The last post: new blog

Just to say that I have a new blog where I’ll be posting my poetry from now on. New poems that I publish in the Morning Star will now only be available at their site here.

Please update your links and bookmarks. x


Paul Taylor – Much Better

Lines taken from the Morning Star, 17 January 2012

a Romanian medical official
phrasemongering about a new form of capitalism
gave a perfect demonstration of
the Stanislavsky system of
comfortable truths
and worsening conditions

it was not all doom and gloom

campaigners welcomed the
shame-based approach to
the clarinet and the alto sax

slogging through the rice paddies
would be much better
than stoking the fires of conflict

it is not perfect.



Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor is a poet and professional musician, and is the inventor and sole purveyor of trombone poetry. This poem is a foundling and is formed of lines taken from the Morning Star on January 17 this year.

Poem at the Morning Star

Nia Davies – The Gun Public House, Docklands

The Gun Public House, Docklands

Such galvanising in those ceiling-hung cups — 
decor to smooth over tough love 
struck between suspenders, mutilated beams,

scorched smears, the ends and offcuts of bakes, 
barrels left out in the mud. How does the swerve feel 
now at the secret staircase’s upper reaches?

The lower are Thames: thick surfaces, chambers 
more collection than room, more cutlass than scuttling, 
but no mere flash in a mirror’s fish pan.

In the middle of a disembodied wharf, history 
is handcart driven, all the better for its bowels, 
previous sorrows and suspect tales.

Across the way, the ever-advertising dome,
that project/folly: land kneed perfectly 
in the ribsides to make folk live up

to nothing, from something. But in here 
they rebreathe fire and stoke the 
kitchen’s capsized engine. Let it burn.



Nia Davies

Nia Davies grew up in Sheffield and studied at the University of Sussex. She writes poetry and novels. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Wales, the Salt Book of Younger Poets and Birdbook 1 (from Sidekick books). Her pamphlet of poems, Then Spree, will be published by Salt in autumn 2012. She works for Literature Across Frontiers.

Poem at the Morning Star

Paul McGrane – Socialist Banner c1890s

Socialist Banner c1890s
William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow

On the stretched silk, a painted Bible scene
of Adam and Eve working together. 
She's spinning wool as he tills the garden.

Sewn underneath are lines of poetry 
in simple rhyme so the meaning is clear:
from equality comes joy of labour.

On the red background, in letters of gold
Socialism Fellowship Brotherhood
and at the bottom, a symbolic sun,
a golden future for the working man.

The makers of this work of art are gone. 
The message on the banner carries on. 
The current ills are coming to an end. 
What we had before, we will have again.




Paul McGrane

McGrane’s poems have been published in Aesthetica, The Delinquent, and South Bank Poetry as well as in the anthologies city lighthouse (published by tall-lightouse), Split Screen (Red Squirrel Press), The Robin Hood book (Caparison) and the upcoming 2012 Templar Poetry Anthology, Octopus. McGrane also runs Forest Poets, a writing group which has 18 new poems on display at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, until September 16. All poems, including Socialist Banner, are inspired by the life and work of William Morris and are displayed throughout the gallery. For more information visit:

Poem at the Morning Star

Ray Givans – Graffiti, River Track, Inner City

Graffiti, River Track, Inner City

Maybe you walk this river track by shallow Connswater,
snagged by aerials, steering wheel, toilet seat, 
below a pylons’ torque of metal tearing the sky,
and a brick wall weeping tar. Here I first meet you Roy,
with Marcus, Paul and Rab, misshapen and slapdash,
graffiti’s hands, squeezed between Alison and Beth.
You draw breath below circling pigeons, aircraft
shooting orange flares, homing in on Sydenham.

Across the track we meet again on a gable wall,
underlined, next to a satirist’s ‘Dump Here’,
where a Pepsi can is stranded on a Pampers nappy
and the Indian Delight has shuttered eyes
to Roy’s indelible hand daubing Geddis’ pawn shop;
stout boots jostle with gimcracks, clocks, radios.
Above, in a murky sea, the shish-shish of helicopters

Roy coils round a drainpipe on Lord Street,
past gardens blinkered with refuse and murals. 
Once more the river joins us, and here we might sit,
watch a living river leave a meandering track behind,
as glinting mallard and mute swan dream of open sea.



Ray Givans

Ray Givans was born and reared in the village of Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone. He has published four pamphlet-length poetry collections, and he was included in Artwords, an anthology of emerging or newly emerged artists and poets from Ulster. His work has been awarded prizes in Britain, the US and Australia, and he was the first recipient of the Jack Clemo Memorial prize for poetry.

Poem at the Morning Star

Fred Voss – All It Needs Is Some Grease

All It Needs Is Some Grease

After working 32 years in machine shops I find myself wishing
were like worm screws
and only needed 9 or 10 squirts of clear lube grease out of a grease gun squirted on them
to work smoothly
in machine shops suddenly out of nowhere I have seen men throw
100-pound vises
I have seen them suddenly start screaming and spit
on the man at the machine next to them
if only
men could be like machines and be calibrated to repeat
their movements day after day and year after year to within one ten thousandth of an inch
if only we could call in our maintenance man and he could fix men
with taps of his hammer
turns of his wrench
from his red long-necked oil can
if only
men didn’t go slowly mad because the man on the machine next to them 
has been whistling “Georgy Girl” off-key into their ears for 10 years
if only a new gear belt or wire or set of ball bearings
or adjustment with crowbar and screwdriver 
could set them humming smoothly again
like the head of a Bridgeport milling machine
a machine
doesn’t read religious tracts or set burning crosses on front lawns
or worry because the man on the radial drill wears a pink shirt
and might be gay
a machine doesn’t sit on a steel stool in the corner of the shop and start crying
because it can’t bear machining
one more doorknob 
a machine doesn’t need to bet on horses
or kneel down in church pews
or knock out a man’s teeth
because he stepped on its toe
or chase its wife’s lover down a sidewalk
with a baseball bat
all it needs is some grease and some oil and a concrete floor
to be happy as a clam or a red rose or Venus
shining in a pink
morning sky.



Fred Voss

Fred Voss has been a machinist for 30 years, picking up the pen and the wrench to chronicle what goes on between tin walls. He has published three books of poems with Bloodaxe, Goodstone (1991), Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls (1998) and Hammers and Hearts of the Gods (2009). His work has been featured prominently by the magazines Bete Noire in Britain and the Wormwood Review in the US. He also won the 1988 Wormwood Award. Love Birds, a collaboration with his poet wife Joan Jobe Smith, won the 1996 Chiron Prize. He lives in Long Beach, California, and works in a nearby factory.

Poem at the Morning Star

James McKay – I want to be a Penguin Modern European Poet

I want to be a Penguin Modern European Poet

I want to be a Penguin
Modern European Poet.

I will wear a communist suit
with dissident spectacles.

I will write in a language
that looks suitably attractive
and undecipherable:
my name will be genuinely
difficult to pronounce,
instead of being just
easy to pronounce wrong.

On my slim volume,
impeccably modernist,
tightly bound and
violently designed,
the negative of my face,
double exposed
in acid colours
that shine like
a day-glo star.

I want to be discovered,
bright and ageless,
in the dusty back-room
of a bookshop.
I want to be read
late at night,
a few lines at a time,
by one who hasn’t
properly realised yet
that cigarettes really
are bad for you
and coffee is best
kept for mornings.

I will write dangerous ideas
and They (and everybody else)
will think it’s just about tractors.




James McKay

James McKay started writing and performing poetry in his late 20s. He is part of the New Popular Reciter project, which involves giving epic readings of major poetic texts such as the book of Job, Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’, and Byron’s ‘Don Juan’. His first collection, Quiet Circus, is published by Vintage Poison.

Poem at the Morning Star


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