brexit blues

It’s exactly a year since we voted in the UK to leave the European Union and I’m still trying to recover from the shock. It’s taken a year for us to get to the beginnings of negotiations and they kicked off this week in Brussels, with disagreement, of course.

Although a second Independence Vote in Scotland looks more distant than it did last year, I thought I’d repost a poem I wrote in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. It still could happen that the Great British Union falls apart, and in the event of such a thing, we are going to need a new flag.

As it would appear to be a lot easier to dissolve unions than work to keep them together, maybe you too should get your new flag of identity ready, just in case anyone else splits off from any one else they can’t agree with, ad infinitum…

Just a suggestion, then:



brexit blues

I’m planning to fashion a brand new flag

one where the rivers of blood don’t run

as red as the cross suspended dead

on white, in the gap between triangles of blue

like the azure sky and the battle cry

when prayer to St Andrew came true

(that very un-Scottish apostle who left his nets

by the salt of the lake, for the catch would be human too).


My flag will do without the kiss shaped cross

– the crimson saltire: Patrick’s sign.

He wasn’t a martyr to the cause

like that most un-English gentleman, George,

and unlike poor St Andrew’s cross, he didn’t discover

that X marks the spot where you lose your breath.

He followed the faith, but not to death.


My flag will hang together by more than a thread,

its colours and shapes finely tuned like a song

both written and played and conducted by me.

Nostalgia will rule, like Britannia the waves

on my island divorced from the rest of the slaves.


I’ll have green for the ground and white for the clouds,

for the raindrops a shade of Welsh grey,

an umbrella will do for the crest; it’s the best

of the symbols when martyrdom’s put away.


I’ll be committee and board and king

and authority, parliament, judge;

there’ll be no dissent, no bullying head

or continuing historical fudge,

no union of parts with sharp edged hearts

no fighting, no promises broken

no mornings of doubt when luck has run out

and the food bank lady so softly spoken.


The red and the white and the blue, so nearly true

not to mention the gold on the blue. Stars in the heavens now

fallen to earth. Such flags all torn.

Can they be mended

now that something has ended?


For sewing together and piecing together is hard

like the ground when you fall by the hand

of a friend. Like guns when peace has come to an end.


So a flag of my choice is the only voice I can hear

as the papers fly up in the air

and the vote of the summer blows far and near.

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