(Into)national Anthem

by Aidan Tulloch

Ancient fourteen-bar meadow,
please forgive how words mowed you down.
How they murdered you plainchant margins of Queen Anne’s lace,
your hushed lutes in hedges, in woods, and in fields that became
guns, killing at a flag, learnt by rote,
chanted back by cowerers afraid of death, bereft of life.

To be pumped around our autotuned towns, where
homelessness and gambling addictions are long to rain over us
like hail. The miners and dockers that trudge through the shadows of
cleaners and poets, and two-up-two-down, dropped Hs, ten kids-ers,
speculating for happiness. And Universal Creditors
lending against gloriousness; playing payday pawnshop Pictionary
with a blind couple from Widnes.

And in South Kensington, mid September,
the rumoured home of Hitler’s other testicle,
lines and lines and lines of caged macaws,
dutifully sing for the open air
God save our
a supressed pianissimo that waits
gracious queen
a fearsome chord that grates
through centuries,
to echo around a catacomb, a cave, a heath,
the frail C minor, and then the silence.