Month: April 2017

All-star show

Cassiopeia is on lead guitar,
Centaurus is on drums,
Virgo toots a saxophone
and Gemini just hums.

Orion is lead singer
in the all-star cosmic show.
Canis Major sings the high notes,
Canis Minor, those below.

All around us, every night,
the cosmic party jives,
the syncopated rhythms
of our constellated lives.

No need to buy a ticket,
free entry at the door.
Enjoy the music while it lasts
— there won’t be an encore.



Morning prayer

At ten to eight I stoop to fate
and gibber out of bed,
praying for an earthquake,
with many thousands dead.

I listen to the BBC,
hoping for disaster:
a plague of killer rabbits,
or a typhoon near Doncaster.

Slouching down the motorway,
I yearn for total carnage:
a lightning bolt from heaven
or a landslide close to Barnage

‘Each dawn I die’, the poet said,
but what the hell would he know?
He doesn’t drive to Sheffield
for the morning shift at Twemlow’s.



The shutterbugs are swarming
outside my bedroom door:
they’d love to get a photograph
of me and Eleanor.

‘Fie upon thee, shutterbugs,
thrice fie and cold damnation!
Can’t a chap bedip his pipe
without this scrutination?’

‘Away, away, vile snappers,
before I lose my senzes
and bring my stout shillelagh
crashing down upon your lenses!’

‘Did Ansell Adams die for this,
did Warhol kick the bucket,
to snap a gentle beldam
as she’s just about to s—k it?’


Travel advice

I can’t speak for Marco Polo
or for Captain Cook.
but I do know that travelling
is not for every schmuck.

Consider Captain Weaver,
who left from Icefloe Head
in a barrel of tomatoes
that froze and sank like lead.

Consider Ebeneezer Tweeze,
explorer of the Nile.
who hired a team of turtles
and barely went a mile.

And on this point who can forget
the fate of Wandering Walter,
whose journey to Medina
left him stranded in Gibraltar?

So if you plan to travel,
remember most of all
that the world is very big,
and you are very small.


A note to the D.

The Rivers Nursery introduced the peregrin peach in 1903, and I haven’t heard a single complaint about it from that day to this. Everyone loves the peregrin peach, and the Rivers Nursery is held in high esteem around the world.

In contrast, the nuclear bomb was introduced in 1945, and I’ve heard nothing but complaints about it from Day One.

The solution is simple: turn over all weapons production to the Rivers Nursery. They’re beautiful people, believe me.


Technique poètique

People are fascinated by the process of poetic composition, and often ask me about my technique. It’s really not as complicated as people imagine, and I’m happy to share it here:

1. Select any book and open it at page 25.

2, Now select the word that is five lines down and two words across on that page, and make a note of it.

3. Open a different book at page 33 and select the word that is eight lines down and four words across. Again, make a note of it.

4. Continue in this way, using increments of 8, 3, 2 (for humour), 11, 3, 5 (for satire), and 14, 0, 1 (for inspirational).

5. When you reach the end of a line in any book, make a new line in your poem, and continue to calculate as before.

6. For the total number of words required, subtract the total number of pages in the first book from the corresponding number in the second book. The square of the result is the total number of words needed for your poem.

NOTE: You must begin at page 25 for every new poem, regardless of genre. There are no exceptions to this rule, unless you are unable to appreciate the difference between poetry and posturing.


Time out

My raffish looks are much admired
by beldams round the world.
You should hear the gasps of passion
when I get my moustache curled.

Of course I must be careful
to inflame judiciously:
even Casanova
didn’t love continuously.

So I’m taking a vacation
mes petites amourettes,
to rest the curly moustache
and to let you catch your breath.