London Poems

We did the Joshua Crisp 20 Minute Poetry Challenge. It takes an hour.

You pick a theme, or some words that must be in your poem, you set your timer for 20 minutes, and you write. When the timer goes off, you share what you have and offer suggestions and improvements, which often takes 20 minutes, and then you set the timer for 20 minutes to rewrite. Then you each have at least one pretty good finished poem.

The first time I did the Joshua Crisp 20 Minute Poetry Challenge it was at the Mesmerist in Brighton, I was in love and in possession of a pint of good pear cider, and I wrote The Prince of Moths. This time our theme was London, and I got two things out of it. I think I was in a better mood than Josh, his poems were much bleaker than mine, and they’re great, check them out. But here are mine:


London is the termite mound;
Its tunnels go deep underground;
It echoes with the scurry-sound
Of worker feet.

London is the concrete space;
The nine-to-five, the rodent race,
Where robots dance the market’s pace –
A binary beat.

London is a time forgot,
Nos-tal-gi-a, a tourist spot;
A gilded town built on the rot
Of workhouse grind.

London is a unity;
Grim humour and a cup of tea –
A place where us and them can be
Of one combined:
Where we stand in solidarity
Of heart and humankind.


Slave Labour

The Romans drained the swamp
and raised Londinium
on the backs of their slaves
out of the tidal river water.

Today it is raised for a minimum wage
on the backs of the weary willing
in service of new emperors
still promising to drain the swamps.


Which do you prefer?


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