The Future (at all costs) 

You must deliver us victories 

Meaningful blood sacrifice 

The New Book speaks of speed and action 

Technology shouts out 

Death and glory! 

Burnt alive by the triumph 

Of the will of man over nature 

Dressed in the garb of soldier boys 

Dressed up like men from Mars 

                He ploughed through the crowd 

                At one hundred and thirty five 

                Mother and child watched 

                And then died 

                That day we all said goodbye to innocence 

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The thirteenth hour  

These elderly invaders 

Have long since gone 

Native on the poor rocky 

Soil and ancient drainage 

Where Bold Kevin 

His chainsaw 

And his musical ear defenders 

Cut logs for fuel from 

The fallen corpses left by 

Unexpected storms 

Business has no place here 

In the shadow of fierce uplands 

Where desperation breeds resignation 

Just at the moment 

When cooperation should 

Confront change 

And so wrap its many selves 

In a warm layer of 

Birdsong and light 

The blue plume of the two-stroke 

Lingers and…

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On the death of Martin McGuinness  

I am curiously numb 

To the fact that you are gone 

Devil, patriot 

Criminal, rebel 

You outlived the clichés 

(Just about) 

Given the time and place 

You were always going to exist 

An iron response to a clumsy 

Fist wrapped in barbed wire 

That bared its dirty steel-trapped yellow teeth 

And get-out clause to expose the unfortunate fact 

That liberty cannot exist 

For a secondary class 

And freedom is measured out in fire 

And broken glass

When old Henry finally spoke  

He put his head on the table 

And announced 

That it would stay there 

Until someone spilled 

The truth about 

The silence that was stolen 

When he was 14 years old 

Standing on a box to 

Reach his workbench 

In the rapturous brass cacophony that was 

The screaming lifting shop of Victorian horrors 

Breathing fire into metal dragons 

That survived the lightning 

And asynchronous overhead motors 



And Thor’s Hammer 

Forever smashing down on 

The sunlit faces of awestruck wonder 

Until hope was…

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The Arsenal  

Down in the docks 

They’re building a tower 

Cranes lowering precast jigsaw pieces 

Into the filled-in futureshock 

Of a foul berth where 

You slavishly recalled the gig that 

Never was beneath the 

Bridges where Flat Tyre Jack and 

His squad of squabbling seagulls 

Shout down the names of enemies 

In broken chains 

And get Jurassic on the floating 

Silver darlings full of plastic shot 

And cola coloured blood 

Sinking claws into early spring 

And spinning spleen and bile into 

Scrawled signs on the walls…

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Beware the tyranny of time and trains 

I'm nervous because the train's on time 

Generally it's slightly late 

And that early morning cosmic rush 

Gets my day going rightly 

Kickstart payoff for some fully clothed 

Exercise of my bothersome heart 

And argumentative circulation 

(Don't even get me started on my brain) 

But this morning 

It's on time 

No random halt 

No chattering guards 

No disabled ramp that won't quite fit 

No unsuitable leaves 

And I am concerned that karma 

Will leave me stranded with 

Some loathsome struggle that 

Will leave…

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The Plastic Men - part 3 

[across the sky passes the shadow 

daughters’ alter ego 

The sun 

Long forgotten 

Still yearns to be a 


I’m impressed by these fine tales 

Of woe 

And so forth 

Delightful modulation 

And characterisation 

(is that the right word?) 

But can I just say 

Our boss doesn’t 

Pay us to invest trust 

In strangers 

For we are not close friends 

And to this end 

I will regale you with a 

Parable (yes, you heard me right) 

That concerns 

3 brothers who were sent to war 

By some General of high repute 


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Heroes (Mostly Villains) - part 1 

Two witnesses to revelation 

Selling a particular god 

Or some portion thereof 

Stood atop a bleak and 

Charmless bridge 

Sighing as the passers by 

Look away 


To the mis-matched mashup 

Of new buildings 

High-rise adventure 

Overlooking a purpose built ghetto 

Rogues’ galleries 

Attendant flags 

-           Where might this god be? 

In reply you get nothing 

Their father’s house is 

It seems 


Battered by the rational 

And unnatural 

Prince and princess in the Tower 

Flooded out by 

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