on tape
They’re terrorising neighbourhoods
With their mates the KKK!

 

[Chorus]
You better watch out, you better not cry
Don’t sit this one out, I’m telling you why, cause
Far-righters are coming to town.


We’re gonna resist with all of our might
Cause we still believe in the worth of each life,

But far-righters are coming to town.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

48% · Culture · Democracy · General · Remain

Windrush

This one’s for citizens who came on ‘Windrush’;

The generations that generated renewal

During and after the war, first dying in service,

Then more came to help rebuild, refuel,

Re-spark, here at the birth of the NHS,

Facing xenophobes, teddy boys, racists,

 

Yet ‘they’ are not ‘them’ but part of us,

Bought from across the Commonwealth,

And now, how can we expect their exodus?

It seems like ethnic cleansing by stealth,

Where history is bleached out; whitewashed

Until a nation perverts and destroys itself,

 

Every single Britain is a child of multiple migrations;

Our ancestors came in need, greed, fight or trade

Through millennia of voluntary or enforced relocations;

By discovery, captivity, by each road built, each stone laid,

Windrushers are the same, they came by invitation

Not by blade, treated as if the latest to invade,

Despite being part of our heartbeat, post devastation

In a shell-shocked, rationed kingdom, so we began again,

 

How soon civil rights, so hard won, seem stolen away;

As memories fade, bigotry plays on a loop, ingrained

But not innate, division is not fate but a kind of decay;

A deep rot that sets in when instability reigns,

We less aware of our internal struggles than the USA,

Of the grit it must have taken for Windrushers to stay,

Make this the land of their children’s, children’s, children,

When racism was not recognised as the crime it is today

And race riots began in Birmingham, Kensington, Brixton,

 

Many black citizens couldn’t vote or have their say

Until the British Nationality Act of 1981,

Yet black and ethnic minorities continued on, unfazed,

Discrimination was further written into institutions

Over decades bias lost battles, but was never erased,

Prejudice a virus, sometimes contained, rarely gone,

Now, in a separatist world, white-supremacist crusades

Are launched by government; an act of extremism,

A fictional homegrown enemy, House of Commons made;

Ministers like missiles misfiring, misdirected missions

Against longstanding citizens, a bill that spits on graves

Of war heroes, workers, scholars, in bloody amputations

Treating pioneers and entrepreneurs like discarded slaves,

 

These inhabitants who have enriched all known occupations,

These families, this part of our communally nourished culture;

Part of the whole, of ourselves, amid dire Brexit negotiations

These tax-payers now among those described as ‘the other’,

Look Britain, see how many are subject to alienation

Let’s ask ourselves this, do we want a fascist future;

A future of white-centric, little Island isolation?

Commonwealth nations once gathered to deter

A powerful regime of murderous oppression,

Beside world-wide allies, enduring together,

 

Then, with past foes, we birthed new protections

For peace and human dignities for many, forever,

Now, while many gains are squandered by negation

We open doors wide to every antique phobia;

To radical cultural and racial discriminations,

Alongside nationalistic anti-European patter,

And blinkered, blanket anti-immigration,

Irrational rhetoric, as fat cats get fatter,

Fed by rising injustices and violations,

Hidden by resulting clamour and chatter

Racists take advantage of mass confusion,

 

We forget yet again that black lives matter,

Backing people into traps of self-justification

As they are forced once more to strive

For all covered by the human rights declaration;

Home, country, community all potentially denied,

Policies of exclusion contrive new manifestations,

As if for some it is a crime to simply be alive,

We needed Windrush to swell a ravaged population,

Against the odds, they and their descendants thrived,

Yet they’re deprived of protections of patriation

As if being punished because they survived.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · General

les gilets jaunes

 

 

It starts as a quiet revolution

In bright jackets; les gilets jaunes

dissenting escalating taxation

overseen by President Macron,

 

they took to the streets

in yellow vests, to protest

tax breaks for the very rich,

and broken by tax for the rest,

 

so, France took to her feet,

a woman spoke of solidarity

where all faiths and cultures meet,

supporters included the police,

 

they gathered to talk and eat;

lifted out of their despair

by friends they never thought to meet

and change you could taste in the air,

 

but then the riots,

attacking people’s cars,

homes, small businesses –

a few people gone way too far

as the world witnesses

 

and the peaceful gilet jaunes

say the violent are not ours

and now police have batons

and the night is full of fire,

 

and then the man with a gun

in Strasburg Christmas market,

not one of the gillet jaunes;

the gunman called ‘Algerian terrorist’

 

on the television

in world media release,

all we know for certain

is the death of innocents,

 

a murderer; a chaotic, cold assassin

who broke lives and prayers of peace,

and the gillet jaunes forced to stay in

at the military presence speedy increase,

 

but they cannot find him;

every security service

seeks a known man on the run

and, for now, the yellow vests

go home until the mourning’s done.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

(a poem of solidarity across borders. I’m still European as well as British)

48% · Culture · General

I Love Britain

 

 

I love Britain,

I love British tradition,

The cuppa that heals everything,

From an Asian plantation,

Sweetened by sugar from African

Or South American origin,

 

I love Britain,

I love British tradition,

Curry, pizza or kebab

Welcomes our weekend in,

Making hearts glad

With beer from Belgium

Or wine from many lands

 

As we watch Strictly Come Dancing

With multi-national contestants

Pairing, befriending, competing

For the nation’s entertainment,

 

This is Britain,

This is British tradition,

Mutual international influence,

Yet idiosyncratic, different,

Built by eons of immigrants,

Like an ancient Scottish clan

With ancestry from France

Or Gaul, Scandinavia, and Ireland,

 

And yes, we must support

Local businesses when we can,

Like the British institution, Betty’s,

A Yorkshire tea room

Started by a man from Switzerland,

 

Yes, we need good local economies,

The world has limits to how we expand,

Supporting diverse, local communities

Doesn’t require any racist grandstand,

Just choosing small and medium enterprises,

When we can, makes a massive difference,

 

I often hear about the Battle of Britain,

One of our chronicles of World War Two,

In which our forebears defended freedom;

Fought off fascism, kept our cool,

 

Many of our pilots came from Poland,

A fact too few British people knew,

Like Gurkhas who helped guard our islands

And Caribbean kin who came to the rescue

from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago …

To protect, help feed and rebuild too,

Joining a multitude of homegrown heroes,

All of whom I feel I owe my life to,

 

I love Britain,

I love British tradition,

English, a tongue to many nations

By friendship or by trade,

Imperialism and crusade;

The world map changed by past decisions,

Bright discoveries, grim slave trade

And controversial Christian missions,

A full mix in which Britain stole and gave,

 

We bade the world come in

Because we were built by empire,

Our culture of symbiotic derivation

Forged by families who’ve walked through fire,

 

Britain, my nation, who I love and question,

For there are histories that pain me

And facts glossed over, side-lined or forgotten,

Our stories are often written to deny diversity,

The lie that we were all white ‘til recent generations

Is typical to a certain kind of British duplicity,

The best of us is not reflected by Nelson’s Column,

 

Ask who built the streets and towers of our cities

For they came from everywhere and here,

Ask who harvested this spring’s British strawberries,

The same answer booms out loud and clear,

 

I love Britain,

I love British tradition

But too often we’ve no idea

Who we are.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

48% · Democracy · General · Personal · Remain

One of the Underground Union

Hello All,

Welcome to a poetry site dedicated to the 48% of the UK who voted ‘Remain’ in 2016 and still believe and to the EU and world citizens who are too often scapegoated by politicians simply because they cannot vote, so are an easy target. Likewise, it is dedicated to those who were too young to vote for the shape of their futures.  If you voted ‘leave’ but radically changed your mind you are just as welcome, though may find one or two of my poems triggering.

I was heavily involved in politics up until a few years ago and have always been a bit of a writer and poet. I live with a complex collection of disabilities which make going on marches for me presently out of the question. This is my march.

Feel free to share. Please excuse the fact some comments are closed, I’m simply protecting myself from abuse from the few those who use the small Brexit majority as an excuse for all kinds of extremism and hate. (A few times bitten, you learn that lesson.)

I hope you enjoy the poems. Even more importantly I hope you, whoever you are and where-ever you come from, find the best way through this political chaos for you and all you care about. Remember, we’re still stronger together and you are not alone.

Antonia