Hardworking Families, by Dominic Berry

I am not a silent poet

You’ll never clean toilets for cash.
You’re someone who’ll never need charity.
You’ll never get spots or a rash
for you’re in a hardworking family.
You’ll never get cramp or chlamydia.
You are an icon of normality.
Your child can’t have spina bifida
for you’re in a hardworking family.
You’ll never need badgers or foxes.
Your healthcare is just a formality.
You’ll never sleep in cardboard boxes
for you’re in a hardworking family.
A loved one cannot tell you lies.
Your Grandma will not lose her sanity
You’re safe while the sea levels rise
for you’re in a hardworking family.
The Tories will cleanse all the mess
when rioting leads to fatality.
You’ll never get mugged or depressed
for you’re in a hardworking family.
You won’t break an arm or a sweat
or face any kind of calamity.
You’ll feel no harm or regret,

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Definition of Success, by Dominic Berry

I am not a silent poet

Not good enough to feel bad.
Not rich enough to earn poor health.
No privilege of being mad
with fortunes of good mental wealth.
Decided when each life’s begun;
Who’ll lose their minds, who’ll lose their homes,
Who’ll starve to death, who’ll die too young,
Who’s brains will break, who’ll die alone.
From palace grounds to terrace towns
whose life’s worth more? Whose life’s worth less
when judging life in pence and pounds?
A definition of success.

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stations of the crossed, by Kevin Reid

I am not a silent poet

… condemned to death

he won’t leave
the country is sick
but it’s home

… carries his cross

his want to stay
drags his need to escape
it’s difficult to hide

… falls for the first time

bombs don’t discern
he prays while he waits

… meets his mother 

weak they weep into each other
the first time since the invasion

 … helps him carry the cross

an orphaned friend
i’m coming with you

… wipes his face  

he knew those eyes
they saved him from sniper fire
wiped his blood with her hijab

… falls the second time 

prays while he’s down
water is scarce

… meets the women

mothers of lost children
wives of dead men
sisters of fighting brothers join us

… falls the third time 

into killing hands
still he prays


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Three, by Dominic Berry

I am not a silent poet

Beneath the blind, balanced in a window ledge, he has made three towers of twenty, fifty and ten pence pieces. Not great at counting. He can walk shop aisles for hours adding to what he thinks he can afford but always the check out girl must ask what he wants to leave behind.
Beneath his boxer shorts there are three shadowy bruises left by the mugger whose fingers slid inside these damp pants whilst pressing what might have been a knife to his naked neck. Nails. Lips. Fists. Blood. Not great at countering. Recounting this story to his doctor is not enough to earn him any therapy.
Beneath closed eyes, each night brings one of three recurring dreams. There’s the one where he falls silently into factory machinery, innards split by spiky cogs. There’s the one where he has earned his freedom from the old tower block, fingertips shine like…

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Something to Do Whilst Washing, by Dominic Berry

I am not a silent poet

Prepare a public talk about charity. The suffering of others has become as boring as sand. Don’t dive in naked. Those coarse grains niggling itches could remain clinging for days. People who claim to be pained should be approached fully covered. Imagine accidentally spilling a caring word on someone only slightly needy. If a noted humanitarian commits an act of kindness in the middle of a desert when there is nobody worth impressing present to witness said event, can an unwitnessed event even be counted as a true act of kindness? What is the point of wasting such a limited resource on a person who is probably too lazy to appreciated compassion? Optimise everything. Rehearse about brilliant speech about benevolence from the comfort of a deep, soapy bath.

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Slavery in all Shapes, by Maggie Mackay

I am not a silent poet

The tumbling lassie is what they call me.
I’ve no other name. I’m a little girl.
My joints are stiff with dancing,
in all shapes on the stage
at Mr Reid’s travelling show.
He oils them every day.
Tumble, tumble,
three hundred and thirty years ago.
Look hard, look twice now
at the car wash lads and nail bar lassies.
Look hard, take a tumble, give shelter,
for forced labour they may be
and under Scotland’s law
we have no slaves. I was made free.


Maggie Mackay, a jazz and whisky loving poet with an MA from Manchester Metropolitan University, has a range of work online and in print, including the recent #MeToo anthology. In 2017 her poems were nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize. Her first pamphlet will be published by Picaroon later this year.


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Routine excuses, by Stephen Daniels

I am not a silent poet

‘The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things’ – Ernest Dimnet

But I didn’t break today.

I wanted to break around 11am.
But I needed to finish that report.

I thought I might break at 2pm.
But then I had a meeting.

It seemed I would break at 5pm.
But the kids needed food.

I was ready to break at 10pm.

But politics, austerity, gender discrimination, racism, obesity, nationalism, buttons, egos, the legal system, Lords – oh lordy lords, the 52%, PIPs, the casual decline of social standards, refugees, big hands, experts, small hands, democracy, drowning, poems – so many poems, stereotypes, capitalism, identity, gender identity, national identity, my identity, and did I leave the back door unlocked.

Tomorrow I will find the time to break.


Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry

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