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

David Betteridge



and determining to stop paying                                  

the licence fee



Those are the eyes of a killer.

What hungering void, or dream,

or wound consumes behind?


Those are the words of a killer.

They are the twistings

of a well-schooled mind.


Those are the hands of a killer,

gesturing a semaphore of power.

What command papers have they held,

consigning some to death by slow degrees,

and some by instant fire?


The killer curves his mouth in a lean grin.

I see a shark, in his element,

sure of his next and every win.


The killer manages a judicious tear.

(“I empathise; I go to church; I care...”)

I see an obvious reptile here.


The killer laughs.

I see an alpha ape,

exulting in his dominance.



I cannot thole this monster

and his arrogance.


        I’ve pulled the plug.

David Betteridge (b. 1941) is the author of a collection of poems celebrating Glasgow’s radical traditions, Granny Albyn's Complaint (Smokestack Books, 2008). He is also the editor of a book celebrating the work-in at the UCS shipyards in 1971-2, A Rose Loupt Oot (2011). With the designer Tom Malone, he has produced a series of poetry pamphlets, published by Rhizome Press (2008-15).