interrobangFirst they came for the grocer’s
But I did not speak up
For I was not a grocer

It started gently
Humorous sharable images
On your favourite social networking site
Advising you what P’s and Q’s are
And how to mind them

Just another minority movement
At first
The Grammar Nazi’s
Pounding the streets on weekends
And bank holidays
In those ridiculous uniforms
Speckled in silver punctuation

They became a token presence
At council elections
The Telegraph took up their cause
Whole heartedly
But we never saw them as anything more
Than a joke
Like well organised Metric Martyrs
Until the night of Shattered Syntax

Then they came for the dyslexic’s
But I did not speak up
For I was not a dyslexic

We woke to a nightmare
The Prime Minister
Already beleaguered after misspelling “economic’s”
Vanished overnight
And to my horror
Middle England rallied to their cause
Upturning clumsy blackboards outside cafe’s
Colossal hoardings
Depicting the three “their’s”
And how to use them

The elite forces
the terrifying Interrobangs
Black clad
booted and precise
Ran heavy handed through diaries and letters
Offenders disappeared to the east
For forcible re-education

Reproduction was forbidden
Until a spelling license was provided
Folk heroes wore shining iron dictionaries on lapel
Online comment sections were the worst hit
Every cloud…

Those who dared went underground
Scraping existence from scraps of meat
From butchers who refused to toe the line
The occasional foray with spray can
Dotting propaganda with misplaced apostrophe’s
But we were a dying breed

In schools, the harsh tip-tap of the youth division
Edgy ‘Semi-colons’ with spelling bees to prove it
Turning in their parents when they slipped up on the shopping list

Dialect was the next to go
Swathes of northerners proudly hanging on
To “ee’s” and “thy’s”
Were rounded up
Sent to the basement at the OED
Where they pushed hot metal for eternity

If you want to imagine the future
Picture a red pen
Darting over lines of manuscript
Searching for a stroke of ink
That sets you at odds with the truth forever

And I sit
Curfew gathering behind the curtains
Tipping my archives into the grate
Poems, letters, stories
Too dangerous to retain

Yet sentimentality is my undoing tonight
A death warrant in top pocket
A love note from times of you’re

Too precious for the flames
Not you’re – you are
But your – possessive
your wonderful
A note in slanting youthful hand
From the good old days

Papery guilt crackles in pocket
And the thunderous boots of Interrobangs
Ascend the stairs
And head for my door