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

Alexis Lykiard

Ballad of Avarice

(The BHS Mess)



Greed, pure greed, ‘Sir’ Fillip Greed,

how much more does one man need?

Grabbing cash, he dashed the hopes

of pensionable working folk, his long-term employees.

This disingenuous knight knows all the greasy ‘legal’ ropes

those chosen few, who climb the richest heights, may seize.

An easy life of tax-free pleasure, in straitened times like these,

remains the fit and proper job for any refined buccaneer,

whose profits are a righteous due, put toward a rainy-day pot,

while one lies in the sun, aboard one’s luxurious brand-new yacht.

Let the envious rabble howl, let the lefty fool’s heart bleed:

greed’s good, yet much-maligned. Is he himself malign? No, he’s

as blameless as his erstwhile patron, Blair. That much is clear…

Three cheers then, for Cap’n Phil Green, the hero of business –Smile Please!

Decorations for Some Newer Year



Too much worship of upward mobility

But what price bogus aristocracy?


As right-royal nonsense rains down on us

Now’s the time for affectionate honesty –


Across keyboard and seaboard the truer talents

Share their innate unassuming nobility –


Underdog titles and peergroup honours

Reflect rather more authentic democracy –


All the irreplaceable originals

Granting any attentive audience


Their priceless antidotes to misery:

Let’s hear it again from The Land of the Free!


Dukes – Ellington, Pearson & Jordan.

Earls – Warren & Hines. Lord Buckley. Count Basie.

Kings – Oliver, Pleasure, Cole. Queen Ida.

Marquis Foster & Prince Lasha,

Sir Charles Thompson, Sir Roland Hanna,

Empress Bessie & Lady Day…


Praise to The Pres, to World Statesman Gillespie,

Ambassador Satch, Jazz Messages sent, great music made!

Highflying shamans bringing rhythm again,

Immortal singers, those bright horns of plenty,

Harmony’s balsam for dealing with pain –

The sounds of good cheer, on whose ideal parade

Even despicable tyrants might learn


The fine art of joy… So, genial Satchmo, Diz, return,

Raise the unquenchable loving-cup,

For we dread and despise our divisive rulers

Who would silence humanity and fool us,

Who justify drones, every new bombing raid…

Will the music stop when this quick earthtime’s up?

Or might the songs of angels drown out death’s refrain?

Alexis Lykiard was born in Athens at the start of 1940, when Mussolini’s Italian troops were repelled by the Greeks in the North of the country. In 1957, at the age of 17, he won the first Open English Scholarship ever awarded by King's College, Cambridge, graduating with a First-class Honours degree in 1962. While at Cambridge University, he was editor of the university magazine Granta (originally called The Granta). He is author of over two dozen poetry collections, including Journey of the Alchemist (Sebastian Carter, 1963), Greek Images (Second Aeon Publications, 1972), Out of Exile — Selected Poems 1968–85 (Arc 1985), Safe Levels (Stride, 1990), Cat Kin (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994), Skeleton Keys (Redbeck, 2003) and Getting On: Poems 2000-2012 (Shoestring, 2013). He is also known as translator of Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont, Alfred Jarry, Antonin Artaud and many notable French literary figures. In addition, Lykiard has written two highly praised intimate memoirs of Jean Rhys: Jean Rhys Revisited (2000) and Jean Rhys Afterwords (2006). His latest poetry volume is School for Life (Shoestring Press, 2015). Website: