ghost therapy

I dreamt
I was in hospital, sent
to see a patient
admitted that evening
a screaming
scared of
I said it was certainly the lesser of two evils
because it’s either a jab or a silver bullet
so he grabbed the emergency cord to pull it…

but then I opened my eyes
and to my surprise
saw my dead dad
ludicrously clad
in the big black cloak he always had
stagily wreathed in thick grey smoke
waving with boney bonhomie
from the foot of the bed in front of me

Alright son? he said
nodding his head
grinning so broadly
I was inordinately
worried his lower jaw
would pop right out on the bedroom floor
‘We’ve got to stop meeting like this!
but it’s another full moon so I couldn’t resist…’

I sat up
plumped the pillows and backed up
as he worked his cloak and flapped up

‘DAD!’ I said
as he hovered next to the bed
‘I thought when you were dead
schtum – that was it
not all this ghostly shemozzle instead’

‘I know!’ he grinned
‘but turns out when the ol’ body’s binned
the essence carries on regardless
don’t be so heartless
you can hardly
blame me
anyway I’m still a trainee.’

‘It’s been nineteen years!’ I said

‘That’s nothing when you’re dead,’
he shrugged
‘But hey – it’s hard for me to judge’

I sighed
smoothed the duvet over my thighs
‘Sorry I was snippy
but it’s just a bit tricky
when you were alive you were so
I don’t know
buttoned up?
now you’re dead there’s no shutting you up.’

‘It’s true’ he said
‘I never felt so alive now I’m dead
but you see
the family meant a lot to me
I’m sorry I didn’t get to say how I really felt
but I guess that’s the hand your ol’man was dealt
my dad was a drunk who gave us the belt
so we grew up quiet and self-contained
which maybe explains
the strange restraint
but who knows? a psychotherapist I ain’t’

We chatted awhile about this and that
metaphysics; whether there are cats
and dogs
in the afterlife – or not;
what he thought about climate change;
whether he could arrange
to smuggle me over
so I could look around and get some closure
‘It’s not me it’s the paperwork,’ he said
‘It’s more straightforward when you’re actually dead.’

Just then we heard
a chorus of birds
raucously squawking just outside
a certain sign that dawn had arrived
and I reached out and shook his metacarpals
cold as a hand of wire-strung marbles
and despite all the smoke
the skeleton chic and the bullshit cloak
I have to admit I felt quite choked
when he finally twirled and quickly left
unexpectedly just as bereft
as nineteen years ago this June
when they switched him off in ITU

it was the best of times, it was the radio times

I was raised by a rental Ferguson TV
suckled on her aerial lovingly
on a furious diet of visionary scraps
series, cartoons, stuff like that
UFO, Thunderbirds, Dr Who
sprouting eyes as I slowly bloomed
in the seeing light of the sitting room
The Clangers, Magpie, Mr Benn
Wacky Races, Ivor the Engine
down on the carpet, raptly hunched
Captain Kirk, the Hair Bear Bunch
my glowing brain a glassy fog
of Muppets, Flintstones, Noggin the Nog
Here comes Bod, Rupert the Bear
Crystal Tipps and Alistair
till I pulled the plug and ran from the house
me, The Wombles and Danger Mouse

make your own stanley

what you will need:
essence of fox
zest of wolf
sloth extract
some bagpipes
a whisk
a balloon
a clock
3m of curly white carpet
a big box with nothing in it
packing tape

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 (to heat up your dinner while you’re working)
Cut six holes in the big box – one in front, one out back, four underneath.
Place the bagpipes in the box with the four long pipes poking through the underneath holes.
Put the pipe you blow through the back hole.
Put the whisk in the front hole.
Throw in the essence, the zest and the extract.
Wind up the clock and chuck it in.
Close the box.
Seal the box with packing tape.
Blow up the balloon. Draw eyes, nose & mouth on it. Stick it on the end of the whisk.
Cover the box with the curly white carpet.
Have your dinner (sneaking Stanley some cheese when no one’s looking.)

a messy confession

this is a little difficult to talk about
but when I took Stanley walkabout
he unexpectedly squatted
and before I spotted
what was happening
he took a huge dump
like he was a monstrous, liquefied poo pump
or something
his tail a handle for vigorous pumping

oh no no no STANLEY! I cried
yanking a poo bag from inside
my jacket – but really what’s the point
a tsunami of shit all OVER the joint
splattering the vicinity outside a house
like someone criminally and liberally doused
the pavement in a reeking, faecal mousse
because they REALLY didn’t like the housse

but I couldn’t very well just shrug and say fuck it
I ought to go home and fetch a bucket

just at that moment the owner emerged
and stared at the mess poor Stanley had purged

I apologised profusely
that my dog voided so loosely
immediately outside such a lovely home
and what could I possibly do to atone?

don’t worry he said I’ll hose it down
there’s a lot of tummy bugs going round
our puppy was like it the other day
shit happens, man – what can I say?

fashion tips for the larger guy

this goes out to all the guys
of what you might call a larger size
who love their life and want to show it
intrigued by fashion but don’t wanna blow it
so here are a few essential tips
and without further ado let’s get down to it

one: and this is my most important point
hold yourself like you own the joint
sure you’re bigger – what’s the beef?
chin up, smile, and give us some teeth
you’re exactly where you need to be
all you gotta do is show it to me

two: go for style & go for fit
sharp is smart – don’t be scared of it
there’s nothing better than a tailored cut
make suits your friend, no ifs no buts
(belts put bulges where ya waist is
so learn to utilise beautiful braces)

three: colour good, pattern bad
enormous flowers just make you look mad
you gotta learn to harmonise
to charm the heart and ease the eyes
how to blend? that’s the question
neutral colours for a classy impression

four: a fulsome beard is a noble pursuit
so long as you don’t go crazy hirsute
trim that sucker, keep it neat
a well-kept beard is a manly treat
and you balding geezers? (little cough)
call it quits and shave it off

five: remember – 13.8 billion years ago it all began
with lotsa nothing then a great big bang
then after millions of years of tedium
atoms of hydrogen and helium
the building blocks of everything
with gravity to stop them dissipating
until eventually it came to pass
stars were born from clouds of gas
oxygen, carbon, nitrogen
the fundamental origin
of everything you are and will ever be
so why try hide it with a baggy ass T?

just say no, suckers

just say no, suckers

Oi! Hands off the octopus!
The news today is a shock to us!
your plans for farming
are too alarming
very concerning
not what you might call life affirming

They look like aliens, super-intelligent
what they taste like with lemon completely irrelevant
calamari’s problematic
and at the risk of sounding dramatic
it’s like ordering takeaways
of fried professors in mayonnaise

Oi! Fork off the cephalopods!
Out from the Cambrian against the odds
suckering about for millions of years
from the Abyssal Plain to the Palace Pier
(although Brighton wasn’t a thing back then
it’s only been a resort since 1810)
and now this bleak and cruel decision
to cram their beaks in tanks like chickens

They’ve got 3 hearts! Blue blood!
Psychedelic skin like they’re swimming in drugs!
Brains like a water-based supercomputer!
Arses that work like an inky shooter!
Their value to science uncategorizable!
(just bad luck they’re deliciously fryable)

status update XLII

It’s hand, foot & armageddon / burn the books and pass the weapon / party first and family second / destiny smiles, eternity beckons / we’ve got about a minute I reckon

Asking myself again – what IS this / dumped on the corner like a tree at Christmas / but I suppose that’s how it goes in show business / one minute baubles, the next scared shitless / life’s ridiculous / often ambiguous / an experience gift for a cannula at Dignitas

I’m caught red handed, in cahoots / on OnlyFans as Piss in Boots

I’m queuing at the local high street cleaners / back of a pack of bloody hyenas / I don’t know what they’re laughing at / the service here is not all that

I’m a werewolf in a salon chair / waving my clawsy paws in the air / howling fix this goddam hair / the moon’s nearly full and I’m having a mare / so they do me a perm / which is bouffant and firm / and I look like an influencer, sexy and stern / and I pay them with silver and make them squirm / the swivel chair straddle / my wolf teeth dazzle / then lyco-skedaddle / off to the beach for a doggy paddle

I’m screaming at the live-streamed crash / a plate on my lap of schnitzel and mash / the commentary’s crap! totally trash! / jabbing my fork and making a splash / on my Nazi shorts and oily thatch / my big cleft chin, my toothbrush moustache

I’m the Daily Mail with poisonous tropes / smiling as the hangman shows me the ropes

I’m dining on a sinking ship / paid for dessert so I’m finishing it

I’m facing death with Staff Nurse Moses / snapping his fingers for a hallelujah bolus

I’m captive after the revolution / a witness for the persecution / pleading with the jury for a fair conclusion / but they’re used to all my shameless shit / they laugh and talk and hawk and spit / I can tell from here they’re just not having it / shaking their heads when I ask to acquit / NO! screams the judge as she whacks her hammer / Off to the slammer! / fifteen to life for a feckless manner

status update XLI

A chilly welcome to the land of Mogg / mists and mellow fruitfulness, poisonous fog / where you keep your head down and work like a dog / for off-book, outsourced, zero hours Mcflog / while the corporate hogs and political partners / piss through rights and public charters / legal non-starters / protest martyrs / laughing at the news from yachts in harbours

Remember when you clapped for carers / turns out you were only there to scare us / politically prepare us / to be smacked down and beaten / as the crisis deepened / profits skimmed and services cheapened / offshore gold stores nicely sweetened / the magic money tree’s in the Garden of Eton

So – the gingerbread man caught a ride with the fox / but the deal was dodgy and they hit the rocks / in a real-life, wildlife, snack-attack shock / but hey – what did ginger really expect? / so much effort to such little effect / run a little faster, be more select / trust a biscuit to trust a fox / ferry you across? / when you’re mostly fondant and your buttons are boss?

Say hello to bitcoin Barbie! / barbecue stylie / heart of plastic, smile like kylie / hyper-aware / thousand yard stare / 1.5 million followers out there / drives a Ferrari / drinks Bacardi / happy as a cop at a taser party

skip with me…

hey nonny nowhere, Jimmy can’t wait
the full moon’s rising, the hour’s late
there’s a wolf in the garden, a butcher at the gate
there’s a doctor at the door with a big covered plate
giving you a grin
drawing a syringe
his collar’s turned up

the lost properties department

or maybe the day before
I found I suddenly
had to check myself in
to the lost properties department

the clerk behind the counter
kept fading in and out
but was there long enough
to ask me
what the problem was

I said
how long have you got?
I started out okay
I had displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration and speed

yes she said

and I mean
this time yesterday
I was pretty confident
that all of this
was in frame of reference to an observer
measuring the change in position of my body relative to that frame with change in time

go on, she said

it’s just
now I find
I’m kinda

hmm, she said
fill out this form
I’ll see what I can do

the poobin man

we finally met him
by the bins
Stanley and I
(or is it me and Stanley?
I’m not
too hot
on grammar, evidently)

we were walking
through the estate
around half past eight
(which is just for the rhyme:
actually it was more like half past nine)
and there he was!
dressed in fluorescent yellow because
he has one of those street collecting jobs
where it pays to be nice n’conspicuous, obvs

a baseball cap
earbuds in, listening to an app
because I guess the job’s crap
and let’s face it
who wouldn’t use some music to erase it

there he was!
master of the waste collecting gods!
riding his tiny, shiny van
the mythological POOBIN MAN!

a bit grumpy though
when I smiled and said yo!
I’ve got a little something for ya
swinging a poo bag Stan filled earlier
hoping he’d say something cool like ‘Poo me’
but he ground his teeth and looked right through me

Poobin, Poobin, whither thou goest?
what foul bags wilt thy gauntlets knowest?
and verily when it snowest
I’m guessing
it’s a blessing
as the poo will be frosty and attractively glaucous
with a little less chance of enterococcus