skinny dip

I stripped
for a dip
in the sea
at the nearest nudist beach to me

it was such a fine and liberating feeling
peeling off everything
in an open position
with none of the usual transition
difficulties
on a crowded beach with no changing facilities

and how lovely
to stride and then dive into the sea
wearing nothing but beach shoes
to defuse
the pain
of the pebbly terrain

and then coming out
lying face down and drying out
draped naked on the pebbles
in nothing but freckles
my buttocks as free as two white bloomers
washed ashore from one of those schooners

how the novel writing course went

at the risk of sounding overstated
my literary output’s constipated
why, I couldn’t tell you
I read a varied menu
of wordy stuff
plenty enough
written roughage
to unblock the blockage
and push out a novel of considerable merit
but all in all I just can’t get it

which is why I joined a novel writing group
in the naive hope
I might escape the rope
of my unending novel writing nope
and find more productive ways to cope
with themes and arcs of such breathtaking scope
I’d be signed on the spot
hotter than the hottest author they’ve got
the latest sensational over-nighter
to take ten years to make it as a writer

the final session was with an agent
kind and warm and patient
explaining all the ins and outs
the yellow book road to the publishing house
the mountain of scripts she has to read
skimming them at speed
two on the go
and one on audio
not to mention all the authors on her roster
everyone suicidal they haven’t won the Costa

and whilst she talked I got the impression
this novel writing thing was a doomed profession
like bailing out a boat with a sieve or something
words, words, words said Hamlet, which was grim
and look how it ended up for him

to make things worse
there was a guy on the course
who was a force
of malevolent nature
some kinda retired major
interpersonal skills of an alligator
who KEPT interrupting
totally disrupting
the literary agent’s flow
and honestly? I don’t know
how she kept her cool
and didn’t just knock him out with a bar stool
and it made me wish upon wish
I was a bigger and better literary fish
the kind she might be looking to hook
if I only I could write a bestselling book

‘And WHAT is this thing called?’
yelled the Major, with a particularly severe look
when she happened to mention The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
and then he grandly pulled out a gold fountain pen
and asked her to repeat the name again
so he could scratch it down in slow and tiny writing
sighing in a way that was murderously inviting

but then – maybe I’m just like the major
a self-deluding literary failure
who joins yet another writing class
to try push a novel out of my arse

I’m a Demagogue…Get Me Out of Here!

Welcome to the new world war / a little different to the ones before / which were just too damned destructive / brainlessly brutal & counter-productive / so in an effort to conserve precious resources / and save ourselves millions on military forces / I’m pitching a saner, alternative event / which I hope you’ll back one hundred percent

I’m a Demagogue…Get Me Out of Here!

Okay – so – all the world leaders / all the conflict pleaders / xenophobia breeders / rally rousing autocue readers / they’ll all be darted / before the conflict’s started / drugged and helicoptered / onto a tropical island we’ve adopted / to undergo the bushtucker war trials we’ve concocted / surrounded by cameras / concealed in bananas / fake cockatoos / pouches of kangaroos / hollowed out bamboos / and so on / giving the viewers plenty to go on / to see what these people are REALLY like / when they’re forced to hike / through inhospitable jungle / and struggle / to find water / or food / and shower in a waterfall in the nude / (that’ll be an extra / you can elect to / pay on top / of the subscription you’ve got / pretty niche I know / but there you go / so…. / if you wanna see Boris / naked in a forest….)

Terribly sorry – technical glitch / forgive the interruption and on with the pitch…

You’ll see Xi Jinping / trying to look cool and convincing / but undeniably wincing / as he sits before the steadicam / chopsticks ready and wham! / they take the lid off the dish / and it’s as terrible and horrible as you could wish / and you watch him carefully raise from the receptacle / a single, wrinkled deep-fried testacle / and after cursing all our yesterdays and tomorrows / he chews it once and bravely swallows

Hear Scott Morrison / chuntering on and on / about nuclear subs and rockets / whilst fondling a Dairy Milk in his khaki pockets

Watch Kim Jong-un / bellowing like King Kong / on a fraying vine rope / as he builds himself up to cope / with the horrifying grope / for tokens in the box / they’ve hung above the canyon of snap-happy crocs

Follow Joe Biden / playin’ hide n’ / seek / with a reaper drone in a bug-filled creek / whilst he’s forced to speak / his thoughts today / on truth, justice and the American Way / and what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay

See Vladimir Putin / using his shirt to carry fruit in / then go full Rasputin / when the vote’s finally in / and he’s out / a popular eviction without a doubt / his tough guy act completed / the entire Russian Federation defeated / which I think you’ll admit is harsh but fair / and the reason this season’s so populaire

Hosted as always by Ant and Dec
who’ll hand the winner a giant cheque
signed by the head of the United Nations
so that’s the format – any questions?

me II

I made an approximate model of me
from a disreputable, raggle-taggle potpourri
of whatever old crap
I could find round the flat

A potato for a head
eyes sprouting & scouting ahead
the body
was shoddy
just a sock stuffed with tissue
lumpy in spots but not a big issue
for the arms and legs
an unholy arrangement of wires and clothes pegs
and although it looked it a complete fright
at least it stayed reasonably upright

the next stage was animation
and what I did was an abomination
I downloaded Pinocchio off Netflix
whizzed it up in the Magimix
poured the gunk down this tuberoid monster
then said hello to my blank faced imposter

my fault entirely
it was undeniably
a serious moral lapse
and whilst it’s true perhaps
I should have taken a long, hard look in the mirror
before committing myself to such a mortal error
still
it was a thrill
to slide down that particular
double-helix helter-skelter
and anyway – this funny, potato-headed feller
turned out much better suited
to the challenges of the daily commute
the workplace routines
the tasks and teams
political skullduggery
so – in summary
the dummy me
made a BETTER me

and now I sit here cursing myself
out of reach on the monster’s shelf

the first act

of a musical about global warming / called STORMING! / there’s this fishing family / more or less happily / trapping eels on a marsh / it’s relentlessly harsh / heavy on the protein, light on the starch / the father is an Aquarian / a caring but overbearing authoritarian / formerly a librarian / wary, pretty scary / increasingly hairy / who took his family / and friends / way out into the Fens / and started a colony amongst the saltmarsh pens / they weave for the eels / in canoes they carve with ornate keels / depicting creatures with flaming eyes / which isn’t such a huge surprise / given their leader’s / idiosyncratic demeanour / an unholy cross between a lion and a lemur / anyway / the family name is Healey-May / and they carry on in this really eely way / until the fateful day when he weather changes / and the Gulf Stream catastrophically rearranges / the kind of low lying regions / where the Healey-Mays are living for eely reasons / so they get horribly inundated / destroying the lifestyle they created / and the only two that make it out / are the kids I haven’t told you about / Kylie and Jenna / who secretly together / had anticipated the weather / and learned to surf / when all the adults had been going to church / (another detail I forgot to mention / they worshipped a God of their own invention / unsurprisingly an EEL god / which wasn’t that much different to a REAL God / except with gills behind the beard / and a cloak for the tail so it didn’t look weird) / and Kylie and Jenna surf it out / while the rest of the commune flounders about / with the eels and the flounders / and the dangers our duo encounters / are the subject of the second half of this eco musical / which I’ll tell you all about straight after the interval

Stanley vs. The Hay Bales

Stanley was confused
he totally REFUSED
to go through the field
where the hay
was displayed
all baled up in wheels

quite why he was scared I don’t know
hay bales aren’t a big deal you’d suppose
but maybe if you’re a lolloping lurcher
you’d worry they’d suddenly roll over and hurt ya

but I have to admit
when I stop and think about it
dozens of gigantic wheels of hay
neatly lined up in a field in that way
IS pretty odd
like the act of some crazy, geometric god
bored with the general mess of creation
suddenly wanting a tighter formation

Stanley CERTAINLY didn’t trust ‘em
he gave them the side-eye when we tiptoed past ‘em
maybe he was afraid
of what else he’d see displayed
cows made of cubes
rabbits tumbling by in tubes
he probably likes his nature more natural
which is why we jogged past on a hasty diagonal

the cad with the hair

(with apologies to Dr Seuss…)

The sun did not shine
We had nothing to say
We held a referendum
and it went the wrong way

I sat there with Sally
we sat there we two
and I said how I wish
we were in the EU

And then something went fart!
How that fart made us start!
We looked!
And we saw a big red bus park!
With words on the side
that were big, white and wide
promising the millions we’d earn outside
but no exclamation mark

And we saw him step off it!
And his hat he did doff it!
And he walked in right there!
We looked!
And we saw him!
The cad with the hair!

And he said to us
Why are you two sitting there?
Face it – you lost
to me and Lord Frost
Lord Frost is so funny
the kind of grim funny
that rhymes with no money
so try to be sunny
I’ve got lots of tricks
this thing I will fix
it’s all oven ready
like quick cook spaghetti

Then Sally and I
had nothing to say
Truth had deserted the house
for the day

But our fish said, ‘No! No!
Make that cad go away!
Tell that cad with the hair
you do NOT want to play!
He should NOT be here!
He should NOT be about.
He’s a cheat and a chump
and his brain is a lump
He talks about sovereignty
Take back control constantly
But he deals with facts wantonly
He cares nothing about fishes!
He just does as he wishes!

‘Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!’ said the cad.
‘My tricks are not bad
Why, what fun we can have!
Lots of good fun, if you wish,
when we lose all our fish
and our exports all squish
and we play a good game
I call fuck business

‘Have no fear!’ said the cad
‘I will not let this fail!
It’s not so bad!
Britannia will prevail!
Hoorah for grand gestures!
Bah sucks to the Truth!
Let’s hunker down proudly
under one leaky roof
The EU was migrants
and bananas and rot
Let’s hold our heads high
and build a big yacht
Let’s cut foreign aid
and hold big parades!
Let’s zip this thing up!
Let’s fill the back pockets
of our friends from the club
Down with Dither & Delay!
You can play right away!
You can play without pay!
Down with dull detail!
We signed the agreement!
which, all things considered,
was quite an achievement

I will hold this country high
as I stand on this ball
Protocols in one hand!
and in my head – why – nothing at all!

‘Look at me!
Look at me now!’ said the cad
‘with a protocol and a cake
and I will eat it
and I will keep it!
I know how to cheat it!
I can hold up TWO notions!
I can hold up the fish!
Sign deals where I wish!
And look!
I can hop up and down on integrity!
because incredibly
you voted for this!’

That is what the cad said
Then he fell on his head!
He came down with a crash
haemorrhaging cash
And the bus with the promise
that was dumb and dishonest
mysteriously vanished
like a big red whale
and Sally and I
saw the whole thing fail

And Sally and I did not know
what to say.
Should we tell our children
what went on here that day?

Should we tell them about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
well…
what would YOU do
if your children asked YOU?

status update XI

I’m a clown in a library / a circus in a cemetery / a mosh pit in a monastery / I’m Mr Tumbles played by Sean Connery

I’m a flighty ITU nurse / under rehearsed / wrestling with the drips / fixing the respirator with paper clips

I’m a dreary, teary TV drama / about a melancholic melon farmer / who drags in two of his finest favourites / puts ‘em in T-shirts but leaves ‘em faceless

I’m tokin’ n’jokin’ with J R R Tolkein / in an orc den in Hoboken / till the joint gets broken / by eleven Elven cops in slow motion

I’m a glitchy witch with a troublesome itch / dragging her broom under the bridge / vengeful and vexed / cursing her exes / cliche-cackling about what comes next / firing off a bunch of hexes by DMs and textses

I’m Meanderful man, Homosloppiens / body of a pup seal, head of a Pomeranian

I’m the Marks & Spencers mannequin / stuffed in the coffin when the undertakers were panicking

I’m a rooster on the roster, a chimp on the glam / I’m ‘Tell us a story Tory Jackanory’ on a pay-per-view cam

I’m backroom backups, tea with the Queen / I’m outside rinsing with gasoline

I’m corporate distension, business requirement / I’m fifteen years in solitary alignment

I’m great with a gusset but floundering in straps / I’m the bastard war child of Jonhson and Shapps

I’m a spider on a spinning top, a whale in the shower / a giraffe in a scarf who pays by the hour

I’m Rumpelstiltskin / phoning it in / jumping up, singing / Don’t Stop Believin’ / at the Kurly Kicker Karaoke club while the King & Queen are grievin’

I’m a flag on a fender, a shadowless moon
and I’m hoping those UFOs park up soon