Christ tries to enter Global Britain, Easter 2022
by Chris Nash
Adrian Henri, beat poet brother
creator of Christ’s entry in 1964
the happenings have all happened;
while we were waiting, agitating,
for fresh colours to grow in the Union Jack,
your pop-parade of progress passed by;
the chip papers playing at our feet
mutated into EDL flyers, selling fear,
till headlines of hate litter Dover beach
where England and the horizons meet.
He knelt, exhausted
on the shingle,
a single male,
on international terrorism lists
for attacks on a temple
his Home office label
‘a dangerous anti-capitalist’
“Call me Jesus, of brown-skinned descent,
I confess, I am an illegal immigrant
I teach truths without borders.
Illegal, to be born without a father,
illegal, my migrant desperate flight
to Egypt’s sheltering sanctuary
away from Herod’s genocide, his cruelty;
illegal my years of wandering
a healer without licence or authority;
my words, thorns in the sides
of Romans, Sanhedrin’s, Pharisees;
illegal my cleansing of the temple
my deeds of holy redeeming disgust
that put me on their terrorism list;
illegal my entry to Jerusalem on a donkey
accused of Revolution and anarchy
for sowing the seeds of unruly love;
illegally hanging on a rough cross
abandoned and beyond all loss
till I denied death by resurrection:
illegally washed on Dover’s stony shore
I ask refugee status, no less, no more,
my cheek turned for an official’s kiss,
arms outstretched for England’s justice.”
bare head bowed, he stands on the shore,
haloed by security cameras and UK law
“While we retro-danced the day away
at a union flag, nostalgia festooned
Brexit festival of Britain on the beach:
We loved Love Me Do to the sixties;
We Dancing Queened the seventies;
We Madonnaed the eighties away;
We Elton Johned the naughty nineties;
We Britneyed to new millennium dreams;
We Biebered through the 20teens:
Clinging to innocence, we were groomed.”
The unfamiliar rhythms of other shores
were not unheard, but too easily ignored,
memories dissolving with sugar spoons,
in warm, shallow waves of radio tunes.
On his shoulders they put a blanket,
on his healing hands, handcuff bracelets.
He babbled on, advised to remain silent
a crowd stared, unsure what he meant,
by the thorns of love’s trials and torment.
In a stir of Jamaican coffee on the esplanade,
can you hear the ringing feet of a child runaway.
The depths of history will not be still
along Dover beach, broken hands
are washing up among the wet sands
where Nzinga’s daughters once sang;
Broken hands bound in manacle rings
discarded bodies of slave ship Zong.
Churchmen who intone so fervently
the duty of compassionate slavery;
Gangs whose profits thrive on human trade
first licensed for slavery’s runaways,
slaves, labourers, the equally illegal
entered in their register of ‘disposables’.
And as we drove home, mile after mile
in the gathering dark of an inner exile,
adrift on a twig of raft, so far out to sea
a mother, a child, hands joined in frailty.
Queen Nzinga (Nzinga Mbande), 1583— 1663, was the monarch of the Mbundu people, was a resilient leader who fought against the Portuguese and their expanding slave trade in Central Africa.
Chris Nash writes international ‘poetry without borders’ and is now working on a collection of ‘songs’ for species threatened by extinction called ‘Is this Goodbye?’. See www.chrisnashpoetry.com.