Wednesday, 1 November 2017

posthumous toads

eat death

two in one I swatted pests today
crept upon their trysts & made them pay
double death for feasting side by side
howzat I cried

while they hesitated loathe to leave
one alone the pests ignored my cleave
swinging high above their eyes I closed
honking like Toad

death to all that dare to flout my rule
lord of youse whose airspace I control
come in pairs or threesomes if it suits
wed to my hoots

wet dream of the common toad

I was a hump-backed frog at Oxford
no one kissed me there my inner prince
lurked below in ponds the skaters worked
deaf to my grin

ain't too late to look me down my dear
toe the ice & tickle undergrown
algae pink step in there's nowt to fear
blind to my green

poison well & drowning fair enough
Danger Toad's my middle name I swam
backwards through two civil wars the rough
numb to my gun

hold me tight & warm me with your blood
see this nightmare out till croaks at dawn
feel the wisdom oozing from the wood
dumb to my gloom

just a peck you'll suffer no regrets
tunes will bubble while I sing your song
taste these lips before the full moon sets
dead to my gong

you wanna reason

Daddy was a robber didn't kill
no one though he once ran down a cop
banks and racketeering were his thrill
over the top

papers say a bingo calling drilled
peace of mind into him but it stopped
short of a cure guess his crimes just spilled
over he topped

wanted lists in umpteen states not bald
shaved his mop Yul Brynner style & fopped
bony headed a charmer who called
barley when copped

almost made public enemy one
covetted slot for those on the run
willed that honour to his eldest son
bundle of fun

where you take it is right to the stop
crime never paid off in dollar bills
oldest way to get on top is thrills
over your pop

no title few deeds

insects squabble here above my head
buzzing off they snag what little hair
time & genes repair good sir you're dead
give me the air

heat is not a thing most British bear
well though I am tolerably staid
even forty centigrade I swear
leaves me unfazed

flies apart I swelter happy days
far from cold & shudder going there
where it's ten or twelve in August pray
give me your airs

London Derry Welsh or Scots don't care
tunes I'll clap to throw the key away
sing by heart but not the temperature
leave that at bay

sea & sun the summer long it takes
all I have to hang my hat down here
titles none few deeds but still I say
give me the air

Archie Locost (attrib.)

Sunday, 1 October 2017

doings on the line

(phone rings, three times)

Ah, hello there. Is this the prime minister of Jamaica?
Erm... I'm sorry, could you say that again?
Yeah, I said, “Is this the prime minister of Jamaica?”
No, I'm afraid not.
Are you sure about that?
Yes, of course I'm sure. There's no one of that name at this address.
Just a minute, then. I wonder if I could try and name who I'm speaking to?
You want to guess who I am? This some kind of nuisance call, right?
As far as I know it's a genuine enquiry. I'll just confirm that. Yep. 100% bone fide. So, here's the first question. You're not gay, by any chance, are you?
That's what I said. Are you gay?
What kind of a question is that?
A perfectly ordinary, everyday question. Is you surname Gaye?
No, it isn't.
You aren't Marvin Gaye?
No, certainly not. Not Marvin Gaye, anyway. Look, let's just say you've got a wrong number here.
Well, that's debatable. Please let me work out who you are.
Sorry, I don't have time for this.
So, you're quite a busy person, and while gay hasn't been ruled completely out, you're definitely not Marvin.
And I've got ten million better things I'd rather be doing.
Lucky you! Look, just be a sport and let me have one of two more stabs at you. Are you in the book?
We're not ex-directory, if that's what you mean.
And you don't live alone. Still using a land line. Got an R.P. accent with a hint of, what's that, I'd say... West Country?
You're totally out there.
Er... well, not totally. There's no hint of the North or Midlands in your voice, is there?
That still doesn't put me anywhere in the West. Is this some kind of Twenty Questions game? What prize do I get if you fail to name me?
You are game.
Huh! There's a hint of ambiguity to every little thing you say.
So you're up for it?
Been nice talking to you. I really have got to go.
You're not even related to the prime minister of Jamaica?
No. Can you hear any trace of West Indian in my voice?
That's true. But when I said West, I didn't mean straying that far into the sunset. So, we're narrowing it down rather nicely.
Tell me, do you often make this kind of speculative call?
That's an interesting way of putting it! But, aren't I the one who's supposed to be asking the questions?
Only because you appointed yourself to the role. In fact, this conversation has gone on so long I think it's only fair for me to ask you to identify yourself.
Ah, so now you want to know who I am?
In a nutshell, yes. I think I've earned that right.
I'd have thought it was quite obvious. Would you like to take a guess?
Oh em gee!
OMG? Is that the best you can do? Omar... McArthur... Godley?
Crikey, are you guessing your own name on my behalf?
Far be it from me to put words into your mouth, Squire.
Look, it's been kinda fun chatting to you, but I really do have to hang up now.
Suit yourself. The choice is entirely yours. It's no skin off my nose.
Ha! You even manage to make me feel guilty. I'm the one who's spent the past five minutes humouring you, and yet you're coming out of it as the injured party.
No, no, no, no, please feel free to carry on with the rest of your life. You'll soon forget all about this. I'll vanish. No questions asked. [Puff!] Gone.
You're that one off the telly, aren't you?
Which one?
You know, the game show merchant. The one who does all the voices, but is also a half-way genuine person.
Now, I really am puzzled.
OK, maybe I got that wrong. I wouldn't know the name, anyway. I don't actually watch the show. Caught a few minutes of it once is all. Can you do impressions?
You want me to do one right now?
If it's not putting you on the spot.
No bother! Here goes... “Dominus Vobiscum.”
Really? Who was that supposed to be?
Not for me to say. Anyway, it was just an impression.
You sort-of sang some words in Latin using your more-or-less normal voice. That wasn't an impression. It certainly wasn't impressive.
Sor-ree. D'you want me to do another one?
Not if it was as bad as that!
I think you think I'm some kind of entertainer.
Hmm. I think you're somebody who calls people up at random and has rambling conversations with them. You're probably working for the phone company or something.
I've got it! You're one of those conspiracy theorists. Right? Plus you're a bit paranoid that people like me are out to get you. You're probably wondering now if someone isn't stealing your precious goods while your attention is being diverted. Am I right? At least the thought has crossed your mind during this conversation?
Naturally, like most folk, I tend to be cautious when talking to strange people. Do you still want to speak to the president of Jamaica?
The prime minister.
Whichever. I wouldn't even know who that is. What's the purpose of your call?
It's a personal matter.
Well, I'm sorry I can't help you. He... she - whoever they are - isn't here.
That's a shame.
Anything else I can do for you?
Yeah, is Bill there?
She's in the kitchen. In fact, she's probably listening in on the extension. Bill! It's doings on the line for you!

Friday, 1 September 2017

scapegoat suite

USS Brinkman

throwing folks from choppers keeps you young
villains rivals honest Johns they say
fascists dine with bankers eat the same
pie in the sky

years ago the word was censorship
agents stroked your privates with a pen
blacking out the secrets hence the quip
read between lines

now the state keeps backward awkward truths
safe from prying eyes with I-pad blots
electronic finger paint for spooks
who've got the lot

never mind what others think just hit
Moscow every day with letter bombs
fucken swear on prime time fart & twit
kill the beguine

all-in-all a talent pageant great
moves to cut & paste or just redact
no one cares what went down yesterday
who gives a fact


the unseen publications act
for full disclosure
on the indifference peddling scandal

still the fight of the century

from the red corner Kim Young-John comes equipped
with the very latest tried & tested
nuclear weapons

& from another red nook our very own Chump
bristling broken warships & sacked
admirals looks encouraging

on the boys shuffle to size each other up
trading insult cards like true
blue vets of Pokemon

but before the bout takes off the ref's
green hanky cuts the air & off
he he he goes at issue

elbows jutting this way & that
knocks both boys clean out I tell you
this fight is the greatest swizz in history


meet potted crab
the ocean that
sticks between your ears

East Prussian blues

concentration camp accountant's wife
twenty-four two daughters baby son
undecided would more cabbage leaves
fit in the pan

children cough a smell pervades the flat
one poor neighbour hanged herself for less
curse those hounds & what they're barking at
weather is death

stoking dawn to dusk the peevish grate
poke it all she will that Polish coal
chokes the flue its unforgiving heart
blacker than snow

brooding's out they say shape up young lass
you'll be screeching gypsy songs or else
wailing like some barefaced old Jewess
cancel the hearse

carry on they'll keep their promises
peace will come with justice truth & yes
extra cabbage German sausages
life could be worse

Starbucks Martyr

Ines Gallic

fly swatter's blues

cities tickled pink by sink hole puns
countries glad to vote for less or worse
planets winding up by dwarfing suns
alt universe

lotteries roll decades on not weeks
billionaires fight holy wars for crumbs
gods neglected even by their priests
stock dithyrambs

laws of physics bilked by demagogues
criminals sublet their cells to cops
politicians sing in praise of rogues
topping the pops

landscapes traded up for Google glass
goggles worn at night by garden gnomes
fishing scams reel in iconoclasts
Aussie White pomes

duels fought by poets waving flags
swindlers building hospitals on dimes
homeless sleep on cash filled shopping bags
reason in rhymes

- Archie Locost

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

English for Foreign Criminals

by Ines Gallic


In many tongues a ubiquitous Mr Plod lurks round every crook & granny, making a blasted nuisance of itself. If English was/were your first language, chances are you'd've dissected a little frog at school, and remember with fond sighs how être with its je not suis joking, elle est tête-à-tête avec un punter lorsque vous - mes amis - êtes un sac tres fragrant de plonquers, etc.. (En standard Inglish the protagonists are, of course, Ah ain't, she his, youse are – with differences too familiar for words.) Now the old Spanish lingua - a little forked number if ever there was - has two be's for the price of one: ser & estar – the trick of learning which is which; while olmak (your Toikish to be) somewhere on its sojourn from the steps of Mangoolia to the shores of Lake Wozname has picked up the trick of disappearing up its own frigging Jarvis. It never ceases to piss one off how the world's various to be's give rule-breaking such a lousy character ref..
This work, however, which advertises itself as a practical piece of kit for incoming forgers & the like, sets aside philosophy and kicks off by giving a quick rundown on just how the old been differs from just about every other doing word with its root on the block.
Your English be just don't got an auxiliary, see. Not even a half-frozen jet-lag, bailing out of his wheel cowling, hits the old tarmac with a, If you please, Mr Nice Friendly Aeroport Chappie, be so good as to inform me, in which state do I be?
Such talk will only get thee, new arrival, consigned to the very lowest grade of Reception Centre, with scanty access to pretty young social workers and vicars in loose cassocks. No, the mistake you hopeful dodger have made is deploying yr do/does where it hain't wanted. Act dung & note à la Benny, Matey, the English grammar scuffers are dub hounds at spotting poorly schooled ex-colonials with de slexic auxiliaries.
But (that useful but overused conjunctive term), doobie-doobie careful when conversing with natives on arrival. First impressions last longer than a miser's Polo mint. To speak pukka English, you have to be able to work your tongue through the eye of a camel-hair needle, which doubtless, not even the poor old queen has ever succeeded at. And I aren't joking now, am I? Woe betide me if I was/were, hung, drawn & quartered like the rest who've dared criticise the way the dear navvies of these terribly dear islands speak. Don't be a dumb bum-plug with thine hosts, it's better to err & splutter on the side of deliberate stupidity than to pull the silver spoon from the baby's gob.
Ah-hem, generally, as stated above, doing our best to avoid philosophical digressions... the verb to be is not all slugs & marrows. As any has-been will tell you, there's a helluva lot to get away with using only am/is/are, plus the odd was/were, tacking a coupla discrete -ings & -ens, deploying the full set of modals & giving it a sharp pat or two on its bare infinitive. A former citizen of Geneva made a dozen extempore appearances on the middle-brow radio talk show, Half A Mo, without using a single verb beside be. He was later done for verbals and spent six months in Dungeonness writing his “Confessions of a Swiss Cheese” with just the one doing word throughout. Magnificent economy. Here's a random excerpt, reproduced with the kind permission of Schikser & Goy,

Who on earth is in their right mind over this? And wherever would one be without that? Those of us who can't be Shaw, for example, or indeed any personal adjective, may be certain that there are few - if any – as time is short and, as it were, often, the expenditure of being is less nowadays than it has ever been. And I, furthermore, as I am, was and ever shall be besides myself with uncertainty over this. Oh! how all other possibilities being baseless, or as they may be, dubious of purpose, I would rather be utterly lost for words than even a trifle obtuse etc..”

Of course, pure philosophy of this type is something we have vowed to shun for the present. And we will continue to assert this, in spite of our little transgressions...

Listening Test #1

Now hear this.

And this.

Your first hearing can be a tremendous trauma for the un-deaf, so be cautioned, “You do have the right to remain silent.”

Flipping warrant officers are a pain in the speaking trumpet, like friendly taxi drivers and native hairdressers, the nosey so-and-so's. Should be included in a list of banned tortures. Don't be fooled by their chumminess, they are as sly as all comers. The trick is to say nothing, keep your eyes propped open with cocktail sticks, your ears sown back, and never be fooled into opening your greedy cake-hole. Even asking to go to the little boy's room can be misinterpreted. And don't say you want a lawyer. They'll go, “Wise move, that!” report you'd done a load in your kex and therefore must be guilty. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO PRACTICE YOUR RELATIVE CLAUSE AND INTONATION SKILLS. Box clever and act dumb. It will help if you know the Masonic hand signals for asylum seeker.

Be ready for all manner of provocations. They'll impute the lifestyle of your dear mama, claim your bro's a tailor of suicide vests, or that your sis has swapped sides and is working in the canteen at GCHQ. Sonic attack should be resisted with nothing more than a few puzzled looks and the occasional raised eyebrow.


The meaning of be is all-purpose and may be employed however, wherever, whenever & by whomsoever the fancy takes it. Note, therefore, the following statements: I am a right stickler. Botany and insanity are frequent bedfellows. Don't be silly, Billy, crap is brown & smelly. That post office isn't open any more. Hain't Arriet's andwriting arf-arted? I'm not all ears on Sundays. Our geese aren't all that hungry. And that so-called curry, btw, was pricey for a yellow chunder. His sandals were cheap plastic jobs made in France. The captain wasn't exactly onboard at the time. Weren't the Williamses mean with the sauce? Have you been here all along, you snivelling little twerp? What has that blasted cat been up to? If I'd been in your shoes, I'd've been furious. He should be on by now. It's impossible, she can't be pregnant again! For gawdsake, now you're just being awkward.
Also of note is the preponderance of naming and descriptive terms, the spacial and temporal location of things and states; the admixing of frequency & intensity adverbs; plus the tailgating of occasional phrasal particles.
What be don't mean, though, is harder to pinpoint as it's a bleeding auxiliary and has got itself mixed up with all kinds of cheesey gerunds and toffee-nosed participles - many of which are clearly action nouns and adjectives - but many more are just crying out to be pinned to the inside of your locker. I mean, what does “There's a gone chick!” mean at the foot of our stairs? Or, for that matter, “He's smoking hot!”
This kind of distortion don't just start and end with the hip talk of beatniks. Once Post-Modernism takes hold, all kinds of dodgy beings muscle in on the scene. But there's nothing new under the sun. You can thank that prince of wimps Omelet for bringing existence into question with his succinct turn of the infinitive. Nope, prefixing -moan, -wail, -smirch and -off in petulant whines, the Danish wannabe succeeds in nothing but his own belittlement. To be or not to be, chummy, make yr bloody mind up - before we're all becalmed on your celebrity a-sides, besides & - don't wait for it – seasides (eg let Bognor be buggered).

Writing Test #1

Never sign a statement, just claim you've momentarily forgot your silly name. Try to organise at least some of the words into sentences. If you are right handed, it goes without saying, write with your left foot. Use punctuation, apostrophes, inkblots and doodles to enhance your gist. Above all, appear to write like an over-educated three-year old with attitude. If you can't think of a word, draw its picture using abstract art techniques where necessary. But don't try to be Picasso, a cross between Raphael's early Vatican work and a David Shrigley will do nicely.
Don't be hog-tied by the intro/main-body/conclusion stereotype. Include a whole paragraph of topic sentences if the fancy takes you.

chapter two: "to have and have got"

Hemingway had his. Or put it another way, he almost did. Is it simply more U to stutter, I have a talent, than to say I've got it!? If the reverse is true, do you go, I haven't/don't have/haven't got/hain't got - or even - don't gotta time for one? And if you're really in need, do you have/have you got or simply have you any idea what we're on about here?
I mean, aren't alternatives supposed to be.... alternative? Wouldn't you expect these various options to offer some concrete nuances? I mean, do you get it? (And, whatever you do, don't get gotten on me.)
The fact is, the verb to have preserves some of the old school features of to be in its casebook. It can be used with or without the auxiliary do/does, or it can be deployed as an auxiliary with another verb entirely - get - to mean pretty much the same thing: possession.
Now, as any fool will tell you, ninety percent of the law is possession, possession & possession. That's roughly thirty percent each to stolen goods, illegal substances and the tools of the trade (that's any firearms, jelly, jammies, and/or the odd bot - for all you happy cyber crims out there caught with your red hooks on the boodle).

Sir Ronnie, the late left-footed train rotter, having served most of his sentence on the beach at Copper Cabana, presented himself to the crew of HMS Danae by asking if they ad Red Barrel aboard (there's taste for ya)...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

icing on the cack

 some hard knocks a god has sent 
 others folk brought on themselves 
 how remote the tribes have grown 
 out of control 

Buck Palace on hold

bit less wandering abroad for him
down the kitchen eats his humble spam
do-nots dunked in steaming mugs of gin
tramp's trouble ban

got the wife & kiddie in for free
all-inclusive residence such fun
bingeing House of Cards Reality
chump's catchup plan

cats can look at queens on live TV
who needs horse & carriage rides for spin
change the mudguards exercise free wheels
champ's double chin

chuck a spanner in the works old chum
Gatsby partied with as much aplomb
played roulette with the Russians & won
chimp's barrel bomb

armchair leaders do it all on-line
snooty safety shots & twos-in-one
turn the tables in their own good time
chap rambles on

peak death troll

where the need to tackle bigger trees
stumbles under the Hillary Step
brothers scramble over playground walls
preach from the top

education ain't what terror breeds
pale sarcasms quipped from lips to hips
mostly it's the drill of warning bells
gun laws of cops

if they want to level playing fields
Everest's the place to do the drop
make their marks from Tibet to Nepal
exes on maps

social climbers bigots thick with thieves
blow yourselves to kingdom come that's up
say yr prayers & get off straight to hell
reach from the top

a tax on freedom

only London Bridge ain't falling down
bowler hats are found on foreign folks
tourists swarming in & out of jobs
bombers get one

messages in bottles duck & bob
condoms dive or swim in greasy shoals
lovers drown their woes or buck the blonde
bombshell gets John

buses ponder trains express & car
sharing taxis über alles throb
under smog as cyclists waft & weave
Bombay gets on

Zepplins come & go while kiddies watch
doodle bugs exploding cats & dogs
Cockney sparrows live or die the same
bomb sites get sun

rue no words what's said is done get up
face the future mourn the dead get on
ride the turning tide by letting go
bombers get none

ignored to death

scores in London seldom reach a score
Mosul town in contrast counts its dead
weekly by the hundred though this news
breaks fewer hearts

Paris got its share the other year
plotting hits on websites over deaths
Kabul's totals show the same reverse
breakdown of hearts

Berlin Brussels Madrid & Marseilles
all have trended online & on air
while Aleppo Homs & Istanbul
break lonely hearts

life is cheaper there in Twitter shares
Facebook likes & global reportage
while attacks on allied tribes & friends
break bigger hearts

life is cheaper too in business terms
dollars get you more than local bills
when the trouble settles down let's go
break a few hearts

smoking chimney

not for me to call a minaret
phallic but that Mosul one the old
Turk had built has rent the warp & weft
cloaking this earth

bricks & mortar billowed out on faith
weaving arabesques & tearing silk
ravished maidens put up such a fight
scathing of myths

Buddha blown up vast on canvas flaps
mothers tied in sacks to die at stakes
legal minds struck off by men in masks
god ain't that great

flesh & blood by sticks & stones defamed
rich man poor man bugger-all man thief
those who killed their names in flames to score
thousands of wives

sling no more ye friends of caliph hate
idol-blinded effigies of breath
running scared or facing down your fate
worship ye death

- Archie Locost