Tag Archives: Johnson

Poem: “Agenda for a Political Career”

Help the peaceniks
With their cut-backs
To the Army,
It’s fulfilling;

Once elected,
Buy cheap arms stocks,
Start a war and
Make a killing.

This poem was originally published in Lighten Up Online, edited by Jerome Betts. I dislike war, but even more I loathe “chicken hawks“, those who personally avoided combat when their country called them up but who later in their careers advocated war and made a fortune from it. That includes a lot of American politicians.

Good guys: Eisenhower and his military-industrial complex warning. Kennedy, assassinated when he was trying to pull US troops out of Vietnam. Carter. All military men who understood war.

Total jerks: Johnson, ramping up the Vietnam war while everyone was distracted by the Kennedy funeral. Kissinger even more than Nixon. Cheney even more than George W. Bush. Trump. Chicken hawks.

The US doesn’t have a monopoly on avaricious politicians. The UK’s Tony Blair has been rewarded by the world of oil and wars to the extent of acquiring an estimated $90 million and a property portfolio worth $37.5 million in the first eight years since leaving office (i.e. 2007-2015).

 

Poem: “Move Along Folks, Nothing to See”

JFK.jpg

“Kennedy(s)” by Garrett Leo Augustyn

There was a sharp psychic who lived in DC,
They told her their troubles, she told them “I see”.
She told Mr. Kennedy “Don’t go to Texas”
He went and was killed, it’ll always perplex us.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a small bullet was fired from a gun,
You wouldn’t believe the damage it done:
Through Kennedy’s neck, Connally’s chest, wrist and thigh,
Fifteen layers of clothing… and ended up fine.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a young drifter, a Commie, Marine,
Who shot and then lunched in the schoolbook canteen
As though he weren’t flustered – two minutes before
He’d been killing, then must have rushed down six floors.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a club owner who carried a gun
A friend of the cops, of HQ he’d the run.
“I did it for Jackie” – prevented a trial,
No chance now for Oswald to prove his denial.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a Vice President, swallowed his pride
At the President’s insults – when JFK died
He ramped up the war while the nation was grieving –
His weapons and copter stocks passed all believing.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a commission that looked for the truth.
Conclusion: a loner, no plot, not like Booth.
The psychic? Ignored. The bullet? Just lucky.
The VP? Heart-broken. The club owner? Plucky.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

This was first published in Snakeskin #246, December 2017. It mentions some – but by no means all – of the anomalies surrounding the first Kennedy assassination, reported on but not resolved by the Warren Commission. JFK’s assassination is a rabbit-hole that you can disappear down and never see daylight again, full of intriguing Lewis Carroll-like logic puzzles such as the magic bullet theory.

Unnamed characters here are psychic Jeane Dixon, assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, nightclub owner Jack Ruby and of course Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Technically the poem is closer to a song than to a formal poem. It has a regular structure of verse and refrain. The rhymes and metre are a little loose, which you can get away with when a song is sung. It just needs the music added.

Poetry Resources: The Economist’s ‘Johnson’ blog

You may be surprised to hear of The Economist magazine as a poetry resource, but it is a much wider-ranging weekly than most people realise. Start from the back with its chosen Obituary (eccentric and eclectic, it has included Alex the African Grey parrot, writers such as Ray Bradbury written up in their own style, and dictators, deposed kings, and UFO abductees). Move forwards into the Books and Arts section, further into Science and Technology… there’s a lot there, before you get to the finance, business and politics that is the purpose of it all.

Apart from the half dozen book reviews (eccentric and eclectic, of course), the weekly ‘Johnson’ column or blog post covers all things word and language related. The current edition’s Johnson is headed ‘Degrees of Separation’ in the print edition, while online it calls itself ‘Words, like people, have tangled and extensive family trees – surprising connections emerge if you look back far enough’.

 

The article is focused on Proto-Indo-European’s development into the whole range of modern languages from Gaelic to Bengali; how different the origins may be of words that have identical spelling and pronunciation and have apparently related meaning (a pawn and to pawn); and the surprising common ancestry of apparently unrelated words (such as ‘divine’ and both halves of the word ‘Tuesday’).

Inasmuch as writing relies for much of its power on the richness of words and their ripples of meaning, association and derivation, The Economist’s Johnson column is a worthwhile and engaging weekly read for all writers, and especially poets.