Friday, 22 August 2014

Inside edge

A short piece about something I occasionally do for a living.

Prison tutor

I sign in,
pass through a security-minded airlock
and am rendered phoneless,
keyless,
cashless,
watchless,
as barred gates clang shut.

I have no need to judge my charges –
others already have,
but I know what some have done,
and from the papers,
how often and who to.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Choice is everything, and mine alone


I don't have a 'living will' but my nearest and dearest know what to do if I'm ever unfortunate enough to be rendered incapable. Not a cheery topic at first glance, but still room for a little gallows-humour, and no, I'm not looking for a debate on the ethics of choosing when to check out... others feel differently and that's fine for them.

My dignified choice

I’m a cerebral being, live by cogitation,
won’t become burdensome vegetation,
or killed by creeping senility
eating away at my mental agility,
I’d rather die than lose my wits,
dribbling in the corner, sitting in my own shit,
not remembering who the fuck I am,
brain turned to jelly and strawberry jam,
so take me away and euthanase me,
I don’t care how as long as you slay me,
catapult or trebuchet me
at the House of Commons, load me up and aim me,
roll me in a carpet and underlay me
beneath the patio, when I’ve gone a bit gamey,
put me in the compost and decay me,
one day I’ll be back as potatoes in gravy,
if you think souls are sacred, feel free to blame me,
I’ll risk there’s a God who’ll judge and weigh me,
the laws that say I can’t are cockamamie,
nuttier than a packet of KP
just don’t get caught when you terminate me.

Friday, 25 July 2014

I don't write songs but I wrote this one

I write poems, lots of poems, and occasionally short stories. Songs, really not. But, information coming out of Palestine about what seem to be unquestionably Israeli war crimes (I'm not planning to discuss the issues here - go have a look beyond the mainstream Western media if you're not sure what I'm talking about, and visit the Palestine Solidarity Campaign), upsets me in a way that very little does. Angry, yes. Energised, yes. Rantsome, definitely. But proper, tears-welling-up, frustrated-at-the-sheer-brutality-and-injustice upset? Not often, but this does it. So I've written a song - it's a bit of a work-in-progress, but is easy to put chords to, and I hope you like it.

Free Palestine

The wall must fall, send the settlers home,
close the checkpoints, regrow the olive-groves,
doves over Gaza, not drones and jets,
missiles-v-fireworks is not self-defence,
Palestine’s unarmed, it has no armed forces,
like charging down tanks on cavalry horses.

Chorus:
Free free Palestine,
you can’t get to Zion by genocide,
Free free Palestine,
bombs on the beach,
dead kids on the strandline.

Netanyahu, like Sharon before,
stop your war crimes, close the door
on billions of dollars of military aid,
killing civilians with every raid,
tying children to the front of jeeps,
I hope it haunts you when you try to sleep.

Israel tear down the giant screens
broadcasting atrocities for all to see,
feeding your populace fear and hate,
dehumanised by a terror-state,
destroying hospitals, schools and homes,
is the devil’s work, built on bones.

Repeat chorus

So we boycott, march and protest
for human rights in a land once blessed
with sun, sea, milk and honey,
now blown away by guns and money
and the prejudice of politicians
who think extermination’s their God-given mission.

But on the streets of Tel Aviv,
ordinary people just want peace,
shootings and torture not done in their name,
warmongers and media steeped in shame,
refuse their propaganda, resist the lies,
show solidarity, and organise.

Repeat chorus to fade


Monday, 7 July 2014

BNP, then EDL, now this...


After the BNP and EDL, now we lucky denizens of Britland have Britain First (whose loathesome webpage I'll not grace with a hyperlink) pretending to defend us. Just the latest far-right bunch of fruit-loops ranting about brown people and Muslamic Rayguns, they differ only by wearing bin-liners and flat caps instead of the usual Nazi memorabilia, piss-soaked sportswear and tinfoil hats. Here they are mocked appropriately in verse. I await the usual incoherent rage and impotent inbox abuse.

Blithering Fringe

BNP fragments
begin faulty
binary fission,
breeding fools
bleating formulaic
belligerence, forming
Britain First,
bottom feeders
belching forth
bulldog faeces,
barking fiercely
‘ban falafel’
but finding
burqas frightening,
‘bloody fatwas’.
Being fervent
baby-Fuhrer
Belsen fans,
bullyboys foster
brownshirt fetishes,
bugle falsehoods
blindly from
behind flags,
broken Furbies
becoming furtive
beacons for
bitter failures,
bunglecunting fucknuggets
breathing fallacies,
believing fearmongers’
brittle figments
because fables
bolster fragile
bigots’ feuds
by feeding
bad feelings,
blaming foreigners,
blackening friendships
between faiths.
Bastards. Further,
boasting fake
bonhomie for
‘brave fallen’ –
big fail;
berks forget
battling forefathers
beat fascism
back – flaunting
bullshit finds
barely flinching
Brits feisty,
bringing fisticuffs.
Benevolence foremost,
better find
bloodless finale
before fights,
boots, futile
beatings, faces
bruised, fatalities.
Benevolence foremost,
brew fruity
beverages for
bozo foes?
Bake fairycakes?
Build friendly
Bollywood festivals,
blending families
by familiarity
bridging fear,
brown-flesh
blinkers flung
beyond far.

Britain First’s
brown-trousered force?
Brief farce,
best forgotten.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Cogtastic shenanigans

It's possible I've been listening to too much Professor Elemental (should that be possible)... here's something recently performed at the ever-lovely Art House - enjoy the warm steampunk goodness!

World Exposition Cog Jamboree

Crinolines and bustles, toppers and tweed
snake across the lawns of Turnham Green,
Olympic-standard queueing, an English scene
to see mechanical contrivances driven by steam,
captured lightning, electrical streams
streak between terminals as whistles scream,
tea pavilions, scones, jam and cream –
it’s the World Exposition Cog Jamboree.

A great glass hall, wrought-iron beams,
cathedral to inventiveness, mind’s-eye gleams,
keen teens weaned on cunning schemes
by artisan teams weaving clockwork dreams,
difference engines sew numerical seams
in between dimensions past the usual three
where esoteric airships soar high above trees
borne aloft by formulae with strange phonemes

sung by thaumic mathematicians on bended knees
while crowds cheer to see the springs and keys
of modern technomancy, vast brass machines
from automaton insects to submarines
and odd extremes like talking monotremes,
platypus enhanced by neurochemical means
deemed unseemly, what next, walking anchovies
or chickens laying eggs full of French centimes?

So let’s relax at Old Hakim’s
Coffee House, styled like a hareem,
with rugs, hot beverages and fine ice creams,
praline, tangerine and mangosteen
served on voluminous cushions of velveteen
by metallic waitrons Tesla 1.3
instead of odalisques in diaphanous sheen,
then a tot of green fairy keeps your palate clean

before a zoetrope film of the Sistine ceiling,
3D screen backlit with fluorine
lamps through lenses of tourmaline,
a show heart-stopping as atropine
watching seraphim dancing on trampolines
sipping poteen from gold tureens,
afterwards a visit to the Black Museum,
secrets gleaned from reams of long unseen

tomes illustrated with obscene themes,
unredeemed, lean in, hear tales of esteemed
adventurers visiting warrior-queens,
selling London Bridge for magic beans
pursuing idols thought lost for sixteen
centuries in deep Polynesian seas
presented to delight in huge marquees
at the World Exposition Cog Jamboree.