Culture · General · Personal

Gone

Gone are the days of princesses
and nights in shining armor;
My love, this is England now
In the daze of fares selling fair ethics,
Where knights slaughter sacred cows
Amid rued lives, dignities and businesses
In rude awakenings, fresh grievances
And very little honour towards neighbours,
In a winter that does not seem to pause
A dog sleeping in a doorway chews his paws;
The mighty say we choose this,
A lax hypothesis for half choices based on lies,
Lack breeds homelessness in familiar lanes;
A city’s slow demise in the ice where lives have lain.

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

The first two lines of this poem were a prompt from poet Sonya Annita Song which in turn reminded me of the haunting Sinead O’Connor song ‘Black Boys on Mopeds’. The content is inspired by things I have recently seen.

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

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

The Bell and Drum

Beneath old towers of golden stone

The clanging bell, the thump of drum,

Where an ageless river flows;

Protesters come, flags are flown

Of unions caught in the undertow,

 

People have gathered together

In clamorous amalgamation,

Side by side in the bitter weather

In hope, in fury, in confusion,

Equal and opposite in their fervour

For union or nationalism;

Those who see our saviour

In a second referendum,

Those who want Westminster

To deliver the sworn unicorn

And those who’d just prefer

This Brexit business done,

 

The noise, and then the hush

As the crowds wait and listen

In that huddled crush

For parliament’s decision,

 

As the bells peel

I worry with millions

That there be a no deal;

An incalculable burden

Leading to more poverty,

Inequality, social division

Affecting the majority,

 

A bad deal garners historic defeat

As the drum beats

The hearts on the street,

I wonder what consensus

Parliament could meet

That would guard and represent us,

 

If cabinet chose only to outreach

To Brexiteer extremists in their party

Ensuring May’s red lines aren’t breached

In the name of the mock democracy

Her impassable processes preached,

 

While Labour refuses doors to dialogue

A far-right Brexit seems a possibility,

Corbyn in apparent stasis, his own voice vague,

I fear a worse deal passed by united Tories;

For a path to ruin to be laid

The percentage win need only be tiny,

 

Let me be as clear as the tolling bell

I’ve wanted passionately to remain,

That hope by a minor margin fell,

Now, uncertainty and frustration reign,

Disintegrating realms, unforgivable

That all this will cause us all more pain,

 

We could say the Brexit project’s failed;

For millions of us, this would be preferable,

But other millions would feel their voice curtailed

And we must think of them as well;

Not the bigotry and isolationism

Within the leaver’s swell

Nor notions driven by racism

Which we must quell,

But the inherent criticism

Of governance being too central,

Distant, too far from them;

Too absent in their struggles;

Seemingly devoid of realism;

Aloof in the face of their troubles,

Those who work beneath Big Ben

Can sometimes seem the most remote,

But the EU has been condemned

By those who see the ocean as a moat

And invasion in each boat or plane;

Who’ve been sold the scapegoat

To explain what’s hard to frame;

 

Hidden in many leaver’s votes

Was a broad, nebulous rejection

Of the status quo,

We need a proper constitution

Yet those negotiations closed,

We traded thoughts of UK devolution;

Of proactive regions within a whole;

Brexit offered as an alternative solution,

Yet, in all the to and fro,

Scarlet barricades and preconditions

There is one thing all this shows;

Lack of transparency in political decisions;

A deficit we cannot afford

On the benches of our House of Commons,

Our crises don’t begin in Brussels or Strasburg,

The problem has long been born at home;

Our economy, among the most centralised in the world,

Witnessing widening gaps in people’s income,

The EU used a stooge, Westminster failings ignored,

As the drum thunders and the bell chimes

To conundrums and discord,

Facing divorce fees or severing fines –

Our futures hanging on a word,

Too much not agreed, too much undefined

And all of us calling out to be assured

In these troubling, world-shifting times,

While we, like collecting dew, are poured

Into the flow of the leaden Thames,

 

If  we go ahead, we need a far softer line

To protect our kingdom’s unions,

Our security, our peace, and the rights

Of our UK and international citizens,

To guard investments and keep in sight

Our shared intercontinental ambitions,

Cross-border threats to climate

And the need for social protections,

But the hour is getting late

As debates continue into the night

And we watch others write our fate

As deals fall in the dwindling light.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · Festive Protest Songs · General

What the Dickens? – A Christmas Carol Revisited

 

What the Dickens is this?

As parliament breaks up for Christmas

We are visited by the ghosts of promises;

As Brexit consumes the policies

Once pledged to deal with ‘burning injustices’,

 

The ghost of past oaths and assurances

To tackle rouge bailiffs and rip-off leases

Are abandoned as inequality advances;

See the ghosts to be crouched on cold streets,

Lives, not just statistics in rising homelessness,

 

The ghost of past undertakings and vows

To confront domestic violence, here and now

With electronic tags for known offenders

And forced rehab for abusive substance users,

How many victims are no longer with us

Since broken pacts to protect survivors?

 

Ghosts of lawful guarantees to defend us

In the word they gave they’d shield workers

From still legal wage-theft by some businesses,

People treated like those caged wild creatures

Still allowed to be trapped in certain circuses,

 

As the cabinet prepares to sleep this December 24th,

May they hear the howling wind knocking at their doors

And see the ghost of now, shades of what came before

And the spectre of the future if they don’t change course.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

General · Remain

My NHS

i laugh at falling;

so i laugh often,

my spirit strong,

my body broken,

my breathing,

my movement

dependant on medicines,

that may not make it through

with a bad Brexit or a no deal,

i have specific needs for food,

i fear their obstruction on route

as blockades slow the turning of the wheel,

and prices rise with extra duties,

the threat to the chronically ill, the elderly

and those labeled disabled is all too real,

i have lived with disabilities

for nearly four decades,

but extra barriers disabled me

in unspeakable ways,

there are millions reliant on meds, like me,

those with asthma or diabetes,

melanoma, DVT,

depression and anxiety –

the conditions are plenty

and so must be the treatments

for all of us

from a health service

free for ALL at the point of delivery;

The NHS.

 

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

General · Personal

In the Air

 

 

8am,

The grieving wind

And sirens in the air,

An icy 18th of December,

The future forecast

Still nebulous; unclear

As destitution stings

The atmosphere

And each gust calls

Like an anguished mother,

Where do we go from here?

 

Then, through the thin walls,

The chimes of a child’s laughter

And my heart hurdles to my throat

In that breath and beat of hope.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch