St Nicolas of the Fields

Extracts from ‘St Nicolas of the Fields’

Saint Nicolas is gone and his rural flock departed.
Saint Nicolas of the Pastures watches civil discord
Saint Nicolas of the Meadow drowns in urban illness
Unrest with which Parliament propagated duty
In those ignorant of the executive and of their scheming.
I will sing of a young boy lost in a cityscape;
Call him Geoffroy, son of open land and thunder.
I will show you a life that has been ruined by the
Constant overarching, always buying, spending
Unkind capital, ugly capital, capitalism,
Defunct blight that still lives on in our ignorant habits.
Geoffroy, little boy who knows not what they do.
See how this young boy, come from the county, looks on in vain,
Looks at the buildings that once were made of mud
See the glass, the concrete, high-rise, steely structures
Fall with a crash and a mighty cheer as the network cuts out.
Two sides fought one another but not from an honest footing
Those who saw the deft hand of executive power and their lackeys
Those who broke the frail hand of the poor and their sick harmless children.
We had a chance to change captive minds of a people
What was this madness that gripped our Republic —
People, normal people, run down, wholly exhausted
Systems, ageing systems, run down, wholly exhausted
Welfare, social welfare, run down, wholly exhausted.
Welfare has gone and what will go next for poor hungry workers?
Police brutes in heavy armour marched by slowly
Protestors scatter among crowded corridors dangerously dispersed
Tear gas, smoke bombs, fill the lungs with fearless movements.
But see! He who raises his head above makeshift ramparts
Taunts officers with a one-fingered gesture, all he can do;
For his clothes offer scanty defence when it comes to the fighting
His community is his only hope in the thick fray
Look now! He is pinned to the ground with excessive brute force
Officers gleefully take their revenge with protests silenced.
Mastodons with their transparent shields and impregnable breastplates
Fresh battalions brainwashed vanquish hope from the hopeless.
Times, they were changing. States, they were failing. Priests, they were raging.
Industry was dead and neighbours were done;
Friendliness was fake, while presidents told lies.
Weather was mobile; cafés were bleeding; bars were rebelling.
Eyes began looking; ears started listening; mouths wanted freedom.
Streets where the homeless witnessed the fighting; people dying.
Homes where the children saw the first rising; people dreaming.
Trees were cut down, woods were ruined, factories heaving.
Geoffroy tried to belong to the modern world and its theories.
But he saw in the state of affairs a vicious venom,
Poisoning minds, corrupting the blameless: shameless system.
Where could he go to escape from the madness, corruption and pure greed?
What land still holds good to values long since forgotten?
Paris was no more, since cities lost their freedom.
Roads like arteries; streets like nervous wrecks and their outcomes.
Much he thought of home and the babbling brook and the river,
While the traffic roared and the blood of resistance poured.
How did he get to fighting the state and its lapdog bullies?
He will meet his friends on the streets for the last time free,
For he believes in the fight to be fought at the end of our time.
Geoffroy was brought from the countryside on this first odyssey.
He was a child back then when the air was as clear as the heavens.
He didn’t know that the world beyond was not paradise
He wouldn’t know that the man at the top was not his friend.
He couldn’t live in a nameless, friendless placed called Hell.
Not used to living in trees he finds himself on the eighth floor,
Families packed in like sardines, they cannot breathe.
Claustrophobia, vertigo are his only playmates –
Medical terms, scientific returns and complete understanding.
Geoffroy knowing nothing shuts off, shut out, shuts down.
He cannot breathe the polluted, urban air – he will not.
He cannot make new friends in the crowded streets – he will not.
He cannot feel his parents’ touch when he cries – he will not.
He can only look through the dirty glass and dream;
Dream of an old world, new world, lost world, all on his own;
Dream of a future, hopeful, distant, all by himself;
Dream of a time when Man has stopped devouring Earth.
So he goes to that dilapidated church,
The one we humbly call – Saint Nicolas of the fields.
Nominal vestige, structural memory, ancient footprint
Standing in the fields that now are tarmac streets
Which keep the rain from feeding radical, fertile free germs.
Stop promulgation, halt publication from the False State.
End the measures, stall the order, bar division.
Curb the civil fighting; stop the stilted tensions.
Cease your arguments and stay your frenzied blood-thirst.
Geoffroy opens the door while all around him is chaos.
But instead of finding peace within, instead of
Finding peace within, instead of finding peace,
He sees police, police inside this virgin, sacred chambre.
Eyes disillusioned witness the crime from the hollow nave.
Brutes as we once said is too kind for these monsters.
Protestors had taken refuge by the chancel.
Tears were falling from the gas and legal violence:
Fair for those who meted out the penal will;
A crime to those who saw a tyrant’s hand and his office.
Why do I have to write about my times as if it was history?
Why does the ink flowing from my pen refuse to proceed
While the paper it blackens screams like infants abandoned by God?
Violence, violence! In the church! Is nowhere sacred?
Wailing, howling, yelling, screeching – no-one silent?
Gendarmes, flash-balls, matraques – nothing left unchained?

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