adieu, adieu, mon dieu

The ghost of my father came back again last night
(I know, right?
it’s all so contrived
I see more of him dead then I did when he was alive)

Anyway, I’ve stopped being freaked by his spooky mug
the more something happens the more you shrug

Sup, dad? I said
as he hovered heavily overhead
pretending to do the front crawl
against the opposite wall
(the irony escaping him
that in life he couldn’t swim
although maybe he was trying to ease the chills
and prove you can always earn new skills)

The thing that really gets me
is why he can’t forget me?
I mean – you’d think he’d relish the chance
to swerve my bullshit badinage
but no – it’s just like Hamlet’s father, right?
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night
and by the way, whilst he’s at it
criticise the work we had done in the attic

So he does what he always does eventually
which is settle on the bed and talk endlessly
which sounds quite nice as these things go
but he can lie in and I’ve got work tomorrow

It was hot & heady stuff
right enough
exactly the kind of secrets and regrets
that would stop anyone getting a good aeon’s rest
the casual betrayals and sordid affairs
you’d only admit to in Cosmo questionnaires
(then immediately re-work to change your score
and get a result that suited you more)

Did someone murder you, father? I cried out, on edge
Cos I don’t think I’m really cut out for revenge
What? No! he said. What are you, CRAZY?
It was just when your mum was a dinner lady
she had an affair with that Iranian student
who was good at table tennis and liked Ted Nugent

How d’you know all this? I said
She told me later on in bed
and whilst I was turned on for a while
in the end it started to cramp my style
so I took up with that woman from accounts
who said it would work but I had my doubts

He carried on in this way for an eternity
and made me question the benefits of paternity
until suddenly he was struck dumb
My hour is almost come,
he said
rising portentously from the bed
When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself – erm – James
Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me
– and bailed through the curtains clumsily

So right that second I went on the Net
to buy the best ghost insulation I could get
(a wool & wafer mix from the Holy See
fifty pounds a metre, plus VAT)

danse macabre

I’m the puppet in the attic, the bible in the fridge
the part-time preacher out on the ledge
so dusty it’s disgusting
how could I be so gullible and trusting
something somewhere needs seriously adjusting

I’m lightning at the drive-thru, the social media scammer
playing the piano with a ball pein hammer
it’s nothing, I’m hoping
despite all my kitten posts I’m really not coping
the tunnel flooding, telescoping

I’m the barbie in the dumpster, the zombie in the hub
the knight in shining armour farting in the tub
it’s over, I know it
everything to play for and nothing to show for it
one last chance to breathe and I blow it

I’m the devil in the smoking jacket, the monkey in the mall
yoda and a Tinder yeti hitching to Nepal
whatever don’t kill ya makes ya stronger
old bones laughing, dancing the conga
the itch gets scratched but the queue gets longer

I’m the void in the voicebox, the vision in the fall
the clutzy riot cop tasering his balls
c’mon! a mile is just a matter of inches
the palace door’s rusting, coming off its hinges
the princess sleeping on a pea and a pile of syringes

whatever that means
whatever we oughta
hold the stick
throw the dog in the water

That’s Stanley

Tarter than a russet or a bramley
More uplifting than a snifter of brandy
Sneakier than the sub in that thriller by Tom Clancy
That’s Stanley

More heroics than a bunch of comics by Stan Lee
Flirtier & dirtier than a cream horn or a fondant fancy
Sassier than a Netflix series featuring Alison Janney
That’s Stanley

Softer than a cashmere pashmina of paisley
Louder and marginally more annoying than the hit musical Annie
Holier and a whole lot hairier than Mahatma Gandhi
That’s Stanley

a little neanderthal music

in a perspex box on permanent display
in the national museum of slovenia
is a neanderthal bone flute found in a cave
(please follow on social media)

the snow fell thickly beyond the cave
as cold hands skillfully drilled the bone
then tentatively raised it up to play
sixty thousand years ago

and what are you left with here in this place?
so many long years swept away
the ghostly reflection of your face
an echo of song in your DNA

the word golem

Down and down rolls the sun
on a day most emphatically done
the word golem

From a clay of dreams that won’t come
slow & crude as a bare thumb
heart as hollow as a toy drum
the word golem

I cannot speak and I cannot run
from the lumpish creature I summon
my work lies scattered & undone
the word golem

The only way the spell can be broken
is to tear the holy name from him
truth to death become
the word golem

And though my writing hand grows numb
from all the wretched work I’ve done
I shall not call his name again
the word golem

jumblies prenup

Would you shoot me if I turned zombie?
Friendzone me if I went all Abercrombie
& Fitch?
weird-out on me if I was a witch?
walk out on me if I was a snitch?
If I had an uncontrollable itch
and would not stop scratching
would you worry about catching
whatever it was I’d got?
Or would you not?

Would you still knead me if I woke up made of dough?
If I was gluten-free would you let me know?
Would you come and stand by my bakery shop window
if I was a shop
and see how many hungry shoppers you could stop
and tempt inside me?
Or would you try to hide me?

Would you struggle if I learned to juggle?
Would you tattoo L for Love if I was a knuckle?
If I dreamed excessively would you prick me like a bubble?
Or like the Hubble
telescope
would you watch me wobble away without hope?
If I said I was an atheist would you threaten me with the pope?

Would you scrutinise my x-rays if I was fractured?
Carry me in your catalogue if I was manufactured?
Run forwards if I fell backwards?
Would you guess all my passwords
write them out with marker pens on placards
then walk round town where all the hackers
live?
If I was Edward Lear would you tell me what rhymes with sieve?
And when you read the end result would you promise not to shiv
me?
Could you ever forgive me?

It’s good to be clear
Sign here

skipping song

Get yourself a motorcycle
Get yourself a train
Get yourself a helicopter
there and back again

Get yourself a tractor
Get yourself a van
Get yourself an ambulance
and drive as fast you can

Get yourself a submarine
Get yourself a bike
Get yourself a skateboard
or anything you like

Get yourself a fire engine
Jump up in the truck
and if the fire burns your arse we wish you lots of luck

we wish it once, twice, three times four
five sees six and seven running out the door
eight’s still waiting, nine’s all wrong
ten’s the end of my skipping song