asleep by the end of verse II

I’m done, finished, whacked-out, beat
so far off my aching feet
I’d need a telescope to tell them apart
a scientist pointing them out on a chart
ten toes throbbing in the constellation of sox
a light year away, give or take a coupla blocks

I’m weary, exhausted, a waning moon
deflating like a party balloon
a clown tied quickly, grinning like hell
but didn’t finish the knot that well
so now it’s just a baggy mess
and what kinda animal ANYONE’S guess

marine boy

it’s not just low tide
it’s totally no tide
like the ocean
had the notion
to turn round and quit
all that idle, tidal, diurnal shit
this is not a simulation
this is an uh-oh, here we go, no flow type situation
King Neptune burbles: you blind barbarians!
you’ve totally crapped up my beautiful aquarium!
but honestly, Neppie – you can talk
your trident’s nothing but a plastic fork
your armour’s made of bottle tops, your beard’s a bag
your crown’s a pack ring and your net’s a drag
so spare us the pelagic rodomontade
it’s real life flipper and it’s not that hard
get yourself used to the world being fishless
and maybe cross surfing off your wishlist

letters home II

Well!
Hell!
WHAT a lot to tell!
I was outside picking daisies
when dodgy uncle Hades
showed up in his Mercedes
we’re off to the underworld he said
so effectively dead
I said
can’t we go to Skiathos instead?
nope
this time of year, no hope
so he took me to the underworld
one word?
underwhelmed
the decor?
hardcore
the lighting?
frightening
basically an underground storage facility
for deadheads shuffling around unpredictably
in various states of invisibility
a bit like a Club Med holiday
for the damned
where none of the activities go as planned
anyway – thanks for pulling that crop stunt, mum
I can’t believe Hades would be so dumb
my bags are packed, my passport valid
I’ll be off when I’ve finished this pomegranate salad

tow floats

Alex’ pizza palace
is painted blue and white
like the flag
and if that wasn’t Greek enough
he’s playing Zorba’s Dance
on the PA
He shows us to a table
overlooking the sea
welcome my friends
you are all welcome
thank you
the sun will be behind us
in a few minutes
so you will be okay
What can I get you to drink?
Parakalo

There’s a swimmer
in the sea
pulling a fluorescent
orange tow float
he moves further out
diving now and again
What’s he doing?
I don’t know
looking at things

There are kid’s drawings
of Alex behind the bar
a comedy chef
in a big chef’s hat
arms out straight
right and left
in another picture
he’s just a huge pizza
with legs and a face

Are you from UK?
he says, offloading a tray of drinks
we tell him from where
I ask if he was born on Corfu
He says Yes
Fifty seven years ago
we were poor
no electricity till 70s
but we were happy
running around
playing games
one television
in whole of village
for football matches
and serials
we watch together
that’s it
when I was seventeen
I work on cruise ships
Americans, big tips
very nice times
save a lot of money
see the world
then I come back
and open bar
now I have this place
since 2008
things change
now I get your pizzas
parakalo
thank you very much
I hope you have nice holidays

the sun slips behind the building
the sea darkens

I sip my drink
watch as the swimmer moves
slowly out of sight
rounding the headland
the last thing to go
his fluorescent orange tow float

mall ghosts

it’s not that you never see ghostly faces
nodding to you over piles of melons
in Walmart or other fruity places
their mournful expressions
making you blanch
quickening your heart
till you rush from that branch
with an empty cart

and it’s not that you never smell them there
in quiet, soulless shoe stores
idly waving their feet in the air
smiling as you wander in through the doors
making you stop
and say yikes
and hurry past the shop
without any Nikes

or ever see them yawn and flip
through the medical practice magazines
while you patiently sit and wait for your scrip
for next week’s benzodiazepines
making you squawk
and sprint from the surgery
unable to talk
about your emergency

no

ironically
for creatures of low to no gravity
they gravitate to much older joints
with cellars, attics and other cliche spooky points
which is absolutely 100% fine by me
obviously
because (theoretically)
much as I think a ghost might be fun
I’d end up never getting anything done

letters home

Dear Penelope
it’s me
Odysseus
sorry it’s been hideous
the Trojan war
was a bore
but we won it with a big toy horse
stuffed with soldiers first of course
the Trojans
had mixed emotions
wheeled it through the gate
heard the giggling but it was too late
and that was that
so now I’m done and heading back
it shouldn’t take long to get to Ithaca
a beautiful southerly is filling the spinnaker
can’t wait to see both you and the kid
and tell you all the things I did
(although ‘sacked Troy, came home’
hardly makes for an epic poem)

from The Song of Stan, stanticle 7

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[1] How beautiful are thy paws with claws, O prince’s lurcher! The joints of thy thighs are supersized, the work of the hands of a prize-winning special effects artist.
[2] Thy belly is protuberant as a goblin’s, which wanteth not for scratching; thy underbits are like an heap of treats set about with squeakers
[3] Thy breath is like a road to nowhere
[4] Thy neck is as a worn beach towel derisory; thine eyes strictly wishful and advisory; thy nose has the power of Lucifer, and ever looketh toward dinner
[5] Thine head upon thee is like a camel, and the hair of thine head like a flannel; nothing much is held in the galleries of thine brain, as we oft are driven sorrowfully to explain
[6] Howl fair and howl unpleasant dost thou, O lord, for the love of God make it stop
[7] This thy stature is like to a rickety clothes horse, and thy vapours to clusters of apes
[8] I said, I will go over the park with thee, I will take hold of the lead thereof: now also from my pockets extract numberless treats, and you shalt take thy fill, and I shalt feed them to thee, bravely, like pine logs through a sawmill
[9] And the roof of thy mouth liketh to whine for thy beloved spot on the sofa, that goeth oft to thy rival Lola, causing the lips of he who hast been too slow again to speak, in fulsome irritation
[10] I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me (or any that doth have access to cheese)
[11] Come, my beloved! Let us go forth into the field; let us dodge the horses
[12] Let us get up early to the backyard; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth; failing that, we’ll just go for a walk
[13] Man dogs do give a smell, so our place has all manner of boujee diffusers, new and dried out, which we have laid out for thee. So do your worst, O my beloved.

boujee cruises

it’s more than just a ship
it’s more than a hotel
it’s more than just a trip
with stunning personnel
it’s a entire world on the water
a lifetime in a week
out through the Straits of Gibraltar
to somewhere hot and Greek
every night it’s Vegas
every menu France
your luxury berth high status
our pharmacies advanced
soak up all the famous views
lose yourself in souks
wander off in ones and twos
or organised groups
the experience is SO blessed
EVERYBODY’S doing it
so I hope you don’t mind if I humbly suggest
you don’t show up and ruin it

life, the universe and the wild, wild west

life’s a squeeze
a temporal sneeze
between one infinity and the next
which sounds complex
but it’s not
it’s just the universe is all we’ve got
and doesn’t much care
whether we’re there
to talk about it or not

the whole thing’s over before it starts
so try not to take it to heart
like twitchy cowboys shooting in the dark
c’mon – they’re cacti, guys
this shit shouldn’t be a surprise
in a semi-arid environment
why’d ya have to be so violent?

my point is
the joint is
what you might call temporary
consciousness complimentary
all we ever really have is THE NOW
which unfortunately just went
but I’m sure another is imminent

vivid holiday car hire insight

we went away
on holiday
got lost driving up a mountain
passed some old men sitting by a fountain
they stared at us as we went past
and were still there staring when we went down again at last

what were they talking about
between bouts
of ascent and descent?
the corrupt government?
why bees buzz?
what the prostate actually DOES?
who knows
but what it SHOWS
it’s that life’s just a cup of strong Greek coffee
between two infinite periods of unconsciousness
and if THAT’S not worth the cost of the car hire I don’t know what is