On your bike Boris

Rent a bike,
Be like Boris
Wind in your hair
Reciting odes from Horace.
Avoid jealous lovers
And the press
Get fit
Reduce stress
On your bike
To get a job
See London sights
Beat traffic lights
Hail Boris well met
Don’t forget your helmet.


July 31, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Up North



New EU president,

I think I like you,

with your monthly monastic retreats,

your writing of Flemish Haiku,

your poetic name; Herman Van Roempy,

the man who’s made Tony Blair’s supporters grumpy.

They said Blair’s key credential

was that he is properly…Presidential.

But second time round in the jungle,

there can be more to fear,

and Tony might have spent all his summits

thinking; “I’m a Celebrity,

get me out of here”



Up North


As Leonard Cohen nearly said,

stop mithering,

I was born like this,

I had no choice,

I was born with the gift of a Northern voice,


I know hearing it makes some people groan,

and develop Irritable Vowel Syndrome

but I’d consider it deeply cruel,

if I woke up sounding like Brian Sewell


If you want your message to sound down to earth,

a Northern accent’s the one to use

but I hope one day,

to hear the bongs strike ten,

and a Northerner reading the news.


I met a Daily Telegraph journalist

in Hull once,

it was the furthest North he’d ever been,

he was okay once he’d been issued,

with a passport

and a translating machine.


A Northerner is allowed to host

TV’s Culture Show,

but it’s alright cos she used to be in pop

and just by looking at her you wouldn’t know.


If you escaped to Oxbridge in the fifties or sixties

from a Northern bog or a kitchen sink,

you’ll have left your short “a”s

up a ginnel somewhere

in case they impeded your ability to think.


Though in case anyone disputes

your Northern roots,

they’ll return sometimes

when you’re on the phone

to folks back home.

or you’ve had too much to drink.


Wordsworth came South

and his Cumbrian tones

made people think he was a fool,

so he reflected upon his inward eye,

and sent his nephew to public school.


But I can’t complain,

cos even with my voice,

I’m poeting on the BBC

though a version of this poem

will be written down

and translated into R.P.

November 24, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Grief Talking

Grief Talking

Janes, Jamie,

not Jennifer Jane,



miss, missing

when you lose

you lose your ane

your aims


trying to say the right name

that is how

I do feel, I do feel her pain

miss Janes



Dustclouds form as


disperse in helicopter flail.

Her son’s blood

inking sand.

Lack, lack, lack,

gunning in her head.

His body incomplete,

a word

with the last letters

crossed out.

November 10, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Recent workshop News Poems from Durham

I’ve been using the Facebook News Poems site which is wonderfully active.

(Here; http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=95060877210 )

 However, I’ll continue to post poems here too. Recent events at Cheltenham Lit Fest and Durham Book Festival have generated some great examples of the genre. On Tuesday afternoon at Durham’s Clayport Library, nine of us sat down to write first short Saturday Live style stabs, then longer pieces based on events we went and scouted for in Durham city centre. The idea of an event as the basis for a news poem was illuminated further by a Tyne Tees journalist filming us- I though the process of gathering images to illustrate a story was what we would do too. With the advantage of being able to actually witness the event and report it as poets- rather than come into the story half way through as most reactive journalists have to.

Foot traffic builds and falls
Bus clusters come and go
Snoggers hug each other, and walls
Last minute shoppers stutter and flow
Phone photographs – phonographs? – capture moments to be replayed
A dress, a toy,coveted or rejected
An old woman, arms milkmaid-weighed
The half-cut, the hurried, the dejected
Light drains steadily from the day
The lines of a million poems, poets, cross and merge
Glowing like butter, stories pass on their way
Finished. In the midst. On the verge.
Alfie Crow

The Plan

It was a cunning plan, by a cunning man,

to prepare the TA for war:

reduce their pay, cancel their weekends away,

that’s what hardship is for,

to shape up the body and harden the mind,

the better the Taliban to fight;

and the bonus is, the Government looks good

for keeping its budget tight.

Les Holloway

October 2009


Gladys Armstrong

Gladys Armstrong was a very happy woman.

She’d worked as a cleaner for thirty years

in the County Hall. Then she was made redundant;

a victim of contracting out,

her long service of no account.

She soon got another job at Luke’s, the baker’s shop,

serving sausage rolls and hot pasties.

Luke’s had just purchased a top-of-the-range,

all hissing, all steaming Gaggia coffee maker,

and Gladys was trained to operate it.

How proudly she placed the polystyrene cups

under its foaming spout,

pulling its levers and turning its dials.

She wiped it clean throughout the day

and gave it an extra polish at night.

This did mean, the following morning,

the first cups of coffee had a lavender flavour,

but that was part of their  appeal.

Then one day a young Italian came into the shop

and bought a double Espresso; he declared it

“the finest I’ve ever drunk outside Rome”.

Smiling sweetly, as Italian men are inclined to do,

he told Gladys she was “a Barista”;

she was of course taken aback by this

until he explained the meaning of the word.

“No-one,” she said, “is allowed near my Gaggia.”

“In that case,” and he smiled again, “you are not just a Barista,

but a Capo Barista.” Gladys knew what that meant,

the Godfather was her favourite film.

That night the Gaggia received an extra polish,

and as she caught her reflection in the shining chrome,

she smiled. “Just think a Capo Barista.”

Gladys Armstrong was a very happy woman.

 Les Holloway

October 2009


No Pets

Did the Eco Warriors really think

When trying climate change to sink

What dire theories might form links

To keep the weather in the pink.

The windy cow will have to go

Machine gun all the flatulent sheep

And veggie meals we`ll have to eat

But worse if Greenies have it so

Your pets a carbon climate threat

Cats and dogs! send for the vet

Oh rather let the ice melt yet

But not a world without a pet.

I warn you Greenpeace not to try it

The general public like their diet

Kill Fido, Tiddles that is ghoulish

And makes the Green Campaign look foolish.

Keith Parker

(Find him Twittering at www.Twitter.com/smallbluedragon)

Cultural Offensive

Elite poeticals took over the centre of Durham City today

As part of a bid to storm the ramparts of the City of Culture

Crack forces of the 16th Stanza Poetic Culture Brigade

Seized the Market and Gala Squares in an attempt to provoke

Cultural Events!

Startled tourists found that any pause near the town`s famous statues

Resulted in in-depth interrogations by strange male and female poets

Concerning their quality of materials, location and general aesthetic effects.

Lovers, shoppers, people swearing in doorways or even just serving coffee

Were forced into surveys to assess their cultural significance

In post industrial, post modern, post rhyming Durham

After thirty minutes of intense bombastic intellectual bombardment

Including a near outbreak of artistic street fighting

As conservationists and left wing academics exchanged words with the poets

Concerning the relative merits of the statue of the third Marquis of Londonderry

And whether his pit ponie`s backside should face north or south

The poetic cultural commandoes withdrew to be debriefed

In the newly captured upper floor of the town library.

Children continued to play instinctively amongst the figures of St Cuthbert`s sculpture

And to totter dangerously down the narrow street kerbs

Fat women continued to run for buses releasing whippet children to catch the doors

Lovers continued to look dreamily at the sky

Ex lovers continued to curse and lament in doorways

And this In spite of the intense looks of the workshop versifiers

Trying to turn them into cultural artefacts.

In the library HQ a film record was made of the creation of a dozen poems

The literary propagandists thus set up the most recent instalment of Culture Durham

Loot from the attack to finance the latest phase of culture wars

Keith Parker


Welcome to Durham City’s Millenium Place Stadium
for tonight’s main event the 50 metre public transport sprint.
The bus is in position, the doors are open and the runners are off!
Tracey has made a slow start and is getting slower.
Her KFC diet, skin tight denim and carrying son Jaden
are holding her back.
But Jaden’s wriggled free and is now running to the bus.
He’s got a good turn of speed for a 4 year old.
The bus is slowly moving away from its blocks,
what’s this? Streaking down the outside lane is a grey and navy hoodie.
This could be a CCTV finish.
The bus gathers momentum,
lungs bursting, fingers outstretched, the hoodie reaches for the door,
but with a triumphant ‘see you later’ sigh, the doors snap shut
and they are all left standing
choking on exhaust.
Elizabeth Farnhill

October 31, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Things to forget and not.




Fading in his ear, the beep of a cardiac monitor,

the last machine that would amplify him.

Racing then slowing,

locked in a rhythm he couldn’t control

while millions of hearts still pumped to the beats he had set.

There’s alot he would want the world to forget


but the music survives,

this soundtrack to our lives.

From Detroit to Durban,

Dhakar to Durham,

from a musician of fusion

and confusion


Disco, rock, soul,pop,

making the tribal division of dances stop

himself the incomplete reflection

of his reach for musical perfection

 a blending,

an extending.

Flowing across boundaries,

is dangerous,


new ways of hearing,

new ways of seeing.


He’s in the photo albums of our lives too,

this  boy who didn’t predict the man.

slowly chiselling himself away,

disappearing in a light display,

revealed in a mask,

and the questions the world had to ask.

We saw him in the black glasses,

the ambulance and the white shroud.


Is the picture as clear

as the music is loud?


Should we separate music from the maker,

make it our own,

translate the universal language

of the tambourine or the trombone

into rhythms that move us

in blood and in bone?


Kate Fox.


(I thought I’d compromised quite alot there when I agreed to rewrite “more about the music”…but having read Maya Angelou’s words I feel much better…)

July 7, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Long View

Bad Fairy Blair’s first incantation.
Spinning lies to sway a nation.
Promised the lusty treats of education, education, education
To the children of the X-Generation

Now Class ‘09 has graduated
The prom is over and they’re all wasted
Destined for the bitter fruits their parents tasted
Come back Prozac – Gotta keep ‘em medicated

Keep the little fuckers high so they can’t see
Their future consumed carefully by degrees
They were never really going to study – silly.
Take the only thing they will give you for free
They come guaranteed
To take the edge off your lack of liberties

Heat wave warnings won’t affect the frozen grants
Which means less than no chance
At all for those with brains but no healthy balance
They will be the first to fall but not to chance

So much for all that shit about Education,
Aspiration, and some other sion, you nearly led us all on
Class of 09, what’s left for you when the summer’s gone?
Sing it with me – Sign-on Sign-on Sign-on

Carmen Thompson

July 6, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

From a newspaper journalist at the end of their shift

5.30; the familiar digits appear on the screen
signalling it’s time to go home.
But no-there’s breaking news.
A burst water main.
In an instant I see my plans for the evening-
catching up with friends, a meal, a long bath-
dissolve into the flood water.
This is what we do.
I watch the editors circle the newsdesk
secretly hoping for misfortune
in the lives of nameless, faceless “victims”.
They look for a palimpsest of the flooding
two years to the day.
But it isn’t there.
Just a burst pipe and a couple of closed roads.
When all avenues, and I, are exhausted
I retreat.
I drive towards the sun
making new plans.

July 3, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.


Stay Neda
The birds are singing
The forests are green
Flowers are blooming
It is Spring
Do not go Neda

Stay Neda
Sing with your people in the streets
Say Long live life!
Down with death!
Tell the sun to shine
Tell the cold to depart
Do not go Neda

Stay Neda
Look at this city
At the shaken foundation of palaces
How tall are Tehran’s maple trees
The “dust” has made
the air bad for the oppressor
Do not go Neda

Do not be afraid
It is the sound of fireworks not bullets
It is a spark for a fire
We are on fire
We are the fire
Due to batons and gunshots
We are a blazing fire
Do not go Neda

Oh Neda, oh Neda
Knock on the cage
Break through the bars
Do not go Neda

Do not go Neda
Look beyond the clouds
Lady sun wants you to come
She is just like you, but
Do not go Neda

Pete Williamson

June 30, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Wimbledon volleys

It turns out the trouble with being able to let the roof

at Wimbledon close is

 it gets rid of Cliff,

but not the shadows. 



 The crowds gather in S W 1

All keen to cheer young Andy on.

Scotland’s current sporting hero

is hoping not to leave with zero.

Fans await the moment of truth.

When will they close that bloody roof.


Crispin Fisher

June 29, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Antidotal poems

I’m going to post some of the poems from the Hull gig tomorrow. Am chuffed there’s still Michael Jackson stuff coming in, and great pieces on the Facebook Write poems about the News site. Figuring out at the moment how to keep things going. To send poems via here, put them as a comment and I’ll fish them out and post them to the main blog.
This from Gary Blankenship in America;
Death in Southern California

On this day, June 25,
the day Custer was killed,
North Korea invaded its Southern neighbors,
the human genome was released

a man died
from a heart attack
in Southern California
one of 900 to pass
from the disease
nationwide this day

He was the husband
of my wife’s golf partner,
70 on a business trip
to San Diego

one of nearly 165,000
who died worldwide
during the day

and didn’t become the news

And this from Silvis Rivers in the West Midlands. He’s posted a video of the poem too at the Facebook group “Write poems about the news”.
Doctor cloud said :

The child is often
exotic scar tissue
In art
Its where neurosis makes its start
Formed by unmet needs
And endless pain
Out comes the showman glowman
To make a “gain”

Who would have thought
No eyes of parent empathy alters worlds
Or voids create a future contrary
That children are forced to scar themselves
And play at becoming a distorted fairy ?


For instance :

I’ll play at dropping baby
And be an outlaw of dancing grace
And mangle my appearances
To show my father’s sad disgrace

In adult worlds I’ll never land
Because care and childhood bridges
Have never spanned
And no-one really gives a hand
To Peter Pan
In Hook’s pen

And elvish sexuality
Of magics beds
And pedophilia media
Will have the power to race past
And just condemn

Go child to the thrones of sin
For redemptive antidotes
To be forgiven
For the showyboat of the world everyone is in …

June 27, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Next Page »