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Sunday 11 November 2012

Peacemaker Extraordinary

He was big, much bigger than big,
a mountain from Jamaica.
Most days his voice boomed through the corridors,
shattering what peace there might have been.
The school was two thirds Chelsea fans.
The other third -- less one -- supported Arsenal.
Malcolm was that one: he would be Manchester
United to his dying day. He had
a string of names they'd given him, the boys:
Big Mal was one; Mal-ignant was another
(never to his face); Mal-icious yet a third.
He'd modelled himself on his childhood hero,
Malcolm X,* just recently assassinated, so
 a martyr now to boot -- and very much alive.

At Stamford Bridge the hero in those days
was Peter Osgood.** Monday after Monday,
Mal would enter like a conqueror. We'd hear
him chanting from afar: Osgood, no good!
Osgood, no good! No other person could
have managed that and lived. Amazing then
the staff should christen him The Peacemaker,
but so they did. Had he not stood between
those warring fans, between that mighty rock
and that hard place, our place of learning
might have been undone. You had to think
of bold Horatius before the wild Etruscans***
at the bridge -- not Stamford, though. Yet he
had one horde facing him, but not like Malcolm, with
another at his back. We never knew why Malcolm
made this stand, but all applauded that he did.

One Monday Mal was sick. A spate of fights
broke out that no one could control. I tried...
I campaigned long and hard that Mal should receive
The Nobel Prize, but nothing ever came of it.
* here
** here
*** here

Peace is the apt order of the day for ManicdDaily's prompt at DVerse Poets


Elephant's Child said...

Love it. A (very large) rose between two thorns perhaps.

kaykuala said...

He's larger than life. To maintain peace and fear one must be peaceful and fearless. He seem to be both. Nicely Dave, great write!


Rachna Chhabria said...

Enjoyed this poem. Its different from your usual ones.

Anonymous said...

this is very touching. it is amazing what a single person can accomplish. a great write!

Brian Miller said...

smiles....loved your story...and i think i know one just like him....and god forbid he never show up...really cool refs with in as well dave...hope you are having a great weekend

Anonymous said...

Dave - this really spoke to me. My daughter was a soccer player -a captain of her team so although I'm not a fan, the names all ring definite bells with me.

It is so odd how dynamics work - and a kind of physical presence; especially with kids but in many group situations. Your poem brought that out as a general principal but also had all these wonderful details -the nicknames, the chants, the specific breakdowns. Much enjoyed. k.

Beachanny said...

I don't know from "football" on either side of the Atlantic (well not any more since the men in my life are gone) but the metaphor here is as thunderously large as Malcomb himself. The idea that with the largest weapon in the room, there is peace as no one dares to disturb it. In a way the "unthinkable" bombs have acted that way keeping wars "small" but there is the worry that "sickness" in one in control out there can upset the balance and destroy every living thing. It's the terror we grew up with and have quit talking about.

This poem is genius!

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Dave: This Brit-heavy allusion poem got me looking up stuff again -- which I enjoyed. I thought Chelsea may be a pop singer -- oooops.

I wonder if a short intro on poems with impenetrable allusions would be helpful. Just my thoughts. I find almost no one click links, so you may want to just give a little info. On blogger, do you have a way to see if links are clicked -- on WordPress we do.

This poem was a bit hard for me to follow, though it looks like it could have been fun if I knew the stories it was based on.

Many of your poems pull from your past ("Malcolm X recently assassinate"). You may enjoy my new Indexed Table of Content method for collecting your bibliographical poems too. Take a look if you get a chance to see if it would be fun for you.

Claudia said...

oh wow...he sounds like quite the character...sad that people like him don't get the nobel prize...they should... love how you describe him..so well done dave

Carl said...

History is full of the right man at the right time who kept the peace by their very presence. Thanks for the poetic and charming reminder!

Anonymous said...

great characterisation and storytelling... I love the background and setting...being from the UK...I can see this all so clearly...cool close as well....Mal- a unsung hero maybe

Victoria said...

This just oozes character development, Dave. It seems to me that Mal could be the subject of a biography or novel if you were ever so inclined.

Tabor said...

Peace is such an elusive and fragile thing. If anyone could protect it, it must be your Mal.

Mary said...

This was quite a story, Dave.

Unknown said...

I only lived in the UK for a short while but I was immediately aware of the intense importance placed on one's football team. I really enjoyed the characterization and this vignette of his life. I admire Malcolm X, especially his insights after his pilgrimage to Mecca.

A Cuban In London said...

A white poppy for this poem. Especially one of Stamford Bridge's heroes, Peter Osgood.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Dave King said...

The Elephant's Child
Like it, yes! Thanks.

He was fearless, yes. Had nothing to fear! But he wasn't all THAT peaceful - except in this one particular.

Thank you, yes, I guess it is not in the usual mould.

another wandering soul
I agree, yes. It was both spectacular to see and inxplicable that he should think of doing it.

Thanks Brian. Much appreciate the comments. Did have a good weekend. Hope you did also.

Thank you so much for a response that really means a lot to me. Strange thing: I've often thought - and spoken - about Malcolm before, but never thought of writing him into a poem.
A remarkable lad.

I was so delighted to read your comment. You were obviously on the same wavelength reading it as I in writing it. We did have our issues with Mal, but in this one respect were grateful to him, still without knowing why, exactly, he was doing it. I take absolutely your commentary on the terror we grew up with. Thanks again - especially for the final blush-making remark!

Many thanks for this. I take your suggestion to heart and will certainly bear it in mind if and when I pen any more impenetrable poems with difficult to unravel illusions. I did think I had covered them all - though in fact I mssed one. I guess I'm getting very naive in my old age, not realising that folk don't click on links any more!!

Thanks for your suggestions.

Many thanks for this. Much appreciated.

I'd not seen it that way before, but,yes, very apt.

poems of hate and hope
Thanks for this. Yes, very much unsung, plus there was another side to him...

Wow! Now there's a thought! I think he could, for there is much more to him. Surprisingly, perhaps, it might even turn out to be a very humorous write. Thanks for the suggestion. Who knows, I might even...

I agree, but you might not have thought that if you'd met him!

Glad you thought so. Thanks.

Dave King said...

Many thanks for this. Yes, we Brits do place somewhat undue emphasis (I think) on the relevany football team. Malcolm gave me a whole new view of Malcolm X.

A Cuban in London
I shall wear it with pride! Thanks.