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.
But if you tiptoe in your slippers
and look past the tree to the East
there's another one.