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 · Peace

Broken Silence and Exit Lines

the peace agreement,

like two flags and people’s lives

flapping in the wind

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Below is an account of my engagement, as a witness, in a ‘From the Rockface’ discussion in Northern Ireland. What I saw and heard makes it clear to me the very real threat Brexit poses to peace and security for people living across the Island of Ireland and all parts of the United Kingdom. This would especially be the case in a No Deal scenario.

This talk mainly included loyalists stories and so provides only partial context …

Broken Silence and Exit Lines

Link to original post

It has never felt more inappropriate to stand and walk from a room. A silence was being fractured and the question was being asked, again and again, “Who would want to hear us?” “Who would want to listen?” Do our voices count in the eyes of the world?” These questions are interspersed with my phone delivering other silent, urgent messages. The texts from a friend asking if I am ready to leave. I am going to miss my plane. I am in a room full of hope and anger, Loyalists trying to discover how to rekindle loyalty with each other, sitting two seats from the main speaker and a room away from the door. When, in this brave and open exchange acknowledging, amongst other things, a feeling of betrayal by mainland Britain, will the only English woman at the table, stand up and head for the door?

Words are overflowing, time over-running, after decades of communities ruled by a culture of silence; ruled by fear and the sense of betrayal.

These men, whose skin is painted deep with their identity; an inky testament to the stories etched upon them that words could not speak but only bodily destruction could erase.

“We have hurt each other,” they say, honesty ricocheting around the room to meet open, determined faces; paramilitary, prisoners, peace-builders, political leaders interspersed with lawyers, academics alert and armed with pens and inquisition. The untold stories unravel before me. The fierce organisation of the Nationalists and the Loyalist trust, initially, in the UK government and military to protect them. The growing confusion and betrayal, the disillusionment that they were protected, the disorganization birthing community to community violence, the killing of all budding leaders who could unify the Loyalists or speak of peaceful ways forward. The silencing. The reprisals and counter-reprisals and fears of reprisal. The loss. The help that was not helpful. The impossibility of decommissioning weapons in 60 days given the fact they were not united, that trans-community conflict meant communications took time and distrust of political will to protect their communities in any other way. The sense that for some politicians the Northern Ireland peace process was being used as a platform for career furtherment over and above the will to end the conflict. The politicians who would call for paramilitary disbandment but come to them for their services. The sense of being in shock, the fear of being perceived as an underclass, even of becoming one.

The vocal ex-prisoner and combatant that now virtually lived in the Transitional Justice Institute with the same fighting determination, arms heavy with tattoo and muscle, eyes seeking something more. The sense of needing now to speak; to tell the stories untold, first to the world and, ultimately to one another. One woman’s voice discussing gender issues in the conflict. Many ears. I begin to make eyes wildly at the Chairman. Eventually, when the other voices in the room slow to draw breath in slightly bewildered air, the Chair states that as we are going far beyond time, anyone who needs to leave can. Only I stand, the English woman leaving. The main speaker apologizes for talking too long and I stop, ignoring the panicked text of the friend who will give me a lift to the airport and the determinedly ticking clock. I say something I repeat now in writing. I say thank-you for his words, I say to them all, thank-you for what they have said. I tell them I want to hear. I tell them sorry… and then I tell them I have to catch a plane.

 

Link to the original 2012 post

Democracy · General

Talking Theresa May, a feminist’s inner debate

I have written a number of poems about Theresa May and her policies over the years. This included when I was a women’s worker heavily involved in grassroots and party politics myself and she was Home Secretary. I have grappled with myself many times over my feelings towards her. I analyze and judge myself because she is a visible representation of women in power, still such a rarity in the UK. Two British Prime Ministers have been assigned the same sex at birth as I have, and I’ve not been a fan of either. But, do I, as a longterm equalist and feminist pull her down? My answer, as someone who has been involved in politics and been a women’s worker, is complex.

I have done and will criticize her policies and question her moral compass, often passionately. I have queried her actions and even at times her basic ethics. I get angry when her womanhood is attacked but I wonder if I do it too. I’ve been involved in helping make harassment of women recognized as a hate crime in my county but I wonder where the line is when criticizing someone whose ethos as well as their actions often seem abhorrent to me.  Is it different because I am a woman and a feminist? Is it unbiased because my poems question the acts, ethics, and judgments of other politicians across genders, including the leader of the opposition? Or, does the volume and nature of my criticism veil a different or concurrent story? In all the poems I have written there is one controversial line from 2014 I still now wrestle with, but I will come to that.

Poems like Shoes? and The Poisoned Cup and A gender very clearly and firmly explore my anger at criticisms of her as a woman rather than a politician, whilst still raging against her policies and political acts. Too many talk about female politicians’ appearance, which is irrelevant to their politics. This is a kind of bating and belittling no heterosexual man in politics has to contend with. It morphs into analogies of sticking high heels in and other suggestions that certain behaviour is ‘unwomanly’, whatever that is, or because we have no children, or because we do. I’ve lived this toxic bias myself. Told as the only woman on a panel that I was talking too much, asked if I have children or what my husband thinks. Told I should not be standing because I have a man in my life. I was stalked and verbally abused. All this rubbish no politician from any party should have to contend with but they do, and they have to deal with far worse too. A diabetic heavily pregnant woman having to postpone a cesarian to vote in one of the most important parliament ballots in a century. Another pregnant woman receiving death threats for being Jewish. A serving MP stabbed to death. Straight white abled males that make up most of our parliament don’t experience this type of abuse.

I left my own political party citing discrimination, having been involved to some extent at local, regional and national level voluntarily in the years I was a member. No, I didn’t receive death threats or anything so horrific, but I left shaken, unwell and soul-weary, treated as a pariah despite having got some of the party’s best results in the 2015 elections. I was not alone in leaving. The party concerned is not remotely unique in this, but I had ploughed in everything I had and expected fairness for myself and others. All parties have discrimination in their ranks, politics and human society generally is full of it, but it’s what they do about it that counts. I’m not convinced either of the main political parties or many if not all of the smaller ones have yet developed enough self-awareness to tackle the different forms of racism, ableism and, for the main part gender bias within their membership and leaders. Do I have the self-awareness to recognize bias in myself? Perhaps. Hopefully.

I have written a lot of poems about Theresa May; more than any other single politician except perhaps Tony Blair many years ago. I’ve asked myself why and I do sense a bias in me; I think I expect higher morals from her because we have so few visible female leaders and those who would chain us in homogenous misogyny blame her womanhood and so in a way all women for her failures. In this, I have internalized the sexism and must be careful of that.  Will it stop me being angry and speaking out against burning injustices. No. Very, very no.

Dear Ministers, Lies in Old Westminster, What the Dickens? and The Big Riot (a political satire) are all pretty scathing about a number of politicians from across the house. There are many others. Yet I am often provoked by my emotions to writing about Theresa May. A large part of this is because she is Prime Minister during a time of steeply rising inequity, homelessness, hunger, and insecurity where acts of terror and racist policies hold hands. She is the Brexit PM and I have strong feelings about Brexit and the lies that warped the referendum and what came after. In The Poisoned Cup  I talk about her inheriting an unanswerable problem, but I think she helped create that problem too, long before the rise of calls for Brexit.

I’ve become aware that for me it is personal.  When I was an interfaith women’s worker active in politics in squeezed spare time, I saw for myself some of the affects of her Home Office policies. Just one example of this was a wonderful Malawian nurse who had been in this country and active in her community for 14 years snatched off the streets and taken to Yarlswood, where all the guards are white and all those detained are black or minority ethnicity. It was an oppressive place to even visit and they took visitors fingerprints. She was not given vital medicine and was in hospital when we finally managed to get her out. Getting her legal help – even getting clean underwear to her, felt like a battle. This is one of many stories I know, including of a woman, who when 14, having lived in this country since infancy, had to fight to stay. I was and am angry at this.

I feel this, together with David Cameron’s capitulation to other pressures, put in place the foundations for many present ills. The farcical process of Brexit spurred on by, amongst other things, spreading lies about immigration as a smokescreen for the real reasons too many are struggling. The racist policy of exiling citizens of the Windrush generations. The attacks on the wellbeing and security of those whose ill health or disability prevents them from being able to work. The undermining of women’s rights through the disproportionate effects of austerity. The failure to act as pledged in their 2017 election manifesto to handle the burning injustices of our time, including those linked to seriously tackling domestic violence and the exploitation of tenants and workers.

My experiences as a witness in 2014 of Theresa May as Home Secretary has placed her as one of the main authors of our current climate of insecurity. Furthermore, watching her undemocratically limiting parliamentary debating the shape of Brexit for nearly three years while the flames of burning injustices rise across the nation has not gentled my ire. Brexit, to my mind, was always going to be a vicious beast, but her actions are among those that have potentially sharpened its teeth – if it happens. May’s bad deal, created after years of negotiations with the EU but near none with Westminster until the eleventh hour, has put us at greater risk of a disastrous no deal Brexit.

My thoughts on her approach to governance can be found in poems such as Democracy, GoatskinAlternative ArrangementsContempt and in the 2014-2015 poems Dear Theresa and Securing A Bitter Future. Of all of them, it is only the last and Madame Dictator in which I question whether I have projected internalized misogynistic undertones. In my heart of hearts, I am ultimately unhappy with only one line in which I suggest she should be hushed up. It is in the context of her pushing a piece of legislation in 2014 that effectively hushed up everyone who had widely different opinions to her own. Legislation that potentially left millions voiceless, including myself and the women in the organizations I was working with.  The idea of hushing an outspoken woman up is deeply problematic. Mary Beard, in ‘Women and Power’ draws our attention to the fact that silencing of women in public life has been normalized in art and politics from the times the Classics were written. In this, I am a bad feminist.

Yet, where does my moral compass point when I am talking about someone who was with the non-violent extremism act hushing up others? It is a difficult one. Writing it I was thinking only of her as a politician not as a woman. Yet we live in a gendered society where that will be misused and / or misinterpreted by others. In that particular phrase and that particular poem I used gender-neutral phrasing to help distant it from gender rhetoric but I’m not sure, when the person is such a prominent figure, that this unpicks millennia of ‘hush hate’.

Never-the-less, I counter myself in this internal debate, the mirrored context of the others she was hushing up raged in my mind, with the knowledge I was not about to expect less from her as a politician or not say things, just because of her – and my assigned gender. I think it is telling that I would not choose to reuse the phrase, ever.

I feel Theresa May does actually believe she is doing the best for Britain. I feel more strongly than I have felt most things in my entire life that she is very dangerously wrong and misguided by prejudice, her own or other people’s . I do not believe this is because she was assigned female sex at birth, or because of her clothing choice as a woman. Most certainly May will have had a much tougher journey getting where she is now than her male colleagues and contemporaries. I do recognise that this places pressure on a person but it is no excuse for policies and processes that alienate, disenfranchise and impoverish millions while curbing parliamentary debate until there is no other option.  I will not let any person or administration singe democracy for fear of being impartial but I must choose the words I use wisely. Perhaps at times, I think unfairly she should be more astute because so few women have gained her level of influence as well as because the stakes are so high in the present political, social and environmental climate.

My fear and experience of being arbitrarily judged as a woman against a person I feel little affinity with does tint my own assessment of their actions. One woman’s social crimes become, in the eyes of many, the crimes of all women, and so we are taught to judge fellow females more harshly than males.  Yes, I’ve written critically about male MPs, No Discrimination, Making Progress? and Johnson & Drones being prime examples. However, I think I’ve ingested some of the shame poured on myself and others assigned the same sex at birth, regardless of how they identify. It is the mechanisms of misogyny, not Theresa May I should be furious at for that. Even when I take this into account, there is plenty to be angry at Theresa May about, but I should be equally angry at others. I am.

Now, to turn that anger into fuel for justice and the only way I can do that is to link it back to the love I have for those people, including myself, that I feel have been put at risk.  I must choose my words with both care and fire.

Culture · Democracy · General · Remain

Get on with what?

“Get on with it!” say Brexiteers,
That phrase, gravel in my ears,
As one more factory shuts up shop 
A few more thousand lose their jobs 
Amid the lies that they would prosper
If immigration disappears, 
The truth is there, but they don’t hear 
As we tie ourselves up in knots 
“Get on with it!” 
They say; our nation’s auctioneers, 
But the way ahead is not clear
Except that we'll all be worse off 
And more of us won’t have enough;
Revisiting depression years, 
Get on with it?

“Get on with it!” the endless round,
As government debates confound
Both the best and the worst of us 
On every side of this circus,
As leaders’ arrogance astounds,
Our creaking democracy found 
Cold, abused, hungry, gagged and bound,
The response offered by leavers:
“Get on with it” 

The majority lost not found
In archaic schemes, rules for clowns 
That sway countries and media,
Though eyes are now on Westminster
It’s corporations that are crowned 
Get on with it?

“Get on with it!” say Brexiteers,
But no workable deal appears,
Meanwhile, vital services rot,
People, made homeless, later robbed
Of any chance of a future
As we betray our teenagers
Steal children’s potential careers
And up the climate chaos odds. 

“Get on with it!” 
Say those scared, yet still unaware 
They’re selling our protections off,
Imperfect though they were, to bluff
Self-governance that never was,
Nebulous words as deadlines near,
“Get on with it!”

“Get on with it”, get on with what?
With the Brexit of the lynch mob
Or the one that mimics Norway?
The ‘hurry-up’ crowd never say
Though they are so rarely quiet,
There is no wand to whisk away
The social ills of the U.K,
Or falsely recalled yesterdays,
Brexiteers scapegoated Europe,
Get on with it?

Get on with what? National decay?
Alienating minorities?
We've no constitution to cope
With destitution beyond scope
Of those four words of mockery:
"Get on with it!"

Not "How?" or, ever, "What comes after?"
Nor "What is it?" "What's wrong with it?" 
Not, it seems, "What's wrong with us?"
Never "What's stopping this?"
No truth in Brexit
For Brexiteers;
No real plans
At all;
None. 


Antonia Sara Zenkevitch
General

Hope

Should I be hopeful

with talk of a People’s Vote

now resurfacing,

up for discussion again

while lies are still circling?

 

hope, like early spring,

blooms and shivers, in each turn

clings between downpours.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

General

No Discrimination

There’s no discrimination here,

they’re all on perfect behaviour,

equality sits at their core

as they block someone’s access door

leaving no space for their scooter,

 

There he is, playing our savior,

marking this moment to savor

as if accepting his reward,

there’s no discrimination,

 

At least he has stopped looking bored,

in fact, they all stand quite assured

captured by news photographers,

unnoticed by the broadcasters;

A human’s safety needs are ignored;

there is no discrimination.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

N.B if you haven’t read my other posts, I’m not a fan of our present government, or of Brexit. But I don’t trust Corbyn and the leadership of the opposition either. UK politics is a shambles. Beyond politics of left or right, leave or remain (I hope remain) there is the issue that no one should be blocking the essential access of a person with mobility needs by holding a rally outside their access door when a sign clearly requests this area be kept clear.

 

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

 

48% · Democracy · General

Making Progress?

 

“I’m making progress, Mr. Speaker,”
We hear Jeremy Corbyn state,
I watch the opposition leader,
As he ignores all calls for debate,
Undeterred, unheard, on with his task;
“I’m making progress, Mr. Speaker,”
“Yes, but towards what?” our silence asks
Cracking delicate glass, their mirror
In each other; a work of Dada
Where masked surrealism prevails,
“I’m making progress, Mr. Speaker,”
Just before each amendment fails,
Falls, and there is no leader I trust;
He cannot overcast Theresa
Who, nebulous, calls out from the dust
“I’m making progress, Mr. Speaker.”

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

48% · Democracy · General

Alternative Arrangements

Arcane these halls, wherein these walls

the pomp and thrills

shroud the lack of clarity;

where the right to a voice

and the order of bills

denotes a lack of legal parity.

 

2019, the 29th of January,

each motion falls, well, almost all;

one strange one is given charity.

 

Hopes of extension are lost;

no  breathing space

to find out what is real

or to replace 600 or more laws

leaving Europe will displace.

 

The promised date of another meaningful

Parliamentary ballot,

or the sequence of the day’s amendments

defines how those amendments fall.

 

The backstop;

which, after over two years

writing between red lines

we’re promised,

against all past assurances

will be redefined;

 

the nebulousness called ‘alternative arrangements’ this time.

 

Not for the first time

we all ask what just happened;

to what are we consigned?

 

In these arcane processes

can you hear

nations unite

around the cruxes

as common sense cries out

and people turn from left to right

to ask the question of 2019;

what does ‘alternative arrangements’ mean?

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

question mark

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

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 Stolen Sun

 

They worked for decades

For their place in the sun,

As their autumns fade

They claimed their freedom

From the ache of the rain

In their muscles and bones,

Now they ache to remain

In their retirement homes,

 

This was not given to them;

They got there on their own,

Is their security to be stolen?

The seeds of doubt are sown;

 

European citizens in Britain

Are now treated as hostages,

So, their nations of origin

Do the same in this crisis,

 

This questions the concept of belonging;

Belonging to; belonging with; belongingness,

Both the forces of comfort and longing

And the money and belief we each invest

In the places we choose to be living,

 

We need to be honest

In this state of anti-immigration;

We have to own this

Process of individual rights negation,

History tells us Britishness

Is formed of centuries of integration,

 

Will we continue to count as less

All those who come to our nation

And add to its worth and essence?

Our ex-pats too will be distressed

If our neighbours devalue their presence,

 

This is Brexit’s darkest side, undressed;

Naked of all the abhorrent pretense

in the lies that sought to impress

Some citizens sitting on the fence,

 

To say we Brits can live anywhere

Yet limit who comes here makes no sense,

Yet many a Brexiteer seems unaware

Their acts may have weighted consequence.

 

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

General · Remain

The Big Riot (a political satire)

At the Met headquarters

There’s another call out,

To gather all available officers

To attend another London riot,

When they muster at the order

The streets are uncannily quiet,

Far too silent to signal peace,

The van drivers see the flickering TVs

As the vanguards of PSUs cruise,

They tell their colleagues in the carriers

“Every household is watching the news”

Then, they get closer to Westminster

Where they each get a first-hand view,

 

Of the riot’s epicentre,

Met commanders aren’t sure what to do,

It started in the Common’s Chamber

And it shows no sign at all of ending,

Ministers displaying criminal behaviour,

They’d have to send the forces in,

Some Brexiteers were running with cleavers

And Borris Johnson was singing

As law-enforcers arrest law-makers

To the sound of ancient plaster cracking

And answering war cries from Remainers,

The police chief rethinks the cons of fast-tracking

While arresting MPs from Tories and Labour,

Extracting an uninterested Corbyn,

If he’d not been killed by Mogg’s sabre

It looks like he’d soon have died of boredom,

The Speaker is still trying hard to call order

As someone nearby asks the chief

“Sir, where do we put the cordon?”

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · Remain

Democracy

 

She keeps saying that word, ‘democracy’,

As if she kens in any way

What it truly means, or maps it meaningfully,

Thoughtfully into daily political routines,

Or sees it as her duty, or honours it duly,

Does she? Do we?

 

In the absence of a solid UK constitution

I took a butchers at the dictionary;

 

Let’s park the ultimate ‘democracy’ definition;

‘A system of government by the whole population,’

Across centuries this has been the high ambition

But in every recorded era and administration

There’ve been cordons limiting representation;

Defining our inner outcasts; inciting disunion,

 

So, let’s look at a more realistic take;

To include All eligible members of a state,

Usually via representatives elected –

That’s all of them; not just the cabinet –

Democracy seeks to be inspected,

It does not isolate, negate or delay debate,

Cross-party amendments must be respected

As is that near- impeachment moment

When parliament found May’s government

To be acting in contempt,

Many united voices on each backbench

Knocking on doors of The Prime Minister’s set

To ask her cabal where our democracy went,

 

But she treats such questions as undemocratic,

Yet it’s her clique that fits inside that lens,

The irony is spiky, bitter, cutting, tragic,

For it is a torn flag May says she defends

And her hands have helped to tear its fabric,

A borderline result in the EU referendum,

Gross exaggeration of marginal statistics;

It was always a blatant overstatement

To say Britain voted for this Brexit –

The difference of a couple of percent,

Most of whom voted ‘leave’ due to deceit,

Buying into lies of the Brexiteer campaign –

The same people she now calls colleagues,

Is it democracy or deception they’d see reign;

Ideally, one requires the other’s defeat,

 

Instead, a failed attempt at self-coronation –

The expectation entirely unrealistic,

This weakened any credibility for her position

As she undermined terms of a peace agreement

To abandon neutrality for a near-coalition

With one side of Northern Ireland’s dialectic,

Setting the nation up for renewed collisions,

All this to get enough seats for a slim majority;

To fain enough support for her to govern,

Northern Ireland’s needs still not a priority,

 

Calls for votes of no confidence since then,

The first, directed at her, by her own party,

Went to a ballot she won narrowly,

Oh yes, a half-hearted mutter from Corbyn

Was fairly shamelessly deflected –

He, seemingly most interested

In whether Labour could win,

Only requested parliament contested

May’s place at the helm,

 

Later came calls from the other opposition;

The ignored, united smaller parties

Disillusioned by her flailing, high-handed regime,

Yet still, May continues her didactic addresses

As if all were there to rubber stamp her scheme,

This is not why any of them were elected;

To say she shields democracy would be obscene,

 

‘Democratic’ has become a word infected,

Made submissive for assumed power to lean on,

The word shouted as an order or directive

By those who wish to guard their own dominion;

Their grasp of the term is defective,

 

What about ‘social equality’ as a working definition?

Um, I can safely say they’re failing that one –

Policies stirring frustration, fear, suspicion,

While abandoning pledges to abused women,

More people than before feeling alienation

As we see homelessness break all proportions

Amid cuts to vital services, wages, and occupations,

Crime soars as they cut back on police divisions,

As the cost of living rises to beat inflamed inflation,

 

The Sausage Song was Christmas no. one,

Raising funds to help feed hungry millions,

Those facing starvation include children,

So, topping the charts is positive direct action

Not by our government, but by the population.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Democracy · General

A January Morning

 

A January Sunday morning,

After my ritual of washing

Dan comes in with the Guardian,

While drinking tea I’m listening

To desired reports, hope glistening;

In the USA diverse representatives sworn in,

In the UK, political rebellion against fracking

And I hear, deep inside, a caged bird sing

While doors with rusty iron locks are slowly opening.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Culture · General · Remain

The Breakers

 

 

Breakers tall, rollers grave,

Catch you a living on the wave

They said another owns the sea

But the brine has her own currency,

No matter the rule, the plan or crown

This is the lore of the coastal town,

 

For those who would re-map the drink

Know she’ll not yield to paper or ink,

But yet, think on docks and fisheries

Too often bought to the brink,

Upon these rocks, communities;

It is these we worry may sink,

 

Do not sing -white horses’ lullabies

To those who know a mermaid’s ditty,

Beware closed ports and borderlines

Where swirling shoals have authority.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

For my beloved Cornwall & Devon and all the United Kingdom’s coastal towns. It is fair to say many already feel overlooked by the UK and other governments’ dealings at home and overseas on behalf of the fisheries. Brexit will create further challenges for many of these communities who depend on trading between countries through open ports, busy docks, and accessible waters.

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

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

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:

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