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Toad illustration

A new collection of poetry from Cardinal Cox

CARDINAL COX is from Peterborough, Cambs, and has been having his writings published in the small press for over twenty years. The Cardinal was Poet Laureate of Peterborough in 2003, and he has been Poet in Residence for the Friends of Broadway Cemetery in Peterborough. He was also a member of the Warriors Gate team which won the BBC quiz programme 'Telly Addicts' in 1994, and was a member of Peterborough band Sonic Energy Authority.




Too many heroes are living in the past
Same old riffs from a guitar running fast
Don’t want you to sing last year’s songs
Don’t want you to right last year’s wrongs

A Punk Crok
Don’t wanna be a Punk Crok

Suddenly seams you’ve reactionary mates
Then you start moaning that the bus runs late
Hope the fire in my belly ain’t the turps in my tea
There’s got to be enough to still make me angry

Hey Punk Crok
Gabba gabba hey Punk Crok

I can’t handle lager, have to drink gin
Daren’t try to pogo ‘cause me back’ll give in
All the young kids treat your life as a style
Hang around a bit, they’ll change in a while

Oh Punk Crok
When did I become a Punk Crok?

You’re only as good as the last thing you say
So don’t try and re-heat the stew from yesterday
My skin's a mess and the diet’s worse
I don’t know how to end this stinking verse

Ah Punk Crok
It’s just a big Punk Crok




I’m going to change things
Internationally, you see
We should all adopt
The See-Through Polythene Flag
(It’s easy to clean)
Plus, something no one
Can gather around
You can’t tell if
It’s flying or not
Does it proudly flutter?
Or is the pole empty?
Who’s going to salute
Something they can’t see?
Military conversation:
Is that one of ours or one of theirs?
Don’t know sir, can’t see the flag
We’ll have small words printed on the bottom
Warning about safety
Don’t want small children choking on a flag
And I’ve got a new anthem: -
Clear plastic flag,
Clear plastic flag,
Put on your stick
An old carrier bag.



RESPECT (in Dub)

Respect the Rasta’ man
He’s living as he can
He sees a world of pain and hate
But his faith will make him great

Respect the Rasta’ man
He’s living as he can
This man stands so proud
Voice quiet not loud

Respect all working man
Doing the best he can
Trying to make a better home
Staying, choosing not to roam

Respect all loving man
He’s living as he can
Many things you might disagree
But respect his right to be free




Nice house, and empty most of the year
In we go and drink all of their beer
The house ain’t ours, we don’t pay rent
Here we’ll stay until away we’re sent
Everything I know about squatting I learnt on Big Brother
It don’t take much to become a wealthy single mother

You’ve got the cameras, we’ve got the faces
Before you know it, we’re in all the wrong places
Everything I’ve ever wanted to be
I can earn through reality TV
Everything I know about squatting I learnt on Big Brother
It don’t take much to become a wealthy single mother

We’ve seen on the box, learned in our homes
Behind on the bills, get a single loan
You don’t even have to try to get along
And in the end greed is nothing wrong
Everything I know about squatting I learnt on Big Brother
It don’t take much to become a wealthy single mother.




Immigrants, hey? Immigrants, let me tell you something that the newspapers are afraid to print. Immigrants, they come over here, and they clean our offices and factories. It’s true, thousands of them.

And that’s not all. Some of them work in two or three jobs because of the low pay. That’s what they do. And they live in rented accommodation in rundown areas so we get a chance to be slum landlords.

And then, listen to this, they start small businesses, working hard and for long hours to give their kids a chance.

And where do they come from? I’ll tell you! Third World Dictatorships that we spend billions every year propping up, or giving most favoured trading nation status to. As though it weren’t enough for them to work on subsistence wages in a sweet shop, they have to come here and take poorly paid jobs doing seasonal manual work. I ask you!

Well, it’s got to stop. And thanks to DNA testing we can start sending them back. It will take a while, but first we’ll clear out the Romans. They’ve got no armies here now. We can do this. Then, those Anglo-Saxons, back across the North Sea with them.

Ah, yes, we’ll show them, coming over her and adding millions to the black economy and paying taxes…



Paris ’68 Comeback Special

Beneath the pavement you can find beaches
If workers can’t be free then how can the peaches?
What we gonna make when we take the factory?
What you gonna learn when we take the University?
Every café does manifesto spawn
You’ll get 5 centimes for them if you pawn
Ripping up the cobbles we offer seashells to hear
Got to get the Hermit Crab out of your ear

Our imagination is the weapon we choose
Between us and the pavement are our shoes
There’s a Vietnam in your heart, soul and head
Try to be free when you’re dreaming in bed
You know all the leaders and poets are liars
Freedom is the consciousness of desires
Ripping up the cobbles we make castles in the street
One and one is free when two people meet.




“We sleep safe in our beds because
rough men don’t sleep in theirs”.
- George Orwell.

They say someday the Lion’ll
Lay down with the little Lamb
Right now, he’s just
The Goat for the Tigers

He’s got the bed in the draught
Watch on the coldest night
The one with no friends
Fights in bars, no one helps
Permanently the shortest match
In the Regiment’s box

He’ll be going to bandit country
Silhouette on a hill at sunset
Drive the jeep down the right wrong road
Every excuse the C.O. ever needs

He was the kid with kick-me on his back
Now the kid staked for the Tiger trap.




On the bus there’s a boy spilling rhymes
Spinning out verses of his life and times
Across his lips the words are tripping
Like ballet dancers phrases go skipping
On the bus the kid charms his friends
Can you say where this journey ends?
He knows Keith Palmer went to Jack Hunt School
As Max’ Reality the image of cool

Shooting hoops midnight in the park
Training hard to make his mark
But if he asked those who for Posh played
On the best achievement ever made
Would it be the matches praised?
Or the kids born and raised?
Working hard for many years
With every family’s hopes and fears

On the market it’s a girls first day
Standing proud to make her own way
Sometime she’d like to run a shop
But right now she’ll work till she drops
Who can she see who’s made dreams true?
Not someone who waits but instead do
Peggie made a month celebrating history, black
So we can all look forward as well as back.




We were down the pub discussing foxhunting and, I have to admit straight off, my grandfather was a farmer and he regarded foxes as pests. Now when I’ve heard the arguments for foxhunting, you know, part of the English rural tradition, ending it would be divisive to country communities and keeps down vermin, I’ve remembered that these had been used to oppose the ordination of women in the Church of England. Except maybe, the bit about keeping down vermin.

One Tory MP said that banning foxhunting would be a major blow for rural employment. Pity they hadn’t worried about rural employment when they closed the coal mines or destroyed the steel industry.

So then I thought, if foxhunting is so good for employment and tourism, why don’t the Tories sponsor hunts in some of the depressed inner cities. Plenty of urban foxes now, so how about a Moss Side Hunt, a Peckham Hunt, an Oldham or Barnsley Hunt? I'’ go and see them riding through a Council Estate. Instead of a stirrup cup, special shaped joint.

Ah, banning this sport and the damage that it will do to the delicate balance of nature. Haven’t they learned from the disaster that was the banning of Bear Baiting. You can hardly step outside your door without some lumping great bear lolling around. And look at the decimation on sport fishing since the banning of Otter Hunting, every riverbank strewn with half eaten Perch.

Another of my relatives, a great uncle on the other side of my family, had to flee this country in the 1870s for South Africa. His crime? He shot a fox and the hunting of this animal was strictly the preserve of the upper classes. When he got to South Africa he seemed to hunt everything that moved. Deer, Leopards, Monkeys, Vultures, Hippos, his journal is filled with these memories.

As I said, my granddad shot foxes, but he wouldn’t allow the hunt on his land. Parked great metal harrows behind fences so if the hunt jumped over the fence the horses would break their legs. My Nan, his wife, on the other hand, loved to go to the hunt balls and hob-nob. Strange thing was she’d cry if animals had to go to market. Made her husband drown unwanted kittens or puppies. Oh the jolly ways of country folks.




Telephone kiosk, you see the card
Its little promise starts to get you hard
Hands all sweaty, can’t work the ‘phone
Inside your trousers an ugly little bone

XXX - 1234, XXX - 1234
Why don’t you come knock on my door?

Only ever known a life of pain
Gangsters bought me in Ukraine
Passed through Albania into Greece
My pimps pay off the police

XXX - 1234, XXX - 1234
Don’t you know just what I’m for?

All the services, everything allowed
Mine is a head eternally bowed
Here’s a claim that will make you laugh
It’s a genuine photograph

XXX - 1234, XXX - 1234
Just another prisoner of the sexual war

Why do you wonder about the drugs I take?
Need to have something to keep me awake
If I’m not working out on the street
To these guys I’m just dead meat

XXX - 1234, XXX - 1234
Don’t mince your words, call me a whore

Late night, street light, standing in the rain
Maybe this punter will end my pain
One dead hooker, another lesson taught
Oh, the cops try, but no one is caught.




When a kid in the park you played shirts and skins
You only cared about when you win
A beautiful game all should enjoy
Regardless of whether girl or boy
Rich or poor, young or old
Let’s not be cowards; let’s be bold
Kick it out, kick it out
Kick it out of your kick about

Use your head and use your heart
To support those who turn play to art
Show a red card to those fouls of the mouth
Seeking to divide east, west, north and south
It’s skill with feet we should applaud
Not worry about if born abroad
Kick it out, kick it out
Kick it out of your kick about

So Sunday morning team or international game
Enjoying the match should be your aim
Think what you’re saying about oppositions’ pride
Next season he could be on your side
It’s shirts on their back, not colour of their face
That makes you cheer their skill and pace
Kick it out, kick it out
Kick it out of your kick about.




I met this pretty girl in therapy
She seems to be ok to me
She’s taught me how to tourniquet
I learn something new every day
You know I wish I could keep her from harm
Took her to my mum, made her cover her arm
I learned about bandages, I learned about lint
I hope I don’t have to learn how to splint
People see bruises, I get the blame
They don’t understand her dangerous game
I met this pretty girl in therapy
None too sure she’s so good for me

I met this boy at the doctor’s place
Kinda tall with an ok face
He holds me tight when I cry
Asks if I’m ok, I have to lie
Watch each other take our medicine
Then we go to bed again
When it’s too much his razor I take
Slip away before he’s awake
If you look up co-dependency
You’ll find our photo’ in the dictionary
I met this boy at the doctor’s place
We’re adding notes to each others case

I met this pretty girl; I met this boy,
She’s a strange game; he’s my dangerous toy,
He hides my knives; she pours away my beer
They try and soothe my midnight fears
It’s our life of cloud and rain
Tomorrow we go see the doc’ again

I met this oh boy, I met this girl
Our heads are inside the same whirl
We live in your street, walk in your park
Together we get scared of the dark

She met me and I met him
Just another chance to begin.


© All work copyright of Cardinal Cox.


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