The Hospice of St. Cross…

Twixt Compton and Winchester, as I walked along the way
I came across a tattered man sitting there this day
He wanted work or so he said, I had some doubt myself
A certain air that he gave off suggested workshy stealth.
His life was once in Hounslow, though more I never learned
He nothing knew of life or world, ‘cept that which paper editors churned.

We walked along together and down Itchen Lane he lead
Whereupon my companion walker, received a horn of ale and bread
I asked why I nay had received the bounty that I saw
To which the porter said to me, ‘you have to ask for sure.’
So this I did quite pleasantly, I asked ‘wayfarer’s dole’
And sure enough I got my fill, I thought, ‘well bless my soul.’

I was at the Hospice of St Cross, in the Hampshire countryside
And respite from my travels left me truly satisfied
For Seven Hundred and Ninety years they’ve helped the lowly few
The oldest alms-house in England, the Lord’s work they still do.
Thirteen good, poor Brethren, with silver crosses on their breast
That cross is only cut from their gown when they’re finally laid to rest.

And so it has been for all of these years, and evermore shall be
A Charter granted those years ago, in perpetuity
And every cross that is removed goes to a Brother new
Who wait their turn in patience, for there’s a lengthy queue.
And as a smiling Brother says, ‘Such luck we feel when here.’
We end our days in servitude to our Lord who is so near.

Amidst the callousness of these days, and the cruelty of so many men
The poorest of Brethren of St Cross, give noble charity as they did back then
To the wayfarers of the open road, to the poor and wretched they give
That pious love for the poorest souls so better their lives to live
Eight centuries on the Charter stays, and Brethren still feed the poor
Such Kindness glows and humbles me as I knock on the Hallowed door.

©Joe Wilson – The Hospice of St Cross…2015

I wrote this poem after being inspired by the wonderful book of his travels
‘In Search of England’ by H V Morton (1927). They are my words, but they remain of course, his thoughts. He might be thoroughly disheartened travelling around today’s England.

The All Hallows’ Eve Ball…

Cats, rats and slimy toads
Get under my feet in these demon-filled roads
And spiders in sizes you don’t want to see
All seem to wait especially for me.
As carefully I pick my route through them all
Revolted as I am at these lowly thrall.

For I’m on the way to the Halloween Ball
Where werewolves and witches will all fill the hall
And we will make merry on All Hallows’ Eve
As blood from our victims we will relieve.
For I am as they are, accursed to roam
Showing only on this day in the late twilight gloam.

I was a man who researched into Vlad
The things that I saw, so evil and bad
And Dracula found me and drew of my blood
Yet e’en as a vampire I try to do good.
But this night is special and we all get to feast
I’m now just like they are, a blood-drinking beast.

©Joe Wilson – The All Hallows’ Eve Ball…2015

Trick or Treat, or worse…

Down the bead flowed
All the way to the ground
One of so many
And they fall with no sound.
He was scared of the noise
He sweated in fear
It ran from his bald head
It tickled in his ear.
Down to his chin
Then a fall to his chest
We’re nearing a private place
So we’ll skip to the rest.
It rolled down his thighs
Then behind both his knees
An unpleasant sensation
That does nothing to please.

Did I say – he was scared
He was scared of the noise
The howling like banshees
Of Beelzebub’s boys.
They come every year
There’s a knock at the door
And the children with menace
Say ‘This year give more!’

©Joe Wilson – Trick or Treat, or worse…2015


The rain fell like it was never going to stop
And with it their spirits fell too
Where earlier thoughts had been of great joy
The barometer of their lives turned everything blue.

Just a single word was all that was said
Almost like a slip of the tongue
And all of the brilliant love-filled past
Would simply be memories about which they would now long.

The wound went so deep and was sorely felt
One made an error, succumbing to lust
And when being confronted by their partner in life
The word that was uttered was ‘distrust’.

A two syllable word that can say so much
It can break what seems solid like rock
And when they feel so dismantled when it’s all torn apart
The new solitary life will come as a shock.

Be honest with yourself, no one’s perfect
If you love someone, love just that one
The barometer of life doesn’t need to read gloom
But it will do when love and the trust is all gone.

©Joe Wilson – Trust…2015

Names on a wall…

Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson

There’s a name on a wall in Alrewas
It’s one of many a such name
Of those who have paid the ultimate price
On that wall is their sole claim to fame.

Many thousands of names are engraved on this wall
And more names are added to it each year
There are soldiers and sailors, and airmen
Who’ve gone now, having no more to fear.

Sadly, blank spaces don’t wait long enough
Before a new name is chiselled thereon
Which signals another tragic family loss
As another young warrior passes on.

The monument at Alrewas is wondrous to see
And a fine tribute to those who fall
But for families and friends who have lost someone dear
They are names of dead loved ones who no longer call.

©Joe Wilson – Names on a wall…2015

The Road to Purgatory

Like a stone falls
Into a bottomless well,
A day begins in Purgatory.

Souls go about
Their unseemly business
Moving in their own misery.

Yet all of one accord would say
When asked where they were going
To Hell to suffer unholy wrath
Where the fires are always glowing.

For that is where we all are sent
In life we were unknowing
But wickedness
And our way of life
Bred these, the seeds
That we were sowing.

And as we sow, so shall we reap
We get cast down into the deep.

©Joe Wilson – The Road to Purgatory…2015

After the fame and the frightening snakes…

Where am I now…
Did I ever achieve anything
My heart got stranded along the way
And my morals all came tumbling down
I found fame…and it was a whore.

Every night I went out to perform
Fans wanted that piece of me
Slowly at first, and then they had to have it
That piece I should never have let go of…my soul
But I craved the adoration, I wanted the praise.

I was so desperate and fickle and weak
Giving in to the tide of fame and glory
Till slowly I paid the price and it wore me down
Whisky never touching the side of my throat
Throwing it down so fast it had no chance.

The first time I hit the Quaaludes was out of this world
But one thing leads to another
And another
And another
The depths of Hell are paved with so-called good times.

And yet fame persists, but only for so long
The pull of the Snake becomes far too much to take
Till there I lay in a heap of self-induced disgust and vomit
My own depravity, my own failure
No lower, I could go no lower.

—————– ** ——————

Sometime we are helped when we least deserve it
And the love of another is all it really ever takes
I’d come to the end of my infamous road
Of booze and drugs and frightening snakes
I was nursed back to life once more.

My thoughts are all jumbled of times from back then
The music still reaches my core like a balm
Such heroes I followed, so many of them died
Living like I did where our brains would get fried
Yet so few of us finding a way to come home.

But yet here I am, my mind now at ease
My road is quite peaceful, yet still sometimes stressed
And my body though kicked and scarred from the fight
Seems always a survivor, a stayer with force
And for that I am grateful, as I should be of course.

Fame, was it worth it, I ask myself that
When I let my mind wander, as I sometimes do
I know that I’m glad that I reached to this end
But I’m only the proof of a far greater love
Of the woman beside me, and that Guardian above.

©Joe Wilson – After the fame and the frightening snakes…2015


The rains fell hard
on that Friday night
in ’64, in May.
Streets were flooded,
and many drowned.
It was not like any kind
of late Spring day.
Graft had been paid,
and sewers
remained blocked.
Trapped rain just wouldn’t flow.
It was then we uncovered
the corruption,
and it really shocked.
trying to make a dishonest buck.
It’s a cliché, and yet,
it’s par for the course.
They just keep filling their wallets
as we run out of luck.
No heads would roll,
it was what it was,
just rain.
No compensation was ever paid.
for such is always the case,
we just feel the extra pain…

©Joe Wilson – Graft…2015

A case in Maycomb County…

A man should always try, to do the right and proper thing
Atticus Finch thought that his abiding rule
And in difficult times in those faraway days
He took on Tom’s case, many thought him a fool.

I look back now as a much older man
And I realise how good he could be
He believed in right and justice and truth
That innocence was colourless, just as it should be.

Young Scout was six and Jem near ten
In that hardscrabble Maycomb town
When Tim Johnson the dog, got the rabies disease
and Ol’ One Shot Finch shot him down.

Atticus was a shooting whizz as a boy
But he thought he was unfairly blessed
So he put down his rifle as a fairness
But the rabid dog was distressed.

When Scout was nine, a case came of major concern
When Miss Mayella Violet Ewell claimed rape and assault
She was not a very innocent young woman
She claimed it was Tom Robinson’s fault.

Evidence proved her a liar as Atticus knew that it would
So in the Maycomb County Courtroom he shuffled his papers and rose
He showed it was a case of covering her own guilt
And by the time he sat down, everyone knows.

Turned out Bob Ewell, Mayella’s Pa, had beat her
Trying to tempt a black man was her sin
When I look back now and consider those days
I see how racism so easily wears civility thin.

Old Bob had a sour temper and he set against Mr Finch
Tom Robinson he killed, then he disappeared from sight
Yet in the end, it was mainly Atticus he hated
And he attacked his children on Halloween night.

But he ended up dead, a knife in the gut
And Heck Tate, the Sheriff, wanted to know how
After gathering the evidence, one allowable fact
He’d fallen on his knife somehow.

Atticus wouldn’t take all this in from Heck
He thought Jem had done the foul deed
Protecting young Scout was what he thought
But it was Boo, the Radley boy, indeed.

Mr Arthur, so quiet and shy and so pale
Had stopped Mr Ewell in his tracks
Heck wouldn’t let Boo be dragged through the courts
So the crime disappeared through the cracks.

Bob Ewell had always been a very bad man
He beat his wife and his children, each one
He was foul to Tom’s widow as she walked past his place
When he died, some were glad he was gone.

Bob Ewell is forgotten, Tom Robinson too
Heck Tate, the doc and another few
But Atticus Finch and his honourableness
Will resonate with all who are true.

©Joe Wilson – A case in Maycomb County…2015

(To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em,
but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

This is a poor tribute to my favourite book and my abiding belief in equality. The cover design of the book is by Glenn O’Neill, but the photograph was taken by me. Over the years I have worn out a couple of copies. My daughter bought me this third copy.