Slow Train to Tipton

We pull out of Walsall as slow as a summer breeze,
barely moving fast enough it seems to stir the trees.
Once chicken sandwiches are consumed there’s little to do,
than gaze out of the train’s window at the view.
Watching clouds scroll calmly across a hot June sky,
hovering over cranes and scaffolding helping a new town arise.
While we’re overtaken by cars and lorries on an adjacent motorway,
unlike us speeding swiftly on their way.
Then we crawl through yards of rusty stock and freight,
my plans for today condemned it seems to wait.

Two seats down the lad in black denim closes his eyes,
feet and fingers tapping to a song in his mind.
Other passengers stare at phones or blow on hot coffee
stirring and shifting in the train’s uncomfortable seats.
While the red of brick and green of tree,
slowly parade past the window for all to see.
People amble on board at every frequent stop,
starting long journeys or short commuter hops.
As the world turns, stars burn, planets are born then die,
the slow train to Tipton goes steadily by.



Like a blind man in a minefield
I make my way through life.
Each step a risk yet
afraid to stop and
unable to go back I press on.
Determined that some part of me
will reach the end.

Seagulls on Parade

On the chalet roof opposite ours
the seagulls strut and march,
patrolling their runway.
Machine gun cackles warn
errant pigeons to land elsewhere.

On a signal known only to them
the seagulls take off, flying high.
Then feathered dive bombers peel off out of the sun,
screaming they swoop
no ice-cream cone is safe.

Observation shows the seagulls have a strict hierarchy.
They know who should have the best perch
who screeches early to wake the tourists
but most important of all,
which of them gets to shit all over our cars.


A companion piece to this poem can be found here


Poetry-Man, Poetry-Man, does whatever, well whatever a Poetry-Man can…
Spins a rhyme any size,
goes over time in slams gets disqualified,
when he gets up to perform always fails to check his flies.
look out here comes the Poetry-Man.

Are his words strong? Listen bud
he spits like a llama, which I think means he’s good?
Can he swing from a thread?
No, he’s got gout and arthritis
he travels by bus instead.
Always got a rollup ready, here comes the Poetry-Man.

In the chill of the night
he checks the sales figures of his books.
Leave him a bad Amazon review
and he’ll punch you in the nuts.

Poetry-Man, Poetry-Man, drowns his sorrows with gin, its Poetry-Man
wealth and fame he ignores,
bit daft really as poetry pays bugger all.
So if he misses the last bus he can’t get a taxi there goes the Poetry-Man.

Poetry-Man, Poetry-Man, thank god it’s the last verse it’s Poetry-Man,
He seems to live on just beer and pork scratchings
They call him the chicken of poetry as ideas he’s always hatching
he’s infected with words let’s hope it’s catching
There goes the Poetry-Man.

Freeverse Poetry Festival

Orators and their Opinions open mic and Walsall Poetry Society are proud to announce that this summer they are getting together to bring you Freeverse, a free poetry festival featuring poets from Walsall, the West Midlands and Beyond.

Freeverse will take place on Saturday 6th July at Brownhills Community Centre
starting at midday and the best thing is it’s all free to attend, here’s the line up for the day.

Willis the Poet aka Rik Sanders

““Willis the Poet is without a doubt one of the funniest poets it has been my pleasure to hear perform. His easy yet intensely witty interaction with his audience makes every performance a time of laughter, hilarity and sheer out and out fun!”

Rik will not only be performing but also hosting a comedy poetry open mic – sign up on the day – welcoming all poets new and old to step up and make people laugh

Holly Daffurn

“Holly Daffurn’s work rages from the political to the confessional, flitting from witty anecdotes to stark cutting observations. Featuring a combination of rhythmical and fast-paced poems mixed in with carefully crafted passages that shrug off any expectation of rhyme, the uniting feature in all of her work is a distinct and brazen honesty.”

Holly will be headlining one of the three open mics that will take place at the festival.

Samantha Roden, R M Francis and Paul McDonald

Also three Original Plus poets from the region will read from their recently published chapbooks. Paul McDonald is a Walsall based award winning poet, novelists, flash fiction writer and academic. His work has been widely published, including Tindal Street Press, Indigo Dreams, Cinnamon Press, V.Press and Original Plus. He’s Course Leader for Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton, author of three novels five poetry collections and a recently published flash fiction collection. Samantha Roden grew up in Birmingham, and now resides in Wolverhampton. She is a poet, academic and educational author and was named one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets, 2017 . Her first Pamphlet, Catch Ourselves in Glass, was published in June 2017 by Original Plus Books. R . M Francis is a writer from Dudley, Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, and author of four poetry chapbooks, placed with the Black Light Engine Room, Lapwing Publishing and Original Plus his first full collection with Smokestack Books and his debut novel with Wild Pressed Books are due out in 2020.

Headlining our third and final open mic will be two local poets Gerald Kells and Paul Elwell, then finishing the day we will have our main event.

Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse aka Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists.

“Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists are a collective of Black Country poets who believe in changing the world one poem at a time. They’re funny, serious, and thoughtful by turns. Above all, they’re very entertaining.”

As if that wasn’t enough local poet Scarlett Ward will be running a poetry workshop during the day as well.

Scarlett Ward

Find Your Voice.

FYV is a workshop that will be ran by Midlands poet Scarlett Ward and special guest poet Sallyanne Rock. We will be looking at examples of Poets that use their accents, colloquialisms and tone of voice to strengthen the sense of identity within their poetry, and looking how we can use them as inspiration when we come to writing our own work. Hints, prompts, games and tips- all in a laid-back and friendly atmosphere. Free entry, 3.30pm, 20 spaces available, 45 mins duration. Dow be nervous mucka, we’m here to have a laff.

Scarlett Ward is a 26 year old Wiccan Poet working from Cannock, Staffordshire. She came 3rd place in the WoLf poetry competition as judged by Roy McFarlane in January 2019, and her debut collection ‘ache’ is to be released this summer with Verve Poetry Press.

Sallyanne Rock is a poet and writer living in Worcestershire. Her work appears in various journals online and in print, and she has performed her poetry across the Midlands region.She is currently working with Writing West Midlands as an Assistant Writer, running a series of creative writing workshops for young people.

So here’s the running schedule for the day.

Midday – doors open

12:15 Introduction and welcome

12:30 WIllis the Poet set plus poetry open mic with a comedy theme – sign up on the day.

13:20 break

13:40 Open mic headlined by Holly Daffurn – sign up on the day.

14:30 Break

14:50 R M Francis, Paul McDoanld and Samantha Roden

15:40 Break

16:10 Open mic headlined by Greald Kells and Paul Elwell – sign up on the day

17:20 Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists.

Please note the venue provides free parking and provides refreshments plus drinks – alcoholic and non alcoholic. Entry to the event is free if you do like the acts you see and wish to support them then the performers will be operating a contribute what you want system by passing the hat round.

Freeverse is supported and sponsored by Creative Black Country and supported by the University of Wolverhampton.

For queries and questions or more information please email

A big thanks you to everyone involved with supporting this festival, thanks to all our guest poets for agreeing to perform, thanks to Brownhills Community Centre for letting us use their space and a big thank you to Matthew Cash of Burdizzo Banners who came up with the festival logo.

I don’t want a Fitbit thank you

The missus said, “I think you’re unfit bab,
you’ve started to wheeze like a horse that’s smoked too many fags,
your sweat smells like the meat from a donor kebab,
you know what you need, you need a Fitbit.”

Ok, but tell me how is some plastic on my wrist,
going to stop me smoking or getting pissed,
unless each time I raise a pint or fag to my lips
it electrocutes me.

So to cut a long story short I did briefly wear a Fitbit
even though I didn’t want to be a bit fit,
and I think exercise is well just shit,
as it interrupts my naps.

Fitbits are daft as they beep excitedly when you get out your chair
saying well done your exercising but I don’t care
I was only going to the kitchen where
I believe there’s a packet of chocolate hob nobs.

Then there was the time my Fitbit said my pulse rate was healthy
which might have been because stealthily
I was looking at a woman who was quite seductively
eating chips.

I started to get cross with family members telling me how many steps they took
and say I’m really not interested, here comes my foot
doing the only work out I like, kicking you in the butt
switch that Fitbit off – I did…

…then I hit it with a hammer
then I threw it in the bin
then I pushed the bin into a lake…

that’s enough exercise for this week.

Love is

Love is like a fresh cup of coffee,
even though it burns you hold tight.
Its sharpness jolts
yet you still want more
before it turns cold.

Love is like a foreign language
in which everyone is fluent except you
and in spite of all your efforts,
you constantly struggle
to be understood.

Love is like the end of the world,
you panic, you want to hide
but you don’t want to die alone.
So you run out on to the street and scream,
“I’m ready for this.”

Easter is Coming, Brace Yourself

According to my local supermarket
Easter always starts
at exactly 9am on Boxing Day.
This is when the creased wrapping paper
and half-pulled crackers are
tossed unceremoniously into
the store’s reduced aisle
and pushing them aside
showing no mercy
comes the inevitable tide of chocolate eggs.

So you could easily be fooled into
thinking that Easter is imminent and
to confuse matters more the weather
decides it would be fun to be unseasonal as well.
Unexpected sunshine plays tricks
making you believe it’s time to put
your winter coat away.
Then the cold weather returns with a snap
violently blasting waves of wintry wind
while the rain beats a tattoo on windows and roof

So the only thoughts in my chilly brain
when Easter really arrives are
that I’m getting sick of the unpredictable weather and
I’m also horrified to discover that I’m
growing sick of the chocolate mountain in my house.
Although I reckon that when Easter departs
I’ll probably still be sick of the weather
But I know one thing is certain
I will never stay sick
of chocolate eggs.

I Built This Poem

I constructed these words from scraps of leather and bricks,
forged them in the white hot heat of love and relationships.
I wrote these words while in the Arboretum or down by the cut,
inspiration flowing like smoke from my cigarette butt.
These are words that came to me on the bus or in my flat,
I wrote them down late at night on the wrapper of my kebab.
I took words from literature and scrawl from toilet walls
I took everything I loved and etched it deeply it on to my soul.

Meet Me at the Hippo

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.
We changed
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.