Interesting Times for Generation Zed by David Barnes

These are interesting times for generation Z
Descending to the Underground
You pick up what is said
There’s a tension in the news today
That’ll tear your nerves to shreds
As the suicides all take their seats
Seven bullets to the head

These are interesting times for generation Z
The skies are full of aeroplanes
Screaming overhead
Scattering plutonium
More poisonous than lead
I know they’re bombing someone
Terrorists, they said

These are interesting times for generation Z
This spaceship Earth is ticking
Like a timebomb in my head
We’re dictated to by autocue
And we take it all as read
We’re eating glass and anthrax
Like we eat the lies we’re fed

These are interesting times for generation Z
Four horsemen were approaching
And this is what they said:
“It only costs indifference
So despair and turn your head
Distract yourself with toys and games
While the sun sets bloody red
And if what you see offends you,
Put out your eyes instead.”

These are interesting times for generation Z
So dream on televisionaries
And follow where you’re led
Stuff yourself with prozac
Til you can’t climb out of bed
Buy yourself an alibi
And join the walking dead

This poem was partly inspired by the climate of fear parts of the press and the UK government seemed keen to promote after the London bombs two years ago, as well as the Iraq war. The seven bullets to the head is a reference to the shooting of the entirely innocent Jean Charles de Menezes by police, while being restrained so that he couldn’t move. At the time the police authorities put out a lot of lies to excuse his shooting, which have since proven to be entirely false. (Such as that he ran away from police.)
It’s a bitter, angry poem.
“May you live in interesting times” is – as all Terry Pratchett fans know – supposed to be an ancient curse.
“Generation Z” is Hunter S. Thompson’s label for the current generation of Americans growing up in the shadow of 9/11, the first generation predicted to have a lower standard of living than their parents – but let’s broaden it to all of us – it has a good apocalyptic air of finality to it.
The poem is also heavily inspired by Adrian Mitchell’s To Whom It May Concern (Tell me lies about Vietnam.)
I would hope though that this is not a despairing poem. It’s an intensely sarcastic call to action – these remain interesting times. A damn sight more interesting than computer games or prozac.

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