Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 1

 
 
 
“The poetry in the book is intended to be accessible, readable, and fun. We like to think it follows on from the Madchester scene of the 1990s and it’s true that pills, thrills and kink sometimes feature. But at its heart (and I use that word advisedly) the Manchester scene is about people expressing how they live, and how they see the world. This is when poetry is most successful and charming.”
  
– Keir Thomas, Co-editor
  
 
*
 
 
Queer Thanksgiving (With Special Thanks
to William S. Burroughs)
Rosie Lugosi
 
Thank you for history.
For Queen Victoria and half of us wiped from existence.
Mary Whitehouse and jail-term blasphemy.
James Anderton and the swirling cesspits of our own making.
 
Thank you for religion.
For Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Buddhism, Scientology, Mormons;
For all those who use their God’s laws to hate.
Thank you for Praise God for Aids banners.
For Gay Plague.
 
Thank you for politicians.
Especially Margaret Thatcher and Section 28,
and all those who shied away from its repeal.
Thank you for Communism:
for we are bourgeois revisionist deviant scum.
Thank you for Facism:
for we are pinko commie weirdo deviant scum.
Thank you for scum.
 
Thank you for psychology:
She must have been abused;
Too close to his mother;
It’s the parents’ fault;

Must have had a bad time with a man.
It’s just not natural.
They shouldn’t work with children.
They can choose.
 
Thank you for vocabulary:
for shirt-lifter, fudge-packer, shit-stabber,
bull-dyke, faggot, fruit, lezzie,
rug-muncher, turd-burglar,
bumboy, poofter, willy woofter,
pervert, predator, queer,
for Too ugly to get a man,
what she needs is a real one,
unnatural, diesel, man-hater, deviant, paedo.
Thank you for giving us two choices:
camp queen or butch lezzer.
 
Thank you for It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
For Are you Arthur or Martha?
Thank you for the obsession with what we do in bed.
For top-shelf hot girl-on-girl action porn.
 
Thank you for telling us it would all be so much easier
if we just kept things quiet. Didn’t scare the horses.
Stayed in the closet.
 
Thank you for burning us at the stake
Declaring us illegal, breaking us with hard labour.
Thank you for the Pink Triangle.
Thank you for beheading us in Saudi,
hanging us in Iran,
forcing us into marriages we don’t want
in Islamabad and Burnley.
For bombing our pubs,
knifing us on Clapham Common.
For grinding us into the tarmac
of the world’s school playgrounds.
 
Thank you for trying to douse our pride.
For giving us crumbs, for making us grateful.
For persuading those of us who are white and rich
that the battles have all been won.
Thank you for never going away.
Thank you for making us strong.
Thank you for our history.
 
We are writing our own future.
Thank you for keeping us on our toes.
 
 
*
 
 
Why Guns Will Never Be Legal in England
(For Billy Collins)
Andrew Oldham

 
Every time the sun is out
My neighbour has a barbeque
And invites all his family
 
They are loud
 
I try to drown them out by singing
My wife sings and the dog we never bought, sings
And the neighbours join in with tubas
 
They are louder
 
I go outside to the bottom of the garden
But I smell the burgers on the grill
Hear the yells and arguments amongst the onions
 
Louder still until they vibrate and
 
Everyone in my neighbour’s garden splits
Like amoebae, identical division that speeds up
Two, four, eight, sixteen men flipping burgers
 
Louder still amongst the smoke
 
Two, four, eight, sixteen women screeching
Keep out of the road, get off that wall, don’t do that
Their growth pushes down the garden fence
 
Louder still they move in
 
They now have barbeques in my cupboards
Divide in my bathroom and bung up plug holes
And sit on the dog we never bought
 
Louder still in the kitchen amongst the pans
 
Their children divide in our drainpipes
The continuous barbeque smoke drives out the spiders
In the end we move out and leave no forwarding address
 
 
*
 
 
Back Piccadilly
Ian Howells

 
There are old men whose faces are reddened by booze,
Playing a game that they’re destined to lose,
Living a lifestyle that no one would choose,
On the streets round the station near midnight
 
Where the girls from the East sell themselves on the street,
Flogging their bodies like pieces of meat,
They’ll fuck, wank and suck on a semen-stained sheet,
On the streets round the station near midnight
 
Near the broken-down warehouse with chains on the doors,
There are young men who fight as they eye up the whores,
Their blood wets the pavement as they settle scores,
On the streets round the station near midnight,
 
In a phone box a girl who might once have had charm,
Stares into my eyes with a look of alarm,
Then relaxes and fixes a spike in her arm,
On the streets round the station near midnight
 
I look out of my window through sunshine and glare,
At the guy on the steps with the White Lightning stare,
And the comforting bottle, and I know he’ll be there,
As the hour hand ticks back round to midnight
 
 
*
 
 
Winfield Ruled
Julia Deakin

 
Between WE ARE CLOSING and WE ARE CLOSED
we press cold noses to the glass, sniffing at the past.
This paper white-out draws us in a way that lately
double doors and all that red and white busyness did not.
 
Inside stands a four year-old with sixpence among trays
of cut-throat Christmas baubles, notepads and Tiny Tears.
Down the street she’s not keeping up with Dad’s answer
to how can such big blocks of chocolate be so cheap?

There’s my grammar-school friend Frances enthroned
at her Saturday job till in Piccadilly Gardens, Europe’s largest
Woolworths, saying she’ll leave us soon to work there full time.
There! By the steps where half Manchester first kissed –
 
and where later Evening News photographers caught limbs
flailing between smoke and window grills.
Foam-filled furniture, pre-sprinkler valves, the killer.
Ten people and an era dead.
 
Then me again, queuing with my last ever Woolies purchase
and – as lavatory brushes aren’t things you hold for long –
smalltalking with the next woman, also buying one.
Great minds think alike the opener, no doubt.
 
We stood about where on the lanes of dull wood laminate
those dusty racks now wait between a pair of captive staff,
one phoning someone, while behind her two Coca-Cola logos
tangle over bare chiller cabinets, like graveyard worms.
 
 
*
 
 
Penelope
Cheryl Pearson

 
Dignified, you weave your decadent shroud,
embroidering each stitch with queenly calm.
You will not be touched; each new Prince or King
is warned. Leave her be. You must let her grieve
first. Let her finish weaving. Let her thread
spell out her sadness – ring her hand with gold
 
after
. You know full well they want your gold,
your breasts in either hand, your crown. The shroud,
if all goes well, will best their greed; the thread
you stitch so tight by day unpicked by calm,
determined hands each night. And so you grieve,
grieve, braiding out your sorrow for the King
 
your heart is slyly sure still lives, the King
ingested years ago by the warm, gold
mouth of the horizon. How long you grieve
in peace depends on your performance: shroud
your cunning, keep your head, think only calm
thoughts. Steady any trembles with your thread.
 
You keep a little of each scene you thread
to hush the queries you pre-empt: the King
has been gone how long? Still she sews?
Bent, calm
at your work, the patterns gild your knee, gold
lattice, lace, gilt tapestry – all shroud
the anxious tapping of your feet. You’d grieve
 
for years, but fear you lack the nerve to grieve
forever. They drink your husband’s wine, thread
his gems at their throats, claim the beds and shroud
their shoulders in his furs. When I am King
you hear their boasts and dream of murder. Gold
blade through the breast. Death in short order. Calm
 
in the palace … No. Breathe. Will yourself calm.
Your husband will return and they will grieve
each slur, each smutty look, each joke. The gold
band of your wedding ring gleams as you thread.
Turned to pig by witch, ash by death … no King
of yours would go so readily. The shroud
 
unfolds in your calm, capable hands. Thread
picked. Stitched. Picked. Stitched. I will not grieve. My King
is not dead.
Gold eyes fixed fast on the shroud.
 
 
*
 
from Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 1 (Puppywolf, 2010)
 
Order Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 1.
 
Read about Puppywolf.

4 thoughts on “Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 1

  1. Pingback: Best of Manchester Poets, Vol 1 | Andrew Oldham

  2. angela topping

    I am in this as well, it’s a smashing mixture of alll different sorts of poetry.

  3. Michelle Post author

    Hi Angela and Linda, congratulations on the publication of ‘Nights in the Old City’ and ‘Find a Solution’.

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