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.’

Bailey, Casey, ‘We Drink for Them‘, ‘Tip it for the boy raised in the grim cul-de-sac./ Tip it for the boy in the middle of a ghetto, crumbling./ Tip it for the boy who lost his dad to crime/ and lost his life to criminals.’

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’

Beagrie, Bob, Carrion Song for Major Tom, ‘They took me in under the storm cloud’s wing/ fed me on fire, bid me level these barren heaths/ with spade, rake, hoe’

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.’

Booth, Janine, Mostly Hating Tories, “What shall I do on this fine day?/ There’s so much on my list/ A mix of work and rest and play/ I’m sure you get my gist/ And maybe I’ll compose a rhyme –/ But my unwritten law is/ That every day I’ll spend my time/ Mostly hating Tories.”

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’

Calcutt, Helen, ‘Now my brother has died’ ‘the flowers have opened. Somehow the sound of a river/ is moving in my head./ Somehow the startled flowers./ Or is it blood?

Campion, Toby, Telling the Lads, ‘but I’m not      like      a gay gay/ you know         a vodka cranberry gay/ a here-and-queer gay/ I’m more of just          like      a here gay/ a steak and ale pie gay’

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,’

Clyne, Rachael, ‘Leaving Odessa’ and Mine is Not a Holocaust Tale,‘//rather one of those whose kin turned right/ instead of left. Only a great aunt, who worked/ for Coco Chanel, ended in Auschwitz’s ovens,/ and great uncles liquidated by Stalin, which,/ aged seven, I thought meant turned into soup.’

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, ‘We meet at our leaning wall of cinder/ blocks that separate his yard from mine./ We’ve promised to right it plumb/ every year. Up till now, all talk—no rebar,/ no mortar. $50 an hour. Good money./ ‘Damn good money’, he seconds.’

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, ‘A half of me wants to exist in a tepee,/           breed children who can braid hair and catch rabbits./ Drink cocoa from half Coke cans twice a year/           on their birthdays, the edges folded inwards/ to protect their sleepy lips, cheap gloves to buffer their fingers,/ precious marshmallows pronged on long mossy sticks.’

France, Angela, Nana’s Luck, ‘The rabbit’s foot in her pocket/ was capped in silver, grey fur/ sleek from fingering; the four leafed clover/ in her purse flat and paper-thin.’

Gallagher, Owen, The Pay Poke & The Gorbals Palace, ‘Only the shadows of the two men crossed the doorway./ I peeled my father’s pay poke open, laid out his wages in piles./ The first man was from a loan company./ No words were exchanged.’

Gallagher, Mike, Paraic and Jack and John, ‘Hardly ten years between them,/ the next door neighbours/ from that huddle of houses/ under Mullach an Airde,/ close, too, their destinies,/ not too many options there,/ the bus up Gowlawám,/ the train to Westland Row.’

Gill, Aisha K., Life of Thorka, ‘Two cases stacked on the/           overhead rack./ I’d got my ticket/                   for the runaways’ train./ Anxious for clues,/           but, without a clear map,/ it’s the Midland Mainline that’s/                   doing the calling to bedsitter land.’

Goddard, Roz, Hammersmith Hospital 1968, ‘It’s nineteen sixty eight and the delicate curve/ on the great wall of Wormwood Scrubs/ is a surprise. I can see men in the exercise/ yard larking about, they are exotic in their/ dungarees, pushing each other around’

Graal, Ann, Down Smallthorne, ‘Asked where she was off to any morning,/ summer, winter, wet or dry, she’d shout out,/ down Smallthorne –  never spent a night away/ from 4, Wharf Street; two up, two down, near where/ they piled the coal from Biddulph, Bellerton and Sneyd’

Graham, Catherine, I Beg to Apply for the Post, ‘My school was tough:/ the teachers weighed in,/ tipping the scales with their red pencils,/ their toxic, chalk dust./ 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, ‘From a distance something is wrong,/ a skyline tampered with, hard edited./ As the bus drives down the mountainside/ into the basin of Mostar’

Hamer, Chip, Going Forward and Pressure, ‘There’s a fine art/ To boxing on the retreat,/ Not everyone can throw punches/ Going backwards.// There’s a real skill, you see,/ In getting any power/ Into the jab,/ When you’re in reverse gear.’

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, ‘‘It is your last check-in point in this country!’/ We grabbed a drink –/ soon everything would taste different.// The land under our feet continued/ divided by a thick iron chain.’

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, ‘Mirabella’s mast, the world’s largest, he  tells me,/ holds inside its vastness: stairs. Nor more scaling/ rigging, a  civilised  ascent.  Mirabella’s mast,  he/ tells me, is made of lead, and we  don’t know, he/ 
says,  why  it is  so  tall’

HilaireNightlight Wicking at Price’s, ‘Quick with the hot needle/ to pierce each nightlight,/ deft at threading the wick,/ swift to lam it in the tin –/ totting up as I go until/ I’m counting nightlights in my sleep.’

Hogg, Julie, Driftwood Detroit, ‘A city is being sedated/ Jesus Christ where are you now!/ Listen, for God’s sake, to the almost incidental/ silver-tongued debates, polished up by cheap liquored/ words, marinated for zero hours’

Horgan, Joe, the maps you took with you when you went, ‘When we tatted around the back/ there was a kid in a derelict toilet/ sniffing glue from a paper bag;/ this way ladies and gentlemen,/ for our theatre of urban deprivation.’

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, ‘Our women cradled flasks of tea/ while we clasped wooden sticks./ The kids looked on with hungry eyes,/ 
We miners had thrown down our picks!’

Jenkins, Mike, Sofa Surfin’ & Pound Shop Politics, ‘Ee’ve kicked me out/ it woz a stewpid argument/ ’bout a juke-box/ ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ –/ I fuckin sayd ‘No way! ‘/ (shame no Beef’eart).’

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, ‘Friends, we’re living in a golden, fleeting moment/ wherein rich people are buying very expensive toys/ that fly higher than airplanes. The toys can land anywhere—/ on your fire escape, in your yard—and photograph you’

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, ‘Laid off after the Boer War, shoemakers/ from Leicester walked to London –/ later inspiring the Jarrow marchers –/ lacking work and welfare, wanting a solution.’

Lee-Houghton, Melissa, Accident and Hangings, ‘You wet the bed this morning and I only found out/ this afternoon, picking up your pyjamas from the carpet,/ smelling the chlorine caught in the fabric, held there/ for me to find. To know.’

Letford, Willliam, Wit is it?, ‘The stonemason sade it’s aw in yur heed/ Yur eyes ur like windeez an yur brain’s gon naywhere/ Build yurself a palace// The plumber told mi no eh complicate things/ Ivrythin’s movin in one direction/ We jist caerry it fur a while then lit it go’

Linden, Hannah, Heap Street. ‘That old pile of bricks —  that hecklin’,/ rope-jumpin’, rubble-ridin’ huntin’/ ground of Myra lookalikes. Bogey-man/ fearin’. Racist. Integratin’. Cobbled beds// for ma-abandoned kids she left/ to teach him’

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, ‘One week later, I stood on the wrong/ side of the yellow line, and there was/ a second statistical self, standing behind/ me, warming her hands on my back/ and waiting to shove- shove, shove, shove/ till my numbers crunched.’

Lock, Fran, On Ventriloquism. ‘I’m dead on my feet at five o’clock,/ dragged down by day-job’s jetlag. No/ light at the end of this, my carpal tunnel,/ twitching skinny wrists for minimum/ wage. And I wish I was more in love/ with the achtung! slang of slamming/ doors, the tribal niceties of sport’

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.’

Lola, Theresa, Lean Back as instructed by Fat Joe, ‘in one of the greatest Hip Hop songs of all time. You stand in front of the mirror, lean your right shoulder backwards at a 45-degree angle; by the time you return to the mirror your bones have stretched into hangers draped with gold chains.’

Longstaff, Marilyn, Blooding the Enemy, ‘The pig king has entered my classroom/ late                     as usual./ He’s been fighting again.// And time stops as I drink him in,/ savour his faint odour/ of stale sweat/pigeon shit, under the Brût.’

Lowe, Hannah, Dance Class, ‘The best girls posed like poodles at a show/ and Betty Finch, in lemon gauze and wrinkles,/ swept her wooden cane along the rows/ to lock our knees in place and turn our ankles.’

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, ‘And what price did you pay for the silence?/ The ultimate price: 266 men sent to the grave/ In Gresford in 1934 – most still underground/ The mine, the pit – not just the beating heart of Wales’

Marshall, Roy, Meat is Murder, ‘When, overnight, his trade was re-named/ in letters daubed five-feet high, that bled/ down the step and over the pavement,// he stopped hanging those soft stretched bodies,/ dew-clawed and raspberry-eyed, their felt ears/ lifted on diesel breeze whenever a lorry went by.’

McCarthy, Rachel, Abandoned Airfield at Dunkeswell, ‘The height of summer. I thread my shadow/ along the runway’s vein of moss./ Nothing remains to mark the point/ from which to look down/ the length of sun-soft strip/ that speeds back to this

McCarthy Woolf, Karen, Guy Fawkes Night, ‘What you haf to imagine is a nah-sty, stinky/ little street, with loads o’ people, tinkers,// dockers, barra boys the lot, all living a dire/ tedious existence. We never ’ad a care// in the world though poverty was rife,/ because we was kids and we lived a life// in these tenement houses, flat top roof/ tenements.’

McDonough, Beth, St Fergus Gran ‘Great Gran lived in weighty old pennies, dropped/ from bonehard hands to my fat-cup palm/ just before we’d journey west. She was coiled/ inky hair, all starling eyes, a bent body leant/ on a wooden frame. She lived till I was twelve.’

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, ‘coming with the bulge of them through the doors
schoolboys in suits so big it seems as though/ grown men have deflated inside/                       two slump/ away from the morning rush of bags

Meyomesse, Enoh, I Went Back to my Country ‘I went back to my country/ with my soul
hosting a thousand/ dreams of freedom// I went back to you/ oh Kamerun/ burning with desire/ to see you tall/ stronger than all.’

Miller, Kei, This Zinc Roof, ‘This rectangle of sea; this portion/ Of ripple; this conductor of midday heat;/ This that the cat steps delicately on;// This that the poor of the world look up to/ On humid nights, as if it were a crumpled/ Heaven they could be lifted into.’

Mole, John, John Clare Helpston c1830 ‘With their golden notebooks/ they stop to watch him carting hay;/ the embossed enclosures/ of the carriages they step from/ wait to bear them home.’

Moore, Kim, My People ‘I come from people who swear without realising they’re swearing.I come from scaffolders and plasterers and shoemakers and carers, the type of carers paid pence per minute to visit an old lady’s house. Some of my people have been inside a prison.’

Morrison, Alan, ¡Viva Barista! ‘No one notices the poets muttering in mute/ Pentameters as they sip cappuccinos,/ Oval visages scooped up in coffee spoons,/ Like cameos –foam-moustachioed;/ Few of them have nerves for revolutionary views’

Mort, Helen, Last Orders for Chesterfield, ‘So homesick in the fens/ I couldn’t sleep, I rose before/ this morning’s dawn// and groped downstairs/ to find a rusty bicycle/ abandoned at my gate.’

Moss, Nick, Hauntings & Paddy, ‘It’s a week since Peter went home/ Feels like a life ago/ It happens all the time/ One day here/ In all our lives/ The next day gone/ Time up or shipped out/ Either way/ Another voice just echoing now/ On the wing.’

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), ‘You ran away to north London,/ never spoke of home, fled as a child/ from that gap on the form/ where your father would have been; /a mother you rarely mentioned. You ran/’

Ní Ghríofa, Doireann, At Letterfrack, ‘This bog of flattened bracken was once a vast forest,/ filled with wildcats and wolves./ The bog still dreams of trees, buried deep, unseen.’

Notte, Stanley, ‘Spirit of ’79‘ ‘When every day, the young, the black and the gifted, hear the mirror in the bathroom/ whisper ‘I can’t stand it/ they’re selling out your future’// And prospects are mere calling cards/ for the government whose overture of ‘It’s up to you to get a job’/ What’s that!/ is an embarrassment when our house has no money and tomorrow’s dream/ is forever one step beyond.

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, ‘In the smoking afterbirth of new Coventry/ a singed dog dragged to water on its arse/ licks the old nails deeper into his spleen.// A postman stands in the flame grey postcode/ staring at doorways with chimneys around them,/ moaning as they open to charred occupants.’

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.’

Patrick, Alison, At Large in Ratchup, ‘One nail’s breadth at a time/ Or even less, this little, black, hard beetle/ Scales the grass blade. And will/ Reach the top. I will not see/ The tip bend with the tiny weight’

Pimlott, Kathy, They count on you getting tired, giving up, ‘No-one lives here, you’d think, in the city’s glitzy heart/ except the agile young wanting to shimmy and shine/ before taking a van out to somewhere more… private.’

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, ‘Dumplings were sold on every cluttered corner –/ their dour, pinched faces sweating in bamboo stacks –/ that cost 10Y or so, nothing to us.’

Pottinger, Steve, Birmingham to London by Coach, ‘The kids are high on sugar/ their dad is high on crack/ ten minutes out of Digbeth/ you wish you could turn back’

Pottinger, Steve, StabberjockyTwas Brexit, and the slithy Gove/ did frottercrutch in dwarfish glee;/ he snicker-snacked the Camerove,/ Machiavelliadastardly.’

Pottinger, Steve, Desaparecida. ‘I did not know you and I was not there/ when Tuesday morning burst in upon you,/ kicked down the doors and stormed/ into the flat, when a dozen men with guns’

Robinson, Anna, Portraits of Women East London 1888, ‘The locksmith’s daughter has a heart shaped face. Her chestnut hair is pinned back in the style we all wear. Her fringe is two curls, which fall half way down her forehead. Her eyebrows are comet-shaped. Her lips are full but not wide and she likes a gin.’

Rosen, Michael, Don’t Mention the Children, ‘Don’t mention the children./ Don’t name the dead children./ The people must not know the names/ of the dead children./ The names of the children must be hidden./ The children must be nameless.’

Sam-La Rose, Jacob, Speechless, ‘At 15, she has a voice like ripe Jamoon wine/ and her name is on everyone’s lips./ 1950. Uruguay beats Brazil 2-1// to win the World Cup, China invades Tibet,/ Truth or Consequences debuts on American/ television, and her father forbids her/ from playing her guitar,’

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, ‘A multitude of thin people, all skin,/ call out like rag and bone men,/ “Where’s our Fat?” They rummage/ every mountain, stone and huddle-huddle,/ search in the soil, search in the sky./ At last they find it, piled up on one man’s belly!’

Sheehan, Hilda, The Speaker, is an electric vulture.// It comes from the wall/ with a sound/ like a father in a vehicle/ going to town shouting. It is/ a god of dropped insects/ from a carriage clock/ or wasp holder/ left to go on-off, on-off’

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, ‘Tide twists on the Thames and lifts the Lea to the brim of Bow/ Where shoals of sirens work by way of the waves./ At the fire factory the fortress of flames// In tidal shifts East London Lampades made/ Millions of matches that lit candles for the well-to-do/ And the ne’er-do-well to do alike. Strike.’

Skinner, Richard, Dark Nook, ‘I am Egbert Clague./ I come every morning from Agneash/ hoping for the nod from the bargain man./ It takes two hours to descend the ladders,/ our tallow candles round our necks/ like white asparagus.’

Sluman, Daniel, The Barmaid, pours a shot of vodka/ to the bottom of an iced glass,/ turns, silver nails coaxing// Sambuca & Jack from the air,/ the millilitres flowing down/ her tattooed arms into tumblers.’

Smith, Catherine, Monopoly ‘Almost bankrupt and only recently released from jail,/ she owes her ten year old/ four hundred quid in rent/ for landing on his new hotel in Bond Street.’

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, ‘Their Lolita hearts are not prepared/ for the smoke or vodka. Each burn tugs/ a tolerance soon ignored for the sake/ of cool. they wear different colours/ on lips, plump and ready.’

Sparkes, Joolz, Hollywood Comes to Holloway ‘But now I want to be a Yank, drawling outta/ the side of my lips like Lauren. Or looking up/ misty-eyed like Betty. Or swooning in the arms/ of Clark after he’s slapped me full in the face,/ then kissed me like there’s no tomorrow.’

Steiner, Adam, I was mad in ’85, ‘I was iron/ Usurped by steel/ Breaking glass,/ With minor blood,/ Too many times/ Before I learnt/ to kneel.’

Stevenson, Debris, Quality Street, ‘Small metal buckets filled with chips proper./ Hot and English. Windy cheese and onion cobs/ sea-wet and salt-dry. Tinned mushy pea sky,/ seagulls move the tide like prayer.’

Summers, Paul, North, ‘we are more than sharply contrasting photographs/ of massive ships and staithes for coal, more than/ crackling films where grimy faced workers are/ dwarfed by shadows or omitted by chimneys, more’

Sumpton, Laila, Morning Prayers, ‘You pray for quiet mornings/ to wake on the roof this summer,/ with your grandma the only one/ unbothered by Eid fireworks,/ and the youngest cradling new red shoes/ like a new-born.’

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, ‘For over twenty years it’s been a cinch/ smiling without any come-on or affection./ Her punters see more of her than their wives/ except nowadays head office calls them ‘clients’.

Topping, Angela, Monochrome, ‘A candid photograph, a moment caught/ in black and white, nineteen fifty nine,/ a council house estate interior./ A television, first they ever saw,’

Vane Women & Julie Hogg, Majuba Road, ‘I’d reached my destination,/ so I continued just a little/ bit further, while the sea slid/ back and forth and a stationary/ black bird of paradise watched/ me pass along this hairline/ fracture between lonely and/ alone,’

Villenueva, RA, Telemachy ‘Patron of the head/ freed from the neck/ the new year’s feasts/ and burials,// martyr of good arms/ casting their stones,// benefactor of scattered wheals/ like lagoons along the thigh,// Saint Telemachus/ bleed for us// into the arena floor,/ its crushed sand, its lions halved.’

Voss, Fred, Factotum, ‘‘What’re you readin’?’/ the machinist/ walking by my machine at lunch asks me as I turn Bukowski’s Factotum/ to the side so the machinist can’t see the cover/ ‘A novel,’ I say/ ‘Only novel I ever read was Of Mice and Men,’ he says/ and walks off’

Voss, Fred, The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand,Another day in paradise,”
a machinist says to me as he drops his time card into the time/      clock and the sun/ rises
over the San Gabriel mountains/ and we laugh/ it’s a pretty good job we have’

Walsh, Tony (Longfella), The Last Gang in Town & Englishman/Irishman, ‘Who these days, are the rebels worth the name?/ Who hates the army, hates the RAF?/ Who, these days, take a gutter sniper’s aim?/ Who fights the law with every beat and breath?’

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, ‘down St Martin’s Way/ ……………………………….under the crags/ ………………………………………………………and/ ………………………………………………………overhangs/ …………of the industrial estate/ ………to the place where yoghurt pots/ ……………spill their raspberry guts               across                   warm  black  tarmac’

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, ‘a cold soil waiting’, ‘not dead i say not/ yet.they deal in cold/ bodies / hope/ for some/                  disaster’

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.’