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Charnock Richard


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Cheese and Wine

In 1983, I was in 6th year at a small secondary school. One Friday in the spring, when the school was quiet and the teachers were too pre-occupied to notice, my friends and I decided to seize upon an unexpected opportunity. We all had every Friday morning after 11am as study time and got to spend this in our common room, which happened to double as the library. It was on the top floor of the school near the art department and the art teacher happened to be away that day on a field trip with the year below.

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Cherry Blossom

‘You’re odd.’

God, you pick your moments. 

‘I can tell just by lookin’ at ye…’

I don’t mean it’s been a bad day. Quite the opposite. My work for the day done, I’d been congratulating myself, standing on the porch, winding down, the sun still warm upon my face.

‘The clothes you wear…’


You loom, casting shadows, banishing light: sucking the joy from the end of the day.

You’ve been waiting for this opportunity, haven’t you? The chance to have a go, to cut me down. Your time, your time to shine.

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Chipped mug of a man

Stood up, on an incline,
facing down to the out of town.
I watch a candle wick of a man running up, lung bellows pumping faster than our universe expansion.
Passing cars buffeting my stationary form with the rankling tides of imbibed chides.
I'm a drying towel on a washing line, put out after the sun passed by.
Lank and damp, a worn washer,
The bulging drop, tap end friend.
Clamp after clamp,
Peg held tramp,
Crinkle cut,
Chipped mug of a man.
I am an oil paint paper chain, sedated and serrated.

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everyday rebellion


“The Nigerian Air Force launched a bombing raid today targeting the Oji River Power Station. Ten square miles around the station has been razed and the operation is being hailed as a great success.”

This report was transmitted on the BBC World News from Lagos, five hundred miles west of Oji River. As locals, we knew it was propaganda and a form of fake news.

“How come a young Scot is married to a Nigerian and living in Oji River?” I hear you ask.

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I was as quiet as a mouse
wouldn’t say boo to a goose
I was obedient
did as I was told
Got myself into deep water

My life changed
when I met Clara
with so many needs
I have become a lion
I roar out loud and break down barriers

I make people take notice
of Clara and of me
to give her sunshine 
and to give me hope
She is my cause, I have found my voice

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Clothes are pants

I honestly wish I could be one of those
Folks who goes about with no clothes
Pants are a bother, they get inside out
Woolly things itch from within and without
My socks get wrinkled, my shirts get crinkled
And sometimes my jumpers come out the wash shrinkled
When it's cold I lose mittens when it's hot I lose hats
I always detach things that should be attached
So I've had it with clothes and if I had my way
I'd wear nothing at all, or pyjamas, all day

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everyday rebellion

Cooking, Rebel Style

Please note: this piece contains strong language

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COP 88

The first act of rebellion
Against extended Education
To sign up for a uniform.

My family.
Not criminals, not outlaws, just decent distanced folk
Doors slammed on my possibilities.

Police HQ
Ugly concrete squat of blank windows
Ordered in rows
Walking into the lions den
Through long corridors
To its heart
Fear fluttering inside.

Change. Challenge.
Do something that scares you.
Every day
I did.
Cop 88.

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Crime Outfit

Billy never wanted to be a rebel. He wanted a quiet life. Playing footy with his mates in the street, wandering down by the river after dark, making campfires and playing on the swing rope over the water on long summer evenings when the flies buzzed in clouds.

But his family was known in the district for generations of crime. It was a proud tradition of robbing, stealing and general thuggery. Kids at his school steered clear of Billy, scared of what might happen if they got involved in some way with his infamous family. 

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