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

Villanelle to the Villanelle

For those with powerful poignant tale to tell
Outsiders seeking structure so sublime
A strong expressive form is villanelle

Its lines repeat like sounding of a bell
Each tercet ends with alternating chime
For those with powerful poignant tale to tell

It saves us from unstructured rhymeless hell
So modernists disdain its fixed-form crime
So villainous a form is villanelle


I check my step before the food bank door
See rows of tins and people taken fright
I wish I could go back a year before

Back then my gaze had not yet sunk so poor
Still bought the thought my future might be bright
Knocked hopeful on another hirer's door

No after no, yet still I asked one more
But no-one hired, their margins were too tight
Please take me back another year before

The Jeremy Kyle Nativity Rap

We’ve had a call from Joseph down in Royal David’s City
His fiancée’s had a baby – but now things aren’t looking pretty
We've heard some crazy stories in this studio before
But when they told me this one, well it really dropped my jaw
This’ll be a new direction for our famous lie detection
“My girlfriend said she’s pregnant through immaculate conception”

Rudolf the Unionised Reindeer

Rudolf the unionised reindeer
Was sick of being bullied at work
The other reindeer in his workplace
Kept calling him a red-nosed jerk

They excluded him from workplace banter
And made him feel so sad and small
So Rudolf the unionised reindeer
Didn't like his job at all

Real Rape

If she's drunk or she's flirty
Or a boozy young floozy
If she likes talking dirty
If she isn't that choosy
If she touched him or kissed him
And she then changed her mind
If she's scared to resist him
If she liked it last time
If most everyone knows
That she usually says yes
If she shows off her toes
If she wears a tight dress
If she's not in great shape

N38 To The World

A Petrarchan sonnet (yesreallyon getting a night bus to catch an international train ...

I used to but I haven't missed this bus
At 5a.m., a half-full cart to take
The staff who clean and guard before you wake
Who start the engines 'fore the rest of us
From brief repose unwilling exodus
Hold open half-mast eyes on work-worn faces
Resignedly wishing they weren't going places
No chat, no caucus, nothing to discuss
But then I disembark and change my routes
And switch dimensions through a boarding gate
Some two hours later morning, bright debate
White, coffee-charged commuters sporting suits
While most of those on night bus 38
Were black and wearing hi-vis, smocks and boots

Burning Out?

When my mum was my age I'd moved out
- That makes me old

When I stumble and ache and feel doubt
- That makes me tired

When I still see injustice and pain
- That makes me hold

On to anger and all that's humane
- That makes me fired

Up for the fight.

Villanelle: Terminal 420

When I visited the Port of Antwerp in October 2014 with the ETF Women's Committee, we were due to go to a particular terminal - but it was closed, after a seafarer was killed while a ship was being loaded the previous day. The port is staffed only by registered dockers, under rules similar to the UK's National Dock Labour Scheme, abolished by the Tories in the 1980s.

Money for the Dunny

I'm writing this verse on the toilet
A priv'lege that cost me the Earth
Forty p for to pee is an outrage
I'm determined to use all it's worth

I'll sit on the throne til my train comes
It's a platform, and I'm in no rush
They are piping departure announcements
Through a speaker that's next to the flush


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