Words for Blair Peach by Louis Johnson

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Johnson

Louis Johnson (1924-1988) was a New Zealand and a contributor to Peach’s magazine, Argot.

I remember the slight youth–Jewish perhaps–
a dark tousle of hair and owl-size spectacles
who came to my house in the early sixties
for poems for his student magazine

and how he whistled surprise and some alarm
when I read him my new surrealistic story
of cruelty and authority and the fool
who comes through adversity, bloody, unbowed.

Tonight that name lies dead on a London street,
dropped by a television announcer as news,
its cause quite lost against a National Front,
whose darkening wings taper to iron fists.

An image of banners, boots and beetle-brows,
and a head with the yolk collapsed.
No new world now. And the old one split
Opinion is harder held away from home.

If I ask myself again why the earth’s gentle
wander the world with slogans lofted
demanding so little more than freedom to breathe,
it is no longer that I expect an answer.

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