Militant Thistles

polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"

atos Poor Doors Sheriff Stars spikes

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle bedroom tax Disrupt and Upset

Peter Branson

Marx Says



Sixteen, on lease from grammar school, the woods

roamed as a kid small beer, the lower sixth

long summer months ahead, I yearn to be

a working bloke, a goshawk that’s escaped

the leash, free wheel, relapse to feral state.


They shift, like Witnesses you’re door-stepped by,

shaft space for argument with homily,

feign fundamental truth, and now, dark days,

twenty-fifteen, purblind, equivocate  

for market madness, broken on a rack

of kindness, in the bankers’ thrall.


                                                       They’ve dropped

the thread again, with Thatcher in between,

the Miners’ Strike, Belgrano, litany

of greed, Iraq, Blair weave. I got the gist

back there, class in my marrow, sinew, blood.


Yet all too soon I’m bored with slaving on

some building site, while bingo, slot machine

and Coronation Street are not my scene.


Fuck scholarship, I crave debate: thing is

they mantle you, unravel inside out,  

refabricate; don’t suit in either mob,

though know inside what’s real, peace man an’ love.


I’m gypsied in my head, round peg, square hole,

with songs to stir the heart that haunt my soul.

Peter Branson is poet, songwriter and traditional-style singer whose poetry has been published by journals in  Britain, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi,  London Magazine, North, Prole, Warwick Review, Iota, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, SOUTH,  Crannog, THE SHOp, The Columbia Review, The Huston Poetry Review and Other Poetry. His latest book, Red Hill, Selected Poems, 2000-2012 by Lapwing, Ireland, came out in May 2013.

Blue Shift

The ayes have it all



General Election Day plus one



After the razzmatazz, papershop bloke’s

hindsight mumming-play trite, grounded, you know

little will change for many, yet, for some,

strings will snag tight. Their mates, they’ll do all right,

gross ever more. Poor, jobless, old and sick

will moulder on the vine: disparity  

their sub-text, by degrees, ex Bullys, old

Etonians, will spin to weave crook law.

My youth, we dreamed the time danced free, yet they

unlevelled things again, each five year stretch

a liberty, hard labour, public face

“No other way!” one nation, same tired score;

key players crowding Mother’s market stall,

Necessity unbridled, tooth an’ craw.