power

King of Eggs by Bobby Parker

Imagine you are top of the tree. You have power, real power over many people. You got there with promises to change things around – a lot. It’s taken you a long time to get there, so you want action, for people to see that you are true to your iron fist words. But when there, you are frustrated by the fact that the path to your power is paved with countervailing forces; put there to curb the potential for your excess. You realise that you can’t do all that you wanted; all that you told people you would do. Frustrating, isn’t it? What would you do?

‘I would throw eggs/ onto the street/ late at night/ after the clubs had closed/ they weren’t rotten or anything/ they were perfectly/ good eggs’

Iron-Throne-Egg-Cup-king_grandeOne critical element of power is ‘threat’; in fact, most power is dealt in this currency, otherwise with the arsenal of nuclear weapons on offer, a peopled earth wouldn’t be long for this universe. With threats thrown around like deferent confetti at a royal wedding, things can get quite routine. Your frustration turns to boredom, so you sit in front of the telly watching the world watching you. You fire a few missives out there, shake the markets up a bit – gives you your morning fix.

I couldn’t see/ where my eggs landed/ I aimed for voices/ avoiding the odd passing car/ hoping for a headshot/ it gave me a silly buzz.’

You like the sound you are making, even if it is only at the pitch of a baritone’s breath. But you might begin to question yourself (in the privacy of your own mind).

‘sometimes I felt quite mad/ standing on the wet grass/ with a cold egg/ in each hand’.

But you carry on regardless. Surely, by keeping this up, the threats, the posturing, the elaborate signing of your name, that the change you wish for will happen, and people will see you in the same way your sycophantic mirror sees you. And maybe you’ll get to a point where you feel like Ozymandias, and command, ‘look on my works ye Mighty, and despair’. Or maybe, just maybe, after a chaotic two years or so, you’ll,

‘look down/ from the bedroom window/ at all the shattered shells/ and glistening yolks/ on the silent road/ astonished/ by [your] work/ and slightly/ afraid.’

Image-1Bobby Parker is a poet and artist who grew up and currently lives in Kidderminster, West Midlands. His publication history starts around ten years ago, published widely in poetry magazines in print and on-line. His first full-length poetry collection ‘Blue Movie’ (Nine Arches Press) was published Halloween 2014. He has written articles on poetry for The Quietus, and his controversial poem ‘Thank You For Swallowing My Cum’ was included in Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt Publishing – edited by Emily Berry). In 2015 he was awarded a grant from the Society of Authors. He has taught poetry workshops for Buzzwords in Cheltenham and The Poetry School. Bobby has toured the UK consistently for the past few years, promoting his books, mental health awareness and encouraging people to explore the possibilities of poetry. His new collection – Working Class Voodoo – is available here from Offord Road Books: https://www.offordroadbooks.co.uk/working-class-voodoo and you can check out his artworks on his website https://www.bobbyparkerpoet.com/

 

King of Eggs

When we tried to quit
drinking
        again
I got so bored
I would throw eggs
onto the street
late at night
after the clubs had closed
they weren’t rotten or anything
they were perfectly
good eggs
my usual target
was drunk lads
shouting awful things
at girls walking home alone
there was a tall fence
around our property
since I couldn’t see
where my eggs landed
I aimed for voices
avoiding the odd passing car
hoping for a headshot
it gave me a silly buzz
and made Katy laugh
that’s all I wanted
we rented a house with a big garden
there was a pond
surrounded by lawn ornaments
birds dogs and a small boy pissing
creepy in the moonlight
sometimes I felt quite mad
standing on the wet grass
with a cold egg
in each hand
watching
the neighbours’ lights
go out
one by one
often the street was dead
but I threw eggs
       anyway
listening for the sound of them
smacking the pavement
so satisfying
like ice cracking
or popping the cork from a bottle
then I would go back in the house
to stare into the light
of the empty fridge
the way I stare
into open churches
       eventually
creeping upstairs to look down
from the bedroom window
at all the shattered shells
and glistening yolks
on the silent road
       astonished
by my work
and slightly
afraid.

The Speaker by Hilda Sheehan

Black Power, White Power, Girl Power, Soft Power, Superpower,
I’ve got the power, fight the power, power up, power down,
power to the people, power of the weak, power lists, holders of power,
gatekeepers, gatehousers, laws, wars, protest, silence, apathy, violence,
rational, ruthless, monopoly, oligopoly, oligarchy, autocracy, dictatorship,
cultural power, charisma, charm, patriarchy, matriarchy, infancy,
authority, legitimacy, language, shouting, beating, killing, Simon Cowell.

peoplepowermonumentPower is ubiquitous and multi-layered. Just look at the range of power lists; from political figures, to those in the media, LGBT, there is even one for those working in ophthalmology. Power influences and affects everything we do, whether as individuals, families, groups, organisations, or countries. Your access to healthcare for example, can be determined by your ability to be an advocate for yourself, at a time when you are most vulnerable. At a state level, beyond laws, governments will use ‘softer’ powers to get us to change our habits (otherwise known as ‘nudge’); in the UK this can be something as innocuous as charging five pence for shopping bags or automatically enrolling people into workplace pensions. This then extends at a global level to international relations, where states hold power because of the ‘attractiveness’ of a number of indicators, such as political stability, health systems, wealth, or adherence to human rights. But it tells you something when countries such as the UK and US top the various soft power lists, as these cannot be extricated from their hard power of colonial and imperial interventions backed up by an arsenal of nuclear weapons. It even extends to pop impresarios such as Simon Cowell, although he presses a different kind of button to the nuclear version, thank goodness.

923356_10151603184340218_2128322234_nAs individuals, it is quite easy for us to feel powerless and Hilda Sheehan’s poem The Speaker forcefully captures this sense through the metaphor of noise. “The Speaker//is an electric vulture//….It is/a god of dropped insects/from a carriage clock/or wasp holder/left to go on-off, on-off/riddling the town’s ears/from where it came.” This barrage of messages – part of this idea of influence, of soft power – is now at a ‘volume’ we cannot control. Inside a speaker is Hell -/a radio of church-like/persuasion/from four walls a prison/of persecutors of/television visions/crackling away in the gutters.” It is not that easy to turn things off. But this powerless feeling of not being listened to is what brings people together; we see it with Black Lives Matter, with the Occupy movement, and the Arab Spring protests. There is both a soft and hard power that individuals can exert. One that is more than just a nudge to those in power. One that is a shout so loud it cannot be ignored. (more…)