‘Flags and Ashes’ by Randall Stephen Hall


Flags and ashes. Our auld flags issue, in Belfast Continues to stand on street corners. Continues to stand on our hopes and our children’s hopes. Continues to hang out from our lamp posts, to chill. To chill the hearts of the optimistic and the bold. To narrow our gaze and freeze our pipes. The ones that should be channelling peace. While we sleep the sleep of the Ulsterman. Ultan, the sleeper, waiting to awaken. The Flag issue blocks up our windows With twisted, bitter nails Like a cowboy builder. Shutters our broad minds. All hail the victor, all hail to Violence, And the shadow that walks behind it, Scattering lottery tickets, beer mats And fag ash, like confetti. The Flag issue stops up our mouths With old rolled newspapers, Stained with the fish and chip saliva. The salty, drugged, burger meat Of hard boys, failing to be men. The Flag issue, issues forth Like dark smoke from burning tyres. Screeching hard and coming up to a stop. Unable to deal with Green Issues. Polluting our lungs, still bursting for peace, With fear, violence and intimidation. All part of our culture. What culture? You call this culture? The Flag issue hangs over Belfast Like the gloom of despair itself. A heavy cloud that won’t go away, Until it gets the cash in a brown envelope. Then and only then, will it take the money To the pub, down the road, Rather than the community centre. Our children, our communities, our reason, Loses out again. The Flag issue, attempts to issue orders From lamp posts. Screams like a Banshee, giving notice. These flags, Like deflated clown costumes. I don’t get the joke, And where’s the custard pie? Looking high at the blue skys of Ulster I see only rage, made from bright colours. That would smother democracy Along with my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. While “Hoodies”, like monkeys, beyond the Emerald city, Dance on thin disenfranchised ladders, hiding their faces. Carrying out the orders of the less able. To wobble on their political vertigo. They grapple with these flags in the breeze, While on their knees, to the needs of others. Those who would drag us all down, To the level of a painted kerb stone. The Flag issue pounds upon our senses Like a First World War artillery gun. With only one redundant idea. One redundant idea! One redundant idea! Again and again and again, That, hard men should be an example to our Less corrupted children. One, redundant idea. Doesn’t make a culture. One weak and sickly concept Will not feed a child, provide jobs Or nourish any community’s ambitions. The low grade meat of these ideas Is a confidence trick, To the poor and the needy. Who seek self esteem Like a one million pound roll over. Feed me love and friendship Feed me new horizons. Feed me new colours, dancing across the city sky. Feed me love. But don’t feed me pity. By Randall Stephen Hall 7th of May 2013. © Originally part of the “Citizen Ship” blog. Part 13. www.randallstephenhall.com

One Response to ‘Flags and Ashes’ by Randall Stephen Hall

  1. paddykool May 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    I couldn’t put it any better myself RSH…i think you covered everything there. An abstract tone poem indeed…..