Pastrami Faced Racist

Undeterred by the embarrassing success of his ridiculous four-volume verse epic The Limerickiad, award-winning cartoonist Martin Rowson continues to lower the tone with a series of metrical rants and cautionary tales about contemporary political and literary life. Accompanied by the ghosts of Chesterton, Shelley, Burns and Browning, Rowson casts his gaze across the satirical spectrum from governments, gammon-faced racists, class war, nationalism and the harsh realities of child rearing to the world of literary festivals, international book fairs, best-sellers, book-launches, holiday reading lists, bottom lines, liggers, bloggers, blaggers, book-signings and book-burnings.

Cover image: Martin Rowson
Author portrait: Martin Rowson

Sample Poems

Pastrami Faced Racist

Pastrami faced racist
Basted in baseless
Hatred for faceless
Natives of nameless
Faraway places
Your hatred embraces
Haitians and Thracians,
Laotians, Croatians
With your animadversion
For Persians and Asians
Even Bellarussians
Plus all non-white faces.

Uppercase Statements
Fill all blank spaces
On newspaper pages
Embracing your rage
And deftly showcasing
The in-your-face shamelessness
Of sub-standard statesmen’s
Pasty embracing
Like game for the chase
Of hatreds you baste in
Which in your case has
Achingly made
Your furious face
As red as Pastrami.

But Pastrami faced racists
All know their places
Embracing their station
So show no aversion
To faces more gracious
From faraway places
Wreathed in fine laces
Whose soft hands clutch maces
For Kings, Queens and Aces
Need grovelling abasement
Though this self-effacement
Frankly disgraces
The baseless race hatreds
Of racists with faces
Of a hue that’s as red as
Pastrami.

So what is the ratio
Between racist passion
And base genuflection?
Is knowing your station
The fuel for reaction,
To make sure your place is
Not quite as basic and
Beastly and graceless
As the gays and the races
And the reds who write plays
And the women whose place is
To not ever gainsay
Your baseless race hatreds?

But tell me, how loud
Would be your hip-hoorays
If some auto-de-fés
Finally saw off the gays
And those Muslimic Beys
And the benefit cheats
Who are worse than the Krays
And the strays and the
General habitués
Of an England betrayed
By not being au fait
With what you think’s OK
Which is just to portray
The Pastrami red-faces
Of hatred filled racists
Like you?

Be prepared for your fate.
For if Britain gets Great
Like you want it to – Mate,
There’ll be no one to hate
And no one to rate
As debased, a disgrace,
Lower down in their place
Because of their race
Or the look on their faces
Unreddened by basting
In baseless race hatred
To look red as Pastrami.
Like yours.

So, Pastrami-faced racist
If that is the case is
It worth being basted
In dark baseless hatreds?
Just take up macramé
Or try origami
And ignore the barmy
Seductions of smarmy
Fascistic swami
Swim with the tsunami
Of races all chasing a place
Close to Grace.

Though if you can’t face
The notion that nations
Can fashion elation
Without your impatience
For fullscale obeisance
To crass racist hatreds
Of the kind that make faces
Go red as Pastrami –
If you want our adherence
To a general clearance
Of all that’s divergent
From you, then I urgently
Gently thus phrase it,
As you’re basted in hatred
So deep that your face is
As red as Pastrami,
If you’re after the lot of us
Then it’s you and whose army?

Pastrami-faced racist
Basted in baseless
Hatreds for faceless
Natives of nameless
Faraway places
Back off
Then calm down
And with our assistance
And your own acceptance
To give up resistance
To our co-existence
Your face’s tumescence
As red as Pastrami
Will gradually fade to,
Say,
Danish Salami.

Angleterre Profonde

I dived into Deep England
Into the Village Green,
Diving down full fathom five,
Diving in between
The fag butts and the condoms,
Smashed beer mugs from the pub,
Tinnies, tyres and bailer twine,
A deathwatch beetle grub,
Some teeth kicked out on Friday night,
Worm-eaten lengths of wicket,
An old school tie worn as a lie
By some chap at the cricket.

I dived into Deep England
By the churchyard, through the dead,
Through ground down by coffins
Of the leaders and misled,
The bones of squires’ younger sons’
Aborted sons and daughters
Like buried murder weapons. Further down
The earth’s three-quarters
Crammed with milkmaids, ploughboys
And peasants generations deep,
Lied to, lying dying,
That they were just going to sleep,
An ossuarial estuary
That sweated ire and toil
Committed to be eaten
To be shat into the soil
Shat out in that rich dust concealed
By microbes lavatorial
Their thin blood soaking Pastoral mud
Beneath the War Memorial.

I dived into Deep England,
Rural as a dying hare,
Where centuries of history
Lurks in a broken chair.
I dived down to Deep England,
Rustic as a lichened tomb
But not for them’s were driven out
And then chained to a loom.
I dived down to Deep England
Owned by classes who won’t budge
But accordingly Arcadian
When flogging bags of fudge.

I dived down to Deep England
Where the countryside’s so pretty
And a country cot costs such a lot
To a shit big in the City.
I dived down to Deep England
Where the birds sing in the trees
And the fauna are all vermin
And a Pop Star makes some cheese.
I dived down to Deep England
As bucolic as the plague
Where titled deeds and ownership
Are often left quite vague.

I dived down to Deep England
Long since subject to Enclosure
With a maypole left for shelter
To guard you from exposure.
I dived down to Deep England
Where the rules are rudimentary
And the land is simply landfill
To oblige the Landed Gentry,
Where if your labour’s casual
And times are getting hard
Be pathetically grateful
You can watch Changing the Guard.

I dived down to Deep England
Cos if strawberries get picked
By Poles in pollytunnels
There’s still tenants to evict.
Yet if you’re not from round these parts
Nor wedded to the earth
What exactly is your value?
What precisely is your worth?
For this is Deep Deep England
As authentic as a stoat,
As English as a Norman Castle,
With a dark green moat,
As genuine as German bankers
Blasting at the grouse,
As real as asset strippers
In a Tudor peasant’s house.

This is Deep Deep England,
Where real England’s reeled in
By real and proper Englishmen
And women, kith and kin,
Who voted leave as they believe
Down to their English roots
We need to take Deep England back,
Amidst these rotting fruits,
Deep Deep Deep Deep England!
If it’s lost we’ll be bereft
At losing this sweet monument
To a thousand years of theft.

I dived down to Deep England
Where the poor man’s at his gate
And the rich man counts his profits
From the new trading estate.
The land’s there to make money,
Its harvests made for scoffing,
Its creatures made for blood sports
And its caps all made for doffing.

I dived down to Deep England
Where the smocks are made of nylon
To dress the modern peasants when
They’re polishing a pylon.
I dived down to Deep England
Where they think their Queen’s Titania,
The Land of Cockeyne’s our Cocaine
And we all live in Narnia.

I dived down to Deep England
So far down I got to Hell
And glanced over my shoulder:
And saw nothing left to sell.
I was drowning in Deep England
Which is deeper than it seems,
Though shallower than the head on
Warm flat beer of which she dreams.
I was drowning in Deep England;
Hit the surface; gasped for air
And choking looked around and saw
Somewhere that wasn’t there.

I sank into Deep England
For the third and final time
And a church clock stuck at ten to three
Did not proceed to chime.

Brexit

Leave means Leave
And Yes means Yes
And East means East
And West means West
And Leave means Leave
And No means Yes
And Leave means Leave
And More means Less
And Leave means Leave
And Day means Night
And Leave means Leave
And Black means White
And Leave means Leave
And Left means Right
And Leave means Leave
And White means White
And Leave means Leave
And Might means Right
And Leave Means Leave
And Night means Night
And Leave means Leave
And Less means More
And White means White
And this means War
So leave it out
What Brexit means
Is Leave means Leave
And Heinz means Beans.

Reviews

‘although the rhymes can sometimes make you groan, they’re meant to, and they delight you with their inventiveness.’

Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Post

'He writes as well as he draws... a riot of literature and laughs.'

Tribune

‘wears its erudition like a drunk the suit he’s slept in.’

Mistress Quickly's Bed

‘a must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.’

Morning Star