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John Short

John Short was born in Liverpool and studied Comparative Religion at Leeds University and Creative Writing at Liverpool University then later spent years in Europe doing different jobs. His poems and stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in Britain, France, Spain and the USA most recently in Frogmore Papers, Dream Catcher, Prole, Black Market Review, Message in a Bottle and Algebra of Owls. He reads at venues around Liverpool and at Vintage Radio, Birkenhead.

Worlds Apart



Safe in a tower somewhere

a woman is writing about anger

while on ground level a woman walking

home from work gets a police check.


Made to produce papers, abandoned

for three days in a cell, bedroll and blanket,

no chance of a phone call either.


But egotism rolls around the tower

she paints it beautifully with blackened rage,

scars of privilege unfold across clouds.


Back on ground level, the boss

will not pay the other her days in jail

though she is tired from years of paying

for rights to exist; for the right to pay more


and if she had six thousand pounds

she wouldn’t spend it on a tower

she’d take a plane to the distant family

last seen twelve years ago.

Corporate Hospitality



Civilisation falls apart

because of people like us,

we’re in competition with it.


We live inside these walls

saying this is society now.


The arcades with the cash machines

and shops are on the outside

open 24 hours of course.


We don’t advise you to go there

as there really is no point

but excursions to the seedier parts


can be organised and then

you’ll see that we were right.


We’ll consumer them to death

until they come scratching around


begging us like slaves.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset

Class Struggle



When times were good

the university would send

out optimistic magazines

praising education; the wonders

of technology and science.

Their bright new mind-set

laughed at the ragged figure

who sold Marxism Today

on the far edge of the campus.

He never did convince us

of the class struggle, they said.

We live in exciting times now,

with opportunities for all.


But these days they send me

letters pleading poverty,

say I should donate so others

might have an equal chance.

I tell them I’m broke, well

I’ve enough to eat and drink

and pay the council tax

but I gave it all to Africa

and really they were right –

there is no class struggle

just class massacre.



Flood Risk



I have it from the horse’s mouth

they mean us no good, hate our guts;

perhaps they’d like to see us drown.


The drainage expert makes a case,

exposes in detail this recipe for disaster

then the developer’s vacuous spiel

elicits some dissent from the crowd.


The council officers pass it anyway:

they cannot afford to live in this town,

think the streets are paved with gold

they mean us no good and hate our guts.


I ransack my head for a sane response:

civilised at the tail-end of civilisation,

poetry and anger in a dark orbit.

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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