Illustrated poems by John Di Girolamo


Pop Star

when it’s lyrics in a silent movie world
takes them in
when tuning into sounds
is really listening

when people talk
switches off
when has to pay attention
floats off with a drag and a cough

has favourites
writes off others
memories are for keeps
but with what just happened hardly bothers

selfish as a charity worker
trapped as a volunteer
stages a downfall
puts on a blindfold to look in the mirror.

The Smiths – I’d Risk My Driving License For You

This poem was written for a collection I did 2010/11 with poems written inspired by groups and singers I love as if they’d written the poem or lyrics. Remembered this poem because of Andy Rourke’s passing this weekend, fact he was only 59 like me, and the photo was taken in a cemetery in honour of one of my favourite Smith’s songs ‘Cemetery Gates.’

You’re a demanding little so-&-so
and a real tug-of-war to-and-fro
but don’t take it to heart;
Never in a million milliseconds will we part.

I’m so middle class, one day it’s poverty the next day it’s wealth.
I could just die for a spot of good health.
You’re the one who knows me well
and I’ve you to thank for this flaming hell.

Oh flaming hell! And bloody laura!
Will I ever write again amidst flora and fauna?
The good old days with straw and hay
in our frilly frocks on a harvest day?

Though it can only ever end
in a hospital bed and round the bend,
go straight on, and second right
and please, mr bendy copper, don’t stop me tonight!

Remembering a couple on a train back in ‘86 leaving London

Sat on a train, a young woman
puts her arm round his shoulder.
Sat close they are united
on a station that heads for Nostalgia.

Others when they can give love
look and feel like an animal in a zoo
and when they finally realise they want to
might not have the opportunity to.

In poetry, you can deceive
but things get serious when nitty gritty.
Can anyone reading this help?
Backtrack what happened to that couple’s national rail history?

First Days in London

Tiny eyes watch with miniature retina.
London seems huge, makes each face minute.
Small humans breathe inconsiderable air.
Dwarfed lungs. This slender window.

Most of this is new: a place of extremes.
A life of a person too microscopic to be noticed.
Deliberate buildings and spontaneous streets.
Meticulous entrepreneurs disguising their witch-doctor faces.

Unfamiliar days made up of dilated hours.
An iris of compressed wideness.
Horatio Nelson grows shorter.
More becomes relatively less.

Words in my head hardly stay.
Droplets of memory break.
Divisibility of the tiniest day.
My immediate smallness of fate.


Ordering his

full English breakfast
mixed grill
fish ‘n’ chips
bangers ‘n’ mash

near Traitors’ Gate,

he makes faces into his

b ‘n’ b
greasy spoon
local chippy


but as he digs in and

H.P. Sauces
salt ‘n’ vinegars

his plate,

Out Eamonns Sir Francis Walsingham:

“This is
“This was
“This could be
“This would be

your life!”

Model Railway

With no sound but tiny bells tinkling on an empty platform in the middle of nowhere
and a model train silently moving towards a station there,
the only waiting passenger listens to tiny bells tinkling on an empty platform in the middle of nowhere
and a model train silently moving towards a station there.

6.20 pm.
With no sound but tiny bells tinkling on an empty platform in the middle of nowhere
and quick spontaneous ghosts on a disused railway sprouting up on a stem,
a gothic black dressed made-up comic character stops the tinkling bells by suddenly being there.

YESories and NOments

After dinner, two play violin
as she dances on a pub table, just hours before her flight.
While she steals an umbrella and gets caught out
he takes off Elvis, Saturday night.

There’s one that quotes comedians verbatim
as another cries her karaoke eyes out, having her lyrical say.
As one of them eats spag.bol at 4 a.m.
two water-pistol pedestrians twice, then make a get-away.

He walks on Dartmoor.
She falls asleep tipsy in his pyjamas.
While she mixes up REM with The Rolling Stones
they act the goat in one of the town’s cattle bars.

As two shouting-match brothers pull a hired boat the few metres to shore
she confidently quotes A woman must have everything taken from Joni.
One gives him the nickname ‘Think Out Loud.’
while another says he’s talking baloney.

Treasonably Good

As the mob sludge-hovels home
ex-executioners wash their hands in the clubhouse
while guillotine stray dogs roam.

And beer mats get soaked in ale foam.

As the saints come marching in
one has blessed a mouse
while can-can dancers have anointed a tin.

Washed up with a gleam and a bottle of gin.

whoever was led
couldn’t see it coming

the sooth-sayer said
while the tooth-playing journalist got a filling fill-in.