Alan Dunnett

Alan Dunnett

Alan Dunnett is a poet, active union member and former theatre director who now works at Central Saint Martins, London. His poems have appeared in magazines and ezines including Dead Ink, The Recusant, Militant Thistles and Communist Review.

Endless shit stain (perpetual motion)
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 18:16

At service or brexit

Published in Poetry

At Service or Brexit

by Alan Dunnett

In the timings is some dislocation.
All the cogs seem oiled. You pull and again
at the lever. Each day, it is harder,

sweating underground while the batteries
get low. Each day, the end-count is smaller.
There is a dull continuing. Hands reach

through the cage for bread at agreed hours.
On more occasions, the system is sunk
until the complainers are proved correct

but there is no exodus into light
and there is no contingency plan. Stuck
in a diminishing with bones turning

yellow, you pull at the lever, all pull
but nothing works. Silence starts, then is still. 

Alix Emery, the artist who provided the brilliant accompanying image, lives and works in London. She has had work exhibited at Tate St Ives, Birmingham Hippodrome, The Truman Brewery, Tenderbooks, The House of Blah Blah, and PS Mirabel. She is in her final year, studying BA Fine Art, at Central Saint Martins.

National Poetry Day: Justice and Peace
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 15:38

National Poetry Day: Justice and Peace

Published in Poetry

Justice and Peace

by Alan Dunnett

Then I killed him. It was appropriate.
Then his sister hired some men who shot

my brother when they could not find me. Chest
down, he was paralysed. Following that,

my sister-in-law spoke to her brothers
and they took revenge but two of them died.

Then it was quiet. They put new windows
in the local store and scrubbed the bloodstains

on the white steps. I came out of hiding
but would be looking over my shoulder

for the rest of my days. Did I do wrong?
You don't know the whole story. If the clock

goes back, I am still doing the same thing.
I did not start this, I swear; and I know

for sure, it will never end as long as
memory lasts. Killing must continue



The War Abroad
Saturday, 17 September 2016 14:12

The War Abroad

Published in Poetry

The War Abroad

by Alan Dunnett

I have heard that in war
people often don't know
what's going on. I mean
ordinary people caught in the middle
although others too get confused.

I have heard that before
it can end, you must go through
trauma. To some, that will seem
normal but, if you're caught in the middle,
it's normal abuse.

There is no need to travel far,
you can watch it on TV.
The necessary deaths are there to shock
but you can get used to them, safe
as you are or so you think.

This argument's quite circular
and simple, ending in a plea:
some say that running amok
is not the order of the day. Life,
all life, makes the count. Others drink

to how it is and how we must be clear
that as we do keeps us back from the brink.
They say: it could not happen here.

When the well runs dry
Saturday, 17 September 2016 14:05

When the well runs dry

Published in Poetry

When The Well Runs Dry

by Alan Dunnett

I got to the piss-edge last night
sharp and painful like an infection
with you below looking up
from a hole in hell.

I thought, this must be a joke
after all the admonitions
but then there's no telling what people
may do and be done by

in spite of precautions. Listen,
it is not too late. I know I said
I would never leave this place
but I failed to see the future.

Surely I can change my mind?
This could be a first day
instead of the last no burning no
ash to swallow.

I'm getting up. I'm on the move
before the rafters fall in.
Talk to me differently.
It is not reason

not a question of reason only.
I am doing these things
like a killer as if I live
outside myself and my beliefs

count for nothing but it doesn't matter.
People learn to use guns
and we reply because we have to.
That's history. Crucifixions

on either side and winter
coming on although it is still warm.
In the streets are banners
and megaphones sounding

through open shop doors,
marching, democracy, discussion,
disagreement. Let me help you up.
It's not too late.

The drawing is by Ann Course, who studied at the Royal College of Art and lives and works in London. Her films and sculptures have been widely screened and exhibited, including Tate Britain/Modern, Royal Academy, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Angel Row Gallery, Stroom Den Hague, Galerie Barbara Thumm, The Drawing Room, the Rotterdam Film Festival, Oberhausen film Festival, LUX gallery and the Whitechapel Gallery, London. She teaches at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Art.


The Dog's Tongue
Monday, 09 May 2016 12:46

The Dog's Tongue

Published in Poetry

The dog's tongue dragged in the dirt

'We had a tiny puppy, and he followed behind us. He was panting, trying to keep up so much that his little tongue dragged in the sand.'

- from Throwing Stones at the Moon: Narratives from Colombians displaced by violence, a Voice of Witness book.

They come in blue uniforms like the police
around the time of the street shootings.
They ask for water but I am so scared,
I cannot stand.

This time, they pass through, which is no relief.
They will return and there will be looting
if we leave. If we're prepared
to stay - the end,

and not just so to speak.
Whether on one side or another,
they will rape or kill or both.
Hard to understand

when you come from a place of peace
where there is time to take a lover
and it is safe to sleep. Truth
is a stranger with contraband.

Our family is broken. The children cry
and suffer from what you call stress.
Soon, we will lose our fear and be ready to die.
You are not responsible for our backward progress.

For us, this is simply the wrong release.
We leave in the morning through lack of belief.


The woodcut specially made to illustrate this poem is by Ignacia Ruiz, a Chilean born, London based illustrator who has exhibited her prints both in the UK and abroad. She currently teaches at Central Saint Martins, London, and her website is