The happy angler

I fastened a hand-made cock-a-bundy to my hook and cast off.

The light over the lake was angel-silver, and I was in angler’s Heaven. Nearby, a dabchick plashed, and overhead, a linnet piped a tuneful threnody. I smiled to think of God’s infinite goodness, in which we mortals soak like mackerel fillets in a herb and lemon marinade.

Just then —  a violent tug on my fishing line! I was yanked forward by — what? Something huge, powerful, like nothing I’d ever caught before: ‘The Catch of the Century!’ (Angling Today) ‘Local man lands monster!’ (Local Gazette).

In an instant I was skimming across the lake like a speedboat, drawn by some unknown but irresistible force.  The creature — whatever it was — went lower in the water, and I followed.

But even as I sank, I still found time to pipe a threnody of my own:

Oh Lord, though now my end be nigh,
and I’ve befouled my undies,
I thank you from my angler’s heart
for hand-made cock-a-bundies.


Games we play

We start by playing Count-the-Ducks
and Mary-make-us-merry,
then move on to Lonesome-John,
then Hunt-the-bitter-cherry.

How we strive at Build-the-hive
and Fill-the-master’s-pot.
In the end, we all contend
in Please-forget-me-not.

The price of fame

Honeyfritz Belmondo is weary night and day,
his spangly suit is crumpled, his hair in disarray.

What’s the matter, Honey? Have you been working late?
How can ‘Ace’ Belmondo appear in such a state?

What will your producer say, and what will your fans think?
Some nasty tabloid paper might even mention ‘Drink’!

— Here, take a million dollars, just get me outta here,
away from hordes of teenies always screaming in my ears.

I need a quiet hideaway, far from glitz and fame,
just some homely château, and a bottle of champagne.

Delmar & Lucy

Delmar passed away this week,
age of ninety-two,
and forty-seven murders,
give or take a few.

So let’s see if Delmar Harkness
can convince the Prince of Darkness
not to drop his butt in Hell’s eternal flame:

‘Listen to me, Lucifer,
(or can I call you Lucy?)
we have so much in common,
your crimes were just as juicy.

I’ve always been your biggest fan,
since I was two feet tall.
I always bought your t-shirts
and your poster’s on my wall.

— Nah, I’m gonna drop your sorry butt
in Hell’s eternal flame.
Gotta keep my standards up,
protect my famous name.

I just hope this reconfirms
what we already knew:
I’m a much bigger bastard
than you.

On the town

We dropped the beldams off
at Trudy’s Hair & Nails,
then we pootled round to
Delmar’s Farm-to-Table.

Delmar does a wicked steak,
his onions are to die for.
We’ll collect the beldams later,
if we’re able.

It was Hairy Males, I tell you,
my memory is clear.
’Scuse me Sir, is Judy’s Lane
anywhere near here?

Time for just another one,
they can’t be far from here.
Maybe should’ve mentioned:
Delmar does a wicked beer.

World view

The signs of doom are myriad:
see how Turkey has been syriad,
and Rocket Man’s
a hero for a day.

The planet’s over-heating,
fatcats are over-eating,
and the seas are full of plastic

The powers-that-be are lurking,
pulling strings behind the curtings,
but the TV has fantastic

While China rises in the east,
and tired old Europe limps,
I’m just staying home in bed,
watching Homer Simps.

Lake Isle on the range


Oh give me a home where there’s no mobile phone
and policemen sing ‘Boogie da Beat’.
I’ll make my way there in a high sedan chair,
with a Pekinese pooch at my feet.

When I arrive I’ll build a hive
for honeybees (like Yeats).
I’ll have clay and wattles and plenty of bottles
to store in my underground crates.

With my bucket and spade in the bee-loud glade,
I’ll live on damsons and dates.
I’ll write my poems all night long,
though they’ll never be nothin’ like Yeats’.

Sore loser

Pucker up, Sabrina,
don’t let the whole team down.
The boys will want to see a smile,
and not your frosty frown.

They’ll be here any minute,
(their train is pulling in),
so pucker up, Sabrina,
and give the boys a grin.

— What kind of sucker puckers up
and gives it out ex gratia?
Anyway, the f—kers lost,
beaten by Croatia.


I like the chicken tikka
and the chicken korma too,
but I’d go naked in a snowstorm
for chicken vindaloo.

I’d eat a box of bees,
cross the Rockies on my knees,
and I’d sell my horse and beldam too.
I’d go through the Khyber Pass
on my scrawny naked ass,
just to get myself
a chicken vindaloo.

So if you’d rather see me dressed,
(and it is a better view),
invite me round to your place
for chicken vindaloo.


Bitter things

The biscuit barrel’s empty,
the jam pot is a void.
I feel the end is coming:
my larder’s never loid.

I should have stuck with pickled beets,
in vinegar and lime.
It’s funny how the bitter things
withstand the test of Time.

Everything that I have made,
all by Time destroyed.
Although I am not bitter,
I’m a little underjoyed.

Schoolboy humour

My beldam’s buzzums bounce about
beneath her bulging bra.
When the schoolboys see her,
they run and shout ‘Hurrah!

for Bessie’s buzzums,
the biggest ever seen!
Just don’t get too close to them,
they’ll crush you in between!’

My beldam doesn’t mind, of course,
she’s used to repartee.
When she bounces home at night,
she gets far worse from me.


All day long an acrid pong
assails my timid nose.
I’ve tried to find its provenance,
but so far, no succose.

Is it coming from the basement,
or from the house next door?
Wherever it is coming from,
it’s really whelming, o’er.

I hope this doesn’t end up
like a story on TV,
where the neighbour has been
lying dead since 1993.

When did I last see him?
He never seemed to smile.
Still, I won’t disturb him.
I’ll wait a little while.


Love & war

Love and war commingled
on the field at Waterloo,
the kind of chance encounter
that the history books eschew.

While riding near a forest,
upon his milk-white steed,
Captain Nobby Twemlow spied
a ma’amselle in a mead.

‘What ho!’, said Captain Nobby,
‘now that’s a pretty wench!’
‘With any luck, I’ll get a f—k,
and still defeat the French’.



My beldam’s eyes are like the night
the iceberg sank Titanic:
cold and dark and lonely,
filled with ever-rising panic.

And here I am, Carpathia,
watching from afar.
Nothing I can do tonight,
or any night, so far.

She sinks beneath the churning waves.
I lie here in the gloom,
till explosions in her boilers
send me flying from the room.


Through the valley

Though I walk through the Valley
of the Shadow of Death,
I can’t help thinking
I haven’t lived yet.

Where’s the Porsche Carrera
I dreamt of as a child?
Where’s the busty trophy wife
to drive my buddies wild?

And where the hell’s that Nobel prize,
for all my poetry?
They gave one to Bob Dylan,
they can give one to me.

We all know God’s ‘mysterious ways’,
but now he’s getting cheeky.
I’ve gotta get that Lear jet soon,
before I’m too antiquey.

The Lord is my shepherd,
and I’m just a sheep.
I hope you weren’t waiting
for anything deep.


Winged symphony

See the Greater Spotted Nicaraguan Scythebill
plash among the reeds,
observe the Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler
as on the shore it feeds.

See the Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher
mount the evening air,
and the Streak-headed Argentinian Brush-turkey
in its woodland lair.

Let’s hear it for the Lesser-spotted Red-backed Buttonquail
among the leafy green,
and the Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin,
although it’s rarely seen.

Give ear to Klaas’s Cuckoo
as it pipes a threnody,
while the Warbling Doradito
sings the bass notes in C.

The symphony is ending,
I’ve had enough of it.
I would have liked a mention
of the common garden Tit.


Assisted flight

Zip me up, Morwena,
I’m ready for my flight.
Crank the gears, Dalhousie,
I’ll soon be out of sight.

Make sure you feed Beelzebub
— that cat was my best friend.
If some of you were more like her,
this wouldn’t be the end.

Just time to write a heartfelt note
to my old sparring bitch:
‘If I hadn’t married you,
I would still be rich.’

So zip me up, Morwena,
I’m ready for my flight.
Leave the gun beside me,
and turn out the light.


Sweet love

I told my beldam sweetly:
‘I won’t be home till late.’
I should have seen it coming:
skillet cracked my pate.

I asked my beldam sweetly:
’Now would I ever lie?’
I should have seen it coming:
steak knife, left eye.

I told my beldam sweetly
that she’d make a good Marine.
I should’ve seen it coming:
ruptured spleen.

I’ve learned my lesson now, of course,
deeply and completely:
if you’ve got a wicked beldam,
don’t do ‘sweetly’.



Beneath th’umbrageous conifer
my love and I did tryst.
I told her that I loved her
and essayed a Gallic kiss.

She said ‘Oh, you filthy bastard,
keep yer tongue inside yer head.
I’m not that kind of girl, you know,
not until we’re wed.’

I left th’umbrageous conifer
feeling like a wretch.
That’s what beldams do to you,
every chance they get.

Just say No

Captain Tandy lit the fuse
when he ordered all his crews
to unload their precious cargoes
in Lahore.

All hell broke loose in London,
on the trading floor:
‘What’s that heathen up to
with our cargo in Lahore?’

‘What good’s our precious cargo
on the shore in old Lahore?
Get yer ass to old Shanghai
and sell our precious store.’

— I’m sick of this here opium,
a vile and noxious trade.
Why can’t we sell bananas,
or a home-made lemonade?

‘Captain Tandy, you’re dismissed!
This is mutiny!
You can’t disobey an order!
I’m in charge, not thee!

— ‘Fraid I must, you bastard.
My conscience is serene:
you own the ships and cargoes,
but you don’t own me.

Now Tandy sails the eastern seas,
plying honest trade,
selling wicker baskets
and his home-made lemonade.


Looking out

I’d be better off in China,
where at least they make good tea,
or maybe Valparaiso,
where at least you’re near the sea.

I’ve heard good reports of Murmansk,
see the sun up there, at least.
Baghdad’s another option,
Jewel of the Middle East.

Pakistan is worth a look:
they’ve got that Khyber Pass.
Better than this concrete hell
— Cell Block C, my ass.

Going low

See the lowly earthworm
as he crawls along the ground.
Now there’s a lesson for us all
— wisdom most profound.

The earthworm’s not ambitious,
for money or for fame,
he pays no heed to politics,
doesn’t know the leader’s name,

He doesn’t have a passport,
so he can never lose it,
and even if he had a phone
I’m sure he’d never use it.

He has no fear of terrorists,
or planes that get mislaid,
though he frets a little sometimes
about the gardener’s spade.

Oh to be an earthworm,
the lowest of the low!
If I keep writing crap like this,
I won’t have far to go.


House of love

Love and Folly bought a house
filled with gold and treasure,
a place where they could be themselves,
and live their lives at leisure.

Then Time came knocking at their door
and told them ‘By the way,
did I mention that the lease is up?
You’re out on first of May.’

Love and Folly left their house,
one to west and one to east.
Now other lovebirds own their house,
for a while at least.