Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, his poetry has appeared recently in The High Window Press, The Ofi Press, Magma and Envoi. His debut pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice ( Red Ceiling Press) was published in 2017. He is joint MC of the monthly open mic nights at The Lightbox in Woking and the Stanza rep for that area, both events are now Zooming.


She soon became an essential tool in the detection & deportation of every illegal immigrant in Paris or its environs. She adopted a very pragmatic approach & drew up lengthy lists. Once this had been done she turned her attention to welfare scroungers. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019

She says it’s easy as running or reading

or baking a cake or simple subtractions.

Thinks herself great, glorious & demands

the necessary flattery, attention & devotion.

During recent years of austerity she spent time

making lists of people she suspected as

working while receiving benefit & those

walking who were supposedly incapable

& stuck in a wheelchair. The names

on the list were often prompted by hatred

& envy. If you crossed her she’ll hunt

you down even if you were disguised

as a wave or hidden as a stone. She gave

the authorities so many names that after

a few months they tried to persuade her

to calm down a bit but to no avail. At this

she stamped her feet & shouted

the now notorious sentence

Si vous ne m’obeissez pas, je piss!’

(If you don’t do what I want, I will piss!)

© Rodney Wood


At the sight of this gruesome apparition, her victim – sweating & trembling with fear, & searching for a way out of the darkness – will enter the final phase  of life. One glance from her and you stop breathing, your muscles slacken & you beg forgiveness. There are precious few who live to tell the tale of an encounter with her. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019

The cursed old hag with craggy grey hair,

bare legs nibbled by huge rats that chirp

while swarming & fighting. In the early hours

when I lie on my back my brain & body

are out of sync. Muscles can’t move

& I’m going to die. I hear a woman laughing,

smell her evil, feel Peine forte et dure,

a crushing weight on my chest. She rakes

her hand over my face, sighs with evil while

her pets are waiting to eat me alive. Already

they can taste what lies beneath the duvet.

Red eyes bore into me like a blow torch.

I want to escape but can’t. She’s stealing

my breath, gets heavier & heavier. I can’t

take any more & life fades into the shadows.

© Rodney Wood


His years of experience meant that he had perfected the art of sharpening such that he was much in demand.  Hence the story went round that one could cut the legs off a horse in a single blow. As he sharpened knives he always whistled the same tune. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019

The Knife-Grinder was well known, respected

& had such a noble, Shelly-like countenance,

that no one could believe he might possibly be

a murderer. He wrote of peace, cared about life

& what it meant. No one knew he lived a double live.

He was usually distracted. Always tapping fingers

to the rhythm of his verses on a wall, table,

steering wheel, even on the book he carried.

Always whistling Kurt Weill’s Mack The Knife.

At night the Knife-Grinder wandered dark streets

in search of blood. His victims were always attacked

& killed with a skewer pushed from one eardrum

to the other. It was only when an old woman,

who was out looking for her wise owl, heard

that familiar tapping & whistling of Mack The Knife

before one of the murders, that people & police

began to suspect but the Knife-Grinder disappeared

& the murders stopped. Some say he went to the USA

where he made his fortune, someone spotted him

riding a bicycle on a roundabout Oxford while others

say he committed suicide. Whatever happened people

still make the sound of a poet tapping fingers

to the rhythm of their verses & whistling Mack The Knife

to scare children from the practice of versification & metrics.

© Rodney Wood


He is rumoured to be a murder who constantly adopts different guises. He seen near a place where a couple were burnt alive. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019

Every year, Rocco Di Napoli, a ventriloquist,

appears in the smaller towns & villages of Surrey.

In winter, especially during the run-up to Christmas,

when nights are cold & foggy, he takes his place

in front of shopping centres & tells grisly tales

with his scary companion, an ancient doll.

Nothing is known about Rocco Swenty himself.

It is said that his frightening tales are based on

real-life events as it’s rumoured he’s a murderer

who can travel through time, which explains

his ability to appear & disappear at will.

Last week a crowd erupted from “Carluccio’s”

in the town of Woking & for a lark some of the lads

grabbed the doll & threw it in the air. Rocco caught it

& shouted to the revellers Just for that I’ll kill you all.

The doll roared with laughter as Rocco Swenty turned

into a giant & stamped on their soft bodies until guts

oozed out like ricotta & spinach from a tube of cannelloni.

© Rodney Wood


The Koch family had to flee after the war. After many wandering she opened a cafe called ‘In the Old Pot’. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019

Walking back from the pub late at night

with other never-would-be writers I heard

Ilse shout, from outside ‘In the Old Pot’,

I’m just going for a quick screw.

Morning & I saw Ilse again. Her hands

were snakes writhing round her lover’s

fingers & she was thinking no one knew

their secret. It was touching & sad.

A few years later I saw her again

& mentioned how moved I was by this

display of affection outside  ‘In the Old Pot’.

Ilse said, You must have been seeing things,

before talking to the person behind me.

It must have been someone else I saw,

another drunk, sexy & reckless Ilse, an Ilse

who’d be dead by the time I write this down.

© Rodney Wood