Isle of Wight, April 1989

On the day before my ninth birthday

and a weary-long birthday it was

I still wanted to be an oinkpig,

a flatfoot, a copper, so I could

stop a traffic line,

punch asinine citizens

instead of clocking-in cards, shout,

point, ignore criticisms and crack

witticisms like “Knock Knock, who’s there, Irish stew,

Irish stew in the name of the law”,

but then a stylish crew of shipmates

with billowing mullets you could misplace

an armadillo in, with disgraceful irresponsibility

on that day deflecting away

from the Isle of Wight’s spectral sands

on a nippy little vessel, were letting me

wrestle with the steering wheel,

I felt like Cecil Rhodes in a desolate clearing

armed only with a banana,

it was their idea of a birthday present

so there were waves of cheering

and cries of “Speech! Speech!”

from kids and teachers in the stern,

though I’d never even learnt how to ride a bike

let alone heave-ho the helm

of an Isle-of-Wight-departed haddock-frightener

without stabilisers or anything,

without cherubim or seraphim or David Icke’s Nephilim

to guide me crawling like an escargot over the Solent

with my cargo of forty-odd children,

in an Ayrton Senna moment

I was a lucky sod not to kill them

when that boat swung waaaaayyyy port starboard port starboard,

all over gargled screams lost marbles

and yo-yos rolling round about underhoof,

my chocolate-smudged face empty as a polling booth,

“what’s going on?” in the seesaw cockpit

as wheel-grabbing sliding mainbrace-splicers

rocketed forwards to ease the speedo,

and it was a shame those salty waves

that whacked us like a black-belt in aikido

didn’t kill off Headmaster,

a bathtime-administering



The next day, with hastily-munched

clumps of sponge still lunging

through my digestive system,

a plaintive television set

that hadn’t heard of surround-sound

told me the police had murdered

ninety-six people

in a northern football ground.





© Archie Macjoyce



© archiemac 2017
critique and comments welcome.

Leave a Comment

14 Comments on "Isle of Wight, April 1989"

Notify of

OMG Archie! I giggled all the way through it…till the last lines got me right in the solar plexis( ok guts) lol 😉
I love your style. It is so packed with originality and humour that every line is a feast, They need to be read and re-read. There was a certain air of nostalgia too for bygone times and I often feel that nostalgia too looking back. Before we knew just how the world worked..innocence. ;-(
Well, that explains why you never became a copper!
Alison x


Wow, this is really great. I like the contrast between the early humour and the kick to the head we get at the end. Great work.


That really made me chuckle, I had to read it twice it was that good 🙂


The lack of formality, the rush of words/thoughts down the page reminds me of slam poetry – did you originally intend this to be read aloud? I looked for the audio on it because I expected your poem to be smashingly effective in that mode.

You capture the memories and impressions of a nine year old, living through a certain earlier time period, really well.

Great concept and brilliant ending. A favorite for me. 🙂

Flag Content