Poetry Blog by Chris Bainbridge

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Chris Bainbridge on Hartshead (Sat, 27 Mar 2021 07:03 pm)

Greg Freeman on Hartshead (Fri, 26 Mar 2021 03:21 pm)

Don Matthews on Extra Time (Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:08 am)

Martin Elder on Signals (Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:04 am)

Chris Bainbridge on Essence (Sun, 9 Jun 2019 09:20 pm)

Chris Bainbridge on Essence (Sun, 9 Jun 2019 09:19 pm)

Chris Bainbridge on Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real (Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:53 am)

Frances Macaulay Forde on Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real (Thu, 17 Jan 2019 05:26 am)

Tommy Carroll on Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real (Mon, 14 Jan 2019 02:23 pm)

M.C. Newberry on Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real (Mon, 14 Jan 2019 01:17 pm)


I thought it had been a year or so since I was last on here - was astonished to find it was more like two! Apologies for my absence - life got in the way, been on a bit of a journey, you know. I hope you are all well  :)


Hartshead Moor


This motorway, my eastwards trail to freedom,

To Tyneside, York, or sunny seaside fun,

In accents broad as acres, voices calling,

And when ...

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Extra Time

Extra Time

It was seventeen years
since I played my last match...
I played again that day.
I was the youngest of the old boys -
55 now and no hemiplaegia
or balance problems for me,
No frontal lobe trauma or bits of fits
or seizures -
I've been lucky.

I bossed the midfield.
Against blokes ten or more years older
I suddenly felt bolder
and was amused at shouts of
"Mark the Young M...

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This poem is from the brand-new seaside-themed collection written by me and Eve Nortley, "Driftwords".




The heat out here is palpable,

A presence that can curse or caress,

Its touch is physical.


By afternoon I await the dark,

Distant but it will still come.

The sky turns hazy,

"Forest fires" say locals.

Algarve ash falls like dark snow and sorrow


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Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real


Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real

It's 1978 and I'm 19.
I wear no iron collar
and am not beaten or harmed
to get me to rise from rest,
Instead there's a wind-up,
stand-up travel alarm.

It's just as effective.
I'm compelled
by want of money,
Sense of duty,
examples of others,
By my own self-perpetuating

My own clothes
are removed
on the factory floor,

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I am the grounded coal
in your hansel.
I shine hard and black
as the shadows of my heart.
Buried deep
and deadly dark.
I pulse with energy's
potential flame.
Touch me 
and you'll be marked;
Strike the perfect match
and the heat will start.

A twist of salt,
sorrow's symbolic seasoning,
The taste of tears
to bring their own reasoning.
I bring flavour
and can clean you

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Celtic Warrior Princess

Celtic Warrior Princess


In our tribe

there is nothing

or nobody

Ordinary or mundane.

Superhero siblings,

parents of perennial power,

Children whose lives

bring endless charm.

All move planets

and plan and pray

To keep each other

safe from harm.


Heroic battles still take place

though some don't see

your pain,

But you are the

Celtic Warrio...

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The Long Notes

The Long Notes


I did two long numbers tonight,

Unusual for me,

uncharacteristic you say,

well, quite.


Went well but as ever

I wanted more,

You know the score,

For expression, fame

and adulation,

We're sometimes

just tuppenny whores.


Yet still content

to be with like-minded souls,

Beatniks, blues and jazzmen

breathing the same rarified air...

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They dared

to step out together

in public again

that Saturday night.

For once

not behind closed doors,

They wanted more

and with a touch of class

Their private lives

were set behind smoked glass

in a public foyer bar.

Wondered if they'd been seen

by anyone who knew them...


They hadn't driven far.


Driven to distraction,

their ma...

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Many of us are our own worst critics. I dedicate this piece to all of you, in the hope you will stop hurting.


I would give you
an injection of confidence,
Donate part of my brain
to give you some sense
of your worth -

Queue up at the local hall,
let them shove in a tube
and syphon a pint
to give you heart,
A whole bloomin' armful
to keep you from harm.

And, aft...

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Torn from the trappings
and traps of modern life
and my urban routine,
Eschewing the shower
and the compulsion to be
clockwise and clean.

I sit submerged midst
a joyous explosion of leaves
and insects
and sunshine
and fabulous, filigreed filth
and flowers,
And register silent sounds,
unplug my phone
and recharge my simpler powers.

Earthy smells,
vibrant in their rich...

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Driving on the road

we see them every day.

In their hundreds,


We look at them,

they look at us,

And we pass along the way.


"Poor creatures",

we think,

and pity their narrow existence,

Lives determined

by their masters' restrictions,

Regimented, corralled,

branded and ruled,

Bound by invisible chains

though they think

they're free-rang...

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Bury - Ghosts Walking

The ghosts are walking

by the Turkish olive trees,

Down sandstone streets

where the sinking sun

lights the last post

and a roll-up

For this town's setting sons

and daughters,

A century after its most grievous

Gallipoli slaughter.


In tee shirts and tattoos

the still-moving women and men

parade from pub to pub,

Heedless of fate,

they carouse and karaoke...

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Stealing The Sea

The air force came again today,

three big twin-prop flying boats,

A monstrous mosquito squadron

roaring low and slow

to settle on the sea.


I hear the clang of church bells

as the planes

advance their mission,

And we in the village

wish them Godspeed

to the burning mountain.


I dream of every summer past

and think of newer shores,

Where we can stroll


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Drops of pure sunlight

pouring in their

patterned thousands.

A bright, beaded curtain

flowing gently down,

A golden gift,

Honeydew, river-bound,

I sit spell-grounded

as autumncalm

drifts slowly by.


Trees huddle,

removing clothing red and gold,

Sturdy trunks,

worthy in their girth,

Newly naked

to the clear blue sky.

Saving thei...

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Emeralds, Cannock Chase

Emeralds, Cannock Chase


We set sail

on an earthbound,


Emerald sea.


Locked to the land

we voyage hand-in-hand,

Where dreams we chase

are deer that race,

Limitless and free. 

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Beach Boy

Beach Boy

South Shields afforded me no defence,
I was open as a Santa Monica sunrise.
The sand, sunshine on the waves
just a bus ride away,
we went week after week
after Endless Summer day.

In the 1960s
the West Coast had the sunshine,
but the dream, surfing
across the ocean,
came all the way East
and remains in my heart today,
music a constant, driving feast
with big blue skies ...

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Little Love

Little Love (an affair of the cart...)


I used to shop at Tesco,

well, why swim against the tide?

A Sedgley boy like me, you know,

it felt so good inside,

But I soon changed my ways

when their strategy I spied,

The way they squeeze competitors,

my retail romance died.


I had a fling with Aldi,

the quality is good,

I like the neat, teutonic way

they sell ...

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Something Good

Something Good


I hear you...

Your coruscating, beautiful

Catholic car-crash,

crash-course dance

In camp melodic drama

and wide-eyed trance,

"How I move,

How you move me..."


Hammer horror

met groomed Truffaut

and in your glam-rag trousseau

My bride

wore scorpion-black,

Spinning in the then and now

A moment caught us

too raw to look back.


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I would wake up every morning,

reasons hidden in my rhymes,

Searching for a new horizon,

travel always on my mind,

Always looking for my station,

mindful of departure times,

Till I found my destination

just along a different line.


I will meet you on the platform

even if your train runs late,

On this journey of a lifetime

what's another hour'...

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Harbour Lights

Harbour Lights


Considering options in a bar...

Half past eight is thought early here,

but I have been around since 1959,

And the clock's always ticking

when you know time.


I'm on my own

just a little forlorn

and soon I'll move on

to the place we were last night,

when hearts and mouths were warm.

I'm on an upward spiral,

Sliding on marble

and Art Nou...

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Beast Feasts

Beast Feasts


I found my thrill

on Beastmarket Hill

In a Midlands pub

where they do good grub,

Your Small English

was plenty for me,

Cheap at the price,

with unlimited tea.


The night before

was a lot of fun,

Spicy salami

and a split white bun,

Vitamin C

from your apricot,

Ripe and ready

and juicy and hot.


Morning came,

we went on ...

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Hebburn is a place on earth,

a sit-com

in my place of birth,

Where once I roamed

the building sites

to plunder wood

for bonfire night,

The wind blew cold

but we felt cool,

When ships were launched

they closed the schools.


With winters sharp

but memories sweet,

Like Franchi's fish shop

down the street,

The river roared

and factori...

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To some it's just a bed,

Somewhere to sleep in oblivion,

suspended animation,

when to the world we're dead.

But sometimes

it's something else

instead -

A magic carpet to take us on a ride,

through epics and adventures

we may learn what's hidden



A bed to some may be a task,

a domestic chore,

Something we make 

and no questions aske...

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A River, Kent

A River, Kent


Between the vales of Lune and Kent

with gentle climbs and sweet descents,

Our gifted time was heaven-sent

and not a day too soon.


All life an undiscovered beach,

forbidden fruit, once out of reach,

Unkent - then kent, new truths to teach

about the hidden moon.

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Not just 

a feeling inside,

A figure to deride,

Rumours and gossip

to make you run and hide,

Not just some silly King Cnut

trying to hold back the tide,

No part-time little bit of

cake on the side...


You're my


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An old standard from many a rally, a journey to my political roots in praise of civil disobedience...the late, great comrade Betty Tebbs once told me this was her favourite poem.




You can keep your Magna Carta -

give me Peasants' Revolt!

From the Peoples' Charter

to the fight for women's votes,

From the Dorset martyrs

in the days of old -

Things get bette...

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Caravan Planet

Caravan Planet


It was hot in Essex in 1965.

I was six.


We scrambled to shade,

in wooded glades we played,

Fleeing from intense sunshine

and other phenomena 

curious to Geordie sensibilities;

Squadrons of kamikaze wasps,

Immune to our anti air-raid newspapers,

if the fly spray ran out

we lacquered them

with Bellair.


Massive black slugs 

like ...

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It Can't Be Bedtime Yet

It Can't Be Bedtime Yet


It can't be bedtime yet


I haven't found

the perfect words

to tell the wondrous

truth I've learned.


It can't be bedtime yet


I haven't heard

the perfect song

to help the magic carry on

and bleed its love

from root to seed

To help us 

satisfy and feed

And give us

what we truly need.


It can't b...

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Hidden Chains

To celebrate the 90th birthday of the great Dr Maya Angelou, here is my own humble tribute:


Hidden Chains


The gilded few breeze through the days,

Don’t fear the night or hardship’s ways,

Unthinkingly waste nature’s gifts

And proudly steal the stars.


But those held fast by hidden chains

Can’t lift their eyes above their pains,

Survival supersedes all dreams,


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This piece features in the forthcoming collection "Driftwords", which contains some poems by me and some by Eve Nortley.




Some say the sea is constant

but I can feel a change beneath the surface.

The tide is turning with heightened hope,

a sense of altered courses,

Different purpose.


I present you with a Whitby-bought silver necklace,

an anchor chain...

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Endcliffe Woods

Endcliffe Woods


Come stroll with me

in Endcliffe Woods,

A place for us

beyond the storm,

We'll warm our hearts,

wear muddy boots,

And tumble into

somewhere warm.


Please walk with me

for endless good

As I revisit

former haunts,

Let's laugh and smile

where nature's blood

Reveals a truth

that nothing daunts.


We'll treasure 

every mo...

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Our Time

Our Time


It's our time, time today.

When will it be time,

Is it the right time,

What time is love?

Our time will come,

and when it does

How will you know?


Believe me,

You'll just



We've been here before,

seems like a long time ago,

Was it only yesterday?

Maybe tomorrow

never knows.


Through the park

and memory lanes we ro...

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Above The Town

Inspired by Marc Chagall's painting


Above The Town


Come fly with me

above our town,

Leave all the world

that holds us down,

Defy the gravity.


Escape lines, fences

and walls,

We'll climb 

far above the roof,

Dance and play the fiddle

to the moonlit truth.


The shoddy imperial,

the shabby material

will say it's just

wanton depravity,


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the shortest piece from my "Sheffield collection", written last year...




The fountain has gone

from old Fargate,

The Hole In The Road

has gone too,

But I never felt finer

on Fargate

Than when

I walked down it with you.


The Casbah is 

nothing but rubble,

But the gardens

may grant us some peace,

Turn our backs

to the rain and our tro...

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I tried to be brave

but my smile wore thin

As the sad-faced doctor 

called me in,

Averting her eyes

the doc spoke first,

"The news I have,

I'm afraid is the worst,

It's LIFE!" she said

as she shook her head,

"There isn't a cure

and you'll end up dead!

As for prognosis,

could be months or just days,

With this diagnosis

nobody can say,


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After glow

we lie in erupted

though not interrupted

rhythmically pulsing flow.


Entwined, entangled

root and branch angles,

Subtly sublime,

fragrantly salty-sweet

I taste the sound,

can hear the touch.

Fingertips, licking lips,

I am marked as yours...

I take you with me

whenever and wherever

I go.


In darkness I feel

your ligh...

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The Bride Wore Blue

The Bride Wore Blue


The bride wore blue

to match her tattoos

and the groom was a staggering wreck,

With his broken nose

and his wilted rose

and the love-bites all over his neck.


The hall was bare,

just tables and chairs,

and the snow blew in under the door,

We were there six hours

and the beer was sour

and the cake ended up on the floor.


The sp...

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Surprised is what we are.

Ever fallen, luckily

Caught but still in

Raptures as spirits soar

Ever higher

To the skies?


Life's treat for now hidden, unexpected, 

Or unbidden,

Veritable feasts. Don't question -

Emerge! Exist! Enjoy!





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A Manc's A Man (Fer All That)


A Manc’s A Man Fer All That


Around ar way by night or day

down cobbled crofts an all that,

On chavenues or scallyways

we dare to roam fer all that,

You’re ten men an big chat,

but you know nowt fer all that,

So close yer mouth an use yer ead,

a Manc’s a man fer all that.


We like ar chips not fancy dips

or posh cuisine an all that,

We eat ar scran fro...

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