News, by Lesley Quayle

Facebook has fake news,
The glitterati make news
And Shamima Begum wants to come home.

Education is failing,
NHS ailing
And Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Food banks are rife
And the poor have no life,
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Criminals abound
With few police to be found
But Shamima Begum just wants to come home.

Rape, assault and upskirting
Hashtag MeToo’s not working
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Fat cats just smirk
As the lowly paid work
And Shamima Begum just wants to come home.

Elites need no persuasion
To enjoy tax-evasion
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home

So fuck off Theresa and Jacob the Toff,
Nigel Farage and Boris, Call-me-Dave, just fuck off
And fuck off to Jeremy, Diane and John,
Anti-semites and Brexit, fuck off and be gone.

And fuck off Shamima, seems like you’re on your own
For Sajid the Almighty says you’re not coming home.

..

Bio:  Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prizewinning poet, editor and folk/blues singer and, along with Stella Wulf, a founder of 4Word poetry press  See 4Word.org for full details.

Poppies, by Lesley Quayle

here is the red –
of blood (obvious),
of hearts slashed open
like keening mouths,
of landscape wearing
the going down
of the sun,
here is the sap,
staunched too early
and the half opened bud,
tooth and claw (old story),
hell’s architecture
of fire
and angels burning,
embers
in never to-be-harvested fields.

..

Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prize-winning poet, currently living in Dorset. A former editor of Aireings magazine, she is now a co-founder and editor, along with Stella Wulf, of 4Word poetry press.

Me Too by Lesley Quayle

Don’t judge her,
unsheathing your sharpened knives,
all the little blades to shuck her naked as an oyster.
You’ll find no pearl, only a poison star, set like a bullet.

because the hide-and-secrets grow in the dark,
nestle in eye sockets to be closer to the brain. 

Don’t watch her,
inventing her face with a clown’s palette,
lids garish as Christmas, lips gaudy with lies –
heart skewering the tongue like bitten glass.

because the sudden tannoy in the skull
screams its announcements, rallying demons. 

Don’t follow her,
venturing closer to the edge than you have ever been
without maps or compass, ignorant of the sun’s vigil,
navigating a dark full of missed connections.

because.    the endless explanations stretch continents
and she is rowing hard away from the shores of the madwoman.

Inside Raqqa by Lesley Quayle

(after BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme)

 

My friend since boyhood, more like my brother,

said “Don’t walk home by familiar routes,

take backstreets, bombed out alleys, keep to the dark.

Shun light and open spaces. Avoid my mother’s house.”

 

I know his face so well that, when I close my eyes,

its calm companionship is fixed, aligns unsettling darks,

a gentle spirit, bright as uncut roses, a happy, smiling soul,

my friend since boyhood, more like my brother.

 

All day my curiosity burned, infatuated with questions,

with what and why till, as the sun blistered blood stained

blackened stones, I followed the smothering dusk,

mesmerised and terrified, to his mother’s house.

 

My friend since boyhood, more like my brother,

crucified, the naked, bleeding, headless corpse

stretched like a goat for skinning, haemorrhaging horror.

The street is death-shaped outside his mother’s house.

Charlie by Lesley Quayle

They snatch him from the DSS each year,

around Christmas time, when he’s in to sign his giro,

for an annual check-up, bath, delouse and shear

and fresh clothes – with his name inked-in in biro,

..

just in case he can’t remember who he is,

the system’s not designed to cope with ‘nameless’ –

or the gormless, hopeless, sad apologies

for humans, who don’t wash or brush – are shameless

..

in their relentless, endless quest for alcohol.

He dances into Waitrose unaware

of the manager and her ‘spring-fresh’ aerosol,

following as close behind him as she dares,

..

de-skunking his wake with chemical daffodils.

He checks-out at the management’s discretion,

rarely paying for his Special Brew and Pils,

stealing’s a sin, but what priest would hear his confession?

..

No redemption for his dark, satanic wheeze,

even Jesus draws the line at halitosis

which could bring celestial hosts ‘unto’ their knees

and fell Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It’s

..

criminal, his breath, but who’ll indict it?

He sleeps in the allotments by the station

and hunkers down with leeks, chrysanths and shit,

Charlie’s a stinking boil on the arse of the nation

..

lanced once a year, at Christmas, for a treat,

abducted from the dole queue, stripped, scrubbed, perfumed,

fumigated, re-clothed, hair cut neat,

then it’s back to Waitrose, sanitised and fresh groomed

..

to get himself some festive alcohol.

He sashays through the aisles feeling sublime,

wafting malathion, Dettol, mothballs, menthol,

and a ticket for the old folk’s pantomime.

..

Charlie sleeps in the allotments by the station,

and he stinks of halitosis, shit and sweat,

he’s a festering boil on the couldn’t-care-arse of the nation –

but he hasn’t died yet.

Merry Christmas Charlie.

..

Research by charities Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested “informal” methods used by councils to tackle the homeless problem had masked a 9% rise in 2013-14 to 280,000 cases.

Sixteen by Lesley Quayle

“Sixteen – homeless and hungry.”
In a shop doorway,
placard round his neck,
picketing the early shoppers,
paltry in a dirty rug,
unsmiling, a pouch of bones,
labelled in brown cardboard,
A trivia of human remains,
bagged up and dumped,
avoided like a rat corpse,
sidestepped with all the other litter
strewing damp, December streets.

Some mother’s son,
some father’s boy,
familial comfort
faded and forgotten,
bereaved of a warm lap,
nestled in an unloving cleavage
of cold brick and plate glass,
a goodnight kiss of exile.
Sunless skin, eyes tournaments,
of contempt, tongue cowed
but eloquent in cardboard.
“Sixteen – homeless and hungry.”

So British by Lesley Quayle

Sorry – you bumped into me,
tramped on my toes,
sent my mug of tea flying.

Sorry – you had to slap me,
I’m clumsy, I know it,
I’m stupid, I know it.

Sorry – I know you didn’t mean
to smash my teeth
and cut my lip, I deserved it

Sorry – my hair will grow back,
the bruises subside,
no lasting damage done.

Sorry – I know you’re sorry,
I know you love me,
I know it’s my fault.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, SORRY.

There was this knife, you see.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph by Lesley Quayle

We’ve seen it before, turned our eyes away,
neatly wrapped the anger, pent up frustration,
turned the crowd sounds low, spread our laps
with TV dinners, consumed – as all consumers must –
until our minds are swollen to the size of “God.”

We carry our candles high, light them
with rolled up fivers, dollars, euros,
a conscience new minted every time,
to shine like a candle’s flickering flame
and sicken rooms with the scent of death.

And underneath our carpets, the rape,
the bombs, the blood, the pain, the lives
unstrung, a million, million, million deaths,
the unimagined, unimaginable, spewed
from the mouth of hell. Good men and women quail.

News Item by Lesley Quayle

It was disturbing,
like sudden sweat or small, untimely spots of blood.
You wouldn’t want to meet its gaze,
but instead would lift the corner of your life
and scramble underneath to get away.

It was warped,
a decaying iris, curled in on itself,
unsexy, collapsed to a shudder.
It wasn’t even as if you could surrender reality
in an ingenious spurt, a transparent curtain
sousing the one hard eye.

It had no explanations,
just prophesies of something you couldn’t quite remember,
like the punchline of a sick, bad joke.
It occupied the moment like an uncracked code,
with its hints of xenophobia, so that you had to
keep your wits about you in case it repeated itself.

It was laddish,
loutish, had its hackles up, forced you had to tread warily,
pretending to take in the scenery as you soft-shoed it,
always watching your back in case it sprang.
Tiptoeing home to be sick as a dog,
spewing the bogus excuses straight down the toilet.

It loitered on the fringes, secretive and vengeful,
almost overlooked in the humdrum repetition of events.
It was salve to the malcontents, spoke with authority,
careful to avoid wild gestures and jingoistic clamour.
It belonged to someone else, comfortably far out –
something to do with thinking that the sun always rose in the West.

Lesley Quayle is a poet and folk/blues singer living in rural Dorset. Her chapbook “Songs For Lesser Gods” was published by erbacce press and her latest collection “Sessions” published by Indigo Dreams Press last year.

The Killer Woman by Lesley Quayle

(a ritual circumcision)

Sometimes she uses her teeth,
that old Killer Woman,
she spits out a swill of blood and flesh
and where she hawks, the vultures swarm.

I almost died,
held down by my mother,
sliced with a blood caked razor,
blood and dirt and flies,
my world a sour and stinking voyage
into pain.

She ravelled up the wound,
a torque of thorns
and laced my legs tight and still.
My tongue burst from its root,
my heart thundered like a drumskin
as I fetched up life in the slow, writhing heat.

I have run through the shifting desert,
adrift where the light is not broken ,
away from the dead-eyed Killer Woman
with her rituals of razor and teeth,
and the men of the tribe who burn for me now,
cauterized, impenetrable,

reconstructed for their particular pleasure,
and my vocation shines before me like a bright eye.

Lesley Quayle is a poet and folk/blues singer living in rural Dorset. Her chapbook “Songs For Lesser Gods” was published by erbacce press and her latest collection “Sessions” published by Indigo Dreams Press last year.

Termination by Lesley Quayle

Your father didn’t know of you.

Your mother knew,

but only the kiss inside, turned sour,

tapping her heart like a butterfly in a bell jar.

.

In your becoming – perhaps a star,

fourteen carat gold, fastest,

strongest, most accomplished,

virtuoso, peaceandgoodwillonearth –

.

perhaps night visitor, junked-up,

fucked-up, beggarmanthief –

earthmother, lover,

secondcomingmadonnawomb,

street walker, stalker,

father of the bridenevertobe,

manwiththegoldengun,

womanofsubstance –

a cure for cancer,

a cancer for

cure………

.

But your prophecy is to be scoured

from the uterus, glossy as an eye –

the djinn scooped out of the samovar,

the life-wish ungranted.

Short bio: Lesley Quayle is a poet and folk/blues singer living in rural Dorset. Her chapbook “Songs For Lesser Gods” was published by erbacce press and her latest collection “Sessions” published by Indigo Dreams Press last year.

Dublin Horses by Lesley Quayle

Because they have no other place,
the tethered horses graze among piss anointed tenements,
crop black grass shrouding martyred cars,
rasp fly twitched muscles against
overthrown shopping trolleys and orphaned prams.

Here in the tribal, high rise plains
where the world swallows children,
maggots their souls with a carnal eye,
the horses flame, burn beneath the puny sprawl of boys
like a furnace of angels.

No swan necked thoroughbreds;
couplings of the tinkers’ whiskered piebalds
and the carters’ hacks, soft and brown as stout.
The boys, gauchos of the gutter, bareback, tarmac riders,
nail the sour air with shrieks, feel the Gods at their necks
and the miraculous tug of wings on their heavy heels.

Because they have no other place,
the silent children gather, cockroaches of the stairwells,
horse riders, pumped up with serpents,
their veins boil, sucking dreams from curtained eyes.

The Meeting by Lesley Quayle

They sit behind tables,
reminiscent of school-dinner times,

except the water is Evian
and there’s a finger buffet, ‘No Smoking’ signs.

They are grey and bored,
having to be there, borrowing their bonhomie

from the corporate manual,
cautious of being caught out by easy questions;

the hard ones are pre-empted,
they have designer phrases for them.

They are tired of us before we have even started,
who think fields more important than profit,

their collective fatigue
forewarns of plans already set in concrete,

this haggling’s only a token gesture
from those averse to compromise,

their ceremonies have been held,
they already know the delicate secrets.

The strip lights drone,
conditioned air scrapes our throats
till the skins of our voices are shed
and fade like worn parchment.

Charlie. (The Waitrose Tramp) by Lesley Quayle

They snatch him from the DSS each year,
around Christmas time, when he’s in to sign his giro,
for an annual check-up, bath, delouse and shear
and fresh clothes, with his name inked-in in biro,

just in case he can’t remember who he is,
the system’s not designed to cope with ‘nameless’ –
or the gormless, hopeless, sad apologies
for humans, who don’t wash or brush – are shameless

in their relentless, endless quest for alcohol.
He dances into Waitrose unaware
of the manager and her ‘spring-fresh’ aerosol,
following as close behind him as she dares,

de-skunking his wake with chemical daffodils.
He checks-out at the management’s discretion,
rarely paying for his Special Brew and Pils,
stealing’s a sin, but what priest would hear his confession?

No redemption for his dark, satanic wheeze,
even Jesus draws the line at halitosis
which could bring celestial hosts ‘unto’ their knees
and fell Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It’s

criminal, his breath, but who’ll indict it?
He sleeps in the allotments by the station
and hunkers down with leeks, chrysanths and shit,
Charlie’s a stinking boil on the arse of the nation

lanced once a year, at Christmas, for a treat,
abducted from the dole queue, stripped, scrubbed, perfumed,
fumigated, re-clothed, hair cut neat,
then it’s back to Waitrose, sanitised and fresh groomed

to get himself some festive alcohol.
He sashays through the aisles feeling sublime,
wafting malathion, Dettol, mothballs, menthol,
and a ticket for the old folk’s pantomime.

Charlie sleeps in the allotments by the station,
and he stinks of halitosis, shit and sweat,
he’s a festering boil on the couldn’t-care-arse of the nation –
but he hasn’t died yet.
Merry Christmas Charlie.