Peter Raynard (British Working Class Poets)

Peter Raynard,

Peter Raynard is a disabled working class poet, and editor. He edited Proletarian Poetry: poems of working class lives, for five years ( His three books of poetry are Precarious, (Smokestack Books), and The Combination: a poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto, (Culture Matters), both in 2018. His second collection Manland was published by Nine Arches Press in July 2022.


If We Were Real
‘The people who make the wheels go round have always been ignored by novelists. When they do find their way between the corners of a book, it is nearly always as objects of pity or as comic relief.’  [George Orwell]

Jo’s mum Helen is a slag,
doesn’t stop her having a go
at Jo getting pregnant by a black man
and staying in a hole
with that pansified little creep though.

Colin’s mum is no better,
she’s just after his dead dad’s
insurance money, but Colin’s
a little toe rag running for his life,

who’ll let the whole xxxxing lot
of them down. Arthur’s a proper
hard bastard, working his seed
into as many women as he can.

And guess what, Victor’s only gone
and got his missus up the ready rough,
so has to live with the mother-in-law,
and she’s had a leading role

in working men’s jokes for years.
Tommy’s off up the match, an away game
kick-the-xxxx out of any proper casual
who’ll have it. Ray beats up his missus
when he gets home, stamps on her throat

like some rat he found in the bog. Lol’s Dad
commits the horrors with her sister
and her mate any place he can, then tries
it on with her until Combo ends the xxxx.

Young Timmy knows how to enjoy himself,
he cleans double breasted windows,
or checks under the sink for some
scantily clad plumbing, before delivering

a whipped cream double entendre
to bored housewives. Rita likes a bit
of that an’ all, off shagging Bob,
with her mate Sue, but her namesake

tries her hand at books instead of dotting
her luck on the bingo of a Saturday night.
Shirley’s xxxxed off to Greece, can’t stand
talking to the wall no more, cooking

egg ‘n chips for her husband,
who believes that’s a woman’s place.
Billy’s dad knows what a man should be,
and it’s not a xxxxing dancer.

Rent’s smacked off his boat, so goes swimming
for a pearl in the filth of the bog,
whilst Dushane’s a boy at the top
of his game, on the estates round his way.

Like Frank’s kids, who surround him
like a wreath, this all may be true.
And Big Chris is right when he says,
‘It’s been emotional.’
But is that really all we are?
Do we not go by any other names?

Tommy and the Common Five-Eighters

                                                                                                    SOME OF US are washer-women wet-nurse birth mothers of a nation of shopkeepers, fitters and lifters. Smothered suffragettes stuffed down the back of the Pankhursts’ sofa.    
                                                                                                    SOME OF US are trench-foot perfect-fit coffin fodder taken in by the pointed finger of men bred from a moustache to dig a scar down France to bury ourselves in.         
                                                                                                    SOME OF US march from Jarrow for the jobs of those who survive with hats and caps in hands, dead men who fell again in Spain, then one year on return as common five-eighters in uniform size to beat the Germans second time around, then on to Seoul, to Suez, to Aden and a British flag gravestone memorial with an empty can of Stella & a vodka miniature salute to Afghanistan, Iraq, & Woolwich.         
                                                                                                    SOME OF US are Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, against a change in benefits, for a change in child support from Fathers for Justice, for families without two-up two-down parents, where there is fighting in the pockets of lawyers and the social.    
                                                                                                    SOME OF US work black hole hours in pits, on sites, warehouses and factories doing much more work than eight hours a day. A weakling won’t last long before becoming your average Joe, man on the street, freezing xxxxing cold over a brazier, with rolled up fingers watching scabs’ shadows pass through bus windows.

                                        SOME OF US get stuck into the middle                            

pork-pie pasty-faced full English no time for breakfasts, cash-in-hand over fist with no questions asked just singing knees up Mother Brown’s sweet and sour bingo wings, doing the Lambeth Walk-the-talk in training sessions with benefit lessons screened on CCTV for viewing by fat XXXXs in stained ties.                                 
a backdraft rush of colonial need, blown in from the shanties and fields, away from the famine, war and poverty, to plant seeds on the buses, wards, and shop corners of peoples’ minds.

from a different kind of estate, born in a crib that turns graves’ end, out east where the pearls of history garnish clothes & caps and our favourite philosopher is Kant.

Grunswick, Orgreave, Tottenham, Toxteth, Brixton, made in Dagenham, the horror stories and fairy tales of brass bands, ballet dancers, strippers and trainspotters, loan sharks with borstal knuckles dotted ACAB, that can’t be a rhyme scheme & I’m the Daddy now, xxxx.

blue collared what time do you call this? Dinner’s in the doghouse! with a belly like a party seven, and lungs defunct as an all-out strike. We turn white collar for Sunday Mass, the blood of Christ, the pub, a crisp burnt roast, slippers and a kip, then a string vest costume drama in front of a three bar fire.

Then it’s Monday and work, & there’s Tommy, head as heavy as an elephant’s coffin, choking for a smoke and a trap to empty himself in. He just thanks xxxx he’s still got Page 3, that page at the start of a book he can read in the bog in peace, as the intestines of industry grind away inside him.

We’re the last now, for sure

Fluent in slur we curdled our fathers’ ways
drinking dark pints on wet nights deep down
amongst the weeds. Many have fallen. Nigels
especially are on the wane, surpassed by Lucifer

but there are still those who keep going back
to the Edwards Harrys Williams. Still beguiled
by the posh consonants & foul vowels
of a gout riddled history, still keeping Eton alive.

We were the non-employed black eyed boys,
a perennial brotherhood of gang fights, our salute
to the present times. Our grandparents died
when we were young as we breached the fast food

frontiers left in the care of priests, teachers, coaches
all hiding in brash sight. We weren’t brought up
with the glean of a screen where everything is free.
We owned boredom instead until Elvis left the pot.

The lucky 77s blending the rum of reggae with punk.
But we still held evolution’s flame lighting up
our parent’s gaze with shiny new lines.
The young have thrown away their wands

they hold the wild reins now, sailing across a world
drenched in postmodern idolatry. The big men
threw acid in the eyes of science, as we sat
in the cheap seats tapping away at

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