ISSUE 4 - 1973


cover size 296 x 210 mm



Redundant Iron Works: Millom  A.M Horne
Dawn Chorus  A.M Horne
Me A.M Horne
Benjamin Stott 1813-1850    Ruth & Eddie Frow
On An Abandoned Garden  Alfred Edwards
Being an Improbable Conversation overheard through the half-open door to a Premature Baby Unit  W Froom
A Greek Tragedy    Frank Parker
Passing Through Jean Sutton
Walmer Street     Frances Thomas
"Children" and Children     Vivien Leslie
Poem for a Girl from Africa   Rick Gwilt
Clean-up Job   Gareth Thomas
Agitpoem No. 8 - Bromley     Bob Dixon
Leave Me Alone.     Bob Dixon
Portrait of an Economy    Bob Dixon
Ideas      Bob Dixon
A Matter of Form   Ian E Reed
Struggle Identified   Barabra Smith
The Building Workers Song    Rod O Connor
Now I'll Sharpen My Pencil John Smith"
 Green Toilet Rolls to Match my Bathroom Tiles Rose Friedman
The Lost, the Losers and the Lame    Ian E Reed
Feel the Need    J.E.Sutton
Whatcha Mean   Colin Frame
I am Sorry for Them     Colin Frame
New Sounds from Motown   Rick Gwilt
Glass is Dynamite    David Kessell
Chile     David Kessell
Random Thoughts of a Telefan    Maurice M Wiles
Solid Gleaming Coal   Mick Jenkins
Chile   Sol Garson


This is "Voices" No. 4. It comes in a new experimental format which may cause raised eyebrows. We cannot here go into details but the financial and economic factors involved in producing a periodical of this kind compel us to look into all possible economies. The continued existence of "Voices" is by no means assured. Our aim is a four times a year production. But this requires considerably wider support than we so far enjoy. We need more readers. We need more writers. We need more money. Please do not misunderstand this. Our support is increasing in all these respects, and we are grateful for this. But we need much more. The question is: do we deserve more? Does the poetry and prose in this issue justify a call for support from the progressive left? We think it does. But you are the people who must decide. If you think there is room for a committed publication which thinks of writing as a weapon in the hands of the Labour and Socialist and Communist movement help us. Make us known. write for us. Write to us. Ask your branch or district Committee to make a bulk order of "Voices" to distribute to your members. Introduce "Voices" to friends. 

All enquiries to Ted Morrison, 110 Edge Lane, Stretford, Manchester. (061 865 5862).




Strange they were across the bay,
Mystic spires of a forgotten religion,
Standing awkward at the edge of a moorland.
Facing the sea in sombre austerity.
Where once smoke filled a town with grimy streets
And noise and heat aged many men,
Where slag splashed brilliance at dark nights,
Streaming down unseen paths.
But as the sun slips behind the spires,
Blazing streams melt the sand,
Curving in deep gulleyed moulds,
Sweeping carelessly across the bay,
The sun's fiery setting splashing the sand with steel.


The death of a river choked by the phlegm of detergent,
Panic of oil glued seagulls, with only a reflex flapping,
As black pitted oblongs smudge the skyline,
Dry faces cough their way to morning monotony.
Confusion grabs an old man's hands, as he stammers between the buses,
And the poster shouts, 'Oozo washes whiter'.


What am I?
A push the other way in the soccer crowd
A belly flop in the public baths
580/3, a ping in the time machine.
Disturbed by the tragedy of Vietnam
Horrified at the sight of a Biafra child.
I remain the eleventh best snooker player in Barrow-in-Furness.
A.M. Horne





It is most frustrating at times when one is trying to find information about a particular person and all ends seem to be blocked. We first became acquainted with Benjamin Stott through his poems. We found the little volume, 'Songs for the Millions' in a bookshop in Stockport. We have never seen another copy. The poems are not only of a high literary standard, they also tell us quite a lot about the political opinions of the man.

 Fitting the loose threads together, the picture looks rather like this. Stott was born in Manchester on 24th November, 1813. His father was a hairdresser and later an auctioneer and came from a respectable Rochdale family. His mother came from one of the ancient families in the vicinity of Hope and Bradwell in the High Peak. Possibly they may have been miners and sheep farmers. Benjamin was the youngest of thirteen children and when he was under six years old both his parents died. He was brought up by a maiden Aunt, his mother's sister who worked as a fustian cutter and managed to keep him until he was nine. He was then admitted to Cheetham's Hospital. Friends of his father exorted influence to secure this admission. His education before that had been at the National Free School in Granby Row where he had learnt to read and write. Although he attended Cheetham's from 1822 to 1827, he apparently made little educational progress although he must have begun to develop a facility in the use of the English language of which he made good use in his poetry.

 When he left school at 14, he was apprenticed to a bookbinder for seven years and he remained a journeyman in that trade until he died in 1850 at the early age of thirty seven.

 We can only sketch in the blanks in his political life. He dedicated his poems to Thomas Slingsby Duncombe. He wrote of the "disinterested patriotism and eloquent advocacy of the rights of suffering humanity" which he said would "be cherished by, and live in the hearts of, generations yet unborn". Slingsby Duncombe was a well known Radical Member of Parliament.

 Benjamin Stott apparently only left his native Manchester once in his life and that was to go to a conference in the Isle of Man. He went there representing a society to which he belonged. We know that he was a prominent member of the OddFellows Friendly Society. He wrote a long poem extolling the virtues of that Society:

 "Blessed OddFellowship : thy aim and end
Is to promote the peace of man on earth,
The sick to cheer, the friendless to befriend".

 There was, however, in December 1829, a Spinners' Conference on the Isle of Man at which an attempt was made to form one "grand General Union" of all spinners. John Doherty, the leader of the Manchester Spinners returned to Manchester imbued with the idea of forming a much wider movement. It is not impossible to conjecture that Stott as a well known radical poet, attended the Spinners' Conference. His interest in the Trade Union Movement is shown by the poem that he wrote in memory of John Roach, a Manchester boiler maker. The verses were printed and sold to Union members. Stott called John Roach "A son of labour - a true democrat - a firm friend - a determined advocate - an unpaid patriot - a pure philanthropist and an honest man."

 "Shall we forget", he asks, "with that undaunted brow,
Though dared resist the foes of labour's rights?
Shall we neglect those virtues to avow
Which shone in thee and are men's chief delights?"

During the 1830s, the Bookbinders' Consolidated Union was passing through formative struggles and the Manchester Branch took the lead in attempting to coordinate the activities of the different Lodges. It is possible that Stott, having attended the Spinners' Conference and accepted the ideas of general union, played no small part in these Union affairs. In one poem, "Beware ye white Slaves of England" he tells the people to

 "Be firm and unite, but be cautious in words,
On your prudence depends the success of your cause.

 Much of Benjamin Stott's writing echoes the stirring calls of the French Revolution - the demands for natural rights that were voiced by Thomas Paine. His poetry was obviously influenced by Shelley and Byron and it reflects his deep sympathy with suffering, injustice and oppression in their manifold expressions.

 At the Sun Inn in Long Millgate, the Manchester and district literary circle held meetings to exchange views and appraise each others writing. The poems read at one of these meetings held on Thursday, 24th March, 1842 were published in a slight volume called "The Festive Wreath". Benjamin Stott contributed a poem in memory of William Grant, one of Dicken Cheeryble Brothers who had recently died. One of the circle, William Axon, thought sufficiently highly of Stott to walk to Northenden Churchyard soon after his death in 1850 and copy the inscription on the tombstone. It read:- "Here resteth the body of Benjamin Stott, of Manchester, who died July 26th 1850, aged thirty six years. He was an influential member of the National Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and by them much esteemed.

 "Pause, gentle stranger, for a man lies here
Whose hand was open, and whose heart sincere
To truth and kindness rendered homage due;
His friends were many, and his foes were few.
Errors he had, but they were such as he
In the frail nature of humanity;
Virtues he had, but they were such as claim
No noisy greetings from the voice of fame:
His virtues we remember, but the rest
We leave to Him whose mercy doeth best."

from 'Songs For the Millions - Benjamin Stott

Gaunt Famine Rides Rampant

Gaunt famine rides rampant o'er all the land,
And none but the drones can his power withstand;
The industrious bees that produce the wealth
Are his victims alone and he kills by stealth;
For the wounds which he makes they never bleed,
Although they are painful and piercing indeed;
But the wasted form, when the soul is dead,
Tells the tale that it died for want of bread.
Oh, gracious God, that governs all,
Thy attributes are wise and good;
Arise, and make the tyrants fall,
That rob the poor of life and food.
How hard is the fate of the suffering poor,
What toil and privation, and pain they endure;
And yet they are patient, forbearing, and kind,
Though the drones of the earth are against them combined;
Humanity shudders with grief and despair;
When it thinks and reflects on their woes and their care;
And the heart of the patriot burns with desire,
That the days of their thraldom may quickly expire.
Oh, gracious God, that governs all,
Thy attributes are wise and good;
Arise, and make the tyrants fall,
That rob the poor of life and food.

It Comes! It Comes!

It comes! It comes the glorious day,
When holy freedom shall prevail,
When battle strife and bloody fray
Shall be as a forgotten tale -
When virtue shall triumphant rise,
And vice be swept from off the earth,
When man shall look up to the skies,
And bless the God that gave him birth -
When joy, and charity, and peace,
And love, shall cheer the human heart.

Odd Fellowship

Blessed Odd Fellowship! thy aim and end
Is to promote the peace of man on earth,
The sick to cheer, the friendless to befriend.
Oh! that my yearning heart could speak thy worth;
Thrice happy they who unto thee gave birth;
A glorious reward is theirs to gain
In that immortal life where neither dearth,
Disease, nor famine ever more shall reign,
Nor grief nor misery shall be, nor aught of pain.
Benjamin Stott
Ruth and Eddie Frow




Against the pallette of evening and ungracious
Shadows of the lamp, flickering with flirtatious,
Crack-squeezed, wintry gusto, I see her shape; slightly bent,
With pinned-back hair, savouring every name and scent
Of gay-paged, lustrous-catalogued bulb and seed.
Child-implanted, she waits the barren winter
For those other, ordered seeds; emerging into
Life once planted, tended, nurtured by Mother earth;
Coinciding with her natural fledglings birth;
Satisfying her every creative need.
He, the proud, expectant father, quietly musing
On her fruitfulness, encouraged her, by choosing
Delights remembered from her Mother's old home-place;
Sweet-William, lemon-lies, peonies; her face,
Tear-suffused, recaptured even happier days.
She sees each garden as another friendly farm,
Joining, branched from the road's narrow, brown-ribboned arm,
Valley-dissecting, to the town. Her bonds growing
In her new home-place, tending her gardens knowing
Both are miracles of Natures many ways.
Though grave-unknown, these many-long years departed,
The legacy left by her small garden, started
In joyful years, is shown on hillsides all around;
Confines burst, spreading, colour-carpets now abound.
If she were here to see her mind's eye picture,
She'd see the bounty wrought by half-a-hundred years;
Would know her presence lingers; would shed joyful tears
That fruitfulness, whose too-brief joys she'd tasted;
And careful-plantings of those years were not wasted;
Would know her valley's sojourn made it richer.
With each nodding daffodil I feel her presence;
A kinship with that country woman; an essence
Abounding, as the fragrance of foot-crushed flowers
Arises with each step. In the voice of showers
Each glorious Spring; every blossom-bending breath
Of breeze whispers her name; informs of her living
Still; she who laboured in this garden, giving
This valley extra life. It is almost as though
She knew she would be returning later. I know
She has indeed achieved a life after death.
Alf Edwards




First Voice (high & clear)

They've gone now ... the Doctor and the Sister. Everything's quiet now...

Second Voice (Clear & high)

Yes, it's lovely to be quiet ... Warm, wellfed, comfortable, almost as if you'd never been born

First Voice (Sadly)

Some babies are born wanted, some unwanted, some are just born, and some, like us, are born too soon

Second Voice (Cheerfully)

Yes, but we stand a good chance of surviving don't we? They've made great advances in the treatment of premature infants they say don't they?

First Voice

That's quite true. They can create conditions that are almost perfect, almost like those of our mothers before we're born. They can give us the right degree of warmth, piped oxygen, injection, blood exchange transfusions, tube feeding, everything necessary to make up for our premature births ...

Second Voice

And when our weight is satisfactory and general condition is good, they can discharge us to our homes

First Voice (Harshly)

And that's the rub ... Here we're kind of prisoners, but happy prisoners Home is another kind of prison for some of us, cold, grimy, airless, sunless, a twilight area

Second Voice (Uncertainly)

But they send a Home Visitor to see if the conditions are suitable don't they?

First Voice

Oh yes, they do that, but the report has to be pretty bad to keep you here, and even then, you have to go "into care". They leave it largely to your parents to make the conditions suitable ... And sometimes that's impossible...

Second Voice (Fearfully)

Oh, I don't know anything about mine... Do you know anything about your home conditions?

First Voice

None of us know anything. It's called an accident of birth ... Some go home to a basement flat, some to a semidetached.

Second Voice

But if it's an accident why doesn't somebody do something to prevent it? What about the doctors and nurses? Their work will be wasted

First Voice (sadly)

Some don't even think that far Some do, but haven't the vision to tackle such a huge problem. A few, very few try to work in co-operation with all the other folk interested in environment, housing, education, to make it less of an accident and more of an opportunity

Second Voice

Somebody said children are the flowers of life ... but many a flower will never bloom if it's like you say

First Voice

That's true. Lots of babies are deformed or stunted, mentally and physically. Never expand, never reach their full height, never enrich the earth, are never unreservedly glad they were born ... Yet they could be, all of them, if only

Second Voice (Hopefully)

If only, if only what?

First Voice

If only the weeds of poverty and ignorance, exploitation and greed were wrenched from the soil of our environment ... Then every baby born could flourish ...

Second Voice (Joyfully)

And flower ... Flourish and flower.

(A pause - silence for a second)

Second Voice

Listen, listen, music, I can hear music. Can you?

(Softly very softly the strains of music are heard. It grows in volume, and the words become clear

"These things shall be; A loftier race than e'r the world hath known shall rise...


W. Froom (Mrs)



It yawns there making me giddy, this huge hole 
I blink my eyes and the strange unmoving figures, grotesquely dead; move again.
Personifying death, Matrantonis kills his soldier, personally flattens with 
his tank the student, and the gates.
Inside; the Polytechnic runs with blood;
Rape and death and mutilation skip with torture through the streets,
Assemble in the World Cup Stadium, and refereed by F.I.F.A. enjoy the game
with the captured brave.
U.S.A. and C.I.A. bland British F.C. and special branch, spectate and cheer.
In Kraticon, the colonels emissaries burst in,
Chase and club the wounded through the bandages, who with democracy, die.
In the name of N.A.T.O. and world re-action, fascism solemnly seals in
blood again, its firm resolve to enslave first Greece 
And then you, and you, and brother you, and sister you. 
Oh mighty Zeus bless these true sons lying murdered here, 
And my comrade who Matrantonis killed, and with your bolts protect those
who remain.
Frank Parker





He was polishing his shoes with fierce concentration, with short sharp light strokes, of the brush, his interest in this nightly ritual was so intense as to render him deaf to his child's repeated cry for attention.

"Dad, Dad, Dad?"

The woman sitting by the fire looked up. For a moment she gazed in silence, watching the arm moving backwards and forwards over the shining, well-worn leather. Her eyes were inscrutable. Her voice, when she spoke was tinged with a hint of scorn.

"He's talking to you His head jerked up guiltily.

"What son? What do you want?" but the little boy had already vanished, his incessant questioning forgotten by the magic cry of "Cartoon" from the front room, where his two sisters were watching the television.

"You never listen do you?"

"I never heard him luv".

"He spoke to you three times."

He decided on retreat as the best strategy, and walked out into the back kitchen. He whistled as he filled the kettle. "Where's the coffee luv?"

"Outside in the bin", she answered flatly.

She raised exasperated eyes to the ceiling as she heard him open the door into the yard. "It's on the shelf, where it usually is, stupid". "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, my love", he replied as he shut the door again. He hadn't really believed her. He was just playing along. He recognised the signs of battle, and he was a coward. It suited him to play this role tonight. Last night's repartee had upset him, so much that he had a whisky as soon as he entered the "Club", instead of leading up to it with five or six pints. Women, there was no understanding them. He worked hard, was always ready to lend her a few bob when she was stuck, took her out on Saturday night, yet she still pulled her face when he went out for a pint through the week.

The boiling of the kettle interrupted his indignant thoughts. "Do you want a cup luv?"

"No", her answer was short, but said more than it implied. Stick your rotten coffee, and don't come trying to get round me, you won't get a pat on the head. These thoughts chased bitterly round in her head. He came back into the room and sat down opposite her. He placed his mug of coffee onto the mantlepiece, and reached for his cigarettes.

"Want a fag?"

"No thanks, I've got my own." She had transferred three of his to her own packet, while he had been busy making the coffee. "There's a good turn on at the club on Saturday."

"Is there?" She conveyed her lack of interest by not raising her eyes from the book she was reading.

"What are you reading?"

"A book."

He regarded her through narrowed eyes, and blew out clouds of smoke. He didn't speak. He recognised defeat. He decided to ignore her, but knew she wouldn't let him.

She didn't, for long. After a few minutes of silence on her part, and tuneless whistling on his, she raised her eyes and looked at the clock. "You'll be late won't you, it's seven o'clock." She spoke dryly; she knew he didn't go out quite as early as this. What she meant was - Don't dare, and he knew it. If she had ventured to say this out loud, he would have retaliated, and dared, to prove that he was a man, and not ruled by his wife. She knew this, and thrust home her ironical comments, with a thinly veiled sarcasm, which didn't help the situation, but nevertheless made her feel better.

He didn't answer this comment. Hew was a shrewd man, and knew the value of silence at a loaded moment. Like so many women, she couldn't keep her mouth shut, even when she knew she was beaten. She would go down fighting. She justified acts of dishonesty - like the secret pilfering of his cigarettes with the fact that he had more than her, and if he could afford to go out drinking most nights, and she had to juggle with her housekeeping then this was justice. It was the class struggle, on a smaller scale. He was the party in power. Politics a wage war in most working class homes -money, struggle for survival, conflict of personalities, the don't do as I do, do as I say, policy of most parents (on a level with the Capitalists towards the workers). We are told money isn't everything, from those who have it, but this is a great asset, and would help bridge a gap, between classes. The bridging of this gap is feared by Capitalists. Children, unfortunately stand as the main, conflict between man and wife. How many women have said - Wait till the children are grown up - just watch me. Perhaps men secretly fear this, and while they hold the whip hand, however lightly the reigns are held, it will be a drop in status - once the birds have flown, and one should feel a certain amount of pity for the floundering party, who has brought about his own downfall.

After a considerable silence in which she escaped into her book of poems, and he smoked and watched her. Keeping an eye on the enemy, he decided it was safe to move. He rose from his chair and stretched. "What's up that you didn't have your usual after tea sleep tonight?" she asked.

"Oh for god's sake, shut up", he threw caution to the winds. She was secretly delighted at this retaliation. It was what she wanted. She couldn't change him, so she goaded him into displaying the worse side of his character. She was intelligent enough to see that these tactics lowered her own behaviour, but was past caring. She was developing into a nagging wife - an expression invented by men to hide their own selfishness.

Having delivered his parting shot he went upstairs for a bath, or thought he did. He bellowed from the upper regions of the house.

"Who's had a bloody bath? The bloody water's stone cold, Christ it's four days since I had one, I'm supposed to have one every day y'know, of course I don't count, I only bring the money in - Jesus."

His disapproval was given greater emphasis by his feet stamping around the bathroom.

His wife, feeling that round one had been won, shouted sweetly up the stairs.

"Mrs Jones next door said she's sorry you haven't been able to get a bath."

The bathroom door slammed. The front door opened, a head peeped round enquiringly.

"Is my Dad in?"

"He's just passing through luv, just passing through."

"Oh never mind."

Thus answered, but not enlightened, the head disappeared.

Jean Sutton


FRANCES THOMAS, now aged 9. Used to live in Walmer Street, Rusholme which is being knocked down. Now lives in Wythenshawe. These words are exactly what she dictated to me in answer to the question, "What do you want this story to be about then?" I have not added or changed anything, but perhaps two points could be explained:

"Ten bob winders" refers to a window shaped like a 5Op. piece "Stashun dogs" = Alsation dogs.



House shop fish and chip shop bookies Pet Shop Motors Men - no women women! Winders getting smashed. Lickle girls going to bed. Mummies going to bingo, and all the houses are coming down. boys going to pubs. big men going to work. ten girls going to pubs with fellers -boys. Bombed houses + cellars + people goin in it. Bockles gettin smashed, lorries crashin, people servin in the shops. big girls gettin dressed up. Red doors with ten bob winders big girls ridin in the bike. Old men and women, Men drivin in cars an crashin (have we got that) Nice curtains in the winder. Green houses with pink curtains, blue door with blue curtains an green leaves. Dogs are gettin run over.

The men are just about movin in women wheelin a pram with no baby just shoppin. boys goin with men to pubs. boys goin to army cadets like my brother, black men with white girls, skies are blue and white an red sometimes. Clubmans like you get things off for the kids, like dresses and skirts and shoes and boots and high heel shoes and couch furniture and he comes in a green car and little girls washing dishes helping their mum. Old men ridin bikes, lickle black girls runnin to the Bendix and well have somebody lookin out, of the curtains - like somebodys just looked out. Chimbleys are smoking - that means the fires. we'll have white men going with black girls and we'll have driving in the afternoon and night and morning. (guess what Im on - 5a - Im in the juniors) lickle babies have dummies an we'll have one raggy man saying ragbone Like that man (pointing) he's a raggy man. An we'll have 430 on a car, an we'll have drunken men (man looks round sharply) -drunken men singin in the night carryin little girls. The men are kidnappin little girls an the women are cryin an the police have gone to find the kidnapper who has kidnapped the lick. girl.

Bricked up houses, doors open, women walkin by an cars running by +      stopping on the main road. Boys runnin to the ice cream man, lickle boys about 10+11 will go to school tomorrow. Dogs birthday + the dogs about 1 2 or 3 yrs old. Stashun dogs come an bite you.

Frances Thomas



A.S. Neill "There's no formula - I just approve of children."
Botty on potty
Every day try
Your beloved baby
Shall be clean and dry
By one"
Watch the child of one, a voracious explorer, a pioneer
All day he will gather information in his hands and mouth
By tomorrow he will have filed away the lessons of today
And be reaching for more, sensual antennae on full scan
No apprentice adult, no ignorant pupil in need
He is the unfurling bud of a noble being
Not made to be baulked by behavioural patterns that please
Wandering his own road, he will arrive safely
Not fool enough to take the motorway and miss the scenery
He discovers that buttons are inedible by eating them
He does not make abstract judgements on speculation
Spare the rod and spoil the child
Manners maketh man
Children should be seen but not heard
Monday's child is fair of face ..."
A seven year old who takes in the workings of genes
Listening with tense concentration to the paid out story
Discovers an intricate magic in the factual jigsaw
She searches the eyes of everyone she sees for proof
Of genetics in their criss-cross linking games
She follows a family's hairlines for Identikit sessions
And compares the wrinkles in the ears of her cousins
She describes penis and vagina easily, lovingly
Knowing the fundamental purpose of each, and approving
She finds the revolving earth cause for shouts of surprise
Grinning at the sun she has learnt the history of today
Squinting up skywards, trusting its omnipotence
Storks and Cabbages 
Willie" and "Dicky" 
Number one and Two 
"Tinkles" and Wee-wees"
A child who is freely in love with her father and brothers
And loves the sex comfort she gets in her mother's lap
With its odours of warmth and fish-smell mingling
Will search diligently, with arched back, for her own vagina
And finding it, will touch and memorise its shape
Run to tell her mother that today's miracle is herself
And be the object of a family celebration
She will envy her brother his penis
For the prestige of the high-splash game
And the joy of aiming a jet with precision
Yet selflessly concede his greater need
Having an unblemished concept of father
She can love without wishing to possess
She thinks dirt is found in the garden, is good to touch
She has a map of her interior and thinks it a precious place
Blue and green should never be seen
Lovely darling, but what is it?
I'll show you how
But a man doesn't have three ears, dear!"
As with fireworks, hand a child a paintbrush and retire
You are too steeped in surviving, your awareness dulled
Of what it was to draw on and from the palate in your head
To offer guidance, that velvetest glove of conformity
The thickening buffer of your daily compromise disqualifies you
Stay your lying hand, only stand in privileged silence
Soak up what your moulded mind can absorb, and learn
Learn, that without a polite mask, the child is honest
Without a sophisticated vocabulary, the child can speak
Without the mystique of expertise, the child has confidence
And a courage he is unaware is vulnerable.
We were sharpened with blindness and ignorance
Twin weapons of our inherited oppressors
And we prick our road through wounded contemporaries
It's no mitigation for maiming our children
That they have no justice on call to deter us
From reconstructing our wretched egos in them
In them, who have the same singular flight that we aborted
To leave the deserted wrecks of our dreams
Sinking bitterly in bilious pools in our memories
We would well decoy our meddlesome fingers
Into reshaping, unlearning our own aimless ways
Away from patrolling our children's boundaries
Which, unguarded, would recede to infinity
They have only one life - their own.
Vivien Leslie


I don't know why I am writing you a poem
I am not in love with you - I don't even know you
They say you come from Africa
I have seen you run like a gazelle
They say you have the world at your feet
And I can believe it
You remind me strangely of someone I used to be
I was very young - even younger than my years
And I thought I only had to grow and bide my time
Till I was the greatest athlete the world had ever seen
I wanted to be Tarzan
Flying through the trees
Running through the jungle
Friend to all the animals
Keeper of the forest
And I thought I only had to grow
And bide my time
Living amidst the din of industry
Inside the darkened walls
Where machines rumbled
And dust filled the air
I was the urban gorilla
Hybrid of hybrids
Emerging from the gloom
And furnished rooms
And posters of last year's dances
Picking my way barefoot
Over broken bottles and rusted cans 
A bear with a sore paw
Oh I had a mind too
That used to play the game.
With all the gravity of a joke
I knew how to fall
Into a yawning silence
And then I started to learn
And learning is the loss of innocence
I could show you where the paths led to
I could take you to where the trees grew
Please tell me,
Have you ever seen
An elephant's graveyard?
Yes, I learned where the trees grew,
Spring sadness in the big green leaves
That grow bigger and greener
Until the city is too small and grey to hold them
As well as a boy's dreams
So I travelled far and wide
Sometimes in the frozen north
Where my body ached with the cold
Sometimes there were mosquitoes and monsoon
And my body withered in the heat
Or trembled with the fever
Sometimes I slept on stones
Sometimes on branches
Sometimes on hard floors
I was not kind to my body
But I was young and I though
I only had to bide my time
But now I know better
You cannot be a strong man
As well as a runner
You cannot be a man of the jungle
As well as a man of the north country
Because in the land of the sun
There were insects that bit me
And I suffered and sweated
Until my body said, "No, 
You are not Tarzan 
He only exists in comics 
You cannot be a black man 
"As well as a white man."
So here I am again
Pacing the floor of my cage
They say you come from Africa
You have the white man's world at your feet
I have seen you spring like an antelope
In a white man's zoo
I suppose I just wanted to ask
If you ever thought of escaping
Rick Gwilt




Manolo pushed his Cleansing Department handcart through the empty streets. It was early morning and the only noise was a distant rumble of steel tracks, as a tank several blocks away rattled over the cobbles.

Every twenty yards Manolo stopped the cart and advanced with a hard-bristled broom, sweeping the rubbish into a neat pile in the gutter. Then he swept it into the handcart, using a battered old tin scoop.

Today's rubbish was different from usual. Naturally, there was the normal daily accumulation of cigarette ends, paper, straw and other debris, but there was additional garbage. Manolo looked sad as he swept spent rifle cartridges into the tin scoop. This was the debris of death and destruction. Broken glass, shattered wood from window frames, a dead black cat - caught in the crossfire, no doubt. Dozens of empty cartridges glinted in the early morning sun.

There was a woman's handkerchief lying in the centre of the street. It was embroidered 'CF' in gold thread, and stained with dark blood. Manolo picked up the pathetic reminder, a cold memento of human agony, and dropped it into the handcart. As it fluttered down, Manolo made the sign of the cross on his chest. God rest the soul of CF, whoever she was. But how could Manolo believe in a God in whose name this horror had been committed? It was not possible.

Manolo was a conscientious worker, and this sadness and despair was slowing his task. He dismissed his thoughts of the previous day's events, half-heartedly began to whistle, and swept with faster strokes of his broom.

It was only when Manolo arrived at the Plaza del Sur that he again took a pause. He stopped the handcart and looked at the body that lay in the gutter, his gutter. It was the body of a man, lying face-down, but Manolo recognised that old brown corduroy jacket.

Slowly, he approached the corpse and reached down to the head. Pausing a moment, as his fingers neared the short-cropped black hair, Manolo took a deep breath, heart quickening, and turned the cold face towards him. A large tear ran down Manolo's cheek.

"Why this? he asked, softly, "Why, Carlos, why?"

The corpse remained silent, but a voice spoke sharply from behind Manolo.

"You Get up!"

Startled, Manolo turned, standing slowly to face the steelhelmeted soldier who pointed that ugly black weapon at his stomach.

"Did you know that man?"

"We drank together at the Bar Paradiso," replied Manolo. "What will I tell his wife?"

"Tell her not to associate with traitors in future". The soldier smiled, cruelly. He evidently found his own remark amusing. "Now get on with your work."

But Manolo was looking at the body of Carlos again.

"Surely," he said, speaking slowly and deliberately, "Those who supported the President cannot have been traitors. The traitors are those who murdered the President, and are still shooting such loyal people as Carlos."

"You mean that the army are traitors?" asked the soldier, finger hovering over the trigger of his machine gun. "Well?"

"I don't understand what is really happening," answered Manolo. "But if it is true, as they are saying, that the army murdered the President, then - yes, I say they are traitors and assassins."

Less than half an hour later, Manolo sat in a large green lorry with twenty other prisoners, speeding out of the city on the main road southwards. He still clutched his broom, but was anxiously wondering about his handcart. When he was marched away, Manolo had left the cart in the Plaza del Sur. It was Cleansing Department property, and his responsibility. According to the sad-faced men around him, they were being taken to be shot. That would happen to his cart? The lorry turned off the main road, and bumped over a rough road, stopping near a clump of trees. Another lorry, empty, was just leaving the spot for the return run.

Juanita busied herself about the house, listening to the ancient radio on the kitchen table. She was pleased. It seemed that the fighting had finished already. So there would be no civil war, after all. Juanita was also pleased because she had a surprise for Manolo when he returned from work. It was his birthday, fifty-two years old, and she had bought him a scarf.

Yes, it was good that there would be no civil war. And the man on the radio was very reassuring. It seemed that the army knew what they were doing. But Juanita had no interest in politics. Whatever happened, whoever was in power, it could not affect her, could it?

Under the trees, Manolo stood at the end of the line of men, facing the ugly tripod, manned by a bored-looking soldier. Still clutching his broom, Manolo muttered to himself. "But it's Cleansing Department property. The handcart's my responsibility. What am I going to do?" He raised his hand to cross himself, but lowered it again without doing so.

The soldier braced himself for the recoil and squeezed the trigger.

Juanita turned off the radio. The news did not affect her, and there were more pleasant things to think about. Manolo would be pleased with his scarf. She polished the kitchen tiles and began to sing.

Gareth Thomas



Along the tidy streets
are tidy lawns,
Beyond the tidy lawns
are tidy houses,
Inside the tidy houses
are tidy people,
Within the tidy people
are tidy minds,
Behind the tidy minds
are guns.
Bob Dixon


I don't want to hear about the poor
(who are always with us, anyway)

- I had rather help the deserving.

Don't ramble on about democracy.
Firm leadership is what we need

- you can't change human nature.

Don't mention equality to me.
I am one of the elite.
My motto is "Noblesse Oblige".
Don't bother me about liberty:
I am for law and order.
Strong bars ensure our freedom best.
Don't shout at me about justice!
Whisper to me softly of charity and hymns. 
God forgives us, fortunately.
Bob Dixon


Says the ivy 
to the oak, 

- and hugs it close.

Says the leech 
to the fish, 

- and clings the tighter.

Says the louse 
to the dog, 

- as he drinks his fill.

Says the boss 
to the worker, 
and squeezes him again.
Bob Dixon


Ideas are awkward things:
only cause trouble.
We had an idea once
but it wasn't house-trained.
In the end we had to get rid of it.
Some of them will only go their own way.
You can't do anything with them.
Some never get domesticated
Or even tamed.
I had a friend who was savaged by an idea
That got out of control.
You wouldn't call them man's best friends


They only cause trouble:
Galileo, Darwin, Marx - they had ideas
And look what happened.
You're better off without them altogether -
Live a cleaner, healthier life.
You have more money
And more - and better - friends.
Ideas come between people,
Destroy friendships and families
And set the hand of brother against brother.
They're awkward animals.
You have to admit - you're better off without them. 
They only cause trouble.
Bob Dixon




There were seven of them. They tumbled out of the underground train with a cheer, "Let's go!" Seven of them, their boots clattering up the elevator, shouting at the late night courting couple on the down elevator. "It's gone!" "Never mind you can always stuff her on the platform", - "After you mate!" Seven of them pushed past the ticket collector. "Get stuffed," - "We've all lost our tickets."

It was late. The ticket collector didn't argue. There were seven of them. They burst out into the cold night air. "Up the gunners!" But the street was empty, just one car growling in the distance; otherwise the street, cold and damp, echoed their footsteps; the orange street lamps casting a smoke-like halo in the mist. The city like some mist-hung poem of desolation gazed back at them, empty and unyielding.

For a moment they all stood quietly on the kerb listening to the roar of the night. Filled for a moment with the sense of oppression and of their own insignificance, "Chalkie" the oldest, a red headed sixteen year old, half heartedly kicked a Coca-Cola tin along the gutter, its clatter for a moment breaking the stillness and the sense of loneliness, he quietly muttered, "It's a piss off isn't it."

Nobby shifted his feet, blew out into the night air and watched his own condensation. "Yeah you're not kidding." Nobody moved, nobody wanted to call it quits and go home. The whole evening had been a 'piss off'. They had hung about outside a disco. No-one had enough money to get in, but they still waited. Something might have happened to break the boredom. They had shuffled their feet and shouted at the girls going in, but nothing had happened; then of course the "fuzz" had come hustling them, telling them to either go on or "clear off" or they'd be done for loitering, so they went off wandering round the area, but it was all 'a piss off'; no money, nowhere to go, a right drag, so they had come back home before the tubes stopped running.

"Let's loon around for a while", said Chalkie. "See what's happening", He made off, walking slowly down the main street, the rest followed without a word. "Jumbo" punched a cigarette machine as he passed and Nobby fumbled in his pockets singing to himself:

"Well yer mother don't care
All right, all right, all right,
And yer daddy ain't there
All right, all right, all right."

A couple of the others joined in singing as they aimlessly wandered on. "Hey look fellas", Dave pointed at a notice on the wall. The others gathered round, more as a matter of form than of interest. The object of Dave's attention was one of the National Front's posters, showing a Union Jack with the slogan "SEND THEM BACK" printed in bold letters across it. Somebody had added at the bottom in pen "No Englishmans' jobs for black wogs."

"That's against immigration innit?" mumbled Chalkie, without much real interest. Nobby sang out "Black, black, send them back, white, white you're all right."

Chalkie, seeing a chance for a laugh sprang out of his trance and crudely imitating a West Indian accent carried on, "None of der lip man" and to a chorus of laughter from the others he flicked his lips, while Ken swung from a lamp post scratching underneath his arms like a monkey. They left the poster and continued walking as Nobby explained about some Pakistanis living in his block:

"Yer, and this Paki grub - it don't half stink, don't it?"

"Not half", chipped in Jumbo, "They eat bleeding cat food, don't they?"

"Filthy bastards."

They carried on past the blacked out front of Woolworths with Nobby clicking his fingers and carrying on with:

"All right, all right, all right,
All right, all right, all right."

A police car drove slowly past, its occupants staring at the boys but it didn't stop, just driving slowly on, slipping along, down that desolate highway.

"Stinking old bill", muttered Jumbo beneath his breath, "Pigs off!" They reached Putney Bridge and began leaning over the side, peering down into the murky water of the Thames. Its inky blackness hardly showed any movement beneath them. Jumbo affected the accent of the middle class,

"Anyone for a swim chappies?"

Dave the blonde-headed one joined in.

"I reckon you could walk across that, they say that it's so polluted that if you fell in you would have to go to hospital."

Nobody answered. Their moods and interest in things altogether lacked consistency. Things interested them for a very short time indeed. They would buy a record and a week after they never listened to it. They would go and see "Clockwork Orange" and for maybe up to a month afterwards they would be wearing 'bowlers' and calling each other 'my druggie' then it would fade out to be replaced very quickly with something else. Nothing really meant anything. It was all a 'matter of form , as Dave the more philosophical of the group would call it. Things came and things went, different birds, different discos, different sounds flew past. It was all there to be taken or discarded as they wished and they did so wish. The only thing that was missing, somehow stolen, was their youth, but there was always something to replace it. But there were times, there were these moments of silence, when somebody would come up with -"It's a piss off innit."

They moved away from the side of the bridge almost shy of each other, awkward, with only the sound of their boots on the paving stones to reassure them. Nobby started clicking his fingers again, breaking the spell,

"All right, all right, all right."

Then they saw him, coming over the bridge towards them, a youth like themselves, maybe he was seventeen. He wore flayed trousers, a tartan cap and he walked with a brisk swing in his step. Like them he also probably thought it was a 'piss off', but unlike them, he was black.

Maybe if he hadn't done what he did, nothing would have happened. Nobby just rubbed his hands together. "Hallo, hallo", his voice was hard. The youth stopped in his tracks, the boys fanned out across the road slowly walking towards him. Then he did it. Without a word he turned and ran. The boys yelled triumphantly and with a thunder of boots on concrete set off after him. There was something self-hypnotic in the motion of running, their eyes became glazed and their nostrils spread, and a hatred flared up to an insane, almost sexual lust. "Black bastard!" they shrieked as they pounded after him. "Ba-aa-stard."

The black youth dived down some steps at the north end of the bridge, closely followed by the pack, but he took the wrong turn and found himself with his way blocked by the closed park gate. The boys found him terror struck, his eyes wide and white and his hands showing white as he held them up in front of himself. "No man please", he stammered. "That for you pick on me, I done you no harm."

"Gonna do you, black bastard", growled Jumbo, and he smashed his fist into the black face. "Stick the bloody boot in", screamed Nobby. They began to push and punch him. One of them snatched off his cap and threw it. It went into Dave's face. He caught hold of it and glanced down. It was wool, hand-knitted and still warm. It all seemed like some dream. He looked at the others as they pushed and punched the black bloke.

Suddenly they did not seem to be the same friends that he knew a few minutes ago. It all seemed to be like some slow motion film. Suddenly Dave thought to himself, "Supposing it was me, supposing I was being done by a load of black blokes. Supposing they were sticking the boot in on me. This bloke ain't got a chance, neither would I, unless of course ...

Sometimes, maybe only once in your life, you find yourself thinking and doing something you never believed you would do. You find yourself feeling something you can't understand. This was how it was with Dave. Suddenly it was so important for Dave to help this black bloke. His brain worked fast. The others had the black fella pinned against the fence and were going to boot him in the crutch.

"Hold it fellas for christ's sake", shouted Dave. He had to be careful. He didn't want the others thinking he was chicken or a wog lover. He had to play this one very shrewd, very shrewd indeed.

"Listen will yer, use your loaf", he shouted pulling back Jumbo.

"What's up with you", spluttered Jumbo shaking him off.

"Listen you fool", said Dave in breathless excitement. "Look", he continued. "The fuzz have just seen us, ain't they. Think man they'll do us good if we do this black."

"What's up then, chicken?" sneered Chalkie.

"Look", Dave feigned anger. "I aint gonna get a three year for any black bastard."

This sobered them, but Dave had to be careful. He pulled the youth towards him by his collar. He had to make this sound good, real good. "Listen", he breathed, "You filthy black scum - you go and tell your coon pals this: you'd better get out of this country and go back to the jungle see." He gave the youth a shove, "Get me? you tell 'em that - okay man?"

"Oh yeah man, I will man." The black youth sensed his reprieve at the hands of this white fella. It was more than he had dared hope for.

"Now!' shouted Dave giving him a shove. "Piss off quick!" The black youth ran off being given a parting kick by Jumbo. A couple shouted "Run black bastard, run."

They emerged onto the bridge again. "What you let him go for?" muttered Jumbo sullenly.

"Listen", answered Dave. "I don't like blacks any more than you do, but if I'm going to get jugged for doing someone I'll make sure that it's someone worth getting jugged for, see?"

"The police wouldn't have bothered about a blackie." mumbled Jumbo. But no-one said any more.

Dave thought, "Well that's true, the police don't give a damn if a black bloke gets beaten up." But he was satisfied. He had pulled off a good stroke, saving the black bloke's skin without losing face. Why he had suddenly wanted to save this bloke he had no idea, but he had to admit it, he felt somehow satisfied with life. Maybe he didn't really hate blacks, but it was all a matter of form.

They quietly walked back over the bridge, Chalkie putting his hands in his pocket. "It's a piss off isn't it?"

For once Dave didn't feel the same way.

Ian E. Reed.




Sing we the two young women, Angela and Lillian,
Daughters of the twentieth century; struggle its kernel,
They exist in struggle;
Which knows the conflict?
Swifter of foot; with implacable training
Will, muscle, sinew drive to the purpose
Straining alone against figures
Ing on the little screen
Passive the millions, approving complacent
Claiming my effort, M.B.E. in exchange.
Me dying they sigh for,
Collect for, enquire for
In vain; for my strivings are mine to the end.
The struggle one quick glimpse: black arms uplifted,
Swift retribution ... Hush! Do not mention.
Bolder my people; ruthless reaction
Surrounds my young living, murders my friends.
Keen calculation follows horrified anger
Seeking out causes, comparing, appraising;
Grim understanding supports young experience -
Class is the kernel, origin of struggle.
High is my courage and strong my intention;
Among victims I explaining their pain
Arousing the millions to knowledge and wrath.
Savage retribution from fear-ridden privilege
Confirms me a victim
Frames me.
Sigh for, enquire for, collect for me living;
Defeat the oppressors intent on my dying;
Force their retreat now, condemn their false trial,
Expose their injustice; resolute with me
Declare:    'I'll not be free until all are free!.'
Barbara Smith


The employer we're fighting's a hard-working man
And to be an employer is his only plan.
With his hands in our pockets he's doing quite well
And his days in the workhouse ain't ended in hell.
And it's no nay never, no nay never no more 
Will we work with those lumpers, no never, no more.
I saw him this morning and here's what he said:
"You look like a Russian and you talk like a Red."
So put on your armour and sharpen your sword
And we'll show the bent bastard his offer's absurd.
We'll remember your faces when we come around
And God help your hides if you've not paid the pound.
They tried a sell-out but we showed them how
There's a national strike on for all of us now.
The Woodrows and Bisons have threatened the sack 
But we showed those bastards that we know the crack
So strengthen your pickets and tighten your belts
You'll be wearing your shoes right down to the welts
And watch out you lumpers and dodgers of taxes
The rank-and-file lads are out sharpening their axes.
Rod O Connor


Now I'll sharpen this pencil
And muffle my mind
In a slumbering sequence
Of blanketed brimstones,
And roam the rich realm
Of midnight madness
Where flat-capped camels
Float free in the
Snow soaked bluness,
And chimpanzee chaplains
So churlishly chafe
Over Chinese checkers
While bicating their blessings
To far away flocks,
And belching banana
On faded frescos
And frowning fonts
Which fume for they're thinking
Of thousands and thousands
Of furious infants
Who watered the water
In protest.
Did those tender minds
See that priests are persons
Imprisoned in prisms
Of myriad mysteries
Where myrrh and mythology
Mingle in fumbling mumblings?
Did they picture the ape-men
Who rode the Sahara
For diamond dust date palms
On Flat-capped camels
Which sank to the sand
On the sabbath and sadly
Savoured the sanctification
Of serfdom?
Did their minds ferment
With the simplest yeast
When they sucked from their mothers
And peed on the priest?
"John Smith"


The other day I received through the post
A letter from a most Reverend gentleman
Presently residing in Vietnam.
Kind friend" he writes
I wish to ask you for your support
For our missions in Kontum."
I am sure you would be happy to know
That we have now been able to order
Ten metal pre-fabricated buildings
For our second hospital."
Our doctor has already been working
For several months with 40 patients
In insanitary mud huts
With more than 120 out-patients every day.
Our Nin-Quy Hospital is at present
Functioning in one of our Kontum schools
Until the damage to the buildings
In Min-Quy is repaired
And security is assured for our doctor
And her staff."
At Kon-Horing" he goes on to say 
We have 220 children from 3 to 7 years 
Crammed into shelters with few amenities. 
The Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul 
Are doing their best to care for them 
But we badly need to improve their condition." 
He ends with the prayer that
Peace will come soon to Vietnam".
I turned from that letter
To my morning paper
Looking first for news of Vietnam.
It spoke in terms of "Bloody murder
Against persons known
Printing as a bonus in horror
The copy of a letter sent by a soldier
In Vietnam to his mother in America.
Mama", he calls out in anguish
Today I shot 3 women,
It was kill or be killed
For they were armed with knives."
One of the women held a baby in her arms 
It cried for its mother when she was shot 
And I was ordered to kill it."
Mama, Mama, I could not do this
So my buddy obliged and blew the baby's head off.
The remains were thrown onto the fire
I watched them burn.
Mama, Mama, please tell me
What is right and what is wrong,
I do not know any more -
Suddenly in the midst of all this 
You burst into the room
Completely unaware of course,
Of how the morning's intelligences
Had channelled my mood.
You expostulated
Well I'm fed up and that's for sure
I've tried and tried, and nowhere
But nowhere can I find
Green toilet rolls
To match my bathroom tiles.
Rose Friedman


Crowds of people
are enormous cupboards
Shutting themselves in
Complete and secure,
While outside
Unobtainable and distinct
Lies the life
They vainly seek
To fulfil.
Each man
Remains his own
Ten thousand
Desolate souls
Desperately trying
To fit themselves into
The recognised holes
Before they become
known -As the unclassified
and therefore
the lost,
Lost? lost to what?
Or the insane
Clanking engine
Of misguided effort
That hisses obscenely
And places itself
As the fulfilled
Of the human race.
I.E. Reed

FEEL THE NEED - or See how the other half lives

Mr. Barber, Mr. Barber,
Will you come to tea.
Mr. Barber, you will feel the need in me.
You won't get steaks of sirloin,
Or after dinner wine,
But if you fancy mince and chips
Well that's just fine.
Please make it on a Friday,
That's when I get paid.
Are you any good at washing up?
We can't afford a maid.
If you're partial to an apple
When you've finished your repast
Treat it as a luxury
And make it last.
Then we'll watch the telly.
I hope you won't be bored
But with seven in the family 
It's all we can afford.
A visit to the theatre
Would cost too much you see,
They've raised the price of
Tickets with this stupid V.A.T.
So if there is a programme
That you like to watch a lot,
I hope you've plenty of tanners,
The telly's on the slot.
So do come Mr. Barber,
And please bring Mr. Heath,
But tell him my husband is touchy
And he mustn't show his teeth.
Come share with us, we won't begrudge it
See how we live on your lousy budget.
J.E. Sutton


Whatcha mean - tearing these entrails from the sausage man
Dripping fresh blood in the alley
Dreaming dreams of barren desert sands
Grasping at a comet tail
Just whatcha mean gloria?
Whatcha mean sucking me into your private dream barefoot
Soft like your labour that was not love
Reading about the walrus in its shell
Firing mallows into space
Just whatcha mean gloria?
Suck Gloria
Herrick was right
Old time is still a flying ...' 
And this same flower that smiles today, 
Tomorrow will be dying...
Colin Frame


I am sorry for them
But I am sorry for them
For they have lost

- someone beautiful

A quivering silk
A child newborn

- leave off your hammers

And run to the air
Breathe for Gloria
Nothing else should care
- leave off your shining plastic,
Tin-can world of reality, of jangling dischord

- Come with us

Us, our dream
Our caress
Our biting tongues
Our warmed bones
Colin Frame


The happy coupon seller made a mint
wading through sunlight with his heart rolled up to his knees
hostile glances breaking like surf on his smile
the breeze rippling over his stomach no shirt
was it a streaker?... 
no, was going to say 
no shirt buttons 
burst off on soup run 
ran too fast?... 
no, drank too much soup 
before summer came 
milk shakes and root beer 
dry grass and warm stars
red sunset hanging on bedroom wall 
out over the ocean
padding softly now 
down the lines of cars 
bare feet on hot tarmac 
was it a hippy?... 
no, shoes being mended 
new uppers fitted 
said his name was dylan 
you mean it was ... 
no, spelt dillon 
came from detroit 
to get away from the fighting 
was it a draft doger then?... 
no, not the fighting in vietnam 
it was at general motors 
not that kind of fighting, you see
ferry docks now
cars and lorries rolling off 
dust and diesel fumes
dillon does not like 
dives over fence and into forest
sits on carpet dappled shade and sunlight 
chewing not gum
grass stalk 
birds chirp rustle 
unhurried hedgehog passes
single track beneath the bushes 
no overtaking
dragonfly wings whirring 
fern and foxglove growing 
sounds of forever
cars in line again 
standing at ease 
chains and siren playing 
not music
ferry moves off 
afternoon sun hot on tin roofs 
irritates passengers 
not dillon
counts his change 
half his coupons sold already 
was it a lottery then?... 
no, it was annual bathtub races 
coupons in commemoration of 
totally worthless 
not even gummed on the back 
but marketed by a leading citizen 
who won considerable acclaim 
For his spirit of enterprise 
but if dillon thought that 
no, he did not think 
felt good
hairs rising on back of neck 
sunsmiling down 
business booms
at the front 
the lady with the cadillac 
still waiting 
asks again
why he is smiling
and dillon gives her his last coupon 
to sell
but she cannot undo her safety harness 
and remains seated
behind her credit card 
dillon smiles 
and goes to look for 
nanaimo girl ...
You mean this was real?... 
real, yes
like a dream 
he said 
the arbutus trees 
do they stay green 
through the winter 
underneath the fir trees
does it stay warm at night 
knowing well the answer 
the sun slipping away 
towards Hawaii
end of summer 
first chill in the water 
he crossed
or the early morning ferry 
said it was time
to stop dreaming
did he write to you?... 
just a postcard picture of lak eerie 
said it didn't show the poison 
said he couldn't find a picture 
of what it's really like 
said he was lost for words 
and smiles
i saw his photograph 
in last week's paper 
said he was a wildcat 
was he?...
wild? no, not that sort 
of wild
more like a bird
he just needed to be free... 
that letter you were reading this morning 
yes, he wrote to say
you may have read about this militant 
pulling the power-switch
with a three-hundred man bodyguard 
holding to ransom
general motors 
taking orders for exports 
forced to change our supervisor 
well, next time 
we may be nearer three thousand 
and general motors 
may be forced to take orders 
from his own infantry 
and start changing what's being supervised 
but can you believe 
we re just trying to get some peace 
they won't let us breathe 
please don't think i begrudge you 
the new vega your father was buying you 
someone's got to buy the goddamn things 
and please don't expect poetry 
from a sixty hourweekcontinuousprocessworker 
not yet
you see, i've realised 
it's someone else's language 
he always used to let me use 
the parts he didn't need 
but now the parts we need
he's using for something quite different 
something completely unnatural
so we're beginning to question 
what he's doing with our language
as well as our lives
was he always a bit of a trouble-maker?... 
trouble? he was always
running away from it saying 
they won't let me breathe 
always used to talk about "me" 
now he says
you wouldn't recognise me 
there's a million of us 
we can't all hit the trans-canada highway 
now he talks about "us"
as if he's struggling 
with the beginnings 
of a new language
Rick Gwilt


The new world shines through all the windows of the old one" Lenin I dedicate this to T.S.Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad - wide windows of the old world.
Glass is dynamite.
In Hampstead on the hill even the bricks are made of glass,
And the books are prisms, primed with
His Wasteland
Her Lighthouse
His Sailors,
But the eyes that pass see themselves only.
Glass is dynamite down across the heath where only his solitary
Nightingale hears the cries from the stony deep,
Down beyond the ponds where the fisherman alone
Can enter the all-breaking sea,
Down, down into the grey ocean pitching with drowned young sailors.
In Hampstead on the hill only the bricks know
Of the terror of their drowning,
And only the books are dreaming of the drowned ocean.
The eyes that pass are waiting
To see themselves
The windows of the bookshop must be broken.
Now staring eyes -
His Wasteland
Her Lighthouse
His Sailors
Are escaping, down beyond the heath down into the ocean.
Can it be true,
This learned demolition-man
Cementing bricks
In the callous ocean?
Can it be,
Her fragile beam that's breaking
Into the fathomless worlds that lie between
The chanting waves of drowned young sailors?
Can it be true,
This reflection through the long mist
Of the wrecked imagination -
A figure rigged with sails that his mates have cleated
Standing out of the pitch-black sea?
And the fisherman stands as the voyage begins
And the nightingale stops to hear the song
Of the new Magellan.
An adumbration
Of versing young sailors,
Out of the stony rubbish
Live lilacs.
Back on the hill they're growing vines
To hide
The bricks of Keats' cottage,
But the windows are exploding.
David Kessel


What has happened to this distant flower in my now wounded side, redolent
Of ecstatic childhood dreams held briefly on walking? The aroma
And the death cling to my visions like clay, and the corpses
Throw up mountains from the plains; such anguish from their peaks!
The stalks of the grass seem to bleed with the arrogant murders;
Their very green bruised and trodden into my heart.
The desert winds blow dry, and now there are no copper hands smiling
With the grip of the burnished hope of their labour. The sweat of work
And fear beneath a sun no longer tempered by the arguments of men
Together. In the snow the cold is definitive, frigidity conquering icily.
Even the great ocean, that seemed all waves and horizons, has closed around it
Mist in my eyes. Does only the nomad gull bear Chile's tomorrow now?
The city skyscrapers guard the sky with forbidding patriarchy:
High altars of the laws of capitalist order, that can stop the sun.
The Conquestadors didn't, but Chileans in Cadillacs may! Can they give
Mercy, despite their desperate fear of change, of slums, and of the dawning
Power of people?
The people must work still, but can never forget this insult hewn,
Into the deep-felt mine of their consciousness, by military
Gods, in arms against the transformation-bound workers.
Congealed sweat and blood unite them, and their art of survival - profound 
Collective memory of how they only are able to turn the cogs of wheels.
As is their struggle, which still may yield the Heaven of all our History.
What can intimidate these who live by sacrifice, and are
Within each other?
The land and the peasant who labours are the spring of all creation.
Into her hoed furrows he kneels to feel the kind soil.
Together they nourish the sources of all our dreams, and tyrannies!
What madness is it to divide them by landlordism?
He, who cannot help loving the soil, now fears to tread it;
His toil respected like so much cast-aside rock, and his anguish
Fires his brain to radiant anger! A peasant's vision -
His Christ, nailed at long last between his eyes,
Forever in him blinded by a bullet.
Now his light is penetrating numberless brains. Determination
Wrought in me also, when the slain man turns and smiles
In a London street.
A crowd made into a people by duty and love" Neruda
David Kessel


The other day our earnest B.B.C.
Held a symposium on morality.
Must it, they asked, have a religious base,
Or can the atheist show a moral face?
Religion's curb, 'tis said, is badly needed
In case our moral teaching goes unheeded.
A pious don with Christian point of view,
An atheist of quite a different hue -
These two, restraining each his inward passion,
Set forth their views in gentlemanly fashion.
One point in all their complicated stuff
Struck me as being an arrant piece of bluff:
An atheist?" said the Christian, "You can't claim
To take that title - you are much to blame -
You cannot prove there isn't any god."
Such argument indeed is very odd,
For even the Christian spokesman made it clear
He cannot demonstrate that god is here;
He has no proof in solid black and white,
With Q.E.D. of logic, that he's right.
Unshakable belief, that's his delight.
Belief, not proof, is all that god can ask,
And even that is quite an uphill task.
His own opinion's all that each affirms,
However much the other fellow squirms.
But yet, amid these tentative surmises,
Undoubtedly a deeper point arises:
To argue whether x exists or not
Is like investigating - heaven knows what!
Some rough idea of what x seems to be,
Some hazy sketch of this uncharted sea,
Its qualities, its shape, its thought, its acts,
Some inkling of what seem to be the facts,
Would greatly help us to resolve our doubts
And weave our way through all these ins and outs
Of whether god exists. God = x,
This dark equation cannot but perplex:
God undescribed, unknown, and undefined
Is meaningless to any thinking mind.
But if you say: "The god that mankind need
Is here, enshrined within my Christian creed",
Id try to prove this god cannot exist.
My atheist views will therefore still persist.
Yet, my good friend, I would be very loth
To leave no crumb of comfort for us both -
I'd hate indeed to leave you broken-hearted,
So let's take up the point with which we started.
Neither the Christian creed you think so true,
Nor the ungodly way which I pursue,

(As adumbrated in this modest rhyme)

Will set us on the primrose path of crime.
Maurice Wiles





The Miners' dispute reminded me of the occasion a few years back when Les said to me "Would you like to go down .... Pit?" I jumped at the offer.

We arrived at the manager's office towards midnight. The others had brought working clothes and boots with them. I hadn't, so the manager rigged me out with everything, except boots. We went to the baths and there changed. We then went to the lamp room and were given helmets, lamps and I was given a walking stick. We walked to the lift cage. The manager had a word with the man in charge of the lifts - Les said it was to tell him to take the lift down gently because of me.

We got into the cage, the bar was fastened and I, in my innocence, leaned in relaxed manner against the side of the cage. All of a sudden, I felt as though the floor of the cage had been removed and that I was falling through space. I was catching my breath. Within seconds my feet were pressing against the floor of the cage and then a slow, gentle descent and stop. As we got out of the cage, we were met by the night overman, who frisked each of us for matches and cigarettes. This completed, the manager said he must 'phone the surface before we proceed to the coal face, and so we went into the pit bottom office.

As we entered this small office with its telephone exchange, a man came forward with a sock over his right hand, whereupon the manager said: "Ah! you're Mr....how is your hand?" The man answered: "Alright". "Let me see it", said the manager. The man peeled off the sock, then a cloth mitten, then a white covering. There displayed was a distorted hand with white and pinkish patches. I became conscious of extra pulses in my stomach. Being of a squeamish disposition, I wanted to turn my head away, but I couldn't.

I was mesmerised. My thoughts started racing. I could see the man's hand between two pieces of rock-like coal. I saw the man's face distorted with pain, his eyes bulging, the sweat started on my face.

This seemed a long time, in fact, it must have taken a couple of minutes, for the conversation was diverted from the hand to the fact that the man had not yet got his shilling through. Evidently, he had been receiving twenty seven shillings per shift at the time of the accident and was now receiving twenty six shillings -    the rate for the job he was then doing. The manager promised to take it up.

We started walking and I immediately felt better. We walked a short distance and then got onto an underground train. We must have travelled for half or three quarters of a mile and then it stopped. We stepped off the "train" and started walking. Loon I was lagging behind, every now and then either Les or the manager would glance round to make sure I was following. Now and again they would stop until I caught up with them, and with a "Are you alright" they would start off again. All the time they talked. Soon the sweat was running down my face, running into my eyes and mouth and making my shirt collar wet. I wanted to get my handkerchief out to wipe my face, but I couldn't manage it. We were walking in blackness except for our pit lamps. We were walking on a road of broken stones and my thin soled shoes felt as though they were pierced with every step I took. I had to keep up the pace if I was not to lose sight of them. I was feeling the weight of the helmet increase with every step. The sweat was getting unbearable. Somehow I found I could not use my hands. I could not place the walking stick in the hand that carried the lamp, the moment I attempted to do it I felt an imbalance. I felt I was going to fall. I was trying to do this whilst marching along that rough road, with hazards that had to be watched for.

What a relief when I saw the lights at the end of the road. Two and a half miles from the pit bottom Les said.

The coal face What a surprise, seven feet high and fifty yards wide, twenty five yards either side of the road. Gleaming solid coals A small number of miners were working on the night shift preparing for the day shift. We turned to the right and went about twenty yards and sat down in front of the face. I was furthest away from the road, next to me sat Les, then the manager, then the overman and the nearest to the roadway was the union Branch Secretary.

It seems that the normal mining practice is not to take all the coal out of a seam, always a certain amount is left attached to the roof, because coal creaked and therefore, warned of the danger of a roof fall, whereas a stone or rock roof fell in without warning. In this unusual seam of coal the roof was perfect and therefore, there was no danger of a roof fall and all the coal was extracted. Now, the argument was that as the men were getting an extra foot of coal along the whole seam, they were entitled to extra money, they were asking for two shillings per shift.

The argument went on. I sat and listened, I watched the men at work in the roadway and on the other side of the roadway. I looked at the back of me and saw the props holding up the roof, saw the piles of props, shovels, picks, and other equipment the day shift would use. Suddenly, I felt a bit faintish, there was something wrong about the air. I was beginning to feel that there was not enough of it. After a while I nudged Les and said: "Lea, I don't feel too good." He turned to me and said: "Won't be long now." The manager heard this exchange and took a look at me but they continued talking.

Suddenly I turned to Les and said: "Les, I'm going to faint." Before Les could reply, the manager stood up, took me under the arm, helped me up and propelled me along over the loose lying lumps of coal to the road-way where two big, fine, strapping lads were using shovels, at least eighteen inches square, and called on one of them to help him and between them they lifted me over a moving belt and onto the roadway. The young miner walked me about twenty yards down the road and lowered me to the ground with my back against the wall. I began to feel the flow of air. I quickly revived.

I breathed deeply as we left the cage at the pit top, but could not help saying to myself "Poor sod, for twenty seven shillings per shift - he'll never use that hand again."

- like millions of others, was born, and died completely unaware how great he was.

Mick Jenkins



I can see the dirty smile,
On the clean face of the radio news-reader
While he said, "Allende is dead"...
With his clean voice he said,
The Junta had no choice but to wipe out the man,
Who had made such a mess of the economy."
And thousands more have had to die;
And shall I try to justify
This peaceful Marxist's path?
I weep in anger, seethe in rage,
That in this age, the man that's put up front,
Should be so mild and trusting of the enemy.
So easily killed by the killers, that he let walk so free,
And free to make a bloody pool
Of Allende's blood, The bloody fool.
But not so bloody foolish,
For he won the bright-eyed love
Of many thousand workers, and their children,
And their wives, in the way he changed their lives.
They loved the Marxist massive love of masses;
But now he has been put down, by the greedy few
With guns. By the unadmirable admirals, and by generals
Who, in particular, represent, more or less,
No one, but the small men, who own big business;
Both Chilean,
And American.
Sol Garson