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

For Robert My Good Friend




was the word I was looking for

down the lanes of Temple Bar

between the tourist spots

and the poetry slots of all Ireland.

And at last I found it

in Charlie St George’s bar

clashing glasses of Guinness with you

Robert my good friend,

blessing the magical days

when we were born

to share our dribbling verses,

our hard-earned lines,

between ourselves

but above all with others

of our gentle persuasion

whether here in Limerick’s rain-soaked lanes

with Richard Harris

or in Newcastle’s Bridge Hotel

with William Blake

over the cobbles of our dreams

to airport lounges

and soaring planes,

just anywhere at all

to fly our poems.

For this I thank you Robert,

for staying with me,

for offering strong friendship

when all the world is falling apart around us.

Let us celebrate love again

in a pint of plain

and poetry in our memorable smiles

this day by the glorious Shannon

and in the sunlight of the River Tyne.

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.