Rob Smith – two poems

Mod Life Crisis

Going grey with a workplace pension
But still a symbol of youthful rebellion
45 Fred Perry polo shirts from Debenhams
He’s been keeping the faith (since 2011)
Northern soul meets southern tongue
and a flavour of the far east.
That Harrington was made in Taiwan.

This roundel ringmaster is out to impress
his wife’s friends outside pizza express
sold the Volvo for a Vespa and the rest,
parka on, parked up with what (little) hair he’s got left.
A carefully researched moptop mess.

Thirty years’ time he’s got a new image
never seen him in a better way
that skinhead in a zimmer frame.
Back in my day,
Britain was for the British.
We had real style, listened to real music
I was a real authentic.
A scorching sideburn icon at forty-six
or was it forty-three?
But nowadays it’s all their fault
crushing our culture, taking our jobs.
By royal decree
from the last king of the Mark’s and Spencer’s Mods.


The dress code at Opium Barcelona is one of the strictest in Barcelona especially on weekends. No sport shoes are allowed’

(Barcelona, 17/07/17)

These were quite white once.
Before I learnt to tie my mind in double knots,
tuck it under the tongue can’t let it fray
down on your home front
you need me tight
up on my feet again.

Before this suede became
speckled with scorching orange stains
equally sweet and sour takeaway
from nights spent talking, forcing
down the fire of hungry days
trying to love the scales again.
Weighed down from winning
all those almost silver medals,
as empty as yesterdays crumpled foil tray.

Before I earnt my three red stripes
stitched on from this tin we’re still spilling
trying ourselves for size to a different rhythm
that night. Before every step was
silenced by the swarms, 4am notifications.
Before both these soles were riddled with red dots
bullet holes, burning buckshot translations.
remorse coded messages after the tone stopped,
of your shoestring hanging up on self-appreciation.

We’re not quite boxfresh
If that’s not good enough
we’ll just stagger on to another club.

I love your mud.

Rob is 18 and from Colchester, Essex. He was initially inspired to write by performance poets such as John Cooper Clarke and Luke Wright, as well as the lyricism in alternative and rap music. He’s just begun studying for a degree at the University of Sussex and is looking forward to performing his work locally.


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