Welsh Streets

10570412_10101266039643815_423706891123048102_n

By Kenn Taylor

Ominous
as evening draws in.
The deep red
that cuts through this decay
is dragged back to the west.
Past the mountains
from where the builders
of these streets
came.

Sheet steel, not glass,
fills windows.
Buddleia spurt from rooflines
in roads where even streetlights
have died.

Indifferent now to the dereliction
that awes some.
There is little romance
in domestic decay
when you see it every day.

The silence though.
‘What happened here?’
A passer by may ask.
‘Fire, flood, famine, war?’
All this and more.
Though this place in England
is really the result
of the dropping
of a thousand bombs
of ideology.

In times past
the few with power
saw money to be made.
Scraping back the fields
to cram in labour,
filling demand in a fierce new era.
Keeping the trade turning,
taking and not giving
from places faraway.

People came
looking for opportunity.
They built proud,
as if still for themselves,
in the hills
to last a thousand years.

Homes for those
seeking a better life.
Trying to get by,
though always in the firing line
through depressions and wars.
See a 1950s house
in-between Victorian walls.

From peace came another boom
that saw many out
to leafier spots.
A rare time
when people
maybe
had a chance.

The more desperate though
moved in from around the world.
To the houses
not yet pulled down
in the name of improvement
by those who felt they knew better.

New communities
trying to get by,
despite the vicious treatment
from those who hate difference.
Until Orford’s tactics
see bricks thrown back
at the thin line of authority,
shocked
that the worm could turn.

Sadly though
the end result,
even more labels put on a place
no longer treated as a community,
instead
abused as byword.

Left and right
claim it as their quarry.
Use it to blame each other,
as photo-journalists from Hampstead fight
to take the best pictures
of trainers hanging from telegraph poles.

Here though
a new plan emerges.
From clever types
in league with
desperate politicians
in a desperate city
and a few descendents also
of those with an eye
for profits from the land.
They all conspire from on high
to drop another bomb,
one of renewal.
‘This land must be cleared,’
traded again,
razed of its problems.

Those who remain though
just getting by,
trying to fight their corner,
are drowned out again
by those who feel
they know better.

The developers on one side,
scrabbling for deeds.
On the other
the creatives and
heritage enthusiasts.
Martyrs to old bricks
who set themselves up
as defenders
of what was never theirs.
Fantasists of a culture
they have never known,
they stalk around
writing of
tiling and wrought iron,
missing out the
rising damp and
regulation
Corporation Green doors.
Until they head back
far away
to quaint, expensive
places of no change.

No longer a place
in all its complexity,
instead just more bywords
for the ideologues.
Abused by both
poet and profiteer,
they squabble over the moral high ground
as the streets beneath them decay.
A battlefield.

One day,
can they just be homes?
Or do they have to wait
for the next bomb
from those
after money,
power,
or truth?

Long after opportunities rot away,
bonds remain.
Money gets throw in
then taken away
just as quick.
Everyone
carries on getting by
trying to rebuild
brick by brick.
Let people decide their own fate,
their own path for their community.
Is it so much to ask?

A car speeds down the silent street,
the sun has gone.
No light from the windows.
I reach the end of the road
and turn away.

This piece appeared in the July 2014 edition of The Shrieking Violet. Cover design by Robert Carter.

Distance Over Time

By Kenn Taylor

Look ahead
First
Hard
Push
Down on the right
Cheap metal
Once again
Creaks into life
Balance is achieved
And motion begins

Momentum builds
Long straight road
Muscles strain and tense
Legs pushing
Heat dragging
Chemicals shooting
To the brain
Fingers grip
And burn

The movement begins to take
The pull
Faster
All sinews strain
As the click, click, click of the ratchet
Becomes one constant sound

Air is sliced
Sound trills
Metal and body
Shake and protest
Silenced though
By
Ever
Increasing
Speed

Lean into a corner
The frame groans
The wheels shake
The rhythm continues
Thighs aching now
Forward
Forward
As you reach
The crest of the hill

Sweat now coating
Head and back
Look down
Pressure is released
Relief
As all parts strain forward

Pause pedals
The wheels run free
Guided, fast
By forces
Now beyond your control

Another bend at speed
Lean ever closer to the ground
The wheels now a blur
Grinning ever more
As the hill pulls down

Feeling every crack of the road
Every twist of wind
Every grit in the air
Unbending rhythm with machine
Muscles stretched
Aching
Metal
And body
Slowly
Slowly
Disintegrating

Lean in again
Further, lower
The thrill
Free
Brake now released
Heart beats
Feeling only sound
Enveloped by wind
As the last corner
Approaches
Behind it
Only light

This appeared in the August 2013 edition of The Shrieking Violet.

 

Anarchy Row

Anarchy Row image

By Kenn Taylor

Daybreak on Anarchy Row
Hard sun
brings out the best

Long
bent
streets

Buildings
grand and shit
Scarred
by thousands of bombs
Real and
those imagined
by people who
mistakenly thought
they had the answer

The young
form into groups
for protection
and dominance
Shuffling
in bus stops
Long spliffs
burning through the day

Eyes
smiling with power
Kings of their own world
and
always ready
to come into yours

Help them
Condemn them
Say those with powerful places
to place words

Wringing their hands
in broadsheets
over lost communities
they never knew
nor understood

Communities that
have better things to do
than read them

Beats blare out
from bohemian neighbours
who keep doors locked
firmly shut
from the ones
who’ve been
running around
these streets
since childhood
Short on innocence
and peace

Down the road, the economy grows
Shiny flats and restaurants boom
Clean, honest, our bright future
Expensive lattes and
colourful
breakout
workstations

A world away
from
running down
shooting

Big people
Big ideas
Big machines
Coming for you

Do-gooders
and money-grabbers
try to intervene
To save
or
exploit

But everyone
just carries on

Anarchy Row
however much they try
will not conform

Respectability
is not required
Supplying as it does
drugs
women
all the
good times
All the needs
of those respectable folks
with respectable jobs
respectable houses
respectable families

All of it
lies

If you have mean eyes
second-hand guns
You can earn big money
If you do as you’re told

A tinted BMW
and a skinny blonde
If you do as you’re told

And
never
ever
GRASS

Stupid
or strong?
Organised
Refusing to
absorb the lies
You can’t shift cocaine from
Mexico
to Islington
by being a fool

As the light dims on Anarchy Row
people hit their stride
Taking the profits
down town
Glass and steel bars
where money
is all that matters
Italian suit
two bottles of Crystal
Not long before
the ladies
swarm around

Back on the darkening roads
and decay
Old men
from the times of
marches and strikes
still loud
but bitter
sit ranting
in the
few pubs left
But no one is listening
anymore

Older ones
from a different world
cower behind
still-clean
net curtains
while the kids
stalk around

‘Watch lad, we’ve got guns round here’
They do
but they also have bullshit
in tonnes
To justify the attacks on
those not locally born
and
shitting on their own
if they fail to conform

Fear is not permitted
Failing to question
until it’s too late
Blood on hands
A fate sealed
Just another bad example
that no one takes heed

Back out soon
kudos increased
moves up the food chain
till someone bigger
has their next meal

This is the law
that’s governed people
since the start
I’m the fucking hardest
so I’m in charge
The rest of you come and try

As a system
it’s not pretty
but it works

Not everyone
though
falls into line
Every second building
a community centre
of some kind

Forces fight
for soul
Both sometimes winning
But for every one
who gets out
two more
fall down

This is Anarchy Row
Infinitely richer
and poorer
than you can possibly imagine

This piece appeared on Northern Spirit in November 2012.

Canning zine

‘Canning’ is a new zine I have created with artist Natalie Hughes and designer Mike Carney. It features a varied collection of my writing from the last few years that has been inspired by the Canning area of Liverpool 8. You can read it on Issuu at the link below or download the PDF. A limited number of print copies will also be available for free in the usual outlets in Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield in the next couple of weeks.

http://issuu.com/kenntaylor/docs/canning_zine

Canning zine PDF