Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

War Diary Part 1

I kept a verse diary for the build up and first few weeks of the invasion of Iraq. Here it is- four years on.




That was a pretty sorry winter.

Our bestest friend (now what was her name?)

Accused us of doing something atrocious

And broke off relations- Snap- like that.

And Ailz and I went looking for solace

On e-Bay.

               What I bought was  women-

28 millimetres high-

In halter tops with great big enormous

Axes and swords- (you see, where they come from

No-one gets cold) and I’ll paint em up

And they’ll be my army.

                                    Maybe I’ll get them

Some skeleton soldiers to smack around.

Crack those marrowbones

Knock those blocks off

Stamp on their nasty twiggy toes.

Today is February the twelfth.

And the cold air meeting the warm ground

Or the warm air meeting the cold ground-

Whichever- has turned the street to mist

As in my foggy London childhood.

Winter’s over at last I think

And I pick out the sodden rocket-stick

That’s been in the hedge since November the Fifth

And swish it around like a sword till it breaks.


I’ve written about a third of novel.

I don’t want to play with those people today.

Their love affairs are human too human.


I’ll take a break on the rocky hills.

I’ll drink from those streams.


                                      I went down to Games Workshop

And bought some paint and was gathered in.

“Are you a painter?” the young man asked.

I said that I was and his eyes went happy.


How I do love thee, meek simplicity.


My brave companions are bonded in friendship

Long-striding women and men. They wear

Bright coats of mithril. They carry axes.


We sleep in a sheepfold.  The pinewoods thrash.

The plague cart travels the moonlit road.

The knobby old bones of its driver knock.

His cargo bounces.




From up in the sky,

From a gondola on the London Eye,

The city looks like a Canaletto.

The buildings are white, the river is silver.


Time like an ever rolling stream.


 As if the London of Bleak House

Had never happened.


                             The greasy fog

The mud accruing at compound interest,

From Dickens day to the nineteen fifties.


Liquid shite on the street outside Harrods

And under a big, black, city umbrella,

Packed among all those forgettable  people

(The year is 1958)

An Indian woman.


                             Treading the shite

In open sandals.


                             The people below me

Hundreds, thousands, are nothing but beetles.

The politicians who send out the bombers-

They have this view. So what if a beetle

Should stop?  (That’s Orson as Harry Lime)

Or in the case we’re considering now,

Thousands of beetles?


                             I’m writing this

On the eve of our government’s war with Iraq.


A lot of beetles a long way off

Will stop.


                   That one is the blind-fold juggler.

And there’s the guy with the mop on his head

Who makes like a statue.


                             The river is silver

It jazzes the windows of County Hall.


All I’ve got left of that woman I saw

Is an idea of beauty.  Of beauty as fragile.

I couldn’t actually swear to the sandals

Or tell you what colour her sari was.

But if I was going to fake it I’d say

It was blue and silver- the colour the world is.


We fly forgotten.


                             The next thing’s war.

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