let there be lurcher

We went to see dogs at the RSPCA
but they didn’t have much to show us that day
just a couple of wild-eyed terriers
barking round their barred interiors
two intimidating staffie brothers
smouldering, shoulder to shoulder
then a lurcher
called Storm
slumped in a basket at the far end on his own
like a cyclone
of the purest depression
or a lifer in prison
whose only ambition
is to own a harmonica and play the blues
as people pass by in orderly queues

he looked a mess
and I have to confess
I expressed
some hesitation
especially when I read the information
written on the card
tied to the bars
describing his hard
and cruelly neglected past

he’d been rescued with a Patterdale called Biscuit
who’d been taken the day before our visit
(unless TAKEN was some kind of shelter euphemism
for the way some dogs end up leaving the prison)

so it was just Storm
forsaken and forlorn
waiting for someone to perform
an unlikely miracle
the chances against it were considerable
for something so ribby and miserable

and I must admit I had my doubts
especially how a dog that size would get out
through the flap we had in the kitchen door
other than breech birth paw over paw

but the others were insistent
so we found an assistant
told her we were interested in adopting Storm
she took us to the office to fill out a form

there were certain procedures to follow of course
we had to come back a few times for walks
to see if any of us had second thoughts
including whether he’d get on with Lola
our beautiful, elderly and elegant lurcher
who acted the martyr
but then quickly adapted because she’s smarter
and saw the benefits in having a partner

so everything seemed to go pretty well
Lola behaved like a true professional
and Storm was happy as far as we could tell
being generally as inscrutable as baby Yoda
in the end we said fine and he jumped in the Toyota
(and yes – I KNOW Skoda
would’ve sounded better
but – y’know – whatever
at least you can see I’m always striving
to be honest about stuff, including what I’m driving)

Three years later
and it’s hard to remember
a time before we ever had Stanley
(we changed the name from Storm incidentally
because essentially
we didn’t think he looked like a Storm
more like a Terry, an Eric or a Norm
in a neckerchief and cap
like a Victorian bargee or something like that
but it had to be a name that started with STUH
so he wouldn’t think we were calling some other lurcher
anyway – you get the picture)

and just like all those other decisions
when fate intervenes in unlikely conditions
we extended by one this vagabond family
with a lolloping, long-legged lurcher called Stanley

Boris Johnson World

Hands up who’s been to Boris Johnson World?
Jolly well done!
So you’ve seen how wonderfully obscene it is!
How bullshittingly, boosterishly green it is!
How my stop motion cabinet
is a hilarious cartoon magnet
for trough loads of moolah
My friends – we could stand up here and dance the hula hula
and still, it appears, you’d sooner
vote for us
and the great big lies on our great big bus
than vote for a party
that’s boringly honest and honestly quite farty
So – my friends
I heartily recommend
Boris Johnson World!
Where our trotters are spotless and our tails are curled!
Where public projects are constantly oversold!
Where the Union Jack
Is available out back
to the highest bidder with the tallest stack
and that
my friends

Lost it


Forgive me
Forgive me
Forgive me

one man shares his horrifying story

lemme try’n describe ‘em to ya
they was like half clambake half petunia
legs all curly like croissants
not entirely unpleasant
ya know?
but this was some time ago
anyway I was all like ‘so I’m Damian
n’I’m guessing by the look of you you must be aliens’
yeah – turns out they was
and it seems they’d come down to earth because
they was looking for one or two people to probe
so it asked me if I minded n’ of course I said nope

yeah, well – they looked so intently
and me y’know I’m nothing but friendly

so they sucked me right off
to the funny little craft
that was hovering above the farm like a hat
or maybe a Chevy 82 stamp steel hubcap

once I was there they treated me real nice
showed me the probe but I didn’t think twice
I mean everyone’s got a job to do
I know that and I think you do, too
so they got to work with their funny little fingers
I could tell by their heads they were some fancy thinkers
brains the size of a water cooler
they probed me good no fewer
than eighteen, maybe nineteen times
making a lot of excitable signs
so I said okay fellas enough’s enough
I’m done with all this here probing stuff
so they flipped off the top of my skull
like it was really no trouble at all
and rubbed their fingers all over my brains
which cured me of my migraines
but still was kinda odd
and definitely not
a procedure I’d recommend
to none of my family and friends

time passed as time will do
they showed me pictures of their planet
I showed them one of the dogs and Janet
then all of a sudden they sent me back
in something like a fleshy sack
made of slime and guts
which seemed like a lot of fuss
but it kept me safe from burning up
when I found myself turning up
back in the barn
and found I’d been gone
only ‘bout half the night
when Janet turned on the porch light
and I showed her the marks
on my face and arse
which is when she gave a terrifying shout
threw my clothes in a bag and kicked me out

now – have you got what you need for this here documentary?
that’ll be fifty dollars, incidentally

a squid looks upon the face of god

Tommaso shows me a video clip
of the squid he caught on his fishing trip

I watched as he held one up to the light
from the torch he wore to go fishing that night

‘Look how its colour shimmers!’ he said
‘A ripple of pattern from its tentacles to its head!’

‘It’s like they’re warning each other of danger!’
Then he dropped it back in the plastic container

It lay staring up like a stranded alien
And I suddenly felt bad for all the calamari I’d eaten

I mean – I know a squid eats shellfish and such
and probably doesn’t worry about THAT overmuch

but a squid can’t leave the safety of the sea
and walk down the shops to buy food like me

I wish it could; maybe we’d chat
about the cost of seafood and stuff like that

And I must admit I’ve felt quite hooked
ever since I saw how that poor squid looked

draped over Tommaso’s black gloved hand
out of luck and over land

its gills flapping pointlessly
as it flashed its skin iridescently

and I bet if a squid believed in God
it’d be something with a torch and a fishing rod

status update XIII

I’m a titanic ten tonne crab / tin can opening a JCB cab / with one fine and furious dab / of its bastard, barnacled claws / whilst the driver dives headfirst through the buckled digger doors / and sprawls / calling and bawling on the pebbly shore / desperately imploring / the abominable crustacean to ignore him / it wasn’t his idea / to start excavations for a new pier / but the crab doesn’t appear / to hear / tosses him down with a monstrous sneer

I’m a southern, soothing, suburban dominatrix / equally lovely in leather or latex / dishing out red pills to show them my matrix / I’ve got off-street parking, free wifi and rope tricks / professionally edited video and dope pics / ignore the reviews – I hate those pricks / my shit is fit, it tastes like weetabix

I’m Galileo / on an interplanetary go slow / dreaming about giving the pope the old heave-ho / chuckling through the wrong end of a bargain bin telescope

I’m sad Sir Lancelot / finally barred from Camelot / off my visor in the parking lot / asking Arthur if the Lady of the Lake is hot / using the Holy Grail as a chamber pot / throwing my tin can legs on my horse but it’s shot / won’t even trot / and I’m sure I’ve got / another one somewhere but I forgot / and I call for my squire because the last time I looked I was still a knight but unfortunately the squire says because of my embarrassing behaviour apparently I’m not

I’m a snoozy Yakuza in the jacuzzi / idly nibbling sashimi with my sushi / one eye on my iphone, one on my Uzi

I’m a reliably pliable MP / conscience and rent free / hear-hearing endlessly / perpetuating the rich white hegemony / just another well-dressed tick / gorging on the body politic / saying there here are more things in heaven and earth Horatio / like off-shore havens and autofellatio

miraculous street food outside the barracuda club

I. And Jesus came back / in a pair of off-rack / khaki slacks / sandals and an Eastpak backpack / and sayeth Hallelujah! / then shruggeth and taketh an uber / way across town to The Barracuda

II. For He Googleth a club to make his appearance / to the twelve hipster beardy descendents / of his erstwhile, ancient New Testament adherents / who verily didst struggle to make a late diary clearance / and wondreth what he wouldst say about his long disappearance

III. Outside the club the queue was heaving / only getting in with the same number leaving / all the thrilling throng believing / they wouldst totally have a blissed out evening

IV. And Jesus didst glow transcendently white / as he walked towards the UV light / and asketh the centurions on the door if they might / please check the list and say it was alright / for him to go into the club that night

V. And the crowd didst fall most wondrously silent / fully expecting the scene to turn violent

VI. Sorry, mate – no sandals sayeth the guy / Blessed are the Sockless was Jesus’ reply / Okay Yeah Whatever he sighed / But them’s the rules and thou’st gottest comply

VII. And lo! the disciples didst suddenly rock up / in a smoky old chariot they’d clumsily knocked up / from a flat-bed pickup truck they’d stocked up / with a few dozen loaves and some tuna they’d boxed up

VIII. And Jesus did bid the crowd to sit / and lectureth them through a ram’s horn for a bit / about sharing and caring and other hippy shit / and he did comfort the weary and heal the sick / then bid the disciples get to it / passing out bread so the crowds could chew it

IX. And verily! didst the throng soon forget / they’d been queuing for hours as they devour’d the baguette / and rued their misspent time with regret / and yet / Jesus lay down on the pavement and wept

X. My club! My club! Why hast thou forsaken me? / Peter looked down on Him vacantly / asketh if he didst come upon the venue mistakenly

XI. And the crowd grew restive and borderline hysterical / and wondreth if the hippy were insulin diabetical / and they cried to heaven for help paramedical

XII. And blue lights flashed on the distant horizon / and an ambulance arrived in a blaze of siren / and taketh Him to the Golgotha Hospital environ

XIII. And an oxygen mask was put upon his head / as they transferred him onto the hospital bed / and the disciples didst struggle to hear the words He said / till the nurses asked them to wait outside instead

XIV. And thrice the ER nurse didst struggle / to get some blood but got in a muddle / and Jesus only smiled and thanked him for his trouble

XV. And 72 hours didst he stay confin’d in the room / while consultants debated his case via Zoom / their desks with the curious case notes strewn / as they busily review’d his prognosis with gloom / and their waking hours it didst consume / and thought it might be Lupus but you couldn’t assume

XVI. And lo! the blue curtains were torn asunder! / and the Emergency Room was rocked with thunder / and the nurses and porters looked on in wonder / as Jesus leapt up and donneth a runner

XVII. The Disciples hath picked over this lesson a lot / with all the theological brains they’d got / but in the end it was a big so-what / clubs are messy, man, Messiah or not


Bathymodiolus elongatus
is an elegant species of apparatus
you’ll find on the sides of hydrothermal vents
filter-feeding the nutrients
that smoke up continuously
from ancient mineral chimneys
3000m down at the bottom of the sea

its common name is the giant vent mussel
which neatly describes its specialised hustle
working the tasty, smoky plumes
as they bubble away in the abyssal gloom
(there are lots of other creatures, too
like yeti crabs that work the flue
but I thought I’d focus on the mussel with you)

meanwhile, back on the distant surface
a marine biologist listens to her purchase
the latest album from Ed Sheeran
she downloaded in Guam
humming along happily
as she taps the keyboard rapidly
skilfully manipulating the ROV

I’m not entirely sure what this shows
something about life on earth I suppose
how every creature’s looking for solace
from marine biologist to deep water mollusc
a catchy tune, a well-turned lyric
or something a little more thermophilic
rumbling up from pipes in the Pacific

Edward remembered

Dad’s dad Edward was dead
long before the latest fat head
got squeezed out into the world
and tentatively curled
its fingers round the thumb
of the man Edward called son

Edward lost his senses
fighting in the French trenches
got shot in the guts
rehabilitated in hospital huts
then shipped back to blighty
with one almighty
addiction to chlorodyne
which he took all the time
with whisky chasers
refighting the war with family and neighbours

I saw a picture taken a few years before
Edward marched off to the First World War
he was standing by a bus in Victoria station
where he worked for the transport corporation
a fag in his left hand, a dipstick in the right
the family devil in his eye alright

There’s been no shortage of fighting since then
no doubt there’ll be plenty of fighting again
no one learns anything, what can you say?
you sign on the line, you fire away
while the ones who demanded it posture and smirk
and let the mechanics do the work

I’d love to have asked him
his considered opinion
depending on his temper
how much he’d had on the eleventh of November