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Pnuk and Disorderly - The Cardinal Cox Tour Diary

By Cardinal Cox  

Some of the following poems have previously appeared in 'The Brentford Mercury' (, 'Expos’d' (, 'Flagburner', 'Red Lamp' and 'Reflection of War'.  

In December 2002 I was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate of the city of Peterborough, for which I was to write poetry to mark civic events, etc. Over a year earlier I had started to write the works in this collection. I had wanted to pen verse inspired by issues, to express my personal politics, which does not always coincide with established party lines.  

One of the first bands I saw live was the Buzzcocks; I grew up through the late punk era but never considered myself a real punk. While other musical ‘clans’ might be regarded as nouns (mod, rocker, etc.); punk’s were more of a verb - to be a punk you had to be active. Something I was usually too apathetic to be, beyond a few agit-prop cartoon strips.  

But that has never stopped me enjoying a loud band doing reportage songs of the state of play.  

This collection is dedicated to William Godwin (1756-1836) - who was indirectly responsible for burning down the Palace of Westminster); The Invincible Army (Market Deeping branch); Allen Adams; Mark Turnbull; and Margot (who proved that punks can become accountants).      

The Cardinal recommends: -
'Demanding the Impossible' by Peter Marshall. Fontana Press (London) 1993.
'1936' by The Ex. Ron Johnson Records (Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire) 1996.
'Hopeless Savages' by Jen Van Meter and Christine Norrie. Oni Press ( (Portland) 2001 onwards.
'Tupelo' by Matt DeGennaro and Phil Elliot. Slave Labor Graphics ( (San Jose) 2003 onwards.  

Green Haired Punk


How many homes? How many rooms?
Born the richest woman in the land
Government puts our money in your hand
In your Cathedrals, how many tombs?

This nations dysfunctional clan
Everything the press tells us to hate
Immigrant family living off the state
You'll notice I'm not your biggest fan

Memories of any royal day
A coin to keep, a plate to brake
Speech at Christmas when full of pud'

All your wealth, yet who will pay?
Throwing up on street party cake
You're as real as Santa asking if we've been good.

My entry to the 2001 Poet Laureate of Peterborough competition and for some reason I didn’t win. I felt like a winner that night though. It was my first date with Debbi, however it was all over by Christmas. Debbi did though get me to read 'the Motorcycle Diaries' by Che Guevara. It is worth remembering that in Britain it is still an offence to write and have published work which promote the idea of republicanism (as the above poem does) and is punishable by up to life imprisonment.


Thanks for a lock on my door
In this land so far
From the skies of my youth

I wonder what lies my parents tell
When the police come around
Looking for heads to break

But while I’m here who
Will protect them from
The petrol bombs thrown in the night

So thanks, before you send me back
Thanks for the lorry on the Autobahn
Thanks for the boat that took
   My mothers jewellery
Thanks from these tired, poor
Thanks from these huddled masses
Thanks for the support
Your government gave our land    

    Lock the door
   Turn off the porch light
   Back to not watching your TV

Last year, subsequent to writing the above poem, I saw a couple of good films about refugees. 'Dirty Pretty Things' and 'In This World', both of which I would recommend.


Steal my picture for your product
You don't know what you really take
Use my face on your ad'
I bring my parasites with me
Posters develop a fungal growth
Rotting on your billboards
Corrupting your campaign
You will not gain by association
You will not benefit while
I Grow fat upon your misery
My stolen shade devours shares
Competitors gloat while you bleat
Internal gasses pushing bulging web-site
My soul, like Peter Pan's shadow
Yearns to be free, not pinned
Antique moth under glass
Stiletto through skull patterning


Don't go up town - Front are bussing in
Going to be busting heads
And I'm still drinking.
The Muslim Brotherhood
Looking to defend their streets
I'm keeping my hair short.
Don't matter who you know
Don't care what you think
Last weeks blood isn't dry
                        Sand's still soaking
Round corners they're waiting
Protecting the women at home
                        (Did they ask?)
Keeping children safe on the street
Whores don't figure in their homeland
They know where they are
'Cause it's pay 'em on Tuesday
Stone 'em on Saturday
Yeah, it's not who is without
But who's got their dogma off the leash
Barking away, a mongrel conscience
I'm finding it difficult
To tell them apart
It's convergent evolution
And every flag I've ever seen
Was sewn in a sweatshop.  

In the run-up to the War in Iraq tensions in my town were running
high and some Asian lads stabbed one guy.

The BNP and NF tried to capitalise on this and to the credit of the father
of the murdered bloke publicly spoke out against them holding marches or
rallies in the city.

A few days before the tragedy I was in a pub and
overheard a guy saying that he had just had to run from some Asian guys. His
mates suggested he rung the police and he replied with a, well, they
won't do anything. Can't help but wonder if he had, maybe the
incident of a few days later might have been avoided. Then again, in my
town, maybe the Asian guys had got fed up of reporting racist abuse against
them or their's an evil circle that must be broken


We were down the pub discussing the legalisation of drugs. Well, everyone is for it. Big business wants the profits. Government wants the taxes. Cops are bored with hassling for possession. Portugal just changed its’ laws so you can’t be busted if you’ve got less than ten days supply of drugs on you. What’s ten days? A wheelbarrow load?    

So, we figured, drugs can be as dangerous as a motorcar, so why not have to pass a test to get your drugs licence? Different drugs, different test. Simpler drugs; tobacco, alcohol, dope; simple test. Harder drugs; heroin or valium; harder test.    

First when you apply for your provisional licence you’re tested to make sure you’re not allergic to the drug. Tested too to see if you’re compulsive/addictive. Then you get to do a course about what the drug does. What’s safe. That sort of thing. You get to do an exam at the end. Write essays and stuff.    

Then with your licence, knowing all the facts, you can do the stuff. But watch out, you can get endorsements, be made to re-take the test if you’re caught out of control.

Back in 1957, Britain had 500 heroin addicts and 2 full-time police officers to manage them. Back then, a registered addict could go to his doctor and be prescribed the drug that they needed, removing them from the need to mix with the criminal underworld. This number of addicts was unacceptable in a civilised society so various laws were passed and by the ‘seventies they could no longer go to their doctors for the necessary. As a result of this we now live in a utopia without either drug addicts or drug related crime. We are so lucky. The rest of the world is not so fortunate. As a result of the war in Afghanistan cheap opium is flooding out of the country, a trade that the Taliban had almost eradicated. I also recall that a few years back the statistic was released that more people electrocute themselves while fishing, (wet line, casting, electricity pylons overhead) than die as a result of taking Ecstasy.


She’s dead
Before the needle broke the skin
Flesh cold and grey, shark fin
She’s died a thousand times this year
Final sleep holds no fear
Of fluffy clouds embrace
Muscle strain in her face
She’s dead, she’s dead
Drags herself around the shops
Festering leg makes her hop
Pockets makeup left and right
And her jaws have lost their bite
Makeup would once have made her pretty
Now’s to stop her feeling shitty
She’s dead, she’s dead
Supply is short, price has risen
Main supplier’s in the prison
Girl’s got little left to sell
But she has a price as well
Just one road off this estate
Council crem’ cannot wait
She’s dead, she’s dead.

Yes I think addiction is bad, regardless of what the subject of the addiction is. Be it alcohol, caffeine, drugs, gambling, tobacco, whatever. It is the addiction that ruins the lives.  

However, when newspapers run a story about some sportsman or soap star using drugs, I do tend to believe that this would carry more weight if the newspaper could prove that none of their journalists had ever imbibed of any substances.  

Three good books about drugs are: - 'Dope Girls' by Marek Kohn, from Granta books; 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater' by Thomas De Quincy, Penguin Classic edition; 'The Drug User', edited by John Strausbaugh and Donald Blaise, Blast Books. 


Amongst those flames I see
Our liberties joining the smoke
Workers and rescuers, sacrifices both
On graven alter of finance
Talk of a paper trail
Evidence we cannot see
But the trail is longer still
Multimillionaire’s son
Trained by the CIA
Aimed for a remote control war
Billions spent on wrong fighting wrong
But poverty has nothing to offer
So peace’s pricetag forgotten
For another war you’ve goaded
Oil on troubled waters thicker than blood
Then learn, kill a terrorist
His brother becomes a terrorist
Shoot a terrorist
His father becomes a terrorist
Bomb a terrorist
His grandmother becomes a terrorist
Gas a terrorist
Even his dog becomes a terrorist
The only weapon to use
Peace, civil liberties
Stop propping up your own dictatorships
They may be the bullets
But you pulled the trigger.
It is said, that when asked about JFK’s assassination, Malcolm X replied with the words, “Chickens coming home to roost…”


As tarmac rolls you’re in the trees
And pulling GM crops before they flower
But in the cities, small Edens are lost
Buried beneath another car park
Allotments are laying waste
Fallow under thistles.
Occupy these corners
Remembering Winstanly on George’s Hill
Turn the sod anew
Working to defend this
Common Weal for all
Clear the turf at your time
Plant together crops
Be your own masters
As Ball rhymed - Adam delved
Grow together - in every sense
Show you don’t need GM
And those ‘icides besides
Trade those fruits you’ve laboured
All the long summer
Barter with pensioners for memories
Of those jobs as seasons turn
And into the estates - fresh beans
Jack’s a giant now
Won’t trade for a cow
Farmer’s market
- You’ve grown, you’ve built<
Say 1 potato,
       2 potato,
       Free potato,
You know what the land is for
Who knows - one day
You’ll hear the call
Punker’s got a goat, yeah
 Click, click, click,
Punker’s got a goat, yeah
 Click, click, click
 (Rept. to fade)


Subconscious, they sneak in
Commando crawling into dreams
Under the wire into the cratered
Mud-filled corporate battlefield
Imagery enchained for purposes
A pole from the original intention
A subliminal Spartacus amidst the posters
Challenges the chains, seeding confusion
Till the campaign’s in tatters
A Looking-Glass victory
“Be careful what you advertise for…”

Both this and the earlier 'Stolen Soul' were both inspired by an advertising campaign, aimed at students, from the NatWest bank which took its’ imagery from the solid Soviet iconography of posters extolling the workers to Victory through Hard Work or whatever. I just thought it ironic that a bank would want to be associated with such imagery.  


Put the knife down, no one need get
Put the knife down, no one need get  

Trouble in my town, folks with a knife
Too many people are losing their life
Going out in the town, maybe for a drink
Your mother is at home too worried to think
Is this the night that blood be spilled
This the night when her son be killed
Talking to the wrong girl or in the wrong street
These ain’t the crimes for you turned to meat  

Put the knife down, no one need get
Put the knife down, no one need get  

Say trouble is coming, I’m protecting me
Get caught and too long you won't be free
Say you didn’t mean it, accident
Judge him mean and to gaol you’re sent
Watching your back, night and day
Think to yourself, weren’t meant to be this way
But you got off light, at least you’re living
Too many folk graveyards are filling  

Put the knife down, no one need get
Put the knife down, no one need get  

It easy to say don’t walk that street
Then danger you will not meet
In this town everywhere is trouble
When tempers flare and emotions bubble
One deep breath, take a step back
So courage for peace you do not lack
Respects have to be earned not made
By thoughts in your head not size of blade  

Put the knife down, no one need get
Put the knife down, no one need get  


On the frontier of free information
Ensuring our own equality
In a haze of anonymity
A unity of free association  

At keyboards the data stream heroes
Disseminate down fibre optic
Ever changing polemic
Mutable series of ones and zeros  

Electronically, instantly, making a stand
Down loading innumerable zeros and ones
Rallying the next revolution
Not in the street but in the broad band  

Not a monolithic state Socialism such as the unlamented Russian system and its imitators, but a free association of individuals working towards mutual goals. I know that it is just a dream, but the pan-national electronic communities might just grow towards it. If they can just put aside the porn and the crazies…  


Pimp is a vulture feeding off others
Corrupting children, imprisoning mothers
On the estates and deep in the city
Made-up girls looking old not pretty
Worse are folks ordering factory closures
Fiddling pennies for the share holders
For them poverty can be countries away
For a premium someone must pay  

Pushers arrive in so many guises
With “Want a happy life, then buy” says
Ads in papers and glossy mags
Radio, TV, voice just nags
“No part of your life could be better?
Want a girl, buy product and get her”
So buy the thing and feel glad
Next advert says your life’s still bad  

Say when did this become a Wild West town?
Seems every month something is going down
Knocking over garages or late night store
So many shooters like a little war
Want to pack trouble? Two ‘phone calls away
For every bullet there’s a price to pay
Used to be Yanks, now they’re from the East
Arms shareholders must be having a feast  

So many news reports talking about bangs
Parents fearing their kids’ll join gangs
But did they know where their small child
Was at years ago and acting wild
But what example do the parents set
When papers create an unreal threat?
Then people become a horror film mob
All flaming torches and half bricks to lob  


Get a little piercing or a cute tattoo
It’s the in-thing that all the models do
Being individual and thought of as cool
Wind up looking like every kid in school
Rebels in just another uniform
Pawns for yet another norm
Female circumcision is the latest trend
And all the little girlies lose their girls-best-friend
We saw a movie star who boiled his own head
And James Dean proves it’s cool to be dead
Find your own design if you want ink
Show your thoughts not what others think
Flesh is a ritual, old as time
Desecrators only need join a line
If cops are looking for me, driving in the dark
All they know is no distinguishing marks
If you want something different, here’s something to do
Try the thoughts in your brain than a new make of shoe
Saying fashion, fashion sheep
Individuality is more than skin deep.  

Now, when I was at school (sounding like your granddad here) the other kids wanted to look different so all wore jeans. I was the only kid in full uniform; jumper, tie, blazer even, the lot. The head did like to spout about how uniform made everyone look smart and, well, I just proved him so wrong.  


Down the pub we were discussing the attitude to and ownership of guns - being British none of us do. Someone came out with the “fact” that the average member of the NRA in America owns nine and a half guns. We wondered if, as they profess, they believe that everyone should be allowed to own firearms for personal protection, perhaps they should hand out those spare weapons to the most vulnerable members of society, the down-and-outs. Just because someone can’t afford to own a gun shouldn’t be a barrier against their own safety.    

Police in Britain don’t usually carry guns, only being issued on specific occasions. Couple of years ago, acting on intelligence - that proved later to be false - armed police in Sussex raided a flat and shot and killed a man wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. Perhaps they thought, unlike Mae West, he wasn’t pleased to see them. It emerged that while the officers were suspended during the resulting investigation, they received wage rises. The Chief Constable of the force was pressured to resign. When he defended himself on a national TV news program, he revealed the statistic that the British police shoot and kill more unarmed people in a year than armed.  


You have chemical recreations
But consider implications
From the dosh you give your dealer
For the drugs that ain’t no healer
There’s a middleman, gets a share
Then mules, they have to pay the fare
Customs Officers get a cut
For keeping the beady eye shut
Accounts are kept in a journal
 All just money for the Colonels
See Afghanistan, way back when
Russia sent in uniformed men
Brothers needed money for guns
Offered opium so deal done
Sales of powder liberated land
And revolution flames it fanned
Junkie dies in concrete tower
Games pawn to a superpower
Horse and bullets, deal nocturnal
All just money for the Colonels  

South American power game
Presidents want someone to blame
More cash in coke than in coffee
Though in Mall ain’t sold for toffee
Sip the brown from nice clean cups
Someone, somewhere rakes in bucks
So farmers have to grow the leaves
And city banker has to thieve
Danger when it’s brought internal
All just money for the Colonels  

Charlie the governments support
Mr. Big they ain’t never caught
They’ve friends who in the shadows live
And tip-offs they can always give
While death squads the streets do roam
Union men shot in their home
Think about others oppression
Habits finance much aggression
This world-wide business infernal
Giving money for the Colonels.  

I had read an article about the economy of the international drugs business, something along the lines of, if the cocaine trade stopped tomorrow, the world’s economy would crash. I had once interviewed one of the SAS members who subsequently wrote a book about their experiences and asked him what the worst job he ever had was. He said burning cocaine fields in South America. He knew that the farmers earned more from it than from growing coffee and that the drug barons at least paid for football fields for the local kids. Something I had thought about working in was about the ecological damage growing and refining drugs causes, but couldn’t make it fit.  


They said I would lose my benefit
If a job I did not get
They would find work for me
Interview at Torture Factory
Girlfriend digs the little handcuffs
Of that stuff she can’t get enough
Our exports to third world states
Put banquets on shareholder’s plates
Quality control at Torture Factory
Making everything as shoddy can be  

Manacles bound for foreign land
Apparently the leading brand
Various sizes, adult and child
Well those kids get a bit wild
On my shift the chains are thin
One good tug and they give in
Locks we use open with ease
Bit of wire instead of keys
Quality control at Torture Factory
Making everything as shoddy can be  

One of our lines is cattle prods
Filled with batteries to do the job
But if a copper this stick do swing
Well his hand will feel the sting
If my boss found how I’d re-wired
Then I guess I’d be fired
But in gaols east and west
They think our prods are the best
Quality control at Torture Factory
Making everything as shoddy can be  

Boss comes to me, says, “We got to talk”
I think this is where I have to walk
But says, “We all like the job you done
How do you fancy corporate fun?
Work on a stall at an arms fair”
But I’ve an idea under this hair
Air conditioning, can of CS gas
Yes, the arm’s fair’ll be a blast
Quality control at Torture Factory
Making everything as shoddy can be  


Bob was an original punk
Oxfam suit and skinny tie
Try to give him any trouble
And he’d spit straight in your eye
So he sees the cutest of girls
One night when drinking in the pub
They say that love can conquer all
Maybe, listen on, for here’s the rub
 Can a punker love a skin?
 Can a punker love a skin?
 Can a punker love a skin?
 Or is it an anarchic sin?
True that Alice here’s a skin
With feather cut and bover boots (oi, oi, oi)
Fred Perry shirt, bleached denim skirt
Same with her hair to the roots (oi, oi, oi)
Then at the bar sees a tall guy
Who’s talking about Anarchy (oi, oi, oi)
Yes maybe he is good looking
You know this ain’t meant to be (oi, oi, oi)
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Spiky hair but he’s still a hunk  

(Skardcore verse)
Twenty-five years later now he
Don’t sniff no more and she don’t speed
Times do change over all those years
And this pair have had kids to feed
Any differences they have
Have just combined to make them strong
Sure Saturday, they might still fight
But can you say that it is wrong?
 Can a punker love a skin?
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Can a punker love a skin?
 At least it ain’t jazzfunk
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Can a punker love a skin?
 Can a skinhead love a punk?
 Oi, turn up that awful din.    

Two there that I’ve done live a few times. Seem to get good responses. The Ois' in 'Lamb and Lion' start off shouty and grow quieter through the verse. 

About the author

Cardinal Cox has been having his writings published now for twenty years in a vast number of underground/small press publications. He is also a member of Poets United (    In December 2002 he was appointed the 5th Poet Laureate of the city of Peterborough. Despite being sponsored by the local council, this allowed him to write and have published a poem to mark the fall from power of a Tory Councillor about whom he refuses to tell the stories he has heard. Other work include a cycle of poems for the local museum ( and another set for the local comic shop, The House on the Borderland ( He read at a festival in Oxford as part of a science fiction poetry segment and was Poet in Residence at the weird fantasy convention ‘They Came and Shaved Us’ ( in Dundalk, Ireland.    As well as his poetry the Cardinal writes comic, theatre & art reviews for 'Prism' - the newsletter of the British Fantasy Society (; CD reviews for 'Data Dump' from Hilltop Press; as well as other small press titles. He also wrote the biographical introduction to the Ash Tree Press reprint of E.G. Swain’s 'The Stoneground Ghost Tales'. In 2001, the very short film he scripted, 'Late Shift', was shown at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films. His one-time band, ‘The Sonic Energy Authority’, have subverted their way into a number of sf novels by a handful of authors (CDs available from

Edited by Paul Rance


A fairly high standard of poetry, available for only £2.75 (incl. p&p). Most of the poems show either humanity or humour in a good collection. Impressive work from Anne Jones, Joy Harris, John Watson, Karen Davies, and Cardinal Cox, among others. Website: Orders should be sent to: POETS UNITED, 55 Uldale Way, Gunthorpe, Peterborough, PE4 7GE. Cheques payable to POETS UNITED. - P.R.

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