I cannot claim to understand
My parent’s fears as they did - -
Just their results
Their world began in
A time of soup kitchens and
A stream of losses and declining expectations.
Until the bedlam of tyrants
Rose with bloody tank treads and
Endless Asian bayonets
Always in fire and smoke in
Grainy black and white newsreels
Showed the world staggering into darkness.
Moloch like until even the most atavistic
Of that ancient god of burning babies
Must have come near glutting their
Endless, bottomless appetite.
They came from coal reeking towns
Of the east,
From cities with endless empty shops
From dust bowls
Ghettoes and the quiet desperate farms
Which could no longer feed their own children
And pass on nineteenth century hopes
They rose to pay the butchers bill.
No one in the posed black
And white images of children straining
To look an adult world in the face
In school yearbooks or
Desperately tidy living room mantles
As they pretended to be
Grown up and ready to face
The next thing thought
Of ideals or dreamed beyond
Shouldering their share.
There ain’t no such thing as a
As one of them was to write
In defiance of being unable to pay