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

Keith Armstrong

outside your lonely window



My God,

we are

indeed lucky,

in this great and ancient city,

to have,

in our presence,

such a poet as you.


it even seems

that you

are bigger than us,

with your huge dome


our history.

Such an immense

and supreme


larger than the space

in Grainger Market.

And, when it comes to writing up our story,

we, of course,

must turn to you,

with your flawless technique

and structured craft,

turn to you

in our peasant


Keith Armstrong was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community worker, poet, librarian and publisher. He is coordinator of the Northern Voices Community Projects creative writing and community publishing enterprise. He was awarded a doctorate in 2007 for his work on Newcastle writer Jack Common at the University of Durham where he received a BA Honours Degree in Sociology in 1995 and Masters Degree in 1998 for his studies on culture in the North East of England. His poetry has been extensively published in magazines such as the New Statesman and Poetry Review as well as in the collections Splinters (2011) and The Month of the Asparagus (2011) and broadcast on radio & TV. He has performed his poetry throughout Britain and abroad. In his youth, he travelled to Paris and he has been making international cultural pilgrimages ever since.


though we have folk songs,

they cannot do justice

to the language,

like you

above all,



next time,

before we break

into song,

we should ask you

to subject our voices

to your analysis.

But then

I don’t think,

in your padded academic tower,

that you can hear us all


in the trees,


your lonely window.