twenty twenty whoo-hoo

about half past three
there was a buzz on the buzzer
I thought it was the postie
or someone or other

so imagine my surprise
when I found instead
my dad outside
after many years dead

the biggest shock to me
wasn’t the ghostly visitation
it’s just that normally
it’s a showier presentation

‘I know! I know!’ he said
shaking out his cloak
picking a hair-like worm from his head
(he was an image conscious bloke)

‘I’m done with all that theatrical shit
it gets a spirit down
when all you want is to get out for a bit
you go CRAZY underground’

he carefully wiped his calcaneum
on the welcome mat
then stomped across the linoleum
to sit and have a chat

‘How are things?’ I said
and gave a wincy grimace
c’mon! the guy was ten years dead
I should probably act more serious

he shrugged a little
which was quite a relief
‘better than in hospital’
and smiled with all his teeth

‘Jim? This is the last of my spectral visits
sorry to sound so doomy
but I need to know why the hell is it
you’ve been acting glum and gloomy’

‘It’s true’ I said, ‘I can’t deny it
I’m struggling to see my way clear
and it’s always a job to hide it
around this time of year’

‘I totally understand,’ he said
‘The Winter months can be hard
especially when the earth’s your bed
and you lie there counting stars’

‘The thing is, Jim, you worry too much
live a little before you die
and try not to use your phone as a crutch
you’re getting RSI’

‘I wish we could chat in reality’
I said – cradling his cold phalanges
‘instead of in dumb ass poetry
that’s longer than the Ganges’

‘C’mon!’ he said. ‘It’s never too late
to talk to your dear old pappy
– although having said that now’s not great
the connection’s pretty crappy’

and suddenly he rose up
made a farewell pass with his wrist
and I sat there numb and froze up
as he vanished in a swirl of mist

I worried a while about the visit
but really I shouldn’t have thought twice
he was always good with the jokey shit
and not so hot with advice

just shave your head and be done

I don’t wanna be one of those rockabilly kids
whose DA’s seen better days and hit the skids
nothing but a sad and spindly nest on top
with room in the middle for a half dozen eggs to drop

Don’t let me be a drinker in the old boy’s snug
in a plastic mac and a dodgy rug
that noone has the heart to tell
his pants are on backwards and his hair as well

Or the geography teacher with the oily attitude
whose four brylcreemed strands of latitude
swing out like the arms of a crane
whenever he leans over your desk to explain
what a moraine is

because – you know – the REAL pain is

trying to keep what you’ve naturally lost
and fighting change whatever the cost

c’mon! you’re better off facing it
your hair’s not there and it’s pointless chasing it

fuck getting old! fuck the slippers!
(but get yourself a pair of clippers)

a few lines on my stupid clown nightmare

I had a nightmare about a clown
which sounds cliche but hear me out

I was back home, alone, in the kitchen
the clown was out in the yard, watching

it was late evening, the light was failing
the clown was smiling; I started wailing

we both made a dive for the kitchen door
I managed to get there a second before

locked it, stepped back, he started to laugh
we stared at each other through the safety glass

which is when I started to shake and choke up
my wife touched my shoulder and I woke up

look – I totally get why ‘clowns are creepy’
but it always seemed a little too easy

the hilarious facade, the howling depression
the brooding heart, the happy expression

but there are too many other things undermining
the tension between evil and painted smiling

like flowers that squirt and shoes that honk
trousers that bounce and hammers that bonk

not a bucket of blood but a bucket of confetti
not a kitchen knife but a rubber machete

even if the pointed teeth are all smeared
with blood not lipstick as it first appeared

so normally I’d struggle to keep a straight face
if a murderous clown invaded the place

except – here I was in the family kitchen
screaming as I tried to stop one getting in

am I the clown? scared of myself?
what does that say about my mental health?

anyway – apologies! dreams are boring
guaranteed to get you yawning

so are clowns creepy? absolutely! okay!
don’t have nightmares, have a nice day

thunder birds are gone

Genyornis newtoni once roamed Australia’s interior before a change in climate turned lakes and forests into flat desert’
– The Guardian 26 December 2021

Swiping listlessly
through the Boxing Day news
I read about an ancient bird whose
ending seemed pretty bleak
I mean – this was a bird whose beak
was so vast
it could swallow any human running past
its legs so extensive
they looked positively offensive
but maybe it was just when they sat on an egg to hatch it
they had to be sure when the chick sprang out they were fast enough to catch it

Anyway – the bird was called Genyornis newtoni
or Thunder Bird to you and I
(and whoever called it the Demon Duck
was a tactless, palaeontological schmuck)

But things got hot and it quit the scene
sometime round the Pleistocene
the lake it liked disappeared
hungry humans hunted them with spears
till the day finally came when humans walked
and wondered when the last bird squawked

I’m not sure the point I’m trying to make
about big birds dying by a drying lake
something about the climate emergency?
maybe, but you know – personally?
I do what I can
I water the garden with a watering can
not a hose
which helps a little I suppose
I take the train
I walk to the shops and back again
and who knows what’ll happen?
maybe one day in the distant future
a robot with an artificial sense of humour
will dig up my skull, give it a stroke
and say something snarky about this puny human bloke
but hey – so long as I’m not a demon duck
I’ll be long gone baby and I won’t give a hoot

Christmas at Murder Manor

The guests are gathering for the duke’s masked ball
at the artily drafty olde manor hall
his cutlery butler in gleaming antlers
dispatches the vicar with a bag o’tarantulas
the earl, with a vile and noisome poison
he brewed in a brothel in downtown Sheboygan
then with a nose for this kinda trouble
he follows a gauche and giggling couple
into the manor’s malevolent maze
and on and on through the usual cliches
till you yawn and switch the TV off
and see what’s left in the fridge to scoff

the brontosaurus came back

or apatosaurus?
that, I hear you chorus,
is the question
both beasts of a similar dimension
both with a fancy neck extension
and you’d definitely have felt their humongous stomp
as you hid the other side of the swamp

both were examples of sauropoda
and lived somewhere between Wyoming and Dakota
though things have changed around considerably
since the late Jurassic period, probably

then in nineteen hundred and three
Elmer Riggs said publicly
these sauros were the same
so Riggs is to blame
(Riggs was an eminent palaeontologist
who’d added another dinosaur to the list
the beautifully proportioned Brachiosaurus
which had nice long legs and was easily the tallest)

so the scientists endlessly quibbled
about the dimensions of bones the collectors scribbled
and for years it was literally neck and neck
with poor brontosaurus held back in check

but now the consensus seems to be
both beasts are distinct proportionally
and can proudly stand in the city museum
(just don’t crick your neck when you stand to see ‘em)

status update XV

I’m Peppa Pig on the telly again / the one where Daddy Pig’s voted PM / in an episode entitled PORCE DIEM / where the power goes straight to his flat pink head / but he gets depressed and stays in bed / sick of all the media bleating / about who missed another COBRA meeting / or who exactly paid for what / and who took a free break somewhere hot / or who had a party or who did not / and how it all goes from bad to Patel / via Barnard Castle and Hancock as well / and lucrative contracts for the PPEs / straight to the pockets of the VIPs / that’s Valuable Insider Pals if you please / and how Pappa Pig was brought to his knees / valiantly fighting this deadly disease / and how he was NIBBLING not SWALLOWING the cheese / when the Dick-led Metropolitan phenomenon / were zip tying women on Clapham Common / and other areas of lockdown London / and his hilarious Peppa Cabinet were battening / on the catered buffet for the non-party gathering / while the rest of the general population / were serving the interests of the mother nation / surrendering basic circulation / even if they missed the lonely expiration / of Auntie Flo in her nursing accommodation / then queued for the rudimentary cremation / and hurried home for the official celebration / a gloomy Zoom with the other relations / (Peppa Pig is a porky old lark / but sometimes I’ll admit it gets quite dark)

I’m a rampaging robot / called THE BREXIT BOJO BOT / which Team Tory marketed as a Terminating Polyglot / and threw together in their Right Wing Workshop / but tragically forgot / to fit a big red button marked STOP / and now the B3’s totally lost the plot / speaking & sparking and running too hot / using up what little data it’s got / to screw things up a terrible lot / and tying the country in one big knot / BEEP BEEP Irish Sea Bridge BEEP BEEP Royal Yacht… / BEEP BEEP we may party but you may NOT / meanwhile tossing dodgy coins down its slot / babbling and bubbling and burbling a lot / until Sunak says Deadly Force Authorized, TAKE THE DAMNED SHOT

A Very Stanley Christmas

Here comes Stanley Claus
up on the roof
with his big whiskery paws
and his big whiskery woof

He’s driving a dog sleigh
piled up with presents
pulled by nine bichon frise
on supplements

You’ll know when he’s been
the baubles all scattered
the snowman pushed in
the fairy lights shattered

You’ll spend more on repairs
than you’ll earn back in gifts
picking hairs from the stairs
and mending the rips

It’s a Christmas Eve riot
but at least he’s trying
so hide and keep quiet
when Stanley comes flying

flight of dreams

Stanley’s posture
on the sofa
is that of the highly qualified loafer
head on the arm rest
nose due West
while the rest
of him points East
because this particular beast
will never knowingly be misaligned
no matter how many times
he naps and snoozes
somehow he never loses
his sense of direction
his nose to the West without exception
holding his dreamy attitude
maintaining cruising altitude