Monthly Archives: October 2021

Creeping Upstairs

Poem from Misty, 20 January, 1979.

I suddenly hear someone creeping upstairs.
If I hadn’t read ‘Misty’ I wouldn’t be scared,
I throw down the comic on the bed
As under the blankets I hide my head.
Under there I go all numb.
Is it, could it be, only my Mum?
Yes it is, of that I’m sure
As she tiptoes softly through the door.
‘Rachel,’ she whispers, ‘Are you still awake?’
I lie quite still, no notice I take.
‘No, you’re not,’ I hear her say.
Thank goodness, at last she’s gone away.
I close my eyes and count to fifty
To find out when I open them …

Rachel Flemming, Cockermouth, Cumbria


Jean Milton is an obscure Scottish poet. She was one of only 4 female poets in Noise and Smoky Breath, An Illustrated Anthology of Glasgow Poems 1900 – 1983. There were 43 male writers. In fact there were 9 poems by women in total, and 4 were by Liz Lochhead.
This poem is from Aquarius, No. 6, 1973. This was a Scottish issue.


Houses with eyes half closed
sit tight in chopped off motorway
A blue mist and snow clouds hang over
Partick’s tenements
…stepping out to the BUROO Signing on time
Safe in routine after sleeping in
I collect my money but don’t spend it on
booze like the old men I saw in the
pedestrian underpass; beer at 10.15
I spend it on other bad habits

Jean Milton

On The District Line

From Anarchy, number 107 , January, 1970.

0n the District Line
Peter Reilly

Tube trains on the District Line are not usually full at ten o’clock in the evening. The theatres and the pubs have not yet turned out their customers and the evening class students are already home. Last Monday evening there were only four people in my section of the carriage. In the seat next to the narrow door at the front end of the carriage a youngish man, dark-skinned, possibly an Indian, sat with his legs, crossed holding an umbrella. A middle-aged man sat opposite him and another middle-aged man opposite me at the other end of the row of seats.
Shortly after the train pulled out of Whitechapel Station a number of youngsters entered through the doors connecting with the adjacent carriage. They came in aimlessly, shuffling, talking, until one of them noticed the dark face in the corner. Immediately they slumped into the seats next to and opposite him. There must have been eight of them because there were not enough seats in our section so two went on and sat further down the carriage. The boys were about fifteen or sixteen years of age-probably still at school. Their hair was short but not cropped, they wore jeans and boots but not the rest of the skinhead uniform. Perhaps they were “Peanuts”. I don’t know.
One of the group, a fat, pink boy, asked the man in the corner if he had a half-a-crown piece. The Indian shook his head.
“Let’s have a look at your umbrella.”
“Let’s have a look at your umbrella.”
The fat one’s hand reached for the thick cane handle but the other held the umbrella firmly.
“Sure you haven’t got a half-a-crown piece.”
“No, I can’t help you.”
There was a shout from further down the carriage,
“Ask him if he’s got a half-a-crown piece.” Six heads turn.
“We done that already, you git.”
“He reckons you’re a queer.”
“He reckons you’re a queer.”
“Yes, he says you’re a queer.”
“He says you’re as queer as him”-indicating the fat boy-“and that’s saying something. Ha, Ha, Ha.”
One boy has pulled his mac over his head and is peering along his nose and over the edge of its collar. Another says, “Let’s try the next carriage.”
“No point, we’re getting off at Mile End.” (Sometime we must have stopped at Stepney Green. I had not noticed.)
The two return from further down the carriage and stand, strap hanging, in front of the man. Their backs mask his face but I see their hands pulling at his umbrella. A thin-faced, dark haired boy is staring at me. I stare back.
Surly, chin jutting, he says, “What’s the matter?”
I pause but can think of nothing better than, “A good deal by the look of it.”
We are nearing Mile End. More of the boys stand up crowding around the man, the corner, and the door. I can now only see his feet; which one of them is kicking! I half stand holding the arm of my seat. The handle of his umbrella appears as one of them pulls it, jerking its owner forward. The doors open and the boys leap-off. A sudden punch is aimed at the Indian’s face by the last to leave. They are gone. But the doors are still open and one is back, throwing a punch around the glass partition, and gone again.
I notice now that the other two men are also standing. Boys leap on and off. Now the Indian is waving his umbrella as the boys taunt him from the platform aiming kicks at him through the narrow door. Another taunts us-standing whites-from the other door, and one of’ the men moves swiftly towards the door. The doors close. And then open. The boys crowd forward again.
Two uniformed London transport men struggle through them to get on the train. The Indian thinks that they have come to investigate and expostulates. “They are trying to get me. . .” But London Transport doesn’t want to know. “Nothing to do with us”, they say and pass down the carriage away from us. The doors close andI sit down.
The doors open. The dark haired one is threatening me from the platform. “Come on, you want to have a go.” I remain seated and wave him away. “You just go and change trains” The doors close. We three are seated now. The Indian stands, turning, bewildered, to each of us, “Did you see. They were trying to get me. . “His hands, one holding the umbrella, are half raised; his voice incredulous.
We are embarrassed. One says, “They’re a disgrace to the mothers that bore them.” The other, “They’re the same lot that caused trouble at Aldgate East the other night”. I say nothing. The Indian sits. We all sit; in the same isolated silence that existed before the incident.
Afterwards. I felt a mixture of embarrassment and fear. Fear-I was afraid with the stomach sinking feeling of personal danger. But further, deeper, I was afraid of what it might mean. I saw recently a book called The Yellow Star. In photographs it traces the history of the Nazi persecution of the Jews from “Juden Raus” to the final solution. I was afraid that I had seen the first photograph in a new book.

Life In A Scotch Sitting Room

Ivor Cutler’s book reviewed in in the NME, 8 September, 1984.

Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol.2

by Ivor Cutler (Methuen, £3.50)

From an early age Ivor Cutler was painfully aware of the absurdity of It All, so much so that he devoted his life to chronicling each passing instant with images that entertain whist simultaneously disorientating us. Confused? So is Cutler – but he is at one with the chaos.
These ‘autobiographical fragments’ comment, in their own oblique way, on growing up in a particular Scottish environment. There is sex education (“What do you do with your hands in bed?” asked Grandpa with a stern smile); nature study ( … “we set off, hugging the wall to escape the worst effects of the fresh air”) and strange ritual (“battering each other over the heads with a thistle whilst shaking hands”).
Behind every laugh lies a painfully gained awareness; nothing is how it should be until you realise that for Cutler there are no ‘givens’. Each passing day brings cause for alarm and from so much absurdity comes this strange poetry.
“There’s nothing quite like a Scottish education. One is left with an irreparable dept. My head is full of irregular verbs still.” Indeed.

Sean O’Hagan

Clair De Lune

From Weird Tales, Vol 11 No. 5, May 1928.

Clair De Lune

O never ye sleep in the moonlight,
My pious old Granny would say,
For sleepers, bewitched by the moonlight,
With madness thereafter are fay.

But why should I sleep when the moonshines,
And waste all her beauty away?
There’s more to be done when the moon shines
Than slumber in houses and pray.

My body I’ll bathe in the moon-rays,
My mantle of dew shall be spun.
Encrowned in a nimbus of moon-rays,
I’ll dance till the night flee the sun.

And if I should yield to the moonbeams,
Laid low by weird malisons’ harm,
Let me sleep ‘neath the turf in the moonbeams,
Enthralled by the night’s silver charm.

Minnie Faegre Knox

Anarchist Anxiety

Annie Anxiety interviewed about her poetry in Anarchist Propaganda zine, issue 1 1/2, November 1982.

Annie Anxiety … Birmingham 3rd May 1982

After speaking to Flux of Pink Indians I noticed Annie Anxiety and Eve Libertine sitting on a sofa and talking. So I went over and started chatting to them. Eve had to leave to go on stage so I asked Annie some questions and scribbled down the replys. I did not have any questions prepared to ask her so that is my excuse for some of the pathetic ones I asked. I hope I have taken the replys down correctly in a shortened form as it was difficult keeping up with what was being said, Read on ……

Do you feel it easy to write poetry?
“Not really, it depends .. sometimes I feel empty inside but other times it is rather easy.”

Eve: “She churns them out, she can write one in 10 seconds, she’ll write you one now!”

How do you feel about people gobbing at you as you seemed to attract a lot of it?
“It’s just the berks in the front row. They blow kisses and make peace signs as well – real berks stuck in 1977.”

Why did you leave America?
“It was just so shit, with things like television being on 24 hours a day and the big corporations… It’s very nationalistic with 60% of the people being immigrants.”

How do you feel about your poems on paper?
“It’s another way to get something across, it has the quickest impact. When they’re written down there’s space to show your references.”

Any special significance in your name?
“No … A name is given to you when you’re born but it has nothing to do with you. You can’t slap a name on someone – it’s personal.”

Do you like punk music?
“Yeah I like the music. Crass are fucking great! If I don’t like the lyrics though then I won’t like the song.”

What did you think of your single?
“Well I’d like to do more different things – but it was good, working with Penny was brilliant.”

Do you like your set being split into two?
“I prefer it split into two. You lose impact if it’s not split. The evening’s planned and it is set up well.”

What do you think of the sound quality as it is often the main problem?
“Yeah it is difficult. When people come up and talk it helps, but it is a problem.”

Annie’s second book of poems “Tropical Depression” is available from Xntrix (Poison Girls) for 30p + 18p (p+p)
Poison Girls, c/o Rough Trade, 137 Blenheim Crescent, London W.11

Bastard Huddersfield

Another of Ian McMillan’s Seething Wells ranting poetry spoofs in the NME, 8 September, 1984.

A Day In The Life Of Darren Shakespeare
The return of Barnsley’s most explosive poet. IAN McMILLAN presents another revolutionary episode.

Bloke rings up and say “Do you want to do a bastard world tour?” and I says Well anything’s better than reading the bastard Beano and he says “Does that mean you want to do a bastard world tour or not?” Yes I says of course I bastard do but I’m a bastard ranter and we always say things in a bastard clever and allusive way.
“Do you?” he says. Course I bastard do you silly bastard I says. He says “I’ll get one of my lads to drop you a Date Sheet off later on.” I says I know what bastard day it is, bastard. He says “Look, a date sheet is a list of the bastard places you’ll be doing on the bastard tour.” I says I know that, bastard, I was just bastard testing you.
So I goes out and applies for a passport. Then I sit in a bastard booth in bastard Woolworth’s having my picture taken. I kept looking away every time the bastard flash went off. I stood outside waiting for the bastards to slide out of the bastard machine and a bloke with a Mohican stuck up like a bastard Baobab tree says to me “Are you Darren bastard Shakespeare?”
I says no I’m bastard Robert Redford, bastard. He hits me and says “I hated that bastard Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Bastard, and as for that Bastard Way We Bastard Were, the bastard camera angles were as daft as my Uncle bastard Dennis!” Trust my bastard luck to get the world’s only bastard film buff punk.
So I grabs the bastard snaps and runs off. Then I goes to the shop and gets a bastard overcoat and a pair of Bermuda shorts. The bastard assistant stares at me and I shout The World’s a big place, bastard!
At home I’m lying on the bastard settee when a bloke comes in with a crash helmet on. The roof’s not that bastard bad, I say, for a funny joke. “Very bastard funny” he says. “You must be Darren Shakespeare.” No, I say, I’m bastard Barbra Streisand. He hits me. “That bastard Yentl was a load of bastard chairlegs” he says, and throws the date sheet at me. Trust me to get a bastard film buff despatch rider!
The date sheet is very small. Bastard! Four bastard dates: Huddersfield, Wakefield, Sheffield and Wrexham! I rings the bastard tour organiser up. Now then bastard, I says, what happened to the bastard World Tour? “They’re all in the bastard world” he says.
Very bastard funny. And I’m not so sure about bastard Huddersfield.

Ashes Of Eden

Poem from Weird Tales, Vol 22 No, 2, August, 1933.

Ashes of Eden

See, pale wraiths! A pledge to you,
This lifted cup of bitter brew.
Aye! Dead, once-dear Loves of mine,
I pledge these lees of Life’s sour wine.

Ah! You whisper. . . . Say you so?
Little of bitter dregs you know!
Dead things reek no more of pain –
Mayhap the Dust is Life’s true gain.

Kirk Mashburn

City Of Razors

From the first issue of Eddie Linden’s long running poetry magazine Aquarius, 1969. Augustus Young caught the space many working class writers inhabit nicely in a review of Tom Leonard from Aquarius, No. 7. 1974: ‘Glasgow grafitti are rapidly being demolished: thus the need for Glasgow poets.’

City of Razors

Cobbled streets, littered with broken milk-bottles,
reeking chimneys and dirty tenement buildings,
walls scrawled with FUCK THE POPE and blue-lettered
Old woman at the corner, arms folded, bab in pram,
a drunk man’s voice from the other pavement,
And out come the Catholics from evening confessional;

A woman roars from an upper window
‘They’re at it again, Maggie!
Five stitches in our Tommy’s face, Lizzie!
Eddie’s in the Royal wi’ a sword in his stomach
and the razor’s floating in the River Clyde.’

There is roaring in Hope Street,
They’re killing in the Carlton,
There’s an ambulance in Bridgeton,
And a laddie in the Royal.

Eddie S. Linden – for the city of Glasgow.