(i) What We Were Told
The teachers smell of mothballs,
They’ve all shed their summer skins.
They grow coffee in Brazil.
The French took that hill.
I painted my still life apples
As best I could and made them
Look polished and rosy
But they all fell to the floor
And rolled out the door
Knocking the headmaster over.
So go ahead,
Be a hero,
Shout bang bang
And fall down dead.
They sent you home in a wooden box,
Closed your eyes, screwed down the lid.
You never got into the history books
But Nelson sees you with his one good eye
And gives a welcome for the war weary on high.
They never built a statue to you
For the pigeons to crap on,
Well never mind.
Ghandi is in heaven now and he is kind.
Your mother dusts your photograph
Every day and wonders where you are,
Doesn’t she know you’re in heaven now,
Drinking at the heroes’ bar,
Drinking at the nectar fountain,
Now you are content.
No bombs here but “I Love You Jesus” badges
And flowers pass for rent.
No countries here or flags to wave,
Everyone’s a real person,
Everyone is saved.
Heaven is a state of mind,
The gate is found within,
We shall all meet on the ledge
And sing “Jerusalem”.
Hell is a state of mind,
Brother against brother,
Hot fires burn your bones,
The Devil is what you see in the mirror,
The bats that fly in your nightmares,
The snake that bites between the legs,
The fly on the wall saw it all,
It dropped on its back and begged.
When death knocks on the door,
Shall we beg for more,
Not sure of the outcome,
The last parade, the lights fade,
When they draw the curtains,
Your fate is sealed,
The party’s over though you never dreamed,
You hear the rats on the roof,
The King’s horse on the hoof,
The hunting party is grinning,
They’ve bagged your soul.
(ii) What We Know
The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes,
Rain, Steam and Speed,
Under Milk Wood,