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Paul Francis

Paul Francis is a prolific and versatile poet, who performs his work at various venues across the West Midlands. He has won two national competitions and five local competitions, as well as being placed in the Guernsey poetry competition three times running. He was Poet in Residence at the Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2016, and has been Slam Champion at the Wenlock and Bewdley Festivals. He has published two main collections, Various Forms and Five String Banjo, as well as a series of shorter booklets, including political polemic on austerity, the war on terror and migration. His most recent publication, launched in February 2018, is Trump, Brexit and Beyond. 


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.