The Age of Truss, Your Commemorative Issue: Page 3 (Andy Jackson, Ian Duhig, WN Herbert, George Szirtes)

From the Trussian Anthology 


Liz Truss

Can she be trusted? Discuss.

My advice is

Don’t trust Liz.


Elizabeth Truss, Elizabeth Truss

threw her first Chancellor under the bus; 

her second’s preparing without any fuss 

the bus to reverse on Elizabeth Truss.


I never saw the Herm in Merton

though others have – that much is certain.

Perhaps, although it’s no Three Graces,

the fact it’s furnished with two faces

Alumna Liz might find divertin’

now Britain’s gone for a bloody Burton.


When your flush is truly bust

When your faction turns to dust

When you must do what you must

Then you have been fully Trussed.

(Although, due to the dense amnesiac fog that has gathered around the Trussian era, no-one can now definitively identify the authors of any verses from this impossibly distant period, scholars have putatively ascribed the following names to the verses above: i. Andy Jackson; ii Ian Duhig; iii. WN Herbert; iv. George Szirtes.)


The Age of Truss, Your Commemorative Issue, Page 2 (Penelope Shuttle)

Tory Conference Blues (Liz Truss Blues, Part Two)

There once was a PM called Liz
she really was quite odious
And if she took part in a quiz
she’d certainly be less than a whiz.
O Lizzie she don’t like no one
and no one no one likes she
A sad tale but an old ‘un
of rulers who have no empathie.

I got the blues the blues
I got those Tory conference blues
Lord take me from this land of lies
take me sweet Lord before I blow a fuse.

Now Lizzie had a heckler
she had two or three
she thought her words were nectar
she stood there, a silent spectre.
Keynote? keynote?
by whom has this been wrote?
Keynote keynote?
you ain’t gonna get my vote.

I got the blues the blues
I got those Tory conference blues
Lord take me from this land of lies
take me sweet Lord before I blow a fuse.

There once was a party named Tory.
Oh, that was such a grim story.
They cheated and lied, mega-mean and unwary,
Now no-one ever votes Tory.

Penelope Shuttle lives in Cornwall. Her thirteenth collection, Lyonesse, appeared from Bloodaxe in June 2021, and was Observer Poetry Book of the Month for July 21. Covid/Corvid, a pamphlet written in collaboration with Alyson Hallett, appeared from Broken Sleep Books, September 2021. Father Lear, a pamphlet, was published by Poetry Salzburg in June 2020. Shuttle is President of the Falmouth Poetry Group, founded in 1972 by her late husband, Peter Redgrove. She is a Hawthornden Fellow, and received a Cholmondeley Award in 2017.

The Age of Truss, Your Commemorative Issue: Page 1 (Peter Armstrong)

Sleeping Beauty

Deep in the Wood of the World there lies a Kingdom.

The trees of the Wood speak one to another

by their tingling roots, the soft synapses of fungi,

by their brusque beating branches,

their promiscuous shared seed.


None carries to the Kingdom,

to that far Nation’s notion of sole selfdom;

for a great imagined thorn hedge grows between

the Kingdom and the Wood; and grows

and grows and must grow on forever,

lest pause bring down in a great dry deluge

imagined haws and sloes, thorns

and ancient, hollow, imagined boughs.


Imagine now your mind’s eye passes,

as if to Manderley, though its thorn-grown gates,

along its tangled avenue to where,

as tradition requires, a tower stands;

and in the tower, sleeping, a princess dreams.


She dreams dreams of command:

beautiful, bountiful cornucopiful dreams

that the obedient Kingdom hark and grow;.

And look! the fruits of her dreams come twisting into life:

great jumblements and burrs;

unfruiting brambles, crowns of black thistles,

hogweed, bindweed, briers.


How eagerly they climb the ivy of her tower!

in at her broken window, entwining with the branches

of the frescos of her bedchamber, the fern-fronds

of her marvellous embroidered bedspread;

tenderly around her breasts and temples,

in through the portals of her dreams

until she dreams their thorns as armour,

their lacerations as amours.


And out again they spring, her thorny princelings now,

down the crumbling ashlar of her tower,

braiding and brandishing and cleaving as they go;

down to the unimaginable ground

beneath the briers and the hook-thorns;

down where her groundlings, stricken, lie subject

to her beautiful imagined thornery.

Alack! all lacking her charms and amulets,

they lie entangled in its unimagined grip.

There cries rise to her dreaming ear

as praises. Her mind’s eye passes

along her green emblazoned avenues

and the throng of her grateful uproarious people.


Deep in the wood of the world

there lies a Kingdom.

Deep in the Kingdom

a princess lies.

Peter Armstrong was born in Blaydon on Tyne 1957. He was educated thereabouts and at Sunderland Poly, then trained as a teacher before going into mental health nursing, specialising in CBT. Meanwhile, he published poems in 10 North East Poets, and has collections from Enitharmon (Risings), Picador (Red Funnelled Boat and Capital of Nowhere) and Shoestring (Madame Noire and The Book of Ogham). He lives in Tynedale and helps organise The Bridge folk club, Newcastle.

DePfeffelschrift PAGE TWENTY-THREE : John White

40 Degree Rant

Beyond our house today
a host of gulls are wheeling,
crying with distress and collective fear –
we look up at our troubled brothers keening
for a world they’re losing in the burning air.
Is this a wake, is this a wailing song,
are we weak-kneed each day with grief,
is this the poetry of pain, a cry for long gone
tranquillity – that Covid stole away like a thief
and substituted hopeless governance?

What’s this disturbance we feel, is it a curse,
are we reeling like the gulls,
are we ground down and sad like the nurse
who goes in and out the hospital each day
dulled by tiredness and overwork?
Do we stand impatient and wait
for a parcel from a driver who works too late
and isn’t paid a living wage?

It is enough. Let no one say
there is no way to organize our world
so we can eat and heat our homes
in this rich land where dividends
pile up in some accounts like knee-deep snow.
How about a change of plan –
raise taxes, pay decent wages,
take back the generators and the utilities.
Rethink this lousy system,
chuck out incompetent politicians
who won’t cherish their fellow citizens
or pay attention to the gulls who cry for rain.

John White graduated with distinction from the Poetry School/Newcastle University MA Writing Poetry, in 2021. He has a video performance poem on the New Boots and Pantisocracies Postcards from Malthusia blog, and recent written words in the New European, Alchemy Spoon, Ekphrastic Review and the just-published New Writing Scotland 40. 

DePfeffelschrift PAGE TWENTY-TWO : Anne Berkeley

Queen of Spleen  
after Baudelaire

We are like the Queen of a realm of rain,
rich but rickety, a touristic ruin
as weary of fawning yes-men, experts,
as we are of lap dogs and exotic pets.
Nothing delights us: neither petrol queues
nor mounting death tolls on the evening news.
The booster bombast of our Brexiteer
stirs in our ennui not the slightest ardour.
Our heraldic brocades enshroud a pit
where one takes no joy from a TikTok wit
whatever tricks he’s got up his sleeve
to tickle one’s lizard spirit alive.
Not gold, not lead, not even sense – in vain
the alchemist tinkers with Blighty’s brain.
Not even the bloodbaths inherited
from Empire – the old fools remember it –
can warm and revive a corpse so rotten
its veins flow green with something we’ve forgotten.

Source: Baudelaire, Spleen ‘Je suis comme le roi…’

Anne Berkeley’s The Men from Praga was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney first collection prize. She performed widely with The Joy of Six and now lives in semi-permanent rage near Cambridge.

DePfeffelschrift PAGE TWENTY-ONE : Bob Cooper

Commuters and Icarus in the Brexit Snowstorm
a poem grounded in W.H. Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts 

Beyond Seacombe Terminal’s high-reaching arch snow falls 
silently, large-flaked, through every streetlight’s glare 
but it does not concern them 
                                              though Pieter Bruegel notices 
from beneath his broad-brimmed hat how it touches 
umbrellas, beanies, hoods above head-bowed faces, 
of those who don’t look up when a young man flies past, 
flaps his slow wings, loses height, reaches the Mersey  
or hear his wail before he hits the black water  
then soundlessly sinks 
                                     but Pieter Bruegel recognises 
the end of this aspiring high-flier matters 
because, about economics they were never wrong, 
those distant offshore investors, who told everyone 
they should, or would, or could believe in sunlit days 
and ignore fears that snow will make wings too heavy 
to carry anyone far  
                                so Pieter Bruegel watches  
those who don’t notice as they shuffle in the queu
the pavement and road now resemble a shroud. 
Snowflakes stick to eyelashes, melt, people blink   
as they long for the bus to offer them noise and warmth  
away from what they don’t know has happened, 
what will make grief rise up in someone like them, 
when one knows  
                            what Pieter Bruegel knows 
when he’ll paint what he’s seen as if it happened 
at mid-day in sunlight and somwhere else. 

Bob Cooper lives on The Wirral. This year, his poems are appearing in Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review, Orbis, High Window, The Waxed Lemon, London Grip, and Ink Sweat & Tears. His last Collection, Everyone Turns, was published by Pindrop Press in 2017.  

DePfeffelschrift PAGE TWENTY : Judith Taylor

Upon Westminster

Godzilla! Thou shoulds’t be living at this hour.
Britain hath need of thee. We have a sty
of chancers folk elected, God knows why,
since all they do is help the rich devour
our substance. Noses troughward, how this shower
– shits, shysters, ministers, drones and members – lie
openly on the BBC and Sky,
careless who loses what, so they keep power.

Great One, arise from out the English Channel!
Stir with thy thrashing tail the Thames! Lay bare
their chummy Chambers: let the chilly air
blow through their threadbare consciences, asleep
on padded benches. Shred with thy claws their flannel;
pound them, confound them, drown them fathoms deep!

Judith Taylor grew up in Perthshire, downwind of a chicken packing plant. She lives and works in Aberdeen, where she is one of the organisers of the monthly Poetry at Books and Beans events. Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, was published in 2017 by Red Squirrel Press, and she is one of the Editors of Poetry Scotland magazine.

DePfeffelschrift PAGE NINETEEN : Martin Figura

Land of Opportunity

Here we are then, huddled on
the exhausted stained mattress
in the seaside boarding house of state.
Rusty springs squeak out
Rule Britannia whilst we make love
to ourselves. The bed, digging its heels
into a tidemark carpet that’s shrinking away
from the chipped gloss of the skirting boards
and the terrifying flora of the wallpaper.
Thin rayon curtains spill yellow light
onto our gilt-framed Boots the Chemist
reproduction of Constable’s The Hay Wain,
picks out the greyed varnish craquelure
of the wardrobe quietly looming in the corner
containing who knows what – a little shoebox
of secrets perhaps? Suitcases sticky with dust
sit atop – their handles ripped off.

Martin Figura’s The collection and show Whistle were shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and won the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show.  Shed (Gatehouse Press) and Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine (Cinnamon Press) were published in 2016.The Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine Show was shortlisted in the 2018 Saboteur Awards. He lives in Norwich with Helen Ivory and sciatica.  Together they began hosting Live from The Butchery Zoom readings during Lockdown with leading guest poets, winning the Saboteur Best Regular Spoken Word Night 2021 Award.