Poetry Corner: Day of the Pawns by Bob Dixon

Day of the Pawns by Bob Dixon

Born into a working-class family in Spennymoor, Co Durham, Bob Dixon eventually became a school teacher, and then a lecturer in English at Stockwell College of Education, Bromley. He was involved with the left-wing cultural journal Artery in the 1970s, and he wrote three collections of poems, three books on the ways in which children’s attitudes have been shaped by the publishing and manufacturing industries, plus an autobiography, The Wrong. Bob was a life long member of the Communist Party and well-known figure on the left-wing poetry scene, reading at CND rallies and other events.

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Bob Dixon, 1931 – 2008

Our pawns had reached the end-game
and were closing in on the king;
the knights and castles were taken;
the bishops had fled the ring;
their servile pawns were in disarray;
our establishment hanging back
– but we had scented victory
and we widened up the crack.


We’ll give you an eight-week holiday,
we’ll double your wages, they said.
We’ll cut your hours to 20 a week.

Pawn to k8, we said.

We’ll agree to unconditional talks;
We’ll reinstate those sacked, they said.
Just don’t let’s hear of revolution

– but, Check, was all we said.

We kept watch on our own establishment;
we left three pawns on guard;
in case of a treacherous move;
in case of a wink or a word.

We’ll give you full compensation;
we’re sorry about the dead;
we’ll seek your agreement on everything

– but, Check, was all we said.

We’ll give you an eight-week holiday,
and four times the present rate;
we’ll cut your hours to 20 a week.

– but all we said was, Mate.

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