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John Passant

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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Banking Royal Commission: it’s time to put capitalism on trial


My article in Solidarity magazine on the Banking Royal Commission. It’s the economy, stupid.


Conversation With A Tax Collector About Poetry

Conversation With A Tax Collector About Poetry

Vladimir Mayakovsky [1926]

Citizen tax collector!
Forgive my bothering you…
Thank you…
don’t worry…
I’ll stand…

My business
of delicate nature:
about the place
of the poet
in the workers’ ranks.

Along with
of stores and property
I’m made subject
to taxes and penalties.

You demand
I pay
five hundred for the half year
and twenty-five
for failing to send in my returns.

my work
is like
any other work.

Look here—
how much I’ve lost,
what expenses
I have in my production
and how much I spend
on my materials.

You know,
of course,
about “rhyme.”

a line
ends with the word
and then,
repeating the syllables
in the third line,
we insert
something like

In your idiom,
is a bill of exchange
to be honored in the third line!—
that’s the rule.

And so you hunt
for the small change of suffixes and flections
in the depleted cashbox
of conjugations
and declensions.

You start shoving
a word
into the line,
but it’s a tight fit—
you press and it breaks.

Citizen tax collector,
the poet
spends a fortune on words.

In our idiom
is a keg.

A keg of dynamite.
The line
is a fuse.

The line burns to the end
and explodes,
and the town
is blown sky-high
in a strophe.

Where can you find,
and at what price,
that take aim and kill on the spot?

only half a dozen
unheard-of rhymes
were left,
in, say, Venezuela.

And so
I’m drawn
to North and South.
I rush around
entangled in advances and loans.

Consider my traveling expenses.
—all of it!—
is a journey to the unknown.

is like mining radium.
For every gram
you work a year.

For the sake of a single word
you waste
a thousand tons
of verbal ore.

But how
the burning of these words
with the smoldering
of the raw material.

These words
will move
millions of hearts
for thousands of years.

Of course,
there are many kinds of poets.
So many of them
use legerdemain!

like conjurers,
pull lines from their mouths—
their own—
and other people’s.

Not to speak
of the lyrical castrates?!
They’re only too glad
to shove in
a borrowed line.

This is
just one more case
of robbery and embezzlement
among the frauds rampant in the country.

verses and odes
bawled out
amidst applause,
will go down
in history
as the overhead expenses
of what
two or three of us
have achieved.

As the saying goes,
you eat forty pounds
of table salt,
and smoke
a hundred cigarettes
in order
to dredge up
one precious word
from artesian
human depths.

So at once
my tax

Strike out
one wheeling zero
from the balance due!

For a hundred cigarettes—
a ruble ninety;
for table salt—
a ruble sixty.

Your form
has a mass of questions:
“Have you traveled on business
or not?”

But suppose
I have
ridden to death
a hundred Pegasi
in the last
15 years?

And here you have—
imagine my feelings!—
about servants
and assets.

But what if I am
a leader
and a servant
of the people?

The working class
through my mouth,
and we,
are drivers of the pen.

As the years go by,
you wear out
the machine of the soul.

And people say:
“A back number,
he’s written out,
he’s through!”

There’s less and less love,
and less and less daring,
and time
is a battering ram
against my head.

Then there’s amortization,
the deadliest of all;
of the heart and soul.

And when
the sun
like a fattened hog
on a future
without beggars and cripples,
I shall
be a putrefied corpse
under a fence,
with a dozen
of my colleagues.

Draw up
posthumous balance!
I hereby declare—
and I’m telling no lies:

swindlers and dealers,
I alone
shall be sunk
in hopeless debt.

Our duty is
to blare
like brass-throated horns
in the fogs of bourgeois vulgarity
and seething storms.

A poet
is always
indebted to the universe,
and fines.

I am
to the lights of the Broadway,
to you,
to the skies of Bagdadi,
to the Red Army,
to the cherry trees of Japan —
to everything
about which
I have not yet written.

But, after all,
who needs
all this stuff?
Is its aim to rhyme
and rage in rhythm?

No, a poet’s word
is your resurrection
and your immortality,
citizen and official.

Centuries hence,
take a line of verse
from its paper frame
and bring back time!

And this day
with its tax collectors,
its aura of miracles
and its stench of ink,
will dawn again.

Convinced dweller in the present day,
to the N.K.P.S.
take a ticket to immortality
and, reckoning
the effect
of my verse,
stagger my earnings
over three hundred years!

But the poet is strong
not only because,
remembering you,
the people of the future
will hiccup.

Nowadays too
the poet’s rhyme
is a caress
and a slogan,
a bayonet
and a knout!

Citizen tax collector,
I’ll cross out
all the zeros
after the five
and pay the rest.

I demand
as my right
an inch of ground
the poorest
workers and peasants.

And if
you think
that all i have to do
is to profit
by other people’s words,
here’s my pen.

a crack at it

The Coalition is a boys’ own club

The Sufragettes disapprove of the Coalition’s attitude towards women (Image via @greensinspa)

The disendorsement of sitting Liberal National Party member and Assistant Minister Jane Prentice highlights the sexist nature of the Coalition parties, I write in Independent Australia.

Can Liberal MP Julia Banks – or anyone – live on $40 a day?

(Meme via @ParsingThoughts)

Last Wednesday (2 May), Liberal MP Julia Banks – one of the nodding heads behind PM Malcolm Turnbull when Question Time is televised – claimed she could live on the Newstart allowance of $40 a day while looking for a job.

This $40 is the pittance a single unemployed person gets for the system’s failure to create enough jobs.

To read the rest of my article in Independent Australia click here.

Review: John Passant’s Songs for the Band Unformed

In Independent Australia Sara Moss reviews IA contributor John Passant’s book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed, a passionate reflection on politics and love.

Could Malcolm Turnbull call an early election – and win?

Malcolm Turnbull must be tempted to call an early election, I write in Independent Australia.

The #BankingRC, the Turnbull Government and protecting the Big Four

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer refused to concede the Government was wrong to delay the Banking RC. (Meme via @AnodyneParadigm.)


In Independent Australia I discuss the Turnbull Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting the banks’ profitability, even gifting them billions in tax cuts, as the Banking Royal Commission continues to uncover “utterly shocking” truths.,11425

Trump – bombing Syria in the interests of the US, not democracy

The U.S. involvement in Syria has nothing to do with democracy or even chemical weapons — it is about protecting and extending U.S. military and economic power, says John Passant

Dear Mr Turnbull, Happy 30th Newspoll Birthday

Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons.

John Passant pens a 30th birthday letter to Malcolm Turnbull letting him know he is still the preferred PM, ‘compared to the other potential PMs growing in the sewer that is your Liberal Party’.
Click here to read the whole article in Independent Australia.,11382

What creek is this, Malcolm?

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