FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

For Alexander

London.

I wrote this poem for a birthday surprise last year that never happened. Surprised myself at not hearing back from him and wondering whether he had hated it that much I wondered what had happened. The next time he rang to discuss the state of the world and gossip, I asked him. He had no idea that any event had been planned and asked me to send him the poem. I did. The response was immediate. ‘A badge of honour, old tiger except for one sinister line.’ Those who knew him can guess that the reference was to his sexual prowess not politics. We spoke later and laughed. Now when I think back he was already ill and none of us  knew except for those who needed to for various reasons. Why didn’t he tell us? I have thought a great deal about this refusal to say farewell to friends who had known him for many decades. I think there were two reasons: politically he was not in a mood for farewells, writing to the last just as his inimitable father had once done; personally he knew that once friends know it alters the relationship. With the best will in the world it is difficult to concentrate on other matters once you know that a close friend is or might be terminally ill. He was right not to tell us. In a strange way this  hurriedly composed verse, designed to meet a deadline, turned out to be a farewell. I’m glad he read it. Am still reeling a bit from his death and will write about him at length at a later date.

For A.C. who will be

70 on 6 June 2011

 

Comrade, editor, friend:

Three score years and ten?

Nothing!

Not for our generation.

We remain communists,

We remain young.

Hurling our gauntlets scornfully,

Counterpunching our grim-faced rulers,

And those who defend them,

And those who fight their wars,

And those who fill their pockets with gold,

And those contrarians who write to please,

And those who never doubt

For fear it might provoke thought.

* * *

On California’s northern shores

In your rock-built refuge

You stand steadfast,

Weaving words without pause or rest,

Except (and why not)

To enjoy a glass of the local red,

And food lovingly prepared.

Other pleasures there may be too

But, perhaps, fewer than before,

That’s the price we pay,

Just as well.

Preserve your strength

To sound the bell:

As the old poet said

Better than serving in Heaven

Is to reign in Hell.

TARIQ ALI’s latest book “The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad’ was published by Verso.

More articles by:

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail