Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson is a multi-award-winning cartoonist, writer and broadcaster. Photo: Fred Rowson.

Form and Content
Thursday, 01 October 2020 11:41

Form and Content

Published in Poetry

Form and Content

by Martin Rowson

Today is National Poetry Day, so I must now inform
The World that she whom I adore, she who keeps me warm,
Hates my verse, abhors my rhymes, thinks my scansion gorm-
My love, alas, approves the content but deplores the form.

What I see as a refuge from the wild, encircling storm,
She sees as simply stinkier than a Belgian borstal dorm
And drippier than the rubber trees in a short story by Maugham.
Alas, my love approves the content but deplores the form.

It gets yet worse: not only does my verse underperform
Because it's written, so she claims, in ways outside the norm;
I think she thinks it should be eaten by a locust swarm.
My love, alas, approves the content but deplores the form.

Our daughter's worse, for she believes ALL poetry is grim;
Thinks trying to express your thoughts and feelings thus is lame,
Which leads me, with great sorrow, to conclude we must assume
She really hates the content AND truly deplores the form.

Me? I think that my poor verses have a certain chorm,
And by and large I kid myself that they do little horm.
Moreover they've a neutral impact on my huge incorm,
So I approve their content and I approve their form!

The Rule of Law
Tuesday, 15 September 2020 08:36

The Rule of Law

Published in Poetry

The Rule of Law

words and image by Martin Rowson

"Boris" has fucked The Rule of Law!
And what's in there not to adore?
Now we can batter down his door
And piss upon his parquet floor,
Steal everything he's got, and more,
Then sock the fucker on the jaw
And he can't even call The Law!

Posh twats straight out of Evelyn Waugh
Survey vast tracts of fen and moor
Their family's owned since days of yore
And every fat complacent boor
Assumes they'll own it evermore -
But not without The Rule of Law!

For "libertarians" ignore
That mutual aid's required before
You smash the state and ditch the law.
They think that they can simply whore
After loot and furthermore,
Unbound by rules that they deplore,
They can pillage even more
And safely stash the swag offshore!

But typically, they don't explore
The flipside in this tug-o-war:
That WE can steal from THEM, and nor
Can they stop us, without The Law.
Nor will the sound of dropping jaw
Of Tories who've been so cocksure
Prevent the spilling of their gore
Without protection of The Law.

So now they've dumped The Rule of Law
Let's prise open their grasping claw,
Deprive them of their homes galore,
Smash their Oxbridge boatclub oar,
Land our ships upon their shore,
Bring down our hammers just like Thor
As we even up the score.

And if they scream "WHERE IS THE LAW?"
They should've thought of that before
They let "Boris" fuck The Law.

Rue Britannia, Land of Hopeless Tories
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 14:45

Rue Britannia, Land of Hopeless Tories

Published in Poetry

Rue Britannia, Land of Hopeless Tories

by Martin Rowson, with image above by Tom Janssen


Rue, Britannia!
Britannia, rue that knaves
Have for cent-u-aries
Kept us slaves!

Rue, Britannia,
You’ll always kid yourself
That Pat-riot-ism
Will trump wealth!


Land of hopeless Tories, Mother of the sleaze,
Whose history is gory and riddled with disease,
Wilder yet and wilder howl the Tory Press,
Regilding the dung heap of this fucking mess,
Regilding the dung heap of this fucking mess!

Past the Pastoral
Thursday, 25 June 2020 16:18

Past the Pastoral

Published in Poetry

Past The Pastoral

by Martin Rowson

By now I reckon I'm way past the pastoral,
Beyond beguilement
Immunised against contagious charms

The shallowed streams of dappled glamour
Contrived to pogrom trout;
The hedgerows' anarchism, fecund mutuality
Shouldered like everything into the margins,
Edged out, then forced to fortress the
Multiple stab wounds of tilled fields;
The monotony of monocultures servicing monopolists
And comehithering the townies like a burnt out ladyboy.

And all of it as glitteringly contrived as an
18th Century automaton in subfusc,
Its china hands still jerking round
The same old endless card trick,
Watched with a soft-palating of gurgles
From the porch of Cotswolds cottages
The hue of earwax.

Though, for the briefest interlude,
As Earth tried once again to
Shrug us off like a
Lingering bad cold
The native chaos looked like fighting back
Before retreating once again to bide its time
And actually
The absence of that eternal trunkroad hum
Beneath uncrosshatched skies,
The patchwork silences below the birdsong,
Merely evoked an earlier nostalgic age
When cycle-clipped folklorists
Wrapped in tweed and tight ideals
Pedalled down the crunchy lanes
To lone, hagridden hamlets
To ameliorate Industrialised Warfare
By confiscating culture.

The Great Escape
Monday, 22 June 2020 09:32

The Great Escape

Published in Poetry

The Great Escape

by Martin Rowson

What if their inner spies had tipped the wink?
Foretold the cruel incompetence of
The callous cranks in charge
And whispered the full consequence
Of the old's expendability?

What if, beneath the cover of Lock Down's deepest anxiety
They'd made a Great Escape, furtive through the hunkered towns
Evading the gerontocide patrols
To secret airfields under clouded moons
To be hissed aboard the waiting, looming airships?

And what if they'd then floated, silent as the streets,
Into the jet streams to be scattered through the safer world?
And what if it took months before their loved ones ventured round,
Knocking on unanswered doors before breaking locks and lock downs,
Simply to find a propped-up, plugged-in phone
Installed with apps to simulate an isolated chat with calls
Made automatically in rotation, a trillion algorithmic permutations
Of familiar inanities, looptaping on Zoom?

What if that vast flotilla then had landfalled,
Tattered near volcanoes, smacked down beside a wadi in the desert,
Silhouetted deflating languidly at the jungle's edge
While its passengers danced with gauchos on the pampas,
Lured lizards to the pot through termite mounds
Or crooned gently with macaques sat in the boughs
Of monstrous trees?

What if? What if? And what if some fifth columnists
Among the shackled vassals in Death's Realm
Had falsified the papers, sent their frailest charges
Through the network of
The Secret Undertaking, trustworthy hearses,
Unapproachable morticians, unfilled pews,
Unwitnessed rites and unobservable cremations
To safety and beyond? What if? What if?

And years to come, mysterious, coded postcards
All from the unlikeliest destinations, unsolicited
And disturbing the still mourning
Are the only, vaguest hint of
Something else.

What if?

The accompanying image is The Triumph of Death, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

A World Beater
Thursday, 18 June 2020 09:50

A World Beater

Published in Poetry
 World Beating (or – Boris Johnson's Wet Dream)
by Martin Rowson, with image by Martin Gollan
I wanna be a
    World beater,
    World beater
    World Beater
    Woad Botha
    Veldt Pouter
    White Buddha
And a
    World beater
And though I'm just a
    Wet bleater
    Warped boaster
    Windy Bunter
    Wild banter
Gonna make me a
    World beater
    World breeder
    Whack butter
    Wank blotters
Gonna be a 
    World beater
A fucking
    World beater
    World belter
    Would batter
    World, bladdered
And make the
    World bleed
Until the
    World's bitter
And the
    Welts blister
Cos I'm a
    World beater
    World Beater
    World Beater
    World beater
Who's gonna beat that sorry World red, white

    Black and blue.

Playing Statues
Saturday, 13 June 2020 08:52

Playing Statues

Published in Poetry

Playing Statues

by Martin Rowson

Let’s play statues!
Stand stock still,
Never moving!
What a thrill!

Never change
And never shift,
Just stand rock solid
Like God’s gift.

Never give,
Never alter,
Never move
To lift the halter

Never apologise,
Never explain,
Never say
Never again

So let’s play statues!
Don’t move an inch!
All play statues!
              (Fetch a winch)

Bad magic
Friday, 12 June 2020 09:36

Bad magic

Published in Poetry

Bad Magic

by Martin Rowson

All human beings start out female,
The human species started black;
It takes some pretty fucked-up magic
To turn all of that on its back.

All human beings are born as social
Beasts who need to help and share
But fucked-up wizardry has fucked us
Convincing us we mustn't care.

All human beings are born to crave love
It's hardwired in as we gestate
How fucked up is the occult fuckedness
Enchanting us to make us hate?

And if you don't believe in magic,
Are immune to legerdemain
How else have we become so fucked up
We've fucked over the human brain?

What sleight-of-hand, classic distraction,
Ace of spades palmed up a sleeve
Could consequently fuck us so much
That we believe what we believe?

That fucking chanted mantra: This is
The one way fucking things can be,
We're only human, & if you're quiet
You might be human too. Fuck me!

This fucking curse is special magic,
Of church bells, banks, and cringing knaves,
Accountants, clowns and riot cops
All underpinned by grateful slaves

An ancient curse that takes some shit,
And shapes it to some fucking thing
Waves a wand, knocks back a potion,
Hocus pocus! Here's your king!

All human beings have been enchanted
The bad way, in this living hell,
So break the charms, spit out the potion,
Crack mirrors - and let's fuck this spell.

Sounds of the Seventies
Thursday, 11 June 2020 10:08

Sounds of the Seventies

Published in Poetry

Sounds of the Seventies

by Martin Rowson

Stumbling out of Lockdown
Like a 70s British porn star
Falling shackled from the wardrobe,
Streaky Y-fronts round your ankles,
When her old man comes home early
because the abattoir's closed down.

Opening up the schools
Like the janitor in "Please Sir!",
Kids' heads caught in the railings
And bodging up the carpentry
With make-do-and-mendy comedy
and jokes about The War.

Tackling systemic racism
Like a blacked-up back row chorus boy
In The Black And White Minstrel Show
As seen on prime time telly, and
Now headlining the Summer Show
down the pier in endless rain.

Strategising everything,
A genius wearing tracksuit pants,
Dressing up like Jimmy Saville
In standard-issue rapist wear
And fixing it and fucking it
all up with a sneer.

Crumbling a curly-wurly
Into his bowl of Special K,
Benny-Hilling "Oo-er Missus!
It's getting really close in here!"
He slops in slugs of Rohypnol
to forget the stench of death.

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