Ted has been an organiser of Poets Anonymous, Croydon, since 1991 helping bring them from a house-to-house workshop group to one known in many poetry organisations in the UK.
He has helped with ten Poetry Plus festivals and read with them at festivals and on the, now absent, Croydon FM.
He has been judge, jury and executioner for children’s and adults’ poetry competitions; undertaken poetry and art workshops (often with Crispin Thomas Football Poets) for children in schools, libraries and football clubs in London and Surrey, and for inmates at four prisons in Wales; read in poetry venues and theatres from Chichester to Edinburgh, Inside and outside the the Poetry Libraries in London and Edinburgh; and has appeared on BBC radio stations in England and Wales, for television’s News 24, and as guest of the West End Gospel Choir at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Currently completing the last poems for his forthcoming book ‘At the Backs of Shops and Houses’ and working with Peter Evans at Croydon Radio on the monthly Poets Anonymous Poetry programme and loving every moment of it.
Here, below, are some of the poems Ted has had published. Click on the titles or scroll down.
Customer Service. (Rant No.1)
The lament of Rick Rodgers.
Yes I work here.
All of us wearing H and B shirts work here.
No, M and S is up the road
Yes I’m on the till
No, I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting.
There will be no operator-
That till, is out of order.
Yes, you still have to queue up.
Yes, in this queue.
Ah! You want to lose weight?
You’ll like our diet plans,
Oh, you don’t want to diet.
There’s our training supplements!
You don’t want to work out.
Is that in the sale?
Was it on the sale shelves?
With all the other dried fruits.
No, sunflower seeds are not dried fruit.
The nuts, sir? - Over there,
Under the sign that says NUTs.
On the wall covered in nuts.
Yes - over there ……SIR.
No the magazine is not free- it’s a pound.
Yes even if you spend £50- it‘s still a pound.
I’m sorry but the sunflower seeds are only £3.50.
Look beside the word- PRICE …ONE POUND.
Yes, SIR I might sound aggressive
But I’m never STUPID.
© Ted Smith-Orr, Oct 2008.
I love you angular nature that shows no kindness
Or mercy to the timid and weak.
Your spiteful beauty gives refuge to the small,
Yet one sting recoils a brave enquiry.
I love you carpet valleys, green and stained:
Secret lanes and tracks that twist and jump
Then double back; laughing at their wit.
Hills that strain and ache to meet their height.
I love you mysterious embankments, reflecting
Chalk ghosts in night mist. The Silver Birch;
Glowing in the dark and dappled by day.
Why did nature cheat one as elegant as you?
I love you hedgerows with frightened hair
And arrogant trees that shed their clothes
In defiance of winter. The ignorant leaf
That dances in headlights, pirouettes and dies.
I love you badger, red fox: how you forage
And scamper ageless runs, regardless of the roads.
The furtive owl that fakes a passive role,
I love you rainwater; streaming and gushing,
Flowing down roads, washing all that precedes you.
How you shape your own channels and find your home.
I love you single dandelion; who breaks the
Concrete slab and reminds the non-believer,
You have persistence that we will never know.
Reveals forgotten scenery,
Answering the winter’s questions:
Patches of flower heads bow in the lazing grass.
Whispers in ochre fields.
Singing poppy carpets dance in waves.
Swaying elderberry islands
Oscillate in clusters,
Tease cow parsley cousins
On stalks in hedgerows.
Trees: Full blood, dominate,
Like green doves- Proud.
Sequinned in tambourine bells.
Whilst sun dabs on roadways
Blur the asphalt yellow.
Dragonflies and butterflies
Chance a fragile show.
People... Aimless, ambling,
Children playing endlessly
In sand and sea:
On the crests of waves.
Evening 2009. (Rant No 5)
Somewhere between the landslide
Of interminable work and housing payments:
Everlasting bills of electricity, water and
Gas from Utility gangsters;
The day’s events are recollected
By each individual in a large family.
Including the youngest who speaks teenage:
A language so foreign we need an interpreter.
I answer the telephone and the void of silence
Gives me an overwhelming sympathy for drug addicts
Or it’s a voice from overseas selling me something I already have
Or not selling something that I definitely do not want
While eating my evening meal.
As I undertake intensive sofa studies,
All that I ever dreamed of: a customer calls;
Asking if I can work for them.
I frown the frown of the tiredness
While smiling horse’s teeth and promises
To an unknown ear too near for comfort.
My bank has merged with another that’s gone under
And they’ve cut our overdrafts to pay their debt.
The mortgage has increased and my pay cheque's are in the post.
The credit crunch arrived here before Sub Prime Mortgages
Was even a cliché.
And Woolworth’s was a place you avoided like the plague.
Between all this the income tax is still outstanding
And the vat man wants his money back.
And between all this there is time to write a poem.
© Ted Smith-Orr, 7th March 2009
Reminiscent of Degas.
You bidet in the basin.
Foam, clinging to the ceramic surfaces,
Finding a slow route to the floor.
The folds of your body
Merging with the folds in your clothes.
Daylight and shadows of trees
Decorate the room. Strands of your hair
Reflected in the mirror.
You smile or sing a happy song;
A hymn or a nursery rhyme.
Or hum along to a tune on the radio.
At your feet: your clothes
Laying in the order you removed them.
A still life or sculpture,
At least a snapshot
To immortalise this private intimacy.
© Ted Smith-Orr, 6/7 Oct 1999.
Shook her head
Sitting on the sofa in a state of disbelief
Not expressing grief.
No holding hands
No clasping close.
Held his breath
Sitting in a chair
Wanting to be brief
Seeing her soft skin
Looking pasty thin;
Sending out alarms
Hold me in your arms
Cuddle me too close
You are the most.
Neither of them dared
A love that they both shared
Knew it would be cruel
Minds and bodies aching
Feeling somehow ill
Knew to be quite still.
Now it’s time to go
An Hour past zero:
Standing up to pass
Each other’s coffee glass,
What have I forgot
The book that you have got.
Please forget me not.
Ten a past the clock.
Kiss upon the cheek
Feel a little weak.
Tester just to close
Tweak a little nose.
Knee against the jeans.
Mustn’t make a scene
Brush against her breast
No more to be caressed.
A look. A glance
They knew it must not be.
They both see the door:
It opens and it closes.
Closes and it opens
And closes once again.
But neither was exposed
To the outside elements.
It opened- they parted.
It closed …
He farted and walked into bush.
They laughed and laughed
Ascending to the sky
And they departed as they had met:
In peels and peals of laughter
Which echoed through the air
And swelled into the night.
And they evaporated
Into the infinity of time.
© Ted Smith-Orr, 1991
I Wanna Walk With You
Where cars line up like dogs on heat
And televisions compete for airtime
Across the narrow streets.
Where builder’s blocks grow in flower beds,
Fertilised with bagged cement
And scaffold poles provide the frames for ivy.
I wanna walk with you
Where bricks grin out from cracks in walls
And wired lights, amber apprentice lovers,
Exchanging parts in doorways.
Where “Free George Davies “brushstrokes
Peer out from high art aerosols: Proclaiming;
“Crystal Palace F.C. rule. OK?”
Endorsed “UK. Love, the Phantom Scroler.”
I wanna walk with you
Show you the blood of life trickle down canals,
Past skeletons of chrome,
With wheels that spin the changing times.
And polythene drifts airily: ghosting signs of progress;
Mobile Phones, Superstores and Car Parks.
And the shrill of children swimming
Is a photograph in books.
I wanna dance with you
To the tap of heals on pavements,
The kiss of passing nylon.
To songs of bright red lipstick,
Where fairground songs from pubs
Tattoo their neon beat on men
Slurring love for ‘er indoors;
Stewing words, for when he walks in the door.
I wanna walk with you
Into tradesmen’s shops
Patel’s always open
Burgers and Take Away's - ten to the yard.
Nat’s Fresh Fish, the Asian Polish Express.
Scissor Happy and Styles by Barber Jack.
Children and minders. Men and women at work.
Lorries reversing down alleyways...
Tailbacks. People in cars...
Trains Late, Buses late.
© Ted Smith-Orr
This is a Tiger Wall
Cross bred and punctured with leopard spots.
With pythons overlapping worms,
Iron webs stretching to every floor.
A wet eyed house,
An orange haired Celtic house,
Bringing in the New Year at weekends
Roaring song’s of whisky.
This is a Bob Marley, Rastafarian music house,
Drifting Caribbean rhythm smoke through every pore,
Saxophone’s permeating the morning night.
This is a can’t get out of place,
With poetry stairways and fresco walls ,
Artist’s on every floor.
Where everyone knows each other
And know not to ask their business.
This is a nightime house
With a painted panelled door
Where the bell push shouts, “Don’t enter.”
And the thud of flesh resounds
On steel stairs.
Yes, this is a tiger house and these are tiger walls:
Where the rent don’t get paid.
And when the man calls... They’re gone-
To the caff... the park... to nowhere
Or never lived here at all.