I was recently lucky enough to feature on Jude Cowan Montague and Rob Edwards' Resonance FM show The News Agents (you can listen to the recording here). Mark Waldron and I were asked to create new poetry in response to specific news events. Mark can be heard reading his excellent piece on North Korean photo censorship via the above link.
I wrote in response to the Russian gay 'propaganda' laws in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olymics, which begins today. In particular, I focused on the entrapment, kidnapping and videoed torture of gay Russians, which has escalated since the law was passed. You can hear me reading it on the show, and here's the poem in readable form. I recommend following English PEN for updates on the campaign to repeal this law.
A scared boy before the video camera:
all Vasilisa, broomed into the woods
to fetch a light. To tell Mother Russia
what he likes. They say, tell them
what you like. And his face is burning,
is a landscape of purple mountains.
And his ribs are raw, and he says, Russia,
you may as well kill me.
Or he may as well have done.
Or this one, dragged into a van
and sped out by a would-be hookup
who turns, in the dark and the rumble of traffic,
into a six-armed, hard-handed insect;
is legion; is painting him
blue, white and bloody; is beating him
hard like a balalaika; is smiling and waving;
saluting the morning;
is forcing him open
with a bottle and a bat.
Or this one. Or this one.
Naked on their knees
or gagged with a watermelon,
shaved, doused in urine.
What the state does not allow
they do not do. And it is
all for the children.
For Russia. So see him
admitting his devilry,
rainbowed in bruising; made to
brandish a dildo like a slow-dying torch.