Rohingya & other invisible places by Antony Owen

In Rohingya,
a bright bird was shunned for being beautiful
if you see a torc of vultures another village burnt down
only the river reflects what is happening like stories in another language.
To translate,
a bell is ringing from a dazed Ox circled in fire
it is only an Ox, he serves the mouth and disputed grass
at the very same moment in Srebrenica a covered woman unveils her tears.

In Paradise,
a man with dirty hands cleans a gold Rolls Royce by day.
At night he scrubs himself and the humming of his wife cleanses him.
England, he says, is guilding Yemen, creating refugees like sadistic greek gods.

To translate,
a bell is ringing from a Devon cow, milked for Tesco.
At five am they clean the udders and work them to ulcers
At the very same moment in Rohingya, a landmine clicks, the screen burns out.

To translate,
we are exhausted by death.

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I Went Searching for a Hurricane and Found Miley Cyrus by Antony Owen

In the trademarked tragedies, I conducted a search party –
“Hurricane victims Asia” but only found Texas on Google.
On the second page I find a whole continent drowned in text,
an advert pops up for a cruise from Florida and I am marooned.

Every letter is a life raft that takes us to the shore of knowledge.
All I find is a kelp of red tape dragging me back west to lives that matter.
I was born white as masts anchored to the blood of my ancestors
one broke bread with a black man talking of manners covered in oil.

I am looking for Asia on google but it only exists in the margins,
a boy floats on a roof to his new home of strangers hands is this tragic?
A pop up story of the best dressed celebrities appears in his margins
Miley Cyrus is an Angel of donated dollars but she was not invited here.

I am googling for news of Texas and concerned at what footwear Melania wore,
a newspaper wears her shoes next to a major headline of nuclear tests.
It is odd how I find celebrities when I was searching for victims of hurricanes,
I feel like I am drowning in corporate tragedies valued fiscal over flesh.

American Noir by Antony Owen

After Heather Heyer

If I were killed by white power
do not fold a flag for me this black hour
hang it upside down like Jeremiah from Elm
human darkness shall erode the whitest realm.

If you were to mourn the way of my death
you are not rejoicing in the way I drew my breath,
I stood for something, to fall like water into the deep
I fell for something purer, it was more than America fast asleep.

If I was to grow through earth a flower
I’d grow through white weeds and not cower,
an American eagle would swoop down past my shoots
and the blood from its mouth would make strong my roots.

If I was an Eagle I’d fly with displaced birds to roost in the wall
and when we’d soar a mowed down woman would fall.
She stood for something and fell like sunset water,
all American blood, only her Mothers daughter.

Three minutes before when we built Barcelona by Antony Owen

“The creation continues incessantly through the media of man”
Antoni Gaudi

 

in the architected shade she once had her breath stolen by Gaudi,
in those yesterday monuments they talked of making an offer on twelve leaf road,
later they shared a crema catalana with two spoons and all was good as spires cut night open.

Girl in floral dress ran down las ramblas like palates against a half-finished painting.
Three nights ago she left her tooth and a fairy in her Father left five euros,
she is running to buy a windmill that will be claimed by the grabbing tide

There is a an old saying that a city comes alive in the darkness and never falls asleep.
In our beautiful wisdoms we are leant to the warm soil and god takes us back,
she reveals herself as a human with colourless skin and her heart is a lamp.

I want to walk through Barcelona with a red lamp and reveal the luminol of dusks kiss,
girl in floral dress can hold my hand and be the child I never had for a minute,
take these minutes and go to twelve leaf road and realise something like

You and I could’ve been that couple in Gaudi shade, six years ago this very day
I love you, the way you reveal your skin like monuments half built
we will finish this life and walk through Barcelona claiming tides.

The Last Tweet of the Real Donald Trump by Antony Owen

My scent once killed an outcast house-martin,

come Summer, Africa would have scented its plume.

I heard its last tweet from the vice of a factory cats mouth.

Since childhood I have learnt how migrant beings sing when free.

Sky is the skin of the universe and we are both the illness and the cure,

I used to whistle back to the crow incapable of joy because I saw myself in her.

 

Should the day ever come when I tweet my heart

I will not need one hundred and sixty characters to do so

I will hit the space bar one hundred and fifty nine times, then a comma –

and this will be my last tweet hoping that my song is all that is left and yet to come.

 

My Mothers scent once made three healthy boys,

she made a nest of working class heirlooms that stay with me,

her threadbare breath in winter, dead peoples ornaments, hand me down lullabies.

Hush now, we are ghosts of eggshells leaving the ectoplasm of our beautiful Mothers

Hush now, we are living our lives harder before those who steal the world keep us in cages.

I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing, by Antony Owen

When Grenfell windows exploded into miniature supernovas and firefighters froze in that world they will replay over and over, I shall always remember the autopsy of a well-meant poem by a bloke called Si who doesn’t write much and will never write again because a real poet told him at best it was doggerel. As the new world emerges unseen by the real poet who dissected Si’s well-meant poem I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing from the real poet who had so much to say and so little to write. Sometimes when I want to find answers to the hardships of modern life perhaps I’ll ring Si and say “Hey Si, I’ve a Haynes manual on the inner workings of a Ford Fiesta and it’s written perfectly so why not come over and we’ll discuss over hummus I bought from a hipster at a literary festival which is a place real poets unlike you go to, so, Si my pixelated pal do you wanna come round mine mate”? Alternatively I could pass on the technically perfect writings about non-subjects and read a really well intentioned and flawed poem by Si who knows he ain’t the best poet but he wanted to challenge himself on writing about something more important than the existential paradox of a thespian who lived in a disputed vineyard during the Napoleonic invasion of a place that people like Kev has never heard of because he’s only interested in stuff that is happening today. I have decided to write a poem for Si in the spirit of what he was saying but not in iambic pentameter just raw emotion in controlled couplets and it goes something like this….

 

I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing
I felt a technically flawed poem about something important

The latter poem was poorly written it was not a poem like this
I’d like to go and get wasted with Kev and make alphabet spaghetti.

The Living by Antony Owen

For Jo Cox

 

I hope your children learn what I was told as a kid by my Mother

that those brightest stars are the ones that will go first

those ones that take our breath away travel further

and then in the darkness they suddenly burst.

 

I hope your widower hears the immigrant birds from your soffits

that he thinks for a moment this bordered earth is all of ours.

I hope through the bird song you hear them as prophets

nnd that breaths in cold air are grey living flowers.

 

I hope you see a kite tail of hatchlings following their Mother

and learn that if the hawk was to snatch her in flight

that you like dying stars can guide them further

even if your eyes have lost in them her light.

 

I remember last year of a fox that petered out in the mist

like an ember spat out from the hearth that hissed

it was December when it sprayed like a cut wrist

in the whale light stars we smiled then kissed.

Left and Right Wings by Antony Owen

Imagine if a dove was your country soaring into thunder clouds and it started to tear itself bare. Imagine this, red from bleeding and bruised blue both wings stopped moving and left the squall to go it alone into the storm. Pummelled by harsh winds of change the heart of the dove was strong but had forgotten what made it navigate through savage storms. The left and right wing had forgotten that they were an extension of the heart and were there to serve the body of the dove and it’s vital organs shaped like counties. The Dove had forgotten that it’s songs began in the blood and ended at the beak where ballads of Calais and Dunkirk and places like India were written by bloodied quills. When the wings move together the Dove can stop falling but this does not mean it will arrive safely. This is down to the nature of the bird and its nature is dictated by its wings. It’s heart is fuelled by occasional rushes of blood and prone to moments of unexplainable behaviour that can be brave or stupid. The dove is not pure white but made up of many colours and this helps it to soar and makes it stand out from many other birds. There are many fat cuckoos and crows throwing beautiful eggs from boats of birch twigs and mud. These eggs are overlooked by all of the birds because they believe it will break the huge branches and overcrowd the boughs These birds are not allowed to roost because they are not from Elm or Oak despite looking the same bar a shade darker or lighter. The branches are the same colour as the feathers in the dove including the right and left wings of the dove. Four strange crows with ruffled black feathers are squawking at each other arguing over the spoils of burning trees and smashed eggs. The dark clouds are getting thicker, the wind against the dove and the departing squall is picking up speed, they need to start flying so they can avoid the storm. An Eagle starts ripping its feathers out next to a budgerigar admiring itself in a cage of broken mirrors. All the peacocks steal the food from the common birds. The sky is starved of song. The world is trying to juggle four winds to carry the birds as long it can. The birds start believing they are gods and act like them. The birds have forgotten how to sing. The left and the right wing move in opposite directions and the bird helter-skelters into the dark clouds making no noise at all as if consigned to its fate. The feathers on the bird glimmer like a kaleidoscope and the dove just does not realise how special it is. There is still time, the dove is heading into the bowel of Icarus, there is still time.

If All Of Us Were A Football Team by Antony Owen

If Ali was a football side who would support him as he defended his right to wave a new flag coz his old one had faded? If Ali was sent off in the first minute for being cut down would we share the replay and agree he should not be banned or is it just too upsetting and not in vogue to discuss? If a foul was committed against Basra United would we all shout “ah come on ref” or just wait for something more meaningful to shout and sing about. There is no Basra United, there is only United and United and some forms of United make us cheer or not cheer. Imagine if Spurs or Barcelona never turned up because the game was just too hard, can you picture the outpouring of passion and anger? Imagine if the game on Gaza beach next to jumpers on goal posts took place on a day when fifty-one people cheered for something more than football it would be everything about football and life I’d truly wanna see. Can you imagine how some would be enraged at people cheering for their side and their side? Imagine if they’d kicked the ball over the wall like I did as a kid and asked my neighbour if I could have my ball back and they sent back “no” in bombs or soldiers. If all of us were football teams I’d be supporting all of them as one team so none of them could lose. If all of us were football teams we could all play together and hold aloft the silverware with all our names on it. We’d all meet down the boozer where they’d use beer kegs as drums and all of us would get drunk on being together as one massive city we all could support. Nobody would goad each other, a man would not have his tyre slashed because of the wrong kit colour, a few good men and women too tired to carry on would be helped over the finishing line and be told that even the boring goals matter in this long game we’re all trying to win. If all of us were football teams I’d be hugging you way before the final whistle and extra time would be given to the massive bench where sixty million substitutes wait looking for a new home. They want to feel supported, their form of escapism is different. They all want to play, all of us could win.

The son of an unknown soldier by Antony Owen

I want to think of you young in the parachuting smoke where you met him
his brass buttons cold against your cheek as you danced to conscripted tunes.
Your stolen kiss after war must have felt like a dabbed wound to his mouth.

I dreamt I was made in the waterfall’s shroud that dropped in tresses of red
and when you spoke his name dusk became an unpicked scab of no man’s land.

I am the son of an unknown soldier who died with earth in his fingernails.
I am the son of an unknown woman who lived in the earth with his hands.
His hands, his hands, his hands, was all she said when we danced each autumn.

I Will Kiss You Where The Phoenix Rises by Antony Owen

“Coventry has been named the most violent city in UK”

Mirror

 

In England’s most violent city I sank in a galleon of fog to steal the red treasure and spent bronze coin of dusk. Maybe it is violent to see how buzzards fire themselves like bullets at voles and swallow their hearts like right wing newspapers. Maybe it is violent to see how magpies clean the road more travelled where badgers park forever split open at random by whatever car had trespassed their country. I only see violence when I look away and my heart will not allow it anymore. The most violent I ever felt was the moment I fell in adult love and realised that flesh is kaolin sculptured in the fires of loving a woman who knows who she is. If our world forgets how to spin I know that to love through fire you must be it, so I will kiss you where the phoenix rises in my violent city. I will tell you that Presidents and ministers do not own our lips or minds, so meet me in the most violent city declaring ourselves fit for battle. Meet me where the girls played football down Finham park and beat us at our own game by being violent when the ref looked away. Meet me at the Binley Mega Chippy where Cod is flung into oceans of fat and cooked so violently that people queue for up to an hour just to float away from the week that had them. I will violently kiss you where the phoenix rises and Coventry was born, and born and born and born and,
feel the gentle kiss of wind down Cathedral way.

We Ate the Finest Steak at a Restaurant in Yemen by Antony Owen

To get a poem on the Yemen massacre published I wrote a poem about the good times when we ate the finest steak in a five-star restaurant in Yemen. We never ate in such a restaurant but to get a poem published for the statues of walking ash let’s just say we did for the sake of it all. So, we ate the scorched remains of meat floating in a bloody bowl that begged to be appreciated and consumed. We talked about the influence King Leopold the twelfth had on the mass production of silk purses in post regency Francais. To get the poem published I could mention the conversations we had about how influential Lars von Trier is in contemporary cinema like the scene in Anti-Christ when the white baby falls with white snowflakes as his parents made love in white cotton and of the darkness and irony of the metaphorical irony of it all. But metaphorical irony doesn’t make sense but that’s okay because I’m talking about Lars von Trier and like David Lynch is ever so artsy to display a sense of ambiguity now back to my poem or prose or whatever the fuck it is or isn’t. We never ate the finest steak in a restaurant in Yemen because the only time I went there was a news article where words bombed into my eyes that Great Britain shook hands and sold their arms there. The arms I saw were strewn in what was a five-star restaurant where human steak was served up in white cotton totally unlike a Lars von Trier scene where parents made love soft as white snowflakes. These off-white bodies were red as steaks in Park Lane restaurants where deals were done and deals were done and deals were done. The hands I saw that were shaking were held up to Gods like begging bowls of blood, this steak is all that matters it is too well done and everyone is sick to the stomach of it. If this steak was served in newspapers like tragedies of white meat, then they’d ask for more of it and like the queues in ‘eat as much as you can’ buffets they’d all get fat on it and we’d finally see what they were really made of.

Working Class Manifestos 2021 by Antony Owen

Walk with me my love through the Trump funded Oaks daubed red to be cut down and I shall hold your face like a tragic promise in the sold-out wind there. Did you know trees are betrothed to sky in rings that form an atlas into bark made from oceans that fell on their knees praying from East to West. It’s the way she said “I love you, always have, always will” and these working-class manifestos are forged from all the suns we lived through that lifted and fell like veils of queuing Brides dressed in spindle silk for one day in Pakistani meadows. Yes, Pakistan has meadows, it is so much more than just war.

Walk with me my love where our friends with wrong tongues shouted hopeless rebellions at a country that cut them down like oaks. Look at the streets where Hombres photographed a moving flag of Britain where saltires of market stalls criss-crossed through Small Heath in Braeburn pinks like the colour of his cheeks, yes, the colour of his non-white cheeks. Look at the empty shop wells where that woman who God forgot wore a scarf over her face so believers would feed her, oh man I believed in God that day when she left fatter. Yes, women who cover their faces there are people like me who really saw you.

Walk with me my love through miasma of pepper sprayed streets and hold your head up high to keep your nose from bleeding. Walk with me to the pin striped man who popped the world like a blue and green balloon and ask him to excuse us. Run with me past Trump and Murdoch Boulevard where birds sing past the curfew and after our sixty-hour working week we’ll catch the privatised rain in jam-jars and hope no one reports us for stealing the sky. Sleep by me my love and I’ll send a contraband text to our friends who now live in enemy states. Dream with me, my love.

When it Snows in Aleppo by Antony Owen

After Bejan Matur

It came quickly to take them away
They never knew if the flames were Russian or British
But it came nonetheless and flames can make you so cold if you survive them.

It came slowly in the night for her and
I want to say that all the feathers from her exploding pillowcase made Angels
that took her to the place between heaven and the smouldering signposts of hell.

When it snows in Aleppo I hope that a bird made of pillow feathers sing her songs
I hope that it rests to sip from the scarlet slush and makes a new nest
I hope the snowmen made of people where they fell fly away.

When Aleppo thaws I hope we see it.
I hope children stop reaching for red crayons in describing their family
Mother’s and Father’s in wax drawings should be circles and sticks smiling on green grass.

Happy Christmas to Bad Hombres by Antony Owen

At the foodbank, there is a human wall the blind built

two magpies for joy peck at turkey and silver in tinfoil

oh, how rich the meat is when it is left to hang by butchers in suits.

 

At the foodbank, there is a woman ripping a wing of white meat and

the left wing breaks as easy as the right but she doesn’t care,

She will not grab at the meat, she is still, yes still womanly.

 

At the foodbank, there is a tin soldier melting in a ladle

she is remembering Basra and the rich man’s decorations

she is hanging baubles of blood from a tree of shoes she cannot un-see.

 

At the foodbank, is a human wall of bad hombres from everywhere.

They are saying happy Christmas to the bad hombres serving them,

they are all here but somewhere else trying to find the wishbones.

If We Took a Drive over the World Now by Antony Owen

I dreamt you and I were driving over Earth’s sky and tuned into the radio of each country hearing ballads fading out to white noise. We noticed moon was a frosted bullet-hole and behind the black glass of space was the explosion of impact where brain matters of Gods making new worlds were actually reflecting the end of ours. We passed the blue desert of ocean to ice and watched it shrink like snowflakes in greenhouses. We turned up the radio over Syria and all of the stars turned to cats-eyes taking us to streets of roadkill in human clothes. As we broke down there sun hurled itself through this street in an act of self-immolation for all the people maddened by war. I dreamt you and I were driving in darkness with earth and moon as our busted headlights, “it’s no wonder we got lost” you said. We turned off the radio and watched sap bleed out from elms as sparrows gave it song. We slept in the beautiful earth.

For All the Sad Clowns by Antony Owen

The scariest clowns I ever saw
had faces of children in masks made by war
the rock-a-by-babies in cribs of a sea-shore.

The scariest clowns I ever heard
were men of parliament but not of their word
who vanished like magic tricks when truths became blurred.

Let me tell you of the saddest clown
they are pink balloons of flesh as children drown
who claimed the blue empire till it claimed them down.

The scariest clowns I ever saw
had faces of children in masks made of war
who sleep on restless sea beds as shells forevermore.

The saddest clown that ever chased us
hash-tagged and mourned as they faced us
we shared their deaths as their lives had displaced us.

The saddest audience I ever saw
wept for the clowns as they pour and they pour
trapezing from fourth worlds to the blue empires floor.

Starlings over Calais by Antony Owen

When God pressed her fingerprints over Calais
A million starlings swirled song-less over the jungle.

When God threw her black veil in grief for widows
A million starlings migrated to the bottom of the sea.

When God danced in her black dress to Aleppan anthems
two Mig birds left an aviary of wounds in a million nests.

When God wrote her ballads for man she used the ink-pot sea
A million starlings danced over Calais and sang from the diggers.

When God slit her wrists just she released a million starlings
She wanted to see the pain leave her but mankind never cared.

When a million starlings lie dead over Europe
wrap them in tents where the albatrosses slept.

The Falling Man by Antony Owen

on nine twelve they spoke of the falling man
imagine developing his shape from water
gradually appearing in bleak suspension
leave him to dry into more than a shape
watch black grains form into her son
I heard the sky was perfect blue.

On nine thirteen you said that they looked like rain
maybe some were whole new worlds
white cotton should not turn scarlet
it should not lay by twisted steel
a mother is nationless in birth
her children belong to life
I heard he was born
perfect then
human.

they erased him.

The Woman Soldier Opens Fire by Antony Owen

Her skin was Pokemon yellow but

nobody looked for the monster in her –

the florists daughter retching from her ointment

cared not if the fire was Russian or Brexit European

flames hurt wherever they are forged and baptised from.

 

The furious doctor has not slept for eleven Iraqi nights

he is shaking so violently yet gently injects Shoab and

tonight in penicillin dreams Shoab may walk again, walk

to his Mother and see a red scarf leave her mouth

and strike her down where she tucked him in.

 

It is time to look for Pokemon in wartime.

For three seconds the woman soldier opens fire.

She is a woman soldier and last night was a mere child.

For three minutes her Father was a florist of wounds and cyclamen

laid it on her grave, her womanly bones. All they found was a monster.