from The Barrow Seven

Walter Lewis Goodchild

Hanger-on, aged 35

Polished like brown saddle leather, the penny
he left under the pillow for his lad.
The tooth had been loose for days
and the night time groans
would stir him to nudge Lizzy
to tend to the child
and avoid a chorus.
Then yesterday, between forefinger
and thumb it took some fiddling
to loop string to incisor,
leading twine to door handle.
The fourth attempt pulled it
followed by a shrill scream
that would ring through the house for weeks.

by Karl Riordan

Walter Lewis Goodchild’ is copyright © Karl Riordan, 2017. It is reprinted from The Tattooist’s Chair (Smokestack Books, 2017) by permission of Smokestack

Notes from Smokestack:

‘The Barrow Seven’ is a sequence of poems commemorating the seven men killed in the Barrow Colliery in 1907.

Karl Riordan spent much of his late teens in a tattooist’s studio, fascinated by the declarations of love, badges of pride and intricate designs that reminded him of the Stilton legs of his grandfather, a miner tattooed by a working life spent underground. In his powerful debut collection, Riordan recalls and celebrates growing up in the South Yorkshire coalfield – holidays and haircuts, football pools and pool halls, Mackeson and Temazepam, Saturday night and Monday morning. The Tattooist’s Chair is a study in working-class history from the Barrow Colliery disaster of 1907 to the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, St Francis in a Sheffield pet shop, Connie Francis on the dansette and Charlie Williams always having the last laugh. You can read more about the book on the Smokestack website.

Smokestack is an independent publisher of radical and unconventional poetry run by Andy Croft. Smokestack aims to keep open a space for what is left of the English radical poetic tradition in the twenty-first century. Smokestack champions poets who are unfashionable, radical, left-field and working a long way from the metropolitan centres of cultural authority. Smokestack is interested in the World as well as the Word; believes that poetry is a part of and not apart from society; argues that if poetry does not belong to everyone it is not poetry. Smokestack’s list includes books by John Berger, Michael Rosen, Katrina Porteous, Ian McMillan, Steve Ely, Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Gustavo Pereira (Venezuela), Heinrich Heine (Germany), Andras Mezei (Hungary), Yiannis Ritsos (Greece) and Victor Jara (Chile). You can find Smokestack on Facebook and on Twitter.

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