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Pretty much the only poem I have that is appropriate for Holocaust Memorial Day.

(Artwork: "Rabbi Loew and the Golem", from "The Prague Golem: Jewish Stories from the Ghetto", ed. Harald Salfellner, Vitalis, 2016. The artist is uncredited)



(Prague, 1939)


For centuries I’ve lain here undisturbed,
this synagogue’s hushed attic my bedchamber,
the life-spark in me stilled...

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poetryJewish folkloreHolocaustmemorial

Dealing with the Dead

It isn't just the war dead that I remember on Remembrance Sunday. I often think about the instigators of war: the self-aggrandising politicians who drag nations into conflict, the incompetent commanders safe behind the front line while the troops go to their deaths. Can they live lives untroubled by the carnage they caused? Or do the ghosts of the dead come back to haunt them for their crimes?


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anti war poemsRemembrance Daywar poetry


(A poem for the turning of the year, taken from my 2013 collection A Long Way to Fall. The artwork that accompanies it is by the late great songwriter and social chronicler, Graeme Miles)


Out of the smoke of a candle flame
lit to mark the turning of the year
I rise, wreathe soot and feathers for my cloak.

Bright eyes flash long-forgotten glimmers, sparks
of peoples who’ve spun ghosts...

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new year

The Birkenhead April Fools

It seems timely, in more ways than one, to post this poem today. It was the local paper of my childhood, the Wirral Globe, which first introduced me to the concept of Fake News with its locally legendary series of April Fool spoof news articles. But it's chilling how close some of these have come to reality...


The Birkenhead April Fools (for Dot Humphrey)

We argue still, my Mum and I,

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Why I Will Not Keep Calm and Carry On

With events across the pond, this seems an appropriate time to raise a little cry of defiance over the state of my own nation, and to remind myself that there's still some fight left in us...


Why I Will Not Keep Calm and Carry On

When I was young, the golden rule
of how to get along at school
was Keep your head down. Don’t make waves.
Don’t stand apart – you’re not that brave.

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austerityprotestStairwell Books

Why Do Poets Like Autumn?

It's an oldie, but appropriate for the time of year...


Why Do Poets Like Autumn?

Autumn is rain.
Pitiless, bucketing, funeral rain
that makes gutters into rivers
and umbrellas into shreds.
Steaming, fetid rain
tasting of mould and death.

Autumn is roadkill.
Rotting little pools of blood and fur,
once hedgehogs, pheasants, rabbits;
Concertinaed bonnets of Audis
askew across t...

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I Will Not Drink in Wetherspoon's

I'm still sore about the whole Brexit thing. I'm even more sore about the fact that yesterday my wife broke the JD Wetherspoons embargo that we've faithfully kept in place since their CEO decided to turn his pubs into campaign platforms for Vote Leave. Here's my response.


I Will Not Drink in Wetherspoon’s (with apologies to Dr Seuss)

I will not drink in Wetherspoon’s.
The place is ru...

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BrexitJD Wetherspoon

Pre-Erection Promises

Once upon a time, I hit upon the idea that most of the UK's political ills could be cured by the judicious application of certain drugs. Or rather, one drug in particular. The first incarnation of this poem took shape in the Blair era, and every few years it gets an update to reflect the political personalities of the moment. This version was written in the run-up to the EU referendum, and scooped...

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