Saturday, 31 December 2011

An Alcoholic's Resolution

Some fun in Ottava Rima for New Year's. Apologies to George.

I want a beer: oh, an uncommon want,
  When every New Year’s Eve sends forth a slew,
Which I demolish in some favourite haunt,
   To bid the last twelve months a fond adieu;
But when I wake up, wracked with pain, and gaunt,
   I swear I’ll never sup another brew — 
So pounding is my headache New Year’s Day,
That only beer can make it go away...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

An Unexpected Gift

An allegory so thinly veiled, I might as well have cling-filmed it.

I received an unexpected gift
early one morning
I opened the door, and there she was:
A little white kitten.
I called her “Snowy”.

When she was young,
Snowy was fun
and fluffy and playful.
I'd say we frolicked,
but that is such a loaded word.

But almost overnight,
I woke up to find that
Snowy's heart had turned to ice.
She'd stick her cold claws into my fingers,
get under my feet,
& try & trip me up
& break my neck
at every

I fucken hate Snowy.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sonnet For The Boys

It's Friday night, and all my mates are high,
And supping lager from a can somewhere.
The dubstep's on, the speakers boom and blare -
The joints are passed around (but always by
The left-hand side - though no one quite knows why);
The wisps of smoke begin to choke the air,
As each man slumps into his comfy chair:
Their bodies sink as minds take off and fly.
But I'm sat here at work with freezing tits -
Because of hoggish poverty, I'm forced
To babysit some chef from off TV -
I hope his food gives everyone the shits.
As for my friends - I love them all, of course:
I only hope they spark one up for me.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Guy Fawkes' Night

November the 5th. Makes you think, dunnit?

Today, St Peter's School in York
Has little bonfire fun,
Because, of all the boys they taught,
That Guido Fawkes was one,
And you never burn an Old Boy,
No matter what he's done.

So even though he once was caught
With powder by the tun,
When tryin' to blow the king and court
All straight to Kingdom Come –
You never burn an Old Boy,
No matter what he's done.

Yes, even when the lies they talk
Come tripping off the tongue,
And plain to see, behind the thought,
They're shafting ev'ryone,
You never burn an Old Boy,
No matter what he's done.

So, when you face the cuts you fought,
When all the spin is spun;
When you're furious, distraught
At how the country's run:
You can't go burning Old Boys,
No matter what they’ve done.

And if, one day, you take a walk
And pass by Old E-Ton,
You'll never see them torch a doll
Of David Cameron,
'Cos you never burn an Old Boy –

So go and get a gun.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lines From An Art Gallery In October Half Term

So I thought it was about time I tried a Sestina. This was supposed to be about lazy parents, but such is Formal Poetry...

The children never seem to see the Art.
Instead, they gravitate towards the screens
Like bees to flowers; pausing briefly by
The nudes, they giggle at each naked breast,
Then back to telly, that familiar friend,
Companion through their daily, waking life.

Presumably, not told there’s more to life –
That music, sculpture, poetry, and art,
Enrich existence like the warmth of friends,
Much more than cold and sterile TV screens,
That leave a chill inside each budding breast,
That kill young curiosity just by

Their very presence. Words and worlds slip by
Unnoticed: Advertising screaming “Life
Is Short! You must go buy yourself new breasts!
No time to stand admiring wanky art!
Instead, see our new range of plasma screens –
They’ll make you happier than all your friends!

“In fact, you’ll never need another friend –
Just go and get this DVD that’s by
That lovely Jordan, star of stage and screen,
A wonderful example for your life:
She “Dint no nuffin’ ‘bout no fackin’ art!”
And, on that subject: trust us on the breasts.

“And gentlemen, since we are talking breasts,
Look! Here’s a busty woman – tell your friends!
This isn’t using sex to sell, it’s art!
You, too, can have this woman, simply by
Just purchasing this car! So get a life!
(And please remember: always watch the screen).”

Because they’re everywhere now, aren’t they, screens?
Just making sure you’re always kept abreast
Of all the latest offers – as if life
Were better knowing that some actor “friend”
Says anything – if there is cash put by,
And, in the process, turns his back on Art.

If you live life beset by blaring screens,
If Art and Commerce battle in your breast,
A friendly tip: just switch off, don’t stand by.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Things To Do When You Arrive In Town

My friend and poetry hero Ross Sutherland, many moons ago, wrote a poem called Things To Do Before You Leave Town. This is the other side of the story.

Attempt to unpack everything
You've never used
And never will,
But you'll keep in a box anyway.
Spend four hours on hold
To Virgin Media, wishing you knew
Which bag your hands-free kit was in.
Check the toilet seat.
Read the mail of people
You will only ever know
By their first initial.
Divide local newsagents
Into those you will shop in,
And those you will use for porn.
Find something creepy
Behind the radiator:
A bloodstain, a map of Ancient Persia.
Stare out the window.
Give names to the cats on your avenue.
Walk the streets,
Taking special notice
Of the cracked paving stones,
For late-night celestial navigation.
Note the bookies, the offies,
The places that sell pizza,
The chippies that are open on Mondays.
As dusk falls, look nonchalantly
Into the living-rooms of neighbours.
Do not attempt to ring your mother.
Do not attempt to ring your ex.
Do not attempt to find a prostitute -
You cannot afford one.
You can still prop up a bar
Where somebody's playing guitar,
Get drunk for two hours
In the barman's flat,
On stolen brandy,
Before realising he's a little bit weird.
Come sunrise,
Go, and smoke a joint
At a point
                      That makes no sense at all.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Masque Of Apathy

For Matt Panesh, with apologies to Percy.

As I splumped upon my couch,
Scrabbling through tobacco pouch,
There came a voice upon the air
That told a vision of “Out There”.

I saw Greed upon the run,
He had a mask like Cameron.
Very smooth he looked, yet spastic -
With his forehead made of plastic.

From his smile, so fixed and fickle,
There escaped an oily trickle
As with his fist, so fast and hard,
He crammed his pudgy cheeks with lard.

Next came Falsehood, and his eyes
Were yellow, like Vince Cable's ties.
In his arms, a white lamb trembled -
He wrung its neck as he dissembled.

Thronged with lackeys and fat cats
Wearing Artful Dodger hats,
With Osborne's gleam upon his eye,
Cronyism next rode by.

And many more Infractions played
This pleonectic masquerade-
Dressed in suits like brazen gangsters;
Or Lawyers, Priests, and Merchant Bankers.

Last, Apathy, with empty sockets,
iPod on, and hands in pockets,
Slouching like some languid goth,
Arrived upon a Three-Toed Sloth,

And scrawled upon his sullen head,
A faded tattoo could be read:
In childish handwriting, it said

A crowd arrived in Sta-Prest trousers,
Nike shoes and Primark blouses,
Gathered there, all al fresco,
Laden down with bags from Tesco.

With cringing cheers and servile scrapes -
Like backward kids, or maybe apes -
They hailed their monarch, Apathy,
With sycophantic flattery:

“Mighty Lord, the day is Thine!
To you we give our Life and Time!
Since we don't want to use our brains,
We paved the way for you to reign!

“Tell us of the latest fashions!
Give us Wants instead of Passions!
Turn us into passive clones,
With credit cards and payday loans,
PS3s and mobile phones!

“We, the people, now rejoice!
Exulting you with single voice:
Apathy, to Thee we bow!
Can we go watch Big Brother now?”

Then Apathy, like one who's drugged,
Could barely move, so simply shrugged -
And with a flick of weary digit,
Dismissed the crowd, the pageant with it.

Those foul personifications went
To London, to the Parliament,
Where with careless, strident whistles
They swapped the schools for Trident missiles.

They flogged the forests, bought the press,
Raised a tax to line their nests,
And then one final sickly jest:
Dismantled all the NHS.

The crowd cared not when they were told
The hospitals had all been sold:
“It seems like effort, starting fights -
Midsomer Murder's on tonight!

Oh, let it lie. Yes, leave it be,
Too complex for the likes of me!
I'm sure those politicians know
What they're doing. Or I hope so.

I voted for that nice man, Clegg:
He'd never let me starve or beg!
He swore to fight for liberty!
Now let's just have a cup of tea,

Forget the politics and worry -
I'll microwave us all a curry!”
With processed food inside their bellies,
(Such paltry fare, like on their tellies,)

They chained themselves to hollow screens,
Were hypnotised by hollow dreams.
Sedated on that couch from Sweden,
They sat and snoozed away their freedoms

And while they died in living rooms,
Two remained out in the gloom.
One was Hope – she looked forlorn,
As if somehow her heart were torn,

The other, Wisdom, shook his head,
And in a weary voice, he said:
I really don't know what to do-
They are many, we are few.

At times like this, one might get jaded,”
And with that, 
                                 the vision faded...

Nosce Te Ipsum, Dickhead

Based on a true story.

I was talking to some guys at a poetry show
And one of them sighed “It's not what you know
It's who you know, and that's the way the world goes,
And so, even though I can make the rhymes flow,
My career goes nowhere, it's not fair!
I despair of ever getting anywhere,
Cuz I'm just not in a clique with those poets over there!
Look at Tim Clare, and that other fucking pair,
Taking fanfares from a public unaware,
I declare, that there's other poets out there!”

And then he went on stage, reading poems off a page,
In a rage, for an age, and though it's hard to gauge
The Birdcage crowd, they didn't clap loud
As he shuffled offstage, still under a cloud.
Cuz it's hard to engage, it's hard to understand,
When you see a pissy poet with some paper in his hand.
It's hard to understand, it's hard to relate,
To someone who just hates, blaming others for their fate,
Like a fifth-rate firebrand, stuck behind a mic stand,
Demonstrating nothing but command of longhand.
Just standing up doesn't make you a standup,
And no-one wants to see a poet stand with his hand up,

Reading his rhymes
Cuz he won't learn the lines,
Vocalising verse
Cuz he just won't rehearse,

And then have the temerity
To claim that his austerity
Is part of some conspiracy
Of the ruling coterie
That somehow governs poetry!
Look in the mirror if you wanna see the culprit!
Think about your crowd when you're screaming from your pulpit!
Go get a dictionary,
Look up “performance” -
Between you and that,
The gulf is enormous.
One thing I've learnt in my time as a poet:
It's not what you know, or who you know,
It's what you do with what you know
And how you show it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The War On Gangs

If a 'gang' is "a group of people with compatible tastes or mutual interests who gather together for social reasons" (, then David Cameron wants to declare war on:

Hip-Hop, Gary Glitter,
     Brady Bunches, Football Fans,
Famous Fives, Secret Sevens,
     Harry's Hogwarts, Boy Bands,
All-American Airborne Armies,
     Custer's Clusters, Mongol Masses,
Soccer Squads, Tennis Teams,
     Golfing Gangs, Kung-Fu Classes,
Hippie Herds, Fantastic Fours,
     Cabin Crews, Ku-Klux-Klans,
Chess Cliques, Party Posses,
     Gaming Geeks and fucking France.
Cub Clubs, Crochet Circles,
     Travelling Troupes, Demolition Derbies,
Tory Tribes, Right-wing Rings,
     Shady Sets and Political Parties.

...and who could possibly argue with him?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

OK, So I'm Quoting Blake

Another speed poem from The Poetry Takeaway, this time written for a lovely girl called Erin, who loves Tigers so much, she sponsored one.

Bengal Tiger, shot by King George V in Nepal, 1911--Norwich Castle Museum

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
Stalking through the museum at night, 
Roaring loudly as he paces
Through the dusty display cases.
No amount of stuffing can sap
The life from Erin's favourite cat:
He lives, he breathes, with all the vigour
Of his cartoon namesake, Tigger.
Endangered he may be, but still,
His beauty lasts beyond the kill.
In his eyes, a noble light -
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Cage Fighting With John Sell Cotman

A speed poem from the Poetry Takeaway, written for Laurence, for whom this is somewhat of an obsession...

The gallery was rammed that day
With Norwich's great and good:
Periwigged and buckles shined,
And an artistic thirst for blood.

"Painting's just too tame, these days - 
It's not been fun for ages.
If only these artistic wimps
Were made to fight in cages!"

So Cotman stripped, and John Crome whipped
His face off with barbed wire,
While Cotman pounded  Johnny's head
'Til he began to tire.

The rounds went on, and neither John
Had the strength to win 'em,
And neither painter could foresee
The dropkick from Henry Ninham.

Ninham raised his arms and yelled
"You fuckers know I'm well hard!",
But he was felled as his pride swelled:
Hamstrung by Emily Stannard.

The Norwich School was cunting cruel,
With broken teeth and collars,
But all the crowd agreed out loud
That it was better than watercolours.

[I really hope a researching History of Art student finds this...]

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Summarising Suetonius

Ottava Rima is not conducive to speed poetry.

Some years ago, when Hadrian first thought of building walls,
Suetonius (who worked for him) began a mighty tome
That listed all the emperors who'd had the luck or balls
To sit and rule, quite unopposed, from the Imperial throne.
Like Julius, who made his name by conquering the Gauls,
But then earned just opprobrium by marching into Rome.
      Yet won his place in history as first of all the Caesars,
      That's quite a feat, given his propensity to seizures.

Augustus was the next in line – he took his uncle's name -
And kicked the ships of Antony right back across the Med.
He beat all opposition down until, such was his fame,
The Senate had no choice: they put the laurels on his head.
And, all in all, you'd say he had a quite successful reign,
Though one thing always plagued him, right up to his deathbed:
      When Varus lost his legions, ambushed across the Rhine,
      Yet still the Romans went and tried to deify him.

Tiberius, the little shit, was next to take control,
And nobody could stop his evil, no-one even tried, so
Capricious was his nature, and so murderous his soul,
That there was cheering in the streets when finally he died.
Caligula was little better: crazy, mad arsehole,
Who only lasted long because the army took his side,
      And when of 'Little Boots' the troops could stand just no more,
      He's stabbed by some Praetorians, right in the corridor.

Now Claudius, the stutterer, arrives to take his turn:
Some say he was a simpleton, some say he was a saint,
And history records that he was always taciturn,
That prob'ly made him easier to just assassinate.
Then Nero came along, and played, and watched his city burn,
But no man trusted food when it was served upon his plate,
      Cuz Nero poisoned both his brothers, and his uncle too,
      Then finally his mother, which we've all once tried to do.

The next three emperors don't hang around for very long,
A few, frustrating months is all old Galba seems to last,
And who remembers Otho's name in any play or song?
There was no time to write such works, his reign went by so fast.
Vitellius thought he'd last longer, boy, was he sure wrong:
No sooner did he start his reign, he blinked and it was past.
      So, though when his turn comes, he's way across the sea,
      Vespasian comes along, and starts the Flavian dynasty.

He calmed the Empire down a bit, the Colosseum built,
And passed a stable legacy to Titus, his first son.
How so much Jewish blood across the temple floor was spilt
We'll never know – six months it took to take Jerusalem.
But take it Titus did, then later, possibly from guilt,
He left it to his brother, Emperor Domitian.
      Though these last three were seemingly by power uncorrupted,
      They still got blamed by all Pompeii, when Vesuvius erupted.

So there you have it, that completes Suetonius's twelve,
The men who turned a great Republic to a Principate.
Some did it for the power, and some did it for the wealth,
Some simply just believed that they were born to tragic fate.
So when we look at history to learn about ourselves,
The Caesars are a crazy bunch who'll always fascinate.
      I'm recommending that you give Suetonius a look-
      It really is beyond a doubt a damn hilarious book.

Friday, 22 July 2011


Drunk and self-indulgent.

Tonight is here,
And it might not be the one we planned,
But it's tonight.

And tonight, I'll forgive you for looking funny at my girlfriend,
And for not getting me a beer from the fridge when it was blatantly your turn.
Because tonight is about us, and we, and how.

I'm not sure I agree with what you just said,
But to be honest,
I drifted off about five minutes ago.

We did the thing or we didn't.
We went there or we stayed here.
And I promise I'll remember all the things I said I'd post on your wall,
But I won't.
And it won't matter

Tonight is right
Yet tonight is so fucking wrong.
But tonight is what we do,
And tonight is who we are.
And it all makes sense

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Conundrums of Man

I should sell posters of this.
Click then zoom to see full size.
As if you didn't know that.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Militarihews or A History Of Warfare In Seven Comic Poems

1. Hegemony
Philip the Second of Macedon
Had many skills, and passed them on,
Which did his son a favour
As he went to conquer Asia.

2. The Gallic Wars
Julius Caesar
At the Siege of Alesia
Used dirty Roman tricks
To capture Vercingetorix.

3. 1066 and All That
William of Normandy,
When the wind turned Northerly,
Ended his inaction,
And sailed to whup the Saxons.

4. Chivalry
Edward of Woodstock,
Though of impeccably good stock,
Was barred from the aristocracy 'til
He'd won his spurs on Crecy hill.

5. The Iron Duke
Field Marshal Wellesley,
Or so my research tells me,
Had few friends at Eton
Before Napoleon was beaten.

6. Crimea River
The 7th Earl of Cardigan
Never rode that hard again,
Since charging had put paid
To his beloved Light Brigade.

7. Home By Christmas
Alfred von Schlieffen
Died before completion
Of his plan to capture Paris,
So he never got embarrassed.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Earl Grey, Please!

A Villanelle about the man who passed the Great Reform Act of 1832, and who ended slavery in the British Empire in 1833. He's somewhat of a hero of mine...

Who celebrates the life of Charles, Earl Grey?
There's more to it than just inventing tea - 
We need a man like him to save the day.
When Tories cut, and Lib Dems just obey,
And opposition's lost in vain ennui, 
Who celebrates the life of Charles, Earl Grey?
Who fought against corruption's powerplay,
Who spoke 'til dawn with sweeping oratory,
We need a man like him to save the day.
When leaders lie to make us vote their way,
And private prisons prompt new slavery, 
Who celebrates the life of Charles, Earl Grey?
When taking teachings from our yesterdays,
If ever we could learn from history,
We need a man like him to save the day.
When England tries to ape the USA,
When freedom's just a distant memory,
Who celebrates the life of Charles, Earl Grey?  
We need a man like him to save the day.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Judgement of Paris

By 'Paris', I mean the colleague, not the city. Or the Trojan bloke played so woefully by that Bloom feller in the movie.

In Ancient Greece, with its Golden Fleece,
And its tales of brave Odysseus,
They celebrated conquests with physical contests
Like throwing a hammer or discus.
When they won a battle, they'd slaughter the cattle,
And sacrifice blood from their veins,
Then run round in circles, jumping over hurdles,
And so began Olympic Games.

Now they are tradition more than superstition,
They run every four years or so;
And if a politician says we want this competition,
Then we all have to cough up the dough.
But the hundred metre dash is a fucking waste of cash -
Just one of many frivolous expenses.
And why's it us that pays for events that last three days
And solely involve horses and fences?

In the days of old, it wasn't about gold -
Friendly competition was enough.
Plus the Ancient Greeks used to show off their physiques
By doing the whole thing in the buff.
So if we're spending money, let's make the whole thing funny,
Remembering the spirit of the Games,
And sit inside the stadia, watching genitalia,
Especially the ladies' beach volleyball.

Dirty Protest

Anyone who's ever shared a house will understand.

"If it's yellow, let it mellow,"
My housemate quipped today,
"If it's brown, flush it down - 
That's always been the way!"

"Do you think your piss don't stink?"
I remonstrated thus:
"Don't use rhymes to justify crimes,
And learn to use the fucking flush." 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Ten Speed Poems: #10

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Ancient Verbosity (for Colo)

Long ago, when time was young,
An epoch, an era, an age,
Words would grow at fearsome rate,
And synonyms were all the rage,
Savage mobs of lexemes would
Roam free, unfettered, uncaged.

They'd frolic, gambol, gad about,
And lark in meadows gay;
They'd stalk, and hunt, and track, and trail,
Their blithe, unsuspecting prey;
Until they were coralled, kept, and compiled,
In a book by Mr Roget.

And nowadays, in present time,
Of words there is no dearth,
And poets choose and pick their terms,
To show their skill and worth,
They fondly, wistfully, recall
When Thesauruses ruled the Earth.


Ten Speed Poems: #9

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Black Gold - Two Sugars (for Smalls Murray)

Black as darkest hell, but sweet like the sun,
With swirls like the clouds and steam like a sauna,
Perky like a puppy, a pick-me-up bar none,
Coffee: noble king of Guatemalan fauna.* 
Perfect with a cigarette, first thing in the morn,
It gets you through the day when you need a little crutch,
But addiction is an awful thing - I'm really rather torn:
The problem with coffee is I like it too much.

* it was only two hours later that I realised I meant 'flora', but by then it was too late to change it. Also, it wouldn't rhyme, now would it?

Ten Speed Poems: #8

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Walking Off Mountains High (for Mountain Girl)

High up in the Andes
The Ayahuasca grows
Sacred shaman vine
Straining towards a sky
Pierced by peak upon peak

Higher and higher I climb
Clutching the sinuous branches
Wrapping them tight around my fist

Gasping breathing hard in the sparse air
Inhaling the heady fragrance of the vines all around me
The sweet smoke makes my head spin
As I burst through to the balding sunlit summit

Feeling that with every step upwards
I might wander off into the sky
And never come down

Which in retrospect
Is not a wholly unpleasant prospect

Ten Speed Poems: #7

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Louis' Plea (for Louis, his mum, and his gran)

Whenever I'm sad, whenever I'm lonely,
I love to munch on pizza with loads of pepperoni.
No wimpy stonebaked crust for me - I like 'em nice and thick,
With lots of herbs and mozarella: lovely, just the trick!
I'm never really happy 'less I'm munching on a slice,
And if I don't get my pizza, I tend to be less nice.
So grant me this request, mother dear, I pray:
Feed me deep crust pizza, every single day!

Ten Speed Poems: #6

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Screen Printing (for the girls doing the Screen Printing, natch)

In ancient China, where the walls were great,
The Emperor sat bored upon his throne of state.
He eyed his surroundings, all dull and drab,
And wished that he could make his palace much more fab:
"I need a way to liven up these silken threads I wear!
I need some colour in my life, my joy I need to share!"
He took some ink and took some mesh, thinking "This is easy!"
(Though it took a little time to invent to cunning Squeegee)  
He toiled all day, experimenting, trying different tacks,
Until he had a T-shirt, reading FRANKIE SAYS RELAX. 

Ten Speed Poems: #5

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Spring (for a girl whose name I didn't ask)

Somewhere on the M$ outside Swindon
There's a roadside bank
Of daffodils.
Every March, on the way to visit my grandmother,
We'd drive past these sun-filled trumpets
And think of Wordsworth.
As the morning rose, and the season swelled
With warmth, we read with joy the words
Spelt out by the sparkling blooms:

Ten Speed Poems: #4

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

The Goat Grave (for Julie)

White as snow and smooth as silk,
Winifred the Goat was famed for her milk.
She gambolled in the garden and made many friends
Who, tragically, were heartbroken when Winnie met her end. 
Stiff as wooden lats went Winnie when she died,
So when it came to coffins, Winnie wouldn't fit inside.
"Take a JCB, and dig yourelves a pit,"
Said the man from the Council, helping not a bit.
So Winnie's final resting place - a hole in the ground -
Is the only known Goat Grave for miles and miles around.

Ten Speed Poems: #3

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Confusion (for Steph)

Iceland isn't icy; Greenland isn't green;
A sailor on the ocean knows it's not Pacific;
Turkey has no turkeys; New Zealand's hardly new - 
I really think cartographers could be a little more specific. 

Ten Speed Poems: #2

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Celebrity Chefs (for Robbie)

Famed for his felafels and feted for his flans
Kudos in the kitchen and stardom on the screen
Guardian of garnishing and champion of cuisine
The peerless prince of TV food surveys his pots and pans

His fearful minions bustle thru the kitchen doors that swing
Past cameramen with microphones who trail their tyrant boss
With little trays of canapes at fifty quid a toss
While our hero swears and shouts at them and scoffs his Burger King

Ten Speed Poems: #1

Poems written in 10 minutes or less for The Poetry Takeaway.

Karen (for Jeff)

Her maiden name was Wood,
And summers (when she was good),
Her dad would take her strolling
Through the Welsh valleys rolling.
The apple of his eye,
Impatient for July,
And those stolen carefree weeks
In the land of slate and leeks.
Now Karen is a mother,
And grandad has another
Young girl to hold his hand
As he walks St David's land.
      Some spoil their kids with chocolate,
      Some with strings of pearls,
      But Jeff's idea of heaven is
      Welsh walking with his girls.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

You Can't Spell 'Audience' Without 'U'

A Lipogram

Of all the gigs I play every year,
The one I like best is now and right here.
It's not for the poems, or all of the comedy,
It's not what I said: it's the people in front of me.
If they hadn't come for my poems and jokes,
I'd be like Robin Hood with no Merry Blokes:
No-one beside him to help him to loose
The arrows he's made from ash and from goose.
A preacher exhorting to no congregation
Is wasting his passion for no consolation.
There's no real joy in scoring at Wembley
If there's no fans, friends, crowd, or assembly,
The wittiest line, if there's no-one to hear,
Is a solo party, devoid of all beer,
Like talking to someone telepathic,
So all that's said is one-way traffic,
A dialog box (with American spelling)
Where all conversation's hardly compelling:
        A window has crashed again: Click OK
        A window has crashed again: Click OK
        A window has crashed again: GO AWAY.

So thanks for coming, thanks for listening,
Thanks for leaving my ego glistening.
Words make my arrows, the best I can do,
Yet the deadliest longbows are all made of yew.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


To make things hard for myself, I decided to impose two restrictions on this one - only using the vowel 'E', and sticking to the Haiku format. Thanks to Ali for providing one word and the names of the protagonists.

Scene: TV. Settee.
We see Trev, beset by stress.
He needs beer, needs weed.

Jenny eschews weed.
She needs TV. Endlessly.
Glee. Dry red. Perfect.

Trev rejects TV.
Even the BBC News
Repels Trev's peeved eye.

Jen eyes the TV,
Tends the stew, blends the jelly -
Jenny feeds Trev well.

Trev, dry, dejected,
Key green reserves depleted,
Necks the sleek green Becks.

Yet, he frets: Where's Drew?
Drew's key. Drew vends sweet weed, see?
He never fleeces.

Trev's eyes express nerves.
Even Jenny's well perplexed -
Her Trev's very vexed.

Enter Drew. Trev weeps.
Less testy, breezy even,
He renders the fee.

Drew sells the henry,
Then he shrewdly egresses -
He's needed elsewhere.

Even-keeled, Trev lets
Jenny, ever the server,
Help Trev perfect rest.

She feeds Trev the weed.
Pesky stress levels recede
Serene Lethe seen.

Elves, sweet elves he sees,
Breezy trees teem, green-sheened,
The sphere seems serene.

Nepenthe he seeks -
Jen's gentle neck nestles cheek -
Then:  Shhh! Trev, meet sleep.

Jen pets Trev's tresses,
Wryly, even tenderly,
Then wrecks the jelly.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Letter From Dave

I joined the Tory Party when I became a comedian. One, to know your enemy and two, because the idea of me as a Tory is the funniest fucking joke in the world. Imagine my suprise when I recieved the letter below:


Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Politics of Apology

They say that ‘sorry’ is a Viking word,
Thus one King Alfred just never heard.
He didn’t say ‘sorry’ for all his mistakes,
Like funding the church, or burning those cakes.
It wasn’t a part of his lexicon –
He’d never have used it when he did wrong.
But Alfred was King, he had great dominion –
He couldn’t care less ‘bout public opinion:
No elections to win, no voters to woo,
No mindless minorities desperate to sue,
(He did have to deal with a deluge of Danes,
Riding and raiding across his domains,
Making his people fear lots, and dread more,
In flagrant breach of the Treaty of Wedmore).

But that’s another story, you’d prob’ly get bored
If I told all I know about the Great Pagan Horde.
Instead, let’s just stop for a second and see
If Alfred the Great were a modern MP
Would he be Labour? Would he be Tory?
Maybe Lib Dem and keep changing his story?
What if he got in a terrible scrape
By making a comment that got caught on tape?
He forgets all about his microphone –
An easy mistake for an Anglo- Sax-one.
(Before judging that rhyme, just you be wary - 
I bet none of you have seen a Saxon diction-ary)
By speaking his mind, he causes a stir,
A newspaper frenzy starts to occur.
He’s going to be subject to trial by media,
A bit like that bloke who runs Wikipedia.
Before poor old Alfred’s had time to inhale,
He’s attracted the wrath of the Daily Mail,
Who deem that his comments are deeply offensive,
Throwing his party on the defensive,
Since speaking one’s mind is just unacceptable,
Especially if one’s trying to appear quite electable.

Would Alfred say ‘sorry’? Would he retract?
Say he was joking (though after the fact)?
Would he back down against opposition,
And build a new Abbey to show his contrition?
Or would he stand firm, despite all the grief,
Say it’s his job to hold a belief?
Say those who slavishly toe party lines
Are just empty mouthpieces, lacking in spines,
Who don’t seem to notice habitual hypocrisy,
Such is the state of modern democracy?
Given this dearth of decent debate,
I don’t think there’s room for Alfred the Great.
He’d prob’ly get sick of all of this faking,
Hide in a bog, and go back to baking.