Ken Champion

Marx In The Park

He bumps into a bench, jumble of books, papers

under his arms, sits beard on belly, stares at a tree,

found himself in Starbucks an hour ago looking across

to a golden M, people dressed oddly, shouting at things

held to their ears, giving strange money to bargirls,

bitte, wievel kostet, prosze, familiar accents, looks

at a book, frowns, shakes his head, it’s the translation,

No, he didn’t say that, picks up a news-paper, stares

in disbelief at page three, on four a picture of Bush

on his first visit to Asia and somewhere before

Gazza ‘Aza Dazzler two lines that say India

gets a McDonalds - did he not say the state is but

a committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie?

Thinks back to his coffee, gazing out the window,

vehicles flashing past posters   my  ipod   my  music

my life   smiles, lips shape the words technological

determinism, looks up, pink clad ‘chavs’ all around him,

aggressive blind eyes, tight pony tails, point at him,

loser, they chant, loser,  fuckin’ loser.


Headscarf knot high on her forehead, senna’d hair,

shoulder pads, like a war poster; she becomes

Aunt Lil - smiling down, hand cupping my chin -

holding Sid’s arm, evening drink in the Plough,

slabbed eels twitching outside, pillbox hat for

The Harold on Sunday, turban in the tractor

factory making shells, painted line down

the calf for the Rex.

See her again, red tights, trilby, Camden-booted;

I’m Uncle Albert, double-breasted, roll ups,

knees ups, nudge and a wink to Charlie,

pencil ‘tash, flash of a gold tooth smile;

she walks away, looks back, frowns,

leaving a raggedy-arsed boy.

Houses: anthropomorphic

Sun on pantiles, boughed leaves against a sash,

- a mother’s hair touching an infant’s face, a cupola,

an offered breast, eaves, the brim of a merry widow hat,

radiant stucco, grinning dentrils, full-busom’d caryatide,

the long skirt’s folds for a child to wrap his face in,

jasmine hedge cushioning a boy’s boundaries.

Raised eyebrow of a high gable, railings, tall, upright,

military, ‘old yer back up, chequer pattern flint and

stone, tough, hard, don’t let ‘em score, son,

dive at their feet, the roof, pitched, steep, thick

brows frowning down, a boy too scared to move,

the house inside him.


Tired of swimming through porridge with the sixth form

I walk the lunch break through terraced streets, enjoying

leafed capitals, Doric columns; a child sprouts in front

of me, still, unmovable, hard eyes quietly demanding,

gripping a square of card  we hav no muny and no

napies for little gerl and…

I rest on a garden wall, beckon him to sit, he stands

in front of me as I rewrite his plea in my notebook

demonstrate vowel sounds, consonants, pauses,

differentiate the phonetic, tear out the page, hand

it to him.

He nods slowly not taking his eyes from mine,

shows me the card again, crushed notepaper

tumbling in the gutter.

Ken Champion © 2011

Speech Balloons

In the War Museum photo a soldier lies

to attention under a sheet, officer at foot

of bed, underarm baton, bonneted lady

frowning down, grim Sister behind

“Playing with yourself?” asks madam.

Sister, “Taking iron jelloids, are we?”

Officer, “Rectum?”

Soldier, “Didn’t do ‘em much good, sir.”

“Have a good war then, must go,

carry on dying.”

Lady Matronise will never do good

Sister will stand there forever

baton will one day fall

soldier will never lie at ease.

A Brother’s Death

You move blindly around the house kicking

doors, scattering books while brittle images

fill the pain: dad letting you fall though his

opening knees, catching you under the arms,

the ritual ending when he lets you hit the floor,

don’t trust anyone son, the birthday boxing

gloves, your left feint, overarm right, the parlour

party celebrating the wiping across your cheek

the blood from his lips, the later mosaics of

urban architecture, streetscapes of an endless

city, Stan behind, gasping for a café and

becoming father lying at the bottom of the

stairs clutching his kidneys, your schizoid self

staring forever before running next door for mum;

and now see that when his six year old eyes

looked up at you, not thinking how he’d die,

you couldn’t know that dad would always hover

inside you, strangling the tears, the love.

Ken Champion © 2011