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.


Dover Show

Arturo Pilbeam wasn’t cowed
by Lola’s intervention.
He’d just set out for Dover,
and would brook no sharp dissension.

Lola ‘stuck her oar in’
— to use a boating phrase —
but Pilbeam kept an even keel
and rode the cresting waves.

Now Lola lies beneath the sea
— full fathom five below —
and Pilbeam is in clover
at the Dover Yachting Show.


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.

Bash St

In Twemlow’s Reach they used to teach
the schoolkids how to pray.
Now they tell them ’Sod that stuff
— just go out and play’.

So out and play the lambkins go,
out into the streets,
where bible bashers groom them
with mobile phones and sweets.