David Erdos

David Erdos

David Erdos is an actor, writer, director with over 300 professional credits. He is a published poet, playwright, essayist and illustrator. He has lectured on all disciplines in theatre and film for leading performing arts colleges, schools and universities around the world.  

At The End of England
Friday, 09 April 2021 12:48

At The End of England

Published in Poetry

 At the End of England

by David Erdos

And so England ends, or perhaps the start of the end
Here finds herald as the death of Prince Philip resounds
Like an echo, or tribute perhaps from past times

In which all manner of mysteries remain masked, despite
The gags and shields on our faces, As Heathcote Williams
Would have told you, had he not also sadly ascended,

Prince as he was of Royal lines, from which Philip came,
More so perhaps than our Monarch, who separate now
From his shadow after over Seventy years will be rocked

By not only grief’s avalanche, but by the earthquake
Stoked beneath the red carpets, that her not so Grand
Daughter in law came to ruffle, and which, through ambition,

Her summation of ills duly mocked. Not to mention the Queen’s
No longer esteemed middle son, still sidestepping light’s stark
Exposure, so those unsteady heels, once so strident may stumble

Or stall as they walk and watch the world that remains
And the country split from all shorelines to be one now
Grown stranger than that imagined by Ballard, or one

Repopulated by John Wyndham’s dread Triffid stalks.
The Ruling Class at this time has endured a form of public detention.
With Death as Headmaster, the Governing Gaffer is expelled.

And the Royal brand is tested once more and will strain to seek
Its new value as the world is re-ordered and the deaths post
Diana loosen the pre-cut ropes they once held. There will be

The customary celebrations of state. But what is pomp
And circumstance under Covid? Will crowds on the street
Observe distance, or be perhaps kept away?

And if there are reductions to come, will future precedents
Be set for us? As distance stirs indifference to the standards
And codes of old days? Once you remove the tent-pegs

The tent is just another flag the wind’s taken. You lose
The illusion of home and the homefield, or the uneven
Earth starts to shift. A woman has lost - in terms of love

And duration alone, her foundation. Across what land is she
Seeing and which Queen or Kingdom exists? So many entertainers
Have passed. So many people have lost their foundations.

Today, it's an emblem, not always defendable who has gone.
You can almost hear the rocks start to slide. They’ll need to be
Rearranged at some juncture. But first we must clear our throats.

Be upstanding. Not that they’ll see you if you watch it all
On your phone. The sad ceremony begins an entirely new ritual.
The emptying world needs replacement, as eventually will the throne.

But for the moment, hold on, those of a certain age, who remember.
We must, in time, come together, after the plans and decisions
And the problems faced when alone. I wish you long life.

It is what Jews say in bereavement. I wish us all fresh survival.
Life itself is a royalty from which nothing is ever paid or quite owned.
God, or space, as such owns us all. Heathcote, can you hear me?

The Royal Babylon is re-entered. Now, somewhere beyond,
Starred doors open, and then, yes, you guessed it,
Because of somewhere dark, they soon close.

One Year On
Wednesday, 24 March 2021 11:17

One Year On

Published in Poetry

One Year On

by David Erdos, with image by Paulette Parker

Birds wake me to sing a mutant song for us. Unusual for them,
This stung chorus catches wracked power as well as the pitch
That’s been rising even as we all fall far from shape. It has been
One year today in which zoom and zoo have reframed us,

And thus, we have prowled, part bewildered in some form
Of slow return to the ape. We need Sir David Attenborough
To live long and present or re-introduce our next habits,
For as in Brecht’s In the Jungle of Cities, the citizens survey

The fouled streets, which loll like slack mouths having been
Punched and made toothless as the bite of the economy loosened
And the limpest of licks dabbed at meat. So many juices run dry!
So many bodies stopped! So much anger! So many lost lions roaring

As they struggled to roam ruined plains. Both beast and burden
Aligned as we took on the glare of kept Leopards; with our motion
Blocked, amputation still stalled our progress even if each limb
From four was retained. Instead, we became those we cooked,

Or those whom we watched through Sir David; eyeing each detail
While forgetting the former shape of ourselves. We lost pride
And gained pot, over which we obsessed, spending for it.
Instead of pleasure, leisure and culture, the buying of food

Became hobby, as we exchanged stage and sportsground
For the Universe around kitchen shelves. How will we feel
Once released, about our homes shaped as Prisons?
Will those precious walls and shelves lose their meaning

As we strain for freedom and strive like our animal kind
For the wild? For, as has been seen, Mankind is unkind
To the figures and flesh of the forest. As we hunt and coat
Them in plastic their long hold on wisdom has made our grasping

At life like a child’s, who knows nothing and won’t without
The will to discover what has gone on: as for instance, for what
Reason has this particular time become war? And an Uncivil
One, too, come to that, alongside Trump’s tearing of the flag

To mop bloodstains, or, the numerous bastards of Brexit
And the bitches too, whose guffaw at the need to belong
To a clearly corrupt but nevertheless working system, kept us
At least bound together as this warp in the wind forged a split
Between the world we all want and the one we’ve created;
Two very different things, let’s be certain: Has the control
We’d exert truly slipped? For now so many people forget who
They were and have allowed the ignorant to form answers,

In which Remedial level instruction was quickly dishonoured
By the Hell headed evil of Dominic’s goings and comings
Alongside the despicable actions of the sow for whom seeds
Would wither, the disgusting, uncaring and regardless of feature,

Unpriti Patel. Who has brought shame on both creed and race
With a year of numbed statements, from her fouled fantasy
Of an immigrant’s island to the need to stop protest and crowds
Atttending Sarah Everard’s Funeral. I do not single her out,

As I have, from a sense of personal vindication, but simply
Because I cannot believe how such people are allowed to rise
And go on. With Trump’s fat fruit impeached twice, what point
Over there to impeachment? Would Nixon today have won

Through and wriggled, as Bill Clinton blew sex and Sax also
In order to re-sing love’s last song? Where The Devil are we?
I’m lost. Are you, as well, if you listen? Lost in Living rooms,
Kitchens, lounges and bedrooms too, as you read

About the dearth and the day getting worse, or the marks
On your loved one’s body. At least what has happened
On pillows has put a positive spin within sheets.
For we mustn’t forget that this Lockdown Year has brought

Babies in an almost Catholic style frenzy as each sad death
Was replaced. Yet still, domestic abuse burst like blooms
And colour stung bruises on victims, while others chased
Pastimes that their former working world would not lease.

And so, the balances burn. Or so it seems to me as I write this.
Businesses fold. Friendship creases as misunderstandings,
Like money gain - or in terms of people - lose interest. Some
Have learnt new languages or become Olympic across their small

Gardens. Time is marked and made to discover the secret self.
Loss invests. People make time as time stops, and can catch
Their breath as its challenged. So much so that masks seal them,
Like the lid on a homemade jar of jam. Of which there must be

So many by now, so as to feed the sweet craving soured mouths
Of all nations, as we in turn ache for comfort, either through
The fuel and food of a lover, or the touch lost to many
Of their too soon departed and their still felt and dreamt

Ghosted hands. The former Rat Race has been run, so we must
Learn to walk once more, not as rodents. Or, as a puppet might,
Stretched, or limpid, and subject of course to dark strings,
Of which we glimpse less than a side of sleeve, or, long shadow.

For we do not know who’s still playing, or, moving us about
As fate stings. Perhaps this is just a vaccum of sorts, as the vaccine
Creates vortex. And just like Astronauts in the astral we now approach
The black hole, through which we chase Kubrick’s key twenty years on

From his title, and my own lifetime from filming as we try to chart
A further path for the soul. Where will we be one year on? Stuck inside
This constant parade of reprisals? Or already stacked and camped
Cleanly as a jackboot designs fashion’s shift? Or, will we all work

From homes as defined states and nations; from the county of David,
To the region you’re in, this word gift. My little street broadcasts out
As we all create our own station. Today, friends are filming, while others
Wait overseas. Shaifta smiles in her sleep, sweetly fixing on the good

That can happen. Roger rehearses a play and builds kitchens while
He waits for his business light to go green. The possible mirth
And mar mix in the still empty cities however. Why will Employers
Continue to pay for buildings if their employees can now work

From home? Those ransacked offices could well become rotten teeth
In a voiceless void of damned districts, which while they once hummed
Are now silenced as the sunk spaces jar like scraped bone? In the Ballardian
Scream the future symphony achieves structure. The jab makes us cyborgs

Servants of state: a world brand, in which the souls sold with the one
Percent’s shady dealings see us all steamed, as smoke rises in some
Frightening echo of those chaos chambers that Shickelfuckingruber
Once planned. Who knows? Who can say? Poetry asks certain questions.

And if the answers exist they do solely in a tongue and taint few can read.
And so we Winston away, wordsmiths like him in kept corners. Watchful
No doubt for O’Brien and for where Julia’s Judas kiss may yet lead.
George Orwell’s 1984 came and stayed. In 2021 there’s Fakenewspeak.

But in which and whose quarters will the lovers regroup to resist?
Perhaps in this year and across these double century pieces,
I have been looking for love in past places, and to try and involve you
In this: for my struggle is yours. As yours is mine, the world over.
The Peoples Prison is progress in terms of either capture and calm,
And cast bliss. The Covidian Age was not Bronze, or ice, or stone.
It was water. Passed in piss and tears of sweat, distress, effort
And if you wish to pray, those of joy. This David’s Covid’s untouched.

I have not been ill. I am grateful. And yet I cry and seek the cure
Of my Mother and even at this age now, am a boy,
Searching for home, even while caged within it. I sit staring out
Through this writing as the only effective means I employ.

To reach you, or teach in my own small way the main lesson.
But perhaps the best expression’s unwritten. Perhaps, if I’m honest,
The best lesson of all stays untaught. After one year of this, or,
At least in this country what have I learned? That life’s broken,

And that, if we’re mindful we can repair it all with a thought.
We just have to have the same one and say it at once altogether.
For only then, we’ll find freedom and only then, open doors.
This will not be my last word, I know. But in the scale of fame today

I am Limescale; something to be scraped from scrawl and discovered
Once the ruins are read years from now. At a time in which I may
Become Heiroglyphs, or, cyber print on tombed laptops, and where
A partly heard whisper across a miasmic air is allowed.

For it may distort, yet contain a brief whisp of tune, or splutter
Of algorhymed wisdom, in which the pains we have suffered will tell
The far future how it can finally heal the now. One year on.
Then one more. One Era on. Or one Aeon, stars glaze our surface

As what we were is won and wept across cloud. Should God hear
These words may that alien throne start to glisten. Across this space
And shape I reach for it. May such grace light our losses. I can only hope
In this writing that I have made my dead heroes and my passed parents too,

Duly proud. And yet man has handed ‘misery to man,’ as Larkin’s
‘coastal shelf’ seemed to deepen. So, may we all start to swim from it,
And may those stars as sea breed new life. This one has certainly been
Compromised, but we can prise promise for it. Play and read this, please.

Then make music. As you start to speak from your silence, the birds
May receive us and the joint chorale we’re all part of will learn
To sing once more.

Let’s dream, loud.

Separate Cells
Monday, 22 June 2020 14:18

Separate Cells

Published in Poetry

David Erdos introduces his new collection of poems, downloadable below. The collection is illustrated by Max Crow Reeves, who also made the image above.

Coronic Irrigation: An Introduction

by David Erdos 

If an irritation is seen as something that disturbs
The smooth surface, thus came Corona to rub
And to warp settled flesh. I started setting my thoughts
Into verse as February sought its foreclosure, and by
The time of my Lockdown on the 23rd of March

Words were dressed

By the rhythms and rhymes

Echoed within this introduction,
As my pen tried to tidy the chaos
Of what I feared and felt coming next.
And so it has proved,

As the simply unconceivable came to dream us,
Making our past lives the fiction that a sedentary
State came to write. And so I posted each day
Each written text to colleagues and friends
On email and textbook and then started

Recording on Youtube from the my own Psalm 23
To cast light on some of the issues I felt
Would spike and stain everybody; Johnson
As Bete Noire, and Cummings the stain
On each night. Or the Cabinet Corons as a whole

Who have stumbled by day and through darkness.
In the clash of information they’ve given
The fight to feel free has begun. What has been
The true contagion; Covid? Or, the fact that we
Have become almost nstitutionalised in our houses?

As BLM and BAME batter, to master the murders
At hand, who has won? This is what these poems reflect,
Along with Max Crow Reeves’ stunning photos.
Each entry is a diary, and a novel, too; a small film.
Poetry I would hope for those unversed in it.

Monologues with a mission. Fires first found
In thought’s kiln. The hope is they will speak
And soothe or stoke irritations, and that as these
Striving words wound oppressors, the scars
On screen and on paper may in some small way

Soon reveal the rising heart held beneath
This book of me written for you.
Life after Lockdown will sequel.
But here’s the first feature that tries
To describe what most feel.

It was written in my garden each day
And recorded across the day’s music.
As the birds sang their warnings,
I lucky to have light and space,
Wrote towards darkness as I tried to

Contain our new real.

The downloadable pdf below is free, but if you want to make a donation towards our costs, use this button. We hope you enjoy reading it.

Cummings and Goings
Tuesday, 26 May 2020 07:54

Cummings and Goings

Published in Poetry

Cummings and Goings

by David Erdos

 Would Hitler have dumped Eva Braun?
He needed her slavish concession.
The analogy in the UK is that Hitler
Isn’t even the one who’s PM.

No, our bloated blonde Eva backgrounds
By constructing a 3D photocopy
Of presence, while his slick shadow
Is sliming, and staining our day

For their ends. Which seem to seek
All of ours, after his too long career
Of disruption. His former Brexit
Enticements and lie-laced legacy

Still affront. What is your real agenda,
You word that should not be used in polite
Company, or, too freely, but which is all
We have to explode you, as the merest

Thought, or glimpse of you fires
My screaming need to be blunt.
Which is the sort of object you need
To bludgeon the darkness that’s in you,

As the idiot's strings you are strumming
Create the stark discord and souring song
Hate can shape. As Priti Moronic Patel
Vinegars her tasteless word Salad, and her

Stupidity and brutishness makes me bridle
When I see that (un)knowing little smile
On her face. Glamourised in a film,
For which recently, the playwright

Sought forgiveness, this fucking spectre,
In a hoodie and defiant disarray is the threat.
His viciousness is compared to Rod Hull’s
Violent Emu, as demands are delivered

To Bore-is, to see him quartered or drawn
At the neck. Which is what all should do
If they had the bald bastard before them,
In some former England, stocked and bound

In the soft Village Square, where the former
Transgressors were tried for the damages
Wrought on the People, which could include
His breathless Babylon health wheeze

With Hancock; whose murky connection
And endorsements would make the dead Tony
And Sid spark and swear. Cummings advised
This AI initiative implemented, as Matt Hancock

Soon bubbled his own misaligned foaming joy.
There is more to write on all this. Cummings'
Crimes now stack up with the rotten fruit
I’d cast at him. Fruit whose own acids would

No doubt repel at the contact with this
Particular form of bad boy. If his mother
Adores him, good luck, but how can you
Explain such a person, for this supposed

County Durham World bound Non Sheriff
Has no right to the Law and no love.
For he does not serve us. He serves only
The smeared seat of power. We are merely

The effects he engenders when he deigns
To make his move on the board, in blue gloves.
Apparently, someone so connected and prized
Could not even trust private nurses to care

For his son, so he travels, nearly three hundred
Miles through roadblocks. My rage at him knows
No bounds. And neither does he, breaking
Lockdown. A phrase he will have coined on his

Whiteboard, along with Take Black Control,
As hopes drop. For it is a form of dark incantation
He writes, in which we aren’t even the images
That he conjures. Instead, we are the misused

Punctuation; as his ideas soar, we are stopped.
We are the pawns that bore him as he starts
To move the chess pieces. In the Coronic Game,
He’s the Watchman who truly believes he’s a God.

Dr Westminster, perhaps. So he flouts his own
Rules, as Andrew Marr mars Grant Knapps' 
Thin excuses, and (un) Priti Patel smirks
And produces her pathetic attempts to show Plot.

For this isn’t even about Parties now.
This is about Individuals: all of us as we suffer,
And as we worry and die on all lines, and then
All of THEM, who deserve NO POSITION

AT ALL, whether it is the orange Cancer of Donald
Testing ‘Positive Towards the Negative’ (Prick)
Or BJ. Or worst of all, this small C, who nobody
Chose, only Johnson, the Von Stroheim to his

Dietrich, and unmasked anti Morecambe
To his warped (un)Wise, as jokes fray.
This duo produce no care and no charm.
Dominic is just slogans. Arbeit Macht Frei,

I imagine, or, perhaps, Exit is the only real one
That he needs. His tight little bulb of a face is
As far as I can see ripe for puncture; so, lie
And leave, Cummings. But wherever you go

In the future, know that we see your damage.
And hope that your wretched soul starts
To bleed. For the misinformation you serve
And the lack of clarity, may curse find you,

For your disregard and abandon
May you one day truly need. I hope then
We can all piss on your path as Elvis Costello
Wished to tramp the dirt down over Thatcher

I hope a barren land claims you as no earth
In which you will lay will lease seed.
Damn you, your blank stare, and the puppets
You push through the motions.

Would words were fire.
I’d see your strings slack and burn
As we’re rationed, either through food
Or future, know this, you bastard:

While you pick and choose
Our rage feeds.

*** 

Coming Home, or Incomplete Integrity

by David Erdos

 Outside his house, it's all clear,
As Dominic Cummings is questioned.
Swatting the reporters away like fat flies
As they dared to question his fleeing,
The Cumstain quoted two metres,
As the distance of truth, amplified.

You worse than worm, smearing earth
As well as air, with deception. Your hard
Stare is an insult to everyone who has died.
One rule for us, another for them is the cliché,
As these cardboard monsters and cabinet
Slugs seek light’s game. Johnson scrambles

For words and ends up with a bad hand
At Scrabble, as he muffs and mutters
In attempting to defend Dom’s dark name.
Complete Integrity? Balls. You wouldn’t
Know how to spell it. Despite your supposed
Education you have learnt nothing it's clear

Of the real. You still think you can do
What you want and that no-one will notice.
Flout the rules. Plot in secret, and benefit
Of course from all deals. And yet actions
Like this expose the naked flesh through
The fabric. They reveal what is mottled,

On the skin and soul and in mind.
On the Lame Minister’s broadcast
Yesterday, a glitch in the zoom quite
Unstitched him, as he called for more
Questions after avoiding the same one
Three times. A muted Ian Watson tried

First before Robert Peston repeated,
But as Zoom’s active speaker faltered,
We saw Peston’s irritation at the flouting
Of truth through bleared lines. And as
Has been reported today, everybody
Will notice. As Nicola Sturgeon condemns

Him for betraying the rules he has set.
The would-be Churchill downhills
At a staggering rate with each sentence,
But the fear is we’ll forget this as other
Ensuing events mask his mess. This man
Lied to the Queen and chased popularity’s

Message. Changing his own as he wanted
And bending so-called democracy which soon
Snapped. We’ve heard of domestic disputes
After the adulteries he was famed for.
The new Covid baby. Lapdancing bribes,
Lockdown’s trap. But the ongoing mystery

Still remains: How he has been allowed
To get away with each outrage, and engage
A man whose desire is to see us all burn
For a joke? He was elected, you’ll say.
Well, consult Al Gore on that process;
And while the voting here had no rigging

The craft had already sunk on dry moats.
His moral driftwood floated up and these
Were the scraps some clung onto, thereby
Securing a whirlpool that will take a full
River of years to revoke. When Ian Watson
Returned to the screen after the dumb

And bumbling answer was given,
Once again he was muted, by either
His own hand or the State? He can’t be
That bad at his job, as working for the BBC
Is all broadcast, so if there was a remote
Hand that stopped him, whose was the slur

That piss takes? I think of that scruffy
Scum with his file, swatting away those
Reporters. What was written within?
Not a poem. But a plan of possible extinction
Perhaps. Conceived as he strode and posed
On the battlements of Barnard Castle;

King Dom, over England, with his bland
Baron Boris stooping below.

Lords of crap.

*** 

Cumming Undone, or On Taking A Piss

by David Erdos

Suddenly, he’s a Saint and the Media are the sinners
For daring to describe the sly actions that he so
Amateurishly rebuked. The Journalist Harry Lambert
Relates how the PM’s SA once referred to said Media
As irrelevant to his purpose. With today’s slap back
Forcing Cummings to seem human - right down
To at least three descriptions of his wife Mary’s puke.

Sick of course, comes in threes, so we were forewarned
Of such stories, as told by shaggy dogs, fairies, liars,
And criminals, eh M’lud? And so he slid into sun,
As grubs will do when stones are lifted, idling his way
To a shakey canteen-like table, like a vampire seeking
Shadow in order to regain strength and blood.
A convoluted story was read with every breath

And step detailed, from house to car to somewhere
Close to Newcastle, or rather, later on, to an old one,
In order to barricade the news flood. The trouble is,
He was late, and late by thirty two minutes.
The appointed time arrived and seemed longer
Than any normal half an hour should take.
What do you think that says, Strategist?

It says to me you were writing. As I am now,
Seeking detail, or did the Number Ten
Printer break? Were you waiting for the words
That you delivered so badly? At 4.42pm you part
Stumbled, and started to improvise from the text.
You must have been rattled for sure, what with
The sudden concerns for your eyesight,

And your wife’s apparent Corona, albeit without
A hot cough; Jeez, Dom; what next? And so you
Decided to go, slipping out while the neighbours
Were dreaming about their stopped futures
And because of extreme circumstance.Which
Was what? Some pale fear that maybe you
Had it, and so had a private Doctor confirm it,

Without the needle or swab’s sweetened dance?
I’m sure I’m not getting this right. People have
Died. What exception? Which extremity fuelled
You, as you raced away, seeking north?
I’m just trying to understand, not deny.
After all, you know what happened. But we don’t.
I’m no wiser, apart from your saying that the media’s

Magic wand just distorts. You didn’t even tell your
Blonde boss when Day Fifteen saw you fit for travel.
Sorry, which day was it? When you went to seek
Shelter inside your father’s outhouse? I lost when
It was you were sick and when you went out
On your test drive. Your son would be taken care
Of by your nieces if you had to return to work,

There’s no doubt. So if you did need to return,
Undiagnosed and untested you still had to drive
Around just to measure if you could make it all
The way back to the Smoke. So you got in the car,
Which we might call a good old jalopy, to horse
Around in the country close to Castle Barnard?
Its a joke. And then of course comes the piss

That you and your son were both taking.
As a matter of fact, the boy’s urine was
A positive river of gold in the sun. Reflected in it,
You shone, having done nothing wrong. Never ever.
A child’s invocation, if ever I heard; bubblegummed.
If you prick it, it pops and sags across your face,
Pink tongue lagging, leaking wasted words

That politeness from the first two journalists
Also scored, as they failed to follow up, offering
A weak ‘OK’ at your answers, which I repeat,
Seemed tight plotted as you single spaced away
After four. Apparently, you are crucial to everything
Now. Like a God. You’re trying to sort the Science
Out, and the money. Saint Dominic and Theresa

(Mother, not May) in all of these troubled days.
You search for the Vaccine and escape, and so,
Naturally prefer shadow. Which also means, truth
Is darkness if you are as important to us as you say.
Because I thought you were an advisor, you see,
But now you’re an active force, an enabler,
An unelected selection who gets to discern

What will be. But there’s a snag, a real snag,
And this is what stokes all the anger. Like a psychopath,
You kept at it and like the emotionally remote,
Through your staring you didn’t think to say
‘I’m sorry.’ You’re allowed to care for your wife
And for your son, as well, of course. Hope they’re
Better. But the trouble is you’re undone now,

So even if you win, we will see what is being done
In our name and what sort of game you are playing.
This isn’t even about different Rulebooks.
This is about secrecy. We never know the full truth.
We know that the world over. But what it actually is
Maybe acid when someone like you starts to pee.

Dominic, Dominic, there is a world full of people
(Even if you’d like them culled). And once accused,
Guilt stays with you and receives no real clemency.
Gary Gibbon had it. He said that Johnson knew
When you did it. It just didn’t concern him,
Until the public got to know through the press.
Those damned journalists who let us be in doubt

Are not angels, but whose divine command is
To tell us what is coming our way to kill next.
We get the politicians we deserve. But we didn’t
Ask for you, did we? Well, you’re a politician now,
Wiping language. In the tissue of society’s lies
We’re the Kleenex into which you cast and cough
Each dark spit. This story may pass, or you may

Contrive other stories to blur it, but just as
Your son stained the country, so you stain it too,
With bullshit. Words hang heavy, old son and
I believe there are none that will ever assuage you.
The street where you live won’t forgive you
And neither will we, for your aims. Which you
Never unveil, as we travel down through

Your darkness. Dominic, you can’t
Rewrite this. The piss is taken now.

Pass the blame?

The Unopened University: Stay Alert, Boris!
Monday, 11 May 2020 08:08

The Unopened University: Stay Alert, Boris!

Published in Poetry

Overacting, or The Unopened University

by David Erdos

And so the Unopen University fails as its peri-pathetic
Lecturer garbles. Transmitting graphs and equations
That would set the mathematically untrigged into spin;

A series of mixed ratios equal R over the rate of dissent
Subdivided, before what is in blue times the yellow,
Can, to the power of shite, infect twins. Or some other

Nonsense that shows no clarity, only static,
As hints were leaked of announcements that would
Returns us all to clear air. Before a broadcast that singed

Everyone confused, watching. By a form of brute
Aping Churchill, with a delivery so emphatic
That it seemed to press once wild hair. ‘Stay Alert’,

He said. Where? And how for that matter.
Alert at home or out jogging now that apparently
We all can? But just as long as we’re related? I see.

Or rather I don’t. What’s the question? Are we to now
Jog with passports, or have our DNA stamped across us
As the Street Block Corona Bill tests for clans?

Those who can’t work at home can go to work,
But must bike there. So does that mean as I say
This that the Tour de London streets that were

Empty will now resemble that famous race
Through the Alps? Or will millions of builders
Now walk from one far away zone to another,

While at the same time keeping distance
From the clatter of traffic, and the greasing
Of wheels. I have doubts. I have proper visions

Now of the past as pennyfarthings crest above
Scooters. I see pony traps, horse and carriage
Crammed across Kilburn High Road. And on

The Uxbridge Road a relay from Hillingdon
Down to Acton, as frustrated plumbers
Stop and start and stop. Hope’s borrowed.

Tonight’s lecturer stunned with his lack of clarity
And false promise. It was a tease, a temptation
To make the rabbits twitch in the hutch.

Hotel owners despaired, along with restaurateurs
And pub landlords. As others had no idea
Of what happens when you have moved so far

Beyond what’s enough. Give the public what
They want is the trick, while you in fact
Give them nothing. People will not be as tidy

As you think or expect them to be. For further
Traps can be set if you encourage past
Experience as nostalgia in yet another attempt

To win over, the fact deprived who stay squeezed.
The toothpaste tube empties out, as does the piggy
Banks and the wallet. Those eager to live risk reversals

If a false start yanks their frail lead. And Scotland
Does not agree, along with Wales and Ireland.
A four nation state hung, drawn and quartered,

Along these badly sketched lines can’t be freed.
Stay Alert: More design from the slogan smeared
Cummings. Stay Alert Twats is more like it, as you

Can see the sneer as he writes, on his little
Whiteboard, or iphone, containing pictures perhaps
Of the gravestones, each empty space filled

With scribble, which is conditional, naturally.
And so the rhetoric came. And the lecture screen
Remained empty. Devoid of real information

He talked to us, liminally. Everything remained
Vague or faint despite the overarchedness
Of his acting. He was both Henry the Fluff

And a Falsestaff roaming around ruined fields.
Which he almost ‘Blaked’ or ‘Dunkirked,’

As he tried to rouse the long fallen. Who must not
Rise but keep rocking. Pass our tests to keep failing.
Numb yourselves down. That’s the deal.

May Day Greetings from a London garden
Thursday, 30 April 2020 08:03

May Day Greetings from a London garden

Published in Poetry

My May Day Call

By David Erdos

Act One: As We End?

 SCENE: April 2020, with the day itself as a stage, the writer sits in his garden. He types on an old child-size laptop what he wishes his fellow comrades to hear. He is resolute but concerned and keen to strike a fair balance between accepted fact and perspective. At a time of conjecture the form of a poem as a direct address seems to suit, even as he wears a vest. The startling heat too concerns him; is it a gift or distraction as the shadows beyond get to work?

DAVID ERDOS:

It was Harold Pinter who wrote in his masterly
Nobel Prize mission poem that ‘the simple dignity of man’
Was the purpose not only of his and our life, but of Art.

So, on May Day we look across the sun scarred skies
That feel broken for a new point of promise with which
To celebrate Morning Stars. They still appear of course,

But are masked by the Covid cloud that surrounds us,
And while we may fear the rain yet to stain us – as there
May be microbe and plot in what’s cast – there will still

Be a means to redeem each coming day
Through perception, prizing it, through earned effort:
A true labour of love, one might say, in which

The political fight and the personal light reconfigure,
To honour all of those lost to struggle, and to defy
Cummings’ chaos and the mire that shields Johnson’s way.

(He pauses and thinks, trying to restrain his suspicions, but his thoughts turn to fire as the features of these men spark each thought.)

Act Two: The Plot Broadens

The same. He continues to write, rage and think.

DAVID ERDOS:

What really happened last year? It feels reasonable still
To deny it: a complete misunderstanding of what is being
Done in our name. As British Socialism was seen

To sadly stumble, or slip, impossibly marred
By J. Corbyn, as former hinterlands turned to winter
Whilst in plump country, the completely misinformed

Fed on fame. The celebritised oaf had his way as the ghost
Of Tony Benn shook all timbers. And the English grass
Began screaming this time before it was cut.

Walked through years past by both Blake and Clare,
Chasing vision, those former meadows under the current
Control wilt and shut. Some may say sensibly, and yet

The mind wanders, not only across that barred landscape
But beside the soured streams and ransacked rivulets
Of the true. The elite now tell us that this is for the common

Good. We accept it. And yet we do not have the heroes
And leaders of a once grander age. Truly progressive
When seen from this current time of reduction,

With nobody fighting the need to survive scars time’s
Page. But I hear the flesh and the feet of the socialist
Walkers I’d honour: William Cobbett, Jim Connell,

William Cuffay, and Jack Jones. Along with the other
Great reformers of course, from Annie Kenney,
To Gladstone, Tom Paine, Hannah Mitchell,

And Lloyd George, too; they sought Thrones
On which all could sit as we made The Welfare State
A true nation, albeit one that now, strained and stricken,

Like the NHS, stands alone. But that isn’t even the point.
The point right now is that the public devour deception.
They cast the slickened stone without seeing,

And while still being told what to fear.
They neither anticipate change, or know the proper way
To deal with it; theirs is not a general stance stoked

By vision, but a mangled politics of the ear;
Something they have either overheard, or picked up,
Or which someone else recommended;

We watch as our panel show fame crufted pups
Deride Bore-is, but then he is still allowed
His full tread. For simple derision can’t help,

If it is unassisted by vision. Humour and bland
Bread alone cannot heal us, as separated, the uncommon
Cold rages wildly, and the Tories underline each day’s

Dead.
So, May Day marks a point of crisis this year,
And a point of principle, also. On May the 1st
And all moments the freshly Laboured Day must resume,

Especially as people have become more aware
Of the need for dignity while they’re ravaged,
As friends lose both jobs and others,

Let some brand-new arrangement of The Internationale
Set the tune: A melody that both shapes and sings
Of the past but which has a moderrn Socialist Party line

Twisting through it; a resonance mixing keyboard
With drum and hope and dub bass, all while a guitar blast
Shrieks forth, giving proper vent to frustration,

As the common call commands Chorus and helps
To unify each trapped place.

Will people hear?

Did they hear in 1886 in Chicago?
The Haymarket bomb-blast was a form of ‘Who Moved
The Stone?’ But instead of Christ, crisis then,

Rivering through the ages, taking in Orgreave’s
Battle, the Miners’ Strike, and of course Peterloo.
For each time of change will clamour to shape

Unique signals. And so, stunned, we must answer
If we are to revive buried truths.

Orwell’s prophecy now surrounds as the book

Of the year loses pages, and each entry equals
As we grow scared, or weak behind thought.
And yet what we see as despair could still become

A source of unity for us;
A socialism that breaches the distance
Which is already being controlled and enforced.

The past has been revoked, then ignored
Under the startling coincidence within Covid;
Snagged on the first bar of Brexit, the prison gates

Closed with each door. And now our cells swelter
In heat, and with the particular need to make fire,
Not from rubbing sticks or by prism, but from

A conflagration to come, in the heart.
The selfsame one that pumps blood around
The political system and which makes the rest of us

Chartists as our fall and fate suits their graph.
But the truly socialist values compel
The atrophied flesh of the nation

To rouse themselves from back benches in either
Secret garden or park, in order to recognise the reveal
That the right wing hopes to keep hidden.

This need not be a lockdown at all, more an entrance
Through which a second human race can restart.

And yet on May Day this year each pagan pole

Will lose purchase. The milky white Morris Daughters
And their dancing Dads will stand numb.
The sun scorched squares and hamlets run dry

As no bell shakes for the spirits of the distant time
They still echo. So I ask: is tradition lost or truncated
When not ushered in by a drum?

The Government’s signal flare, free of sound
And illumination falls shallow. It admits no path,
Means, or method with which to emerge from the dark.

But that dark is designed and has been delivered
Straight to us. Brief questions put receive answer
But are quickly blunted down to the chart.

Those deathly Statistics each day, including a 5pm
Call from various Emissaries of the Reaper,
Denoting societal ills, testing balance, along

With the fractions of fear within flesh.
Primed, promised, poised we let gloved and hidden
Hands make us puppets. By accepting the strings

That restrict us we seek to contain
What comes next. Perhaps a new Plague,
Or Dark age, with its new Dark Age Generation.

Generation X-ed, one might call it;
Redacted, withdrawn and locked down.
And locked out too, it would seem,

As about what goes on, we know nothing.
The passed Parliamentary Covid Bill is pure
Orwell, but how many of us touch the gown

Of those who judge us, or lead, or meet
In private port, pouting congress.
What is happening now in closed meetings

As we all wait within and conform?
Things Yet To Come, by way of Laboratory.
Exits, Cummingsed. But as I consider May Day

Now, ending April, I know as you all do, very conscious
That what true Socialists do is inform. In the past
The Unions have forced pace for what the Labour Party

Advanced or advances: chiefly, the rights of those
Who are working and who will continue to work
When they can. This should make us all Socialists,

Particularly at a time of Socialistas; those pale
Pretenders to provision and connection;
The Iron Bird’s Iron Babies, who, preened

And polished will in dreams at least
Rust once damned.

(He pauses, reflects, savouring the ideas as they strike them. In weighing them, there’s a balance between preaching to the converted and offering up a new prayer.)

Act Three: Resolve, Resolution and the Start of a Solution, resumed

The light burns like the harshest spotlight, under the pressure he tries to unite ties that bind.

 DAVID ERDOS:

Of course, May Day also represents

A rebirth. In the public sense
That’s what’s needed.

I think of the death of John Smith as a pausing

Before the blur of Blair interfered.
Imagine a British PM with that name!
It would have been beyond perfect!

A housing frame for the nation
In which one man’s nomenclature held all dear.
Smith’s astuteness, and strength should not be forgotten.

At a time without proper Statesmen or women,
Particularly when one considers the violence of Priti
Patel, it’s his face, his spent force that takes on

The kind of currency I’d call beauty,
Travelling now through convention, to show
In reflection the brighter roads we’ve avoided,

Along with all of those unrisked and missed
Open doors. The European Union for one, instead
Of being a Liberal Bankers Club, should have been

A Communism of sorts across countries,
A means to feel both bound and beholden
To a siblinghood which survives

The fair and fouled day at all points
As the veins that form the world’s rivers
Feed calm and farmer to show what just one field

Of labour in the fully active sense can provide.
We need that work. We need pluck, but of course
That bulldog screed was pure Tory;

Churchillian bombast, but which got us all
Through a war. But not through a peace.
Of course, dribbling in the House of Lords

Didn’t help him, and yet like all troubled heroes,
There were weaker shades no-one saw.

I think of some of Labour’s former challenges
On this day: such as Clement Atlee’s compromise
And James Callaghan’s Thatchered reason.

I think of Gordon Brown, so ill-suited
To a media age, yet so right. As an economist
Alone, he’d have carved a different shape

Out of Covid, as its slick substance covers
Each deceitful breath and fused light.
As we carry on in our caves, fresh feudal Lords

Construct fiefdoms that will make us all
Peasants, that’s if we weren’t before in their eyes.
So let this ransacked May Day now announce

A new form of ritual for England.
As we pole and dance through closed gardens
Let us struggle on and work here, on the page

And through screens (as we can’t fight or even
Meet on the beaches): for the medium’s still
The message. The privileged patronise

And prefect us but there is still a playground
Out there to fight for. And so my May Day
Call now resounds. If the air itself can’t be comrade,
We can touch a screen, as a shoulder,
And form, while we’re marching
A fast-moving queue to hope’s door.

(No Blackout. Just day, framing the small house as theatre.
In the silence that follows David’s end of curtain speech, now implores):

This has been a Three Act Play-Poem call
In which the cast are still to audition.
It is down to you as the reader to know the parts

You must play. Entr’acte or Exeunt,
Another door has been opened.
May each call you take make your comrade

And like Harold Pinter’s noble Nobel
Poem Treaty, bring to bare your sweet
Action and allow the heart and soul

Their full say.

(He exits, at last, to seek shade.)