Wednesday, 25 July 2012

wallace's right arm

On 23rd August 1305, William Wallace was executed. At that time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Edward may have believed that with Wallace's capture and execution, he had at last broken the spirit of the Scots. He was wrong. By executing Wallace so barbarically, Edward had martyred a popular Scots military leader and fired the Scottish people's determination to be free.


Wave goodbye ye oafs of culture,
let your rootless dreams drift away.
History has come to drown you in blood
and wash up your empty schemes.

Yon tottering Palaces of Culture
are seized by the rampaging sea.
They are sailing back to the Equator
to burn in a jungle of fear.

Three hundred million years me lads,
unseen from these high-rise days:
an ice-sheet  thick as an ocean,
all those hours just melted down.

Into rich seams of coal,
tropical plants were fossilised;
the sandbanks grew into sandstone
and the mudflats into shale.

And the right arm of William Wallace
shakes with wrath in this firework night.
It is waving goodbye to your history,
it is saying hello to Baghdad.

All the brains of your Labour Party
are stashed in a carrier bag.
Down Bottle Bank in the darkness,
you can hear Wallace scream in a dog.

And will you hang, draw, and quarter my home street?
Will you drop bombs on the music hall?
You have taken the bones from our loves
and taken the piss from the Tyne.

So give me your arm Good Sir Braveheart,
I’ll take it a walk through the park
and I’ll use it to strike down a student
with an empty shell of a soul.

And I’d give my right arm to make ships,
my left to stoke dreams alive.
And I will dance on in the brilliance of life
until oppression is blown away.


Saturday, 14 July 2012



Slime nosed and grubby
Spill across the dust of
Into crumbling backyards
Where stems of sunlight
Turn fragments of masonry
Into tigers' eyes and
And, above the strident excitement
Of the 'treasure hunters',
The carillon of the Civic Centre
Drifts folk tunes across
The wasteland
To a knot of men
Squatting outside the Shieldfield Arms
Burying the slow trade of time
In Sunday newspapers.
Sensitivity reduced
By a resilience
Born out of resignation,
A man coaxes mucus
From his throat,
Directs it at the
Hard element of rubble -
An exclamation mark of
That betrays no loss of

Goff Esther


At Earsdon sheep can pick their way
Over the wet green needles of their dumpling hill
With dainty grace, deft as Arab eyes at market.
Each tuft's a small bazaar, but their hunting is joyless.
Black nostrils pucker up in winter's greed,
Mean lips rip up quick bargains and snap shut.
They spill across the Earsdon hill, these sheep
Like a caravan gone wrong.
Under the filigree glories of Northumberland's lid,
I half expect, half hope to see
A pink pendentive mosque, with a minaret pointing
Like an emperor's fist held up in clemency.
And, while this blowzy northern sun slumps in debauch,
I hear a muezzin baying for obeisance
Over the bowed heads of these Earsdon sheep.
Useless to say you know
A square black Saxon church squats on this hill
Agelessly strong, agelessly chill, visions destroying.
Thick slabs of slate and tubloads of lead nails
Fasten it to the hill like a doom.
Yet, at its heart is the shape of a lamb
And some of the old caravanners' names
Are kept in a book there.

Not long from now, scrubbed children will choir there
Telling of unwashed shepherds, carolling of sheep,
Shaking dull copper bells, whistling up Magi
Below a mellow light that's sucked from under Arab feet.
They will stand in stilled huddles before
Sackfuls of dusty straw
Strewn with careful abandon to simulate pastoral life.
They will lay their piping icons at the foot
Of a flimy structure purposely wrought rough
To house the wraith of poverty seasonally dragged out
Which is for us humility, for Arabs wealth.

Norman Green

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The New Zealand Connection - 2 Poems by Jenny Argante

Jenny Argante’s latest collection is Working in the Cracks Between (Oceanbooks, 2012.) She is a published writer and professional editor who created and taught on the Waiariki Institute of Technology’s online Diploma in Creative Writing for seven years. She is now engaged with preparing Poetivity: How to Read and Write Poetry for publication later this year. 


To measure the sun's height
you don't need to be
a bird, a probe, or
winged Icarus failing to scope
red-hot perplexity,
fallen to zero

Do as the wise men do
who nightly study stars,
the moon's cold certainties
emerging, pale, red-eyed,
to calculate sun's distance
where it strides:

meaning determined
with both feet on the ground.


the cut face of the quarry
the sharp upswell of hill
the Norfolk pines that stamp the pass
across the bordering rill

the palimpsest of unleaved trees
as ghostly as a dream
beside the road the railway track
beside the track a stream

beside the stream a barricade
of boulders, rock and scree
beyond unseen, beneath unknown
experienced in me

beside the rock, the ripening range
that draws the upward eye
high snow, low cloud and a pale moon
against a leaden sky

Monday, 2 July 2012


Joe Wilson was probably the most prolific of all the Geordie songwriters of his time. Many of his works were published in his book of Songs and Drolleries.

Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinnie

Oh, keep your feet still Geordie, hinnie 
Let's be happy through the neet
For we may not be so happy through the day. 
Just give iz that bit comfort 
Keep your feet still Geordie lad 
And divvent drive me bonnie dreams away.   

Why, wor Geordie and Bob Johnson, man
They both lay in one bed 
In a little boardin' hoose doon by the shore. 
Afore he'd been an hour asleep 
A kick from Geordie's fyuet 
Made Bob waken up to roar instead of snore. 

Keep your feet...  

Noo, I dreamt there was a dancing held 
And Mary Broon was there 
And I dreamt we tripped it lightly roond the floor 
I held hor heaving breast to me 
Whilst waltzing roond the room 
And that's mair than I dared ever dee before. 

So keep your feet...  

Noo, you knaa the lad she goes with? 
Why, they call him Jimmy Green' 
And I dreamt he tried to spoil us in wor fun 
I dreamt I nailed him heavy 

Man, I blacked the big fyul's eyes 
And if I'd slept I divvent knaa what I'd ha' dyun. 

So keep your feet...  

Noo, I dreamt Jim Green had left the toon 
He'd left his lass to me 
And the hoose why it was fornished with the best 
And I was waalkin doon the aisle
With Mary by me side 
When your clumsy feet completely spoiled the rest.

So keep your feet...