The Strongman & The Weakman

The Orator by Magnus Zeller

The Strongman & The Weakman

Populists will promise change,
And the public rally support.
These chancers sound like normal blokes,
Not like the usual sort.
They’re mostly charlatans and thugs,
With a grin and a big cigar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

Perhaps it lies with the folk who flock
To lap them up with cream.
An unwashed swarm of Union Jacks,
All daring now to dream –
You love to sneer at their white vans
From your chauffeured Jaguar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

The status quo has done you well,
But done them poverty,
Yet when they ask for change, you shrug
And say “don’t bother me”.
They may be serfs no longer
But they’re still beneath the tzar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

With industry demantled,
With the money all moved South,
And those who have a full-time job
Still living hand-to-mouth,
Just to be called scroungers –
Well, that’s sure to leave a scar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

Your ev’ry promise broken,
And their ev’ry glimmer snuffed,
They’ve tried to vote for Christmas
But the system has them stuffed –
Gerrymandered, rotten-boroughed,
Struck off the registrar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

And just for once they had a voice,
And gave their answer loud,
And so you tried your damnedest-best
To nullify the crowd.
But hey, they all agree with you
In your trendy Shoreditch bar.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

They’ll end up disappointed
With the autocratic rule,
Unlike their current freedom
As a wage-slave or a mule.
I guess the shining city
Must seem ev’ry bit as far.
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?

If they kick you out, no sweat,
You’ll join a dozen boards –
And still receive your payoff
To the unelected Lords.
And they claim there’s no democracy ?
Who do they think they are ?
And you wonder why the populists
Are ever popular…?


Photo by Tom Fisk on


Downriver, below the final bridge,
The last of the swans patrol –
To meet the early terns, who reach
Only this far from their native shoal.
Passing strangers, side-by-side,
Sharing the brackish tide.

Up-ocean, above the muddy flats,
The first of the mussels are found
To meet the sticklebacks and sprats,
On the down-stream, up-bore bound.
Passing currents, slow and wide,
Sharing the brackish tide.

Ghost Town

Coventry architecture before and after images taken from Coventry Now & Then

Ghost Town

You sneer at Dresden’s quaint rebuilding
As oldè-world and fake –
Covering up the brutal past,
Denying us our wake.
But would you rather the concrete of Coventry,
Cancer choking its former bliss ?
For sure, we’ll never forget the War
In ugliness as ugly as this.
The Luftwaffe came and finished the job
That the Council already began,
And one of the prettiest towns in England
Was levelled in line with the Plan.
I hear that Dresden has too many tourists,
So why is there only one ?
It seems we have a ration of beauty,
But blandness will run and run.
The perfect place to film your dystopian nightmares
Or kitchen-sink soaps –
Was ever a town more grey and rain-stained ?,
As the concrete bullies and gropes.
It’s called ‘brutalist’ for a reason –
Cos it’s raw like a wound across the eyes.
And meanwhile Dresden is putting on her ballgown –
Enough masochism – let’s rise !

Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021.

Working-Class Absolution

Photo by fotografierende on

Working-Class Absolution

White men ran the slave trade, true,
And I’m a man and also white –
But don’t charge me for grievance due,
I played no part in the blight.
While others wreaked this tragedy,
It’s not me, mate, and not my folks –
I come from village farmhands, see,
From ordinary blokes.
While others banked the whole affair,
Or snapped the chain or cracked the whip,
We never owned a single share,
Nor crewed a single ship.
So don’t try laying on the guilt
For crimes my bloodline never did –
The damnable at which you tilt
Were not my fam’ly, kid.
I bear no blemish on my name,
I bear no once-and-future sin –
Don’t think that you can judge my blame
By the colour of my skin.
It’s not me mate, and not my genes,
My hands are clean, my soul is light –
So spare your wrath for dukes and queens,
Not me, mate – get it right !
My ancestors were starved and bruised,
And sometimes even outright killed –
They all were wage-slaves, much abused
By the lords whose lands they tilled.
And so were yours – I get it, I do,
But they’re not you and they’re not me.
But even if my blood were blue,
My conscience would still be free –
For the faults of our great-great-grands back when
Have died with them, and have passed away –
Look, nobody alive back then
Is still alive today.
For none of us in here’s a slaver,
No-one’s whitewashing the trade –
So please, just do us all a favour,
And find a new crusade.

Three Songs for May

Photo by Pixabay on

Three Songs for May

May comes bounding down the year
As eager as a springer spaniel.
Ev’rybody knows she’s here,
A bursting, blooming, early annual.
May comes blowing from the south
As teasing as a cuckoo’s call
She’s closing up old Winter’s mouth
By throwing off her woollen shawl.

A little rain in May
Is sweeter than an April shower –
Though the high Spring skies may glower,
We know they will not last the day.
The clouds are silvery, not grey,
Less thunderheads than fairy towers,
Washing lambs and spritzing flowers,
Dropping by, then on their way.

May – the name says it all.
The month when it might,
When it should –
Ah, but will it ?
The month that may have a squall
Or a heatwave,
Or a dozen other weathers
Come to fill it.
Could be a late gasp of snow up on the hills
While the valleys open windows,
And the breezes spin the mills.
Such is the fortune
In the month of maybe May.
When all of this could happen
In a week,
Or in a day.


Gossip by Eugene de Blaas


Three singing street vendors.

Vendor 1
Spring is finally here
To brighten the year,
Bringing birds on the wing.
Spring has finally smiled,
Like a favourite child,
And it’s making me sing.

Vendors 2 & 3
Yes it’s finally here,
The buds are in gear
To end Wintertime’s sting.

Vendor 1
The sun is shining for me,
And ev’rybody I see,

Vendors 1, 2 & 3
And it’s making us sing.

Punter enters.  He doesn’t sing.

Morning.  Copy of the Times and a packet of Polos please.

Vendor 1
Now come on buddy,
Let’s hear some sunshine outta you.
Now don’t be shy,
Just sing me one line, why don’t you ?

Well, you’re certainly cheerful this morning.

Vendors 2 & 3
Now come on buddy,
Don’t give an earful, that won’t do.
Just sing up buddy,
If we’re so cheerful, why ain’t you ?

You guys as well ?  Seems everyone’s singing today.

Vendor 1
Ev’ryone except…

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, ole Mr Misery

Vendor 1
He ain’t got a note of joy to spread.

Vendors 2 & 3
No sir, no sir no way.

Best stay away from….

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, he’s got no fizz, you see.

Vendor 1
Wish he’d rain on someone else instead.

Hey come on, I just want a Times and some Polos.

Vendor 1
You don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3

Vendor 1
Said you don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3

Seriously ?

Vendor 1
If you wanna get something in this life,
Then let me hear you sing for it.

Alright !

The Punter sings really badly.

Please may I have a copy of the Times
And some Polos…um…and a pound of limes ?

The Vendors clutch their heads in pain.  The Punter backs off, embarrassed.

A News Reporter appears on the scene with a microphone.

News Reporter
Yes, it’s another cruel case of discrimination against the tone deaf by musical theatre.  Reporting for the BBC, this is…
Pheobe Leigh !

The Horticultrix

Sprintime by Pierre-Auguste Cot

The Horticultrix

She worked for the council, she mending their greens,
And their roundabout gardens and motorway screens.
She weeded their paths and she tended their sprays,
And swept up their cherries’ displays.

Her hedges were sprinkled in sloe-blossom white
As I asked if her lanes were a primrose delight.
She plucked me a buttercup, proffered with thanks –
As dog-violets guarded her banks.

We kissed to the hum of the first of the bees,
As the belfries of bluebells all chimed in the breeze –
And daffodils trumpeted Springtime unfurled,
As fiddleheads flexed and uncurled.

The teeth of the lions were under our thighs,
And they ev’rywhere shone from forget-me-not skies.
We trampled their verges, enrapt and entwined –
The daisies, though, seemed not to mind.

She showed me the places the tulips grew wild,
Aloud and ablaze, then eleven months mild.
Their flowering passion so vital, so brief –
And ashwoods were not yet in leaf.

The lords and their ladies unwrapped their white cloaks,
And the crockets were sprouting on beeches and oaks.
Our lessons botanic were daily resumed –
At least, till the mayflower bloomed.

A Qroq of Qraiq

A Qroq of Qraiq

Q’s without U’s,
You’re not fooling me –
You’re out to confuse
With your Q’s floating free.
But I know you’re trick –
You’re just swirly K’s,
With a kick and a click
To anchor a phrase.
Yet sometimes in French
At the end of a word,
A Q is what’s mentioned,
But K is what’s heard.
And Arabic full of ’em,
Inuit too,
With gutter and phlegm
To push the sound through –
Less plosive, more fricative,
That’s what it’s telling –
It’s purely indicative,
Snobbish in spelling –
For only a Scot could
Hope to pronounce it –
No Sassenach should,
They’ll mangle and trounce it.


Photo by Nothing Ahead on


Stripped-down and unplugged,
Going back-to-basics –
These are words that fill my ears with dread.
Guitars strummed and harps tugged,
Waxed and polished double basses,
Drummers told to stay at home instead.

I don’t want your simple sound,
I want music complicated
I want synths that growl and pound,
Electrified, not automated.
Full of intricate design,
Not simply autotuned and gated –
I want music of its time,
Not scared of being dated.

Hashed out and doped up,
Family-friendly faceless,
Perfect songs for sending off the dead.
Slowed-down and moped-up,
Going back to basics –
These are words this fill my soul with lead.

Bread Stick

Bread by Anthony Starks

Bread Stick

People love to grumble over supermarket bread –
“It isn’t really fresh, you know” I’ve often heard it said,
“It’s made in batch in Swindon and then frozen” they explain,
“So all they do in bakeries is heat it up again.”
Croissant, bap, or pumpernickel,
Loaf-lovers sure are fickle –
Kneeded crumpets, seeded squabblers,
Talking sourdough and cobblers.

You know, that doesn’t bother me, as long as they still taste –
And oh!, the smell of toasted carbs will never go to waste.
But why are still-warm loaves just plonked on open racks for show
In the air-conditioned hell that sucks all moisture from the dough ?
Cardboard slices, leaden grain,
With all self-raising turned to plain.
Golden crust and pain-au-choc,
As dry as dust and hard as rock.