Monday, 15 August 2011


Fire is plasma scorching the underside

Of TV screens, safety glass closed between

Voyeurs, working themselves to a climax

Of indignation and no little fear,

And no little guilt, and the performers

Who could be poets such is their total

Self absorption, poets etching malice

On shop windows with subtleties of bricks,

Imprinting their audacious images

Of petrol bombs on dull, regulation

Riot shields. Ultimately, though, looting

Is itself just masturbation, driven

By cravings satisfied in the moment,

Ejaculations of pent up anger,

Of bravado, spilling over pavements,

Over concrete, seed broadcast on stony ground.

Then the lethargy, the recognition

That frustration has only been appeased.

Meanwhile, the moral free market speculates,

There’s profit to be had from destruction.

Ministers compete in denouncing sin,

Intending to bolster their plunging stock,

To deflect attention from kith and kin

Who are culpable of looting pensions,

Imputable for taking all credit

For themselves, complicit in the wanton

Destruction of impoverished nations.

On the odd night cities mostly smouldered,

Financiers mugged whole economies,

Running riot in the City, police

Powerless to act while society

Chose only stand back and watch, hoping

Not to be burned as the great grandchildren

Of the Iron Lady took what they wanted

For themselves alone and in doing so

Drew her to her natural conclusion.


                                                       Dave Alton

From the Tyneside Poets' Archive

Summer Rain

I like the rain in summer

When the grass is resurrected

The trees shimmer with delight

The pavements smile…

And people run for the heaven of it –

Lust unleashed, damp igniting passions void below

The smell of summer is concentrated

In lethal doses of joy.

The cricketers scurry,

Lovers hide one another

Flowers laden with life suck up summer’s juices

Life rushes on.

Black earth rich as treacle

Farmers smile –

The cows are not amused.

But I sing and sing and sing.

Tim Heavisides

The Violent Suburb

In this road, “within easy reach of the city”,

Where the birds are screwed to the sky

And the air stings like an overripe peach,

The long, slow memory of violence

Coats the doors with a hard gloss.

Why should we wish people to live otherwise?

We all need out womb sooner or later,

Somewhere to gather the fragments of our lives,

When outside only drags us apart.

Yet the warm air nudges, whispers:

“See the houses, regular and modern,

Arranged like cornflakes packets

Along the tidy street.”

“See this man, bent with years of toil;

No white-collar worker he;

Unions have fought for his rights,

He has worked hard and honestly.

How can we grudge him his earthly reward?”

But the heat stings like an Indian dungfly,

And its ticking is loud in my ears:

“See the nations, how they rise,

The mythology of might growing in each,

The surgeons skilled in healing the war-wounded,

Each country surrounded by a deadly transparent wall.

Its diplomats primed

To give away nothing,

To boost their own interests…

See the nations, regular and neat,

Everybody’s suburbs,

Each soul protected like a cornflake.”

And what danger remains in the wild, wild wood,

Now that we’ve chopped in all down, all down,

Now that we’ve chopped it all down?

John Earl

Thursday, 4 August 2011

More from the archives of Poetry North East


Cold star,
Winking down the rolling vertigo of sky,
Here I am, alone,
With nothing between us but the pulsating void of night.

Beneath the naked sky,
I have come to you.
Washed by waves of night,
Encircled by the heaving purple sea,
Bathed in spangled night-brightness across the jagged dunes
I have come,
And you don't care.

My eyes burn in the night wind;
My heart burns -
And you, cold star, inanimate,
Need no love.
Yet you and I are intimate.

The great black castle lurches behind me,
Heaving, eerie, into the sky,
As if to weigh me to the Earth.
But you, star,
You and I are pulled together.
Forever apart, we hurtle through the Universe.
You and I are intimate.



What did you look at Cuthbert
On your island?
Did you marvel at the colours
in the rock pool?
Pink sea anemonies
And white coral weed
Or were your eyes
On the clear horizons?
This enormous vista of space
Accentuated by rocks - far distant,
The Whin Sill cropping up
At Bamburgh
And out to sea.
The Farnes formed one behind the other,
Frozen whales, flat triangles of obdurate faith
Against the sea.
And were you aware of
The emotions of the Universe
As it pulled the bay free of water
Or flooded the mudflats,
The fluctuations of powers
Beyond your control?
And did you walk
The tenuous path to the mainland
When it was water free
And contact your fellows
With love?
And were you burnt by them?
What sent you back to your cell
Dwelling inwardly,
Voluntary denial
Of all sensory stimulation
To see beyond the scene?



Something is burning inside me;
you could call it my heart
but it's much more precise than that, it's a bonfire;
crackling sticks of shy words.

Crossing the country last week,
I saw them,
jumbled up heaps of poems
rioting bundles of wood,
alone in October-dry fields.

Tonight, sitting here,
with only you in my eyes,
dazed by the intense glare, I devise
a scheme to link bonfires across the land,
to burn down the walls between our hands,

if only to set your face alight,
if only to see one Guy Fawkes Day
your dreamy children smile.



Wanting you, coast to coast, I have desired
To capture carefully the secret of mould
From those who thought they could teach me how to love
With flesh-hooks of teeth, and to store one's gold
Like rarely seen pearls of the dawn and frost.

Gone from the maps of your skin I cannot go far
From what I have already lost;
Lately when we have parted I wanted to scar
Your memory with my decay, rust,
And ruin, to tell you to your face
I wait beside death for your return.

you let them breed upon your style and grace
Deceiving your heart with their flesh and lies,
And caring nothing for what is within -
Evenings bring the gentle blue from your eyes,
The sea is washing salt upon your skin.