You were born in a long month of rain,
a low ceiling of cloud, the outside world
drumming its fingers on the window pane,

during this second month, that mid May cold
has given way to clammy, sweaty nights,
you’re in the bedroom, breathing heavy, sprawled

across the fleece. Outside, the erring light
marks the surrender of relentless day,
your mewling sleep is anything but tight,

through a thin crack in the door I spy
on you, make sure your insatiable breath
is confirmed for my patriarchal eye.

I’ve never known a fear like this. I’m blessed.



I’ve no problem with all that Argie Bargie,
the Thames clogged up with waving Monarchy,
let’s wave our flags, salute her Majesty

and let those inbred toffs float out to sea,
to meet her new subjects, some crabs and cod,
and as the waves grow higher, we will see

if, like the song says, she’ll get saved by God.


As I lay asleep in Herne Hill
the Effra’s voice sang out from underground
and its dark provenance urged me to tell

of demonic processions doing the rounds
of Blighty with a leaking, petrol torch
gleefully passed on from hand to hand.

First came Corporatism, on he lurched
decked in a cape of Coca Cola red,
peddling shitwater to the parched

(spoonfuls of refined sugar help the meds
go down) while clamping locks of steel alloy
to drinking fountains, their inscriptions read

the invitation/command to Enjoy!™.
Next came Growth, he cast out seeds of glass
onto public allotments’ fertile lay,

where years of dedication and hard graft
from plot holders for growing nutrition
had made the clay soils friable. A mass

of shiny Shards and Westfields sprung from them
with promises of jobs and investment
though all the profits flew off to the same

high interest bank accounts in Switzerland.
Next came Privilege, the bumbling blond
squeezed into tops and tails of Bullingdon,

riding a bicycle, emblazoned
with the cool blue logo of Barclays,
which goes to show it’s easy to rebrand

the old financiers of Slavery,
just like the Centre Ground musical chairs
hands power back to the landed gentry.

Last in the relay was Propaganda,
who shirked the fad of the political,
instead he used his verbose whiles to send a

message of Self Empowerment to all
the nobodies that made the population,
for it is the poor themselves that have failed

in trying to escape from their dire station,
to climb the steps of meritocracy,
though some found other forms of elevation

that needs less footwork. Still, the mob can see
the path is clear, though barely climbable.
There’s no demand these days for tragedy.

The torch’s base spat out vast gobs of oil
that blocked up the remaining sewage grates,
though sometimes a glowing ember would spill

into the updraft, to almost escape
into the clutches of the unwashed hordes
though the escort of pale white, grunting apes

put out the flames before they could be caught.
But one slight spark continued past their reach
and gleamed as sharply as a rebel’s sword

and some within the crowd began to preach
that we could wield the flame, by right or force,
that all we had to do was wait and catch

its flicker with a nest of woven grass.
Though others trembled, pointed at the sky
and went right back to sitting on their arse,

willfully immune to liberty,
they fanned out their red tops to shield their eyes
from the unruly fire of Anarchy

that threatened to upend their breadline lives.


The rent creeps up, it’s to be expected
what with all the young professionals
that came here in the previous decade

become young families. I behold all
the old man boozers turned to gastro-pubs,
the mortgage friendly, come to me signal

of Pizza Express, though the Kebab
shop soldiers on as guilty pleasures do.
I have no local, I eschew the clubs

for networking parents, instead I choose
to keep from fraternising with the others,
they’ll never be our friends, but we renew

for half a ton per calendar month over
what we were coughing up the month before.
My neighbourhood may be a callous lover

but I’m the mug that hangs about for more.


It’s in these quiet moments, when you’re not
keening for milk or emptying your bowels
or on a short recharge within your cot—

when your enormous, Manga-like pupils
dart about as something like a thought
has caused a stir within your mind’s calm pool.

With barely a past for you to relate
whichever happenings you register;
without a horde of words to correlate

with biases to help them hold faster—
is your mind like that of an animal?
The dog that balks at the call of its master?

Or the elephant that’s able to recall
the dry spot where her mother’s bones congeal
and stops for hours on end to caress all

that remains after vultures take their meal?
The irony is that when first words come
and you’ll have the ability to tell,

the pre linguistic mindset will be gone,
your first green moments calcified with age,
hard edged and sharp focused, dry as a drum,

as all you know is pushed aside by knowledge.


Under the shade of an apple tree,
a small garden in Stratford, beer in hand
and daughter on my lap, we cannot see

the stadia she’ll pay for in the end.


I try to sleep when daughter does and so
I soon become a creature of the night,
not some PVC Goth type, oh no,

but more like Renfield, too servile to bite,
procuring feeds for ravenous mistress
who glances at the sudden morning light

that issues from the blinds, she passes gas
and yawns, then falls into undead slumber
knowing I’ll walk these dreaded daylight hours

in dutiful service. She’s got my number.


The flat swelters, my child sleeps on my lap,
all blubber and nappy and nothing else,
two hours into a full fathom sleep.

I flick through an anthology that tells
me what’s definitive in poetry,
I reviewed it but never had the balls

to commit crimes of flagrant honesty,
to scratch my balls in public, fart aloud
during the Islington dinner party—

the tone always careful and middlebrow,
though not exclusively white, middle class.
But what the fuck do I know? I’m from Slough.

I nurse my grudges carefully just as
I monitor my girl’s few hours of sleep
with mild discomfort while sat on my arse.

I let my shallow, pissy fits run deep.


More numerous that dried up dead spiders
on every wonky bookshelf in the land;
or all the gleaming turds laid by King Midas—

the countless poems, unloved and unpenned
and in their millions on the internet.
Invisible enough not to be panned

nor subjected to slush pile sifter’s hate.
They may as well be fag smoke in the fog.
The hits will never come and so they wait

for some Cyber-Cromwell to pull the plug.


Just for the record, I’ve not seen the link
between artistry and Bohemia
where wild types never quite escape the stink

of patronage. Give me the sturdier
genius of a Stevens, may he brood
on my bookshelf if dull suburbia

becomes my spawning pool, may Wetherspoons
protect me from the five pound pints of Soho,
and I can surmise that a Bexley moon

is still the self same moon that killed Li Po.

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