Login   Sign Up 



by Zettel 

Posted: 25 June 2004
Word Count: 231
Summary: A first try at a topical poem

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

I have never tried to write a topical poem, always seemed a bit naff - a sort of poetry in 'Motion' so to speak. However, prompted by a disturbing picture from Portugal during the week which some of you may have seen here's a first ever crack......


The bears are safely in their cages
with calm unbated breath.
Like one-fingered typists
the cockerels tap their way
to a safe but certain death.
The fighting dogs once bred to rip and kill
lumber to their spoonfed bowls
and eat their pampered fill.
Hawks and falcons scratch a meagre living
while the gibbet rattles empty
up on Tower Hill.
These atavistic rituals
of blood, and hate, and death
have passed into remembrance
unmissed, unmourned but not forgotten.
Undimmed, the feelings are still realised
the brotherhood of hate has just got organised.
The laager-fuelled, throb-veined face
spits a toxic, manic scream
through the global window of our world.
We watch in shameful fascination,
tut tut and wring our hands.
We wonder how and why and when
the needy, helpless innocence
of trusting little boys
found brotherhood in marauding bands.

The bears, the cocks, the fighting dogs
birds of prey and gallows men
can rest easy one and all.
What need have we of their services
when men with pride, become the beasts
their new excuse for thin-veiled self contempt
a simple little game……..football.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Ticonderoga at 10:51 on 26 June 2004  Report this post

There's some magnificent imagery here, wedding the atavistic and the 'modern'; I think the poem needs a little polishing, though: 'not forgot' strikes me as a little clumsy, breaking the otherwisee excellent flow; what's wrong with 'forgotten'? I would suggest cutting 'angelic' too, as it strikes me as over-egging the nostalgic pudding slightly. But, phrases like, 'throb-veined face' are marvellous. I'd whittle a bit, and then it'll be a really fine piece. Keep scribbling!

Love and Mercy,


Ticonderoga at 11:22 on 27 June 2004  Report this post

changes seem to have done the trick; fine piece!



engldolph at 19:21 on 27 June 2004  Report this post

I really like the idea of our latent blood-lust being replaced with football violence ..as if there will always be the need for an outlet..for some..maybe for all..

bears are quiet in their cages, cockerals as typists, dogs spoonfed...all good contrasts

other good images:

throb-veined face
spits a toxic, manic scream

We watch in shameful fascination,

What need have we of their services
when men with pride, become the beasts

I agree with Mike that the strong lines will stand better if you whittled/edited... the poem to me works best when you let the images stand for themselves rather than explaining to the reader (the message in the strong lines does not need explanation)..

so I think you could drop things like

Undimmed, the feelings are still realised
the brotherhood of hate has just got organised.

through the global window of our world.
(not sure if you need global..and world)

We wonder how and why and when
the needy, helpless innocence
of trusting little boys
found brotherhood in marauding bands.


The topic is a good one..and you create a very good way to capture it.
Regards, Mike

gard at 12:13 on 28 June 2004  Report this post
Hi Zettal

well I hate football (sorry)..I have re-read this piece as you have been cropping and evolving it. Its certainly much improved from the first version full of rich images of savagery and natures struggle with human interwoven as its worst behaviours (but no! We can and are much worse than even at a football match!). Love all the imagery...

Good topical write!


James Graham at 19:46 on 29 June 2004  Report this post
There's a strong idea in your poem, but I don't think it's quite realised yet. I agree with the comments which say that there are lines that could be edited out and that it's the images - the visual detail, the cockerels like one-fingered typists (a very striking image), the dogs feeding - that best convey the poem's message. So I think the poem would gain a lot from being reduced to essentials. I hope what follows won't be discouraging, especially if this is your first time joining a writers' web group.

To give the poem much more of an edge, I'd suggest first of all leaving out the gallows. You'd have more consistency then - all the 'entertainments' from the past that stirred up ugly passions would be animal things - animals made to fight each other to please the crowd. After focussing on these animal spectator 'sports' you could then describe the football maniacs as if they were animals. They could be described as if they were animals - as well as giving out their manic screams from throb-veined faces, they could be described as pecking, biting, clawing.

So I think you might give this very interesting poetic idea a real punch by limiting it to the first eight lines plus roughly as many lines again bringing out the animal nature of the lager-heads. A few more visual details of the stuff they get up to would add to the effect. You could then stand back and see if you have made the same point in fewer lines that you originally made in 33 lines. You might be surprised to find that you have - and that you don't need to say directly something like 'men with pride become the beasts', because the descriptions and images demonstrate the underlying idea, that these hooligans are the same guys, with the same basic psychology, who in the past would have gone to cock-fighting.

So I'm suggesting you hack the poem down to bears, cockerels, dogs and hooligans. Describe them as visually as possible, and leave it at that. Say nothing directly about 'atavistic rituals' that have 'passed into remembrance unmissed...' etc - let the reader work all that out. I don't think you even need to mention football directly.

A good title might be 'Brotherhood' - and the phrase 'brotherhood of hate' could still be worked into the poem, maybe as a stand-alone last line.

The motto of all critics should be 'Easier said than done'! It's certainly easy for me to say you should make all those changes. But it's because I think I see in the poem a really interesting idea which could be made to have much more impact.

If you want to bat ideas back and forward while you revise, I'll be happy to join in. That is, if you actually want to revise the poem now - writers often prefer to leave a piece for a while and come back to it.




Ignore repetition in second paragraph!

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .