Category Archives: short poems





heard at the


In the town of Burnley, Lancashire


Ladies & gentlemen eyes down,
Bag o’ sweets for your line,
Two pound your full house;

Snakes alive, all the fives, fifty five
Christmas cake, three & eight, thirty eighty
& it’s half-way there, four & five, forty five
Doctors orders, on its own, the number nine
Seven & six, “Was she worth it?”
Every penny… seventy six

Kelly’s Eye, on its own, the number one
& its three & O, dirty gertie, blind thirty
Tickle me, six & three, sixty three
& it’s thee & me, two & three, twenty three
Five & nine, the Brighton line, fifty nine
It’s Diana Doors in droopy drawers,
All the fours,

Shouts Mary Pie,
Much to Cliff’s consternation,
He only needed one for the line

Al, the old drunk, goes to check the ticket
55, 76, 1, 63, 59, 44
& hands her the boiled sweets
‘I’ll give them to Sally,’ says Mary Pie,
‘They’re no good for mi teeth…’



Suddenly it gets serious
The numbers come calling
Eyes Down for your full house…

On its own, it’s the lucky seven
& it’s Unlucky for some, thirteen
Heinz Varieties, five & seven, fifty seven
Ooo! It’s those legs, eleven
The room echoes to shrill cat whistles

It’s Sherwood Forest, all the trees, thirty three
A fumph & a duck, five & two, fifty two
‘Five-O, Five-O, it’s off to work we go
With a shovel & pick & a walking stick, Five-O, Five-O’
Purple-haired Slyvia gets exited & carries on the song,
‘Five-O, Five-O, it’s off to work we go,
With a bucket & spade & a hand grenade,
Five-O, Five-O, ‘
Blind fifty!

All the sixes, clickity-click, sixty-six
It’s the garden gate, the number eight
& someone didn’t flush the toilet
It’s a dirty loo, thirty two

Its two little ducks, twenty two
It’s the sunset strip, all the sevens, seventy-seven
& a duck & a crutch, two & seven, twenty-seven
Almost there, eight & nine, eighty nine
Ooo! It’s top of the shop, blind ninety!



Woodtop is getting tense,
Cliff only needs one for the full house
But Mary Pie,
The old buggar,
She’s right on his tail

It’s queen bee, seventy three
Anyway up, six & nine, sixty nine
& it’s those steps, three & nine, thirty nine
Man alive, the number five
& it’s two fat ladies, all the eights, eighty-eight
You’ve been & gone at eighty one
The key of the door, two & one, twenty one
& its Ghandis breakfast, he ate nothing, blind eighty
It’s tickety-boo, sixty two
& she’s still alive’s our Mary Pie,
She’s eight & five, eighty-five
“EE-ya! shouts Sally, knocking over her drink
Much to Cliff’s annoyance

Al goes to check the ticket
7, 57, 33, 66, 77, 90, 88, 21, 80

& gives her the two pound

“I’ll share it with Mary Pie,” she says with a smile

Ladies & gentlemen eyes down,
Bag o’ sweets for your line,
Two pound your full house…





to the town of


in the


16th May 2012



Helicopter over Healy Heights
“Them’s a bloomin’ nuisance they are!”
“It’s fer the Queen, innit!”

I shouldn’t think she’ll see Burnley Wood again
Better make the most of it
Bunting in a Branch Road launderette

Among the wrack of shoe factories
Burnley Wooders gather & gibber
Free flags on Finsley Gate


Sea cadets & waving schoolkids
His well-regaled ‘Worshipfulness’
All stood as tall as chimneys

The Royal Train finally arrives
Across the PC airwaves
‘She’s on her way,’ wide crackles

Outriders approaching
One classy, claret car
& her enigmatic smile


The bridge is bubbling
Best of British welcoming
Asians, Polish, Anglo-Saxons

Onto the Pride of Sefton 2
All splendid, dress’d in mint green
Her highness steps with bouquets

Whirlwind-waves & we are cheering
When I watch her barge departing
With a tear of Burnley pride


There is a place where poplars grow
To the tune of nature’s thrall;
Whose acres English Kings bestow
Upon a bloodline’s noble flow,
& so, my friends, we’ll come to know
The Towneleys of Towneley Hall.

The grand, old mansion of Towneley
Stands tall & ever holy;
As in its tranquil sacristy,
Come trace its noble history,
Thro’ Lwlphus Cutwolfe’s ancestry
To Spartinglas of Whalley.

The Towneleys are a noble breed,
Knelt with monarchy, servile;
Serving the Crown in debt & deed,
From Agincourt to Berwick’s Tweed,
At length they felt their fame did need
A suitable stately pile.

The South Wing took a while to rise,
Built from the bricks of Bowland;
From turrets scraping sacred skies
& glassy windows for proud eyes,
Twas perfect place to praise & prize
The all-surrounding moorland.

The country flows in valleys deep,
Mid Pennine country raising;
Where gorse & brier hug the steep,
& reedy meadows feed the sheep,
Where roses from the greaves slow creep
To Turf Moor’s common grazing.

Sir Richard Towneley’s son was sent
To the Collegiate at Rome;
Twas there young Charles heard parliament
Had struck the king with sore intent,
Being loyal, of royal bent,
Dropping books he hurries home.

Prince Rupert led his mighty force
To Marston Moor in the rain,
Charles Towneley charg’d his sable horse
Bezerking like the war-craz’d Norse,
Alas his luck has run its course,
All mud-stuck he slid down slain.

That night his Mary reach’d the moor
To find her husband’s body;
Ploughing thro’ warfare’s awful gore,
She found a figure sprawl’d on  floor,
some sword-slash thro’ his broad chest tore
& all his clothes were bloody.

She took her lov’d one to Towneley,
& found their lands were forfeit;
Being the price of loyalty,
As Parliament seize property,
Reducing noble ancestry
As however they saw fit!

Despite the loss of many lands
From Hapton up to Barley,
The Royal Stuart still commands
The Towneley’s passion, as it stands
For loyalty, & joins the clans
Adoring bonnie Charlie.

At Manchester Francis Towneley
Met that young, bewitching smile;
Joining the march down to Derby
& back again, the enemy
Hard at their heels, him desp’rately
Was order’d to hold Carlisle.

His was a forlorn garrison,
For Carlisle, of course, did fall;
Off Francis carted to London,
The gloom of Newgate’s doom-prison;
After the axe his skull was won
For the tombs at Towneley Hall

As Jacobites all fled to Rome,
With them went this Charles Towneley,
Inspired there by Saint Peter’s dome,
Thro’ church & workshop he did comb
& dug & bought & brought back home
Soft treasures of Italy!

Charles Townley & Friends in Park Street Gallery by Johan Zoffany

Now Peregrin, of noble heart,
Takes up the seat at Towneley;
In its long progress play’d great part,
On renovations made a start,
Placed his rare grandfather’s art
In a plush, red gallery.

Now Burnley’s spreading up the hills,
Abloom with church & chimnies;
Whose rows of rooves & window sills,
Hous’d thousands for the mines & mills,
Whose smoke the valley mostly fills
& only clears on Sundays.

All Burnley’s ever honest folks
For the Colonel up their thumb;
Charles Towneley was the best of blokes,
Who shar’d their troubles & their jokes
Whose Butterfly had won the Oaks –
Enter chestnut Kettledrum.

In him all Burnley held high hope
As he chases great Dundee;
Racing for Towneley & the Pope,
Round Tattenham he took the slope,
With coasting force no horse could cope,
His blaze first past the Derby.

Back north the news did swiftly steer
Upon the wire electric;
Saint Peter’s Bells began the cheer,
Such was the spangling atmosphere
That when the Bull gave out free beer
All the town got paralytic.

Lady O’Hagan last to greet
The morning moors round Towneley,
As local councils voting meet
Dissenting voices feel defeat,
Eighteen thousand paid for the seat,
For evermore, for Burnley.

Lands lovely add to Burnley’s streets
Down Tod’ Road from Foldy Cross;
Where scratch & scratchy golf competes
By football & cross-country meets;
Come picnic by the Hall’s fine treats
& its grandiose emboss.

Friends, if you ever sense Towneley
Twinkling in heart & soul;
Start thinking of your fam’ly tree
& trace your genealogy,
You never know, you just might be
A Towneley of Towneley Hall.

Me at Work.jpg



Foxglove & thistle empurpling the trail
That modern man in motion wide discards,
It was time to return to Lancashire
Across the heights that shadow Calderdale,
& I, their poetical passenger,
Orpheus pressing hard against my sail,
& yes! It seem’d his song had form’d a gale,
Why else allude to mythic Thracian bards!

Across the fields I find the Burnley way,
Lit by those little yellow birds & bees
Which lead me onto Thievely Pike, among
Such scenes of rugged beauty, greening grey,
For Pennines sweep the distance by degrees,
& fade on far as bards conclude their song.



We live & we die, we are what we are
There is no more that men may understand
Whether staying at home, or travelling far
Spontaneous, or half a lifetime planned

Decisions? what are these but fleeting stones
Diverting fate’s ever resistless flow
When thoughts reside beside the wool & bones
On wild roads hewn 2,000 years ago

I stand between two gangs of spinning mills
Twyx Cliviger & Bacup on the moors
& feel fresh winded nature thresh the hills
When all is energizing out of doors

Now with the path steep-broken underfoot
I close the moment & my notebook shut



You must know Burnley to see her beauty;
Twyx Hameldon & Pendle where she lies,
Our fertile region of the North Country,
Of Bingo halls & market stalls & pies,
Of cobblestones & Bovis Homes & lanes,
Of working men & the working men’s pride,
Of balmy days & snowy greys & rains
& blatantly the world’s best football side.

You must know Burnley to see her beauty;
The arches & the chimneys & Turf Moor,
The stately halls of Gawthorpe & Towneley,
The station & the bus-stop & mi door –
You can keep yer New Yorks, Delhis & Rome
At the end of the day there’s no place like home!



Up Manchester Road, bi Shanks’s Pony,
Inter Scotts Park, then on up t’ Summit,
T’pay mi Grandparents a swift visit
Fer a bowl o’ the best broth in Burnley.

Grampa potters about ‘is garden shed,
Granma slaps th’icin on’ slice from market.

Cake crumbs fall on mi old Batman carpet,
Big piles o’ comics & games under’ bed;

Wow! Space Marine, Gnasher Badge, Hairy Hand,
Toy Soldiers, Test Match & mi old Spectrum –

“What fun,” said Gramps, “We ‘ad in th’olden days…”
“Yer tea’s ready!”
“Mmmm…them dumplins look grand.”
“Do you like ‘em son?”
“Aye Gran, I love ‘em.”

& polish off three platefuls in ‘er praise.



Yes, I’m really glad yer mi dad, Dad,
Yer the best that a young lad could have, Dad,
Far better than the king o’ Baghdad,
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Aye, I’m really glad I’m yer lad, Dad
Cos I get to crash in yer pad, Dad
& chat to yer when I’m all sad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Yer always so bloody well clad, Dad
& make the best eggs that I’ve had, Dad
But yer brews, bloody ‘ell, they’re so bad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad,

& better still, yer mi mate, mate
& I love yer, an that’s bloody great!



Dick needs a table
Over the tops at Clitheroe
& its car boot country sale

Prams * jigsaws * suitcases * mothball suits
Settees * lawnmowers * crap coats * comics
& finally a three pound table

On a wood to coinage ratio the real deal
‘Made in Czechoslovakia’ stamped underneath
Looks a bit like a bench

We bus it home, the smash & grab complete
Walk up to Healy Wood, steep from the station
Chillin’out frequently, perched upon our ‘bench’

Gazin’ on Burnley, & Townley & Pendle,
Then finally home to a perfect fit!



I learnt to swim right at the top o’ Rosegrove
& got a ten meter badge for mi speedos,
I was seven or so, & two years later,
Went off wi’ mi class to the baths, n’ that.

So, as I’m sat down wi’ mi mates on the bus,
A poo started moving, a real turtle-head
& instead of rushing straight to the toilet
I thought that I’d get changed first, n’ that.

Then, lo & behold, on mi cubicle floor
That self-same poo plopp’d down all goo & stinkin,’
So mi teacher made me clean the buggar up,
Then sent me to sit in the stands, n’ that,

Where I waited mi teasing classmates with dread,
But never, to their credit, was one word said!



As I wander the back-streets of Burnley
Subconcious in familiarity
I take solace in these stark surroundings
Still hearing my heartbeat & its poundings

This is my land of birth, O rosy town,
Where over cobblestones the Brun flows brown
All seasons have I seen here & each June
Observe the endings of a thirteenth moon

So many rides of mine from here have sprung,
Light-footed men go forth when they are young,
As Pendle from the deep mists reappears
I put to bed the ghosts of yester-years

When readying for fun & foreign tours
I practice future hikes all out of doors.



As a poignant time-lapse of the soul
Removes my child-hood street-by-street,
I brood upon an artificial meadow,
Where recently dilapidated terraces
Were brick-by-brick demolish’d, levell’d low.

Once, with life, these districts resounded,
But all is fading now, like fallen flies;
Grandmas, Grandads, Cousins, Aunties, Uncles –
A generation bounden in photographs –
Back then they laughed & cried like me & you.

My own street seems to have survived the cull –
But for how long? If others of its ilk
Were deemed ungodly, surely snobbish time
Shall banish mine beneath some grassy mound.



With a vigour that hordes the squirrel stores
Fair sommer’s dawning drives us to the moors,
Twixt scatter’d wracks of industry’s decay
Down Leeds & Liverpool I made fair way,
As to this heathen sentinel we wind.
I tread rough fields, forgotten roads behind,

Shelt’ring from northern breeze I lounge supine
On whale-back’d peak, thou solit’ry pennine,
All in the misty vale an entity,
Those auld terraced rows of Pendle City,
Whose galaxy of lights shatters the gloam,
One of them shines the hearth star of my home.

Forever, there, my rest in peace abides,
Fairweather’d by these precious countrysides.