Steve Griffiths

Steve Griffiths

Steve Griffiths's latest collection of poems is Late Love Poems (Cinnamon Press). A series of filmed performances of poems from the book, funded by Arts Council England, is now available on YouTube. Steve worked in London for most of his life in welfare rights and health and social policy, and now campaigns against inequality. See also

Sitting Ducks
Sunday, 16 June 2019 15:59

Sitting Ducks

Published in Poetry

Sitting ducks

by Steve Griffiths

As we went about our humdrum little tasks
they had us in crosshairs,
observing our tastes,
worming into our whims,
our victimhood as it was forming.

The aim of the barrel wavered
in a human hand, exaggerating difference,
upping the contrast
in the rangefinder
to insistent.
Just one bullet, a dum-dum,
once embedded in the mind,
explodes our stories:
the projectile designed
to expand on impact
to deliver faster incapacitation.
Just because they can,
and since they only know
how to melt the icesheets
not how to put them together again,
how to strip the lead off the rooves
of back additions, semis and town halls,
stash it and sell it,
blow the cash on arms for despots
and devious development
till it’s gone,
from oversight at least.
The fossil of a public service
twitches into life in your dreams,
deep below fight or flight,
intensely private,
just where they wanted it.

Then the slate,
the reckoning, the diminution we know.
‘Carry on’
passing down the line beyond earshot
in the clipped, dismissive intonation
of entitlement of seventy years ago
when somewhere in the noise
there was also making and shaping,
the inspired shoots of fresh growth
over the dying.

There’s a difficulty understanding cause.
Let us learn aping,
with cake to dull the threat
of thinking through the ache.
The breadwalk.
Free up the jobs to the lowest bidder.
Make our children debtors
to their betters.
Sell our information.
Sell our nation.
The havenots remaining
when they voted leave.
The haves in havens.
We let them just because
they had the balls
and means.
And the locked-out,
hooded without eyeholes or airholes,


The one percent
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 11:07

The one percent

Published in Poetry

The One Percent

Thousands were making the precarious climb
up the front of the palace which appeared
three times the normal height,
to pay their respects
to the royals; they were numberless
salmon that had always leapt
the waterfalls with their dying

There was television coverage:
with the sound off
the selection of shots
was a lesson in deference
to the celebs and toffs.
They were intimate and safe
to us. How remote
the relief of rage.

How we were schooled
in vacuous reverence:
it was something we did well,
it made us feel better
though tomorrow
we’d be worse off,
hung over, with for some
a bitter aftertaste,
a lurking sense
of being fleeced.

It was obvious who was to blame
once we’d tucked away the ambulances
and the bunting for the next time:
it was that something for nothing
generation. How we yearned
for a smaller state
for the people just out of vision,
and welfare reform
for the malingerers we knew about
from the depth of our prompted being.

A buccaneering
one percent of us
held eighteen percent
of adhesive, marketable wealth
in nineteen eighty-six.
By now it was fifty-three percent.
We all pay too much tax.
The memory of the magic lingers.
Good luck to them, the subliminal
movers and shakers
with their quick fingers
at their soporific tricks.