‘Remainders’ by George Charlton

Thought I’d write up this short poem by the little known Newcastle poet George Charlton (b.1950) because I can’t find it anywhere online. I think this was published in 1980; I found it in the anthology Ten North East Poets, which is the first anthology that Neil Astley edited and published for Bloodaxe Books.


(for J.J. Wells)

There must be hundreds like us now,
Born since the war, brought up
In terraced streets near factory yards
And on expensive council estates.

We were the ones who stayed on at school
in academic quarantine. Others
Took apprenticeships in the skilled trades,
And left us indoors to finish homework.

And we didn’t notice it at first –
All the literature that wasn’t written
For us: passing an exam
Was an exercise in its own right.

To live like Spartans, think like monks
Had something heroic about it . . .
Now we dress carefully, and at
Introductions in expensive restaurants

Suppress the local accent in our voice,
Not to give ourselves away.
And little by little we go home less
To parents who seem to have fostered us:

We are like those bankrupt millionaires
With our own social-success stories
And personal failures. Remaindered
Fashions at give-away prices.

George Charlton

Graham Smith

Graham Smith – ‘Black Path’

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Ten thousand years ago the first philosophers
dug wells in the complete fucking dark,
often falling and snapping their bodies
wedged at gross angles, trapped deep in hell.

Then a bucket lowered by a hand-nodding pole
held in a gallows scaffold became a man
or a mule driven wheel spindling into that
same contemplative black pit where water 

seeps from a space only known in the private
dreams of those digging, a place in the beds
of rivers running below the earth
and coursing the wet grey soil in the brain.

This is why I wanted to become a plumber.
Become because as plumbers, we believe
in the arrest and release, the scoop and haul
upwards from ourselves of a tugging

vasculate thread, every moment dug and dug
blood hissing from our core to trickle
into dermal pools, widening and throbbing
outwards to become – whether in the Indus Valley

or as water runs from worm bellied Roman
roads, rises in the Turkish hamamm’s subliminal
pressures, falls in the exquisite weight of lead,
taps in Scandinavian gutter-pipes that fit a square

cut recess in the townhouse wall where rain
water is absorbed from view inside the polite
lines of Nordic classicism, tin drip echoing then
cleared as functional as coughed sputum

from the boxy spout into simple folk-art gouges
across the pavement, channeling to drains.
This is why I wanted to become a plumber,
I thought standing beneath a camping shower 

hung from a tree, its plastic membrane an animal
skin, turning the simple spigot and hosing myself
with warm gold. And this is what I’m thinking, ribbon-tied
wrench in hand, graduating as an apprentice plumber

when a shady dry-skinned man, hair oil-slicked
pulls me aside and asks whether, considering
the current climate (I’m never sure what this
really means) I’d be interested in plumbing –

plumbing something a little shallower, a kind of
sabotage operation, counterpointed only
by the promise of good money, and for me to
actually get to do some plumbing. And it wasn’t

the Euclidian shadows of aqueduct arches
drifting in measured sweeping lapses
as clouds do, or the steaming bath pipes
aching and moaning like winter tree limbs

it was realising that all of this could actually be
about movement and structure and more I can’t explain
and it isn’t a product and it isn’t for fucking sale
and it might even be fucking therapy and all I have

that made me turn down his proposal: to poison,
during the night, the wells of a certain demographic
so that I might appear the next morning and offer them
my services as a plumber, to fix exactly what I’d broken.

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“Skate Park”

“Skate Park”

I wrote down skate park
I didn’t actually skateboard or know anyone
who did but it felt like the right and rebellious
thing to do because of the three quarter length
sleeve shirts in rows of 40 with the skateboarder
spray painted with graffiti in BHS and the one
in my wardrobe. It was the right and rebellious
thing to do. Internet café too, I wrote that down.
The National Lottery twisted winking blue fingers
plaqued on the quarter pipe ramp and the recycled
tyre black rubber floor tiles decayed and mossy
quite quickly somewhere in town I’d never gone.

I’ve seen the smirking blue fingers again
bottom of a flyer for a private view
in a railway garage with overhead projectors
displaying the latest on the exposed
wall and some fishing wire suspending
a doll over a plywood square lit by another
projector showing some of the young artists
on a video naked for the fun of it. They had
used some of the money for the private show
drinks – there will be drinks ; ) – Like – 8pm-11pm
it’s just prosecco haha cheap tesco prosecco haha
ONLY tesco prosecco tesco prosecco!!! Haha! HAHA
cheap and only tesco prosecco sorry it’s just tesco
PROSECCO HAHAHAHA TESCO I COULDN’T TESCOScreen Shot 2015-04-09 at 14.28.41


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They’ve taken the flagpole down. Outside
the show house. The wind would whip
its ropes on sundays, ring and whistle.
The clouds would hurtle, the sky
would be bleached white. It would be
quarter past three on a sunday in October.
It still is.
______Some of the cars rock slightly. A bin
rumbles and shifts in a driveway abruptly
yawning open and clacking dislocated against
itself. The houses are vacuum sealed with
plastic glazing. The front windows show
the backs of televisions black and broad
armoured bellies of bugs.
_________________At Lakeside, each
house has a name. The show house is last
to sell, it is called Buckingham, it stands
out from the crowd and provides a high
level of security, and I am pleased to
offer it to you.
                        I come from nowhere. So
fucking what. A job’s a job isn’t it? Well
let me ask you what you think the inside
of a head looks like;
one like this, gutted out, with only dust
and charity bags and torn down posters for
a circus swept into a pile in the middle
with letters vomited through the door’s
low slot
with walls of horizontal rails where the
shelves were
with thick grey wire flexing from the
ceiling tiles
with the strip-light incessant doubling and
redoubling vacancy?
The window pane –

how should we live so emptied and naked like this,
this display                what is the speaking soul then
when it carousels in the pedestrianised precinct
for £1 – a – ride on the castrated booming generator,
when it has the peeking face bitten cold
of a little girl swaddled inside a puffer-jacket
just staring
soaking all of this
all of this fuck all
Who did this to us?

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George Clooney and
Albert Einstein
both wore this brand
of watch.
you too
could be both
as successful
and as famous
as George Clooney
and Albert Einstein
if you
wore this brand
of watch.

If a train
fell through
the roof
of this
coffee shop
tunnel pop-up
up and coming
on the Queens

no children
no mothers
or fathers
would die
because unlike
paper coffee
cups children
are a bad
for the

but I know
the mayor and
PM would
take time
to say a few
words and
the new
apartments over
the road would
be put on
the map as
ghost tours
breathe a little
onto Whitechapel.

A mile
away in New
Cross, a
blue circle
for the V2
bomb is
snug between
a greasy spoon
and a frozen
food supermarket
in a doorway

and further on
the house fire
is a blue
full stop
next to
a theatre.
It asks us
to stop


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death to anyone who doesn’t
free the NHS from late night
immigrant call outs pedo rapists
every last one so we can really
always never see a religion of
so called “””so called””” religion of
peace for native red blooded englishmen
of great britian like me granddad who
god bless God laid his life on the
line for these freedoms and the japs
germans and we hate the french
if we don’t wake up to sharia
immigration were going to be another
country walked over by the yanks
we never even had proms when I
was at school and the pe teacher
used to in the changing rooms but
you didn’t say anything because it wasn’t
what its made out to be now you
just got on with it only one black lad
in the class and gay meant happy

this is the video they don’t want you
to see law abiding top five reasons
jihadi executioners cutting red tape
to bring our boys sniper hero that
streets no surrender to killers
in this gruesome video [VID] human
rights in brussels when its happening
right on my back yard door step? it used
to be what it never is now [WATCH]
1000 lashes 27 virgins 15 reasons
you should vote UK and put a stop
in its tracks before its your daughter
kisses tenderly prince and baby boy
with wife looking stunning peachy in
cream wimbledon tight revealing [PICS]
your comment 65-year old full story

summer time around the rain corner
suite 5995 995 495
big results your garden this choose
use to take your feet up on fathers
day at the checkout winking mums
got the BBQ thanks DADS! And mums
got the bath to herself kids and the
orange builders merchants trade
at home in time for delivery at the
world cup flags the lads over under
warrantee in 3D and outside chance
live odds for a neighbour over
the fence with grass food and
wood sprayed tan orange boob
job on NHS taxpayer benefits footballers wage

baking it new plastic from the book
with the plastic door painted green
on his day off teehee! and favourite garden
centre his favourite! slap up meal
tea and valentines day card I
love you a bear and a candle
wax melted on your body like the
film all over the plastic sheet hurts
like it should from the film
on the packet how you think it tastes
alright new oven tie wraps from work fat
ankles tea coffee sugar homes
are like flowers you pick it
in a selection of colours or swap
the red cherry to make three in a line
and the screen changes on the TV
of the new show presented with yes
and no lights for each choice you
have to vote the number of box set
or stream prequel series and it will be good
and breaking bad already has one
better call its about the main lawyer
excellent and funny and all the new
shows you should watch as good
as tony sopranos wire but not

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Graduate Scheme Sestina

Graduate Scheme Sestina

Before I start I’d like to say thankyou
for giving me the opportunity to get this far.
You’ve taught me how to use my mind
how I should never look back
because that kind of reflection breeds a bad work
ethic. And you were right. I’m fine.

I’m reading the bottom of my contract, the fine
print, zero-hours. I say “thankyou”
as I’m handed my passport back. Work
is just how I imagined. So far
away form home, it’s nothing like back
home. I’m growing not to really mind

about anything, really. My mind
takes an empty seat on the bus with headphones in. I’m fine.
Really. I cant imagine ever going back
to Scunthorpe. What’s there for me anyway —thankyou
thankyou have a good day you too. It’s far
from perfect, but it’s part-time work

and there are a lot of people without work,
you said, so I guess I cant complain. I’ll just mind
my own business here and start going far
into my career when —I’m fine how are you? Fine
would you like a bag? OK. I think thankyou
is a word I used to know about, back

when it had warm eyes, a broad back
and a hand on my shoulder, when work
made my head feel like threads untying. When thankyou
met me in the street this morning, my mind
had already pulled itself into great wet ropes, woven fine
like knotted hair. It was a cold wind, blowing far

along the path I take most mornings, as far
as my front door to the staff room, on the back
of my bare ankles in a low breeze, its fine
hissing like tongues on teeth. The word doesn’t work
anymore. No. I shoudnt say. I’m starting to think my mind
isn’t right anymore. No. I should be saying thankyou

because so far, after my degree, work
has taught me how easily to the back we can push our mind
how if you just get your head down, work hard like me, you’ll be fine thankyou.

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