song of the wagon wheel

It was biscuits as usual in the Last Dunk Saloon
Garibaldis spitting raisins in a mug-shaped spittoon
a Party Ring disintegrating over the sickly-sweet tune
some Shortbread was banging out in the fancy piano room

There was a Jaffa Cake in an orange choker playing Teatime poker
with a Bourbon, a Malted Milk and a Fig Roll in a bowler
a Chocolate Hobnob – that oaty high-roller –
and a spicy little Ginger Nut, the selection pack joker

Suddenly the pink wafer saloon doors slammed
The pack of plain Digestives on the nearest table scrammed
A Custard Cream screamed, a Nice said Goddamn
as the mug of Earl Grey slipped from his sugary hand

A Chocolate Finger rolled behind a teapot and hid
Two Tunnocks got flummoxed and skid
down the counter to a tin, pulling on the lid
crapping their wrappers to see the Rich Tea Kid

‘Tea time!’ said The Kid, flexing his crumbs
‘I’m hungry for action and I don’t mean buns
I’m done with the lot of you biscuity bums
There’s a plate with your name on it out in the sun’

‘It seems to me your behaviour is somewhat unsavoury
and would not stand scrutiny from no Blue Riband jury’
The bar fell silent. The Kid looked in fury
at a Chocolate Chip Cookie straight out of Missouri.

The Cookie stood up. He was heavy and rich
as hunkily crunchy as a sonofabitch
‘Someone needs putting you back in the fridge’
said The Kid, but the little pressed letters on his plain face twitched

The whole bar rolled out to get the best seat
as the Cookie and the Kid faced off in the street
The Kid looked snappy in the midday heat
But the Cookie dunked twice and he lost his feet

The biscuits tossed their silvery spoons
and carried ol’ Chocolate Chip back in the saloon
‘Meet the new Sheriff!’ they said – but too soon
five weeks later he met The Macaroon

– o O o –

Cut to a Bread Wheel rockin’ on the porch
of the Our Lady of the Savoury Cheese n’Cracker Church
strumming a guitar made of focaccia and such
singing ‘I never did like a sweet biscuit over much’


a yellow goose quill float


it took us a few years to do it
but yesterday we finally got to it
we decorated the downstairs toilet

the old colour was candy apple red
and we desperately wanted something more relaxing instead
anyway, the walls were all spotted with mould
so we got two litres of brilliant white and on we rolled

There are shelves in there so we painted them too
white like the walls so they looked brand new
and threw out all the old books we never used
and talked about balance and elements
and freed two shelves for ornaments

I found a few things on the windowsill
like this old, glass vase partially filled
with lacquered red and yellow goose quills
dad’s dad used to use for fishing
and then dad too, and sometimes I’d go with him
and we’d sit on the riverbank in the bright sunlight
and silently wait for the fish to bite

I saw the floats now on the newly painted shelf
and had a sudden, dizzying view of myself
a thrill of nylon line playing out forever
a yellow goose quill float sliding by in the river


damon the daemon

damon the daemon
spent his life as a merchant seaman
feeding his love of faith and freedom
endlessly dreaming region to region

damon the daemon
drifted ashore in a hard, dry season
lost his shoes but kept his reason
hitched the whole damned country preaching

damon the daemon
knocked on the cafe door and came in
not a red cent to sustain him
I knew the face but couldn’t name him

damon the daemon
pitched his hat on the hook like a drayman
smiled with teeth as neat as a caiman
hold on to your souls, boys; hot coffee and rolls for a sermon

damon the daemon
leaped on the counter and laid in
gave us all the scenes he’d played in
the dark time, port-side dives he’d stayed in

damon the daemon
eyes as wild as a clifftop beacon
finished his show without more speaking
reaped the rapture he was seeking

damon the daemon
suddenly seeming somewhat beaten
quietly sat; I watched him eating
asked him where he planned on sleeping

damon the daemon
sighed as I slid him a coffee with cream in
spooned it slow like a man done scheming
asked which way for the garden of eden


scamming permission

you scratch my back
and I’ll scratch my name on a cheque
isn’t that how it works?
a few palms greased and your name in Burke’s?
a clink of glasses at a black tie function
that illustrates the sly conjunction
of old school tie and champagne luncheon
where the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich
and another block rises overlooking Greenwich


the invisible decorator

the thing I find most grating
about painting & decorating
is the endless fucking preparation
an eternity of rubbing down and shit
the moment you think you’re done with it – you ain’t
you’ll be twenty years dead in the ground before you actually get to paint

anyway – what is this?
did you think I was thinking of setting up in business?

hear this:

I will never
be a painter & decorator

I cannot imagine a torment greater

but whilst we’re on the subject
of half-assed DIY projects
and the bristling abuse of inanimate objects
here’s a strange thing that happened to me
while I was painting the downstairs lavatory

(true story)

I flicked a speck of something in my eye
and being a practical, medical kind of guy
I turned to the sink for a nifty little washout
and the shaving mirror to help me get it out
but instead of my reflection I saw grout
like a paint-covered vampire forgetting what reflections were all about

my god – had I completely decorated myself out?

I no longer existed
I just consisted
of a cough, a grimace, a cutting-in brush
RSI and a dose of thrush

I was thrown headlong into an existential nightmare

(but as you’re probably already aware
I’d momentarily forgotten
I’d taken
the mirror down
when I got the place ready for rubbing down)

so – the moral of this story?
this painting & decorating purgatory?
if you find yourself looking at a colour chart
let me give you a heart-to-heart
I beg you – don’t go through with it


gun sales rise in the US

go on – pull yourself a nice cold colt
you’ll get such a sweet and juicy jolt
when it jumps in your hand
and the wooden grip ticks on your wedding band
man – it’s grand
you’ll soon see the steely attraction
of such a badass double action

as my dear ol’ granpappy used to say
before that hollow point blew him away
there’s nothing like a little extemporary aeration
to improve the ventilation
of the general population



Other people – I jes’ don’t wanna see ‘em / blocking my selfies at the rifle museum / the Texas Tower and the Colosseum / they’re everywhere, like cryptosporidium / upsetting my equilibrium / it’s why I’m on the goddamn lithium

Other people – they’re always there / bumbling & stumbling everywhere / through public gardens and market squares / elevators, subway stairs / shopping centres, thoroughfares / supersonically unaware / of the seriousness of the affair / other people just don’t care

Other people just don’t get it / if they see something fine they can’t help wrecking it / and regret it? / forget it / they’re totally out of credit / their lack of sympathy is completely systemic / other people are pathetic

Other people never do what they say they would / don’t fit in like they know they could / and the likelihood / they won’t vote like they should / is well understood / in the social media neighbourhood / other people are no damn good

Other people are goddamn morons / ganging up in online forums / till we’re hanging on like ol’ King Kong / swatting planes in a high-rise ding-dong / losing our grip, falling headlong / other people are just plain wrong

Other people should be put out to grass / to reap the change that’s coming to pass / we’re drawing up plans and army charts / militiamen with purple hearts / truth serums and polygraphs / it’s comin’ up fast / and then I’ll laugh

Other people can kiss my ass


a shaggy wolf story

The three little pigs / decked out in cheap suits & wigs / strike out on their own for some fancier digs / what with the current economic contraction / the lack of monetary action / less addition, more subtraction / so they take a leap into housing construction

The big bad wolf / AKA Ralph / hairy grin and hairy laugh / takes a long-lens photograph / of the three pigs leaving the piggie shelter / stores it / claws it / hot paws it helter skelter / to his lupine friends in the private sector

The first pig builds a house of straw / not really understanding what straw is for / most of it ending up on the floor / thinking he’ll put the savings off-shore

Ralph turns up / says Yup / this ‘ll be easy enough / and anticipating snacking on crackling / coughing & cackling / shouts the hokey little rhyme / he likes to use from time to time

Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!
: : : Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin
Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in

Frankly – it doesn’t take much / I mean – you can hardly call it a house as such / the pig howls, bows down / Ralph chows down / belches, then looks around / for pig number two / to do something horribly similar to

The second pig builds a house of sticks / with a particularly mean & muddy mix / highly inadvisable for any first fix / which makes him money but cooks his chips

Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!
: : : Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin
Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in

The house collapses / the pig protests he’s paid his taxes / but by the time a single minute elapses / Ralph’s done eating and stands cleaning his glasses

The third pig builds a tower block / with flammable cladding and dodgy stock / a total health & safety shock / the subcontractors running amok / basically a twenty storey crock / the social housing that time forgot / the pig doesn’t give a backward glance / happily stuffing his saville row pants / with buckshee bucks and government grants

Now this is definitely the best pig yet / this pig I fundamentally get / says Ralph, his mouth already wet / from calculating the gross and net / the chauffeur driven car, the private jet / high tea with a baronet / in an oak paneled room with a string quartet

Little pig! Little Pig! You’re hired!
(Sorry about those pigs I retired)
Come huff and puff on the cigars I’ve acquired

The two of them go into the property business / trotter to paw with a crow to witness / happier than a pig at Christmas / until the courts get brave and serve papers / for gross negligence and other capers / so the wolf goes back on the earlier deal / squeals / shows a hairy pair of heels / leaves the pig spitting on a rotisserie wheel


unsuccessful delusions of grandeur

I’m Phony Morrison
Charles Thickens
Edgar Allen Nope

I’m Walt Shitman
e e goings
T S Bellyache

I’m Charlie Chaplout
Clueless Fairbanks Jnr
Liable & Hardly

I’m Lazy David
Bob No Hope
Phyllis Duller

I’m John Le Non
Bo Deadly
Negative Prints

I’m Minimum Monroe
Least Witherspoon
Meryl Stroke

I’m Partly Smith
Stevie Nix

I’m Freezer Kahlo
Flaky Emin
Yoko Oh No

I’m Steve Jobless
Mark Suckerberg
Nil Gates

I’m Won’t Smith
Bad Pitt
Loose Willis

I’m Nicola No It Isn’t Urgent
Novice Johnson
Mere Starmer

I’m Muddled J Trump