Category Archives: Ranters

Doleful Eyes

From Sharon Dunham’s 1984 Centerprise collection, Sub Animal Yells.

Doleful Eyes
For the eternal school leavers

I’m 18 years of age,
Already over the hill,
Give me a job, some respect,
And some money in my hand,
Don’t give me excuses,
I’m not a statistic
Or a leper to be shunned,
You won’t break me you bastards!

Sharon Dunham

A Free Snowman

1968 poem by Boris Slutsky.

A Free Snowman

I have deserved the gratitude of Italy.
I have contributed to their history,
To people, art and culture, by and large:
I gave them snow. And plenty. Free of charge.

Italians, captured on the River Don,
Were packed and convoyed in a cattle car
All starved and thirsty, barely hanging on
All hoping that their end was not too far.

Those human rights, as stated in conventions,
Did not pertain to either side’s intentions,
In that big war they didn’t have much worth!
The train’s commandant, vile scum of the earth,
That odious bastard, would agree to bring
One pail of water to those hapless fellows
But not for free: a couple of golden rings
That blackguard then demanded for his favors.

I, in my stripes, just in from the front line
Had kept that moral sense of the divine
Formed by the books of Chekhov and Tolstoy
And in the rearguard, my zeal did not decline
Seeing those wretched men in that convoy.
I came up with a very simple plan:
Into that cattle car I rolled a big snowman.

Oh, how they looked! Their gazes pierced my heart;
In their black depths, there was both gratitude and anguish
When this came back to me at night, my sleep would vanish!

As for the snowman — it was torn apart.

Boris Slutsky

A Schoolboy’s Dream

This poem comes from the 1978 Bristol Broadsides booklet Shush – Mum’s Writing. The booklet contains store and poems by mums from the Filwood playgroup. They said: “We got together one day and decided that our brains could use some exercise, and look what we’ve come up with!”

A Schoolboy’s Dream

He sits at his desk
Head sumped on his arms
Thinking of ways
He can do her some harm
Ooh he’d like to bash her.

That teacher
With the big long nose
You know the one
Her name’s Miss Lows
Ooh he’d like to bash her.

He’d pick up that slipper
And thrash her
Like she had him, just today
Him and his poor sister May
Ooh he’d like to bash her.

He sits at his desk
Making plans and schemes
Knowing it’s just schoolboys’ dreams
But ooh he’d like to bash her.

Maureen Burge

Evening Conversation

Poem from Wobbly Words zine, number 1, 1981.

In The Evening Conversation

In the evening conversation,
when the kids were asleep
we talked about nuclear attack
we talked about peace.
And it seemed so strange to be sitting here,
with our coffee, biscuits and cheese
while someone is plotting somewhere
to bring the nation to it’s knees.

Carol Seagrove

The Wrong Blood

Feminist poem in Jamming! (the monthly version), number 24, January, 1985.
The poems that month were picked by Richard ‘Cool Notes’ Edwards.

The Wrong Blood

Show me the wounds of a soldier
Torn by the bomb and the gun,
But show me the blood of a woman
And I’ll turn my heels and I’ll run.

Show me the corpse of a baby seal
With the skin ripped from its back,
But show me the blood of a woman
And you’ll stop me in my tracks.

Show me the wrists of a suicide,
Severed and red in the bath,
But show me the blood of a woman
And you tear my world in half.

Show me the blood of my brother,
And my head and my gullet stay clear,
But show me the blood of a woman
And I’ll show show you my great menstrual fear.


Yuli Daniel

Yuli Daniel’s obituary from the New York Times, 1 January, 1989

Yuli M. Daniel, a Soviet dissident and satirist whose conviction in 1966 for publishing anti-Government writings abroad drew international attention, died at his home in Moscow on Friday after a stroke. He was 63 years old.

His former wife, Larisa Bogaraz, herself a Soviet dissident, said Mr. Daniel had suffered several heart attacks in June, but then seemed to improve, The Associated Press reported.

The closed trial and Mr. Daniel’s sentence of five years at forced labor came months after Nikita S. Khrushchev was ousted as Soviet leader and marked the beginning of a harsh crackdown on dissenting political views and writings. Also convicted at the trial was an associate of Mr. Daniel, the literary critic Andrei D. Sinyavsky, who was sentenced to seven years. Mr. Sinyavsky later emigrated to Paris.

Both men, who were members of the Gorky Institute of World Literature, refused to plead guilty to the charges of disseminating anti-Soviet propaganda, arguing in the four-day trial that they were motivated by artistic, not political, considerations. After the trial, they emerged as heroes for younger Soviet writers and other intellectuals. An Unorthodox Satirist

Under the pseudonym Nikolai Arzhak, Mr. Daniel, a satirist whose work was full of bizarre imagery and fantasy, smuggled some of his work abroad for seven years and had it published.

Four satirical stories were funneled to the West in the 1960’s through Kultura, a Polish emigre organization in Paris. In 1969, the satires came to the United States for the first time when E. P. Dutton published a 159-page English translation titled, ”This is Moscow Speaking and Other Stories.”

This most famous work, ”This Is Moscow Speaking,” was a short story about an officially sanctioned day of murder throughout the country on which only police officers and transportation workers were off-limits.

After the trial, some prominent Soviet intellectuals and Communist Party members around the world expressed dismay. Pravda defended the sentences, saying that the two writers had apparently failed to understand the nature of the Soviet Union’s ”socialist democracy.”

During his years in a labor camp, Mr. Daniel and five other dissident writers joined in a formal protest of the conditions.

After Mikhail S. Gorbachev lifted some artistic restrictions, some of Mr. Daniel’s work has circulated in the Soviet Union. In July, as he lay ill in a hospital, the popular weekly Ogonyok published poems Mr. Daniel had written in prison, calling them ”his first publications after a break of more than 20 years.”

Introducing the five poems, the magazine wrote: ”Yuli Daniel – prose writer and poet. Yuli Daniel – war veteran and a man of difficult fate.” Included was a poem titled ”The Ring,” in which Mr. Daniel appeared to liken his trial to a boxing match.

After Mr. Daniel was released from prison, where he lost almost all his hearing, he lived and worked in Kaluga and Moscow and stayed away from dissident activities.

Mr. Daniel is survived by his wife, Irina Uvarova; a son, Aleksandr, and a grandson, Mikhail.

People, Signs & Resistance

Linton Kwesi Johnson interviewed in 2009 for People, Signs & Resistance: On the front-line project; a participatory arts & oral history project that encouraged people to explore the heritage of Brixton, inspired by unique film footage shot between the 1960’s and 1980’s by Clovis Salmon “Sam The Wheels”, a Jamaican who arrived in London in the 1950’s.