Poetry Blog by J R Harris

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Stephen Gospage on My Un-favourite Things (Sat, 21 Nov 2020 05:43 pm)

J R Harris on My Un-favourite Things (Fri, 20 Nov 2020 03:40 pm)

julie callaghan on My Un-favourite Things (Fri, 20 Nov 2020 03:03 pm)

Rose Casserley on My Un-favourite Things (Fri, 20 Nov 2020 02:47 pm)

M.C. Newberry on My Un-favourite Things (Fri, 20 Nov 2020 02:30 pm)

J R Harris on Look What They’ve Done to My Town Ma (Homage or apology to Melanie Safka) (Sun, 14 Jul 2019 01:52 pm)

Don Matthews on Look What They’ve Done to My Town Ma (Homage or apology to Melanie Safka) (Sun, 14 Jul 2019 10:33 am)

Big Sal on Garden Sin City (Sat, 12 Jan 2019 02:19 am)

J R Harris on Garden Sin City (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 03:45 pm)

Don Matthews on Garden Sin City (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 02:22 pm)

My Un-favourite Things

fish and chip papers and stained smelly sweaters

dirty used condoms, the posh man’s French letters

fresh fast food cartons and old condom packets

discarded pizzas and broken squash racquets

matches, match boxes and cigarette butts,

oodles of noodles from someone’s spilt guts

ring pulls and beer cans, sharp broken glass

empty pill sachets and a lost covid mask

unwanted penni...

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Simply ABC






























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Look What They’ve Done to My Town Ma (Homage or apology to Melanie Safka)

Look what they’ve done to my town Ma.

Look what they’ve done to my town Ma.

Well they’ve dressed it up as a high street store

And now it wears a frown Ma.

Look what they’ve done to my town.


Why did they steal our past days Ma?

Why did they steal our past days Ma?

Well they put it to a public vote

But the votes were soon erased Ma.

Why did they steal our past days?


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Garden Sin City

In 'pound' emporiums

and slightly more

upgraded enterprises

there can be found

all manner of

garden embellishment


here in garden sin city

price palpably

provokes purchasers

to lose all respect

to lose all taste

where thrift is queen


here punters peruse

plentiful unsavoury        

gaudy garden gimmicks

crude plastic knick-knacks

pretending t...

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Flowers for Grandma

the customary 2-up-2-down

was ample habitat

for four adults and me

mam and dad and grandma

and my uncle Jim

and a radio and archaic TV


tiny house and living room

but quite adequate

and never limited to the child

who was odd and unusual

but imaginative

and given the freedom to run wild


the light bulb took precedent

we never changed it

in the six y...

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Wigan's Diversity

An ambiguous, aristocratic, Albanian albino-acrobatic-artist ambled aimlessly along Amberswood, apparently aggravated, albeit assertive and asking awkwardly about accumulating anaerobic activity adjacent active anthills around acutely acidic areas; but behold - beautiful, brassy, bohemian, Bickershaw-Brazilian, Beatrice blabbered bountiful bunkum, boldly bickering, beckoning bystanders, besides be...

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I was absolutely furious

the other day

when I realised that


had nicked my apostrophe


but the worse crime

was committed

by the person who returned it


put it back in the wrong place!!!

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Southport line IV: 1971 (Easter outing to Southport from Wigan Wallgate Station)

(Note: this is the fourth in a series of personal relections of Wigan's 'Southport' railway line - all are in chronological order. This offering eandeavours to capture the constant rythm of the train along the rail tracks)


down on the platform

waiting for trains

five hundred youngsters

anxious for games


girls in their minis

boys in their flairs

flaunting their fashio...

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Mickey Dalton

Mickey Dalton was quite well-known

an exceptional character of particular note

he charmed or bemused the beholder

playing the gent or acting the goat


for proverbial urination

Mickey hadn’t a pot or a bowl

but was always impeccably turned out

whenever he collected his dole


in fresh pressed suit and bowler hat

and a flower in his lapel

he marched with any cree...

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Remembering the River Douglas

my dad remembered

his dad remembering

his ancestors’ ‘rememberings’

of trout frolicking

in Wigan’s once

cool, clean, clear river

(you could bathe in it

and drink from it)


I remember

my enthralment

and pals’ fascination

(which I related to my brood)

that polluted interlude

when I watched

rainbow colours dancing

on the meandering

oil-slicked surfa...

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The current obsession with gin

worries me;

My inherent memory sparks unease

with whiffs

of 17th century Protestants

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The Lady at Scholes

I was nineteen and my hair almost waist length

the old lady across the road studied me at length


"why don’t you cut your hair?"

"why do you have it so long?"


she hijacked several people

pointing at me accusingly

and singing the same song

as if I’d done something wrong


but despite her being in a bit of a whirl

she seemed a very nice old girl.

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The Landscape Gardener and the Chap on the Telly

Note: this is perhaps my most strictly structured work. Each stanza consists of 5 lines with the number of syllables in each line repeated throughout – a regular pattern. However, the rhyme is atypical in that the first and last lines rhyme and there is an added rhyme in the fourth line. The third line is short and quick, providing a break between the narrative in the first two and last two lines.


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I Can't Paint, I can Paint


I can

I can't

I can't paint

I can't paint any

I can't paint anymore

I can't paint anymore seas

I can't paint anymore seascapes

I can't paint anymore seas

I can't paint anymore

I can't paint any

I can't paint

I can't

I can

I can paint

I can paint a can

I can paint a can opener

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The Yellow-Bellied Idles (Homage to J. Milton Hayes)

There’s a notable bronze statue on the flats in Wigan Park,

There’s an obvious plain aftermath of harm; 

And an aggravated gardener tends the vandals’ senseless lark, 

While Sir Francis Powel regards it with alarm.


All the vandals in the park tend to surface after dark,

When it’s difficult to spot their yellow streak:

With grand stupor they engage in a brainless sabotage,


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Montrose Avenue, Wigan

Policemen sleep

albeit restlessly

Their slumber

intermittently interrupted

 by boy racers

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Wigan, twinned with Tangier

my first exploration

of Morocco

as a get-up-and-go

young man

began in Tangier

and it was here

that I witnessed more

beggars than

I’d ever seen before


in those days

the Beggar Populace

would always be

a Premiership Queen Bee

and Wigan in contrast

was a poor, poor flea

with non-league status


but today

to my dismay

and regardless of gend...

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Another Day in the Life (a bit further SW of Blackburn, Lancashire)


I have been driving more than usual

though I’ve been


for the majority of the time

in jams

and annoying red lights


the green lights only allow two vehicles

through at a time


in irritation, annoyance and ultimately



just after spying the tunnel’s distant light


being lulled into false vehicular liberation...


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What if: nightmares, angst and fears

what is a dream; what is reality?

what is death; what’s on the other side?

it’s perhaps our vulnerability

our most distressing convictions

our most dreadful nightmares…


what if you die tonight?


how do we differentiate between

what is considered to be reality

and what is deemed to be a dream?

in what we assume to be the reality

is the actuality effectively a ...

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When God created Wiganers

when the task of creating Wiganers

appeared on the agenda for God

I like to think he made us unique

strangely peculiar rather than odd


market traders, miners, mill workers

witty, welcoming and worldly wise

with a distinctive diet consisting of

apple crumble... and humble pies

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Kenny Turton was adorable but a touch odd

he’d always volunteer to sing at the Boys’ Club

and was forever a peculiarly entertaining lad

devious and a romancer but never bad


a likeable lad who in the 50s i briefly knew

but was an older peer that i could relate to

much later in life i heard he’d progressed

to literary status working for the press


eventually i graspe...

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Southport line III – 1969 (Blackberry Way, A Clockwork Orange, peril and the driver’s face)

i hadn’t yet read A Clockwork Orange in ‘69

but i was 15 and the same age as Alex

and my ‘Blackberry Way’

was about to become

Alex’s 5th and 9th


i hadn’t yet been introduced to Alex’s classics

but i’d become obsessed with Beat Music

and in early nineteen-sixty-nine

The Move’s Blackberry Way

topped the UK charts


i hadn’t any of Alex’s psychopathic penchants


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Southport Line II – the 60s (last days of steam)

Houghton’s Lodge offered exceptional fishing

with legends of Jack the elusive monster pike

and young Wilky purportedly capturing a record perch

while neighbouring trains entertained between each strike


fishing was never a personal enchantment

but the nature and camaraderie proved paramount

and angling often merged with casual train-spotting 

fish to catch and steam trains...

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Southport Line I – mid 50s to early 60s (childhood)

forever the daydreamer

since the dawn

of my being


daydreams presided

over schooling

and teachers rebuked


but never detrimental

to the dreamer

who flourished


never a dilemma

ever buoyant

never a concern


each evening

familiar daydreams

were trusted escorts


excepting night-time

when night-terrors

hijacked the dreams



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Lord and Sharman shoe factory; Pemberton

i never liked making those soulless shoes

i never liked being constrictively enclosed

for eight hours a day

like a convicted prisoner with the blues

forced to pay his dues

but forever the masochist

i volunteered to even more daily hours of penal strife

to financially augment the restricted liberty of teenage life

blissfully after my longest four years

of oppression discr...

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Les Pennington had a cracking cricket bat

and it doubled as a bazooka which was good

it wasn’t one of those cheap efforts from Woolies

it was made from good mature willow wood


he’d got it from Kay’s which was quite ironic

as they sold mainly ex-army and military bits

i never dared ask where he got the money from

but he’d bought it second-hand for 10 and 6


each mor...

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Summer - Time

what happened to the long hot summers

of the ‘50s and ‘60s

what happened to the weather?


what happened to time slowly ticking

and school holidays

that always lasted forever?


i can guess what became of the weather

pollution, climate change

capitalism and environmental crime


but as deep as i dive into the depths of my mind

i still can’t fathom

who’s gu...

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The fools at the end of the Pier

the fools at the end of Wigan’s pier

are progressively threatening its stability

and more alarmingly this outlandish breed

is compromising Wigan’s credibility

their once demographic insignificance

now grows like a worrying tumour

eating into Wigan’s meat-pie heart

like sinister Poe-esque dark humour


they are any and every gender

cultivated at a very early age


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who could resist what Susan had to offer?
even though she was peculiarly odd
but what other girl from Marsh Green 
would dig your garden over for ten bob?

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Mesnes Park; Wigan’s Jewel in the Crown

the celebrated Mesnes Park 
has deservedly enjoyed much fame
and the green-less vainglorious 
out of the woodwork came
to assume key roles in this popular green game

the gardeners however
haven’t enjoyed much of the acclaim 
they are merely pawns in the game
but will always be given prominence 
(when things go wrong)
as scapegoats to take the blame

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Dust: an observation

never smells sweeter
than when
heavy raindrops
hit parched concrete

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Haigh Plantations: 1860 to 2017; games, nature and Phytophthora ramorum

beneath a rich lofty canopy
lurked a sinister understory 
the wolf in sheep’s clothing
the unbecoming Rhododendron
that spiteful dominatrix 
in her leathery verdure
the one who abhors sweet lime
but delights in sour acidity 
the one who cajoles the beholder
while her acid tongue 
simultaneously poisons mother earth
her gaudy seductive blooms 
disguise her treachery
and once smelled of...

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The Westwood Cooling Towers – Execution Day

that flawless diptych of minimalism
simplistic architectural precision
a colossal condiment set
an arresting landmark
once commanding respect
the sentry gateway 
guarding the trodden ceremonial
pulverised-fuel-ashed path
to Westwood’s curious
and unnatural landscape

those impeccable twins who were
Wigan’s Colossi of Memnon
were sadly and rarely respected
seldom treasured
their util...

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