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August 1st 2016

posted on 03 Aug 2016

August 1st 2016  by Alan Gibbons

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Novelist, Alan Gibbons. has given The Letterpress Project permission to reproduce this original poem. He tells us that it is inspired by attending the Jeremy Corbyn rally in Liverpool city centre on 1.8.16. The Liverpool Echo reporting the event said:

"Thousands of people packed on to St George’s Plateau as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought his campaign to keep control of the party to Liverpool.

The embattled Labour leader faces a challenge to his leadership from Welsh MP Owen Smith but said Liverpool had brought out the largest crowds of supporters yet .

Despite rain at the outset of the rally massive crowds - one estimate put the numbers at between 7 - 10,000 - turned up cheering and carrying banners.

The crowds spilled out from the steps of St George’s Hall and Lime Street had to be closed."

 

 

August 1st, 2016

 

This is Liverpool in the rain,

in the dying light.

This is Liverpool,

Ten thousand faces before a grey-haired figure

Speaking from the roof of a fire engine,

A hoarse voice earning nods

From people who see him as an echo chamber

Of their own hopes, dreams aspirations.

 

This is Liverpool in the grainy haze

Of history,

The two-faced god of once and future battles

Echoing from 1911, ‘26, ‘84 and ‘89.

This is Liverpool clinging to rain-slicked statues,

Crushed in an expectant mass, raised on shoulders

Under brooding leaden skies.

This is Liverpool where you taste history

Bitter on your tongue,

Feel the bile rise,

Spit defiance on the flags.

 

This is Liverpool where they made you

Eat dirt, made you squat in tenements,

Fight your mate for a day’s work on the docks,

Carry the sordid burdens of racism

And religious hate

From Upper Parliament Street

To Garston and Netherfield Road,

Crawl on your bellies after defeats,

Survive, smile through adversity,

Show brotherhood, sisterhood, comradeship

Through the curtains of disparagement and contempt.

 

This is Liverpool where the appeal

To stand for all and not for one,

To stand for all, be all, dare all

Has echoed year after year,

Generation after generation,

Bubbling, surfacing, sinking, resurfacing

Through barred and surcharged councillors,

The rattled yellow buckets of miners,

Through the swirling, acrid smoke

Rolling over Stanhope Street.

 

This is Liverpool, pain raw

As an open wound, rage and refusal

Encapsulated in a newspaper front page

That peddled lies under the banner headline

The Truth.

This is twenty-seven years of solidarity,

Endurance, resistance, layer upon layer,

Sweep upon sweep of love,

Always love,

Like plaster on a wall

Holding together a house

The lie-machines of the powerful

Would bring down, reduce to rubble,

Crush to morbid dust.

 

This is Liverpool where mothers, fathers

Reached for living flesh,

Only to hold the ghosts of beloved

Sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers

Like wrestling with a gust of wind

Off the grey Mersey.

This is Liverpool where words

Take on the visceral power of destiny,

Where hope walks every lonely street,

Alley, yellowing, litter-strewn wasteland,

Bare, bleak empty dock,

Where the ring of hope draws redoubled roars

And twenty-seven years can be reduced

To a grain of sand in a timer.

 

This is Liverpool where the appeal

To stand for all and not for one,

To stand for all, be all, dare all

Has echoed year after year,

Echoes now, will echo down the years

And will not fall silent

Until the people see fulfillment

Of their hopes, dreams, aspirations.

This is Liverpool in the dying light, in the rain,

In expectation of a silver dawn.

 

Alan Gibbons

August 2016