Category Archives: poetry

Poem: Idles when idle

There I was, propped up in bed, a thousand thoughts forming
in the holiday of my head, mask off, headphones on, YouTube,
streaming, dreaming, coming to terms with a recently-deceased aunt
who had trouble breathing. Yes I loved her so, she helped me find sense
in the mess of teenage years, she gave me shelter from the helter
and the skelter of life’s tests, used to tell me: follow your dreams.
Loved her, loved her so, even though she voted Leave.
She’ll never know I’m that close to needing a visa to attend her funeral
in ruled Britannia, God save the Titanic, and all who sink with her.

On the bed was where I met them, mask off, headphones on,
finding sense in a present tense, correct, this is why, this is why
you never see your father cry. Council flats and country piles,
apartments in France – renewed my passport before it turned the blue
they want to make us feel, and act and march in their same shoes.
This is why, this is why, my heart swells with pride, not theirs but mine.
Idles your Colossus is a bridge between my republic and my septic isle,
septic minds, this is why, I point to freedom which is mine,
which is yours, which is ours, it’s called sharing, and it rhymes with caring.

Gone past caring? Don’t give up. Don’t stay down. Get back up.
There I was, propped up on the bed, time for a tea and something on bread.
And there they were, my family, watching The Voice on French TV,
Happily yabbering away in French, and me, in English, bemoaning the lack
of decent tea bags, and the way in which no matter how hard you always work
you’re still broke by the end of the month. Back and forth in two languages,
add Frenglish, Brummie accents, mais, ne t’inquiète pas, pas de problème,
je parle français, oui, avec un accent merdique, c’est pour ça,
c’est pour ça, mon clavier est AZERTY et pas QWERTY.

And this is why, this is why, I love myself and always try
to send the love and give the light, to cry when I like and fight the good fight.
Your tee-shirt, it said: Voltaire. I noticed you wearing it the other day,
got me thinking it did, that tee-shirt, and slogans in general,
Choose Life, Frankie Says, Make Love Not War, #MeToo #Remain, Idles on Tour.
Fudge-packing Crack-smoking Satan-worshipping motherfucker Nirvana,
that I wore on my back in days when my aunty wasn’t a Brexiter.
Wouldn’t mind now: Fairy Remoaning Snowflake Traitor Enemy of the People
see their faces when I tell them I don’t like barriers, and I dream in European.





Poem by the editor. Thanks to Idles.

Poem: The Broken Boat Inn

The Broken Boat Inn

1.

Suddenly we were confronted by God – in the ancient bar of the Broken Boat Inn,
a final frontier drinking den unclaimed by gentrification,
suits with blank cheques and brutal franchise,
our misty outpost for broken-hearted lovers the world left behind.
We’re All In The Same Boat proclaimed the sign above the bar,
next to a Thompson submachine gun that the landlady swore
was once used by Al Capone in a gangland war.
So full of bluster, though we dared not say – at least to her face anyway,
and instead would butter her up for her fine tattoos and curly hair,
order copious amounts of her strange beer and liquors
before setting our weary frames at tables full of the same old faces.
The house band there never got paid – except in beer and nuts –
yet they turned up most evenings to help detach us
from the pins, cogs and wheels of a world bent to grind us.

 

2.

The Broken Boat Inn, where we’d huddle together in that leaking life-boat,
poor, overfilled, but able enough to carry us away from whatever
sinking Titanic every man, woman and child had abandoned themselves from.
And in that creaky boat, with sails turned amber-rose
from nicotine and blood; and in the comfort of other refugees
and survivors of the seas – multi-lingual and all colours and creed,
we’d bail out our grief and plug the holes of despair
as wide as rivers filling gorges all the way to the top,
spilling silky streams down garbagy, pot-holed streets,
up the steps to buildings that jailed music for its own protection.
You heard it as good as we: that watery rap at the door which opened
to the bouncer’s clenched paw – he wasn’t letting it in…
not on yours or anyone else’s nelly!
“You’re not on the list,” the bouncer growled.
“Friend… I wrote the list,” the stranger replied.
Asked the bouncer: “What’s your name?”
“I am Duende. Duende with no beginning, middle or end,
and I am here to show you God.”

 

3.

And in Duende came, dressed in black, cowboy boots and a ten gallon hat,
hard to tell if it was a woman or a man if truth be known, let’s say ‘he’
went straight to the bar and said: “I am Duende.”
“What’s your poison?” the landlady enquired.
“Whiskey, and three of your patrons to get up on that stage,
for I’m in need of both liquor and entertainment.”
“Cost ya,” said the landlady. “The whiskey ain’t cheap and neither are my customers.”
Said Duende: “You misunderstand, I make no payment for the things I want,
but I will give you a night to remember when I show you God.”
The Inn went silent. The landlady spat on the floor, lit a cigarette,
before shouting across the bar for three to take the stage –
three to entertain the stranger called Duende.

 

4.

Old Ginette got up first, with aid of her cane.
Her hair dyed pink, as was her custom in later years,
some called her Lady Rose but most just Old Ginette.
Well, she took to the stage and struck us silent as a mighty bell
would still us to make us stare up at the heavens.
And was it poetry or song that parted her lips? as she said to us:
“Brothers and sisters, I quit going to church on Sundays
because my legs could no longer make the steps,
nor could my eyes bring themselves to look into the faces
of people that bored me to godless and witless tears.
So, now, brothers and sisters, I sit in my bungalow,
low, low, low, all alone and pray to God, lo!
Because you don’t need to go to church to find God, right?
God was with me Sunday morning when I dyed my hair pink.
God’s in my hair, brothers and sisters, Gods in my hair!”
We hardly even noticed her exit the stage, such was our awe,
our enchantment, open-mouthed and dumb as dead salmon.
And the house band seemed just in awe of her as we –
that ragtag trio of slackers dressed in black – bass, drums and guitar,
skinny little dogs they were, declaring often: “The Lion Cult loves you!”

 

5.

Luke got up next, with the aid of two friends,
drunk beyond measure and deemed ’round the bend’ –
even when he was sober, which was rare.
Dandy Luke they sometimes called him – and he tried his best,
with his silky hair gelled up on the crown of his head
like a hillock of freshly-laid dog turd.
Ink spots on his frilly white shirt (Luke liked to write poems
when he wasn’t seeing double),
kept a Hollywood lea of neat black stubble
on his beer-soaked face.
Yet he sure smelled nice under that beer stink of his,
from the free samples of cologne handed out by his sister
who worked at the perfume counter of a well-known chain.
“Gonna tell you about a girl called Emma-Jane McGee…”
Luke began to sing, and oh boy were we shocked
that not only did he possess some mighty fine pipes,
but knew words other than: “Bartender make that the same again.”
“Emma-Jane McGee fell from her tree,
into a grave pre-dug by her lover,
a lover whose heart was owned by another.
No stone was laid to mark her place,
no words carved to honour her grace,
nor even a memory, in the cold embrace
of a brand new lover with a different face –
the face that usurped the one of Emma-Jane.
How he’ll kiss that new lover upon her fresh lips,
twist a ring on her finger and say “I do”.
And poor Emma-Jane beneath her tree,
turns in her grave and slips to sleep.
Eternal sleep, the heart goes free,
and endures no pain nor misery.
Goodnight, goodnight, Emma-Jane McGee.
Sleep tight, sleep tight, Emma-Jane McGee.
After, the house band had to be nudged into action to play,
because they were standing there in just as much awe as we.
“The Lion Cult loves you!” they declared to Luke,
as he stepped down from the stage, and fell flat on his face.

 

6.

Unaided, ha! – as if she ever needed anyone’s help!
Third and last to get up on the stage was Rude Girl Sally who was all the rage
back in ’98 when the sun shone for days,
and we all got our money’s worth of a good decade.
Rude Girl Sally snatched the mic and began to sing:
“Show me your face, your soul, your prick, your tits, your money, your bling.
Show me your heart and I’ll show you mine too,
‘cept my black heart is broken in two.
Suckers don’t like that? Then fuck, fuck you.
I’ll keep my fertile futility close to my breast
which will ne’er feel your touch nor tongue on my nipple.
Ra-ra-raspberry ripple, triple lovers in a bed with mirrors on the ceiling.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sassiest of them all?
The classiest, bad-assiest, nastiest, canniest, most trashiest?
See, I want it all and I want it now! So gimme, gimme, gimme…
diamonds and tiaras and black panthers and piranhas,
bananas in pyjamas and Barbie dioramas.
Doctor, Doctor, I have this disease… and the disease is myself.”
We watched Sally toss the mic over her shoulder –
Lord, it hit the bass player of the house band square on his head,
though he didn’t seem to mind too much – he was in awe of Sally
like the rest of us. Awe, red raw, bleeding all over the sticky stage floor,
as rude Girl Sally suddenly ripped off her dress
and showed us her breasts, upon which she’d scrawled in black pen:
‘Over’ on the left, ‘Rated’ on the right.

 

7.

And we thought we witnessed a miracle that night
at the Broken Boat Inn after Duende walked in.
And in the silence that followed Sally’s performance,
we heard the slow-handclapping of Duende at the bar,
who supped his whiskey and sucked a fat cigar.
“Did you see God?” he asked us. “Did you see your true creator?”
Sort of. Kind of. Not sure. Maybe, was the general response –
sometimes the crowd there is so hard to work
– none more so than the landlady, who pulled down the Thompson,
and aimed it’s barrel at the head of Duende.
“Let’s call it three-hundred bucks, shall we honey?
Coz the only God we know here is the colour of money.”
And Duende stood straight and tall and took off his hat,
and his head was all shiny, and had this queer radiance, an aura
that stunned us one and all in the ancient bar of the Broken Boat Inn.
“You say you saw no God tonight?” Duende said evenly.
“If so, then who do you see before you now – if not your God?”
“I see a man full of holes,” snarled the landlady,
and she shot Duende dead to the bar room floor,
who did nought else but got back on his feet, dusted himself down and said:
“I’ll forgive you for that, for I’m the forgiving type. Now get to your knees
and worship your Lord, and pray The Lion Cult has a song left in them yet.”
And the house band, not immune to the occasional spell of metaphysics,
began playing something by Jerry Lee Lewis,
and for sure that night, after Duende walked in,
there was a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on…
Shaking and a-quaking, and a rush to the bar to buy drinks for Duende
who was deemed a God worthy of celebration that night
when idols came calling at the Broken Boat Inn.


Words and art by the editor.

Thanks to a three-masted ship of inspiration:

Sophia Riley-Kobacker ** The History of Emotions Blog ** Everything2: Nick Cave’s Love Song Lecture **


 

Day of the Dead poem: Interlude Idioglossia

“An angel may weep if a twin should die”

Interlude Idioglossia (song of the twins)

Why didya haf to go, haf to go? (an leave me all alowen)
Broken-hearted tempo in the hearth (flames all aglowen)
All alowen, larlarlowen, lowen, lar lar lar.
At the Cut, pockits emty, we saw the bombed buildins
crumble, rumble-rubble, rumbba rub-rub.
Granma died in that house, royt, rumbba rub-rub,
rubbed out, smithereens, so mightily blown-up.
A Pfennig for yer thoughts me dear… Luftwaffe,
Left Bank Francs fer catacombs tours deep under Paris,
leftovers, angovers, a face as lung as Livery Street,
an all the Purple Hearts Mom cud eat –
kept her depression dowen (kept pharmacists in lifestyles
they had growen accustomed to).
Is it jus me, or is it the sadness of everything,
an everyone, everywhere, and all that’s ever been?

 

Bacon, liver, taters, carrots, loose tea, lar lar lar.
(rations is a passion for the nostrils when passin through the yard)
Lollylar, lollylar (cominyar cominyar)
Rememba Trev the horse an Joey the tortuss,
an Dandy dog an Patch the cat?
Them stillborn rabbits buried under Dad’s lawn?
(Sausages grow on trees yer know, lar lar lar)
Shellin peas, wipe yer feet on a doorstep made from a shell,
unexploded, metal, so shiny, merry Christmas from Hell.
Why didya haf to go, haf to go? (an leave me all alowen)
Broken-hearted tempo in the hearth (flames all aglowen)
All alowen, larlarlowen, lowen, lar lar lar.

 

Midland Red, daily bread, We’ll Meet Again, blackbird bye, bye,
Mrs Mills knees-up yellin: ‘Happy New Year’ to a thunderous sky.
Breakin hips, breakin words, breakin backs, breakin vows,
bustin guts, chewin gum, G.I. Joe, nylon stockings, choclit up
to the neck in muck and bullets and lar lar soldier blood.
Mom’s best mate… was seventeen…
gassed herself coz she thought she wasn’t clean.
(Or was it coz she was preggers, like?)
O so beautiful, so beautiful she was,
(an I’d cry her some tears if I had any left)
Is it jus me, or is it the sadness of everything,
an everyone, everywhere, and all that’s ever been?

 

Mom promised us a picnic if we were gud,
an pretty new dresses with matching red huds.
(lar lar lar)
The teacher never cud tell us apart in a munth of Sundys.
But school’s dun with now, royt, so cum out n play,
shake off yer unparalleled sadness
as heavy as a hundred woollen coats soaked by rain,
an the river-lung tears of angels missin their wings.
An hark now, listen to the song o the twins…
Fer the sweetest things may be heard above all storms
of the mightiest wrath (and the sadness of all things).

 

Lar lar lar, I knew you’d be waitin fer me when I came home.
Took ages dint it?
More days than I knew what to do with, if truth be known.
Did you miss me?
Is the Pope Catholic?
These colours, ay, they don’t half look gud. Shall we keep em?
(lar lar lar) to be sure to be sure.
An how many, do you suppose, twins are there in Heaven?
Why sister, dear sister, more than anyone cud imagine!
An now there’s us, together again,
Lollylar, lollylar (cominyar cominyar).


Día de Muertos. November 1st. 2018.

Words and lino cut by the editor.

Poem: The ever-growing, space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree

Words and illustrations by the Editor.

For Adam.

I grew from a seed in my garden one day
A giant Mish-mash tree with purple fruit and pink spray.
It began at fourteen inches and had such an appetite
That it ate all my tomatoes and grew four foot overnight.
The next day it rained on my giant Mish-mash tree
And the sun shone so brightly that by quarter-past three
It was bigger than my house and had scoffed my runner beans.
Oh how hungry you are, my giant Mish-mash tree!

The following morning as I tended to my flowers,
My shock and my horror, they had all been devoured.
The pansies and the bluebells and my pretty rose borders,
Chomped down to their stalks, this was so out of order!
At first I blamed the slugs then the dog then the cat,
Then I realised in my garden there was only one thing so fat…
Only one thing so portly, porky, podgy, plump to see…
My ever-growing space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree!

Its trunk I measured fifty feet, its height three thousand inches tall,
Each purple fruit weighed sixteen stone and looked like cannonballs.
“She’s a lively little grower,” my old neighbour remarked,
“You’ll need to sell your garden soon and buy a blimmin’ park!”
Pah and utter tish-tosh, how I scoffed at what he said,
But then three hours later the tree had eaten up my shed!
You greedy, gluttonous, gobbling, gulping giant Mish-mash tree,
Where am I to store my tools now my shed is in your tummy?

Enough was enough, there could be no truce or pardon,
At this rate by tomorrow I would no longer have a garden.
Angrily I shook my fist up at the Mish-mash tree,
But all it did was snigger and snort and grow another ten feet.
And then it rumbled and it grumbled and I had to act fast…
I could see it had intentions on my prize strawberry patch.
And worse, my greenhouse, full of little bonsai trees,
“You leave those tiny trees alone!” I warned my Mish-mash tree.

I rushed inside and quickly dialled
The emergency action garden line…
The botanical gardens and the local nursery…
The national parks and the forestry committee…
Gardens Weekly and Gardeners’ World…
What Garden, Which Garden and The Gardening Herald…
A tree surgeon, a lumberjack, a professor of trees…
But they all thought me mad and put the phone down on me!

And so I chanced upon a book at the local lending library,
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People With a Nice Cup of Tea’…
Well, if it can work for humans why not plants?
So I borrowed the book and took my chance!
And the very next day I approached the Mish-mash tree
With an honest invitation for a nice cup of tea.
Just him and me, in my conservatory,
And if he behaved I would chuck in a pack of custard creams!

The tree it shook with gladness and glee,
Said: “Oh I do so love a cup of tea! I’ll come, I’ll come, quite happily!”
“There’s just one problem,” I warned the tree,
“You’re far too big for my conservatory…
You’re far too big for Buckingham Palace,
And you won’t need a cup you’ll need a king-size chalice!
If only you could shrink to a reasonable size…
I’m certain you would have such a lovely time.”

The Mish-mash tree looked down at me and gave a gentle smile,
Said: “Earl Grey, Indian, Chinese, mint, green and camomile,
Are all my favourite types of brew, and I’m quite partial to a custard cream too,
So I’ll gladly shrink to a dinky thing and join you for a high tea for two!”
“Oh thank you!” I cheered. “Let me find you a pot,
And put you on my table in the sunniest spot.
Come join me indoors, we’ll drink gallons of tea,
My ever-shrinking, not space-consuming, tiny Mish-mash tree.
Drink tea, drink tea, drink gallons of tea,
Just you and me in my conservatory.”

The End

The Nutella Poem part two

Qui Est-Ce? / Guess Who?

Hypocrisy

Nutella Nigella, your Pater has audacity far thicker than blood

Mixed with water and palm oil and gathered in the gutter

Such hypocrisy to mutter about tiresome hoops

Of bureaucracy he may have to haul his arse through

Watches his nuts as he jumps, palm-oiled and bright red as a propaganda bus

That suggests money saved from Europe could go to the NHS

Oh whore-brandy, weak scarlet-mouthed rock shandy-dandy

Piss-taker extraordinaire, serpent-tongue brass shiner

Slop-deliverer of rank duplicity, Baboon-arsed quackery

And slime-lipped pecksniffery of the highest merit

Utter Cant. May your carte de séjour receive no rubber stamp

And please purchase your Nutella from the Britain you wanted

No single market nuts, free movement or customs union trust

And enough forms to fill in to make even a French person blush

(Love never ends) We’ll always be together

Together in Brexit dreams


Words by the editor.


 

Poem – The fisher and the sun

 

Editor’s note: Dear readers, this poem is away on a top secret mission and is currently unavailable to view. It should return later this year. Apologies for any inconvenience. Ford.

 


Words by the editor.


 

Poem: The Joker, the Snow, and the Beast from the East

To prove your undying love you said you could make it snow.
What are you now, a magician, a conjuror, clown, the Joker? Hahaha.
I detect your urge to display power rather than sentiment,
You tricky buffoon, in purple costume and spinning bow tie,
True to your word you widen your smile, cackle, and make it snow.
So glorious, in minutes, an hour, an afternoon,
The world becomes covered, the sun’s rays hardly knowing
What to do with themselves upon all that virgin whiteness.
“See what I did!” you boom fiendishly, making trees tremble and shake                                       Their shoulders free of their dusty, white epaulettes.
The mountains grumbled you’d given them headaches,                                                                 While birds tweeted symphonies of pure joy.
Tweet, tweeting: Hey, wow, did you see the orange snow in eastern Europe?
African dust storms and pollen lending peachy pink patches to the continental quilt                    Of Bulgarian ski resorts. And that woman, OMG, oranges and lemons, so beautiful                      In yellow against the tangerine of snow that framed her.
See, not everything from the east is a ‘beast’ you stupid fucking imperious                               Jingo-jangling Brexitmotorbreathcraprag and piss poor TV emission.
Hahahahaha, see the Joker tipping fish into the London Thames.
Haaaaheeheee, see the Joker down in Cambridge data mining privacy.
Weeehahhahahhaaa, see the Joker paying off his porno actress fees.
Snick, snick, snicker, see that clown making off with all the loot and family jewels.
Look! Watch him drive away in his comedy clown car, toot-toot, parp, bang,                               Falls to bits, oops, he forgot to attach snow chains to his comedy wheels.
Snow go! Snow joke! The Beast from the East strikes again! Oh FFS the pun of it all!
And, why? Why so serious?
The stuff will have melted by the time you’ve dragged your asses outta bed,
Pulled up your boots and put on your mittens.
Good thing I took pictures. Click. Click. Whirr.
Reminds me of Wilson Bentley and his magnificent slides,
How he photographed snowflakes.
He was no joker, unlike you, racing off to eastern Europe in some insane attempt                       To paint the snow there a cobalt blue.
Wilson Bentley – a Gotham City-esque name if ever, eh?                                                         Diligently cataloguing his Ice-flowers, could teach you a trick or two.
And I’m sorry to pick on you dear Joker, but you kind of deserve it…
And you will do well to hide among clowns until we’re bored of looking for you…
Or get distracted by Eastern summer tournaments and puffed-up superstars…
But like fingerprints collected at the scene of a crime, no two snowflakes are ever the same.      Whistles blow. And justice points you out as the yellow stain you are                                           Sunk deep into the snow.                                                                                                                  Hahaha, who’s laughing now?


Poem and photos by the editor.

Toy images by TVTA. Poster and adverts scanned by TVTA from own collection. Batman and Joker copyright DC.