Jos Bitumen Archive Window – Issue 20

Jos became radicalised and joined political marches, yet whilst physically supporting hope, he inwardly despaired of mankind. His darkness had clearly returned in this piece found in a discarded coal scuttle.


What a magnificent performance

all we, giving peace a chance

heart-warming applause gives succour

but bickering like petit fours

we assemble to change the world in abstract

yet need the night-light petty contract

it’ll be forever your honour

even enthusiast blood donor

but they will suspend us

by tendrils of individuals

and rearrange us by low lynch-mob rule

unpicking thread by thread our union banners

plugging us in and turning us on

hiding their power in our selfish one-by-one;

lathing us smooth as mewling customers

pinning open our eyes and crushing our ears;

counting our pennies, never letting one drop

from their cavernous, dark purses

preaching how to live in chapters and verses



Jos’s political upbringing came through in much of his poetry, yet it had genuine human pathos, as can be seen in this little fragment of a much longer narrative poem.


They drink the water of Elysian myths

and sell their minions fluids from the well of despair

They take the proceeds to their verdant banks

where their money works untaxed by labour

And from their self-appointed coins of vantage

they snap the whip of ignorance

and draw out pain without bloody effort

and hear nothing but their own voice

as high-pitched, shrill despots they

thrill to see the struggle they only read of

flicking silver dollars when their shoes are shining

in a self-aggrandising brightness

while they get their inferiors to build their own

economic prisons wherein they will dream

of nothing but productivity

mired in the rich fabric of opportunism

that excludes fairness, makes a lottery of living

and pulls a blanket of sorrow over the earth

in an existence full of contrary possibility.

Why can they not imagine how empty

a universe is with the human heart

politically pressed to the grindstone?



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