five short chapters from the age of gods & mortals

I.

prometheus was generous / he was basically alright / he leaned down from the clouds to the ground / to give all the smokeless mortals a light / and if his punishment was a bit over the top and livery / for such a naive and unauthorised delivery / still, the laparotomising eagle always took flight / and the poor guy’s liver grew back each night

II.

the medusa / was a serial user & abuser / every day a bad hair day / (the classic gorgon confusion / any new relationship a foregone conclusion) / but perseus got the heads up / on the practicalities of this particular pre-nup / wore cool mirror shades / that paid off in spades / and just as he practised in rehearsal / did all his sword fighting in reversal / ended up tossing her hissing head in a sack / and whistling heroically, sauntered back

III.

scylla and charybdis / a couple of mean-minded sisters / who took a terrible maritime toll / one a monstrous snake and the other basically a hole / they lived either side of the strait of messina / guarding the water inbetweener / royally and orally destroying / anything buoyantly annoying / until odysseus / stealthy & inconspicuous / taking the line of least resistance / managed to / find a way through / and okay – so a half dozen heros got eaten by scylla / but at least the boat made the homebound flotilla

IV.

labyrinthitis is rarely fatal / except if you’re a cretan youth or neonatal / because that’s where a bunch of them got sent / every year as punishment / the labyrinth was this crazy maze / built by daedulas in happier days / before icarus and his fickle attitude / to altitude / failing so spectacularly in his fatherly devotion / by hurtling curls-first into the ocean / so anyway / the labyrinth / basically a plinth / in the middle / of an underground puzzle / with a griddle / for the minotaur to get snacky with the kiddle / until down came theseus / muscles gleaming with greaseus / who straightway cut him to piecius / lopping off his head / and then winding his way back with a ball of thread

V.

the chimera! the chimera! / most terrifying creature of the antic era / body of a goat and the head of shakira / and the tail from a snake / and fiery breath that would burn and bake / and giant paws that would pound the ground and make the houses shake / which the general population found pretty hard to take / until – step forth bellerophon! / ripped & ready for the slay-a-thon / he leapt up onto pegasus, his horse / tough as a rhinocerorse / but aerodynamically better of course / together they swooped on the hapless creature / and ran it through with his most prominent feature / (a long & lethally lead-tipped spear / which pretty much did the trick, I hear)
medusa

 

 

bacteria and the fine art of surviving

sometimes when I’m arriving / or leaving / or deciding it’s high time I stopped / and dropped / all the buying and complying / all the dealing and denying / the blind believing / sometimes when I’m driving / somewhere nice / or not / somewhere cold / or hot / or maybe watching some documentary about prom queens / ponzi schemes / corrupt regimes / viral memes / diana ross and the supremes / I wonder what it’s all about / because even though I’ve tried and I’ve tried to figure it out / still I’m gripping the steering wheel wracked with doubt

Anyway / this is what happened the other day :::::

It was just after nine / I’d tried and failed to see Maureen, a patient of mine / suffering self-neglect & cognitive decline / her niece / Denise / met me outside the flat / we buzzed and rang but had no luck with that / we hollered through the letterbox / the hallway resounded with our shouting and knocks / but the flat was quiet and the door remained locked / Denise / had no keys / because her aunt wouldn’t give her a set / even though her aunt was prone to forget / whether to eat or not / and left things on the stove when it was hot / and needed reminding to take her medication a lot / but this whole thing was a long time in the making / (Denise was grateful for the trouble I was taking) / we stood there in the hall / wondering what to do and who to call / Denise was realistic / she said this behaviour was characteristic / her aunt was definitely home / but just wanted to be left alone / the risk was low she was on the floor / so we probably didn’t need to kick down the door / it would’ve been too destructive / counter-productive / so instead we came up with an urgent plan of action / to liaise with the doctor re possible forcible extraction / I shook Denise’s hand warmly, said goodbye / then picked up my bags and walked outside

back in the car / having some juice and an energy bar / scanning my diary, planning my visits / I listened to a professor of theoretical physics / it was thrilling / compelling / there was still no way of telling / he said / the essential difference between alive and dead / no experiment yet devised / that could have the issue verified / it was somewhere in the realm of chemical & electrical causation / in DNA packed full of coded information / it was software / versus hardware / somewhere deep in there / and if that wasn’t enough / he went on to talk about other stuff / how space & time came into existence / how early bacteria showed a marked resilience / there, at the dawn of multi-cellularity / with a strange and marked singularity / busily working on their proliferative capability / tackling insults to their integrity

I thought about Maureen, locked in her flat / and what I was going to do about that / and I heard our efforts echoing down the hall / and on and on to the start of it all / to the shore at the dawn of Time’s Big Bang / the very moment when it all began / that cataclysmic spasm / that unexplained heat in the heart of the eternal chasm / that evolutionary propulsion / of subatomic ticks and tocks / to Denise and me shouting through a letterbox

well honestly sometimes i feel like

:::::: well honestly sometimes i feel like the dumbo stamped red rubber band stretched round the trembling right hand of Ernest Hemingway
:::::: or the butterfly engraved beard trimmers catastrophically used to lever open a rusty can of paint thinners by Claude Monet
:::::: other times, i feel like the bent EPNS gecko wedged in the neck of a bottle of prosecco in the second-best fridge of Reggie & Ronnie
:::::: or the poisonous snake receipt shredded in the chaotic christmas present deceit in the glitzy LA retreat of Jay Z & Beyonce
:::::: mostly i’m just the duck handled shoe horn overlooked in the elephant foot umbrella stand of Hubert de Givenchy
:::::: or the half-eaten wild turkey canape at the adoption ceremony welcoming Johnny Depp into the worldwide tribe of the Comanche

:::::: and there aint nothing i can do about it

growing pains

I wanted to grow a beard / something distinctive but not too weird / stylish / not outlandish / man-about-townish / clipped, pristine / easy to clean / nothing droopy / something that wouldn’t get too soupy

I spent a lot of time / online / swiping through the chins on show / so what should I grow? / a balbo? / terminal? / chic imperial? / woodsman? / trendy urban? / but then – on a scary hairy forum / I saw something awesome / a beard called the ouija / an oddly unsettling procedure / full of twists and curls / elegant strands that delicately unfurled / like antic letters from another world

I made a resolution to do it /
took me six months, but I grew it

I had no idea / when the beard / finally appeared / it would look so sinisterly sheared / honestly – it was horrible / diabolical / twitching and witchy / scratchy / unbearably itchy / but with one particular feature I hesitate to mention / a superfast, facial connection / straight through to another dimension

because / there I was / twiddling my curls / thinking of anything but parallel worlds / when suddenly I had a spasm / my lips flecked with ectoplasm / a terrifying feeling of reeling and falling / then: ‘oh my goodness – is that Jimmy calling?’

Grandma? I said / but I thought you were dead / as her words tumbled round and round in my head / like scrabble tiles jangling in a bottomless green bag / scented by an eternity of peter stuyvesant fags / spectral clouds of talcum powder / top notes of incontinent chihuahua /

it was just so completely shocking / my teeth were clacking, my knees were knocking / I mean – I was totally unprepared / it was only grandma, but damn was I scared

I tried to be brave and lighten the scene / Hi there, grandma! I said – how’ve you been?
what d’you mean? / how’ve I been? she said / I’ve been DEAD! / believe me there are plenty of things I’d rather be doing instead
oh, I said / slapping my head / but …. no ….really….how’s it all going?
well – to be honest with you, Jim – it’s an awful lot of toing and froing / depending on which way the psychic wind’s blowing

now – you probably think this was a great opportunity / to engage with the ex-life, ex-pat community / and ask all the questions you’re dying to know / like how’s it all organised and where do you go? / is it harps and clouds? / are pets allowed? / do you flap around singing all day? / or is that just so much angelic cosplay? / you’d want to know if there’s a god or not / and whether hell is actually hot / and how many chances has the average spirit got / to turn things around and improve its lot / and whether the heavenly congregation / increases exponentially with the earthly population / so, if heaven was emptier round the time of moses / are they now suffering spatial anxiety neuroses / and if so, what are the solutions god proposes?

but actually? – I totally lost my nerve

I think I left something on the stove / I mumbled / stumbling / backwards into the kitchen / scrabbling & stretching / over to the sink / praying grandma wouldn’t think / to hover over and check / why I was so hurriedly lathering my neck / but she seemed happy just to glow their innocently / up by the pelmet incandescently / and in a few bloody strokes the beard was gone / I dabbed at my face and slowly turned around

grandma had vanished, just an echo on the air / and a scattering of crumbs on the rocking chair

a couple of months later I grew a goatee / easy to clean & guaranteed ghost free

beards

3 from Nostradamus’ Little Book of Prophecy

I.

And on the first afternoon / a smiling man shall walk out upon the craterous face of the moon / but the atmosphere generators will have been damaged by a spoon / and consequently he will lift the visor of his helmet too soon / and lo, his head shall increaseth in size like a party balloon / and shall pop / and he shall drop / and The Big Kahuna Lunar mini-break suddenly stop / and all manner of things shall be confus-ed / and all further space vacations review-ed

and great shall be the lamentation thereof

II.

And on the afternoon of the second day (according to my organiser) / a monstrously ravenous hybrid hydra / shall crawl from the sump of the hadron collider / casting instruments and scientists aside / and flinging the heavy security doors wide / shall flex its terrible claws and stride / way out across the glittering Swiss countryside / until a bunch of generals on satellite phones / launch Operation Pile o’Bones / with a flock of fearsome UN drones / to corral the hydra in a free-fire zone / smoke it’s ass and send it home

and great shall be the lamentation thereof

III.

And on the third evening during a calm atlantic crossing / a captain will stroll from the bridge for a little light dental flossing / when he shall see a sailor down on the for’ard deck, dossing / with a crossbow on his lap for some albatrossing / and tho’ the captain will clap his hands and shout / none of his warnings will reach the limey layabout / who will suddenly shoot his bolt into the snout / of the first albatross he sees flying about / and lo, shall the Captain wail / and the luxury cruise shall fail / and the first lieutenant bail / and the second mate be swallowed by a whale / and the waiters & entertainers turn tail / and passenger complaints go off the scale / and then day after day, day after day / they shall be stuck with nor breath nor motion / as idle as a painted ship – well, you get the picture

and great shall be the lamentations thereof  IMG_0441

hansel & gretel : mob kids

hanselGretelhansel & gretel / young, mean & successful / bent as a coupla sesame pretzels / I heard they smoked some pedo wizard down on popocatepetl / anyways / theys / scratchin’ around for the next shekel / & they find a job downtown / taking out a renowned / cake & candy gang / whose number one meringue / AKA The Witch / they tease & tumble / til’ she totally apple crumbles / spills the crack-flavoured jelly beans / and a hundred other hard-boiled / shop soiled / confectionary schemes / until the grim final scene / when they push her hat first into a rock-pulling machine / and stand there licking custard creams / as the wicked Witch gets wiped / coming out all long & thin & peppermint striped / I seen the report the coroner typed: / (in big, bold letters to avoid confusion) / DEATH BY MEANS OF EXTREME MECHANICAL EXTRUSION

my own conclusion?

stay well clear my friend, if y’know what I mean / these punks are high on tartrazine