Middle-Class Achievers

I’m a middle-class achiever,

It’s Waitrose, not Aldi, for me.

I am all the things I have ever despised,

The epitome of petit bourgeoisie.

I have a comfortable life,

With my beautiful wife-

My detached home in the country!

I sip Chilean red wine,

In the Summertime.

Well, all year around,

Actually.

I rage about social injustice,

Internally,

Or jot it down, saf...

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Footsteps on the Stairs

1982

Power dressing, shoulder pads, big hair.

 

At the tender age of twenty-three,

I listened, closely, from my lonely bed,

To spectral footsteps on the stairs…

I wondered, grimly, if they came for me!

They echoed a measured, ghostly tread.

Paralysed by fear, I lay stock still,

Immobilised by my sense of dread!

Who, or what, had invaded my head?

 

From my upstai...

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Advice to my younger selfPoetry Challenge

For the Present...

“Have you got a present for me?!

William asks with a high-pitched

Lilting rise and fall…

But I have no presents ready at all.

“You had all presents, William,

The last time you came!”

 

Every time he visits us,

His question remains the same.

“Have you got a present for me?”

 

I then considered a poetic reply,

To circumvent a potential rift.

“William, every mom...

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Be Proud!

That really was England winning a cup!

Please do not adjust your sets!

Put black type on your C.V., girls,

Before the world forgets!

 

We don’t need ancient history,

Grainy images in grey and black,

Sad reflections on our years of hurt,

You have brought our football back.

When Chloe Kelly removed her shirt,

After slotting the ball in the German goal,

And threw that...

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A Holiday Job at the Woolgrowers

It was my first day at the Woolgrowers,

So, they gave me a special job.

I was holidaying from university,

And they thought I was a knob!

“Go to the warehouse, Johnny,

The boss needs a long weight.”

Well, being such a bright spark,

I did as I was told…

Standing at the storeroom doorway

Until I was numb with cold.

 

“Excuse me, can I have a long weight?”

I interru...

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A Postcard From R.A.F. Oulton

I gave my today,

For your tomorrow,

I gave my young life,

To keep Europe free,

From fascist bullies,

And tyranny.

 

I flew out from Oulton.

In the dead of the night,

To rain down shells,

From way up high,

Dodging the tracer bullets

Which sparked the night sky...

Raked with the gunfire

Our bomber dived, out of control…

And the order to ‘bale out,’

Was...

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Levelling Up

One year, the Thames was flooded.

I think it was back in Cameron’s time.

There were subsidies and grants galore.

“These terrible scenes of devastation!”

Were all that the Media could explore!

“These poor, benighted middle class!”

The Press couldn’t wait to kiss their ass!

 

At a similar stage of our climate crisis,

The City of Hull was washed away.

There was no talk o...

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Happy Birthday... To Me!

It’s got to the stage

Of my mum’s old age,

Where I buy all my own cards

For her sign, and address them to me,

When she can summon up the energy.

 

So, I bought myself the birthday card

I wanted to receive,

The one I truly deserve,

Though some may wonder

At my nerve…

A line of superheroes bedecked the top,

Hulk, Captain America, Ironman, the lot.

“You’re no...

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Poetry is...

Poetry is a passing smile.

The waft of your hair,

The touch of your hand.

Poetry is the whisper of the breeze

On a warm summer’s day.

 

Poetry is an act of kindness,

From an unexpected source.

A friendly greeting in the street,

From strangers whom we chance to meet..

Encouraging words on a greeting card.

Picking you up, when times are hard.

 

I overthink my p...

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Murder, Most Foul

Charlie’s marriage was stale and cold.

It had begun to go wrong as soon as they’d wed.

She said he smelled; her ways were too ‘old,’

So, he and Elma had separate beds.

 

The situation was desperate!

He couldn’t afford a divorce.

Charlie was in his forties,

The marriage wouldn’t last its course…

 

Naturally he sought out a ‘hitman,’

Someone of the highest repute,

...

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Cromwell

I am not a Cromwell devotee

He was far too puritanical, for me.

And a bit fanatical - banning Christmas!

Preferring to stand on his dignity.

His government was dictatorial

And inclined to pomposity!

This poem is rather cavalier,

But I pray that you revel in it,

Warts and all.

 

However, I couldn’t be a royalist,

The Divine Right of Kings

Cannot be condoned!

I...

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Famous People

Scarborough Festival

"Scorecards! Cards sixpence each!

Get your scorecards here! "

The old man in the white coat was always there,

His booming voice echoed around the ground.

 

Balmy, sunlit weekdays at the festival.

Bright azure blue, and cloudless, skies.

Not even the merest breath of a breeze.

Seagulls squawking, eyeing up our sandwiches, 

As we lay out our picnic on a rickety old bench.

...

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A Walk, to Remember

 

 

Mum’s Care Home is next to the cemetery,

Affording me some rather mawkish pursuits,

Like a health-giving walk amongst the dead!

This encouragement to physical exercise,

It occurs to me,

Is an exercise in egocentricity.

 

In my morbid ramble between the stones, 

I search for those I may have known.

Based on the dates of their demise,

Or names remembered f...

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Repeating Patterns

(The shirt referred to in this poem, is now in my profile picture)

 

On the flight path from his junior school,

William looked, with interest, at the shirt I wore,

“That’s a repeating pattern, grandad.

Yellow, white, blue, red, and green!”

“My flabber is well and truly gasted, William,

You’re the brightest boy I’ve ever seen!”

 

Life’s recurring patterns crop up, remorse...

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Alone, in a bar.

A singles bar is a lonely place,

I was in there.  Billy No Mates,

Waiting for someone to pour me a drink.

So, I snaffled some salted peanuts

From a tempting plate, right in front of me.

 

When a ghostly voice suddenly announced,

“You are looking most handsome, sir,

If I might be permitted to say.

Your clothes and shoes are elegant

And you sparkle, sir, in every single...

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Stoned

Put that stone down and turn your back!

Look a little further within.

Guilt is ubiquitous. It crosses our land.

There is no one you can crucify

To take away your sin.

 

Stop screaming abuse at your TV,

Condemning the proclivities of celebrity!

They are no different to you, or me.

We know temptation only too well.

Faults you see in others, correct in yourself.

Not e...

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Whose words are they, anyway?

 

 

I gave you my words, my turns of phrase,

Those I’d accumulated over many, long days.

Now, you use those same words back to me,

In stilted lexicography, in dated old vocabulary!

 

A nasty fall, he scrapes his knee.

“Don’t worry, grandad, I’ll be fine!”

“Want to go for a walk, William?”

“Not yet, grandad.  Maybe…. Later.”

 

Words to use but, maybe, later disca...

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The Blue Balloon

I half blew up a blue balloon

And left it, deliberately, untied.

Then... I let it go...

It was a childish piece of grandad fun,

Which William greatly enjoyed.

 

The balloon made a whoosh for the window,

Colliding, abruptly, with the double glazing,

Directing it up to the ceiling,

Farting out air on the way.

Anticipating its imminent death,

It made a sudden dash ...

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A Poetic Complaint.

I think I've contracted 'Long Poetry.'

It started a good while ago.

At first it was a mild disease,

Consisting of just the odd line or two,

With nothing much to show.

But, now it's coming out in stanzas

And in great long turgid verse. 

I think it's a type of diarrhoea, 

Or, maybe it's something even worse!

Words keep on pouring out of me

In the form of poetic dysenter...

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Confessional

The genesis of my narrative invention

Began in the throes of Catholic confession,

What counted as a sin?

Where should I begin?

“I have disobeyed my mother

Seven times, father,

I have used bad words

Three times, father.”

The numbers were arbitrary.

The sins, venal.

I had to confess something.

 

“Two ‘Hail Marys’ and an ‘Our Father.’”

The priest passed sentence

...

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In the Shadow of St Leonard's

I sit here, in the graveyard of my dreams, 

Weeping stupid, futile tears,

For friends whom I have never known,

The chances I let pass me by

And for all the places I have never lived.

 

I did not live in Wentworth Street

And view Saint Leonard’s lonely church,

Halo'd by the setting sun,

Or wait in glorious trepidation

For my lustful new lover to come,

Whilst sipping...

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We Are Where We Are!

We are where we are.

We’re a planet, not a star! 

Global peace?

Carbon neutral?

It’s fair to say, 

We need to raise the bar.

Still, we are where we are.

 

Can you afford an electric car?

Is renewable energy on the way?

Which of us will be able to pay?

Who’s forking out for the cladding

On all those high-rise towers?

Where are we with H.S.2?

Someone needs t...

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Word Search

It comes to something when,

In the cradle of democracy,

Words like “shameful,” “egregious”

And “failure of judgement,” carry insufficient weight,

With the man in question

(Or those who sit behind him,

Avoiding our eyes, studying their navels

And their imperilled majorities)

To bring about the change

Our country craves.

 

What would the Gray Report have to say?

I...

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The Queen and her Platinum Generation

Whether her life was short or long,

She pledged her service to the nation,

And our Queen was as good as her word.

 

Her generation respects tenacity

Sharing her tact and diplomacy.

Life was to be lived with trust, honour

And consideration for one’s fellow man.

They don’t talk about their trouble and woes

But struggle to do the best that they can.

They scrimp, they sav...

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A Jubilee Line or two...

The crown is a symbol recurrent in poetry.

This hollow band runs through our history.

So, let us pay tribute to Her Majesty, for

Heavy is the head which wears the crown!

She manages the task with seeming ease,

Like a tightrope walker whose aim is to please

By staying upright to the very end of the line.

Steadfast and unstinting duty has kept her true.

Giving her unwavering ...

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All Things Considered

Taking into account the phases of the moon,

The history of the world

And all that might happen soon,

The pandemic, energy costs, inflation,

Growing international tension,

Partygate revelations

(Always worth a mention!)

Diabetes, dyspepsia and flatulence

Which plague me every night,

 

All things considered… I’m all right!

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The River of Lethe

When I leave a room, the life still goes on,

But in my mind, I am somewhere new.

Those people and their problems are gone.

I have assumed a different point of view.

Banished. Exiled. Forgotten.

I have pressed the re-set button,

So, I can focus on the here and now.

Out of sight is out of mind,

An attitude that is rather unkind…

 

I have left jobs, towns, relationships

...

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Becoming a Nokia G50

Where my phone ends and my hand begins

Is utterly impossible to discern,

They merge so seamlessly into each other!

I make more screen-time promises every day,

But it seems that I never learn.

 

“No!  Don’t take your eyes from the screen!

Focus! You pathetic knave, you useless slave!

 Your total attention is what I crave.”

 

My mind, or what is left of it,

Wanders o...

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Shapes

“Shapes are everywhere, grandad.  EVERYWHERE! 

There’s a triangle, here’s a square!”

William pointed through the moving car’s window.

He said all this with an air of complete surprise.

But I felt challenged to open my eyes,

To perceive this world with the mind of a child.

Yes, shapes ARE everywhere, it cannot be denied.

I was impressed by his delineation

(He only turned fou...

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childhood

We all live in the past...

The present flows rapidly behind me, as hard as I try

To hold a precious moment in my tremulous hand.

It slips. It’s gone; I watch that golden instant slide away

In the rear-view mirror of my chequered history,

Adding to all the endless acres of slurry and mud.

 

Our past; the opaque, unfathomable morass

Of what once happened, and can never happen again.

All the happiness, ...

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mud

Stuck in the Mud

Four horses were stood in a Care-Home field,

Sadly, chewing over the price of hay

And how much silage they ate each day.

 

“I used to inhabit a fine field of my own

With lush green grass, not rubble and stone!”

 

“Now we’re all stuck her in our filthy coats!”

 

“We are literally up to our knees in mud!

I’d complain to the farmer, but he’s no good!”

 

“Our foals ...

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mud

Woodland Sanctuary

 

 

As I crested the hill, I gasped for air.

The climb had been steep

And my aging lungs...inept.

 

My reward was an arboreal oasis!

I sat down, gladly, to gather my breath,

On a seat-shaped log from a fallen tree.

 

Regaining consciousness, I looked around,

Amazed at the tree trunk cross-sections,

The whorls and swirls of hard timber,

Strewn hither and t...

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The Scan

Today I examined a picture,

It was my first ever picture of you.

You were beautiful and peaceful,

Right from the very start!

Your eyes were closed,

There was a smile on your face.

You were dreaming your dreams

Of a wonderful life, which is yet to be.

This scan has given us prescience divine, 

Of Glories we cannot yet behold!

 

Your hands were lying at your sides,

...

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#freedom

(for my grandson)

 

Freedom is the imagination of a child,

Feelings flowing freely, stories running wild!

Uninhibited by life’s accountancy,

By endless dwelling on profit and loss, not yet

Hemmed in by grey stone walls or iron fences,

By petty quarrels or narrow self-interest.

A child’s imagination soars over such mundanity!

A life still to be lived, will not be so const...

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Freedom

A History Lesson

As a child I found a stinking gas mask.

It consisted of decaying rubber and plastic.

Uncomfortable though it was, I tried it on,

Constricting my breathing.  As under a green sea, 

I saw my sister, smiling…

I didn’t keep it on for very long!

I flung it back into the drawer

With all the farthings and the ha’pennies

And a ration book, redundant relics

From the Second World...

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The Skylight

 

 

 

 

This skylight is a work of art,

A Rachel Whiteread Installation,

Worthy of the Turner Prize.

Yet all I do is open my eyes!

Framed moving pictures depict the heavens,

Exhibiting patterns of every fresh day.

 

A Rothko print of solid blue

With a ‘planes streaming vapour trail

Arrowing through…

 

Louring skies tinged from grey to black,

Hailston...

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A Convenient Time

“Her timing was impeccable,” Amanda said,

When she told me that her mum was dead.

I mumbled words of weak condolence

As she shed some silent, angry tears.

 

Yet her grief seemed somehow heightened

By the frustration felt by those of us

Still lumbered with this mortal coil.

“Why did it have to happen NOW?

In the middle of this Easter rush!”

 

Let’s not beat about th...

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#tears

My Mother, Waving Goodbye.

I could see her on the first-floor landing

As I drove off from the car park below,

Her hand was raised, waving gladly.

She was peering, blindly, towards me,

With eyes which had ceased being able to see.

A mother’s smile was on her face

Epitomising all her love and grace.

 

I stopped the car to dab my eyes,

She would never see the tears I cried,

When I spotted my mothe...

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#tears

Your Tears Returned

Two separate, lonely tears descend your cheeks,

Through the moody darkness beneath your eyes,

Precious pearls which leave no streaks.

Are you crying for all those refugees?

The brutality heaped upon our fellow Man.

Or is your sadness so much closer to home?

I will solve your sorrow if I can.

I will roll those tears back, ascending your face,

Retracing their path to your bea...

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#tears

Hand in hand

Come, put your loving hand in mine

And share this moment quite sublime.

The brush of your flesh, your gentle touch,

Acknowledgement which means so much.

 

We struggle through the day-to-day,

With never-ending, enervating obligations,

And soul-destroying bills which we must pay!

Let us make some time for just you and me,

Time to enjoy our own unique intimacy!

Let’s pee...

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After Life

In this individualistic age

Why should I be constrained

By organised religious belief,

In my assessment of what the After Life

Has in store?

I used to believe that when we die

We’d be just so much compost on the floor,

Now I’m convinced that there must be more.

I hanker after Elysian Fields,

Perfumed gardens with laurel leaves,

An army of angels mopping my brow.

I’...

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Retirement Time Crush

(The challenge, set by Rasa Kabaila, was to write a poem with the word “crush” within it.  It was supposed to be a 10-line poem but I always write too much!)

 

Mention ‘retirement’ to the working poor,

And they will swear and go purple in the face!

"What lounging around watching day-time TV?" 

I must tell them, sternly, this is not the case!

 

We are within a remorseless crush...

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Forever Young

GRANDPA IS MY BESTIE

Is emblazoned across this shirt

Which you used to own.

It looks so tiny in my hands!

A visual manifestation

Of how incredibly tall you have grown

In such a very short time!

It makes me sad, yet happy,

To see it lying there.

A token of the special bond

We shared.

 

And share still.

Time has moved on, Will,

Your shirts are double that si...

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childhood

The Death of a Poem

 Writing a poem is like committing a crime

At least that’s what it feels like,

Most of the time!

 

The poem was found at the back of a drawer.

It lay, disregarded, lifeless and moribund.

Foul play was suspected, but who was to blame?

The suspect's motives, opportunity and means

All had to be carefully inspected!

 

Do we detect a motive here?

A reason for putting pe...

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Homeless

 

I thought of you as a friend.

We shared our bread

Our innermost thoughts

Our shopping bills, the very air

We breathed, our lives, our home.

 

Now, ‘our’ has become just ‘I’ and ‘me’,

Did the marriage of our minds

Simply fail to satisfy you.

Did I snore? Did my breath smell bad?

Was I the worst nightmare you ever had?

 

I am out on the streets,

As the col...

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Jolly Fine Words

Words are jolly fine!

They are a veritable mine

Of communication tools,

Enlightening, intriguing, illuminating,

Freely available to any old fool,

As I am duly demonstrating!

 

The words and phrases Shakespeare used

Forsooth, are equally available to you and me,

They are ready to hand and entirely free.

I can adapt and modify the Bard’s great words,

Imagining that t...

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Soppy Love Songs

We hang upon the melody for its gentle fall and rise,

So, the entry of the violins should come as no surprise.

The affirmations of undying love, run rife,

Life without you, darling, would be such a chore!

But I am questioning the morality of love songs.

I’m, frankly, dubious about their integrity

I’ve been duped by their delusional qualities

Oh, so many times before

And I d...

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Just a Bit of Banter

Does this place look familiar?

Do you feel like you’ve been here before?

Listen!  Someone is ranting!

About not giving to the poor!

“If they’re hungry and if they’re homeless,

Well, that’s what the workhouse is for!”

Bob Cratchit is in there, 

But he doesn’t look up!

He has too many eviction notices, 

To be prepared, in time

For Christmas Day!

 

The offices of o...

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In Praise of Words

Words are wonderful!

They are infinitely adaptable.

Words are the ultimate in recyclable

Resources. Horses which are unbeatable

On so many different courses.

“Words can mean, what I want them to mean,”

As Humpty Dumpty scornfully said.

Which was witty, if not entirely true,

In Alice’s view.

 

Words will come unbidden to my mind

Then disappear into the misty air,

...

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Let Sleeping Poets Lie

I used to teach proverbs back in the day.

Well, ‘teach’ may be overstating the case.

Anyway, it was acceptable in the eighties,

As they say.

You could teach what you wanted to,

At the time.

I would give them the first part

And they would finish the line.

 

But time waits for nobody, and time

Has healed our knowledge of proverbs.

An adage?                    Silence...

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