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To an Absent Friend

I’d Rather do anything but Write!

Why should I write anything down

When I just heard myself say it!

Nobody else cares obviously

About anything I might have to say

They’ve heard it all before, as have I.

Goodbye John Ritter

A fascinating gift to the morbidly curious, and a rare instance of death intruding upon the smooth running of the media machine. John Ritter (lead actor in the light but broad US comedy version of ‘Man About the House’, ‘Three’s Company’) was filming the third episode of the second season of another comedy series, ‘8 Simple Rules’, when he collapsed, had to be taken to hospital, and died of what was later diagnosed as an Aortic dissection.
Bless their hearts, the makers of this show took a mid season hiatus and then came back with an episode which did not replace Ritter with another actor but included the death of his character, mixing up their real and natural grief with that of the fictional family they had created together. Quite a challenge for all involved, including Kaley Cuoco, who would go on to delight us all as Penny in ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

I Walked with a Person Live.

Alice Hudson reads ‘I walked with a Person’ at the Salisbury Fringe, Sunday October 2nd 2016.

That Sound

That sound

That you work so laboriously

To shape into words

You forget

To make it into music

To the Reader

If you should read this poem

After l am dead, or even long after

Then you can know that I love you

For together we have formed a bridge

That crosses over death and time

And some small portion of our differences


If you should read this poem

While I am still alive or, worse, right here

Then you can know that I fear you

For, like any message, any attempt to leave a note

It can be misrepresented, deemed offensive

Mocked, screwed up and thrown away

Good Luck Human Race

There have been days
Endless seeming days of relentless rain
Cold sunless days when the sky is all broken cloud
And all over the world, days with no water at all
Days that remind us that we cannot control this planet.
We can tidy up the messes we make
But we might still poison ourselves with our own filth.

We may say we have ten years to save the world
Or twenty years, or a generation to find new energy resources
But what does the earth think of our notion of time?
So far the hominid tribe has lasted six million years or so
Not as long as insects, or crabs, or most kinds of plants
It’s longer than many species we’ve managed to make extinct
But this planet we’re on is four and a half billion years old at least
Just fifty million younger than the sun
And if it finds our presence too irksome
How hard would it be to shrug, sigh and with a mighty heave
Make this, like every other planet we know
Unfit for human habitation?
We presume too much to speak of saving the world
But the world may choose to dispense with us.

The human species can do many marvellous things
We could choose to finish with sex
Let women fertilise themselves
Or men may survive by making clones
What a lot of precious time would be saved
If we didn’t have to relate to each other at all.
If we use up all the air and water on earth
Perhaps some of us could adopt another planet
And feed on that for a while
That’s what we do, apparently
A perfectly natural way for animals to behave
We already let millions die right here
So what does it matter if we abandon our poorer specimens
So long as the species survives?

It’s not all been selfishness
You could say some people’s sacrifices or achievements
Amount to more than anything done by an ant
I’d love to believe I’m one of those few
But as I’m not I must take comfort
From what we’ve learnt or found or got.
So good luck human race
There will always be difficult choices to make
Voracious greed has served us well till now
But perhaps the time has come
To think about how we exist on earth
Because the earth doesn’t need to think about us.

Can Our Cries be Answered?

[At last there is some hope of a ceasefire in Syria, which is mentioned in this poem from three years ago. The Olympic Games may bring some hope, but they mustn’t distract us from the many problems facing the world; those who would want us to give up hope of finding a better, fairer future must be challenged by people everywhere who are not prepared to ignore children’s tears anywhere.]


I want to make you all cry
It’s good for people to cry
It’s better than sitting round miserably
Pretending to laugh
People don’t cry enough!
I want to make you all cry
For yourselves and all people who
Don’t have to die
For kids who are hungry and put to hard labour
When they should be greedy and pains in the neck
Who know the world is wrong but won’t be heard
Who only hear shouting, destruction
And cries of distress
Only our shared tears can clean up this mess


I want to make you all cry
At the shame of getting by
Unable to cope with life’s complexities
Or even ask why
Love is never enough!
I want to make you all cry
For yourselves and all people who
Don’t have to lie
But must for the sake of our little luxuries
The only way we spread love and happiness
To spite the orders that come from above
“You work your contract or there’s the door!”
That’s the reason why
We live on lie after lie after lie.


I want to make you all cry
For people you just let go
To politics and the geography
You know, the money
Forcing us to depart!
I want to make you all cry
For the people you must pass by
In your own home
On the street, in the shop and on the TV news
Feeling sorry but too powerless to help
All the problems you deal with by yourself
With nobody knowing to help you
Just trying to smile
At the cruel way the world became so vile



I want to make you all cry
To salute what you see die
In Syria, here and inside yourself
For what? The money?
Global economy?
I want to make you all cry
It’s urgent, we must cry today!
It’s not too late
To face up to what we’ve been trying to deny
What we have suffered and what we are losing
Blanking it out with our kind of boozing
Not letting the merciful tears flow
Time to let them go!
To weep and embrace and do what we know.

Can you Do It Again?

[We’re all friends here, so I hope everyone can agree that Monday is “almost Friday”. Otherwise, sorry to be tardy, just waiting for DWP to provide a final twist, which they have now done.
The following  letter summarises this latest DWP driven adventure]:

Mandatory reassessment letter

This letter, accompanied by appropriate paperwork (mostly courtesy of the GP service and the NHS generally)  appears to have done the trick, so may prove a useful model for others in a similar situation. I have received confirmation by phone, a generous repayment and, just today, written confirmation, which states,
“the Department for Work and Pensions have advised that your Employment and Support Allowance remains in payment.”

Keeping phone contact seems to’ve speeded up the process, so it’s all good,  but for two little twists.

ESA payments depend on keeping the doctor’s ‘sick note’ up to date; it’s generally valid for about a month, but -although one can work for 16 hours in a week without bothering the DWP – my agency, who did offer a day’s work today, must insist on seeing a ‘fit note’ from the Doctor. It’s just a case of ticking the opposing box, but it seems unfair to have sick notes and fit notes running simultaneously!

Also, while using the phone at the job centre to ring the DWP for confirmation of my ‘back on ESA’ status, it was suggested that yes, my ESA is restored, but I may now be asked to join a Work Related Activity Group!  Sounds like a rag and probably is one, but you never know, so I shall await further post with interest and trepidation. It may mean as little tedium as meeting a ‘Work Coach’ (a specimen of whom I met at the Job Centre today – an overgrown schoolboy, too up himself to make eye contact) for an interview, but still, it’s an imposition and a potential excuse for further attempts to sanction. Roll on September!

Hopefully, I can return to more poetic subjects soon, perhaps by almost this Friday.

See You

Do me a favour, old pal, old friend

Look at yourself in the mirror, and keep looking.

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

Start with those lovely eyes, so manic right now

So restless with pain and suspicion

With desperate, greedy hope

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

The rest all looks lovely to me, as always

So calmly attend to all the uglinesses that you see and go on about endlessly

And breathe steadily, as you look at yourself

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

Stand erect and proud!

Honest, as always, maybe not quite so loud?

Own it, don’t be owned by it, whatever it is, don’t break it

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

Why don’t you love yourself?

What have you done? You’re innocent, remember?

Or have you, like everybody else, stopped listening and moved on?

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

Look at those poor unhappy, tired eyes looking back at you

Drive away all their anger and fear, with a wink or a blink or whatever

Until, full of forgiveness at last, the muscles relax and the vision brightens

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

So, when you’re ready to make friends again with all the world

You may step away from the mirror and approach me, quietly, gently…

What’s that? I should look in the mirror too? Ridiculous! Get off! Don’t dare repeat what I say to you,

Look at yourself until you can love yourself

Enough so that others can love you too

A Week is a long time in poetics

[Sorry for the long break.  A ‘sporting injury’ dontchaknow. Nearly ready to resume properly – not as nearly as some would like! Mending, encouraged by my appearance at Left Fest in Southampton (thanks to  Unite Community) and the prospect of more tonight at Victor Hugo’s Boulangerie ( and perhaps, if there’s time,  Moving Voices at the Art House, I may return to delivering “An Interesting read…) almost every Friday!

So, the long dry spell ends with this poem:


Under the Influence

This befuddled fog I seem to carry about me

Is something which people politely ignore

Bar the odd jibe or more sympathetic remark –

Bless them, they have their own worlds to conduct themselves in

With rarely time enough to pick an argument.

A relief to be let off; sad to be left in the shade

Though one has to ask oneself,

This miasma, this stultifying gloom I stumble around in,

This studied calm while watching the rising waves,

This attempt to freshly restate the bleeding obvious,

This half hearted effort to offer a safe space,

In which we may moan and complain together,

Is it, could it ever be any earthly use?

In the cruelly limited time left over

After attending to the tiresome necessities

Perceived as essential to one’s personal survival

And all the posing involved

In reassuring the unobservant

In this materialistic, over consuming, deeply concerning society

You have to let everyone in

Because in times like these we all need to help each other

Even those who seem determined not to help you

Even when tolerating their grossest stupidities is all you can do

Even though the very way they care is terribly bad or just plain wrong for you

Even those whose views you want to oppose

Remember, they’ll know what you know just as well as you’ll know what they know.

Those late night conversations

May lead to unexpected revelations

Or only to the start of another day

But each new day will start, and we must find our way.


Be kind to yourself 🌻

Agnes Torok

Spoken word poet & workshop leader

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