Tuesday Poem on a Wednesday: A Swift Move, by John Howell

Tim writes: I got caught up with other things yesterday and didn’t get my Tuesday Poem posted in time, so this is a Tuesday Poem on a Wednesday! My apologies for the delay must go to John Howell, who sent me this all-too-apt poem after seeing my post last week about Cameron Slater and John Key.

But here, a day late but still very timely, is John’s preamble, poem and bio.

A Swift Move

One of the most influential examples of irony in English is the political pamphlet “A modest proposal” written by Jonathan Swift in the early 1700s. In it, the anonymous pamphleteer purports to argue the best way to alleviate poverty in Ireland is to farm and eat Irish children. It’s not a serious suggestion; in fact the essay is written with a devastating energy and bitterness. It was Swift’s response to the depth of Irish poverty at the time, and the cruelty that characterized contemporary political debates. (The Philosopher’s Magazine, #56 page 31)

At the end of the day
I have to say
the poverty issue
is here to stay.

I have to say
at the end of the day
if kids have no food
their parents should pay.

A child has a parent
to bring them up.
When the cupboard is bare
it’s entirely their truck.

They buy grog or fags
before feeding the kids
so taxpayers’ money
remains a closed lid.

I have to say
at the end of the day
it is not fair
for the government to pay.

These bludgers and pikers
should all get a job
to pay the rent,
not beg, borrow, rob.

So I have to say
at the end of the day
the poverty issue
is here to stay.

They have to choose
to be loser or winner.
If their luck is in
their kids get dinner.

It is true to say
they’re a wasted resource.
Perhaps we should follow
a more productive course.

At the end of the day
It is user pays
so join the cows
eat grass or hay.

It’s a last option choice
at the end of the day
what our country can sell
is protein and whey.

We’re animal experts
we know how to farm
adding a few kids
should do no harm.

The market won’t know
what’s inside the wrap
with a creative label
the accountants will clap.

If you find this offensive
there is a neat foil
Judith will pass details
to the blog “Whale Oil”.

I’ll handle the media
with put down and scorn
I’m good at one liners
and a smile that is born

from power and success
in my days as a trader.
Don’t come to me
if you need a saviour.

So I have to say
at the end of the day
If you’re not rich like me
then learn how to pray.

John Howell
19 Aug 2014


John Howell lives in Ngaio, Wellington.  Recently he retired from ministering at the Union Parish in Taupo.  He has published two books of prayers.   He has degrees in science, arts, theology, a diploma in Business Studies. Child poverty is well documented by professional economists and others.  He is embarrassed that his country of plenty has this problem, which in his professional experience he has  witnessed.  He says: “It is  now time to speak with emotion. “

One thought on “Tuesday Poem on a Wednesday: A Swift Move, by John Howell

Comments are closed.