My special thing

I killed her with a monkey wrench,
a blow that more than stuns.
Is there a problem?
I don’t believe in guns.

Guns are very noisy
and they might alarm the neighbours.
I’d never wish to scare them
as I ply my private labours.

The thoughtful fiend is silent
as an elephant in spring.
All I need’s a monkey wrench
to do my special thing.



Have you ever tried to shave an egg?

It’s tempting, I know, but take it from me — it’s just not worth it.

I’ve spent years shaving eggs, and I’ve even become quite skilful at it. I can shave an egg with one hand tied behind my back, blindfolded, in a cage with a Tiger Shark, six feet under water, at midnight. But even that doesn’t satisfy, at least not in the long term.

Now I just wish I could turn the clock back. We only get one chance in life, so please don’t waste your time shaving eggs.

Shaving sharks, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fulfilment.


Knowing Missy

I was sittin’ on the porch with Delmar, just jawin’, you know, after dinner, and of course Missy was there. Missy was always there.

She had some kind of stitchwork or ‘broidery or somesuch. Anyhow, she paid us no mind, just sat there, real busy, real quiet.

I always liked little Missy — not in that way — but you know, just kinda liked her for herself. Hard to know if she was fifteen or fifty, and it didn’t seem to matter none.

Well, Delmar asked me if I could stand more coffee and he just turned to Missy and her eyes were closed, and her hands were in her lap, and she was still holding the needle.

And Delmar hollerin’ ‘Missy! Missy! Missy!’, but I knew.

I like Delmar, but I never went back after that.


My private gallery

My beldam’s nose:
like one of those Picasso often drew.
When she turns to look at me
she slices me in two.

Her eyes are classic Rembrandt,
glaring from the gloom.
I cannot get away from her,
they follow me round the room.

Her mouth is always open,
like the Gates of Hell.
Bruegel would have loved her,
my fire & brimstone belle.

No painter can imagine
the horror of love’s dream:
each time she drops her undies,
I’m staring at The Scream.

The old story

People with four eyes tend to have very keen vision, and none more so than Elmer Twilb, the celebrated optician and town tease. When Elmer fits a new pair of specty-cules to an upturned nose, he always says: ‘See?’. And the upturned nose always says ‘Yes, I see now.’ Then Elmer says ‘Now turn and look out the window. Can you read that sign on the building opposite?’

— ‘Oh yes… it’s quite clear.

— What’s it say?

— Well…

— What’s it say?

— Well, it’s a sort of advert for…  gentlemen’s entertainment. I can read it perfectly clearly, thank you. We don’t need to….

— Oh I see! But you don’t mind pulling the bellrope in private, do you? Ding-ding, ding-ding! 

— How much do I owe you?

— I suppose you’ll go home now and twang the banjo, eh? What a specty-cule! At least those people opposite are honest about it.

— Just let me pay you and leave, please.

— The old story: if you don’t pay for it across the street, you pay for it here — and a lot more too! It’s eight hundred for the frames, and six hundred for the lenses. Plus three-fifty for the non-scratch phototactic coating. Plus tax.

— Just take this. Goodbye.

— Mind the step.


Thinking allowed

A lifetime of thinking has taught me that it’s something you should only do in private. Don’t think in public, because people just don’t like it. For instance, if I’m sitting by myself, just thinking, people become uncomfortable, or anxious, or suspicious. It’s just not normal, sitting there, thinking. Some people — total strangers —  will even come up to me and say ‘Cheer up, pal. It may never happen’. They assume that I’m worried or sad or lonely, when nine times out of ten I’m actually composing my next Ode to Joy (either that or I’m trying to find a rhyme for pestilence). But it’s all happening on the inside, so people can’t see it.

Sometimes, though, I really am worried. I’m deeply worried about all those people who never think at all, either in public or in private, and there are millions of them, everywhere. I can’t think of anything more dangerous.


The consolation of poetry

How lonely is the egg cup
without a soft-boiled egg!
How lonely, too, the clothesline
without a wooden peg!

Loneliness is everywhere,
it keeps us company.
Sometimes it brings a friend along:
‘My mate, Monotony’.

So don’t be an egg cup,
and not a clothes line either:
just read my silly poems
and they’ll make your burden lighter.

Matt Black

Matt Black, the painter,
was weary night and day,
cos people wanted glossy,
to which poor Matt would say:

I’m Matt Black, the painter,
and before you let me in,
read instructions carefully:
it says so on the tin.

I may not be reflective,
I do not shine or gleam,
but if you let me paint your life
I’ll colorize your dreams.

Twemlow, père et fils

A bitter family feud ensued
when Twemlow won the Lotto.
The selfish whelp refused to help
enlarge the family potto.

Twemlow Senior lead the charge
with this acerbic jibe:
‘Junior, you’re a bastard,
I’ll tan your selfish hide.’

— And if I am a bastard,
then what does that make you?
I never felt at home here,
I’m off to pastures new.

And so the wealthy bastard
lives at ease in old Belize,
while his poor bedraggled family
pays the rent by shelling peas.

The lesson of my story is:
if you win the Lotto,
you may find out you’re not the one
you thought your dad begotto.

Sick leave

I heard that you were ill last week
— was it meningitis?
Or did you stay in bed all week
just so you could spite us?

— Oh no, esteemed employer,
now who would stoop so low?
I had to stay in bed last week
to let my moustache grow.

We gave your job to Baldy,
when you just disappeared.
Now you can go back to bed,
and grow yourself a beard.

A vision of beauty

Leonora wore an elegant apricot gown, and her silken hair was accented by a delicate spray of orange blossoms. The very air adored her as she glode along the sunlit  promenade, a tangerine reticule in one hand, and a bittersweet parasol in the other. When she entered the orangery, she disappeared completely.

The cat & the light

The light comes through the window
and bounces off the cat,
the cat jumps up and stares about:
— ‘What the hell was that?’

It’s only sunlight, Pusskins,
the bright diurnal ray.
I don’t suppose you’ve noticed
cos you mostly sleep all day.

— Effrontery, if you ask me!
Gave me quite a start!
What’s the point of sunlight
when there’s always after dark?

Some folks like the sunlight,
it drives the gloom away.
Rouse yourself and run about,
enjoy the cheerful day.

— We cats know nothing of the gloom,
that makes you humans frown,
cos we can see what you can’t see
when the sun goes down.

We see into the heart of God,
his secrets dark and deep.
Now close those goddam curtains,
I’m going back to sleep.


Happy thoughts

In semblance of a chicken
that has recently been stricken,
we run around in circles
till we drop.

In semblance of a toad
that’s been squashed upon the road,
we give a tiny shudder,
then we stop.

Oh I do enjoy my happy thoughts,
and sharing them with others.
My poems are like heartbeats:
tiny, futile shudders.

Not me

Oh to be a crested goose
above the sea so clear,
bound for Valparaiso
or anywhere but here.

Oh to be a dentist
or the Laird of Cap-na-dree.
Oh to be just someone else,
anyone but me.

I see you read these ragged lines,
your face is turning blue:
I must admit, now I think of it,
I’m glad that I’m not you.