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Friday, 24 July 2009

Thermidor -- by Melton Mowbray

On the floor of the Convention
St Just roars and rants with anger
once again the Revolution
stands threatened by mortal danger.

Outside virtuous sans-culottes
pull good patriots from their beds
moderate views, monarchist plots,
the basket fills with severed heads.

Citizen Barras and his friends
feel Mme Guillotine’s cold breath,
the indifferent blade descends
the Incorruptible meets death.

The People wish to celebrate
now the Tyrant is deposed,
hélas, they are unfortunate:
it’s August. All the bars are closed.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Accretion Anxiety -- by Zephirine

History is always being made
all the time
not just when big occasions happen
and we are all told to pay attention
but with every step, conversation, meal and bus journey
of supposedly unimportant people
fragment upon fragment
layer upon layer

It is not easy to tell
without prophetic gifts or very good astrology
which moments will have a historic effect
and which will simply add
more leaves to the forest floor
The spotty child who asks questions
and is quite annoying and often ignored
on which day is his ambition kindled
so that he grows up to discover a vaccine which saves many lives
or else to invent a weapon which slays thousands?
For a while, either may be possible
perhaps he just likes his physics teacher better
and so starts keenly on the path to destruction

Sarajevo, June 1914: Gavrilo Princip, a student, is knocked down
by a runaway horse and dies in hospital
and no one ever knows he was on his way to shoot an Archduke
What would history look like then?
The Parisian mob does not storm the Bastille
but turns aside to get drunk and watch a dog-fight
His mutinous crew force Columbus to turn back
and America is discovered ninety years later by North Africans
William of Normandy decides life is too short to invade Britain
Julius Caesar dies in infancy
How easily, in a few moments
it could all have been different

As you sit being bored in a boring office
doing nothing much
but living through the ticking seconds of history
the woman who was interviewed before you
but failed to get the job
might be so enraged by unemployment
that she is about to do something that may change the world
How can you know?
Put like that
history is rather frightening


... the invasion is continuing quietly as planned...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Another Tiny Planet -- by File

"Well, if we can't park here, then where can we park?"


Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sheep in Space

Photo by Niels van Tol.
More of Niels's tiny planets here.

And you may care to contribute a caption for this sheep...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

High Summer -- by Mimitig

The summer sun burns hot and high
Long into the night

Sultry afternoons lead to
Languid evenings

Dallying in conversation
As the sun slowly sinks
Over the sea in glorious pinks and purples

Leading to memories of other
Long hot summers

Parched grass, rivers flowing sluggishly
Swimming when the weeds
Fluoresced bright green
And punting was easy in the shallow waters

Further back
One Midsummer Eve

A dance, a Ball, a Commemoration Ball
A little girl, too excited to sleep
With a house full of visitors
Watched the pretty ladies
Dress in silk and satin frocks
Watched the Uncles
Preen in penguin suits

Further in the past
Another long hot summer

Young lovers arrive
In Split
On a blistering afternoon

So hot a post-war modern woman
Shrouds herself, head, shoulders, to the waist
In a shawl
The only one she has is black
She doesn’t know why
She looks the same as all the women
On the shore

Then from a yacht
A man is wheeled down to the quay
The men, in awe, take off their hats and
Bow their heads

It is their leader
Their hero has arrived

The post-war modern man, in shorts
Hastens to remove the brown leather cover
Of his new Kodak

Black and white, though faded now
My parents witnessed history
Tito arriving

In high summer