Saturday, 26 November 2011


Sun sets on Empire,
a football sinking in the sky.
Dreams are gone,
the kicks we had.
I see their ghosts in The Strawberry night:
Len White and George Eastham,
Gordon Hughes and Liam Tuohy,
Alf McMichael, Jimmy Scoular.
Roaring Boys of one hue or another:
Alan Suddick and Jim Smith,
John McGrath and Dick Keith,
Dave Hilley and Andy Penman.
Stalwart lads from an industrial past,
hold on to those memories.
Golden Balls of light
shine on the surface of The Tyne,
ripple in the mind.
Great times were had
and peanuts tanner a bag.
Swaying lads on the Popular Side,
Oxo down our throats.
Chuck us a cup,
we're thirsty.
from 'true faith' the newcastle united fanzine for which keith armstrong has been poet-in-residence


Tuesday, 22 November 2011


When Gagarin finally opened his eyes

He saw what Ptolemy saw, it was just

An issue of precedence it appeared.

And had that thin flare rocketed him out

At the speed of light, then all there ever was,

All there’ll ever be, played in the same instant.

"If you look in the heavens for heaven,”

Jesus might have said to Didymos Judas,

“Don’t expect there to be a single star.”

But of all the spheres there is only this one

Where there is music, even if others

Are not silent they haven’t yet been tuned.

Sitting in his chair bolstered on false feet

The old pianist looks out through slatted blinds

At a melody of autumnal stars.

Too soon, as it always is and will be,

Curtains are drawn, pricks of light excluded,

And a whole life passes in a moment.

When it comes to being launched into space

Eyes shut as a reflex. Meanwhile, on earth,

A fine piano stands with its lid closed.


Dave Alton

Friday, 18 November 2011

More from the archives of Poetry North East

Tolstoy's brother plants a green stick in the estate at Yasnaya Polyana.
It has happened before.

The woods at Yasnaya Polyana.

Eyeless leaves
rustle their neighbour's faces. Sough,
Sough. The wind. Tolstoy's brother
plants his green stick.

'If ever you find
this carved secret. Earth
will have greened a Paradise.'

Green, green.

Black men, abiding their wilderness,
scorch the defoliated, wriggling grub.

Whitely the ferry chunters us
between bays. In oiled dispersions
of wateriness we sprinkle to our rest.

The cut religious stick fades
among first plantantions. Wind heaves.
Wordlessly, it vanished, bearing
what the hand gave, of brief warmth.

O supple Paradise. Integument
prime as our mother's breats
folding milk.

The pouched marsupial intelligence,
its care, its teeth, stained with grass,
its leap to the peaceable knigdom, that,
that and no other thing, where is it?

The greening of a cut, wordless
Australasian stick. Wind lifts
like a huge leaf. Lovely questions
folitate the Pacific. 

                                                                                    Sydney 1974

Jon Silkin