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  • Graham Westwell

Austerity poem


Is cold-boiled, watery-soup potatoes thinned[1]

down to the last &

no chance of

a golden kiss[2] to the world;

to the whole world.

Is noble school washing machines[3]

rumbling with the fading clothes of

golden children[4];

unable to wash at home, unable

to afford the juice.

Is golden lecterns[5] propping up sagging &

predictably white men, leering and

smeared by their own greasy

cruelty[6] & endlessly enduring

filthy indifference[7].

The world kisses and waits to be kissed golden[8].

Graham Westwell, July, England, 2018.

[1] The potato soup is kind of an obvious 1984 style image; state-induced famine intended to persecute and control. It seems to be a precursor to the systematic rise of fascism. The famished can’t even afford to boil the potatoes. [2] The initial golden reference is to ‘The Kiss’ by Klimt. I had been to see Klimt’s exhibition in Vienna, after PCE 2018, and was also reading a book about Egon Shiele (a kind of student of Klimt’s). Klimt’s famous painting was described as ‘ … this kiss to the whole world …’. [3] The washing machines refers to schools, in England, that had bought washing machines and encouraged their students to bring in their ‘filthy’ clothes which they couldn’t afford to wash at home. This happened in England in 2016. [4] The golden metaphor is repeated as a prayer. All children are golden. ‘We are starlight, we are golden …’ (Crosby Stills & Nash / Joni Mitchell, ‘Woodstock'). We just need to find our way back to Spirit (‘ … and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…’). [5] The golden lectern is an image I have in mind; of previous Tory PM (David Cameron) talking at some city club meal, at the start of austerity, predictably dripping in gold (avarice) amongst predictably white men … [6] They feed the Death Mother and she lives through them. [7] These predictably white men are filthy no matter how often they wash in white paint (Roy Harper, ‘White Man’): “While back inside his kitchen / the bowler hatted, long haired saint / cleans with soap and water / but it's really just white paint …” [8] However, Mother Nature will abide with grace; she waits to be kissed.

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