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Write Lion Hood poems

12 May 10 words: James Walker...
The Write Lion forum decided to go to war with the Hood legend, with poetry as their weapon...

Welcome, merry poets. to three unique interpretations of the hooded one. Rowland Nelken uses a simple hymn like meter of the late mediaeval Robin Hood ballads, Aly Stoneman borrows from Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife and John James transports the myth to Forest Rd. Aly and Rowland will be reading these poems on our next Write Lion podcast, so watch this space...

‘Ms Hood’ by Aly Stoneman

Maid Marian, by Rikki Marr

Rob ‘Hoodie’ was a lad off our estate, with his gang of mates
Alan off Sneinton Dale and Lickle John, that seven-foot
nutter from Bakersfield. A natural leader, teachers said
but selling knocked off cigs to other kids got him expelled. 
Oh well.  We spent our days instead
off our heads on bootleg meade , smoking weed and E’d up
in Sneinton woods, nicking bikes and holding up dog walkers
with BB guns. He was too young to get properly done,
But at the Station police threatened “young offenders, jail, probation”.
Hoodie’s Dad went mad, hadn’t spent his best years down the Pit
for this shit; marched him straight to Army Recruitment. 
Hoodie said he’d seen the light.  “You get to travel”. He was right. 
First Aldershot; then Iraq, the Middle East, the Holy Land;
Afghanistan. Then back, his leg half-severed in a Taliban attack.
Patched up and invalided out, to find his home boarded up,
his old man banged up for benefit fraud, his mates strung out
on crack and smack, on parole or on the dole,  voting BNP.
And me?  During those years I re-sat my GCSE’s; passed a few;
studied for A-levels - passed them too.  Spread my wings and flew. 
Here’s the twist: Rob became an anarchist; 
joined a non-hierarchical faction:  Protests, sit-ins, direct action.
He wanted to right social wrongs. I visited his squat in Forest Fields,
but communal life never appealed.  Vegan Freegans, environmental heroes;
I preferred coffee in Neros’, wearing high heels and
chilling in my Lace Market flat with my cat, watching ‘Deal Or No Deal.’
I told him robbing the rich to give to the poor (shoplifting basically)
is still stealing, however justified you’re feeling.
His radical ideals were immature, would never work. He went beserk.
By then I was PA to Mr Sheriff at the bank, and with a sneer
Rob derided my career; called me a traitor, a scab, a bad potato;
a skiver; a materialistic survivor.  He wanted a fight, but I refused to bite
and left. Afterwards, newspaper headlines read ‘Robin Hood Protester Dead -
One Policeman Injured’. Injured – yes – by a kid’s arrow with plastic sucker
fired in jest. Rob’s anti-capitalist protest against banking fees, illegal wars,
Fat Cat bonuses – and me, was reported as a robbery.  Rob and his gang, all dressed
as Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, charged into a high street bank and then,
armed with a sack, demanded the ‘stolen’ money back. A silly joke,
firing a toy arrow from a toy bow, at twenty armed coppers on siege below. 
‘Believing themselves under attack’, one fired back.  And that was that.
The following day in disbelief we saw the street outside the bank
was carpeted in wreaths, bouquets of flowers and messages of grief.
This much I’ll say: people need folk heroes like Rob and Che
to give them hope from day to day. But every time you read
about a ‘leaked memo’ an ‘inside source’, ‘a lead’
exposing white collar corruption, lies and corporate greed 
to the press, I’d like to stress - there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit. 
And although my Robin Hood is gone - his fight goes on.


‘Robin Hood’s Memorial’ by Rowland Nelken

The last of the true gentleman, Rowland Nelken

We have an ideal emblem,
In the outlaw Robin Hood.
No archive rat can trace him,
Such scope for Hollywood.
You want to see the The James Gang?
They’re buried in Missouri.
Legend lives, when scrutinised
Are slimed as septic slurry.
Muslims make their pilgrimage
To Mecca on the Haj.
Then Rushdie stained the Prophet’s name;
His life was writ too large.
But Robin’s what we make him
In story, song, on screen,
In Sherwood Forest’s Eden
That’s ever Maytime green.
The champion of the underdog,
The terror to the despot,
The loyal subject of the King,
And England’s finest bowshot.
Our Robin said ‘Hail Mary’
Before the Reformation.
But when we spurned the Pope of Rome
Maid Marian filled her station.
Forever young is Robin’s doll,
While Barbara Windsor’s ageing.
Once Reggie Kray’s most glam’rous moll,
That East End icon’s fading.
Robin Hood can rest secure.
In flesh he left no trail.
Class warrior or yeoman free,
Eternal alpha male.
So should you come to Nottingham,
Your Robin Hood to find,
There’s a statue by the Castle;
The rest is in your mind.

‘Take it’ by John James


Recession hits Forest Rd hard...

I watched myself;
third person
drive down Forest Road -
open the door
of my executive conveyance
to another sticky crack whore.

Take it I'm rich
I'll help the poor (I think I thought)
after we're done
I'll drop you off
so you can swap
paper for rocks
and I will take my scissors
neatly cutting cupids poisoned arrow
from my soiled disgusted memory.

I watched you thank me
I heard myself say thanks
and you were gone again
under a dirty Primark hood -
I drove through Sherwood
lit a reefer of some local green,
feeling serene - Ancient professions
never change I thought -
Freedom is always bought...

I felt completely hollow after
Perhaps the Major Oak and I
share something - Emptiness?
I do hug trees...
which was all fine
hollow was what I sought...
Robin Hood one
quickly, expertly...
Little John naught...


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