Monochrome stub is a tongue now blunt,
When a (cka-cka-cka) / cleave /
A song site to song coal scream: “our”.
Pink are worms and jetty mines,
& Sits you, and you between me cut,
History and all of language,
Under the shadowed shapes the “flicker of empty flags”.
They expunge the poor in clear city daylight from crossroads,
The mollusc shell bleeds out in shallow shades & blue crystal streams
/ Cleave /
& Shell legal aid.
Squat in brown drain
Of your home, odour,
The worst stench out,
& Blue veins up,
Crawl up our fingers
As the law peals from the far edge of a glove darkly at night how everything turns
In and to the white snow
Car careens into a scar-light day:
Finger bone in a freeze-weld is a child-burst
& To walk is impossible freedom.
But first footpath to cut the land up,
& Up costs grow bracken or arable,
Each coin for a cut in the fern choke throat
& These cuts cut too many to name,
The air is polyurethane lattice.
‘1871’ was written for (and first performed) by Rumour Cubes at an Art Uncut event on 18 March 2011, which was the one hundred and fortieth anniversary of the Paris Commune; a popular uprising that expelled the Government from the city and put it in the hands of the working class.
It features the work of poet Steve Willey, who had this to say about the poem he wrote for the piece; “The band had come up with the structure of the song before I had come up with any words, and the song’s form was fast and fragmented, but with aching gaps. Once the date of the gig was set the content came from a consideration of the historical constellation of 18 March 2011 and 18 March 1871: an attempt to bridge one hundred and forty years in the empty spaces of a four minute song. I began in the present hoping that the form of the song and the context of the performance would take care of the past. I began to list all the different cuts that the coalition Government had either made or intended to make. I was overwhelmed. There were literally too many cuts to name. The selected list that I assembled read like a systematic attack. The cuts targeted women, the elderly, the poor, and the young, and all but the richest elements of society. It also appeared as a direct attack on language and memory, even light was left scarred. Over several rehearsals the prospective content of the poem was put under severe pressure. It was cut, it was forced, it was relocated, violence was done to it, until it met the demands of the song, and of the historical moment. In other words, until it became more than just a list of cuts and aspired to the condition of usefulness. Spit it in the appropriate direction.”