we gather at the edge
white feathers falling
in the dark
staring into the void
we are alone
the children wave purple lightsabers
kitted out in knitted hats
adorned with pom-poms
there’s a sense of urgency
mother and child move quickly
the wrong direction
teenagers pace and stiffen into poses
words fade with the wind
the burning of wood
the Ivory Tower
the crackling of flames
taking hold the awe
exploding the shock
we gasp smoke
sparks rise shimmering bat-wings
it is beautiful
the stars weep green roses
silver snakes carved
in the perfect dark
a father thin and tired
carries his daughter
to the edge
holds tiny pink hands
in huge gloved fists
nuclear dots burn
in the emptiness
we hold the fire
and only the wind




I wrote this poem as a response to a local Firework Display.  On the 5th November British people celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. They hold bonfire parties, burn effigies and set off fireworks.  Although this is an enjoyable community event it’s also a strange thing to celebrate.  Guy Fawkes was one of thirteen Catholics rebels who tried to overturn the government of James 1 and restore religious tolerance.  Fawkes was not the main instigator of the plot.  Robert Catesby was the charismatic leader of the group. He took up arms after suffering persecution and murder of his own family.  The terrorists were fighting against the brutal oppression of the minority Catholic population which began during the reign of the previous monarch Elizabeth 1.  Catholics were not allowed to freely practice their religion.  They were persecuted, tortured and murdered by the State.  The Guy Fawkes story is a tragic one.  He was caught, tortured and hanged as were most of his co-conspirators.  Catholics in Britain continued to be oppressed until the late twentieth century.

How much have things changed? Although British Catholics are now free and equal, religious intolerance is still the root cause of wars and violence all over the world.  When will the human race understand that the persecution of any group inevitably leads to them fighting back?  The persecuted will become the persecutors.  And so the cycle of violence never ends.

But in the meantime, we have fun with fire and observe as our current British government disintegrates in the shame of corruption allegations,  sex scandals and incompetence.



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