Jail Break with Roger McGough and Banksy

“Create Escape” by Banksy
(using only dental floss, a large potato,
chilli powder and a green felt-tip pen)

by Roger McGough

Rise from your bunk nice and early
because today will be your Big Day.
Remove the dental floss from its handy container
and tie one end around the bars of your cell window.
Leave the rest dangling.

Peel the potato. As you are unlikely to own
a potato peeler or a Swiss Army knife
you must bite into it and break off
little pieces. Spread the mulch around
the floor of your cell nearest to the door.

I bet you know what to do with the felt-tip?
Correct. Draw green spots all over your face,
mess up your hair, then lie down on the bed
and like plague victims do in the films,
make loud wailing noises. You hear footsteps.

Having observed you through the spy hole,
the warder, moved by your pitiful state,
will unlock the door and rush in. Whoosh.
He will slip on the peelings, fall clumsily,
and skid across the length of the floor.

While he lies helpless on his back
like a giant cockroach, throw the chilli powder
into his eyes, and during the confusion,
leap off the bed and tie the loose end
of the floss to the inside handle of the door.

Jump back on the bed and continue to wail.
But be warned, he will be really angry now,
and threatening you with terrible revenge
he will stagger to his feet and storm out,
slamming the heavy metal door behind him.

Magic! The dental floss, suddenly strengthened
and made taut, will tug the bars out of the window,
leaving enough space for you to squeeze through
and drop into the yard below where the helicopter,
engine running, is ready to whisk you off to freedom.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the helicopter.)

~ from That Awkward Age (Penguin Books, 2009)


So fun! One never knows when these tips might come in handy. 🙂

It seemed a good idea to pair McGough with graffiti artist Banksy, as both are British creatives beloved by the general public. They’ve made poetry and art accessible to the average person with their unconventional ideas, inventive skills, and a lack of pretension.

Banksy painted “Create Escape” on the outside wall of Reading Prison last year. The inmate, shown escaping via a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter, is thought to be Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who served two years’ hard labor for committing “gross indecency with other men.”

Wilde was sent to the jail in 1895 following a retrial and later wrote his final published work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, highlighting the need for reform of inhumane conditions.

Banksy confirmed the work was his in a video first shared on Instagram, in which he shows himself spray painting stencils at night. In a cheeky twist, he spoofs TV art instructor Bob Ross by overlaying his narration with the night footage.

Fascinating to watch the elusive Banksy creating one of his masterpieces:

Note: In case you do need to break out of prison sometime, Mr Cornelius would be more than happy to lend you his helicopter. 🙂


Master punster Bridget Magee is hosting the roundup at wee words for wee ones. Take her some dental floss in case she needs to plan her next escape, and while you’re there, check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a fun weekend!

*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

23 thoughts on “Jail Break with Roger McGough and Banksy

  1. I am also having my coffee and reading this very interesting poem! Never realized that potato peels and dental floss had so many uses!🤣 However, I did know an art teacher who made paper from cucumber peelings! How, is a mystery to me.🤣Have a great autumn weekend!🍂🍁🎃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, I did not see that ‘turn’ coming at the end of McGough’s poem! That’d be a ‘heli-llujah’ escape. And the Banksy’s painting +Bob Ross “collaboration” video = Pure Happiness!
    (with or without the trees 😉 )
    Thanks for another fun post, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked the video. I found it fascinating to see Banksy at work. He’s usually so mysterious. Since he once did a Paddington painting, I like him even more.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Now I’ve gone down that rabbit hole with Bob Ross. I know of him but not all those videos! And, I feel ignorant but finally understand how so much detail can be done so quickly–stencils! I love the ideas in the poem and now I wonder do they allow dental floss in prisons? They’d better check it out! Thanks, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good question. If they don’t allow dental floss, there must be a lot of prisoners with bad teeth. 😀 As for Bob Ross, like you, I had heard “of” him, but hadn’t really watched any of his shows/videos.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all about finding the right poem (which can take forever sometimes). Cornelius received the helicopter for Christmas last year.


  4. Such a fun poem! I love visiting your blog. I always learn something new. Hopefully, I’ll never need a helicopter, but it’s nice to know Mr. Cornelius is willing to share! Thank you for brightening my morning!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is the way I feel when I watch mysteries on PBS: Here are some simple clues. Here are the unimaginable ways the inspector solves the mystery, including the helicopter that you never saw coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If I’m ever in Jail I will remember the dental floss, potato peelings, chili powder… and what was that other thing?

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the offer of the helicopter, Mr. Cornelius! If you ever have to come to visit me in prison, we should work out a signal in advance, something that will mean, “Have the helicopter ready at midnight and did you bring the potato, dental floss, and green marker?” Thanks, Mr. C.!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea. The signal could be that you recite a Billy Collins poem to me. I will have everything ready but can’t guarantee I won’t eat the potato first. Yours truly, Mr C

      Liked by 1 person

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