Sunday, 11 November 2018

1918 Special


I

Krishna Pandit engineer by trade
worked his way to England bound for France
talent spotted from the ranks was made
driver of tanks

Whippet Quick his rusty chariot
twenty tonnes of steel plus men & guns
half a league about a cigarette
scattering Huns

not that Krishna glorified the work
mountain station air had cooled his veins
steady handed fed on beans & pork
kit-bagged his shame

furthermore the Indian was wise
owl-eyed a sage beyond his years
fellows loved him to extemporise
cocking their ears

bettered English letters by his talk
love thy foes he'd quip but hate their ways
shrapnel struck him as a flock of hawks
battle was praised

*

Ziggy Sarkis laughed a noted wag
cried hurrah for hussars but the horse
saw him first no shame on it to drag
doubt on his arse

never fear an airman's cap might fit
seven thousand feet above the lines
all he'd need for nerves were steel & wits
not to be blind

drunk of course no telling what he thought
over stirrup cups before the up
supping two too many Ziggy bought
Sopwith a pup

oof said he there's only so much string
pull the other Ma if die I must
let it be drowned in a submarine
honest not fussed

but another type of metal box
Ziggy found himself committed to
rudderless no wings a beast on tracks
best she could do

*

Raw could not have drawn the shorter straw
nursemaid to an Hindu & a toff
after crying what a bloody war
took his hat off

joining up from civvy street urgent
schooled on Maxims then in '16 Raw
switched to Vickers quit his regiment
MG the Corps

till the order came again all change
sent to man the loops inside a tank
on a hush job sort of light brigade
devil to thank

not content with that the arms were French
Hotchkisses with belts of metric rounds
fired sideways down along your trench
from over ground

this while doing six or seven knots
cooped inside a lurching metal box
hell on wheels & sweating blood in pots
sooner be fox



II

rich der pickings Allied soldiers wear
lambswool mittens linen under-clothes
fondly sent from homes untouched by war
nothing by halves

ration boxes stuffed with chocolate bars
pork & beef in rounds of purest white
dairy butter spiced with cucumbers
spinsters' delight

sticks of life called Hans or Christian stark
staring stormtroops little more than scare
crows patrol an eerie landscape pick
King George's fare

Kaiser Wilhelm's words irrelevant
marching orders those who understand
Hinderburg or Ludendorf like men
in no-man's land

deafened numb with cold & dumb they keep
hope alive in crater pools & holes
dug beneath the fallen when they sleep
kettle drums roll


but no thought of giving in has stuck
foreign mud beneath their feet is sweet
rich der pickings in zis Belgian muck
theirs no defeat

long as shells & wire spades & mud
don't give out for breakfast schnapps & bread
no surrender dead der Komrades' blood
flows black & red

not for Kaiser love of country God
Death incarnate caught their mood to live
strutting scarecrows trench by trench they plod
open eyelids

through the hail of iron fireflies
peering cooly down their barrels aim
deadly shots at Liberty's allies
GIs the same

bullets counting one for one The Fall
harvests pink-faced youths from Langedoc
Hartlepool and the prairie grain-bowl
hard place to rock


acolytes of anti-Christ survive
crucified on iron crosses rise
grim & bloody faced to fight again
ghouls with a yen

taking fodder groomed by church & state
pimply boys in numbers not too great
here & there they match them to their fate
tying to stakes

lures for Tommy Atkins bait for Jacques
traps to snare the Yankee infantry
charging reckless in open country
into the crack

doom awaits whoever should attack
caught in crossfire skittled by grenades
drowned in mud disguised by clever sacks
murdered in raids

worshippers of doom will win this war
kings of Death have forged an after-life
hung on barbs it jigs in merry gore
triumphant strife



III

training took forever half a twelve
month the plain of Salisbury all churned
up as Private Pandit learned to swerve
brake and reverse

differential failures plagued the work
twin transmissions see & engines kept
boiling over leaving fumes to lurk
deep in their chests

yet a better life than at the front
playing cards in barrack room or pub
letting conscript soldiers bear the brunt
till the last shove

still the war dragged on in France & five
times had Autumn's chill been hand in glove
when from o'er the Channel there arrived
orders to move

Jerry'd staked his last reserves the bout
really would be over Christmas come
just a frog-marching of the Jackboots
out of Belgium

*

tanks a Brigadier tells Parade
trample down yon wires bridge the holes
eat your very mud while feet of clay
follow in droves

wonder-struck the chappies listen up
one per company each tank will push
Boschie back three thousand yards & stop
so you may rush

bayonets fixed all through the gaps there left
round the blighters up if they will yield
otherwise dispose of them as best
clearing the field

cavalry will then take up the drive
gallop through the breaches you have made
kick what's left of Jerry's rotten hide
into his caves

if this works & with our tanks it must
by tomorrow morning's armistice
half a league of trenches guns & stores
fall unto us

*

blimey if the Hun is packing in
what's the point of staging one last fling
surely keeping casualties to min's
far better thing

orders Sunshine put your faith in me
what's an armistice but three black lights
floating through the stars as you can see
wait for their whites

scared is what I am & petrified
soil my pants a dozen times before
sunrise tanks or no that mud is wide
shrapnel galore

keep your head you sniveling lump of grease
think it's only you who'll cop a load
pray to God or write your Ma a piece
faith in me Toad

holding you to that so help me I'll
shut my trap but here's the awful case
you and only you will have me smile
Death in the face


IV


Whippet Sarkis Raw & Pandit three
men in a tank Death is waiting for
munch their sarnies swill their gin & tea
breakfast at war

zero hour's not till six so while
Captain Ziggy draws on cigarettes
Corporal Raw is snoring whizz-bang whines
like string quartets

Private Pandit shunning drink & smoke
prays a mantra to the fading stars
begging war god Durga to invoke
Venus or Mars

Durga rides as Kali manifest
tiger mounted many-armed & yet
peacefully in face & bearing smiles
comely & mild

fight thy foe she says with love not hate
killing evil purges thee from sin
send them back from whence they came that way
new life begins

Captain Ziggy speaks his mind to him
fading stars snuffed out by creeping light
rise & shine to live their lives again
while those who fight

die forever is it right he asks
killing mothers' sons because they're Huns
they believe their cause be just the fact
is here's the sun

Krishna it's a shame to die but worse
where's the sense in all this killing eh
tell me why we have to fight because
don't wanna play

cheery up my captain load thy gun
here today tomorrow gone & who
cares but those who live to soldier on
life's a rum do

we that kill the sacred water ox
God has doomed there's nothing left a crime
unforgiveable but bide our time
wait for the knocks

all that matters here in hell's the bond
soldiers kill like brothers each for each
swords & guns have waved a magic wand
no gurus teach

double edged the blade of honour cuts
slayed & slayer arm-in-arm alike
live or die it's shooting cocoanuts
sixpence a shy

pick the fallen up & eat 'em prize
cannibals no time to sympathise
fish the sea for sunken treasure or
perish ashore

only we as higher creatures think
better men than us will come anon
human beings should be carry on
if we don't blink

pearls of wisdom Private start her up
there's the signal three black lights above
forward both your engines man the loops
off with our gloves


Thursday, 1 November 2018

NitFix


Brand Old Series, Same New Episodes


agitprop troupe 23

during cultural rebellions we
would perform in factories offices
shopping venues public squares & parks

I as stage manager second class
stood responsible for anything
blamed if actors fluffed their given lines

or they took the mickey out of those
inner party lags who called the shots
get my drift old chap 'twas quite a blast

anyway to cut the story short
politicians pinch yourselves it’s not
nineteen eighty-four we lost that war

puppets need improvisation skills
scripts with dialogues they write themselves
endings with beginnings also strings



she's a blinder

benchmarked legal code for those abused
clerks supreme court beaks have had their way
with the model-like peeps Hollywood
loves to portray

strut & fret down corridors of law
shouldering the bulk of disbelief
pending rulings on suspender hose
skintight as silk

sex is demonstrated here in court
witnesses swear oaths while crossing legs
jury's back for who's the fairest say
mirrors on walls

blushing sentences are carried out
stretcher-wise la petite mort or worse
ushers closing doors on last appeals
in camera

flesh photographers unfurling red
tape throw cordon-blues round centre-fold
advocates while glamour hands-me down
justice on heels



memo ad Mortem

novichok new player on the block
beats the competition buck for buck
targets people safely in the home
what's norra love

posted through yr letterbox or sprayed
bobbajob from door to door it knocks
conventionals into a cocked hat
what's norra love

let's be honest agents in the field
oughta have some nerve their work cut out
just delivering payloads on spec
what's norra love

overkill reduced to reportage
only damages collateral
neighbours passers-by & nosey cops
what's norra love

single drawback Russian provenance
means increasing import paperwork
still the bottom line's gotta be cost
what's norra love




I Candy Starr

victimised I played the glamour game
looks to kill for got me where I am
sexploited actor & pc star

who requires a second lease of fame
championing the moral myth crusade
talent always rises to the top

never mind my silence on the up
there was no alternative those days
catching eyes with fetching ways was all

anyone could do to land a part
if the competition now demands
damaged goods with attitude stroke balls

ok sex will sell it matters not
how I'm packaged long as folks can see
nothing on beyond the same old plot



memoir of a passerby

someone just not any old you know
whose appearance on the flags reveals
fleeting depths we guessed pedestrians
always possessed

Stendhal once remarked but then again
should we conjure up ephemera
basking innocently by the moon
light of the mind

leave such things alone for there's no use
fleshing out the ghouls of passing forms
with the dead they should cease to exist
soon as they're off

shoot 'em down like other authors cut
all superfluous detail & leave
nothing but the most important things
dangling in sight

vanish passerby your time is up
all we need to know of you a face
snapped in the sidelight of notice then
wiped from the plate




porn & cheese

funerals for the living not the dead
likewise war on evening watershed
stick the butt behind your ear Jed
smokin in bed

take a new position every day
Danish blue goes well on toast they say
as implied on Tuesday who is they
feet's in the way

smoke 'em out then ease the claptrap down
neighbours may complain don't wear a clown
mask the blindfold's healthier & brown
Leicester with frown

camera lights & action hold that pose
creamy cottage flavoured oil of toes
muslin sacks for pillows cheeky nose
thaaaaar she blows

leastways Tolstoy shoulda penned this scrip
Russian gangsters tore him off a strip
search me hearties all aboard her ship
shape bodice rip




a bigger scratch

pinkish dragons of the blue green world
humans face extinction purple nosed
smoking weapons burping flagrantly
into the wind

people your excrescence crusts the globe
like the exoskeletons of Mars
creatures once intelligent but now
ghostly retorts

what will future visitors to Earth
find upon its surface or above
rusting iron shores your graves or bones
left in the sun

debris drifting in the upper air
signals bouncing round Van Allen's belt
Netflix series still replaying old
episodes eh

sit them down to watch a bowl of crunch
can of frothy beer & scratch of arse
what a binge this planet had they'll think
better than ours

Not Again!




Sunday, 30 September 2018

press the message






Dieu et Mon Droit

Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing; - S.F. Smith

what exactly did the Yanks rebel
for the price of tea the use of forks
why they stabbed us in the neck of course

Braddock's awful death meant squat to folks
who from upping sticks to cross the pond
staked their pensions on the other side

don't the history hucksters have it so
Woolfe dislodged Montcalm by gall not guts
more redcoats were killed by Injuns than

Minutemen George had no right to tax
States who never voted 'gainst the French
as if Louis would have charged 'em less

aye your rebel's cause is ever just
righteousness has always triumphed rich
picking how they turned a bless├Ęd cheek
sang God Save The King in other words


pertinence

must we listen only while that hot
head whose ticker tape of lies & half
truths regales & moves a ship of fools

better the Yanks we've heard nattering
far across the stark Atlantic night
where the strains of Melville's hammock strung
bowsprit wide on copperplated ark
trawl indifferent seas for poetry

'longside Whitman's craft & Longfellow's
Ginsberg Kerouac all have remarked
somewhat deeply the star spangled main
stripes unfurling from a rising moon
tongued in silver their Pacific lines
light a flarepath to the shores of Mars


deus ex machina

what if Job appointed someone whose
god was like that sleuth's on every night
rides a mean old bike the meddlesome
priest known as Brown

lets him choose whose sins are innocent
plus he's working for the bloody crown
not above breaking laws on the sly
nobody knows

audience excepted country town
constant scene of murders everything
goes though Brown's unfazed like where he's from
ain't no birds sing

btw if anyone should call
one of these nights say I'm fishing off
Hinkley Point for tadpoles what's the score
quite had enough

Britain seeks a hero at this time
batgirl hatcheck wallah no one's fussed
tortured soul or crook whose only crime
claims to be right


Never Say You Weren't!