South Wales Outlaw by Paul Tristram

You don’t get to ‘Choose Your Masks’
you’re either born this way or not.
I was bottle-fed bedlam.
My first memory
is of hiding under the kitchen table
watching blood run from the tattooed fist
smashing through the glass of our backdoor,
the Old Man was fresh home from prison.
Hiding from the Bailiffs can be fun
but living without a TV set for weeks is not.
My childhood fairy tales were of Dartmoor
and the shit Welsh Prisoners get
in Wormwood Scrubs and other English Jails.
Policemen were the Bogeyman,
if you get lost walk into any pub
and tell them your family name
you’ll be safe until we come find you.
Those Gates on Oystermouth Road were
looming from the moment of my conception.
I was a Ne’er-Do-Well and a Bastard
well before I threw my first punch.
I’m as resilient as a battleship for it
and the wrong side of the tracks is
home sweet home for this South Wales Outlaw.

(Don’t bend down when there’s Copper’s around
or you might get a truncheon up your arse!)


Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at You can also read his poems and stories here!


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