If Not This, Then What?

by | Sep 30, 2019

Not the masses, not the torments, not the nightmares of our longing

Not the grasslands, not the homelands, not the roads to our belonging

Not the mortgage, not the storage where our things are kept for later

Not the governed, not the owners, not a Priest to set us straighter


Not the meetings, nor the greetings, so designed to calm depressions

Not the courts, not the gowns, not the wigs of petty sessions

Not the flavours of the artists who draw and paint our every breathing

Not the architects of fashion who have us all believing


Not the rulers, no not them, they’re just trying to represent us

Not their wives who devise a smile and inwardly resent us

Not their minders who stand in line, not the shirts who seek rebellion

Not the children on the swings, not the things we try to sell them


Not the trains, not the roads, not the cycleways or highways

Not the note left in the bathroom, saying “I will love you always.”

Not the trip down memory lane as the morning breaks for freedom

Not the coffee, not the tea, not the lazy news that feeds them


Not to finger, not to fault for failure in ambition

Not the principle at stake, not the mistake of an omission

Not the envy, not the jealousy, in the paragraphs of knowledge

Not the schools, not the teachers, not the university or college


Not the interview in prime-time, not the clumsy explanations

Not the progress, not the hope to reach the heights of expectations

Not the treaty, not the signing, not the colours wrought of meaning

Not the rock on which we stand, not the ones who kill the dreaming


Not the agent, nor the landlord, not the worker on the street

Not the collector of our garbage, not the cold, or rain, or heat

Not the arbiters of style, not the magistrates of taste

Not the headlines, not the markets, not the food since gone to waste


Not the pain, the anxiety, not the teaching the insufferable

Not the diagnosis sought for a tumour thought inoperable

Not the sickness, not the treatment, not the efforts of our charity

Not the judgements, not the medicine, to offer any clarity


Not the child, not the playground, not the laughter, not the suffering

Not the benefits of television, the offerings, the buffering

Not the latest, not the oldest, not the single highest bid

Not the Sage or the Philosopher trying to understand their id


Not the handshakes, not the taxes, not the plea for some redemption

Not the platitudes or punishments that shout for our attention

Not the promise, no announcements, not until we’re all aligned

Not the phone call, not the papers that are waiting to be signed


Not the bank, nor the money, not the gains, not the losses

Not the old man sitting quietly bearing all life’s dirty crosses

Not the lessons, not the marks, not the difference that makes us all the same

Not the sign scrawled in the window saying there is no one left to blame


Not the reasons given air time shouting “That’s just plainly wrong”

Not the press release that follows, not the news to quiet the throng

Not the publishers who print, not the landowners who shout

Not the children heard round corners, screaming “What’s all this about?”


Not the beginning, it’s not the end, where there’s nothing left to see

Not the friends, not the neighbours, not the bonded, not the free

Not the groundswell of a movement, not a quiver or a shake

Not the birds, not the singing, not the tale of what’s at stake


Not the bleatings, not the boasts, not the triumphs of the few

Not the beatings, not the protests, not an inkling, not a clue

Not the slavery in thought, as some kind of gauche bon mot

It’s the weeping heart who questions “If it is not this, then what?”

© copyright – Stephen Newman 2019