a poem by Adrian Mitchell


Peace is milk
War is acid
The elephant dreams of milk
Acid blood
Beats through the veins
Of the monstrous, vulture-weight fly
Shaking, rocking his framework.

The elephants, their gentle thinking shredded 
By drugs disseminated in the electricity supply,
sell their children, buy tickets for the Zoo
And form a dead-eyed queue
Which stretches from the decorative, spiked gates 
To the enormous shed where the flies are perching.

Peace is milk
War is acid
Sometimes an elephant finds a bucket of milk.
SWASH! and its empty
The fly feeds continually
The fly bulges with acid
Or he needs more.  And more.

An overweight fly levers himself
From his revolving chair
Pace across the elephantskin floor
Presses a button
And orders steak, steak, elephant steak
And a pint of acid

Peace is milk 
War is acid
The elephants are being dried in the sun
The huge flies overflow

Look down from the plane
Those clouds of marvellous milk
Easily they swing by on the wind
Assembling, disassembling
Forming themselves into pleasure-towers
Unicorns, waterfalls, funny faces;
Swimming, basking, dissolving -
Easily, easily.

Tomorrow the cream-clouds will be fouled 
The sky will be buckshot-full of paratroup swarms
With their money-talking guns,
Headlines carved across their foreheads,
Sophisticated, silent electrical equipment,
Heart-screws and fear-throwers.
The day after tomorrow
The clouds will curdle, the clouds will begin to burn -
Yes, we expected that, knew about that,
Overkill, overburn, multi-megacorpse,
Yeah, yeah, yeah we knew about that,
Cry the white-hearted flies.

Channel One -
A fly scientist in an ivory helmet
Who always appears about to cry
Explains why the viewers have to die

Channel Nine -
A fly statesman
Hardly audible through the acid rain
Explains why nothing can ever happen again

Oh we'll soon be finished 
with the creatures of the earth
There’s no future in elephants, milk or Asiatics.
We should be working out
How to inflict the maximum pain
On Martians and Venusians

Sour sky
The elephants are entering the shed
Sour sky
The flies have dropped a star called Wormwood
And turned the Pacific into an acid bath.
Sour sky
Socrates said no harm could come to a good man
But even Socrates
Couldn’t turn the hemlock into a banana milk-shake
With one high-voltage charge
From his Greek-shy eyes
Even Socrates, poor bugger

They are rubbing their forelegs together,
Washing each others' holes 
with their stubbled tongues
Watching us while they wash
Then like brown rain running backwards
They hurtle upwards vibrating with acid
They patrol our ceilings always looking downwards
Pick up the phone, that's them buzzing,
The turd-born flies

Peace is milk
And milk is simple
And milk is hard to make
It takes clean grass, feed by clean earth, 
clean air, clean rain
Takes a calm cow with all her stomachs working
And it takes milk to raise that cow

The milk is not for the good elephant
The milk is not for the bad elephant
But the milk may be for the lucky elephant
Looming along 
until the end of the kingdom of the flies

A family of people, trapped in Death Valley
Drank from the radiator
Laid out hubcaps as bowls for the dew
Buried each other. up to the neck in sand
And waited for better times, which came
Just after they stopped hoping.

So the sweet survival of the elephants demands 
Vision. cunning, energy and possibly burial first
Until, maybe, the good times roll for the first time
And a tidal wave of elephants
A stampede of milk,
Tornadoes through the capitals of flydom.
Voices flow like milk
And below the white, nourishing depth -
Bodies moving anyway they want to move
Eyes resting or dancing at will
Limbs and minds which follow, gladly,
The music of the milk.

You drink my milk. I'll drink yours 
We’ll melt together in the sun 
Despite the high-explosive flies 
Which hover, which hover, 
Which hover, which hover 
Like a million plaguey Jehovahs 
Their prisons, their police, their armies, their laws,
Their camps where Dobermanns 
pace the cadaver of a field 
Their flame factories and black Death factories
The sourness of their sky -
That's the poisonous weather 
the elephants must lumber through 
Surviving, surviving
Until the good time roll for the first time

But it doesn't end 
with an impregnable city carved out of living light
It doesn't end
In the plastic arms of an Everest-sized Sophia Loren
It doesn't end
When the world 
says a relieved farewell to the white man
As he goofs off to colonise the Milky Way

It continues, it continues.
when all the elephants push it goes slowly forward
When they stop pushing it rolls backwards
It continues, it continues
Towards milk, towards acid

The taste of milk has been forgotten 
Most elephants agree that peace is impossible 
choosing death instead, 
they are jerked towards death
slowly by newspapers, nightmares or cancer 
More quickly by heroin or war 
And some, the tops of their skulls sliced off
By money-knives or the axes of guilt, 
Bow their great heads and let their hurting brains 
Slop in the lavatory to drown

There are prophets - grand-children of William Blake
Desperate elephants who drink a pint of diamonds
Their eyes become scored 
with a thousand white trenches
Their hide shines with a constellation
Of diamond-headed boils
Each footstep leaves a pool of diamond dust
And sure, they shine,
They become shooting stars
Burning with light until they are changed by pain
Into diamonds for everyone
Sure, they go down shining
They shine themselves to death
The diamond drinkers

The world is falling to pieces 
But some of the pieces taste good

There are various ways of making peace
Most of them too childish for English elephants
Given time and love it's possible
To cultivate a peace-field large enough
For the playing of a child
It's possible to prepare a meal
And give it with care and love
To someone who takes it with care and love
These are beginnings but it's late, late
T.V. Dinner tonight
It's possible to suck the taste of peace 
one blade of grass Or recognise peace in a can of white paint But it's not enough In Nirvana there's only room for one at a time WELL, YOU COULD STOP KILLING PEOPLE FOR A START Let loose the elephants Let the fountains talk milk Free the grass, let it walk wherever it likes. Let the passports and prisons burn, their smoke turning into milk Let the pot-smokers blossom into milk-coloured mental petals We all need to be breast-feed And start again Tear the fly-woven lying suits off the backs of the white killers And let their milky bodies Make naked pilgrimage To wash the sores of Africa and Asia With milk, for milk is peace And money tastes of guns Guns taste of acid Make love well, generously, deeply. There's nothing simpler in the savage world Making good love, making good good love There's nothing harder in the tender world Making good love, making good good love. Most of the elephants, most of the time Go starved for good love, not knowing what the pain is But it can be done and thank Blake it is done Making good love, making good good love In houses built of fly-turds, in fly-turd feasting mansions, Fly-fear insurance offices even Fly-worshipping cathedrals even Even in murder offices just off the corridors of fly-power - Making good love, making good good love. Good lovers float Happy to know they are becoming real They float out and above the sourness, high of the seeds of peace There are too few of them up there Too little milk Drink more milk Breed more cows and elephants Think more milk and follow your banana We need evangelists, door-to-door lovers Handing it out, laying it down, Spreading the elephant seed, delivering the revolutionary milk Making good love, making good good love United Nations teams of roving elephant milkmen Making good love, making good good love Because peace is milk Peace is milk And the skinny, thirsty earth, its face covered with flies Screams like a baby