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Best Famous Barry Tebb Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Barry Tebb poems. This is a select list of the best famous Barry Tebb poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Barry Tebb poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Barry Tebb poems.

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Written by Barry Tebb |


 At ten she came to me, three years ago,

There was ‘something between us’ even then;

Watching her write like Eliot every day,

Turn prose into haiku in ten minutes flat,

Write a poem in Greek three weeks from learning the alphabet;

Then translate it as ‘Sun on a tomb, gold place, small sacred horse’.
I never got over having her in the room, though Every day she was impossible in a new way, Stamping her foot like a naughty Enid Blyton child, Shouting "Poets don’t do arithmetic!" Or drawing caricatures of me in her book.
Then there were the ‘moments of vision’, her eyes Dissolving the blank walls and made-up faces, Genius painfully going through her paces, The skull she drew, the withered chrysanthemum And scarlet rose, ‘Descensus averno’, like Virgil, I supposed.
Now three years later, in nylons and tight skirt, She returns from grammar school to make a chaos of my room; Plaiting a rose in her hair, I remember the words of her poem - ‘For love is wrong/in word, in deed/But you will be mine’ And now her promise to come the last two days of term, "But not tell them", the diamond bomb exploding In her eyes, the key left ‘Accidentally’ on my desk And the faint surprise.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 (or ‘Huddersfield the Second Poetry Capital of England Re-visited’)

What was it Janice Simmons said to me as James lay dying in Ireland?

“Phone Peter Pegnall in Leeds, an ex-pupil of Jimmy’s.
He’s organising A benefit reading, he’d love to hear from you and have your help.
” ‘Like hell he would’ I thought but I phoned him all the same At his converted farmhouse at Barswill, a Lecturer in Creative Writing At the uni.
But what’s he written, I wondered, apart from his CV? “Well I am organising a reading but only for the big people, you understand, Hardman, Harrison, Doughty, Duhig, Basher O’Brien, you know the kind, The ones that count, the ones I owe my job to.
” We nattered on and on until by way of adieu I read the final couplet Of my Goodbye poem, the lines about ‘One Leeds Jimmy who could fix the world’s.
Duhigs once and for all/Write them into the ground and still have a hundred Lyrics in his quiver.
’ Pete Stifled a cough which dipped into a gurgle and sank into a mire Of strangulated affect which almost became a convulsion until finally He shrieked, “I have to go, the cat’s under the Christmas tree, ripping Open all the presents, the central heating boiler’s on the blink, The house is on fucking fire!” So I was left with the offer of being raffle-ticket tout as a special favour, Some recompense for giving over two entire newsletters to Jimmy’s work: The words of the letter before his stroke still burned.
“I don’t know why They omitted me, Armitage and Harrison were my best mates once.
You and I Must meet.
” A whole year’s silence until the card with its cryptic message ‘Jimmy’s recovering slowly but better than expected’.
I never heard from Pegnall about the reading, the pamphlets he asked for Went unacknowledged.
Whalebone, the fellow-tutor he commended, also stayed silent.
Had the event been cancelled? Happening to be in Huddersfield on Good Friday I staggered up three flights of stone steps in the Byram Arcade to the Poetry Business Where, next to the ‘closed’ sign an out-of-date poster announced the reading in Leeds At a date long gone.
I peered through the slats at empty desks, at brimming racks of books, At overflowing bin-bags and the yellowing poster.
Desperately I tried to remember What Janice had said.
“We were sat up in bed, planning to take the children For a walk when Jimmy stopped looking at me, the pupils of his eyes rolled sideways, His head lolled and he keeled over.
” The title of the reading was from Jimmy’s best collection ‘With Energy To Burn’ with energy to burn.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 I was never a film buff, give me Widmark and Wayne any day

Saturday matin?es with Margaret Gardener still hold sway

As my memory veers backwards this temperate Boxing Day-

Westerns and war films and a blurred Maigret,

Coupled with a worn-out sixties Penguin Mallarm?-

How about that mix for a character trait?

Try as I may I can’t get my head round the manifold virtues

Of Geraldine Monk or either Riley

Poetry has to have a meaning, not just patterns on a page,

Vertical words and snips of scores just make me rage.
Is Thom Gunn really the age-old sleaze-weasel Andrew Duncan says? Is Tim Allen right to give Geraldine Monk an eleven page review? At least they care for poetry to give their lives to it As we do, too.
My syntax far from perfect, my writing illegible But somehow I’ll get through, Bloodaxe and Carcourt May jeer but an Indian printer’s busy with my ‘Collected’ And, Calcutta typesetters permitting, it will be out this year With the red gold script of sari cloth on the spine And fuck those dusty grey contemporary voices Those verses will be mine.
Haslam’s a whole lot better but touchy as a prima donna And couldn’t take it when I said he’d be a whole lot better If he’d unloose his affects and let them scatter I’m envious of his habitat, The Haworth Moors Living there should be the inspiration of my old age But being monophobic I can’t face the isolation Or persuade my passionate friend to join me.
What urban experiences can improve Upon a cottage life with my own muse!

More great poems below...

Written by Barry Tebb |


 Quarter to three: I wake again at the hour of his birth

Thirty years ago and now he paces corridors of dark

In nightmares of self-condemnation where random thoughts

Besiege his fevered imagination – England’s 

Imminent destruction, his own, the world’s…

Sixty to eighty cigarettes a day, unavailing depot injections,

Failed abscondings, failed everything: Eton and Balliol

Hold no sway on ward one, nor even being

‘A six language master,’ on PICU madness is the only qualification.
There was the ‘shaving incident’ at school, which Made him ready to walk out at fifteen, the alcohol Defences at Oxford which shut us out then petered out During the six years in India, studying Bengali at Shantiniketan.
He tottered from the plane, penniless and unshaven, To hide away in the seediest bedsit Beeston could boast Where night turned to day and vaguely he applied For jobs as clerk and court usher and drank in pubs with yobs.
When the crisis came – "I feel my head coming off my body’ – I was ready and unready, making the necessary calls To get a bed, to keep him on the ward, to visit and reassure Us both that some way out could be found.
The ‘Care Home’ was the next disaster, trying to cure Schizophrenia with sticking plaster: "We don’t want Carers’ input, we call patients ‘residents’ and insist on chores Not medication", then the letters of terrible abuse, the finding of a flat, ‘The discharge into the community.
’ His ‘keyworker’ was the keyworker from hell: the more Isaiah’s care fell apart the more she encouraged Him to blame us and ‘Make his life his own’, vital signs Of decline ignored or consigned to files, ‘confidentiality’ reigned supreme.
Insidiously the way back to the ward unveiled Over painful months, the self-neglect, the inappropriate remarks In pubs, the neglected perforated eardrum, keeping Company with his feckless cousins between their bouts in prison.
The pointless team meetings he was patted through, My abrupt dismissal as carer at the keyworker’s instigation, The admission we knew nothing of, the abscondings we were told of And had to sort out, then the phone call from the ASW.
"We are about to section your son for six months, have you Any comment?" Then the final absconding to London From a fifteen minute break on PICU, to face his brother’s Drunken abuse, the police were kindness itself as they drove him to the secure unit.
Two nurses came by taxi from Leeds the next day to collect him The Newsam Centre’s like a hotel – Informality and first class treatment Behind the locked doors he freezes before and whispers "Daddy, I was damned in hell but now I am God’s friend.
" Note: PICU- Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit Beeston- An inner city area of Leeds ASW- Approved Social Worker

Written by Barry Tebb |



You buy my freedom with your love.
With every book you catalogue or stamp My imagination hacks a strand from the hawser That for three years has held it In the grubbing estuary of mud and time.
Your early waking with tired eyes And late return at evening, all Contribute to the store of images I love you for: the irony being Your job is worse than mine Your talent more.
II I do not understand myself, the time, or you.
I cannot comprehend our love, shot through Like flying silk with flashes of gold light And the tattered backcloth of suffering.
Each night I remember our meeting; My hair ‘like iron wire’, the grey dust In the air of my house, the exact place On the carpet where I kissed you And how we talked on and on, Too much in love for love, Until the night was gone.
III We acted out our love By nearly going mad, Gave up the jobs we had To take a cottage on the moors At less than garage rent.
For food we learned to pledge our dreams And found, too late, the world redeems What it had lent.
By night the world unpicked The dream we wove by day, Each dawn we woke to find The stitching come away.
IV Two creatures from a bestiary Besieged our dream: A neighbour’s one-eyed cat That prowled outside to bring Its witch-like owner With her tapping stick.
Was the Bach we played too loud for her deaf ears, Or was it our love that howled her silence home? V We have re-built that house With blood.
We have sculptured that dream In stone.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 As soon as we crossed into Yorkshire

Hughes’ voice assailed me, unmistakable

Gravel and honey, a raw celebration of rain

Like a tattered lacework window;

Black glisten on roof slates,

Tarmac turned to shining ice,

Blusters of naked wind whipping

The wavelets of shifting water

To imaginary floating islets

On the turbulent river

Glumly he asked, "Where are the mills?"

Knowing their goneness in his lonely heart.
"Where are the mines with their turning spokes, Lurking slag heaps, bolts of coal split with Shimmering fools’ gold tumbling into waiting wagons? Mostly what I came for was a last glimpse Of the rock hanging over my cot, that towering Sheerness fifty fathoms high screed with ferns And failing tree roots, crumbling footholds And dour smile.
A monument needs to be known For what it is, not a tourist slot or geological stratum But the dark mentor loosing wolf’s bane At my sleeping head.
" When the coach lurches over the county boundary, If not Hughes’ voice then Heaney’s or Hill’s Ringing like miners’ boots flinging sparks From the flagstones, piercing the lens of winter, Jutting like tongues of crooked rock Lapping a mossed slab, an altar outgrown, Dumped when the trumpeting hosannas Had finally riven the air of the valley.
And I, myself, what did I make of it? The voices coming into my head Welcoming kin, alive or dead, my eyes Jerking to the roadside magpie, Its white tail-bar doing a hop, skip and jump.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 Empty chocolate boxes, a pillowcase with an orange at the bottom,

Nuts and tinsel with its idiosyncratic rustle and brilliant sheen

And the reflection in it of paper-chains hand-made and stuck with

Flour-paste stretching from the light-bowl to every corner of the room.
Father Christmas himself was plastic and his vast stomach painted red With a bulging sack behind his back and he was stuck in the middle Of a very large cake.
The icing was royal and you could see the Whites of many eggs in the glister of its surface and on the Upright piano the music of Jingle Bells lay open.
With aching hands I wrote thank you notes for socks to sainted aunts And played on Nutwood Common with Rupert until Tiger Lily’s father, The Great Conjuror, waved his wand and brought me home to the last Coal fire in Leeds, suddenly dying.
I got through a whole packet of sweet cigarettes with pink tips Dipped in cochineal and a whole quarter of sherbet lemons at a sitting And there was a full bottle of Portello to go at, the colour Of violet ink and tasting of night air and threepenny bits Which lasted until the last gas-lamp in Leeds went out.
I had collected enough cardboard milk-tops to make a set of Matchstick spinners and with my box of Rainbow Chalks drew circles On my top, red, white and Festival of Britain blue and made it spin All the way to the last bin-yard in Leeds while they pulled it down.
I was a very small teddy-bear crouched on a huge and broken chair Ready to be put out into the wide world and my mother was there To see me off.
The light in her eyes was out, there was no fire In her heart and the binyard where I played was empty space.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 It is time after thirty years

We had our Poetry Renaissance

Rise, Children of Albion, rise!

It is time after nightmares of sleep

When we walked the streets of inner cities

Our poems among the burnt-out houses

And cars, whispering compassion

To the addicts shaking and the homeless

Waking and those who have come apart

In the nowhere of today

Begging in stations

Sleeping in boxes.
It is time to find Our lost, those children I taught three decades ago To paint on ceilings With sticks of incense Rainbows of silence For John Cage To write on walls In luminous paint Pink haiku For Allen Ginsberg.
It is time to awaken and emblazon the sky With symphonies of sorrow, To draft the articles of war.
Poets of the Underground The doors have opened The ghost of Walt Whitman Grey-bearded, in lonely anguish Walks with us.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 For Jeremy Reed

Rejection doesn’t lead me to dejection

But to inspiration via irritation

Or at least to a bit of naughty new year wit-

Oh isn’t it a shame my poetry’s not tame

Like Rupert’s or Jay’s - I never could

Get into their STRIDE just to much pride

To lick the arses of the poetry-of-earthers

Or the sad lady who runs KATABASIS from the back

Of a bike, gets shouted at by rude parkies

And writing huffy poems to prove it.
Oh to be acceptable and IN THE POETRY REVIEW Like Lavinia or Jo With double spreads And a glossy colour photo Instead I’m stuck in a bus queue at Morden London’s meridian point of zero imagination Actually it’s a bit like ACUMEN with the Oxleys Boasting about their 150,000 annual submissions- If what they print’s the best God help the rest.
) At least my Christmas post had - instead of a card From Jeremy Reed - his ELEGY FOR DAVID GASCOYNE - The best poem I’ve had by post in forty years And Jeremy’s best to date in my estimate - The English APOLLINAIRE - your ZONE, your SONG OF THE BADLY LOVED - sitting in a cafe in South End Green I send you this poem, Jeremy, sight unseen, A new year’s gift to you, pushing through To star galaxies still unmapped and to you, BW, Sonneteer of silence, huddled in the fourth month Of your outdoor vigil, measuring in blood, tears and rain Your syllable count in hour-glass of pain.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 I never did fit in – at six or sixty one –

I stand out in a crowd, too young or old

And gather pity like a shroud.
"Is that real silk?" A teenager inquired.
"As real as Oxfam ever is For one pound fifty.
" The vast ballroom was growing misty And blurred with alcohol I’ve never had the taste for.
"Fuck off" a forty-plus dyed blonde said half in jest.
So I chose the only Asian girl in Squares with hair like jet And danced with her five minutes centre stage – I’ve lost all inhibitions in old age.
A Malaysian architecture Student invited me to sit and get my breath back "Le Corbusier described a house as a machine for living in," I quipped; she slipped a smile and sipped her drink and said "I love Leeds and its people; in seven years I’ve never Heard a single racist comment, whatever the papers say" Malaysian girls are rightly known for their sensual beauty But I made my pitiful excuses and slipped away.
I knew I couldn’t make it, couldn’t even fake it With all this damned depression in the way.
Leeds boys are always friendlier than the girls, They see themselves grown older in my years And push the girls towards me with a glance "Go and give the poor old man a dance!" And dance I do and show my poems around Like calling cards and jot lines on my palms.
Reading Lacan into the night I thought things through But somehow none of them was half as good as you.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 Sorry, Neil Oram (with an orange in my pocket)

I can’t make ,your loch-side commune by bonny Drummadrochit.
Sorry Brenda Williams, I can’t share your park bench protest near the Royal Free At sixty I need a fire and slippers, -4 outside just isn’t me.
Sorry, Chris Torrance, I can’t make your Welsh eyrie Just spelling Gymmercher Isaf Pontneathvaughan quite fazes me.
Sorry, Seamus Famous, your hide away in Dublin Bay No doubt is bloody grand but I can’t face the journey to a far off foreign land.
Sorry James Kirkup, your Andorran niche Is just too complicated for me to ever reach.
Apologies especially to Emily Bronte’s ghost - You are the mostest hostess that I could ever boast Your heather moor and cobbled street’s allure Are something I’ve put off until the braw New Year.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 The Poetry School, The Poetry Book Society, The Poetry Business:

So much poetry about you’d think I’d want to shout, “Hurray, hurray,

Every day’s Poetry Day!” but I don’t and you don’t either-

You know its flim-flam on the ether, grants for Jack-the-lads

Of both sexes, poets who’ve never been seen in a little magazine

Then gone on to win the Oopla Prize and made baroque architecture

The subject of an O.
Seventy five pounds for a seminar on sensitivity in verse; A hundred and fifty for an infinitely worse whole weekend of ‘Steps towards a personal fiction in post-modern diction’; And the inevitable course anthology, eight pounds for eleven Nameless poets Pascale Petit and Mimi Kahlvati carefully selected From, well honestly! Who cares? God only knows how banal they’re Bound to be.
Budding Roddy Lumsdens, (Has anyone read a Roddy Lumsden Poem?) “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” his first collection short-listed here and there - The sheer hype’s enough to put me off for life.
I still write at bus-stops and avoid competitions like the plague.
I’m not lucky that way, I’ve still to win a single literary prize.
Is there one for every day of the year? And as for James Kirkup, My mentor of forty-odd years, his name evokes blank stares; but Look him up in ‘Who’s Who’, countless OUP collections, the best- ever Version of Val?ry’s ‘Cimeti?re Marin’, translations from eleven tongues Including Vietnamese.
Is there nothing Jamie can do to please? I help one poet to write and one to stay alive; Please God help poor poets thrive.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 The years become you as Oxford becomes you,

As you became Oxford through the protest years;

From Magdalen’s grey gargoyles to its bridge in May,

From the cement buttresses of Wellington Square

To Balliol, Balliol in the rain.
The years become you as the Abbey Road becomes you, As you became that road through silent years, From the famous crossing to the stunted bridge Caparisoned with carnivals of children, Cohorts of coloured clowns and Father Christmases.
The years become you as the Clothworkers’ Hall in gold Became you, and you became it through the protest years, When the Brotherton’s Portland stone, its white stone Of innocence was snow in the School of English garden, ‘A living sculpture’, a Grene Knicht awaiting spring.
The years become you, Oxford, Leeds and London, As you became them through the years of poems, Through passing, silent crowds, through the cherry blossom You sat under, plucked and ploughed, ‘a dissenting voice’, And Balliol, Balliol in the rain.

Written by Barry Tebb |


 Too much gone wrong – 

No Muse, no song.

Written by Barry Tebb |

LEEDS 2002

 What ghosts haunt

These streets of perpetual night?

Riverbanks fractured with splinters of glass condominiums

For nouveam riche merchant bankers

Black-tied bouncers man clubland glitz casinos

Novotel, Valley Park Motel, the Hilton:

Hot tubs, saunas, swim spas, en suite 

Satellite TV, conference rooms, disco dinners.
I knew Len, the tubby taxi man With his retirement dreams of visiting The world’s great galleries: ‘Titian, Leonardo, Goya, I’ve lived all my life in the house I was born in All my life I’ve saved for this trip’ The same house he was done to death in Tortured by three fourteen year olds, Made headlines for one night, another Murder to add to Beeston’s five this year.
Yorkshire Forward advertises nation-wide The north’s attractions for business expansion Nothing fits together any more Addicts in doorways trying to score The new Porsches and the new poor Air-conditioned thirty-foot limos, fibre-optic lit, Uniformed chauffeurs fully trained in close protection And anti-hijack techniques, simply the best – See for yourself in mirrored ceilings.
See for yourself the screaming youth Soaring psychotic one Sunday afternoon Staggering round the new coach station "I’ll beat him to death the day I see him next" Fifty yards away Millgarth police station’s Fifty foot banner proclaims ‘Let’s fight crime together’ I am no poet for this age I cannot drain nostalgia from my blood