that the train about to leave from platform nine a-
is the twenty eighty four to Strathmore and Singapore
through Japan, the Isle of Man and Bangalore alore alore
where the coaches at the rear will continue to Tangier,
while the front ones will advance to Norway-
and either Crewe or Waterloo; just take your chance or chance or chance
you need us eed us eed us to explain plain plain
and repeat it, eat it, eat it, once again an-
or if you have been waiting far too long along along,
there is one thing we should mention,
pay attention ention ention at your platform
or you’ll find the train you’re waiting for has gone on on on on.
In the years when students were fortunate enough to find work on the Christmas Post, the high point of the morning was pouring out the tea after completing the sorting and before setting out on the delivery rounds.
It is no use arguing with an elderly official
at the mail reclamation point,
no use at all.
You may press your case with specious argument
and think that his attention span is small
and with constant repetition
stress the source of your unease.
And he agrees,
Yes all you say is true,
but you must know yourself,
there is nothing we can do,
as we do not write these rules.
So, seeing the man in front
beat his head against the wall,
I might as well
take a slightly off-
tie knots in all four corners and wear it on the beach
until the tide recedes,
leaving landlocked jellyfish
and if they do,
I will retrace my steps
to pursue my own request
postal workers pouring cups of tea*.
I think they will not pour one out for me.
It’s eight o’clock!
Here is the Muse and the Pleasure Forecast.
Workers at a literature reprocessing plant
have discovered a hitherto untapped vain of creativity.
A spokesman for the group has said,
The implications of this work are immense,
as the whole nation could become
by two thousand and twenty three..
Meanwhile it will be dull, with outbreaks of pain.
Any lingering despair will be slow to clear
and could return during the night,
but spirits will lift late in the afternoon,
when the whole land becomes swathed in a band
of light entertainment.
And did those feet
in ancient times
and did they win or draw against much better teams?
When did we cease excluding foreign champions
from our native sides,
and were the transfer fees obscene,
more than ten miners earned throughout their working lives,
and was a well-
that brought men to their knees?
Yet kind to those who seek asylum on our shores,
we let them work gold seams of their desire
in broad estates and tower blocks,
but go to war to keep the oil supplies for our machines
(and old folk warm)
and license GM crops and build
on clouded hills.
fingering their beads
and praying that the Gracious Lord would,
from his mercy seat, relent and teach
the other side to turn
the other cheek.
Bank Lady Blue,
your white, your brimful smile,
your cornucopia that pours
fiscal beatitude unending.
Your light is not reflected,
but shines out.
I walk on air,
I step upon cloud nine.
Come come away with me,
remove your uniform,
take down my sort-
debit my account again tonight.
Together we will mount the everlasting staircase
to the great celestial dance floor,
take our places there
and build our house of cards.
The banks had known the good times,
but a fall was overdue,
leaving quantitative easing
as the only thing to do.
When you’ve passed out of the window
what has come in through the door,
only quantitative easing
lets you have a little more.
They had clogged the lanes of commerce,
bit off more than they could chew;
so the bankers were all straining hard
to see what they could do
to restore a healthy bonus
and relieve that sluggish feeling,
hoping quantitative easing
would start something coming through.
We imagine some committee
met to find the course to take
and they said, we need a slogan
that will serve to obfuscate.
And this is quite a good one,
as it doesn’t mean a thing,
but quantitative easing
has a rather knowing ring.
The man who first decided
that these words could make a phrase
should become an national hero,
winning never ending praises
and a letter from the Queen.
A knight in shining armour
in a gallery of rogues
wearing quantitative easing
like the Emperor’s new clothes.
Out and About
It’s hard to imagine a happier place for a wall,
where the earth rears like a great wave
waiting to break
Strangers were here once,
but there are no ghosts now,
save for the ghosts of the south,
when winds blow.
Winds that waft warm air where larks sing
and winds that cover stones with drifted snow.
is not enough reward
to pay for pungent yellow scars,
the rape of earth.
But sunflower fields,
the smell of cricket bats
and fields of blue
like skies brought down to earth
the rape of heaven.
The quagga was dull,
dull as its name,
which like itself
merged with the shade
and its extinction, if indeed it has happened,
was predicted and long overdue.
But a group of quagga, standing together,
were so well camouflaged
that it was impossible to know whether,
or even when,
It is not even certain now that they ever existed,
or were anything other than shadows
filtered onto the sand.
A trillion ants will start to die today,
but that is not a disaster,
even in Antland.
King of the trees,
you fly too high for me.
I want to ask,
what is the point?
Why wear a golden crown that none can see,
except, perhaps, one with a keen marauding eye
whose heart leaps with that glint
and thinks he will be rich,
but dare not make the plunge into the leaves?
Also your song,
if one can call it that,
so thin and shrill
become too high for me.
Current interest in the meeting of a spacecraft and a comet should not diminish the fact that an even brighter conjunction of Science and Poetry happened more than 10 years ago when a NASA probe landed on Eros, an asteroid, shaped, appropriately enough, like a dancer’s elegant foot.
Landing on Eros
What is this star
that, in elliptical orbit,
threatens to obliterate humanity with passion?
Our atmosphere could not burn it,
or seas quench until too late.
But it has been placated.
trapped in weak gravity,
has descended to this disembodied limb
and, resting beside the heel
on pale illuminated skin,
will wait for love
forever and a day.
Mice can fall from any height and live.
They may not have some problems sorted out.
supplies of cheese,
space sickness pills,
but never need to think about
the fall that kills.
Tiled Victorian edifice at Rothesay,
Oh Edinburgh has desperate need of thee.
Does not this literary festival
call out for thee, or thy facsimile?
But thou, who never wilt accommodate
as many clients each year as fill these seats,
could’st reassure the anxious queues that form
at erudite events and endless signings.
Do not remain the privilege of few,
a modest toilet born to flush unseen.
faint fragrant hint of medieval air,
while I remain here contemplating you,
beside this mobile loo in Charlotte Square.
When my grandmother was in her nineties, she lived with two of her daughters, the eldest being in her seventies. At this time there was a letter-
I’ve said before
that men are all the same,
you should know that.
They’re all the same,
they only want one thing.
They just don’t care.
They want to see us
blown to bits across the breakfast room
and plastered on the walls
like silver shred.
So tear it open up quickly
Taking care, while I
just look away.
Slide anxious fingers down.
I’ll hold my breath.
It’s what your father,
would have done.
So pass my glasses dear.
Slice up some bread.
Now drink your tea.
Another duty was to look under the bed for men.
And, another thing.
are so despicable,
they only do their worst
when we are most defenceless.
in the night, perhaps
How would you find it if
when you began to reach
under the bed
for the smooth white china handle
of the chamber pot
the clutching fingers of a work-
After receipt of the following complaint from a Mr W. Blake, further investigations have cast new light on the incident.
I asked a thief to steal me a peach.
He turned up his eyes.
I asked a lithe lady to lie her down.
Holy and meek she cries.
As soon as I went an Angel came.
He winked at the thief
and he smiled at the dame
And without a word said
had a peach from the tree
And twixt earnest and jest
Enjoyed the ladye.
There was something out there and I wanted it soon
and the one man to get it was ‘Fingers’ Colquhoun.
I had plenty on him; I said, here’s the plan,
for a slice of the action, spring this from the can.
He was down on his luck. He needed the bread,
but all that he got was a helping of lead.
He’d forgotten that Greengrocer Joe was in town
and was stewed in the juice with the lid screwed tight down.
I went to find someone I thought could explain,
a renegade nun, Sis. Severa McCane.
She had been trained in very strict orders
and was running a rest-
She showed me her card; this was some wild dame;
this chick was a sister who’d been on the game.
But, no doubt about it, she knew about fruit,
She’d been working the late shift and looking dead-
I said, lady you should take some weight off your feet,
but she made a suggestion I will not repeat.
I was turning to go because here was a broad
much further up-
The phone rang. Who? Angel-
So here was an angel who knew about sin.
She threw off her habit, it slipped to the ground,
and boy I have seen some habits slip down!
But this was no chassis you’d meet in the street,
she was wearing more hide than an old three-
She picked up a whip and said, Buddy, Get Lost!,
or you’ll find yourself paying a share of the cost.
I hid by the door, he came in
with his pale yellow teeth in a wall-
his one twitching eye and his hair thick with grease;
I could tell from his walk he was toting a piece.
He’d come round to squander some dough he’d just ‘earned’.
So had he been present when ‘Fingers’ got burned?
You’re a very bad boy, you’ve been in the trees,
I told you before, now get down on your knees.
He tried to reply, ‘It was only a joke’
Don’t answer me back, you’ll be sorry you spoke.
You know what we do here to boys who won’t learn.
If you think you can stand there and speak out of turn,
one hand in your pocket, one twisting your hair,
you’ve another think coming, bend over the chair!
But he had such a pitiful look on his face,
that I found myself wishing I’d taken his place.
It was warm, I was caught in a very tight spot
and that’s when I found I was losing the plot.
His obituary in ‘The Times’ claimed that Eddie Stobart was the second best-
D'ye ken John Peel when he's far, far a-
Eddie Stobart’s dead!
You left us Eddie,
No man of letters, yet you named them all;
Ruby, Joyce, Belinda, Ermintrude,
You enrolled us and we won’t forget you,
Edward son of Eddie,
Yes Edward, son of Eddie,
third chip off the block,
your colours, red and yellow,
hunting green and white,
your drivers in their uniforms, immaculate,
you, in your worn grey suit,
who raised them from their beds so soon
that we could only follow in their wake,
and, true to form,
your horn was burnished, ready, but unused.
But now the sound of engines revved at dawn,
of Cranefruehauf and Norbert Dentressangle
may waken us;
it will not waken you.
Yet we won’t let you pass upon your way unsung,
Leading the pack, your rainbow logo makes the heart leap up,
though you are home before us Eddie,
Always the same!
when I say that I am growing grapes in my conservatory,
Will you be making wine?
What must they think of me?
An old man, corpulent, bloated,
who floated up against the ceiling,
spilling from his golden goblet,
streams of crimson liquid,
intercepted in mid-
by laughing cherubs,
or an elegant satyr who leans,
one elbow on the sideboard,
talking to a lady
with explaining eye,
naked and greedy,
and wants to take his goatskin trousers off,
but never can.
St. Peter looked up from his ledger
and his heart leapt.
It was Joe Bloggs in his clapped-
all his life,
had only wished to go from A to B,
had finally arrived.
St. Michael and the angels gathered round.
To be read aloud by two (lady) speakers: No. 1, No. 2
What were you thinking when you heard that ‘news’ ?
I thought, Good gracious me, what are we coming to !
I’m not a one to talk, but all the same!
To say that here! You’d think they had no shame,
Oh yes, it’s not as though they needed to:
I quite agree. I’m sure we always knew
when to speak out, or when to let things be -
but these are modern times, I blame T V
Of course. That’s right. It might avoid a row
to get it all out in the open now -
the soonest done, it could save pointless stress
before the other party starts to guess?
But they might answer, this is nothing more
than idle gossip, coming from next door.