Trains and Stations (II)

Hello Poetry Lovers

I’d like to continue my feature on trains or at least the memory of boarding them. Didn’t we once take that for granted?!

Lovely poet, Trisha Broomfield, has not only emphasised the experience of waiting for one of these things, but that how cold a station gets. The wind really blows right through them!

Anyway, Trisha, this is a great piece, you really capture the atmosphere of one of our great institutions. Thank you so much. Everyone else – read on…..

The 8.17 to Waterloo is running late….

A man unseeing eating crisps,

plunging hand to mouth

packet to mouth,

another, wired, talking to no one

animated, eyes to London

words fall around him, littering platform 5.

Trolley cases

walking sticks

Costa cups

multi-national lingo

carrier bags,

the bitter cold blown by breezes

seeps into bones,

while the train waits

for signalling problems to be resolved,

and passengers


We perform this square dance

daily with and without the cold

sometimes the sun

cuts us up

as we edge ever closer to the precipice

nudging to be first

on the train,


and waiting

and waiting.

Trisha Broomfield 16/07/2018

Wasn’t that a wonderful piece?! Beautifully written, thank you again, Trisha. Keep them coming.

Funny, reading that has actually made me cold! And Dobby’s shivering too! I’d better go before she pinches one of my cardigans – again!

Thanks for tuning in, we’ll be back with more poetry capers real soon…..


Hello Poetry Lovers

Now this is going to come as a shock but Mrs Slagg does actually have a soft side. Mainly she likes brutal poems, but she has time for the occasional piece about nature and the elements too. Especially if they’re in an acrostic and nonet form like the one clever poet Sharron Green has written.

I’m glad this lovely piece passed Mrs Slagg’s strict standard as it gave me the chance to draw some waterfalls. This was a real challenge and one that I enjoyed every minute of, so bless you, Sharron and Mrs Slagg.

I think there’s a cup of tea with three sugars awaiting Ms Green when she goes to the Slagg’s Cafe. Now read on….


Wishes cascading joyfully down

Arcs of rainbows shimmer, reflect

Torrential potential but

Essence evaporates.

Risk of disaster.

For water is,

After all,



rhymes_n_roses 2021.

Wasn’t that stunning – and so profound. Cascading water is a stunning feature of nature, but deadly too. Mrs Slagg has obviously seen this very real point.

Even Dobby liked that one! It just shows you everyone has another side to them. Thank you so much, Sharron. Lovely piece. Keep them coming.

Mrs Slagg is holding auditions still, so feel free to apply with your poems.

Thank you for tuning in, PL’s. More poetry antics real soon.

The Train Station

Hello Poetry lovers

Now one of the many things I’ve missed during this lockdown period is getting the train to London.

My dear friend and poet, Barbara Lee has penned a lovely poem about going on that train to the Big Smoke. I think she’s captured it all beautifully. Read on

The Train Station

Today I went on a train

Just to be normal again

I felt the crowds beneath my feet

Me standing in a train waiting for a seat

I saw them on a platform

Juggling to get past

On their phones trying to get home fast

I saw them all those crowds

Teenagers why are you all so loud

Saturday night going into town

But now I don’t hear a sound

The train station is so quiet and cold

It’s like this every day so I’m told

Everyone working from home

The train station and trains so alone

I love to people watch from a quiet seat

You never know who you might meet

The crowds


At the train station

Barbara Lee 2021

Wasn’t that just wonderful, PL’s. Thank you so much, Barbara and keep them coming. You’ve given us hope that we will be back on that train one day……

Thank you for tuning in, Poetry Lovers. We’ll be back real soon with more poetry capers…..

Second Review for the Slagg’s!

Well, Poetry lovers, a second review has come in for the Slagg’s Cafe. Thanks to the lovely poet, Trisha Broomfield

Review of The Slagg’s Cafe

At the Slagg’s, fags

are compulsory

ash joins sugar sifting onto

table tops

wiped ‘clean’ with apron hems

and woolly sleeves.

Tea is distinguishable

from coffee

by the smell

sandwiches curl like Mrs

Slagg’s half hidden hair,

but prices are somehow fair

and the company’s good.

Trisha Broomfield 2021

Isn’t that a wonderful and fair review?!

Trisha points out in the last two lines what really matters. Brilliant, thank you Trisha.

It’s funny but most of us remember ashtrays being in abundance yet somehow ash still landed on the table, and yes, that sugar! It followed you about. It’s become so soulless now in those little packets.

Apron hems and woolly sleeves just remind me of growing up frankly. Hands up whose Mum didn’t do this? There! Not many are raised.

A lovely spot of nostalgia there, Trisha, besides a strong review that will get even more punters in! (I wouldn’t encourage vegetarians though – and God help you if you use Applepay!)

Thank you for tuning in, Poetry Lovers, stay glued as we’ll be back real soon with more poetry antics…


That’s right, PL’s! You heard correctly! The amazing Simon Maddrell will be appearing in this very studio

(Rapturous applause from the audience. Some fainting)

Now calm down, PL’s, we don’t want to frighten our distinguished guest off because he’s here now. Heeere’s Simon Maddrell.

(Pandemonium- Security overwhelmed). (Our esteemed guest wafts down the lighted stairs)

Simon, a very big welcome to the show…

.(huge cheers)

Thank you, the pleasure’s all mine.

May I say I love your Kaftan and bell bottoms. Psychedelia is really the way to go!

You don’t think it’s a bit much? (Ripples of disagreement ) I’m trying to get in touch with myself…

Oh wow! Well, the karma that’s coming from you… speaking of which…..

(the host sweeps everything off her desk with her arm – audience and guest look nervous)

So, Simon, tell us about yourself and your background

I’m a queer Manx man born in the Isle of Man in 1965. I was brought up in Bolton, near Manchester. After living in Ross-on-Wye for ten years and London for twenty years, I moved to Brighton and Hove in 2020, just before lockdown.

I have a very varied background, having done Peace Studies at Bradford University in the ‘80s but then ending up with fifteen years corporate experience – firstly, making wetsuits, the white overalls from murder scenes and knee supports – I have found two of these very useful since. Second, I then spent ten years with my head in Xerox copiers worldwide from the USA, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and The Forest of Dean.

After that I returned to a teenage passion and founded a multi award-winning UK and IOM charity. Excellent Development in 2002. When I left in 2016, we had supported communities, mainly in Africa, to provide one million people with clean water through the building of 1,000 sand dams, which also enabled one million trees to be planted.

Gosh, Simon. What an impressive background! How you’ve travelled, and you had the guts to follow your dream. (An awed gasp from the audience)

How many people do that?! I think when I last saw you in ‘real life’ (Chip’s salon?), you were talking about moving from London.

When did poetry become a part of your life?

Poetry entranced me during O levels at school in 1980. Our textbook was Nine Modern Poets – which of course weren’t very modern in the way I understood it, which made me think that maybe they were the last ones!

We studied Yeats, Eliot, Betjeman, the Thomas’, Larkin and Hughes. The poet who had the biggest impact was Wilfred Owen, in particular Anthem for Doomed Youth, and this prompted me to read more of his work, when I discovered Dulce et decorum est, as well as Sasoon and Brooke. But I had no idea that being a poet was even a likely possibility, we never wrote poetry at school, but I did at home in doom-laden gloom akin the Christina Rossetti.

On top of that, my English teacher told me I was useless and would never pass either of my English O Levels, which of course I did in response to such back-handed encouragement. She had, however, drained me of any thought of being a poet or studying English, however much I loved A Tale of Two Cities and Twelfth Night.

Fast-forward thirty-five years, and the recent death of both parents, which prompted a revisiting of childhood and teenage traumas – and writing was a way of exploring that, along with reading Bob Dylan lyrics. I found it much easier to express such deep emotions in writing than I did by verbalising them, having been well-trained in the silence, secrets and judgement of shame. Poetically, I was reliving my teenage years with poetry of a similar standard, but I started to become more serious about developing my knowledge and experience of the craft, firstly in spoken word and now also the page. 2020 has been a step forward in terms of being published and minor recognition.

Oh Simon, I admire so much of what you have said. Teacher’s really could say devastating things then – but you showed her and the system!

Also, yes, I know what you mean about losing your parents, this is where all my writing came from. It’s a painful trigger that leads to stronger paths. As you have shown.

Who were/are your biggest influences?

The poets who have had the most direct influence on my development as a poet are Anthony Anaxagorou from a mentoring and editing perspective and Wayne Holloway-Smith from a teaching perspective, alongside his What Now? Students at the Poetry School. There are a dozen more influential poet teachers and dozens more poets I have read who inspire me and influence my work – so too many to mention.

Last year you had two successful and prizewinning pamphlets, Throatbone and Queerfella. Tell us how they were conceived, and which poems are the most personal to you.

The second, Queerfella, was conceived at the beginning of my poetic journey as I wanted to explore the shame of growing up gay in the 70s and 80s. The legend, Joelle Taylor, helped me improve many of those early poems you see in Queerfella. I am so grateful to Will Harris for recognising the value of the poems and making it joint winner of The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition, albeit feeling somewhat odd to be stood alongside Selima Hill.

Throatbone, my debut, was published by UnCollected Press in the US after they loved so many of my poems submitted to its partner journal, The Raw Art Review. I was honoured that they nominated Dinosaur Teeth for the Pushcart Prize. Throatbone was born from me wanting to explore my ancestral home and develop my interest in eco-poetry and skills in poetry without me as the central subject. But of course, as Wayne Holloway-Smith says, “if you lean into a poem enough you will leak out” and the queer leaks out from behind the clouds, and in drizzle and rain. It also rages in the Manx Pride trilogy, a social commentary on the island’s queer history.

Perhaps the most personal poems are those that could have been in either pamphlet, Lamping Wild Rabbits would also have been in Queerfella if competition rules allowed and Queerfella and Half-rotten, half-new are two poems I’m glad I didn’t slide back into Throatbone.

Queerfella as a pamphlet is an assault of the personal but described by Will Harris as poems that “have things to teach me about being human, about how to live with trauma, loss and love”. If I had to choose one though, it would be Three Crows, which explores the ambivalence that exists in our lives and perhaps permeates both pamphlets.

Fascinating, Simon, how your work emerged so beautifully, and the support you had. I love those poets.

You deserve your success. Such lovely personal work.

Now, what is the best poetry gig you have done, and the worst?

My worst I’ve attended was at a self-professed inclusive night whereby the person on the door sneered at me and said to a friend, “Ewwww! He’s not my Dad!”

The best I’ve taken part in was a Mind Over Matter Digital last year when every one of the other performers were amazing and a good half dozen knocked it out of the park. Big up to Paul “Fisky” Fisk for such an important poetry initiative.

Well, I certainly like him already!

And that was an appalling comment in the former gig. Rotten apples and a waste of space.

Now, I know you’re off to somewhere really cool…….

Yeah, the magic bus is outside to take me to Woodstock..

Oh wow! Hendrix, Joplin, John Sebastian swearing like a chimney!

Just a cup of tea there will get you high! No doubt, Abbie Hoffman will hijack someone’s performance…..

Er – No, Woodstock in Oxfordshire. An exclusive literary salon discotheque.

Oh wow! I’ll just put on my crocheted waistcoat….

(Our esteemed guest reddens) Er – it’s invitation only, and you have to have the right dress code….

Curses! Foiled again! I’ll make it there one day, you see if I do…!!

Where’s Dobby going? Don’t say she’s invited?!

(Our esteemed guest and black cat make a run for it up the stairs)

Well, it’s back to watching the telly and a frozen meal from Bejams for me. Now, I know he and Dobby are on the magic bus, but lets have an appreciation for the lovely Simon Maddrell who agreed to be interviewed! A fascinating guest and poet.

(Audience clap loud – standing ovation)

Thank you for watching, PL’s. We’ll be back real soon for some more poetry antics…….

Treat yourself to Simon’s wonderful collections – Throatbone is published by Out-Spoken Press, and Queerfella by Rialto. Get onto these publishers for a copy now!

The Slaggs Cafe’s first review

Hello PL’s

We are most honoured to have our first review of the Slagg’s Cafe. This is thanks to the lovely poet, Sharron Green. Herself a big frequenter of this desirable ‘In’ place.

Not the most favourable of reviews, but you’ll find there is a backlash of The Slagg’s most loyal customers. There is to be a slice of Mrs Slagg’s steak and kidney pie for Sharron

Anyway, read on – it’s terrific.

‘Chez Slagg’s a dive!’ on Trip Advisor

‘Hateful service’ ‘disgusting food’

‘Evil cow’, ‘we despise her’

‘Zero stars – she’s just rude’

Somehow, we poets

Love it madly

And we so



Sharron Green. Rhymes_n_Roses 2021

Weren’t those pieces just great?! This review will really put Slagg’s on the map. I wonder if the critic was the one she barred for being a vegetarian. I mean, the air was blue! Mr Slagg calmed him down a bit with some pie on the house but one felt the damage had been done.

Any reviews you may find, do send in. Meanwhile many thanks to Sharron for those wonderful pieces.

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s

Mrs Slagg’s Poetry Hour

Hello Poetry Lovers

Welcome to the Poetry hour – well, five minutes really. Mrs Slagg is holding auditions for her open mic poetry spots.

So first, we have a lovely and vivid nonet from the stunning Trisha Broomfield

Followed by a haiku from the amazing Anne Warrington. Firstly we have Trisha’s piece


Sunshine shines alone and warms my bones

puddles show a scurrying breeze

snow sits hard on moss and lawn

washing on the line sways

thoughts drift aimlessly

a lazy day

on my own



Trisha Broomfield 2021

So lovely, Trisha. You blew the Slagg’s away with that one.

Now, here is Anne’s beautiful haiku piece –

Cycling teenagers

Pedal-pushing in the square

High on cloud nine.

Anne Warrington 2021

Weren’t they both fabulous ?! I’m sure both poets passed that audition with flying colours! Mrs Slagg will get on the phone to them today (from a call box).

Thanks for tuning in, Poetry Lovers, and if you’d like to take the floor for Mrs Slagg, do send your poems in.

That could be you reading in that hallowed cafe, and if you’re not famous there, you’re not famous anywhere!

Dobby does Nonet

Hello Poetry Lovers,

After Dobby’s miserable encounter with Keats, I’ve persuaded her to write a nonet poem for Mrs Slagg. In return for (canned) sardines at the back of her pantry

Anyway, read on – it’s untitled

Give me food, preferably sardines

No, I’m not going to ask nicely!

I want that fish right away!

Or I’ll claw the carpet.

Again. What a bore!

I’m gonna sleep

on your bed

so fish

Now !

Dobby’s original piece Bollocks and F*** Off! was kind of scrapped, even though Mrs Slagg adored it!

But we had to consider the church crowd who frequent the cafe after the Sunday service.

Now, Dobby’s had a go, it’s your turn! Get them rolling in!

Wardrobe III

Well, another of our lovely Poetry Lovers has accepted my Poetry Wardrobe challenge – the wonderful and enigmatic Ray Pool

Or Ray of the Pools as our mutual friend Donall Dempsey would say. You may also recall that I had the pleasure of interviewing Ray on my talk show last year. One I will cherish.

Anyway, it’s a cracking piece – do read on…..

Coat hangers queue like question marks waiting for answers –

asking why they have no shoulders to cry


no clothes to rely on.

Now we are orphaned on a dead rail,

where have those people gone

to leave us lonely so?

Ray Pool 2021

Wasn’t that the most?! Keep ‘em coming, Ray. Thank you so much

Thanks so much for tuning in, PL’s. Would you believe we have a Nonet poem from Dobby coming up!

Be excited, be very excited…

The Slagg’s Cafe

Hello Poetry Lovers.

Welcome to the Slagg’s Cafe – our new regular feature.

As you can see from the picture above, there are already poetry readings featured at this classy establishment.

Plus a bone fide home-cooked menu:

Watery own-brand instant coffee.

Slab of meat pie (meal deal).

Tea with three sugars.

Verbal abuse from Mrs Slagg (waiting list).

Black Forest Gateau.

Rules: No horseplay, smoking compulsory, Vegans tolerated.

I think this is all fair play really.

Now Mrs Slagg don’t really hold with fancy book learning poetry as a rule. However, I managed to talk her round. I got the great lady to see her way around Nonet poetry – a great fun form. 9 syllables, then 8, then 7 etc..

Here’s an example what I have penned:

Mrs Brown doesn’t remember my name

but she remembers Jill’s who draws

any picture like a dream and

will get pinned to the wall

I tear it right down

I get walloped

but I have

the last


H M 2020

Mrs Slagg particularly likes this one because it has violence in – and a whiff of misery.

So come on, you pie lovers. A Nonet poem will get you a slot at Chez Slagg’s – and if you’re not famous there, you’re not famous anywhere!

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s. Remember to get scribbling. Next instalment is the Poetry Wardrobe challenge…….

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