Friday, 1 May 2020

a smoking lamp


only a twit


I


doctors keep their secrets well as lies

few will ever tell you how your heart

rate is less than half the story beats

measured in slow


thuds’ll pump more pints of blood per min

than the flutters nothing compares weight

lifting shudders as your kettle drum

rocks without rolls


meditating medication works

too though not the auto brainwash kind

single minded at the point of truth

focus on breath


working boxers in the ring must keep

going though there’s nothing left to do

stamina will get you through the most

trying of times


fair or foul survival in the wild

makes demands that town-bred folk may miss

real adrenalin beats hot & cold

mindful is all


II


Michael’s girl was slim but puppy weight

meant her Terry towel bikini stretched

branding her a Botticelli wow

thought the young man


he was not her first she’d foiled the field

plucky cherub had a rugby half

coupla jokers plus a steady boyf

during her teens


wouldn’t let him use protection strange

even she surprised herself a gent

Michael said no sweat let’s take the test

me first then you


slow she liked to play & tore a strip

tongue in cheek of course you know the rest

that’s a question by the way you don’t

Peg was supine


trying every move to raise her twitch

Mike was stumped she ruled his efforts off

side oh my how pearly was her tum

baby had pride


III


dominatrix may take any form

Peg was not some broad in shiny boots

wielding whips to order him about

bedtime apart


Mike rebelled at first her mark untrue

letting go she told him make your choice

lover boy or former bloke he fled

all of a week


go consult a shrink or buy the book

cheaper less embarrassing but no

use psychology was negative

humans were weird


sick & sad the answer puzzled him

life consists of endless choices one

wrong decision wouldn’t change a thing

surely he hoped


love was daft & Mistress Peggy round

he a square so who’d attempt to fit

doubt into a life of selfish bliss

only a twit



a smoking lamp



I


Chinese lanterns eh

thousand candle power jobs

hissing paraffin


friend of mine recalls

using one at home way back

when their town was dark


of an evening five

children did their homework all

crowded round the lamp


till the time it burst

taking half his ear off

burnt his notebook too


cheap & cheerful don’t

come without a scorpion’s

tale it makes you think




II


populism claims

China gave the world a cold

breathing fossil fuels


eating bats & ant

eaters when they knew the risks

viruses could jump


like it’s not the first

incident but twice before

time to shame their name


now they’re buying up

half these bankrupt countries one

big conspiracy


cheap & cheerful means

sow Confucius but beware

bull in China store




III


don't pretend to know

who’s to blame maybe the Grinch

cheapskate or scapegoat


six of one half a

dozen to the other yeah

what goes around yeah yeah yeah


even this so-called

poem stokes controversy

Stoke-on-Trent you dig


China’s here to stay

they’re not flogging opium

fit to start a war


but you got admit

bats & pangolins ain’t food

as Confusion says

Not Yet!



Sunday, 12 April 2020

Easter Lockdown Special


I


coconuts are shy

only black on the outside

I’m the opposite


stopped deleting my

darkest tweets & vilest deeds

drunk to killing cells


hear me out you dumb

learn what rotten things I’ve been

from the age of five


yes confession time

you don’t want to know OK

telling anyhow


shot the Kennedys

back in the Sixties my room

overlooked the scene


II


I was whispering

in the fat dictator’s ear

forty years before


he was ill disposed

coulda had the jerk deposed

if it suited me


used him like a dog

guarding secret moves I’d made

undermining states


Germany came next

yes the devil is my slave

though he’s never known


worships me of old

sent his son to round you up

meet the Holy Ghost


III


by the way I’m dead

never been alive in fact

only passing through


iteration imp

teen a copulation clone

just a rolling stone


plain detritus dressed

up in spiky clothing best

casting me aside


but you can’t I find

out & then come round with friends

called The Communards


sitting on your bed

sure we’ll get along in time

choke like nuts on wine


IV


Mary had a lamb

fleece so white an old man’s beard

wouldna been as weird


slaughtered it in cold

blood though butter wouldn’t melt

innocently she


sold the world its chops

gave the heart to kingpins cops

got the offal box


those who ate his meat

straight became these hands and feet

Mary was the brains


oh what fun was had

meddling with her worshippers

still they call me Lord


V


curses are my ace

spadework dating back at least

two millennia


Pilate sealed his fate

on my watch the boy did great

washed his hands in wine


then we moved the Jews

split their land with Arabs Druze

poor Samaritans


waited till the Romans got

faith then let some other cats

overrun the place


promises I kept

saying do this after tea

take some flesh & blood


VI


now my China plot

jumped from bats to pangolins

in the market down


Wuhan way to score

Zoonosis my new name

old magician’s game


not the CIA

don’t believe a thing I say

look to what I do


world disruption got

loads of planets on the go

galaxies of stars


what you’re up against

ain’t no leap of faith the truth

beggars all belief


VII


here’s the spoiler sex

reproduction is the key

I’m recycled waste


all you gotta do’s

rule me out I’m not your dude

segregate my lines


don’t get married young

wear a condom play the field

cell by cell I mean


universe ain’t bad

evil thing is sweeping thugs

under silken rugs


else you’ll get a fake

chocolate Easter Egg like me

Busg’ll rule the world


Nnnnnnn!


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

bugs have done for us this liberty


bu akşam evde kal


Venus rides alone

through a murky sky she owns

cold indifferent light


people go unmasked

driving cars too goddam fast

tearing up the streets


now the müezzins

start to weave their prayers in twins

piercing & bright


chilled I turn for home

Venus stays behind her gleam

narrows on the beat


still the calls ring out

urging folk to have no doubt

stay at home tonight


*    *    *    *    *    *


don't cry for us karantina



I


my illicit pony GiddyApp

asks me if I'd care to go pot luck

starting out from Spain or Castlereagh

where it'll end


makes no difference how I goad the nag

up the aery waterfall at night

down Old Faithful’s gizzard by the day

where it'll end


stirrup cups for singing as ye go

birds & bees & rubber geese join in

road is long but folk may never know

where it'll end


useless whistling in the dark eyes closed

better open all them curtains wide

sun or cloud the heating system stays

where it'll end


shall I gallop off & back again

bringing viruses in saddle bag

loads or wait & spend the day in bed

where it'll end



II


Covid couldna struck a nicer guy

Hanksy made the virus seem benign

Tom how many times did you survive

saving that Ryan


gumption gets our hero off his cloud

atlas with the flu Apollo too

Elvis meets Vinci Dan Caprio

under the Louvre


never saw you as an astronaut

Google saved the day I own but still

if you'd played some less practical cat

done it with tact


dubious but followed up on tweets

all the highs & lows of quarantine

sampled so we’re stoically briefed

tearful at times


uncles Sam & Tom rolled into one

not an ounce of side or carry-on

just your all American has been

seen but not gone



III


Mum's in Liverpool she's all alone

so is Deniz Lee our eldest son

we're in Turkey same as everyone

else getting on


carbon fumes have lifted streets are plain

empty buses here & there some rain

birds are singing spring is here again

peace to all men


women get remote asylum too

children sit & wonder but it's no

time for homework fix that broken loo

seat in the gloom


blossom frosted up the other night

doggies bark at passersby in fright

slealthy creeps the virus to the fight

who knows what's right


still believe in something can't say no

meaning less from sure to nothing's sure

thing's empire never set us back home

to the future


*    *    *    *    *    *


it's not the leaving of Liverpool



I


Turkey is no bird of paradise

but for pride of place it's hard to beat

Orientals meet The Occident


most of us who've had the luck to waltz

in as political exiles or

like me economic refugees


landed on our feet not so in Greece

birthplace of democracy lately

there the welcome ain’t been all that neat


beaches not so chock-a-block as here

praising Allah migrants land with cries

but a squalid camp is all they find


saw them wade ashore surreal as we

foreign tourists looked at olive groves

land was cheap the views of Turkey great



II


first we saw were figures on the quay

twenty-twelve before the Arab spring

tide washed up on sunny afternoons


childish features burnt & wiry-haired

stared like lawless wanderers no tents

kids on piles of blankets babes in arms


worried for the car I blush to say

shooed them off afraid they’d take our stuff

but the locals had a heart one said


never mind they’re harmless pity them

Christian values I had plain forgot

should have wondered who they were & not


cast them as vagabonds out to fleece

holidaymakers of souvenirs

why was I so thick & plain unkind



III


guy we know a Greek's had enough

says they’re selling sex & spreading AIDS

wonder what he knows his wife shuts up


people soon forget how their folks came

seeking work & housing in the towns

passing through or settling down for good


my colleague a Bulgarian Turk

lost his sister on a protest strapped

to her mother’s back a sniper’s round


grazed its mark & struck the baby’s head

even though a refugee himself

thirty years ago he’s moved to state


overwhelmed by teaching Syrians

it’s a job he has to do the kids

must speak Turkish for their parents’ sake



IV


it’s Ne Mutlu Türk’üm diyene

meaning Happy are those who can say

How they’re Turks the last word DNA


meantime Liverpool got beat again

after many battles won no sweat

neither bangs nor whimpers spoilt the past


such a multinational team so cool

fifteen years of exile took their toll

banned from playing in the Euro League


now no matter where you're from to go

praising God or Mammon is your choice

all you gotta do is win & lose


pointless crying if your side can’t play

dazzling games each time they hit the pitch

children have died tryna reach a beach



V


years ago the former Lesbos port

had a market place where refugees

flogged their bits & pieces as they fled


Anatolia’s Independence War

Greeks Armenians & anyone

fearful what the vengeful Turk might do


people can be monsters take their cut

maybe it’s banned in scripture but friends

bash each others’ heads for plots of land


brothers if the bible were believed

couldn’t solve their differences till one

stabbed another or left them for dead


when the technicolour coat is pawned

rainbows point to crocks of jealous gold

who respects the pots their neighbours owned



VI


Alchaeus & Sappho writing while

Hebrews wandered in the wilderness

sang the ups & downs of Lesbos folk


knew its stony hills & valleys shore

lines with massive hidden gulfs the cliffs

forests vineyards groves & even trees


turned to stone when Vulcan’s ashes rained

making deserts of the northern fells

early Christians tore their poems up


now we scratch through ancient rubbish heaps

steam papyrus scraps from mummy’s masks

piece together jigsaw dithyrambs


not to be outdone by ancient Greece

strewn along the Sikamenas strand

lie the shreds of refugees' IDs



VII


who we talking 'bout you may accuse

Africans & Afghans some Burmese

scores of Pakistanis few Chinese


why leave Turkey as their stepping stone

that’s a million dollar question one

reason’s never can sufficient young


people get to live out their dreams but

weary oldsters know the western world's

streets ain't paved with gold that's Neverland


something desperate drives the man to hold

up a child & cry give me your towel

plastic bags & tape protect his phone


took our kids on boats though not CharÓn's

Lord knows what they’re flying from no wings

birds of paradise in human skins



*    *    *    *    *    *


deus nobis haec otia fecit


as there’s nowhere left on earth to fly

airlines going bankrupt anyway

all we have’s ourselves & breathing time

here’s what I say


never will we get a better chance

when the wheels are rolling once again

must it be the same old song & dance

odds out of ten


bugs have done for us this liberty

we should sit & listen while the birds

sing & bees repollinate the world

pointless to cry


right enough the docs & nurses won’t

get a moment’s peace nor those who serve

patients’ meals & marshal our reserves

they have my vote


some of us will die the dice is cast

paradise won’t wait on Pentecost

now’s the time to face Apocalypse

heads up or bust


wot, no crowd?