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Alan Dunnett

The Art of the Politician


The wet rain is falling on the road,

just as it did on the day the last war

ended.  To mark the losing of the load,

people capered in the puddles and swore


it would never happen again – a curse,

from the look of it, though we live in hope.

Fear trains then trips a twitch (stay calm) and, worse,

breeds poison without an antidote.


I search your ear and run in like mercury

down the smooth, natural canal that tips

into the heart from which you should break free

(Quiet yourself.  Remember: read my lips.)


for, you know, too much emotion, my dear,

(I have this on sound advice) will prevent

cool thought from pulsing out loud and clear

and (heaven forbid) that would mar intent.


So go to your castle or your safe home

and prepare in the way that you see fit

and never forget you are not alone

and who it was that dropped you in the shit.


The dry rain is falling on the road

as another war practically begins.

Of course, we hope that nothing will explode

and ask the Lord to forgive us our sins.

Alan Dunnett is a former regional theatre director, whose productions have included Entertaining Mr. Sloane with Gary Oldman (Chesterfield Pomegranate) and the large-scale community play Bridge (Dundee Rep). He now works largely for MA Screen - alumni include Gemma Chan, Rungano Nyoni and Jolyon Rubinstein - at Central Saint Martins, London, where he was its University and College Union branch secretary. His poems have recently appeared in the Communist Review, the anthology Is There a Poem Sweet Enough? (Emmylou Books) available from Campaign Against Arms Trade, Brittle Star and Dead Ink. A chapbook is forthcoming through

The Drunken Boat. Readings at Nottingham, Derby and Bradford Playhouses, Leicester Haymarket,

The Troubadour, The Poetry Cafe, QUAD with Bernard O'Donoghue and C.J. Allen, and on Radio Nottingham and Radio Derby. Last year, he won the Ealing Poetry Competition, judged by George Szirtes. He has published an illustrated poetry collection, 

A Third Colour (Culture Matters, 2018).

The Mark of Cain


The Hand of God

Hullo, my mother, don't you recognise me?

You must not think the war is over.

I still care about what I love

and will act accordingly.


I still remember people weeping with joy

at liberation but they were wrong.

I know what I must do and have never

been more certain. The clock waits


for me. I am almost ready.

Please remember me as your true son.

What I do meets approval in the eyes

of those who see. I make the earth move.


Give me a piece of bread and something to drink.

Before I go, I bless this house and all who are in it.



Mission Possible

It is in the distance

                                   some explanation


                       behind the button shop

                       closing because the rent's gone up


                       past the vegan cafe


                                   keep walking


                       past the young men

                       sitting on the steps staring

                       and you at a window watching


What is my name? Joseph would know.

I left the packet on the floor

in the changing-room of a busy store

because I was told to. It is the right thing.


                       You too are going past.

                       Do not shake your head.

                       You are not Joseph.


There are many hands making light work

of this and all that follows.

If I am not here, it does not matter.

I have no wife, no child, no father or mother.


I hear the normal voices in the street.


                                   What is my name?


I see your lack of understanding

eggshells crack

do not get out now

do not know anything

or, rather, go, I will assist

I am here to assist


unlike the others

                       I ask for no reward.





They say I am the killer

                       but I have killed no one.

This day, your wrong impression

                       is no guiding light.


I am the harbinger

                       not to mention The Way.

What you think counts for nothing

                       only count the bodies

God's gifts


Every message is misunderstood right now

                       but that will change.

Men will look back on this time

                       and nod like wise ones.


Earthquakes and floods are no accidents.

                       Doom points the finger.

In the arenas, there is applause,

                       a smiling echo


                       Love death


In retreat, we make no mistake

                       we are professional

and we will be back

                       dogs lie in the road.


My mind is made up for me, you say.

                       You are ignorant.

I decide on the back of The Word

                       the sword of truth


                       No second chance.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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