By Heathcote Williams
Video and Narration: Alan Cox
First published by International Times on August 14th 2013
On a border between two States
Someone has written,
“Fuck your nationalism.
We are all Earthlings.”
And on the Mexican border,
Someone has ripped through a fence
Of reinforced chicken wire
With bolt cutters,
And erected a hammock
By suspending it
Between two of the fence’s
After swinging gently back and forth,
From Texas to Mexico and then
From Mexico back to Texas,
They doze off; contemptuous
Of the security guards
Patrolling this artificial demarcation –
For, once upon a time,
Texas was Mexico
And Texas didn’t exist.
When Eugene Debs was imprisoned
For conscientious objection in World War One
He said, on September 11th 1915,
“I have no country to fight for
My country is the earth
I’m a citizen of the world.”
In Bethlehem, on the apartheid wall
Which divides Palestine from Palestine,
Someone has stenciled a dotted line
Punctuated by an open pair of scissors
To suggest to passers-by they cut as indicated
And allow the wall to collapse
So they can walk back home, unencumbered.
Borders are undetectable from Space.
None of them have ever worked:
The Great Wall of China
Nor did Hadrian’s Wall;
And the Berlin Wall,
Designed to separate
Germans from each other,
Lasted no time at all.
None of them worked
Because, as Robert Frost noted,
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”
There’s something, in other words,
Which dislikes the arrogance
Of those who say,
‘We on this side are legal
And you on that side are not’.
Something which dislikes being excluded
By the economic snobbery, crank ideology
Or patriotic pathology
Of those feeding their superiority complexes
By building borders.
Walls don’t have ears and don’t listen,
Though they have tongues and they say
With an insinuating brutality
That those who’ve been hurt
By the criminal inequality
Of the world deserve to be hurt,
And they say that those who try
To correct the imbalance
By their misguided adventurism,
Shouldn’t try to do so;
And they say that those seeking asylum
Are presumed to be criminal,
Unless they can prove otherwise.
But those keenly creating a web
To snarl up and ensnare the world,
With steel and concrete lattice-work
Peppered with armed borderposts
Bristling with sadistic snipers
who pick off the hungry
Are stifling man’s wanderlust,
Smothering his song-lines,
His natural instinct to migrate
Which man’s shared with other species
Since the beginning of life on earth.
Migration created the world.
“Imagine there’s no countries,
It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for…
Sang John Lennon.
Knowing that nationalism
And its hidebound borders
Can kill billions every century,
And yet borders still silently snake
Through the land mass
Of the earth’s Eden
Biting those whom they judge intruders.
The mindset that builds borders
Stoops to shooting migrants for sport.
Are telling you who you
Can be friends with
By their erecting borders
And ruling out any chance that truth and love
Will end violence and overcome war,
Through the unfettered flow
Of a healthy bloodstream
Through the global body politic.
To Maya Angelou,
“Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences,
penetrates walls to arrive at its destination
full of hope.”
And life can do the same.
From outer space
Borders don’t register,
But from inner space
They clog up the psyche,
Cheat the pilgrim soul
And hunter gatherers –
Seekers looking to share the fruits
Of their journeyings
With the rest of their tribe.
The gurus of the past
Buddha, Christ and Mohammed
Were nomadic and unconfined,
And the primal feelings
Of the spirit quest can be restored
With a few satisfying snaps
From a pair of bolt-cutters.
The high leverage compound action
From chrome vanadium steel jaws.
Enables people to bite back –
With surgical precision –
This anarchist angioplasty
Can release the blocked arteries
in the global body politic,
and free up the flow of people
To celebrate the restlessness
That has made man human.