Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins is an award-winning Welsh poet and author and unofficial poet for Cardiff City FC. His new book of political poetry, Nobody's Subject, is published in Summer 2016.

Whose Name?
Friday, 14 June 2024 15:33

Whose Name?

Published in Poetry

Whose Name?

by Mike Jenkins 

Whose name on the bomb?
Is it yours or is it mine?
Is it the men & women on the lines?
The factory owner or the shareholder?

Is it that genial politician we voted for?
Or the one who only cares for his own future?
Is it the madman calls himself a ruler?
The pilot, tank commander, drone controller
With their coordinates & radar?

Is it the trader , the dealer ,
The captain of the ship which carries it?
Is it the people who cheer,
Or the reporter who fails to trace it back?

Is it the names of everyone who let it happen?
A bomb the size of our planet.


Mike Jenkins writes:

This is one of the poems in For Gaza, a new collection of poems. "How can you write about an atrocity of such enormity?" some ask about the genocide in Gaza since last October. To which I'd reply - " How can I not write about it?"

It has consumed my waking ( and dreaming) thoughts and visions since Israel began its merciless assault on the people of Gaza. When I have found most of the mainstream media appallingly biased and ready and willing to go along with the Israeli government line, we sought out Al Jazeera, the only channel with reporters on the ground , many of whom paid for the truth they told with their lives.

I have been here before and wrote several poems about Palestine for my book Nobody's Subject over a decade ago. I have marched for Palestinian freedom for many years and especially recall the time thousands of us marched towards the Cardiff City stadium when Wales were playing Israel in a Euro qualifier. I stood with protesters as both family and friends passed by on the way to the game and I stood alone outside afterwards listening for sounds of us scoring. For a member of Y Wal Goch, this was hard. But the constant suffering of those people of Gaza, the daily tales of utter brutality by the IDF fully sanctioned by Western governments leaves my sacrifice looking tiny and trivial.

As with all my work , the oppressed people are at the very centre of my concerns and particularly the boy Mohammed with his kite-making, the poet Mosab Abu Toha and the small girl Hind Rajab trapped in a car and surrounded by Israeli tanks. I also wanted to include poems about other war experiences: the effect of the Troubles on my wife and, from our visit last year to Krakow and Auschwitz, my reactions to the sheer horrors of the past there.

I was very much influenced by reading the great US anti-war poet Brian Turner and his book Phantom Noise. The wars live through us and around us and, if we do not speak out then they will surely suffocate us. For many , the whole myth of the democratic, civilised West has been torn apart by the realisation that our so-called reasonable politicians and commentators could actively condone a modern holocaust. I experienced this on a smaller scale in Northern Ireland, where security services killed civilians with impunity.

I never thought this pamphlet would happen; I had so many knockbacks. But I was looking everywhere except in front of me and I'm wrth fy modd (as we say in Welsh) that For Gaza is a Red Poets publication. It is available from Mwnci Coch / Red Monkey on Facebook, or directly from Mike Jenkins at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All proceeds go to Medical Aid for Palestine.

Winding Back
Monday, 19 February 2024 14:52

Winding Back

Published in Poetry

This poem is about The Winding House museum in New Tredegar in the Valleys (see above), built on the site of the Elliot colliery. It is due to be shut by Caerffili's Labour Council at the end of March as part of cuts. My choir Merthyr Aloud will sing there along with local choir White Rose Singers on March 22nd, 2024.

Winding Back

by Mike Jenkins

Wind the wheel back
Memories of the dark -
Of a collier lost
In the deep galleries,
Of a canary ceased,
Of a pit-pony toppled,
Of props snapping,
Of floods and dust
Choking many throats
Made for singing.

Yet also, winding back
To butties joking,
To laughter echoing,
To names called
"Bryn-O!" carried to the face,
To comrades out on strike
For a tidy wage,
To the Stutes and their books
Promising better days.

Wind it and watch it
Reeling back in black and white,
Though they can never
Wash away the coal
Engrained in palm-lines
Showing none a fortune.
Spinning a lethal barrel,
Or the thread of tales.

For Gaza
Friday, 10 November 2023 11:08

For Gaza

Published in Poetry

For Gaza

by Mike Jenkins

They dried up the terrain
Like parched riverbeds with only names left

They bombed the shops and warehouses -
Every child's stomach a crater

They cut off the electricity
So darkness was a way of life

They stopped the journalists from entering;
Who queued before danger like relief trucks

They blew up the roads , those 'potholes'
The pocks of many missiles

They ordered a million to move on ,
Who were followed by spying drones

They blockaded air , sea and land,
Huge noose of every element

While the people ran out of bodybags -
Soldiers on the border, inhuman predators.

Image above: by Alisdare Hickson. A Black man carrying a placard "Gaza - Stop the Massacre" at a protest near Downing Street in London. In the background, a placard "#Endthesiege". This was the day after the U.S. moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and 61 unarmed Palestinians, including several children, a baby, and journalist Yasser Murtada, were killed by the Israeli army during a demonstration near Gaza's border fence.

The Refugee Game
Tuesday, 06 June 2023 16:31

The Refugee Game

Published in Poetry

The Refugee Game

by Mike Jenkins

You start in your own land.
What are you fleeing from?
Pick a card: drought, war, famine,
A callous, oppressive regime.

If you begin in Albania
You won't get far -
Return to Go, start again
(It’s jobs you're after
And there are plenty,
But you're surely a gangster).

Roll the dice, land on Poland,
Hungary or Serbia -
You want to keep moving
But you can only go back.

The Calais camp is like jail
Except there's no formula
To get out, no double.

If you manage, there's a small boat.
This is where it gets tricky!
Pick up your Chance cards -
Overboard, drowned, arrested.

If you progress there are hotels,
Detention centres, paltry hand-outs.
You haven't won,
You're just stuck on a square.

There's that square ahead -
If you land on it
It will be straight to Rwanda,
Do not pass Go,
Do not collect your 45 quid.
You're out.... off the board!

But if you're fortunate
Pick up your Community Chest card -
' If you're from Ukraine,
Go round the board,
You get a visa, a job,
Can even visit home.'

You've lost your house or your family,
Sometimes your whole town.
There's no returning to square one,
Though you roll and hope
Again and again and again.
And the name of the game
Is "Nobody Can Win".

Note: the image above is of Syrian and Iraqi refugees reach the coastal waters of Lesbos in Greece, after having crossed from Turkey.

Picnic in a Car
Tuesday, 06 December 2022 09:57

Picnic in a Car

Published in Poetry

Picnic in a Car

by Mike Jenkins, with image above by Martin Gollan

It’s winter,
theyer avin a picnic
in theyer car agen,
im an er
up Cyfarthfa Park
overlookin-a lake
shaped like a fish
(local knowledge tha).

Ev’ry day they’re there
with sarnies an flask
watchin ducks, swans, geese -
mus geh dead borin.

Loadsa layers o clothin
an they on’y goh a small car -
a wonder they fit in!

They ewsed t walk
round ’n round the lake -
one day changed direction.

Save on eatin bills,
keep breathin,
doze in the afternoon.

Spottin-a dog-walkers,
famlees with children,
opeful tourists an istorians,
an them anglers sittin
with rods ready,
patient as them.

Igh Sheriff o Merthyr
Monday, 19 September 2022 08:17

Igh Sheriff o Merthyr

Published in Poetry

Igh Sheriff o Merthyr

by Mike Jenkins

Ee wuz off of is trolley,
shoutin in-a middle o Penderyn Square
like ee woz a Town Crier.

Ee ad all the regalia -
chains, fancy at , medals galore,
buh ardly spoke posher.

“Yer ye, yer ye! Good folk o Merthyr!
I’m yewer bran’new Igh Sheriff
appointed arfta givin bagsomoney.

Ower good Queen 've sadly
passed away, wavin from-a sky
on a separate cloud to er ubby.

She ave served us mos graciously,
same time lookin arfta er famlee
(speshly er darlin son Andy).

Now we welcome King Charlie III
oo once spoke sev’ral words o Welsh
an loves talkin t trees.

We say ‘Croeso!’ t Wills ower prince
an look forward t showin im round
b’fore ev’ry business shuts down town.

As Igh Sheriff I yerby decree
Prince Charles becomes King Charles Ospital
An Keir Ardie Ealth Centre’s named arfta Camilla.

As Igh Sheriff I yerby declare
this square will enceforth be named arfta me -
Josiah John Bacon Homfray Crawshay.”

Lock Me Up!
Saturday, 06 August 2022 17:37

Lock Me Up!

Published in Poetry

Lock Me Up

by Mike Jenkins

Lock me up , Rishi Sunak!
I have committed a thought -crime,
I am a modern Winston Smith,
I call myself Mihangel Morgannwg.

Rip me up, Sunak!
For I am an extremist
Wanting out of your beloved Union
Where we are an afterthought.

Report me to Prevent, Sunak!
I need to be re-programmed
To worship past wars
And idolise your Queen.

Round me up , Sunak!
I am one of millions:
You’ve already put our nations
Behind poverty’s bars.

Shut me up, Sunak!
Like the poet Ashraf Fayad,
800 lashes then incarcerated;
Yet words and songs will escape.

Finish me off, Sunak!
Like Lewis Lewis on a prison ship,
Or the innocent Dic Penderyn
A noose around his neck.

Ey Mister Lan'Lor'!
Sunday, 01 May 2022 09:59

Ey Mister Lan'Lor'!

Published in Poetry

Ey Mister Lan’Lor’!

by Mike Jenkins, with image by Gus Payne

Tell me, Mister Lan’lor’
wha yew doin t me?
Jest me an my kid
tryin t make ends meet.
I work like a dog
a collie chasin sheep,
I’m on yewer leash.

Carn afford no car,
train fares always goin up,
food prices beyond
‘lectric’s the same –
yew wan’ us t end
up on-a street?

Ey Mister Lan’lor’
I know yew gotta make money,
buh yew goh more ouses
than I goh GCSEs
an I done tidee
even though I work in Tragos.

Yew ever gone without?
Gone to a foodbank?
Secon’ thoughts I’m more like a sheep,
with yew snappin us inta pens.
Wha’s-a fewture, eh?
Some ewman blydi abbatoir?

Wern My Fault
Wednesday, 02 March 2022 09:51

Wern My Fault

Published in Poetry

Wern My Fault

by Mike Jenkins

There wuz this fuckin ard gang
Led by this bloke Vlad
(Arfta some ol rooler).

Ee didn give a toss
'Bout trainers on wires,
Ee wan’ed more terrortree.

We wern gunna take no messin,
Ee knew t keep out -
We’d flash ower weapons.

No way ee’d risk it,
Noh even with is boyz
All tooled up an ready.

Fancied isself ee did,
Ewsed t ride orses bare-back,
Shirt off six pack.

Till one night they invaded
Ower Igh Street askin f trouble,
Shoutin theyer gobs off.

Joey goh stabbed, I cut
One of em ‘cross is face
T stop im attackin.

It wern my fault see,
I woz on’y defendin myself.
P’lice wouldn lissen.

Capitalism is working
Thursday, 30 September 2021 08:23

Capitalism is working

Published in Poetry

Capitalism is working

by Mike Jenkins

We’re running out of petrol
On the road to oblivion.

Food or heat the choice
For many who are struggling.

The sea and the rivers
Have become our enemies.

Thatcher hacked identities
Many years ago.

Talk about North Korea
As TV fawns over monarchy.

We’re paying for vanity railway
As ours are cancelled, running late.

Homeless people beg on busy streets,
Cups empty as second homes;

Language and culture has no insurance policy,
Like a redundant person, alone.

Women who steal ripped from families
While Prince Andrew still goes free.

Supermarket shelves like the ol’ USSR,
But capitalism’s working, you see.

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