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Richard Downes

I always wanted to write. I practiced for years. I played guitar and sang. I took photographs. I guess I really wanted to express myself anyway I could Then DAO gave me the opportunity to blog. Much thanks

Posts by Richard Downes

still of a Ladybird book being held open by a pair of hands

Kate Davis and Julia Parks: The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk

Richard Downes enjoys, ‘The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk’ – a collaborative exploration of the ancient topography of south Cumbria made by poet Kate Davis and film-maker Julia Parks based on Kate’s poetry collection of the same name. I met Kate Davis and Julia Parks at a conference at Art ...

A black and white image of the text from a poem, exploding out of a mans head

The Challenge; Words Are Flowing Out

The Highgate Society Poetry Group challenge for February 2019 is to take the opening line of a favourite song and build a poem around it. I plump for Across the Universe as the giver of the harbinger guide line; ‘Words are flowing out’, and I empty my head of thoughts ...

The Rules of the Realm

The Realm is turning into a landscape that we make for ourselves. Yesterday I recorded some key words for me as if a poem. The words were instruction words. We were thinking about an entrance to the Realm. Involving viewers in an action that needed to be taken during the ...

Acorn; Of Snow And Ice

Yoko Ono’s Earth Piece II shows concern for the planet yet finds optimism in our power to find a solution. She finishes with the instruction; ‘melt the icebergs and snow in your life’. I feel a new duet coming onAcorn; Of Snow and Ice(She) I am snow(He)   I am ice(She) ...

Words On A Post Card; From the Birds

Found this on a facebook memory, adapted it for a post card. Protect the notes you throw away. Make something with them. Learn you are a poet.Words On A Post Card; From the BirdsRecent readingsFirst a crow flew fastlyThen a nightingale 12 months on Then you wrote your flight of ...

642; At Six O’clock

642 Things To Write About invites the scribe to describe a scene where only guttural sounds are uttered. Uh huh. I remember an incident of a Gallic shrug. A six o’clock….642; At Six O’clockSleeping heads stirTo the soundNot of bird songDawn ChorusBut of bootsKicking ballsOne head awakesSo, grumpilyFor the soundOf ...

Juice; Highs and Lows

Yoko Ono’s Building Piece for Orchestra from 1963 exhorts the follower to move around a building, from room to room, to open each and every door and to go from the top of the building to the bottom without making any sound. I have a careers talk to give at ...

Corona 11; A Tissue Of Haikus

Inspired by Jean Bayliss who compared our shielding with the last 3 years of her mother living in a single room in a nursing home. In memory of those who lost their lives in care homes during the pandemic. Dedicated to the ongoing struggle for fully resourced independent living. Corona 11; A Tissue ...

Signs; Just The Ticket

Happy is as happy is, whatever it may be. Its not a sense I know too well. Not something I have too many words for. But today taking stock of all these forces merging within me I think I can take a pot shot at what happy may be. What ...

Black Widow 4

Late comers to 'Black Widow' may wish to go back to the start which began here. Down the road. Down the road he came across a lazing Lazy Susan wondering if she was fit like a pig on a spit for turning. Barely moving, somnambulately, bearlike moving, hardly opening lips she ...

Initial; Forever Absent

So, the Initials book requires today, 2 days short of my next birthday, that I write about my first memorable birthday. The book requires that I mark the age it happened, the location, remember presents, describe the cake and list the guests so I trawl through memories and recognise I ...

Declaration 19; Speak Up

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We who speak up sometimes feel lonely, threatened. Isolated and afraid we wonder why ...

Declaration 14 – Insane Asylums for the Politically Mad

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads; (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles ...

Corona 4 – My Intention

Its the corona virus lock down. I have been identified as extremely vulnerable. Even though I don’t feel as if I am as labeled I am behaving, staying in. Poetry is a boon. I am following and releasing this first to Corona Verse Poems for a Pandemic, a facebook page ...

Richard Downes

The Challenge; Grandad

The Highgate Society Poets set a challenge to write about a grandparent or as they put it; a grandma, grandpa or grand other. The Challenge; Grandad The head of my clan Was a tic tac man Careless with his shop He’d sooner be off To the gee gees Or Perry Barr dogs Waving fingers Placing odds Taking the workers wages The ...

Valentine’s Routine

This is a two hander. Bean replies to every verse. To hear her answers you need to see a perfomance of the piece. Needless to say the way its structured she’ll get the last word. Valentine’s Routine You don’t love me You wanna see me work You get the hump When you see me shirk You ...

Acorn; The Fire Goes Out and Then it Burns Again

Yoko’s first earth piece asks you to think about the fire at the centre of the earth. This is my fire. Where is your fire? What does it bring you? Acorn; The Fire Goes Out and Then it Burns Again Raking over ashes To find the odd ember Pecking spitefully At fallen splinter groups You think back To ...

Black Widow 3

Late comers to Black Widow may wish to go back to the start which started here. Stella, the black widow, is a star. Magnetic. Attracts. Pulls them in. One by one. A drink. A cake maybe. Shall I slip a record on. Setting the scene. A tableau; only present because the ...

Abstract purple digital image

642; Blue Thing

The instruction is to write about someone holding something blue and what they may be thinking. My instincts in this introduction are to be puerile and pun along the lines of; in the proud oral tradition of Jim Morrison's Lament to My Cock but there are serious issues here too. 1) ...

Signs; Not Shutting Up

I can’t remember the film poster I cribbed these lines from. It was there in my local tube station. At the bottom of the stairs. When I stole the slogan I’m sure it had another resonance for me than the lyrics formed today. Might have had something to do with ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

Juice; Hit Head Bang Wall

Yoko’s Wall Piece to Orchestra says only; ‘Hit a wall with your head’. How many times have we done that. How many times have we said the same thing over and over again. There are two voices in this piece. The ones like me, like you, like us, who call ...

School children dressed as the 3 wise men in a nativity play

Introduction; To A Break Down

An unusual thing for me…. I’m starting to have kittens. Where is that nerveless self when needed. Consequently, my stammer is re-appearing. Consequently, I think back to when all this was supposed to have started. The school nativity play. Play up to expectations is a piece of advice someone once gave me. ...

Introduction; I’ll Put This One There

2019, I’ll be curating 6 poetry events a the Karamel Restaurant, Wood Green, London. The Introductions series started with my desire as a performance poet to introduce my work in a different way to saying this came from A and went with Z. But now as a curator, performer and ...

Initial; A Father’s Gifts

The book of instructions I use for this series suggests I should remember the first gift I bought for Father’s Day. Its strange to think I can barely remember a gift I gave my dad. On my next birthday I’ll be one year short of 40 years without him. Today ...

Declaration 18, Joshua losing the battle, he goes

Another article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which I focus on in order to create poetry for a conservation project here in deep dark Crouch End, London. Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, ...

Black Widow 2

Late comers to Black Widow may wish to go back to the start which started here. The road is long. Someone added the winding. Spider is on the run. He has six weeks of exquisite boredom on his star chart. This ends with her feast. A death worth looking forward to. ...

Head shot of the artist

The Challenge; Message To A Son

November’s Challenge from the Highgate Society’s Poetry Group, which meets on the first monday of the month, was to respond to two themes; 1) who do you think you are and 2) in praise of vandals. Traveling by train from Pallant House, Chicester, where I was contributing to a Share ...

The Challenge; Festivities

December’s challenge from the Highgate Society’s Poetry Group was to do a poem on the festivities. I looked back through the prism of time and remembered my time involved in the first DPAC action on the Housing Emergency. The Challenge; Festivities A nativity scene A Norwegian tree Trafalgar Square DPAC announce Emergency Housing Crisis Stephen Lee Hodgkins ...

Acorn; My Sound Pieces

Yoko’s final sky piece in her book of Acorns makes me think of lines from Laurie Anderson’s Walking and Falling. Whilst Laurie falls, Yoko flies. Then sounds from what we used to call albums start to fill my head. I am transported back to the scouts and special school. Acorn; My ...

Yellow bunk beds

642; Roomie

642 things to write about instructs the writer to give testimony to a favourite room mate. I never had one. I considered giving the names and status of all those roomies who never became a favourite. DAO have recently discussed whether we are in a pre-disability arts era. I have ...

Front facade of an old school

642; Magpies

‘642 Things To Write About’ instructs; ‘Write about something that was stolen from you’, not knowing about the history lesson that awaits. This is something of my time going back to special school. Tell me about your time? Say what was stolen? 642; Magpies Mopey Matilda moans and mithers about too much Post ...

Lines on a forthcoming election – My Next Community Exercise

We are looking for 4 lines or more, preferably in rhyme, giving hopes, fears or couldn't care less comments on the forthcoming election. Your contributions will be read at our celebration of the International Day of Disabled People 2019 - 'Under The Poet Tree REaD Rhymes Live' at: The Foundry, 17 ...

Black Widow. 1

Random thoughts collected during diagnosis, treatment and recovery from Prostrate Cancer. An incoherent, rambling mess of a story with nothing to say and nowhere to go. She lies coy between the sheets dreaming she could be everything Mr Zim wanted his Tarantula to be. Wakeful now she sings sullenly soft sweet ...

Signs; Sick Man’s Close

This street does not exist in Devon. Though it nearly did. It only exists now because I blanked some letters out. It took a little time. Not a difficult task. Then it just hung around, waiting to be given verse. I tried once. I tried again. I was disappointed. Then the ...

Bunch of strawberries

Love a guide poem for a festival

I was due a return to the Arts Camp at Cambridge's Strawberry Fayre. The theme for the year was love. Love is not my most concentrated theme. I needed to start putting things together. I decided to write a guide poem as a means to building a set. Then I ...

Juice; Mysteries

The latest read Piece for Orchestra by the indomitable Yoko seeks music from windows and stars. Strangely the instruction invokes a memory of heavy drug use. Please tell me what you think about the pic or poem below. Juice; Mysteries In summertime He opens the windows Plays Oye Como Va To any passing stranger Night enters A ...

image of flowers

Initial; A Mother’s Day Present

So the book said remember the first mothers day gift. Where did it lead for you? Initial; A Mother’s Day Present An African Violet Deepest, dark blue petals Brightened by specks Of yellow stamen The cracked pot It lived in The stony ground It moved to Symbolic somehow Of a changed relationship 30th November 2018

Declaration 17; Our Property No Longer Ours

The conservation battle we waged for a community building was lost when the council signed off a lease to an organisation from Hong Kong whose accounts are registered in the Cayman Islands. Their gain being our loss. Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: 1. Everyone has the right ...

Declaration 15 – What is nationality?

I guess we are all looking into our identities nowadays deciding which labels we choose to wear. This was written for a local campaign i was supporting in darkest Hornsey at a time when a national question engaged us all. The strategy I adopt in the campaign is to focus ...

Abstract purple digital image

Richard Downes reflects on his year as a DAO Associate Artist

Richard Downes has had quite a year since signing up as a DAO Associate Artist. During that time he has been developing roles as a performance poet, a producer and an MC. He tells DAO about what he has learnt and what the highlights of his year have been. Before I ...

The Challenge; 5 Random Words

I am facilitating a poetry group at the Highgate Society on the first Monday of the month (6.30-8.30pm fact fans). It's basically an open mic. But the group also decided to set a poetry challenge at each meeting. And these will make up my latest theme on the DAO blog. The ...

Signs; (The Ecology) Of Accessible Loos – A Community Exercise

Disability Arts Online are planning a major exhibition/arts event Contested Spaces launching on 24 September at The Foundry in South London. I have been asked to curate poetry events acknowledging World Mental Health Day and the International Day of Disabled People on 9 October and 3 December respectively. I have ...

Acorn; How High We Were, The Moment That We Fell

Yesterday we sat talking about the times we remember when we could climb trees. We talked about the moment we knew it was time to stop. We talked hopscotch and skipping ropes, half-remembered lines. Would we ever choose to go back there? Today I read Yoko Ono’s Acorn, Sky Piece ...

Words On A Post Card; Blank Spaces

Long term readers of my blog may find a memory of me trying to use less words so as to print up post cards. This came out of that process on 16th November 2019. I think it says something's can't be said well enough so may be best left unsaid. ...

Acorn; I Accept The Sun

From Yoko’s Sky Piece VI. A homemade beeswax candle was proffered to me once. Ashamed I failed to accept it. It's been a long hot summer with amazing temperatures. I have not hidden from the sun. rarely worn a hat and rarely caked on lotion. This year I accepted the ...

Juice; From Tear to Touch to Rub

Yoko’s Pieces for Orchestra depend on parts 4-6 being defined by the instructive words ‘tear’, ‘touch’ and ‘rub’; words that reach out to a humane instinct within me and feel like a life lesson or summary. I feel a connection and choose my own words. Juice; From Tear to Touch to ...

Fish and chips

100 Meters; A Brexit Breakfast with a Failed Prime Minister

Who remembers the day Theresa May was electioneering on the South Coast? She took a bag of chips from a reasonably reputable chippie and then found herself flummoxed when someone put a can of coke in her spare hand. It was like the Ed Milliband food disaster photo but the media ...

Initial; Tooth Luck

It's the week of the broken promise budget and we are being told austerity is over whilst schools are being thrown peanuts, the police get nowt and universal credit remains. Meanwhile a book asks me to write about the first tooth I lost and enquires about how much the tooth ...

100 Meters – Today’s Indulgence

Aah!!! The nature of special school memories. Add your own lines below so I know it wasn't just me. Start the lines In the....... and say whatever you want to. 100 Meters – Today’s Indulgence Today’s indulgence Focuses again on me In forgetting all the other faces That met my fate together In the harshness of ...

Acorn: Crowded Blue Sky

Stepping off the 91 @ Kings Cross I follow Yoko’s Sky Piece Vlll instruction as far as I am able to. I look up to the blue sky. I fail to empty my mind but I let the ideas come in. First idea comes with a vista of tall buildings, the ...

Signs; No One Shared His Space

The brother or sister poem to the brother or sister poem i posted a while back called, i think, 'Share This Space'. The pain of exclusion. The thoughts that keep you awake. Godless loneliness. Uncomfortable at a time when everyone is cosy. The real need for inclusion. A concept called sharing. ...

642 – Gordon’s End

Tell a story starting with a ransom note 642 – Gordon’s End Walking back from the police station I consider the officers advice Accept no responsibility he said Tell the professionals who would Otherwise choose to do nothing That he’s out, he’s on the street Then watch them change Watch them change when they learn That no one really cares Watch ...

The Woods Whistled

Ray Avards was a sometime ago friend. A big fan of nature and sport and a committed solicitor focused on community care. He was prone to depression. One day it just got too much for him. We all know the social care system is buckling under pressure through austerity. Ray ...

Signs; Share This Space

Signs; Share This Space is a sister poem to its brother, 'No One Shared His Space', which almost as if by magic will appear in a few weeks time. The sister is good and remains positive. Her brother not so. Just thought i'd keep you hanging on for a while ...

Juice: My Juiciest Juicy Bits

Thank you Yoko for the instructions to peel, peek and take off as given in Numbers 1-3 Piece for Orchestra. Now you’ve made me confess openly to my own humanity and the absence of a radical edge whilst looking for something to do and accepting an offer to do something ...

Cartoon

DET – Scrimping and Saving Co. Ltd

I’ve lived through two periods of blue austerity. This one is the longest yet. A perfect time to look at organisational barriers being created by central government by filtering diktat through to local authorities of many different colours but usually the same hue of yellowy custard. Scrimping and Saving Co. Ltd Open ...

Extinction Rebellion logo

Initial – Allergy

This weeks challenge from ‘A First Time For Everything’ is to write about my first allergy. I do have one or two but they’re not much to write about and the news is more mortifying. Initial - Allegy 2018 Natasha Ednan-Laperouse Dies from a sesame allergen Induced by a relaxed regulation 2019 Hello Brexit Food Standards Environmental Standards Workers Rights Relaxed ...

a young white male lies down his head on a bed of papers

Hidden: Gary Thomas finds his voice

On 17-18 May, the Cats Back presented Gary Thomas's one-man play 'Hidden' starring Mckenzie Alexander and directed by Niall Phillips as part of the Wandsworth Fringe Festival, London. Review by Richard Downes. A young man sits writing words on papers, capturing stories, waiting for the auditorium to fill. He is a ...

100 Meters – Clubfoot

A word memory found in the Poetry Library whilst reading an old, cherished poet who used the word infrequently. I think of Clubfoot sometimes and what happened the next day following my subsequent refusal of a date. My shame will not let me name her. I was young. As was ...

The Show Must Go On

A reflective Richard Downes looks back on four turns at REaD Rhymes Live his first experience of curating, MC-ing and performing at a self designed show for Disabled Poets at the Karamel Restaurant The Show Must Go On A note came out of the blue from the chair of Collage Arts suggesting ...

100 Meters; English Grammar Wars

From a dream 100 Meters; English Grammar Wars In a traffic jam They throw their pronoun Through the window A verb returns An unnecessary argument Over in seconds

Acorn: I Climbed The Ladder

I'm not sure which of Yoko Ono's Acorns got me cogitating on my career journey but it did. Subsequently I heard a volunteer call from my old alma mater asking for career talks. I took this with me and squawked to first year students doodling on their mobiles. Acorn: I Climbed ...

digital image of a tree through a purple filter

For What We Are About To Receive: Poetry as Ritual

In response to a request from DAO to write about his journey as a socially engaged performance poet, our Associate Artist Richard goes to the essence of performance poetry, beginning with a visit to a creative writing course at the Mary Ward Centre The self styled Little Maestro, teacher of esoteric ...

642; Spaced and Perfect

The book ‘642 Things To Write About’ told me that I was an astronaut enjoying the perfect day. Of cause; I wasn’t and perhaps I never would be. Sleep, death, suicide, stirred my brain as motifs for the perfect day. There was a time I felt happy. Too happy to live. ...

Signs: Stupid System

Signs: One of my current hopes is to achieve more brevity, cut down on me words in order to make a point. So here’s a statement masquerading as a poem. What can I be talking about and how did it affect you? Stupid System A system that aims to: Cut Sanction Kill And otherwise Penalise the poor Is a ...

a man's broken leg is being wrapped in bandages by a medic

Initial: A Medical Record

Initial: A Medical Record I never broke a limb Reading Not an arm or a leg Writing My medical history Revealing Paper cuts Risking Ink poisoning Scrawling Notes on my hand Empathising With every break That never happened My paper cuts Stinging badly.

stethoscope on a computer

Initial; Culture Change

Initial; Culture Change Remembering the first time I went to the doctors and the doctor didn’t come to me. Dr Lucas’s waiting room Green leather benches Brown flock peeling walls Patient lips holding patient cigarettes Dr Lucas presses tongues down Says, ‘say ah’ Breathes the ghosts of nicotine Into fragile lungs Dr Lucas’s stethoscope Smells of home Where Mom and Dad smoke As ...

a purple abstract image

Richard Downes: socially-engaged, activist poet on a mission with Collage Arts and Outside In

Richard Downes became a DAO Associate Artist in summer 2018. We wanted to create an opportunity to seed-fund the artistic development for a small number of artists and see where it took us. Richard talks here about his ambition to take on a role as an emerging socially engaged activist ...

silhouette of a woman screaming into a megaphone

Juice: Inert then Active

In response to Yoko Ono’s Voice Piece for Soprano. Some people scream better than others, some for themselves and yet more for others. My preference was always to be still, be silent, safe and peaceful. I’ve lived in places where I was quiet to my peril and admonished when I ...

Yellow book cover with a illustration of Penny Pepper

Penny Pepper: a life in 10 Rhymes

Richard Downes reviews Together 2012, Writer in Residence Penny Pepper's poetry performance at NewVic on 7th March as part of Newham Word Festival. 10 Rhymes divided by 5 years since I last saw Penny Pepper perform, equals two lives coming together on the eve of International Women's Day – hers and ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

DET, The Medical Model and Me

A long drawn out recovery demonstrating the next part of my Disability Equality Training Course as poetry DET, The Medical Model and Me I am impaired Where do I go to get fixed? Where can I be changed? Where can I go to get right? Where oh where do I start my search? I don’t fit in I ...

100 Meters – Blank Verse

100 Meters – Blank Verse It’s early morning. My brain is drained by sleep. There is nothing to say. Nothing I would choose to say. So, I start with a blank page. My nascent career as a performance, soon to be published, poet has begun. Deep in the recess thoughts begin ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

Introductions: A Perfect Shell

Here's something I've been thinking through: making introductions to performed poems with performed poems. This has come about due to being more involved with performance and MC-ing with  my current curator role at REaD Rhymes Live. I'm not sure i'll be taking it any further forward but here's a fairly ...

642: How’s My State of Mind

Instruction manual 642 Things to Write About requires me to post some facebook status’s. Here’s a line or two. Facebook timeline asks daily Whats on your mind? I start a collection Tell me below what you would tell facebook today. 642 How’s My State of Mind Facebook I’m not paranoid Facebook I’m not delusional Facebook I’m not sad or ...

Signs; It May Be A Deli To You Mate

A response to a Southwold Deli. Language. Love it. Enjoy it. Let's have fun. Reveal our eccentricities and inadequacies. Revolt against the politically correct. You've got to laugh haven't you? Posting this in the week that Liam Neeson chose to reveal he wanted to kill a black man, West Ham fans ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

Initial – The Joke

Things I might never get away from; 1) an experience of disability, b) a social model approach to disability, c) a response through activism and advocacy. How many of us see our lives as nothing more than a joke, relegate our own status to that of a joke, find ourselves ...

Juice – Easy Peasy

According to Yoko Ono’s Let’s Piece 1, 500 noses are more beautiful than one, 1 phone number recited by 200 people sounds better than related by 1 especially if they all say it at the same time. Yoko sends a simple word to be said in a city for 30 ...

100 Meters – Who And What

I don’t usually spend much time reflecting on the news or even listening to the news even though the news is on and all around me. At times I find the news too difficult to bear. At other times I find it full of amusement. The Glorious Servant sometimes views ...

Acorn: Running

Derived from Yoko’s Sky Piece V Autumn. Way back in time I enjoyed the sports I enjoyed, and hated the sports I hated. I guess I was trying to prove something. Something about someone whose running was compromised, was never so fleet, never so far in comparison to others. Yet I ...

642 Meets Whistling Jack in the Wasted Lands

642 Things To Write About instructs that I write to a house plant telling it why it needs to live or something like that. But I am on my holidays. I am south of where I usually live and that can only mean my annual meet up with Whistling Jack. 642 ...

Declaration 13 – Freedom of Movement Versus Money

Declaration 13 – Freedom of Movement Versus Money 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. Whilst pursuing these collected poetic actions for a conservation course ...

Acorn; The Sky Today

  Sharing Yoko’s Sky Piece 1 we asked our own questions and came up with our own answers. It's what we do, when we do it. Acorn; The Sky Today She Sits lonesome in a bedroom Grieves parental loss Lifts her head and sees it The sky Elemental life force Always there, always giving She takes a cloud Wraps it round ...

Signs; Maximum Stay

I am really stuck for thoughts for this sign today so I’ll leave it short and sweet. Succinct and full of meaning. If you can add rhymes to the beginning please feel free to go ahead. You are most welcome to occupy my empty spaces. Signs; Maximum Stay You are allowed to ...

100 Meters – I Nearly Wrote A Poem

A guy called Stan Cryer is trying to raise funds to convert an old unused fire station into an arts centre. What else is going to happen to all the closed fire and police stations in London? I asked him if spoken word was on the agenda. He said it ...

Declaration 12; Its Not A Dire Warning

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. This is from a lost conservation campaign. Life goes on. ...

Juice: Between 5 and 8 O’clock

Grapefruit. Yoko Ono dredges up a memory of the woods. There was a time when 5 meant waking up to an alarm and 8 indicated time for arriving at work. Then there is another situation. This was mine. Where is yours. Juice; Between 5 and 8 O’clock A low tone Rumbles lonely Through the ...

Initial: Nick Names

A hate crime officer I once knew gave me a book with ideas I could use to write from. This is the second installment from the first page. It impinges on my history. It tells a tale or two. It doesn’t mean to upbraid anyone going through spiteful name calling. ...

100 Meters; On the Ending of a Favoured Thing

Lost to memories of place and time, dancers relate, fail to  continue. Lost, the ending of a a journey. Dance the car boogie. Tell me about the last time you danced? 100 Meters; On the Ending of a Favoured Thing Fat, flushed, flash and funky You handled movement Like a disco master knowing when to ...

DET: I never read the woman in the window…..

Continuing in the vein of a Disability Equality course I alight on an opportunity to reflect on negative imagery. The photo here is from an Ad man seeking to sell a book but; I never read the woman in the window… The woman in the window is a thriller alright Paranoid. She hears ...

100 Meters – Time Is (A Communal Poetry Exercise)

A friend appeared to be talking to me on messenger. After a polite intro the talk turned to receiving funding. Aye up!!! This now looks like he’s been hacked. I mail an alert to him. He confirms the hack. He asks how my time on the dole is going. I ...

Acorn: Everything Changes Daily

A response to Yoko Ono’s Sky Piece IV. Her imagination puts me in her place, moves me home, finds me redundant, failing interviews and brings back a memory of someone else I never kissed. Make a list of all the people you never kissed. Reach out to them. Those last ...

Here the Curator Speaks of Shape Shifting Spaces

Cut Up Review of Space Shifters @ Hayward Gallery, 26th September 2018 - 6th January 2019 (including portions of a press release from Drag; Self-Portraits and Body Politics – no longer at the Hayward.) I attended an exhibition. It confounded me. What do you write about something like this. I took the ...

642; Our Diet and a Diet for Getting Fat

The table marks your place. You are low grade caste below. At the end of the hall the staff are elevated. Status gilded on a plate; they don’t eat what we eat. They are apart, they sit apart, talk amongst themselves, retain special privileges. A word or sound out of ...

Signs: A Room And A View

In spite of appearances this simple story is not a crack at the young for failing to take up the civil rights baton. It is a look into the future based on stories of the war the older generation used to festoon me with. Well, festoon being an exaggeration actually. ...

Juice: On the Fiddle Again

Unison, unity, union. A single voice is a start but never enough. This is the lesson from the Grapefruit instruction, Let’s Piece 1. An opportunity for readers to post their favourite chants. Juice: On the Fiddle Again He scrapes the bow on the fiddle Scraping his bow on the fiddle again He looks for ...

Initial; Proof of Something

This one goes out to Anju Armstrong for the gift of a book – ‘A First Time For Everything’ A simple idea. A complex structure. A session in Cognitive Analytic Therapy. The questioning. The answering. The starting point. The arrival. The positioning. A line from the Bonzo's to the Bonzo me. ...

642: Take A Second

Stationary and chocolates. Cakes. Kind words from people paying testimony to me. This is what I have and what I remember best from my leaving party – the day I took redundancy. Amongst the papers, a book, 654 things to write about. The first thing; “What can you do in ...

100 Meters – Dinner and Iken

My poetry is increasingly thematic. 100 Meters is where I freestyle – just having some fun. There may be 100 one day. There may not be. This race started looking forward to a dinner. It finished with me manipulating the following photos (my second art). 100 Meters – Dinner and Iken The ...

Declaration 11; A Thank You Note

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: "1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. 2. No one shall be held ...

Signs; The Letters We Write

Danners may remember the Colin Low Lecture; ‘Have Disability Rights Gone Too far’. I was reminded of it by the time I finished this poem. I was also put in mind of a social model expectation that a better world for us would be a better world for everyone. Signs; The ...

Rainbow over a house

Sitting on a pot of gold

I saw a rainbow once. It pointed to a house. Who lived there? Was he rich? Would he use the money well? Sitting on a pot of gold Malchey is as sad a soul As ever sat on a pot of gold His expectations over ruled By a fair assessment Malchey chooses to sit things out Wait ...

Kids playing

Here I am

I don’t know why but I was thinking I should go and talk to the kids. Tell em about their mom’s and dads. I never got around to it so I wrote a poem instead. It's a poem about memories. Memories of what it was like to be a kid ...

Sliced grapefruit

Juice – Non Comprehendi

Juice. The third or fourth in a forlorn sequence started with a misnamed Seed identifier. Juice responds to each page in Yoko’s Grapefruit. Grapefruit is more alien to me than the seeds of the oak which I recognise as well formed and succinct. Unlike Elvis, born in the land of ...

Declaration 10: Hear Me

Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reads; Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. Whilst all these declarations have been written for ...

Declaration 9 – Exploring Exile

Maybe detention may have been a better focus here than exile. Exile raises questions of race and place. But can you not be exiled within your own country? Semantically maybe not. But what of institutionalised care, the house on the hill, the special school, the care home, nursing home, the ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

Acorn: The Glorious Servant’s Dream End

This is the second time i’ve used Yoko Ono’s Sky Piece II. Well, the third actually. The first time was just for me. The second and this one; shared. Why? Sick of flicking through Instagram and Pinterest I finally bought the book. Today I’m gladdened that the glorious servant is ...

Photo of a grapefruit cut into two halves

Juice: Stones

The grapefruit has a bitter juice, is no breakfast staple. Who did I think I was way back then to imagine I could improve myself or dare to change the world. Juice: Stones This stone is often wet It is again today Stone and rain combine To shine and glisten When the sun comes out That is ...

Signs: In A Word

I'm having to consider my position on these signs i photograph and why it means something to me, why i'm inspired to have a pop or show support? Sometimes I see the signs as a joke, sometimes they get my goat, sometimes the way they appear to just fit the ...

Photo of a grapefruit cut into two halves

Juice: The First Sip

Another book of instructions is being pursued here. The instruction makes me think of the earth, weather conditions, the state of man, a man, this man; sadness when conditions meet and strategies we devise to stay mostly sane. Juice: The First Sip The sun is hot It beats down on the earth As you ...

100 Meters – About the Old And Crumpled

There’s a lamp post outside on the pavement, where I live, where I happened to find and photograph an old crumpled sticker. Shaped like a psychedelic cross I can read the words; ‘Vote Conservative to end the...’. I have no idea of the words that follow. You might. Love to ...

Declaration 8: An Effective Remedy

The 8th Declaration from an ongoing series in support of a local conservation campaign.   The 8th article from the Human Rights Act reads: Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by ...

Declaration 7; Protection

Another from the lost conservation battle. The following article for all its usefulness is taken from the universal declaration of human rights Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in ...

Acorn; 3 Spheres Of Verbiage

Following on from another of Yoko’s instructions written thus: ‘SOUND PIECE X: Fly out into space. Listen to the music earth is making. Fly out into space. (a) Listen to the music the planets are making. (b) Listen to the music the universes are making’, a poem begins I believe with ...

Poetic Review

Press View Lee Bul Crashing 30 May – 19 August 2018 Adapt to Survive; Notes from the Future Hayward Gallery From time to time I get an invite from the Hayward Gallery to attend Press Views. Donning my DAO identity I assume the right to be there confident that I can make something of ...

Signs: Disabled Person – Keep Clear

How many times have I seen these two signs next to each other; disabled person, keep clear? Does it reinforce one of societies messages? Is it supposed to? Is it carelessness? I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to say. Is it me? Am I reading things into things that are ...

The Economic Model and Me

I am on the early part of the Disability Equality Course I am giving to DAO Blog Readers in the form of presumed poetry. See The Religious Model And Me for part 1. No reason to miss out on the training from me when delivered through DAO. I am wondering where ...

Photo Poem – Ode to Mod Tat

Went for a walk around London. Took Photos. Here are 6 of them captioned with the words Suited Hooligan Takes sprocket wrench to cathedral Before spraying Ode To Mod Tat Disorientating that The first picture is of a statue placed before office windows. The statue looks like a suited hooligan holding a sprocket wrench in his right ...

The Religious Model and Me

Thank you very much for visiting this blog on Disability Arts Online. A Pilgrimage for many. Please leave the offerings you prefer burnt in the spaces below the hymn from our movement The Religious Model in Me I am born in God, impaired In the arms of a God given family I am blessed I ...

Declaration; A View On The Colour Of Law

Another from the conservation campaign i'm involved in. Hot news... one of the organisations i got involved with as a campaigner - The Highgate Society - like my idea of having a poetry reading one Sunday afternoon and are giving me access to their hall. I'm looking for a little bit of ...

Acorn: Gimme Some Truth

Love scenes are never easy. Ask John and Yoko or anyone else you wanna ask. Sometimes things are said unkindly. Sometimes it has to stop. Especially when the aggravation comes from two party poopers causing no-one any fun. WISH PIECE VI: Write all the things you want to do. Ask others to ...

Two Party Poopers at a Party

I wrote this a while ago. I took the photo only recently. The quote below the windows is i presume from Orwell - a writer i never got into. I was looking for a picture to go with the words. I think Orwell meant you can see the writer, you ...

Doors with shutters in front of them

From blogging to performing: my poetry journey with DAO

Regular Disability Arts Online blogger and unofficial poet laureate, Richard Downes shares his journey through writing on DAO, following two years of penning a poem weekly – and his recent performance poetry debut. Two years ago, I set myself the task to write a poem a week and publish it on ...

The Coat Hanger Man

There was this institution. Wasn't so bad as it happens. Though no one would choose to be there. There was an escape committee. Some of us imagined getting out more than we tried to get out. Me and the coat hanger man were two of those. Coat Hanger Man He wasn’t Gordon He ...

The Glorious Servant Spends an Hour at his Desk

It had been a glorious autumn morning. A low sun gave light to everything. I enjoyed my walk up to the factory gate. I would witness many things as the working day unfolded. The hooter sounded and I left to a gathering darkness, foreshadowed by the promise of redundancy. Memories ...

Acorn: Pride

What is my pride, asks Yoko. The dictionary says; "a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of one's close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired". The old rag bible defines it as sin. The question takes me back to ...

Declaration 5; The Tree And the Apartment Block AKA Cruelty and What It Gets

Another from the conservation campaign I found myself involved in.Declaration 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads; No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. First duet I ever wrote. I know it works. I've tried it. I imagine myself at a reading. ...

Call The Blurred Lifeboat

Rare for me to take a blurred photo these days. Its not rare for the blur to speak louder to me than the sharp though. There's me at the Turner Contemporary looking down from the first floor deciding i wanted to take the shot. Never knew why though. Call The Blurred ...

Acorn: returning to my planet

Another instruction piece from Yoko. Response from me, to me. SKY PIECE II: Look at a star in the sky not as something unreachable but as a planet you would visit one day. You are my star. I’ve known you for so long. Gone on so many journeys with you. Checked in, walked ...

Declaration 4: Half A Pound Of Freedom

Another poem from the Crouch End Conservation Project I'm working on. I really struggled for a way in. As a subject slavery calls for responsible responses and really what is a town hall in comparison to a life. Plus during my early days in the movement I was told by ...

The Ritualised Humiliations of our Glorious Servant

The Ritualised Humiliations of our Glorious Servant In which the hairy old grey beard reflects on a bad day in a bad life sometimes illuminated by the right to sound off. 1. On another day when if there had been a bar she could have warmed cold beer with her tears but ...

Acorn: The Longest Rope

Y.O. asks; YOUR PIECE VIII: What are your attachments: (a) Animate: (b) Inanimate? I reply on a day we go to Oxford Street to meet with family Acorn; The Longest Rope Cousins What are these ties that bind A flimsy string to cut To lace new, ever smaller shoes A chance for clans To meet and talk of ...

Acorn; 3 Wishes

In which I consider the power of three and the rule of three. Unity, bonds, and karma before settling for an atheists fairy tale. Incidentally, its bad news for the acorns this year. Acorn: 3 Wishes When very young Innumerate, illiterate and stammering most excellently The good mother came by, lampless And just for the ...

Signs: Of UP and down

A negative sign, not because of what it says but where it is, within the otherwise wonderful Photographer's Gallery, painted close to the ceiling...... just where many of us won't see it. So rather than dwell on the down side i look for the positive. I use songs, I use ...

Declaration 3: Pronounced Resting

Here's another one from that conservation battle that is gaining momentum in the local streets. All for a tree, all for a square, all for a town hall. The way these things represent our lives. I'm particularly happy to represent this one here. There's the line 'proud angry and strong'. Every ...

Valentine Today

Feeling somewhat low today, reflecting on love and the myth of Valentine's Day Valentine Today Valentine is in his self built cell today Tortured by his own hard surface Covered by a coarse, hair shirt A poor man’s blanket, useless In the cold, the sun hangs low Confounding his usually lucid vision Of love, which he suddenly doubts To ...

Black and white close up of a man's face

The Glorious Servant Dreams about The Department of What and Pardon

It had been a hard day of concentration at the office. The Glorious Servant had applied himself to processes of application, focusing on rules, regulations and get out/get off clauses. Thinking back in time he remembered a name. He thought it was Joseph Heller. Regardless of correctness he settled for ...

flyer for the Irish film Sanctuary

Sanctuary – Film Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDF-KMAMtZg A of friendly piece of advice to a film director seeking to get his film financed and distributed; “Who wants to see a film about retards having sex?”. How many attitudinal barriers exist in that sentence? Language. Here’s another one. According to Director, Len Collin, at a Q and A, given ...

Signs: Faded

I’m not sure what got me here. A stinking October cold or just a feeling of unremitting effort, trying to achieve something, doing fairly well and then just feeling like I’ve been kicked in the teeth within the grounds of people and places that need to learn to show more ...

Declaration 2; Distinction – What We Each Bring To The Table

Another from the local conservation projects i'm supporting. There is a tree on a green on a square in front of an art deco town hall occupied by artists and community businesses and its all up for redevelopment. The tree was planted by the Amnesty Group celebrating fifty years of ...

Declaration 1. Born Equal

This year I got involved in local conservation issues. I picked up on an issue and posted this poem on The Hornsey Town Hall Facebook Group who immediately appointed me 'poet in residence - no payment, just kudos', which i accepted with a thrill and gratitude. Where the poem partly ...

Acorn: Invisibility

Yoko Ono instructs: QUESTIONNAIRE 1: True or False? - All streets are invisible. The visible ones are fake ones, though some visible ones are the end parts of the invisible ones. I listen. I think about it. Visibility. Invisibility. That which is real. That which is fake. I know the issue that ...

Mean Time

The first time i blogged about the mean time was the second time i'd written about the mean time. This is closer to the first time i wrote about the mean time. It came with this page. It said something about blue politics. It was shite. It wasn't how I ...

Seasonal Adjustments

About this time last year a fellow DAO Blogger got all christmas carol on my facebook. I went to work and found some old geezer sucking on his humbugs. No one spoke up for the holiday. So, i took it upon myself to do so. Cos, the poetry of misery ...

Sorry. No Access. Thank You.

There will be no segregation in this poem. Only a separation. I am no separatist but I wonder if we were to separate if we could use access to enforce the exclusion of those we would separate from as they who chose our exclusion use no access to separate us ...

Usurprising

Together 2017’s Prisong by gobscure on show at East Ham Library until 15th December What’s in a name? gobscure? Small g standing for g who wants to be obscure, feels obscure, is obscure? g’s obscure practice that challenges you to look, inquire, think or feel the sickness and walk away? Maybe. ...

Hanging On In Herne Bay

Herne should you have never learned it, is the hunter. Herne the white hunter runs with the deer, his spear in his hand. The briar never stopped him. He’d just run through it. Just as today, inspired by a photo of a sign on a lamp post in Herne Bay ...

The Systemic Analysis of our Glorious Servant

I can’t remember when I first heard the ticking of a clock. I do recall however; the last time the alarms went off. I recall today; rarely. The decades roll in, roll out. Hands up for the 70’s and the progressive notion that crips could work computers. I was there. ...

Acorn: Orbiting

A tawdry rag, a photo taken somewhere, a Gormley man in Margate. We talked about it coming. We wondered if it would look the same way as other Gormley men do – out to sea. We wondered if the time had come for Gormley men to look inward or down ...

Photo of the front of a yellow DAN t-shirt with the London underground logo and the words "we will ride".

Defiant Wastelands

In which DAO charge Richard Downes to watch a film and give a personal response based on then and now. 12 hours ago I left my wife sleeping. Now she is catching up with a neighbour, enjoying children and eating chocolate cake. I am stranded at the arse-end of the jubilee ...

The Calls of Whistling Jack

Last year I heard Whistling Jack. The terror in his lack of tunefulness ruptured sleep with deep restlessness. This year, just off the rocks of the Atlantic I swear I heard Jack again. This time, singing strange siren songs in an abrupt Japanese dialect. Therefore reminding me of Rose and ...

photo of acorns

Acorn: Synopsis

I wish I knew where this came from. But I don’t. Its lost to history. Ah!! But, yes. It’s an acorn. Not a work poem scrawled on recycled paper, with a stolen pen, lifted by a disengaged employee. Rather it is with Kristofferson – Sunday Morning Coming Down – on ...

Signs: Accreditation

Way back in time, when we decided as a movement, to fight for rights we made demands. The demands were our standards. Some flew on banners. Some were sung. We did pretty well, offered each other friendship and support. Our best results came before a qualified professional ran the country. ...

Signs: Eden

I was on a webpage a while ago looking at the concept of animated, lively signs of disability. They looked good. Better than the glum pariah of the international sign which sits so still, gormless and unrepresentative, hangs on doors or takes up station on wet and shivery tarmac, institutionalised ...

A Daisy – A Day

The reviewer faces a debut DAISY day at DAISY (Disability Arts In Surrey). My first disability festival as a contributor. My first reading as a performance poet. But first…. there is always a first before a first. Others got there first. Maybe Armstrong never stepped on the moon and maybe ...

Self Portrait

I have struggled. With this one. Found myself standing long enough to do a job on an original idea. I have more to say. This started in planning for a disability equality course I was putting on way back. It started with a question. Am I handsome? In raising this ...

Missing

Once upon a while ago when younger, still brash, cocky and apathetic I thought I’d enter a tryptich of photographs into a Shape Arts Open on the theme of, if I recall correctly, what disability means to you. I started well but the apathy won (again). The pictures went missing. ...

In the Mean Time – Chapter 1

There was an advert relating to mean time. Colliers Wood. I don’t know what it was for. It wasn’t for the meantime. It wasn’t what I saw. Adverts, Profit, money motive. Seems to be the law.There will be more to follow. Like jabs upon the jaw. In The Mean Time – ...

Signs; Wait

A warning from a personal history bound up in compromise reflecting on the who and the who could have been. Its alright, not too bad, one gets by, my oh my, always driven by other voices and the imagining of a change that may have been coming but never did. ...

Chatting to a (non) Chugger – The 7th Wave

We met Katie Dawson and Fay Kent, Life Guards both, on the beach at Bigbury Bay. Trying to tie us up to a direct debit benefiting the Royal National Lifeguard Institute, (RNLI) Katie asked not to be called a chugger. The RNLI had a pretty decent offer. £36 for a small ...

Conscripted

Words start to fall on a moonlight walk. 'Conscripted into separation' starts it all. I wonder what it means. I share the line with someone who gives it a thumbs up. I forget it as the day goes on. It returns. It gets a few more numbered lines. Its left. ...

Resurrecting the Glorious Servant

The champ had been taking a real beating but like a true champ he believed in finding his second wind. It took a while but he found it Resurrecting the Glorious Servant It had been unremitting misery Being away I missed this space This place This desk This hex This mouse This house This file This smile Turned upside down Yes the sun ...

Signs: Misread Sign

Best not believe a word I say. This may be a lie. There may not have been a dream. It may have been real. I don’t know. Honestly, I can’t remember. You decide: Misread Sign In dream Walking past a Chelsea park I misread the signs Please keep your Crip on a lease Keep It off ...

When Words Lose All Meaning

There appears to be a trend I must keep in my mind about the lines that I’ve sourced over years sitting at a desk – the office poems. Discussions I’ve had with colleagues. Council meetings, visits to parliament. Lines found on the street next to the woman with the banner ...

Black Dog

I’m not familiar with my depressions. I tie them up with a bow and put them in a bag and heave them in a sack, on my back, and carry them with me, hidden. Numb to thought to feeling. But from time to time they grow stronger in the dark ...

Photo of a sign in Devizes advising disabled access via Snuff St

Snuff Street Haiku

A while ago (2010) I saw this sign. Disabled Access via Snuff Street. Having a somewhat twisted sense of humour I found the juxtaposition amusing. Though of cause there is a connection with politics, eugenics, and the Not Dead Yet campaign. Humour contains truths regardless of whether the truth is ...

Elements

I have no idea why I wrote this a week or 2 or 5 ago. I guess its no more than a response to something I saw. A fire sign submerged in flooded water. I can’t remember where I learned about the elements or why I would want to know, ...

Hagiography

Today in the ongoing diary of a holy fool I stopped to wonder if it could have been different then. Hagiography Poet. Wasted. High On Drugs Low On Depression Waiting for the word. No. Don’t do it. Poet. Wasted. High On Drugs Low On Depression Hears the word. No. Don’t do it. Poet. Wasted. High On Drugs Low On Depression Obeys the word. No. Don’t do ...

Lou Reed

Observation

What no signs, no photo? Sometimes, something you read, or misread, will set you off on a thought. Here's one that happened to me. You can read it. Comment on the blog if you like. Do your own thing. Observation Lou Reed said We are lucky to be alive At the same time as ...

Signs: In case you don’t know

The photograph was taken at the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate where I met with friends. The story of the case was presented to me by someone who inspired me 20 years ago – Paul Fagan. I remember few things. I remember Paul and others from that time with gratitude. In ...

Pink writing cut from a film poster saying; 'what's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent'

Signs: Of a Silent Voice

Only last wednesday I was saying I can’t remember something important, a feeling about a pain. In searching for the answer I meet with other people who were there at a certain time. This is a lie Though I wouldn't call it that A memory now forgotten Wondering did it happen I need to know More ...

Signs: Dogs

The photo for this one shows an adapted toilet on a National Trust property at Dunwich Heath. Adapted toilets are not necessarily accessible. Typically the best of a bad job. This toilet is next to a store room. In between there is a tap and a dog bowl. We are ...

The Long Slow Death Of A Glorious Servant

News came through this week that the glorious servant who gave his soul to work mastered and unmastered is dying. Contractual time ticking by. We have reviewed his situation. All parties are keen to see him gone; at last. The whirlpool Spins above the table Eddying papers far away Threatening the in tray He dream't ...

Signs: Taking On The Cattle

I’ve never been a farmer, I’ve never farmed the land. I don’t know how to do it. I have no reason to believe that my life as a poet, photographer or activist lends anything towards a useful transferable skill. But I know a metaphor when I see one and the ...

Oujia, Tarot, Cauldron

In many ways I have not made enough of a contribution to people and things that matter to me. Each item on this wall bears my name though. The theme is green. The witch is black and many coloured, the green man a gift, the landscape an artwork I found, ...

For Esme (Wherever Life May Find Her)

Researching images for a powerpoint and speech on advocacy I came across a Carl Jung quote. Something about, it's not what happened to you it's about what you become. I liked that. It fitted very well with what I wanted to say. Two days later I was out with a ...

Doors with shutters in front of them

Signs: Mind Steps aka Words to an Unresolved Election

Last time around 'Signs: Mind Steps aka Photo Poem to an Unresolved Election' offered pictorial evidence of a mood within a time within a space. One of my favoured lines; 'if a picture paints a thousand words' urges caution. You do not see what I see. You do not feel ...

Holy Wholly Holey

Patronage has had a field day of late with the Heads Together Campaign. Those three royal youngsters have been superb. You know credit where its due and all. I’m really looking forward to meeting them and their breed as they get stuck in on a day to day basis, raving ...

Doors with shutters in front of them

Signs: Mind Steps aka Photo Poem for an Unresolved Election

Hornsey Town Hall Square, scene of public defeats, on an overcast day. In a low mood not alleviated by Dunns Bakery cakes feeling surrounded by depressing signs alluding to depressing times. Some days there are signs everywhere. Portents of doom. Everything is rubbish. Next poem will use words.

Disconnect

Sitting among 20 odd old white folk Concessioned on a Monday To watch I Am Not Your Negro Suggests their civil rights struggle Became our entertainment Their martyrs our heroes As the celluloid image Recites the lines we know The songs we sing The police dance of brutality Moves choreographed with truncheons And I feel a disconnect As I think of Cameron And ...

Signs: Numbers

90 people on the bus And only one of us Seems fair to me Lets take them on One by one by one by one 85 and counting This old lady Next to me She’ll limp She’s lame She’s 93 84 and counting Aye young fellah give up your seat you don’t need it to get up this street 83 and counting Hear young mother Fold up your chair That’s ...

Words From A Photo

Words from a photo were inspired by the responses of Deborah Caulfield, Miriam Binder, Rohhss Chapman and Tony Connell who all responded to my facebook request to look at a photo I'd taken of a touchstone entry at the Photographers Gallery. This project hosts one regularly changing photo in a ...

Review: This Girl Can Morris Dance

22nd March - 30th July 2017 Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, London, NW1 7AY Everything inside is changing. Ups and downs and spinning round. Take exhibitions. They never turned me on. Cold rooms, snooty people. Scoot around, spend a second or two with something you like and get out quick. ...

3 Wheels

One of my top photos here. I just like the shapes and colours and composition I guess. I also liked the convenience of it. A short walk to the bus stop and there it was; complete with an idea about 3 wheels on a wagon, riding up from memory, which ...

Signs: Push

Another song of exhortation, encouragement. I feel like I've been a long time gone from disability activism, that I've settled for work, photography and poetry, but my street actions were of a time, a time shared by others. I know also that there are others doing and leading the pushing ...

Signs: Crip Hero

I love this sign. I think its the most profound of them all. But its been a bugger. Something to work on. I hate work. Working on writing that is. What was I going to do with this sign? Then on waking up, the opening line came. Buts that’s all, ...

Signs: Majority

Another pic from the Barbican. This one, count them, showing a majority of international crip signs over and above international gender representations. Sometimes I have thought, contrary to the demands of inclusion, that we segregate, go it alone, provide for ourselves, include ourselves and damn all others. I have never thought what ...

colour photograph of a tiled floor holding dust

Dust Poems

1. Dust preserved in memory The Dust dances on a sunbeam Cast through curtains into a darkened room My mother has her cloth hands stayed by a terse instruction Her cloth ears understand Leave the Dust The Dust I’m told by grandma Is but dead skin and hair She wants it there Collecting, nesting, layering the sideboard The physical remains of ...

Signs: Quiet

I found this sign one time I was out with friends at the Barbican. As a stammerer I was attracted to the word 'speechless'. I hoped my camera would let me close in on that single word. It wouldn't. I had to accept the rest of the text too. I've ...

a green metal container, covered in grafitti bears the legend aapproved for transport

Saul’s Box

I'm not one or talk about the paranormal, the psychic. I've had experiences. Who hasn't. But there is that weird thing about connections. You think of a friend and they phone. Yesterday I walked past a box. I walk past it often. I looked at it and i thought: Saul’s Box Here ...

A rubber batman model stands above a bike shed, holding a wheel and a poster. The words on the poster are indistinct but it looks like a club programme. Batman also appears to be wearing beads which could be imitating a bike chain

Dinner! Dinner! Dinner!

The mobile unit is for breast screening. So as shabby as it is, I’m not welcome there. I walk away from my partner, leaving her there. Then I see this familiar looking hero standing in a strange place above a bike shed. He appeared to be holding a halo, a ...

city sign for the town of Independence in the US

Whose Values Do We Value? We Value Our Own

I've been sitting on this for a while. Dame Louise Casey said; "But we also need more of a spirit of unity, compassion and kindness that brings people together under our common British values of tolerance, democracy, equality and respect." Eleanor Lisney discussed it on Facebook. I contributed some of the ...

a stone with wood and metal inlays proclaiming welcocme to the Totnes - Dartington Access for All Path. One of the metal inlays is written in braille.

In Breath We Walk

Strange how a mood, personal or national, changes an intention. I had it in mind to write a celebratory piece on a path that runs between Dartington and Totnes, which proclaims itself an 'access path for all'. It was to be a celebration of community. There was nothing but goodness ...

Signs: Polemic aka Pointing Percy

I sat, excited, waiting and watching for the news on the Doug Paulley case which was due last Wednesday. I had to move on. By the time I came back, the news was out and the net was humming. Dennis Queen called him 'The Bomb', Jane Campbell said 'My Hero'. ...

Especially Special

The battle for language, what it means and more to the point, I think, is what it does to you. This is the second Martin poem in a way. Maybe I was lolling around thinking about myself and the things I'd said during the day. Then Martin happened by. Martin ...

Manipulated colour photo of my fist. Manipulated to reflect two colours in the lines- red and purple

Martin

Martin came to me one sleepless night following a day of revelation. He's  not alone in these lines. There's two of him. The Martin I lived with at school and the Martin I lived with in the kids home. A composite Martin. Hi everybody Come say hello to Martin Ask him bout the ...

Full Moonage Daydream – A Device

Walking up the hill this morning (14.12.2016) i saw a moon and shot it with a camera. In my head i was reciting Autumn Almanac: 'I like my football on a Saturday. Roast beef on Sunday. Alright'. Sparked into reverie by consideration of a chapter in Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink; The ...

The Song of St Theresa

In spite of the year in politics it's been a good year for me. I've felt more balanced than I have for a long time. The photo I was going to use here had three cues in it. Art, Love and Toil. I've bought them more together than before. I've not ...

Signs: William Conroy. An Obituary

(Or, how the sign gained its initials) A long nose hangs phallus-like over a wall as do eight podgey fingers. Two eyes, a bald head sometimes awarded a single curl, somehow the character acquires a quizzical air. Probably wondering just why 'Kilroy was here'. On to another legend. Old Slowhand. Me and ...

a photo of an empty glass jar sitting on a shelf

Seeing Through The Jar

Someone talks about a fear of ageing. Two elders swap notes on their joy at being older. The first he likes the compromises he feels he can live with. The second, probably myself, speaks more about decisiveness. The first thinks that decisiveness is a part of the compromising. He knows now ...

Signs: Crip Seat Bust Up

Unusually for Signs, the words came before the image. Ensconced in a group, two fairly typical issues came up; the state of public transport and the inability (some would say) of one type of crip to get along with another. I keyed in to a real experience - being asked to ...