The Man in the Shadows

Even though it was for nothing I myself had done

I knew it was the proudest I had ever felt.

I just rose to my feet through some invisible force,

As I watched you emerge from the shadows past

Transformed from the bashful bud I had once known,

The one who’d been laughed at for his stuttering speech

And had told me how he wished he was someone else,

Someone like those who’d always seemed to eclipse him.


It is only fitting that the man in the shadows,

His dirty face caked in the dirty grime of industry

Should see his name etched in a majestic gold

He himself had cut through illness and injury,

As he takes his seat beside that old coal merchant

Who always knew a lovely bloke when he saw one.


I realized, as I rose, that you, once the bashful bud,

Whilst I had stunted in the last rays of boyhood

Had, in the shadows, flowered into a gentleman,

Emerging at last. For your standing ovation.

Tunnel Rats



They call us hood rats, a plague upon these streets.

The waste society flushed away to forget.

We’re lurking in the cracks and the crevices,

Inner city menaces carrying that same stench,

That metallic stink of paint always clings to us.

Shaking spray cans, our chosen weapon of combat,

We scurry through tunnels, our natural habitat.

For we’ve a battle to fight. A battle to be heard.


I used to paint trains. Too slick for all them coppers,

More notorious on the tracks than the Great Train Robbers.

Any train, any line, you wouldn’t have to look far,

Metropolitan, District, Central, DLR.

My name top to the bottom all along the train,

Six o’clock on the platform the suits stare with disdain.

They can’t ignore it or are they blind as well as deaf?

Are you getting the message that we have nothing left?


I did it for that buzz too, that thrill of the chase,

When the cops and their dogs came sniffing on our case.

Just another working class disaster, they say, 

A master of my own failure who’ll learn the hard way.

I got nicked once. But they can’t put us all in prison,

And I don’t expect them to understand our mission.

They can’t ignore it or are they blind as well as deaf?

Are you getting the message that we have nothing left?


I lost a mate on the tracks. A split second, flat,

And you find out it don’t take much to kill a rat.

And that is when I turned my back. Mission failed.

But I was a father now and could not get jailed.

With real responsibilities now, I had no choice

I gave up rebelling and trying to find a voice.

They do ignore it because they’re blind as well as deaf.

They just don’t get the message that we have nothing left.


I’m still a hood rat. But I’m changed on these streets,

No longer waste, I’m making something of myself.

I’m still lurking in the cracks and the crevices,

Still spray my anger away, but now leave a creation,

A piece of my heart, which people admire as art.

I paint on legal walls and people watch and applaud:

It feels really special to no longer be ignored.

I learned the hard way, but there’s always something left.


~Another Urban Ballad. A while in the making, this one. Thank you to all those who put up with me on Leake St for inspiring this little piece, top blokes. And to Rosamund Freeman for the photograph~ Chris

King George

Oh King George. How far you’ve fallen,

The scars so deep and the stench appalling,

Can you hear your children calling?


George, you don’t belong on streets so unforgiving,

Here amidst the bins you rot and make your living,

or make your death…only yards from last night’s stabbing.

Street rats feeding on broken ones, easy meat, like you,

Who lived the high life before it all fell through.

The revolution came, the madness and distress,

Now just like Lear you stalk this urban wilderness.


Oh King George. How far you’ve fallen,

The scars so deep and the stench appalling,

Can you hear your children calling?


George, you limp aimlessly down along these streets alone,

Recalling the glories of your past life back home,

But this is not home…it’s the hell where you’ll decay,

Even now your skin is blistering in front of you.

A proud man, you hate how the way pity all you do,

Stranded, not homeless, northwards your maiden waits,

But Father Time is your enemy. He says it’s too late.


Oh King George. How far you’ve fallen.

The scars so deep and the stench appalling,

Can you hear your children calling?


George, the little I did to help, it could never be enough,

But I hope it prevented another night of sleeping rough.

I’m sorry that so soon I had to go my separate path.

You asked if I believed in God and I said I couldn’t say,

But you gave me your crucifix necklace and I took it anyway.

Perhaps his belief in God was all that kept him breathing.

God save the King…God save the King.


Oh King George. How far you’ve fallen,

The scars so deep and the stench appalling,

I hope you’re with your children in the morning.


God save the King


The Rain catcher

The Rain catcher, I believed they called her,

Dashing and dancing about in the rain,

Carrying a bucket of all your pain.

Drip, drip, drip…she’d watch as the bucket filled.

She’d never flinch, not a drop would be spilled,

And you’d catch a glimpse of her reflected smile

As you again poured your pain out to her.

And that glistening face could only put a smile on yours.


She’d learned to dance so beautiful in the rain,

She loved her sopping hair, her shining knots,

The feel of the drops running down her cheeks.

Drip, drip, drip…she’d watch as the bucket filled,

She’d never flinch, not a drop would be spilled

As from person to person she would run,

So they could pour their heart out once again,

Hoping that after all the storms, she could finally bring them sun.


But the rain, it plays a melancholy tune.

The rain she collected, a burden to bear.

And when the bucket was full her dance would end,

And that smile would finally be washed away,

A mask. For in the bucket she’d glimpse his face,

Staring back at her, the source of her pain.

And now she would finally let it all out,

Knowing no rain catcher would ever come.


Drip…drip…drip…from her eyes the tears run,

And now as if by chance…out comes the sun.


I’m back. Like I never left.

Cider and his Love

Blank stares, deep in thought, blocking out all surrounding din,

Sat alone, brooding, he knew then he’d committed that awful sin.

But what better way to extinguish the fires burning inside

Than sweet juices of apples grown in gardens he grew up in?

Like father, like son, It’s in his blood after all I guess,

To bury it deep down and end the night a drunken mess.

It never works.

He was born shrouded in the the mist and fog, the smog of doubt,

It’s no wonder now, looking back, he could make nothing work out.

So he’ll drown those twisted words, scolding looks, the stupid games,

As what’s begun in anger, believe me, it will always end in shame,

The shame of an empty glass and now an even emptier heart.

But he’ll be back up stronger, you’ll see, you’re wrong about him

He was born in the mountains, he’ll soar those heights again,

But for now let him be to drink as you’re driving him insane.

Love in a Poppy

I sit by the cenotaph, blunt carven list of engraved names,

With bleeding poppy wreath drowning and stained in the soaking rain.

The droplets rest delicately on the petals, dripping by my side,

Tears for the countless fallen collecting at the foot of their memory.


Up and down the land, our poppy wreaths will begin to bleed in the rain,

Gifts of love for the sacrifice of those too often forgotten,

Too much blood spilt over decades of war too many to recall,

Millions of poppies on hearts show love for each one soul and all.


As a boy, walking up the chapel steps in reflective silence,

The names of the fallen, day after day, would watch me close,

And I’d do my best to think of them, of their lives of mortal combat,

For they  like me came to pray in that very chapel. Sat where I sat.


We wear poppies as thanks- that we don’t have to experience such a life,

For all those from Flanders’ fields and Normandy beach to Afghan desert,

For the latest fallen, his fire extinguished, stolen from his family new,

Soon to be returned home in his matchbox of red, white and blue.


With that I scour the engraved names, I’ve still not read them all yet,

But I will one day. As long as there our poppies, may we never forget.

Left with a Feather

I feel I have been here too many times before,

Envying majestic birds and the way they soar,

Transfixed on one of them, her hypnotizing glide,

Until she disappears into the distant countryside.

I pull out my treasures box, a feather inside,

Plucked from the most beautiful bird- it’s all I have left

But its fragile beauty convince me it was theft.

The bird of that feather flew away from my cries,

She must’ve died, everything beautiful I touch starts to die

And I don’t know why. The feather here is all that remains.

The birds fan out, a diamond,ready to migrate away.

Neck craned,  I watch them flying over my head with dismay…

But the feather will always gives me hope: they’ll be back soon right?

I’m not so sure, Their moods can never be understood,

I close my fist around the feather. I think they’re gone for good.