John Short

John Short

John Short lives near Liverpool again after a previous life in southern Europe. He's appeared in places like Pennine Platform, London Grip and The High Window. His last full collection is Those Ghosts (Beaten Track 2021).

Worlds Apart
Tuesday, 10 October 2023 10:28

Worlds Apart

Published in Poetry

Worlds apart

by John Short

Sabadell, Catalonia

In the streets and parks
West Africans drag hijacked
shopping carts, collecting scrap
to be conjured into cash.
Trinket sellers press tiny
toys to reluctant palms
for change when hard sell fails.

Men outside a local bar,
professionally unemployed;
coarse voiced with cigarettes
and beers that persist all day
enact their usual theatrics.
An old woman, darkly dressed
appears at times to linger
on the corner like a lost soul

but take the morning bus
and fifteen minutes north
on wealth-sprinkled hillsides
you’ll chance the curious domain
of bankers, footballers, actors
anonymous in mansions upheld
by rented staff and gardeners
trimming perfect hedges.

Militant
Friday, 16 September 2022 09:44

Militant

Published in Poetry

Militant

by John Short

If he surrendered now
how would he fill the void?
Never the kind to retire
round glittering pools,
world injustice keeps him
permanently afloat.

I chanced upon him yesterday
with a megaphone.
He’s looking older but
his comrades stay the same age,
they carry banners a while
but eventually lose zeal.

I asked after his wife, who fled
from a country whose
dissident voices were crushed
by fuming violence:
rage at refusal to be silent.

I wonder how it feels
to know all the dark statistics
and parade them
through a sea of apathy
down the parasitic high street
refusing to give up -
still hoping to change the world.

Biscuit Factory
Friday, 16 September 2022 09:43

Biscuit Factory

Published in Poetry

Biscuit Factory

by John Short

This expanse of sprawling madness
and disinfected squalor
for a product no one really needs.

The thunderous megalomania
of machinery means action,
dismissing tinnitus as collateral.
Sad history locked within a place
whose soul is a wage-slave oubliette.

We are the caffeine operatives
who weigh potato starch all night,
nudge errant biscuits endlessly in line
and emerge like matchsticks
in the morning, Lowry silhouettes.