Keith Armstrong

In the Department of Poetry

‘Our paths may cross again, they may not. But I wish you success for the future. I don’t think you are a person who is easily defeated through life as you are by nature a peacock which shows at times its beautiful feathers.’ (Margaretha den Broeden)

In the Department of Poetry something is stirring:

it is a rare bird shitting on a heap of certificates.

He bears the beautiful plumage of a rebel,

flying through the rigid corridors,

the stifling pall of academic twaddle.

He pecks at the Masters’ eggheads,

scratches pretty patterns along the cold walls of poetic power.

He cares not a jot for their fancy Awards,

their sycophantic perambulations,

degrees of literary incest.

These trophies for nepotism

pass this peculiar bird by

as he soars


above the paper quadrangle,

circling over the dying Heads of Culture,

singing sweet revolutionary songs,

showing off

his brilliant wings

that fly him

into the ecstasy

of a poem.

Outside Your Lonely Window

My God,

we are

indeed lucky,

in this great and ancient city,

to have,

in our presence,

such a poet as you.


it even seems

that you

are bigger than us,

with your huge dome


our history.

Such an immense

and supreme


larger than the space

in Grainger Market.

And, when it comes to writing up our story,

we, of course,

must turn to you,

with your flawless technique

and structured craft,

turn to you

in our peasant



though we have folk songs,

they cannot do justice

to the language,

like you

above all,



next time,

before we break

into song,

we should ask you

to subject our voices

to your analysis.

But then

I don’t think,

in your padded academic tower,

that you can hear us all


in the trees,


your lonely window.

Keith Armstrong © 2018

Lament For A Writer Dead

He died,

clinging on to his pen,

at six in the morning,

his usual stint.

He’d run out of anything to write about.

For years, he’d watched the world go by his study,

observing other people’s lives.

All he had to do was fill the page,


lacking in instinct,

without a history,

with no real vision of any particular community.

After all,

he knew he was

a writer,

a describer,

inscriber of someone else’s paving stones.

An expert on poetry,

with nothing much at all

to say.

Fat Man Lodged On Dog Leap Stairs

He pounded the cobbles

of the Castle Garth,

bowling along

with his brain hanging over his neck

and his belly

looming over his huge pants.

His overeducated head

weighed a ton

and bore down

on an arse

fattened on home- made pies.

He was carrying a plan

for the working classes

but forgot his heart was too small,

dwarfed by his huge mouth

and an expensive ego.

He had a board meeting to go to,

the big fart,

and he sweated grants

as he blundered along

to the narrow alley.

He was far too broad of beam really

but he was late for everything,

including his funeral,

and thrust his plates of meat

onto the slippery steps.

History closed in on him,

the Black Gate,

the Keep,

as if to tell him

it wasn’t his,

as if to say

‘get out of my town’.

He squeezed himself onto this narrow stairway

and, like his poetry,

got stuck.

He couldn’t move

for his lack of lyricism.

The Fat Man

was firmly lodged

on Dog Leap Stairs

and the crows

began to gather

to swoop

and pick

the bloated power

from his face.

Keith Armstrong © 2018