Bank holiday travel! Always the same;
a chore – still more if you travel by train.
But we’re British, so we won’t make a fuss
as we board the rail replacement bus.
Surly rail staff in high-vis jackets
won’t give directions or help with baggage.
Pushed in so tightly, we feel like we’re trussed,
crammed into the rail replacement bus.
Along leafy lanes we wend our way,
join the traffic jam on the motorway.
Smug car drivers smirk – they’re laughing at us
poor souls on the rail replacement bus.
(Somehow coming back it’s even worse –
the route seems longer in reverse.
And if you can get a seat, that’s a plus
they’re rare, on the rail replacement bus.)
At last we wearily disembark,
over two hours late, in a damp car park.
Enough to make anyone scream and cuss –
the *expletive deleted* replacement bus!
In London’s Leicester Square a statue stands
of the immortal bard. Upon its head
a city pigeon, grimy sky-rat, lands,
prepares its load of excrement to shed.
To heaven might the statue raise its eyes:
“Dump on me, if you must, but not my words!
An easy thing it is, to criticise
when your sharp quills have never formed a verse.
Please spare the books upon which now I lean –
they prove to all that, once, a man here dwelt
who strove to know the hearts of human beings
and, in his work, to capture how they felt.”
The pigeon voideth not, but flies away.
The statue, unsoiled, smiles. Happy Birthday!
I always seem to catch the eye
of airport security
(for a woman travelling alone
is a drug mule, apparently).
They rummage through my luggage
while I try to act blasé –
once I even had to juggle
to explain some balls away,
had my scissors confiscated
(though they didn’t spot my herbs)
but I never dreamt my poetry
would leave them lost for words…
“Did you write this yourself?” he asks,
eyes moving over the page.
I don’t know what I mumble
as my mind begins to race,
for I’ve packed two poetry notebooks –
the covers both look the same,
but while one is full of nature poems
the other is – well, less tame.
Is he reading of foxes’ footprints,
an egret, still and serene –
or that innocent little haiku
which everyone thinks is obscene?
He licks a finger, turns a page –
is it mist winding round a birch?
Or that rather rude acrostic –
or something even worse?
He can’t be this keen on kestrels!
His face gives nothing away
as he hands my notebook over,
mutely waves me on my way.
As border experiences go,
this one is truly unique –
I half-expected I’d be frisked,
but I feel like I’ve been critiqued!
(with apologies to Tolkien)
All that is gold does not glitter.
Not all those unmarried will moan.
The single and strong need no pity,
Deep souls are content on their own.
No, I don’t share this coupling obsession;
I’ve got poems to write, songs to sing!
My time is my own, and it’s precious –
I won’t be enslaved by a ring.
(to the tune of The Man Who Sold The World)
A solitary star
up in the sky turns black
and something special’s gone
that never can come back.
A constant is no more.
Hearts sink that used to soar
and sadly it’s a fact –
not braced for the impact…
Crawl from the crash
with wounded wings unfurled,
take shaking steps
in a strange post-Bowie world.
Wake to a world that’s wrong,
and mourn for mismatched eyes,
brain full of fractured song,
soul screaming to the skies –
a scream of disbelief,
a desert born of grief,
and, choking on the dust,
drink tears, because you must…
Like it or not
somehow the time drags on
and so begins
post-Bowie world, day one.
are meaningless to me.
The years to come
will be dated post-Bowie.
It can’t be Easter already,
New Year’s barely out of the way –
but look – green shoots in my garden!
Must be spring – or else, climate change?
At least my hard work has paid off –
planting bulbs nearly finished me!
Can’t think which ones I planted where –
next week, I’ll be able to see…
And it’s not just in the garden –
on the shelves in my local shop
chocolate eggs are on display,
chocolate bunnies begin to hop.
Who buys for Easter this early?
The eggs could be addled by Lent.
The bunnies will taste quite funny,
their poor ears all broken and bent.
Old hot cross buns become tepid,
stale chocolate, spotted with white.
A symptom, like global warming,
of 21st century life.
On Saturday morning, I’ll be in the queue
filled with anticipation – some nervousness too.
With popcorn to munch on while watching the ads
and hoping and praying it won’t be too bad…
For Star Wars was special, it still reigns supreme
of all childhood memories of cinema screen.
But then Phantom Menace proved true to its name –
the other two prequels were more of the same.
Opening crawls about boring taxation
were only the start of the fans’ indignation.
“No more Jar Jar Binks!” you could hear them all cry –
the whole thing was ruined by bad CGI.
So this time around, I’m not asking a lot –
don’t need dazzling dialogue, intricate plot.
Just spaceships and battles – then, if we’re lucky,
a cameo from our favourite Wookiee!
Should be a safe bet that lightsabers abound –
oh, I’ll sit through a lot for that fabulous sound!
Though I guess its too much to hope that it’s packed
with actors that actually know how to act.
Now, please don’t call me Scrooge –
I know, I’m a ranter –
but I’m taking a stand
against Secret Santa.
I’ve enough plastic tat!
Like the novelty clock,
and a magic 8 ball,
and that comedy cock…
It’s stuff nobody needs,
so I fear it all will
go to charity shops –
or end up as landfill.
Choosing gifts is a chore;
your choices diminish
when the office decides
a fiver’s the limit.
I’d rather go shopping
for gifts which feel just right
for friends – not for strangers
with taste quite unlike mine.
I don’t need a repeat
of the colleague who cried
when I bought him a book
on bunny suicide…
No more Secret Santa!
It will be a relief –
it’s no better to give
than it is to receive.
So you’d like to ask for a favour?
I’m sorry – you don’t stand a chance.
You should have asked me yesterday –
I was wearing my positive pants.
But I change my pants each morning
(’cause my dear old mum told me so) –
now I’m wearing my negative knickers
and my negative knickers say “No!”
I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed.
I really don’t mean to be rude.
Just blame those negative knickers
with their selfish and bad attitude.
I honestly want to help you,
I usually try to be kind –
but I’ve got my negative knickers on,
and the knickers don’t feel so inclined.
Those knickers are terribly naughty –
the things have a mind of their own!
Oh, I can’t take them anywhere,
and I simply daren’t leave them alone.
But soon they’ll be in the laundry,
enjoying a delicate wash –
so just ask me again in the morning
when my negative knickers come off!
“I never drink wine”
it’s whisky – see, the stag on the label?”
Renfield, taking orders as always,
ferries drinks from bar to table.
There’s a heap of capes on the counter.
On a stool, there’s Jack Palance – who,
for a creature that lives on blood (and beer),
is looking quite substantial.
George Hamilton is swaying
and giggling at Bela Lugosi
who’s trying to do his party piece
with a pint glass, matchbox and coaster.
But Frank Langella’s disappeared –
ah, those lips, those eyes
were enough to snare the barmaid –
no phony fangs required.
Klaus Kinski’s in a corner
where small cries can be heard.
They may be his – but no-one’s keen
to ask if his drink is dead.
So Renfield orders another round
and longs for eternal life.
Says the barman “Is that with Kahlua?”
and pours him one, over ice.