My Poems

Having written and performed as The Big J in the 1980s, Janine started again in 2014, after a brief interlude of around a quarter of a century.

Froms sonnets to villanelles, limericks to ballads, the occasional rap and plenty of straightforward rants, serious and humorous and sometimes both, here is Janine's verse.

Janine's poems have been published in numerous poetry and other journals and websites, including Algebra of Owls, South Bank Poetry, the Daily Mirror, PUSH, Hour of Writes, Proletarian Poetry, Confluence Medway, Screaming Violets, Poetry24, Solidarity, Stand Up and Spit, Hastings Independent, Freedom, Women’s Fightback, the Morning Star, Rising and TenFootCity; and in anthologies Spies4Life, Poems for Jeremy Corbyn, Justice: Poems for Grenfell Tower.and Ashes to Activists

Your Place

Joe at his flat

Last year, I wrote a poem (a pantoum) called 'This Place' about visiting my son in the adolescent psychiatric unit where he spent four months (read it here).

He now has his own flat, living independently with support. So I decided to write a follow-up poem of the same length in the same style, hoping that this will illustrate the wonderful progression.

Free Osime Brown!

Osime Brown

Teenage, British, black, autistic

Prosecuted by the Crown

Against the evidence, convicted

- Free, oh free him: Osime Brown

 

From care to care, from place to place

Twenty-eight times moved around

Neglected, let down, failed, displaced

- Free, oh free him: Osime Brown

 

Fearing exile to Jamaica

Left at four, it's unknown ground

Prison cell a spirit breaker

One And All

All Lives Matter

When my team lost to a goal in the last five minutes of the match from a free kick that should never have been given and got relegated and my face went down with them, you didn't tell me that all football clubs matter.

Slaughterer in the Water

Edward Colston

Action seen in Bristol
Is truly unforgettable
Poor old Slaver Colston
No longer on his pedestal

Colston was a slaver,
A taker not a giver
Protesters did a favour
Now Colston's in the river

We can't go to the boozer
We can't go to the barber
But we can tear that slaver down
And chuck him in the harbour

Bearing Down

George Floyd memorial

The white
power cap
on the top
of the head
of the cop
with his knee
on the neck
of the man
on the floor
by the pass-
enger door

Who said please
I can't breathe
and who called
for his mum
stopped responding
went numb
but still
bore the knee
and the weight
and the hate
of the cop
who still
wouldn't stop

Da Capa al Coda

Riots in Minneapolis following police murder of George Floyd

They held a peaceful protest
People didn't notice
Nothing changed

Then they rioted and burned
The world watched and learned,
views exchanged

The respectable people said
Their cause is just,
but why must they riot?

Why don't they hold
a peaceful protest?

Let Them Be Heroes

Daily Mail headline Let our Teachers be Heroes

Teachers say:
Let Daily Mail writers be heroes

Let them walk naked through war zones
Let them battle with an invisible enemy

Let them fall on the battlefield
in even greater numbers than they already have

Safe in the knowledge that they will be
lionised at the Daily Briefing

And that Matt Hancock may
issue a badge in their honour

Advice to a Worker in Danger

This is a poem to tell you your rights,
if you find yourself working at dangerous sites
So please brush up your knowledge and uphold the law –
know that workers at risk have the right to withdraw

So if you’re facing danger that’s imminent and serious,
working conditions that seem deleterious
Call up your boss and then step right away –
you can not get in trouble, they can’t stop your pay

How to Run a Daily Briefing

Hancock at Briefing

If you can, find figures that
make Britain look better
than other countries.

If you can't, then explain that
foreigners count differently
from us Brits.

If asked questions
about health and care workers,
say that they are heroes.

If pressed about their PPE, tests,
working conditions or isolation pay,
say again that they are heroes.

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