Toe-Rag Blues by Paul Tristram

When smell & grime

become a flavour.

And shirt cuffs

start dissolving

into nonsense.


a fervent Master,

always needy

& just out of reach.

That water

needs re-boiling.

But there are matches

to be begged yet.

Sopping’s a feeling

and a texture.

You’ve been following

yourself around

for months now.

Through rotten tooth,

desperate claw

and derelict hovel.

They’ve Changed The Ironmonger’s In Town Into Another Funeral Parlour by Paul Tristram

(They’ll Be Importing Coffin Nails Next To Finally Bury This Dying Place!)


It was the Greengrocer’s first see

no more locally grown fresh fruit and veg,

you’ll have to walk to Lidl’s now.

Then the Banks started dropping off one by one

but the city centre’s only five mile away

and they have main branches down there.

There’s a terrible rumour about the Post Office,

that’ll be the heart gone, that will.

The top end Butcher’s is just hanging on

by the width of a sausage skin.

(They still call it the top end one

even though it’s the only one still there!)

You can really tell the economy in the area

is knackered when they stop serving

Sunday Roasts and introduce Happy Hour

in the Country Family Public Houses.

It’s sad to see the old place go to the dogs

but on the bright side they’ve opened

three more off licences, a Burger King

and soon we’ll have a second Cash Convertors.

Breadline Blaggin’ by Paul Tristram

“I haven’t used cutlery for months

not since the white plastic set

issued me on my last prison.

I eat on the scamper, mate,

any scrap I can get me hands upon.

I’m half cowing seagull,

you should see me swoop

sideways for a half dozen

cold chips and a bit ‘o side salad,

I’m straight ‘In Like Flynn’.

The bins out tha back of Iceland’s

alright sometimes on a Monday

morning, have me some nice vittles

outta there, don’t touch the quiche

… gave me the trots for days.

The Market’s good for bananas

and the odd apple and orange

if you get there almost crack of Dawn.

They’ve started growing vegetables

in the flowerbeds up the other end

of Town… it’s raw and hard work

on the old gnashers but it’s food, innit,

‘Beggars Can’t Be Choosers’

and all that old philosophical kack!”

…And Today We’ll Be Looking Through The Broken Window by Paul Tristram

The 1980’s were a cold, cynical time.

We had the horned one ‘Thatcher 666’ in power.

The Miner’s Strikes, angry men (and rightly so!)

rioting across South Wales.

There was the nuclear threat from Russia

and I would listen to predictions and warnings

of the looming apocalypse from my Crass records

which had ‘pay no more than £2:50’ on the covers.

Holidays were spent at Butlin’s and Pontin’s

or at a beach only driving distance away.

There were Youth Training Schemes and no work.

Detention Centres with their ‘Short Sharp Shock’

which merely made the young rogues fitter

so the police couldn’t catch them 2nd time around.

Top Of The Pops was our MTV,

finally we had 4 channels on the telly

and one of them stayed on all night.

They actually opened up one of those

American McDonald’s Restaurant’s in Swansea

(Just like you see in the films!)

and another in Cardiff and Newport.

“You don’t know you’re born, back in my day!”

was every grown-ups favourite expression.

There were still £1 pound notes on the go

and half pence pieces too (You could get

two black jacks or fruit salads for a penny

or a bag of crispies smothered in salt and vinegar

from the chip shop for 4 and a half pence!)

Oh, and that Hitler only had one ball because

the other was in the Albert Hall or something like that.

10 Regal King Size, a 4 pack of Colt 45

and a couple of splashes of Old Spice or Brut 33

and you were handsome for the evening.

My Aunty Nelly & Betty and Grampa were still alive.

Kids now watched Thomas The Tank Engine

instead of Bagpuss and Mr Benn, times were changing.

You learnt ‘necking’ to ‘Come On Eileen’

at the Royal British Legion Saturday afternoon disco.

Penny For The Guy was big business round our way,

paper rounds had waiting lines as long as your arm.

You came home when the street lights came on,

they had cider lolly’s at the ice-cream vans.

People had manners, you could leave your doors

unlocked all night long ‘round here.

It was your own family you had to watch out for

and the trouble usually kicked off somewhere after

the second helping of “On The Streets Where You Live!”

Three Waves Of Crashing Horribleness by Paul Tristram

“Most people can survive a disappointment,

a broken heart, a bit of bad luck!”

He explained with a thoughtful look

upon his dirty, worn-out face.

“It’s when it comes in three’s

with the force of Thor’s Hammer

you know that you are in trouble.

The first one’s the sucker punch,

‘The Tower’ of the tarot pack

and whilst you are still spinning

the second blow cripples something

deep inside that you didn’t really know

that you had inside until you felt it broken.

The third, that’s the finisher, life in prison,

F-ward permanently or complete obliteration

of everything warm and caring, forever.

I’ve been a Vagrant now nigh on ten years

and I’m one of the lucky ones in life

yet on most days I’d wholeheartedly disagree!”


Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography
published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids
instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.
Buy his book ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at
And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope
You can also read his poems and stories here!

Aunt Myrtle’s Anarchy Tearooms & Cake Emporium by Paul Tristram

When the normal business hours finish for the day

that is when the serious work and fun begins.

The front door is locked and the windows

with their charming little nets and gingham curtains

are left behind as Myrtle and her trusty gang of OAP’s  

hobble off creakily to the secret backroom.

They are getting ready for the ‘Class War’

preparing for the ‘Societal Meltdown’ that’s a-coming.

Both Myrtle’s sisters Knuckles Agnes and Big Bertha

are knitting balaclavas and embroidering ‘Riot Slogans’

into scarfs, flags and banners with arthritic vigour.

Salvation Army George, who is normally to be found

selling poppies outside of the nearest tube station

is learning how to construct whistling pipe bombs.

Flo and Doris ‘The Terrible Twins’ are throwing

axes, knives and Chinese stars at life sized images

of Margret Thatcher, they can both cut knicker-elastic

in half at over 20 paces, by sense alone and without glasses.

Clever Ernie the Ex Chimney Sweep is busy making

and greasing thirteen hundred switchblade walking canes.

Myrtle, herself, is perfecting her strychnine pies

and fine-tuning her brilliant yet volatile exploding muffins.

While the black & white TV plays the movie ‘Reservoir dogs’

and the Billy Ocean song ‘When The Going Gets Tough

The Tough Get Going’ is on repeat play upon the gramophone.

Ozone Frayer by Paul Tristram

It’s an unfunny joke what mankind

is doing to this beautiful planet.

Of course, I’ve worded that wrong,

for it’s not mankind at all,

it’s the multi-billion dollar industries

and the never ending war machine.

Most of real mankind, the common folk

are really trying to help and do their bit.

I walk around on recycling night

and I see the tubs full of plastic and tins,

the bags of cardboard and paper.

Even the drunks and druggies

are sticking out their stashes of empties.

In the supermarkets people hand in

spent batteries and empty ink cartridges.

The real people really do care

and would like to make a difference

even against the massive odds.

I have faith in the human race as a whole

when it comes to common sense

and the environment we are all borrowing.

It’s the idiots in power which make me

furrow my troubled, unbelieving brow.

It’s like watching someone screaming

‘Cliff Up Ahead’ and still running at it

whilst biting the hand that feeds,

and playing Russian Roulette

with our future generations’ tomorrows?

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.