Haughty authors hie
to the town of Hay-on-Wye
for the festival of books every year.
Readings and signings,
‘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.
Rose-assed dawn besmears the sky,
and all about the grey birds fly
in quest of happy maggots to devour.
A cumbrous bullock sniffs the dew,
then chomps a happy flower.
So why would I get out of bed
and risk that slippery shower?
See the happy starling
as it starls among the gorse.
I wish I was a starling,
I could starl without remorse.
As it is, my starling
is severely circumscribed:
if my darling caught me starling,
she’d have me certified.
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.
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.
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.
I met my love in old Cadiz,
at the Café de Muzurk.
She said ‘What the hell you doing here?
You said you were at work’.
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.
I wrote my love a love song,
a tender melody.
She said ‘You’re no Bob Dylan,
now let me watch TV’.
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,
Poet’s dazzling genius
across the something spread,
then monkey drops a coconut
on poet’s something head.
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.
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.
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.
Where’s my Porsche Carrera,
my Rolls Royce, my signed Picasso?
Now I come to think of it,
where’s my goddam asso?
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.
Many a time and oft aboon
I’ve stood anent a teeming room
and wondered if I’m kindly out-of-date.
It’s hard to stay in kilter,
athwart so many years.
Your OMGs and WTFs
are babel to my ears.
There’s no fire without water
and two sides to every corner,
and an apple a day is worth three.
A rolling stone never boils,
and there’s none so blind
as those who cannot see.
Blazing logs attract the dogs,
while coals beguile the rabbit.
There’s nothing very strange in this,
it’s just the force of habit.
Your average cat, on t’other hand,
will purr to any flame:
you could douse yourself in petrol,
to Puss it’s all the same.
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.
Hell-born horrors haunt my dreams,
my gentle soul affright:
to think that I married
a hag who could carry
a cudgel to bed every night.
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.
All this talk of love
just makes me sick.
You only call it ‘love’
if you’re sixteen
I should try to make my pomes more deep
by digging to the layer beneath
the easy rhymes and punny jeux de mots.
But I think if I did, there’d be nothing else hid
underneath what’s already on show.
Like leaves before an autumn squall
we whirl about, then fall.
Years of agitation end in quiet exhalation,
I hope I don’t depress you
with my dark but honest view:
I’m just waiting for the silence,
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?
— 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.
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.
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.
There was a young poet from Limerick
whose pen-name was Hideous Trimwick.
He wrote dreary verse
in the back of a hearse
— his body of work was a gimmick.
There’s a place in Oklahoma
where they give you a diploma
if you go to church religiously each week.
If I lived in Oklahoma,
I’d prefer to stay at homa:
I’m religiously a fervent agnostique.
Life should be Utopia,
an abundant cornucopia
filled with human love
and kindly philanthropia.
Instead of that we’re living
in the Valley of Myopia,
yearning for a life to come
and cringing with vain hopia.
Paradise is here and now,
it’s right inside your head.
So stop being such a bastard,
it’s too late when you’re dead.
Lurid dawn besmears the east,
just as I reach home.
Twelve hours of dissipation,
no time to write a pome.
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.
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.
Let’s lighten life’s lacunae
with some lilting levity,
and I suggest we start the quest
with nonsense poetry:
There was a young man from Lahore
who said that Lahore was a bore,
so he went to Peru on a kangaroo,
and went back to Lahore no more.
hollered out a ‘Holy moly!’
when he caught the biggest fish
you’ve ever seen.
But no one rose to Enzo’s bait
(they gave it no credoly),
cos Enzo was well known