where once there was grass, by Martin Hayes

the yellow and green of the ambulance
used to be all white
with just one single blue light
on the top of it

the boys used to swedge a little in the parks
fisticuffs and a boot in the guts
nay saying that’s right
but at least they used to go to bed of a night
and were just about able
to rise up again next day
drink R Whites
and pull on a pair of Fila’s

the bobbies uniforms
used to be a slightly lighter
shade of blue
but they never used to wear
the armour
the Magnum side-zipped Panther boots
the steel extendable baton
the breast camera and pepper spray
the stab vests and Batman belts

the blue and white cordoning off tape
used to be yellow and black
and when you saw it
it was like this great thing had happened
that drew you in like a magnet
but now
when you see the blue and white tape
being hung around our children’s necks
and again
and again
you just swerve it
cross to the other side of the road
avoiding it like an annoying neighbour
so your heart doesn’t have to drop
and splinter
a little bit more

things change
progress deems it so
a plastic society fed plastic dreams
gets dislocated
and dislocated
until it hangs like a useless leg
that no one can feel
or wants to be a part of

until a girl can’t even sit in a park
without fear of getting stabbed
until lives
keep disappearing
up into the air like smoke
and you can’t stop asking yourself
who can put these vicious fires out
where once there was grass?

a brief reflection on the disease known as Brexit, by Martin Hayes

28 cows in a field
in which 1 of the cows has contracted
multiple cell dysfunction order.

Like what can happen in a failed experiment.

Like what can happen to anything
caught on the sticky peripheries
of a spider web.

Like what can happen in a disconnected blender
that comes alive while your fingers are still inside
trying to clean away the unwanted pulp
from its rotors.

Or when you run your finger hard
over a cracked mirror
above an old milk bottle;
the hordes of bacteria having gathered
at the summit of the congealed shoulder-blade-shape of what’s left
charging, blood-stained now
up and down the shallows of the host’s spinal fluid,
the network of significant afterthoughts
and hindsights,
confused as a rat in an upturned bucket.

The signs of this cellular dysfunction are:
a little blood appearing at the nostrils
on a warm August evening
while watching paint dry,
weeping sores
appearing on the outsides of both sexes’ reproductive organs
like used stamps stuck down again
with a lost generation of pus,
a tsetse settling on the frothy tip of a tornado-swirl
in the centre of a cup of tea
seconds after it has finished being stirred,
the unpredictable dislocations of hitherto needed utensils
such as toes, fingers and the intellect
so that they dangle uselessly from their owner’s bodies
while standing in a queue in a busy supermarket
and the sudden unannounced popping out of eyes
from the warm beds of their sockets
like a leg or foot dangling out of a duvet on a cold night
about to be mauled or bitten off
by the conjuring of the imagination.

And the final prognosis is:
this upsurge in white blood cells
stimulated by the Munchausen by Proxy infection
will further prolong the inevitable
by trying to protect the dead host
from dying even further.

notes on why IANASP is a Godless area after accusations that the editor is a fascist, by Martin Hayes


you are not allowed in here –
these walls are not to be disfigured
by your muskets and cluster bombs,
and even if you were
that all-seeing judgemental eye of yours
would need to be left at the door,
scooped out of that gun turret
you keep in the center of your head,
and you’d need to wipe those feet of yours too
because the blood on your soles stink,
and while you’re at it
you’ll be asked to give your fingernails a clean
of the ribbons of flesh you have massed,
and you’ll also have to give that mouth a rinse
as we can’t understand you –
those bones and severed heads stuck in the back of your throat
make it impossible to translate what you say

what’s that? poor? the poor…?
no? oh, war – I should’ve fucking guessed

I tell you what
just don’t bother
get your boots back on
and fuck off back to heaven
we’re trying to get this hell you’ve created
in some kind of

 order here.


Note from the editor:

After I said that neither I am not a silent poet nor its associated Facebook page would accept work which extolled the virtues of one religion over those of any other, someone (not a member) accused me of being a fascist. Personally, I thought this was rather funny and paid no more attention, but I’m glad Martin was able to find inspiration from it.


five members of staff, by Martin Hayes

after the recent culling of staff
due to a sudden drop in revenue from the loss of a few big accounts
the Board of Directors asked the supervisors to report
on why the service levels have gone down
from 89% to 83%

the supervisors are unsure what to do
as though it was the Board of Directors who ultimately made the decision
on who had to go
it was the supervisors who allowed it to happen
without saying anything about the potential threat to the service levels
for fear of being marked out
as a troublemaker

and now we are here
and the supervisors will not have the guts to tell to the Board of Directors
that the drop in service levels is because we have five less staff now
it will be far easier for them to lay the blame at the controllers who are left
who they will say have underperformed
because then the directors will be able to
shake free their dragon wings
and breathe fire down onto the boardroom table
before advising HR to put the controllers left
under ‘a little bit of pressure’
and tut-tutting at the supervisors
for letting this happen
while they go about
fixing it

which, by the way
will require five new members of staff

bullets not poems, by Martin Hayes

bullets not poems
change the world
progress not hands
equals nil by mouth
dust not water
creates the thirst
chains not choice
carves the vote
call centers not industry
stallions not mules
death not life
one thousand pounds of pressure per square inch
pressed against the brain for one second longer than can be tolerated
can cause a person to snap
tare out their eyes
with just the use of their hands
and an ice cream scoop

ideas not sweat
crawls the land
strategies not jobs
destroys the community
money not hearts
breaks the will
service not making
celebrities not carpenters
comas not dreams
a clamp tightened against the temples for one second longer than can be tolerated
can make a person uncap their head
remove the things

causing them all of this pain
with just the use of their cupped hands
and an old tin bucket
to chuck them in

as we all skip merrily along
having removed everything from inside our heads
without a care in the world

the blood and smiles yet to be delivered into this world, by Martin Hayes

we move the beds of shut down hospital wards that our grandparents laid in to die
we carry the blood of children still open on operating tables
from blood banks to theatres
just to see if they will live
we pack transit vans full of cakes
and take them to weddings where daughters will be given away to men
we pick up contracts from big lawyers and deliver them to CEOs who work from home
so that they can proofread them and sign off the building of a dam
that will shut down a river and turn villages into dust
we tap away at keypads all day sending instructions to couriers
to drive their big vans to bankrupt companies
so that they can empty them of the desks and chairs that workers once sat in
earning just enough money to feed their families and pay their rent
we pick up artificial limbs from factories and deliver them to hospitals
so that men who lost a leg in a war 5,000 miles away
can learn to walk again
we place couriers outside big banks at 2 am
in case the money markets in countries far away take a dive or soar into the sky
we pick up hearts at road traffic accidents
and rush them off to clinics
so that they can be frozen before they stop beating
we put barrels of ink into the backs of vans
and deliver them to printers in Truro and Dunfermline
so that they can print eviction notices and final demand notices we move
dead people’s bodies
after they have been stripped of their organs
and sewed back up as a mark of respect we pick up
projectors screens whiteboards brochures lecterns
and deliver them to conference rooms in hotels
so that a man from one of the big banks can stand in front of 200 people
and explain to them why more and more acquisitions and the swallowing up of jobs
is the best way to grow and thread a corporation through with steel and strength

and when our shifts have finished
we go home to play with our daughters and sons picking up plastic teapots
pouring imaginary tea into plastic cups while sat at imaginary tea parties we make
big engine noises come out of our throats as we help them steer their toy trucks
to the piles of wooden blocks
that they load onto those trucks and steer back across to the other side of the room
where they unload them and announce to their world that “everything has been delivered”
where we pick up bottles of wine after they have gone to bed
and sit at a window wondering about the industries of men
and the blood and smiles that are still yet to be delivered into this world
whether or not they will be the ones
to write that song or poem start
the revolution
that will change everything

we help these corporations exist as our 83-year-old mothers remain in pain by Martin Hayes

we help these corporations exist by making sure
that the documents of the various deals and contracts they have going on
arrive on time

we help these corporations exist
as we work through toothache
work through hangovers
pumping away at our keypads
so that the documents they send out
get there on time
and the contracts they need
can be proofread
before being sent back
to be signed

we are told by our supervisors
that these corporations spend enough money on couriers in one month
to make all of our jobs

we help these corporations exist
as our 83-year-old mothers have to fill out 28-page forms
to see if they qualify for meals on wheels
as our 83-year-old mothers
who held down jobs for over 60 years
shit themselves on their own because the home help has been stopped
and they are too embarrassed to call a family member in to help
as our 83-year-old mothers sit in homes unable to move or pick up their grandchildren
because they have been refused an operation
to alleviate their chronic arthritis
by a government
who has received millions of pounds
from these same corporations
that we slog our guts out for each day
helping to get their documents and contracts delivered
so that they can remain healthy
and strong

job killer – or notes on our CEO after laying off 2 more men by Martin Hayes

cement-hearted destroyer, gambolling around the office like a killer in a tie. your interactions smell, they even feel fake. false laughter stuck in a throat pulled out from a crack momentarily ajar, that craggy-walled bottomless pit of you, the bones and torn flesh of our previous brothers now made into ladders by the newly despatched, nailed to the insides of your throat, with their teeth, their toes, driven in with a splintered shin-bone, trying
to ascend back up into the light.
but there is no returning after being swallowed by you.
cement-hearted destroyer, counter of souls, you lick smiles clean away, idling
as you dangle out of your wife, thinking of money, thinking of death – death-money! – killing for money gets you horny like a rapist with his hands around a young woman’s throat –
you do it so often you think you can’t be caught, netted-up, in a market square, a great beast brought back from Africa, for us all to gawk at, prod, illicit revenge.
not in this coliseum of yours, where the rules weight the fixture, sprain the ankles and wrists of challengers with no choice but to duel your champion in HR, your bitches in bear-skins and beards, ready to chuck mother off a cliff for you, as long as they remain untouched, by your breath, your death-rattle, your appetite for carrion and a green-back!
I will end up in your pit of bones too, under the feathers and filth of your sequencing:
life-life death, life-life death, life-life death, your uneven heartbeat echoes in the ears, a countdown towards something exciting you. you know…? another one laying in their bed
unsuspecting your black-clot drop of poison, a bud of oil squeezed out of the anus of a rotten heart,
let free into your system,
sparking lust and a dry mouth.
it never ends, this longing, the system you are a filament of, it demands constant attribution,
of new flesh, more money, the two linked to drive home the root-red-stopper of your lust, caught glimpses of your come-face, satisfying silently your inner lack, licking paws and wiping your mouth of all the blood you have tipped out onto the streets, the only impulse you suckle.

one block of council flats left by Martin Hayes

just one block of council flats remains in this area
where we work our magic
allocating out jobs to couriers
so that multinationals and £500 an hour law firms
and hedge fund managers who look after billions of pounds
can remain healthy and strong
making more money in one hour
than all the tenants of this last block of council flats left
will make in their lifetimes
put together

just one ugly block of brick and red cladding council flats still stands
amongst all of the million-pound lofts and chrome and smoked-glass luxury flats
that have sprung up in this area over the last 8 years just one
block with 42 flats
where couriers and mechanics and schoolteachers and bus drivers
and nurses and firemen and waitresses can still safely keep
a roof over their families’ heads where they can
still wash and cook and put their children into a bed
and get them up to go into a school this one block of flats left
sat there like a rotten tooth in a row of perfect molars
housing these workers
enabling them to keep their dignity and love as millionaire footballers
move in next door as seven-figure-waged bankers buy whole floors      
just so they can have somewhere to stay while in London
as people in the media hire cranes
to lift £30,000 pieces of furniture into their lofts as
politicians and councillors plot
how best they can make this last ugly block of council flats
along with its infections

fuck off darlings by Martin Hayes

fuck off with your award-winning
fuck off with your writer groups
fuck off with your plastic covers of books that contain no heart
no guts
fuck off with your equations and rules
your blank little spaces that are supposed to represent a women’s breath
a man’s sweat
fuck off with your readings and open mic events
your slaps on the back
your reach-arounds
fuck off with your ‘suffering’ radar
it is so busy
fuck off with your dead pets your dead mothers who stitched
seahorses into your duvets and dressing gowns
and fuck off to your pieces that are so PC on-point
PC is stuck in our throats like a bunch of frogs
and whenever any of you speak
all we get is the same croak
the same storm of words
we need
a different raging
other than your obscure metaphors
your complicated words
and your irrelevant plots

we need you now
more than ever
but all you can do is paint pictures of seas crashing onto beaches that no one will ever sit on
littered with stars that no one can see
silk gloves
that will never fit the hands
of the men and women you punt
your dribble out at

why not a job by Martin Hayes

why not a job

to dedicate your life to

why does it always have to be

a man who died on a cross

or who disappeared under a fig tree

or who was the last messenger

to bring the words of an invisible and unreachable God to us

those words

don’t feed us or keep us warm

they don’t feed the homeless man or woman

but a job could put a pair of gloves on their hands

a job could put a hat on their head

why does a job not get sung out for in churches

have drums

beaten for it

why not a job that pays for the water and food that goes into the mouth’s of a family

wouldn’t it be better to stand up for our right to have a job

rather than our right to hold a gun in our hands

why not a job

to dance about in the streets for

to paint stars into the dark sky for

why not a job

that pays for a roof over our heads

feeds electricity and heat into our homes

rather than a bullet into a “raghead” neck

why not a job as our right

rather than these Gods

that we keep rattling our cages for

why can’t these jobs be our Gods

our way of earning a living

the religion

that we would die for

rather than the colour of a flag

the evil Cartographer’s hand by Martin Hayes

centuries old maps
rolling fields of red
hill ranges of bone
scale worked out
in sky sea star
the evil Cartographer’s hand
pulling nations
from rage to wall to war
trying to wipe out
all of the mistakes
he has made in his head
love empathy compassion
“any spare change, mister”
but he can’t do that
too late,
they’re in these maps of ours
unrolled out through our limbs
fluttering like flags
on a toothpick stuck in our big toe
a breastplate for our torso
two fingers up
the Cartographer’s shit hole
you cannot change the soil
that grew us
despite these new maps
you try to unfurl
they lie this land
doesn’t exist
these hands
of ours
just hold older
than any plan
you have

this job has us in its mouth and is shaking us about in its teeth by Martin Hayes

as we stumble from one bill to the next
just about managing to keep food on the table
and a roof over our heads
apart from the last week that is
because that’s when we have to start with the lies
the borrowing
the asking of favours
that all put together
hopefully will produce just enough
to get us over the line
and into the next month

this job has us in its mouth and is shaking us about in its teeth
as we stumble from one hangover to the next
trying to balance the drinking so that it has as little effect as possible
on the job
the woman
the kids
and our hearts
that seem to want to just pump their way out of our chests
as our minds can’t face anything else
other than another drink
another taste
of that freedom

this job has us in its mouth and is shaking us about in its teeth
as debt runs through us like streams of poison
debt: who takes us for walks in the park never letting go of our hand
debt: who always sits next to us on the bus even though it’s half empty
debt: who just wants more company
who just wants more attention
and more debt
on offer like a can of Coke
on offer
for us to slip our wrists into

this job has us in its mouth and is shaking us about in its teeth
as only our guts allow us to hold on;
those guts
that pull us up off the floor
that make us feel strong
and unbeatable
that we carry around with us
inside our stomachs
and our fingertips
that make us laugh
and feel lucky hold
glasses of wine and beer in our hands dance
with our women and children around in circles
as we all throw our heads up in the air
the entire Universe up there
on our side
with the sea and the stars in our eyes
and that unbeatable laughter
to prove it

last rites by Martin Hayes

the look of laid off 53 year old men

unable to stop the tears

welling up inside their battered eyes the sight

of their broken bodies

walking out into the sun

for the last time the stink

of death as they start to split mocking us

still employed controllers that at least

they are now free again the pain

ripping them up the three kids and woman

they haven’t told yet the nine years left

on their mortgage and endowment payments

the collection

handed over in a manila envelope and the hurt

and utter uselessness they try to block out

as they buy large tequilas for everyone

in the pub across the road waiting

for the last of the last bells to arrive

and everyone to walk away

from them this time

for good

smiles that keep the world up in the sky by Martin Hayes

the women who work in the call center at our work

know pain

at the last count

they had given birth to 24 children and loved more men who were drunks losers coke heads and gamblers

than any Mississippi whore had ever loved

the women who work in the call center at our work know pain because their men gave them it

their men who now sit in the cells of Wormwood Scrubs or Pentonville

because they didn’t have any other way

to get what they needed

leaving these women behind to harden into little bits of rock

to look after children they gave birth to

who taught them that if you didn’t want to disappear into the bottom of a glass the fuselage

of a syringe the loneliness

of the leper colony

the pain was something you had to endure

on the inside

that you had to work through

inside your guts


that never left you

unlike their men who upped and left

leaving behind mess kids dogs fog

the woman

fuming in pain


that would be so easy

just to let out

so that it could swarm around before swallowing you up

but which the women who work in the call center at our work keep

below the surface

with their laughs and their jokes and their camaraderie and those smiles

those smiles

that keep the world up in the sky

that pull shutters down on that pain

those smiles that form rackets of protection shields of refuge

that come from some indomitable place inside her

that will not ever be beaten

those smiles that help her work through it all keep

all that pain

under the waterline

so they can at least

hold down these call center jobs

and smile those smiles of theirs

that have enabled all of the families in all of the world ever

to at least


all of the drunken defeated men by Martin Hayes

all of the men in all of the alleyways
who once worked in control rooms or workshops
where they had to listen to 3 inch high supervisors scream at them
until they had pumped themselves up so that they could feel as though they were 8 feet tall
all of the men slumped in all of the shop doorways
too drunk to make it home who once tried to hold down a job
where they had to lump 25lb boxes of frozen lamb
into the backs of trucks for £8 an hour before tax
all of the men in all of the gutters who had to juggle 6 am drunks with clocking on at 9 for more years than you would believe
all of the men at the bottom of their rivers who now have to wash cars or move the contents of houses for men they consider not to be men
all of the men who needed to kill themselves to free themselves of the pain of being men but couldn’t because they were all too men
all of the men
angry and bitter that their principles and strength
were not enough to keep their women in love with them all of the men
who once batted their eyelids free of sleep and got up
feeling thirsty and invincible who now
find themselves walking around their bedsits at 4 am
unable to sleep
trying to work out why
they feel like they are the only ones left

the 132 left by Martin Hayes

the 139 people that this man lied to
sat in that big boardroom
convincing us all that we were “the oxygen of this company”
only to shut down our workshop 6 months later
laying off 7 of us 139
has left the 132 that are left
wondering which one of us will be next.
132 people who have flesh
and teeth and bones to support
but who are now unsure
whether they will be able to do that come Christmas,
come the next electricity bill,
come the end of the month.
132 people who combined
have given more than one-million hours of their time
getting paid to inflate this company
into something strong,
who have the scars and addictions,
the lonely lives and debts
to prove it.
132 people who now know
that they were lied to by this man
in that boardroom,
on that day
when he came in and looked us all in the eye
and told us that we were
the “oxygen of this company”.

going long periods of time
without any oxygen
is ok for whales
and escape artists
but a little bit more tricky
for 132 men and women
who need to know for how long they will be allowed to breathe
if they want to continue paying their rent.

132 more by Martin Hayes

the new boss from the company behind the takeover

came in to give us all a pep talk

to ease the uncertainty and fears we all had

of maybe losing our jobs

and to paint for us all a vision

of the future


in groups of 10

we were all given a time slot

when we had to be in the boardroom

to listen to this man


this man who had never made a delivery to anyone anywhere

this man who whenever he got a parking ticket or CCTV fine

had only to make sure that it was entered correctly onto his expense account

this man who had never had to also hold down a weekend job

hauling 25lb boxes of frozen lamb into the backs of trucks

for £6.50 an hour after tax

just so he could afford to take his kids to the cinema

this man who had the charm and charisma of a politician

rather than the blunt edges of a worker

this man who smiled at us and looked at us straight in the eye

and told us that we were important

what he liked to call “the oxygen of this company”

which his shareholders had bought

and how it just wouldn’t make any sense

to get rid of any one of us

would it?


this man who 6 months later

made the decision on behalf of his shareholders

to shut down our workshop

laying off 7 mechanics

so that all of the repairs and maintenance of our vehicles

could be done by the new companies already existing network

of garages and service centres


this man who lives away in the country

off with the fairies

who is placed under so much pressure

every minute of the day by his shareholders

to increase the bottom line

slowly stripping away all of his humanity and heart

so that with one swoosh of his pen

he can turn upside down 7 people’s lives

and still sleep at night

and still play frisbee with his kids on a beach

knowing that he has lied

to 132 more

the employed poor by Martin Hayes

they have a car a job with no contract they work for a company that has
a zero-tolerance policy on sick days and non-attendance they have a
flat with heating and food they have a bottle of wine of a night
they cook a pasta dinner for their two kids they try to buy their
kids new clothes and a mobile phone but it’s never the right
ones always 2 or 3 generations behind they are healthy but
nervous strong but fragile they have nothing in their
hands or tucked away under their beds they
are only one withheld monthly pay cheque
away from disaster one bosses decision
away from hunger one unfortunate
accident away from annihilation
one unplanned bill away from
tipping point one illness
away from seeing the
whole edifice of
their lives come
tumbling down
with no one
around to
help put
any of it


as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers’ tweed jackets by Martin Hayes

a crust of dry bread has become the dream of millions
running water and one bar of electric heat
amenities out of reach for a quarter of the globe
as CEOs stand in their kitchens
warming their feet on underground heated slate tiles while peeling an avocado
ripped from the earth by people whose hands have to squeeze the last drop of milk from a dead breast
wring a sleeping bag dry
so they can sleep at night without freezing their guts
people who have jobs but still have to queue in food banks just to feed their families
as their Prime Ministers and Presidents talk about nuclear wars
whole communities with an idea they had while playing a round of golf
people who once worked on a farm or in a call center or under the ground
who now have no jobs because of an agreement signed on a jet
30,000 feet above the clouds
people who are moved on from country to country
who have to live in makeshift camps for years
just because their God lost an election
and had His fingertips replaced on the trigger of a gun
people who can’t clothe or take their children on a holiday anymore
because the price of oil drained from the ground 5000 miles away shot up into the sky
and closed all of their factories
people who once worked in industries long ago shut by progress
who once used their hands to rivet together ships haul a piece of steel out of a blast furnace replace
the heart of a 12 year old girl hand over a cup of tea to a miner squeeze
tomato ketchup into a factory worker’s bacon sandwich
who now sit at home with nothing to do
using those same hands to put together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles
or knit hats for their grandchildren who will grow up to be a number
on a list of numbers who don’t have any jobs

as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers’ tweed jackets
are Forwarded £5,000 for a poem about the opening of a wardrobe
have enough time on their hands
to stand in front of mirrors
contemplating whether they exist or not
and books about wizards and bondage
sell millions