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Paul Francis

Paul Francis is a prolific, versatile poet, living in Much Wenlock, who is active in the local poetry scene. He has published many pamphlets and the collection Various Forms. In 2015 he published Writing for Blockheads: an amateur’s guide (Liberty Books) and Writing Poems at Keystage 3 (Zigzag), as well as his latest booklet, Us and Them: the war in error. He was second in the Poems on the Move competition, winner of the Nantwich Words and Music poetry competition, and Slam Champion at the Wenlock Poetry Festival. He will be poet-in-residence at that festival in 2016, where he will launch his second major collection Five-string Banjo. One of his sonnets will feature on the WPF website each week between now and the start of the festival in April.

This is a poem I wrote for the Guernsey Arts commission competition in 2010. They wanted  poems of 14 lines or less, to be posted inside one of their buses. Out of 457 entries, from 187 poets across Europe, I got third prize, and was one of the 33 poets to get my poem on a bus. A dozen of us from the UK went to Guernsey as a result, and had a great time. 


Don’t turn around. The woman in the seat 

behind is known to keep eccentric pets

 – watch out for iguanas . Don’t repeat 

this, but her husband’s run up massive debts

 through gambling. No, I told you not to stare. 

Natural to feel curiosity 

about your fellow passengers, but there 

is where it ends. Top level secrecy 

must be maintained. The girl who’s just got on 

might be a terrorist, but we can’t say.  

Pretend you’re reading till the threat has gone.

You wonder how we know all this is true. 

Don’t worry. That bus going the other way 

has got a poem on it. About you.