Monday, 8 October 2012

The Badger

For RJT and the thousands who don't have his willpower =)

As I woke, in pain and bleary, with a stench so foul and beery,
I wrestled with this query: How’d I end up here once more?
Indistinctly I remember, I’d been on a vodka bender –
Now I lay with head so tender on the clammy kitchen floor:
                                    This I knew, but nothing more.

Well, it’s lucky no one found me with those bottles all around me,
Staring, anxious and astounded through an open cupboard door.
’Cos there under the sink was what I’d clearly had to drink –
Nestled next the box of Persil was a bottle of Lenor.
                                    Fabric softener called Lenor.

Now in my younger years, I drank many kinds of beers;
Wines and spirits; alcoholic drinks galore;
But I’ve never been so ‘punk’ that fabric softener’s been drunk,
However low I’ve sunk when I’m really fucking poor.
                                    And I’m often very poor.

What the hell had I been thinking in the midst of all that drinking –
That I needed subtle hints of lemon freshness at my core?
And why even stop there when there’s plenty of Fairy
Liquid, Daz, and Ariel for a nightcap I could pour?
                                    (Or, in the case of washing powder, snort)

So I’m lying there in bits, belly full of beer shits,
And a loathing of myself which I have clearly earned, I’m sure.
When like fearsome thunder clapping, there arose a noisome tapping –
Only Michael Winner rapping could annoy me any more.
                                    Michael Winner. What a whore.

Then as the sound began to rise, just like the pain behind my eyes,
I quite slowly realised I was on my own no more -
For as far as I could gather, at my feet there sat a Badger,
His face dripping and all spattered, blood red in tooth and claw:
                                    Evil Badger, drenched in gore.

The Badger sat there grinning, like the ghost of all my sinning,
Only grinning, always grinning, with a smirk upon his jaw.
Has he come here to confuse me, to torment me and abuse me?
It cannot be to soothe me with that blood upon his paw –
                                    Oh Badger! Whyfor?

Still he sits, and shows no motion, nor no flicker of emotion,
Or any kind of notion as to what he’s come here for;
Just sitting in the gloom, emanating clouds of doom
That filled my chilly room with a glimpse of what’s in store
                                    For the fool who drank Lenor.
And still there is this crashing, like fifty cymbals clashing
In my head with heated passion – how much more could I endure?
My senses all were routed, and my sanity I doubted
As desperate, I shouted with all the strength that I could draw
                                    At the Badger on the floor:

“Oh, why do you annoy me? Were you sent here to destroy me,
Being so loud and noisy when my head’s so very sore?
Why, you black and stripey bastard! Don’t you know that I got plastered
And last night, while I was wasted, drank this bottle of Lenor?”
                                    Quoth the Badger, “Shut yer maw.”

“Why don’t you quit your crying? Yes, you’re sick, and maybe dying –
It’s your own fault you are lying here upon the kitchen floor!
What the hell did you expect, pouring that shit down yer neck?”
Thus the Badger did reflect, oozing hate from every pore.
                                    I continued; I implored

“O Badger, I’ve been thinking – is this about my drinking?
Are you here to give an inkling I should think about a cure?
Please, Badger, say this visit is to rouse my drunken spirit!
The booze, O I can quit it! Help me, Badger I implore!
                                    Quoth the Badger, “Don’t be sure.”

“Did I neglect to mention that this ain’t an intervention,
Just a sign of the dementia in the brain that you forswore?
No way I’m here beside ya to help you out or guide ya,
But rather to deride ya: you’re a moron, to be sure!”
                                    Quoth the Badger with a roar.

Now we lie in the pre-dawn, heavy blinds and curtains drawn
And the Badger with a yawn, rests his head and starts to snore.
Yet the pounding in my skull says for him there’ll be no cull –
As my senses start to dull, I know it’s me that is no more.
                                    Thanks to drinking damned Lenor.

And the Badger still is napping – despite the tapping – still is napping,
(And occasionally crapping) on the clammy kitchen floor.
As my eyes begin to close, I feel him drooling on my toes;
For me, there’s no more shows, no returning, no encore…
                                    And I’ll go drinking nevermore.

Monday, 3 September 2012


It’s six o’clock and he’s slept enough and
no one’s watching as he tramps
past powerless neon and rainbows of vomit
and the hollow hill that he calls home
calls him home.
No crowds today to see his climb,
no choirs nor bells,
no flamelit circus cheers him on,
just dogs and rats, fighting like rats and dogs,
and the slumbrous dead eyes
of heavy-lidded houses and polystyrene pigeons
scrapping over frozen chips and pizza cheese
and nightly bile beans.
But fuck the darkness, fuck the torches – he’s got a Zippo
ping! and he sparks another joint.

It’s six o’clock and he’s smoked enough and
anyway, these things wear off over time.
For every blind old man that shows him an open door
ten more clang shut like secret cells
and the bicycles have chained themselves to railings again.
There’s a tremor in the sky but nothing in the streets
except the dull simoom of distant shuttle busses
queuing up to spend the day underground
and sit in neat little rows in painted boxes
and breathe monosmog and tarmac
and nightly bile beans.
He hears the news van coming
and the fumes catch in his throat.

It’s six o’clock and he’s choked enough and
a girl with broken wings
stares up at a sign from the past, and makes a long joke
and she’s younger than him.
How can she be younger than him?
Schoolboys run the firehouse now,
hosing their friends and laughing
and flicking Vs at the grownups
and teachers and nurses who tell them to stop.
They pepper spray his tears away
preen their uniforms and it’s their grey sky and
nightly bile beans keep you healthy, bright-eyed and slim!

It’s six o’clock and he’s slept enough and
smoked enough and choked enough and
cried enough and sometimes
spleen is not enough.
And the bicycles have chained themselves to railings again.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

There’s always the hot poop

This is what happens...

One of my
oft repeated mistakes
is getting suggestions
from off of my mates
for poems to write
when, just out of sight,
my muse has fucked off
and the blank page waits…

They write crap
on my Facebook wall
that makes little
or no sense at all –
ideas that are wacky,
or just downright tacky,
or so sick and twisted
they frankly appal.

“Imagine you wished
you were wearing no pants,
or the sun’s a tomato
that’s living in France!”
One guy on Twitter
wants an ode “up the shitter”,
which is far from Wordsworth’s
idea of romance.

“Oh, write about poetry,
that would be ‘meta’”
“No, something on fruit
would be lyrically better”
“Be a good son –
write a song for your mum,
or copy that Auden –
send Byron a letter!”

You would think
I’d get more sense from poets,
but they’re just as barking
and boy, do they know it:
“Blank verse on halloumi,
or something pantoum-y!
You could go villanelle,
or even rondeau it!”

These are just
a tungsten example
of some of their input –
I could give you ample.
So I sit in the sun
while Olympians run:
the page is still blank
and I’m hardly that thankful.

Though I love
them with all of my heart,
my friends are all clueless
when it comes to art.
So, thanks for your counsel –
your wisdom is doubtful –
and as for this poem,
I still
don’t know
where to...

Thursday, 26 July 2012


For Jobi and Bonds

I probably don't smell too good today,
In last night's crumpled clothing, stumbling, wan
And pale – as pallid as this broken dawn –
Back to my house (if I can find the way).
With clean-cut cheeks and tailored suit of grey,
The Businessman strides past – he’s clearly on
His way to work. Eyes meet, and then he’s gone,
To meetings, desks, and chasing higher pay.
The disapproval on his face is clear:
He’s got a job, responsibility!
He got no time for mates and drinking beer –
He’d never throw away his life like me.
            I drift to bed on joys he’s never tasted,
            And smile to think that it’s my life that’s wasted.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Oure Elvysshe Craft

Quelle surprise, another sonnet.

The alchemist, uncertain, grinds his lead;
Around the room, alembics fizz, and bowls
Of baser matter bubble over coals
That steam the room and bead his scratchy head.
He thinks of wiser minds, and men long dead,
Of failed experiments, and thwarted goals:
If such a quest defeated those great souls,
Should he just strive for simpler aims instead?
Why seek for truth in this quixotic art?
Why chase eternities of gold? Why fret?
With all before discomfited, why start?
Maybe he’s mad – it’s vanity, but yet –
He knows, with romance in his shaded heart,
The merest gleam is worth the doubt and sweat.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Why Didn't Achilles Simply Wear Boots?

I dreamt the first two lines. This is a first for me.
The rest was written in a morning.

So here we are: the Blank Verse Strip-O-Grams –
We bare our bodies as we bare our souls.
Available for parties, weddings, both
The kinds of mitzvahs, nights for stags and hens;
And also meditations on the pangs of love
(Dispris’d or otherwise); reflections on
This rare condition we call Life.
    Come! See the glittered tassles spinning, twirling
’Round endings feminine as dainty feet.
As each revealing garment shameless falls,
So fall facades of mythic similes:
The wanton allegories lost on those
To whom the Greeks are best known for kebabs.
But, like Patroclus, we are undeterred,
And also vaguely homoerotic.
    Come! Watch us smear the whipp’d cream of our hearts
Along enticing lengths of turgid meter,
And taste the saline woes that pump and grind
Through these artistic, tortured veins.
You’ve never had a feeling – not like ours,
For we are made of feelings, we consume
Emotions, breathe sensations, drink in sighs,
Then, squid-like, squirt them on the page.
    Pray mock us not! We are but fragile feathers –
Make not burlesque from this, our introspection!
Or if you do, just know that we will feed
Upon your scorn, because we know that scorn
Will make us stronger, better people, yeah?
    For this, our show, we ask but little fee:
Your humbled recognisance of our pain
Is thanks enough.  Or better still, show us
How we’ve affected all of you inside,
And give a little something of yourself
As you all pass the bucket by the door.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Time's Worst Statute

I walked with Pliny’s ghost down London streets,
Through Saturnalia’s new festivities,
To see how England’s current take competes
With bygone Rome’s ‘December Liberties’.

The spectre spoke of how he’d always loathed
That day’s inversion of the natural rules:
The nation’s disrespectful servants clothed
As masters, that vain Feast of Fools;

Of how he liked to hide himself away
From all the hollow noise and gluttony,
Attempting to escape, just for a day,
The parties and their cold monotony.

Then, as we passed a palace on the Thames,
We spied a file of hirelings on the march,
Bedecked with crested caps, and suits, and gems,
And all the pomp of some triumphal arch.

And when this haughty troupe had swept from sight,
The shade beside me sighed: “You’ve got it wrong –
We let our minions rule for just one night,
It wasn’t meant to be the whole year long.”

With shame, I cried “Oh how’d this come to be?
Whose father’s fathers sold our rights away?
Where did we sign? And when did we agree
That servants should behave in such a way?”

I walked with Pliny’s ghost down England’s lanes,
Through Saturnalia’s grim festivity.
We saw the Nation’s masters trussed in chains,
And with us walked the ghost of Liberty.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Lyric Poetry

I was asked to talk about the difference between poetry and lyrics.
This was my response.

I met a traveller from a land Down Under, who said:
“What passing-bells for those who die
With the lights out? It’s less dangerous
Where Angels fear to tread.
I grow old, I grow old, O sweet child o’ mine!
I want a Hero; an uncommon want:
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be bold,
And he’s gotta be Tyger Tyger burning bright.
Hail to thee, blithe Poker Face painted on the wall
Looking as if she were alive, yeah I’m still alive.
Whoa, I’m still alive! If I should die, think only this of me:
I get knocked down, but I get up again –
You’re never gonna keep
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley.
We all stand together, killing in the name
Of the finest minds of my generation.
Shanti Shanti Chantilly lace, and a pretty face
And look on my works, ye mighty, and jump around.”

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Attic Verse

At·tic:  adjective

1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Greece or of Athens.
2. ( often lowercase ) displaying simple elegance, incisive intelligence, and delicate wit. 

To all who seek, and all who follow:
Come! Welcome to the Arms of Colo!
Where Joy and Wit and Wine abound:
Whate'er you seek may here be found.
For here the Wisdom, here the Truth
The veritas in vino still
Here the smoke and sloping roof
To blow your mind and bang your skull;
And here the laughter, here the rhymes;
The songs that set the room aglow;
Here the best and warmest times
That life can offer you; and so:
To all the friends who share their lives,
I offer up the highest Fives;
And to our Host with wayward charms,
I raise this toast: The colo’s arms.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Report Card

To Mr Ian and Mary Cameron:
We need to talk a bit about your son.
We’re sure you only want the best for him,
But, sad to say, the news is rather grim.
So we, the faculty of Eton College,
Have deemed it best to bring this to your knowledge:
The boy’s a dunce. He can’t be taught, we quit.
We’ve tried our best, and that’s the end of it.

You’d think that sixty grand a year you paid
For David’s education would’ve made
The slightest bit of difference to his brain,
But no – his head’s so addled with champagne
(Which, strictly speaking, he’s too young to drink –
That mad boy Boris gave it him, we think),
That learning simply fizzes out his ears
Into the ether, then just disappears.

Take History, for starters, as a case:
His lineage, you’d think, would help him ace
That class on FDR and the Depression –
Instead he seems to think that a recession
Is cured by slashing public sector pay
And letting corporations have their way!
Such ignorance on such a scale’s unreal,
And quite insulting to the old “New Deal”.

Of Sciences, Zoology’s his best:
He likes the way that birds all line their nests;
And once, at hustings for the class election,
He spoke at length on Natural Selection,
And, though he likened Darwin’s book to faeces,
We think he’s read The Origin Of Species,
For though we teach The Bible as a rule,
That dog-eat-dog stuff really made him drool.

His grades in English are the worst by far –
His grasp of definitions is sub-par:
He always gets confused by ‘do’ and ‘don’t’,
And ends up doing the thing he says he won’t.
Grammatical constructions are a maze,
So one can’t fathom anything he says,
And as for adjectives, he’s off the wall:
He thinks ‘conservative’ means ‘wreck it all’!

But worst of all, the boy just won’t respect us,
Or learn the values preached in our prospectus:
The tolerance, integrity, and thought
A high-priced education really ought
To inculcate in children David’s age.
So, since no words of ours will assuage
That strong desire to give the kid a smack,
We think it’s fair we pay your money back.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Vice of Vices

I take my dope with breakfast every day:
A little fix to help me on my way.
Elevenses, I’ll have another hit,
But just enough to perk me up a bit.
My dealer’s on the High Street over lunch:
He’s got the good shit, so I buy a bunch,
And dose myself throughout the afternoon,
With little grains of heaven on a spoon.
The gear I take is pretty pure and strong,
And psychoactive – but for not that long.
I know that it could kill me, but so what?
I’d have to take an awful fucking lot!
As to dependence, I’m not “hooked on drugs”:
It’s not addiction if it comes in mugs.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

À la Recherche de Boissons ont Perdu

 A massive in-joke and a heartfealt cry of anguish.

Some years ago, I was honoured to know
                A motley crew of patches,
Who after rehearsal, would sit in a circle,
                Indulging in drinking matches.

We’d sit there and glug in the old Labour Club,
                With Rosie and Ronnie & Panda,
And the money we spent could easily rent
                A country the size of Rwanda.

The Welsh one was there, and the guy with no hair,
                And Russell, asleep in the sand;
Tho’ Gromore’s laughs could shake seismographs,
                And smash every glass in the land.

There were others there, that, I’ll declare,
                But their names – well, I’m just not tellin’
Cos I don’t have the time, and they’re too hard to rhyme,
                So let’s call them all Cunobelin.

We’d drink and we’d shout until Dave threw us out,
                And I’d float home, happy and hoarse;
And when I asked them if we’d do it again,
                The answer would be “But of course!”

But now…

Now it’s hard to locate just one of those mates
                Who wants to get drunk when I do;
And those who drank flagons are all on the wagon –
                Yes, Turner, I’m looking at you!

They’re all getting choosy ‘bout when they get boozy,
                And the ‘Yes’s are turning to ‘Maybe’s.
‘Cos they’ve all got jobs, the credulous knobs,
                Or worse than that – fucking babies!

But since it’s a party, I’ll be hale and hearty,
                And look back with joy at those times;
And wave a “Hello” to Panda and Jo,
                And give them the gift of this rhyme.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fun With Eye-Rhymes

What the title says. Blame Adam Warne.

I love a poet who is prone to laughter,
For mirth can cover most of Poesy's slight crimes -
But happily I'll put to death and slaughter
A poet who just overuses sight rhymes.
'Cos while the eye-rhyme's often fun to read,
It jars a bit when actually it's said -
They only really work when in your head.
So visual-rhyming poets, please take heed:
I want no guilt at my own doorstep laid -
It's not my fault if you end up puréed.
Or maybe, better yet - I'll go and comb
The internet for ways to make a bomb,
To send you wanton wordsmiths to your tomb.
But worry not, O poets, don't you frown:
Don't run and hide, a-trembling in your fear.
This poem mostly proves the fault's my own -
That fitting cap is one that I should wear.

The Saga Of Performing Asvald, or S.O.P.A.

So the Viking was sat on the beach by the surf,
He was singing a saga as old as the Earth.
With his audience rapt and not likely to tire,
He recited his tale by the warmth of the fire:

Of the Gods and of mortals so brave and so bold,
Of Valhalla and Valkyries, gleaming in gold,
In the tale that he told, in a voice that was mighty,
All the heroes were strong, all the heroines flighty.

Though the sailors that listened had heard it before,
They would happily sit and enjoy it once more –
For the tale’s in the telling, as I’ve always said,
And the skill of the artist who’s earning his bread.

Yet no agent had he, nor no management suits
Who would leech off this bard, off his fame and repute,
And no laws to protect them were written in stone,
For the oral tradition looked after its own.

And the song wasn’t his, and yet nobody cared:
In the time of the Vikings, all music was shared –
And performed, not for profit, but just for the glow
That both singer and crowd get from passionate shows.

When the epic was over, the embers were cold,
And when all had done praising the skill of the skald,
Then they lay down to sleep in their camp by the sea,
And gave thanks for the fact that such speeches were free.