The Only Lefty in Poundbury

Cottages in Poundbury by Chris Ison

The Only Lefty in Poundbury

She sits on her first floor balcony,
Overlooking Casterbridge Square,
She sits and sips her cup of tea
In the light West Country air –
Here in her true-blue toytown
Like a tolerated pet,
Her flat dressed-up and she dressed-down,
As she joins the Georgian set.
Dorchester is hard on Hardy –
Thomas, yes, but never Keir,
And the local Labour party
Is about to disappear.
But the class-struggle can still advance
With the taste of the elites –
Should not all workers get the chance
To live in pleasant streets ?
And yes, she’s aware of their breeze-block hearts,
And their ceilings lacking height,
And don’t get her started on glazing bars !
But all-in-all, it does alright.
Developers on best behaviour,
Showing that they can play nice –
But oh, the cost for a little flavour !
Beauty has its bogus price.

Of course, whenever HRH comes by,
She must lay low
As locals swoon and neighbours sigh
At the whole boot-licking show –
And even when it’s safe to leave
And stroll about the place,
The very streets still live and breathe
With his family’s air and grace.
She sees it in the names of roads,
The names of buildings, names of shops,
She hears it in the toady toads
Whose croaking never stops
But the sad fact is, its thanks to him
That there ever was this town –
It may be prim, but never grim,
As sparkly as a crown.
So yes, she knows, for all her gripes,
It’s thanks to him, her joy –
For were it left to lefty types
Then tower blocks ahoy !
She sits on her balcony under the sun
Over the flagstone square –
And curses the Tories, but knows they’ve won –
For she’d rather be here than there.

Go See the Elephant

Armed Forces by Tom Pogson

Go See the Elephant

Hey kid, did I tell of my time in the Gobi,
And the camel that tried to eat my sock ?
Or how ’bout cycling to Nairobi ?
Or the Outback, when it was still Ayres Rock ?

I did ?  Then why’s you still here ?
Just lis’ning to me rabbitting on so ?
I like to see you, but just disappear.
Shouldn’t you have places to go ?

Just walk out the door, right now,
And walk down to end of the block,
Turn left, don’t stop till Curacao,
By way of Seoul and Plymouth Rock.

And when you go, do not look back,
There’s more than enough out there to see.
You’ll come home by a diff’rent track,
By Bloemfontein or Waikiki.

Don’t you wanna hit the road, Jack ?
Mandalay or Timbucktoo ?
I’m too old, I won’t be going back,
But just what’s keeping you ?

Here, take my itchy feet,
Cos I can’t use them, so you must.
And walk them through the desert heat
And wear them out with wanderlust.

Monte Rosa

Monte Rosa

Hamburg built, to take the Germans
Down to Argentina.
A prize of war, she soon was serving
Those who thought the grass was greener.

In her life, she’d carried Jews to Auschwitz,
But that’s over now.
Now she carried demobbed troops about,
A thousand berths from stern to prow.

Renamed for a Cotswolds river,
Some say that’s bad luck –
Fortune, though, would soon deliver
When her new name really stuck.

Under-occupied in Kingston,
Looking for some cash,
A bill in Parliament that worried some
Enough to make a dash.

She didn’t carry most who followed those,
Yet hers the fame –
The right ship at the right time, I suppose,
And with a poet’s name.


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.

Aurora Australis

Okay, I admit it, the Moon’s far too large and too far South, but you get the idea

Aurora Australis

Way down South, where looking up
Is looking upside down –
The Man in the Moon is wrongside-right,
And the Plough ain’t even in town.
The Dog Star sails above the Pup,
Throughout the Summer sky,
With Betelgeuse kept low at night
And Rigel kicking high.
To Northern eyes, where looking up
Is looking strange and stark –
The Milky Way is far too bright,
The pole is far too dark.

West Country R.P.

Francis Drake by William Holl (?), Thomas Hardy by William Strang and Arthur C Clarke by Donato Giancola

West Country R.P.

Ev’ry -ing is singing,
And ev’ry plosive plodes,
Arrs are round and rhotic –
But not to overload.
Vowels are never clipped
And haitches never drop –
Ays are broad and classy,
And glottals never stop.

London Pebble

London Pebble

I found a fossil in the park today –
An ammonite in iron grey,
Hardly rare, this type of fare,
They get found in their scores –
They all died by their millions
Till they died with the dinosaurs.

But all the rock round here today
Is built on London Clay –
On the scene in the Eocene,
With its lush and tropic shores,
Yet laid down some ten million
After the end of the dinosaurs.

I guess the path on which it sat
Was older than all that.
I guess its gravel had to travel
From who knows where, of course –
He’s an immigrant, like the millions
Coming here since the dinosaurs.

Though I suspect it’s less of an ammonite and more of a snail.

End of the Line

End of the Line

I’ve never been to Cockfosters –
What strange exotic waits me there ?
A land where roosters shelter chicks,
And spread the corn for all to share ?

I’ve never been to Ruislip West
Where ‘U’s are silent all the day,
Or Barnet High, the net of bars –
And what of Watford, anyway ?

I’ve never been to Edgeware’s edge,
That surely teeters on the void –
Or seen the walths of Walthamstow,
Or beckoned Beckton, overjoyed.

There’s Abbey Wood, the timber church –
That’s just a train away, I swear !
And Morden Moor, and Stoney Weald ?
They’re waiting for me, if I dare…

The Long Game

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

The Long Game

The town where I grew up,
Well, the nearest town I guess,
Though still a dozen miles away –
But I digress…
It’s a pretty sleepy town
That I left as quickly as I could,
But in a funny way, I just
Can’t quit for good.
I’ve still got family living round,
And school-friends I still see,
So even though I left the town,
It won’t leave me.
Like when that sleepy town had raised
A minor personality,
A DJ with a surname that was known
By the likes of me.
Ah yes, I remembered
That the same was borne by a kid at school –
In my year, though I hardly knew him,
Hardly spoke, as a rule.
Nothing against him, but separate streams,
A single mutual friend was all,
And I hadn’t even seen him since,
And could only just recall…
Now he wasn’t the DJ (who was a she),
But maybe his sister was…?
My school-mates and family nodded, and set
The rumour-mill a-buzz.
Not that they knew him any better,
But they do still live there, it’s true…
And she’s only three or four years older,
So maybe…?  It’ll do.
It was a tale for dinner parties,
An anecdote for down the club,
Or for singing for our supper,
Down the pub.
So then, a decade after school,
A short-term job and an idle boast
When she came on the office radio
As the lunchtime host.
She must have just played Ace of Spades
With stuff to give away,
When a co-working Swede saw a chance
To make my bragging pay –
“My colleague went to school with your brother”
Her email to the station read,
“So can I have a ticket please
For Motörhead ?”
In half an hour, the DJ responded,
“I have no brother by that name !”
By email – not on the air, thank god –
But all the same…
Well, I was in the doghouse for a bit,
Though no harm done –
But then that surname came around again,
And far less fun…
A few years back, an incident
Brought unexpected high renown,
And all the national news in packs
To that sleepy town.
Strange to see its familiar face,
The scrap of grass where we used to lark
That the sombre bulletins insist
On calling a ‘park’.
Two names leapt out – one victim
With a last-name of a teacher I had,
So of course I got to wondering,
Was Sir his dad ?
But the other…the other was a woman,
A right-aged woman, a woman with a name.
(She wasn’t the DJ, who wasn’t even mentioned,
They clearly weren’t the same.)
The grapevine rustled, the gossipers gabbed,
With the same conclusion as before –
I was wary, but I felt the weight
Of local lore.
My own connection, even if correct,
Is incredibly slight
It feels wrong to be probing it –
Rather gruesome, certainly trite.
But growing up in a sleepy town,
There’s precious little going on –
So ev’ry little chance at something more
Is seized upon.
And that kid, that brother, who won’t recall me,
Now has a strange kind of fame –
For I’m sure I’ll always remember him,
Or at least, his name.