Category Archives: Poetry



"Jitterbugging in juke joint, Saturday evening, outside Clarksdale, Mississippi, 1939." Wikipedia article on jitterbug.

Bibby can’ boogie
but ya Babba can
so if you boogie, baby,
it bedda be with Gran.

Daddy can’ dance
but ya Mammy can
so when it come to dancin’
take Mammy by the han’.

Sister does the jitterbug
but ya brother don’.
Sweet baby, if you jitterbug,
don’ jitterbug alone.

So when you grows up, baby,
make sure you matrimone
with a jitterbuggyboogie
dishy dancin’ man.


The Guardian, 7 January 2021: "Robot wars: 100 years on, it's time to reboot Karel Čapek's RUR." Photograph: Dea Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images.






The Tom Maior samba school. Photograph: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images. The Guardian, 12 February 2018: "Spirit of samba: the best of Rio and Sao Paulo carnivals in pictures"

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends

like a feather
floating on thin air,
and dying
when the wind’s not there.

Carnival illusion,
happiness of the poor
who work all year
for a fleeting dream
of fancy dress
as pirate king or flower queen,
ending on Wednesday.

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends

like a drop of petal dew
which glistens when
it feels the oscillation of the stem
before, love’s tear,
it falls on cue.

Happiness is such a sweet
and delicate thing.
Flowers and kisses,
humming-bird wings,
an airy aquarelle
in blue, yellow and green.
Happiness being all the above,
I always treat her well.

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends.

My happiness is dreaming
in my darling’s eyes
like the dawn that’s gleaming
beneath the deep-black sky.
A gentle kiss
so my love may wake
to happiness today.


Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a pluma
Que o vento vai levando pelo ar
Voa tão leve
Mas tem a vida breve
Precisa que haja vento sem parar

A felicidade do pobre parece
A grande ilusão do carnaval
A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
Por um momento de sonho
Pra fazer a fantasia
De rei ou de pirata ou jardineira
Pra tudo se acabar na quarta-feira

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a gota
De orvalho numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranqüila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor

A felicidade é uma coisa boa
E tão delicada também
Tem flores e amores
De todas as cores
Tem ninhos de passarinhos
Tudo de bom ela tem
E é por ela ser assim tão delicada
Que eu trato dela sempre muito bem

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A minha felicidade está sonhando
Nos olhos da minha namorada
É como esta noite, passando, passando
Em busca da madrugada
Falem baixo, por favor
Pra que ela acorde alegre com o dia
Oferecendo beijos de amor


(with apologies)

BBC, 2019: "Roadside litter: Law change could see car owners fined"

Why don’t we throw it in the road? (x4)
No one will be watching us.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?

Why don’t we throw it in the road? (x4)
Someone will clean after us.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?

Why don’t we throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it, throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it in the road?
We don’t really give a toss.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?


According to Zeno
movement’s an illusion,

to get from A to B
you’ve first to go half way
and to get half way
you’ve first to go half way to half way
and to get half way to half way
you’ve first to go half way
to half way to half way
etcetera to infinity.

Therefore Zeno’s stylus never moved
and this poetic proof has no beginning
and no end.

Smithsonian Magazine, 2013: "These Patterns Move, But It’s All an Illusion"


Went to a wedding feast in Liverpool
and things were going fine
when I heard the MC mutter
Christ! There’s no more feckin’ wine!

Now I can’t condone bad language
or taking mi name in vain
though if I weren’t the Son of God
I might’ve said the same.

Mi mum, she heard it also
and leant across to me,
saying, There seems to be a problem.
Why doncha go and see?

Now I love mi mother dearly
but it were neither place nor time
so I just replied demurely
Tain’ no concern of mine.

But no mother’s as formidabla
as my formidabla mum:
she just called a waiter over
and said Listen to mi son.

Now I love mi mother dearly
so when she says things twice to me
I always think that really
I’d best not disagree.

So I says to that there waiter
Ya see them great big jars?
Fill ’em right up with water
and take a little glass

over to yer gaffer
before he has a fit.
I’m sure he’ll feel much better
when he’s drunk a little bit.

Which when they’d done, yer man exclaimed
Jeez! They’ve kept the best till last!
Sorted, lads and lasses!
We’ll be round to fill yer glass.

Now I really, really can’t accept
(being God’s only son)
bad language or drinking to excess
within the normal run

but when it comes to wedding feasts
why can’t folk have some fun?
(You needn’t take my word for it:
just go and ask mi mum.)

So, in the end the wedding feast
could not have been much better
and it made me glad that as well as God
I’m a living breathing fella.

Well, that were my first miracle
done before the proper time
by putting a spell on water
and turning it to wine.

Scaus Deo


• • •

Henry VIII,
Defender of the Faith,
believed the biggest problem in his life
was whoever happened to be his wife.

the Corsican
to whom much of European jurisprudence

is beholden,

but I’m with Beethoven.

Adolf Hitler:
a former führer
who failed a bit at painting pics
and then – big time – at politics.

Stalin, aka Uncle Joe,
is still admired in Russia, even though
in historians’ opinion
he murdered more or less nine million.

Benito Mussolini,
Il Duce of Italy,
was fond of being fascist for effect.
Perhaps too much, in retrospect.

Chairman Mao
is still revered in China now,
not so much for all the lives he took
but rather for his little little-read red book.

Augusto Pinochet,
el dictador de Chile,
turned Chile into hell.
May Hell be chilly for him now as well.

Fidel Castro:
a maestro
at giving very very very very very

very very very very long speeches

while Cuba fell to pieces.

Pol Pot
was criticised quite a lot
for deviating from orthodox Marxism-Leninism.
(He killed about two million.)

Nicolae Ceaușescu
was lionised by leaders in the West
who admired his opposition

to the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

It didn’t make Romanians any happier.

Ayatollah Khomeini:
an Iranian theocrat known mainly
for looking sour, overthrowing the Shah
and having a thing about fatwa.

Robert Mugabe
loved any political party
as long as the party celebree
was he.

Saddam Hussein
had an awfully bad name
for human rights abuses, genocide, corruption
and for his missing weapons of mass destruction.

Colonel Gaddafi
thought himself savvy,
but read his Green Book
and you’ll think him mistook.

Idi Amin
was keen to be seen
as Uganda’s Great Dictator. A fruitcake
who became a fruitarian later.

Karadžić, Radovan:
an ethnic-cleansing fan
with a propensity for epic poetry

Goodluck Jonathan,
one-time No. 1 Nigerian,
could hardly believe

his nominally determinative luck:

president! and unassailably corrupt!

Osama bin Laden
never lived in Arden
where he might have found the everyday life

of country folk more fulfilling

than everyday killing.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,
the Caliphate’s Big Daddy,
believed that doing wrong is right,
the little shite.

Abubakar Shakau of Boko Haram
dedicated his life to causing harm.
After many false reports that he had died,
good news! He did.

Jacob Zuma
was not in good humour
when charged with

house-embellishment corruption.

It was all a misconstruction!

Jinping, Xi,
very powerful he
and much loved by every Chinese who
know much loving, that the safest thing to do.

Bashar Al-Assad,
really shouldn’t look so sad:
although so many Syrians are dead

or have fled to the exterior

he’s still the President of Syria!

Kim Jong-Un,
a rotund wrong’un,
who’s ruled with iron rod
ever since his Korea adviser said,

Why not have a go at being God?

Mohammed bin Salman,
ruler of the Saud Clan,
has relaxed the code for women’s dress,
but torture, jailing and murder

remain his major interest.

Jair Bolsonaro,
presidente brasileiro
and self-styled anti-democratic he-man hero.
A genocidal zero.

Donald Trump
got the hump,
being the quondam megalomaga win-win

mafia boss

who lost.

Vladimir Putin
is always a shoo-in
whenever, as Russia’s democratically elected

great dictator,

he’s on the ballot paper.

Alexander Lukashenko
acts the hard man, though
it doesn’t really cut it:
he’s Putin’s puppet.

Narendra Modi
has a tried and tested modus operandi:
1: stir up hatred of minority.
2: maintain your majority!

Viktor Orbán,
Hungary’s main man:
once a democrat, now –

Enough of that! –

an autocrat.

The Taliban,
victors in Afghanistan,
like repressing girls and women.
High time women did the winning!

Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia
had seemed a herald of utopia
until his Ethiopian epiphany went amiss.
It’s now an Abyssinian abyss.

Daniel Ortega
of Nicaragua:
a fighter against tyranny.
Now a tyrant, ironically.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson,
would-be World King at Eton,
was forced to restrict his ambition
to fucking up Britain.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,

et in saecula saeculorum. Ah, men.


You might not like this
but you have to like dislike
of short duration

A short poem a day
keeps the temptation to write
longer poems at bay.

A haiku is ars
brevis that aspires, like you,
to vita longa.

No need to be koi.
Carpe diem, no matter
what your element

Carpe diem: Glasgow Botanical Gardens, September 2015

Mini-minor good,
better than any make of
maxi-major bad.

The Guardian: "The new Morris Mini-Minor: a family car for £500 - archive, 1959"

Only one way in,
one out. Amazinoutly


A traffic cone sits
on the head of our hero.
Glasgow smiles better.

The Guardian, 12 November 2013: "Glasgow council kills plan to prevent traffic cones on monument's head." Photograph: Garry F McHarg FOCAL Scotland.

Dropped capitals: chic

in monastic manuscripts.

Not always elsewhere.

Two of Coventry's famous three spires, seen from my house, 2016

Coventry’s three spires
were seen from all sides. Alas!
all seeing has expired.

No spires seen from my house, 2020.

(19th April)

It’s Gini’s birthday
today. Time to celebrate
a genuine ginius.


Allotments are more
than war on weeds: peace and love,
and lovage and peas.

"The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future." George Monbiot, the Guardian, 7 May 2022

In the beginning
was the wordle, but wordle
couldn’t be the word.

Did it just happen
for the laughs: half of the world
ruled by psychopaths?

Porridge is poetry
with whiskey butter. The proof
is in the porridge.

Overnight steel-cut oats with whiskey butter

GHOST TRAIN, Birmingham New Street Station, October 2017

At New Street last night
I saw the ghost pass me by
of the late last train.

If you’re nice, the train
at Platform 5 will take you
straight to Paradise.

See Naples and die
or see Little Eccleston-
with-Larbreck and live.

Cartford Bridge

It’s not rocket science
but it is the new normal,
i.e., it’s a cliché.

Escherlators are
escalators that only
seemingly escalate.

M C Escher, "Ascending and Descending," March 1960, lithograph.

Piet Mondrian disliked green,
but whether that was mutual
remains to be seen.

Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43,Oil on Canvas, cm. 127 x 127 (50" x 50"), MoMA, NYC, USA

The Christian Alt-Right
is the religion that’s right
for oxymorons.

The Guardian, January 2022: "The backlash against rightwing evangelicals is reshaping American politics and faith"

Alas, Alaska!
Que será, à la Palin,
means baked Alaska.

BBC, Good Food

Seventy-six and
never been in a mosh pit.
Should I regret it?

(9 May 2022)

A prayer for Putin’s
May parade: May it rain, may
it rain, may it rain.


From piano-forte
to pianissimo, impro
has it all to play.

Your Royal Highnesses
and every aristocrat, pray
be off and don’t come back!

A republic means
a country that does without
crowned unachievements.

Turkeys, vote en masse
for Benjamin Zephaniah!
Don’t vote for Christmas.

Humanity and
humaneness: hopelessfully

Hey Joe, where you going
as eponymous hero
of that hateful song?

Initial ID
isn’t the real entity
of identity.

Be true to yourself.
That is, if you remember
which self is your self.

Whether you travel
near or far, it’s not easy
to arrive at who you are.


Paul McCartney, 80,
Glastonbury. Still rocking that
long and winding roll.

If you have a look
at Led by Donkeys, you’ll see
we’re led by donkeys.

The dead don’t come back.
The living don’t want to leave.
Brexit’s total crap.

Paz em três linguas.
Síocháin i dtrí theanga. Mír
ve třech jazycích.

Would you have others
do unto you, sisters, brothers,
as you do unto them?

plus imperfectionism
makes humanism.

I wandered lonely
as a cloud that floats on high
over No Entry signs.

The Guardian, 18 April 2019: "So 1% of the people own half of England. Inheritance tax reform could fix that." Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Half of England owned
by one percent is serfdom
in a change of clothes.

The Guardian, 17 April 2019: "Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population." Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sod the effing bastards!
(Unpoetic language is fine
if kept to one line.)

Does, mirror, mirror,
on the wall, Mandela Effect
affect you at all?

Imitation is
the sincerest flattery.
Theft the insincerest.

Indefinite a
and most definitely the
shouldn’t end like that.

Please bring some apples
up the pears, if you’re coming down
the pears and apples.

Being invisible
shouldn’t mean you can’t be heard,
just you can’t be

As mighty oak trees grow
from little acorns, just so
plant little poet trees.

A part of our world,
our galaxy and universe.
Unique. You and me.

Just be the best you are,
dear friend, not the worst you’re not,
and let the rest rest.

Says Mr Putin,
Don’t be good. If I could be
more evil, I would.

As if people don’t
have plenty problems without
problems like Putin.

Seven, eight, nine, ten,
eleven. Evil bastards
don’t go to heaven.


Tories are revolt
ing. Boris Johnson’s revolt
ing. Let’s all revolt!

Political poems
can be too polemical.
Peace is poetical.

 Steve Bray Activist Against Brexit + Corrupt Tories

Poems won’t stop a war.
Perhaps that’s not what they’re for.
Here’s a curse instead:

Does it not offend
common sense, not amending
a mad amendment?
The Taliban ban
women from doing what men can.
Ban the Taliban!
Even the erudite
can confuse what’s eruright
with what’s eruwrong.
Live in the mo… Woops!
Live… Woops! Or just keep living
in the past… Perfect!

Précis: precisely
saying what was said, but less
not more. Precisely!

Is thought inferior
to not thinking? That’s something
one might think about.

Money makes the world
go round, whereupon the rich
round it up, not down.

Yeats keeps arising
and going, going but never gone
along to Innisfree.

Subway symphonics:
drums, tuba, trumpet, trombone.
Oh! and saxophones.

Woke up this morning,
got them city blues. Last night,
two nil united.

It seems unlikely
the extremely unctious would be in need
of extreme unction.

Veritas vincit.
Vincit veritas. Looked at
front or back, truth wins.

Charity may be
the best of the three, but hope
is the last to leave.

(June, 2022)

into Capitol attack
tells us truth trumps Trump.

CNN, 13 June 2022: "Jan. 6 committee holds second hearing." Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Nudging native tongues
to linguacide is soft and
silent genocide.

The Guardian, 4 February 2010: "Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies."

The Land of the Free:
a euphemia where people
get shot frequently.

Willard power puts camels through
the eye of a needle.

Owning a joke shop
is no laughing matter: it’s
the way they sell them.

If there is a god,
you’d hope that he or she would be
holy pronoun-free.
Little Bo Peep’s sheep!
Lost!… Leave them alone! Wagging,
tails have happy endings.

Hey diddle diddle,
cat cow little dog fiddle.
Dish spoon skedaddle.

Miss Muffet. Tuffet,
curds, whey. Spider beside her!
Muffet sped away.
Little Jack Horner,
corner, Christmas pie, thumb, plum,
self-praise. Rum-ti-tum.

Humpty Dumpty. Wall.
Fall! King’s cavalry. First aid.
Alas! Too ovulate.

Old lady swallowed
fly spider bird cat dog goat
cow horse. Dead? Of course.

Grand Old Duke of York.
Ten thousand men. Up. Down. Up
up. Down down… Dope.

Down the woods today?
Surprise! There’s a picnic there
for teddy bears. Yay!

Go n-éirí an bóthar
leat, is go mbeadh do shaol lán
le áthas agus craic.

May the road rise up
to meet you, and your life be full
of Hibernian fun.

Artworks by me: GO N-ÉIRÍ AN BÓTHAR LEAT │ 2021 │ 61 cm diameter │Acrylics

After poetry, there’s
doggerel, caterwaul and –
begad! – bugger all.

Live life like a poem.
No matter the adversity,
try to make it rhyme.

Heart failure is bad
but still not half so bad as
failure of the soul.

I’m dead, I think, though
according to R Descartes,
erm, therefore I aren’t.

Widewalls, 4 August 2019: "Breaking Down the Concept Behind Damien Hirst's Shark." Image: Damien Hirst - The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1990.

Unpublished alive,
perhaps I’ll get published when
I’m on the other side.
Alive but dying. Dead
but not quite. Trying to buy time
to rhyme the last bend.
I hope this won’t be
a Clive-James-style, long-goodbye
long goodbye. Goodbye!
Written to distract
from the pain: this pain-and-think,
no-pain-no-gain poem.
Going down fast. Tell me,
tell me, please tell me the answer!
Coz this time’s the last.

Spring summer autumn
winter. Birth adolescence
adulthood death. Spring

Et in saecula
saeculorum orum or
um orum. Amen.

Horror without end
is even worse than an end
with horror. The End.

About Poets: EMILY BERRY