Postcards from Malthusia DAY FORTY-SIX: John Challis

The rich alone are capable 


Using trap doors and tunnels, back doors

and green dust to pull their disappearing acts,

before the bombs, before the red paint 

on the doors, the lamb’s blood, the bricks;


clutching their passports behind turnpikes 

and roadblocks, waving their bills 

of health, looking through the riot shields

forcing force in on itself, grinding disquiet 


behind the gates, behind the walls, back 

into the pest house, and weighing down 

its pockets for pits sunk at Knightsbridge; 


getting out before the lime, before 

the spade, before the cart, before the bell, 

before the rumour and the fever starts. 



John Challis is the author of a pamphlet, The Black Cab (Poetry Salzburg, 2017), a 2019 New Writing North Read Regional title. He’s the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Northern Writers’ Award, and his poems have appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in Magma, The North, Poetry London, The Rialto, Stand, Under the Radar, and elsewhere.

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