Exodus for the Soul

I seek a burning bush

deep inside this internal wilderness

blazing sun the canvas

upon which vultures circle

over dry bleached skulls

of the eternal lost

who’s spirits are forever imprisoned

in this arid haunt of demons and jackals


Oh! Lazarus salve my tongue

with just one drop of your tears

as slowly I wander amongst these ever-changing dunes

crawling over rocks that were once thrown

by men without pity or grace

along with memories of scorpion-like words

that once pierced my heart…


Yet still no ignited shrub

giving purpose – offering hope

to a man who’s fist clenches time’s sand

which slowly seeps through his fingers

like his dreams

blown into heavenly halls

by divine life-giving breath

my mind boiling like mutton

a feast for an old toothless lion

who has only his roar!

Like Moses searching for the promised land

that flows with milk and honey

always eluding me


Darkness falls – I play games with the stars

that have shone on greater men

in the distance I spy a dancing flame

surely it doth burn so bright

bringing light into the hidden places

where only the bravest soul dare venture…




©M.C. Bolton, February 2018

Writing/Poetry Workshop with Local Children


During half-term, Urban Dandy delivered a writing and poetry workshop to children at North Kensington charity Baraka Community Association. Eighteen children from local primary and secondary schools attended and explored methods for self-expression through writing short articles and poems.

As it was the 14th of the month, children considered memories and feelings evoked by the Grenfell Tower fire, eight months on. The group mind mapped their experiences during and since the fire. They then shared their memories of that day and how they have seen it affect their community, from the surreal experience of attending school on the 14th June to how people coped over the long summer.

Producing a piece of writing, the young people were free to choose their subject. Many went for Grenfell, but others wrote on other aspects of their lives. In both cases, the focus was on expressing ideas and feelings from their own experiences, rather than conforming to ideas about what they should write.

As the workshop was designed to be off-curriculum, the children heard about finding their voices, how to have a real impact, identifying a ‘hook’ for their pieces and writing for an audience, not a teacher.

London’s finest poet, Mark Bolton, then explained the process of writing poetry, and his own poetic journey. He read out his first ever composition, followed by the much more recent Aisha and the Sea, which was written in the aftermath of the fire.

Inspired and encouraged to open up, the kids then set about writing their own poems, and the workshop ended with everybody reading out loud what they had produced.

A number of the children took their work away to develop it and complete it. We hope to be able to publish a few pieces on Urban Dandy soon…

Writing workshop 6


By Tom Charles


Grenfell – Night Thoughts



As the sweet summer breeze

blows through this petrified charcoal edifice

stirring the parched remains of the perished

inside this crematorium created by man’s greed,


We who are in temporary sleep

slowly inhaling the dust of the lost

unlike God, offering not the breath of life

Yet not forgotten, becoming part of us


Fused into our very being

scorched into our souls

as the seared conscience

of those that govern

offers no honour, shame, guilt

or Judas-like, intestine-spilling torment!

Instead scurrying like rats

under the tarpaulin of fear


Light exposing their hidden deeds of darkness

that atomized men, women and children before their time

those who’s bodies can no longer cast shadows


Your eternal flame

forever burns brightly

shining like stars

guiding both seeker and wise

along the narrow path

in their quest for the truth…



M.C. Bolton, 28th July 2017

Photo by Hugh


Not just people, their homes

but dreams, futures snuffed out

unlike the flames

that wrapped their unmerciful wings

around the tower without pity or care

the angel of death

resurrected by learned men’s folly

once again the poor suffering

above their station

swept aside like spent poker chips

as the midnight gambler

shuffles into the shadows

to pay his debt

to the reaper

who tonight had his fill


Yet the morning comes

bringing the dew of hope

for out of these embers

will rise men and women of faith

not just in God

but in justice

as the ashes of those

that were loved

are blown into the

eternal palace of peace


MC Bolton, 2017


Art by Junion Tomlin


To float away into the mist

Upon a piece of driftwood

made smooth by my inner tears

Guided by moonbeams

to the ends of the earth

falling into the abyss of dreams

rescued by God’s mighty hand

placed upon the rock of my faith

Yet this world takes its toll

upon my heart, my soul, my mind

fearing the depths my thoughts

dive into…

Ripples of eternal love

Forever lapping upon the shore

As the sun warms my

ever changing face

never changing heart

that cares for my created…


Mark Bolton, February 2017 




Lad Broke Groove

By Tom Charles

“In the heart of the Urban Dandy is the fate and the conflict of the bohemian, to become preoccupied with the things he/she shuns – materialism and money” (About Us)

Art by Angel Lewis

Descriptions like this can be traced back nearly two centuries when the word ‘Bohemian’ was first used to define those who didn’t fit the mainstream, bourgeois view of respectable living.

Mid-nineteenth century bohemians were those associated with alternative lifestyles and world views, engaged in the arts, writing and philosophy. They were united in their rejection of bourgeois, materialism trivia and sentimentality. What was respectable to the bourgeois was, to the bohemians, banal.

The thinker Alain de Botton describes the “martyr figures” of the bohemian value system as those who “sacrificed the security of a regular job and the esteem of their society in order to write, paint or make music, or devote themselves to travel or to their friends and families”[i]

By favouring sensitivity over worldly attachment, bohemians found themselves destitute, unable to reconcile themselves to spending their time and energy in service of a job they loathed to secure comfortable material lives. They looked elsewhere, forming their own subcultures and alternative movements.

But while mainstream society has its status symbols (peerages, job titles, awards, bling etc.) the bohemians’ status is attained through social skills, poetry, choice of reading material and company kept.

In the 1800s, society reported only bourgeois achievements and alternative heroes were seldom seen. The bohemian response to this freezing out was to try to shock respectable society out of its complacency. The Dadaists and Surrealists provided alternative voices to the prevailing narratives of social conservatism and fear of difference. Similarly, the Beat poets challenged a culture dominated by those who believed society offered a just reward system.

Bohemians tend to gather in ghettos, a survival instinct and economic necessity. Inner city areas with low end rent have been the focal point, potential havens of freedom, liberation and creativity.

All well and good, but any Bohemian must operate within the laws of the land. And so, the fate of the bohemian is still to become preoccupied with what is ostensibly shunned: money and material comfort.

In North Kensington, a wind chill factor of poverty blows in. Over half of the Borough’s children attend private schools, while 41% of their peers live in poverty. Boho? Many of those who had enjoyed a degree of material comfort and predictable security can no longer rely on this. And the society is more atomised and less community-based than ever. The future is uncertain.

Screen-grab from the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation

Under an entirely unnecessary sham economic policy called ‘Austerity’, brutal class war is being waged. For those leaving university with five figures of debt, fulfilling their life’s purpose and building a community that enables people to realise their own individuality is not an option. Neither is debt slavery an economic benefit to the country; it is a deliberate, class-based political decision.

The result is best articulated by Oscar Wilde: “There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor”[ii].

The confusion of the value of a human with the monetary value of what they possess has led the majority into tedious, demoralising work in a bid for respectability. Wilde said that our society has been constructed on such a basis “that man has been forced into a groove in which he cannot fully develop what is wonderful, and fascinating, and delightful in him – in which, in fact, he misses the true pleasure and joy of living”[iii].

And this is the dilemma of the Urban Dandy; it is what is inside them that enriches life. But they must live outwardly. And that is why, in our hundredth post we declared our intention:

“Identifying with the downtrodden, the poor and the dandies, the human, those who won’t back down and those that capitulate under pressure”.

A final warning: Beware of the word Bohemian now. It has been bastardised, called Boho…Tory Bohemia



Been the king of Notting Hill, Lord of Ladbroke Grove

Seen new money flooding in, pretentiousness exposed!

All about the bag you hold, label inside your clothes

Even though it’s daddies cash you wanna be boho!

Without a picture painted, book or verse

A modern day hippy – but in reverse!

The queen of hearts has marked your card

Like me seen through the looking glass

Oh! Alice dear you’re lost in space

What’s really happening to this place

But Alice dear -don’t you understand

For most of us it’s not wonderland!


Poem by MC.Bolton, 2015



[i] Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety, Penguin (2005), p. 280

[ii] Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, in The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, p.1180

[iii] Ibid p.1178


There is nothing left inside

Not anything hidden deep within my soul

Just an empty shell

Where my heart used to be

A wrung out rag

Left to dry

In a scorching sun that shows no pity

To those that wish to expose mankind’s folly

Futility the fruit of this cursed fig tree

My own soul but ashes

Upon a bonfire of my hopes and dreams

Oh! Lazarus salve my tongue

In this merciless place of heat and pain

As I sit by the pool

With beggars, blind, lame and lepers

Waiting for waters stirred

To once more bathe and be healed…



M.C. Bolton, July 2016