A poem for the beautiful young men of Barton Moss

I work with a group of young men aged between 12-15 @ barton moss secure unit – They are ace and really buzz on the poems and I love working there – They are having a fund raiser in october for Bernardos but i can’t attend it because i’m on in Birmingham with John Cooper Clarke so they asked me to write a poem that will be read out on the night & then buried in a time capsule and re-opened in 10 year.

Here’s my poem i wrote for them

Help me get to Sleep Tonight

wrap your arms around me
hold me tight
sing me a lullaby
to help me get to sleep tonight

Unfurl that clenched fist
There’s nothing wrong with missing your mam
or wanting to be kissed
like that time she leant into your pram

sound words in the big house
chains entangled for our own good
there’s nothing wrong with crying now
Tears flow quicker than blood

Juxtaposition

Take a slow stroll with the soul lonely
To a pub on Nowhere road
Where men with shaved heads and tattooed knuckles salute
Then, shake their fists at a union jack
Because they have nothing else to believe in

Compare this to the slow stroll of the soul lonely special need Pakistani boy
Who walks towards the football match
With a rucksack on his back and the whispered promise of “72 virgins in paradise”

Wildflowers

Wildflowers are growing by the side of the Mersey

When the old river floods and bursts her banks

After short, sharp, warm summer storms
The flowers appear to be floating just above the water

All mahogany orange
and poppy field red

Soon our sons will return home

On ships

On planes

On boats

Wearing bandaged smiles

Sad eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses

Some to fall into the arms of those they love

For others to kneel by the side of the Mersey

Palms together

Eyes closed

Praying for the storm

“The lights are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”

Originally posted on Godisamanc's Blog:

At 11pm on Monday 4th August 1914 war was declared on Germany ushering in one of the darkest periods of our history.

For my generation, it is difficult to perceive just what that war was like. The joining up, training in barracks, traveling to war, the action, the fighting, losing close friends, life in the trenches, missing loved ones and returning home after the war. We can only imagine what it was like.

Arthur Clutton Brock asserted that “The greatest war of all time should call out the poets” and it did, in their droves and in an age without Twitter or rolling news, poetry was part of everyday life. So Kipling, Newbolt and Austin weren’t simply entertainment or amusement, they were as CK Stead maintained “men who expressed a sound philosophy in verse”

Soldier poets became the equivalent of modern day war journalists, reporting from the front on all…

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With Only Months to Live This Amazing Father Gave His Daughters a Very Special Present

godisamanc:

This is the toughest man in the world in my Opinion

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

dying father - kindness - daughters

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“The lights are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”

At 11pm on Monday 4th August 1914 war was declared on Germany ushering in one of the darkest periods of our history.

For my generation, it is difficult to perceive just what that war was like. The joining up, training in barracks, traveling to war, the action, the fighting, losing close friends, life in the trenches, missing loved ones and returning home after the war. We can only imagine what it was like.

Arthur Clutton Brock asserted that “The greatest war of all time should call out the poets” and it did, in their droves and in an age without Twitter or rolling news, poetry was part of everyday life. So Kipling, Newbolt and Austin weren’t simply entertainment or amusement, they were as CK Stead maintained “men who expressed a sound philosophy in verse”

Soldier poets became the equivalent of modern day war journalists, reporting from the front on all aspects of the conflict and if you listen to journalists today, their reports are rich with poetic device, the alliteration, imagery, rhythms and cadences of their reporting voice.

When I am ignorant of a subject or an era, I turn to the poetry and fiction of the time to act as a guide not the history books. To commemorate the declaration of war, I have devoured the rich vein of First World War Poetry to further my knowledge of what war was like and by doing so developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of what the men who fought and fell went through for peace in our time.

On Monday night, 100 years after the declaration of war, LIGHTS OUT will be one of the largest mass participation events of its kind ever seen in the UK and will complement the candlelit service taking place at Westminster Abbey. I shall be commemorating the declaration of war at Stockport Art Gallery and War Memorial at 9pm where I shall be reading a selection of the World War One poetry that I have been reading and most importantly, reading the names of the 2200 from Stockport who died during that war. At 11pm after the poems and the names have been read out and after a few minutes silence, the candle will be blown out.

The foreign Secretary of the time, Sir Edward Grey said
“The lights are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”

Also as part of this blog, the librarian in me couldn’t resist compiling a list of poems that have stood out during my research some of which I shall be reading on Monday night.
I have tried to focus on the lesser-known poets, yes, the likes of Sassoon, Housman, Kipling and Owen are part of this collection but the majority of these poets were unknown to me a month ago.

If you can’t make it to one of the Lights Out commemorations, why not simply commemorate in your own way by looking at some of the poems listed below.

The Declaration of War

On the Idle Hill of Summer AE Housman
The Eve of War Geoffrey Faber
August 1914 John Masefield
For all we Have and Are Rudyard Kipling
The Call Jessie Pope
The Conscript William Gibson
Rondeau for the Conscientious Objector DH Lawrence
In Barracks Siegfried Sassoon
In Training Edward Shanks
Marching Men Marjorie Pickthall
Fragment Rupert Brooke

On Distant Shores

First Time in Ivor Gurney
Breakfast William Gibson
Exposure & Futility Wilfred Owen
Winter Warfare & Moonrise Over Battlefield Edgell Rickword
The Redeemer Siegfried Sassoon
Grotesque Frederic Manning
Banishment Siegfried Sassoon
Apologia Pro Poemate Meo Wilfred Owen
My Company Herbert Reade

The Fighting

Bombardment Richard Adlington
Before the Charge Patrick Macgill
Gethsemane Rudyard Kipling
Anthem for Doomed Youth Wilfred Owen
I Tracked a Dead Man Down a Trench W S S S Lyons
The Shell H Smalley Sarson
Back to Rest WN Hodgson
The Next War O Sitwell

Blighty

If We Return F W Harvey
War Girls Jessie Pope
Air Raid Wilfrid Gibson
A War Film Theresa Hooley
I Looked Up From My Writing Thomas Hardy
May 1915 Charlotte Mew
Hospital Sanctuary Vera Brittain
The Veteran Margaret Postgate Cole

Peace

Two Fusiliers Robert Graves
Dead and Buried G A Studdert Kennedy
The Cenotaph Charlotte Mew
The Silence John Adcock
Out of the Mouths of Babes F W Harvey
Elegy in an English Church Yard G K Chesterton
The Superfluous Woman Vera Brittain
Men Fade Like Rocks W J Turner
Picture Show Siegfried Sassoon
If Ye forget G A Studdert Kennedy
War Lesley Coulson

Less we forget

Le Tour De Yorkshire

I was recently asked to join the Tour De France when it came through Yorkshire – Not as a cyclist, as a poet. BBC Radio 4 wanted to make a programme about the tour from a poetic angle and asked me, John Cooper Clarke, Luke Wright, Phil Jupitus and Simon Day to follow the tour and write poems about it. So, on the saturday we followed the Peleton (as it’s called) as it travelled through Harrogate and on the sunday we went to beautiful sheffield.

We performed live both nights at the theatre royal in Harrogate and the Town Hall in sheffield. Our MC for the evening was Johnny Green (tour manager of the clash, writer and keen cycling fan) and we were also joined on stage by Matt Stevens, british cycling champion whose created a brilliant character called Kenny Van Vlaminck (spoof belgian cyclist, check him out, funny as…..for sure) and Earl Broad doing his own slant on Alan Bennet.

I didn’t really get the cycling i.e. standing there for hours waiting for a bunch of geezers in tight brightly coloured tee shirts and shorts to come flying past at 100 mph. I thought the true winner was Yorkshire and the Yorkshire people who turned out in their thousands to cheer and shout and drink and celebrate and here’s the poem i wrote to celebrate the success of Yorkshire as hosts – Well Done Yorkshire

Le Tour De Yorkshire

I saw athletes meet and walk the cobbled streets
Roaming soles were pounding Roman roads
I saw Olympians stand hand in hand
Medal winners standing toe to toe
And Calves did burn on Leyburns hairpin turns
In Glossop the cycling seeds were sown
And not a single frown could be found in any Yorkshire town
And kids are smiling everywhere you go

In East and West Witton the cycling shorts don’t fit them
Big boys in tight tee shirts look daft
But they don’t care if you wanna point and stare
Cos this weekend we’re all game for a laugh

In Constable Burton the locals are certain
They’ve serve the greatest bitter in the land
And they’re probably right cos on Saturday night
Neither man nor woman could stand

I saw one kids face look like he’d just won the race
I saw his gran stood behind him weeping love
His mams eyes were on fire cos his dad’s just retired
To the golden Peloton up above

I saw smiles for miles from a million Yorkshire guys
A million twinkles in the eyes of Yorkshire girls
I saw Sheffield streets where secret lovers meet
Become the centre of the cycling universe

And in Harewood and Ottley I’ve heard Parisians Cockney
Singing Allez allez allez allez go
The tea was sweet and milky
In both Burley and Ilkley
And the tea girls in Bettys know
There’s only one thing better than a yellow sweater
There’s only one thing sweeter than a Yorkshire cup of tea
And that the love your land is like the love of your mam
And that love cannot be beat

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