Poetry Blog by Ralph Dartford

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Kate G on Serotonin Rag (2 days ago)

Brian Maryon on Serotonin Rag (2 days ago)

Don Matthews on Serotonin Rag (2 days ago)

Philip Stevens on Alcatraz Housing Estate. Basildon  (2 days ago)

Philip Stevens on Serotonin Rag (2 days ago)

Tom on Victory to the Miners! (Mon, 30 Sep 2019 02:07 pm)

Ralph Dartford on Victory to the Miners! (Mon, 30 Sep 2019 01:44 pm)

Ralph Dartford on The Stigmatisations (Mon, 30 Sep 2019 01:21 pm)

Cynthia Buell Thomas on The Stigmatisations (Mon, 30 Sep 2019 01:17 pm)

Don Matthews on Victory to the Miners! (Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:49 pm)

Serotonin Rag

Here doctor, here we all are, 

the lonely hearts of Blighty.

Hunched up in your waiting rooms.

Confused, broken and flighty.


I scream, 

you scream.

We all scream

for Dopamine!


Big Pharma they are all shouting, 

that we haven’t got enough.

They’ll dishing out chemical kisses,

and these tablets are the love.


I scream,

you scream.

We all scream...

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December 26th (after Vasko Popa)

December 26th (after Vasko Popa)

Don’t disturb, shake or open. Just bare to stare at it a while.You can only guess what’s inside. And you will, of course. It’s irresistible, isn’t it? Within, there could be dreams, ambition, some hatred. A ball of string of unknown length, a lone broken heart, perhaps. Actually, don’t guess, because rumours are sometimes for those whose nose will lead us to p...

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The Stigmatisations

Hello Ralphie.

How you been?

You’re looking well.

Perhaps a little thin.


Yes. I’d love to meet you for lunch.

Give me a week, I’ll give you a bell.

No, I can’t come out right now, Ralphie boy.

I won’t sniff around to your smell. 



Lovely to see you again, Mr Dartford.

It’s been the longest of times.

I bet in preparation for this interview

you’ve hoove...

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Victory to the Miners!

There’s indentations on this 

chipboard wall from bedposts,

punched sex and addiction.Take

away menus in the hallway gloss 

over red gasbills. Her birthday card.


This keyhole is worn. Busted 

with burn marks and glue. There’s

a carved name on the doorframe.

Unfinished and uncontested.


On the front step, a bottle of milk curdles 

sweetly from four days hot wi...

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Woody Guthrie Says

I’ve sat in circles of addicts and heard  

stories of belief and higher powers. Of 

gods of our own understanding worth 

more than Jesus and a burning bush.


I’ve never joined in this feast. I’d pinch

salt to melt my own suffering. That was 

just enough to see me home to bed. My 

act of living is a small volume of poetry. 


But today at the station I saw a man so 


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Recovery Songs

Dear hearts. 


I’ve got just 10 copies left  now of pre publication copies of ‘Recovery Songs’ left. The book is not officially published until the 17th October.


If you’d like to buy a copy, they cost £11.49 (including first class postage) and you can get it here.




Here are some information about the book and some reviews:



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Jesus Drives a Hyundai


Saturday night late 

and the girl’s shoes

can’t walk in a straight line.

There’s a man leering as she

pulls her skirt an inch lower

to the height of her thighs.



A bottle smashes

a birthday kiss forever. 

A step forward and to

the right and the couple

just might have had a life 

by the sea. Grandchildren, love.



An a...

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Alcatraz Housing Estate. Basildon 

Perhaps once every other summer

there are those sacred hours. When

the air, the fragrance and the heat

of the sun are all in this singular place.


Sometimes It’s hard to touch nostalgia, 

but I swear I almost saw you today.

A trimmed rose, a bookmarked

page. Telling me what was for tea.

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A Sharp Intake

Realisations are sometimes horrific.

The empty biscuit tin, the final scrape 

of butter. The dirty penny from the jar.


Breath, when taken deeply, will

dislodge truths that were stuck

and locked, if we slowly exhale.


The way the men held me down 

and entered me that night, or the

last time you said you loved me. 

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I wish I owned

a big house 

with a big wall 

so that everyone


I love and have 

ever loved were

all inside, safe, 

sound and warm.


Because a storm

has come now

to engulf us,

to tear us apart.


We’ll need glue

and haberdashery.

laughter, patience. 

My mothers lucky charms.



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The Paint Stained Screamer (after David Hockney)


He’s always been tricks of light, you know.

Los Angeles, the East Yorkshire Wolds.

A right caution in his naughty boy days:

a bug eyed, paint stained screamer.


But standing here upon this stone

with ghosts of weavers, twitch and bone.

The point is he’s unraveling joy. 

Life is short when in-between.


He’s working fast from hedge and ditch. 

Frenzied fingers...

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What Thought Did

My heartbreak thought

that to smoke crack 

would take away the pain.


‘Just one more little rock.’


My mother thought

that to drink stout would

cure her of her cancer.


‘Guinness is good for you!’


My father thought 

that to back white horses 

would make him millions.


‘You’ve got to have a system.’


They are both dead 

and deserted no...

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Alice Springs 1999

Here. On the other side of the 

world, the truth is over exposed 

for history’s whim. A discoloration.


Here. The locals sneer at the English, 

restrict oxygen to the indigenous,

cannot understand the word, ‘generous’.


Here. Convenience forgets kindness, buries

a bone so it won’t grow. Flies cultivate on

hate. This ‘here’ is anywhere, but there.




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The Madness of Prime Minister Johnson

So anyway folks, to get back to luck 

and where we were before being abruptly

interrupted by the consensus of opinion.

Let’s discuss the resolution of how we 

live and die, the constitution of the masons.


My opinion is to continue the culling,

take what was never rightfully ours. 

The only argument is when to slaughter. 

But let’s back to luck and the masons, 

and i...

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In Susan’s Room. England, May 1982


Red roses and creosote. 

Overalls and medium wave. 

Jimmy Saville spins 

the hits from the years. 



We revise geography 

in our teenage underwear.


Motes of pollen swirl in

a roll. We can’t feel it

but somewhere 

there is air. 


On our radio, 

war correspondents dictate 

the truth of living and dying - 

the moments of in-be...

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As if Dancing to Basie (after Phil Burdett)

Warm beer,

rosary beads,

clutched for nothing

but comfort.


This knotted man 

is undone, nightly.


He two steps the pier

as if dancing to Basie.

Memories thrumming his head,

a persistent moth

that finally settles

to a baseball card

on a back bicycle wheel.


The road melt day in 1962,

riding with Stephen Chambers,

to the lighthouse and beyond...

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On a Bench at St Osyth’s Bay

On a Bench at St Osyth’s Bay


If only Franz Ferdinand had taken

a holiday in rainy St Osyth‘s.


If only they’d stopped Hitler at Nuremberg 

with love and fresh white scented roses.


If only Blair had taken Ecstasy with 

Bush in a tranced up field of bliss.


If only Lampard’s goal had not been dissallowed,

a wife could have been saved with a kiss.


If ...

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After Ian Curtis

In Manchester. A meal with my therapist.

And she said, I’d become a terrorist

to her thoughts of the unkempt heart.


But I only asked the question, ‘Will these

Oysters give me indigestion?

Or will the flatulence tear us apart?’

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Holding Hands Through Hard Times

Be careful of 

whom you choose,

but do it today.


Find one, interlock, 

it will help you.

If only for seconds.


For these are the 

days when the cat 

has our tongues.


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She Hates Shoplifters but Applauds her Employer’s Tax Avoidance

Please let them die,

put them inside.

They are nowt

but smack heads

and scum.


I love my job

scanning baked 

beans for pennies, 

as the rich shaft 

me right up the bum.

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By the River Don I Sat Down and Wept

And they say to me, 

these kind people. 


‘Come with us, 

we will relieve 

you of sorrow. 


For what you have

is a disease. 

A malady of the soul.’


I can’t do that and won’t. 

Because to carry is to own.


The things I did were not 

conjured by gods or devils. 


That’s far too easy.



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On Frenchman Street I Fell Down and Smiled


I notice that my shoe lace is 

undone as I sit down on the kerb

and listen to the street band

blow and pull faces of exhilaration.


I could tie it now or just smoke 

this cigarette as the sun sets sharply

over my New Orleans and worry 

about the consequences later.


I trip and fall to my knees often. 

It’s noted and laughed at by many.

But this city accep...

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We first met at a chemist in Hackney.

I had acne. You, a yeast infection.

Oh how we laughed!  Ha ha ha..


Bit on reflection,

I shouldn’t have mentioned

because it caused a tension

that love bite on your neck,

but what the heck, there

was something between us.


And as we walked to Dalston,

you were such a caution,

as you told me of your lovers.

A life liv...

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We Are What We Eat

What we are.

This Island?


Mutton dressed as lamb.

A grainy gravy

that tastes of

stiff upper lip,


and compromise.


The same as it ever was.

Short changed,

side plated with fat,

apple pie and custard.


Give us this.


a deep blue sea.


Where we 

discover pearls.


Others perhaps.

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Five Fathoms

On my own on the other side of

the world, the sky over exposed 

to gravity’s whim, to disorientation.


The locals here sneer at the English,

restrict oxygen to the indigenous, 

cannot understand the word, ‘generous’. 


And I’m five fathoms high with altitude 

at an all time low. The flies always

settling. I’m anywhere but home.


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Carolyn Cassidy Told Me

We pitched our tents at 

Big Sur and sat around

talking about freedom.


We slept under rainfall

and in the morning left;

trapped by all that jazz.


On the way back to Frisco,

you told me I made you lonely.

That freedom was for the birds.

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That Poetry Voice

As a man of a ruck-sacked

youth, I found myself in an

Amsterdam hotel room. 


Clutching the sheets in 

paranoia as the ceiling fan

threatened decapitation.


But although it felt like death, 

the fellatio of your vowels, render

revaluation a worthwhile cause. 



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Coiled on the verges of 

England’s old backroads 

in April’s pollutant sunshine

hiss a nation’s ancient snakes.


The occasional car passes, 

but it’s the others they’ll bite. 

The tired Shylocks and Muslims. 

The Romanians and the Golliwogs. 


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Donny and Marie Stole the Highlights

In a New Town hallway,

opposite the cupboard that

hid a menagerie of coats

with secrets in their pockets,

rested our technology.


Avocado in tone and mutant of trill.

It was the business headquarters

of a family facing the final third 

of the twentieth century with 

the optimism of post war spivs.


My dad with his greyhound 

tips and building site blackmail...

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