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

James Bell




the doff the cap and

what you say goes

Guv world is dead

and Yeats's terrible

beauty is born and

the feared rough beast

is already slouching

over the benefits counter

to claim that this just

can't go on with a

tough kind of polemic

an endemic need to boot

the epidemic for need

of compulsion

of frustration

of system all wrong

of making inarticulate

of making inappropriate

responses to what

fear does not understand


and I ask now

where is your refuge

and your strength

as chaos in a

seeming warped reality

rolls down its sleeves

to reign


and somehow some

only see turbulence

while others only see

an intractable calm

and others often see anger

wanting something perhaps

to impose their own order

on an illusory calm


and meanwhile

the servants to gentility

develop their ability

to ignore the many created

servants to malice

as they grow and bleed

outwards upon the land.

James Bell was born in Edinburgh. He has spent time as an actor and musician along with ten years presenting the monthly Uncut Poets in Exeter, plus as a union rep that included health and safety and equalities. Two poetry collections: the just vanished place (2008) and fishing for beginners (2010). Recent print and online appearances: The Journal, Long Focus Magazine, Shearsman, Tears In The Fence, Sarisvarti, Under The Radar, Elbow Room and Butcher's Dog. He is a member/ contributor to projects developed by The Poetry Kit.




skite - skite

now you see him - now you don't

- he flits - a hungry human fly

between the people waiting

with their content bellies

for coaches to arrive


skite - skite

the human fly computes

who is new - descends

hovers - a ten second appeal for change

twenty seconds with unaccompanied women

recognising their gentleness - their edge of compassion

- closer to his frailty than men


skite - skite

dirty old trainers skud over smooth polished marble

- a frantic pneumatic whirl

as he begs and the belly growls

for a morsel



doll's head



a doll's head lay in the road

as a mark of something that had happened -

chubby cheeks with a fixed smile at nothing

seen sideways on -

blank unnaturally round blue eyes

framed in a horror hair do still in place -


from the plastic body that is nowhere to be seen -


symbol of a violent act

on an object bought to manifest love

and teach us that to cherish

is one of the finer feelings chucked here -

pretend flesh face scratched -

a fine target for one kick then - gone