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Words on Wednesday (jan-jun '18)

You know you are


It's hard

Of course it's hard

It's impossibly hard

It will hurt, it will ache, it will take all your strength

It will sap all you are

It will drive you to stop, to rest, to whimper, to whine

Do you?

Will you?

Can you?

Dare you?

Will you drive right through it, regardless, fearless, battle scarred and weary?

Tear stained and tainted

Will you blow it pieces, leave it splattered and splintered in your jubilant wake?

Will you take all the doubters, the shouters, the moaners, the groaners?

Will you take all those and full with contempt and with half empty glasses?

Those poisoned souls who would drag you into their lair

Down to their level, into their haven, their safety

Into their vision of heaven, your painting of hell

Whisper no?

Say no?

Shout no?

Scream from the bowels of your blood and the depths of your anger: NO!!

Pick yourself up, pick up your coins, dust yourself down, straighten your cap, polish your boots


This needs no noise, this is not about words, about poetry or prose.

No alarms, no bells, no klaxons from you, no hullabaloo

This is about deeds

This is about actions

Doing and being

Knowing and seeing



Of course it's fucking hard


Are you up to it?


You know you are

 Martin Wardley (27th June 2018) 18

A heavy debt


This shroud I wrap around myself

These clouds of cotton wool

These blinkers thwarting thinking

To tame my tainted blood


This baffled, calm cocophony

These battles with bureaucracy 

This pain that wells up ceaselessly 

This procrastinating eulogy 


This temporary antidote

To crush the mining microscope

And silence all the questions

And the dubious suggestions 


But this deal for mediocrity 

This trade, this pact, this pleasing pledge 

This contract of necessity 

Exacts a heavy, heavy debt

 Martin Wardley (20th June 2018) 17

No words (on Wednesday)


A self-imposed time-line

But no words, no meter, no subject, no rhyme

Nothing forthcoming

No flow, no enlightenment, no bristling

No humming

No jostling of ideas or images or sounds

Inspiration deceased

No feast

Simply famine

I examine my paint and my pallete

Nothing but a blank white page

Saying a big nothing

Yet bulging with frustration, indignation and pitiful protestations


These deadlines we set

To get

Us to move

To prove our worth

To get

Us out of bed

Or out of the battles enacted in both hearts and heads

They lay in wait like some dark anti-artistic demon

Guarding the gates of the creative

So down with the pen



Wander a while

In the spirit of opening the senses

Of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and listening

To reinvigorate

To stimulate

Or is this


A lack of the requisite discipline

 Martin Wardley (13th June 2018) 16

How many seconds?


One gone. And did you do enough?

Did you grace the peaks of human achievement?

Did you kiss our collective, selective bereavement?

Did you nudge a nerve? Did you stoke our love?


A dead small crowd and did you make the grade?

Were we close enough to feel the pain?

Did you share our God as you were slain?

Is our moral code aligned, does it point to blame?


The death toll tiptoes towards a stirred-up indignation

The anger igniting a flame of questionable condemnation

No need for understanding or calm contemplation

Summon up the masses in a public show of vitriolic protestation


Just how many seconds of silence are you worth?

Does your demise warrant a line of someone else’s heartfelt verse?

How many seconds of silence for a loved ones hurt?

How many seconds of silence are you really worth?


In a limb-strewn pool of blood in a corner of some far flung foreign field

Lies a quiet of deafening depth

Ignored and overlooked by the orchestrators of our fickle feelings

The silence here now cynically stretched


Just how many seconds of silence are you worth?

Does your demise warrant a line of someone else’s heartfelt verse?

How many seconds of silence for your loved ones hurt?


How many seconds of silence are you really worth?

 Martin Wardley (6th June 2018) 15

Davids dream interrupted (part 1)

She camped on cobbled corridors to reach the core
To decipher and interpret all the hate they saw
And hanging onto coat tails In the driving rain
She dealt out sugar coated assorted sweets to ease the pain

When blood and bone and pride collides on Tarmac yards
She kissed the open sores and saved the blood in jars
To return to over years to steer the caravan 
Though dusty dirty thirst of just a broken man

And playing loony tunes upon his off-white pipe
He summoned up the syllables and notes and rhymes
To occupy the criminals and vagabonds
Until crime and aimless wandering had all but gone

The butter bowl of cherries on the ferry here
Was laced with trust and troubles and bad atmosphere 
It floated sort of indecisive and unclear
But made sense when defences dipped or disappeared 

And in the heaven of another's underwear
The truth was soon determined and the juices shared
Thus the lessons of the infant were all blown away
In a moment of the union on the interstate

And flying on the hillsides of gods holy land
There came to pass a sorry ass and cavalcade
While sitting all alone beneath the planets plan
He dreamed with David fuelled on cream and lemonade

With right hand on the wheel and both eyes on the road
She willed him to agree the pact in sign and code
But he lost the plot and promptly forgot both he said
And fell beside the roadside in another's bed

The masters of the brush all rushed to save his fate
From dragging life and limb into an early grave
They threw away his needles and his alcohol
And fed him bread and clowns but took away his toys

He thanked them for their empathy and elegance
But sensed that he would see them on the continent 
When leaving all the jingoists and ignorants
To the vile bile of their hatred and their ignorance 

In a large room in the small hours of a balmy moon stroon day
With pen and mind on overdrive and so much left to say
David had a dream - it seems it's still as real
Although now interrupted as the day it was revealed

 Martin Wardley (30th May 2018) 14

From leftfield to mainstream and repeat (People watching in Portland – US time)


People watching from a pock-marked pavement in Portland, pre-dark

Or is that a splintered sidewalk on SW Stark?

And is this Shoreditch?

Or Hackney?

Or Williamsburg?


Watching the anti-establishmentarians

The rule breakers

The mood makers 

The thrill seekers

The code tweakers

The ne’er compliers

The thrift shop buyers

And although devoid of intent

They have paradoxically re-established the establishment:


The bearded

The bespeckled

The tattooed

Clad in this now well used



Bound to the manual

The H-book

These skinny men in skinny jeans

Sporting shorts, backs and sides

Bare ankled and brogued

Lumberjack en vogued

Larger men poured 

Into skinny suits

And leather boots

And ill fitting shirts 

Wrestling with their girth 

Beanies and fedoras

Lounging with craft ales on perfectly positioned leather sofas

The flat white male middle classes

Direct from tech jobs 

With Soya milk splashes


But what when the instigators 

Those who spawned

The initiators

The fashion forwards 

The trend setters

The left-field go-getters

The non-geek geek-lookers



Grow weary

Of their own once random aesthetic

Reflected on the frames 

The skin and the bones

Of the followers

The sheep

The sleep walkers

The semi-apologetic


Where next? What now?

What after the masses take from the individualist

The monetisation of the non-conformist:

The Westwood Punk

Or the All Saint Goth

The present day Carnaby street Mod

Or the Belstaff Hells Angel

The HMV Heavy Metal tee

The Catwalk to Top Shop manipulation of the creative 

All belated

And underrated


I ponder

And I scan

For the people who will rekindle 

Burn and start a-new

A fresh view

Those who will steal a slither of time

And make it theirs 

Invent it

Build it

Own it


A man in a kilt

Bringing machismo to cross dressing

A nod to Jean-Paul

Perchance a Perry blessing

Just a bloke?

In a utility skirt?

Could it be he?


A woman in a Mohawk

Suit and tie

Adorned in an assembly of accoutrements

Thick socks

And high heels

Could it be she?


An androgyne

In strawberry and lime

In wool and lace

In denim and leather

Wittingly revealing sheer

Blurring a far from binary body

The loose-tight fit

Could it be it?


I scan and continue to scan

To observe and to wait in wonder

To see what depths of the imagination can be plundered

By these pioneers

As they steer

Their awaiting generation


What comes around goes around?

From left-field to mainstream 

And repeat

 Martin Wardley (23rd May 2018) 13

The city sleeps (San Francisco on UK time)


The city sleeps 

And I meander through her silent snoozing streets

The revellers have all but revelled

And the committed early risers not quite risen

I've been given this window

The brief opportunity 

By a disrupted body clock

Time zone tampering

Physiological tinkering


In a few hours she will scream her existence

But for now she lies in slumber 

The number of walkers can be counted

The open doors too few to mention

All closed but for the extension of welcome

From those selling coffee to the sleepy, the dreary, the needy

The need for a pick-me-up or a bring-me-down-gently

The need


I slip inside 

I join a construct of construction workers

Visibly highlighted in high visibility 

Ordering the enormous

The gigantic

Men ordering man-size


The self conscious me 

Averting eyes 

With my dainty pastry/coffee combo

And the blistered little finger 

Of a writer, a singer

Framed in semi-shame

The wandering wordsmith takes his leave

To once again 



Into the tapestry of her tired but waking bussom

To observe

To document


The muscle of construction workers meanwhile take their tattered tool belts, their polished power tools, their weighty bait boxes and their coffee vats

To demolish 

To recreate

To build

To rebuild


I stroll

I amble 

I stumble

Through the exponentially expanding bustle 

The daily population explosion

The motion and emotion 

The resistant and the expectant

The clean and the infected

The disillusioned and the dejected

I wend my way through both her triumphs

And her mistakes 

The city awakes

 Martin Wardley (16th May 2018) 12

A beacon for the times


She walks within the patience of the shadows

With need for neither show nor shallow petty pride

Her calm and quiet confidence speaks volumes

And her Aura glows a beacon for the times


The science in her silence

And the kindness of her smile

Leaves me done and dusted and defused

Her sexual complexity

The subtlety seduces me

And renders me both baffled and bemused


The comfort of her solitude

Her soothing muted tones

Pave a way for studied repetition

Her certain introversion

And the way she carries burden

Lean heavy on her modest exhibition


For all our self-promotion

And our publicised emotions

The line we tread is circular at best

Can we learn from her endeavours?

And cut clean through all these tethers?

The lesson to be learned here: more is less


So she walks within the patience of the shadows

With neither need for show nor shallow petty pride

And her calm and quiet confidence speaks volumes

While her Aura glows a beacon for the times

Martin Wardley (9th May 2018) 11 

But I have learned


But I have learned


The child-like simplicity

Of nature’s duplicity

The tenderness and anger

The outrage and calm

Split only by seconds

And the wave of an arm

Or a butterfly’s wing

When a Mistle Thrush sings

Or a coal Ravens caw

On a weather-beaten door

Scything rocks like corn

The disdain, the scorn

Poured over men

Over beasts

Over earth

Over trees

No way to control

To cease

To negate

Bend and await

For the force to abate

For the child to smile

For the screaming to die

From the bully of thunder

To a pacified slumber


But have I learned?


Martin Wardley (2nd May 2018) 10 

Soldier On


“Soldier on”

Said the battle-scarred, tedium-tainted wife

As her pacifist spouse

Wearied a while on the way


“Best foot forward”

Came the mumbled retort

Aimed squarely

As they walked

At his one-legged

Time-serving bride


From his lips


The driest of wry smiles

Martin Wardley (25th April 2018) 9

The perfect me 


I can see the perfect me


If I close my eyes

And view my gait as I stroll

Flawless as I walk

Through my controlled and sanitised environ

I wend my fault-free way:

No apple carts to upset

No tears to cry

No battles to be fought

No boundaries, fences, walls or defences to dismantle

No scandals to surf

No secrets to keep

No sleeping demons to suppress

No stresses or strains, no passion or pain

All that remains is an unblemished, impeccable nirvana

The heaven of heavens with me at the core

At the centre 


But as I open my eyes from this idyll of falsehoods, fact-free

I see

Mine is the anger that wells

And the endless energy needed 

To stem

The flow

Mine is the thin-ice patience 

On which I delicately

And with extreme caution


With only a modicum of control 

I balance light with dark

Dry and damp

The delicate with the weighty

The sedentary with the stirring

The erroneous, the unerring

And when the balance is lost

I call upon solitude

To rejuvenate and recharge


I am, it would appear

Miraculously, marvellously and mercifully flawed


These flaws

With their constant associated baffling battles to overcome 

To improve

To rectify

To remedy

To redeem


These flaws

They mould

They shape

They define


I can see the perfect me

But he, thankfully, is not me

Martin Wardley (18th April 2018) 8

Time for tea


Cup of Tea for me?
No for her with no teeth
Her dentures by nighttime do steep
Dentures in jars?
No, a tumbler full of stars
To reflect on a lifetime of scars
Physical wounds?
No not memories on view
But a lie to disguise the truth
Not quite, and no morbid fixation
Wasted faces in different locations
Abroad perhaps?
Perhaps China, perhaps France
Perhaps smothered while taking a stance
Smothered you say?
Left a mother this way
And another to dawn on the day
Another arrives?
To bring hope to her eyes
And comfort and tea to her side
Ah tea? Not for me?
No for her with no teeth
Then later perhaps
For you and for me

Martin Wardley (11th April 2018) 7

Another form of friction


For every minute of unadulterated, unfettered and random elation

He gives two back to the affliction 


All can be cured with pretty pills 

And potions 

Controlling emotions

And life-style changes

Or so they say

But would he have it any other way?


Like a stubborn head-wind

Or a pock-marked tarmac surface

Like a delicious incline

Or an inconvenient inclement element

Like a rusting transmission

Or a harsh and bitter word from a work of dubious or devious fiction

Like an internal monologue of doubt and self-derision

Or a surface strewn with the most imperceptible of obstacles

Like a debilitating indecision

Or a pointless all-pervading distraction

Designed to stagnate imagination and to deter all action

Like all

Or like non


Simply another form of friction

To feast upon


Martin Wardley (4th April 2018) 6

Self-aggrandising my art


Does my certainty make it so?

And will my surfeit of self-centred portraits uphold this conviction?

If I shout it from the heavens does it mean that it is thus?

And will the profusion of my rantings support this questionable non-fiction?


Oh my noisy narcissism

Go elevate my art


But my confidence and competence

Are cutlasses crossed

And though I hold onto a thread of hope

For harmony twixt the two

I secretly fear that it is lost

That the balance is tipped toward vanity

In preference of the desired and requisite quality


Oh my poisoned pride

Come crown my compositions


But how will I know?

Do I have the capability of objectivity?

To step back?

To observe?

To achieve this most enviable of equilibriums


The joke

Falls heavily on my pride

And both me

And my art


Into the grotesque

And the insincere


Oh my ardent arrogance

Please heed my hushed humility

Self-aggrandising my art


Martin Wardley (28th March 2018) 5

7:30am coffee shop, pre work


The low hushed murmurs of work before work

In the sanitized, neutralised ground

Of the coffee shop


The barista is keeping score

Impartial arbitration

Upholding manners, etiquette and law

For a slice of his minimum wage


Cutting deals and sharpening pencils

Digital connections

Converted into physical acquaintances

Two monologues intertwining their arrogances

Dialogue disappearing up orifices

Each with agendas

Each with a tendency towards self-interest

Investment in the singular person

An eye for an I


Leaving quietly with handshakes and knowing looks

The cooks leave the kitchen

The movers and shakers

Now moved and shaken

The big hitters depart to hit big

Scrubbing their carrots and polishing their sticks


The cafe revived

Awakens to the noise of the uninitiated

The great unwashed with their stories

Their whys and their wherefores

Their worries and woes

The barista now released to feast on the trappings and tips

Until noon

When the lunch-time shift kicks in

And dinner deals stretch to mid-afternoon

Martin Wardley (21st March 2018) 4

Flight of fanciful fancies


The man with the mouth

Screams and shouts

Like he believes

We're all in fits of laughter

At his brilliantly articulated banter


And the couple at the end

Of the isle and their tether

Bored to tears 

As they jockey for position 

Galled by their indifference and indecision


The fully made up dolly

On the half empty trolley

Dishes out the anaesthetics

And smiles at the repetition 

As the gin kicks in with timely and noisy precision


I sit plugged in

And zoned out

Untouchable and uncommunicative 

With my natural six degrees of separation

Narrowed to a simple inch of desperation 


And the blissed-out bride with the large colliding drunken entourage

Smiles with the impossible weight of expectation


Tearing up the skies

Taking us away

A fleeting moment in time

To reinvent, rejuvenate or resuscitate


On this flight of fanciful fancies

Dancing it's dubious way

With it's belly full of pilgrims

Each with their unique and extraordinary normal journeys

Separated by historic and future frustrations, confrontations, celebrations

And a voluminous variation of passing or singularly sedentary stations

Bound only by their current and shared destination

Martin Wardley (7th March 2018) 3

The incumbent incurs a cost


The incumbent incurs a cost

From the slow erosion and the painful decay

He sits and he waits for nothing in particular

Ground down to his elements of dust and yawns and tedious disarray

Lost in the dreams of the extracurricular


The energy to stand and walk out long since stood and walked out

Shuffling around the shouts and jockeying for a position

Of all creative thought he is increasingly bereft

Devoid of all action, any kind of traction or description of decision


Anger angles in on hope and bitterness subsumes all

Blind to his predicament and blind to his fall

Where once there was fight and commitment and drive

Now sits a sedentary stack of bones hopelessly life-deprived


She wills him to move, to love, to laugh, to feel

She holds him close

Her self-appointed sentence of dedication

Unlike he


Will stand up and leave


Will take a hold of this relentless, unforgiving situation


The incumbent incurs a cost

From the slow erosion and the painful decay

The incumbent incurs a cost

Only he can redress, only he can repay

The incumbent incurs a cost

Martin Wardley (14th Feb 2018) 2

Deafening negativity


You may not hear a thing

You may sit in this silence

Secured deep within your sleep walk

But hush





I hear a cacophony

A clash

A clamour

A stutter

A stammer

An assault on the senses

Of up-beat pretences


All pervading

More than just a little



The noise of defeat

Of towels throw in

Of retreat

The clinking sound of hapless half-empty glasses

The silent glances of whining

The muted tunes of moaning

The wilted words of whingeing

Not quite acquiescence

Not quite acceptance

No action to change

No will to rearrange

Only long drawn expressions

Dour impressions and withered looks writ large upon sullen faces

A whole barrage of exhausting pessimism

Engorging a million threadbare excuses

Immersed in pointless

But far from peaceful



The violence of this deafening negativity

Assaults the core

Affronts both history and dignity

Insults the soul





Martin Wardley (31st January 2018) 1

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