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Josh Ekroy



It’s the size of a bed with concrete spikes pointing upwards.

It appears to the spectator that anyone lying on it

would be injured or at least hurt, but the weight

of the rough sleeper is distributed such that the pressure

exerted by each spike is not enough to cause discomfort.


They provide a good night’s sleep for homeless persons.

They lie on the bed with a board on top of them. Cinder

blocks are placed on it and then smashed with a sledge

hammer. Despite the seemingly unavoidable force

the rough sleeper is not harmed: the impact is spread among the

the spikes, resulting in reduced pressure. The breaking of the blocks

also dissipates the energy from the hammer. Some beds have

rails mounted on each side to help users to lie down and get up


           Defensible spikes induce a state of deep

relaxation and dissolve tension. They create an effect similar

to acupuncture and are used as health remedies such as back

pain relief, alleviation of head aches and menstrual cramps.


Many rough sleepers like to have motorcycles driven over them.

The record is 31 motor-cycles in 120 seconds.

                                                                          Others have melons

chopped on their stomach by a samurai sword; the record for this

is 10 water melons in 30 seconds.

                                                      Some sleepers make spike sandwiches

in which bodies are piled on top of each other. Five bodies is the highest

number recorded. Traffic wardens are trained in the art

of inserting tickets in their anuses. The record number of tickets is 45

in 3 minutes, with no return within 1 hour.

It’s wonderful


                        that no-one has bad teeth.

You’ll love to know how much your molars

have increased in value, so Google the market price

daily to avoid being left out of dinner-party

conversations which these days are all about

added canine value. Mind’s a market leader,

so sign in with braindotcom, get preferential rates

for accessing positive mental images.

Check which moods are bankable

if you have the right sanity provider. One

phone-call is all it takes to get your thought-quote.

And did you know about the lung depository,

where all new lungs are stored, your baby’s

born with it’s pulmonary systems

on a lifetime leasehold and when he grows up

he’ll agree it’s only reasonable that he should

pay penalties for breathing polluted air now that

fracktheuniverse owns all available lung space.

Sex is of course the property of Libido plc

and your drives are shut down after 15 seconds

if you haven’t  pre-authorised a debit

or have a prepaid account, but everyone agrees

it’s so much easier on payErect.

Your retinal-credit allows in bags of sunshine

which is owned by a tax-efficient solar consortium

based in Martinique and won a prize for Most

Compassionate Light-Source. You can sleep easy

now that sleep is properly metered and chargeable,

traded on the international sleep exchange

and as new parents you’ll be delighted

to pay extra for that Golden Sleep-Hours Deal.


Once the rich odour emerged it was noteworthy how short a time it took

to uncover illicit mushroom-cultivation. No senior humus-shoveller

was implicated. It was in March that we understood that Compostation plc

should have been cognisant of fungus-quotas although no law was broken and

there is no question of the forager footing the bill. As for the leaked -

illegally as it turns out - celebratory emails, they were different:

Forest-Floor had a penchant for turtle’s eggs; Scarlet Hood

promised themselves steak and sushi. Only as late as November,

Morels were laughing. Their Head of Spores can count himself unfortunate

to be let go, he serves at the pleasure of those who appointed him and had no direct

involvement in a salary of 750,000 Horn O’ Plenties. All his bosses are happy

and effected a strong defence of their mould-room growths. The Fungal Risk

Committee was split in two in late 2009; it was structured as a safeguard

for leaky trugs and was not totally invisible when a rogue truffler

was rampant in 2012 and justifiably did nothing when Shitake failed

to declare their Slippery Jack percentages - and were also silent.

The Fairy Ring Standards Commission, The Parliamentary Committee

for Shaggy Ink Caps, The Serious Puffball Office, The Chanterelles

of England Regulation Authority, The Chancellor of the Giant Funnel,

The Manure Submissions Tsar and Compassion in Meadow Growth

were all consulted. It’s in the nature of their roles that they must

operate in darkness, so it’s unreasonable to ask them to shine a torch

- however dim - on the spread of the Red-Banded Polypore.

Stone Bank


A grey, fine-grained  basalt,

six tins of schist, a box

of granite powder and three slates

is my usual quota, give or take

a cache of gravel and a cake

of sand. Supplies of limestone

are strictly rationed and go quick

because of its high vitamin C content.

You have to be in the queue early

which means talking to the lady

with the puffy Oxfam anorak

who usually boasts of the luxury gneiss

she’s wangled. And the local church

is sometimes good for flints

to suck on.

                  This morning

there are loose pumice stones

going begging. I once tried

to make soup with some

but the kids turned up their noses.

They’ve acquired a taste

for mud; you have to cook it

which costs a lot in heating

so only the canned type will do.


I used to wait by the bins

behind the Geological Society

until they discovered me, smashed

any unwanted samples with a hammer

mixed them with asbestos

and polystyrene balls. I hear

there’s a community on Chesil Beach

which hasn’t been moved on yet.

The Badger Cull Cookbook


100 delicious badger recipes

brought to you by our team of expert chefs

from the ecologically managed woodlands

of royal Gloucestershire and sun-kissed Somerset.

Have fun creating mouth-watering sauces

to enhance that unique, gamey

flavour. Our highly qualified panel of nutritionists

show how to ensure the animals are absolutely free

of tubercules. Serving suggestions include:

badger steaks in stripy sauce; leg of badger in peanut butter;

consomme for that quick snack

made from pre-packed badger soup cubes -

simply add boiling water, stir, and serve with croutons.

And the No.1 favourite: spicy ’n tender badger-cub goulash

with thick dairy cream. Our specially developed

safe method of gun-shot extraction from all meat-fibres

means you can enjoy your badger cuts

with a quiet mind. And for the more adventurous,

badger bladder is suggested for our unique haggis.

Remember: we never recommend using meat from badgers

that have been gassed, (even though the majority

of gassed badgers are thought to be safe to eat by experts)

so only our recipes are free from cyanide. And don’t forget:

there are even some fabulous ways of enhancing

your kitchen with our oven gloves

lined with 100% heat-proof de luxe badger fur,

a must-have for any self-respecting gastronome

and completely free with five or more copies ordered.  

The Lift


Our mission is to conjure up. We don’t think

the not wholly unpleasant stink of urine

and rat fur, we think rocket, buzzard. Hey

climb to altitude with attitude, get to hug

with your inner Eiger, get glaciated, get iced.

Feel your cheeks being tugged to planet earth,

be touched by your primal yen for the moon, dare

to enter that quark, number-crunch the light-years

for all I care but ask yourself: is this elevation

bankable? While we curate your Resurrection I

am the hand of tony blair on your shoulder,

so you really really need charisma. I’m hearing

sang-froid, chutzpah and I’m seeing

glamour like everywhere. Can you see it too?

because only a facelift can get us out of affordable.

Bottom line: it’s you alone against gravity.

The only down is deep inside yourself where

you find personal lift-off like there are sharks

or hey, just half-chewed trainers, disembowelled

mattresses, dog turds and Costa mugs. Now

go to a place where there is no profound.

Profound is not a place. Back door is not a place.

Believe me, I’ve been to both. They’re dark, like

dark is social-dark. Okay! Man up everybody,

we’re going for this. Ready to rock and roll?

- Going up.

Josh Ekroy's collection, Ways To Build A Roadblock, is published by Nine Arches Press. His poems appear in Magma, Ink Sweat & Tears, Lost Voices (Liquorice Fish) and many others.

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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