Friday, 1 December 2017

1917 & other observations

دون الإخلال

for Zerox Quid
είναι όλα ελληνικά για μένα


in the cotton picking moment
in the long pause before foreign wars
laid waste the international banking laws
his mission was piped in ochre balls

we're not asking you to steal the crown jewels
go East young sport & sow yr oats ferret out
some hydra-harried rose for comfort camouflage
yourself in that pack of confidence tricks
yr grandpa perfected from the pulpit

play hard & duplicate yr monthly report
tucked between the lines of a poetry mart
not under the counter just so darned smart
those Limey dicks'll die puzzling out

quoth his mentor over Harvard lunch
now be a good sort and pass the port

he took his trusty plume in hand
he took his wolfram wand of the purple end
in no time caught the minxsome foal with eyes
so swart she blacked his name
while boosting his fame in the views
of other ex-pats on the parlour game

Quid of the 'baccy swoon balling
zeroxed banknotes down the vales
of maidens & fielding Pinkerton Man
to Winston Churchill's Cousin Sam
stroked his early white beard & spoke
in onion seller's antic cant

you've gone straight native Uncle Tom pipped
by your own lip truly rabbit holed tant pis
well enjoy this dead end pier I'm off on me hols
leave you to tinker with the mother ship


snot on an old man's lapel is all
the watch & chain he could pocket
laid off forty years before retirement

his rack-a-hoo trailing off into that sunset smile
where all who snout & snifter lie down the while

yet shield your eyes sonny man and see
surf breaking on The Strand
driftwood of wrecks coming in to land

bald head on the shoulder-block of youth
antiquated thought dolled-up as youth
become the latest high falutin' fad
as off-course tipster to the owl gang
if lucky you'll twit one last ignoble
Iscariot hanging out at Uttoxeter
or failing that bag yrslf a spying Helot


a game of cheese

my hair is bad tonight
she says to me
I say the wind is up

she prays
what the devil

I repeat my dear
the wind the yellow wind

put your teeth in she snores
so that I may hear

& I reflect
it's up again

you jealous creep
don't bother me

with that she groans
& goes back to sleep


here's a good 'un overheard at Margate Metropole
as we were sate next to Willie Maugham & Co

that German naval attaché in Geneva
tall green yacht fella on lake whatchamacallit
six inch shells concealed i'the fo'c'sle
his great uncle Heimie lost a leg at Gettysburg

says that if Amerikar came into the war
would treat every table at the casino
to a bottle of Bollinger a politician
mind you neglects to tell on which side

so our British coz by his ma & in-laws
related to THREE US presidents
not to be outdone orders champagne all round
which Fritz Whathisface disdains to swallow
proving thereby no sausage-eater was ever a sportsman

cabled this to Chicago for the Spring edition
in hopes to be on time for once


render unto Caesar I say unto Quid

can't blame a fellow for being a snipcock
went to school with one his pa made millions
out of workwear pour les ouvriers
first rate chap just an accident of birth
even the Great Lord Himself was of the persuasion
till he swept the lizards from The Temple

what sticks in yr craw Zerox old sport is that
while promises on Palestine and the Hejeira
play each other out the war is decided not
on the battlefield but by schnozzled old
Rothsteins & Weitzmans in oak panelled rooms
belching brandy fumes through fat cigars
to the tune of fine young men losing life & limb
for percentage points on a ticker machine

he says sell that to the fishwives of Nantucket


so a poor odd-jobber must suffice
to put a start and an end to the sacrifice

doubtless eats pork'n'beans from a tin
lives alone in a squalid room
parts his rug with a metal comb
& ends each day stinking of resin

the auguries are propitious
if not unpredicted Medusa's
hair so deuced she takes her pill
the helot drunk on dregs of wine
while outside mustard gasses belch & spill

if the deed were done at all
'twere better done i'the East

downstairs supper clatters in the sink
a club foot scrapes in the hall
the blighter puts on a thin coat
& closes the front door

Eliot T Stern plods mutt-infested streets
where the yellowish curls of fat armed matrons
bare to the elbows lean through sash windows
spitting fag-ends from blistered lips

impregnating the quarter of new foreigners
brought in to replace such Latin waiters
as were repatriated for the draft
through this & that back street the neutral man
limps along taking neither bus nor tram

Stern follows into a Jerry-built walk-up
he breathes its camphored air as if to be sick
as if to detect the stench that god forsook
is all his ancient nose were made for

with metre throbbing on the fifth floor
& poor inebriate fumbling at the door

his vorpal wand snickers the Helot's back
a frenzied attack stupid cops to conclude
a jealous tart with heart of wormwood


so let us horse trade you and I in nods and winks
Europe spread out on a billiard table
like a Zeppelin blockading the skylight
follow my finger down these evacuated streets
collaborators' retreats
where the all-night talk is of Swiss Hotels
quayside restaurants with six-inch shells
an argument oblique and of obscure intent
droning on as if oblivious to the question
but do not ask one's humble opinion
step inside and hear them grumble

about the room the Marshals sit and smoke
of Winston Churchill with an Armenian bloke


Mr President the revolution will not be cabled
direct though still encoded in modern verse
and passed through conventional channels

the agents sent into the field have both
changed their spots our Whitehall colleagues quoth
to join the very cliques they were sent to spy upon

Mr Quid stakes his talents railing
against Sephardic plots in the salons of the rich
while his replacement Mr Stern a Harvard man
one evening melted into the London fog

yes government property stolen
fake identities all but gone

and therefore begging yr pardon the revolution
while still appearing in a Chicago newsletter
may not be telegraphed direct to this office sir


1. دون الإخلال (WITHOUT PREJUDICE)
2. είναι όλα ελληνικά για μένα (It's all Greek to me.)
3. Eliot T Stern & Zerox Quid: TS Eliot and Ezra Pound.
4. Helot: Spartan warriors were expected to have bumped off a slave by their coming of age.
5. "snipcock": an offensive term for a Jewish man, lifted from cartoon strips in “The Eagle” & Private Eye”.
6. The Rothsteins: wealthiest of all the Swiss bankers; (Chaim) Weitzman: a founder of Zionism (later first president of Israel) who handed the British a secret formula for making acetone in exchange for the First - “Balfour's” - Declaration on Palestine.

7. "a jealous tart with heart of wormwood" ie: 'he do the police in different voices'

Never Ends!

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