The Dream Tasters

This nice bit of nosh comes from the 1976 anthology From sleep-dark tower blocks, published by Hackney Library Services and was a collection of poems from the 1974 and 1975 Hackney Poetry Competitions.

The Dream Tasters

When the setting sauce can be seen afar
From the slippery heights of the gherkin-jar,
With a crown of ice I will set afloat
In the prancing prow of a gravy boat;
And I’ll cross the table ‘twixt thee and me
On the minty waves of a vinegar sea.
Where the ketchup splashes the white salt strand
And the pepper pavements are crisply tanned,
I will pledge your favour, my lady fine,
In a spinning goblet of tartare wine.
We’ll be dancing, dancing, for days and days
To the soothing strains of a mayonnaise;
And we’ll delve all night with a silver spoon
In the burning depths of the mustard moon.

Adrian Philpott

A Nazi Air-Raid Warden

Miroslav Holub was a Czech poet and immunologist. He lived 13 September 1923 to 14 July 1998.

A Nazi Air-Raid Warden

He rang our bell
and yelled:
Your blackout is faulty,
I can see a light!

We switched the light off
and sat in the dark.

A little later
he rang our bell
and yelled:
Your blackout is faulty,
I can see a light!

Man has his limits.

As he left
the street writhed
and dogs felt their hair standing on end,
for they knew that his word
had the power
to turn them
into lice
or into knights of the Holy Grail
with oak leaves and swords.

The world has its limits.

Even the dark can be switched off
for a time.

But then
not even that.

Miroslav Holub

Theresienstadt

This poem if from Erich Fried’s 1969 collection On Pain of Seeing. He was born to Jewish parents in Austria, 1921. After the Anschluss with Nazi Germany his father was murdered by the Gestapo and he fled to London. Theresienstadt was a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto.

My Girlfriends

Slowly in three to four weeks
or suddenly over night
my girls turn into
my aunts and elderly cousins

I see them anxiously
chewing their false teeth
and with arthritic fingers
wipe their spat-at faces

They arrive at Theresienstadt
with suitcases and bundles
They fall out of the window
still groping for their glasses

When they stretch in my bed
they are trying to stand to attention
in order to be spared
when the sick are picked out

I see them discoloured blue
when I kiss them in the morning
stacked in sixes
– the shit and vomited bile

washed off with garden hoses –
ready for transfer
from the gas chamber
to the incinerators

Erich Fried

No Platform For The Fascists

This piece is from Rising Tide, which is an anthology of poetry and prose from the London Voices Poetry Workshop. There’s no date on the anthology but 1984 looks a good estimate. The Workshop met monthly at the Crown Tavern on Clerkenwell Green and was a member of the Federation of Worker-Writers and Community Publishers.
The author, George Taylor, was a Londoner born in 1909. He was a bricklayer and a POW. He started to write once he was retired.

No Platform for the Fascists

“You can move that off the road,” said the constable. He had just arived. We tried to argue, but to no avail. Sid and Harry leant the platform against the rail of the public toilets a few feet from the pitch. I took the constable’s number and was soon over the road to a telephone kiosk. I was just through to the Council for Civil Liberties when an excited Harry arrived. ‘An Inspector has arrived and the platform can go back!’
So after this we settled down. Later I took my break for a snack in the cafe opposite. We had been there since 7.30 in the morning taking over from three others. They had been there all night with the platform plus a brazier. It was a chilly September in the 1930s. A S.E. London suburb was receiving the attentions of Mosley’s Blackshirts, and we were holding this pitch for our own meeting that evening. First come – first-served was the rule then.
Further excitement came in the afternoon. We were chatting by the platform when, breaking hard, a Black Maria pulled up almost alongside. It was Them, the Blackshirts, with a platform; but before they could place it in front of ours I was up and speaking. A young constable arrived at the same time. A few words and they were off again.
I followed them over the road to a pitch that was seldom used. There already seemed to be a crowd and there in the middle was a Jewish comrade – his ‘platform’ a three inch deep kipper box contrasting strangely with his bulky frame. But Ron was in good voice, and mine was not the only smile – though I was more concerned as to whether the box would hold his weight. The Black Maria drove away.
Our meeting that evening was highly successful.

George Taylor

Winter

From Shadwell poet Gladys McGee’s 1975 Basement Writers collection Breaking Through.

Winter

Winter,
The feeling is gone
Something, somewhere
is dead.
Also I knew
that something was wrong.
It was a long time ago
since I sang a song
with love and feeling
which should go
with maturity and love
of life.
But my love and feelings
have died in the Winter
of the year.
So now something has turned
my feelings into a sorrowful spear,
which I am read to use
to cause others tears.
The thing that is within me
that is so dead
is withered and dried
and does not care
what it says.
I hate it, but it is myself
that is in the Winter of me
that is so cold.
But the rages which
are within
shout loud and embarrass
everyone who is listening;
I sometimes notice this.
Then the anger and hurt
disappears again
and are ashes of the fires
that die in the cold
of the same old Winter again.

Gladys McGee