Black & White & Read All Over

by Ian Whiteley



A Collection Of Poems


released January 1, 2019

All Words: Ian Whiteley - except 'Anthem For Doomed Youth (Wilfred Owen)
Produced by John Kettle at Music Projects (Wigan)


all rights reserved


Track Name: A Poppy In Winter
A Poppy In Winter

November mists come down in shrouds of grey
and folk remember, with their poppies red,
the loss of sixteen million war dead
and how the guns fell silent on this day.
So who are you to deem to have a say
on whether I should honour those who bled
by crimson colours? – or perhaps, instead,
in remembrance there is another way.
For I would guess that most of those who died,
If they could choose, would say it was their right
to be remembered with respected pride
and that their children wouldn’t have to fight.
“Everlasting Peace!” they may well have cried,
“and if you must wear poppies – wear them white”.
Track Name: A Wee Dram
A Wee Dram

The dancing flames lick gently at the grate,
a bottle splashes amber to the glass,
soft chimes reminding that the hour is late,
aromas drift of peat and harsh deer grass,
the smoky mist of morning, with each pass.
The glow of bonfires as I gently kiss,
letting the rich swelling flavours amass
and burn upon my lips, no thoughts but this –
“how can something so bitter bring such bliss”.
As if in answer, the fire spits a knot,
the kettle bursts with steam and deigns to hiss,
reminding me that good things can be hot.
I close my eyes in winter warmth and bask
in age old liquid nurtured from the cask.
Track Name: A Wound That Never Heals
A Wound That Never Heals

It hurts me
when a you shaped hole
appears in the cosmos,
where there is
an absence of colour,
where the sound
scrapes along,
where the light
is masked by
dense grey mist.

That’s where
I miss you
the most.

When it rains
a greasy rain,
when the cracked bell
when the planets
are misaligned.

That’s where
I miss you
the most.

When my shadow
behind my back,
when the alcohol
turns the semblance
of normality
to tears,

when I reach for the phone
to tell you the news
and my hand is stilled
by the reality
of the reaper.

That’s where
I miss you
the most
dear friend.
That’s where
I miss you
the most.
Track Name: Above The Light Of The Morning Star
Above The Light Of The Morning Star

Pity the dark eyed man who chases sleep.
Yet, pity more, the man who finds that realm
and dances with his friends, long gone,
then wakes to find such loneliness in his heart.

A father’s hand laid gently on his shoulder
or a mothers kiss to say farewell on leaving.
These are the magic lanterns
of the ghosts that are their ghosts.

No fear here in the dark, nocturnal traps -
just longing for their presence once again
and knowing that the waking will be cold
as a winter’s embrace upon a frozen lake.

When the tender touch of sunrise intrudes
upon the reveries of sleep
they drift away like cobwebs
on an insistent, uncaring, breeze.

The dead, alive in somnolence
that too soon slips from fingers
grasping to touch them for a moment longer
as they return to their pretty lairs.

I have met with demons in this place
but go back for the pleasure
of spending time again
with familiar angels.

And when, I too, reside in this land of dreams
and drift with those fleeting phantoms,
I will wait for you to visit me
and take comfort before the light of the morning star..

NOTE: The title is taken from the final line in William Blake’s ‘The Land Of Dreams’
Painting by Svenja Gosen
Track Name: AmeriKKKan Trilogy - Version 2.2 [USMF / Lady Liberty Weeps / Safety Off]

When the KKK and the Kremlin
Are sharing their vodka and rye
When redneck white supremecists
are making Lady Liberty cry
When The land of the free is walled in
So pesky Mexicans can’t get by
That’s the day the rest of us
Watches America die.

When the Whitehouse houses a bigot
A misogynist ‘locker room’ fly
When a multi-billionaire
Stands for momma’s apple pie
When a name shines on a tower
That reaches up to the sky
That’s the day the rest of us
Watches America die.

When a straw thatched Umpa-Lumpa
Pedals the conspiracy lie
When a tax dodging privileged hypocrite
Tells workers he’s their kinda guy
When a bully is sitting as president
And parents tell their children why
That’s the day the rest of us
Watches America die

Lady Liberty Weeps

In a Minnesota precinct
On a Minnesota street
The day starts like any other
For the Baton Rouge elite
In the land of the brave
In the land of the free
A cop with a pistol
Shoots liberty
A man reaches for a wallet
With a target on his back
Red white and blue
All the patrolman sees is black
Where the gun is law
The sheriff of the west
Has immunity to kill
Wearing a star on his chest
And this is the country
Who sets itself above
The rest of the world
And preaches peace and love
But it can’t control the forces
It creates to protect
And it can’t control the hatred
It chooses to elect
Where every stand off
Is resolved by the gun
And red neck lobbyists
Believe the lies they have spun
Now in Dallas Texas
There are cop killers on the street
The day ends like any other
The cycle is complete

Safety Off

The FBI and the CIA got ‘em
Good ‘ol boys in the KKK got ‘em
Even Doris Day got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

Kids in their daddies cars got ‘em
Rednecks in Dallas bars got ‘em
Sheriffs with tin stars got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

The white and black and brown got’ em
Old folks in mid-west town’s got ‘em
Even the Whitehouse clown got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne got ‘em
The holy and insane got ‘em
I’ve heard that Citizen Kane got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

Shopkeepers in their stores got ‘em
Vets returning from their wars got ‘em
Pimps and two bit whores got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

The Washington Post and Fox got ‘em
Randy high school jocks got ‘em
Snipers in tower blocks got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

Heroes on TV got ‘em
The brave and the free got ‘em
Babies on their mamas knees got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

The Waltons and the Brady’s got ‘em
The good guys and their ladies got ‘em
Tupac and Slim Shady’s got ‘em
But it don’t make ‘em safe

Every Independence day got ‘em
Every bullet that goes astray got ‘em
The whole of the USA got ‘em
And they’re never gonna be safe
Track Name: An Unexpected Ghost In The Yorkshire Post
An Unexpected Ghost In The Yorkshire Post

She stares out at me from the page of white -
all pixels, paper, print and phantom eyes,
a child of contrasts under exposed skies
dancing somewhere between the dark and light.
I recognise the features well, despite
the brutal glare of histories disguise.
This archive feature caught me by surprise
for we are separated by times flight.
You are a ghost that flits across the page,
disturbs my unsuspecting breakfast read.
The spoon stops stirring, knife is laid to rest
and for a while I return to an age
when you would care and nurture, love and feed
your hungry crows before they flew the nest.
Track Name: Bag O' Bones
Bag O’ Bones

Please let me introduce myself -
my name is Billy Jones.
You might know me better
as that useless bag o’ bones
that gets under your feet
when you’re staring at your phones,
planning all your creature comforts
on extortionate pay day loans.

Well I was once like you my friend,
I haven’t always been alone
huddled up in corners
where the autumn leaves have blown,
I once dreamed the dreams that you dream,
I once owned the things you own,
but now I’m cold and hungry
where the desperate seeds are sown.

Well I was married very young
to a lovely girl named Joan
we lived a life of luxury -
if only we had known
that just around the corner
I would soon be on my own -
the bailiffs came to kick us out
of the matrimonial home.

You pass me with your coffee cups
and grimace when I groan,
you cannot stand to fight the war
that rages in this homeless zone.
I’ve lived for months inside this sleeping bag
I feel like I’ve been sewn
into a grave – without a name.
So exits Billy Jones…

Bag O’ Bones, Bag O’ Bones
Lying in the street without a home.
One bitter night from dying here
Where all my hopes and dreams were thrown.
Track Name: Beneath The Watch Tower
Beneath The Watch Tower

I watch the man who sits below the oak,
his features twisted by the scars of time,
a body wrapped inside a velvet cloak
of moss, that wasn’t there back in his prime.

He played amid the gnawing granite teeth
that sprung from grassy gums of evergreen
and knew nothing of those who lay beneath,
but only those who, with him, danced between.

Then one-by-one the dancers went to bed
and left the man alone with only dreams -
or fears that simple dreams might raise the dead.
Pray tell who, in this place, would hear him scream?

Dead flowers hang from vases, cracked and dull,
their pretty bonnets overgrown with weeds -
whose simple aspirations tug and pull
to satisfy their parasitic needs.

I stand so tall and proud with stony face,
a voice left silent since the chimes of war.
I want him to be happy in this place -
not sad and bitter for what went before.

As twilight hides beneath a heavy cowl
of darkness, rising bleak above my spire,
the hooting of a solitary owl
snaps consciousness as taut as any wire.

With a world, weary sigh he stands to leave –
turning, but once, to look upon my face.
I know that with that glance he still believes
that I am God and he the Human Race.
Track Name: Blood Brothers In Arms
Blood Brothers In Arms

My uncle Jack nearly died
in the battle of the Somme.
Crawling from his trench
he was the victim of the bomb
that threw him in the air
and killed his brother, Tom.

Deafened by the blast
and blinded by the mud
he lay upon the battlefield
drowning in his blood,
praying God would save him
as only his God could.

But the gods were looking elsewhere
and didn’t hear his cry,
so it was left to a soldier
to go out there and try
to save Jack where he lay wounded
waiting patiently to die.

Jack saw the muddied face
and heard the muffled tone
and he gripped the gloved hand
and with a wrenching moan
he was dragged from the shell hole
and would not, that day, die alone.

Six weeks in the hospital
and Jack was on his feet,
despite the shrapnel scars
he was so eager to meet
the soldier who had saved him
and thank him for the feat.

In walked private Khan
with cloth wrapped around his head
and the smile that Jack remembered
when he thought he was surely dead -
and though their skins were different colours
their wounds were both bright red.

Soldiers died upon the Somme
of every race and creed.
for Death does not distinguish
and War does not take heed
of the bigoted fallacy
that only white men bleed.

So when you see the racists
and hear the oft repeated lie
that only the English suffered
and only the English die -
remember that the poppy’s scarlet
and then remember why.
Track Name: Breathing In The Dusk
breathing in the dusk

bonfire permeates failing light
on this humid August night
midges cloud the air in flight
amassing as they dance and bite

the ghostly moon yet to rise
haunts the pale indigo skies
a rook upon a wire cries
failing breath as summer dies

heavy mist on stubbled corn
scarecrow’s jacket ripped and torn
path to orchard frayed and worn
twilight bleeds across the lawn

a bat glides silent from the trees
upon a warm uplifting breeze
an owl swoops and hopes to seize
something in the hedgerow flees

we sit and watch the darkness fall
until it chokes and smothers all
the natterjacks begin to call
from the dusk a night will crawl

lanterns lit to guide the way
back to the cottage veiled in grey
leaving midnight to the fey
the ending of a summers day
Track Name: Broken Doll
Broken Doll

Today was much like any other day -
I got up early, ate some bread,
drank milk from a chipped glass
and stared out of the broken window.

You let me play with a doll,
ragged like the future,
and when I got bored
you put it back in the cupboard.

There were words I didn’t understand -
but I already knew that words were lies
because you looked away from my eyes
when you promised me heaven.

I dressed slowly and made sure
all the clasps were locked tight.

You smiled at me.
I smiled back.
We both had tears on our cheeks.

We set out for the market
hand in hand,
until there came a moment
when you let go
and pushed me forward.

I passed the old man
who owned the meat stall
and the woman
who sold me dates
drifting by them
like a ghost.

I looked back once,
but you were already
hurrying away
with your head down.

So I stumbled on
and when the moment came
to press the button
I was thinking about the doll
and wishing the pretty day
had not come to this.
Track Name: Canary Girl
Canary Girl (Chilwell, July 1st 1918)

When she went there her eyes were clear,
just seventeen, her skin was fair.
She was my love, my Jeanie dear,
she wore blue ribbons in her hair
of blond, and I could only stare
and wonder at her beauty wild.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

She had a voice that raised good cheer,
when Jeanie sang we were aware
in chapels (and after a beer),
that angel song was not as rare
as what my daughter chose to share.
We were transfixed, bewitched, beguiled.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

She handled bombs for just a year,
harsh chemicals – which took great care -
and always there a nagging fear
that woke her often with a scare
of letting slip the dread nightmare -
a spark that left the shell defiled.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

When she left there I shed a tear,
her hair was green, not for a dare,
but that’s what all the girls have here
in Chilwell where the very air
turns skin a yellow shade – and there
she lay among the bodies piled -
the sweet songbird - my only child.
Track Name: Cold Hearted
Cold Hearted

the calming time
cotton wool squeak
beneath my feet
the air
crisp with cold
crystal palaces
cut from ice
nose and mouth
streaming mist
vivid blue sky
the lake cupped
by mountain hands
in a caring gesture
frozen feet deep
covered with snow

the calming time
distant voices
carried on a
biting breeze
cheeks frost rouged
eyes streaming
hot rivulets
quiet quiet
in the woods
trees weighted
with heavy canopies
bleached fat bones
at worlds end
with my love

closed eyes
steady breathing
never forgetting
always with me
frosted heart
her name
carved with an ice pick
crackling like static
where the
bone cold ice
settles seeps
Louise -
the calming time
Track Name: Copernicus' Commentariolus
Copernicus’ Commentariolus

The sun will never rise again,
although its early morning stain
still paints the heavens with a hue
of orange, red and purple. Few
will listen to my sad refrain.

I studied long, no doubts remain.
Though saying so risks Papal chain
for claiming this heresy true.
The sun will never rise again.

Look to the skies and it is plain -
Heliocentric theories reign.
The earth tilts and we welcome, new,
the solar limb – a blazing view
of modern and enlightened vein.
The sun will never ‘rise’ again.
Track Name: Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)
Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

I kicked over the wheelchair
- couldn’t do the simplest task,
except the epileptic flailing
of my army antimasque.
the hissing gas-lamp
had me reaching for the mask.
You opened up my mind
and you didn’t even ask.

I’m like a marionette
with twisted strings,
my limbs are jack-knifing
and my inner ear sings
of the pain of war
and other perverse things.
I can’t find the peace
a hospital brings.

No matter how obedient
your soldiers of war,
when shells reign down
they’ll be shaken to the core,
until there comes a time
when they can’t take anymore
and their minds shut down
behind a closed door.

You think it might be shock waves,
or poison from the shells
that’s making me withdraw
into this epileptic hell
- sometimes you shrug your shoulders
- say “we just can’t tell,
if it’s lack of moral fibre
that’s making him unwell”.

Your treatments are barbaric,
Persuade, Explain, Suggest
- baths, massage, electric shocks
are really for the best,
when all my mind needs
Is aching, morbid rest,
and not feeling like a rat
in a cataclysmic test.

You put me in this chapel
you sit me in this chair
you give me books to read
and feign a sense of care -
but one day I will walk from here
and people will not stare
at the dancing crazy fucker.
The Craiglockhart nightmare.

Sh-sh-sh shut the fuck up,
I think I’m going insane,
I’ve got all these bombs
going off in my brain.
I’m like a rabid dog
at the end of it’s chain
they’re gonna send me back
to the front again.
Yes - hey’re gonna send me back
to the front again.
Track Name: Cronos (The Reaper)
Cronos (The Reaper)

I wait round corners where the air is still,
in darkened alleys wet with winter snow,
the places only fools and dreamers go.
You will not see me, but will feel my chill
on exposed places where the ice will spill
and with each prickle you will surely know
that, soon, the ancient blizzard wind will blow
and bring the reaper with it for the kill.
For I am called from somewhere in the past
to put an end to all that you have been,
a mercy killing for this ancient life.
The sinless child is born to us at last,
the future cuts its cord with hopeful knife
and once more blunts the sharp edge of my scythe.
Track Name: Death Of A Poet / Anthem For Doomed Youth
Death Of A Poet

The grey November sky has lost its light,
just one more boy has fallen to his death,
another lad who won’t survive the fight
or pass beyond this final exhaled breath.
Though many soldiers leave this war unheard,
their stories lost forever, never told,
this one will paint us pictures with his words
that will not lose their power or grow old.

A week beyond that fatal canal dawn
a peace is brokered and the guns fall still.
In Monkmoor Road a joyful early morn
is destroyed and a mothers tears will spill.
Outside the bright clanging Armistice bell
chimes “Wilfred Owen has a tale to tell”.

__________________________________ into

Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds
Track Name: Dexteram Patris
Dexteram Patris.

seeing him that way,
and she,
ever supportive,
gently touching
his arm
for reassurance.

but there is a failing,
something not the same,
although in looks
we are so similar.

The Prodigal returns
and sees his father,
straight of back
and stern of countenance,
falling to pieces.

The once proud frame -

and she,
as beautiful as always,
by his side.

This will be you.
Like father, like son,
like every
returning home.

And when, you too,
start to lose stuffing
and the world unravels,
you will remember them.

The quiet discomfort
of not quite right
that marks him out
as transient.

For we are all
sitting in
our fathers
favourite chair.
Track Name: Domestosterone

I’m tougher than a brave marine,
in hard-worn battle gear,
all decked out in camouflage.
There’s nothing that I fear.
You may have taken all my mates,
but they were old and weak,
you’ve never met a foe like me -
I’m tough as fucking teak.

I laugh at all your vain attempts
to seek out and destroy,
for when I’m in my element
I’m proud that I annoy.
I smear myself on surfaces,
I hide in subtle bends
I know my mere existence
disgusts you and offends.

You wash your hands and worry
that I might survive your war,
so you scour and you shower
to rid me from every pore -
but, just like a true guerrilla,
I will choose my time to fight.
When you least expect my action
I will have you in my sights.

You’ve looked for me both far and wide,
in every hole and pipe.
Despite your best intentions
I still evade your subtle wipe -
on worktop, chair, toilet seat,
sink and windowsill,
I am the awesome nought point one
that you will never kill.
Track Name: Excavating Aldgate Tube Station (1876)
Excavating Aldgate Tube Station (1876)

Underneath the rat infested streets
dead bodies were piled high, row on row.
Enshrouded in their grimy, night-soiled sheets.
- thrown to the devils down below.

Dead bodies were piled high, row on row.
Plague pits rampant all around Aldgate.
Thrown to the waiting devils down below -
unmarked graves meant no one knew their fate.

Plague pits rampant all around Aldgate -
the grave soil settled harder on the pile.
Unmarked graves meant no one knew their fate,
they were lost and forgotten for a while.

The grave soil settled harder on the pile
Where centuries later heavy machines scour.
They were lost and forgotten for a while,
only remembered in this modern hour.

Where centuries later heavy machines scour,
enshrouded in their grimy night soiled sheets,
only remembered in this modern hour
underneath the rat infested streets.
Track Name: Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here
To denounce Satan
In all his guises.

How shall we know him
I hear you ask.

The Book Of Revelations
Tells us
That he shall be identified by a number

And that number is
Six hundred and sixty six
The number of the beast.

A fear of that number is called

And we have one of our congregation
Here today
Who is sorely afflicted
By that complaint

Let us hear his story……

His dog craps in my garden
to the sound of metal rock.
His kids creep round my greenhouse
scrawling balls and giant cock.
His wife is bruised and beaten
all around the fucking clock.
His preferred weapon of choice
is to hurt and maim and shock.

Home from church on a Sunday,
he has a bonfire burning -
pitchforking rubber tyres
and dead meat that is turning.
I whip the washing in quick
(You see that I am learning),
while he stares over my fence
his face a mass of gurning.

I swear his head has two horns
that protrude like little bumps.
His chimney coughs and splutters -
a sulphurous cloud it pumps.
When he laughs my cats screech loud,
and their hair falls out in clumps
as shelves and windows rattle
and all my best china jumps.

Got post for B L Z Bubb
waiting to let the cat in -
I took it round - he was out
Well! Mrs Bubb got chatting
he spend hours in the basement
when all she hears is scratting
and some strange incantations
sung in archaic Latin.

All hell broke loose last Monday -
plagues of locusts were released,
I called the cops in anger -
for a little while it ceased.
I want to sell my semi,
so please call to view at least.
I live at six, six, seven
I’m the neighbour of the Beast.
Track Name: Home By Christmas
Home By Christmas

I fear I let my feelings rule my head,
that you would have no trouble getting leave.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

All through the Autumn, sleeping cold in bed,
I dreamt of all our marriage would achieve.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head.

Not since the day that both of us were wed
had we missed carols, sung that holy eve.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

Yet, as the letters came, all proudly read,
your tales of valour soon made me believe.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head.

Friends home on leave said you had taken lead -
only wounded, it hardly tore your sleeve.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

The truth was that my husband, dear, was dead -
His body boxed and sent back, I could grieve.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head,
you would be home by Christmas as they said.
Track Name: I Am The Scarecrow
I Am The Scarecrow

I am the scarecrow.
Hanging from this wooden frame,
a skeleton of twisted wood
that creaks and groans in protest
at the ravages of age.
The ice cold rain
trickles through my straw flesh
bringing chills to every movement
and dull aches to the knotted joints.

I am the scarecrow.
My sack-cloth head
full of sawdust ideas
that spill from slashed
wound of a mouth.
My eyes stitched tight
in myopic views
transferred from the sharp
point of a lifelong needle.

I am the scarecrow.
Losing bits of me
through tattered clothes
bought an age ago,
exposing beetle scrabble heart
and worm-slither tongue
to the daily combatants
of snow and rain and sun
that weather them pale.

I am the scarecrow.
Standing here,
slumped upon
a wooden cross,
crucified for the sin of age.
I only have a brain
that works its traitor thoughts
into being young again,
into being vital.

I am the scarecrow.
In a field of summer corn
the crows are not afraid
for they’ve been here many times
and I do not have the heart
to scare them any more.
I just stand and face the sunset
and remember all the days
of squawking indignation.

I am the scarecrow…
am the scarecrow…
the scarecrow…
Track Name: Let Me Sit Beneath An Old Lamp
Let Me Sit Beneath An Old Lamp

Let me sit beneath an old lamp
With its shade tilted at an angle
Tracing my finger along rough paper
Glowing in a yellow light
Lost in worlds of other’s making
Drawn from the ebb and flow of words
Upon a dim-lit page
As evening draws in
Closing around my imagination
Unthreatening, comforting,
Time passing unnaturally
Against the ticking clock
Smiling, frowning,
Being immersed
Beneath warm passages
Of understanding
Inked, arranged,

Let me sit beneath an old lamp
With its shade tilted at an angle
Casting shadows
On what I think I know
Opening doors
That do not want to be opened
The light creeping into dark places
Illuminating, radiating,
Singing songs of hope
That keep the baying beasts at bay
That keep the dripping fangs
From innocent throats
That means I do not wander
God’s green earth
Looking for pixel phantoms
That are not there
On plastic screens
Of despair

Let me sit beneath an old lamp
With its shade tilted at an angle
For that is where
Creation dwells…
Track Name: Mama...

One staring eye,
the other blinks
like a beetle
crossing a marble.
Porcelain face,
flushed with rouge
and crimson
painted lips.

Hole in the wall
in the boarded up attic
of a Victorian townhouse.
Long forgotten,
until the mortar
crumbled around
the remains
of her dolls.

Dresses of lace
embroidered by spiders
with gossamer threads
and sprinkled with dust,
decay and corruption
deep in the depths
of the bricked up wall
where she left them.

A spinster,
no children
to call her own,
she collected
the beautiful,
fragile things
and kept them
locked away.

Until the day
that consumption called,
coughing blood and dying
she hid her collection
away from the neighbours.
Silenced their tongues.
Blinded their eyes.
Stilled their hearts.

The workman steps back
startled, confused,
as the bone white face
stares, blankly, back.
For deep in the recess
he swears that he hears
the rustling of movement
and clamouring urgency.

Light in the dark.
Decades of dark.
Playing in silence,
alone in the attic,
the ghosts of eight children
lost to the world.
The gurgling chorus
that whispers ‘Mama’…
Track Name: My Black Land (Thaw-Irkhet-If)
My Black Land (Thaw-Irkhet-if)

at last the light
the promised light
slipping from Osiris’ grip
crushed by the wheel of centuries
this is not the land of the lord of silence
this is not the fertile valley
this is not the underworld
this is the harsh light
of an alien world
where sacred sarcophagus
is rent asunder
and remains displayed for voyeurs
of the dead
my lord
the dog head prince
has failed his duty
to protect my grave
dragged from the necropolis
here I lie
for eternity
in the land
of the tainted
forever banished
from the arms
of my ancestors
here in the place
of sacrilege
here with artefacts
and tomb crime
here where the soul
drifts aimlessly
until the end of time
here in my home
my ancient home
my Kemet
my black land
Track Name: On The Slag Heap
On The Slag Heap

Quenching the eternal flame,
the furnaces won’t burn again,
the northern dragons will lay still -
the Government has had its fill.

At its heart a molten core
that will implode and beat no more.
The mill will close, the light will die
and in the dark the ghosts will cry.

The workers will go home to bed
not knowing if their family’s fed
or if they will become a number
disappearing whilst they slumber.

Another industry breathes its last,
what once was present becomes past,
the mines, the docks and now the steel
like butterflies upon a wheel.

When the grass has covered all,
like graves with bodies in the soil,
some day we will look back and say
these tired beasts had had their day.

But that will be only half a tale -
economics made them fail,
priced them to a lingering death -
squeezed them of their failing breath

Yet in the end nobody cared
how these aging titans fared
they didn’t hear their sad swan song -
but they will miss them when they’re gone.

‘Another dog has had its day’,
the fawning politicians say -
and like a dog they put it down
destroying one more northern town.
Track Name: Redemption

The black soul of a sinner,
in a numbing amphetamine haze,
listens to the screech of bats
and considers his end of days.
Sitting in the suicide dark
in Marion County, Tennessee,
he has followed the stumbling ghosts
of the Chickamauga Cherokee.
He listens to the whispering water
tempting him in that cave
where he thinks no one will find him
to lay flowers on his grave.

Yet, something happens to him
at the depths of his despair
a flame, he will later call God,
engulfs his body there
and he crawls out of the tunnels
into the rapturous light -
saved from the darkness
and given a cause to fight.
Trial and tribulation
saved the man in black
and led him to redemption
in the cave at Nickajack.
Track Name: Screaming Blue Murder
Screaming Blue Murder

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at the state of the nation
and how we blame our ills
on Muslims and immigration -
talking about people
as though they’re an infestation.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at the Banker’s greed
and the people on the street
who we can’t seem to feed -
the way that we trample
on sexuality and creed.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at the whole disheartening mess
of the education system,
transport and the NHS -
and how we’re going to get out of it
is anybody’s guess.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at the neo-Fascist’s rise,
about how we’re indoctrinated
by Tory owned newspaper lies
and the way we look away
when an industry dies.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
that the rich are getting more
while zero hour contracts
are hammering the poor
and the way we still find money
to support another war
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at intolerance and hate,
about the way you can’t criticise
a Persecution State
without being dragged into
an anti semitic debate.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
for all of the bluster and fuss
caused by unsupported facts
on the side of a bus -
how just one third of the country
somehow speak for all of us.
I’m screaming Blue Murder.

I’m screaming Blue Murder
at what this government’s done
to the weak and vulnerable,
to the poor man and his son -
and as they stand accused
with their guilt ridden smoking gun
I’m screaming Blue Murder

My heart is on the left
and my blood is red.
Austerity doesn’t work,
it has to be said.
Our ethics and our values
are morally dead.
I’m screaming Blue Murder
Track Name: Soothsayer

Upon the Tiber’s sacred banks,
the black grape waters idly lap
like wine within a swirling cup,
the sleek and bloodied entrails spill
between my stiff and shaking hands
to roll and coil on sun baked dust.
I see a crown of laurels there,
all seeped in false and guilty tears,
and at its heart a bitter hate,
its innards twisted like this lamb.

The noblest Roman of them all,
gilded now in ragged glory,
his breast exposed to countrymen
and those, alike, who would betray
upon the fated Ides of March.
They gather like a pack of wolves
a frenzy in their lupine eyes.
Crimson betrayal of cowards,
dripping and steaming from the blades
of silver, glinting Janus knives.

His eyes lock wildly
on each frenzied face,
as gurgling questions
stain his august lips
before they cascade
like opaque glass beads
upon white marble,
rattling across
a broken empire.
Track Name: That Which Autumn Leaves
That Which Autumn Leaves

The clowns were funny in the ring,
as they joked and tumbled and fell -
but in the camp, after the show,
they made our young lives hell.
Still in their masks of garish paint
and drunk on Vodka shots,
they cut and bruised and beat us,
hatching cruel, twisted plots.

I never saw the demons
lurking safe behind the masks
and who would have suspected them
as they went about their tasks?
We couldn’t tell our parents,
although so great was our need
to escape their vile clutches,
“Blaming clowns, indeed!”

So as they slept in caravans
painted in autumn shades,
some friends and I crept up on them,
our young hearts so afraid.
We lit a little fire
underneath the sleeping nest
and jammed tree branches in the doors.
Oh, what a jolly jest.

We banged nails in the window frames
and waited for the screams
when those inside rushed at the door.
I hear them in my dreams.
They cursed and swore unholy vengeance
in strange Romany tongues,
as flames and smoke lapped around them
and scorched into their lungs

The paint on every caravan
peeled and bubbled like hell
and we swore an oath between us
that we would never, ever, tell.
We stood at the far side of the field
as the garish wagons burned.
The shades of autumn lit the sky
as one by one we turned.

The shrieks in the night sounded like
frenzied jesters frying
in a three ring circus of the night.
The children stopped their crying.
The shades of autumn blurred
across an unforgiving sky.
We even raised the alarm ourselves
As we waited for them to die.

Our handiwork went undetected,
just more ash in the rubble.
None of us were suspected then
and no one got into trouble -
but now my friends have all passed on,
as age comes to us all,
every autumn I wait for them
to come around and call.

For every year since that fateful day,
as the night sky burns in season
of falling leaves and epitaphs,
they seem to have a reason
to return to that scorched cradle
and pitch their caravan
in the same spot in that killing field
where years ago we ran.

I fear them, not for our redemptive past
but, because I see the eyes
of Paul, Peter, John and Mark
and hear their mournful cries
spilling from the cracked and crumbled greasepaint faces
of each and every ghost
that visits me upon that night
i dread and fear the most.

When autumn visits with the clowns
I come to realise,
that I stand in the twilight of my life
and winter, soon, will rise.
The flaming oranges will pass
and give way to the white,
smudged with the ashes of my guilt
and many years of lies.

The clowns will wait round corners
with their evil, coal-black stare
and I will smell them first,
the acrid scent of burning hair.
In livery of orange and gold
they will open the doors wide
on their caravan of collected souls -
and I will step inside.
Track Name: The Bayonet In The Shed
The Bayonet In The Shed

He put it there in forty nine,
in a woodworm riddled drawer,
wrapped it in a greasy rag.
A remnant from the war.
On top of it he laid his medals,
nothing more was said
until the day my father
took the bayonet from the shed.

We had pestered many times
and he had said ‘perhaps’
when we asked him if he’d killed
any Krauts or any Japs.
His eyes fixed on something far away,
as though searching for the dead,
but we found out what we wanted
when he took the bayonet from the shed.

He was a sergeant major
in the hell hole that was Burma,
where the Japanese snipers
would target you on a murmur.
He was proud of the campaign
and the boys that he had led
but he never ever talked
about the bayonet in the shed.

He didn’t hate all foreigners
and he said the greatest worker
that he had ever met in the war
was ‘good old Johnny Gurkha’.
That being brave wasn’t about killing,
he was happy when they fled,
then he went down the garden
and took the bayonet from the shed.

He was gone a short while
and when we saw him coming back
he was no longer marching proudly
along a heroes track.
We witnessed the aged warrior
return with heavy tread,
shoulders slumped in surrender
with the bayonet from the shed.

He moved the cloth reverently
and laid the medals by its side
and for the first time in my life
we watched as my father cried.
We sat with him and looked at it
and thought of bodies that had bled
after being introduced to
the bayonet in the shed.
Track Name: The Beast Beneath The Beck
The Beast Beneath The Beck

The beck at Westgate End is full of weeds,
its water is a muddy shade of brown,
confused ducks die within anaemic weeds
as sunken shopping trolleys pull them down.
Sometimes you hear a cold slithering splash,
as though some ancient creature has slid in
to feast upon the centuries of trash.
Who knows what evils are contained within?

It waits for drunken sops no one will miss -
staggering from the Redoubt To The Rock,
it lures with an intoxicating kiss
that leaves them in a state of wide eyed shock.
The beast beneath the Beck has taste for meat
and keeps unwary drunkards off the street.
Track Name: The Collector (Roget's Soliloquy)
The Collector (Roget’s Soliloquy)

In my book……..

Words – so simple in their sound
they fall like snowflakes on a lake
and interlock their unique form
until the water gives way to their power,
becoming something bigger,
something cold and hard and beautiful.
Or a flame, just a spark at first
until the kindling catches and the embers
jump from twig to dry grass,
a blazing range of colour, heat and rage.

I sit and sort the snowflakes.
I flit among the flames.

Words – a vivid fall of leaves
that tip from stoic trees
their gaudy greens masked
in a cascade of amber, rust and bronze.
Settling and becoming strong together,
simple potency gathering
around the trunks of those
who only see the basic
shapes hanging from branches
that clutch to hold them.

I harvest autumn hues.
I press them between pages.

In my book…
Track Name: The Cycle Of The Scarecrow
Cycle Of The Scarecrow

A scarecrow in autumnal sheen
thinks of all that he has been.
His age old frame begins to lean
as bitter winds blow in, so keen.
He longs for days of evergreen,
so buys back time, wipes the slate clean,
gives his soul to the pumpkin queen -
the witch who walks at Halloween.

The scarecrow dreams of living free
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The summer sun, the winter snow,
He’s never felt so alive.
The scarecrow dreams of living free
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The springtime thaw, the autumn leaves,
He’s never felt so alive.

A scarecrow in the wax moonlight
is snowed upon one winters night
and as the crystals, soft, alight
he dreams perhaps some day he might
take footsteps off into the bright
ice world. His skeletal delight
some hours later, fat and white
with snow-flesh - waiting for coal sight.

The scarecrow dreams of leaving home
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The summer sun, the winter snow,
He’s never felt so alive.
The scarecrow dreams of leaving home
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The springtime thaw, the autumn leaves,
He’s never felt so alive.

A scarecrow in a cutting rain
watches his slush slide down the drain
and as it leaves, he feels the pain
as bones of wood protrude and drain.
Weak sunlight sows the sleeping grain
as he is called upon, again,
to stand guard over crops – attain
dominance over winters stain.

The scarecrow dreams of working hard
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The summer sun, the winter snow,
He’s never felt so alive.
The scarecrow dreams of working hard
He thinks he’s gonna survive
The springtime thaw, the autumn leaves,
He’s never felt so alive.

A scarecrow dries in summer sun
knowing that, once more, he’s won
the right of those, which he is one,
to face the crows of Albion.
Then as the solstice webs are spun
and shadows lengthen, day is done –
he knows that he cannot outrun
what summers beetles have begun.

The scarecrow dreams of dying now
He’s not so sure he’ll survive
The summer sun, the winter snow,
He’s never felt less alive.
The scarecrow dreams of dying now
He’s not so sure he’ll survive
The springtime thaw, the autumn leaves,
He’s never felt less alive.

A scarecrow in autumnal sheen
thinks of all that he has been.
His age old frame begins to lean
as bitter winds blow in, so keen.
He longs for days of evergreen,
so buys back time, wipes the slate clean,
gives his soul to the pumpkin queen -
the witch who walks at Halloween.
Track Name: The Devil Don't Own Me
The Devil Don’t Own Me

He may have saluted the corrupted cross
In Hitler’s Germany,
or whispered to Judas Iscariot,
hanging from a tree,
he could have pulled the trigger finger
back in nineteen sixty three,
he may own the soul of rock and roll
but the Devil don’t own me.

He may pollute the air we breath
or the raging, deep blue, sea.
He may breath on polar ice caps
on his subtle killing spree.
He may steal food from starving children
or the hope from you and me,
he may arm the fights of acolytes
but the Devil don’t own me.

He may own the greedy bankers
and the false economy,
the fascist newspaper owners
in the lands of liberty,
he may own the cops and robbers,
he may strive to set them free
from the laws they place upon us -
but the Devil don’t own me

He was at the witches coven,
looking for his fee,
when the British Government
compacted with the DUP.
He locked their morals in blood
and threw away the key.
The devil owns the country
but the devil don’t own me.

He may own the halls of government
and the sly, dark powers that be,
the state run institutions,
he may own the state TV,
he may control what we hear,
he may control what we see,
the Devil may be media savvy
but the devil don’t own me.

He owned the Milk Snatcher
and the Grey Man forking peas,
the Jolly Sailor Boy
and the Bullingdon Club bullies.
He was in the wrong line at Orgreave
urging on the young PC’s.
Yes the Devil sides with devils
but the Devil don’t own me
Track Name: The Walkin' Man
The Walkin’ Man

Serendipity Spangle was a walkin’ man -
of that, there is no doubt,
he walked across great continents
and was seen round here about.
With his low slung jeans and guitar,
he had no need for fancy suits,
he just roamed the great blue yonder
in his worn down cowboy boots .

Those who were there at his birth
cross their hearts and tell no lies -
they say he came into this world singing
and walked straight from his mammas thighs
out into the dustbowl road out there
where he promptly disappeared
into the heart of America
and was folk and country reared.

He walked the fields of Gettysburg,
dried the tears of the crying.
He strolled the trenches of the Somme
and comforted the dying.
He raised the flag at Iwo Jima,
hung his head at Nagasaki,
stirred the spirit in Vietnam -
his heart is red and khaki.

He’s been around a long, long time
and many times he’s died,
but he walks into the valley of the shadow of death
and comes out the other side
with a pale horse trailing behind him,
riderless and out of breath,
Serendipity Spangle
always wins the wrestle with Death.

For the poor, the weak, the hopeless -
he will pacify the soul,
the depressed, the hurt, the dispossessed -
chew it up and swallow it whole.
With his raging songs of freedom,
you will hear the old folk talk,
of the time that Serendipity Spangle
stopped by on his long walk.

You hear his footsteps echoing
along these highways of dust
when Bob or Bruce or Pete Seeger
ask you to place your trust
in poetry and a guitar
and a minstrel of the road.
Serendipity Spangle
will help you carry your heavy load.

A lonely figure steps out
and walks into the moon
at the top of a country road,
whistling a mournful tune.
When the sun rises tomorrow
his footsteps will have blown away
on a warm and soothing prairie breeze.
Walkin’ into another day.
Track Name: The Weeping Angel
The Weeping Angel

She passed this way and tended to our pain,
stayed by our beds and whispered in our ears,
administered our wounds and eased our fears -
telling us that we would be home again.
Once, in her hands, I saw pendant and chain,
I will remember that for many years,
an angel weeping solitary tears
that made me think of the oncoming rain.
She sent it to her sister days before
the hospital was shelled and her fate sealed.
She was gentle, but never weak or frail,
a young life ended by this pointless War.
Remember Nellie Spindler from Wakefield -
the only woman killed at Passchendaele

Nellie Spindler (10th August 1891 – 21st August 1917)
Nellie was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery with full military honours the following day. The Last Post was sounded and it is believed that over one hundred officers, four generals and the Surgeon-General attended the funeral. She is the only woman amongst over 10,000 men to be buried at the cemetery.
Track Name: The Westgate Run
The Westgate Run.

Upon the Merrie Cities oldest street
when twilight creeps across the Yorkshire sky,
traditionally friends and strangers meet
and let the velvet darkness pass them by.
In pictures from a dim and distant past,
as gaslight spilled from heavy shadowed doors,
to neon tinted bars of Friday last
the sound of liquid laughter gently pours.

At seven, sharp, we meet in the Redoubt,
it’s crooked rooms are full of chiming talk.
then on to face our Waterloo and stout
as black as coal, to help us on our walk.
The White Hart next and sawdust ghosts afoot,
stiff, wooden chairs that creak like age old men.
A chimney spills authentic, ancient soot
that trails away in footsteps way back when.

Where Wagon and Horses were tethered tight
we drink and watch the youngsters on the baize -
full heads of hair and eyes a shiny bright,
no blood shot orbs and salt and pepper greys.
The Smiths Arms draws us to a blazing fire
that warms us from the hearth of cosy rooms
until we leave to climb towards the spire,
our breath explodes in will o’ the wisp plumes.

The Swan With Two Necks, changed yet one more time,
its stained glass windows gazing at the mill
forever etched against a sky in grime -
though long gone you can see its outline still.
Henry Boons is next with its straw thatched bar
where trendy student ambience abounds.
The walls are permeated with a tar
of funky, grungy, rocky, poppy sounds.

Under the railway bridge and cross the road,
the red bricked Elephant & Castle looms,
a place where time has permanently slowed
and memories are cobwebbed in the rooms.
Finally, back across the road to find
the Black Horse on the corner of my dreams
of a dim and distant past I left behind
supported from its old, oak timbered beams.

Perhaps these cobbled streets hold no surprise
to those who visit here upon a chance -
but living all my life beneath these skies
I hear the music, soft beneath the dance.
A century or more of stumbling feet
have traced this path from St. Micks to the Rock.
Good spirits open wide the doors to greet
the revellers of Wakefield when they knock.
Track Name: There Are No Angels Here
There Are No Angels Here

Scraping around the vipers nest,
flaming swords and thrusting spear,
black spiders scuttle to the feast
but there are no angels here.

The dragon crawls into their veins,
hallucinogenic ecstasy or fear.
The demon bares his fangs to bite
and still there are no angels here.

The first-born rounded up and caged,
harvesting the mothers tear,
the innocents are slaughtered.
Yes, there are no angels here.

No Seraphim, no Nephilim,
no Archangel seen far or near -
God’s army keep their powder dry.
There are no avenging angels here.

The dead will rise in Babylon,
false prophets will snipe and sneer,
the doubters branded heretics.
There are no longer angels here.

Tangled up in their own strings
the puppets and the puppeteer.
God is dead and Satan lives
because there are no angels here.

The fool sits in the house of white,
Apocalyptic portents appear.
Despite claiming the hand of God
there were never any angels here.
Track Name: Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night

Pining with your sisters
in every other garden.
Lying used and violated
next to the shed.

Tinsel traces
like expensive jewellery
draped from your
denuded, coat-hanger, limbs.

Ribs of dry twigs
poke from your green dress.
Ripped and torn
by seasons greetings.

Where once your heart
beat fast and true
there now rattles
the hollow scratch of beetles.

Frost will melt
and drip from your bauble eyes.
Winter tears
of deep regret.

Forsaken by angels,
bereft of light,
you gently settle
into shadows.

When summer comes
you will be found
like a draft of chilled air
breaking from the ground.

And we will think
of December.
Track Name: Under August Skies
Under August Skies

We sat around the table Mam
but none of us got fed,
for the Corn Law has been biting
and we don’t have any bread.
The mill wheels have stopped turning,
so we haven’t any jobs
and we’re under-represented
by the parliamentary nobs.

So we gathered in the field Mam,
with our banners and our flags,
and the soldiers sat in lines
with their brightly coloured nags.
We were organised but unarmed
and adamant we would not yield
as we marched in peaceful protest
arm in arm to St Peter’s Field.

There were tens of thousands there Mam
under baking August heat -
and when Mr Hunt got up to speak
we all jumped up to our feet
and a huge roar went around the crowd
as everybody cheered -
but that was just the signal
that the local magistrate feared.

He called up the Hussars Mam
and sent them in so we’d disperse
and the air was filled with shrieks Mam
and I don’t know what was worse -
the slashing sabres on our backs,
or the blood that soaked the ground,
or the groans of all the wounded,
or the chaos all around.

There were soldiers in the field Mam
and they all had swords and guns
and they hacked their way through daughters
and they hacked their way through sons,
they hacked their way through husbands
and they hacked their way through wives
and they didn’t care a jot
for the loss of poor folk’s lives.

Sorry I didn’t come home Mam
but I’m lying next to John,
trampled by the horses,
but now the horses have all gone.
There are fifteen other mothers
who will grieve the same as you
over this bloody mess in Manchester.
Pray for the dead of Peterloo.
Track Name: War Boys
War Boys


We’re going to war boys,
we’re going to war,
Lord Kitchener asked us
so we formed a corps.
Joe and Jack from the factory,
Ted and Jim from the farm,
the recruiting sergeant assures us
that there’s little chance of harm.
We’re part of the great pals army
and we’ve fallen for his charm
as we march away to war.

We’re in the war boys,
we’re in the war,
we think we were lied to
but we’re not too sure.
Bullets are flying everywhere
some of them get quite near,
our cocky, jaunty demeanour
is now riddled through with fear.
Our pals are dying everywhere
and there’s no time to shed a tear
as we fight this blooming war.

We’re sick of the war boys,
we’re sick of the war,
we’ve had enough of it,
can’t take any more.
I’ve seen friends explode in pieces,
I’ve seen bone and guts and blood,
and everywhere we march
there’s this terrible fucking mud
and when a shell flies by you
you’re just praying it’s a dud.
We’re so sick of this war.

I’m home from war boys,
I’m home from war,
just me on my own, boys,
from a hundred and four.
They died like cattle in the field,
cut down by bayonet and shell,
sucked into the earth
like they were journeying to hell.
All my friends died horribly,
only I was left to tell
of the boys who went to war.

I’m still in the war boys,
I’m still in the war,
I talk to friends who
were with me before.
I see their muddy faces,
I hear their mournful boasts,
buried under Flanders fields
so they can’t desert their posts.
I’m no longer with the living
I’m just drifting with the ghosts
of the boys who went to war.
Track Name: Windsor Street
Windsor Street

No bunting flutters in the breeze,
no boys and girls, dressed up so neat,
with not a scratch upon their knees.
There are no flags on Windsor Street.

There are no parties in the yard,
the sandwiches will hold no meat.
They will send no greetings card
‘from the residents of Windsor Street’.

There are no beds of scented flowers,
there are no open arms to greet
crumpled masses who spend their hours
hunched in corners on Windsor Street.

There are no canapés or quince
or any kind of special treat -
just calory saturated fats since
the jobs were lost on Windsor Street.

So when the bride comes down the aisle
platitudes thrown under her feet
the folk will try to raise a smile
at injustice wrought on Windsor Street.

The cheering crowds will sing their praise,
choreographed to match the beat
of marching bands on sunny days
that won’t pierce the shadows on Windsor Street.

When the happy couple go to bed
and lay beneath their privileged sheet
not a single thought enters their heads
of the lost souls drifting on Windsor Street.

Little England has it’s sideshow
celebrities they’ll never meet -
while resentment will flourish and grow
in humble abodes on Windsor Street.

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