Badly Mistaken Men

September 7, 2018
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I’ve seen that darkness
in the eyes
of badly mistaken men,
sadly often.
Heard some say
it’s a holiday camp –
their own room
and a telly, rent free!

But for many it’s
give us this day
our daily dread,
jumping to orders,
permission and keys,
permission and keys,

and the slamming of doors
strictly timetabled,
under a thumb.
And at night
it’s a coffin.

Rule 43 man carefully tucks away
a pair of scissors under the skin
of his belly – the Wing Officer said –
secretly shoves it inside himself.
Could have had a life
if someone had cared more.

Saved from himself,
the pain of what he did
to his victim
hurts too much
for living to mean more
than being dead
and his body torments
with exquisite searing torture.

Of course there are bad men
very bad, gruesome and mean.
So many more didn’t choose
to be broken and miserable
desire to be mended men
with better futures
trade in their season ticket
in the stand
with the badly mistaken men
where they once belonged.


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A Miscarriage of Government

June 2, 2018
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Brexit means Brexit Theresa May warned
The vote has been cast and the papers suborned
By a big London bus into reprinting lies
About NHS millions per day. No surprise
That it turns out to be all a con, all a hoax
That’s intended to reach into hearts and to coax
Us with spurious offers that cannot be met
By minority government intent to forget
As it DUPes us to think that it knows what it’s doin’
Remain means remain, and Brexit means ruin
And all of the years we have wasted on this
Vile debacle we’ll see is a bucket of piss.

Posted in Reviews

The Sensible Voter

May 30, 2018
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A voter took a stroll through the deep, dark wood
A Maybot saw the voter and it looked good
“Where are you going to, little dim voter?
Come and have a ride in my austerity motor”

“That’s very kind, Maybot, but no, you see
I’m going to have tea with a Corbynee.”
“A Corbynee? What’s a Corbynee?”
“He has terrible Marx and terrorist links
And terrible Abbotts in his terrible kinks.”
“And where does he live?”
“Down by the coast. And his favourite meal is Maybot on toast.”
“Maybot on toast! I’m off!” Maybot said,
And she ran, avoiding taxes, to her number ten bed.

On walked the voter through the deep, dark wood
A Faragump saw it and thought it looked good.
“Where are you going to, voter?” said he.
“In my soup it’s lovely up my Eurogum tree.”

“That’s very kind of you, Faragump but, see
I’m off to see a Corbynee for scones and tea.”
“A Corbynee? What’s a Corbynee?”
“He has IRAy eyes, his tongue licks Hamas asses
He has red coloured prickles on his NHS glasses.”
“Where does he live?”
“In a pond by a stump
And his favourite meal is grilled Faragump.”
“Grilled Faragump! I’m off!” said he
And off he did Brexit up his Eurogum tree.

On walked the voter through the deep, dark wood
A Blario saw it and thought it looked good.
“Where are you going to, voter?” he stomped,
“It’s going down a bomb back in my Middle East swamp.”

“That’s very kind of you, Blario but, see
I’m off to see a Corbynee for gefilte fish tea.”
“A Corbynee? What’s a Corbynee?”
“He has two left legs and a nationalised rail
And Russian spy poison at the end of his tail.”
“Where does he live?”
“Round by that thicket,
And his favourite meal is Blario Benedicket.”
“Blario Benedicket! I’m going for a romp!”
And off he bombed to his Middle East swamp.

On walked the voter through the deep, dark wood
The voter saw a green nut and the green nut looked good.



(With apologies to Julia Donaldson)

Cacophony of Stardust – Book

May 7, 2018
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Thanks to N0thing Books for the publicity!

And thanks to Matthew Cash of Burdizzo Bards, making me their first published poet, with my first poetry collection available now from Al Barz performance places and from Amazon (paperback or Kindle)

via Cacophony of Stardust by Al Barz – Available Now!

The First Purple Penumbra

June 27, 2012
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The Barlow Theatre, otherwise known as Oldbury Rep, sits gently in a cul-de-sac close to a couple of excellent pubs and a variegated row of shops and food purveyors.

It is a charming little theatre with an almost continuous run of plays and musicals and it sports a fine bar with a cosy atmosphere, where poetry events can and have taken place for many years.  Spouting Forth used it some years ago with a membership that included several who were later Birmingham Poets Laureate and Geoff Stevens who resurrected the venue’s poetic content with his  Purple Patch magazine events and a National Small Press Publishers’ Convention stretching to three days.
Unfortunately, Geoff died in February, but a group of us decided to continue to promote his legacy as well as his Barlow meetings.  Purple Penumbra is the first, supported, as ever, by the good offices of JohnUpton who opened the theatre bar for us poets in his usual generous tradition.
Attendees included a Wolverhampton University Course Leader in Creative and Professional Writing (himself a published poet and novelist), the Secretary of Bilston Community Association, Walsall’s current Poet Laureate, some old friends and some new young poets, all eager to read or perform their own or Geoff’s work.
With the Queen’s Jubilee celebration still in our short-term memory, Eileen Ward-Birch started us off with a timely, humorous poem about when the Queen was ‘coronated’, as if she was but a child.  
Someone I’ve only ‘met’ on Facebook as Photo Giraffe, who hadn’t intended to read, gave us a very moving and beautiful picture, from memory, of Jeff Buckley, the US singer-songwriter.  Strange connection here – Jeff Buckley posthumously had a hit record with ‘Hallelujah’, a song played at the funeral of Geoff Stevens.  
Shabz Ahmed gave us an intelligent piece which for me served to highlight cultural connections as well as differences of mankind.  Ian Henery regaled us with his Olympic poem and, particularly for Eileen, one called “We Are Wolverhampton”.  Greg Stokes read from his book a couple of hilarious passages – a local spy story and one that confused me as to whether it was a casino or a brothel… someone was cashing in on the former but were they on the latter?  
For me, the highlight of the evening was Dr Paul McDonald who had a couple of superb semi-autobiographical poems and one about Walt Whitman, also a favourite of his good friend, Geoff Stevens, and a tale of Geoff’s pre-eminent knowledge of sausages and housebricks.  Sue Hulse told us a tale of two grandfathers, incredible stories, too surrounding the poetry.
For most of us who knew Geoff, I believe that this was a little cathartic.  We read his poems remembering him, and I’m sure he would be pleased to find in his shadow a burgeoning purple penumbra.

No Difference

April 28, 2012
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Makes no difference
Do what you wish
The outcome will be the same –
Worry, fret, agitate, anger
It has no effect in the end
He said
Not realising that
The flap of a butterfly’s wing
In Rhyl
May lead to a storm
In the Azores
No difference to the butterfly, still.

Out of Words

April 24, 2012

I’m running out of words,
My word-bag’s nearly empty
I used to have a plethora
I used to have so… plenty

The words would tumble out of me
I’d carpet rooms and halls
With baskets full of verbiage
And paste them on the walls

But life can play some rotten tricks
You wake up one fine day
And all your words have leaked out
And they’ve up and run away

I used them on the Internet
And filled up stacks of floppies
I can’t get floppies on this thing
They’re dead.
I’ll scatter poppies.

It Shows

April 22, 2012
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I could buy you a mansion, or big diamond rings,
a trip to a worldful of fabulous things
I could take you to places where big money flows
but if I don’t know you then it shows.

Two dozen roses may sweeten your heart
to think that I’m smitten, this may be the start
of a great big affair I’m the one that you chose
but if I don’t cherish your wishes it shows.

I’ll say that I love you with big demonstrations
forgetting a birthday or some celebration
that means a great deal. That’s the value of woes.
For if I don’t make you number one, then it shows.

The MP and the Banker

April 21, 2012
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The MP and the banker were walking close at hand
They wept in happiness to see the systems work so grand
If this were messed about, they said, we’d cream it, if we planned.

If seven lords and seven profs studied it half a year
Do you suppose,’ the PM said, ‘They’d render it unclear?’
‘I’ll work it out,’ the banker said, and had another beer.

‘O voters, come and vote for us!’ the MP did beseech.
A pleasant talk, a voting slip, and you can hear my speech
We’ll start with all the smarter ones to indoctrinate – er – teach.

The eldest voter looked at him, but never said a word:
The eldest voter eyed him up as if he were absurd
Meaning he’d fallen for that one, and thought he was a turd

But four young voters hurried up, all eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd – they had no cash to buy them on the street!

Four other voters followed them, and yet another four;
And thick and fast they came, (they hadn’t seen it all before)
All hopping through the metal chairs and scrambling ‘cross the floor.

The MP and the banker span their web an hour or so,
Then stopped for wine and canapés (allowed expense you know)
And all the little voters stood and went without, below.

The time has come,’ the banker said, for quantitative easing
You thought life would be easier, well… we were only teasing
It’s difficult, but pigs with wings won’t fly without some squeezing

A second home,’ the MP said, ‘is what we chiefly need:
Jobs for nobs and nepotism are very good indeed —
And somebody must pay for all this undisputed need.’

But please not us!’ the voters cried, turning a little blue.
‘After we gave you power, that’s a dismal thing to do!’
The cash is mine,’ the banker said. ‘I can loan it to you’.

It was so kind of you to vote, and you are very nice!’
And the MP said nothing but ‘Cut us in on your price:
We’ll drop your tax to forty-five percent, will that suffice?’

It seems a shame,’ the MP said, to play them such a trick,
After we’ve tempted them with lies, and made them look so thick!’
The banker didn’t say a word but ‘Don’t be such a prick!’

I weep for you,’ the MP said: ‘It’s not because we won,
But rioting will never do and striking is no fun
So bear with us, we’re doing what we knew when we begun.’

The Argument

April 18, 2012
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I am insufferable.
I am sure that’s what you think.
You know the valid truth of what you say
And how would I know different anyway?

I’m pig-headed.
The immovable object
That the irresistible force has failed to budge
To the truth in your superior knowledge.

I am a thorn.
I pricked your finger, made it bleed.
The sweet-smelling rosebush that looked so prim
Now tainted with the blood of your punctured skin

I will be slain.
The evidence you need, obtained
And held up for the modern world to see
How hideously wrong I’m proved to be.

But I care not!
You may be right or wrong.
The irrelevance of that is plainly visible.
Your reaction to my plain words is risible.

I weep inside.
I see your wrenching torment.
And understand much more than you can realise,
Your pain is deeper than you even yet surmise.

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