Jeff Skinner – All the Same

All the Same

Summoned not by me this time,
Everyman says left or right
it makes no difference, they’re all the same:
out of touch – with the hospital at night,
mayday loans; intensely relaxed about
the filthy rich they will not shame.

And when he says there’s no point, won’t vote,
I want the interviewer to ask –
did he feel that way about Atlee
or revolution’s white heat
this disillusioned man who knows nothing
of history, suffrage, me?

All the same is what some recognised you were
In 1945. Not one law, one bank, offshore
for them; another, charitable, Christian,
to feed the hungry and sanctioned, disabled, poor.
All the same, it beggars belief, rough-sleeping,
a reasonable man might think it fair

his children eating free school meals
while others sup at fee-paying schools;
a twelve month wait for a new heart – worse –
unless you go private they could do it at three?
is all the same to banker and exile
Muslim, Romanian, plumber and nurse.

The poorer you are the younger I come
to you. In any book of account, the bottom line’s
no earthly good. No difference then?
or just indifference to the suffering
of others, his kiss in the box for none
of the above like a betrayal.

Jeff Skinner – Girl


Her sequins sparkle in the dark room.
In poor light it’s hard to gauge

the effect and she’s dying to get
the look, shifts this way and that

like a skinny model, skirt held
in front – one of thousands

hundreds and thousands
embroidered by hand, all the rage

she knows at the end of the week
just right for a night out, off,

if only she wasn’t so tired
if they’d only let her sleep.

Jeff Skinner – Christmas

Christmas 2014


Central Office has commissioned snow,

blue skies, a sun to pose under

outside the church: God-given light

illuminates an expression, serious-smug,

effortless confidence you’re right.

Then England closes ranks inside the snug.


In other news,

three vouchers trump three kings

when you’ve children to be fed.


Migrant couple, homeless, seek a bed.

Jeff Skinner – Estate


They meet after
dropping the kids –

caught in the rain outside a
shuttered Costcutter

the young mums corral their buggies,
smoke and chat.

Across the street
Chelsea, Grace, Blaine

are trying to learn
from their mums’ mistakes

some of whom –
barely out of their teens –

text a friend who’s expecting next
about nurseries, names;

scratch to match three
to win,

disperse like their
grey haloes.


Jeff Skinner retired last year. He was a Librarian in the NHS and a Trade Union rep. for Unison.
He was longlisted in the 2012 Bridport competition. Last year his poem about fashion and the Rana Plaza disaster was published by the Morning Star/Well Versed …but it’s vanished with other work since they revamped their website! This year he was one of the runners-up in the Guernsey competition and his poem is currently circulating the island on a bus…