In Memory of Albrecht Haushofer, author of the Moabit Sonnets, killed 23 April 1945
I’ve never had to stand up to some fascist
bully, or to camp out in a square
protesting against the blood-soaked dictator
who runs my country. No cocksure imperialist
controls my state; no simplistically earnest
missionary insists I learn a prayer
to another god than mine; no doctrinaire
ideologue has me on his blacklist.
I’ve never waited in a cold, damp cell
for the dawn when faceless men will drag me out
to the noose, or the firing squad. No brutal lout
has tortured me for days until I tell
the lies he wants to hear. I merely scout
the freedom of my chosen prison: doubt.
These days, who’s at the country’s helm? The bland
leading the bland . . . Dull politicians whose
bedtime reading is opinion polls,
so spin-controlled and focus-grouped they blend
into a compound breed. Their foes, the closed
minds of ISIS; the bureaucratic fools
who’ve messed up Europe; Putin. Each day’s news
threatening their imagined Disneyland.
But then, I’ve never tried to argue for
my own invented world, or made a stout
defence of my beliefs, or sought the clout
to shape my people’s destiny. Unsure
of all such certainties, I merely scout
the prison of my chosen freedom – doubt.
First published Acumen 84, Jan 2016