Peter Raynard’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Prole, the Rialto, Under the Radar, South Bank Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears, and a number of other publications. His debut collection, The Common Five-Eighters, is forthcoming from Smokestack Books. He is a member of the writer’s collective Malika’s Kitchen in London, and editor of Proletarian Poetry: poems of working class lives, (www.proletarianpoetry.com), which has featured poems from over eighty poets around the world.
A US Soldier after Belshazzar’s Feast
I step through the open gate for the first time
in five years. Graffiti tags swirl
across the perimeter fence and wall.
I don’t remember it ever being so sunny.
On duty it was just hot, too hot.
I light a cigarette and watch a jet fighter
lay a white stripe overhead as it arcs
out to sea. From inside the camp
you would never have known
an ocean was so near. I can smell it now,
back then you could only smell the camp.
I often wondered why no-one ever tried to escape –
but where can you go when
you don’t know where you are?
I put my starch-folded uniform on
the dust white ground like a wreath,
then piss petrol on it from a small can.
My cigarette acts as its torch.
The camouflaged jacket doesn’t take
straight away. A smoulder soon turns
to a flame, sears through the body
of the suit blacking out my name.
I feel its heat. I hear the men still,
blindfold in their cells. I smell the food,
their empty feast. I walk back to the ocean.
On the Coach to Rotherham with the English Defence League
They are all of them Jacks to a man
a twelve bar blues ribcage of beating hearts,
barcode teeth drinking piss from stolen cans
in a farmyard of pork scratching farts.
Each a knuckled dot from the terraces,
eaten more away games than sent death
messages, YouTube views of terrorists
with weak chinned beards that stink of halal breath
signed up by the Taliban, to groom girls.
They stand weak in the grip of demo fever
to take back their streets with flags that unfurl
a justice to drive out all believers.
They wish the rivers of blood would spill.
They are the two broken fingers of Churchill.