Garry Johnson’s book The Story of Oi – A View From The Dead-End Of The Street , and Chris Ryan’s Skinheads reviewed in Sounds, 3 April, 1982.
Yuli Daniel wrote these poems in a Moscow prison while he was under investigation and on trial. They were published in his book Prison Poems in 1971.
Outside my window the day is radiant
The sky shows spring and is child-painted blue;
It seems I have no reason to expect
Comfort or hope of help apart from this.
Evil is quite forgotten. Only yesterday
It howled and crucified our souls.
And so, dear girls, and so it’s time for me
To look through the window as you would look into a mirror.
Now the grey wool of the snow is unravelled
And outside the window great drops dangle like ear-rings.
A few more days and you’ll all be prettier
With shining eyes and kerchiefs round your shoulders.
A few more days, then no more sleep at night,
You’ll dream uncurbed, put off your daily tasks.
Outside, the years will rush into reverse
Drawing the breath away from everyone.
(And then the clatter of the wheels will stop,
I’ll pack my satchel and get off at a tiny station.
I’ll scent the beauty a thousand miles away,
And then I’ll smile all envious and grudging.)
The spring will pierce you through and through
With its words, coarse ones as well as tender.
Well, dear girls, it’s time, it’s really time
For you to shed your sorrows and your furs.
22 February, 1966
The magnificent Max Wall doing a turn. This is the way to sign off a poem onstage.
All the Skinhead Girls I Ever Went Out With
had to be.
Most could shut
a pub to silence.
All could talk
‘til the Monopoly
boot came home.
The blue of
the same green
as the liquor
On Saturday night
I heard ‘Ali Baba’
and I wanted
my dream last
night last night.
Her monkey boots
scraping my shin,
of cinema carpet
as the adverts
and the action begins.
Tatianna slays with this spoken word piece from RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, 2nd season, 2016.
From the 1978 Bristol Broadsides collection Shush – Mum’s Writing, which is a collection of work by mums from the Filwood playgroup.
Don’t cry baby bunting
Daddy’s gone job hunting
In these days of unemployment
Folks don’t get too much enjoyment
But don’t cry baby bunting
Don’t cry baby bunting
Social security’s not too funny
But we’ll laugh when they give us beer money
So don’t cry baby honey
Don’t cry baby darling
You’re as hungry as a starling
But when Daddy gets a job
I’ll feed your hungry gob
Don’t cry baby darling
Cry baby sob
Daddy’s found a job
Now he’ll have to break his back
to pay the bloody income tax
So cry baby sob
Fourteenth century sauce from Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym. In Welsh the title is Trafferth Mewn Tafarn.
Trouble at a Tavern
I came to a choice city
With my fine squire behind me.
At gay cost I ordered food
(Proud I had been from childhood)
At a worthy enough hostel –
Liberally; and wine as well.
I spied a slim fair virgin
(My sweet spirit!) at that inn.
On that bright-as-dawn sweetheart
Soon I’d wholly set my heart.
A roast – not to boast! – and costly
Wine I bought for her and me.
Youth loves good cheer. I called her
(How shy she was!) to dinner,
And whispered – I dared the trick,
That’s certain – two words of magic.
I made – love wasn’t idle –
Tryst to come to the spry girl
As soon as all our muster
Slept; black the brows she’d on her.
When at last, wretched journey!
All did sleep, save her and me,
I to reach the lady’s bed
Most skilfully attempted.
But I fell, noised it abroad,
Tumbled brutally forward.
Rising from such grief, than spry!
Nor was my leap unhurtful:
On a stupid and loud stool,
Ostler’s work, to the chagrin
Of my leg, I barked my shin;
Came up, a sorry story,
And struck – may Welshmen love me!
Too great desire is evil,
Every step unlucky still! –
By blows in mad bout betrayed,
On a table-top my forehead,
Where, all the time, a pitcher
And a loud brass cauldron were.
Collapse of that stout table –
Two trestles downed – stools as well!
Cry that the cauldron uttered
Behind me, for miles was heard;
Pitcher shouted my folly,
And the dogs barked around me.
In a foul bed, at the wall,
Bothered for their packs, and fearful,
Three English lay in panic –
Hickin and Jenkin and Jack.
The young one spluttered a curse
And hissed forth to the others:
‘There’s a Welshman on the prowl!’
– O hot ferment of betrayal –
‘He’ll rob us if we let him!
Look out you’re not a victim!’
The ostler roused all the rest –
My plight was of the direst!
All round me they were angry
And searched for me all round me.
I stool, in the foul havoc
Of rage, silent in the dark;
Prayed, in no reckless fashion,
Hiding like a frightened man:
And such power has prayer for us,
Such the true grace of Jesus,
I found my own bed safe and sure
Though without sleep or treasure,
Thank the Saints, freed of distress.
I ask now God’s forgiveness.
Dafydd ap Gwilym