World Poetry Day, March 21st 2021
It’s World Poetry Day today – a lovely thing in such dark and difficult days. I’ve posted this poem before, a couple of times, because it becomes more relevant and sinister by the day. It is part of my 2018 collection, Poems from the Swamp which explores the psychogeography of an imagined version of the East Marsh where I live; it’s material reality and the unconscious and mythic layers that exist beyond the thinnest of veils. Each poem is written from the point of view of characters I have created. These characters now inhabit the novel I am currently writing.
There are Gauleiters everywhere, enabled by their pigs. We have seen them in action recently. They are as likely to be found on the streets, violently suppressing peaceful protest as they are to be found on the benches of the House of Commons. We live in a time where pigs are handed obscene prizes by their Gauleiters, whether that is PPE contracts for equipment that never arrives or for Test and Trace systems that are not fit for purpose. The sty is certainly seamier even than it was when I first wrote this in 2017.
My thanks to Sophie Ashton for her drawing of the pig. My apologies to pigs, which in truth are lovely animals. Also thanks again to Nick Triplow who painstakingly edited Poems from the the Swamp and to who I am indebted.
Nick has co-curated Hull Noir, one of the UK’s premier crime fiction festivals this weekend. Follow this link to catch up with what’s on at the festival https://www.hullnoir.com/
The Gauleiter and His Pig
Transcribed and translated by George Lydda
The Gauleiter and his pig reside here
in the swamp, a septic, infected sty,
poisoned with wormwoods for false prophecy.
Their respectability has that stink
of swill that clings like thin grease, that chokes throats,
an insinuation of rancid filth.
They can wash their hands, insipid Pilates,
and never know what it is to be clean.
The people have spoken, so it is claimed
the people shriek their will, so it is claimed
across this newly grim, unpleasant land
where mandrakes strike and strangle healthy plants,
spread tendrils of fervour amidst the sane,
sanguine folk of once fair-minded islands
made pestilential and sabre-rattling
when pigs and Gauleiters take command.
This pig and Gauleiter feed on censure ,
patrol the streets, sniff out the shunned ,
hunt the dreamers, the effete, the forceless
poison the water, spread lies, deception
that find keen reception in willing ears.
These guardians of now lost Albion
with pig battalions in eager service
goose step, relentless over small town swamps
spreading venom and violence as they go.
People need their pigs in lipstick, panders,
apologists, pimps and patsies.
These quiet and not so quiet fascists
impose their spurious jurisdiction,
shift the paradigm of civilisation,
spawn bleak new dawns of moral disaster,
bring terror, trauma and catastrophe.
This Gauleiter and his wallowing pig
inhabit the swamp imperiously,
belch and fart out obscene absurdity,
at which the cowed folk quake and shiver,
scuttle with truffles to please and appease,
to sate and satisfy lusty tumescence,
with Destroying Angel, Fly Agaric,
to avoid the cosh, the truncheon, baton.
But nothing placates appetites like these
where only the hunger, the greed is fed.
The sty turns seamier, with deepening stench,
while mists from the quagmire hint and hiss,
meander in serpentine gyres and twists,
layering the space where once the light lay
with impenetrable shadows of boundless black.
Once before, in still living memory
the fair-minded folk of a place like this
thrilled in denouncing friends and neighbours,
those whose faces no longer fit.
Trucks rattled the bones of human cargo
along tracks destined for nightmarish swamps,
as pigs and Gauleiters squealed and capered,
wallowed in a surfeit of harrowing loss,
caroused at perdition and extermination,
a Saturnalia of uncountable cost.
This Gauleiter, pig, and the onlookers
are droghers who’ll carry the weight of the swamp,
a shipment of shame beyond all atoning
long after this tale and its tellers are gone.