The Frontier Watchtowers
(after Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold)

by Michael Brett

My love, it is three in the morning and there, in the watchtowers
They can see everything:

The uniformed searchers in the car park,
The doctor's finger searchlights examining the trees and listening
To the heartbeats and hobo tramp of the trains.

They can see the nit comb barbed wire
Shredding our straight and logical lights
Into frightening, strange foreign scripts and languages.

They can film us
And the refugees arriving with blurry passport pictures and new papers;
The government activists heading out
In cars with new number plates, beaten, aged, scoured with mud.

In the guards' binoculars, the seas unroll like speeches.
Even the tugboats are political: the nearest raps like Churchill c-c-c
Clearing his throat.

So let us promise to love each other, here,
In this place, this land, this bar which is a Midway Battle
Between old news stories and pub gossip;

Let us promise to be true, raising our glasses,
Between the friendly undercover policemen,
The funny fake Karl Marxes and Bin Ladens on their bar stools.

Like them let us ignore the deaf mute nation behind them,
Washing their dishes,
Holding their drinks trays;
Or making political jokes in sign language,
Beneath a blanket.

Money is a fraud of printed heads, a blizzard in one wiper blade,
And we are all we have
In this helicopter world of camouflaged gods,
Swinging down rope ladders,
Onto squash court Trojan plains.

Copyright © 2013 - Michael Brett
Published: 7/4/13   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem