Published by Shoestring at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Pam Crane
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All people that on Earth do dwell
Have made themselves a living hell.
Hence the admission I must make:
Creating them was my mistake.
I made an error once before -
I bred the dreadful dinosaur;
I thought my dragons would be fun
With scales that glittered in the sun;
With mighty bodies, tiny brains
They fought and foraged on the plains
And some with feathers learned to fly
Through Gaia’s prehistoric sky.
But after millions of years
With nothing much between the ears
And only fit to be destroyed
I zapped them with an asteroid.
Began again. I made an Ape.
A bigger head, a better shape.
They seemed to know that I was there,
And soon were swarming everywhere.
“Come on!” I said, “Be more like me!
I’m hungry for your company!”
We painted caverns in Lascaux,
I breathed on Michelangelo;
Their voices overflowed with words
And music richer than the birds.
They made so many, many things,
They filled the sky with metal wings,
Their cities with expensive light
No longer wanting sleep at night.
They went from slates and scrolls and prayer
To sending pictures through the air,
From foot and horse and sailing ship
To travel by computer chip.
Now they are choking in their cars,
Their litter orbiting the stars.
Too late to save the forest trees,
Too late for fish and manatees,
Too late to stop the melting poles,
To re-establish gender roles,
Too late to stop them wanting more,
To halt inevitable war.
I visited … I will again,
Disguised as ordinary men.
But will they listen? Not a chance.
I won’t get a second glance
On local hustings, on TV;
No-one now believes in me -
Or even in the smart machines
That model on dramatic screens
The choices and their urgency
That now besiege humanity.
They hear the scientists’ advice
But carry on. And pay the price.
Yet, if they want to have their cake
And eat it, this is my mistake.
I said, ‘Go forth and multiply!’
Now half will freeze and half will fry,
These billions struggling to be
Immortal and a match for me.
Amid the greed, amid the waste,
My dereliction must be faced;
I let the species dominate
And sealed the lovely planet’s fate,
As rarely has it ever been
My policy to intervene.
Must this creation be no more,
Just like the hated dinosaur?
Shall I now let a meteor crash?
Or tomb them in volcanic ash?
Or drown them in the rising tide
Of filth that is their suicide?
Shall all their tears, and hope, and prayer,
And love, not get them anywhere?
I am the God to whom they turned
In vain when ancient cities burned -
But I am the God who tried to teach
Them grace of life and grace of speech.
What can I do? I made the rules
Kept by the wise, ignored by fools.
What can I do? It’s nearly time,
And still the temperatures climb.
What shall I do? I must not make
My third, and very worst, mistake.
When luck came up for the cosmic draw
Ireland was left with the shortest straw -
The Paddies were saddled with Murphy’s Law.
Wondrous schemes that were set to fail,
Endless spills from the milking pail;
A sting in every romantic tale.
So when O’Shaunessy found the Grail
Hidden behind a harvest bale
It split as quick as a fingernail
And Father Flaherty at his door
Said, ‘What’s that dirty oul’ piss-pot for?
The glue’s not holding – yer’ll need some more.’
He showed his prize to a journalist
Who conned it off him when both were pissed
And wrote it onto an auction list.
Delaney bought it for half a pig
Then turned it over to hold his wig
Before a jaunt to the hills to dig.
His luck was in and he’d done the trig -
His Granda’s mattock was in the rig
For surely there would be Something Big.
His rainbow hung in the mountain mist;
He chased, and swore, and he shook his fist -
For all that glittered was mica schist.
Back in Blarney Delaney kissed
The Stone, and took an almighty swig
Of moonshine mixed with the local ale;
Summoned the pub accordionist
To set the mood with a fancy jig
And thrilled his pals with a bogus tale
Of holy relics and fairy ore.
He sold his luck to a hundred more -
Till time ran out on the bar-room floor …
Old Mrs Husband wonders where
She can buy an electric chair.
Does she need help with rising, sitting?
Somewhere comfy to do her knitting?
Or does she need a seat on wheels
To whizz through Markses for bargain meals?
Old Mrs Husband laughs and answers,
‘I can swing with the Strictly dancers.
I can outpace the smartest feet
From top to bottom of Mostyn Street,
And lunch is at an hotel – my chief
Indulgence, fillet of rare black beef.’
Old Mrs Husband smiles and rises.
‘Life should be filled with nice surprises.
I like to party and love Design.
Friends are coming for cheese and wine;
I want to hear a delighted shout
As chairs light up when the lights go out!’
Old Mrs Husband winks and adds
‘What would really excite the lads
Would be a proper electric chair
To strap them in for a trendy dare.
But all the Gruesome Gerties had gone
When I went looking on Amazon!’
Old Mrs Husband’s evening Do’s
Are in the papers and on the News.
Her centrepiece is a heated couch,
A fit masseur in a posing pouch -
And oldies queueing from everywhere
For treatment in her electric chair!
(… Old Mrs Husband is still on-line
Implementing a dark design;
She keeps in touch with a Texas jail
Hoping they’ll have a chair for sale.
She has the cellar with mains supply,
And her life-long list of who must die …)
Next to the gatepost, by the tree,
Messages wait for Sniffy and me -
Enemy poo or friendly pee?
Follow the perfume round a bend …
Out for adventure we find our friend,
Pleasure expressed at either end,
Off to the woods, beside the stream,
With bones to bury and dreams to dream,
Three escapees are the perfect team
Chasing tails in a badger hollow,
Marking trails for our friends to follow,
Who can resist a stinky wallow?
For lunch we find an exciting farm,
Chivvy the sheep but do no harm …?
Outrun the shouts of enraged alarm -
Rapt in splendour of wool and mud,
Only the tiniest hint of blood,
Sniffy is dancing respect to Spud
Down to the town for a scrumptious tea:
Soulful eyes on a human knee
And off with the plateful – it was we
Then into the square to greet the pack
Smiling to have their heroes back,
Eager for all the hunting craic;
A lady in the dock today
Was charged with causing an affray,
Criminal damage, and assault –
But swore it was her victims fault.
The pensioner told our reporter
She was shopping with her daughter
When a fascia caught her eye:
FISH & CHIP’S AT SUPAFRY.
‘Now, I was taught to spell,’ said she,
‘And handle the Apostrophe!
My parents didn’t fight the Hun
For all we built to be undone.
If we are to be civilised
Our English Grammar should be prized.
Staring upward, getting madder,
I said, “Susan, get a ladder.”
Flexing bi- and quadriceps
We stole a window-cleaner’s steps.
As Susan footed, up I went,
And scrubbed until my breath was spent.
In tiny falling flakes of red
The rogue apostrophe was dead!
Too late the fryer and his queue
Ran to the doorway; I and Sue
Had quickly taken to our heels …
And then we heard the whoosh of wheels
Behind us. How could I resist
Copping a pavement cyclist?
My blood was up; now I would do
Something I always wanted to.
My bag of eggs and milk and butter
Toppled the blighter in the gutter.
What a fracas! What a scene!
After the police had been,
The paramedics, biker’s Mum,
While waiting for a brief to come,
I took the chance to really hammer
Home the need for proper grammar;
Someone had to take a stand
To get bad punctuation banned.
And as for cycles on the path …!
I vented years of bottled wrath
On PC Jones, who didn’t seem
To care, and simply let me scream.
And so I whacked him with my brolly.
Yes, I was a total wally.
Yes, I’ve had to pay the price -
Six months suspended isn’t nice.
But I shall keep a beady eye,
Young man, on your report of my
Crusade, and I shall tell the nation
If you botch your punctuation!’
Well, thats us told. Your Editor
From now on in will honour her
And make it’s rules priority.
What a boom!
Crack of doom -
From the club
From the pub
In the street
As they stare
At the flare
In the air
In the night
Is too bright
And they saw
More and more
In the sky
Very high –
Did a shock
Green & white
On the night?
Did a star
Fall too far
Leave a scar?
Or a craft?
Don’t be daft
They all laughed
Was the fire
In a gyre
Sent the cream
Of their team
Men in suits
Had a ball
With it all -
What a joke!
In the drama
Took a swig
Slew a pig
Cut a twig
From the boughs
You to dowse
(With a fork)
Took a walk
With the pork
In the night
To the site
Of the fright
By an orch-
ard his torch
Hit a scorch
And he found
In the ground
On the hill
Lit a grill
Oh the smell
On the fell
Worked well -
Nine or ten
On the Beast
For a bet
Were the prize
But the farmer
Had karma -
Was a treat
At the mesh
And the fresh
How he bled
As they fed
On his head
Not a stain
Of his brain
Not a hair
Of him there
Found a piece
Of his fleece
It was day-
Light so they
What still goes
On in those
But each year
Spawned in a constellation
Deep in the heart of space
A wayward alien nation
Grew to a master race.
Trapped on a wasted planet,
Damned by a raging star,
They built their craft; but to man it
Took them a step too far.
They picked all the politicians,
The cream of the world’s elite,
Great scientists, skilled clinicians -
But nobody off the street.
They left the poor and the sickly
With barely a month’s supplies
And left for the stars too quickly
To see the shock in their eyes.
Silence came to the planet.
A billion souls had died.
Gone were the fools who ran it;
Now the survivors tried.
Gentle with plant and creature,
Braving the Polar sun,
They followed an ancient teacher
In treating all life as one.
Rain came back to the furrow,
Fruit returned to the tree;
New eyes blinked in the burrow,
New fins flashed in the sea.
The star in its violent cycle
Moved on to a blissful calm,
Promising men like Michael
Hope for a struggling farm.
Communities met and traded
And centuries had gone by.
Even the folklore faded
Of the great escape to the sky.
Heading for home one twilight
After his flocks were fed
Michael’s thoughts were of firelight,
A welcoming wife, and bed.
Nothing prepared him for drama,
The scream of metal in air,
And searing the eyes of the farmer
A light no human could bear.
Something the size of a nightmare
Exploded through field and grain;
Michael lay shaking in fright there,
His soul and body all pain.
How could he know what landed
Was full of women and men
Who, hopeless, lonely and stranded
In space, had come home again?
Time had warped on the voyage;
The ship crashed into an Earth
Struggling into the new age
Bringing itself to birth.
How could he know the wonders
That under the hull were sealed?
The plans, the dreams and the blunders
That ended in Michael’s field?
How could he hear the crying
Or know that before his eyes
The last of his kind were dying
Who conquered the earth and skies? …
Their final act of destruction
The crater that was his farm,
Its years of scanty production
Aborted with all its charm.
After the conflagration
Villagers came to stare
At the grave of an ancient nation
That nobody knew was there.
In time they gathered the metal
Strewn over Michael’s soil,
Learned how to work and fettle
For tool and girder and coil.
And metal became a token,
Contending came with the skill.
Ambition and fear were woken.
Their future awaits them still …
I wandered, lonely as a cloud
Of smoke outside a cancer ward
Where cigarettes are not allowed,
And wondered where the drugs were stored.
Inside that safe? Behind this door?
I’d never cased the joint before.
I sauntered through the coffee shop,
Down disinfected corridors,
On past the sluices, man with mop
(I wonder if he ever scores)
Averted gaze from turning heads
In rows of most un-private beds.
At last I found the pharmacy.
“Hallo my love!” the lady smiled.
“Who is it that you’ve come to see?
Your Mum? Your Dad? Another child?”
Behind her, stacked on every shelf
The stash I needed for myself -
Barbiturates, and methadone,
And other stuff that I could sell.
(I couldn’t pull this job alone;
I’d have to bring a mate as well.)
I would impress her. I’m no fool!
“I’m learning medicine at school.
I’ve done the body, done the brain;
I’ve started on prescribing now.
I really need your help to train -
Miss said the doctors would allow
Me in your store to make a list
So I can be a specialist.”
I don’t know why she rang the bell
Or why the docs and coppers came.
My spiel was going really well
Until she asked me for my name.
At dawn they raided my old crowd…
I wander lonely in my cloud.
Whereas two appels sittynge on a gait
Do mounch eache othere, and do slyly mait,
Do I oft wyshe thatt wee more often coulde;
And synce wee cannot, I am verry wood.
I looke upp att the Moone; shee ful wel knowes,
Thy beauteous forme to mee shee sholde disclose,
And I sholde drynke the honey of thyne eyen,
And lie wyth thee, and mak thee wholly myne;
But synce the dayes must Tortoys-lyk crawle bye,
And nott lyk swyfte swallowës y-flye,
Onn theyre harde bak moste paciount I must ryde,
My wyngës clipt, my povre tong y-tyed;
And wyth the swallowes sende my litel verse,
And numbely wate for thee upon myne erse.
Though I can be nobody else but me,
If I were not myself, how would it be?…
Myself would serve the soul of someone other -
Not me – and I myself would rule another!
Yet if I occupied this other I,
I still would wonder how and where and why
This other person lived who wasn’t me …
And so run on in circles endlessly!
There is some consolation in the thought
That someone somewhere equally is fraught
With puzzlement – since he alone is he,
Then how on earth can someone else be me???
Does he think?
Too small to be real, bearing
A marked resemblance to the trousered rabbit;
The only clear distinction between him and the thing
With which he holds communion
The cap of golden fuzz over the ears
And definitely fingers.
Rabbit is an artifact, however.
Rabbit, flung, sprawls
Is mercifully bloodless;
Inspected and abused, deserves
A medal for patience.
As for the other
Agent of these ritual indignities
And muttered spells,
There is more behind the
Blue-bead eyes than bears question,
Far more than old nylon stockings and foam chips,
There is (and wonder at it)
Unto itself and still enough to spare
Of magic mind
Wherewith to gaze life into his woollen ally
So I could swear
The beast reciprocates the stare.
- And does he think??
To The Editor
80, Wood Lane
November 16th 1996
I promise to announce the start
At the beginning, and not part-
Way through the hour’s dramatic art.
I promise not to wreck the plot,
Parading its climactic shot
For weeks in every trailer slot.
I promise not to fray the nerves
Of those the Corporation serves
By throwing fancy camera curves.
I promise not to over-run,
Delaying what should have begun,
Spoiling the nation’s video fun;
And promise – after the Star’s Wardrobe and Stunts -
To credit the catchy theme music for once!
[_ (2017, 20+ years on, and nothing has changed. _]
My husband had to come to see
How Pendle was – but minus me -
And here acquired the pleasant habit
Of sucking a Sarsaparilla Tablet.
A friendly, enterprising chap,
He dropped two packets in my lap
On his return, and watched my face
For signs of pleasure or grimace.
To cut a happy story short,
We soon were through the few he bought.
It will be miles and months before
We come back North and buy some more!
So, could you post to us in Kent
Enough to meet the cheque I’ve sent?…
To last till Pendle calls again?
Cradled in the Mayor’s Arms
So many happy years,
We knew our Dulux Weathershield
(Affordable – we’re not well-heeled!)
Would last; but now the paint has peeled
As the Millennium nears.
It held the Hurricane at bay,
It shimmered through the Drought,
But lorries pounding through the night
Shake wall and window, southern light
Has bleached the blue and aged the white
And cracks are opening out.
Friends and strangers come to share
A sanctuary here;
Their welcome needs a shining door,
Bright windows to the bedrooms four
Whatever storms we have in store,
To shelter and to cheer!
Obsessed and upset by the inexplicable fact,
We live – a yellow sun between two darknesses
That shadow and touch it with something infinite there,
An Always inescapable where something precious is;
But hidden under Time.
Oppressed and beset by the inner splitting of fact
We give a narrow – unforeseen though hardness is -
And shadowy muchness of nothing definite there,
An all-ways inextricable and clumsy preciousness
That isn’t worth a dime.
( A bit of fun to rhyme!)
Shouting between islands
How Are You
Signalling from peak to higher peak
I Love You – whensoever the mist may clear -
with a fellow briefly in a passing plane
Able to speak
on several wavebands
Happy Birthday Dear
Taking a turn as compère of the week
I say again
I wish you happiness in your sea-girt
wiping guano and turtle-dirt
away from Beethoven and Vera Lynn
of reasonably clean
sand to bury
your head in
I hope you enjoy
No doubt you will employ
a great deal of native ingenuity
in making the most of such an opportunity
among the birds, up in the Seventh Heaven
and give my regards
to Angels Eleven
You won’t fall down;
the fuels you will need are only words
and a front seat in the Sun -
will keep you there
Safe out of real touch real sight real sound
Tucked away in a high womb
you deeply care
for the lack of loving-room
responsibly and gratefully aware
of Us who wave and wonder from the ground
with whom you share
over the air
We love you
Yes we listen
avidly to Number One for his Opinion
amid the static …
Bones wither away under the skin
a soul begins to
The cold and comes down out of the attic
to make up on the missing
Joie de Vivre Hot Pants Passion
communiqués press handouts Lone Yachtsman kissing
Miss Erotic Plastic
we walk straight through
you we never notice you we know you
were never real
Visiting gods are inconceivable
and in Spring
hermits are out of fashion
The day the moon fell
Music screamed up a nerve in the world
The robins crowed like cockerels
And the wind blew all the air away
The day the moon fell
Ice cracked the face of the sun
There were blue strawberries
And a rampant worm bit a sparrow in half
The day the moon fell
Love and hate collided and blew up
The last Pope ran for Parliament
And God met the funny side of hell
O come to the shade
Of the cool colonnade -
Don’t bother with vestimenta!
What use is a tunic
To Roman or Punic?
This is the community centre!
Vel Gallic, vel Grecian
Your friend Diocletian
Invites you to bathe at your leisure.
It’s such fun to swim in
(As well as the women!)
The scenery promises pleasure
Diverting to play with;
And you have a way with
The ladies that seems to amuse them.
So let’s make a foursome.
Ointment? I’d adore some!
But never mind clothes – we don’t use them.
… to breathe this element of muted sound
and think only the things that fishes do …!
… I, squat on the parapet, look down.
My mind, lapped in that weed-lucent brown
Mapping the mossy under-arch with light
hereunder shimmering … lean over! Look!
See? Touch it! (Not too far. Don’t fall.
Not yet.) Trickery, you see. The bright
thing, like all wind-spun happiness, shook
and left you to the darkness … yea my mind
moves to the slap and the sway of it.
… shall I be feeding the fishes, now?
Or will the fishes give me
to eat corals, rocksand, sunlight filtering,
turtleshell, chilled fringes of moon;
weed-broth from the crab’s mouth
and mud sifted in silver,
seasoned with seed-pearls,
served in a mussel-shell
with a spoon?
Come come, itty-bitty man!
Come come! The fishes sing.
One for Mummy,
one for Daddy,
eat your nice pudding!
Ha! The blue waves. New and drinkable sky.
Out there where the rainbow lives
and soon shall I.
The men who poison the rainbow
poison the mind of me
with an ill wind, and a sick rain,
and they drive me to the sea;
and the sun lies in a crooked way,
and gods die as people pray,
and fear spreads fungous through decay.
But I shall soon be free …
… soon in the sun-silk water I shall drop away,
leaving my clothes behind, for there is blight on them.
Soon I am ready. Are you coming with me?
… leaving your clothes behind, for there is blight on them.
Why don’t you take them off? Take off your clothes, I say!
Your soul is rotting with it – I can see the mark,
mark of a madman. Stay behind and save the world!
I shall be under the bridges that you burn
crowned with a crown of swimming sticklebacks
to keep the twisted thorns out of my hair.
Washed in the running radiance of pearls
I’ll have sweet skin, and I shall laugh! as stern
Nemesis chokes you in your deadly air.
By the shores of Gichi Gumi
Rising from the Big Sea Water
See the cloud of tiny midges
Hear them singing in the sunshine
Happy to be free and flying
Happy to be near the forest
Near the tents and near the tipis
Hear them singing to the horses
Pawing in the summer forest
See them settle on Nokomis
Stitching hides and flapping wildly
See them cover Minnehaha
Running to the cooling water
See them follow Hiawatha
Running after Minnehaha
Flying in their ears and noses
Lodging in the braid and buckskin
Up the skirt and in the breechcloth
In the moccasins and leggings
Feasting on their legs and faces
Then said mighty Hiawatha
I will make a fire of pine wood
Offer to the Great White Spirit
To the great Gichi Manitou
Many prayers and supplications
Ask Him how to stop the itching
How to send away the midges
Then he rescued Minnehaha
From the shining Big Sea Water
Sent her off to look for firewood
And he sent Nokomis with her
Itching, scratching as they foraged
Still pursued by hymning midges
Then the mighty Hiawatha
In the whining of the midges
In the cries of Minnehaha
Heard Gichi Manitou speaking
Heard Him ask for many branches
Set in heaps around the tipis
Burning in a sacred circle
Sending up their smoke to Heaven
And he said to old Nokomis
This will chase away the midges
This will stop their biting, biting
Their infuriating singing
Go and make a paste of honey,
Cedar, salt and burning garlic
This will stop the bites from itching
On your wrinkled face and fingers
On my hero’s breast and belly
Then with all the balm remaining
I will massage Minnehaha
As the smoke ascends to Heaven
And she smiles in my embraces
See the cloud of angry midges
Rising from the tents and tipis
Out of wampum bag and wigwam
Rising angry through the forest
In the smoke that bears them upward
Smoke of sly Gichi Manitou
Chasing from the sacred circle
From the skin of Minnehaha
From the skin of old Nokomis
From the skin of Hiawatha
From their cradle by the Water
All the midges of the forest
Then the sly Gichi Manitou
Called upon great Animikii,
Called the Thunderer to aid him
Save His people from their torment
For the Thunderbird is mighty
Mightier than Hiawatha
And his wings eclipse the Heavens
And his winds are like a bellows
Blowing life and death before him
See him sweep the clouds of midges
From the forest to the mountain
From the mountain to the ocean
From one ocean to another
New and shining Big Sea Water
Till the wings of Animikii
Let them fall on distant forests
Let them fall in glens and corries
Fall among the peat and heather
And the people with pale faces
And the cows with orange fringes
See the cloud of happy midges
Dancing, dancing in the sunshine
Happy to be free and flying
Happy to be near the forest
Near the farm and near the shieling
In the land of Merry Dancers
Hear them singing to the farmers
Flying up their kilts to bite them
Hear them singing to the soldiers
Feasting on their angry faces
There is no Gichi Manitou
Listening to their petitions
To their curses, imprecations
As the sword, the mighty claymore
Winner of a thousand battles
Swings in vain against the midges
Now the lords of loch and mountain
Drinking deep at every ceilidh
Setting Dubh and Bride reeling
Setting old Cruatha jigging
Hear the wailing of the midges
Hear the wailing of the pibroch
Scotland rants and Scotland dances
Toothypegs icumen in,
Proudly say Goo-goo!
Chew the swede
And spew the feed
And bawl till you are blue -
Molar breaketh through the gum,
Tooth after tooth comes through;
And clings to Gramps,
And sendeth us cuckoo -
We long for sleep,
Worn out by *bleep*
Yum diddle Lidl Lidl Yum diddle I
Yum diddle Lidl Lidl Yum diddle I …
My mother couldn’t make me eat
- and me a growing lass -
I hated milk and spud and meat
And cabbage gave me gas.
But then I found a magic snack
That saved my appetite
And got my Mum’s approval back,
My peggies strong and white! …
Oh! SuperCalciFractElasticExtraChunky CheezWhiz -
Even tho’ the taste of it
If you chomp it hard enough
Your fillings fall to pieces,
If you can keep your teeth when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on genes;
If you can brush and floss when dentists doubt you,
(But make allowance for their slender means);
If you can brace, not be put off by bracing,
But being smiled at, dazzle with your smiles,
And being picky don’t need teeth replacing,
And still keep walking tall, despite your piles;
If you can talk with crowns and keep your diction,
And tweet and Skype and blog to keep in touch,
If you would keep your teeth free of affliction
And savings count with you – but not too much -
If you can fill the Application Form out
For BUPA dental care from year to year,
Yours is the Mouth and nothing will be worn out,
And what is more – you’ll have a Plan, my dear!
“Is there anybody there?” asked the Sufferer,
Knocking on the lamplit door;
And his car in the silence spewed exhaust
On the city’s dirty floor;
And a bat flew out of the gutter,
Above the Sufferer’s head:
And he banged on the door a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one came down to the Sufferer;
No head from the soot-stained sill
Leaned over and looked into his pained eyes,
Where he stood distressed and still.
But only a host of phantom dentists
That drilled in the clinic then
Stood listening in the quiet lamp-light
To that cry from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint dust-beams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air shaken (not stirred …)
By the weary Sufferer’s call.
And he sensed in his gut their strangeness,
Their muteness meeting his cry,
While his car moved – he’d left the handbrake off -
‘Neath the starless and murky sky;
So he suddenly hammered the door, even
Harder, and shook his head:—
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
I kept my appointment,” he said.
Not the least stir made their receptionists,
Though every word he spoke
Fell echoing through the shadowy rooms of the clinic
From this single desperate bloke:
Oh, they heard him put his foot down,
And the grind of tyres on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the racing wheels were gone.
O Dentist! my Dentist! our fearful job’s not done;
The lips must weather every crack, the prize we seek be won;
The lamp is near, the drill I fear, assistants all preparing,
While follow eyes the steady hand, the visage grim and glaring:
But O teeth! teeth! teeth!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the bib my fillings lie,
My face and tongue quite dead.
O Dentist! my Dentist! rise up and hear the bell;
Rise up – for you the phone has rung – for you appointments swell;
For you bookings and urgencies, the waiting-room
For you they call; the patients mass, their aching faces shrouding;
Revolve, O doors! and ring, O bells!
But I, with thankful tread,
Walk mended from the surgery …
My face and tongue quite dead.
Who has seen my teeth? …
Neither I nor you.
So when my lips hang trembling
No food is passing through.
Who has seen my teeth? …
Neither you nor I.
So when my friends avert their heads
Old Gummy’s passing by.
An old hippie optimist was standing one day
With a drink from his favourite jar.
He gazed at the optic as he tumbled and lay
In the light of the Tap Room and Bar.
Away in the Ladies sat combing her hair
His dear hippie potty old mate;
While she was retiring her chap was expiring
From bugs that bred under his plate.
Teeth, teeth, carious teeth -
Nothing could stop them
From rotting beneath.
So follow him follow,
He’s booked for tomorrow;
Inter him with sorrow
And carious teeth.
In February Ninety-Eight
The Twelfth was an important date -
ComputerActive on the stands,
And, even better, in my hands!
For fifteen years from Issue One,
Concise, informative and fun,
This magazine has stretched my mind,
And now I’m never left behind.
At seventy, because of you,
I help my friends and husband too
(Most of whom are even older!)
To get the hang of file and folder,
Choose computers, keep them clean,
(You never know where files have been
That friends love forwarding!) and learn
When disappointed, where to turn.
My darling husband takes to bed
The articles that I have read
So he can learn to deal with spam
And spot the latest nasty scam.
He now has confidence to try
New software; and we often buy
From your reviews the finest kit -
You help us make the most of it.
Our children all live overseas,
But we can keep in touch with these
We love, because you showed us how
With email, Skype and Facebook now.
And how we love the Letters page!
It shows we can be any age
And keep our faculties intact if
We remain ComputerActive!
I don’t want a lorry,
I don’t want a car,
I don’t want a taxi
’Cause it isn’t very far.
I don’t want a bicycle,
I don’t want a fuss,
I just want an ordinary
I would like some sympathy,
I would like a lift;
I would like a warmer place
To stand and stamp and shift!
I’d like to be a person,
But I feel anonymous
As I wait for that ordinary
We’re not in a blizzard, and
We’re not in a storm;
We’re just in November and
It isn’t very warm!
The roads have been gritted, and
The fog has gone from us -
So what can be holding up
My Double-decker bus?
There may be an accident.
There may be a queue.
There may be a sea of cones
For him to battle through…
…A smile of explanation
Would be less injurious
Than your scowl when I fall on board
Your Double-decker bus.
Oh it’s fun to be a little hypochondriac!
Oh it’s fine to want to lie around in bed!
It’s delightful to be lazy lying on your back,
To be comforted and cosseted and fed,
When the dictionary says you should be dead!
Oh it’s fine to be a little hypochondriac.
It’s fun to have a cupboard full of pills,
Of Calamine and Liver salts and Ipecac
And medicines for fevers and for chills,
And forms for cutting people out of wills!
Oh it’s nice to be a little hypochondriac.
I love hotties and thermometers and soup!
I know all about a dickey sacro-iliac,
Rubella, Yellow Fever, and the croup,
And I share it all on Friday at the Group.
Oh it’s wise to be a little hypochondriac.
You never know when bugs are set to bite!
Accumulating therapeutic bric a brac
Is an amateur pathologist’s delight -
And a different diagnosis every night!
And it pays to be a little hypochondriac,
Holding pricey Consultations every day!
This way I get my self-esteem and money back
For the bargain-basement bottles on display,
The prescriptions that I never throw away!
“Just a Minute on ‘Silver Lining’;
Sixty seconds, and starting now!”
“On showery days when the sun is shining,
A thunder cloud with a beetle brow
Muscles in front of the golden glory
Threatening day with inky night -
But Sol is stronger than Jove is, surely,
Lining the cloud with silver light…”
“Repetition of ‘cloud’!” “For forty
Seconds ‘Silver Lining’ is yours.”
“A chap was tarring the roads; for sport he
Tried white-lining them on all fours …”
“Deviation! That’s white, not silver!”
“I haven’t finished!” “Well, carry on.”
“The moon came up, and a gleaming river
Of light … illumined the lines he’d done,
Turning them all to silver … Then he
Recollected an old technique …
Um …” “Hesitation!” “And far too many!
Twenty seconds are left to speak.”
“I was seven; my first magician
Filling the stage with flags and doves
Flourished in keeping with his tradition
The silver lining of cape and gloves.
How it shimmered! The act enchanted
This small boy; and that cloak means still
Every gift that I always wanted -
To mystify, to amaze, to thrill!”
“Congratulations! We have a winner;
You still spoke as the whistle went!”
The Minute Waltz; and we go to dinner,
Silver Service and David Brent …
Breakfast by the Sacre-Coeur
Baguette with a lot of beurre
Lunch will be a Petit Pain
Tea will be Baguette again
Mais à la Boulangerie
There is grande variety
So voici un little list
Of the Pain you may have missed
Pain au Froment – total wheat
Ne pas permetté to cheat
S’il n’est pas completely blé
They will take your marque away
There are gens qui run a mile
At the thought of Pain à l’Ail
Mais la grippe will never win
Once you get some garlic in
Walnut comme un petit brain
Est prisée from Tarn to Seine
Daily snacks of Pain aux Noix
Are one’s academic choix
Pain Nordique ou Pain Polaire
Open sandwich en plain air
Or the pretty Pain Tressé
Comfort food for coeurs blessés
Pain Bâtard? The artisan
Toujours bakes the best he can
Save for quelques-uns très bons qui
Come out of the oven wonky
Si vous cherchez Matzo bread
Ask for Pain Azymes instead
Pain Juif, Pain sans Levain
Once it’s Passover again
Pain Cramique with raisins in
Furtive dietary sin
Pain d’Épices trop chic to eat
Fancy, gingery and sweet
Two old favourites of mine
Pain Maison, Pain de Campagne
Made with n’importe quelle farine
Fresh beside the soup tureen
Forgeron and Fougassette
Niche Provençale assiette
Plein d’olives et zeste d’orange
Toute unique and great to mange
Tous les petits déjeuners
Avec coffee come Beignets
Yummy doughnuts nous can dunk
Adding inches to le trunk
Sandwiches a.k.a. Tartines
Feasts of salad or sardines
Ham or chicken or fromages
Perfect fare pour nos voyages
Pain de Seigle, Noir ou Son
Lovely with goats butter on
Déjeunette or Pain Ficelle
Little sticks taste just as well
Blanc ou Bis or Boule de Pain
Brioché and Campagrain
Pain de Mie et Pain Complet
Même Potage sous son Beret
Tous enfin sont Pain Rassis
Fit for toast avec confits
Or to keep the skinny you
Chaque Dimanche le Pain Perdu
July 29th is a Wednesday
In 2015: Windows 10’s day.
There’ll be no 11 -
I’m sticking with 7
Despite what the Microsoft men say!
I’ve scuppered the Updates – so there!
I’m no longer tearing my hair.
I’ve started from scratch,
Not a worm, not a patch …
But a lot of security-ware!!!
I’ve even gone in for a Mac;
I’m giving my PC the sack.
Windows 7 just docks
When I’m done. I may never go back.
Byron Ingram Kingsley Pocock –
Binky to his titled friends –
Drills into ancestral bedrock
As the media pack descends …
Binky Pocock is a charmer
But he has a fatal flaw -
Maybe it is in his karma
He is posh but awfully poor.
Binky lives in faded glory
In a mansion with a park;
Pater’s Pater, goes the story,
Liked to party after dark …
Centuries of land and money
Went on women, dice and booze.
Fleeing debt and wife and son, he
Vanished on a winter cruise.
Binky should have gone to Eton,
Got himself a good Degree -
All his aspirations beaten
By the grandsire lost at sea.
Years of fêtes and jumbles later
Binky’s Pater passed away,
Leaving him alone with Mater
And a heap of bills to pay.
There was only one thing for it -
He must market Pocock Hall;
Too expensive to restore it
Now they had no staff at all.
Nor were daughters of the gentry
Queuing up to rescue him;
In Debrett’s the Pocock entry
Made his marriage chances slim!
Binky haunted all the places
He might find a wealthy wife -
Only disappointed faces
Met the story of his life.
Other impecunious cousins
Of the Queen had petting zoos,
Opened rooms to daily dozens -
Scores – of plebs in gawping queues;
In this way they scraped together
Just enough to make ends meet.
Thus the Upper Classes weather
Times that tax the Family Seat.
Not, alas, benighted Binky.
Every bank refused a loan;
Mater wrapped him round her pinkie;
Park and paths were overgrown …
… Single malt and Pater’s pistol
Shone beside the dying fire;
Binky’s mind was clear as crystal:
He would join the angel choir.
As he bit the deadly barrel
Did he hear a distant bell?…
Stumbling out in night apparel
To the hall, he all but fell.
“Francis Egan from Cuadrilla,”
Said the stranger on the line.
“I delayed this call until a
Friend suggested you would sign.
Pocock Hall is built on strata
Rich in gas. I understand
You and your disabled mater
Need to profit from your land?”
“Yes! Oh yes! Oh yes!” cried Binky
Egan then explained the drill.
“Locals may kick up a stink,” he
Said, “But watch your coffers fill!”
Byron Ingram Kingsley Pocock –
Binky to his titled friends –
Drills into ancestral bedrock
As the media pack descends …
“Stop the Fracking!” scream the headlines
And the women from the town.
Press are over-running deadlines,
Getting all the gossip down.
Paparazzi flash and scramble
Over bushes, walls and gates;
Binky takes a massive gamble,
Alienating all his mates.
Waving an impressive banner
In the centre of the crowd,
Mistress of the nearest manor
Rosy Moseley, blonde and loud
Shouts, “I always loved you Pocock,
But you never looked my way.
All you wanted out of wedlock
Was a cash cow who would pay.
Now I absolutely hate you,
Bringing ruin to the shire!
Yes, you’ll get some girls to date you -
All the ones for public hire.
I am also on my uppers,
But I utterly disdain
Any popinjay who scuppers
Love and happiness for gain.”
Rosy Moseley! Who’d have thought it?
Binky stares at Pocock Hall;
Ever since Cuadrilla bought it
He has had no peace at all.
Fracking drills, and fracking Mater,
Fracking builders, fracking din …
Thinks again of joining Pater;
Let his adversaries win.
Binky turns to the protesters,
Grabs a banner from the crowd;
Clearly Rosy’s hatred festers
But he may still make her proud.
“Come on Rosy! Come on people!
We’ve had more than we can stand!
Ring the bells from every steeple.
We are taking back our land.
Please forgive me. I am sorry,
So ashamed of selling out.
Hijack every fracking lorry!
Block the village roundabout!”
Could his future still be Rosy?
Could he make himself content,
Married somewhere small and cosy,
Furnished for a modest rent?
Binky finds the Fracking contract,
Stands among Cuadrilla’s foes;
“The environmental impact
Means this piece of paper goes.
Can we cancel lifetime leases?
I shall take the legal blows!”
Binky Pocock flings the pieces
Like confetti over Rose.
Now, Wilhelmina Pomeroy’s
Obsession was for Little Boys.
It wasn’t that she … that … ahem! …
She simply liked to look at them.
So she, whene’er she found one rather
Docile, took him home to Father.
She stood them neatly in a row
And gazed at them with eyes aglow.
She soon had forty-two or so.
And when it came to fifty-three,
A few showed signs of jealousy!
At length – un coup inattendu -
A comely youth of twenty-two
Whose name we will forbear to mention,
Keyed to a pitch of nervous tension,
Struck the lady as she passed!
The chosen band looked on, aghast;
(Miss Pomeroy, I must confess,
Was put out by his forwardness)
And then with cries of “Insurrection!”
“This is done in self-protection!”
“Down with revolutionaries!”
“Equality is threatened! Where is
Upset by antisocial scum?”
With yells and threats and kicks and shouts
They fell on him, unruly louts
And bea him up, and then they hurled
Him out into the lonely world.
They pinned a notice in the hall
Enforcing Equal Rights For All.
It was only fair and right
That she should kiss them all goodnight,
Said Wilhelmina, for she knew
That everyone would want her to.
So if she gave an extra squeeze
To one, her duty was to please
The others likewise – what is worse than
To feel you are a displaced person?
She little guessed there could be boys
Who do not like Miss Pomeroys …
One evening she was halfway down
The line, with kisses duly blown
And planted with a dose of passion,
When … TwentySix refused his ration!!!
Exasperated by the way
She gloated over them all day
He bravely pushed her face away!
He shared his predecessor’s fate.
And then they saw him pass the gate
One day, with a delightful girl -
Not plain and Pomeroid; a pearl!
She was no means to easy wealth
But simply loved him for himself,
And (which the idle are empty of)
She gave him manliness and love.
No bribery could stay them then!
None but the silliest of men
Could fail to see what they were missing,
Hindered by Wilhelmina’s kissing.
… Broken glass lay on the floor.
They had been gone an hour or more.
They’d even jammed the wretched door.
So now, alas, although she saw
What she had been forsaken for,
She couldn’t try to understand.
Ah! Bitter the revenge she planned!
With fury trembling, she took
Her blunderbuss from off its hook
And saw her face distorted in
Its surface to a horrid grin.
The muzzle cold upon her breast,
Her arms strained to the butt, she pressed
… Wrecked beyond repair
They found her – but they didn’t care.
U. S. A:
The regular caucus came.
They chose an intelligent President -
Obama was his name.
One dark night
He had to leave again;
Two terms were spent and off he went
Never to serve again.
Barack Obama has packed his trunk
And said goodbye to the White House,
Making way for the Donald the Trump,
Trump, Trump, Trump.
Hillary Clinton has packed her trunk
And left by car for Chicago -
Off she’s sent by the Donald the Trump
Trump, Trump, Trump.
The end of the road was calling;
Soon came the day
When parties fight in the TV light
And the world can only pray.
So … Barack Obama has packed his trunk;
But who says Hi to the White House?
Cruz? Or Sanders? Or Clinton? Or Trump?
Trump! Trump! Trump!
Night by night
They wooed the divided land
With Hillary leading the poll parade
But Trump so loud and grand.
No more tricks
Could Hillary perform;
He’s forced her now to take her bow
Amid the media storm.
Many a Democrat packed his trunk
And said goodbye to the caucus -
Off the back of the Donald the Trump,
Trump, Trump, Trump.
Every Republican packed his trunk
And said Hallo to the Congress;
In he went with the Donald the Trump,
Trump, Trump, Trump.
The rest of the world appalling,
Trump won the day!
His latest bride at his bloated side,
And the pressmen kept at bay.
Desert is spreading and ice has shrunk,
We wave goodbye to the jungle;
Life has lost when the winner is Trump.
Uncle George was very smelly,
Bright of eye and vast of belly,
Moving like a mighty jelly
Through the sea of our surprise.
Rolling on to pass a hundred,
‘Why is he alive?’ we wondered,
Wincing as his bowels thundered,
Covering our furtive eyes.
Was he ever pink and tiny?
Helped to paddle in the briny?
How did Uncle George begin?
The baker’s wife, a trifle tipsy,
Broke her vows and jumped a gipsy.
Weathered finger to his lips, he
Sowed a secret in her skin.
Forty weeks of floaty dressing
Hid the sin at last confessing.
If it were a curse or blessing
Not an angel came to tell!
Daisy’s brat was strange and skinny,
Lost behind his mother’s pinny.
When he sang, his tone was tinny
Like a tiny cracking bell.
He could make the horses whinny,
Fondle foxes in the spinney;
All the furry things and finny
Knew the baby, knew the boy.
Coaxing some bewildered creature
Into school to meet his teacher,
Up to church to hear the preacher,
Was his mission and his joy.
All the local dogs adored him -
Ran to him and smiled and pawed him.
Human children really bored him.
He was of another kind.
Many mocked him, found him frightening,
Palms and fingers full of lightning!
Tongues were wagging, knuckles whitening -
What help could a mother find?
Down the street there lived a lady
(House and reputation shady)
Known to all as Psychic Sadie.
George and Daisy went along.
Moons and stars hung from her ceiling.
Sadie said, “You should be healing!”
Told him that the fizzy feeling
Meant that there was something wrong,
Somebody in pain or sorrow
Needing urgently to borrow
George’s vital Chi. Tomorrow
Nobody would laugh at him.
This was quite a shock for Daisy
As her grasp of Chi was hazy.
Through her mind ran all the ways he
Might go haywire. This was grim!
George however was ecstatic;
Now his life would be dramatic.
Fasting in a rented attic
He prepared for God’s demands.
Word went out. At first a trickle
Came, of people in a pickle,
Throwing him their notes and nickel
For the magic in his hands.
Then the flood of people fighting
For a glimpse of this exciting
Youth; the cameras, the writing
In the red-tops, on the wall …
Dicky backs and laryngitis,
Measles, migraine and phlebitis,
Scrapie, glanders and arthritis -
George took on and beat them all.
Farm and zoo had found a hero,
Infestations down to zero.
Local ponds and streams ran clear – oh,
Blessings rained on George’s Chi!
He could banish coughs and sneezes
And all kinds of weird diseases.
Some believed that George was Jesus.
He was a celebrity!
George’s soul was brightly burning;
Everything he touched was turning
To pure gold. But was he learning
Vital lessons? Would he fall?
Daisy watched him at a meeting.
She could see he wasn’t eating,
And the attic had no heating.
No, he wasn’t well at all.
All the healing, touring, courses
Took their toll on his resources.
“Puddings, sausages and sauces,”
Daisy thought, “build up a man.
But how to coax him home to feed him?
Steal him from the folk who need him?
Save my boy from those who bleed him?”
She devised a little plan.
Three strong lads in her employment
In her debt for past enjoyment
Would abduct him. For her boy meant
Utterly the world to her.
So poor shrivelled George was taken
In the wee small hours, to waken
In his old room – very shaken,
With a soaring temperature.
(You may ask, “Where’s Mr. Daisy?”
He was dull and frankly lazy;
Drove his wife and children crazy.
Waste of time and waste of space.
Once he had the ovens roaring
Any thought of work was boring.
Customers could hear him snoring
Through the hanky on his face.)
“Right,” said Daisy, “Now I’ve got you
I shall be in charge of what you
Eat. You’re running far too hot. You
Need to cool it, simmer down.
Now the Press know you adore them,
They will pester. Just ignore them.
They will see there’s nothing for them,
Find some other media clown.”
What a shock to George’s ego!
Most of us unwind when we go
Convalescing – how could he go
As The Greatest Healer, sick?
Daisy locked him in, protesting.
Thirty years she kept him resting,
George of all that made him tick.
Week by week his mother’s baking,
Buns and crumpets she was making,
Gorgeous cakes and pies, were taking
Captive George to supersize.
Garlic raw with every supper,
Drops of Rescue in his cuppa,
Guaranteed to balance up a
Life devoid of exercise.
Nothing now could harm the Healer.
Daisy died, but George could feel her
Close – and then she sent him Sheila
Who would let him out again.
So many years had passed! A giant
George, both nervous and compliant
Asked if he might see a client,
Help a person in their pain.
From the ether in a vision
Daisy whispered her permission;
Strictly on the one condition -
That it must be clandestine.
Every night as owls were flying
Once again the sick and dying
Came in secret, far from prying
Eyes and ears, and stood in line
Waiting for the magic fingers,
Murmuring the words that bring us
Still the holiness that lingers.
Yards away, they caught the smell ..
Ancient garlic sent them reeling;
Some would flee, but others feeling
Bold enough for George’s healing
Held their breath, and then were well.
And so was he. The Chi he gave them
Came from Paradise to save them.
Cameras? He ceased to crave them.
His reward was not to die
For twelve decades – enormous, smelly
Superstar without a telly.
Now the Bakery’s a Deli;
George a secret in the sky.
One day which never existed,
in solitary rage surprised Himself with a Thought
so unsustainable in the here-to-fore
He cracked the unflawed sheer shimmer
of Monad in Equilibrium,
He broke Mind
mirrored in all directions,
He shivered Infinity
and the incorporeal mighty Hand that held it,
thus beginning seven days of Bad Luck
as Time was born in the vortex.
Resourceful, He stretched forth His other hand
upon the vortex, with an opposite charge -
And Said: LET THERE BE LIGHT, and There Was Light
flashing from splinter to splinter, aeon to age;
suns of a shattered hand blinked fire into and out of a myriad million dizzy reflections
glinting Godhead back,
reduplicating spin-drift, inkblot, starclot and coalsack -
by which light a God could see His scattered parts
God, He Said:
LET THEM FLY
Asunder upon the wind of
My unparalleled Imagination,
LET THEM SEED where a
plus-minus meets in the heart of light
a microcosmic god in the anti-mind, for this
is Matter of Moment; let there be Life, therefore,
so let there be Soul – let there be male, and female
warring and mating; let there be holes for light to penetrate,
dramatic poles, north and south in collision, upwards, down -
as in My excess I find
sorrow I cannot drown
in the necessity
for light to
mend Me by,
so will my Self,
twin of Me and
be lover of that Light,
his flesh a bandage for My fractured dignity
for a seven-night.
Let every action have its equal and opposite reaction.
Let there be
Polarity, pendulum, fractal, parabola
Thus Spake God …
… One Day that suddenly existed, as
a myriad million fragments of Forever
took their first lesson in strife and alchemy;
towards which sex, war, succour, science and sainthood,
the long, vain struggle to tie the strings of symphonies
between grass and the galaxy, Caligula and Christ -
So many poles of puzzlement, poor man-thing! -
making itself slowly in God’s other image,
feet on a star, head in the coalsack.
to make men like snails. Here it is Sunday lunch
And still we have not mapped our route for the last afternoon
of our life; the future winks only briefly at us
out of the healing mirrors.
Some are struggling
To put their eyes out on stalks and see around corners
of the inconceivable before the last trump
is played, the last supper indigested and
the disbelievable unMichaelangelic Hand
reach forth to converge the silver trails
of the slow, vulnerable, visionary sun
housing the soul in helix.
Here they come,
a few at a time,
the unrejected cells;
a Miracle is made.
Thy Hand, O God
may close the eyes of Time – but it is built of us!…
We who have put out the cat may be most unwilling to
put out the stars the cat and we have hunted our dreams by,
may be discontent;
may fidget with the smoothed fabric of Space,
finger the substance of the Maker’s Dream,
flex the muscles of a new idea -
Spring a surprise.
Pam has been a poet since she was seven years old; it was only when she joined her local Writers’ Club that she found she could also write short stories.
She has been a Christian astrologer for most of her life, is well known in that community, and is the author of two books plus many articles in the Astrological Association Journal (for which she compiles the regular Cryptic Crossword.)
You can find her website at .
'The Flip Side & The Funny Side' is a collection of Pam Crane's wittiest poems, a mix of scathing social and political commentary, clever parody, pure fantasy and gentle humour, including three long, imaginative ballads which are complete stories in verse. In these colourful, beautifully crafted stanzas nothing and no-one is immune - God, USA, humanity, government, age, dogs, spelling, ambition, aliens, transport, media, medicine and famous poets.