November 1975: Beyond a phalanx of sticks and rifles glittering in the growing heat of the morning sun, in a border town called Tarfaya; at the far end of a rubble boulevard heaving with a forest of men in armour all smothered in the blue fog of military diesel, stood a sad white wall.
And there, scribbled by someone half-blinded by savage light, was a salutation, a plea to the many who silently waited ~ the men and women of the Green March ~ who had been told their kinsmen would be freed and their land reclaimed, but they were duped by merciless strangers who had been turned by the smell of easy mineral dollars.
“Shall we be free?”
That was the question written large upon that wall.
© Rivenrod 1975
In ’75, in the Anti-Atlas mountains, my waking eyes were crammed with rubble strewn slopes pock marked by brittle grey bushes: children scampered between boulders the size of buses cracking in petulent heat: rivulets between ridges trickled southwards through a broad valley of almond trees onward into wasteland stretching its dry fingers into finely sifted Sahara.
In the autumn of ’75 my friend Mohammed was 19. I picture him in his father’s house in Tarfaya, sitting cross legged on the carpet, eating, talking, drinking tea. I picture him in a khaki uniform climbing into the flat-bed of an armed Landrover and watched it’s diminishing tail rush to join the endless column of desert dust. I remember being told two days later how he died, how they all died, and I picture the battle the authorities tried to convince us was not a part of any war.
They had been told the Green March would liberate their kinsmen in Western Sahara. In truth the Saharawi people were liberated from their own land to live as refugees somewhere else.
In the spring of ’75 the Vietnam war ended, 19 had been the average age of US soldiers sent there to fight.
© Rivenrod 1975
Anatomy of a dream (excerpt)
It was the bones of a dream
their corpsemen plundered
as the watch towers
dreaming and screaming
with stolen thunder
and their dead white hands
In ’75, my dream was of a fresh faced new order, a dusted and scrubbed world where everyone rested every seventh day, took seven weeks holiday every seven months and debts were cancelled every seventh year. We banished poverty and opened the gates to justice for all regardless of colour, gender, sexual orientation, creed, physical or mental impediment. Employees were treated in the same way we all would wish to be. We cared for the widow, the orphan and the crippled stranger. Dignity for everyone was assured. Capitalism withered from neglect and spiritual values were at the heart of society and in everything we did.
Anatomy of a dream © Rivenrod 1975
Do our dreams teach us in sleep what it is to feel dread, joy and love whilst we are awake? Or is it, do you think, the reality of living our daily lives, with fear, hatred, happiness and love, that shapes our dreams?
When we dream, we dream of simple things: of innocence: of sanctuary from the chaos of our realities: of justice: of revenge and sometimes of lust, sex, death and murder. In our dreams we inhabit a place where order is topsy-turvy and peace is delivered through the beak of a disgruntled parrot sitting in a tree stitched at the seams with woollen thread.
On waking, for the first few moments, the actuality of being alive remains suspended, yet even in that semi-conscious state the body continues to prepare itself for the rigours of the live-long day: limbs stretch to prepare for gravity: lips flex and pucker getting ready for articulating our desires and for kissing: fingers uncurl for rubbing and scratching, the tools of our trade: our eyes wink, blink, tinker with shapes in the folds of sheets and shadows. And miraculously, our human heart grows larger, only by a few millimetres, nevertheless it is swollen by an increased flow of refreshed blood.
As the mundane mechanics of waking progresses, questions always remain: why do we dream? What do they mean?
Dropkick Murphys are an American Celtic punk band formed in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1996.
Click on the Flaming Clef to play the track.
Stockwell is quintessential inner city London and is only a short walk down Stockwell Road to Brixton which was the epicentre of people’s outrage at Thatcher’s Imperialistic narcissism. The Brixton riots happened in 1981 and, at the time, we thought we were about to change the world. I wish the Dropkick Murphys had been around at the time because I think they would have provided a special kind of stimulus to People Power with their brand of pacey Irish stomp and real-life lyrics.
When they wrote their first song, Bar-room Hero, they were surprised to hear how much the vocal melody sounded like old Irish music they heard as children. “It dawned on us that Irish music was a bigger influence on all of us than we’d realized,” said Ken Casey. “Growing up in Boston, every time you went to a wedding or a wake or your grandparents’ house, you heard that music. I went through a phase of hating it just because it’s what my (folks) listened to”.
The band will be appearing at O2 Academy Brixton, 211 Stockwell Road, Stockwell, Greater London SW9 9SL on Saturday March 21, 2015
at 7:00 PM
Absolutely thought provokingly beautiful.
Thank you so much Lalocabrujita for introducing this to me.