We always met at the hippo
it’s a local tradition that we adopted.
Sitting by Walsall’s concrete enigma
sharing our chips with greedy pigeons
chugging MD 20/20 down,
as the town ebbed and flowed around us
like the drift of flotsam on the canal.
Then chips finished, paper and
bottles were shoved in overflowing bins.
We’d flick away the stubs of Marlboro lights
stagger off to indie disco nights,
saying to the hippo.
“See you again soon.”
But as the years danced by we
just stopped returning, as
joints stiffened like concrete and
hair became striped with hippo grey.
We swapped wooden benches for an IKEA sofa,
chips are now delivered, along with
craft beer bought by the ASDA delivery man.
but so did the hippo.
You see that hippo
that carefree hippo of the people
also grew up.
I passed him the other day
outside the library,
perhaps he’s turned intellectual ?
Anyway, I asked him why
he turned his back on the people who loved him.
He’s still thinking
about his answer.
yes my home town does have a statue of a hippo just like in the picture and for many years it was always a popular place to meet.
Solitary concrete guardian of Walsall,
unmoving in your eternal vigil.
Never sleeping day or night,
uncaring what the elements throw at you.
The town’s stone Mona Lisa,
smiling enigmatically at passers-by.
Patiently posing for visitor selfies,
never complaining about pigeons.
I sat on your back when I was young,
now I bring my daughter to perch on you.
Hoping that in the future,
You’ll be here to help keep up this tradition.
A good friend and talented writer and poet James Josiah has started a wonderful project on Facebook and Twitter called lost haiku. The premise is simple, members of the group write haiku, James prints them off and leaves them on his travels for people to find and enjoy.
Here’s James description of the project
I’ve written a load of haiku this year, like 50+ so far and I couldn’t really figure out what to do with them and I’m not really into the whole publishing my work thing any more (long story) So what I’m doing is printing them off, laminating them and then leaving them out in the wild for folks to find and… I dunno maybe share them or hide them elsewhere?
Now I don’t go very far so if you would like to help me disperse them that would be great. If you’d like to contribute a haiku or four that would be tremendous.
I’m on twitter as @losthaiku and will be using the hashtag #losthaiku as well (I’ve also written this info on the back of the ones I’ve left out thus far)
I’m a member and big fan of the project and I’m proud to say one of my haiku was recently released into the wilds of Manchester, where hopefully someone will find and enjoy it.
If this project seems like fun to you it’s easy to get involved, click here to follow lost haiku on twitter here
Or ask to join the Facebook group by clicking here
We don’t have much choice on where we’re bought up,
We’re forged by bricks, mortar, schools and pubs.
It’s a real postcode lottery,
And it was WS1 that raised and nurtured me.
WS1, just two letters and a number,
What it stood for I often wondered.
I found out it was supposed to be for Walsall South,
Or what a smeghole, the jury’s still out.
WS1 it’s where I learned to ride a bike,
Where I learned to fight kids I didn’t like.
Where I learned how to wag from school,
Where I learned how to play the fool.
It’s where I first fell in love… with Doctor Who
It’s where I first drank cider and also spewed
It’s where I first broke my arm , my nose and my toe
It’s where I first realised I hated Black Forest Gateaux.
Now I must quickly interrupt this poem to point out that although it seems trivial to hate Black Forest Gateaux it was the Seventies there was a lot of it about. Vienetta my saviour was many years away.
Then we moved away to WS5,
The suburbs, where folk seem more dead than alive.
It was a place to escape too if you could afford the cost,
It was a place where I felt completely lost.
The streets were litter free, birds sang,
To me it was like living in a foreign land.
A land of sunshine and blue skies,
A land which was really a graveyard where pensioners came to die.
So eventually I left there and moved back to WS1
Back to where it had all begun.
I gradually lost my hair so I grew a beard,
I had a daughter , every day she tells me I’m weird.
I flick the V’s when I walk past my old school
I started writing poetry – so I still play the fool.
I returned as they say to the scene of the crime
And I’ll try not to make the same mistakes this time.
Though I make no promises.
They used to brew beer here,
The brewery gates never seemed to shut.
All day the best grain and hops went in
And beer that made the mouth water came out.
I remember glorious clouds, with a hoppy scent
Settling gently on my estate.
“It’s brewing day,” my dad would always say,
As my senses tingled on the way to the bus stop.
Sadly the tuns and coppers are now empty
The once busy floors are now quiet,
Except for the mice and cats.
All has been left to rot and rust,
Because they used to brew beer here.
But now the gates are never open,
They still make it elsewhere under licence
I don’t think it tastes the same.
Dedicated to Highgate Brewery.
Happy Black Country Day, and what better way than to celebrate than with a poem about my home town of Walsall which is a proud part of this great region.
My Roots are Showing
Air cushioned souls
descends a cobbled hill.
Worn stones with tarmac patches
wind past a church that
casts a shadow
over a town built before it,
But now living in it.
A town built on
lime and leather,
saddles and soot,
an arboretum and an art gallery,
Highgate mild and pork scratchings.
Foundations built to last.
A town where we’re not scared
to roll up our denim sleeves
to show our tattooed hearts.
A town I joyfully bounce through
pen in one hand, pasty in another
trying to capture its soul
Late last year I launched a call for poets for a poetry anthology for charity entitled “Diverse Verse 2.” I’m pleased to say the book is at the printers and we have a launch date.
On the 27th May as part of Southcart Book’s open mic “Diverse Verse 2” will be launched. The official Facebook event is here if you are interested, it should be a great day with lots of superb poets reading and hopefully I’ll sell a few books for charity.
Southcart Books my local bookshop and supporter of the arts in Walsall needs your help. I’ll let them explain and introduce Project Mayhem.
WHAT IS PROJECT MAYHEM ?
Right then here we go with an explanation , apologise for it being overlong but I feel a proper explanation is needed.
Here at Southcart books we have constantly been bombarded with stock both paid for and donated and we feel it’s getting out of control , I’m giving 100s of books away every month & we still can’t cope , we now have about 3 times as much books in the storeroom & kitchen than whats on display on the shop floor & we would love people to eventually get to see them , no good having all those books if they can’t be seen is it ?
What we would like to do is open 3/4 of the storeroom (an extra 200sq ft ) , to customers as additional shop floor space , as you can imagine this comes with considerable cost so we are hitting it 3 fold.
1. a long running online sale to raise extra capital
2. seeking community based funding from the government ( blood out of a stone I know )
3. launching a crowdfunding scheme to raise capital.
What the money would be spent on…we have a couple of plans depending on how much we get.
Low funding…block off the kitchen and fill the storeroom with bookcases.
Medium funding…make the storeroom look the same as the main shop floor , bookcases plus all the additional trimmings.
High funding…remove part of the shops wall to really open up the shop space.
We are not asking for money off you directly in this economic climate and we fully understand that some people do not agree with crowdfunding businesses so if you can’t help us financially we would really appreciate you sharing our ideas and funding links.
If you can help financially we are offering you stock for pledges like we did last summer plus people/businesses can sponsor areas and bookcases.
Many thanks for reading & we always encourage your feedback , here is the link.
plus here is the link to our online sale with up to 95% off some higher priced items
So can you help? You don’t have to donate money – though that would be cool – even if it’s just liking the Facebook Page and spreading the word every bit helps. At the same time why not support your local independent book shop, pop in and see what you can offer.
One of the lakes that inspired this poem in Walsall Arboretum
In a quiet corner of the park,
Lies a lake with water dark.
Surrounded by stooped trees.
Which guard it from the breeze.
If at its shores you stand there,
It seems no matter how long you stare.
The lake’s depths defy your gaze,
Whether you look for minutes or days.
But be patient, stand very still,
Put away your phone, wait until.
Very slowly before your eyes,
The lake quietly comes to life.
The surface ripples, then breaks,
As a water boatman skates.
Then a branch shakes and sways,
As a squirrel makes his way.
But as soon as nature comes it goes,
Your spectacle draws to a close.
Nature again hides away,
To perhaps return another day.
The trees seem to close ranks,
As you steal a final glance.
Then the lake’s water fades to black,
As you turn and don’t look back.
I’m pleased to announce that I have written a poem which will appear in the soon to be released horror film “Jessica’s Doll” by Walsall film director Andy Simon.
Here’s the film’s chilling plot taken from its Facebook page.
Jessica’s Doll is about a young Girl called Jessica, an orphan and homeless girl who’s only friend is her Doll (Also named Jessica)
Lost and homeless, walking the streets, she comes across her childhood home, and takes shelter inside from a thunderstorm.
She heads to the Cellar and discovers a chest and hides inside away from the storm. The lid closes, the lock clicks, and there she is trapped.
She has one last wish before all the air is used up, before she dies. She wishes she could become a doll like her own…
Here’s the poem which I composed for the start of the movie taken from the introduction Andy had written for the film and turned by him into the excellent picture below. Click to enlarge.
In the film itself the poem is read by Andy’s talented daughter Anya, who also composed the movie’s soundtrack as well.
You can find more about this exciting film on the soon to be launched website here
Or get the latest news via the film’s Facebook page here.
Or follow the film on Twitter here.
I’d just like to take this chance to say massive thanks to Andy for letting me work with him and I hope the film does well – I’ve seen a clip there’s no doubt in my mind that it will.