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Robin Redux

by James Graham 

Posted: 02 January 2015
Word Count: 663
Summary: This is an oddity. Not a great poem, for sure. Let me know what you make of it.

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Robin Redux


As soon as he got here
from the thirteenth century
he saw that the big money
is buried on treasure islands,

and to rob the rich
he had to hack.

As luck would have it
he found a merry man
called Spy-Eye Tuck,
a gifted password cracker
and another, Will the Geek,
a whizz-kid web injector

and in fourteen days
they had the hoodware ready.


They tried it on the crisply laundered
assets of the Russian oligarch
Gennadi Chestikoff. The arrows
hit the target: fifty million roubles
(five hundred thousand sterling, give or take
- they took). It worked. ‘Think big’, quoth Robin.
‘Where next, my merry men? The Caymans?
Virgins? Luxembourg? Those three, to start.
You’re the real deal, boys. I’ll leave you to it.
I’m going a-hunting’. So, smart but casual
in his avocado sweatshirt, he took in
the sights of the third-millenium city.

It was there he met young Marion,
an economics graduate from Lincoln who
had worked vacations as a chambermaid.
They got talking. His sixth sense told him
she was the real deal too, smart, honest,
as like to keep a secret as any man
or woman on Earth. He told her all
- well, nearly all – and there and then
she left her former life behind,
vowed never to rest until the harvest
was all gathered in. ‘And when it is,’

she added brightly, ‘you won’t hang on to it.
From all I’ve heard about you, Robin Hood,
you’ll give it to the poor’. ‘Certes’, quoth he
‘- God wot, I haven’t got the idiom yet -
oh, absolutely, give it to the poor, it’s what I do.’

‘You sound as if you hadn’t thought of it.
Or if you had, you never thought it through.
You can’t just call on peasants and give out
a bag of florins. Listen. I will make a plan’.


In the meantime Tuck and Will
had helped themselves to fifty trillion.
‘British reckoning’, said Will. ‘It comes to
eighteen lovely little zeros
after the fifty. Okay, boss?’

‘Not only that,’ says Spy-Eye. ‘They don’t know.
Cos we’ve put virtual figures to the same amount
right where the real stuff came from. Even Chestikoff
thinks he still has his roubles. Now is that smart
or is that smart?’

‘You’re worth your weight in gold’, quoth Robin.
‘You will have your share, but ninety-nine percent
must needs be given to the poor. And this fine lady
will help us do it. This is Marion’

‘It’s no good going the politics route,’ said Marion.
‘The politicians’ heads are full of markets, they’re
Big Money’s little helpers. Do-it-yourself’s the answer.
Set up a charity like War on Want – don’t laugh -
and given our unique fund-raising system
we can work quite unobtrusively. In time
they’ll suss us out. Not yet. I’m confident.’

So the Green Sea Turtle Preservation Trust
was born. (Its title a red herring.) Staff were hired
by Marion and Robin, agents to work abroad,
all sworn to secrecy, while Will and Tuck
accepted kind donations. Then one day

the folks at Water Aid were stunned to find
a hundred-million credit on the books. And the day just after
Médicins sans Frontières were sans souci.


It’s no good. This story’s going nowhere.
Time-traveller Hood takes trillions off the rich
and gets away with it? OK, last ditch:

take out the silliest bits. He hasn’t whizzed
across the centuries from medieval Sherwood.
He’s just a guy obsessed with Robin Hood,
who dreams of taking money from the rich
and spending it on medicines and schools
and water that won’t kill you. He’s unhinged.

Let’s suppose he has some mates
who help him hack. They’re very good.
They even make some dosh and hand it out.

Then they’re arrested. More credible,
but pointless. As pointless as reality:

A fraction of the treasure-island wealth
would end world poverty. It won’t happen.

We’ll see time-travel sooner.

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Comments by other Members

butterfly2000 at 10:41 on 03 January 2015  Report this post
Hi James - long time no speak! I can only be brief right now, so apologies. I like what you have done with this - the mixing of myth and satire. The first thing that sprang to mind was 'folk poem' but I don't know if that is right, at least not in it's current form. But that aside, I'd love to see how this develops. I'll try and come back with some better feedback soon!!! Best wishes for the New Year

James Graham at 15:34 on 03 January 2015  Report this post
Thanks,Debra. Good to hear from you. A  'folk poem' is probably what it should be. I tried doing it in ballad style but didn't get very far!


V`yonne at 15:57 on 10 January 2015  Report this post
I like it James and it made me laugh and smile and made me think in the end too and that's all good and it clips along nicely too. I think its tone is just right and I nodded in agreement at the end and said out loud, Aye that we will!

Now this is longish but I would really like you to sub it to me at TLWs in February. I like to lighten the mood in set of poems but I really like to do it intelligently and this woulf fit the bill revised or no... I have no suggestions. If anything cleverer can be done somewhere in it then I am sure three or four weeks is plenty to revise.

James Graham at 19:23 on 10 January 2015  Report this post
Many thanks, Oonah. I can see some ways to revise and will submit in February. The theme of this poem is backed up by a current BBC4 series 'The Super-rich and Us' in which, among many other things, we were shown a wrist watch priced at £2.5m. Solid gold, the whole wrist band set with diamonds. A billionaire's wife said - and clearly believed what she was saying - that being super-rich is for the good of all.'We go to restaurants' (jobs for waiters), 'we use taxis...' Then she began to run out of examples. One positive is that in all the Scandinavian countries there has been the same ethic for more than half a century: asked 'Do you object to paying high taxes, to finance affordable housing and so on?' a wealthy Swedish woman said, 'Oh, not at all. It's what government is for'.


Thomas Norman at 09:15 on 11 January 2015  Report this post
I really enjoyed this James. The mixing of the past and present/future is so well intergrated that it didn't feel at all disjointed as I had thought it might.

Humour with a strong message, very fine writing. Have you decided what sort of poem to call it?
I do hope you'll post the final version.


V`yonne at 11:34 on 11 January 2015  Report this post
I recognised the programme but I didn't watch it -- clips you know ;) Anyway I am sure this one has legs so I am willing to allow it the run.

James Graham at 21:22 on 13 January 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Thomas. I didn't rate this poem at first but judging by responses it's maybe better than I thought. What sort of poem is it? Hard to say - satirical, I suppose.


Bazz at 19:40 on 15 January 2015  Report this post
Hi James, I've read this a couple of times while i've thought about it, I love the satire of it, the idea works brilliantly. The moral paradoxes of a robin hood forced to function in a time where simple heroics are anathema. it's a very playful piece, but has a sharp bite to it when we get to the end. They say there has to be a rich, to create money that will filter down to the poor, I wonder if a modern robin hood would be forced to adopt that approach, and just give in to the money...
Great use of urban fable.

stormbox at 23:11 on 28 January 2015  Report this post
Hi James,

Listening to the radio tonight it mentioned that one tenth of 1% of people in the USA own 22% of the entire wealth, and it reminded me of your poem! I really enjoyed the light hearted tone, particularly the references to arrows hitting the target, avocado shirts etc. The deeper meaning of the poem is topical at the moment and I think it will be enjoyed and appreciated by a wider audience.


James Graham at 20:54 on 29 January 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Barry and David. It does seem to work ok, this poem. I tried to do the ending in an 'all joking apart' tone, which seems to work too.


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