with Clint Panzerdivision
Home Defence UK
A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
The St Valentine's Day Riots
A Poem

Some years ago, like many precocious young people with an aversion to physical 
exercise, I dabbled in the poetic arts, and, over a period of several years, committed 
to paper some of the most atrocious crimes against verse since William Carlos 
Williams finally lay his crayon to rest. 

Naturally then, when Al first suggested the idea of exposing one of these abominations to the world, my immediate reaction was one of unparalleled horror. I would, I decided, rather gouge out my eyeballs with a penknife corkscrew than allow 'Home Defence' to become a depository for the angst-fuelled absurdity of my youth. However, having dusted off and read the accursed thing, I found it to be one of the less appalling of the slim collection, and decided, perhaps wrongly, to print and be damned. This decision has in no way been prompted by the scurrilous rumour that I may have got shit-face drunk last night instead of writing any proper copy for Mr Likilla. 

Here then, is 'The St Valentine's Day Riots'. May god have mercy on your soul. 
Thank you. 
- Clint Panzerdivision (15th February, 2004)

Surprised? Not at all,

well, only that it didn't happen sooner

It was your own damn fault.

It wasn't enough that you had it,

you had to flaunt it.

You said it's all you need.

You said it's the drug.

You wore your hearts on your sleeves

till they began to look like swastikas

and because you only had eyes for each other

you failed to see the danger

in the images you flashed in our faces,

Pounding hearts, white-hot fire, and the red, red roses,

it was bound to get the blood racing.

And that day, that interminably long day...

Forced smiles, fixed expressions, dealing with it

when we just wanted to ignore it all.

While you were ambling through the wine-list

in low-lit restaurants

we were half-pissed and vulnerable in dark pubs

and darker moods.

Most of us just wanted a distraction,

any excuse not to have to go home,

so when it started, well,

it wasn't as if we had anything better to do.

Riots? Revolution more like.

The downtrodden masses taking a stand,

an uprising of the undesirable,

a million-strong army with a million single voices

united in solitude.

All the lonely people,

where did we all come from?

We came from nowhere and everywhere,

from the factories and the offices

and the suburbs and the inner city schools;

from hollow castles too big for one to fill alone

and damp bedsits too small.

City sharks, teenage poets,

peers of the realm, friends of Dorothy,

iconoclasts, blasphemers and followers of the One True Faith.

All shades of humanity,

with no restriction, discrimination or dress code

but one ticket only.

It was glorious.

We burst the balloons and tore up the cards,

torched the storefronts and ransacked the record shops,

stormed the clubs and hung the DJs high

and when there was nothing left to provoke us

we realised that we were still angry.

A swirling wave of bilious frustration,

all the suppressed aggression,

every backed-up whacked-out emotion

was unleashed onto the streets

and we rode it like a wave, because it was ours.

For three days and three nights the fires burned

and we were there to tend them.

We swept through the cities

and the screaming that ripped through your uneasy dreams

was the sound we hear in our heads

in the sleepless eternity of 2am

when everything's closed

and there's no one to phone but the helplines

and there's nothing left to cushion us

from the reality of our lives.

But for that brief time, perhaps for the first time

we needed no protection.

We raged freely, without explanation

as you hid yourselves

behind the blanket comfort of the front door,

trying to concentrate on anything

other than the madness beyond;

wondering why the world had suddenly decided

to shut you out.

I hope you learnt a little about us.

It ended eventually, as all things must.

We went back to our homes, our jobs,

our little rituals and routines

but first to our beds

and as we pulled the curtains we saw you

emerging into the light, blinking and confused,

like the lingering lost souls at a nightclub

and we smile.

Next year? Maybe nothing,

or maybe we'll bring society to its arthritic knees.

I'm just a scribbler, a half-hearted poet,

but there's a man at the end of my street

with an all-weather anorak and a subscription to 'Guns and Ammo'

who claims he can strip and rebuild an assault rifle

in thirty seconds.

You've got to fill the days somehow.

We've got the skills,

we've got the time,

oh god, do we have the time,

and it's frightening how quickly thinking

becomes planning becomes plotting.

In a window in the distance there's a solitary lightbulb

that guides each night into morning.

You can see it from your bathroom window

if you take the time to look.

That's me.

But if you tiptoe in your slippers

and look past the tree to the East

there's another one.

That's us.

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