Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson is a multi-award-winning cartoonist, writer and broadcaster. Photo: Fred Rowson.

Past the Pastoral
Thursday, 25 June 2020 16:18

Past the Pastoral

Published in Poetry

Past The Pastoral

by Martin Rowson

By now I reckon I'm way past the pastoral,
Beyond beguilement
Immunised against contagious charms

The shallowed streams of dappled glamour
Contrived to pogrom trout;
The hedgerows' anarchism, fecund mutuality
Shouldered like everything into the margins,
Edged out, then forced to fortress the
Multiple stab wounds of tilled fields;
The monotony of monocultures servicing monopolists
And comehithering the townies like a burnt out ladyboy.

And all of it as glitteringly contrived as an
18th Century automaton in subfusc,
Its china hands still jerking round
The same old endless card trick,
Watched with a soft-palating of gurgles
From the porch of Cotswolds cottages
The hue of earwax.

Though, for the briefest interlude,
As Earth tried once again to
Shrug us off like a
Lingering bad cold
The native chaos looked like fighting back
Before retreating once again to bide its time
And actually
The absence of that eternal trunkroad hum
Beneath uncrosshatched skies,
The patchwork silences below the birdsong,
Merely evoked an earlier nostalgic age
When cycle-clipped folklorists
Wrapped in tweed and tight ideals
Pedalled down the crunchy lanes
To lone, hagridden hamlets
To ameliorate Industrialised Warfare
By confiscating culture.

The Great Escape
Monday, 22 June 2020 09:32

The Great Escape

Published in Poetry

The Great Escape

by Martin Rowson

What if their inner spies had tipped the wink?
Foretold the cruel incompetence of
The callous cranks in charge
And whispered the full consequence
Of the old's expendability?

What if, beneath the cover of Lock Down's deepest anxiety
They'd made a Great Escape, furtive through the hunkered towns
Evading the gerontocide patrols
To secret airfields under clouded moons
To be hissed aboard the waiting, looming airships?

And what if they'd then floated, silent as the streets,
Into the jet streams to be scattered through the safer world?
And what if it took months before their loved ones ventured round,
Knocking on unanswered doors before breaking locks and lock downs,
Simply to find a propped-up, plugged-in phone
Installed with apps to simulate an isolated chat with calls
Made automatically in rotation, a trillion algorithmic permutations
Of familiar inanities, looptaping on Zoom?

What if that vast flotilla then had landfalled,
Tattered near volcanoes, smacked down beside a wadi in the desert,
Silhouetted deflating languidly at the jungle's edge
While its passengers danced with gauchos on the pampas,
Lured lizards to the pot through termite mounds
Or crooned gently with macaques sat in the boughs
Of monstrous trees?

What if? What if? And what if some fifth columnists
Among the shackled vassals in Death's Realm
Had falsified the papers, sent their frailest charges
Through the network of
The Secret Undertaking, trustworthy hearses,
Unapproachable morticians, unfilled pews,
Unwitnessed rites and unobservable cremations
To safety and beyond? What if? What if?

And years to come, mysterious, coded postcards
All from the unlikeliest destinations, unsolicited
And disturbing the still mourning
Are the only, vaguest hint of
Something else.

What if?

The accompanying image is The Triumph of Death, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

A World Beater
Thursday, 18 June 2020 09:50

A World Beater

Published in Poetry
 World Beating (or – Boris Johnson's Wet Dream)
by Martin Rowson, with image by Martin Gollan
I wanna be a
    World beater,
    World beater
    World Beater
    Woad Botha
    Veldt Pouter
    White Buddha
And a
    World beater
And though I'm just a
    Wet bleater
    Warped boaster
    Windy Bunter
    Wild banter
Gonna make me a
    World beater
    World breeder
    Whack butter
    Wank blotters
Gonna be a 
    World beater
A fucking
    World beater
    World belter
    Would batter
    World, bladdered
And make the
    World bleed
Until the
    World's bitter
And the
    Welts blister
Cos I'm a
    World beater
    World Beater
    World Beater
    World beater
Who's gonna beat that sorry World red, white

    Black and blue.

Playing Statues
Saturday, 13 June 2020 08:52

Playing Statues

Published in Poetry

Playing Statues

by Martin Rowson

Let’s play statues!
Stand stock still,
Never moving!
What a thrill!

Never change
And never shift,
Just stand rock solid
Like God’s gift.

Never give,
Never alter,
Never move
To lift the halter

Never apologise,
Never explain,
Never say
Never again

So let’s play statues!
Don’t move an inch!
All play statues!
              (Fetch a winch)

Bad magic
Friday, 12 June 2020 09:36

Bad magic

Published in Poetry

Bad Magic

by Martin Rowson

All human beings start out female,
The human species started black;
It takes some pretty fucked-up magic
To turn all of that on its back.

All human beings are born as social
Beasts who need to help and share
But fucked-up wizardry has fucked us
Convincing us we mustn't care.

All human beings are born to crave love
It's hardwired in as we gestate
How fucked up is the occult fuckedness
Enchanting us to make us hate?

And if you don't believe in magic,
Are immune to legerdemain
How else have we become so fucked up
We've fucked over the human brain?

What sleight-of-hand, classic distraction,
Ace of spades palmed up a sleeve
Could consequently fuck us so much
That we believe what we believe?

That fucking chanted mantra: This is
The one way fucking things can be,
We're only human, & if you're quiet
You might be human too. Fuck me!

This fucking curse is special magic,
Of church bells, banks, and cringing knaves,
Accountants, clowns and riot cops
All underpinned by grateful slaves

An ancient curse that takes some shit,
And shapes it to some fucking thing
Waves a wand, knocks back a potion,
Hocus pocus! Here's your king!

All human beings have been enchanted
The bad way, in this living hell,
So break the charms, spit out the potion,
Crack mirrors - and let's fuck this spell.

Sounds of the Seventies
Thursday, 11 June 2020 10:08

Sounds of the Seventies

Published in Poetry

Sounds of the Seventies

by Martin Rowson

Stumbling out of Lockdown
Like a 70s British porn star
Falling shackled from the wardrobe,
Streaky Y-fronts round your ankles,
When her old man comes home early
because the abattoir's closed down.

Opening up the schools
Like the janitor in "Please Sir!",
Kids' heads caught in the railings
And bodging up the carpentry
With make-do-and-mendy comedy
and jokes about The War.

Tackling systemic racism
Like a blacked-up back row chorus boy
In The Black And White Minstrel Show
As seen on prime time telly, and
Now headlining the Summer Show
down the pier in endless rain.

Strategising everything,
A genius wearing tracksuit pants,
Dressing up like Jimmy Saville
In standard-issue rapist wear
And fixing it and fucking it
all up with a sneer.

Crumbling a curly-wurly
Into his bowl of Special K,
Benny-Hilling "Oo-er Missus!
It's getting really close in here!"
He slops in slugs of Rohypnol
to forget the stench of death.

Tuesday, 09 June 2020 13:26


Published in Poetry
by Martin Rowson
Each night they tied a fresh balloon to
    A fence post in the field.
You could see them from the by-passed old coast road,
    A bouncing pinprick beyond the nettles
Each balloon the same dull colour as
    The last one, pukish ochre,
        But each day with new words scrawled on its paunch.
The words came clumped in phrases of three words
    In large and childish letters,
Illegible to the rare, far off and speeding traffic
    From across the scrub and cowpats,
Whereas the kine and sheep and creatures of the soil
    Clearly cannot read.
        Daily, a fresh balloon's there nonetheless.
The harvest mice and corncrakes speculated
    This is an angel's lung,
Opaque inside from layers of caked mucus, a
    Mysterious gift of hope from God.
Some bank voles scoffed. A porcupine's insides,
    They swore. The earthworms laughed.
        Although yellow the balloons smell faintly malty.
On windy days the balloons thrash in seizure;
    Flop limply when the sun shines;
Drum meaningless staccato freeform riffs
    During summer cloudbursts,
Deflating slowly through the long, dull afternoon
    Into shrivelled condoms
        Pierced with petty uselessness and protection against nothing

            After dusk.

Guard your stash
Thursday, 04 June 2020 09:54

Guard your stash

Published in Poetry

Guard your Stash

by Martin Rowson

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Though your mouth's a toothless gash
Like the slits in all those throats which you have secretly had slashed
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Though your ponytail's panache
Was, despite a certain brashness, thrown away with last year's trash
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Though each time you take a lash
The pain and time it takes to do it leaves you unabashed
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Though you've lice in your eyelashes
And the rust will keep on eating its way through your weapons cache
Guard your stash

So guard your stash
Guard your stash
Because you still hold the lash
In a system which has spread just like a suppurating rash
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Because you gave the morons sashes
Which you can use as nooses and then watch the fools' limbs thrashing
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Because you create the clash
That your gunsels still will shill in streams of shriller balderdash
Guard your stash

Guard your stash
Guard your stash
And then trim your moustache
And then run again for office while you're laundering your cash
Guard your stash

Then guard your stash
Guard your stash
As your cops throw thunderflashes
Because any minute now this all will crash and turn to ashes
Guard your stash
Guard your stash
Guard your stash

Plague Songs - It Cures What Ails Ya!
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 15:01

Plague Songs - It Cures What Ails Ya!

Published in Poetry

Plague Songs - It Cures What Ails Ya!

by Martin Rowson

One should not mock the chronic sick,
And nor should we mock Dominic
Whose road-based therapies recall,
Damascus-bound, those of St Paul
Who was, you lot should be reminded,
On a road trip when unblinded.
Dom need make no apology!
It’s not just opthalmology
That sees Road Treatment’s benefits!
It’s a cure-all for the many! It’s
A tested and well tried procedure
From whooping cough to paraplegia!
For instance, the old dean of Keble’s
Gout’s returned: drive him to Peebles!
Abjure the lure of penicillin!
Simply drive to Enniskillin!
Infantile paralysis?
Why not try a drive to Diss?
Your child it born with a cleft palate;
Drive the brat to Shepton Mallet!
A cerebral catastrophe?
Fixed by a drive to Leigh-on-Sea.
You find your mum’s airways restricted?
Motor her to the Peak District;
A femur pops out of its socket?
Drive all the way to Drumnadrochit.
Obviously if you have a stroke,
It’s in the car to Basingstoke;
And likewise cardiac arrest
Demands a drive to Bristol West!
So if your stomach ulcer bleeds
Jump in the car and drive to Leeds;
Caries rot your yellow teeth,
They gleam before you’ve got to Neath;
Struck down with Huntington’s Chorea?
Simply drive to Hazelmere.
A touch of cancer? With a whoosh
Drive off to Ashby-de-la-Zouch!
And when they say you’ve caught malaria -
Hull Regeneration Area!
Just even feeling sort of sick
You’ll cure on drives to Walberswick
And when they say you’ve got Corona
A nice long drive to Barcelona
Should see you right! Whate’er you have
Just punch a route in your sat nav
And soon, on the A23,
You’ll find the perfect remedy!
All you have to do is DRIVE! It
Cures what ails ya! Or go private.