the last, great breakfast

the climate degrades at increasing pace
the sea moves in and obliterates
vast tracts of land at alarming rates
as famine and war proliferates
and billionaires hide in city states
with their private militia at the gates
but suddenly there’s nowhere left to escape
this one last cataclysmic shake
and there’s just one billionaire left to take
a soft boiled egg with the bread they’ve baked
but there’s no one left to articulate
the beautiful light on the burning estate
and realising mankind’s mistake too late
he blows out his brains on his breakfast plate

messages home

look! the light from all those systems
is billions of light years old
I savour each sweet photon
with arrays of beryllium and gold
but ask me if God had a hand in it all
hey! save it for the Pope
your big beard theory
is weird, sincerely
laughs the James Webb Deep Space Telescope

I’ll send you back the data
so you can analyse the gases
and clarify the pictures
of galaxies in their masses
but ask me why humans destroy their world
well – it’s WAY beyond my scope
all that stuff
is far too tough
sighs the James Webb Deep Space Telescope

I track each ancient target
to see how far they’ve roamed
as I sail my lonely orbit
a million miles from home
ask me to turn and evaluate Earth?
sorry, you haven’t a hope
there was plenty of time
to read the signs
cries the James Webb Deep Space Telescope

The Apocalyptic Waltz

Citizens of the World!
Industrialists! Capitalists! Boys and Girls!
Philosophers! Ecologists!
Fossil fuel apologists!
Government Committees!
Villages and Cities!
Sample if you dare the End of the World phantasies
of Dr Doom Scroll’s Cabaret of Catastrophes!
And remember!
you can always call our dedicated number
Oh Nein! Oh Nein! Six Six Six!
Or go online for TikTok clips
Talk to our team of Emeritus Professors
Tenured in Trauma, Nightmares & Terror!
They’ll fill ya with horror
The Day After Tommor
It’s really NO trouble at all….
but first!
I beg you – PLEASE!
enough with your eco-teasing!
your idiotic, zoonotic sneezing!
your endless questions and answers!
take your medication and take your partners
for the Mega Trending, Soon-to-be-Ending, Fully Syndicated, Sinfully Syncopated, the One, the Only: The Apocalyptic Waltz…!

so it’s a hey ho and here we go
fire in the sky and nothing below
it’s places please
for humanity’s
Apocalyptic Waltz

selfies on a nuclear beach
factor fifty and gun within reach
the view’s fantastic
an ocean of plastic
gannets & turtles tied up in elastic
you close your eyes
but it’s no surprise
Apocalyptic Waltz

[…. endless versions of the same until you run out of clean water, food, the ballroom’s inundated / burned out, whatever…]

status update XXII

Tick tock tick tock / here comes the man that time forgot / back to front and hot to trot / but somehow also kinda not / missing the high notes, running on the spot / but wait – no, it’s gone / the end is over before it’s begun / the skeleton magician tapping his wand / waggling his phalanges to The Great Beyond / saying the magic words: Happy Cadaver! / the body disappearing and yeah, mate – whatever / smiling on cue to the flashing cameras

I think the The Three Musketeers put it best / All for one and fuck the rest / I don’t pay fines or speak to the press / it’s all so predictable, too distressing / treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em guessing / this democracy shit’s just goddamn depressing

But look! Here’s one of me in my diving suit / so tight it’s a fright but also kinda cute / hosepipe helmet and big lead boots / happy as can be / all at sea / sailing out to where the city used to be / singing / the bells are ringing / for me n’ my world

Sheesh! I really am some flat pack character / in need of a screwdriver / multivits and a criminal barrister / called Henry McAllister / whose dad was a bum and his mum was a minister / yeah – so what – I’m addicted to rhymes / add it to the list of my literary crimes

Reading the news on the travelator / A Stitch-up In Time Saves A Big Lie Later / Judge Gives Birth To An Alligator / Cesar Millan Lets Slip The Dogs Of War / NOW we know what all the training was for / singing hey diddle diddle / MPs on the fiddle / Musk flies over the moon / the little dog laughed to see such fun and because it was generally non-compliant with its antipsychotics

A butterfly flaps its wings and boom / that little change in pressure in the combat room / means the whole charade is over too soon / Extinction swirls her cloak and beckons / by means of fingers like nuclear weapons

Charlie Brown / spins around / his one hair straight as he hits the ground / stabbed in the back with a pen all gloopy / his dying words? Et tu, Snoopy?

Please make your way to the poetry exit / the lines are now closed (applause expected)

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

take the first exit

Sometimes when I’m arriving / or leaving / or deciding it’s high time I stopped / and dropped / all the buying and complying / all the dealing and denying / the blind believing / like sometimes when I’m driving / somewhere nice / or not / somewhere cold / or hot / listening to podcasts / forecasts / browsing through broadcast whatnots / the latest schemes / dietary regimes / ponzi queens / killer kitten memes / diana ross and the supremes / political extremes / bin Salman with a book out / on how to plan the perfect Turkish cookout / Cameron with his crook out / in his sheikhy shepherd hut on the lookout / while Johnson jokes from the downing street dugout / that’s papered throughout / with the pages of the standards handbook he’s torn out / and on daytime TV / a deputation from the Chinese embassy / interviews photogenically / on the inherent harmony / of Feng Shui for Peng Shuai / and I wonder whether it will rain again today / and flood / and sweep me away in a wave of mud / and whether I look good in this hood / or whether I should / just accept my age / gracefully / and wander off tastefully / and lose myself in what I did or didn’t do yesterday / and once again I forget what it’s all about / because even though I’ve tried and tried to figure it out / once again I’m circling the roundabout / gripping the steering wheel wracked with doubt

the first act

of a musical about global warming / called STORMING! / there’s this fishing family / more or less happily / trapping eels on a marsh / it’s relentlessly harsh / heavy on the protein, light on the starch / the father is an Aquarian / a caring but overbearing authoritarian / formerly a librarian / wary, pretty scary / increasingly hairy / who took his family / and friends / way out into the Fens / and started a colony amongst the saltmarsh pens / they weave for the eels / in canoes they carve with ornate keels / depicting creatures with flaming eyes / which isn’t such a huge surprise / given their leader’s / idiosyncratic demeanour / an unholy cross between a lion and a lemur / anyway / the family name is Healey-May / and they carry on in this really eely way / until the fateful day when he weather changes / and the Gulf Stream catastrophically rearranges / the kind of low lying regions / where the Healey-Mays are living for eely reasons / so they get horribly inundated / destroying the lifestyle they created / and the only two that make it out / are the kids I haven’t told you about / Kylie and Jenna / who secretly together / had anticipated the weather / and learned to surf / when all the adults had been going to church / (another detail I forgot to mention / they worshipped a God of their own invention / unsurprisingly an EEL god / which wasn’t that much different to a REAL God / except with gills behind the beard / and a cloak for the tail so it didn’t look weird) / and Kylie and Jenna surf it out / while the rest of the commune flounders about / with the eels and the flounders / and the dangers our duo encounters / are the subject of the second half of this eco musical / which I’ll tell you all about straight after the interval

God the father, God the son, God the Holy Forward

I have to say I’m a little pissed with events
in the American sense
although quite often in the British, too
slumped in front of the ten o’clock news
with a heart full of pain and a belly full of booze
because often it seems to me
that the world is spinning erratically
on the finger of a basketball-playing God
who thinks he’s LeBron James but he’s really not
a deity who definitely HAS NOT GOT
the skills for this particular shot
but hey, he ignores all the frantic calls
to be a bit freer and pass the ball
and makes his play
in a bearded and big-fisted biblical way
leaping for the planetary slam dunk
and the Earth hits the rim with a cataclysmic clunk
and when he fumbles the rebound
and crashes in a cloaky, old blokey heap to the ground
makes a furious, injurious ungodly kinda sound
and casts plague and pestilence all around
laying waste to the stadium
with flames from his cranium
and the human race on the bleachers scream yikes
but hey! he’s God! he can do what he likes
(and btw – he’s TOTALLY done this before
when he was two points down in the final quarter against the dinosaurs)

this way to the end of the world please

Form an orderly queue for the exit / what d’ya mean you didn’t expect it? / Johnson, Covid, Climate Change, Brexit? / The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse / are War, Famine, Plague & Politics / so screw the loony climatologists / communist apologists / what we need are more Bullingdon boys on Eton internships / for an extended Wall Game with heat domes and oil slicks / wack job boys’ club macroeconomics / sleepy BP PR optics / flawed but plausible diagnostics / bozo billionaires in cock-shaped rockets / burning through the troposphere and the cash in our pockets / while gorgeous, glittering TikTok armies / upload selfies from poolside parties / and the world gets tossed by tornadoes and tsunamis / and landslides dice the cities like salami / and you settle down with an iPhone and a pizza / to watch Netflix docs on endangered creatures / cooking to death on distant beaches / and your epiphany’s bigger than a grand mal seizure / when you realise all these glorious leaders / have been lining you up for the same procedure


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