Bethlehem is bolted shut
and there no jobs in this England
the innkeepers hold cardboard doors
when he been on his bike so long
that say no room and we full up
for twenty, forty miles and more
an angel’s crying for her mum
and left and right his cycle turn
the shepherd cannot find his flock
where wise men have all been and gone
a donkey’s ears have fallen off
and I have seen his ears prick up
while fathers laugh and mothers blub
that night is peeling off the wall
who bring the living wages down
as heaven crashes to the stage
and I can’t bear to watch my own
as everyone holds up their phone
but there’s no call for you, my son,
and Bethlehem is bolted shut
for there no jobs in this England.



Ray Miller has supported John Cooper-Clarke, Attila the Stockbroker and many lost causes. He’s had poems in The British Journal of Psychiatry and, believe it or not, The Guardian.




Decorations of Mass Destruction

The majority opinion being that the traditional
timeline (twelve days before, twelve days after)
is for losers, it starts in earnest mid-November:
an arms race of Christmas decorations. The goal

is to deck the estate with boughs of tacky shit,
lights flashing on-off-crimson-gold, until (viewed
on Google earth) each street looks like a crude
tinsel-coloured version of a landing strip.

You fear for the aviator (or aviatrix)
in fog-bound descent from the Heaviside Layer
banking hard to avoid an inflatable Santa
and a giant snowman looming through the mist;

or, engine screaming to match the radio’s rattle,
a Cessna strafing a glowing Nativity scene
pulls up fast and roars away, the slipstream
stirring fag ends around the lowing cattle.

The plastic Mary holds the Christ Child to her
as radiance engulfs them. It’s a searchlight beam
from the police helicopter. The armed response team
are light on gold and frankincense and myrrh

but heavy on ordinance. Best do what they say:
switch off the Christmas lights and back away.


Neil Fulwood is the son of a truck driver and could never understand, as a kid, how come Santa covered the entire world in just one night when it took his dad all day to do two drops in London then drive back to the Midlands. He has since realised that Santa isn’t constricted by legislation around speed limits and tachographs.