Richard Raftery, the self-styled 'Viscount of Verse', was born in Warwick at the dawn of the Rock n’ Roll era, before moving to Melling in Lancashire at the age of three where his grandfather had been the village blacksmith. He attended the local (Catholic) Primary school (an ‘interesting’ experience) before heading - for further enlightenment - to a grammar school in Bootle. After leaving school at sixteen he worked in a number of occupations including tax office clerk, labourer and journeyman weaver before eventually training as a teacher – a trade which he continues to pursue, despite being ‘consumed by lack of ambition’. Richard has been writing and performing his own poetry in Leeds for a number of years, including a number of appearances on local radio. His first published collection 'Smart Boy Wanted' is an intriguing mixture of poems based partly on his experiences growing up in Lancashire and going to school in Bootle. Others are loosely drawn from observations made whilst working as a teacher in various Leeds schools. His second collection'Too Big For This Town' is similar in many ways but is spiced with autumnal melancholia alongside the razor-sharp monologues. A diverse range of issues, from serious to humorous, are addressed including teenage pregnancy, sunbeds, flip-flops, unfortunate trousers and the theft of milk from doorsteps. Well known on the performance poetry circuit for his acerbic wit and compelling delivery Richard also plays guitar in the Leeds based group Powder Keg, who perform folk music with a flexible outlook and a wide interpretation of the genre! Richard Raftery lives and works in Leeds and is married with three children.
Initiatives When new ideas engulf you And you feel all left behind Like an unwanted vol-au-vent at a party Or a man who’s losing his mind When documents are hurled your way And are driving you to drink You’re expected to weakly accept it Irrespective of what you might think A sense of ennui envelops you You don’t know what to say You long to throw it all up Take off and run away Letters and pro-formas Meetings you must attend There’s a sense of paranoia They’ll get you in the end But as you lie in your bed at night Feeling alone and vexed Remember that the notions of one age Are usually the cack of the next That which glows so brightly now Will quickly fade away And the ideas all currently in favour Are very soon passé Large Women in Lycra on Eastgate Large women in lycra on Eastgate The story to you I must tell With bags of chips and beefburgers I’ve seen them and heard them as well Their arses as broad as the buses Bringing them in from the cold Dark roots in peroxided hair And faces unfeasibly old Heading off down to the market Chatting and waving to friends Already worn out by the walking And spending their twenties and tens Hunting for discounts and bargains Looking for things cheap but nice Buying earrings and suspicious perfume All at an affordable price Large women in lycra on Eastgate It’s strange but inevitably true With open-toed sandals in winter And skin best described as pale blue A cig in the hand and a hard scowl Suggests that you ought to say nowt It’s not entirely unheard of She might snap and knock a man out A T-shirt reveals lettered shoulder `Cos a boyfriend said it looked great A big gothic G stands for Gary Who stood her up on the sixth date But still she has much to remember As well as that tasteful tattoo A baby she knows as Nikita Who likes a chip butty or two Large women in lycra on Eastgate Now that the spring does appear All in those fluorescent colours A wide load when seen from the rear Addicted to doughnuts and tobacco Always intending to quit Buying shoes that won’t last the season And knickers that never quite fit Dreaming of better tomorrows As they head off down to Boar Lane Buying magazines to win competitions A two-week holiday in Spain Glancing through Garvey Nick’s window They might just see something they like But a uniformed man looks them over As if to say Girls - on yer bike! Large women in lycra on Eastgate Out for a night on the town Dressed in their tight fitting clobber And knocking the vodka drinks down In search of passion and romance In this so called northern Milan A Romeo smelling of stale ale A geezer but not a nice man He might even not wear a tracksuit If he’s out to make an impression And put on a clean baseball hat Adopting a cheerful expression This twenty-four hour sizzling city Sometimes brings heartbreak and pain But large women in lycra on Eastgate Will come back again and again Reluctant Voters So terribly busy, they can’t find the time So much to do as they sit and they whine The feckless, the witless, the idle, the bloated Bragging about how they never voted It might rain, I might get wet Can’t I do it on the internet? Or click a message on my new mobile? That would make it seem worthwhile Can I do it in the burger bar? Maybe as I drive through in my car I’ve got to get home and have my tea And watch a film on my DVD Meanwhile in a distant land Desperate voters take their stand Walking miles at break of day Just for once to have their say Not minding if they’re forced to queue That’s the procedure all go through Women get roughed up by a thug Responding with a subdued shrug Hoping that this one’s for real And the outcome isn’t already sealed An opportunity at last to use your voice A slender chance to make a choice Meanwhile the apathetic must stay mute They’re all the same, men in suits Let’s hope you never have to pay The price for turning the other way Or ever have to stand and fight Or disappear in the dead of night No words to argue, no time to resist Or reclaim the chances, already missed Then sit wondering how it all got skewed And democracy led to servitude Take a warning and don’t lose sight Certain ideologies sleep very light
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
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