Litter, laying lonely,
Lamppost, loutish local lad
Lane’s lady lifted litter,
She was just like any other mother in the street. Her education was small, but she was generous to a fault. The Great War was over 10 years past, but still there were wounded ex-soldiers begging in the streets. Every Saturday Rose went to the shop in Green Lane. There, leaning against the wall, propped up on one solitary crutch was a man playing an accordion. He wore a tattered uniform, his cap was on the ground. Rose had half-a-crown to her name, this was to feed the kids until payday. She always gave him sixpence. It never occurred to her that if he could change her half-crown, he had at least as much money as she, but as I said, ‘she was generous to a fault’. She handed him the half-crown and he handed her two shillings and sixpence in change; he never gave her copper. She in turn gave him back sixpence, the smallest coin she had.
Will you be there for me,
When the dark shadows fall?
Will you ever be there for me,
When in the darkness you I call?
There'll be many days go by,
And the bells will toll high.
And the love that I have for you
Will never ever die.
Oh when will you sing for me,
When I'm home from far away?
And when will you play for me,
When I'm dead and in my grave?
When the world falls around me,
Will you ever come to see,
The one man in the Universe,
Forever to be free?
EXT: AT THE FARM GATE OFF THE ROAD
Martin stands at the gate leading into the yard. A touristy type parks and approaches Martin in a bit of a hurry.
TOURIST: I say, my good man, is there a toilet?
Martin can be a man of few words when it suits him.
TOURIST: Well where is it I need to go.
MARTIN: Well you didn’t say that.
Tourist has pained expression on his face.
TOURIST: Well I thought that would be obvious!
MARTIN: Well no sir you just asked if there was a toilet, you didn’t say you needed to go.
TOURIST: Well where is it?
MARTIN: Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?
Tourist looking exasperated
TOURIST: Where is it, please?
MARTIN: Thank you. Manners don’t cost nothing you know. It’s through that gate and round the corner to your left.
TOURIST: (relieved) Thank you!
Tourist leaves to find the toilet. Hurries back seconds later. The pained expression on his face is now more urgent.
TOURIST: Its locked!
MARTIN: Aye! It always is.
TOURIST: How do I get in?
MARTIN: Well that’s simple. You need a key. Don’t you townies know anything?
TOURIST: Yes I know that, but where do I get the key?
MARTIN: You have to buy one.
TOURIST: But I need to go now!
MARTIN: Well you can’t go in that one.
TOURIST: Why not?
MARTIN: It’s locked!
MARTIN: it’s not a public toilet.
MARTIN: That’s why it’s kept locked.
TOURIST: Well why didn’t you say that?
MARTIN: You didn’t ask!
Martin looks down at the man’s nether regions as a wet patch appears.
MARTIN: There is a toilet across the bridge at Annie’s, but it doesn’t matter now you don’t need it.
Martin smiled. As the man walked away in embarrassment Martin says under his breath.
MARTIN: Seems like manners isn’t the only thing that townies aren’t taught at home.
As I pluck you from the tree,
Soft and round you feel to me.
Tender as a young girls breast,
You entice me, you are the best.
Your jacket tight must be undone,
But wait this is not for everyone.
Take a knife and slice the fabric
I push under the pith, wet and stick– – – y
Your juices come on my fingers, running on the peel
Smelling sweet and sticky feel
How do you say I should eat of thee?
Should I rip your clothes off completely?
Spread you wide and into your innermost parts
with my tongue searching for your heart?
Or gently peel your segments one by one.
Eating each succulent piece as rays of sun
Allowing those juices which are the very blood of you
To dribble – down my chin.
I shall slowly devour you piece by piece till
at the end your remains lie still
torn upon the dirty floor
discarded like a $5 whore.
“Write about an Orange,” she said,
“About an Orange!” Oh – my – head!
I know why she picked that fruit.
Because poetically it is a beaut.
There is no word harder to rhyme
I think that is what you will find
But me, I know the puzzle, still
you can make of this what you will.
There’s a park of similar name where I was born
I think it’s still there, I’ll check in the morn
Meanwhile an orange is a necessity
So I can set to, to write this ditty
About something I am sad to say
Does not enamour me in any way
All I need is to find a shop
So it’s on the bus that I must hop,
Cos in Oxford there’s an Orange store.
And I am pretty fairly sure
They will supply me with my needs
Maybe even one with seeds.
Ah! Wrong Orange that’s not fair.
They sell only mobile phones up there
So it’s in the market down at the back
There is a man who knows the crack
He’ll sell me an orange for my class
I’ll have to give him some of my brass.
At last I have my Object d’art
But I didn’t have to go quite that far
I could have stopped off in town.
Got one for only half a crown.
And of course less bus fare.
Too late now but I don’t care
Look at me. How I digress
Gosh this is a bloody mess
I am supposed to be writing about an orange
I must rhyme it with a park named Gorringe.
Else everyone will stop and say
You didn’t make that rhyme today.
Now leave me please I need some time
I have to write this bloody rhyme.
I was looking back on our life
and saw how things were going
I couldn’t really take the blame
I gave you everything you asked for
But still you asked for more
it seemed to me your life was just a game
It’s no good sayin’ sorry
the time for cryin’s over
I really need to start anew
I found someone who needs me
For who I used to be
she loves me and she’s different to you
I will not say I’m sorry I will not tell you lies
I’m changin’ to how I used to be we’ve had our time together
And I want to leave you easy gotta start myself a brand new me
Now it’s time that I was leavin’
I have somebody waiting
This is the last time I’ll be around.
I’m leavin’ you for ever
To start my life on over
gonna tune my guitar to a brand new sound
I will not say I'm sorry no I will not tell you lies
I’m changin’ to how I used to be we’ve had our time together
And I want to leave you easy gonna start myself a brand new me
The Mooring Bollard squat and round
by the lock side to be found.
Why it’s there I do not know,
like mushrooms they do seem to grow.
Black and white, three to a lock
they can trip, you get a shock.
An exercise in futility,
they’re no damn good to you or me.
Take them out the boaters say,
But BW will have their way.
We’ve started now so we will finish.
Oh, do get rid of them pretty soon-ish.
Three thousand pounds they cost to fit.
That’s a grand for every bit
of cast iron lump beside the locks.
We didn’t want these metal blocks.
Why is it that they do not listen?
To those that know the brickwork caisson.
They really should go run and hide.
They put them on the wrong bloody side!
There’s a place where I can go
When I’m searching for some peace
It’s a place of many wonders
Where my troubles can decrease
It’s a place where we all can go
It’s in all of us you see
Just take a look and you will find it
My place is inside of me
Of course I am speaking from the inside
Where my thoughts are all my own
Where I don’t find any evil
And I never am alone
If you look hard you will find your place
Search long ’til you feel the peace
Then you will be inside yourself
And your life will be at ease
Joseph came up to the King
He said I have a wondrous thing.
Its a bit square and sort of round.
I made it from things I have found.
It’s the very best of its kind
There is none better you will find
It’s quite expensive it cost a lot
I will swap it for some land, a plot.
The King said “Nay, I’ll not give you land
For that you must make one thousand
So Joseph feeling quite rejected
Went to his house and there reflected.
I know he said I’ll make a machine
And make a thousand for the king
So he set to with hammer and nails
And in the wood holes he did bore
He went out and bought some spanners
And carried them home in his panniers
He put them beside the nuts and bolts
On the shelf with hooks that hold
He cut and drilled all through the night
And filed metal shapes till they were right.
Then screwed together the bits and pieces
And glued them up with dog faeces.
Then next day his job was done.
His machine was grand, the only one
It hummed and whirred and went tick tock
And buzzed and clunked like a broken clock.
At the press of a button it spat out a block
That was square and sort of round
He pressed again out came another
And another and another and another
In fact it didn’t want to stop
It just made block after block after block
Very soon there were blocks every where
He had to stack them high in the air
The king was pleased he said so.
He had his thousand blocks to go.
Joseph got his piece of land
But that is where his blocks now stand
For the one thing that Jo forgot
Was a button that would make it stop
So on the Infernal Machine worked
And in it’s duty never shirked
But Joseph he just sat and pondered
About the blocks he had to wonder
He had more blocks than he could use
Won’t that machine just blow a fuse?
I could never be a party
To a spider eating pies
Or doggies munching cats
Much less horses wearing hats
A turtle dancing squares
Or a rigadoon from hares
A ladybird that buzzes
When it’s really not a bee
Does a Zebra wear pyjamas
Or a Tiger loving Llamas
Affect the way you see
The world you’re in.
Or should a Hippopotamus
Make love to a Rhinoceros
Or maybe Monkeys should
Stop climbing trees.
There are ants and Armadillos
Who seem to get lost in hedgerows
There’s a tree where wombats squat
And an Elefant who sneezes balls of snot
If you try to catch an eel
It is slippery to feel
And tomato soup is
Only served on Sunday
It was late. The pub had closed. Marcus was on his way home. In the darkness he heard a blood-curdling scream. He stopped in a shadow trying to work out from which direction it came. There was another scream followed by a gunshot, then another. Looking through the front window of a small terraced house he saw a man fall to the floor. A woman sobbed, "You've killed him, you've killed him. Another gunshot, she stopped crying. The titles rolled up the wide screen. A man in the house got up, quietly turned off the TV and left the room.
When I saw my son marching off to war I was the proudest man on the street, well we were all proud. Our sons were off to fight the Huns. They had stood and were counted; counted as men who, at their country’s behest, would go and give the Germans a bloody nose.
I remember he looked smart in his uniform, marching smartly down the street, in his well-polished boots. This was the lad that I had nurtured from birth. The lad that I had loved from the moment he took his first breath. The lad that I, had taught to be … a man.
He wrote often about his life on the battlefields of Europe, sometimes every day. He gave good account of himself. Every letter signalled that he was safe, at least at the time of his writing.
My boy was a fine boy, any man would be proud to have him as a son. He stood tall, as his grandfather stood tall. He spoke his mind, he got that from me. He cared about the little things; he got that from his mother. She passed on some years ago. I watched him as he heard the news. His little lips quivering, tears in his eyes though not crying, no, not crying. He was the saddest I had ever seen him and there was nothing I could do to ease his pain. Oh I so wanted to ease his pain.
It was around the end of June his letters stopped coming. I thought he may have been part of the ‘Big Push’ and was probably too busy to write. A fighting man doesn’t want to be bothered with writing letters, does he? And then it came. Late one morning, in the second post it was. It was an official looking letter, a crisp white envelope with a typed address on its front and an embossed crown on the back. I had dreaded this since the day he marched off to war. I had wondered then if I would ever see him again. Of course I never let him know that, I couldn’t you see. I carefully placed the letter on the shelf above the fire in the best room. I would open it when I had finished tidying the house.
When he was small I remember his little hands, he was always so delicate … no … genteel is a better description, he got that from his mother as well.
The letter seemed to watch me as I went about my business. I cleaned out the ashes from the hearth; they were cool enough by then. After the dust settled I dusted the mantle shelf, lifting the letter then placing it back carefully so as not to disturb it.
Why? Oh why? Oh why had this happened? He was a fine lad, an English lad through and through. He was my child, my very own son whom I had loved and cherished and raised as best I could. As best I … knew … how. I picked up the letter. I shuddered at the thought of what it contains. I put it down again. Was this to be the darkest day of my life? Oh God! I hoped he didn’t suffer.
When he was ten he fell from a tree and broke his arm. He was lucky; it was a clean break, bent at a funny angle, but clean. I could see the pain in his face, but not one tear did he let fall upon his cheek. He simply refused to cry. Please God! Tell me it was quick.
I reached once more to the shelf and again I stopped. No, no, I must read it. It would be a dishonour to him if I did not read it now. I slowly opened the envelope and took out the plain white folded page it contained. The embossed crown on the back of the envelope was duplicated on the top of the page.
Dear Sir . . . . . . . . . . . . . it began.
Oh no! I cannot go on …
This is to inform you that His Majesty is extremely proud of your son Michael . . . .
This is it. He is dead. I know he is dead. This is my darkest hour. No longer will I have the companionship of my beloved boy and I shall die a lonely and bitter old man.
. . . . who, during the battle of the Somme acquitted himself with Honour and Valour. His Majesty is proud to award him this country’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross.
My God I couldn’t stand it! VCs are posthumously awarded I’m sure. My eyes glazed over and the words seemed to run, one into another.
You are requested to attend the award ceremony at Buckingham Palace on September 18 where your son will receive his medal from the King.
His medal? From the King? My son? What evil is this? Is he dead or not? This is a joke. It has to be. What kinds of people play jokes like this? Am I not suffering enough?
“Father, are you home?”
Ancient road of water still
Through English fields winds on
Toward the slowly setting sun
Muddy ditch of nutrient soup
Blackening with the fading light
History of the revolution
Beginning the rise of Empire yet
Decaying with the loss of greatness
Far from former glory falls
Leaking through the boundary set
To trespass on another's space
But in the morning sun the evil fades
And myriad rays reflect the glory
Of a sceptered isle from long ago
When hard men in wooden boats
Carried wealth across the land
In times when English industry
Hungered for the cargos therein
And the market place craved
The product spewed from
Smokey city factories.
Overtaken by the rail company
Slowly faded into disuse
For many years this eyesore
In the throes of death left to nature
Disappeared 'neath both car park and estate
Filled with weeds and silt and supermarket trolley
Bicycles, milk crates, tyres, and all manner
Of junk, garbage, waste and trash
Stinking ditch of filth and mire
Yet men of vision equal to the original Canalers
Saw the waste of this historic water
Campaigning for keeping it open
That our children might marvel at its wonder
And continue in some small way to
Preserve the life of days gone by
Before the advent of rail brought it close
To its demise and sad finale
No longer do we see the many working boats
That once plied trade along the length
Of canals that covered the country
North to South, East to West
Instead the new boater of leisure
Sets forth from marinas across the land
To enjoy the sights of green landscapes
Rolling hills and open valleys
Tree lined fields and stones of long gone ritual
Viewed from calm waters through rush and reed.
I start with just one word,
and then add another
I think of my mum and
then write about mother.
A handful of ifs, and
more words besides,
and a cupful of buts,
then I write about chives.
I write all my thoughts on
a pad at my desk,
but I sometimes have jotters
tucked into my vest.
One hundred words
Not one hundred and one
No, it has to be right
now I have begun
There is no point
in this title I fear
To miscount the words
brings me no cheer.
It is nearly enough
99, one hundred.
There’s a rock in the South Atlantic as big as you’ll ever see.
It’s got fousans o’ penguins and lots o’ sheep , but not a lot for me.
It’s bin ours for maybe ‘undreds or lots more bloody years.
They tried to take it away from us those Argie bleedin’ queers.
They came in the middle of the night
And gave our boys quite a fright
And their Capitan said “Go, now shift your limey ass.
These islands now belong to us, we’ll call them Malvinas.”
When the news got back to England ‘bout what the Argies did.
The then Prime Minister Maggie flipped her fragging lid.
She gathered up her tanks and boats and fighter aeroplanes.
And sent them off down south to get our islands back again.
‘Twas sometime afore they got to where they were supposed to be
Coz it’s a long way to down south ‘cross all that bleedin’ sea
When they arrived it was no joke they very soon could tell
They were shot at by the Argies , who had exocets as well.
The Brits set up an exclusion zone with a gert long piece of rope
Those scabby bloody’ Argies didn’t have a hope
The Belgrano crossed the rope time and time agen
So our navy sent it down with six hundred ‘n’ fifty men.
That’ll teach ‘em
Of course the biggest prize of all was ‘id far from the onslaught
The Twenty Fifth of May never left their bleedin’ port
A sad day came at great expense to the good old Brit taxpayer
Some Argie bleedin’ soddin’ git sank the Atlantic Conveyor.
God bless the good old Tommy as they went to fight the fight
They crept up on them Argies and gave them a bloody good fright.
They gave them a good seein’ to and sent the bastards home.
Never again on our fair isles will Argie soldiers roam.
This is a tale of the big boys giving it to the upstart gits
Never again will Argies stand against British ships.
This tale has a sad refrain I’m sure you’ll all agree,
God bless the boys who gave their lives . . . . . . for the oil under the sea.
It’s cold outside
The dank night
Chills the bones
Against the cold wind
Leaves and litter squirl
Around in corners,
Trapped in spirals.
People wrapped up
Against the cold and
Hurry through streets
Their frozen breath
Carried away by
The cutting wind
Labour along the path
Numb toes, cold
Glitters in the lamps
Lighting the streets
Slipping. . .
. . . . . . . . fall. . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . Crack!!!