1918 and all that. 

All those years ago I shook

off student apathy, joined
my friend and marched. 
We marched in solidarity,
joining hands and minds
fist pumping in the same
money grabbing direction. 
I think of our fresh faces
thrown by the three wise men
from polling booth number one
into number two. We thought we
could smudge yellow paint in through
the letter box at number ten. 
We did but our fingers became trapped
and the yellow mixed with the blue
not making green. 
Later I wondered whether we did
anything at all, whether that piece
of paper fell away behind a dusty cabinet
from 1979. 
Systematically I think
we’ll just not vote for the same faces 
and the amalgamation of
We’ll tell them we aren’t happy. 


We trade in handshakes
of ghostly currency.
Spectres melting into
leather office chairs,
£1000 shoes propped up,
hard-heel tapping mahogany.
99% scrabbling at chicken-feed
pinching news items between their fingers,
screens harbouring wipeable perspiration,
when long before it disappeared,
between pages of law and righteousness.

We’re told its empty:
The comfort of the Euro feels
nothing like the £’ing of heart
against heart with an embrace.
But clammy and desperate we
compete to live for techno-respite,
sharing our global position
through social media machines
and laughing at funny tidbits;
something to disengage the brain
when you start wondering why
your bank account haemorrhages,
and your neighbour has two new cars.

We trade in misinformation,
skulduggery to chug
the oil and gentle fucking
of the 1%.
£6 shoes propped up
against IKEA furniture
and the age old question
of free-will.


With every chafed step

a portfolio of struggle is formed,
salutes and whoops,
phone flashes and hand slapping. 
Hyperbolic fissures of a gross
‘Well-done’ and the clamouring
to hook in new feeders. 
‘You won’t believe what she did
with her tits’,
‘#6 is an absolute doozy, you have to see this’. 
Well aware that I’m one in one-
thousand to pound through
to #6, it’s the sudden hankering
for online bingo 
and the spiral through slideshows
that concerns me most. 


I’d skip registration
and catch the 535 into town,
slapping into a dusty seat I would sit
staring at mother’s force feeding the morning
bottle and old couples supporting
one another down the isle.

I’d walk through the street, past building society’s
packed with pension grubbers, dolites
and mortgage scrabblers; coffee palaces
brimming with comfy jeans snuggled
into war torn leather, supporting double-shot
skinny de-caf frappuccino with sprinkles,
doubling up on false conversation.

I step up through the path
across redemption paving,
in through the archway
and sit in the the pew.
I’d watch old birds peck at dirty pages,
while the collared chap
dusts the ripped
oak beams, eyes praying for conversation.

This is your God now, shallow
and deafeningly silent.
I bought one one of your necklaces
and paid in gold, frankincense and myrrh:

It’s buried somewhere I think, gulls
probably squawk above it.


Of course the Jackal,
rope still binding his back legs
would fight harder than the other
carnivores: he wouldn’t forget
the sensation of the noose
or the smouldering heat from
the fire of his fate.

Crawling, belly down amongst the rotted
roots and barbarous gnatting nasties
the Jackal snaps at opportunity
straining his front paws;
bones and sinew eking for the first
taste of food.

From the Belly of Wolves

I think of the times I would mope about Wolverhampton
eyes glazed and jeans baggy around my arse, the hint
of a builder. I would proudly shuffle them down, notch by notch
until full boxer salute tipped out-wards. Blind in one eye,
and hiding bottles of beer behind music venues we would
finger and thumb jelly sweets, and melt them against the Civic Centre.

Here in our nest we would test our vodka resilience, two-step
to hated music and seek refuse in a business mans briefcase.
Growing up around panicked phone calls to parents when one of us
would take it a step too far and finish the bottle, reeking of
tobacco in the journey home when tabs inside were still legal.

Early doors, sober and keen to trot out and try our luck again,
antiquities, tarnished books and midlands drawl.
Your fathers fathers father probably paced these steps,
catching the train to Birmingham if he had the money.
Of course the borstals here taught children to be men when
Catholic guilt caused an influx of fractured youth.

I wanna be an army man, smart jackets and flashy

I’d strut the yam-yam jam, hoping that I can one day grow
to be that man that can-cans his way far away.
Reused bus tickets crammed into pockets, against full stomachs from stolen bread and water and we would party-bus our way into the sticks to see
how those that made it live.

Now? I wake to electric currents, reverberations, vibrations
and it’s gone. Starving nicotine flashes and I’m jolted out wards
along mirrored walkways. I run my hand across the wall
and feel the cracks, the arrows all point southward.