Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


For the Stansted 15

in Europe/World by

“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease…”
—World Health Organization

disease X represents

the flash-drives full of martyred friends
the murals whose eyes you can’t put out
the secret slideshows shown on bedsheets
to comrades hiding in the hills

disease X represents

the breath which we breathe on you
the knowledge we share

disease X represents

our refusal to answer the questions whose answering
is mandated by law, the referral to lawyers
who cannot be afforded, the good work of lawyers
regardless, the virulent brown goulash
served through iron cat-flaps in Styrofoam trays
the masturbation into paper cups
the rag-pickers, card-scammers and lesbian mothers
the good and bad migrants, the friendless and their friends
the guerrilla paramedics, organ-grinders and thieves
the class coalescing for want of a class

disease X represents

the willing foreclosure of futures
which do not end in grief, the return of the gaze
the huff of breath rich with pathogens unknown
the tracing of banned words in filth, the moue
the return of the paper unsigned

disease X represents

your refusal to believe we would choose to subsist on so little
your demented insistence on finding out why, as though
the way which you ask us is not itself a cause

disease X represents

the exorcism of the cop which you put in our heads
through the refusal to think ill of our friends, whom we love
through the refusal to mourn the death of those
dead only in the most trivial sense
through the banned touch of hands in the pockets
of concrete overcoats, the obvious erection
on the back of the dirt-bike
running memory cards through the demilitarized zone
the reckless proclamations of love through the encrypted app
sweet enough, we have to hope, to radicalize the judge

disease X represents

the explicit search for the necessary evil
the conscious acceptance of the status of a bomb
the incendiary touch of hands between friends
which brought down the plane from the sky



Matt Broomfield is a poet, activist and writer currently living and working in Rojava, in solidarity with the socialist-feminist revolution there. His debut fiction pamphlet was published in 2018 by Dog Section Press, his poetry has been shared across London by Poetry On The Underground, and he is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year.”


Global coalition backs Imperial College London’s RNA vaccine platform to fight ‘Disease X’
[Fierce Pharma]

The Guardian view on the Stansted 15: a sledgehammer prosecution

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