“If you mess with bears” – poem 1/183 #poems #poets #poetry

183 Saturday 12/09/09

RIP Timothy Treadwell
it’s eat, fuck & kill out there
that’s the law
if you mess with bears
they’ll eat you


“Gramsci’s Hair”. #poems #poets ‘#poetry



Il Duce was too soft on you
and let you live

so your hair survived
the damp cells of Ustica and Turi
where you wrote a way out for your comrades
from the ruins of their revolution

I saw you in that photo
on a tutor’s wall
from before those prison days
hair thick and black
you in your neat commissar’s outfit

now every student reading Dante
inhales your spores
and can spell the word hegemony

afterwards I see it was a simple suit your wore
like any old bourgeois citizen
and your face had grown fat
though your hair was still black
if not so voluminous

pity you didn’t live to see
the bald dictator strung up and bloody
like a bulbous spider

that hegemonic bastard, death,
did for both of you, hair or no hair

@ Michael Blackburn, 2018

“Telling lies to the young is wrong” – Yevtushenko


Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world is wrong.
the young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted,
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.

“Lies” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi. From the Selected Poems in the Penguin Modern Poets series, 1968.


“Out of the vortex, rifling the air it came…” – In Parenthesis

The final paras of Part 2 of In Parenthesis by David Jones. Private Ball, the protagonist of this Modernist Great War poem, experiences for the first time the blast of a shell close by.

“Where the English wilderness is”: a poem. #poems #poets #poetry

Cliff Lane

where the English wilderness is
in the interstices
along the margins
here at the roadside
deep in grasses, poppies,
mallows and escaped hypericum
wherever the wind bears the seed
wherever the buzzard has moved in
new territory of field, wood and air
not asking for our opinion
us, who are
wilderness in wilderness

(Poem 105: 29/06/08 from the poem-a-day project, 2008 – 2012, Michael Blackburn).

“Communist doctrines were a great lie.”


One way to commit evil is simply “not to think,” but willed ignorance of evil already means “the ruin of a human being.” Those who tell Solzhenitsyn not to dig up the past belong to the category of “not-thinkers,” as do Western leftists who make sure not to know. The Germans, he argues, were lucky to have had the Nuremberg trials because they made not-thinking impossible. This Russian patriot advances a unique complaint: “Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not?”

Solzhenitsyn discovers yet another cause of totalitarianism’s monstrous evil: “Progressive Doctrine” or “Ideology.” In one famous passage, he asks why Shakespeare’s villains killed only a few people, while Lenin and Stalin murdered millions. The reason is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Real people do not resemble the evildoers of mass culture, who delight in cruelty and destruction. No, to do mass evil you have to believe it is good, and it is ideology that supplies this conviction. “Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale of millions.”

From “Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals” by Gary Saul Morson, in The New Criterion.

Image c/o Wikipedia.