This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the iridescent interior of one of the most active galaxies in our local neighbourhood — NGC 1569, a small galaxy located about eleven million light-years away in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe). This galaxy is currently a hotbed of vigorous star formation. NGC 1569 is a starburst galaxy, meaning that — as the name suggests — it is bursting at the seams with stars, and is currently producing them at a rate far higher than that observed in most other galaxies. For almost 100 million years, NGC 1569 has pumped out stars over 100 times faster than the Milky Way! As a result, this glittering galaxy is home to super star clusters, three of which are visible in this image — one of the two bright clusters is actually  the superposition of two massive clusters. Each containing more than a million stars, these brilliant blue clusters reside within a large cavity of gas carved out by multiple supernovae, the energetic remnants of massive stars. In 2008, Hubble observed the galaxy's cluttered core and sparsely populated outer fringes. By pinpointing individual red giant stars, Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys enabled astronomers to calculate a new — and much more precise — estimate for NGC 1569’s distance. This revealed that the galaxy is actually one and a half times further away than previously thought, and a member of the IC 342 galaxy group. Astronomers suspect that the IC 342 cosmic congregation is responsible for the star-forming frenzy observed in NGC 1569. Gravitational interactions between this galactic group are believed to be compressing the gas within NGC 1569. As it is compressed, the gas collapses, heats up and forms new stars.

The Flight of the Figs

Once upon a time
I was a fig

(Yes, a fig)

full of little flowers inside,
plenty of endless dreams…

I was born
in a casual tree
of those that nobody grooms,
of those that never get rain,
of those that drain you to death.

punished by birds
who picked on my white sweaty sweetness
and left me scarred,
but made me stronger.

One day,
an arrogant orange,
of a garden nearby,
called for a meeting of peers
and suggested the idea
of forming a fruital system.

(Yes, a fruital system)

The rest of fruits agreed.

So, the orange stood in the centre,
cause she was too tangy to spin.

Everyone else
came forward
in a perfect queue
that started to curl
coiling outwards
around the self-proclaimed star.

The apple, the peach, the pear,
the lemon and even the grape
found quickly a place
in a galaxy they called
“The Juicy Way”.

They all looked so lush,
as they floated
in their glorious ether
of mechanically smooth subjects.

I want a place in this system,
I said.
I want to be an aster too.
I deserve to be there,
in harmony
with you.

The apple and some others
started to giggle
with patronising
swivel-eyed disdain.

I am sorry my love,
said the eloquent
sunny leader,
but this is a fruital system
where everything works
out of our own



Everyone wins,

everyone contributes.

The magnetic fields
of our respective masses
are already balanced.

That is why we levitate up here,
so graciously.

If we take you on,
we will have to open the floodgates of the universe.

How many more fruits
could we feasibly accommodate?

So, after this rational rejection,
I had no choice
but to become
a zero-hours planet,
also known as a comet.

(Yes, a comet)

So now,
I am a wrinkly wild comet
full of odd rugged cracks.
I am not round,
not even pear shaped,
I have no clouds,
no satellites,
no green bits,
no rings of dust,
no frozen lakes of gas…
but I don’t give a damn!

I am a prince of the universe,
planets fear my freedom,
no one knows my trajectory,
it is hard to land on my surface,
I come and go as I please.

But if someone

if someone on behalf
of that master of creation
messes about with my equations
pushing me out my orbit,
I may end up crashing
on one of their gardenly planets.

And, who knows?

If some shepherds see
my falling tail,
flying in the night
in the skies in winter,
they may grant me godly status
an invent a religion
at my place of collision.

Who knows?

I have nothing to lose.

I am a wrinkly wild comet,

I am a pirate
in an orderly show of stars
who learnt their moves
in the Youtube version
of the Book of Genesis,
in the phallic columns
of The Sun Says,
in the go-home section
of the Daily Mail.

Watch them
as they tamper
with Victorian
time machines!

Watch them,
as they sink
in the black hole
of their Brexit!

Unlike them,
I am my own choreographer.

Only infinite heavens will tell you
what I am made of!


Watch me!

Watch me as I fly!
with millions of figs like me
away from a supernova
of stupid national greed.


Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.


Originally published in Poetry Life and Times as “The fig”


Image ”Bursting at the seams” courtesy of ESA/Hubble, Creative Commons Licence International 4.0 Attribution (CC BY 4.0)


The Grapes

The grapes
don’t die
in the vineyard
with the harvest
in the summer.


They transcend
and translive
in the wine,


like the poem in the song,
like our talent in discoveries,
like parents in their children,
like a nurse in our health,
like a friend in our strength,
like teachers in our wisdom,
like rebels
and activists of the Common
in ordinary
and achievements.


But our labour,
our paid labour,
is taken away
in corporate cloaks
to private shrines
far in some islands
for cultural worship
(our cultural worship)
and power,
the power hoarded by few
that is used against the many.


And the soldier,
poor soldier,
is sent to kill and die,
sacrificed for national pride,
(or political reasons
reserved for great minds)


for whose mother?


for mother-what?


The wine
of the grapes
of the land
of the peasants
is a miracle of humanity.


Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Inspired in the poem “La transvida” (“Translife”), published in Spanish in Los viajes de Diosa (The Travels of Goddess). Murcia. Diego Marín. 2015..


Image from Æsop´s Fable 2, “The Stag and the Vine”, in John Ashton (1882) Chap-books of the Eighteen Century (p.465). London. Chatto and Windus, Picadilly. 1882. Found in

A rendition of the Fable:

A Stag, pursued by the huntsmen, concealed himself under cover of a thick vine. They lost track of him. Supposing all danger to be over, the Stag began to browse on the leaves of the Vine with the intention of eating them. The movement drew the attention of the returning huntsmen, and one of them, supposing some animal to be hidden there, shot an arrow at a venture into the foliage. The unlucky Stag was pierced to the heart, and, as he expired, he said, “I deserve my fate for my treachery in feeding upon the leaves of my protector.” (adapted from translation by


The Enemy

A silent needle of pain
reached my most intimate guts.


The implant had been successful.


The enemy,
the very enemy,
was now living within me.


He had travelled far,
leaving behind
his tower of glass so vulnerable.


He had penetrated my sacred orifice.
He had installed himself in my fortress.


He now survives
of my own blood.


When I am happy, he is delighted.
When I drowse,
he dreams of new victims
for his offspring,
to take over,
as my spinal cord
runs out of steam.


No battlegrounds in open landscapes to fight him,
no guns or catapults to shoot him,
no visible target,
no struggle outside,
no point in being outside:
there is nothing outside the system, my friend,
just a little plant pot with frozen seeds of insurrection
and a tape-loop player with a Workers’ Power litany.


So what’s the strategy?


I will travel to the city of Babel,
where languages were made.
I’ll listen to common voices
rejoicing plural routine.


I will then climb to their ziggurat
to see the world at my feet
admiring the prosperous valleys,
by irrational hills,
and all the roads and the rivers,
lines in the nurturing palm
of Goddess’ gracious hand,
which rests when the day turns silver.


And when my enemy
is in sleep mode,
the jet black total guardian,
speckled with seminal beams,
will whisper to me
how to challenge our destiny,
how to turn our demise
into the brass of a swing
that will muffle History
with its tales and defeats,
enticing our Future,
to dance away from its fate.


And in the morning,
my enemy,
excited by the occasion,
yet concerned by the rarity of the air,
will find his way through my nostrils,
will pop his private head out,
and cast his calculating,
chary warm eyes
on the public riches of Earth
claiming hegemony,
imagining business deals:


All that wealth to amass,
so much outsourcing required…
planning, measuring, counting…
my saliva tastes like cocaine.


And then,
the gentle Zephyrus
embracing the rebel Haboob
will make me sneeze,
launching him out,
all covered in snot:
A projectile to nowhere,
like nationalism in England,
then dropping,
like the profits of The Daily Mail,
driven away
by the winds of Babylon,
for my enemy,
my very enemy,
to finally splash
on the waters of the Tigris,
in the Arabs’ River,
as he meets his match
in the lost
of the Persian
blue Sea.


Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.


Picture: Two figures representing either Zephyros, the winged god of the west wind, holding his lover Hyakinthos in a close embrace; or an allegorical depiction of Love (Eros) desiring and seizing the beauty of youth. From


Trouble at T’Till


Unwanted guests for the weekend
White socks in the night club
Lousy friends on facebook
Tatty jackets in your wardrobe

Asbestos in your garage
Termites in the loft
Weeds in your patio cracks
Children with nits
A wooden shed full of rot

And Trots in the party
Fucking Trots in the party

Unexpected item in the bagging area
Unexpected item in the bagging area

Tony Martin-Woods

Written in the morning of the 15 August 2016 following media coverage of Tom Watson’s statements about Troskyst “infiltration” in the Labour Party.

Image from Flickr: The Little Spinner, Newberry, South Carolina by Lewis W. Hine, 1908 (LOC).