They see our hard earned fortune there,
in marbled city suites,
floating on a silky sail,
the nap of leather seats.

They had the opportunity,
the pool of genes, whose code
requires a reservation for
a public school and Spode.

We had the opportunity
to own the reason why,
that predicates no chance
for those unable to comply.

Our felony, was founded on
a life of common good,
to serve as flotsam in the sea
of guns and power and food.

Consuming guns and power and food,
an irony indeed
that helps the cause of those, who crave
a hope of being freed?

It’s more because they need the work
to feed their flesh and blood;
prevent starvation, declining health
and keep them from the flood.

But threats to blood will thus ensure
their easy motivation.
So much to recommend the cause,
of limitless privation.

They have much more, by way of help:
attention of the press;
the poets and the playwrights too,
but nothing of redress.

It’s irony to say ’twas fuelled,
on rapid growth by debt
who is to benefit thereby,
who is to win and, yet …

who is to say what fortune means
if nothing else but luck?
Should we condemn all those who have,
who wouldn’t give a buck

for those whose sad congenital crime,
their birthright, is to blame,
for them, their lot, their plight, their fight,
but who should feel the shame..?

© 2013 John Anstie

[Another ballad! I can’t stop writing them at the moment, not quite sure why, but this is a folk tale of protest and philosophy with a touch of angst. I shall be submitting this to dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night, later on …]

Footnote: I am flattered that this poem has been selected to appear in the very classy Blogazine, “Into The Bardo” ( If you enjoy quality poetry and well written prose, usually about the art of poetry and related subjects, then I thoroughly recommend you pay a visit to this site.

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
This entry was posted in Ballad, Hope, Money, poem, poetry, political. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Fortune

  1. PoetJanstie says:

    As a postscript to this poem, a further observation, which came about following my reading of a poem by Abhishek Dua, called “His Exclusive Copyright” over on the ‘Aquillrelle – Poets Amongst Us’ page on Facebook:

    The poem, “Fortune”, as well as Dua’s poem, comes very close to my own philosophic and para-scientific observation of human life on earth. That no one man (or woman) can justifiably claim a greater share of the world’s riches than any other without paying deference and respect to their own good fortune, which is steeped in the heritage of their own genetic code and the environment into which they were born, is, in my mind, an almost unassailable fact. This is qualified by a caveat that any one person’s right to inherit a fair share of the riches of the earth is inalienable, provided they toil to make the very best of what abilities and faculties they have.

    I concede that such a utopian position is, however, unlikely to be realised in the lifetime of the human race, not only due to the infinite variability of the combined effects of human genetic code and environment, but also because of the tendency for the already uneven distribution of wealth to become steadily more skewed as time goes on, simply by virtue of the power that wealth enables, to ensure that wealth is retained.

    But, if nothing else, to be aware of this thinking, to be thoughtful and respectful of the efforts of others and to be mindful of our own good fortune, however materially diminished that may seem to be compared to some, is to uphold the spirit and purpose of every faith in the world, which is designed to help us live, despite life’s imperfections, in peace.



  2. Jamie Dedes says:

    Finally got this laid into Bardo and it will go up at 12:01 a.m. on July 3. Look forward to your contributions. Thanks for your willingness to participate and enrich the site.


  3. For your “Fortune”, dear Poet, I offer the highest bid: another “Fortune” in return…
    ” Enid’s Song

    Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud;
    Turn thy wild wheel thro’ sunshine, storm, and cloud;
    Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.

    Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown;
    With that wild wheel we go not up or down;
    Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.

    Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands;
    Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands;
    For man is man and master of his fate.

    Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
    Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;
    Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.”

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
    …Your poem, John, and Lord Tennyson’ s poem, hard to make a difference! Blessed you be!
    Maria Magdalena Biela

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth Winter says:

    Hello John,

    I’ve been absent and have missed the lyrical voice of your poetry. As one whose birthright taught me the value of thrift stores and generic brands, I feel the argument of your poem as if it were my own. Well crafted, compelling and much enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. eden baylee says:

    So…Mr. Anstie,

    It’s been a while since I’ve read one of your poems, and this one obviously required some thought, so I’m putting extra thought into my comment. It has less to do with your poetic stylings, as I know full well you are a Master at that. My comment is more to do with the subject matter and my interpretation of your words.

    I am unsure if the saying is “fame is fleeting” or “fame and fortune are fleeting.” Regardless, I do believe that fortune comes and goes, determined initially by birthright, and then later in life by a person’s free will, within constraints marked by environment, education, and among other factors—plain old-fashioned luck.

    We’ve had this discussion before about the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ on some of your previous posts. I think we agreed there is no obligation for those who have good fortune to share any of it, however, most human beings (I would hope) know there’s intrinsic value to sharing. It has nothing to do with boosting ego or appearing grandiose, but with something which cannot be measured. After all, what price can you charge for compassion toward others, who through no fault of their own, are unable to get of their unfortunate situations?

    For them, bad fortune should hopefully be fleeting as well.



    • PoetJanstie says:

      Thanks, Eden.

      Yet, for some the sentence of misfortune is for life. But it’s the perspective of this poem that is the challenge, if it is to be interpreted as I intended, then it depends on the view of the reader as to how it is understood, but its aim was to compare the perspective of everyone in the relatively affluent western world, the ‘we’ in the poem with those, who may be in a poverty stricken, war torn African country, or third world refuse collectors, the scavengers of an Indonesian landfill site (my poem, “As If”, tells that story), the ‘they’.

      Yes there is no obligation on the ‘haves’ to share, but there lies another dilemma, because there are ‘haves’ and ‘haves nots’; those like you and me, who have enough, at least charitably to share a little with the ‘have-nots’, then there are those who have a great deal more than any single person could reasonably expect to accumulate in several lifetimes, let alone one, at least without exceptional luck (of birth and environment), inheritance, outright greed, political favour, criminal treachery or worse.

      It is a dilemma I wrestle with every day and certainly every time I buy something I don’t actually need …


      • eden baylee says:


        You are a kind man with a big heart, and I understand what you mean about perspective. Yet, I also know there will always be someone less fortunate — that is a given. If I were to think of all the poverty and misfortune in the world, I would probably never get out of bed — just from sheer guilt of having a better life than three quarters of the people in the world.

        As for those who appear to have more than is humanly needed, yet give little — it’s their karma in this lifetime, perhaps. We don’t usually shame people for being selfish or greedy or non-charitable. In a free society, people can spend their money on whatever they want.

        Though there is great disparity of wealth in the world, and even within our economically rich countries, it’s where i choose to live. And the reason is to make the world a better place —by my actions, as my actions are the only ones I have any control over.



        • PoetJanstie says:

          Hear, hear, Eden. I would fight for the right of all folk to do with what they have as they please. However, what I was trying to say was not to question that, but rather the fact that a few have so much more than anyone could reasonably earn by virtue of hard work alone. Can it be said that Bill Gates, to use a well known rich man as an easy example, worked any harder than the honest miner or farmer who slaved probably longer hours all their working lives to support their families, and maybe longer because they didn’t get a decent pension? I think not.

          The question here is whether we can accept, as I do, that some of us are born, so wired and genetically coded with different sorts of brain cells and their synapses, into an environment that was far more favourable and, yes, much more lucky. And I haven’t included the world’s treacherous and despotic criminals in this example… this is what I struggle with, especially since these people, directly or indirectly, dictate policy for governments, who are ‘democratically’ elected. And I don’t think I am naïve in this struggle, am I?


          • eden baylee says:

            Mr Anstie,

            Did Bill Gates work any harder? Maybe not, but he worked smarter. His work was not physical labor but a change in mindset — an idea, which I believe is much harder to sell. When it does, however, and changes the way we live , then I’m all for him having his billions. At least, he’s channeling some of it back via his charitable work to a large population.

            Ultimately though, I wish we could reward hard work and effort, and it is not fair that we cannot — life isn’t fair. As a matter of fact, it’s glaringly unfair at times. Why do sports figures or movie stars get paid millions? Per what you said, miners, farmers, labourers obviously work hard, but their skill set is not unique, and they are paid based on what the market will bear. Unless you and I are willing to pay $20 for an apple, the wage of the farmer will not change drastically. However, people will pay hundreds/thousands to see a football game or concert. Though I see efforts to support local and smaller businesses, the model is broken because pricing is prohibitive.

            I don’t disagree with you about inefficient governments. Corruption and self-serving people walk amongst us in very profession. It doesn’t surprise me they make public policy as well.

            To answer your question, you are not naive in your struggle. We’d all like to think we can leave this world better than when we came into it. Your eloquent way of expressing issues that affect you and forging discussion shows you care. It moves the world around you.

            Beats the hell out of becoming complacent.



            • PoetJanstie says:

              I wouldn’t mind a spell of complacent, idleness … sometimes this all makes me feel very agitated, perhaps I need a holiday 😉

              But seriously, I don’t begrudge Bill Gates his success, because he made the very best of the opportunities he got and of the talent he had, but he is not the most valid target of my writings, because at least he is trying to do charitable work in other parts of the world with his funds, albeit some of them rather misguided, I hear. There are those who would be more deserving of my acrimony, but BG was the first rich fellow that came into my head! Your first paragraph about him, above, though, misses my main point here. It is not that he was smarter, it is that he was able to be smarter. There are those who are genetically and environmentally ill disposed to be smart, or, to call a spade a spade, who are incapable of being smart because of the way they were wired. It is their birthright, for the want of a much better word. It is their lot. These people are still capable of hard work.

              I have known people, who have been brought up in what you’d think was the least conducive environment – deprived, unskilled working class, with basic education at best, but who, for some reason, have managed to make good and, in some cases, make very good success in their own business. And, yes, they will have worked very hard to achieve that and they would have had extra motivation to do so, but they made the best of what talent they were borne into this world with. Somehow, I believe utterly that there are many people, for whom success on this scale is not possible because of something in their makeup; I believe this of myself, because I know myself pretty well, although I’m not saying I haven’t had my successes, for which I am grateful. And this is not to make an excuse, because we can and should all try hard to make the very best of what we’ve got…

              It is because, as time passes, the rich of the world continue to get richer; the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening, that I am making this point: that, before our lives become ruled by mega-sized multinational corporates that own self serving politicians and operate to the own rules, without boundaries, without the intervention of the electorate, and particularly who don’t pay their fair share of tax, we have to start, somehow, changing the mindset of the masses; away from this idea of success, that is measured solely in monetary terms; away from a political system in which even the law itself (and the lawmakers) is geared to enable this control by super powered money machines.

              And, no, I am not an apologist of Marxist-Leninist Communism, or any of its forms and certainly not for of the “all people are equal, but some are more equal than others” reality of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. I am not even a Liberal. It’s not easy to put me into a convenient pigeon hole, except perhaps alongside humanists or, more accurately pantheists.

              We need to change. And thanks for your contribution to this, Eden, it makes me feel I’m not (excuse me) pissing in the wind 😉


  6. A lot of truth captured here. Well penned, John.


  7. Laurie Kolp says:

    Nice… I especially like the 3rd stanza.


  8. brian miller says:

    really nice on the form…as to fortune, we make our own…and define it our way as well…power, i really have little need for that, or guns…i will take the food though…havent figured out how to do without that…smiles…though there are many without even that…


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