Ralph Dartford (British Working Class Poets)

Ralph Dartford


Ralph Dartford hails from Basildon in Essex, and now lives in West Yorkshire, having got there via Australia, Barcelona, and Los Angeles. He was a founding member of influential spoken word collective ‘A Firm of Poets’, and his first collection of poetry, Cigarettes, Beer and Love was published by Ossett Observer Presents in 2013. His next collection, Recovery Songs, was published by Valley Press (www.valleypress.com) in 2019, and Hidden Music followed in October 2021. Ralph is the poetry editor at www.northerngravy.com and is currently studying for a Creative Writing PhD at the University of Huddersfield.


Helter Skelter


It all began so very well

on this blossomed Easter Day.

Which led to a misunderstanding –

in a quietened, difficult way.   


Tiptoeing the Pacific shoreline,

Hannah gripped her black plastic locket.

Showed him all her sacred stories

that were hidden within her pockets. 


A plastic six-legged spider,

a chewed Chewbacca doll. 

A love letter from the tiny boy,

his dreams of being a girl.


The green sea rolling in tightly.

The easy holding of each other’s hands.

He brought pink folded fairground tickets –

made the wildest of plans. 


She waved at him from the summit.

She screamed but never came down.

He slouched at the bottom for an hour,

or so – then headed straight back into town.


Perhaps it was just the white sunshine,

or a promise of some fought freedom.

Maybe the coming of Jesus Christ,

or the changing of the season.


Carolyn Cassidy


We pitched our tents at Big Sur


and sat around fires



about freedom.


We slept under rainfall

and in the morning drove away.


Trapped by all that jazz

on the way back to Frisco

you told me


I made you lonely.


That freedom is for the birds.


Bucks from a Cuban


Yeah, the pancakes are good.


See that guy over there.

Yeah him, chewing meatloaf

like a godammed camel. 


Well round here,

they say that he fired the second

shot on the Grassy Knoll.


The one that blew

America’s head open. 


He did it when he was a kid. 

Bucks from a Cuban.


They say these days

he works for Trump. 

That he’ll pull the trigger

again when the time is right.


Easy on the syrup.



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