Shaun Belcher Poems 2002-22

Author: shaun belcher (Page 1 of 15)

Poet, painter and songwriter originally from Oxfordshire now living in Nottingham.

FOSSILS

The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house rooves

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

My Back Pages



Latest volume Grass Clouds Poems 2002-22

A selection of published and self-published volumes 1992-2022…30 years! I will be reading poems from these various collections tonight at The Organ Grinder with Neil Fulwood.

Here my CV 🙂

A NEW YEAR GREETING

****
(poem here)

Addenda: What I am not.

Shaun Belcher is the author of one out of print slim volume that disappeared into the virtual ether before it was printed via lightning strikes/amazon so qualifies as a work of fiction.
He did not edit any anthology of obscure, unacknowledged legislators nor did he win any prizes, nor should we be specific did he enter any competitions.
He has held no official tenures as a creative writer at any top end nor third rate provincial university and has never reviewed other poets he dislikes for the simple reason of building a profile to get published.
He has never been recommended by friends in the poetry world as he has none and has studiously avoided anything to do with poets or poetry for over two decades.
He is member of no group who look after his publishing and reading interests when his work over time slides into fabulous irrelevancy or simply becomes so bad it an embarrassment.
He has no agenda nor minority axe to grind and has never played on his working class beginnings for pity or favour.
He regards his lifelong devotion to obscurity and keeping some semblance of sanity in a world over-run with poets like a corpse covered in flies that he should not add to other’s suffering by maintaining a steady output of academic poetry which simply done to fulfil research departmental targets.
His earnings from poetry over 40 years accrues to £70 he once got paid for being given a slot at Ledbury Festival by a friend and a commission again via a friend for £500 which works out to roughly £14.25 per annum which a living wage in the poetry world these days.

He is however still a poet if being a poet is none of the above.

He is still alive at time of writing and doesn’t expect things to change radically.

It all depends on a red wheelbarrow apparently and he does not have one.

Happy New Year.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

Which one’s Trotsky?

After twenty years chez Nottingham I finally been invited to share my thoughts at a reading.

So if you wish to listen to a couple of bolshy poets tearing down the walls of heartache now’s your chance…

Neil Fulwood been around a bit has some books and generally a good egg….

He will be promoting his new Smokestack Press publication and generally taking the piss out of the Tories which in current climes no bad thing.

I will be ranting as usual……at everything.

I will be reading from this book available until August 2nd as a free pdf download below.

GRASS CLOUDS : 20 years on the poetry bench.

Armitage has been run ragged at left back let’s see what the new boy can do…

I will be offering this as a free download from this evening as it Bastille day.
GRASS CLOUDS contains everything I have written as ‘poetry’ since I arrived in Nottingham in 2002 so about 20 years worth

Contains 80 poems and some illustrations. I will be reading from it on Tuesday August 2nd at the Organ Grinder Canning Circus with Neil Fulwood who celebrating his new Smokestack Press publication.

Includes the following pamphlets and projects:

Drifting Village Poems 2001-2011

Edwin Smith Commission 2014

Burning Books and Buying time 2017 – 2018

My Father’s Things (illustrated) 2019

At the Organ Grinder I shall also be reading from the new volume ‘Substitute’ which due in Fall 2022.





PRIVILEGE

Privilege

Is mine and always will be it is my birth-right
I am born to this and never shall let it slip
I am the world king and God’s chosen one
To let go of power is to betray you all

I will make the problems disappear
All it takes is character as my masters told me
Drilled with a sense of purpose and entitlement
From a young age to handle the reins of power

The ethos at Eton and Oxford is always to be right
even if found out never let the mask slip
For that is a sign of weakness and I am not weak
I am the firm hand, the strong voice, the liar

Who can not ever be found out to lie
The philanderer who can buy secrecy
The fool who cannot be judged wrong
For there is no other King

This morning the cloak of privilege
Is torn and stained but still wraps me round
With banker friends and people of high birth
who will take me in and bathe my wounds

I will return to the battle with my Excalibur
Smite my enemies and ride again into battle
This county needs me in its darkest hour
I watch re-runs of Churchill in a darkened room

This is my right my destiny
I am alone A King of no country

GRASS CLOUDS: Twenty Years on the Poetry Bench.

I have been collating a selection of poems written since coming to Nottingham in 2002. It hasn’t been a particularly inspiring location for my poetry and hardly anybody realises I actually published in 2010. I surprised to find 96 poems in 20 years which was my yearly output back in the 1990s. So once I thought of an appropriate title and found an image for the cover I will release a pdf of the ‘Nottingham Years’ 2002-2022 in advance of my 20 years in waiting reading at Neil Fulwood’s fine poetry event at the Blue Monkey in August when he will be the main act.

Perhaps I should crowdsource a title..’Dark Tarn’..Guntown… Wordy Poet Hood? Forest and City :-)…..’Play on the Grass’……maybe that it …

GRASS CLOUDS…

job done son…now go have a shower..

https://www.whoateallthepies.tv/lists/199038/17-mud-splattered-photos-of-truly-appalling-football-pitches.html

Collateral

COLLATERAL

(for D.D.)

Windows shake, tyres screech

Litter blows across the estate

Gunshots ricochet as sound

The Divis Flats, Brixton Market

Beirut, Jerusalem, Sarajevo

A baby cries, a baby cries

The broadcast stops, the helicopter hovers

There’s a smell of cordite, a cold wind

A face you have seen before on the news

Staring to dissolve in a pall of smoke

Gravestones, a line of mourners, a hearse

More tracking shots, more candles to light

The post-war peace has been noisy

All night the rain streaking the vans

As another round up begins

Difference is a slogan, tolerance fades

Hope drifts downstream like radium

Whitewashing concrete stained with blood

We can carry on, we can care even more

The trains will run, the tide will turn

The supremacists will make everything alright

The same arguments start again and again

Tube trains fill with dust and smoke

Collateral damage drips through the door

You choose what to believe, what to see

As another herd of innocents die in a cellar

The missing migrant is pushed into the sea

Sixty years of peace in Europe a lie

From the Balkans to Ukraine this is total war

An iron curtain swinging in the breeze

In the morning a cold silent light

A white horse streaked with blood and lame

Dragging itself to a poisoned stream

The crusaders horse is then shot full of holes

Its body carried away on a torrent of pain.

Collateral: The ghost in the Western dream.

SUBSTITUTE

North Berks Cup Final Long Wittenham F.C. my father second left back row.

Looking on from the sidelines came naturally
a boney slightly effete lad who wanted to be what his Dad wanted him to be.
Every Xmas Meccano and Scalextric (or a cheaper version from Bosleys toy shop)
When all I wanted was pen and paper or an Airfix Saturn V and some comics.
Happy with my mum’s Encyclopedia of Animals and a set of colouring pencils.
I built my own museum of antiquities in my bedroom.
I made a glass topped case of oddments my Dad dug up with his JCB.
A meteorite, a bit of roman pottery, fossils or so he told me and who was I to argue.

I spent hours kicking a ball against my neighbours shed, dubbined my boots
The smell of tarmac and sweat oozing from his pores after a day labouring
as he showed me how to clean my boots. How to pace myself, avoid injury.
In kick arounds I wasn’t bad, no Geoff Hurst more a Martin Keone at left back.
A position the better team I clawed my way into could not fill so there I was.
Sunday morning in Edmond’s Park living my father’s dream. Trying to live up to the photograph of his team shot at Reading FC ground before winning the North Berks Cup ( I still have photo and medals and programme.)

My mother watched me take a few knocks and struggle as a defender.
Not ‘filled out’ enough to stand up to the bigger boys. Immature and sensitive.
The inner poet derailing my ambitions to play for Arsenal from an early age.
I look at photos of me aged 14 and wonder I didn’t break something.
But my father’s advice came good. Don’t get angry get even.
They score one you go back and score one against them.
Remember your second wind. I did remember so much so I wrote a poem.
Mum played the long game wanted me to go to University. First in family.

The rest all drove trucks, laid tarmac or went into the police or army.
One sunday my Grandad challenged a semi-professional team to a match.
His family and mates from the Working Men’s Club against them as a bet.
Our whole family of Butlers and Belchers turned out on a frosty morning to watch
them win on the park I got substituted every game for Didcot Boys on.
My Dad and Uncle Dennis and others ran rings around the so called professionals.
There was a big celebration at the club that evening. Ernie had won his bet.
I learnt then that there is no substitute for perseverence, talent and a bit of luck.

Now I stand on the sidelines again. Recovering from a host of bad tackles, unlucky injuries and plain bad-timing. Always a substitute.

Stepping across the line. Taking on the professionals at their own game.

Bound to be substituted later. Like always.


The Function of Criticism

I have spent the afternoon reading the beginning of Yvor Winters ‘The Function of Criticism’ which I acquired about 30 years ago.

I also read a couple of interesting articles online.

The first by the poet David Yezzi is interesting and makes a case for his continuing relevance. The second is a wider career over-view from the now defunct Contemporary Poetry Review.

I also mused upon the slow demise of the ‘Poet-Critic’ a sad reflection of the sorry state of contemporary poetry where popularity and social media profiles count for more than intellectual rigor. Even with Larkin, Heaney and Hughes there were solid publications of other writing. Can one imagine a serious book of Simon Armitage or Helen Mort criticism ..no because it too dangerous an occupation in the ‘blow-back’ noughties where any -expression of opinion is frowned upon. Books are reviewed but mostly to further mediocre careerist blogs but serious criticism that gone the way of decent classical music radio i.e. popularised out of existence.

So reading the opinionated Winters is refreshing. He was wrong as much as right but at least he expressed an opinion.

https://newcriterion.com/issues/1997/6/the-seriousness-of-yvor-winters

https://www.cprw.com/the-absolutist-the-poetry-and-criticism-of-yvor-winters

Talking of opinionated tody I also picked up this Further Requirements book by Larkin to add to Required Writing which again I had for over thirty years. I wonder how long before Larkin is ‘Decolonized’ from the local university stacks which considering his lifetime devotion to maintaining library collections is beyond sad.

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