Poetry Blog by Ian Whiteley

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Amputation & Education

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Amputation & Education


Some wounds won’t scab over

As some wounds never heal

They are infected by colonial blades

That hot irons won’t seal

Puss filled abominations

tainted by avarice and greed

you cannot absolve the guilty knife

whilst open wounds still bleed


You say ‘history was not written in pencil,

You cannot rub it out’

It’s not what it was written ...

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analogyanti-colonialismanti-slaveryBLMchallenge historyresponsetear down the statues

One Hundred Days In Plague Town

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One Hundred Days In Plague Town


I met a man in Plague Town

With bird’s beak and a long black coat

He carried a cane in his left hand

He spoke to me and I quote:
‘Don’t travel far from your fire son

Go runaway and hide

For Fear stalks the streets of Plague Town

Some are ill and others have died’


So I went back home as he told me

And I sat and counted the days


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100 poems in 100 daysday100. covid-19museongoingpassing timepoetry writingwriting


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The floorboards above

Crack like rheumatic bones

Late at night

The house groans

And wind whispers

Through the open windows


The curtains open

The lights out

The darkness presses

Against the window

A streetlight drops

White light on the path


I can see a pale moon

Crawling through the trees

A cat sashays

Beneath the porch opposi...

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active mindday99insomnianoisessightssleepsoundsunrest

Six Grandfathers

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Six Grandfathers


There is a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Where the sculptor Gutzon Borglum chiselled rock

Into the shape of four gigantic heads

Symbolising birth, growth, development, preservation

Sixty foot high lies on the formation of a nation

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln

You were not here at this great lands birth

You stole it and sha...

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day98lakota siouxmount rushmorepresidents headsstolen territory


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This space is like a ghost town

Trestle tables row on row

Echoing with the hustle bustle

Vendors cries of long ago


I held my mother’s hand

And listened to them shout

‘apples sixpence a pound

Come on get your money out!’


Comics stored in cardboard boxes

Toys stacked high on stands

Gleaming in the Friday sun

Just out of reach of sticky h...

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childhoodday97market daymemoriesnostalgiaold marketrelocation of marketwakefield market


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She paints pebbles with rainbows

And places them on walls

Poetry on larger stones

For others to find


It is a small act of kindness

Of acknowledging our plight

She takes the paints and daubs

Her handprint on a slate


All over the footpaths and walks

Her art is left to the elements

A bright sun shining

through dark clouds


the people wh...

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alzheimersartcasting magicday96findspainted stonesstoneswellness

Old Vic

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Old Vic


Once these doors close

The lights are dimmed

They may never open again


The soft ghosts of actors

Fading in our memory

Leaving only distant echoes


The bright gaudy costumes

The greasepaint and powders

All left where they last fell


The empty seats collect dust

The stage becomes a mausoleum

Of tragedy and comedy


Pennies draining ...

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closure threatcovid-19day95demiseold vicprolonged closuretheatre

Needles & Thread

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Needles & Thread


I remember her sat at an old Singer sewing machine

Turning the handle in the half-light of autumn

Making dresses and skirts for herself

So that precious pennies could be invested in children


She made me a Lone Ranger mask

From remnants of black cloth

She had left from one of her creations

I wore it with pride and a whoop and a holler


When ...

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childhoodday94knittingmake do and mendmemoriesmothersewing

We Never Suspected A Thing

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We Never Suspected A Thing


Serial Killer

Feathers on the patio

Innocent soft eyes

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catday93haikuinnocent eyeskiller

You Could Own An Upright Piano

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You Could Own An Upright Piano


You could own an upright piano

The newspaper advert said

And although I can’t play one

The words got messing with my head


We had one when I was a young boy

It stood in the front room, unused

Because no one in our house could play it

So it left all our visitors bemused


Well – actually – I could play ‘Chopsticks’

And my gran...

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advertchildhood memoriesday92lack of abilitypianopurchasetemptingurge

Hand Count

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Hand Count


Sixty times a minute

I have travelled round this face

Three thousand six hundred times an hour

I have faithfully kept pace

Eighty six thousand four hundred times a day

I’ve ticked along

Six hundred and four thousand eight hundred times a week

Always right and never wrong

Eighteen million one hundred and forty four thousands times an average month


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again & againclockday 30(91)live lifenapowrimo2017passing timeprocrastinationsecondstime

Bull In A China Shop

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Bull In A China Shop


‘all breakages must be paid for’

She told the bull in the china shop

As he stamped his hooves impatiently

And snorted through his ringed nostrils


So he tiptoed around glass cabinets

Admiring the fine white porcelain

The delicate hand painted vases

The plates and cup and saucers


Until he saw the red beating heart

Pumping rhythmically...

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bullchina shopcontrolday29(90)ending relationshipsfeelingsheartbreaklovenapowrimo2017

The Dig

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The Dig


Thousands of years later

They found the sacred site

And used their soft sable brushes

To clear the earth from their finds

Here was what looked like a drinking vessel

Owned by a Covid-19 man called Persil

And look part of a plate with the lettering McDon

So possibly owned by someone from the Northern Zone

Inflation devices with logos of Asda and Lidl


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archeologyartefactsday 28(89)futurelittermisunderstoodNaPoWriMo2017pastrubbishsci-fi

Eye Of The Storm

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Eye Of The Storm


The black clouds gather

Heavy rain drops splat

There is iron on your tongue

The bitter taste of storm

Head thick with thunder

White light splits the sky

The trailing crack rattles windows

A cat cowers beneath a bush

Shivering in its fear

The deluge follows

Straight javelins of rain

You lift your head back

As the heavens empty

Water fi...

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Independence Day

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Independence Day


At first they said ‘infect the herd’

but experts told us ‘that’s absurd,

you will cause deaths in the old.

What sort of shepherd risks the fold?’

So they put the cattle in the pen

only to be let out when

the time was right, or so they said,

they didn’t want their people dead.

The woolybacks baa’d and the daft cows moo’d

And farmer Boris calculate...

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cattleday 26(87)deathflockherdinfection ratelockdown liftednapowrimo2017

Lucky Coins

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Lucky Coins


It would have been about nineteen seventy-seven

Outside The College pub at ‘Closing Time’

When I nearly stumbled over an old man

Lying by a slate stone wall.


He was dressed in dark clothes and had grey hair

That lay across his face

So that his features were obscured

And he was trying to pull himself up to his feet


I stepped towards him and help...

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Lockdown Birthday

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Lockdown Birthday


We walked up from the river

Beneath a canopy of trees

The air was filled with birdsong

On a warm and gentle breeze

The sun was high in the June sky

The road stretched out ahead

We drank some wine together

shared cheese and new baked bread


After lunch we wandered home

The air was hot and hazy

Then we sat around and drunk beer

Refused t...

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birthdaycelebratingcompanionshipday24(85)lockdownmaking the best of itnapowrimo2017sun


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Covers face

Unknown eyes watching

Religious tolerance found wanting




Double standards

Stops the spread

Of disease and death


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covid 19day 23(84)double eleveniedouble standardsfearmasksnapowrimo2017religionreligous intolerancesafety

Save The Planet & Your Heart

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Save The Planet & Your Heart


The seed drill not the fracking drill

Will serve our country best

The vegetables not the beasts we kill

Will be humanities test

Plague is never spread

from the fruits of the earth

when we pay such a heavy price

what is a carcass worth?


From cattle, bird or bat

There spreads human disease

Letting the gristle and the fat


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anti-fossil fuelanti-frackingday 22(83)georgic formgoing greennapowrimo2017veganvegetarian

Mischievous Pedant

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I wanted to wish him happy Fathers Day

But according to pedantic Facebook chatter

I’m not allowed to do that any more

Because hashtag ‘All Parents Matter’

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all parents matterBLM analogyday21(82)fathers daynapowrimo2017pedantic

The Biff!

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The Biff!


I’ve seen it happen anywhere

Rochdale on a pouring down Sunday afternoon

Melbourne on a baking hot Saturday

Featherstone on a cold midwinter Friday night

Sydney on a misty winter Wednesday

The Biff!


At the eruption of a scrumdown wrestle

The stiff arm of a bewitched fullback

As a dancing standoff sidesteps his frame

A punch that comes from the seco...

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day 20(81)fightsnapowrimo2017punch upsrugby leaguesportthe bifftough

Creation Myth

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Creation Myth


If you were God

You would create a back story

On how you came to be


Something about a mother

And a father coming together


You would gradually create

The world around you

And the history of what went before

In order to keep you sane


You would form existence

to fit your needs

And each thing learned new

Would be to satisfy the r...

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creation mythday19(80)existencegodlifenapowrimo2017self awareness


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The world through a net curtain

Since the blood vessel burst in my eye

A Jackson Pollock of dark splatter

Swirling and whirling like oil on water

Swooping and looping like dragons

Drifting in ancient skies


One good eye doing the work of two

And suddenly you are vulnerable

Knowing that losing that one too

Would be blindness waiting to happen

So you ...

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blurry visionburst blood vesselday 18(79)eyesnapowrimo2017vision distortian

Return To Jungle Land

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Return To Jungle Land


The windows are thrown open

Somewhere Springsteen’s ‘Jungle Land’

Spreads saxophone and horns

Into the humid north west air

There is sweat and naked flesh

In the room on Mountbatten Avenue

Where young love consummates

On white linen sheets


The rats have deserted the city

Where there are no restaurant takeaways

Cascading from backstre...

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anthem for the nightclarence clemonsday 17(78)jungle landnapowrimo2017nocturnenorth west cityspringsteen


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Dear Clark - I write this letter as a way to say goodbye,

I know we’ve dated many years and I know I said I’d try

to get over all your little quirks that really drive me mad,

but I can’t, you see, and so for me It’s all ending rather sad.


It’s the way you seem to run away when things are getting tough,

If your penchant to hide in phone boxes wasn’t reason enough


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chuckedclarkday16(77)dear johnletterloisnapowrimo2017superhero

Half Time

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Half Time


I was playing centre half

With Athletic five nil up

In a prestigious third round tie

Of the Inter-City Cup

Sunday morning football

After beer the night before

The referee blew for half time

It was a disappointing score


The captain’s girlfriend Elsie

Brought a tray of oranges out

Some of us took one and sucked

And tried to forget the rout


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charactersday 15(76)half timenapowrimo2017poor teamsunday leagueunfit


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Young Tommy didn’t get irony, cross,

he set off with the boneheads and boots

to guard statues of old Winston Churchill.

Signalling intent with their Nazi salutes.

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cherihewday14(75)edlironynapowrimo2017nazisprotecting statues?violence

The Last Breath Of Evening

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The Last Breath Of Evening


The sky is bruised purple at the last breath of evening

The air stilled from violent storms before the last breath of evening


From the new sunrise and the slow burn of a waking day

Stretching ahead in unknown pleasures to the last breath of evening


A day of honest work and muscles that ache

With the strain of reaching the last breath of e...

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ageingcontemplationday 13(74)ghazal formlifenapowrimo2017sunset

Plague Doctor

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Plague Doctor


One thing this plague has taught us

Is that close proximity can be lethal

You could be a carrier of ideas

Asymptomatic in their spread

Just your unthoughtful actions

Triggering others to violence


You could infringe on the personal space

Of other people’s beliefs

Carelessly trampling over them

By thinking only of your own gratification


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day 12(73)infectionisolatenapowrimo2017opinionsplagueplague doctorwords

Sell Me Something More Than Snake Oil And Lies

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Sell Me Something More Than Snake Oil And Lies


They say that pulling down statues

Is rewriting history

As though the sculptors who made them

Were historians

And not some commissioned artist

Doing what he was told


Sell me something more than snake oil and lies


It is a form of history

Cast in the wealthy viewpoint

From the stance of the privileged


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BLMday11 (72)historyliesNaPoWriMo207perspectiveremovalstatuesthe Bop

New Normal

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New Normal


We hang around like statues

At McDonalds and Ikea

We wait in line for haircuts

Or to grab a pint of beer

We stand apart together

Following the six foot rule

We can gather for a shopping trip

But not to go to school


We spy upon our neighbours

And complain at barbeques

We daren’t go too far from the house

Because of lack of loos

We wear a m...

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changecovid-19day10(71)lockdownnapowrimo2017new normal

Satan's Dustbin

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Satan’s Dustbin


Satan, at number 666, is putting out the bins

Which are overflowing with hatred and all of mankind’s sins

The refuse collectors stay away they refuse to go near

Part of it’s the cloying smell and part of it’s just fear

Despite the warning label clearly stating ‘no hot ash’

He insists on putting them in there along with all the trash

The sad truth of his be...

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antisocialday 9(70)dustbinevilmoral talenapowrimo2017rubbishsatan


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Across the centuries

A clanging sound

The clang of a statue

As it falls to the ground

The clang of ideology

Toppling from its perch

The clang of the chains

And the swish of the birch


The clang of a bell

Ringing across the land

The clang of the people

As they make a stand

The clang of oppression

And the clang of the strange

And the clang...

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black lives matterbristolday 8(69)edward colstonnapowrimo2017protestsstatue

The Midas Touch

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The Midas Touch


I saved the life of Lady Luck

And as a thank you I was told

That all I touched metaphorically

Would surely turn to gold

This gift came with a caveat

That seemed to be quite fair

I mustn’t get too greedy

Or all would turn to despair


And from that day without a doubt

I’ve found this to be true

I’ve won small bets on horseracing

And a game...

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The Truth Of Colour

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The Truth Of Colour


The colour of humanity

Is not white skin

Or black skin

Not brown skin

Or yellow skin


It is the red blood

Of a beating heart


A blue shield

Is not the colour of humanity

When it takes a life


And all the greys

of muddled opinions

cannot change the truth


that a man could not breathe

because his skin colour


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The hoodoos rested here a while

And turned to face the great Bow River

Rocks and pine trees at their backs

This family of albino giants

Wind hewn and born of the water

White wolves of the sedimentary

Standing on the Inuit trail

That led them from the turqoise tumult


Towering to Alberta skies

That shimmer in the August heat

These monoliths of time s...

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Banana Republican

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Banana Republican


He’s totally bananas

He’s cowardly custard

He nods like a daffodil

His views are all mustard


He thinks he’s a dandy lion

He’s a long streak of piss

Frail as a buttercup

With acute jaundice


He smells of hell’s sulphur

His hair is fake blonde

And he looks like old weeds

That died in a pond


He tweets like a canary

That’s ...

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It Rained Today

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It Rained Today


It rained today

Breaking the strangling heat

But it wasn’t a cleansing rain

It didn’t dilute the colour of our skin

Or wash away the blood on our streets


It just soaked

The lonely man erecting barricades

So that McCars could McQueue for McBurgers

As consumerism kicked back in

And the deluge began


The air felt clearer though


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day 3lockdownNaPoWriMo2017off topicquenchingrainraindropssoothingstaying in

What Have You Got

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TRIGGER WARNING: contains profanity and quoted use of racist language


What Have You Got?


What have you got

When you haven’t got a tweet

That will work on the masses

And keep them off the street

When your corrupt policies

Are all laid bare

And the people are as unruly

As your fake blonde hair


What have you got

When it all goes South

In pillow case ...

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Pandora's Box

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Pandora’s Box


barbeques and beaches

your own little playground

complaining about others

who sit in your space



that schools are reopening

while little Johnny plays

with his mates in the park


lighting a fire

to cremate your pork chops

on the grass and heathlands

where sparks are bullets


leaving B&Q

with a six foot mirror


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Mustn't Grumble

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Mustn’t Grumble


Thinks he’s the bee’s knees

One big bumble

He’s doing his best

Mustn’t grumble


All around

Dreams start to crumble

Chin up chaps

Mustn’t grumble


Gets his words

All in a jumble

An Eton boy

So mustn’t grumble



Begins to rumble

He’s such a card

Mustn’t grumble


Staggering on

He’s bound to stumble


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It is a grey morning

I am awake early

The backdoor is open

And cool air enters the kitchen

My father is on his knees

Scrubbing a wire brush

On the fire grate

Newspapers on the floor

He takes a rag

And pours black lead

Onto the stiffened fibres

Then he smears it

Onto the scrubbed surfaces

He balls up the newspaper

And throws it on the hearth


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day 30firehearthlighting firelitchenmorningNaPoWriMo2018off topicritual

Away The Lad

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Away The Lad


When you haven’t got a friend

Or a carer you can reach

Then plan a family trip

To the better equipped North East

County Durham’s nice this time of year

Or so I hear them say

And simply by happenstance

It’s only my wife’s birthday


You see me and the Missus

developed a little cough

so we panicked and headed North

and all the newspaper can Fu...

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I saw a young man kneel today

He hung his head as if to pray

But he would take a life away

To honour and protect they say


Another black man has to die

Before the country questions why

They let enforcers kill and lie

and let another mother cry


Fear and hate mix with malice

A city faces the abyss

A cocktail of vinegar and piss

On the streets o...

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black lives mattercorona-virusday 28deathdeath tollkilled by lawminneapolisnapowrimo2018off topicriots

Death (XIII)

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Death (XIII)


My entrance on a pale horse

Raising the black standard with white rose

Is anathema to most


These bones are survivors

Of the battle between

The worlds of living and dead


This black armour

From the land of eternal sleep

Is unsurmountable


Before me

The clergy, kings and peasants

Fall beneath my hooves


When she flips me over


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Tunguska Dawn

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Tunguska Dawn


The day the false storm came

My brother Chekaren and I

Were asleep beside a campfire

The smell of burning wood drifted

Across our sleeping forms

When suddenly a thunderclap

Awoke us from deep sleep

And we saw the second sun


Blazing white heat tore our shirts

And made our skin hot to the touch

And all around we heard the sound

Of the secon...

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Label On The Bottle

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Label On The Bottle


The label on the bottle told me it was strong

But I drank it all night anyway

And didn’t think that I’d done wrong


It made me very happy in a lightheaded sort of way

It was deep amber in colour

And I would regret it all next day


It burned the back of my throat as a sipped the evil brew

It smelt of cinnamon and spice

And bit by bit my co...

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Elegy For Days Lost

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Elegy For Days Lost


Another day has come and passed

Left pain and sadness in its wake

The seconds, minutes, hours amassed

The sun will give the moon will take

The distant friends the loved ones lost

Amid the times of dread disease

Each family will count the cost

And curse the name of days like these


And yet the sky was clearest blue

I wrote a poem, sang a so...

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I have never felt so alone

As the time spent in November fogs

When I was not yet in my teens

Wrapped in heavy clothes

With hat down low

And scarf around my face


Cut off from the world

By this dense yellowing cloud

Unable to see more than a few feet

In front of you

And the hollow muffled sound

Of someone heading towards you


All other backgro...

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day23echofearfognapowrimo2018pea-soupersoundstrange world

Those Low Down Bottle Blues

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Those Low Down Bottle Blues


The day the clock struck thirteen

We took it as a sign

That the world might be in peril

So we all broke out the wine

But it probably was nothing

Just a poor miscounted chime

An end to our sobriety

And not the end of time


The night the stars rearranged themselves

In a moonlit sky

We all dived for the whisky bottle

And some of...

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