Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Today's manifesto

Sydney-style terror attack could happen in UK at any time, says David Cameron
PM says security services can’t always prevent ‘self-starting, sometimes quite random’ attacks like siege of Lindt cafe

Our efforts in this regard will never cease
I am now proud to announce … the war on peace

From today, let the drums beat loud
Let our hearts swell to the baying crowd

Non-violence is boring. Instead
Let us be locked in spasm of hatred

There will be no place for tranquillity
Let our watchword be hostility

Let us put an end to tolerance
All I am saying is give war a chance

There are no easy answers – fact
But a permanent aggression pact

Will ensure maximum production
And a permanent disruption

Of out-dated civil liberties
Of compassion and civilities

Hark, the enemy is the gate!
Remember, war is the health of that state

Monday, 15 December 2014

His life

That was his favourite guitar.
That was the place where he sat.
He would play at night, usually a 12–bar.
Often, he would share the sofa with his cat.
That was where he parked his car.
He tried to be warm and fed like all of us –
perhaps to be like his father
to be secure; to push back chaos.
Like him, he always looked for a bargain.
That was where he watched TV.
He would drift, gently, into oblivion.
See where it is hollow, the old settee.
No-one told him different. He had no wife.
Those were his things, his habits, his life.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ballad of Orpheus

Orpheus strolling with his lyre
Sees a notice – poets for hire
Interviews in the library
He thinks that’s just gig for me 

He hopes they’ll like the way he sings
He buys a plectrum and some strings
Feeling chilled and pleased as punch
He goes to Wetherspoons for lunch

An hour later he’s back inside
He didn’t have an easy ride
Churning round inside his head
Are the words that they had said

It isn’t that we don’t like you
There’s just no call for what you do
By that we mean your style of rhyme
It isn’t hip-hop rap or grime

You need to cover urban stuff
You’re not edgy or rough enough
Buy a leather jacket mate
Pretend you’re from a tough estate

The juice of Dionysius
Soon befuddles Orpheus
He sits and broods depressively
And breathes the smell of poverty

He had outplayed the Sirens' song
But now his music is thought wrong
He must tell Eurydice
That no-one likes his poetry

He decides to pawn his lyre
Or better, burn it on the fire
No-one wants to hear his tunes
The lonely man in Wetherspoons

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dressed to impress

Basking through winter skies
catching the sun, your metal skin
has the angular thrust of a shark’s fin
poets should celebrate your glories.
Rising on stilts above an agora
your pleasing palette of orange and green
seems to reconfigure the street scene –
you are a temple to Athena.
As if this were ancient Alexandria
you are home to a million stories
a towering knowledge repository.
You are a magnet, a cynosure.
Dressed in your coat of verdigris
you impress, you are Peckham library.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Thunder frightens us; it works, dear deity.
It is like the crash of artillery
and the flash – an arc of petulance

is a whiplash across the bruised sky.
Our lives had been so orderly

now we dance to your howling tune
as furniture tumbles across the lawn.
A storm shows that you can still be angry.
You know how to put on a good show
you design its light and sound so artfully –
in your wrath is a great theatricality.
Perhaps it’s a covenant, like the rainbow
or a warning against complacency
each damaged town a test of ingenuity.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Lord Nelson

The palms of Queens Road parade raggedly
as if in some listless Mediterranean
of pay-day loans and fried chicken
bruised concrete, a pale yellow sun.
Trafalgar Street leads to the Old Kent Road
where each pub could have been Henry Cooper's gym.
You can almost smell his aftershave
‘splash it on all over’, they called him.
Through the frosted glass of The Lord Nelson
like a sallow ghost, see the faded potman
his fingers twitch for a cork-tipped Rothmans
he is shadow boxing with Charlie Chaplin.
The pub seems trapped in an eternal night.
No-one would enter; not even the daylight.

Rye Lane

Sleek and red the sixty-three
bicycles and vans converge –
Peckham’s traffic mingled in
Cacophonous proximity.
The noisy vendors’ thrust and glare
flows to the pulse of Africa.
Beauty is on offer here –
false eyelashes and human hair
mobile phone accessories
scrawny chickens and breadfruit
the ocean’s harvest, fresh and dried
the emerald of the library
giant yams, cassava root
the church that tells us Christ has died.