Brian Haw


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175 in stock


By Zekria Ibrahimi

ISBN: 978-1-84991-830-5
Published: 2012
Pages: 222
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizophrenia, Poems, Politics


‘Brian Haw’ is a collection of poems that were not easy to produce. They came from the most painful, the most sorrowful, recesses of my being, which always feels mauled and wounded in this callous Britain not allowing the soul to function freely.

Brian Haw was a sad defiant figure who, over a difficult decade, from 2001 to 2011, protested outside Parliament against vindictive British foreign policy, intent on bombing mud- hut villages in faraway nations. I sometimes joined him in his campaign, and his determination to speak on behalf of the poor across the planet seemed an inspiration. He existed at a very basic level in a tent, while Ministers and M.P.s would glide ostentatiously past in chauffeured limousines. Brian was real, while they were fake. He believed in true Christianity- on the side of the deprived and the powerless- in this hypocritical nation where the Established Church fawns before authority and money. Brian was anxious to be a mouthpiece for those who starve silently. He was an ignored, neglected prophet.

‘In Memoriam’ is a perhaps overlong attempt at verse that deals with those ten turbulent and unhappy years- the savage start of the twenty first century- when Brian, camped on Parliament Green, condemned in vain the longing for war inherent in the corrupt British ‘elite’.

Other shorter poems, with their inevitable metrical flaws, concern all the contradictions, indeed insanity, of the War On Terror- which is fundamentally a series of battles by the swaggering West against the helpless Third World.

My inadequate words cannot properly define Brian Haw. He was the Spirit of God, a modern Elijah confronting our contemporary idols- cruise missiles, international oil companies, the White House, the Pentagon. To forget Brian Haw is to let something be diminished within our own conscience.

About the Author

Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty three years old now, grey and frail, almost a pensioner, with all the aches and injuries of age, incontinent and impotent, lame and with constant tinnitus, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970’s, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him … He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings … He was always wandering away from home, searching for … what would never be found again … the straight route, the level way … He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete …

There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as ‘civilization’. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.

Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.

Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease…

Book Extract

Brian, proclaiming truth, found that his tongue
Was what POWER was plotting to wrench out.
The Courts smeared him as some outlandish lout,
And their judgements ensured that he was stung-

That his protest, which seemed to match the sky
In its vastness, was made to look so small,
Like merest dust, caught up in the wind’s thrall,
And not even evident to the eye.

Westminster Council saw him as a pest
Disfiguring polite Parliament Square,
And plotted to evict his Cause from there,
For POWER is a fiend that cannot rest

While it is criticized for love and right.
Brian loved man; he existed for love,
And prayed that love might reach the stars above,
To leave behind all that is fake and trite.


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