When I get out I’m gonna shout
from the rooftops and the trees:
‘I didn’t kill the sous-chef
— he tried to fillet me!’

Twenty-seven years in jail
for a crime I didn’t do:
he slipped on a potato
and the fillet knife went through.

I still can hear him gurgling
on that filthy kitchen floor,
and cursing the potato
while he thrashed about in gore.

Now I aim to clear my name,
and unbesmirch my scutcheon,
though remorse is off the menu
— the sous-chef had it coming.


Save the twemlow!

Did you know that at the present rate of decline, the twemlow could be extinct within the next 4,000 years?

Have your seamstress fashion a gallipoke for you, and make a strong statement about the wholesale slaughter of the lesser crested twemlow in Nova Zembla.

It doesn’t have to be a calmet or even a pilbeam — just a simple, hand-sewn gallipoke makes a powerful statement in these wicked times.

And remember to Like us on Facebook.


On the line

On the subject of railway couplings, Twemlow speaks very highly of the Sprat & Winkle system, for its ‘reliability’, while Pilbeam admires the ‘simplicity’ of the Wilmot & Pryce.

For me, however, the Stanhope Quadrant system is very hard to beat. No, it’s not simple, but why should it be? When you’re responsible for the lives of thousands of rail passengers every day, is ‘simplicity’ really such a desirable feature? And consider this: will ‘reliability’ ease your pain as you lie dying in a pool of blood beside a railway track, one leg in the carriage and the other in a field of new-mown hay?

So I’ll stick with the Stanhope Quadrant, thank you very much, and let irresponsible murderous bastards speak for other coupling systems.

My conscience is clear.


Wedding belles

A toothless crone came shuffling
up to the tavern door:
‘Could I sit inside a while?
My feet and heart are sore.’

— There’s a wedding party, Dearie,
and the music’s in full swing.
The bride and groom are dancing,
so I cannot let you in.

‘I know I look like death warmed up,
not beautiful like you,
but some day you will also say
‘I was loved once, too.’’


My story

About a month after Ellie died I went on a fishing trip to Lake Cheekbyjowl, way up north of here.

I was out on the lake one afternoon when a storm blew up. A nor’easterly came screaming round the bluff at Nokanook Falls and near tore the pines off Sesqueleeguek Ridge. Out on the lake, the water heaved and riled and rolled my boat every which-way, till I was tossing around out there like a cork, and hanging on to the gunwale for dear life. I was near blinded by wind and rain, but I finally made it to shore near Toohahaha and lashed the boat to an old pontoon.  I hunkered down in some scree and brushwood they got there, just below an overhang, and that way I rode out the storm.

I thought about Ellie as I crouched there, how she would’ve said I was a stupid bastard for going out in the first place, how I got what I deserved. She was always more cruel than any storm.  I never said she deserved to get cancer, though I did think it at the time.

Of course, it was nothing but dumb luck that I survived at all: four men died that day on the lake, and two more near the timberline on Mount Davis.

But for me, the biggest loss that day was my old reefer knife, that I’d had since I was a boy. It must’ve slipped through a runnel or something when the water rolled the boat. It had a beautiful clamshell handle, and always cut like a dream, even when it was wet. That knife was a real friend to me for many years, and I don’t have many friends. Don’t need ‘em, do I?

So yeah, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.


Bad call

Arturo Lysaght lit the fuse
that started the revolt:
a bullet in the gullet
for the Earl of Netherholt.

From north and south the gallants came
to answer to the call:
‘Rise up and fight for Freedom,
with musket, pike, and ball.’

Men and women slaughtered,
babies hanged from trees,
blood and gore at every door,
for the cause of Liberty.

’Twas a fateful potshot
that rang out that fateful morn,
when fateful young Arturo
felled the fateful Earl at dawn.

History will enshrine the deed
of one so brave and bold,
though Arturo didn’t mean it
— he was only three years old.


The power of words

Yestere’en I ambled out
to Man Loon’s Penny Store,
to buy some desquizillas
and a tithe of elphinore.

Man Loon and his fustilugs
were sat behind the bar,
watching some tv show
and sipping from a jar.

They never speak to customers
(unless you speak Chinese),
so I nodded and befumbled
in behind the herbal teas.

Suddenly old Man Loon
was beside me like a cat,
and his fustilugs was threatening me
with a baseball bat.

He said ‘Get out, you thieving bastard,
and don’t come here again!’,
but he said it all in Chinese,
so I just smiled at them.

Then the fustilugs besmote me
with her baseball bat,
which is so much more effective
than all that verbal chat.


Cake & satin

I’ve always been artistic
and really quite refined.
My tea is sweet verbena
and my socks are satin-lined.

One likes to nibble fruitcake
while one reads the New York Times,
starting with the book reviews
— their critics are sublime!

They tear an author’s work to shreds
in calculated prose,
while I nibble on my fruitcake
and scratch my knowing nose.

It’s not an easy life, of course,
the life of the aesthete,
but it helps if one has fruitcake,
and satin on one’s feet.


It’s a pity Otis Cutbush
wasn’t here to see the frog
that came leaping through the window
and landed on the dog.

Such a sight is rare indeed,
a Frog and Dog Alignment.
Otis could have used it
for his poetry assignment.

Poetry is full of frogs
and dogs are ten-a-penny,
but poems that combine the two?
I can’t think of any.

— ’Scuse me, Mr Poet,
but I simply can’t agree:
there’s a new one out by Twemlow,
called ‘Originality’.


Morning call

Morning, like a burglar,
crept into my head.
He shone his torch about a bit
and then he stood and said:

‘Get up, you lazy bastard,
and feel the joy of life!
Grab it by the twemlows
as if it was your wife!’

But unbeknownst to Morning,
I had a better plan:
I kicked him in the pilbeams
as if he was a man.

With Morning doubled up in pain,
I slunk back into bed.
I’ve got all the life I’ll ever need,
right here in my head.



Let’s see if Dieter Drummond
has the gall to stake a claim,
after spending all the petty cash
on Rita What’s-her-name.

Dieter treated Rita
to a holiday in Nice,
then he bought her dainty frillies
from La Maison Caprice.

And all the while the petty cash
lay empty as the void:
not a cent to pay the rent
or feed a hungry boid.

Oh Dieter, must you treat her
like the Queen of Andrapash,
when the boids and Dale the landlord
are relying on the cash?


Ask Dad

Today is the birthday of Solomon (Sol) Meldew, born in 1915 to poor immigrant parents in Twemlow, West Virginia. He studied engineering at college, but dropped out after only one year, and headed to New York. Aged just 20, he had little experience of city life and soon fell in with the wrong crowd: poets, novelists, and artists — what his father used to call ‘the scum of the scum of the earth’.

But scum seemed to suit Sol, and his first collection of poems, Wherefore the Vision? was published in 1937. While giving a poetry reading at Columbia University, he was attacked by a hothead in the audience (a fan of Eliot, apparently), and was seriously injured. While recovering in hospital, Sol fell in love with his nurse, Mary Ellen Rosetti. They married in 1946.  Sol wrote: ‘Mary Ellen meant the world to me, and I think she gave my poetry a whole new depth. A woman can do that, you know.’

His next collection, Storm over Twemlow (1948) was gritty, hard-hitting, and seethed with anger about his childhood, his family, and small-town America. It won the National Book Award, and Sol’s reputation as a poet was secured.

From then on, he wrote nothing. He became what his father called ‘a lousy stinkin’ bum who couldn’t write to save a dog from drownin’.’ Which is exactly what happened: in 1956, Mary Ellen’s beloved dog, Spangles, was drowned in the East River, while Sol stood by, his inkhorn dry, writing nothing. The couple were divorced shortly after, and Sol moved to a trailer park in Pilbeam, Missouri. His National Book Award was officially withdrawn, and was given instead to his father, for his ‘prophetic vision that looks unflinchingly into the hearts of men’.

Today, Sol is best remembered for being forgotten. He died alone in 1960 and was buried at Mount Oblivion. It was said that Mary Ellen visited his grave once a year, to spit. Sol’s father went on to host his own radio talkshow, Meldew Moments (1961-66), where he made famous the catchphrase Aaaask Daddy!


The rebel

Come now, Master Shadbolt,
that isn’t what I meant,
when I said ‘Stand up for freedom
and defy the government’.

What good is stealing pennies
from old beldams in the street,
and terrorizing kiddies
when you pinch their bags of sweets?

You gotta shoot the beldams first,
then string up all the kids.
That’s the only way they’ll ever learn
what true rebellion is.

From the top

After putting the Ferrari through its paces on the Avenue des Etoiles, I like to relax on the patio with a tisane of Osmanthus tea, which is specially made for me by my good friend Theo, at the Pavilion de Thé, in Montparnasse. It’s a wonderful blend of dried flowers from the sweet olive tree and leaves from the Chinese Kotsa bush, commonly known as Cat’s Eye. Theo is such a treasure — I simply couldn’t live without him!

Having said that, his blend of pennyworth and Korean knotweed is absolutely disgusting, and his papaya and dill tea would take the shine off a brass doorknob.

So you see, life at the top is not all pleasure. Now get back to work.


Bearing fruit

Now class, I want you to tell me what you think is the best profession in the world. The best profession….

Delmar, what do you think?

Emmy-Lou? Any idea?

Madison? Stop picking your nose.

Tommy – is your hand up? Yes, Tommy.

— Eh, is it writer, Miss?

Writer? Why do you say that, Tommy?

—  Well, cos, you know, without writers all the other professions would be totally meaningless, wouldn’t they?

What does your father do, Tommy?

— He’s dead, Miss.

Choose an orange from the basket, Tommy, and enjoy.

A writer’s complaint

Leroy Spurtz has the kind of name
you’d find in the Olympics,
and yet the crazy bastard
went and studied astrophysics.

I had him down for greatness
on the parallel bars,
instead of which he wastes his time
gazing at the stars.

What’s the point?, I ask myself,
of this here writing game,
when the characters I dream up
just treat me with disdain?

Customer care

I was opening a new box of Dalton & Bassett’s Twemlows when the phone rang.

— Hello?

Don’t eat those Twemlows!

— What?

— I said Don’t eat those Twemlows. Throw them out, right now!

— Who is this?

— Dalton.

— Who?

— Dalton, of Dalton & Bassett.

— Oh. How did you…?

— You got a bad box of Twemlows. It happens sometimes, and we’re real sorry. Throw them out. We’ll send you a new pack right away, by express courier. No charge, of course. And a hand-written apology, signed by Bassett himself.

— That’s real nice of you.

— We’re leaders in Customer Care, you know, here at Dalton & Bassett.

— Why don’t you sign it too?

— What?

— Why don’t you sign the apology too? Why just Bassett?

— Listen, punk! Don’t push me too far! I phoned ya, didn’t I? Did Bassett phone ya?

— Ooh, sorry.

— You want me to apologise twice? Maybe I should get down on my knees? Prostrate myself on the cobblestones of commerce? Is that what you want?

— Jeez, I just….

— Ok, go ahead and eat the goddam Twemlows. Stuff our face — see if I care! (Marcia, cancel that courier! And send a bunch of roses to Jack the Poisoner. In fact, give him a job. Tell him to see me tomorrow at nine.)

— I’m still here.

— Oh yeah? You got more complaints? Twemlows not sweet enough for ya? I spend my whole goddam life trying to please ungrateful bastards like you, and this is the thanks I get!

— Gotta go. Courier’s here.


Full bore

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Quantum Physics, at least not fully. Which is a pity, because Niels Bohr and I have a lot in common.

He was born on a Tuesday, and so was I.

His mother had varicose veins, and so had mine.

He won a prize for an essay when he was at school, and I won ten pounds on a scratch card about six months ago. I bought it in Landy’s in the High Street. Apparently, he’s had quite a few winners in recent years. I said to him ‘They should call you Lucky Landy’. He laughed.

He (Bohr) was a passionate footballer in his youth, and so was a mate of mine at work. In fact, he (my mate, not Bohr) had a trial for Sheffield United when he was a 15, though he didn’t make the grade. Which is a pity, because he was a nifty little player. Very fast, and a great reader of the game, even at that age.

He (back to Bohr) always drank tea without sugar, and I’m exactly the same. You might as well poison me as put sugar in my tea. Whereas I don’t mind sugar in coffee at all. Isn’t that strange?

So yes, there is a connection, but it’s difficult to quantify.


Anagram jam

Delmar likes the medlar pears,
for anagrammic reasons.
He picks them up at Mardel’s,
when the medlars are in season.

Such a pity Mardel’s pears
cause Delmar’s dermal lesions.
I told him to eschew the pears
but Delmar won’t see reason:

‘I’m not larmed by lesions
or by other dermal flaws.
I just lard ‘em up with medlars
and apply ‘em with a gauze.’

‘So don’t despise the medlar,
which makes such soothing jams,
and also shows such acumen
in making anagrams.’