Friday, 5 December 2008

Not so bad as it seems at Cafe Kafka

For today's pre-Christmas Labyrinth Poets' poetry mic at Vienna's Cafe´ Kafka Poet-in-Residence will take along a couple of war poems; after all it's that time of year when we wish for peace on earth and send goodwill to all men.
The poems are bringing contradictory elements into play, like (recently posted on these pages) and Not so bad as it seems, first published at Poets Against War and now here:

Not so bad as it seems

The televisions do their best
To make the war seem full of zest
As soldiers in their desert kit
With trembling pens write home of it;
About the way their goose is cooked
Or how the homeward trip is booked.

Some highfalutin' politician
Is on the screens to plug the missions
With wine-faced Generals on both sides
And a bathchair Admiral we thought had died.

Hail! to those television screens
And their stories of war - it seems.

May we all rejoice that Victory
Will bring those folks electricity
So that those who've lost their sons and minds
In the terror of the nightmare kind
Can see the bulletins on their screens
And learn that it's all
Not so bad as it seems.

At Cafe´Kafka the bardic mind changed its mind and went for:
The Nameless - a poem about an Egger-Lienz WWI war painting
Roosevelt Platz - a poem about Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven & co
To Arthur C Clarke - a tribute to the famous SF writer
Judging by the silence, the applause and dare one say it, the many kind remarks, the poems went down very well. All three can be found via the search box above left on this page.


  1. This should be printed next to one of the ever-increasing number of photographs, on-screen presentations etc. In the Bombay massacres last week the TV seemed to me to concentrate on the blood - in glorious technicolour - in the forecourt of the station. There is such a voyeuristic attitude to reporting war - it has all gone rapidly downhill since that shot in the Vietnam war of that child screaming as she ran away from a napalm attack. I even read in Bombay the "terrorists" watched the TV screens to find out where tourists were hiding in the hotel rooms. The world has gone mad.

  2. Today's TV images present fiction as reality and the reality of war almost as a kind of SF movie. Too often the news is presented as a kind of docu-thriller. Madness may be part of the human condition, I sometimes think.

  3. Indeed they do. And it gets me wondering how the public's consumption of the "SF movie" that is war as shown by the media influences the way wars are packaged and waged: terms like the "Star Wars" defence system, the not-too-distant spectre of soldiers in semi-robotic body armour and even robots replacing soldiers. In all fields of life, SF has influenced design and development. If we keep on "science fictionalizing" real wars, where will that take us?

  4. And soon we'll have:
    Today's news from the front is brought to you by MaClusters Artillery inc. Mined how you go.


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