Personalised Number Poets : I began this poem in September, 2013, but completed it with the last 6 lines in August, 2015. The poet, Paul Farley, had his poem, “August”, which takes a different approach to the personalised plate idea, published in the Guardian Review “Saturday Poem” slot on 1st. August, 2015, though I didn’t come across it until 20th. August.

Personalised Number Poets

You’ll have seen them with their flash verse,

souped up adjectives firing on all syllables,

tuned to perfection, yet built to last.

The lines are honed and glistening and so waxed

and polished you can see their reflections.

The body of work is trim, streamlined, frictionless and smooth

and gets them where they want to go.

Not even air could resist.

Open up the verse. Have a look under the sonnet.

See how it works, what makes it tick,

what fuel-for-thought-injection systems are on display:

the twin verbs; the alliteration; all iteration.

What ingenuity has been involved in the design,

the economy of space, ergonomic perfection.

The same goes for the interior.

The choice of ancillaries is to-die-for,

whether you’re talking vintage and classical,

all mahogany dash and sleek upholstery

or off the wall, post-modern, foot down, feet up,

the latest model, un-rapped, unprecedented,

first off the production line.

Listen to it go from purr to scream

as it races from iambic pentameter

to rap and back in seconds.

Take the convertible: a few deft touches

and it’s a breath of fresh air.

The 4 by 4 performs on any quatrain.

The Poets Lorry-ate, with their big, butt of sack payload,

now have a 10 year tenure.

There’s the family saloon: almost pejorative,

every day verse that we’re all familiar with, perhaps,

but when you need to get from A to B (or not to be),

there’s no question. It’s no blur in the mind.

It’s reliable and always there for you.

Good mileage, as driven by the B412D himself.

Yes, those personalised plates:

K3475 in a fruity, mellow Autumn Mist;

TEN150N, a super charged Light Brigade;

B7120N driving a Chillon Castle;

HA12DY T, out in all “Weathers”;

the old Clock Stopper himself, AUD3N;

HUG1-large screw-13S, no E-by gum-type;

and Burns, TamTam O’ Shanter sat knav-ishly perched,

rides his M(e)G with RAB813 B plates.

WH17MAN, E2RA P and EL107,

are the American big three.

For 51MON A, there’s the Range Rover 2010;

and for MOT10N, an Oxford Academic.

G120UND-breaking, EAR7H-shaking, BRE47H-taking:

PLA73 tectonics.


Today at the Treacle Market and Wednesday at Bad Language, Manchester + a Drabble or two (The Spider In The Bath and Incident)

It’s Treacle Market day here in Macclesfield and Margaret Holbrook, Charlie Heathcote and myself are in King Edward’s Street chapel from 10 am using the “Rent-A-Pew” scheme to publicise, and perhaps sell, a few of our books (singular for Charlie and me and plural for Margaret). Come along and have a browse if you can,

On Wednesday, 28th. October, I’ve a 4 minute open mike slot at “Bad Language”, Manchester’s monthly literary event at the Castle Pub, 66, Oldham Street at 7-30 pm. It gets packed so come along early for a seat. It’s been difficult to decide what to do in the slot. I’ve settled on a skit on the late, great Ian Dury’s “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, a poem I wrote when I reached the age my Dad was when he died (“70+ or The Clock”) and something from “Eric Bloodaxe? And Other Verse”, perhaps “Jodrell Bank” or “Wistful Twister”. “70+ or The Clock” happens to be a Drabble: a poem or story in exactly 100 words excluding the title.

Macc Writers is putting together a collection of 100 Drabbles with the aim of raising money for the Bridgend Centre, Bollington and another charity, yet to be decided.  Here are a couple of poem Drabbles I’ve submitted :-

The Spider In The Bath

What does it live on, the spider in the bath?

It’s not a great place for flies to cross its path,

yet it’s fit and healthy and obviously clean,

roams end to end its vast domain from what I’ve seen.

There’s no sign of woven web between the taps.

Is it that it hasn’t spinnerets perhaps?

Every ploy it uses of arachnid guile

to coax all its nutrients out of bathroom tile,

but when it’s time for me to soak away the gunge,

Incey Wincey’s there, so I can’t take the plunge,

unless ………. I might just de-spider with the sponge!


11 o’clock and all’s not well.

A pulsating blue floods the hallway

as I go to put out the bins,

part of the weekly domestic ritual.

A fire engine is blinking a warning and the road is closed.

From a car’s gaping bonnet, dense smoke

is rising towards the clear night sky,

where Perseid meteor showers are due.

I’ll miss these as I did the windscreen scattering its razor sharp confetti.

and the flames which roasted the neighbours’ shrubs.

A lone figure, helmet and visor in place douses, observed from a distance.

Overhead, ephemeral streaks of space debris pass unseen.



All bangs, crackles,

dazzling explosions, fizzles.

Gunpowder !

Happily ignite jumping-jacks.

Kiddies leap, mothers nervous,

old people

quietly remembering sparkler trails.

Unbeatable variations.

Whoosh !

X-box®, you’re zapped !

Eric Bloodaxe? And Other Verse

This is the title poem from my first anthology, a slim volume of 27 poems, self-published in August, 2014 and available on Amazon or from me ( for £5 with the whole of the proceeds being donated to Prostate Cancer UK (£1150 raised so far).

Eric Blood Axe?


He was quiet and introverted. A nod would just suffice.

He minded his own business, wouldn’t pry at any price.

He nurtured his allotment plot with tender loving care,

but sometimes you might catch him with a far off, wistful stare.


He’d sit down with his mug of tea, well-earned mid-morning break,

or pause from planting labours and lean hard upon his rake.

His head would fill with images that frankly he deplored.

He had no explanation as shrill noises howled and roared.


It seemed he manned a long boat oar with rough and calloused hands.

He’d crossed the sea at risk of life to reach these hostile lands.

He wore a Viking helmet, by his side his trusty axe,

which hung there at the ready till he reached their squalid shacks.


Blood-curdling oaths he’d utter as he lashed out left and right.

He never gave a second thought, just hacked with all his might

and speed was of the essence ere the men folk would return:

seize what they could, then back to sea and leave the huts to burn.


Were Eric’s ancestral voices an echo from his genes?

He mulled this concept over as he hoed his peas and beans.

These days he rakes and tillages. It’s spuds that he will sack

and only in odd moments DNA will draw him back.


The distant past lies buried and long gone those roving bands.

Nowadays, blood, fish and bone meal, it is on Eric’s hands.

So, pass the time of day with him, then leave him to his work.

For there’s the faintest, outside chance that Eric’ll go berserk.

Blind Justice

Blind Justice (13th. October, 2015: written for the theme of “Justice” at the fortnightly Speakeasy at the Snow Goose, Macclesfield, Cheshire)

Now listen to me, people, come and listen to my rap.

Take that i-phone from your ear and that i-pad off your lap.

We may think that there is justice, that Britain’s fair and square,

but whilst we’re feeling warm and snug, I’m goin’ to stop you there,

‘cos if you’re black or Asian or live in a cardboard box,

lie in blankets in shop doorways, it’s the school of hard knocks.

Yeah, it’s the school of hard knocks and so on your house a pox

Yeah, on your house a pox.

They’ve got her on Old Bailey’s roof,  weighing scales in her hand.

She holds a sword, a blindfold wears, impartial. Ain’t she grand?

But she needs to shed those scales from her hand and from her eyes,

‘cos the papers badmouth the poor and fill our heads with lies.

“They’re scroungers on benefits. They don’t want to earn their keep.

They spurn zero hours contracts. They’d rather booze and sleep.

Yeah, they’d rather booze and sleep, those expletives, bleep, bleep, bleep

Yeah, those expletives, bleep, bleep, bleep.

They come from Eastern Europe, the Slav, the Lat, the Pole

and queue with home-grown parasites to claim the bloody dole.

Whilst, decent folk, that’s you and me, work our effin’ socks off,

they live the life of Riley, get stoned and get their rocks off.

They’re busy havin’ one more kid to get our council flats

and we know that generation will be dirty, little brats.

Yeah, they’ll be dirty little brats. It’s backed up by the stats.

Yeah, it’s backed up by the stats.”

So while Murdoch and the Tory press, master puppeteers,

vomit out their headlines and so manipulate our fears,

Blind Justice stands there rigid with her back to City’s banks,

turns deaf ear to austerity when the boardroom’s saying “Thanks”

with bonuses exceeding those of football transfer fees.

But I think I saw Blind Justice cry and get down on her knees.

Yeah, she got down on her knees to clean up all the sleaze.

Yeah, at last clean up the sleaze.