Pennine Poets

Rob Hawley

Rob was born in Lancashire in 1966. He is a teacher of History, a contributor to various county magazines under the pseudonym Jonas Holdsworth, a freelance copywriter and a member of Pennine Poets. His poetry seeks the union of formal style with vibrant musicality.

Selected Poems

The Beatles at Ardwick, Manchester, 1963

Yes I was at the Ardwick ABC.
To have a look about. To satisfy
A nagging kind of curiosity.
I had no urges to beatify
Those lads. I thought that maybe I could add
Them to the likes of Dylan, Kerouac.
To Braine and Sillitoe, to jazz club greats.
But no-one in the queue outside had had
Such daydreams. Bunched in shiny bivouacs
They kipped out two nights giggling with their mates.

This was my first surprise. The happy girls
With faces flushed and animated eyes
And northern vowels and peroxide curls
And mighty expectations. Don't despise
Them, let them be, I thought. They just might yet
Begin to see the value of the act.
To recognise that movements within art
Require the ousting of the bourgeois set
As honest proletarians enact
The rending of our country's stuffy heart.

The next thing was the opening of the doors,
The foyer smothered by a human wave
Of mostly schoolgirls, frenzied to ensure
They'd grab their perfect place. Had they behaved
Like this elsewhere they'd cop for such a wallop.
But here it seemed the mania was expected.
The auditorium was like a riot.
I strained to hear the tannoy through the dollop
Of yelping girls. A hellish place perfected!
A land of noise. Antipodes of quiet.

But this was nothing to the moment when
The band pranced on the stage and waved and bowed.
Young lads. Dark suits. Such shiny hair. Intent
To give their look, their voices to that crowd.
She Loves You. And an ecstasy of din.
And out of tune, a mockery, a joke.
Before long, though, they'd got into their stride.
From Me to You could fairly usher in
Such revelations only art invokes.
Announce our era's brave incoming tide!

But soon I saw the half-mad audience were
A spectacle to rival that on stage.
A girl nearby was in complete despair:
How could it be that somebody her age
Could gnaw a handkerchief as if tormented,
Could sob like one lost in a torturer's cell,
Could flail for comfort in a schoolmate's arms
As if some goad had left her half demented,
As if she writhed in some appalling hell
And only John or Paul could offer balms?

These maenads had made me pause and ponder.
The concentrated fury in girls' hearts
Is something that I'd stumbled on in wonder:
A force to change, or tear the world apart.
This atavistic urge, a revolution!
But not the sort long sought by such as I.
I sloped off while the band still pranced and sang
Unsure now what was want, what was solution.
Outside I gazed up at an Ardwick sky
And drank the silence though my ears still rang.

And Did Those

Look at them, blueing on the slab, the feet,
Manacled with toe-tags, going nowhere.
Miracle of design, those feet,
Or of evolution. Toes spread weight,
Arches to stretch, heels to support
As flip-flopped feet go licking down a street.

Not now. Blue, greys, a blacking taking over,
Their last walk done. Somehow so poignant,
More so than those hands, clawed dry spiders
Which were for everything: caresses, fists,
Dabbling, scribbling, fixing shelving,
Microengineering circuitboards. They're
An annexe of the human mind, hands are:
They easily shoot a wave or a salute.
Hyperactive, like our brains, there for love,
Work, war, wants.
Not so the feet.
'Go forth' their only motto. He's 'Going places!'
Hands, they're what we'll need when we get there.
But dusty feet are metaphors, our truest symbol.

Handcuffs mean a slapped wrist;
Manacled ankles mean slavery forever.

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© pennine poets 2016