Stephen Regan’s poems have appeared in: Envoi; Killing the Angel, Provo Canyon Review, Reach Poetry, and the Best of Manchester Poets anthology. His poem ‘Red-bricked’ is part of a permanent art exhibition at Wigan Wallgate railway station in Lancashire. He’s the founder of the Liver Bards poetry group in Liverpool.
Bright and earnest
He comes to the stand
proud of his leaflet;
invites us to admire
the glossy thing,
It outlines a ‘radical
new service delivery,
now gaining support’.
Can’t speak for the rest
but I’m not impressed
and my face shows it.
I shouldn’t be here
among these PR tarts.
I shouldn’t work in PR;
can’t admire on request;
can’t get excited about
leaflets – or PowerPoint.
My authentic distain
is out of place among
the stretchers of truth
and reality. Wan smiles
flash around as the leaflet
passes its test.
The bright and earnest
one insists his glossy
the way we do things
going forward’. I don’t
want to go forward.
I don’t want to be here.
Give, smile, lie
Go and give that man some money,
commanded Mum, pointing
across the way to a beggar.
We’d been watching him
while on a fag break from our
Mothering Sunday lunch in Manchester.
I’d taken Mum to the expensive
restaurant. She spotted
the ragged man and felt compassion.
She can barely walk, so asked me
to cross the street and give alms to he
sat on the pavement, smoking.
I fumbled for two quid, handed it over.
There was a pause. I passed him
a cigarette and proffered my hand.
He took the fag, tucked it behind
his ear. We shook hands, fairly normally,
then he stared up at me – harshly.
I must have seemed distracted to him.
Well, I was distracted and confused
for most of that year. The man said,
Look me in the eye if you shake my hand.
That shocked me. I clasped
his palm again, made eye contact.
I’m always prepared to look someone
in the eye, I said. I walked back to Mum.
She said, thanks love. What did he say
to you, that man? I looked at Mum,
not quite in the eye. I told her,
he just said thanks for the money.
She smiled at my lie. Mothers know how
to smile at lies. They get much practice.
It was from the beginning
uncomfortable being human;
being the beings between
the angels and the beasts.
We factored in gods
and moral law,
emanating from the ineffable,
interpreted by the f-able.
Make that work and survive!
We did, with big casualties
and many paradoxes,
including this …
to achieve peace and justice,
lasting long enough to be
worth the effort,
we sometimes had to go
Glad I mentioned justice.
It’s arguably more important than equality
in these revolutionary times,
as in earlier ones.
Try to enforce equality
among humans and de facto
you impose injustice.
Ask the libertarian socialists
about that. They’ll have many opinions
and arguments about it.
And look back; it’s always wise to do so,
even for revolutionaries.
We’ve survived so far under strong chieftains
and /or ethically-justified laws. In the West
it worked like this, theoretically;
we lived and died in freedom,
under the law, within nations.
I know, I know! We need to change
the paradigm and the power dime.
In the Year of Our Lord 2016
we can’t go on like this.
Oh God! I’ve mentioned Our Lord.
Well, I can’t help it; once a Catholic
and all that, and besides …
revolutionaries are in favour now,
and Jesus was one, and much more,
arguably, regarding the destiny
In this revolutionary era
‘arguably’ will be often said.
There will be no consensus.
Cilmate crises, capitalism, military suppression,
twisted faiths, widespread worship of the self,
and Evil emboldened to promenade –
it’s all in the mix with clamorous expression
of support for revolutionary impulses,
given by ‘The People’ digitally –
intemperate, hate-filled and stupid
most of it, as you expect
from social media.
Where will the revolutions lead to?
A new dawn? Apocalypse?
Rescue by intelligent extraterrestrials?
It’s hard to judge but doubtless
the arguments will
The dynamic of my love
Thought of her, smell of her,
sight of her, rooted for life.
Seeing her eye,
all that’s human in me
down from vision to throat,
down, down, flooding.
Her always, moving in me,
All I am,