Solly

Solly was a supercat
with a mask & gloves & pointy beard and all that
getting into the usual scrapes
that supercats in capes
the world over do
like hiding in bamboo
and unexpectedly leaping out at you
like sitting at the tailiest top of the tallest wall
and calmly looking down on us all
like going out in the rain
and coming straight back in again
or snoozing under the rhubarb
in the overgrown backyard
watching the finches giving it some
round & round the feeder in the shady viburnum
Solly was a chancer, a pawsy, floorsy advancer,
a sofa surfer and tall grass prancer
a sunlight finder, dinner reminder
an expert in the art of the happy head-nuzzle
the underbelly scruzzle
the mid-eared scraggle
the reverse flick & lazy lick
the no-way-are-you-getting-me-in-that-carrier trick
the fully hypnotised pet
curled up as small as a medium-sized cat can get
cradled in our daughter’s arms
as she softly sings her charm
rocking gently from side to side
locking eyes
young woman, young cat
and how happy he is and we are for that
how he reaches up slowly to touch her on the chin
with the claws of his paws all carefully drawn in

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antmare

I watch them running across the floor
hurrying out the kitchen door
a couple of hundred ants or more
and I wonder what they’re running for

the ants are busy cleaning up / the sugar round the coffee cup / the bin bags back of the catering truck / the frosting lost from the tossed / wedding cake / of the fraught call taker / the overworked undertaker / the butcher, the baker, the fake news operator / the supermarket clown with his pants falling down / throwing plastic flowers around / while the lines / of shocked shoppers / the pantomime dames and party pill poppers / the princes, paupers & live-feed gawpers / talk about the healing power of music / steroids, benzos & antibiotics / antipsychotics / while Donalds Duck & Trump / hiding in plain view top of the dump / struggle with their waterproof pumps / red, white and blue sou’westers / finally acknowledging a change in the weather / and Doctor Doonothing / shakes his head as he pulls out your stuffing / huffing & puffing / muttering some bullshit voodoo / invoking a push me pull you, fuck me, fool you / who knew? / but the effect is immediate / and hey – you paid for it / so put that in your feed and smoke it / along with that other meme / the one about the Garden of Eden / where a giant snake / more give than take / so fat the branch’ll surely break / slowly unfurls / swinging low to lick Eve’s curls / waggling comedy eyebrows / at the luscious apple hanging solo / so low / but no worries – Eve knows / always has, I suppose / she eats the snake, tosses the apple, wipes her hands & goes / cutting to a vista / of all the other shit we missed / the fossilised fish in the shale and schist / impressions of all the creatures we lost / their curly horns poking through the permafrost / the sad rise and wreck of it all / so bad even Attenborough’s blocking your calls / he knows you can’t be trusted / he knows when the floes are finally busted / and the dead rise up to be costed / you’ll be parked two abreast / on what’s left / of the inundated / demarcated / cemetery hard-standing / with as much understanding / of what just happened / as that flattened / and battered / halloween pumpkin / gaping, waiting for something / anything / an end to the rain / an end to the pain / a storm of fireworks to light the sky again

so I stand and watch as the ants trot by
in one long line to the great outside
to scatter and scavenge far and wide
the old world blazing in their compound eyes

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the rules according to raab

No-one gives a toss
about social media
the whole truth-telling procedure
it’s totally overrated, mate
outdated
just throw shit out there, see what sticks
everyone uses dirty tricks

I don’t give two fucks
about the facts
so you may as well relax
it’s the new norm
conform
it’s not the taking part that counts
it’s the dollars in your bank accounts

Who gives a shit
if it’s real or not
if you lie a little or a lot
it’s an election
misdirection
when the truth comes out we’ll be long gone
safe in our clubs in London

I don’t give a damn
if you think I’m bent
the truth circumvent
fake news rules
fools
I’m a gilt-edged winner, not a quitter
I’ll say what the fuck I like on Twitter

Who the hell cares
if the public’s deceived
feels misled and aggrieved
facts are pliable
it’s undeniable
so shut the hell up, it’s hardly a disaster
save your screams for the morning after

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a new entry to the fossil record

There’ll be bluebirds over / the white cliffs of Dover

Yeah? Not after climate change’s arranged the final handover / more like blue whales & sea snails / unpleasant, bioluminescent, lumpy, grumpy-looking things with teeth & sails / who knows? maybe giant ammonites’ll come back / following the ancient, re-emerging ocean tracks / good – I’ll be glad it’s over / it’s about time the Class of Cephalopoda / got a shot at the top / humans? schmumans / they deserved what they got

The thing is – the planet never did really care / if humans were environmentally aware / or not / the planet can take it cold or hot / shrug and say hey ho / mofos / suck on one of my mega tornadoes / or a pipe the size of a supervolcano

The planet’s got aeons of recovery time / to clean up the scene of our heinous crime / I mean – take those bluebird infested cliffs / so much a part of your stiff upper lips / they’re actually made from coccoliths / (bear with me on this) / trillions upon trillions of tiny shells / that very gently fell / from the type of algae that did pretty well / in the deep blue waters of the Cretaceous / so slow it was outrageous / I mean – it really took ages / they just rained down on the sea floor / more and more and more / accumulating as an oozy mud / that got consolidated pretty good / the layers finally starting to appear / at the alarming rate of a millimetre a year / until the big bust-up / when they got thrust up / into those big ol’ walls of chalk / where you like to take a Sunday walk / moaning about the price of fuel / and where your kids’ll go to school / and whether you can afford a pool / or not / and two or three holidays somewhere hot / while the planet sighs and shakes her head / wiggles her feet deep in the ocean bed / dreams of being done with the cliffs of Dover / more than ready to wipe and start over

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Dom the cat comes back

This is an allegorical parable / but nothing TOO politically scatalogical, scary or horrible / so don’t worry / you won’t have to say sorry / run out in a hurry / hands over your ears, eyes all blurry / no – this is easier on the nerves than that / this is a story about a magician’s cat

There was this magician called Boris / superficially magicianly but a bit of a novice / who used to crash about the place / his spells a disgrace / comical flying goggles strapped to his face / cackling in a cliche witchy way / as he gabbled and grappled with the problems of the day / riding a long & expensive-looking broom / he kept propped up in the corner of his room / with a woven willow pillion on the back / for a little black tom / called Dom

Dom was cool & collected / sharp & connected / gave whispery, whiskery advice / had a good head for heights / jumped without warning & never looked twice / knew a lot about mice / but wasn’t obsessed / was wary of dogs but not so you’d guess / his photo often in the local press / I mean – in all feline respects he was blessed / and the thing he loved best / was any kind of magical test

One night an ogre approached the village / waving its fists, threatening pillage / chucking cows, cars, silage / getting plenty of mileage / from the usual ogreish antics / and cliche monster movie theatrics / it was all looking pretty tragic / until the mayor went to Boris to plead for some magic

No problemo / Major-Domo! / he blustered / but looked a little flustered / as he reluctantly snatched up his broom / flew out of the room / straight at the beast / to a holding altitude of three ogres at least / then laughed as its terrible rage increased / swiping as he circled out of reach / and everything seemed set to continue like that / till he banked too hard and lost the cat / which the ogre caught smartly in its upturned hat

‘Stop right now or the kitten gets it’ / the ogre said – and meant it / he had a mean reputation and was happy to augment it / you name the moral code – he’d bent it / if there was ever any forgiveness in his heart he’d spent it / a long time ago / I don’t know / these things domino / but whatever the deep psychological reason / for the ogre’s endless, friendless season / of monstrous malfeasance / long story short – he was nursing a grievance / so heinous it ranked as his greatest achievement / and he kept the villagers permanently scared / with a series of moves he’d pre-prepared / and some he thought of on the spot / depending on how much time he’d got

But Dom was a resourceful cat / he leaped out of the ogre’s hat / scooted round his back / up onto his shoulder / gripped him by his spike-studded collar / and shouted deep in his hairy ear / I can see you’re cross but there’s nothing to fear / we’re all friends here / you don’t need to be quite so severe / WHAT? – the ogre bellowed / but something about him crumpled & mellowed / he suddenly seemed a more vulnerable fellow / C’mon said Dom, let’s sit and talk / or talk and walk / your choice / just lose the club and lower the voice / we can talk about your childhood, or not – whatever / I just want to get to know you better

So Dom & the ogre walked out on the moors / with Dom on his back waving his paws / and the villagers came out and broke into applause / and Boris landed in the square / and shook hands with the mayor / and everyone there / and they danced and sang till the moon came out / and it was a very good night without a doubt

At last by dawn the cat came back / wandering innocently down the track / and hopped up on the fountain steps / where he licked his paws & yawned & stretched / then looked out over the expectant people / as the bells rang out from the village steeple

You need not fear the ogre again / I’ve ended the creature’s terrible reign / he wants you to know he’s not your enemy / he only needed a little therapy

That’s magic! Boris said / leaning down to pat his head / And now I think we’ve earned our bed / so they both hopped on to the waiting broom / and zoomed away in a billowing plume / of dust / over the hushed / but adoring villagers / who were such rapt & distracted listeners / they didn’t see the ogre creeping back / to launch another surprise attack / that he’d pre-arranged with the sneaky cat / in return for a crooked kick-back

(And the moral of this lamentable chronicle? / ogre’s are bogus and diabolical / cats are sneaky it’s a natural fact / they’ll take your strokes then leave you flat / and last but not least / fight your own beasts / it’s no use going to the local magician / he’ll say and do anything to keep his position).
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pumpkin jim

I wanted to carve the best pumpkin ever
something so horribly, wickedly clever
that the hordes of glow-sticked trick-or-treaters
the super-excited candy eaters
would suddenly stop and whisper and point
at the terrible vision illuminating the joint

I wanted more than the usual thing
the triangular eyes, the saw-toothed grin
I wanted something that growled and jeered,
that chuckled and heckled, snorted and sneered
I wanted a vision of absolute hell
that would stop them ringing the goddamn bell

So I picked up my knife and I got straight to it
sawing and scooping and clawing through it
casting behind me a fiendish shadow
like a hell-bent, Halloween Michelangelo
creating an alternative Sistine Chapel
where God hands Adam a poisoned apple

But suddenly everything started to spin
the pumpkin gaped and I fell right in
and when I came to I was staring at the face
of the pumpkin man who had taken my place
and I started to scream but my screams were hid
when he carefully settled the pumpkin lid

He reached through my mouth, lit my light
patted my skin and whispered goodnight
carried me outside, put me on the wall
then hurried back in to spy on it all
I cried out for help, I rattled and rocked
– the kids just laughed, then buzzed and knocked

(but hey – it’s okay – it’s their modus operandi
they’re totally focused on scoring candy)

Happy Halloween!

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La Calavera Catrina Ambientalista

Hey girl – love the hat / all the feathers & flowers & shit n’that / it’s totally where the fashion’s at / workin’ it like some boney-arsed aristocrat / you’re so kooky / sexy spooky / I mean – who needs Gucci? / what? / what’s that you’re saying? / quit the cemetery sashaying / all the cosplay, doomsday Dia de Muertos role-playing / sit down awhile and talk to me / your opinion’s important to me / it’s good to hear what’s going down / on the underground / every once in a while / even though I find your smile / quite unnerving / disconcerting / I can see you’re hurting / so c’mon – let’s just chat / tell me what’s going on under that hat.

Whoa! Why d’you point that phalange at me? / I mean – sure – I’m implicated / I do my best but it’s complicated / you don’t have to tell me the game’s up / our time’s up / dark thunder clouds forming / ice caps melting & brush fires storming / the planet failing & animals falling / the planet screaming & calling / it’s a total bust / a failure of trust / we had one job and we blew it / the politicians & CEOs were lying the whole time & we knew it / we’ve got to quit stalling / this shit’s appalling / it’s messy & distressing / but you know all about that, I’m guessing / so why d’you keep smiling at me like that? / after all the nice things I said about your hat

Anyway – what’s with all the negatives? / I thought Day of the Dead was about honouring your relatives? / gothic processions along the strand / candy skulls and a mariachi band / I didn’t expect a sardonic lecture / on the benefits of energy-efficient architecture / carbon footprints, shit like that / hell – it could just as well be me in that hat / I’ve got an iPhone / I know what’s going on / the corporate denials & pseudo-trials / the hokey visions / deceitful decisions / military revisions / media-managed missionary positions / sweaty handshakes in hot tubs / mutual back-rubs in industrial meat clubs / It’s over! A wrap! / I’m totally up to speed with all that crap / the documentary shows about the action to take / don’t go away we’ll be back after the break

Oh Catrina! You’re such a tease / with your painted arches & sockets like twin TVs / flickering & glowing restlessly / d’you mind if I look closer at what they’re showing? / a story of greed, a lesson in bad luck / a bundle of plastic sacks back of a burning catering truck / a skeleton cat in a floppy hat / picking over the trash / while tumbleweeds of dirty cash / roll through empty halls / and dilapidated shopping malls … / Is that it? Yeah? / Well – Meh / You can catch that shit anytime / on Netflix and Amazon Prime / so just chill, duchess / this day after tomorrow schtick is much of a muchness / fact is? / nature finds humans too confining / so the stars are coming out and re-aligning / what can I say? / end of the day / you do your best & the rest is silence / (give or take some collateral violence) / shit happens, Catrina – enjoy the ride / let’s promenade together as our worlds collide

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etching by  José Guadalupe Posada c.1910