Big Ben is Broken by Ian Badcoe

For this second selection, guest editor Kinsman says “Whilst this poem articulates how we all probably feel about politics in this country at the moment, it does so in a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek manner. More importantly, it reminds us that every small action in the face of political stagnation has ramifications within our communities. Opening a small, local business can be a monumental feat, a blessing to society and a way of sticking two fingers up at the elitist, capitalist machine and all these achievements better the world we live in. I enjoy this poem’s hope in reminding us of this.”

Big Ben is broken

The PM will announce,
has announced,
will have recently been announcing
after revelations in yesterday’s, tomorrow’s London Times
that Big Ben is broken
and using science we have found
tick come adrift from tock
a pendulum that rocks erratically
from left to right to yes to no to maybe to furious
and back through quite depressed.
What is counted now behind the clock face,
one cannot even guess.

We’ve come adrift
in this week-last-Thursday afternoon:
East of Sunday Papers, West of some-or-other doom;
marooned in a rancid doldrum
where nothing makes much sense;
fey moods a-flicker
on the faces of an electorate
who are electing: insanocrats, defectocrats,
deselectocrats, talking cartoon animals,
and general nogoodniks of all persuasions
while all the while explaining
that they’ve nothing left to lose
which frankly shows
some lack of imagination…

Because…
there’s no-one understands
that a country is a gift:
but also something bought;
that society (by which I mean your whole damn world)
doesn’t work by golden-age magic
or prerogatives of kings
it is also necessary
for actual people to plan for actual things
and that contrary to what politicos believe
the bulk of those are not in Westminster
nor anywhere near.

There is no government mandate
to open corner shops on streets
it’s just that if you have a world
where such an act makes sense
then people do it.  Similarly
while wonks do think about defense
a lot they strangely fail to consider
that it might make sense to guarantee
there will be street repairs
or a steady supply of students —
even if they will get pissed
and throw up on the front steps
of high street banks
— which also ideally should exist.

The point is that societies/countries/governments
serve us and not the other way around,
but Big Ben is broken and maybe
in some other world
we could send in Dr Who
in a fifty-foot robot to inject
a team of crack horologists
but here…
but here, oh dear…
no such remedy exists
and the lunatic asylum next door
continues to froth
and though I am loathe
to suggest any sort of social cleansing
the urge to brick up the doors
while they’re voting
is quite strong.

Ask not what you can do for your country
ask if your country has gone wrong,
and if it has…
ask what you can do
by way of running repairs.

CC_Ian Badcoe

 

Ian Badcoe lives in Sheffield, England, where he is a software developer and local poet. He has aspirations to being a non-local poet but hasn’t yet been able to get enough “quantum” into his work. He blogs at https://www.ianbadcoe.uk/ 

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