In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The Caged Parrot Watches the Demons Dance


This piece returns to a preoccupation of my own, concerning language. What is the point of writing, the point of taking a  position and then articulating it ?

And of course that leads to the question, why keep writing these stanzas, these mere words amid all the bizarre and frantic and disastrous political action going on all round us, mere words among so many words, but so many false words.  Will anyone stop for long enough to read these words of comment and protest, in rhyme? Why would they ? Might the poems even play a part, in the public forum,  on behalf of sanity ? Why will they not ?

Again : if words in our time have become truth-free, just tools and weapons for self-interest and self-worship, if – in other words – words can be empty or mean anything, a worthless currency, just another way for sinners to prosper, what’s the point of turning to them ?

In writing the stanza, I found myself remembering the appalling public death of Muath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh, the  young Jordanian air-force pilot first captured and then publically burned to death by Isil or Isis, in January 2015, for propaganda effect, providing us with one of the more appalling images of our era. What words are sufficient for that act, that purpose, that caged human dolor ? 

Yousef is an Arabic form, in Latin script, of the English name Joseph. Joseph is the name of my eldest son. All my sons are half-Greek. That young man, burnt to death in a cage, could have been anyone’s son, of whatever race.