Dedicated to the Dundee Post Office Telegraph Clerk, Annie Keir Lamont
My dear Annie, if you will forgive the familiarity.
Our acquaintance, time lapsed, a meeting was not to be.
Even if time stanced, I feel that I know you
Just as well as, in words, you appear to do.
Thank you for your letter from 1921 Dundee received now;
Found in the time capsule but I know not how.
You are right in saying that “changes will be vast”,
Almost one hundred years later, time’s wind filling our mast.
Your “business first” is still true, now called, “bottom line”,
Meaning that lying, cheating, stealing, hedging and betting are fine.
Some things do not appear to change that much either
Our economic system is also “absolutely in chaos” and lather.
Let us see, Annie, how your 1921 with 2014 compares,
Your letter has much to say, here are my wares.
Your Great War was the one to “end all wars”.
Annie, you were right to mock such hope
And predict “another and ghastlier Armageddon
Before many years have fled”.
Barely twenty years after that Great War,
There came another, more sinister and more evil.
Since that Second, there have been endless other wars:
Palestine, Korea, Suez, Vietnam, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon’
And Syria too, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait as well’
Ah Annie, millions upon millions have joined
Those unfortunate young men you knew so well.
In fact, you know, many of these wars were actually born
Of the hell that Great War generation had spawned.
Even this minute, as I write, Sykes, Picot,
Balfour, Weizmann, McMahon and others
Still wave from behind the grave to those
Fighting over nations that they arbitrarily created
In imperial woe and out of “the white man’s burden”,
Replacing that oppressive white man with little martinettes
Like Assad, Sisi, Netanyahu and many other criminally happy bands.
I fear, Annie, that there is little to please
And even less our civilised Christian lives to ease.
Let us talk of happier things
So that hope eternal may fly on outstretched wings.
“Wireless telegraphy” has indeed been “superseded
By something even more startling and revolutionary”.
It is called the INTERNET
It is instant in speed
It opens many opportunities
It improves communications
It requires immediate response
It destroys our peace’
Computers, you see, have taken the place
Of polite conversation over a nice cup of tea.
Parents speak little to their children,
Who are busy staring at screens –
Befuddling their minds and retarding their brain;
All in the name of progress.
To be fair, Annie, computers allow the white man
To pilotlessly bomb his burden
Into oblivion in the name of Christian civilisation.
All because the burden dared to ask for:
An old fashioned concept little understood nowadays.
You will be pleased to know we do still have
Trade Unions today – some so big’
They are absolute giants with coffers so full –
But they are toothless and useless
For, like you, most workers’ earnings are dire.
About one percent owns almost everything on this globe,
I thought that you would be pleased that all remains the same.
You are happy that women have been granted
The vote and hope for “a lady premier” one day.
Well, Annie, she has been and gone
Having done much good; some say
And others say, infinitely worse – and nothing for women, all agree.
We even have a black President of the USA
Although he has been about as effective
As his empty promises, double standards and sheer hypocrisies.
For, once the taste of power resides, love of power always abides.
I fear, Annie, that the Millennium has not come
In our day and peace is so far removed
And happiness has not come “to the ravished nations of the world”.
Ravished still, like you, we too, “are straining
Tired eyes towards the future and saying,
Sadly, it is the things of this world that feed us
Whilst the things of the spirit we everlastingly abuse.
God, today, has perhaps died or
He is constantly abused to murder, displace
And steal souls, homes and lands.
God appears to speak to every evil rogue
And to sanction endless evil treatment of others.
If He has not died yet, He soon will.
For the Sermon is now words, you see,
Known to few who might care a great deal,
But ignored by most, spreading their common artificial weal.
I am sorry, Annie, for this gloomy outlook.
Our woes, errors, cruelties would fill many a book.
There are still such lovely things around:
Trees, flowers, landscapes with delights abound –
All in all, a beautiful land our England still is
As, no doubt, it was in your olden days.
“I didn’t have the courage to go on'”
Said your last words found by the sea,
Where you took your own life five years after writing your letter.
Oh Annie, I wish that I were there
To save you and live a quiet life
In solitude, peace and mutual affection
Bridging the years for long to come
And ignoring all that goes wrong,
Whilst remaining kind, loving and strong.
For ours is to make our souls side by side elope
To a new world where we can share an abiding hope.
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi