Daily Muse

Re-load the page, Jacinta,
let’s see what comes up next.
The Breaking News is shocking
and leaves us all perplexed.

Rachel’s married Slugger Jones
but she really wanted Sam,
and Trixie’s told her mother
that she wants to be a man.

The doctor’s a transvestite
and his son is not his son:
He’s the daughter of the plumber
who used to be a nun.

Re-load again, Jacinta,
for all the latest news.
What would we ever talk about
without our daily Muse?



There should be lids on ears
to block out sound,
as eyelids block out light.

Open and close at will,
to hear or not to hear.

Why eyes but not ears?
Admit the sound but not the light?
One more flaw in God’s design,
an unforgivable oversight.


The kindness of the long-distance runner

My theme is Thelma Thweedle,
who chased the Southend bus
from the stop outside Tesco’s
to the one near Toys’R’Us.

She caught the bus (just in time),
and hauled herself on board,
only to discover
it was bound for Wallingford.

So Thelma punched the driver
and commandeered the bus,
shouting through the window
‘Southend or bust!’

That was twenty years ago,
the driver still can’t see,
but Thelma’s now the mascot
for Southend F.C.

She runs along the sidelines,
as fleet as any hind,
and passes round her handbag,
a collection for the blind.


The pa’dox

Gonna git me some o’ that eddercation, learn to read them books they got over at the schoolhouse.

Poppa says I can be anything I want if I got eddercation.

Only, Poppa never got no eddercation himself, so how in hell does he know?

So I asked him, and he said ’It’s a pa’dox, son. Now fuck off and read.’



Please don’t lean on the stanchion
or you’ll fall into the sea,
and your body will be swept away
for all eternity.

No one will remember you,
as if you’d never been.
You’ll be nothing but a rotten corpse,
drifting in the sea.

I give it maybe two weeks,
then you’re lost to memory,
so don’t lean on the stanchion,
lean on me.


This week

Monday I’m in Holland,
for the Metro Culture Fair,
then I’m off to Harvard,
where they’re giving me a Chair.

I’ll stop off at the White House,
to help Barry with the packing
(he’s always so disorganised,
I’d better bring some sacking.)

I wonder if he’d let me use
the presidential plane,
cos on Wednesday I’m in Paris
— working lunch at La Bohème.

Thursday sees me in Dubai,
(I wish I could decline)
some Arab sheikh has asked me
to inspect his concubines.

So it goes, day by day,
the dull diurnal round.
I’d much prefer to hang my hat
at the Rose & Crown.


A friend in need

Twemlow’s on the other line,
he sounds really anxious.
He’s cursing like a jockey,
and praying to St Francis.

— What’s the matter, Twemlow?
(I try to intervene)
Whence this costive outburst?
Whatever can it mean?

— I’ve got the sheriff on my ass
and his deputy.
They brought me in for questioning
about the forgery.

— Sheriff on your ass is bad,
not conducive to good health.
Your tale of persecution
would make a stone heart melt.

— I knew I could rely on you
(says Twemlow, changing pace)
Just lend me fifty thousand,
and your passport, and your face.


The All-knowing

— Are you dead yet, Captain Cardew,
or should I call the doctor back?
— I’m dead already, Bessie,
too late for that old quack.

— Boo-hoo, Captain Cardew,
that’s a sad tale to bear.
Now was it oak you wanted
or maybe plainer fare?

— Just wrap me in my oilskins
and drop me in the sea,
the great Eternal Mother,
like the one who cradled me.

— Boo-hoo-hoo, Captain Cardew,
now you’ve really got me going,
with your fine poetic image
of the sea as the All-knowing.

— It’s a powerful image, Bessie,
that just popped into my head.
You too can spout fine wisdom
when you’re dead.


Lady Luck

I can read the tea-leaves
as others read a book.
All I need is tea-leaves
and a dozy gullible schmuck.

‘Monday is your lucky day,
but stay away from hens.
Wear something yellow
and carry two red pens.’

‘Sell your house tomorrow,
don’t wait another day.
There is danger in your future
unless you move away.’

‘I see a tall dark stranger,
I don’t know what he’s called.
Just give him all your money
or you’ll go completely bald.’

The tea-leaves never lie, you know,
they speak for Lady Luck.
I’m just the middle man
between the Lady and the schmuck.


Nature’s book

I much prefer root vegetables
to the supra terra sort.
You need a spade to dig them up,
from grim and grimy earth.

Often they get badly bruised
or even sliced in two,
then you yank them manfully
and twist their stalks off too.

Consider, next, how we tease a pea
from its pampering pod,
then pop the pea respectfully
onto a piece of cloth.

Nature is an open book
where truth is clearly seen:
Turnips know what life’s about,
and peas are always green.


A dream

A carved wooden model of a rustic fireplace,
seemingly life-size, with a mantle-piece.
On the mantle-piece, a small lamp with a white shade.
The left-hand side of the model is hinged,
and opens out to reveal a small pocket.
Inside the pocket is a book.
Inside the book is a bookmark.
When you pull the bookmark,
the lamp on the mantle-piece lights up.
So clever. Read.



I look, as through a quizzing glass,
at my fellow pilgrims.
We travel on the same road,
but we never seem to meet,
or even to agree on where we’re going.

Maybe I should sell the glass
and buy a television,
simply join my fellow travellers
in the dark cloud of unknowing.



Leonora, than whom none was more radiant in the morning light, was gilding the lily at her glass. A dab of rosewater completed the tableau vivant, and then she called for Quain.

— Has Twemlow been?

— Not been, M’Lady.

— Has he called?

— Not called, M’Lady.

— Left a message?

— Not left, M’Lady.

— Miserable little bastard.

— Candour becomes you, M’Lady. Twemlow’s in jail. Impersonating a Mr Wilbur Tweems, a salesman from Nîmes.

— One of the Nîmes Tweems?

— So it seems.

— Then get me Tweems.

— Very good, M’Lady.



Life was good for Thelma Mudd
before she bought the mangle.
Since then her life has petrified
into a tarnal tangle.

— Mudd and mangle just don’t mix,
I’ve learned that lesson now.
Pre-mangle days were happy days,
with laughter all endowed.

— Lawksamussy, Thelma!
Don’t let yourself be caught
in the tangles of a mangle
and the sadness it has wrought.

Don’t let the mangle master you,
but you must master it.
No Mudd was ever trod on
by outdated household kit.


The caper

What’s the caper, Twemlow,
why the false moustache?
Those funky horn-rimmed glasses
make you look like Groucho Marx.

— I’m sure you are mistaken, Sir.
My name is Wilbur Tweems.
I’m a traveller in teaspoons,
for a company in Nîmes.

Try our Silver Salver range,
for elegance at table.
Your guests will be impressed
and your wife will twang your cable.

— I’d know your hide in a handbag,
so drop the cheap disguise.
Put your hands up, Twemlow,
you’re off to the Assize.

— Unhand me, loutish lawman,
for I’ll have none of it.
If spoons are not your cup of tea,
try Twemlow’s new — oh shit!


Nothing personal

Was your mother on the aircraft
that I hijacked in Algiers?
Did your old dad also lose his head
to my gardening shears?

Were your babies in the back seat
when I stole the Maserati?
Was your hamster devastated
when I joined the Nazi party?

Seemingly no, and yet you show
me so much disrespect.
Members of the jury,
I really must object.

Don’t take it all so personally,
take the long-term view.
Crime is all around us,
thank the Lord it wasn’t you.

I’m your personal Saviour,
come to shield you from all harm.
You won’t have my protection
if I’m in the funny farm.


In session

I think I might come forward
with some fresh allegations,
newly-minted doozies
that will captivate the nation.

Evil in high places,
bigwigs on the make,
judges with their pants down
— so much muck to rake!

That’s why I’m a journalist
and proud of my profession.
Read your daily paper:
the court is now in session.


Young love

See the pious stripling
as he kneels upon the shore,
praying for the safe return
of faithful Eleanor.

Just then the ship hoves into view,
a galleon tempest-tossed,
it smashes on the cliff-face,
all souls aboard are lost.

‘Thy will be done’, the stripling says,
‘We must not ask the Lord
why he’s such a heartless bastard
to me and Eleanor.’

‘I’ll hie me to a taproom
and try to drown my sorrow.
There’s more than one fish in the sea,
I’ll start again tomorrow.’


Family lines

How are things in Birmingham?
Did Billy get my letters?
How is your arthritis now?
Is Granny’s ulcer better?

Tom can have my balaclava,
and give Bill my Yamaha,
give baby Joe my butcher’s knife
— just a joke, ha ha!

Tell Billy if he’s writing
to include the he-knows-what.
I’ve asked him for it six times now,
but maybe he forgot.

Not much happening this end,
things are fairly quiet.
Chaplain says I’m looking well
on the new prison diet.


Au secours!

From the pomelo grove
I overheard:

‘Oh, my handsome hotspur!
Are these orchids all for me?’
Then Twemlow (like the dork he is):
‘Mais oui, ma petite chérie!’

Stomach churning like a pump,
I never felt so sick:
Twemlow’s bad enough in English
but in French, a total prick.

So I found a happy hammer
and I flung it through the bush,
just in time to save the beldam
from the hotpsur’s Gallic gush.