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Scenes of Moderate Violence

John Moynes
Status: published
Publication Date: 18.04.2019
  • Ebook


  • Paperback

Scenes of Moderate Violence is the debut collection from award-winning poet John Moynes. If you think that modern literature doesn’t include enough time-travelling cowboys, then this is the book for you. If you need poems about history, love, death, madness and the future then buy this book now. If you want a new pair of jeans you’re probably in the wrong shop.

With poems ranging from the funny to the frightening, this is a book that refuses to be pinned down – and is perfect for readers who do the same.

‘John Moynes will make you laugh and make you think, and while he's at it he'll break your heart in a hundred different ways. Every poem in this collection is a thing of rare beauty. And so is each and every line. John manages to do that very difficult thing of being deeply wise while being deeply funny. And I deeply hate him for that.’ Paul Howard, author of the Ross O’Carroll Kelly series

Sample poems


Please think of this book as a western
And know you’ll find no wisdom here
For this is a page, not a lecturn
If you’re travelling east then I fear
That the stories I tell will not bring you
Any peace or enlightenment or
If just once you think my words ring true
I’m telling a joke. Nothing more
Than a man who just about handle
A metre, a line and a rhyme
Not a prophet who walks with a candle
And guides you past space, beyond time.
These rhymes at their best, they are what they are,
Mere trifles to learn and recite in a bar.

On The Economic Implications Of The Continental Breakfast

In civilised locations like Belfast or Rathkeale
A gentleman can wake up and eat a decent meal
He'll start with half a dozen eggs and then begin to dig
Into a dizzying array of things made out of pig.
His cousin on the continent, Pedro, Pierre or Fritz
Begins his day not in this way but staring at some bits
Of sliced up fruit, a little cheese, a small cold square of meat
A thimble of espresso is his meal's only treat.
So Paddy's cursed to start his work already satisfied
His mind at rest, his belly full, his urge to strive has died
While European industry, fueled by a tiny meal
Is why they make cars by the Rhine, but never in Rathkeale.


We kill the children of unwanted mothers,
Now take a breath and do not speak so fast,
Those women were a stain upon their brothers,
And anyway you cannot judge the past,
Back then, you see, and here you must agree,
Death didn't hold the fear it does today,
Shame did, and so no one could ever see,
A victim with a chance to get away,
Unbranded and then maybe build a life,
Unpunched by nuns. We know that way,
Was barred to sluts. She should have been a wife,
Before the rape. She knew the rules. Her choice,
Was made. There's nothing to be gained,
By half arsed token efforts to give voice,
To those who had to die while old rules reigned.
So close your eyes, recite the savage lie,
Those prone to sin must watch their children die.


I once gave myself to Failure
To her kiss, her skin, her hair,
And I always will love Failure
I'm just having an affair.

You know that sometimes fools like me
Let lust disolve our continence
But never fear a fool like me
Just trust in my incompetence.

For sometimes in my line of work
The best laid plans blow up
I did my normal kind of work
And saw Success show up.

So just for now I love her
This sexy, sacred cow
But I will not always love her
Or forget my sacred vow.

That I gave myself to Failure
To her kiss, her skin, her hair,
That I always will love Failure
I'm just having an affair.

The Ballad of Tim Berners-Lee.

At the arse end of the eighties, a young Tim Berners-Lee,
Invented a new language which he called HTTP,
And from this clever code of his the modern world was born,
It changed how we communicate, and gave us lots of porn.

And though he was a genius, this great Tim Berners-Lee,
Perhaps he would have stayed his hand, if only he could see,
That a foul and loathsome creature, malevolent and cold,
Would creep onto the internet and lurk beneath the fold.

The first words on the world wide web came from Tim Berners-Lee,
He fired them down a phone line to some remote PC,
That machine, though unattended, replied to Tim to say,
That he was bald and stupid, and fake and fail and gay.

I beg all engineers to think, of poor Tim Berners-Lee,
And when inventing anything, include a guarantee,
That their shiny new creation won't let the world forget,
That society has nothing if it has no etiquette.

September 2013

Let's worship the men of the Lockout,
And praise all that Jim Larkin said,
The tram workers now are all heroes,
They're heroes because they are dead.

Spare a thought for those men on that brave day,
When they stood before Murphy's dread rage,
Then shut up and bring me my latté,
Or I'll lower your minimum wage.

It baffles me now that mere workers,
Once could purchase a house or a car,
It's time to clamp down on those shirkers,
We have to, we are where we are.

We'll have no more talk of progressing,
To this one truth we'll always hold fast,
That union men are a blessing,
As long as they stay in the past.


First we admit that we are powerless over literature, that our lives have become meaningless.
Then we came to believe that only a power greater than ourselves could restore us to clarity.
And so we decided to turn ourselves over to the care of an editor, as we understand them.
We made a searching and fearless inventory of our vocabulary.
We admitted to our editor, to our ourselves and to another poet the exact nature of our typos.
We prepared our poems for submission.
We humbly asked our editor to remove our clichés.
We made lists of all persons we had harmed.
We wrote verses of apology to our victims.
We continued to draft, redraft and start to write again.
We sought through reading and reciting to improve our conscious contact with Heaney, Joyce and Yeats as we understand them.
Having had a literary awakening as the result of these steps, we went to Grogan's, and told everybody.


We found scratches on the skirting board
Bite marks on the back door and small piles
Of gold appeared in our cupboards
In the garden ribbons arrived
Tied around the stems of shrubs
And the rosemary we never use
We called a man who poked around
Sucked air through his teeth and said
Yeah, you have a leprechaun
There's a part of me that thinks
Nature should be left alone
But there were bites and scratches
And all that gold. The bloody gold
It has tax implications it causes
Problems a householder can't endure
Poison was deployed by the man
And traps as well in case the beast
Had evolved some sort of immunity
A week later I found the leprechaun
Its neck snapped by the neighbour’s cat
But we still had to pay the man.

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