Romance at the Demo

A demonstrator wearing a whistle mask gestures during a protest outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where a case management hearing in the U.S. extradition case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held, in London, Britain, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls – RC1A6C22C390

It’s warm but not quite hot. Under the blue, in our anoraks,

We are lining up to surround Westminster

Bringing with us our hands. Yai, my friend from Thailand,

Only a year or two younger than I am, takes a photo

Of me remembering to suck my midriff in,

Halfway across the Thames. Then I lean my back against

The solid balustrade as gulls glide overhead

And a pretty young woman takes up the space to my right.


Lock up ugly Patel! We laugh, as slogan-banded crowds

Head past us, bemusing the tourists on the bridge’s

Other side that faces London’s looming wheel.

Everything feels large from here. More and more of us

Surge on so as to continue our chain along the far embankment.

First we start to chant and then we start to chat.

We’ll need more than this, we think, but a whistle-headed one of us

Plus a soulful dog in a pram and the witch of seven veils


And several more demonstrative monstrosities

Continue to increase this encirclement of our vindictive

Houses of parliament. The wench beside me pulls her velvet

Outer-wear over her blond head since it’s grown suddenly hot.

Yai leans into my left. She’s messaging relations in Bangkok,

Puzzled as to what she may be demonstrating about.

Meghan’s come down from High Barnet – thirty something

At a guess – just the enthusiastic sort I’ve always been attracted to


And, I must confess, still am at high tide, enjoying this October blue.

Our chat is a matter of lively responses, though just as I

Suck in my midriff for a pic, I am trying to keep in check

That passionate part of me, my heart. My own years

See other years from an altered point of view

Yet with the same appreciative eyes. How will I remember her,

How visualise her upturned face, I ask myself

At seventy-seven – no longer even sixty-nine –


The demonstration taking second place in my attention.

What a fraud I am! Pulling out my latest collection

To give to her, brought with me especially

For such an eventuality as this has just turned out to be.

But now it’s time for all our hands to join

And I have Yai’s in mine and Meghan’s. Is this bliss or what?

I sense our fingers forming an intimate knot.

The Thames runs glittering past below our feet.   



A chain for Assange – 8 October 2022



About anthonyhowelljournal

Poet, essayist, dancer, performance artist....
This entry was posted in Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Lit and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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