78. Distraction Poetry

Nube elefante

Detail from ‘Nube elefante’, Mauro Koliva

Until we work out which larger acts of resistance to use against five more years of Tory lies, xenophobia and depravations under Boris Johnson here’s a small one you can try; who knows, maybe it will confuse some of his tax-dodging friends, perhaps even lose them a penny or two.

For every genuine enquiry you type into your search engine (e.g. ‘Best countries to emigrate to in 2020’) type something wholly invented as well (e.g. ‘Where can I find an enormous hat companion for the 1948 Olympics?’). It might just throw the algorithms employed by the corporate barons to sell you crap off your scent. It could even help disguise your true intentions when it comes to the struggles ahead.

I know, it’s a little pathetic. But – if your brain is wired anything like mine – it’s also creative, fun and strangely addictive. I call it ‘distraction poetry’ and you can find more examples of it here and here. Give it a go, and in the course of your random searches you might just churn up some grains of insight on the seabed of the net that you can fling into the smug faces of those in charge. Every little helps!

75. Over the Border

Over the border
The sun shines
But it is not real
The work continues
But it has no substance
The clouds move
Or appear to anyway
But none of it is real
Over the border
It is real
It is so real it tears
Your body from soul
We play our songs
And drink our drinks
Waking up to find
The sun shines
But it is not real
Over the border
It is real

Illustration ©Ana Rebolledo

74. Tickets please

The inventor of
The train ticket
Lived down the road:
It was his ticket
Out of here.

(All the way to Manchester
Where he died in 1851)

Teenage couple
Can’t wait to make
Their fortune to escape;
Can’t quite raise
The fare to anywhere –
Just know they must be going.

Hiding in disabled loos
Between carriages
Where Edmondson rode
Upfront in topper, one imagines,
Signing stubs and visualising
Tickertape parades on Princess Street.

Where to go is moot (toot-toot!)
For our young heroes.
“Please wash your hands” (they do)
Then jump the barricades
To find a world run by
Fat controllers, grey cardinals
Entwined – demanding tickets please.

Soon they are proven to be on
The wrong side of the tracks;
Then sitting on the fence
At an erroneous angle
By blinking data readings on
Smart troops’ smart watches.

(The Internet thinks
What I type is what I want,
So up pops an ad for a
Military smart watch:
Henceforth official timer
Of this poem.)

Here the ghost of Edmondson
Decides to intervene.
“God is in everyone,”
He tells the tooled-up bureaucrats
“Not according to this,”
Comes the reply; but when they
See his pasty Quaker face and swoon
The couple are off again.

Finding a planet blighted
By splurge and gut-greed,
And while weeping over birds
In sticky deaths throes
On foamy beaches
The couple decide
To try Plan B.

The office is manned
By a man in a topper,
They ask for one-way tickets;
Edmondson requests a code
Downloaded from a website,
Then smiles: “Please permit
My little joke.” They do.

And off they go again;
You hear the engines roar
While hanging out the washing;
But don’t worry, old man,
Old woman, old ghost –
You are not compelled
To join them: your only duty
Is to let them go (ticket or no ticket).