Love in a garden

To my left the bois-fidèle,
to my right the myrtle:
a sickly-sweet profusion
that sets my heart a-kirtle.

If I could have you here again
just for one last time,
I’d lop your rotten head off
and bury it in lime.

I’d place a tasteful stone, of course,
with some kind words on it,
to tell the world I love you
as a rosebush loves a shit.



Afternoon off

I must remind old Catflap
that I won’t be here for tea.
I’m meeting Captain Carver
at the Kat & Kedgeree.

Oh, by the way, Mudflap, I won’t be here for tea.

— M’Lud?

No tea this afternoon, Flipflop… take the afternoon off.

— M’Lud?

I’m going out, Slipknot, so no tea today. You can take the afternoon off.

— Afternoon off, M’Lud?

Oh for God’s sake! I won’t be here, Drainpipe. You can take the afternoon off!

— You want tea now, M’Lud?

No! I’m meeting Captain Carver, I won’t be…. oh forget it, Turnpike!

— Captain Ernest Carver, of the 13th Infantry Brigade, M’Lud?

Yes, old Irondrawers himself! We’re meeting at four at the Kat & Kedgeree, so I won’t…

— Beg pardon, M’Lud, but Captain Carver was killed on the twelfth of May 1915, two miles north of Verdun. Sniper on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, M’Lud.

Nonsense, Pikestaff! I got no such report!

— Possibly out of respect, M’Lud. Oh, and the Kat & Kedgeree closed in 1982, M’Lud. There’s a teashop there now.

Yes, in the drawing room. Thank you, Cornstarch.


Face it

In semblance of a toad
my beldam bears her load
with all the grace and dignity she can.

Her face is pocked and bulbous
and her skin is tough as stone:
sometimes I think I’m married to a man.

I buy her salves and lotions
and all kinds of pungent potions,
but her face is still the face of Desperate Dan.

My beldam withered on the vine
but now just look at me:
I’m still the handsome charmer
that I was at twenty-three.


The honest trade

I wandered lonely as a crone
who has nor friend nor telephone,
and made my way to a sylvan glade
where Nature’s sweets were all arrayed.

All about the curlews curled,
and twemlows piped To-whit!,
while just ahead in a bobbing bed
of bluebells sang a tit.

Jonquils jostled feverwort,
twined tendrils with St Joan,
and all above this verdant stage
a sunny sun sunshone.

You’d think that such a comely scene
would lighten my sad mood:
but you don’t know me, reader
— I’m not that kinda dude.

I blew that creepy sylvan gaff,
and ran to The Honest Trade:
— I’ll have a pint with you, Sir,
and call a spade a spade.


‘Damn your eyes, Seth Cardew,’
said Twemlow with a snarl,
‘keep thy peepers to thyself,
or I’ll pitch thee in the marl.’

— I ain’t seen nuthin’, Captain,
I swear it ‘pon my life.
T’aint my bizness what ya do
ta ‘personate a wife.

With that, poor Twemlow’s
his ardour all depleted.
He slowly let the air out,
and lay down, quite defeated.

The memory

The night we stole a monkey from the Munda Wanga Zoo,
the time we swapped the Citroën for a ‘bicyclette-à-deux’,
the day we swam butt-naked in the lake near Vissieux,
the week we spent in Galway, ‘a room without a view’,
the night we clung together on that mountain in Peru,
the time you sent an email that you’d found somebody new
— memory’s a bastard, cos it’s all about you.

Watching tail

I was observing Donati’s tail when the phone rang.

— Nice tail, eh?

— Spectacular! Hey, who is this?

— Got any pics?

Who is this?

— Close-ups?

— Well yes, I got some real good ones.

— High def? Full colour?

— Of course! I got a Meade LX70 Maksutov, with Plossl eyepieces.

— Oooh! How much do you want for the pics?

— They’re not for sale… it’s just a hobby. Look, who is this?

— Mount Ashton Observatory, in Carson City, Nevada.

— Oh… but how did you know I was …. ?

— We’re very observant.

— I guess you must be.

— So you won’t sell the pics?

— Well, I’m just an amateur. Like I said, it’s just a hobby.

— Would you trade pics then?

— Sure, maybe… you got any pics of Virgo’s globular clusters?

— Oh you pervy bastard!


Captain Carver’s Christmas Crush

Come to me, my saucy goose,
I won’t say boo to you.
Perch your tail upon my lap
and warm your gingeroo.

— Oh Captain Carver, you’re a cove!
A bird ain’t safe with you!
I’ll not be perching on your lap
to bill and coo with you!

I’ve got a sprig of mistletoe,
my sage and onion dove.
Oh let me kiss your candied lips
I’m skillet-tossed in love.

— Oh Captain Carver, you’re a cove!
you’re squeezing my baboosties.
Simmer gently, Captain,
then your goose is much more juicy.

Art of beauty

Is that you, Leonora,
in the painting by Vermeer?
the beauty gazing back at me,
a jewel at her ear?

Yes it’s me, Captain Tandy,
though I gaze not at you.
I’m looking at the sundial
— the Twemlow sails at two.

Yes it’s me, Captain Tandy,
with the jewel at my ear.
As soon as I can flog it,
my ass is outta here.

Fire down below

Seaman Tandy lit the fuse
when he peevishly refused
to endorse the edict
handed down by Twemlow.

Now the ship has run aground
near the stormy Western Sound,
and the crew are dancing two-steps
on the decks.

Twemlow’s in his cabin
with a cloth upon his head:
‘Dab my temples, Mudflap,
for I am nearly dead!’.

‘Oh Tandy, you have pained me,
I’ve loved you since a lad.
How could you betray me
— my sailor boy gone bad!

Tandy’s on the upper deck,
drinking rum and Coke.
All the seamen love him
(he even lets them smoke).

‘Just wait until the tide is up’,
says Tandy to the men.
‘Then Ganymede will be discharged,
and we’ll sail home again.’

In his cabin, Twemlow lies
on passion’s painful reefs:
‘I only asked dear Tandy
if he’d wear those spandex briefs.’

Missing Twemlow

Is that you, darling Twemlow,
gliding through the arboretum?
— Oh how thrilling, Leonora,
do let’s go and greet him!

There’s no one here, Jocasta,
the arboretum’s bare!
— I could’ve sworn our Twemlow
quite shimmered through the air!

You’re tired, Leonora,
and your mind is quite confused.
— You’re not exactly sane yourself,
you’re mad as two left shoes!

We both miss darling Twemlow,
the skipper of our craft.
Pity us, poor beldams,
though Twemlow would’ve laughed.

Twemlow’s magic

Haughty authors hie
to the town of Hay-on-Wye
for the festival of books every year.

Readings and signings,
publishers’ receptions:
‘We’ll pay you twenty pounds
for your next haiku collection!’

Julian Barnes is telling yarns
about his love for France.
Germaine Greer is in top gear,
she’s wearing cowboy pants.

Martin Amis wanders in,
looking very sour.
He says his muse is slowing down,
the last one took an hour!

So why can’t I go to Hay-on-Wye
and be with famous authors?
Twemlow’s magic doesn’t work
like Harry bloody Potter’s.

Table talk

Three strident slappers yapping
at a table next to mine:
‘Do try the truffles, Trixie,
they’re simply quite divine!’

‘They were playing Hide-the-Sausage
in the back seat of the Bentley!
Their chauffeur told me so himself,
(he drove us down to Henley).

‘Now Annabelle, you filthy cow,
tell us all your news:
Did you hide the sausage
with that waiter in Toulouse?’

If this keeps up, I’ll slit my wrists,
(the steak knife beckons me),
or I might just try the fillet
of the wicked witches three.

Love cuts

I bought my love a chainsaw,
so she could cut down trees,
She said she needed exercise,
I thought my gift would please.

Instead of which, my crazy bitch
has sawn my heart in two,
my torso’s in Australia
and my legs in Timbuctoo.

I thought it was a thoughtful gift,
(the chain is ‘Hi-tensile’).
Next time I’ll get her aftershave,
Eau de Crocodile.

In the cross-hairs

A certain knight went jousting
among the infidels,
head to foot in armour,
a warlike apparell.

On his brow he wore a cross,
emblazoned in blood red,
in his hand a silver lance
to smite the heathen dead.

‘Though I’m cast among the godless’,
bespake the certain knight,
‘there is none can slay me,
for I know my cause is right.’

A laser-guided missile struck
the cross upon his brow.
That certain knight is not
so certain now.


Night vision

My beldam’s face is like the night
they drove old Dixie down.

Now I don’t mind kissin’ wood,
and I don’t care if my honey’s no good.

Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest,
but damn!, she looks like a devil possessed.

I swear by those eyes that look out from Hell,
it’s a face I’ll remember, oh so well.


Muse away

My Muse is on vacation,
(anything to please her!),
so I’m defrosting poems
that she left in the freezer.

It takes a while, so bear with me:

’Something something monkey
in a something lofty tree,
poet musing (?) underneath,
something dignity.

Poet’s dazzling genius
across the something spread,
then monkey drops a coconut
on poet’s something head.


Easy rider

Billy rode like an arrow across the desert, his lustrous locks lapping in the wind.
‘Look at my lustrous locks’, laughed Billy. ‘How they lap in the wind!’

Just then a wily hunter peeked out from ‘neath a bush,
and fired a hefty salvo that left Billy on his tush.

— ‘Long-haired idjit,’ muttered the wily hunter, as he walked towards his hairy prey. ‘Make a fine soft pillow, or maybe a shawl for my beldam.’

But Billy was only stunned, and he quickly surveyed the situation: ‘My tush smarts — no doubt about it — but I must put that behind me and get outta here. That wily hunter bodes ill for me.’

So, manfully hauling ‘Samantha’ from the ground, he sat astride her and Zooooooom! — into the sunset like a startled starfish.

Thanks to Samantha’s ’Superglide’ suspension, Billy’s tush was cosseted and cajoled all the way back to Bakersfield, where he got a beer, a joint, and a haircut.

It’s not known what happened to the wily hunter, though he was sometimes seen snooping round Harley Davidson showrooms between Bakersfield and Sacramento.


On the outside

When I get out I’m going straight to Rosa’s Cafe in Camden, and I’m gonna order a 10-oz steak with pepper sauce, mashed potatoes, honey-glazed baby carrots, apple pie and ice cream, and a big mug of hot, sweet tea.

I’m gonna sit there for three hours with a copy of The Sun. I’ll read the sports pages first, obviously, then work my way through from page one to the end: all the muggings, stabbings, robberies, murders, corruption, road rage, neighbours from hell, love rats, 12-year-old mums, tragic grans, lotto louts, have-a-go heroes, missing kids, celebrity pregnancies, and loyal border collie Rolf, who burrowed through ten feet of garbage to alert neighbours to the plight of 94-year-old Albert — a war veteran — who died six weeks earlier.

It’s still a long way off, but it gives me something to live for.


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.