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Barry Woods

Updated: 6 days ago

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Barry Woods studied creative writing with the Writers Bureau and settled on free verse poetry after that. He was tutored by award winning poet Alison Chisholm who guided him into publication in 2002. He moved on to explore performance at Liverpool's Everyman Bistro, a regular gathering for poets and playwrights. He's had over thirty poems published and performs occasionally at spoken word events in Liverpool/Wirral. He edited the anthology 'The Quality of Mersey'. It was performed as a live poetry relay on National Poetry Day at Liverpool Central Library, 2018, and toured Merseyside throughout 2019 ending at the Museum of Liverpool Life. He received a Poetry Medal of Honour from Wirral's John Gorman for work on this project. He has volunteered with local councils organising groups of poets to perform their work under Luke Jerram's Gaia at Liverpool Cathedral, and Museum of the Moon at Birkenhead Town Hall.


Where Did all the Punks Go? They hide behind white picket fences unable to grow Mohicans in middle age; they sculpt neat hedges instead of stiff spikes. Punk politics got mortgaged to a desirable neighbourhood, Brothel Creepers replaced with tennis shoes, and they shop at Sainsbury's for organic food. I see them fill their shopping bags. I never thought they would pop vitamin pills or walk the Shihtzu; or drink herbal tea with a hint of pomegranate to stay caffiene free. Once they rocked dog collars, spewed anarchy onto the street with bondage gear. They safety pinned an attitude to Union Jack, screamed guitar in the face of our Queen. Their DIY ethic did not include a greenhouse; they were supposed to shatter glass not grow tomatoes. Saying It Like Johnny Never mind the bollocks say it like it is be an anti-establishment anarchist for speaking your truth. They'll see you with spiky hair, ripped t-shirt and skin tight leathers if you make them wriggle in seats. They'll see you with substance abuse, unclean, untamed - a Sex Pistol while they stay pretty, oh so pretty, virtue signalling. So, say it with spunk. Say it with the volume turned up. Say it like Johnny Rotten. Daredevil We climbed trees and you'd always reach for that furthest branch; a crack of wood, a crack of bone was adventure to you. A broken arm would mend, smashed National Health glasses could be taped at the sides. No problem. And rope swings were best, flying us into a spin as ground dropped away - a freebie fairground ride on a heath that had a windmill. You told me you were gonna be a human cannonball or a Hells Angel as you picked at scabs on your knees. Stunts were getting dangerous, scrapes cut deeper into your skin and I didn't have the stomach for it. You wanted to ride a motorbike through ring of flame without a crash helmet. I believed you would do it. Trying to Believe David Icke I want to believe David Icke when he says we are controlled by elite families, that politics is one beast with many faces and secret societies plot the future of human kind behind a mainstream media screen. I want to believe Alex Jones when he says chemtrails are crisscrossing our life expectancies and we don't have a clue what we are breathing in, that Masonic Temple whores lead a dance of destruction among our youth, rapping evil into their subconscious dressing as porn stars and pimps. I want to believe the conspiracy theorists when they say war is good business and weapons can be biological, psychological. Vaccines might hide nanotechnology inside syringes, and we could all be micro-chipped in this Brave New World. I want to believe that Big Brother is watching through our mobile devices, that aliens walk among us and that the moon hides nuclear weapons. I want to believe it but I can't. It would just turn me nuts. Yemen Boy Let this photo go viral Let the world see me Pulled out from collapsed concrete A rag doll Covered in dust and blood Red stains my eyes Red scrapes my legs And my shoes, were lost in the blast I am just a child A child torn from home Caught in the rubble of your air strike Deafened by noise Of your big boy war game I cover my ears but still hear Screams from my family I have speckles of them on me So let this photo go viral Aim your camera lens right into my face As I sit emotionless in this ambulance Obliterated Numb Crib Goch (Mountain ridge in Snowdonia UK) I can breathe better here when my mountain spirit reaches its peak; survival guide is memorised and life-skills stay safe inside waterproof pockets. I keep three points of contact on the rock. Hands cling, base layer clings and I soon warm up, high on life. A scramble across prehistoric spine, a lonely landscape of sharp edges and scree. The view below is patchy, green tones of Welsh valleys and sheep dotted around like tiny white crumbs for gulls to catch. Postcards from Mars To observe Mars in high-resolution seems like science fiction. A world of iron oxide captured by our Curiosity and Perseverance; the team at NASA are cheering. A crater within a crater, a teal ridge and mountains that fade to orange. Martians have long perished and there is no red weed; no three-legged tripods to harvest humans. We are the alien species here landing rovers onto surface, studying and sampling with remote arms – we are the ones who invented heat ray. We've navigated many million space miles since days of H.G.Wells; now our robot eyes see each scattered rock close up. And as wheels roll on we hope to find evidence of creatures that once swarmed and multiplied in a drop of water. London Bridge Your hateful blades wound us and we don't have time to protect our bodies. A trick of sudden terror, a martyrs' game as tourists watch city bleed into night. On the bridge, in the bars you have your target crowd. The Tyrant of Tech From you I get a whiff of gunfire, a salute to profit and suffering. Uniform hides a network of fear, a body once shell shocked now stiffened in hate. Your ambition shoots methodically from finger tip to keypad, propaganda convinces with smiley faces. So you want to divide and rule with barbed wire, place observation towers on each corner of your insecurities. You might just succeed. The Man in the Bottle He looks tiny inside there pressing hands against glass, mouthing words that we cannot hear. He is no genie, he cannot grant three wishes as I think he drank the lot, a routine binge that blocks out life; and he curls up inside distorted reflections. Cheap to buy, easy to drink; so easy to fall asleep, let the sickness pass and start all over again next day. He is a long way down. He needs a lengthy rope to haul himself out, boots with a grip on this sobering world. He must let go of friends who attempt to pull him back and break his spine in this alcohol soaked chasm. The Queen is Dead LP sized memories at Sainsbury's sealed in reflective cellophane, shocks my middle age. I see the Morrissey quiff again, and lamb chop sideburns that were a bugger to keep straight. Gatefold sleeve opened its arms to me and all other bedroom loners; I adored that voice of kitchen sink that whined and moaned and said life isn't fair. I can see a needle in the groove, the drums inside me banging to come out. And I hid clear spirit of The Smiths behind speakers, puke hangovers had me a sickening wreck with the twenty-first century breathing down my neck. He told me to accept myself. He told me some girls are bigger than others. He told me that work is a four letter word didn't want me standing in the fruit and veg aisle of conformity.

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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