Like Father, like son. Well, when your father is Donald Trump, those footsteps should not be ones that you follow. But when nurture combines with nature, Junior treads where he has been fomented. DT Junior, has likened Syrian refugees to a bowl of skittles; if among the bowl there were a few bad ones (and he means really bad, as in blow you, and themselves up bad), would you grab a handful? It is not worth engaging in the argument against this besides saying, ‘Fuck off, will ya!” At the same time, it is the annual UN jamboree in New York, and the UK’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May is there talking about, yes you’ve guessed it, “Refugees”, or is it “Migrants”? She is urging global measures to tackle ‘uncontrolled migration’.
Those who came from another land, whether back in the day, or last week, are the currency of conversation and policy debate and inaction, at the present time. They are used in debates about Brexit, the war in Syria, lone terror attacks in the US, co-ordinated ones in Paris and Brussels. They are said to be the reason for Angela Merkel’s weak results in last week’s election in Germany, pushing her to admit ‘mistakes’ over her refugee policy. The obvious contradiction in all of this, is that in an increasingly interdependent world, there is shock that people who are in situations of war and poverty, look for a better life for themselves. Drawbridges are being pulled up, fences erected, tunnels closed. Fear of the ‘other’ is rife.
Matt Duggan’s poem “Voices from the Charcoal”, captures these fluid, turbulent and fateful times; “fishing boats once floating saviours for the persecuted/now we build walls from those we’ve liberated; /Cutting off our own ears /awakening a poisonous serpent for oil.” The powerful extract economically from other countries, through war for oil, then leave a mess that goes beyond the borders they originally set post-WW1. Matt reflects this marrying of history, “Those dusting jackboots are stomping/on the gravestones of our ancestors,/though we’d fill a whole lake with blood oil /we’d starve our own children leaving them to die on its banks.” In overall terms we do live in more prosperous and healthy times, but at what cost? The growing social and economic inequality, set in the paradox of a more integrated world, is manna to the conservative populists, and makes for all kinds of strange alliances. When Trump says he admires Putin, and when ‘communist’ China is propping up global capitalism, you know we live in the weirdest of times.
Matt Duggan won the Erbacce Prize for Poetry in 2015 with his first full collection Dystopia 38.10 which is now available via Erbacce Press http://erbacce-press.webeden.co.uk/#/matt-duggan /4590351997. His poems have appeared in The Journal, The Seventh Quarry, Prole, Graffiti, Bunbury Magazine, Lakeview International Literary Journal.
Voices from Charcoal
In this land of neo brown shirts
white cliffs a strict border layered in red brickwork,
fishing boats once floating saviours for the persecuted
now we build walls from those we’ve liberated;
Cutting off our own ears
awakening a poisonous serpent for oil –
that lay dormant inside Persian sands;
which resurrected buried voices from charcoal
Those dusting jackboots are stomping
on the gravestones of our ancestors,
though we’d fill a whole lake with blood oil
we’d starve our own children leaving them to die on its banks,
No longer do we recognise the enemy
taking sides for the highest and most convenient price.
Did we cut off our ears from empathy?
Those holocaust skeletons in white and blue stars.
Near gutting of human hope – where repetitive acts
lined up like contemporary nights of Kristallnacht.
We have become what we dreaded
An isolated island – a ghost ship drifting with no sails
our captain unsure of our final destination,
stirring us into unknown waters
towards an economic tsunami.
Our heads held with fingers slated into scalp;
Cold tears drop onto canvas
like rain drops darkening dead rhino skin,
In this land of neo brown shirts
white cliffs a strict border layered with red brickwork.