Poetry Blog by Ralph Dartford

Leaving Upton Park

Sometimes we’d win and we’d all go berserk.
But the bubbles have burst since we left Upton Park.
Hurst, Peters and Moore, an honest days work.
Sometimes we’d win and we’d all go berserk.

Sometimes we’d lose and we’d all rant and rave.
A tear up on the terraces, give the enemy a shave.
“West Ham until I die, until I’m in the grave.”
Sometimes we’d lose and we’d all rant and rave.

“But we’...

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At the Arts Council in Manchester

And to think I was just about to complain about
the weakness of the coffee when my head turned
through the glass to witness the hearse arguing in traffic.

It was a standoff for sure. I knew this when death itself gave
up its ghost to breath beside me awhile, to show patience.
There was no rain, wind or violins. England will never be mine.

A gold coffin the size of a malt loaf, vibrating ...

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If I Could Take A Day

My love and I go fretting
after the late summer sun,
then into the dusk of the 
West Yorkshire towns.

Morley, Horbury, Dewsbury.

The night turns,
but the heat sticks, releases
the musk of suburbia’s
dying roses. 

The windows are open
and I will once again try 
to speak of the years that
take their toll.

Of the boy born from the
slabs of Essex.

The long time ago.


I ...

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Haiku Five O'

Beside the wet kerb,
chips and doner meat sleep deep.
Friday fades away.

Taxis rear homewards,
the ambulance falls silent.
A dead one maybe.

A kiss for a wish
under the railway bridges.
That enough for her?

The town bells ringing
and a rain ceases to fall.
Starlight, moonlight now.

Saturday is here,
a guilty secret laid bare.
Sunday we’ll forget.

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Rumours of a Hurricane

The sky is a peculiar
shade of mackerel.
Not freshly caught,
but maybe out of date.

A bit like your your
ridiculous rationale,
ill informed and
unacceptably late.

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Us! (For the New Hanbury Creative Writing Project)

We will last.
We will see it through
to the glorious never ending.

We don’t flinch
or as Jack Kerouac once wrote,
‘say a commonplace thing’.

These writers here,
my writers,
have held my hand
more than I theirs.

In these last minutes
there is just the
sound of pens
over paper,

a piano,
and Billy shouting
in the garden, again.

We are free
when we write.
We tell the truth...

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Soul Boy

I am fifteen years old,
a wedge haircut before Brideshead,
a forever flicked fringe, soul blue eyes.
It’s 1979, my last summer has gone.

I am the Saturday boy
at Lilley and Skinner. Selling shoes,
pop socks and polish to the pay packeted,
the dolled up girls from the factory.

The manager, a face of a weasel
was friendly, as to be in love. Together
we would stride to the market at lun...

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You told me at bedtime
of a secret land, where
planes, tanks and troops
resided, primed to kill for
our republic of Essex.

You said tomorrow the
enemy will be within
the marshes and creeks
of Benfleet.

The invasion never came
and you went bus spotting
instead. I listened to the radio,
waiting for news of war,
stocking up on mum’s fruit
and hiding beneath my bed,
until you came h...

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The Girl With No Name

Wish you’d been with me at the open window,
and that you hadn’t gone astray. We’d have
smoked rocks of crack by the open window,
waiting for the moon to come out to pray.

We could have spied on the neighbours from
the open window. Thrown weighted red gas bills
on passing cars, the open window a stereo
of traffic, off to Leeds, or maybe to Mars.

We would have kissed hard at the open

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The Comer Inner

Sunday morning 
walk in Breton,
with our hats,
new scarves,
old gloves,
boots and 
our dog,
Big Ron.

in my ear
all warmly,
“This one’s by
Gormley”. I reply,
“Oh, I adore Moore”.
You grab my coat, shout

with a Yorkshire frown,
“Don't come it, love.
We don’t like that
kind of language,
not round here,
not in our tiny
market town,
eh Big Ron?"

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We’re telling you things can get better,

that there is no need to worry. Because

you are not the maker of these days

and neither are we. And if push came to shove

we will stop the above clichés right now and


change this station by thought alone.

We can play you the music worth dancing to

whilst time tricks to click you backwards and

forwards, with its mission to stop a...

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For a Few Dollars More

Just off Union Square

I eat the finest pizza served

for a few dollars on a paper plate.


The remainder of the night is spent

listening to overwrought poets.

Even so, I cannot shake the taste of

‘Joe’s Super Slice’, its warmth

on my tongue, the ripened peppers


and undercooked dough. Strolling back

to the hotel, I demand more, and I return,  

but the sauce is n...

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Peggy Seeger


At Kala Sangam in Bradford

late Sunday afternoon, one singer

sits on a hard chair waiting for the other

to take the stage, tune her guitar to

the required key before saying, “Hello

Ladies and Gentlemen.” There are

moments, in a life, that linger.


These two beloved women

stand on linoleum and talk

only briefly, about the songs maybe,

how they endure against t...

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Some newcomers break vows upon seeing white lines.

They roll ten pound notes that refuse to find


a way back to their pockets, but are shared,

lifted and gifted to the nostrils of strangers,

who are persuasive at plundering.


Some, can be blown free, levitate

to touch fingertips, then outstretched arms,

gathered as if puppies from the riverbank,  


saved from to...

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As we walk through the theatre doors
into the neon lit foyer, the coffee bar
where the festival folk gather, you sigh for those
other visits here, enjoying the reminiscence

and now the renaissance. Within the chitter chatter
of the twitched queue, you rummage, scraping
for notes that will give us minutes of mediation,
not, as others may think, to discuss 

actors or plot devices. No, we...

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I never had a Kagoole
at school.
I thought them 
not very cool.

But now I'm no fool
cos I got one in the hall.
With zips, 
a hood an' all.

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To Pray

As I breathe into this window
misting the rain streaks
nose catching the chill.
I look down and across.

A child runs this way, that way
through the graveyard.
Maybe laughing.

Oh! If I only could be carried to the daisies
the creeping and stinging weeds of age.
I would hold a scythe to myself
hack at the waste.

On the glass I write,
‘All is not lost.’
Maybe believing.

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Come Sunday

Whilst you
your kitchen
on Sunday morning
an old woman
knocked at your

She’d moved
here yesterday
and had made
you a pie
of apple and

To say hello.
To calm from
loneliness and fear.

But you
missed her.

Your powerful
Headphones played
‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’
by the Stones.

Your crystal
pipe and oblivion
left her walking

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Of Dean, Frith and Greek

Friday night alive with the metronome.

Payday peacocks say farewell to the week.

Showing our colours on Old Compton Street.

Pecking the streets of Dean, Frith and Greek.


Pubs we hop in as if penguins.

Amphetamines and Guinness.

The black on white, the white on black,

in praise of Colin MacInnes. 


Dancing to music we can’t comprehend,

from New York to Mornington...

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What I Heard In Sharrow Vale (for Pete Mckee)

Now then!


In December 1950

Pablo Picasso

visited Sheffield

for a hair cut

and some peace.


It was as cold

as cubism

that day

at Butlers Café.


They say,

and I don’t know

If it’s true

that he also had

a big old fry up.


Some even go on to say

that when the plate arrived

the artist made a face

out of the




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'I’m a







drug addict.


I’ll take my heart

rip it apart

wont care that

without it

I'll be reduced

to shards

and the shit

of a stinking

human being

that you should

not be seen

to have touched

or loved.


I am scum

I am rum

I am crack pipe

I am coke.


I am weed

I am ...

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There May Be Good Blossom

We have wounds.

I tell myself this as I finger the scar on my cheek, wince at the film of it in the mirror.

Memories are blood.

I walk downstairs. The party swings like a bell and detritus reigns. There are crushed cans, plastic plates, dog ends and a burnt sausage in a wine glass. There’s an assignation in the hallway that ends in a punched wall.

My birthday party comes and goes each ...

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Henry Miller at Denny's


So we are driving
to Sacramento. 

The usual crew:
Me and you.

We stop at Denny’s
for something to eat. 

A shake,
a bake and a

Troy tells me
to look in the corner.

I can’t believe this.

A man,
old and cold,
looms over his coffee
cup and reads a

I can’t read the title,
something by Bukowski
or me maybe.

I want to ...

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A not bright

Red Kite  

hung, strung

over a city,

whilst dawn flushes

the moon, the stars.


Eyes beaded as the 

Westgate winds

march kebab meat,

chips, and prophylactic

knickers from

kerb to kerb.


For Shrews and Voles

are confusing to hunt.

And as King Lear

noted of the Kite

he detested,

”Look to your lesser linen.”

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The Southpaw

entry picture

The Southpaw

walked away from home

a long time ago.


Leaving behind friends,

clutching addiction’s book of lies

that would never pull him through.


Unaware of the revelatory

he went down those steps

and then down some more.


At the bottom he found

a place that even devils

could not comprehend.


It was a world without love.

Where blood is boile...

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The Twelve Steps of Poets Anonymous


Many of you know that I suffer from mental health issues that have in the past led me to a dark place. Things are somewhat better for me these days due to the encouragement of fellow sufferers and of course, being in therapy.

My therapist’s name is Julian. He is a nice man, younger than me, good looking with a job that pays well. He wears nice chinos and sweaters, and drives a Land Rover...

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Two Magpies Dead

entry picture

This night screams for mercy,
as you tell yourself a tale.
Keeping your own company,
is the man who never learnt good.

Come the dawn chorus,
you’ll hide from the sun again.
Stoning two magpies dead,
if they ever bothered to show.

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Bound for Glory

entry picture

The determined first
of January is made
for those inclined
and the ones that
have lied to themselves
about trying.

I’m sofa bound
for glory days
with my own plans
of sobriety and what
passes for happiness
at any cost.

I have a big book
pillows and duvet
Springsteen and coffee
to chase the anxiety
that’s trying its best
to poison this night.

It’s expected
for folk such as m...

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Recent Comments

raypool on Leaving Upton Park (6 days ago)

Cynthia Buell Thomas on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 09:47 pm)

DESMOND CHILDS on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 01:40 pm)

Helen Elliott on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 12:47 pm)

raypool on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 11:58 am)

Wolfgar Miere on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 10:00 am)

Graham Sherwood on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 09:56 am)

Colin Hill on If I Could Take A Day (Fri, 3 Nov 2017 09:17 am)

Cynthia Buell Thomas on Haiku Five O' (Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:04 pm)

Philip Stevens on Joseph (Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:38 am)

Philip Stevens on Us! (For the New Hanbury Creative Writing Project) (Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:33 am)

Philip Stevens on Haiku Five O' (Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:31 am)

Colin Hill on Rumours of a Hurricane (Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:21 am)

raypool on Rumours of a Hurricane (Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:43 pm)

Wolfgar Miere on Us! (For the New Hanbury Creative Writing Project) (Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:06 pm)


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