Saturday 19 February 2022

Public Sector Poetry Journal

 Just had some poems published in a brilliant new journal for poets working in the public sector. Check it out HERE.

And watch the readings and debates from the live event HERE.

If you work in the public sector and write poetry, submit to future journals HERE

Thursday 7 February 2019



Now arrives the time of action, 
a frozen SonderKommando 
marches the windswept 
plains of Nebraska. Detroit 
sprawls glorious freedoms 
and our dreams define 
the disease of national pride. 
Meet me in loyalty, unstoppable
in every city far and wide, 
the breath of life almighty: we will not fail. 
Living is striving, we are the struggle/…

…we cut the beards / scream the Lithuanian anthem from atop a pile of cardboard cut-outs / applauding the effort / on a garage forecourt we take a crowbar to the skulls of the communist functionaries / such sport the tarmac supports / special work in rear areas / set the native population against the others / watch the well-dressed burn

(ASIDE(Please see me standing, 
my children singing 
to themselves. 
half-gibberish show tunes
come to breakfast, 
sit next to me, 
washed blond hair 
stiffly tufted in the
summer garden.)

/…This American carnage 
stops right here. We will 
harness the energies, a new 
national pride will stir 
our souls. The gangs 
and the drugs flushed 
with cash, one heart, one home. 
We must protect our pyramids
our God bless you industries/….

…these were internal disputes and spontaneous retributions / I heard the sound of machine guns all night / saw the huge iron bar /the killer standing in the horseshit / admired them quietly stepping forward / and their caved in skulls / poured into breathing pits / separating the living from the dead

(ASIDE(water for bones
whatever you might think
the children are suffering
in the heat
the boat sinks onwards 
into Venice’s central square
St. Marks, or 
Somewhere else
similarly religious)


“…/…Really we do it without like, 
the musical instruments. This is the 
only musical: the mouth. And hopefully 
the brain attached to the mouth. Right? 
The brain, more important than the mouth, 
is the brain. The brain is much more important…/…”

.we / 5.9.41 Ukmerge 1,23 Jews, 1849 Jewesses, 1737 Jewish children 4,709 / 25.8-6.9.41 Mopping up in: 
Rasainiai 16 Jews, 412 Jewesses, 415 Jewish children 843 Georgenburg (Yurburg) All Jews, all Jewesses, all Jewish children 412 / 2.10.41 Zagare633 Jews, 1,107 Jewesses, 496 Jewish children (as these Jews were being led away a mutiny rose, which was however immediately put down; 150 Jews were shot immediately; 7 partisans wounded) 2,236 / Today I can confirm that our objective, to solve the Jewish problem for Lithuania, has been achieved by EK 3 / In Lithuania there are no more Jews, apart from Jewish workers and their families / The distance between from the assembly point to the graves was on average 4 to 5 Km. / I consider the Jewish action more or less terminated as far as Einsatzkommando 3 is concerned / I am of the view that the sterilization programme of the male worker Jews should be started immediately so that reproduction is prevented / If despite sterilization a Jewess becomes pregnant she will be liquidated… 

Sunday 28 October 2018

22 Poems from 2010/11 when I was a Teaching Assistant.

'Robbery gets
you five'
the boy calls
out across
the crowded
they threaten
the snake
with knives
I sit between
them, a useless
wooden pier
if this
is a matter
for the police
or just matter
or / and / but
20 lines

I'm in a
science exam
scribing for
a Congolese girl
- when the task
was to balance
the chemical reaction
of sodium &
hydrogen dioxide
you cant argue
with the answer:
'apple juice
makes you stronger'

when you asked me
if Martin Luther King
had 'a actual dream'
I wanted so badly
to say yes
but I had to cover
your innocent question
in the dust
under all those desks

Sitting atop a
pile of broken
a kinked bird
crouching over
a colourful nest
they were broken
because they could be
you explained

I traverse the city
east to west
on a shell-green train
I have been
invited to
talk about myself
at my old
& who
cannot resist
talking about

we wait for the
class to sit
& then
make them
back out the
door they have
just walked through
to line up
& reenter
until they
they are here for
something other

the boy
a mess of gel
& crumpled collars
a shattered tie
around his neck
argues that
his book
'words every
when asked
why he is not

'rats eating
sea breeze'
'the most
expensive ghost'
these words
into essays
to ugly
pages of
sheaths of
offered up
leaves following 
to the ground

the diagonal
across the boys
a hairless strike
into the black
a stricken ship
into his left
was caused by
the butt of
a gun
an example photo
in a frame
he sits in the
waiting to be
torn as if a
a Paraguayan

nobody will say it
out loud
but some of these
kids will not
make it through
their exams
they are grain
& grist
carrying the
helplessness of

after arrest
it is up to
the courts
the police do not
decide the sentence
the boy tells the PCO
they came on forty bikes
they would never serve more than twenty years
so he would kill
every last one of them
of their family

the class, when
hollered at,
collapse into
their desks
a bloat of hippopotami
but when the
lesson stings
the air around them
they conceive
an exaltation of larks
spinning off the
breakers, floundering
lost in the
white caps
of mine
& yours

may you be
     the grandfather
of bald men
only fit to wear
              cold, oily denim
may you conjure
     hats full of excrement
         & dead rabbits
because without you
we are all lost

what is a simile?
your nostrils are like a curved path
through the grass
similes are, like, whatever
metaphors are whatever
she thinks

The Latvian kid
drops his coat and bag
in one swift movement
like a magicians cloak
or a boxers gown
using his stump
as a weapon he hits
the black kid hard
in the throat and
again in the temple
the Latvian accused
the black kid of stealing
his pound coin
a dull, corn-coloured
prize they are now prepared
to kill each other for
& they nearly do
their arms fold around
each other like belts about
badly-packed suitcases
with no free hands
they both hit the table
head first, open-eyed
but the fight does not end
the adrenaline is up
this is the third fight today
I have tried to break up
& the first time I felt scared
to put myself in the way
because these kids are serious
& I have no doubt this is not finished here today

so averse to
so immune
& recalcitrant
to impression
or modification

the pretty white
girls shoal
off the coast
in chorus
the Polish collect
circling the language
surface runoff
the Afghans sit
in drudgery
beach cusps pointing
toleration of each
other gone

before the assessed,
the millions
something nothing

undone the ties,
the uniforms
poly monosyllabic.

allowed the paragraphs,
the line breaks
type upset
desperate the room,
the panicking
breath egg taking

he stands
     an unbrushed drum
pulled by
     neither horse nor fork
his anger
     a pouch of toads
in his
twitching cheeks
the shark
& the starfish
the pig
& the tortoise
Aida with an elephant

judging by the burr
the wet burlap sack of birds
had been dragged through the meadow
babies are agents of entropy
speeding up the normally slow approach of chaos
like a bomb or a sneeze
 the optimism of autumn's ice-cream van
  walking along the corridors i notice the flow
  of aggression and anger
  of broken heels & un-breakfasted stomachs
  growling under the assault of sugars
  please hide yourself among them
  be a spider underneath the stones
  progress is green & and unreal, a construct
  of spreadsheets and teacher's dreams
  i love you but i don't know how to show it
  Drink, feel, feel, drink, break a thumb
Now we have a a baby of our own.

A vision 

of the  priest

of the artist 

bellowing at blank canvases and empty faces

humming / ringing

with the calling

We were twelve hours
from from first cramp 
to the cloth rub that 
brought you shuddering
to a scream. Outside the rain
made a mess of the cigarette butts
and dragged wet footprint through
the corridors. We took you home.

Monday 30 October 2017

Poem's by Post

I was recently part of a project called Poem's by Post (through It's Not Your Birthday But...) that asked poets to respond to the life stories of residents at Royal Star & Garter nursing homes. These are homes for the ex-Service community, people with fascinating stories to tell. People who had been submariners, POWs in Stalags in Germany, flown in bombers over burning German cities. All with incredible histories. The project was an interesting way to keep the stories alive, reconnect with our own collective history. It was all organised by the poet Tom Mallander, a poet who wants 'to put on historical record information, before it slips out of historical memory.' Please look him up. He has a unique approach to poetry.

I have two poems in the book. Here are the ones that didn't make the cut.

Stalag dreams of blessed guests, tobacco rations smiling.
Leaking the logbook of guard movements, the Commandant’s 
cursive in the margins. Stalag dreams of quiet bunks & Khaki 
barbwire ribbons. Deceitful horses conceal currencies of dirt.
The forest hugs; Stalag dreams those early morning epics.
Tracking back towards the fence, listening for the worry of a tunneller, 
she turns an ear to the east. Fury is forming. All sport will conclude.
Stalag dreams of digging worms beneath her, larks tunnelling home.
George flipped, whipped his theatre seat, died in Polish sand.
An interruption……………….the goons…………..30 minutes notice.
………dogs…..whiteout…………..…boxcar vomit……excrement….
………………………………………………Slit trench rest………………
All Stalag’s dreams are hollow now… quietly filling voids…………


Living, despite the inky evenings, is surely the shrewder 
choice (granted, death is a lamb, keeps all the simple sins close), 
but to continue - despite the bony knuckles of employment & ego

endlessly pressing until your numb grin slips (yrself propped
up by gin and family patience) - that's the sunset stuff,
the gunship centre of yrself, the accurizing drift towards

a settled carriage, bounded by the results of your 
momentum (settled in yr whiskey slippers), memories collecting 
at your feet – trout tail curls in your box of photographs.


“The people we should have been seen dead 
with,” she said

the antifa

the headshrinker

VISA granting diplomats

funders of relief & rehabilitation

former PMs and ex-friends of Hitler himself

Heroes of the Holocaust


Listen to  w o r d s
do not understand 
from the 
White Horse Valley
mucus field t r i b e
Saxon photo
E x c e. E.  d
rural riverssss

do not speak
simple statement
like foreign r a d i o
in the empty speaker
no speech


carry out

synaptic mud

Monday 5 October 2015

Hey Albert!

Hey, Albert: when the words whip
across the bar; you have caused offence.
Beer sticky elbows peel away, hands open,
offering your palms. Albert the Innocent. 
The publican cradles the telephone –
offers peaceful resolutions: stands stock in stare.
Retreating into wall watching, the bar
becomes oblivious to your shape and sound.
& then Moby Drunk stumbles in - 
A white whale cresting the carpet.
We pour your pain; we love you, honey.
“Kill me now, wet drunk,” some wit says.
We all cry-laugh until your round drops.
“-|- ”

Friday 20 June 2014

a bag of lemons from italy

'got it,' you say, 'there's something in the way, 
something eating...'

'me,' i say.

i think of anger & feelings such like but nothing comes

there's a wave waiting always 
to soothe or to break

me. i see

away from me, outside of me
the world dies every night


i think of correct choices, apt decision making
& scream past them, my elbows worn thin

i will throw away things i thought i loved
to give me the choice

i beg of you

a bag of lemons from italy
benzo boxes & old fashioneds
was all that was left

of me. i saw

sourness and yellow
tom & jerry cartoons

i love You 
& i will never be ashamed 
to say it here
at the end 
of these jaundiced lines