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POETRY ORY T A P I C I T R A P

REVOLUTIONA RY


In the Autumn of 2015, spoken word collective A Firm Of Poets set out on The People’s Republic of Poetry. They visited 21 venues, worked with 23 poets, delivered workshops to over 100 participants and performed Poetry to over 1500 people. Along the way they collected the words and work of over 100 poets, creating a snapshot of ‘Spoken Word Poetry’ in the UK today. This E-book is a record of those who participated and lent their voices to ‘The People’s Republic Of Poetry’ we hope you will enjoy reading it.

Jacqui Wicks Ossett Observer The People’s Republic of Poetry visited the following towns and cities. 24/09 HARROGATE - Harrogate Theatre 01/10 BRADFORD - Theatre in the Mill 02/10 GOOLE - Junction 07/10 PONTEFRACT - John Godber Theatre 08/10 WASHINGTON - Arts Centre Washington 10/10 DURHAM - Durham Book Festival 14/10 HULL - Hull Truck Theatre 17/10 WHITBY - Musicport Festival 22/10 DONCASTER - Cast 27/10 BRIGHTON - Brighton Comedy Fringe 28/10 LONDON - Bloomsbury Theatre Studio 30/10 BURY - The Met 31/10 HELMSLEY - Arts Centre 07/11 BARTON UPON HUMBER - The Ropewalk 08/11 LEEDS - The HUB, Slunglow 14/11 LETCHWORTH - Arts Centre 15/11 MANCHESTER - Louder Than Words Festival 26/11 WAKEFIELD - Unity Works 28/11 BARNSLEY - The Civic 01/12 NORWICH - Arts Centre 02/12 COLCHESTER - Arts Centre

VISIT WWW.AFIRMOFPOETS.COM FOR FURTHER DETAILS The People’s Republic of Poetry is an Ossett Observer Presents project funded by Arts Council England. This project is aimed at persons aged 14 and over, some of the poems in this book contain adult themes and language.

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KEY 1 HARROGATE 2 BRADFORD 3 GOOLE 4 PONTEFRACT 5 WASHINGTON 6 DURHAM 7 HULL 8 WHITBY 9 DONCASTER 10 BRIGHTON 11 LONDON 12 BURY 13 HELMSLEY 14 BARTON UPON HUMBER 15 LEEDS 16 LETCHWORTH 17 MANCHESTER 18 WAKEFIELD 19 BARNSLEY 20 NORWICH 21 COLCHESTER

5 6 8 13 1 2 12 17

15 18

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3 9

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7 14

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16 21

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PARTICIPANTS / COMRADES The following poets have contributed their work to ‘The People’s Republic Of Poetry’ we would like to thank them for taking part in this project. Name

Home Town

Page

Becky Cherriman..................................... Leeds............................................................... 8 Greg White.............................................. Meanwood....................................................... 9 Gav Roberts............................................ Rotherham....................................................... 10 Genevieve Walsh..................................... Halifax.............................................................. 11 Catherine McFall..................................... Norwich........................................................... 12 Jenni Pascoe........................................... Gateshead....................................................... 14 John Darwin............................................ Manchester...................................................... 15 Clair Mason............................................. Wakefield......................................................... 16 Julia Bird.................................................. London............................................................ 17 Kate Fox.................................................. Thirsk............................................................... 18 Kirsty Taylor............................................. Bradford........................................................... 19 Louise Fazackerley.................................. Wigan............................................................... 20 Jemima Foxtrot....................................... London............................................................ 21 Luke Wright............................................. Bungay............................................................ 22 Martin Figura........................................... Norwich........................................................... 23 Marina Poppa.......................................... Mirfield............................................................. 24 Matthew Hedley Stoppard...................... Leeds............................................................... 26 Matt Abbott............................................. Wakefield......................................................... 27 Liz Wells.................................................. Northwich........................................................ 28 Ralph Dartford......................................... Ossett.............................................................. 29 Rowan McCabe....................................... Newcastle........................................................ 30 Toria Garbutt........................................... Wakefield......................................................... 31 Valerie Anderson Gaskill.......................... Wakefield......................................................... 32 Helen Mort............................................... Sheffield........................................................... 33 Helen Shay.............................................. Harrogate ........................................................ 34 Jonathan Eyre......................................... Leeds............................................................... 35 Nick Ahad................................................ Keighley........................................................... 36 Flo Dendle............................................... Goole............................................................... 37 Lucy Dendle............................................ Goole............................................................... 38 Georgina Jane Petty................................ Goole............................................................... 39 Simon Widdop......................................... Ossett.............................................................. 40 Beth Gabbitas......................................... Thurgoland...................................................... 41 Cameron David Briggs............................ Barnsley........................................................... 42

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PARTICIPANTS / COMRADES Name

Home Town

Page

Colin Burnicle.......................................... Sunderland...................................................... 43 Bethany Hazell........................................ Wakefield......................................................... 44 Elizabeth Matterson................................. Sunderland...................................................... 45 Juli Watson.............................................. Sunderland...................................................... 46 Matthew Cresswell.................................. Fatfield............................................................. 47 Keiron Higgins......................................... Halifax.............................................................. 48 Leonie Marie Hudson.............................. Barnsley........................................................... 49 Bradley Sutcliffe...................................... Halifax.............................................................. 50 Robert Reynolds...................................... Seaham............................................................ 52 Godfrey Holmes...................................... Hull................................................................... 53 David Hann.............................................. Sunderland...................................................... 54 Javaad Alipoor......................................... Bradford........................................................... 56 Dan Hunt................................................. Pontefract........................................................ 57 Imogen Peniston..................................... Pontefract........................................................ 58 Olly Watson............................................. Norwich........................................................... 59 Matt Nicholson........................................ Hull................................................................... 60 Mandy Davis............................................ Stevenage........................................................ 61 Robert Cox.............................................. Stevenage........................................................ 62 Ron Booth............................................... Lincoln............................................................. 63 Mick Jenkinson....................................... Doncaster........................................................ 64 Rachel Porter........................................... Durham............................................................ 65 Kirsten Luckins........................................ Hartlepool........................................................ 66 Ray Globe and David Harmer................. Sheffield........................................................... 67 Craig Balmer............................................ Harworth.......................................................... 68 Susan Wainwright................................... Shaw................................................................ 70 Angela Rox.............................................. Doncaster........................................................ 71 Becci Louise Fearnley............................. Reading........................................................... 72 Lydia Ebdon............................................ Easingwold...................................................... 73 Ross Wilson............................................. Scarborough.................................................... 74 Amie Bellamy........................................... Lincoln............................................................. 75 Aniruddha Mukerji................................... Delhi, India....................................................... 76 Ali Rawlings............................................. London............................................................ 77 Bronwen Barber...................................... Barnsley........................................................... 78 Dick D.Nile............................................... Bradford........................................................... 79 Matthew Elliott......................................... Liverpool.......................................................... 80 Ann Copeland.......................................... Stevenage........................................................ 82 Sheena Cook........................................... Letchworth....................................................... 83

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PARTICIPANTS / COMRADES Name

Home Town

Page

Joe Williams............................................ Leeds............................................................... 84 Robert Cox.............................................. Stevenage........................................................ 85 Tamsin Cook........................................... Liverpool.......................................................... 86 Mandy Davis............................................ Stevenage........................................................ 88 Cheryl Leaning........................................ Winterton......................................................... 89 Caroline Burton....................................... Grimsby........................................................... 90 Abigail Stretton-Moore............................ Penistone......................................................... 91 Zena Edwards......................................... London............................................................ 92 Derek Liddell........................................... Barnsley........................................................... 93 Jean Sheridan......................................... Helmsley.......................................................... 94 Richard J. N. Copeland........................... Stevenage........................................................ 95 William Thirsk-Gaskill.............................. Wakefield......................................................... 96 Molly Naylor............................................. Norwich........................................................... 97

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PILLION I cling to his back as he takes me into cold waters. Then he’s swimming the others back to shore and I am alone on the island with the waves over my toes. I wish he could carry all of us, like when he lifts us onto his Yamaha – 1, 2, 3 zoom around the car park – and I thumb the Queen’s head in my pocket, press my cheek into his corduroy coat. I think of whisky on the rocks and the tide coming in, letters home from those places where the tanks are silent and bombs whisper threats they’ll never fulfil over crackling lines. I think of him swallowed up by that place where only men are – the smoky room of lifted fists, loud voices and more TVs than I’ve ever seen (if only through a chink in the door). And I wish...But no, he swims into the distance and my island shrinks. And when he finally comes for me, I am standing, knee deep in the ocean, staring out to the orison of a lighthouse beam.

Becky Cherriman Leeds

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VOTE! Perhaps you think they’re all the same? That they’ll screw us over and always blame the last lot for the shitty state we’re in? Perhaps you’ve read each party flyer and despaired — they’re all such terrible liars who’ll say anything to win! Whichever side succeeds, they’ll fail at some point, do something off-the-scale stupid or unfair. Why bother to vote when there’s no disparity? When it’s all the same whatever polarity’s  picked? Why should you care? My answer’s this: intention’s all. Yes, they’ll fuck up at some point, appal you, make you fear the worst. But when they drive into that wall, which way were they steering? And, in all the mayhem, notice who they rescue first.

Greg White Meanwood

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DELICATE HANDS Delicate Hands It is clear that when you carry me You do so gently I would spill far more easily if these hands that hold me were not yours For I am fluid, in need of gathering, Quickly lost, and you know this. You bring me together with care It takes delicate hands to carry soaked up water And you have such delicate hands.

Gav Roberts Rotherham

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BROKEN GLOWSTICK BOY Broken Glowstick Boy was yanked from his wrapper in a cloud of laughter. ‘Remember these old things?’ ‘Oh, man, that takes me back’. But their sense of nostalgia fades when the customary crack reveals a nauseating colour, a sort of o-negative brown, the kind of colour that even Elton John would turn down. See, Broken Glowstick Boy’s been shrink-wrapped in purgatory, just waiting for that all-encompassing ‘choon’ so he can orbit the room. They haven’t the heart to tell him, but the club’s a supermarket now. He looks around their placid settings, at their picture frames, their cups of tea. His eyes well up at their domestic reality, ‘Swing me, it’s what I was made for! Swing me, for old time’s sake!’ ‘Oh, Broken Glowstick Boy, if I so much as give you a shake your shoddy plastic skin will rupture. You’re just not something we can keep.’ When Broken Glowstick Boy gets to landfill, he’ll be the shiniest thing on his own particular heap. And I think that’ll make him happy. He’ll have some cool stories for the seagulls. He’ll charm the arses off those headless GI Joes, in a club that’ll never bar him, never shun him, never short-change him and never, ever close.

Genevieve Walsh Halifax

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You look in the mirror and you hate. You look at all the whys and whats that make you up, you take in the genetics that fucked you up, from the murky brown of your eyes, the stretch marks on thighs, breasts like sacks of doughs waiting to rise, All of it and more you despise. Take in the ‘spare tyre’ and the greasy hair, your lacklustre smile never did have flair, the mismatched ears never seemed a right pair, offspring of some ghoulish love affair. You hold up a hand and the mirror girl reacts, examine your chubby fingers yet the prints still hold facts about who you are or could possibly be, You only need look closer to see. And if closer still it is you look, it won’t take you long to find the hook on which you left that faded map that explains your body to hell and back. The map will take the wrinkles by your eyes, each one a laugh with friends both new and wise, As it traces the forgotten hair on your legs, It tells you of the time you drank the coffee to its dregs and invited that boy back to your room, where he worshipped your body like a pilgrim does the sun, You lined up your bodies side by side and forgot that you should have had things to hide, Instead you matched your palm to his palm. You forgot the storm in the sea of calm. The next day when you forced yourself to glance, Remnants of the night, examined the trance, Perfect paper girl - let your skin rip, fade away, who do you want to be today? Flawless mirror girl - lets silence overtake, consume all, when did you stop standing so tall? Paper girl, pushed around by the breeze, trying to appear solid, but she’s flimsy underneath. Mirror girl, tired of the façade, she keeps hiding her cracks but she can’t stop the bad. Paper girl crumples herself away, a ball of scrap, covers herself in scribbled-out lines, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. Mirror girl carries her own bad luck around, splinters of glass embed themselves into her mind, hopes everyone else remains blind.

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But at some point, the paper tears. The mirror shatters. Demons run faster than humans can and I was never the best sprinter. I go through phases. Some days I am the person I’m supposed to be and some days I turn into no-one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope on the days that you find me and all I am are darkened lines you are still willing to be near me. Some days I take the blank pages and fill them with happy thoughts. Yet I look in the mirror and my gaze is caught -  You are more than this image -  You are more than just this glass -  Look away from the mirror, Look away and let it smash. This pit is not so deep, the walls are not so high, and if you start to climb, maybe you’ll find you can fly. Burn the map, Fling the key away, I don’t need them right now. I’m being me today.

Catherine McFall Norwich

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LIVING THE DREAM (with respect to Dr Martin Luther King) I had a nightmare. I saw men abducted from city streets, without cause, without trial, without opportunity for denial, because they were never told what their crimes were supposed to be. No accusations necessary. Just a street sweep of minorities who ‘must’ be up to no good. Men who had never spilled another’s blood, never spoken in defiance, never broken any laws, were held, interrogated, and when pardoned, still restrained.

I had a nightmare. I saw lands scattered with mines, fragmented minds and bodies bending to dodge bullets blasts, shot out by shooters too young to shave... Too old to be saved. Fingers of children that have never held pencils wrap around triggers and pull with precision. Denied education, they believe power pulsates from the weapons in their hands... Whilst the weapons in their heads are stopped dead.

I had a nightmare. I saw screaming babes in arms of pleading mothers, dragged from their doors in dawn raids, to be detained, then returned, like misdirected mail, because legislation dictated they had ‘no right’ to be here. Shipped off to far flung places their faces would supposedly ‘fit better’

So much death in the eyes of those who have not yet learned to live.

Jenni Pascoe Gateshead

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I had a nightmare I saw pipes which once pumped water splutter out mud into small cupped hands raised to lips that gulped down sludge as though it were the sweetest soda. Burst pipe dreams draining hope from jilted generations, who will only ever know starvation, desperation extermination. I had a nightmare... I wasn’t asleep.


STANLEY He dances over Yorkshire as an old man spreading dust of angels on the mortal. Takes pleasure from the movement of limbs set free from worry, creaking knees and clicking heels. He used to graft in textiles, crafting heddle, shuttle, beam, now he tips his hat to strangers and sways to his own tune.

John Darwin Manchester

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MY FIRE IS BIGGER THAN MY FEAR! Hear my scream Hear my roar Hear my primal voice Soar and soar and soar Ringing out Singing out What in essence may be my siren song That voice is mine Where I belong. My fear has been strong It’s petrified me and like Medusa I have looked head on Rabbit in headlights. My body it turned to stone I soften now, I feel, I dream Hear my voice Hear my scream Feel me roar. The time is near My fire in bigger than my fear.

You cannot hurt me any more than I have ever hurt myself before! Lava-ing I ooze out of my own pores Lava-ing I sweat on you A broken damn Slam slam slam No more, no more, no more. Bewildered no more Be wilder and cry “I am a big bright fucking flame of light” Hear my voice Hear me roar Hear me soar and soar and soar. My time is near Hear me now loud and hear me clear My fire is bigger than my fear.

Clair Mason Wakefield

The beast is awake And shaking herself after a long sleep The beast is alive I thought she’d died Hibernating Reincarnating Phoenixing. The time is near My fire is bigger than my fear.

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POEM TO BE READ ON ONE BREATH: LILAC   she says she’s heard lip-readers can’t distinguish between the word ‘comfortable’ and the words ‘I love you’ so I tell her that my hairdresser who has a lilac lily in an ossuary of blackwork skulls tattooed on his forearm always asks if I’m comfortable with the temperature of the water gurgling about my ears and that one day I will answer I love you too over the noise of the dozen driers and last year’s Ministry of Sound CD compilation as he dollops on the conditioner

Julia Bird London

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@ NORBERT  Our dog knows that air is memorable and his nose tells truths; which way the sparrows, shoes and shopping bags went, that a subtle new bouquet has arrived in the field  where he snuffles grass scents as if they are a fine salad  laid out just for him. He knows that days are plenty wide enough to greet every being who passes  and fixing cocoa eyes on sausages can bring them miraculously closer.  He knows the dimensions of the last space on the settee, how to paddle his paws to slot in and punctuate his flow with easy sleep.  He knows to dash to my feet when he hears the metallic pop of his treat tin lid, the rustle of my coat as I slide it off the hook. He knows I’m on my way back before I do, his bottom waggling like a bee high on pollen just as excited whether it’s been five minutes or five days  since I moved out of his view, Our dog doesn’t know that his days as a quick black cloud will ever end,  that repetition is not always the same as prediction, that his wet pawprints blur metaphors I have written him into.   He doesn’t know that I’m not in the house as he thumps his feather duster tail   to the sound of my voice on the phone. That curled nose to tip into an @ he has become my sign for home.

Kate Fox Thirsk

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ALBION FALLS, MEET RYAN: 9C Eleven years old, left alone. Knock. Knock. Knock. Ryan steps over the old PlayStation games scattered betwixt his perfect mess, a sea of loose Lego, Match magazines and off-white pants and vests. Odd socked feet squash the backs of his hand-me-down trainers he refuses to chuck. The right sleeve of his greying sweatshirt is dirtier than the left one he chooses to chew; Ryan is Albion Falls through and through. In fact, I think Ryan was born in this very room. Knock, knock. Knock. He ignores it, s’poses it’ll be Tina again. Ryan pursues his search, though it’s unclear what he seeks at this very moment. His hot-footing, got-no-time-to-put-yer-shoes-on-properly, Lego avoiding urgency suggests Tu-Pac, Ryan’s gerbil, is AWOL again, though we’ve mistaken this panic before, when in fact he’d simply misplaced the mucky magazine he’d nicked from Irish Jim, and wanted to come- before the school bus. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK. “Fuck off” spits Ryan, un-distracted. A boy with the voice of a bloke who smokes. A boy with the voice of a man who drinks, this maturing husk, three pints at dusk, the world discussed, but Ryan’s just a boy. They don’t knock again. ‘Fuck off’ is seldom enough for Tina, but somehow coming from young Ryan, she gets the point. She turns and walks away, without her joint. Ryan finds the metre key, and shoves it down his back jean pocket. He pulls a bag of baccie from crack o’ sofa, rolls a rollie with the tenacity and poise of a fifty year old life-long smoker who knows he should give up but merely enjoys it that bit too much. He seals it confidently, neatly, twists it discreetly, and puts it behind his ear. He checks the mirror with a tentative stare. The most consistent and uniformed aspect of Ryan’s life is, and perhaps will always be, Ryan’s mousy, hardened-with-gel, spiked hair. Every third Monday, Barber Ted upstairs: 17B. “Albion Classic Ted, please”. Number one ont’ sides, number one ont’ back, number two ont’ top. Two lines through his eyebrows this week; one for his deceased Dad (Gary, suicide), and one for his deceased rat (NOTORIOUS R.A.T, swallowed toothpaste lid) not bad for an extra quid. Ryan zips up, flicking his lighter twice. Whose path will he cross in Albion Falls tonight?

Kirsty Taylor Bradford

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BIRD ST. Knock knock knock There’s a beggar at the door There’s a bag-head at the door There’s a fallen angel

Er... well I don’t keep pigeons but.. She shoves a dying hope in a plastic bag Through the crack in the door The crack of a chance in my pause for thought

There’s a woman, she’s a whore St. Mary of Methadone Knocking to come in Child-sized, needle thighs

I’m no omnipotent ornithologist Is it a pigeon? Or is it a dove? Me. Revulsion Her. Love

Questioning me, with lucid eyes Her: Does anyone keep pigeons on this street? Me: Jesus Christ. Why do I always attract the freaks? Her: I’ve found this pigeon. It’s struggling to breathe.

I’ll knock on another door, missis Dirty blonde wings Fast racing heart No last rites for a pigeon

Me: Pigeons are dirty. They carry disease. There’s a rat with wings There’s a rat with wings There’s a fallen angel

A paper sign in Mary’s window HOUSE TO LET WILL ACCEPT DSS AND PETS

There’s a struggling thing No vet for a pigeon. No RSPCA And who will help this smack-head today? Me?

Fumigators in Vermin out And my house stinks Of death and hope and doubt

Louise Fazackerley Wigan

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NEW, LOCALLY SOURCED, ORGANIC VEG BAG The cauliflower sits savage in the fruit bowl on the countertop and I am packed to the gills with the horrible claustrophobia of a lover in my bed with a 6am start and a dear friend asleep on the living room’s pull-out couch. All this whilst burdened by a body throbbing with insomnia. The weekend’s drugs drained out through my cold feet. My body clock rotten. This kitchen - with mustard coloured walls - is no place for a girl - no woman - like me at this time on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.The dryer coughs in bursts, the cat meows - both these things prove that I still have ears. The fridge magnets, the map of London and the nonsense on the chalkboard prove I still have eyes and can process things. There is a beetroot that we need to use before Friday or whenever it will begin to soften - glowering at me. And earlier we played a game of thinking of things to do with it. Asked Google. I felt horribly claustrophobic as if companionship was all of a sudden not the answer at all, as if the only way to keep an interesting grip on things is discontent & trouble. But wait! People are the most important, most exciting, we know that don’t we? Mustard walls with chalkboard, beetroot beacon, pussy cat? We know too that the dredging up of meaning and feeling from Science, religion, even the reading of Modern Literature is sad and kind of stuffy in comparison to a cool drink with a fab Companion that is hot to you. It was just the other day - when sitting in a separate dining room around an oval table with a cluster of lovely people - talking about a man from British Gas coming round next day to fix one person’s boiler, talking about a corner shop that would close soon if custom didn’t pick up. It was whilst discussing the new Bond film and Doctor’s appointments, plans for Christmas dinner that I was bust open with desire for a lilting domestic bliss. Why is it then that now, at 2am, I am biting with desire for change? Why am I already sick-scared before it’s even started?

Jemima Foxtrot London

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HUNGOVER IN TOWN, SUNDAY MORNING The cash machines are out of service bled of notes for beer and chips the dirty city doorsteps strewn with chicken wings and pizza crusts. There has been a battle here. The soldiers long since carted off in taxis cabs, drape-dragged by mates half-howling songs of grotty love in terraced backstreets, buttons popped, all bloody-gobbed victorious. And now they roam the airy mall showered, shaved and purposeful. They’re zipped up neat to mask the dogs that nip and growl inside their skulls. A poster in a cute font asks: Can you do a drink-free month? And most could if they wanted to, live without the white light nights get by without oblivion but what then, huh? Just more of this? More fist-balled strolls around the shops or boxsets on the half-bought couch? Do more, they say, enrich your life. But drink, you see, is not like life. It’s life stopped dead, a slurred pause. Do more? No, thank-you, I want less.

Luke Wright Bungay

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SAND A little Midlands new town with nothing left to make or do, or mountains to speak of and no-one passing through. The bypass exit sign does not say An Historic Market Town. No stately home, cathedral, cobbled streets, no green or pond, no ducks, no honey-stoned second homes; just overspill without blue plaques. The town hall is an office block. Still they won’t just chuck it in and with a grant, men turn themselves brick by brick into a museum while their nimble-fingered wives fashion jewellery from circuit boards, components and coloured wires to stock the shelves by the postcard rack and stacks of books of bygone days. The town has edged itself with sand, the one-way-circuit, a never-ending coastal road. Hold a shell to your ear and hear the rush of the M6/M5 intersection. Bunting hangs from shop to shop, the precinct is ablaze, a promenade of windows blind with Union Jacks, a mural by a local artist adorns the underpass. The marketing’s rolled out to Leamington Spa, to Droitwich, to Telford to Ashby-de-la-Zouch and all points in between. On the next bank holiday everybody waits: the dripping hanging baskets, the portly mayor in chains; the goose-pimpled beauty queen; kids holding maypole ribbons, balloons or flags; the Sealed Knot done up as Mods and Rockers ready for the battle of sixty-four (on the hour, every hour); a maze; a brass band tuning up; the Lost Children’s Hut; seagulls in a cloudless sky; vendors of buckets, spades and fudges; the committee wearing Can I Help You badges.

Martin Figura Norwich

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MANIFESTO Hitch up yer britches, prepare for some flack! Cos our lush ‘Lady Gardens’ are under attack! See, we live in age of pubic propriety, Where ‘superfluous hair’ is the scourge of Society. Where my unshaven pits become objects of hate And my Beautiful Bush in its natural state, is Taboo! Well, I’m tired of tweezers, I’m pissed off with plucking! I’m sick of being told by a whole load of fucking FASCISTS That the body I have is not fit to be seen, That I need to buy razors and waxes and creams And patiently wait for the man of my dreams......... What a crock! Cos, instructions are fine in recipe books, But we don’t need instructions for cleaning our nooks & crannies, Much less our fannies! Who the hell has the time to clean behind fridges? And what kind of mind wants to Botox our ridges? Why are we tying ourselves up in knots? Shaving our armpits & bleaching our bots? Could it really be part of some Patriarch’s Plot? Are they keeping us busy - distracted by fluff Whilst lining their pockets from selling us stuff We don’t need? Lipsticks, vajazzles, ‘skin lightening’ creams, They’re holding back, they’re destroying our dreams! And I Choose to Refuse!

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I choose singing and dancing and snogging and laughing! I’ll not waste a singular minute more faffing About with hot wax and tit tape So what if my eyebrows are losing their shape I am free! I’m embracing my curves too  - and loving my lines These chipped teeth and crows feet are really just signs Of a life well-lived! Of taking some risks, of surviving my youth, My scars paint a picture of courage and truth And as for this hair, Well, I’ll wear it with PRIDE And I won’t cover up when I venture outside, I won’t do a trim when I’m off for a swim, Won’t get my teeth whitened, or anything tightened! And I’ll style out the stares and the curious looks And read even more of those FEMINIST books!

Marina Poppa Mirfield

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HOMESICKNESS

excerpts from T.P. Wood’s Almanac 1964, Chesterfield and Mansfield* April 4, 1958 - A £9-a-week Italian labourer at Staveley Works  and living at Brimington, who did not know enough English to read out the team names on a football pool coupon won             over £31,000 in a 2d line on Vernon’s Treble Chance. March 6, 1962 - A 22-year-old Danish girl who had never seen a pancake before, much less tossed one, took first prize in the women’s event at Winster when pancake races             were held in the Main Street.             December 7, 1962 - It was reported that the bodies of scores of rabbits had been found on lonely Beeley Moor -  victims of myxamatosis - and there had been rumours that the disease had been introduced intentionally. October 22, 1963 - “Living is my hobby and I enjoy every minute of it,” said Mr Robert Lowther, a resident at the Grange Old People’s home, Eckington,             on his 93rd birthday.

Matthew Hedley Stoppard Leeds

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FLAT 3C – SAY YOU’LL BE THERE. She’d prepared a pop filled playlist so they could walk hand in glove: avoiding life’s congestion, through the back streets of nostalgia. Four years, and a hundred miles; dual decades as distant strangers. But still they manage to reminisce on childhood’s shared and sacred pleasures. She remembers dancing to ‘Don’t Stop’ by S Club 7, in the playing fields at St. Peter’s with Zoë’s bouncing ginger perm. He remembers rapping to ‘Re-Rewind’ by Artful Dodger, on the old abandoned railway track, the final day of term. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it was perfect. When she finished, with the twilight of the afternoon to spare, she contemplated filling out the label with a gel pen. It’s his 29th birthday which he’s dreaded now for weeks, but what better form of antidote, than travelling back through time...? She skipped her tea; too nervous to eat. He’d said he’d be here at 7. She knew it’d be closer to half past, but at 6:15, she settled. His decision now defining her defiance or delusion. She passed the time with cigarettes and neatly stacked the crap cassettes and watched the clock and made a drink and tried to sip it on the brink and checked her texts then checked again then downed her drink and checked again then tried to ring but it rang right through then tried again but it didn’t ring once. “Welcome to the O2 messaging service for 07525364927.” She lingers by the mirror; leaves the voicemail sat recording. Mascara halted in its tracks, at 25 past 9.

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Protected cheeks bereft of freckles, and hair no longer drawn by Disney, but even with that wide eyed wonder, “where on God’s earth is he?!” Twenty years of wisdom, that should be there to guide her, merely arrive in hindsight, whilst wounds are getting wider. The bedroom waits with baited breath. Her feet get cold, so she rummages for socks. A car pulls up: through naivety comes nervous nausea, but it’s only Babs from 13B in her taxi back from bingo. Alone: well versed, well masked, well past her sell-by date, and well past caring. As she plays the final song, for the fifth time in a row, she aches to tiptoe down the hall and crawl between her parents. Longs for worries such as: Mrs Roberts set us homework and I haven’t done it, and last time she made me stand up in the middle of assembly. Why does my dad always pick me up from parties before we’ve had the jelly and ice cream? And how come my school uniform is plain and maroon, whilst the other kids’ are poster red, with the school’s name embroidered? Sink beneath the duvet, make a castle from the pillows, as the Spice Girls sing a serenade that resonates quite brutally. A tentative request, that echoes through a lifetime: faithfully borrowed from Now! 36 (side 1, track 1). Say you’ll be there... Say you’ll be there... Say you’ll be there...

Matt Abbott Wakefield


UNVEILED Creeping in, she goes unnoticed, at first, she hovers, looks around waving bold, her own hypnosis cast upon her victim bound. Darkness thickens, vast and harsh like heavy velvet weighing down he struggles through the blackened farce where starkened voices start to sound. Quiet rumbles grow intense  the noise, he thinks, “that makes no sense”. The creaking and the rambling the floorboards move, “Where’s she standing?” “I’ve lost my mind, where has it gone? When did she start, this game of one? Oh why has she selected me? When will it stop? Can I go free?” His breath speeds up his heart pounds on rapid beats unknown song He reaches out tentatively  His fear so vast, no easy spree for him tonight, yet again she’s gripped his head, searing pain The light flicks on, he holds his breath his heightened fear, his sleep of death. She smiles, her sick phenomena.  Unveiled, she is, Ms insomnia.

Liz Wells Northwich

28


YOU CAN WIN A GOLDFISH He stood, at the bottom, of the Helter Skelter. Waiting. She will not be long, he thought. Then they can go, get some candyfloss, perhaps win a goldfish. He held her little duffel bag, doll with the chewed ear and sweets. The rain started pouring and she never came down.

Ralph Dartford Ossett

29


CURRYING FAVOUR I once knew a man who had takeaway, Curry in fact, every night for his tea. In thirty years he hadn’t cooked in one day, Worried that chopping would make him less manly. He lived on his own with no pots on display In his cupboards, bare, like an abandoned marquee. But the strange thing about this particular case is The man that loved curry was massively racist. He tried each Madras in an eighty mile radius With succulent chutneys and tangy lime pickles; His stomach for Vindaloos made him quite famous, Each morning strong chillies on his anus tickled. Whole kitchen’s staff were employed from his laziness: He always came back and his preference was fickle. But though he bought from restaurants with names like The Taj On his wall was a poster of Nigel Farage. On Islamaphobe marches he took centre stage With misspelled signs that said: “We Must Stop Aslan!” Despite curing him for crumbs of a wage He told his nurse to go to ‘Bongo Land’. “They speak to each other in foreign, it’s strange, We want Britain back!” was his main demand. But the Indian chef’s eyes rolled round when he Phoned the restaurant for ten onion ‘badgees’. “But there’s so much to gain from immigration,” A bystander begged as he riled in the pub. “Twenty billion in tax, a diverse cultured nation, There must be some foreign product you think’s good?” “Well,” he confessed, “Curry is a sensation I couldn’t give up. But the real English should Make all that food.” And if their skills are flawed? “The chefs could learn how to by moving abroad.”

Rowan McCabe Newcastle

30


IT’S ALRATE it’s alrate bein a Knottla lass it int that bad bein skint n that it’s t’other stuff yer can’t talk abart like yer mam fuckin off n yer sister on smack n yer dad shaggin slappers behind yer mam’s back n yer brother gettin stabbed n yer bike gettin nicked n yer cousin gettin spiked n his head gettin bicced n yer best mate’s nanna gettin robbed in t’Spar n Tomo sellin gear through t’window of his car n Reilly chuckin rockets at a lame Alsatian n doin ower t’bob shop n t’cafe in t’bus station n pullin art a needle n gettin sent darn you can’t escape the chaos cos they’ll glass you up up tarn n they’re scrappin artside Kiko’s n pukin up in taxis there’s lasses dressed like slappers cause they’ve never heard o maxis n they’re pissed up on cheap cider n gettin a bit lippy n callin you a freak a slag a bitch a cunt a hippy n they’re griefin you art n spittin in yer hair n you wonder why yer parents made you have to grow up there n it never feels safe n it int a fuckin joke n the onny thing you’ve got is looking forward to some smoke n rollin up a reefer in yer mate’s dad’s flat cause it helps transcend the misery n have a fuckin laugh n yer sister knows a dealer n she puts you both in touch but yer onny just thirteen n you dunt know her all that much you know she’s called Scotch Margret n she lives up near t’shop square but you ant got her address n they all look t’same up there n it int an easy mission n you wanna send yer sister but she’s busy with the nipper n yer gaggin for a bifter so you fasten up yer coat n keep yer head darn n hope yer mam dunt see you in the ghetto part of tarn n yer dawdlin around at the end of someone’s drive n their bulldog wants to kill you rape you eat you up alive n you daren’t ask for Scotch Margret cause it really dunt sound raight n someone’s started kickin off and askin for a faight n you wanna go home but you’ve come this far n you can’t leave empty handed unless it’s shit soapbar n even then you’ll probly take it cause it’s better than nowt even though it’s full o plastic n it’s well harsh on yer throat n you skulk abart a bit n you remember what she said it’s the one that’s got a mattress and a trolley in the hedge there’s a woman in the kitchen n yer sure she’s smoking dope n you spot a dirty bed sheet n you feel a twinge of hope n she’s bit like you remember but yer not completely sure so you loiter in the garden til she opens up the door n you dunt know what to say incase somebody hears so you make a tokin sign like you’ve been scorin pot for years n she nods her head she gets it she lets you go inside n she slices you a ten spot n you can’t wait to get fried she warms it up on t’ fire n t’ baby’s darn on t’ floor n you feel all weird n guilty that yer onny there to score n the baby looks all dirty n you dunt know what to say so you fiddle wi yer doccers until it’s time to pay n she wraps it in some clingfilm n you stash it in yer coat but she sez you’ve got to skin one up n stay n av a toke n it feels a bit uncomfy it’s not where you wanna be cause you wanna go watch neighbours n yer mam’s med yer tea n you’ve got nowt you can talk abart she’s scary and she’s old but it must be toker’s etiquette to share one for the road n you don’t wanna look stupid or act like yer a nipper so you knock a joint together and poke it wi a clipper n you pass it to Scotch Margret when you can’t smoke any more n then you chuck a whitie have to lay down on the floor n yer mam is gunna kill you cause it’s starting to get dark n yer in Scotch Margret’s living room instead of at the park the toilet’s got no door on there’s nippers on the landin n what’s that sticky yellow stuff you’ve put yer fuckin hand in n the young uns are all talkin n askin you yer name and yer feelin cold n hot n sick n scared n full of shame n after twenty minutes you mek it darn the stairs n Margret looks indifferent n you know nobody cares n even though you’ve puked n it’s grotty weird n bleak you know that you’ll be back agen for more soapbar next week

Toria Garbutt Wakefield

31


FORTY-EIGHT UNDRUNK I am forty-eight years old and not allowed to touch the crystal goblets that were a wedding gift to you from an unremembered guest. Dead eleven years, your hold weakens I have unwrapped them, washed them in hot, soapy water, rinsed them in cool, dried them with a linen cloth and arranged them on a tray. They gleam.

Valerie Anderson Gaskill Wakefield

32


LIKE HOUSES You’re most like a house when you want to be alone with someone so much you’re afraid to be alone with them, so much your tongue becomes a dislodged roof tile in the wind, your arms are scaffolding, the work-in-progress of your body tilts. You’d like to let them climb to you, hold on to you, but no-one moves and anyway you can be tall buildings to each other, rooted on opposite sides of the street, graced with matching windowpanes, inhabited by strangers for the most part clean, facing each other every day until no-one wants to live in you any more.

Helen Mort Sheffield

33


ONLY WORDS It’s only words, when all’s said and done. Just a few lines strutting out to have some fun. What’s the odd couplet or two between friends, when sooner or later, we know it all ends? I’m not Hitchhiker’s Guide Vogon Guard out to exact a poetic toll, though have heard poetry makes a great method of crowd control. Yes, it can make even Leeds United fans disperse, when threatened with the prospect of ne-ver-ending-ver-se.... But I have only a limited amount of words spouting forth like some queen of the nerds. ‘Words are all I have’ – but not ‘to take your heart away’. Hoping instead to give back just something for today. A brief something for now, this transient moment in time. Maybe a handshake or a hug, caught up in a rhyme. Words that are out only to communicate. Words that perhaps you’ll either love or hate. Words that speak and can’t much else do. Words that are in the end ‘only words’ – for you.

Helen Shay Harrogate

34


SURELY NOT YOUR FIRST ENCORE! I am not sure you are not happier than when you are singing Heart cracked vocal cords deliver a soaring spirit voice that quivers your face and ditto our hearts, to the strumming of your ukulele I am not sure you are not more poised than when in the pause you take before reciting The audience seems to hold back time with you, parting the Curtains to your past with you, and although hem-weighted and heavy-cloth weave they remain wide open, as the words take you well-deep.

I am not sure if your poems come from a restless striving, propelled by dogged determination, or from a quickening quiet-self, as it gazes out to the time zones of the growing past, blooms of your heart exposed, conjured from hard-worked spells. Having allowed you the lead and following squarely, not faltering despite the trip of words fluttering from your lips, at the end of the night’s performance we all call for an encore to keep the curtains open another few moments more, and you seemed surprised as one just woken. I am not sure you know why you are doing this. You sign my copy of your new poetry book, and praise my pen.

Jonathan Eyre Leeds

35


WHERE YOU REALLY FROM? Where you Really From Is what they ask me

Where You Really From They think I’m Turkish

Where You Really From And he says to me

Where you Really From I’m from Keighley

Where you Really From And in Tunisia

Lift goes slowly when too many people Too heavy when many people in lift

Where you Really From Course you are pal

Where You Really From Tunisian

Where you Really From Floor 14

Where you Really From No really

Where you Really From They think I’m one of them

Where You Really From Is where he gets out

Where You Really From They don’t believe me

Where You Really From But not in England

Where you Really From What should I have said?

Where you Really From I’m not Asian

Where you Really From Or even Bangladesh

Where You Really From Your English Not Good

Where You Really From Not Asian enough

Where You Really From That’s where me dad’s from

Where you Really From You think I’m Spanish?

Where you Really From I’m an half-caste

Where you Really From So in Benidorm

Where You Really From Pal I���m English

Where You Really From Ooh, is that uncomfortable

Where You Really From I’m getting into a lift

Where you Really From Get to fuck mate

Where you Really From Alright then, Mixed race

Where you Really From It’s a small one

Where You Really From Go on ask me?

Where You Really From Went to Spain last week

Where You Really From Only built for two

Where you Really From I’m from Keighley

Where you Really From Well Benidorm

Where you Really From A fella gets in

Nick Ahad Keighley

Where You Really From They think I’m Spanish

Where You Really From Red from head to toe

Where you Really From And in Turkey

Where you Really From He’s English

36


NERVES! I haven’t a clue what you want me to do Write some words then read them to you While you watch my hands shake As the nerves overtake No I’m not gonna do it Can’t put myself through it I look to the floor It can’t help me anymore Oh my god, please find me the door

Flo Dendle Goole

37


BEAUTIFUL Her eyes are so illuminated that they make oceans embarrassed to even be a shade of blue But I’d rather you call me a man instead of saying “Oh you have lovely eyes.” On her cheeks lay constellations so gorgeous that stars couldn’t gather into a constellation even close to her beauty, But you can just call me handsome. She says her new home reminds her of the care home her grandfather used to stay in but staying at her old house made her want to die. I said mine does too. But at least our thoughts are seen as beautiful.

Lucy Dendle Goole

38


PUB PONDERINGS... Bacardi and Coke A cheeky wink from some bloke Alright love?! A drunken shove... A roving eye... A slobbery kiss goodbye The cig smoke turns me pale Charmer! Self harmer... Tattoos not my thing Suits make me sing Little person big mouth Never shuts up that north and south! Gum on the Guccis Being arse height is quite juicy... Beware! Of the evil one with short hair

Georgina Jane Petty Goole

39


REALISATION PAST AND PRESENT Let me take you back not to a year but to a time when I was still squeaky voiced, bowl cut topped and growing into my teeth A time when I hit the culture shock of comprehensive life when my junior companions drew the lines and huddled in cliques leaving me naked to the harsh winds dog eat dog change Let me shake your memories because amazingly, yours seem hazy Words and phrases repeated over and over and over lashing, sucker punching and thudding off your tongue ‘Simple Simon met a pie man’ ‘Oi fatty boom boom’ ‘Watch out, there’ll be an earthquake if he trips up’ Over and over and over Years 7 to Years 11 5 years of Hell If it wasn’t the physical me then it was my taste in the non trendy, non cool, non mainstream ‘Fucking Freak’ ‘Weirdo Widdop’ ‘Can you not just be normal?’ Words and phrases repeated over and over and over I tried to let them roll over my head and even take them on the chin Just mentally survive the rounds rather than attempt a win But it came too much, the rubber band finally broke inside it was time to punch back, to put you on the back foot for once. Not by starving my body to shed the rolls and pounds or by lifting weights and running for hours on hours on hours I chose to use your methods, your own weapon of choice not words of cruelty, jest and wicked venom. No. Words of laughter, joy and positive observations I’ll find ways to flip the tables without giving you chance to blink and realise Why cause you pain when I can forgive you? Why hurt you when I make you see how you hurt me? And just for the record, fresh off the press This Simple Simon met a pie man, and he’s a personal friend.

Simon Widdop Ossett

40


LOSS I can smell whiskey on your breath I can see bruises on your cheek You’ve let yourself go. ‘Go fuck yourself!’ he says as he takes another shot he doesn’t see what she’s done to him. He heads to the dance floor flirting and stumbling and mumbling and gurning. Gurning? Yes. He’s under the influence. He is lost. Beth Gabbitas Thurgoland

41


SHADOWS ON THE CAVE WALL Sounds outside the window would keep Me from reaching a dreamless sleep But as I try for the curtain Hands will pull me back, uncertain Of truths beyond fabrication, With tall tales for tame submission: Fables of kings in far places, Threats in invisible spaces, Worrying wars of men and God, Of dictators both cruel and odd, Stars, whose lights are filled with scandal And wealth too boundless to handle; Knights of liberation shall ride, For the girls stolen away as brides — Or for oil? Or safety?— who knows The hows and whys of distanced foes? Whilst bishops topple monarchies With adverse ideologies; Old words recycled and renewed Forced upon me as a child’s food. Speak to me of the gap in wealth, Or privatisation of health, Truths of overpopulation And governmental corruption: What of the world outside the book, Beyond the words (I dare not look)? My mother turns to where I lay, With fear and softness, if to say: “These are not thoughts for you to keep, Stay hushed now child, go back to sleep.”

Cameron David Briggs Barnsley

42


UNTITLED A thing I’m used to hearing is, “You don’t sound like you are!” “I am,” I assure them, “but I haven’t lived there for a while and....” I trail off, step on my own words and apologise for the inconsistency of my vowels. I shouldn’t be allowed nice things, they always fall down backs of drawers or are left hanging on the hooks of doors that aren’t my own and then I find myself, frantic and heavy stomached asking “have you seen my.....?” I’d like to know where it went; my tongue. Maybe left in the overhead storage of a Southbound train? York, Doncaster, Stevenage and back again, or self consciously shrivelling down my throat at the tide of voices lapping at my ears? Packed down beneath books and other lost things in some attic? Or that time when....boring though the static, a voice I didn’t know was mine crackled, plateaux flat from a recorded school play. Did I decide then to peel it from the roof of my mouth? Or perhaps I dropped it changing lines to catch he last Westbound Piccadilly?....Careless of me. I hate dressing sounds up, or rather tearing them down, removing the hangings and tassels and garb that would strangle a jukebox or turn strangers heads....my words now they tread water (dive to new depths) and desperately try to remember the steps of dances more suited to high craning skies where talk might sound tethered but unravels and flies. Underneath, there I kneel with my hands in the earth, dirt under my nails as words flutter and bend. No one said I was looking where there’d be no reward, sifting dropped consonants and cigarette ends. From now on I’ll stand, as words billow round and look to loftier places from my dumb plundered ground.

Colin Burnicle Sunderland

43


HELLO. THIS IS A POEM. You say you love me, but they are just words. Holding onto memories, even though it hurts. Those things you say to me, can’t be taken back. Go on say it again, Give me a heart attack. The story of you and I is coming to an end‌ So is this poem. Bethany Hazell Wakefield

44


INSOMNIA NIGHTMARES Numbness comes in tablet form. Once per night taken with water, As substitute for industrial vodka, Which the overly preppy doctor Insists it is better best avoided. Familiar fears claw at the cortex Unleashing primordial daemons, Who demand trepanning, to release The pressure of unbidden thoughts. Fitful dreams bleed into nightmares. A living doll trapped in a toyshop. Steam train ride to knowing death. Last gasp reprieve from the guillotine Only to be caught by Jigsaw’s traps In the company of the tenth doctor.

A longing for rules of Japanese legend; Let in the girl and get on the airship. Day 10 is unknown. Forever unknown. The alternative is a wakeful night Spent locked in a Ginsberg stanza, Eyes bleeding and shadows moving, As the creepy pastas come out to play Candle Cove where Ben lay drowned In Russian sleep experiment remade. Mornings, sweating and exhausted Shower and coffee for the day ahead Restful distraction, the joy of work Then the fear of the night still to face

Elizabeth Matterson Sunderland

The recurrent great glass elevator Climbing uncontrolled, ready to fall. The car with no breaks, steering failed, Accelerator pedal jammed on full, In scene reminiscent of Carmageddon.

45


I FILLED YOUR WELL. I filled your well It was out of love I filled your shell It was all I could The remnants of a girl Scattered on a platter You performed your grim courtship dance And I was entranced Everything about you was so fucking beautiful But I didn’t order this glass of cheap disappointment at the bar You send me dead flowers, shush my eyes I feel the phantom limb pain of amputated love Remember you in salty memories As you become someone else Juli Watson Sunderland

46


I WAS ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS… I’m no good man; Nor bad; I do what I can; Be it nice or mad. I was only following orders… I am no criminal; But have killed; I wait for a miracle; Whilst the war builds. I was only following orders… My conscious is clean; But my hands are bloody; Hiding behind a queen; Waiting to be lucky. I was only following orders… I am innocent; Yet wield a weapon; I am a militant; But don’t mean to threaten. I was only following orders… I work for god; But destroy his creations; Me and my squad; Listening for operations. I was only following orders… I walk a landscape of clouds; But trudge a Field Of Bones; My past I cannot shroud; As I pay visit to their homes. I was only following orders; But So Were They.

Matthew Cresswell Fatfield

47


CONFESSIONS OF A PYROMANIAC I like to play with matches I like to see stuff burn people think i’m tapped in the head but when they gonna learn? the smell of fresh turpentine is a scent i love to taste Please give me your unwanted items and don’t let them go to waste now some people are addicted to sex and others like to steal but the only i like to see naked is a flame cos i believe its got sex appeal so if you ever see me don’t look at me- smart or smug COS I’LL BURN YA FUCKIN HOUSE DOWN! a certified fire bug.

Keiron Higgins Halifax

48


A PROLETARIAT PHILOSOPHY I pity the children back home, In second-hand Reeboks they roam A loveless mother, They’d gladly smother, Hoping it’s better alone.

All it takes is a matter of time, Hands thick with week-old grime, For acting the melon, Jimmy’s a felon, So tell me more of your sick rhymes.

Young Jimmy who stole your alloys, Surrounded by a wall of noise, “They have no usance, A bloody nuisance.” But really, they’re just little boys.

Looking for ways to spend his days, Now Jimmy doesn’t have any mates, They say he’s mellowing, (Might be the heroin), Spends time in a drug-fuelled haze.

And then into the darkness delve, The kids put on the reject shelf, How’re they smoking, Without choking? They’re only flaming twelve.

Standing in the roaring thunder, His friends fear they made a blunder. Trying not to cry, They say goodbye, Now Jimmy’s six feet under.

Little Jimmy’s a beatboxer now, Thinks he’s a rapper (not sure how) “I knocked on the door, Of house twenty-four.” You’re dead if you call his mum a cow.

There’s no point pretending it’s fair, These kids were never going anywhere. An education, Would be motivation, But nobody has time to care.

It started off with such innocence, So easy to get caught in the pretence. Singing about Stella To the tune of ‘Umbrella’, And getting charged with a minor offence.

Leonie Marie Hudson Barnsley

49


LET’S BREAK THE WINDOW Let’s break the window, I’ve never been one for barriers. There’s too much weight that gets thrown around by the broken and deluded. I walk around with good intentions. This all feels too familiar. Boys wear blue and girls wear pink and women at the kitchen sink. No! I’ll make the tea, pull out the settee, We’re one and the same, we all have our needs. What’s the deal with these gender roles? I feel nothing but shame Am I the one to blame? Sit back, relax, let your feelings run dry. You never had any feelings anyway. A mask constructed of broken past that are made to fit the wearer. The one we all hide behind, everyday all the time. A good deed is a seed, Planted, moistened and nurtured. In a house of glass it’s the mightiest task to remove the smear of contamination. ‘Man up and get on with it.’ A phrase coined in every nation. Is this the secret to creation? I don’t need muscles of gods and designer togs to get real people like me. I’d rather be skinny and funny looking. Fun loving and forgiving. A model of good character, kinda. I don’t use drills or have manly skills and I dislike the daily mail. There it is.

50


Male. Biologically yes. In my head yes. But if I really wanted to wear a dress Why should anyone stop me? A piece of cloth that’s labelled ‘for women.’ Maybe yes it would be better fitting but, It’s just a piece of clothing. Alpha male. I just think it’s time to stop. To lose the phases like ‘Stop being a girl.’ To treat people with the respect they deserve. To live our lives our way And to enjoy being told we’re different.

Bradley Sutcliffe Halifax

51


MESMERIZING MURMURATIONS Avoid a falcon Adjust to flockmates Seven nearest neighbours Synchronous, swift, graceful Mysterious human observation Avoid a falcon Signal-to-noise Respond as one Fluidity of motion Scale-free correlation Avoid a falcon Build a skyscraper Solid Starling wall Aerial defensive shield Granular, molecular, spectacular

Robert Reynolds Seaham

52


A POEM ON THE PERILS OF MERGING HOUSEHOLDS : Return ! for..... Since that very hasty marriage : My dining room is now the garage. And since this wife took up Astronomy : My kitchen sees no more gastronomy. And since her son gave up religion : My spacious loft holds fifty pigeons! And since she brought four breeding hounds : My bathroom’s strictly out of bounds. And since her girls won handsome bursary : They do their homework in the nursery. And since clean clothes are no futility : My library is now “Utility.” And since they all have so much lumber : My bedroom can’t be used for...slumber. And since she saved up for a lap-top : My lounge is print-shop as a back-stop. And since “Pot Black” became so cool : My passage is set up for Pool. And since Conversion leads to Pardon : Each lawless child digs up my garden!

Godfrey Holmes Hull

53


TEENAGE LOVE Saturday night at the Mecca was the place to be, always on the move, dancing to the grove, the music was soul, Tamla Motown with a little bit of Free, it was alright now, Meeting girls was the raison d’etre, so there she was, moving so sublime to the beat of the music, not for the first time I went for the best, it did not matter about the rest, her smile, her long auburn hair, time stood still but I had to move, my quickening heart beat was hard to bear, I made my move onto the dance floor, confident, without a care, we danced to a second then a third record. Going for a drink was greed with one accord, I wanted to buy her an expensive one but this did not matter to her, she asked for half a lager Mary Slater was her name from Langley Park whence she came, her verbosity knew no limit, but on getting a word in edgeways she agreed to meet me again, I did it. The night of my date soon came around, washed, dressed with the final touch of Avon after shave or was it Karate, on reaching the agreed meeting place there she was, Mary in the Market Place at Durham, the Market Tavern was the agreed pub of choice, sitting by her side I felt Mary’s body against mine, it made me smile, I wanted to kiss her there and then.

54


It seemed love bade me welcome, it should have been fools rush in, from the Market Tavern to the riverside, it was dark and a beautiful night for romancing. With no moon out it was left to the cathedral lights on the opposite bank to shine on the vision of beauty on my arm, we stopped and kissed for what seemed an eternity, I did not want the night to end, a slow walk to her bus stop, a kiss but then, the words I did not want to hear, you are so romantic, I like you but I do not want our relationship to go any further, those words spoken with softness but clear. For many weeks I looked for Mary at the Mecca but didn,t see her again, Forty five years on and the Mecca is no more, I had met many girls before Mary and many after, I would have other walks along the river at Durham with girls, However, I will never forget the talkative girl from Langley Park

David Hann Sunderland

55


SHEFFIELD Sheffield: Your summer sky seems as grey to me as Tarkovsky’s Akasaka. Its seen strikes, and strife, and civil war. But its dotted now by disney coloured high rise doors on tower block, set amongst the trees and rocks like Sicilian villas in the godfather. Sheffield you’ve been rerendered. Edited and retouched for HD. But whilst your editors slap backs to congratulate each other, you’re always black and white to me. You’re more a pircture of pickets where each pixel is visible, copied then projected till its worse than ’original illustrating talks in rooms that pubs hold functions in; of skin scarred black where a copper stuck his truncheon in. You’re pics of stripped out houses where bailiffs have entered, on burned out street that are guarded, regimented, by SAS men in civi uniforms, who beat men to death on next doors law. You’re snatch squads, torture squads, flying squads and pickets scrabbling on a slag heap tryina find something to nick it; to give half to defence fund to help out flying pickets. Someone’s face is bleeding, braid again by plod. Someone’s getting brave, joining hit squad. And that’s why (though summer is never easy under your greyscale sky) when I think of you I will never think of bright primary doors suspended in the heights, or multi coloured scenes of digital lights. I will see two picture, both monochrome; made of deep blacks and crisp popping whites. The first of a whole city become a place of siege warfare and torture, the second of a miner holding up a sign he just wrote; Welcome to People’s Republic of South Yorkshire.

Javaad Alipoor Bradford

56


REACHING All hope is gone. I want you but you’re out of my reach. “I’m so close … Yet so far.” That saying that’s thrown about but you’re inches From my fingertips. Why can’t I reach? What’s that gap between us? Why can’t I close it? My mind fills with doubt as more questions filter Through my mind. Try to separate. Separate sewage from what’s real, But it gets harder… I’m broken. I’m unsure, I’m confused, I’m lost… My unsure nature forces me back, And I despise myself. Me? Help you? How pathetic. You want the past, The present, And the future All at once. How could I do that? I can’t. Stop Being Pathetic.

Dan Hunt Pontefract

57


DYSPHORIA time is a wound, the future swells with with rage. your eyes are empty another heart lost to the arms of cynicism I was riddled with bullets holes too. It’s okay. We’ve been there. Next time, we’ll go together. Imogen Peniston Pontefract

58


YELLOW LINES Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me a car parking space. Lend me 12 foot of beautiful clean pavement, unpicked by meters, oh those fucking meters… Unsullied but that urgent yellow ushering you on, “Nothing to see, move on, move on, can’t park here.” That double stripe who follows you past house and never ending house, till a gap appears, only to be an unmarked garage, where the pavement empties into the street and untidy hand writing taunts you, “access constantly required.” You jumped up little prick, “access constantly required,” FUCK OFF AND DON’T PARK HERE... CUNT, I believe is what you mean. And in a way to be greeted by such words would leave me feeling cleaner, with not a shadow of a doubt that the sign was from a person, someone you could seek out and ask them about their movements, their back and forth brigade, that requires constant access to this rotten garage stage. Did you write that sign? Yeah! Constant access? Yeah? Constant access to what? The garage! What’s in their? A fucking ambulance? Friends, Romans, Countrymen, fetch me an ambulance. For the fight I picked with that jumped up prick hasn’t fared that well and I’ll be looking for a parking spot a little further I can tell. Bruised face and bruised ego, from taking on that sign, should have kept on driving past those endless yellow lines.

Olly Watson Norwich

59


BENEATH THIS OLD SOD LIES ANOTHER You… You were silenced by your pigeon throat, blinded by your rabbit black eyes. You were hobbled in the street, where the elders meet, and you were promised a messianic surprise. You were unable to stand while the goat’s bled out, too drunk to hear the mosquitoes sing their recycled hopes where the elderly cope and they pray for salvation and Spring. In your mirror was a collage of blue, purple, red, scales of Rizla-thin skin. Papers folded, unfolded and folded again, you read Braille from a plucked chicken’s wing. Now, your life’s laid out flat like old clothes on a bed, and your dreams lowered into cold earth. But your heart is still a cocktail, made from reason and rum, and I love you for whatever that’s worth.

Matt Nicholson Hull

60


THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF....... WHAT??? ‘Poetry’ he proposed. ‘Perhaps not’ I pondered... Offered no choice About using my voice I thought I’d agree To take part, you see... Enjoy an excursion A two night diversion To Hull was his take On a midweek break. ‘Travel!’ He trumpeted. ‘Traffic!’ I trilled... Really don’t know How the trip became so performance involved. With no words to say As we gathered today I struggled to find In the back of my mind A couplet or two That would satisfy you. You all know the score As you sit wanting more.. This writing idea is nothing to fear But hell when you can’t find your muse. ‘You done?’ He enquired... You judge - I’ve expired!

Mandy Davis Stevenage

61


ONLY GIRL Only girl I’ve ever loved I feel her slipping away. She said ‘The world’ll keep spinning. You’ll be OK’. Well I guess that’s true We’re far too much alike now Me and you. Only girl I’ve ever loved She said we ought to call it a day. She said ‘You gotta watch out when the tigers play’ Grrr! I even prayed to God today I said ‘Please, God, take all the pain away. So hey there, all you Starry-eyes, they’ve cancelled love again! They’ll bring it back just to comfort all the children and the weak men. Till then it’s just a word they’ll feed As they try to sell us all those things we don’t really need. Only girl I ever loved She’s said all she’s gonna say. She said ….. I got down on my knees today; I said ‘Please, God, don’t let it end this way; Take all the pain away’. So yes - it’s true - they’ve cancelled love again! They’ll bring it back just to comfort all the children and the weak men. Till then it’s just a word they’ll feed As they try to sell us all those things we don’t really need; Like a meal on the town with you Like playing the fool for you Like waking beside you in the morning light Just to hear you say ‘I sometimes love you.’ So hey there, all you Starry-eyes, they’ve cancelled love again! They’ll bring it back just to comfort all the children and the weak men. Till then it’s just a word they’ll feed As they try to sell us all those things I think I really need right now; Like a walk in the park with you Like a kiss in the dark with you Like waking beside you in the morning light When you smile and say ‘I sometimes love you.’

Robert Cox Stevenage

62


I AM A VOICE I am a voice I am alone
 Dying in the darkness.
 I used to shout for help,
 But then I couldn’t tell if words
 Were coming out through my mouth,
 Or was it a voice in my head...
 And it scared me.
 I am alive
 Yet I see nothing and feel nothing.
 The darkness is like something solid,
 It’s inside me!
 I am a voice in the dark
 A quite voice...
 And you hope it won’t turn silent,
 The voice you want to keep hearing;
 Because then you know you’re
 Still alive. I have no name.
 There are no names here in the darkness, no one else is here,
 Only you and me.
 I know who I am.
 Do you know who you are?
 I am a voice in the dark
 Calling out for help.
 Listen, I’m going to tell you something, I heard people shouting!
 It sounded far away in the darkness.
 Voices saying...
 “Survived. Alive. Breathing”.
 I wanted to shout back...
 “Yes, help, help me!
 Then I thought, don’t be stupid.
 So I didn’t answer, 
 And the voices went away.
 If I can hear voices shouting,
 And I’m a voice here in the darkness...
 Does that mean I’m a GHOST?

Ron Booth Lincoln

63


WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY SUPERMARKET Between the Horse & Groom and Hollywood Nails Past boarded-up windows and faceless retail Welcome to the community supermarket Breakfast cereals; disposable nappies Check your change and walk home happy That’s how it goes at the community supermarket There’s not enough work to be had round here He’s given up the fags, cut down on the beer And discovered the community supermarket So Robert now says he can afford the gas And he’s picked up the ingredients to rustle up a Madras That’s the joy of the community supermarket Lisa lives in the low rise blocks Wears her coat at home with her thermal socks She smiles at the community supermarket She says “you have to understand that this is not waste, And the Food Bank is not to everyone’s taste” But she’s taken with the community supermarket She’s got Jaffa cakes and cherry tomatoes in her basket Says “it’s needs must and hardly a banquet” That will do nicely from the community supermarket She calls it hard times, not really a crisis Paracetamol, spring greens and choc ices Every day’s a surprise at the community supermarket No-one requested social deprivation You make whatever you can of the situation You take what’s on offer at the community supermarket Forget the politics; what was or wasn’t done The industrial past of this town is long gone Welcome to the community supermarket

Mick Jenkinson Doncaster

64


FAMINE hunger stares at me, pitiful eyes glazed with trapped terror devouring innocence stripped of rights naked needs exposed to the world children like mine are dying to live yet living to die foetal heaps of lost humanity crawling on life’s edge gazing into eternity

migrating herds of human corpses pawns of paradise burn endlessly on in the killing sun while we plan dream holidays no vacations there scratching in the dust for forgotten aid while fat flies suck mortal juices feast on crusted blood lick the wounds of death

frozen in time, heartaches and headlines wrap fish and chips money clinks the world shrinks famine for a feast paper faces ooze tears as oily fingers smear dirt on victims crushing fragile liveswill anyone rescue yesterday’s news or leave poverty’s children free to die in the dust?

Rachel Porter Durham

65


BOBBY-DAZZLER

For Molly Poole, d.1993 Smoked for forty, after dishes done, Contraposto at the back door jamb, Roll-up idling in her hand, No weeds but the one she drags on. Roses. Rows of carrot-fronds. Secretly the tatties bulge, Double-dug in bedded mulch. A narrow plot, but long. The to-and-fro trains rhubarb on, The jubdub close-by London line. Sunday sky’s a right dog-fight, Ding-dong peals ‘til evensong. She pinches out the baccy dregs, Bold-as-brass box, apron pocket, Virginia, gold, her rinse and set. Housemaid’s knee, dancer’s legs. Kirsten Luckins Hartlepool

66


THE MOD GRANDFATHER Got my Snorkel parka Got my Ben Sherman shirt Got a pocket full of pills To keep me alert Levi sta-prest Cherry red dockers Bombing down to Skeggy Looking for rockers

I’m keeping it real So the world can see I’m still maximum R and B Call me stan Or if you’d rather Just call me The mod grandfather

Got my rear view, rear view Rear view mirrors Whiplash aerial Chrome that glimmers Fuelled on “Dexies” Northern Soul Motown, Stax Not rock and roll

It’s not a Vespa It’s not a Lambretta It’s not a Piaggio It’s even better It’s a zero emission Non polluter Little red Mobility scooter Snorkel Parker Ben Sherman shirt Pocket full of pills Keep me alert Levi sta-prest Cherry red dockers Down in Skeggy Looking for Rockers … Chairs that is

It’s not a Vespa It’s not a Lambretta It’s not a Piaggio It’s even better It’s a zero emission Non polluter Little red Mobility scooter Got a plastic cover For when it rains Drive it home Plug it in the mains Never use the pavement Crawl down the road Ignore all the rules In the highway code

Ray Globe and David Harmer Sheffield

67


MEMOIRS OF A JOB SEEKER Beginning with Bingham’s a molder by name Packing the pattern again and again Punching and scrunching till all feels the same Sent for a weight… so I wait… it’s a game Back down the line, flip over the frame Splash on the paint, then set it aflame. Those bridges were burnt, gone up in flames We can give you some training, give us y’re name YTS, ITEC; let’s put these in frame For the National Vocational Qualification’s, I gained To me n’ mi mates, it was all just a game I’m not very qualified, so shit stayed the same. Till I start cleaning windows, it’s a job all the same At two fifty an hour, my pocket’s in flames So I signed on the dole and fiddled the game But something’s not right when they call out my name They say, ‘You’re defrauding the system for financial gain’! So I smile as I say, ‘It’s not me I’ve been framed’. I sign off as I leave; taking me out of the frame And onto the windows for more of the same So to windows I fell, again n’ again To me it has felt like being cast down in flames Can I ever will I ever wash off the name? Window Cleaner… Fuck this for a game!

68


Of soldiers; like that is a game Sat in recruitment, do I fit the frame? Of mind, out of mind, out the door, without signing my name I’d rather be skint than kill, thanks all the same So I get out the door, grab a fag n’ a flame N’ start wondering what I’m doing with my life yet again? Warehouse’s, factories, sales, never say never, say never again! To a life flipping burgers, damn that fat spitting game Too many hopes, dreams, whopper’s, cooked in the flames I just want to put pictures in nice funky frames Paint paintings, sculpt sculptures, print poems, and more of the same To become known as an artist, and be an artist by name. To be gainfully free, freed from the frame To relinquish the shackles of the game that’s the same I’m perpetually prepared to get pissed down flames, this is my art, and Craig Balmer’s my name.

Craig Balmer Harworth

69


JOHN HAS FOUND A NEW LOVE John! Don’t stand there with breakfast in your beard, telling me you love another woman! Don’t reach for the shirt I ironed And say you live only for her. Oh, I know where you found her At work, where it all happens, Secretaries, students, laid on to keep the men happy. Laid on, that’s all they’re good for. I carried four children for you The first when I was eighteen – And how old is she? 25? 21 – oh, I see. I suppose she thinks you’re a man of the world, Learned and wise and better than her father For she can fuck you. No doubt she seduced you with her feminine wiles With firm breasts and soft lips and sycophantic smiles. Does she love you enough to buy ointment for your p… (problems, I’d better say) or suppositories? That’s it, turn away John If it’s too hard to hear As you’re walking away After seventeen years! Oh, you’ve got to be free To live out your life In sexual heaven With a little-girl wife. Don’t worry about us We’ll manage alright (Though the boy didn’t come home and the twins cried all night). Go out and be free. Go out and have fun. Don’t think of we five, John Just think of Number One.

Susan Wainwright Shaw

70


SOMBREROS I had a lovely visit from one of my Brizzle bessie’s she has the most amazing imagination, originally a Londoner, Irish/Jamaican. Last time she was in Donny was the year 2000. She asks, ’Do they have black people living here yet?’ I reply ‘It’s almost multicultural now!’ Not being a person who ventures North of Watford very often she has no preconceptions of the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire Her train journey took her through Sheffield ‘This is England 90’s’ she loves the tv series ‘have you seen it yet?’ I laugh ‘no need, I was there,that girl dancing in a field, free spirit, no money but enough ecstasy to make my weekends go by’ We enjoyed some of Donny’s best homegrown giggled on the sofa at the tv ‘I imagine that Mexborough is full of Mexicans wearing sombreros’ she says, I think, well maybe a few, ‘and that place that has a view of a castle from the train, looks beautiful’ I pause for a moment to think ‘ you mean Conisbrough’ I smile

Angela Rox Doncaster

71


CLOSURE The library looks broken today. Her bones bend under the weight of her closure (due next week). She tells me it’s not dying she’s afraid of, it’s emptiness. It’s the hollow wounds of her shelves, it’s the lidless eyes of her windows, it’s the paralysis of her doors while the children aflame inside her, calcify in the wordless cold. Her shadows have already been cauterised. They sit, small and beating, in her corners while Old Caleb, who’s been here every day since his wife died ten years ago, and whose leg felt the impact of that old bullet again in his sleep last night, reads Birdsong for the seventh time through the bias of his glasses and says goodbye to Piccadilly.

Her pages are agitated. snarling, they snap shut in case hungry fingers should lift away their words. And in the groan of her bones there is a new-born fear, the foetal thought that a mother has each morning when her child walks to school alone. What if they need me? What if they need me and I can’t be there? The library looks broken today. You can hear it in the violence of her titles, in the breathlessness of her lamps, in the way her visitors enter furtively and leave quickly, their heads bowed.

72

A week left they tell her, that’s all she has. And though the prognosis was always bad, she folded that wordless hope into her hinges ready to ride out the tougher months. So I sit on the limp armchair, stroking the blonde curls of her wallpaper and I don’t say anything. Half her books are gone already, and we must be sparing with the rest of her words.

Becci Louise Fearnley Reading


DANDELIONS We lingered, that summer Blew away hours In dandelion clocks Backs firm against cool earth Watching clouds mooch We took all the time In the world Your cheeks were globes As you blew The fragile fronds would quiver, Detach, And float away.

Lydia Ebdon Easingwold

73


THANKS FOR… In memory of a happy time Here sat Maggie and Tom Came for chips and a seaview Dodging seagulls and dogs on the prom. A little brass plaque proclaims “Sunny Times spent..’ On a bench the family provided, To soak up the curiosity Of the Summer strollers. Mine will be a little different; The record of my passing will record My awesome hangover, and.. The seagulls and dogs adding insult to injury As i passed out on these slats.. My last salutation to your idle moments will be: “ Whadya Lookin’ At; Well, do one, fish-face!!” …Happy holidays!!!

Ross Wilson Scarborough

74


BUTTERCUP MEADOW I sit at home in the buttercup meadow, crying silently as buttercups do. Summers heat squeezing out the frothy teardrop dew. My body understands the stems will to stand upright and strong. My lips close as do petal tips upon the onset of a storm. I do not fear the bee anymore for if he stings, he will die and I will still have to endure the torment of being dead, yet being alive.

Here am I. All this beauty, and still I cry. Oh, how complex this life, to observe the spectrum of life and death. To inhale the cosmos into one’s chest, To demand yet renounce the succession of breath! Absurd indeed this will to live, this will to die, this will to be with the buttercups and lie! What fool am I. What fool am I.

Spatterings of chickweed stars outstretch reaching high, I glance upwards, observing the ever moving sky. A dark cloud is lit by the sun hiding behind it illuminating edges revealing red texture fibrous as an iris or birthing nebulae.

Amie Bellamy Lincoln

75


NEURAL ALLUVIUM Bleeding glacier veins
 carrying the silt of tender kisses
 frozen in the past by a muted brain.
 Where nerves vomit rancid abandon
 and cotton piano notes welcome visitors to see childhoods spectrum of watercolour faces 
- each peeled from a story
 and sewn on to the cloth of memory.
 Auditory sewers gurgle with fond voices, distorting the tragic noises 
 of her jelly uterine traffic.
 The hooded rapist sits alone,
 cleaning the flesh off
 his victims bones.

Aniruddha Mukerji Delhi, India

76


THE BLITZ KID A waft of hairspray and opulence, flicking his ash from the long silver holder, Scanning the crowd “You three are fine, your friend isn’t”. Thatcher’s bastard kids clubbing With new rules “We are beautiful and clean and so very very young”. Dancing to the Brixton bandwagon merchant scouring the dancefloor to steal his next hit. Bitching in the Ladies toilets Elnett, elbows and make up. And that was just the boys. Jagger turned away at the door. I bet he dined out on that for years. Dirty little brother the Roxy steeped in urine, vomit and passed out bodies. “No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones”. We were horrible little shits. A cloakroom boy at the Roxy, planned his move From the Valleys to a flat in Fitzrovia. With Rusty, Dusty and George, a litter of fluffy bunnies with barbed tongues. First shot of golden brown. Flying high. Oblivion. Slunk back to the valleys Shoplifting in Woolworths He fades to grey.

Ali Rawlings London

77


MILITARY HONOUR In return for your fear, your family’s fear, the brainwashing, being trained to kill, fighting on some politician’s say-so in a country you had to look up on a map, the fifty-fifty chance of survival, the risk of shattered bones, shattered lives, disfiguring scars, the spectre of night terrors for years to come we salute you. Now give us your rifle back and fuck off.

Bronwen Barber Barnsley

78


BITCH GONE BLUES I need to stop belating my frustration on other people, Didn’t put her on a pedestal, but at the top of a steeple, A disciple, cop an eyeful, making mountains out of trifles, My energy subtracted, what I want to say redacted, A censorship of sorts, downing pints with shorts, The chasers erase us, frowns fold into blurred faces, An eternal sunshine of this spotless mind, I must be talking shit ‘cos it’s come from my behind. From a past, built to last but foundations were sand, I scope for a ring but there’s none on that hand, And she’s gone, moved on, the sand become dust, Pawned all that bling, cos the needs become musts, Bought a ticket to ride, ticket took her down South, Using Faceache as a weapon, yeah she’s shooting her mouth, How she’s hard done by, tears diluting the lie, Having trashed my joint, leaving it a pigsty, Took the slow cooker, the microwave, you think that’s mean? She even took George Foreman’s Lean Fat Grilling Machine. The holy trinity for taste buds, I wipe the side with soap suds Yet I’ll bite my tongue, ‘til the buds taste blood. This scud missile of an epistle delivered with a smile. A rictus grin, with lips pulled thin, taste tin. No copper. But blood won’t stop her. My stupor a downpour, Salt water mixed with metal, tears licked unsettled, From lids that are heavy, quaff another bevvy, and ‘get over’, Don’t get sucked in to the fallout supernova, The pics that she’s posting, the webcam she’s hosting, Or should I say hostessing? Yeah, count my blessings, Just seethe. Really, can you believe...? No. One, two, three. Breathe.

Dick D.Nile Bradford

79


THE PARTY Now, this is a scene where many of us may have never been. A pool of excessive drugs and drink. A pit of crisis creators & horny home wreckers, My friends, this is Chequers. The Prime ministerial retreat and it’s time for the cabinet party. Of course, all members invited except the women, They’ve been given free weekend passes to take the kids swimming. No misogyny here, good ole British values, I’d say, Now be a good ole girl and let daddy play. Don’t worry Theresa May, you can stay, you’ve got more balls than the rest of us. Tonight, Oliver Letwin is leading on proceedings. ‘Right boys, before I begin, just a quick thing to say regarding the sad loss of Esther Mc Vey But don’t worry, we’re going to take it back, Wirral West, Wirral East, Birkenhead and Wallasey For now, let’s go over to George for some economic policy.’ ‘After an exciting game of pin the tail on the economic donkey, We decided to blame this year’s crisis on Greece because they’re lazy, lazy and lazy.’ ‘Oh Come on George, don’t be such an Ed Vaisey, tell us some more’. But all of a sudden, in enters Michael Gove in a terrible fluster, ‘I knew I couldn’t trust her, I knew I couldn’t trust her Free Schools are not Nicky Morgan’s priorities She’s talking about engaging ethnic minorities!’. Ken Clarke addresses the party with a sense of gravity, ‘where’s Dave? Boys, where’s Dave?’ ‘Ken, don’t worry, it’s no biggy, he’s out back with little Miss Piggy’ High fives and fist pumps. Such frivolity on historic grounds. This is where the French President comes to play tennis, This is where Margaret had her way with Dennis, Bush and Blair discussing bombs on the back lawn. But, what happened next will go down in the history books.

80


Knock knock Who’s there? It’s Jeremy. Jeremy who? Jeremy Corbyn. Jaws dropped, economic hards on flopped. Jeremy Corbyn enters the room, Ken Clarke faints. Jeremy Hunt offers to deliver first aid But this aint a game well played As it just looks like he’s passionately kissing a fat man. Oliver Letwin stripped down to his underpants, pouring petrol over the collected works of Marx. Staring at Jeremy, shaking his fist. ‘I’m going to out this commie shit on the blacklist’. ‘For Gods sake Theresa, please say something!’ ‘Immigration’ God she’s good, God she’s good. Ian Duncan Smith is heading for the nearest cliff. Dave enters the room ‘You are a threat to Conservative security’ All is exhausted. But what bought Jeremy to this juncture? He’s only got a puncture and was looking for some help. So, as these Conservative boys continue to get their kicks, Jeremy walks off in to the sticks Thinking about how to change these old British bricks.

Matthew Elliott Liverpool

81


AMARYLLIS We couldn’t leave it there alone In Auntie’s empty maisonette So we offered it a home On top of our own cabinet. But it sulked in its pot – A bulb with attitude. While Auntie sulked in her room And that’s not a platitude. Refusing all the fun on offer At the expensive nursing home, She kept herself to herself, Shrank smaller and smaller, Forgot our names, sometimes forgot her own. But one thing she would not forget Was that ruddy maisonette. Although we’d sold it to pay her fees As the government decrees, For three years she clung to the belief That she could one day go back. But she was too frail, Her mind, her body crumbling, Only her stubborn will intact. Her bulb meanwhile put out broadsword leaf Each spring that came to nothing. Obstinately it defied Our watering, feeding, coaxing, In fact everything we tried. The third spring Auntie at last went home And we, distracted, let her bulb alone. It came into bud on the day she died. Now four massive trumpets bloom Pink and proud like you know who, Overseeing our small room And disapproving all we do.

Ann Copeland Stevenage

82


TECHNOLOGY CHAOS THEORY Social media Communal hysteria Misinterpreted texting Cringeworthy sexting Phone know your place! This is my mind space FaceBook stalking No time for walking All that’s Twitter Makes me jitter Technology chaos theory Some think me dreary True friends look you in the eye Virtual friends can lie, lie, lie Make time for reality In a tech free principality

Sheena Cook Letchworth

83


I’M IN LOVE WITH KEELEY DONOVAN   I’m in love with Keeley Donovan Weathergirl extraordinaire I love her figure-hugging dresses Cheeky smile and silky hair I love the way she can’t stand still Rocks back and forth, sways side to side I love the fact she’s just a very Tiny little bit cross-eyed   I’m in love with Keeley Donovan I hate it when Paul Hudson’s on I’ve sat through half a boring hour Of garden gnomes and knit-a-thons Then he shows up and my heart sinks All I want is lovely Keeley I switch him off, I couldn’t give A toss about the forecast really   I’m just in love with Keeley Donovan She’s the sun that warms my heart She’s the storm within my soul The bolt of lightning through the dark But Keeley, I don’t think that you And I can ever be together If you don’t stop banging on and On about the bloody weather

Joe Williams Leeds

84


POOR OLD WORLD (WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO YOU?) Poor old girl As you toy with your drink do you wonder what I think about you?   Tells her tale A tale of abuse, of the men who had used and hurt her And bruised her   Hey Girl - lean on me You can dream on me for an evening Yes, we’re strangers now but there’s no telling how fate is scheming Though it seems to me that the choices have all been made And each way that we turn There’s a hell of a lot to learn   Poor old girl Wipes the tears from her face but she cannot erase those memories   Hours drag by The barman calls ‘time’ and her eyes meet mine - just briefly Too easy   Hey Girl - lead the way I can only stay for an evening So she takes my hand but she can’t understand why I’m laughing Seems to me, as she’s fumbling for her keys, That each way that we turn There’s a hell of a lot to learn   Poor old girl You lay on your back while the children attack and rape you We rape you!!   Quietly - I slip from the sheets But I leave her asleep in the morning Though she tried to please still I leave the disease that I’m wearing Seems to me, as I toss a note on her chair, That each way that they turn Some girls never learn   Poor old world We never learn Poor old world Will we ever learn?

Robert Cox Stevenage

85


MANCHESTER’S STREET PARTY Rhythms pulse and pound the ground of Piccadilly Gardens. Feet found the ground Tap the turf. Dressed in their best, The rhythm writhes party posers. But a small wall separates a man  Dishing out meals from the back of a Micra van; For the many men and women not invited To Manchester’s Street Party. Too hungry for dancing. Police van placed in particular proximity Not to the illegitimate Piccadilly party, But to the lonely car on pedestrianised pavement. Thought to be a threat. Cold humans, takeaway cartons and plastic cutlery, It occurs to me, To make a special effort, To smile- eye contact- street surfers doorway snugglers. So many smiles, bodies for miles Up the hubbub of Piccadilly. I predict I only project pity. But I don’t know what else to do.

86


Moseying past Malmaison luxury hotel I mull over miscreants Laying their heads On finely made beds this weekend. Penned into security fences; Measures to protect- sore sights- sore eyes, Lengths of the many men and women not invited To Manchester’s Conservative Party Conference. Dave and his mates dine, Agreeing with each other on the Party line. I imagine interfering with his entourage. Take a stroll with me Dave, wonder what we’ll see, Doubtless the results of your precious policy, He’ll spout words like “Social mobility,  Public pot pissed down the drain austerity Measures are a necessity, Once the economy Is flowing properlyThese people will have homes. You’ll see.” Meanwhile, A man dishes out home made meals from the back of a Micra van, For the many men and women not invited To Manchester’s Street Party.

Tamsin Cook Liverpool

87


THOUGHTS AT BOSTON AIRPORT.... Two states, far apart Joy in one The other sorrow, Wedding bells Failing health Gladness, Sadness Wedding wonder Seepng sickness. Joy in the west Support in the east Emotions high Heartstrings humming Love abounding, time decreasing Celebration, contemplation Two directions Here and there Lively, calm Wanted, needed Always remembered Never forgotten. Two weeks, five flights Final trip, end in sight travelling home To rest, and think How lives run on, And visits are Just ripples on the waters For, soon, it’s as if I’d never been there.

Mandy Davis Stevenage

88


HAIKU TO HULL

(to be read in a Hull accent) What’s yours, Caroline? Lager ‘n lime, or dry white wine? No. Coca-cola.

Cheryl Leaning Winterton

89


MEN WHO WRITE POEMS Of late I’ve developed some radical views And there’s one which I feel the need to impart Men who write poems are never good news Don’t get me wrong, I would never accuse The nation’s prime poets of not being smart But of late I’ve developed some radical views I too am smart and will seldom confuse Talent, and desperate cries from the heart Men who write poems are never good news One man with a pen, his attentions refused, Reversed the opinion I’d held at the start And soon I’d developed some radical views Now I’m quick to establish whose poem is whose And whether it’s crap – or whether it’s art Men who write poems are never good news It’s a wild allegation I trust you’ll excuse Until sense is restored and my bias departs Of late I’ve developed some radical views Men who write poems are really bad news

Caroline Burton Grimsby

90


I DOUBT, THEREFORE I AM. I know that I am human, but I doubt I’m just like you. I know that I’m impatient, but I doubt I’d skip a queue. I know that there’ll be danger, but I doubt that I’ll be brave. I know the world has heroes, but I doubt it’s me they’ll save. I know about emotion, but I doubt what I should feel. I know that I love Christmas, but I doubt that Santa’s real. I know that I’m not “over-weight”, but I doubt I’ll fit size six. I know about the people, but I doubt that I can mix. I know there’s no gain in shrinking So that others won’t feel small, I know that only I care if I’m short or fat or tall. I know that we were born to glow, To shine as children do. I know no one’s self-confident: No one doubts yourself like you.

Abigail Stretton-Moore Penistone

91


THE WESTERN FRONT A cold front will come in from the West moving south of the equator, and imported into the East as a european conceived intellectual universe with expected freezing conditions of patriarchy for many years to come, bringing with it high pressure in the regions of poverty, misogyny, racial profiling, homophobia, islamaphobia and in the general area of xenophobia. The spring temperature is rising post saddam and assad With an autumn of malcontent over the planetary populace as a financial crisis blows and austerity squeezes freezes here, here and here and over the general body of the planet. So you’d be advised to stay at home cos it’ll be frosty out there with a lack of leader compassion.

Zena Edwards London

92


LAPTOP FUSILIERS An Electronic noticeboard flashed up a platform number Then the people raced away waking from their slumber Running across the concourse dragging bags and cases Running for their train carriage to claim their seats and places Making sure their seat has a socket near All these people are the laptop fusiliers They get sat down quickly to plug in their device The machine that has now taken over all their life They must get on with writing the next report Or put figures in a spreadsheet to add up or to sort They think only of furthering their own careers These train-riding moronic laptop fusiliers Many of them have forgotten how to have a conversation Trying to do oh so much before they reach their station Pushing all the keyboard buttons in a digital bubble Trying to make their profits at the least to double They would sell their children or their soul these selfish marketeers While missing all the rest of life the laptop fusiliers It isn’t just the laptop, it can be a tablet or a phone Or an android or an Apple or anything with a drone To contact people miles away in the office or the club But not the person next to them unless they’re on a hub No matter how much you try you can’t contact their ears So please whatever you do be more than the laptop fusiliers

Derek Liddell Barnsley

93


NEW AGE LAMENT There are times when intuition goes right out the window and I’m left without balance or chi. I’m badly ungrounded - but it isn’t my fault: my hormones are hyper now the moon has gone gibbous, and my aura’s discoloured and slack. My crystals need recharging and the Orange mobile phone mast is causing interference on the ley lines between here and Wales it’s hardly surprising I’m feeling the effects: my astral plane is warped out of true and my chakras are all out of whack. I can’t even rely on my spirit guide, he’s gone off in a sulk to the other side. My animal totems have all disappeared they’re refusing to come when I call. I’ve tried to look inwards but I can’t breathe in any golden light only formless and limitless black... Oh for god’s sake, get a grip! Get some caffeine down your throat and that high calorific value junk you got on the last trip to Tesco. There now - you see? That’s better. A couple of hours of yoga And I’ll right back on track.

Jean Sheridan Helmsley

94


APPLES Rouged and pomaded, they hang, blaze and fall, their colours enticing to the end that is their aim, the juice-crunch, the lure of pleasures forbidden by legend. Their offer is a promise to be kept, a begging to try – taste, or all may be lost, left to lie and ferment to brown, food only for wasps and birds hungry for that sugar abundance, the sweet smack of fruit pulp fulfilment before the cramp of winter stops all to begin anew. In spring they shall return, no more the fallen heroes, but virginal and white to bloom on the air, alluding to snow-drive their freshness of flower which, caught on the breeze will flaunt as before these new enticements, not yet hinting their destiny, the globe-swelling plump shine of apples.

Richard J. N. Copeland Stevenage

95


DEAR JARED I feel as if I’m a failure as a step-parent and I lament your having gone off Club Penguin when you play Call of Duty (certificate 18) for hours and then glibly describe how you won the round by stabbing an enemy in the head. I felt as if I was a failure as a step-parent when it was my turn to cook your tea and I could not summon the resolve to persuade you to have carrot and cucumber sticks with your ketchup and salad-cream covered chicken-burger. I feel as if I lack the gravitas my father had each time the pejorative terms I coin about you fail to have any impact or, what’s worse, make bad behaviour take on a mystique. Your consumption of coca-cola has not diminished since I called it the Devil’s wee-wee. And my parents would never have caved-in as I did, when you complained you did not ‘get’ your maths homework and eventually, instead of trying to explain it another way, I heaved an internal sigh and just told you all the answers. And I worry a great deal about your development because you are worse at finding things than any-one I have ever known, and your lies about, for example, what happened to those Breakaways always seem to involve ninjas or blue dragons and are implausible. But when I asked you if the underpants you were wearing were the same as yesterday’s, without asking, you borrowed my pet phrase and said ‘I won’t say a word until I’ve seen my solicitor.’ When you spoke those words, I stopped being your stepfather and became your dad.

William Thirsk-Gaskill Wakefield

96


POEM 1 I haven’t tried this in a while. I don’t know what is was, the snarky academics perhaps or the heartache, or the spirituality or just food. Perhaps it’s because all the films I haven’t yet watched. All the Al Pacinos lit by unreal street lamps fake rain making meaning in swift, effective chemical reactions my heart breaking easily frame after frame. I suppose I am looking to try again. Get back into it. Why not try submitting a thing to an experimental anthology, my literary friends suggest or gazing at wildflowers or something? I’ve been playing a lot of badminton. I nearly forgot! Which is odd because I like talking about badminton. I like badminton. It’s everything that this isn’t. When you have doubts you can just aim for the face. Plus, I got tired of words, is really it. They are a tiny part of how we speak.

Molly Naylor Norwich

97


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The People's Republic of Poetry