Do you have difficulty coming up with titles? I do. Occasionally they come easily, almost before the poem, but usually they do not.
Two weeks ago; the 19th November I was reading The Guardian and saw an article about the police removing demonstrators of Occupy Portland, one of the many peaceful occupations that have been occurring around the globe. There is a photograph of a protester being pepper sprayed in the face by a police officer, the police in full riot gear look like something out of a seventies cheap science fiction movie. I was incensed by the brutality of this action, why is it that property/ objects are more valuable than people? What gives people the right to injure others who are protesting peacefully? To me this is all the misuse of power.
I was so distressed by the photographs in the newspaper that day I wrote this poem:
Protests Across the US
I knew a copper once, long time ago
When I was married to my first wife,
Before she died, before the years of sorrow,
Sometimes those days seem like another’s life.
He told me that being a copper let him do
All the things he arrested others for,
Fast cars, fighting, perks for the boy in blue.
This morning his words echoed back when I saw:
“Pepper spray is used on a protester in Oregon”.
He had a belief in that concrete law
That places property over people, that lets
Slip the truncheoned fist, power in the raw.
It has been this way since the first king:
“You will do as I say for I own everything.”
I took for the title the title of the story in the paper, but I don’t like it. Also it being a sonnet it took me a little time to get the form correct. It is an autobiographical poem, I did know a copper many years ago and he was a the sort of person I would call a chancer, quite flash and brash, a real Jack the Lad type.
I don’t like the title-any ideas?
I also wrote a postscript, I don’t think it works, for one thing it runs out of rhyme half way through.
Eyewitness Pictures of the week
My cast iron soul beyond surprise
An 84 year old woman is lead away,
Mucus waterfalls from her eyes,
Another example of the pepper spray,
Put in her place by violence,
Some clown who mistakes orders for justice.
“Gee, ain’t your policemen wonderful”
In that riot gear they could be ours.
This is a slight work, I think the anger comes through but it does not really work as a poem. Again the title comes from the section of the paper it was in.
What would you call the poem? I would be interested in your suggestions.You can read about Occupy Portland here: http://occupyportland.org/