Friday, January 27, 2017

Alice on the Barricades

Daleks from Dr. Who
—Poems by Neil Fulwood, Nottingham, UK


“Eck – eck – eck –” You’d think
he’d been presented with a staircase
or a one-in-three gradient. (Allowing,
of course, for the pre-reboot
non-aerodynamic model.)

“Eck – eck – eck –” The Dalek
at the foot of a lighthouse, ski-slope
or queuing for the helter-skelter.
The Dalek at a funfair, soft-play area
or squaring up to stepping-stones.

“Eck – eck – eck –” Zygons
would shrug and get on with it,
Cybermen welcome the work-out,
K-9 laugh at a level playing field
then cut loose with the laser.

“Eck – eck – exter – extermi –
Eck – eck –” There is a Dalek word
for bollocks. There is, on Skaro,
a phrase that roughly translates
as render me unto tinned goods.

The human version is fuck my life.


This has gone beyond
Alice through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole

or wherever else
her misadventures took her.
This is Alice stunned,

Alice in despair,
still wearing a campaign badge
that’s yesterday’s news.

This is an outcome
with no contingency plan,
a never event

recast as headline.
This is ugliness rising,
hatespeak gone mainstream.

This is terminus
and internment camp. This is
Facebook and Twitter.

This is the raised voice,
the repeated phrase, the fist
hammering the air.

This is the past doomed
to flunk its own subject, shoot
itself in the foot.

This is the montage
that will serve as epilogue:
streets choked with tear-gas,

broken glass pavements,
Alice on the barricades;
curfews, martial law,

restrictions, own good,
Alice spraying sedition
on the underpass,

on the railway bridge;
Alice wearing a hoodie,
her face turned away

from CCTV,
something in her hand that flares
as it’s thrown; Alice

on a street corner,
in a bar, on the subway,
receiving something

or passing something,
giving someone a signal;
Alice waiting … waiting.

Alice confident
of the day, the uprising,
the restoration. 

 —Anonymous Photo



We are crammed into a room without windows
where strip lights insist on giving us headaches
like a bustling aunt with a plate of stale biscuits,
not taking no for an answer. We have signed in.
We have introduced ourselves. We have drawn
circles on bits of paper; linked them with arrows.
We are reviewing our normative functions.
We are learning how to soothe the savage breast
of those who yell at us for other people’s mistakes
with the simple application of warmth, congruence
and respect. The trainer asks us what is meant
by congruence. We wonder if he knows himself.

 —Anonymous Photo



… as if they were in flight, drawers
and wardrobe doors left open, burglar alarm
forgotten; one hastily packed suitcase
in the back of a minicab, RyanAir booking
on credit card by way of a false trail
and a train ticket, one-way, bought for cash.

But you’d chase them down anyway,
arrive at the station concerned and breathless,
just in time to stop them boarding.  
So sure you’d made arrangements with them,
baffled that they’d have other plans.

 Alice in a Big Chair
—Anonymous Photo

(after Edip Cansever; for Harry Paterson)

A man budged up in his chair
And made room for his granddaughter,
Read her stories while the fight
Against injustice and the jackboot of politics
Was put on hold. A menagerie
Of stuffed toys joined them on the chair—
Pooh and Piglet and Eeyore, comrades
In the liberation of Hundred Acre Wood.
The stories were filtered through experience
But the chair guaranteed happy endings.

His friends visited. Bottles were opened.
The world was set to rights
But language kept clean for the sake of the bairn.
Books were plucked from shelves
And passages revisited. The chair
Accommodated the burgeoning crowd.
Some kid from the council estate
Read poetry that would have earned him
Broken windows or graffiti. A man
Of the Muslim faith wished peace on all
And was taken at his word.

People leaned against the chair,
Or perched on the creased leather of its arms.
His granddaughter fell asleep
And a blanket cuddled with cartoon characters
Was draped on her and the chair given over.
He thought about friends
He hadn't met yet, other grandchildren.
The expanse of his home and his heart were undoubted.
It was just good manners that his guests
Be seated. He measured the room
And emptied his pockets,
Made provision for a bigger chair.

 —Anonymous Photo

(after the film, Vanishing Point)

It fills the frame,
motion blur wiping the background
into nothing even as the camera
holds steady.

Sunlight prisms
through the windscreen, lens flare
arc-welding the moment in time
and out of it.

The 60s are dead.
Reverse zoom stretches the blacktop
from the bottom of the screen
to a fixed point

between forever
and disappearance. He is a fugitive
from nothing. Or maybe from memory.
Either way,

there is no point
beyond the road itself. The 60s are dead.
There are Jesus freaks singing hallelujah
in the desert

and the 60s are dead.
There are snakes in the desert and the 60s
are dead. There’s a voice on the radio
preaching the scream

of funk and the 60s
are dead. Kowalski, eyes heavy-lidded,
is at the wheel of a 1970 Dodge Challenger,
white in colour,

and the 60s are dead.


Our thanks to Neil Fulwood, poet from Across the Pond, for his comments on our recent attack of the Daleks. According to Wikiquote (for those of you who have been passed by by Dr. Who), "the Daleks are a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, created by the megalomaniacal scientist Davros of the planet Skaro to be an emotionless ‘master race’ bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse." Neil was featured on Medusa’s Kitchen on June 24, 2015.

Today’s LittleNip:

The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.

—John Lennon



 Celebrate poetry (and clear your head of chaos) tonight 
by heading over to Davis to hear Susan Kelly-DeWitt 
and Carlena Wike read at The Other Voice, 7:30pm. 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
 column at the right) for info about this and other 
upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that 
more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.