Recent Posts

25 October 2012

What is the use of our being told that we live in a democracy if we want fountains and have no fountains?

By all means
let us have a policy
of full employment,
increased production,
no gap between exports and imports,
social security,
a balanced This
and a planned That,

but let us also
have fountains –

more and more fountains –
higher and higher fountains –
fountains like wine,
like blue and green fire,
fountains like diamonds –

and rainbows
in every square.

Taken from J B Priestly's book Delight, first published in 1949. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

23 October 2012

I would rather work in mill than in pit

I hurry in the clothes I've now got on,
trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place
upon my head made by thrusting the corves;
my legs have never swelled, but sisters’ did
when they went to mill; I hurry the corves
a mile and more under ground and back;
they weigh three hundredweight; I hurry
eleven a-day; I wear a belt and chain
at the workings to get the corves out;
the getters that I work for are naked
except their caps; they pull off all their clothes;
I see them at work when I go up; sometimes
they beat me, if I am not quick enough,
with their hands; they strike me upon my back;
the boys take liberties with me sometimes,
pull me about; I am the only girl
in the pit; there are about twenty boys
and fifteen men; all the men are naked;
I would rather work in mill than in pit.

17-year-old Patience Kershaw's account of working in a Halifax coal pit, from a report about the condition of young persons employed in coal mines in Facts and Figures, May 2, 1842. Found in Futility Closet. A few words omitted for scansion: 'is' (line 3), 'they' (16), 'coal' (19); and 'I have' contracted in line 1. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

18 October 2012

The Clan

Malcolm was dreadful
John was quite damaged
Malcolm and Kitty were part of the Fabian set
like Bloomsbury in sexual licence
but with more socialism and less art

Taken from an email discussing the Muggeridge family. Some punctuation omitted. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

16 October 2012

The Jealous Friend

When we’re side by side
walking down the street
every glance is in her direction.
I pretend not to notice
but I feel like an accessory
it's as if I don’t exist

I was ecstatic one summer
When she put on a lot of weight
and was wallowing in misery
I had a spring in my step
when we walked down the street
but she still managed to take centre stage
even with her muffin top

From What I'm really thinking: the jealous friend in The Guardian Weekend. The poem is picked out of two sections of the article. Submitted by Lisa Oliver.

13 October 2012

Without conscience

He will choose you,
disarm you with his words.

Control you with his presence.

He will delight you with his wit and his plans.
He will show you a good time.

You will always get the bill.

He will smile and deceive you

and he will scare you with his eyes

and when he is through with you, and he will be through with you,
he will desert you and take with him
your innocence and your pride.

You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser
and for a long time you will wonder what happened and
what you did wrong.

And if another of his kind comes knocking on your door,

will you open it?

From The Psychopath in Prison, an essay by Dr Robert Hare. Two conjunctions removed. Submitted by Deborah.

11 October 2012

In Other News

I always go
for the beheading option
when I've calmed down
that it’s not possible
in a free market economy

Anyway how are you?

I’ve been writing
even tweeted the National Gallery

All I need now is a job,
a relationship
and a cup of tea (not
in that order)

Taken from a friend's email, 26 September 2012. Some words have been omitted between 'National Gallery' and 'All I need'. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

09 October 2012


Then I got up to leave
and said Stand up.
He stood. I said: Look at me.

I'm a middle aged man
with a limp and a wheeze
and a son and a wife that I love.

I'm not just a little avatar.
You're better than this.
You have a name of your own.

Be proud of it.
Don't hide it again
and I won't ruin it.

Now shake hands.

‘I'm sorry.’ he said,
and looked like he meant it.

Then we shook on it.

From the blog post Meeting A Troll. Submitted by Angi Holden.

04 October 2012


Overheard in the Co-op:
"You work bloody hard all your life
and then when you're finished
you have to go and see the doctor every day."

A tweet by @SeeingMore, 4th January 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

02 October 2012

We used to meet here, you and I

I was born when you needed me,
my life what I make it.
The constant smack of wet on wet

Trains rush by, boy on a bike
unfinished symphony
skimming stones as far as
Brindley’s heavy mitred gates.
Spreading rumours
in bracelets of fog.

There was a fatalism
as she walked along the towpath.
Black luck, slams hedges shut
in a dark space.
The bruise of blue on bone.
Rigid and dead - silent.
Yorkshire stone
and dagger-beak
seal our fate.

Don’t cry for me dear father
I bow my smokestack slowly
The canal is deep enough.

Lines from 19 poets whose work contributed to the Rochdale Canal Festival 2012 were reassembled in a cento. Contributing authors - Connie Ramsay Bott, Janine Bullman, John Darwin, Sheila Stretton, Jeanette Lomax, Eileen Wright, Andy N, John Betjeman, Ann Oxley, Annie Wright, Paul Blackburn, Diane Cockburn, Gaia Holmes, Anne Caldwell, Julia McClay, Jo Bell, Pat Trythall, Greg Freeman, Eileen Earnshaw, Val Chapman. Submitted by Winston Plowes.