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

Martyn Halsall




Steel recipe, set and matched: ore, coal, fast waters,

prepared for sheet, ingot, rivet, ball and chain;

a town's frame, and rail girdling of the world,

a region's wages, and a county's welfare,

shut down with fantasy of horses, carriages.


Gangsters? Gang-masters? Elizabeth Windsor inclines,

conceding power play to Chinese imports,

cheap steel, and cut-price smiles, and bargain basement

headline: 'A Golden Era', unless you're victim.


Only nine hundred of those in the latest closure,

and even if you bleeding heart multiply

community effects, it's barely a vulnerable majority.

And people are used to hunger in those sorts of places,

and no-one today remembers their ghosts, the marchers.

Martyn Halsall is a retired journalist whose career included 17 years as a staff correspondent of The Guardian. On retirement he became the first Poet in Residence at Carlisle Cathedral which led to his collection Sanctuary (Canterbury Press). His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Tears in the Fence, The Reader, Envoi, Third Way and Dark Mountain. He lives and writes in West Cumbria.