Poem for a benefit gig in aid of the refugee crisis

Posted by lukewrightpoet Category: Podcast, Poems

Poem for a benefit gig in aid of the refugee crisis


So, maybe, we’re just Warhol’s worn out kids:
we’re numb, been rubbed so hard the doctor’s pricks
elicit nothing save the tiniest of blinks:
our petty dramas clog our kitchen sinks

and everything beyond that’s sales or myths.
But if that’s true, then what’d you make of this:
last night in First Class as the drunk train crept
through well-kept towns a woman wept

at some clever old Booker winner’s words?
We in the West don’t feel – no, that’s absurd.
And so perhaps, it’s more the opposite:
we feel too subtly. Our instruments

of empathy are tuned to recognise
the pregnant glance, that sad truth in the eyes,
prosaic horrors hung from half-heard lines.
Our hearts are only stirred by the sublime.

And so when we see war our pathos fails
it’s like a ton of shale dumped on our scales.
Our needles freewheel at those photographs.
It all too much, it’s crass, sometimes we laugh.

What privilege that is, to only feel
those tragedies so fine they’re scarcely real.


But let’s not think ourselves too rarified
from hours of news the image that’s survived
in our fine minds is little Aylan Kurdi.
Pretty raw. Not intricate, not wordy.

The old dead child trick, but consider this:
the image mainly featured in the press
which smacked us as it flashed across our palms
was of that boy held lifeless in the arms

of an aid worker. Strikes a different tone
to Aylan face-down on the sand alone.
Come on, it tell us, help us with the plan.
Give generously and you could be that man.

And so the worthy-famous Twitter on:
So hard! Cos I imagine that’s my son.
They issue statements like they’re presidents
and blithely retweet charity events.

Well, maybe we’re just massive egotists
we’ll give ourselves but not our self to this.
Is this piece of theatre interactive?
Will I have a say in how it’s acted?

And as the refugee crisis gets worse
at last my pithy take on things – in verse.


But still, damned if you do, damned if you don’t
we save our spleen for those who can but won’t.
The ones who cling to comfortable lies
screeched at them from the newspapers they buy.

Another crime to chalk up to The Mail.
A sneer for those stood clutching Starbuck’s lattes
the ones who turn up late to pity parties.

But so what if it’s part performative
or only stirred by picturing our kids
in that man’s arms in place of little Aylan?
So what if all this feels like shoddy fiction?

Kind acts are still kind acts, despite the fuss.
This world makes fucking hypocrites of us.
So be it. Rather be a hypocrite
than be that guy who NEVER gives a shit.

But when the benefits and clothes drops stop
perhaps we might consider how we shop
or what we read. And when we stand to vote
perhaps our minds will see a capsized boat

or stir up nights of solidarity,
remember who it is we wish to be.

* This is a quote from a Sun column by controversialist and professional twat Katie Hopkins.

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