Mixed Messages

This is my 21st book and tenth poetry collection, split into three parts with black and white photographs (paperback), colour (kindle version) to illustrate some of the themes / poems.

“This new collection’s voices are wonderfully varied, powerful and haunting. Divided into three sections, Lewis touches on a number of diverse themes; anti-racism, Africa and austerity, to name just a few, before finally leading us back to the all-encompassing wrapper of the natural world.

The poems will provide an uncomfortable social document for some readers but will become an anchor of a particular time and place for others. There is such maturity here that sometimes we feel that the poet is only brushing lightly across the surface and could, if he wanted to, tell us so much more.

Lewis offers us detailed observation, confession and brutal honesty in equal measure. Once again, here is a well-thought out cultural statement about this crazy world we all inhabit.” – Mark Davies


Published as a paperback and e-book in July 2021 by Publish & Print.


Sample poems:

 

Domestic Bliss

First I crush the garlic,
then add some ginger followed by the onion paste.
My stomach aches as I stretch up to the cupboard,
rummage for red peppers that reflect my face.
When he raped me last night he smelled of sweet tobacco.

Next, I finely-chop the bruised tomatoes,
thinly slice the skinless chicken,
sprinkle fenugreek, mustard and cumin seeds.
A quick twist of turmeric,
a handful of coriander and a few fresh curry leaves.

I start on the rice as the pot bubbles and froths.
While I use a can opener on a tin of coconut milk
it occurs to me to change out of these bloody panties
in case he blames me for… I forget what.
The plates can be warming while I make the bread.

OK, everything seems to be good now.
It’s nearly time to make the Masala chai.


Canned Meat

‘Stay down,’
our mammy growled,
as the fat man
smelling of Coca Cola
waddled into view.
His shirt straining
against a kopje of a belly
while sweat hung on the air
mapping out a clear path
like a wounded elephant.
His Tilley hat and scarf
incongruous like a radio collar
as he fuses to the contours
of thoughtless hate.

Suddenly out of left field
the real killer springs,
rifle hanging as if by a single
hair of a horses tail.
We crouched lower,
becoming the yellow grass,
miss a lungful of oxygen
as two loud bangs
silence the crickets
for a brief second,
before running
and laughing
and flashes of light
from a small box.

That was a long time ago.
When we were torn
from her warm bosom,
given plastic milk bottles
and cold zebra steak.
Now we are sheltered,
caged from harm
until it becomes our turn
to run free one last time.
My brother says Androcles
was just some fairy tale
that mothers told their children
to help them sleep
safe and sound at night.

I have to believe he’s wrong.


Boris and me

‘Hi buttie, how’s it hangin’?’

‘Yes, well, of course, rather splendid actually.’

‘You ever make it to Westminster then?

‘Oh no, forgot about all that yonks ago I’m afraid.  But tell me, what became of your grand ambitions dear boy?’

‘Ah, I did a few things mate, ya know, after school like.’

‘Marvellous, do tell… yes, pray continue…’

‘Well, let me see.  I toured with the British Lions; that was pretty cool.’

‘Rugger eh?  Oh no, I’m afraid I’ve been terribly dull on that front, bit of a slack bob me.  What other capers have you got up to then?’

‘Oh OK then, I flew for the Red Arrows for a little while, then travelled the world making wildlife films, you might have seen me on the TV, speaking to the UN, campaigning for tiger conservation yeh, I was always into wildlife and stuff wasn’t I?’

‘Oh jolly good show old sport.’

‘So what about you, come on don’t be shy?’

‘Mmm, well, yes, I’m alright I guess.  The old heroin was a bit of a bugger of course, and now it’s the demon drink…’

‘Oh dear.’

‘Yes, frightful bore actually.  Bit of a bind being so tight all the time and as you can see I haven’t aged well.’

‘Sorry to hear that butt.  Yeh, you’re a bit of a porker now aren’t you, lol.’

‘Ah yes, we make our own choices I suppose.  Got diabetes type II for good measure as well.’

‘So where are you living then?  Are you working?’

‘Oh, I’m on the estate still.  Council knocked the old flats down.  Not in gainful employment, oh dear no.  I get a grant for vodka you see.  Rather rough stuff if I’m honest but the Asian gentleman in the Spar is simply devoted to me.’

‘Ah shame me ole mucker.  Well I must be off, got a book launch champagne lunch to get to.’

‘Oh golly gosh, how thrilling, yes of course.  Spiffing to see you.’

‘Aye, take care Boris, see you around no doubt.’

‘Yes absolutely.  We must grab some sups when I’m not feeling so seedy.’

‘Yeh, ta ra then twat, see ya.’


I wrote the following words many years ago but have decided to include them here as they go quite well with some of the topics touched on in the book. Free speech, cancel culture, racism – all in the news and relevant today. Adapted from Martin Niemöller’s famous words, I think we need to be very careful about which direction we are going:

First they came for free speech, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not on Twitter or Facebook.

Then they came for the vloggers, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not on YouTube.

Then they came for the webmasters, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not online.

Then they came for the photographers, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not on Instagram.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Amazon Best Seller

During the first week of the book’s launch:

#3 in Poetry charts