Armistice Day

the leaves have been late to turn
hanging on for the next big storm
blackberries still on the bush in November

bemedalled gents in well-shined shoes
strut and shout around the town
playing soldiers for charity
while boys in uniform
hide in the churchyard
to set off fireworks
in lieu of guns at eleven

another boarded-up shop appears
in the award-nominated high street

four months to go
and still you don’t know
where you’re going

what would it? what will it?
the past devours the future

not what is the trouble
but what seems to be

what’s to become of us all
in thrall to the fetish
of complex crossborder supply chains
and just-in-time delivery

a hardening of borders and arteries
a physical manifestation
promising ‘the end of welfare
as we know it’

a moral responsibility to children
husbands, the church, the bank

his goodness the vice-gerent
planning the great dissolution
plots the dismantling of old institutions
and how it will enrich the elite

29 miles of leaked
local government reports
pending agreements and negotiations

on the make, currying favour while ensuring
a pile and a name for himself

visions of medicine and care
sex, family and the body

white gills of destroying angel
by the path behind the house

firms face collateral damage
new administrative burdens
market access
to developing countries
tariffs are very high
bargaining power reduced
there are limits
to what we can do

family structures under strain
conform to norms that make things worse

structural changes to government revenue
in the global economy
access abroad and all that jazz
returned to negative growth

permanent reduction of output
changes abrupt and volatile
disruption inevitable like
the night the pound plummeted

places like Aberdeen and London
face increases
in perceived downside risk
but smaller negative effects
still difficult to adjust

avoid crossborder leakage
delays in access
to medical supplies
international markets
where agri-exports go
no safety net
for airlines
a shortage of workers
exposes local farmers

hippies and activists
are brought into line by debt
freedom to invent yourself
bought by inherited wealth

a thousand new statutory instruments
where the value of capital
rises faster than wages
trashes the meritocratic vision
dependency and care are family matters

locked in the bedroom tax of austerity
what interest must be paid
to the bank of mum and dad?

there must be a word for
experiments in faith-based welfare
effective altruism
entrepreneurship and community
as such strange alliances emerge

moral logistics become imperatives
in a place where anything may be
defined as capital
the future dividend perhaps
of a good night out with friends

in the end
whose generals
would you rather trust
if you truly had a choice?

life goes on but perhaps
it’s going nowhere
in particular
nowhere to be seen
crime becomes
an act of charity
or charity a crime


Aidan Semmens
Illustration: Claire Palmer


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