Four Poems by John Stocks


I took my imagination for a walk

Unwisely from the port, the teeming streets

Were like my head, a restless cacophony.

Poverty screamed like a coyote

Trash gathered flies where babies crawled

To play in gutters, does anybody care

For children, in this wreckage of a city?

Torn awnings flapped for five minutes of repair.

I struggled to make a connection.

The first city of civilization

Where the Pharaohs dipped its light to show

All the wonders of the age, its library

A golden beacon of enlightenment?

An Arab guy was tugging at my sleeve

Urgently, clearly frustrated with me

‘This is Alex’ he said, ‘you need a taxi’


In this city of boulevard cafes

Of trysts, casual intimacies

It is enough to sit and observe

The faces, the smooth deliquescence

With slowly evolving twilight.

To observe how the substance of life uncoils

In tiny subtle nuances, half glances

The formulae of public exposition.

The Parisian who glowers bleakly,

Self conscious, awkward with his desire

His eyes black with smouldering misogyny

As he stares at the girl, holding her cigarette

With a sneer fixed between cheeks and lipstick

Her smoke rising in Pyrrhic victory.

In Shakespeare and co I think of him,

Staring over his shoulder with cold eyed fury,

Then pretending to select some random book

Whatever he is, is what he must be

Leaving a small part of himself behind

Forever in this moment, in this city

Reflecting in his world of might have beens

On the melancholy final fuck.

The Late Night John Peel Show

We are here the boys from Sheff and Donny

From Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool,

Our futures as still and unblemished

As the veiled surface of a mill pond.

And together we will weave a long rope

To lead us from the grime and the grimness,

From the misery of our dead end towns

From the slag heaps and the stagnant canals.

We are the gifted ones, too soft for graft

Who will drift from the plains of the North

To deeper landscapes filled with poetry

And obscure Parisian psychology.

We belong in loft apartments, lecture halls,

Drinking Sauvignon Blanc in smoky cafes,

Catching late night trams from here to nowhere

With a guitar and a bottle of JD.

And soon we will make a craft of leaving;

Cruelly the families that smother us

With their hopes and well intentioned love

And the warm blanket of their kindness.

You can stare at us,

But our dreams are invisible,


Under the covers, we practise our goodbyes

With The Clash, Costello and the Jam;

As we listen

To the late night John Peel radio show.

Seven Acts of Mercy

First he will salvage the old photographs

The half lit Edwardian drawing room,

A glimpse of another dimension

Fixed smiles from sepia-tinged faces.

The Shibboleth of all desires, here

Distilled in letters, old documents

Residuals and marginalia,

The shards of benign fragmentation.

He will protect the tiny girl that died

With her daughter, haemorrhaged after birth

And the soldier on the Somme, alluding

To the consequences of indiscretions.

He will keep the prayer books from the library,

Boxes full of tissued medals, trophies,

Won on distant sun kissed playing fields,

Evocative of languid, post war ease.

And this long lost, blurred, half focused world

The loose plasticity of flowing time,

He will store in a corner of his mind

Their heart beats, their tear stained miseries.

John is a widely published and anthologised writer from the UK. Recent credits include an appearance in , ‘Soul Feathers’ a poetry anthology, alongside Maya Angelou, the English poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Bob Dylan , Len Cohen, Rimbaud and Verlaine. This anthology was the second bestselling poetry anthology in the UK in January, & is raising money for cancer care, and can be ordered online from Waterstones, UK.In March he appeared alongside an exclusive interview with Yoko Ono in BURNER magazine. He also features in ‘This island City’, the first ever poetry anthology of poetry about Portsmouth, also available from Waterstones. In 2012 John will be launching a collaborative novel, ‘Beer, Balls and the Belgian Mafia’, inspired by three of his primary interests.



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