Times Like These by Frank McMahon

A yacht sails in summer, northwards to the Pole.

A  slush  of gelatinous grey greets its bow

as  it  makes its ambivalent journey.

On Admiralty charts a woman replaces islands,

sketches  new sandbars, reefs marked with buoys,

while their people are  moving into legend.


Lines of footprints cover deserts; jackals, bones,

eyeballs.  Driven from shelter to shelter, children

ailing and confused, half-filled ditches,

refuse  tips: where will the unborn live as

their families take flight?


A gig

was  once  a party, an impromptu concert

in  a  corner pub, a mingle of music, sweat

and  beers. A world of miasma now,

of  beck and call for paupers’ pay, waiting

to  be plucked like a lobster from a tank.


Yes, yes, the richest should have more,

more  tax-breaks crammed into their maw

until they vomit gold, excrete jewels and mansions,

super  yachts and private jets, smearing

the earth and the airwaves

with  their self-obsessed banalities.

In shadowed lobbies, their hired  hands work

on  dispossession,   the cutting of common bonds,

democracy just one more acquisition.


The future bleeds away as we pick

at old  obsessions. The past is now a home

with  many  rooms, space for those who hold

a  ticket for nostalgia. For each a leather

armchair on  a floor of empty cans; loop on loop,

the  TV  screen shows newsreels of the past;

paper  walls and cling- film roof, the toys abandoned

on  the  lawn where foxes prowl. Brewing

in the cellar, fantasies, stench, nightsoil.


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