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 )

Culture · Democracy · General

Without Representation

Tax without representation equals tyranny;

This was a grievance in the seventeen-sixties

Across thirteen American Colonies

Whose governance came from across seas,

Remote, unresponsive to necessities

They could not heed, and so cried liberty,

For to pay yet be muzzled is to suffer cruelty,

 

This became a seed of the revolution;

For tax must be money taken from citizens

For the betterment of community and nation

Not a cyphering or selective elevation

Of one group requiring others’ humiliation,

 

To take taxes from persons with zero say

In how their money’s used is autocracy;

An absolutism keeping justice at bay

Until people cried, “We won’t pay

To have our voice or home taken away,

We won’t subsidise being silenced.”

 

Later, in another century, women cried this too;

Or at least the wealthy, unmarried or widowed

Women with means, numbering only a few,

Less than four decades since wedded women knew

The right to own any property or money; to accrue

Or keep inheritance or wages, never mind a view,

 

But although they had no say in how it was spent

They were legally bound to pay tax to a Parliament,

That might as well have been on another continent

For how much it heard, saw or represented them

Or any women, for it was a male ego Bastian

That sought to retain unilateral male dominance,

Where men owned wives’ bodies, owned children,

Where women’s sole fortune was a kind man,

Where the death of a cruel one was petty treason,

Where women were thought to have no sense or reason,

 

Those times are (mostly) gone,

In many but not all ways

We have moved on,

In others the patterns replay

On and on and on,

 

And yet always there is disenfranchisement;

Subjugation, marginalisation recurrent

For those who cannot vote for their government

But must pay taxes, amongst these are migrants

Who work and pay their way yet are censured

And scapegoated, all successes thrice earned

In economic downturn, less guarded by laws,

 

My thinking friends, take into consideration

Those with no vote still subject to taxation;

For those with no parliamentary representation

Are those who suffer the worst discrimination;

 

For policies are built for those who may elect

And those most represented get most respect,

 

So, when the powerful blame migrants again

Know it’s because politicians can cast blame

And shame on those with other national origins

Because at election time MPs only have to win

The approval of born or chosen British citizens,

 

It is the same with young people

Who may have sex, go into battle,

Be taxed, labour, work and toil

Years before their opinion counts at all

To those who’d label them criminal,

 

Tax but no vote from age sixteen

Then under-represented and side-lined

By those who chose to demean,

 

If you are white, male, heterosexual,

Born here, still fully abled,

Born well off, aligned to the sex assigned

At birth and forty or more

Then you are the ones they write policies for,

 

And, although this status quo is challenged

The more we are of this, the more we are privileged,

The more our likeness is, in Westminster, reflected,

The more our needs and interests are respected

And the more our right to thrive is protected,

 

But those who cannot elect or be elected

Still pay into the pot,

But when the going gets tough they’re neglected,

Their contribution denied, rights overlooked,

 

I look at anti-migrant rhetoric

Recalling slogans of regulators and suffragists,

All people just trying to live

Without being banished, alienated

Or slated for taking when they give,

The lies about them are practiced,

Expected, accepted, authoritative,

 

To those who believe them I ask them to think

About present and historic links

Between those who aren’t permitted a vote

And those in society who are scorned the most,

 

Because it is not democracy,

At times it smacks of tyranny,

It opens the gate to mockery,

Hate crimes, partiality, bigotry

 

And is a smoke screen shielding plutocracy;

A version of this played out in ancient Greece,

And to those who say it’s always been like this

I’d say we create more damage when we believe

Authorities when they accuse voteless minorities

And under-represented communities,

It is divide and rule policy based on demography,

Truth is more complex and harder to retrieve

When a nation enables its leaders to deceive

Then buys the bullshit on Brexit and votes ‘leave’.

Culture · General · Personal

Inspirational Songs

Hi All,

Hope you’re keeping warm and safe. This post is a bit different to my others. I wanted to share some of the songs and artists that keep me going. One of my earlier posts; Brexit Playlist is a poem that references some of the music I listen to when I feel angry about what is happening in the UK and around the world. This collection is different – only uplifting melodies and songs of hope and unity. It makes me happy to think it might put a smile on some of your faces. There are links to videos on YouTube. So, here goes:

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% · General · Remain

Brexit Sucks

 

 

British Union is now also under threat,

Reneges on pledges by our government,

Economic isolation and collapse predicted,

Xenophobes in power left us all conflicted,

Idiocy and recklessness sold as a solution,

Totalitarianism risks; no real constitution,

 

Senselessness seems to rule the rulers of the hour,

United across borders, people had more power,

Corporate privatisation of services we fought for –

Killing our NHS and schools, yet we pay even more,

Spin, misdirection and lies, with ruin at the core.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

(written and first shared in the lead up to the referendum 2016)

48% · Democracy · General · Remain

A Very Quiet Civil War

 

No roses, red or white
To define who’s against
And who is for,

We cross divides of left and right
In this very quiet civil war,

Half the politicians make no sense
As they fight between themselves,
Outside their halls the air is tense
As the ranks of marchers swell,

The unrest in schools, parks,
Homes and parliaments,
A truth our leaders don’t tell;
This un-United Kingdom’s rent;
Ripped in two as the vote tore
Us all into halves of a land
Each one of us adore,

This is a very quiet civil war,

Fought at dinner tables
And work corridors,
It burns us to the core,

A conflict capable
Of seeing union fall
Either side of Hadrian’s wall,
Of breaking trust between
Parts of the UK across seas,

Of breaking truce in Northern Ireland,

This is a civil conflict never before seen,
Where none is in command,
But plenty are alarmed
And those hard up are harmed,

The numbers between leave or remain
Had a four percent margin,
And there was no “I don’t know yet,
Please explain.”

And now this simmering conflict
As our economy depletes,
Homeless people line the streets
As MPs debate a Brexit,
Saying the nation agrees
But this kingdom’s on its knees

And two percent over half
Does not mandate
Tearing us apart,
As you please,
Soon it will be too late
To prevent this mockery of democracy,

Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar
Voted to stay in Europe, not leave,
This will tear apart families,
Communities, identities,
Businesses, public services
And children’s opportunities,
Endanger our rights
And imperil peace,

For a difference of two percent
Each way off half and half,
Two years of argument
About how best to ruin our countries
As we yell, march, weep and laugh,

And nooses are tied on the mast,
But this could all have been avoided
If, when such a close vote was cast,
A second vote was called,
The first one voided,
Because with such a narrow margin passed
A clear way forward is eroded,

There is blood on the street -
Though it is mostly discrete -
And anger when different
Groups of people meet,

This is a very quiet civil war
But no less destructive,
Every single part of our lives
Will be or is being disrupted,
People are struggling to survive
On both sides,
And hopes built on opportunist lies
Will be denied,

The old law; to rule, first divide
Played out in this charade,
As violent acts and hate crime rise
When ‘hard times’ is redefined,

Some will call it ‘race war’-
A term I despise,
But that’s only the aim
Of one part of one side,

And as for the Remainers, we call to unite
Beyond the lines of born here or not,
Beyond definitions of left or right,
Black, Asian, Jewish, White,
The half of the UK some MPs forgot,
It’s up to us to hold the light -
Cheesy as it sounds,

It’s a cliché for a reason,
We are the underground union
That occupy our towns.

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch
Democracy · General

The Integrity Initiative

The integrity initiative
Now lacks integrity,
Public resources
Used improperly
To damage opposition MPs,
Most notedly
The leader of the Labour Party,

Yet Tory ministers refuse to see
This is misappropriation;
Stealing public money
To spread misinformation,
The opposite in fact
To the stated modus operandi;
Of how the institute must act,

Conservatives provide a dodgy alibi,
Saying Russians hacked
Into the Institute of Integrity,
While it may have veracity
This explanation lacks authority,
For we must ask ourselves why
It is the opposition who is undermined
At what, for Tory’s, is an opportune time,
While the institute’s security is only questioned
When Tory ministers put it in the frame
With no eloquent response to the suggestion
That this should never happen again.

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