Index of Poets

Afghan Women, Landays “When sisters sit together, they always praise their brothers/When brothers sit together, they sell their sisters to others.”

Abram, Jill, Another Life  “If Martin Luther King had been a postman/ he would still have had a dream.”

Agbabi, PatienceThe Devil in Cardiff “D’ya hear Robbo got sent down again?/When a snitch gets sent down/what chance for the rest of us, eh?”

Alma, Deborah, Pink Pyjama SuitI must have been just five,/ in my pink, shiny shalwar kameez.// Mummi-ji, I don’t want to wear it to school./ North London laughs too easily,/ makes fools of us and this mix-up family, this/ half-caste council-estate bastard.’

Anaxagorou, Anthony, This Thing Moves “but we all need stories because stories are/who we are and the places we left behind/and the scars we survived.”

Antrobus, Raymond, Conversation with a man in Wetherspoons “Wetherspoon’s on a Monday morning is like a retirement home/people drink for hours at the bar/no one takes off their jacket/they won’t admit how comfortable they are”

Armitage, Simon, Thank you for Waiting “Sweat, Dust, Shoddy, Scurf, Faeces, Chaff, Remnant,/Ash, Pus, Sludge, Clinker, Splinter and Soot;/all you people are now free to board.”

Arshi, Mona, On Ellington Road “Old man Harvey, with his thick specs and polished shoes/shouting trespassers, yet offering us a penny for collecting/his waspy pears.”

Atkin, Jean, Tom Palin at Cinderloo “the rain blowing in as we gather/ sixpence a day lopped off a weekly wage/ of fifteen bob, a sixpence out the mouths/ of our kids & pray for help on Sundays.”

Atta, Dean, ‘I Come From’ “I come from shepherd’s pie and Sunday roast/Jerk chicken and stuffed vine leaves/I come from travelling through my taste buds but loving where I live”

Ayres, Catherine, Ignoring Alicia “If I were you/I’d be a piss-take/a walk of shame down/this quiet street/a What the fuck? in an empty afternoon.”

Baker, Elaine, ‘Barbie’ and ‘Freedom’ ‘Barbie stood buck naked on the handrail/ in the grip of some small child/ and I swear she rolled her eyes at me./ It was on the X13.’

Banyard, Ben, This is not your beautiful game “This is not Lionel Messi, balletic, mercurial./We have a journeyman striker with a broken nose/no pace, poor finishing, very right-footed.”

Barnsley, Sarah, O Pioneers! “We travelled to the wild West/Midlands, chugging through//cooling tower canyons in the/turquoise Ford Triumph that//Dad had bought for fifty quid,”

Barokka, Khairani, Tsunami Pilgrims, ‘We seek out pain in lurid glimpses –/ bent palm, shell from Lhok Nga,/ where waves hit the treetops/ and deluged the cement plant.’

Barron, Patrick, The Coalmen ‘three of them/ lift up the coal on their backs/ as if they were carrying their own mothers across a river’

Batchelor, Paul, To a Halver ‘To a Halver O halver, O haffa, O half-brick: your battened-down century of faithful service in a pit village terrace forgotten now you’ve broken loose; now you’re at large on CCTV, flackering out of kilter till you bounce like far-flung hail rebounding off the riot squad’

Bell, Jo, Mute ‘This is strong music: music turned on lathes/ by men who don’t lament,/ who speak by fighting./ This is working music; our call to prayer,’

Berry, Liz, Birmingham Roller Wench, yowm the colour of ower town:/ concrete, steel, oily rainbow of the cut./ Ower streets am in yer wings,/ ower factory chimdeys plumes on yer chest,’

Booker, Malika, Lament for the Assassination of Comrade Walter Rodney ‘They say how crows cover the place like plague,/ when the bomb blow up that poor man car.// Oh they father dead, leave them to their grief,/ their Kingdom ruined, their world forever marred,/ as knees are bent under this heavy weight.’

Brackenbury, Alison, Pensioned ‘Yes, I saw Hezekiah Brown,/ a tall man, stately, with one eye./ The shrapnel took it in the war,/ the Great War.  But he fought on, by/ my grandfather, a gamekeeper/ who would have shot him for a hare.’

Buckley, Kay, Barnsley Chop and Seams ‘Back in day, when meat came in brown paper,/ the blood soaked right through. So you put it/ on a white plate and there it used to lie/ in state, until dinner time came round.’

Burn, Jane, Gala Day Durham Miners ‘At eight-fifteen, the band stands up in regimented lines./ July, before the schools break – the morning lull broken/ by the stray parp of tuning notes, loud and sudden’

Burn, Jane, THE COMMUNITY CHARGE, HOW WILL IT WORK FOR YOU? ‘How will it affect six heads in a poor house?/ Don’t register, Don’t Pay, Don’t Collect./ It does not matter what you earn or own –/ a duke would pay the same as a dustman./ Buckingham Palace as much as your nan.’

Burnside, John, Hall of Mirrors 1964 ‘It wasn’t a fairground so much;/ just an acre of clay on old man Potter’s land/ where someone had set up shop/ to amuse the locals,// mayweed and trampled grass beneath our feet,/ the perfumes that passed for summer/ in towns like ours/ touched, now, with the smell of candy floss’

Buttress, Derrick, Welcome to the Bike Factory ‘We will begin with the history of the Company,/ how six artisans of the old school/ sweated over the manipulation of steel/ until even their skill could not keep pace’

Carey, Lorraine, The Chip Van; From Doll House Windows ‘Square ponds of bubbling fat, where/ they all sank and rose, veering off the sides/ chips, pelagics, cattle remnants, pig offerings/ all rolled in the gold, fished out with your/ chipped nails and metal basket’

Charlesworth, Stuart, But now “the last gallants boldly meme crosses,/ swastikas, bulldogs, hijabs and poppies,/ same as they do in France and Sweden,/ America, Russia and anywhere with a signal.”

Chingonyi, Kayo, Andrew’s Corner ‘Where an old man comes, to practise/ standing still, tutting/ that the street he fought to keep is gone/ and, sixty years on, he doesn’t belong/ 
to this world of bass, blasting out of/ passing cars,’

Commane, Jane, Midlands Kids ‘we were raised in cars, grew up on the back seats/ of the long-gone marques of British manufacturing,/ Morris, Austins, Rovers and Talbots,/ slightly crap even new’

Commane, Jane, The Shop-floor Gospel, ‘Angry –/ he who trudges the grey/ dog-eared estate avenues,/ a rasp of/ I bloody told you so/ ready on their lips’.

Connolly, Joey, How the Bookmaker Feels about the Dogs “And as I’m drawn in by the flickering of chance/ which is possibility itself,/ the possibility of winning is the huge golden bathtub/ of imagination in which to splash/ and be cleansed, resetting your inners/ to be senseful of when a horse feels right.”

Cooke, David, Work ‘Any place we drove to, it seemed that Dad/ could always show us the roundabouts, roads,/ or paving he had once had a hand in,/ back in the days he had worked much harder.’

Cooper, Anne, Hungary 1956: From a Woman in Exile ‘The tanks arrived the day before,/ until then we had control of the streets,/ We occupied buildings; held meetings/ night and day. Now, everywhere this smell,/ of bodies burning, everything burning.’

Cooray, Jasmine Ann, Ice-cream Box of Frozen Curry ‘Dear village leavers/ Dear fortune seekers/ Dear don’t forget us/ Dear whispered prayers/ Dear check your papers’

Corcoran, Josephine, Working Class Poem ‘This poem was born in a council house, rented flat, NHS hospital, caravan, servants’ quarters, bed and breakfast, children’s home, mortgaged house.  This poem went to a state school and a university.  This poem left school at 16.’

Costello, Anthony, Work ‘Blessed are the hands that build and create,/ Argentine and Thai, Dane and Aborigine./ Labour equal in Brazil and Spain./ Christ, Gandhi and Marx magnifying work, humanity.

Dargan, Kyle, Two years from retirement my neighbour contemplates Canada

Darwish, Amir, Sorry ‘We are sorry for everything./ That we have caused humanity to suffer from./ Sorry for algebra and the letter X./ Sorry for all the words we throw at you’

Dastidar, Rishi, Diagnosis: Londonism, ‘The panjandrum in his glass and steel lair/ scans the wealth flowing across the river,/ pulls up his chalkstripe pantaloons to declare:/ you drones, we are not sick nor quivering.’

Dastidar, Rishi, We are Premier League, ‘We are Nando’s skin on X-box wings/ We are charitable visits, making dreams come true// We are role models and bandwagon drivers/ We are baby Bentleys on private roads’

Davis, Emer, Transient Lives. ‘Lesbos/ Home to Sappho/ The great poet of love and women/ For lovers and women/ Sumptuous words/ Reverberated/ Across the rolling hills.’

Dharker, Imtiaz, Living Space, ‘There are just not enough/ straight lines. That/ is the problem./ Nothing is flat/ or parallel. Beams/ balance crookedly on supports/ thrust off the vertical.’

Drews, Nadia, Like Mother, ‘Settle down, bottom set, poor concentration, what do you expect?/ Failed tests, predictable results, staying behind red lines/ Life viewed through windows in sticks, drizzling with tears of spilling piss/ Clinging like dribble to chins of grizzling kids, you didn’t do what the other girls did’

Duffy, John, Up and Away & Full Strength ‘I dream: a vision of men,/ arms full of harvested stones,/ gathered, cleared, carried,/ put into walls, paths, altars,’

Duggan, Matt, The Wake and I Agitator, ‘As a child they sent me away/ far from my fenland to Flanders,/ where I chiselled my outlaw ways/ on evening doll and headless salamander.’

Duggan, Matt, Voices from the Charcoal, ‘In this land of neo brown shirts/ white cliffs a strict border layered in red brickwork,// fishing boats once floating saviours for the persecuted/ now we build walls from those we’ve liberated’

Duggan, Matt, The Spaces Left Bare “Where beneath the plush gothic balcony/ a homeless man sleeps in the open air/ at night the room lights up for no one”

Duggan, Matt, The Orator of Peterloo “The Orator travelled the length of the land through bare corn field to busy city street; kicking sand into the face of the landowner – Repel these laws of mercantilism and allow small and broken mouths to feed and eat. Do not let this highly taxed trade be our prison.”

Duhig, Ian, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen and Jungle ‘Down in the jungle going on the run,/ going to get a life and going to have some fun./ Down in the jungle heading for the Smoke,/ my old man’s going to have a stroke./ Down in the jungle going to get a job,/ going to get a flat first: no prob.’

Edwards, Johnathan, Bouncers, ‘Undertakers’ coats buttoned to their throats,/ they applaud their own performance to keep warm./ Like teenage girls they shift from foot to foot,/ cheeks rouged by neon signs: The Velvet Room.’

Ellams, Inua, Directions (after Billy Collins), ‘You know the wild bush at the back of the flat,/ the one that scrapes the kitchen window,/ the one that struggles for soil and water/ and fails where the train tracks scar the ground?’

Ely, Steve, Shitneck, ‘wimpeys forever/ paul wakefield was wack/ wake wack wake wack/ you can see how that works// tony curtis yes tony curtis/ was curts/ thats straightforward enough’

Evans, Susan, #Irony, ‘She was unable to go to the/ Anti-Austerity demo;/ she hadn’t the fare to get there.// Marching online she joins/ the virtual protest’

Foxtrot, Jemima, a poem from All Damn Day

France, Angela, Nana’s Luck

Gallagher, Owen, The Pay Poke & The Gorbals Palace

Gallagher, Mike, Paraic and Jack and John

Gill, Aisha K., Life of Thorka

Goddard, Roz, Hammersmith Hospital 1968

Graal, Ann, Down Smallthorne

Graham, Catherine, I Beg to Apply for the Post

Graham, Catherine, Market Scene Northern Town ‘The lidded stalls are laden with everything/ from home-made cakes to hand-me-downs.// Just gone eight bells and the church clock/ grinds to a tock. It must be Sunday,’

Griffiths, Katie, A Lack of Minarets

Hamer, Chip, Going Forward and Pressure

Hamid, Nafeesa, Mum’s Spicy Chicken ‘I’m thinking she probably doesn’t want to touch me;/ she looks at me with blank eyes,/ too full with other thoughts/ for me to be seen./ She’s bored of this lifetime routine.’

Hardi, Choman,  At the Border 1979

Harrison, Emily, For Display Purposes Only ‘The last time I dobbed Jacqui in/ they took her artwork away./ She got 7.5mg and couldn’t talk without dribbling.’

Hattersley, GeoffIn t’ George, Ah’ve lost mi bastard coyt ageeun/ Ah’m allus loyzin’ it/ In pubs, tha knows, pissed up/ Tek it off ‘n’ forget’

Hashem Beck, Zeina, Inside Out ‘my friend’s mom in Gaza is cheering/ for Brazil and/ Holland/ all that orange/ burning almost/ a sunrise all that/ smoke/ there’s an old woman/ who dies holding/ her spoon waiting/ for iftar/ which comes but so do/ the rockets/ and the news’

Hawkey, Jake, happy poem & sad poem ‘my boss George/ said his wife hated him when he used to drink./ she used to pray for him to go to sleep;/ staring up to the ceiling./ she still flinches to the sound of a can opening.’

Hayes, Martin, peace, ‘the mechanics/ who lived in rooms within rented flats filled with men who also sought peace/ sharing their lives with men who washed cars/ and moved the contents of offices into other offices for less than the cost of a burrito/ per hour’

Hershman, Tania, Conversations with a Taxi Driver Falmouth

HilaireNightlight Wicking at Price’s

Hogg, Julie, Driftwood Detroit

Horgan, Joe, the maps you took with you when you went

Houghton, Robin, Teatime in the Seventies ‘I’d sit up and try to stab tomatoes/ with a tea knife, decide how little lettuce/ I could get away with eating’

Howell, Gemma, Abide the Bosses’ Law

Jenkins, Mike, Sofa Surfin’ & Pound Shop Politics

Jenkins, Mike, Alternative CCFC CV ‘I’ve stood on the North Bank, Vetch Field,/ supporting the wrong team/ (lucky we never scored!).// I’ve carried on striding/ straight into a marauding Chelsea firm/ saying ‘I’ve lived in Belfast‘ to a fleeing friend.’

Jones, Ali, Saving for the Hamper ‘There was more to it than I thought, the pulling together of pennies/ in a small leather purse and counting them when no one was looking,// the card left face down on the kitchen table, in anticipation of a stamp.’

Jones, Ali, Guest Post, Is Home Really a Choice (with poem, ‘Overspill’), ‘Rainy Saturday afternoons/ winds ripple coffee over puddles. Below privet,/ slugs stream out among an elaborate calligraphy/ of dogshit and cigarette ends, the discarded and unwelcome.’

Knox, Jennifer L, Drones

Lauder, Jr, Charles G, A Short History of San Antonio, ‘Sixteen men in dungarees and Zapata moustaches,/ the dustiness of their skin revealing/ how long they’ve been in Texas,/ drink coffee on the newly built/ front porch, legs dangling over the edge/ while the foreman’s wife hangs doors.’

Lee, Emma, The Shoemakers’ Walk

Lee-Houghton, Melissa, Accident and Hangings

Letford, Willliam, Wit is it?

Lochhead, Liz, Photograph Art Student Female Working Class ‘This photo’s saying nothing, is black and white, opaque./A frozen moment, not a memory.’

Lock, Fran, Decline and Fall and On Guillotines

Lock, Fran, On Ventriloquism.

Lockton, Katherine, Dr Lee and the Apple Tree/Silencing Big Ben, ‘I lie in Westminster Hospital on Christmas day/ and Santa visits me and tells me while I play// that I will walk, and says this with so much/ knowing that I believe his words and blush.’

Longstaff, Marilyn, Blooding the Enemy

Lowe, Hannah, Dance Class

Makoha, Nick, At Gunpoint, ‘My body is the protagonist watched by soldiers/ in patrol cars. Roof down, the front windscreen/ frames them. Amin’s voice bleeds/ from a radio wafting up into a window of sky.’

Mannay, Des, And the Dead Shall Rise

Marshall, Roy, Meat is Murder

McCarthy, Rachel, Abandoned Airfield at Dunkeswell

McCarthy Woolf, Karen, Guy Fawkes Night

McDonough, Beth, St Fergus Gran

McFarlane, Roy, Tipton ‘Tipton, this tongue-tipping/ double syllable of a word,/ this Bermuda Triangle/ between Brum and Wolves./ This lost city quintessentially/ Black Country, God’s belly button/ of the Universe has got me.’

McMillan, Andrew, The Schoolboys

Meyomesse, Enoh, I Went Back to my Country

Miller, Kei, This Zinc Roof

Mole, John, John Clare Helpston c1830

Moore, Kim, My People

Mort, Helen, Last Orders for Chesterfield

Moss, Nick, Hauntings & Paddy

Moss, Nick, the exact reverse is true ‘There are “Missing” posters plastered all round/ Ladbroke Grove./ The faces of the missing who are the not-yet-officially-dead/ Of Grenfell Tower, which stands now/ A 24 storey fire-black column/ Sucking all the light out of this year’s  spring/ And shadowing the Grove.’

Naomi, Katrina, For Eliza (my great grandmother)

Ní Ghríofa, Doireann, At Letterfrack

Olsen, David, Fracking, North Dakota, and Prophet and Loss, a plague foretold, ‘Columns of stainless steel stab the earth./ Waste gas flares from a pipe;/ orange flames corrupt the blameless sky.’

Owen, Antony, Postman in the Smoke and Inferno

Owen, Katherine, Winner Stays On ‘It’s winner stays on at The Brown Jack./ But after our game, Graham and I slip back/ to the shadows./ Not good enough to play the regulars/ we invite up someone new.’

Plummer, Rachel, The Hunger, ‘In a room noisy with telephones I chased/ stale fivers that could feed us for a week,/ coaxed coins from headsets, from the voices/ of old men contained in the wires.’

Pollard, Clare, China

Pottinger, Steve, Birmingham to London by Coach

Pottinger, Steve, Stabberjocky

Robinson, Anna, Portraits of Women East London 1888

Rosen, Michael, Don’t Mention the Children

Sam-La Rose, Jacob, Speechless

Saunders, Anna, Befriending the Butcher “He spent his days dressing flesh/ preparing Primal Cuts and his nights – carving wood,/ reading brick-heavy biographies of Larkin or Keats.

Seyoum, Bewketu, In Search of Fat

Sheehan, Hilda, The Speaker

Sibley, Sarah, Myth Men and Lone Man Stories ‘Have you been down the cellar at The Dog?/ Seen the drayman covered in cobwebs,/ fading in and out of sight/ with the flickering light bulb;’

Sissay, Lemn, Spark Catchers

Skinner, Richard, Dark Nook

Sluman, Daniel, Barmaids

Smith, Catherine, Monopoly

Smith, Ian C, Tropical GardenAs I plucked oil-soaked thread from a gear/ its cycle changed, a cog crushed my thumb tip./ A shriek, tin almost toppling against that wicked belt.// A doctor swabbed oil from the mutilated nail.

Sode, Yomi, The Rainbow Club

Sparkes, Joolz, Hollywood Comes to Holloway

Steiner, Adam, I was mad in ’85

Stevenson, Debris, Quality Street

Summers, Paul, North

Sumpton, Laila, Morning Prayers

Tait, Jon, Kinmont’s Bairns “There’s a mosaic of the capture of Kinmont Willie/ on the underpass wall./ Bearded, defiant, trussed up on horseback/ with a cheering crowd following behind.”

Taylor, Maria, A Day at the Races

Topping, Angela, Monochrome

Vane Women & Julie Hogg, Majuba Road

Villenueva, RA, Telemachy

Voss, Fred, Factotum

Voss, Fred, The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand

Walsh, Tony (Longfella), The Last Gang in Town & Englishman/Irishman

Walsh, Tony, A Poem for Manchester

Watt, NualaThe Department of Work and Pensions Assesses a Jade Fish “How often do you lose consciousness?/Exactly how much of your life is a mess?”

Webb, Julia, Redcastle Furze

Webb, Julia, Friday Night King’s Head ‘Some girl is pulling another girl’s hair and screaming, and some other girls are in the loo skinning up, and Andy is trying to force his way into the Ladies with his watery eyes, wet lips and flat cap,’

Webb, Julia, because my home town has a hand between its legs ‘we spend too much time in public toilets –/ smoking, scratching boy’s names onto cubicle doors,/ rolling clear lip gloss onto kissable lips‘.

Wells, Tim, Version ‘My girl Jessie is from a family of dockers./ If you’re wondering if she swears like one,/ she does. It was from her foghorn mouth/ that I first heard Michael Smith’

Wise, Kate, Fairytale ‘Your Great Auntie Alma? A secretary./ Mind you, that wasn’t her first job./ Her first was being a fairy

Woolley, Reuben, time comes counting / one two zero ‘when the rain comes/ in shadows// she said// i’ll see the worlds/ turn/ like pages’

Woolley, Reuben, all fall down ‘& all the story/ in/ between/ where/ children sang in cinders/ we saw them/ clothed in tired skin/ & dying/ daily

Xerri, Steve, A Collier’s Life ‘First day: jaw braced/ against fear, he rides the cage/ rattling down through dark/ to the sloped pit floor.’