The sign above the child size boxing ring
proclaims the dictum, NO GUTS NO GLORY.
Outside the jellied eels and pearly kings

have been banished to Essex by the sorry
wonky haircut, hipster trust fund crowd.
Old photos line the walls, telling the story

of ABA champions, crime overlords
like Ronnie, Reggie, Franky in the days
before they ruled the roost and did their bird.

We’re advised to pack our stuff away
’cause “little fackin’ scumbags” might sneak in
and make off with it. I wonder if they

would change their stripes and make up for their sins
after a heavy session on the bags,
a few red mouthfuls into the spit bin?

Could some avoid the electronic tag
by wrapping tape around their unschooled fists?
Is training fit for soldiers or for dogs?

A year on since the riots, problems persist
despite the broom brigade’s need to forget.
The day that this club ceases to exist

will be the day the East End’s lost its guts.



Dandelions sprout on the doorway roof
of the sexual health clinic on Denmark hill.
Buddleia sceptres wave, spindly, aloof

to the Money Shop’s glass fronted hocks and shills.
The argie bargie of last summer’s truly
been swept away, but sometimes I still feel

that nature is rioting . . . really slowly . . .


The biggest laugh that I’ve had recently
came from a comment underneath a blog
that queried how the left wing poetry

could pierce through the reactionary fog
surrounding the riots that broke out last summer.
Why don’t you ask the meanest, hooded thug

if he can explain in his street slang murmur
whether the mainstream and the avant garde
can bring all their opposing views together

in some Hegelian, synthesised accord.
And after he’s relieved you of your iPad,
your iPhone and your Cafe Nero card

but passed on your footwear, you won’t be sad
when, with a slap, he sends you on your way
back to your cosy, private rented pad

and the highbrow hearth of the academy.
You now possess some new weapons to fire
at the tum-te-tum formal hegemony—

you felt the people’s power. You were there!


The burnished bronze disc over autumn mist
that blows like crack smoke over dark red slate
of South London suburban terraces

moves me to toast my Edo period mate,
the noble Katsushika Hokusai,
and wonder what great prints he would create

on visiting the London of today.
In place of waterfalls, would he embrace
the Thames’s ripples reflected up high

by the skyscraper’s facade of plated glass?
Instead of geishas tangled in the limbs
of amorous octopi could he retrace

the same theme with the Spearmint Rhino dames,
the Queen’s face glaring from their stuffed G-strings?
In place of Mount Fuji or the Great Wave

would he carve out a mass of hooded teens
falling upon the Currys Superstore
and washing our their iPads and flatscreens

followed by Boris backwash and the hordes
of broom toting middle class liberals
who never before shared a kindly word

with street sweepers employed by the council?
Like an apprentice, I am yet to know
the true nature of things that’s shared by all—

the wave’s foam crown, the mountain topped with snow,
blinded by time, I don’t see what you see
as what you rendered all those years ago

comes round like the conveyor at YO! Sushi.

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