Mayday

1

Ordinary: the word justifies plenty.
Just safeguarding the liberty of ordinary people.
No excessive force was employed,
they pre-empt accusations.
For scattering the anarchic element,
for defending the choices
of law-abiding citizens,
the police force is praised.
For its robust handling of the riots.
There are images of broken windows, outrage
for the loss of business.
The news at ten. The nine
o’clock news. Online media reports.

2

I fear she’s right: it’s no use risking
the smashing of our skulls.
That’s enough, she says, we’ve had
our fun, made our mark,
have a point of view. Her stance
pulls me back, just. Rage shoots up
through the spine and straight to the head.
Molotov cocktails, face masks.
Body armour, the batons are out.
This operation was intended to immobilise troublemakers?
Rumblings of battle
drift from the high street. Our clothes are fuzzy
with anger, and wet.

3

The sky starts to weigh in with rain.
How many hours has it been?
A woman is sick. A man faints.
Clubs are raised above our heads.
Few try to fight. See how they like it
when we piss on them, someone yells.
The packed lunches are gone; we are forced
to ration the contents of our flasks.
It’s soon evident we are the prisoners.
Hemmed in, picked out
of the campfire and put into a kettle.
Who’s out to harm us? Who are we
being protected from? The cordon is impregnable.

4

They throw open their arms, lead us
to a side street. Guardians of order and law
greet us with shields and helmets.
Our communal compass points west.
We exchange hugs. Unwrap sweets and swap.
Indulge in the odd kiss.
Buoyed by horn-beeping we prance along.
Office workers wave from windows.
Stencil, graffiti, party whistles. There are fairies,
timpanists, cyclists, jugglers.
We share out packed lunches and flasks.
The new colours of May match our morning mood.
Today the streets belong to all.

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