FRANK POEMS: LIFE & SOUL

Forwrd After Auschwitz And the Sabiá Sings (translation) Artyficial·Intestines Awomendment Blitz Exhibition Blitz Read Brexit Means Cereal Killer Close Shave Come Again?  Dear Mr Xi Dear Reader Diddle Di Dishy Dancing Man D:Ream Day Dream For Clarification Fourteen Free Spee Godwin’s 2nd Law Good Luck! Great Dictators Happiness (a translation of A Felicidade by Vinicius de Moraes) How Far We’ve Come Hushtag If The Infinet Just Desserts Kafka-ex Less or More The Life and Soul Life Sentence Limericks Litany of Little Big Men Love Letter Love Letters Mir’r’riM Ne’er Do Wills New Sonnet Not Abbey Road Not to B Omni Gone One Last Question Orienteering Parkinson’s Law Per Aspera ad Scarborough The President Said Privet Poem Punch Line Que? The Real Thing Ritn in ɖ Starz Rubbish Song Saxon Senryu Take 2 This Be the Worst A Thousand Words: John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows Tinny Tune to levitate To Whom It May Concern Translations from Fernando Pessoa Unelected Bureautwat Unfin Unsound Mind A Villain Knell Vision Why Not? You’re Here Poscrip

FORWRD

In di bginin

wr di wrd

but dat wrd

wr not red

n wr not hrd

bcoz der stil

wr no wrld.

So nowun noh,

nowun can tel

weda it wr

propli pronauns

or crecli spel.

AFTER AUSCHWITZ

After Auschwitz
there can’t be poetry
except that
after Auschwitz

there has to be

because if not
to whom,
after Auschwitz,
the victory?

LIFE SENTENCE

(Originally recited in the lane at Corrick, Co. Leitrim, in July 2017, on the occasion of the gathering of the Fox clan.)

Life’s to be lived
so live for today
or carpe diem
if your Latin’s OK
and don’t lose the will to live
or say life ain’t worth living
coz you only live once
and life’s too short
as we’re here today
gone tomorrow
and from cradle to grave
ain’t that long a stay
and life is a cabaret, old chum,
the best things in life are free
living is easy with eyes closed
and life’s not about how many breaths you take
but the moments that take your breath away
so live and let live
eat drink and be merry
and let tomorrow
look after itself
our little life being rounded with a sleep
and life what is it but a dream
which is not to say life can’t be cruel
as nothing is certain but death and taxes
and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
and all our yesterdays
are not today thank you
so look lively
and live as if every day was your last
coz he came to save the living not the dead
and although it’s not a matter of life or death
(it’s more important than that)
remember God writes straight on crooked lives
and live life to the full
stop

LOVE LETTERS

I sent you an L,
I wrote you an O,
I left you a V,
I emailed an E

but when will you ever
send a letter to me?

LOVE LETTER

All love letters are rubbish,
I read somewhere
(which doesn’t mean
all rubbish letters are lovely,
just to be clear).

So when I write “I love you”,
That’s rubbish! you might well think
but it’s just this unlovely letter that’s rubbish,
not my love, my dear.

DIDDLE DI

Wot di Pope
noh diddle doh
baut wot appen wen
wi didl diddle die

is likeli simi
lah diddle dah
tu di nolij ov di
Archdiddle ov Canta
bri diddle di

wich wil likeli bi
di sem as diddle dat
ov di Numba Wun
diddle dum
ov each an eva

ri diddle di
uda reliji
on diddle dom
wich diddle doh
is likeli simi

lah diddle dah
diddle doh diddle di
tu dat ov yu an
mi. Diddle di.

BREXIT MEANS

Sunderland Echo, 25 June 2016: "How Sunderland's Brexit count rocked the world…"
In Twenty Sixteen
victory for the Brexiteers!!

But Brexit meant Brexshit.
It all turned to tears¡¡

The Guardian, 4 April 2022: "How did we start our Easter holidays? In a queue so bad that it made the news. Thank you, Brexit and P&O Ferries." Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

OMNI GONE

Horse-drawn omnibus in London, 1902

First of all, the omnibus
was meant for omni (all)
but since those who could
took to car/train/plane
the name weren’t right at all.

The bus is no more omni, then,
it’s not for one and all:
the omnibus is just a bus
and not for them –
just us.

JUST DESSERTS

The story was knickerbocker glory
until my eye fell on apple pie,
only to flit to the rough and tumble
of rhubarb crumble, the bilateral wit
of banana split, a big scrumptious plate
of carrot cake, or maybe savourer
une crème brûlée or perhaps take a plunge
into treacle sponge or a bountiful
bowl of fruit trifle, indulge in a dream
of Vienna ice cream, or gluey but good
sticky-toffee pud, or thinking it over
perhaps some pavlova or lemon meringue
to give life a tang, but much as I tried
I couldn’t decide. So what to have after
looked rather rum baba, until seeing you
I instantly knew: the dessert I deserved
was your tiramisu.

BBC Good Food

MIR’R’RIM

Through the Looking Glass, Chapter I

It was the black kitten’s fault entirely.
The poor king looked puzzed and unhappy,
a little giddy from so much floating.

She ran against it before she could stop.
The most curious part of the thing was that,
as she came to the last peg, she was gone.

The gentleman was dressed in white paper.
Please would you tell me what you call yourself?
but this did not seem likely to happen.

If you think we’re alive, you ought to speak.
Like the puffing of a large steam engine,
making quite a hurricane in the wood,

it always makes one a little giddy.
The oars, the boat and the river had vanished.
She quite expected the egg to do the same.

It might have been written a hundred times,
written entirely for your amusement.
The face is what one goes by, generally.

The confusion got worse every moment.
They only gave them oyster shells in there.
Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards.

There was the great dish still lying at her feet!
The knight sang the last words of the ballad
to make out what it could possibly be.

I’ll tell you what it is, Your Majesty.
I’m glad they’ve come without waiting to be asked.
But the queen was no longer at her side.

She took her off the table as she spoke,
very small, and her eyes got large and green,
growing shorter and fatter and softer.

It really was a kitten after all!
You woke me out of oh! such a nice dream!
Such a quantity of poetry said to me!

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all.

Such a quantity of poetry said to me!
You woke me out of oh! such a nice dream!
It really was a kitten after all,

growing shorter and fatter and softer,
very small, and her eyes got large and green.
She took her off the table as she spoke

but the queen was no longer at her side.
I’m glad they’ve come without waiting to be asked.
I’ll tell you what it is, Your Majesty.

To make out what it could possibly be,
the knight sang the last words of the ballad.
There was the great dish still lying at her feet!

Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards.
They only gave them oyster shells in there.
The confusion got worse every moment.

The face is what one goes by, generally.
Written entirely for your amusement,
it might have been written a hundred times.

She quite expected the egg to do the same.
It always makes one a little giddy.
The oars, the boat and the river had vanished,

making quite a hurricane in the wood,
like the puffing of a large steam engine.
If you think we’re alive, you ought to speak,

but this did not seem likely to happen.
Please would you tell me what you call yourself?
(The gentleman was dressed in white paper.)

As she came to the last peg, she was gone.
The most curious part of the thing was
that she ran against it before she could stop.

A little giddy from so much floating,
the poor king looked puzzed and unhappy.
It was the black kitten’s fault entirely.

Through the Looking Glass, Chapter X

THE PRESIDENT SAID

The Guardian, 7 February 2022: "Trump’s incendiary Texas speech may have deepened his legal troubles, experts say." Photograph: Brian Cahn/Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock

The President said
Don’t worry, folks!
The Jina thing’s
just a Democrat hoax.

The President said
I’m the expert who
knew all along
it was only flu.

With just fifteen dead
I declare today
a big success
in the USA.

The President said
No one knew
all the warnings
would turn out true.

Ignore fake news!
My right-hand fan
li’l Mike Pence
has it all in hand.

A great result!
Just a thousand dead
(times thousands more),
the President said.

The President said
It’ll all go away
just like a miracle
one day.

I can heal the sick
and raise the dead.
I’m Jesus Christ!
he very nearly said.

The President said
What should smash it
is bleach injection…
Just being sarcastic.

Don’t listen to Fauci,
the President said.
If we’d followed the science
we’d all be dead.

The President said
I got it too
but I’m back at the White House
coz I’m stronger than you.

The President said
Wave restrictions goodbye!
In the Land of the Free
y’all free to die.

The President said
Biden’s a phoney.
Ignore the statistics.
I’m the one-and-only!

The election was stolen,
the President said.
I’ll march alongside you.
(He went home instead.)

But the statistics were right
and Donald was wrong.
The President’s been
and the President’s gone.

PS: Witch hunt!
the ex-president cried,
as the investigation proved

precisely

that he lied.

BLITZ EXHIBITION

We went to visit
the blitz exhibition
but, alas!
arrived too late.

If only those visited
by the original show
could somehow or other
have suffered the same fate.

BLITZ READ

Stealth bombers are stealing
from the land of peace poets
to bomb the heaven
out of hate and cruelty.

So turn on the light!
Read and recite!
Come friendly poems!
Fall on us now!

TRANSLATIONS FROM FERNANDO PESSOA

PRETEND POEM

Poets are perfect pretenders.
Their pretence is so real
They’d have us think pretence
The pain they really feel.

And the reader reading their poems
Feels only too well
The pain the poets pretend,
Not the pain they really feel.

And so we’re entertained
By each stop and start
Of that little clockwork train
We call the heart.

AUTOPSICOGRAFIA

O poeta é um fingidor
Finge tão completamente
Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.

E os que lêem o que escreve,
Na dor lida sentem bem,
Não as duas que ele teve,
Mas só a que eles não têm.

E assim nas calhas de roda
Gira, a entreter a razão,
Esse comboio de corda
Que se chama coração.

ILLUSION

Place your hands on my shoulders
And give me a kiss…
My life in ruins,
My soul all amiss.

I’ve no idea why
I seem to exist.
I’m a being who sees
But sees all amiss.

Place your hands
Upon my head…
In my dreams
I know all this.

ILUSÃO

Põe-me as mãos nos ombros…
Beija-me na fronte…
Minha vida é escombros,
A minha alma insonte.

Eu não sei porquê,
Meu desde onde venho,
Sou o ser que vê,
E vê tudo estranho.

Põe a tua mão
Sobre o meu cabelo…
Tudo é ilusão.
Sonhar é sabê-lo.

THE VILLAGE BELL

Sorrow in your sound,
My village church bell,
In the calm afternoon,
Deep inside me as well.

So slow and so sad
As if tired of life
With the sound of for ever
In your very first strike.

As I walk on alone
You’re so loud and real
But within me how far,
How dreamy you feel!

Each time you toll
The blue sky seems clearer,
The past grows more distant
As my sorrow draws nearer.

SAUDADE

Ó sino da minha aldeia,
Dolente na tarde calma,
Cada tua badalada
Soa dentro da minha alma.

E é tão lento o teu soar,
Tão como triste da vida,
Que já a primeira pancada
Tem o som de repetida.

Por mais que me tanjas perto
Quando passo, sempre errante,
És para mim como um sonho.
Soas-me na alma distante.

A cada pancada tua
Vibrante no céu aberto,
Sinto mais longe o passado,
Sinto a saudade mais perto.

HAPPINESS

When alone I’d prefer not to be
But I’d be better alone when I’m not.
i.e. I always want
To be what I’m not.

Happiness would be others
If others could be happy,
i.e. their happiness wouldn’t be happy
In me.

People try to make something
Of nothing, which is good,
i.e. they’d be completely lost
Making nothing of nothing.

FELICIDADE

Se estou só, quero não estar,
Se não estou, quero estar só,
Enfim, quero sempre estar
Da maneira que não estou.

Ser feliz é ser aquele.
E aquele não é feliz,
Porque pensa dentro dele
E não dentro do que eu quis.

A gente faz o que quer
Daquilo que não é nada,
Mas falha se o não fizer,
Fica perdido na estrada.

LONELINESS

Sometimes if I forget I’m alone
I remember
Others are alone like me,
Except they’ve never
Been me.

And when I really am
Alone
I’m free but sad,
Free to go
Nowhere alone.

But life, I think,
If truly understood
Is all of this and more.
That’s why sometimes
I forget I’m me.

SOLIDÃO

Quando estou só reconheço
Se por momentos me esqueço
Que existo entre outros que são
Como eu sós, salvo que estão
Alheados desde o começo.

E se sinto quanto estou
Verdadeiramente só,
Sinto-me livre mas triste.
Vou livre para onde vou,
Mas onde vou nada existe.

Creio contudo que a vida
Devidamente entendida
É toda assim, toda assim.
Por isso passo por mim
Como por coisa esquecida.

DEATH

Death is a bend in the road.
To die: to be unseen.
If I listen hard I’ll hear you,
Alive like me.

Earth came from sky.
A lie has no nest.
No one’s ever lost
On the true road west.

MORTE

A morte é a curva da estrada,
Morrer é só não ser visto.
Se escuto, eu te oiço a passada
Existir como eu existo.

A terra é feita de céu.
A mentira não tem ninho.
Nunca ninguém se perdeu.
Tudo é verdade e caminho.

PRETENCE

What I write, they say,
Is all pretence and lies.
But no, it’s just my way
Of feeling is to fantasise.
I don’t use my heart.

All my dreams and all I do,
And all that fades or fails,
Will grow anew
As something else,
Something beautiful.

That’s why I write
About nowt.
Fancy-free but serious
About nowt.
Feeling is up to you.

FINGIMENTO

Dizem que finjo ou minto
Tudo que escrevo. Não.
Eu simplesmente sinto
Com a imaginação.
Não uso o coração.

Tudo o que sonho ou passo,
O que me falha ou finda,
É como que um terraço
Sobre outra coisa ainda.
Essa coisa é que é linda.

Por isso escrevo em meio
Do que não está ao pé,
Livre do meu enleio,
Sério do que não é.
Sentir? Sinta quem lê!

SOULS

Who can fathom the depths
Of someone else?
Another soul, another universe,
Incommunicable.
Ununderstandable.

The only soul we understand
Is ours,
The others being looks, gestures, words
And the faintest hint of similarity
Beneath.

ALMA

Como é por dentro outra pessoa
Quem é que o saberá sonhar?
A alma de outrem é outro universo
Com que não há comunicação possível,
Com que não há verdadeiro entendimento.

Nada sabemos da alma
Senão da nossa;
As dos outros são olhares,
São gestos, são palavras,
Com a suposição de qualquer semelhança
No fundo.

SECOND THOUGHTS

Often I’m inclined to think
I’m sentimental,
Having so much sentiment,
Until, on second thoughts,
I realise it’s all just thought
Unfelt.

All of us who live
Have a life we live
And another we think
And the only life we have
Is the one that’s divided,
Real/unreal.

But no one alive can tell
Real from un,
Unreal from real.
So we live in a way
In which which life we live
Requires some thought.

PENSAR

Tenho tanto sentimento
Que é frequente persuadir-me
De que sou sentimental,
Mas reconheço, ao medir-me,
Que tudo isso é pensamento,
Que não senti afinal.

Temos, todos que vivemos,
Uma vida que é vivida
E outra vida que é pensada,
E a única vida que temos
É essa que é dividida
Entre a verdadeira e a errada.

Qual porém é verdadeira
E qual errada, ninguém
Nos saberá explicar;
E vivemos de maneira
Que a vida que a gente tem
É a que tem que pensar.

FATE ACCOMPLI

Death comes soon
Because vita brevis
And a moment makes light
Of what we thought heavy.

Aims not attained,
Love but begun,
And winners hardly know
What they have won.

And anyway death
Crosses out what’s uncertain
In the big book of fate
Which God has left open.

CEPTICISMO

A morte chega cedo,
Pois breve é toda vida
O instante é o arremedo
De uma coisa perdida.

O amor foi começado,
O ideal não acabou,
E quem tenha alcançado
Não sabe o que alcançou.

E a tudo isto a morte
Risca por não estar certo
No caderno da sorte
Que Deus deixou aberto.

ESCAPE

No sooner was I born
Than they locked me in me.
Ah! but I fled.
I’m an escapee.

If one gets tired
Of same place and same me
Who would not suffer
Ennui?

My soul searches for me
But I’m away on my steed
Hoping she’ll never
Succeed.

Being one is a jail,
Being me is not being,
But I’m away on my steed,
Fleeing.

EVASÃO

Sou um evadido.
Logo que nasci
Fecharam-me em mim,
Ah, mas eu fugi.

Se a gente se cansa
Do mesmo lugar,
Do mesmo ser
Por que não se cansar?

Minha alma procura-me
Mas eu ando a monte,
Oxalá que ela
Nunca me encontre.

Ser um é cadeia,
Ser eu não é ser.
Viverei fugindo
Mas vivo a valer.

TRUTH

In this world of forgetting
We’re shadows of our selves
In the real world of souls
Whose gestures and goals
Are here half forgotten.

Fog and confusion
Is what we have here.
The life light from there
So bright and so clear
Seems here an illusion.

But if, for a second,
You stop you might see
As if in dappled light through leaves
A more than real reality
Beckon.

And then you might know
Within what’s fleeting and faint,
In what your imagination paints
And in what you long to imitate,
Your soul.

Your body but a shade,
A lie, but which senses
The tug of transcendence,
Of a truth that transcends
Time and space.

VERDADE

Neste mundo em que esquecemos
Somos sombras de quem somos,
E os gestos reais que temos
No outro em que, almas, vivemos,
São aqui esgares e assomos.

Tudo é nocturno e confuso
No que entre nós aqui há.
Projecções, fumo difuso
Do lume que brilha ocluso
Ao olhar que a vida dá.

Mas um ou outro, um momento.
Olhando bem, pode ver
Na sombra e seu movimento
Qual no outro mundo é o intento
Do gesto que o faz viver.

E então encontra o sentido
Do que aqui está a esgarar,
E volve ao seu corpo ido,
Imaginado e entendido,
A intuição de um olhar.

Sombra do corpo saudosa,
Mentira que sente o laço
Que a liga à maravilhosa
Verdade que a lança, ansiosa,
No chão do tempo e do espaço.

IF

(Originally recited in the lane at Corrick, Co. Leitrim, in July 2017, on the occasion of the gathering of the Fox clan.)

If I had faith
that a poem of mine
in the right place
could spread love and peace
make foie gras history for geese
take from the rich and give to the poor
fix a broken back door
make civilisation more civil
stop talkers talking drivel
resurrect the dead
mend the garden shed
save the whales
get me a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales
spread faith in hope and charity
give transparency more clarity
distinguish right from wrong
liberate Hong Kong
conjure something out of nothing
help huffins and puffins
enable one to keep one’s head
multiply a loaf of bread
empower the people
stiffen a church steeple
vax the virus
suddenly inspire us
reinforce the Celtic fringe
celebrate those little things
untwist me and unbitter
unlout louts who drop their litter
topple tyrants
follow science
rock that rhythm
globalise goodism
make thunder and lightning
a little less frightening
take away the hurt
justify a dessert
put an end to greed
make Warbreck Reserves win the football league
tintinnabulate tall stories
eject the Tories
reflower and reforest
boot out Boris
help the Martians get by on Mars
florianopolise that empty vase
make people weary
of conspiracy theory
see orf aristocracy
democratise democracy
stop me going on a rant
add a stress to eli fant
earn some money
make fundamentalists funny
answer your prayers
nix nightmares
crack the climate crisis
eliminate Isis
heal the sick and make pain cease
give cabbages increase
exit Brexit
take the biscuit
spice up vegan saveloy
make a man of you, my boy
summon the sublime
make the buses run on time
stop the war
work out what on earth life’s for
bewitch and beguile
or at least make you smile,
I might write more.

ARTYFICIAL·INTESTINES

The Guardian, 7 January 2021: "Robot wars: 100 years on, it's time to reboot Karel Čapek's RUR." Photograph: Dea Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images.

I·am·a·robot.
A·robot·man·I·am.
I·run·on·tea·and·poetry
and·a·slice·of·bread·and·jam.

Tea·and·poetry
and·a·slice·of·bread·and·jam
is·what·makes·this·rhyming·robot
the·robot·man·I·am.

Please·give·me·bread·and·jam,
some·tea·and·poetry
for·without·such·things·a·robot
is·mere·machinery

without·such·things·a·robot
such·things·a·robot
things·a·robot
a·robot
robot
robot
robot
robot
robot
robot
robot

PER ASPERA AD SCARBOROUGH

I volunteered to fly to space
hoping to help the human race

but as, to be honest, I’d half expected
my application was rejected

for lack of relevant experience, they said.
So I think I’ll just take my wife to Scarborough again
instead.

Scarborough (Tripadvisor)

FOURTEEN

Don’t walk under a lad
der, don’t let a frog in
side, don’t open an um
brella until you’re out out
side, reflect before you break a mir
ror, crossing black-cat paths – un
wise, don’t sing when eating din
ner, don’t bring an albatross de
mise, don’t gift a purse with empty in
ner, and of course there’s more be
sides, but apropos of poe
try, whatever your rhyming
scheme, be mainly mighty careful not
to call your poem Thirteen.

GOOD LUCK!

Over your door a horseshoe
(forming a U).

New month, awaking,
White rabbit, the first words you say.

Leaves you caught in the autumn.

Your hair cut
under a waxing moon.

Salt over your left shoulder,
your four-leaf clover,
your coin in a fountain,
your penny down a well,
wood touched,
fingers crossed and

albeit with a slight delay
all should be well,
God willing.

DISHY DANCING MAN

Bibby can’ boogie
but ya Babba can
so if you boogie, baby,
it bedda be with Gran.

Daddy can’ dance
but ya Mammy can
so when it come to dancin
take Mammy by the han’.

Sister does the jitterbug
but ya brother don’.
Sweet baby, if you jitterbug,
don’ jitterbug alone.

So when you grows up, baby,
make sure you matrimone
with a jitterbuggyboogie
dishy dancing man.

SAXON SENRYU

No need to be koi.
Carpe diem, no matter
what your element

Carpe diem: Glasgow Botanical Gardens, September 2015

Mini-minor good,
better than any make of
maxi-major bad.

The Guardian: "The new Morris Mini-Minor: a family car for £500 - archive, 1959"

Only one way in,
one out. Amazinoutly
labyroutinthine.

Labyrinth

A haiku is ars
brevis that aspires, like you,
to vita longa.

A traffic cone sits
on the head of our hero.
Glasgow smiles better.

The Guardian, 12 November 2013: "Glasgow council kills plan to prevent traffic cones on monument's head." Photograph: Garry F McHarg FOCAL Scotland.

Dropped capitals: chic

in monastic manuscripts.

Not always elsewhere.

Two of Coventry's famous three spires, seen from my house, 2016

Coventry’s three spires
were seen from all sides. Alas!
all seeing has expired.

No spires seen from my house, 2020.

(19th April)

It’s Gini’s birthday
today. Time to celebrate
a genuine ginius.

Allotment

Allotments are more
than war on weeds: peace and love,
and lovage and peas.

"The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future." George Monbiot, the Guardian, 7 May 2022

In the beginning
was the wordle, but wordle
couldn’t be the word.

Did it just happen
for the laughs: half of the world
ruled by psychopaths?

Porridge is poetry
with whiskey butter. The proof
is in the porridge.

Overnight steel-cut oats with whiskey butter

GHOST TRAIN, Birmingham New Street Station, October 2017

At New Street last night
I saw the ghost pass me by
of the late last train.

If you’re nice, the train
at Platform 5, will take you
straight to Paradise.

See Naples and die
or see Little Eccleston-
with-Larbreck and live.

Cartford Bridge

It’s not rocket science
but it is the new normal,
i.e., it’s a cliché.

Escherlators are
escalators that only
seemingly escalate.

Piet Mondrian disliked green,
but whether that was mutual
remains to be seen.

Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43,Oil on Canvas, cm. 127 x 127 (50" x 50"), MoMA, NYC, USA

The Christian Alt-Right
is the religion that’s right
for oxymorons.

The Guardian, January 2022: "The backlash against rightwing evangelicals is reshaping American politics and faith"

Alas, Alaska!
Que será, à la Palin,
means baked Alaska.

BBC, Good Food

Seventy-six and
never been in a mosh pit.
Should I regret it?

(9 May 2022)

A prayer for Putin’s
May parade: May it rain, may
it rain, may it rain.

[Unfortunately…]

From piano-forte
to pianissimo, impro
has it all to play.

Your Royal Highnesses
and every aristocrat, pray
be off and don’t come back!

A republic means
a country that does without
crowned unachievements.

Turkeys, vote en masse
for Benjamin Zephaniah!
Don’t vote for Christmas.

Humanity and
humaneness: hopelessfully
syninymical.

Hey Joe, where you going
as eponymous hero
of that hateful song?

Initial ID
isn’t the real entity
of identity.

Be true to yourself.
That is, if you remember
which self is your self.

(2022)

Paul McCartney, 80,
Glastonbury. Still rocking that
long and winding roll.

If you have a look
at Led by Donkeys, you’ll see
we’re led by donkeys.

The dead don’t come back.
The living don’t want to leave.
Brexit’s total crap.

Paz em três linguas.
Síocháin i dtrí theanga. Mír
ve třech jazycích.

Would you have others
do unto you, sisters, brothers,
as you do unto them?

Perfectionism
plus imperfectionism
makes humanism.

I wandered lonely
as a cloud that floats on high
over No Entry signs.

The Guardian, 18 April 2019: "So 1% of the people own half of England. Inheritance tax reform could fix that." Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Half of England owned
by one percent is serfdom
in a change of clothes.

The Guardian, 17 April 2019: "Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population." Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sod the effing bastards!
(Unpoetic language is fine
if kept to one line.)

Does, mirror, mirror,
on the wall, Mandela Effect
affect you at all?

Imitation is
the sincerest flattery.
Theft the insincerest.

Indefinite a
and most definitely the
shouldn’t end like that.

Being invisible
shouldn’t mean you can’t be heard,
just you can’t be

As mighty oak trees grow
from little acorns, just so
plant little poet trees.

A part of our world,
our galaxy and universe.
Unique. You and me.

Just be the best you are,
dear friend, not the worst you’re not,
and let the rest rest.

Says Mr Putin,
Don’t be good. If I could be
more evil, I would.

As if people don’t
have plenty problems without
problems like Putin.

Seven, eight, nine, ten,
eleven. Evil bastards
don’t go to heaven.

Political poems
can be too polemical.
Peace is poetical.

 Steve Bray Activist Against Brexit + Corrupt Tories

Poems won’t stop a war.
Perhaps that’s not what they’re for.
Here’s a curse instead:

Does it not offend
common sense, not amending
a mad amendment?
The Taliban ban
women from doing what men can.
Ban the Taliban!
Even the erudite
can confuse what’s eruright
with what’s eruwrong.
Live in the mo… Woops!
Live… Woops! Or just keep living
in the past… Perfect!

Précis: precisely
saying what was said, but less
not more. Precisely!

Is thought inferior
to not thinking? That’s something
one might think about.

Money makes the world
go round, whereupon the rich
round it up, not down.

Yeats keeps arising
and going, going but never gone
along to Innisfree.

Subway symphonics:
drums, tuba, trumpet, trombone.
Oh! and saxophones.

Woke up this morning,
got them city blues. Last night,
two nil united.

It seems unlikely
the extremely unctious would be in need
of extreme unction.

Veritas vincit.
Vincit veritas. Looked at
front or back, truth wins.

Charity may be
the best of the three, but hope
is the last to leave.

(June, 2022)

Investigation
into Capitol attack
tells us truth trumps Trump.

CNN, 13 June 2022: "Jan. 6 committee holds second hearing." Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Nudging native tongues
to linguacide is soft and
silent genocide.

The Guardian, 4 February 2010: "Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies."

The Land of the Free:
a euphemia where people
get shot frequently.

Unbelievable!
Willard power puts camels through
the eye of a needle.

Owning a joke shop
is no laughing matter: it’s
the way they sell them.

If there is a god,
you’d hope that he or she would be
holy pronoun-free.
Little Bo Peep’s sheep!
Lost!… Leave them alone! Wagging,
tails have happy endings.

Hey diddle diddle,
cat cow little dog fiddle.
Dish spoon skedaddle.

Little Jack Horner,
corner, Christmas pie, thumb, plum,
self-praise. Rum-ti-tum.

Humpty Dumpty. Wall.
Fall! King’s cavalry. First aid.
Alas! Too ovulate.

Old lady swallowed
fly spider bird cat dog goat
cow horse. Dead? Of course.

Grand Old Duke of York.
Ten thousand men. Up. Down. Up
up. Down down… Dope.

Down the woods today?
Surprise! There’s a picnic there
for teddy bears. Yay!

Go n-éirí an bóthar
leat, is go mbeadh do shaol lán
le áthas agus craic.

May the road rise up
to meet you, and your life be full
of Hibernian fun.

Artworks by me: GO N-ÉIRÍ AN BÓTHAR LEAT │ 2021 │ 61 cm diameter │Acrylics

After poetry, there’s
doggerel, caterwaul and –
begad! – bugger all.

Live life like a poem.
No matter the adversity,
try to make it rhyme.

Heart failure is bad
but still not half so bad as
failure of the soul.

I’m dead, I think, though
according to R Descartes,
erm, therefore I aren’t.

Unpublished alive,
perhaps I’ll get published when
I’m on the other side.
Alive but dying. Dead
but not quite. Trying to buy time
to rhyme the last bend.
I hope this won’t be
a Clive-James-style, long-goodbye
long goodbye. Goodbye!
Written to distract
from the pain: this pain-and-think,
no-pain-no-gain poem.
Going down fast. Tell me,
tell me, please tell me the answer!
Coz this time’s the last.

Spring summer autumn
winter. Birth adolescence
adulthood death. Spring

Et in saecula
saeculorum orum or
um orum. Amen.

Horror without end
is even worse than an end
with horror. The End.

DEAR MR XI

Please don’t undermine our moon.
What harm’s it ever done
to you?!

You’ve got Tibet,
you’ve got Hong Kong
and now you’re set
upon Taiwan.

But woe betide!

If you’re still not satisfied
and do decide on lunacide
the moon won’t like it.

Beware the tide!

此致

Blue Moon

KAFKA-EX

Feeling like a character
in Kafka?
Subject to rules
you don’t understand?
Doomed to fail,
no matter how you try?
Guilty
but you don’t know why?
It all carries on
but never can alter?

Time to metamorph
to a new author.

CLOSE SHAVE

Nearly nicked myself shaving
as often I do
when the soap is too soft
and the sky too blue.

Almost slipped in the shower
which happens a bit
when the floor is too flighty
the soap too soft
the sky too blue
and my heart goes hop skip flip.

Could’ve choked upon my tea
which is not so rare at all
when the tea leaves leave too late
soap too soft
sky too blue
heart hop skip flip
floor too flighty
and I free-fall through the hall.

Nearly was run over
by No. 63
because the bus was ruby-red
soap too soft
sky too blue
hop skip flip
floor too flighty
leaves too late
through the hall
and I’m feeling not quite me.

Almost disengaged your gate –
I do it quite a lot –
when it won’t co-operate
not quite me
was ruby-red
through the hall
tea too late
floor too flighty
hop skip flip
sky too blue
soap too soft
and it’s already eight o’clock.

Stumbled on your doorstep –
much easier than you’d think –
when the stones say welcome home
already eight
co-operate
not quite me
was ruby-red
free-fall through
tea too late
floor too flighty
hop skip flip
sky too blue
soap too soft
and the path is pearly pink.

Nearly fell into your arms
which is very easy too
because your eyes are oh so bright
pink pearly path
already eight
co-operate
say welcome home
I’m not quite me
was ruby-red
fell through the hall
too late left
the flighty floor
went hop skip flip
free soft blue sky
free soft blue sky
and I’m so in love with you.

PRIVET POEM

An Englishman’s home
is his castle

and privet means private.

PRIVET - NO ENTRY

RUBBISH SONG

(with apologies)

BBC, 2019: "Roadside litter: Law change could see car owners fined"

Why don’t we throw it in the road? (x4)
No one will be watching us.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?

Why don’t we throw it in the road? (x4)
Someone will clean after us.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?

Why don’t we throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it, throw it in the road?
Why don’t we throw it in the road?
We don’t really give a toss.
Why don’t we throw it in the road?

QUE?

Co tím chtěl básník říci?
O que o poeta quis dizer?
Cad a bhí i gceist ag an bhfile?
Que voulait dire le poète ?
Mitä runoilija tarkoitti?
ਕਵੀ ਦਾ ਕੀ ਮਤਲਬ ਸੀ?
Ce a vrut să spună poetul?
Что имел в виду поэт?
Cosa voleva dire il poeta?
Hvað átti skáldið við?
Yayiqonde ukuthini imbongi?
װאָס האָט דער פּאָעט געמײנט?
Što je pjesnik htio reći?
Ý nhà thơ là gì?
詩人是什麼意思
ကဗျာဆရာက ဘာကိုဆိုလိုတာလဲ။
கவிஞர் என்ன சொல்ல விரும்பினார்?
Mida luuletaja öelda tahtis?
¿Qué quería decir la poeta?
Inona no dikan’ny poeta?
Kisa powèt la te vle di?
Beth oedd y bardd eisiau ei ddweud?
Hvad mente digteren?
Wat wilde de dichter zeggen?
Kion volis diri la poeto?
Ano ang ibig sabihin ng makata?
Wat woe de dichter sizze?
Que quería dicir o poeta?
რას გულისხმობდა პოეტი?
Was wollte der Dichter sagen?
Τι ήθελε να πει ο ποιητής;
કવિનો અર્થ શું હતો?
Me mawakin ya so ya ce?
מה רצה המשורר לומר?
कवि क्या कहना चाहता था?
Tus kws sau paj lug xav hais li cas?
Mit akart mondani a költő?
Gịnị ka onye na-ede uri chọrọ ikwu?
Apa yang ingin dikatakan penyair?
詩人は何を言いたかったのですか?
Apa sing arep dikandhakake pujangga?
ಕವಿ ಏನು ಹೇಳಲು ಬಯಸಿದನು?
Ақын не айтқысы келді?
តើកវីចង់និយាយអ្វី?
Umusizi yashakaga kuvuga iki?
시인은 무엇을 말하고 싶었습니까?
Helbestvan dixwest çi bêje?
Акын эмне айткысы келген?
ນັກກະວີຕ້ອງການເວົ້າຫຍັງ?
Ko dzejnieks gribēja pateikt?
Wat wollt den Dichter soen?
Што сакаше да каже поетот?
Inona no tian’ilay poeta holazaina?
Apa yang penyair ingin katakan?
കവി എന്താണ് പറയാൻ ആഗ്രഹിച്ചത്?
X’ried jgħid il-poeta?
कवीला काय म्हणायचे होते?
Яруу найрагч юу хэлэхийг хүссэн бэ?
कविले के भन्न खोजेका थिए ?
Hva mente dikteren?
କବି କ’ଣ କହିବାକୁ ଚାହିଁଲେ?
شاعر څه ویل غوښتل؟
Co chciał powiedzieć poeta?
Шта је песник хтео да каже?
شاعر چه می خواست بگوید؟
O le a le mea na manao le tusisolo e fai atu ai?
Şair ne söylemek istedi?
Dè bha am bàrd airson a ràdh?
شائىر نېمە دېمەكچى ئىدى؟
Seroki se ne se batla ho re’ng?
Ko nyanduri aida kuti kudii?
කවියාට කියන්නට අවශ්‍ය වූයේ කුමක්ද?
Čo tým chcel básnik povedať?
Kaj je pesnik hotel povedati?
Muxuu abwaanku rabay inuu sheego?
Naon anu hayang diomongkeun ku panyajak?
Mshairi alitaka kusema nini?
Vad ville poeten säga?
Шоир чиро дар назар дошт?
Шагыйрь нәрсә әйтергә теләгән?
కవి ఏం చెప్పాలనుకున్నాడు?
กวีต้องการจะพูดอะไร?
Şahyr näme diýmek isledi?
شاعر کہنا کیا چاہتا تھا؟
Shoir nimani nazarda tutgan?
Kí ni akéwì fẹ́ sọ?
Yayifuna ukuthini imbongi?

What did the poet want to say?

Although I can’t speak for all
I think that most
would want to say
that what they (and their translators)
wanted to say
was what they meant to say
plus such other fine things
as they didn’t exactly
mean to say
but said

and such other fine things
as you weren’t exactly
meant to hear
but heard.

TINNY TUNE

My head, it is playing
a tune on one note
that flew in from nowhere
and hung up its coat

playing the same note
from morning till night,
playing the same note
on a poltergeist’s pipe

and no-one can hear it
except only me:
INTRACRANIAL CONCERT
(MELODY-FREE)

playing the same note
the same note the same note
playing the same note
from noon to midnight.

It’s been playing the same tune
till now from the start
and looks set to play it
till death us do part

playing the same tune
the same tune the same tune
playing the same tune
from midnight to noon.

So if time to time
I look a bit glum
please bear in mind
it’s not me, it’s Hum

playing that same note
the same one the same one
playing that same
tinny tinnitus tune.

YOU’RE HERE

Up or down or over there,
above, below or yonder,
wherever you might wander
within this vale of joy and tears
there’s no escape, inherently,
from here.

THE INFINET

It should be infinet,
not internet,
seeing as how
in the here and now
that’s the nearest we get
to it.

A THOUSAND WORDS: John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Tate: "John Constable thought Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was his best work. Why was the painting, and the city of Salisbury, so important to Constable?"

First to catch the eye, the rainbow
arching arching to the left
against that turbulent sky
of light and dark, sun and rain,
the rumbling and the calming
of the recent storm.

Secondly, the cathedral,
New Sarum’s Early English jewel,
standing tall, severe and proud,
dominant in middle left,
its western walls flecked
with watery light.

Thirdly, the cart and horses
(three shires) fording the river
left to right, the wagoner
seated beside a figure
caped and barely visible
(perhaps his wife).

Fourthly, gazing at the sky,
the sheepdog. Fifth, the meadows,
receding to the houses
behind which the rainbow ends.

(Plus nine hundred words
to make it worth the picture.)

CEREAL KILLER

snap crackle
pop snap
crackle pop

snap crackle
pop snap
crackle pop
snap crackle

***

Porridge.

ORIENTEERING

Artworks by me

FOR CLARIFICATION

Let me be absolutely
um ah erm clear
about the fact

that there’s no room
erm ah um here
nor

frankly speaking
um ah erm anywhere
neither as it were

now
ah erm um nor
one might say

throughout
erm ah um all
eternity

as and
um ah erm where
appropriate

for any lack
ah erm um as
I’ve been very clear
of transparency.

PARKINSON’S LAW

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NE’ER DO WILLS

Those who don’t
and those who won’t
and those who shan’t
and those who can’t

like those who didn’t
and those who wouldn’t
and those who couldn’t

would do well
occasionally
to can do will.

NEW SONNET

New face new smile new hair new youth new you
new life new light new moon new dawn new day
new sound new smell new taste new vim new view
new faith new hope new plan new world new way
new white new red new blue new green new grey
new dress new shoes new ring new hat new her
new name new prize new stunt new found new fame
new film new art new game new song new star
new love new home new dog new cat new car
new coat new shirt new tie new hit new him
new them new folk new friends etcetera.
So when the sun shines bright on everything
it’s easy to forget, in Arcady,
with her, him, them and you there’s also… me.

FREE SPEE

(2017)

Who’d have believe
at the en of the millenn
that peop’s freed of spee
would be less now than then?

When you open your mou
you can reasonab expec
to be roundly denoun
as politic incorrec

an despi the adva
in sci an technol
jus look where we are
in pol, phil an theol

For instan, in itics
you mus watch what you say.
It’s all abou dirt tricks,
not the ar of deba

They’ll all screa an shou
if you say Donal Trum
is a bully, a liar
an an absolu chum

They’ll slip some polon
in the tea in your cup,
should you wan to make know
Mr Put is corrup

Bes to be abstrac
if you talk about phil.
Don’ be like Socrat
an get yoursel kill

An as to relig
you’ll find it more clev
to stay in the reg
of football an weath

They’ll chop off your he
if you doubt al-Qura
or stone you to de
for debati Isla

The evangel righ
don’ like what we say
an will picke a frs nigh
to stop us watchi a play

So plea don’ denoun me,
my self-righteou fren,
an I hope you’ll allow me
to get to the en

Withou freed of spee,
as I hope this po sho,
the meani of langua
don’ take long to go.

LIMERICK LIMERICK

The lovely old city of Limerick
is the eponym for this kind of lyric
that hasn’t a tune
but, please God, may soon
so the eponymous city can sing it.

Limerick: Thomond Bridge and King John's Castle

NOT SENT TO LIMERICK LIMERICK

Coventry’s Lady Godiva
was a famous equestrian rider
who rode through the roads
on a horse with no clothes,
i.e. not the horse, but Godiva.

Lady Goodrider

NOT FROM LIMERICK LIMERICK

A raven-haired beauty from Malta
had a beau who was not from Gibraltar.
But life would be dull
if I wasn’t from Hull,
said Paul to Anita (from Malta).

Valletta, Malta

LITANY OF LITTLE BIG MEN

(2022)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy on us. Christ hear us.

Christ graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven,

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,

Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,

Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,

Pray for us.

Chairman Losang Jamcan of Tibet,

Fuck you.

Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar,

Fuck you.

Ex-President Donald Trump,

Fuck you.

King Abdullah Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia,

Fuck you.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain,

Fuck you.

King Mswati III of Eswatini/Swaziland,

Fuck you.

King Sheikh Khalifa Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates,

Fuck you.

Min Aung Hlaing of Myanmar,

Fuck you.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Rus’,

Fuck you.

President Abd Al-Hadi of Yemen,

Fuck you.

President Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan of Sudan,

Fuck you.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt,

Fuck you.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of Algeria,

Fuck you.

President Albert-Bernard Bongo of Gabon,

Fuck you.

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus,

Fuck you.

President Barham Salih of Iraq,

Fuck you.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria,

Fuck you.

President Bounnhang Vorachith of Laos,

Fuck you.

President Brahim Ghali of Western Sahara,

Fuck you.

President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua,

Fuck you.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo,

Fuck you.

President Duda of Poland,

Fuck you.

President Emomalii Rahmon of Tajikistan,

Fuck you.

President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi,

Fuck you.

President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic,

Fuck you.

President Félix Tshilombo Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Fuck you.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow of Turkmenistan,

Fuck you.

President Idriss Deby of Chad,

Fuck you.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan,

Fuck you.

President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea,

Fuck you.

President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti,

Fuck you.

President João Lourenço of Angola,

Fuck you.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan,

Fuck you.

President Kim Jong-un of North Korea,

Fuck you.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba,

Fuck you.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia,

Fuck you.

President Nguyễn Phú Trọng of Vietnam,

Fuck you.

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela,

Fuck you.

President Nouri Abusahmain of Libya,

Fuck you.

President Paul Biya of Cameroon,

Fuck you.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda,

Fuck you.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey,

Fuck you.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan,

Fuck you.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan,

Fuck you.

President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea,

Fuck you.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia,

Fuck you.

President Xi Jinping of China,

Fuck you.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda,

Fuck you.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia,

Fuck you.

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia,

Fuck you.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary,

Fuck you.

Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh,

Fuck you.

Sultan Haji Waddaulah of Brunei,

Fuck you.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of Oman,

Fuck you.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran,

Fuck you.

Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,

Fuck you.

and any other

abhorrent abominable absurd abusive abysmal accursed acrimonious aggressive aloof antagonistic anti-art anti-fun anti-science appalling arrogant asinine autocratic avaricious awful barbaric beastly belittling bellicose belligerent berserk bestial betraying bigoted bloodthirsty bombastic bonkers brazen brutal bullshitting bullying bumptious bungling calamitous callous calumnious capricious careless catastrophic cheating choleric compulsive conceited condemnable confrontational conspiratorial contemptuous corrupt cowardly crazy creepy criminal crooked cruel damnable dangerous dastardly decadent deceitful defrauding degenerate delinquent deluded demonic deplorable depraved derisive despicable despotic destructive detestable detrimental devilish devious diabolic dictatorial dire disagreeable disastrous disdainful disgusting dishonest dishonourable disloyal dismal disparaging dispiriting disreputable disrespectful dissembling dissolute divisive dogmatic domineering dreadful duplicitous egocentric egotistical embarrassing envious erroneous evasive evil execrable exploitative extremist fallacious false falsifying fanatical farcical fascist fatuous feckless foul fractious fraudulent frightening fundamentalist genocidal gobshite graceless greedy gross grotesque guilty hard-hearted harmful hateful haughty hawkish heartless hedonistic high and mighty homophobic hopeless horrendous horrible horrid horrifying how-on-earth-did-they-get-the-job-in-the-first-place hubristic humourless hypocritical idiotic ignoble ignominious ignorant ill-mannered illogical imbecilic immature immoral imperialistic impertinent impetuous impolite inadequate inane inarticulate incoherent incompetent incomprehensible inconsiderate indolent inept inexpert infamous infernal inflexible inhospitable inhuman inhumane insensitive insidious insincere insolent insufferable insupportable intimidating intolerable invidious irascible irksome irrational irresponsible irritating jingoistic killjoy kleptomaniac lamentable lawbreaking licentious loathsome ludicrous lying maleficent malicious malign manipulative menacing mendacious merciless militaristic misanthropic misogynistic money-grubbing monomaniacal monotonous monstrous moronic murderous narcissistic nasty nauseating Nazi nefarious nepotistic notorious noxious objectionable obnoxious obscene obstructive offensive officious omni-shambolic oppressive outrageous over-hyped paranoid pathetic perfidious pernicious perverse pestilent phony pitiless plundering poisonous pompous populist (ha ha) posturing power-mad predatory preposterous pretentious psychopathic rabid racist rancorous ranting raving reactionary religious-nutter reprehensible repressive repugnant repulsive revengeful revolting ridiculous rotten rude ruinous ruthless sadistic sanctimonious savage scandalous scary scoffing scornful scowling screwed-up scummy secretive self-aggrandising self-indulgent self-interested self-satisfied self-serving selfish sexist shallow shameless shambolic sickening sinister slanderous smug sneaky sneering snobbish sociopathic sour spiteful spooky strident stupid swaggering tacky tawdry tedious terrible threatening thuggish tiresome totalitarian toxic traitorous treacherous treasonous troublemaking truth-averse tyrannical two-faced unbearable uncaring uncooperative uncouth unethical unfriendly ungracious unjust unkind unpleasant unprincipled unreasonable unsavoury unscrupulous untrustworthy untruthful utterly contemptible vainglorious vicious vile war-mongering wasteful wearisome weird wicked woeful women-hating worthless wretched wrong xenophobic yobbish yucky

something-denigratory-beginning-with-Z
little big so-called fuckin leaders
I inadvertently forgot to mention,

Fuck you too.

In the name of all that’s good and true,

Fuck the whole fuckin lot of you.

Amen.

AND THE SABIÁ SINGS

(A translation of the words of a song
at the end of a short story by Aluísio Azevedo)

If you’d like to know why
I sometimes fly
Away in my dreams
To that angel who sings
Up there in the sky,
Come with me, love,
To the heavens above
And then you’ll know why
I fly, and the sabiá sings.

Se queres saber os meios
Porque às vezes me arrebata
Nas asas do pensamento
A poesia tão grata;
Porque vejo nos meus sonhos
Tantos anjinhos dos céus,
vem comigo, oh doce amada
Que eu te direi os caminhos
Donde se enxergam os anjinhos,
Donde se trata com Deus.

GREAT DICTATORS

(with thumbs-down thumbnail photos)

Henry VIII,
Defender of the Faith,
believed the biggest problem in his life
was whoever happened to be his wife.

Napoleon:
the Corsican
to whom much of European jurisprudence

is beholden,

but I’m with Beethoven.

Adolf Hitler:
a former führer
who failed a bit at painting pics
and then – big time – at politics.

Stalin, aka Uncle Joe,
is still admired in Russia, even though
in historians’ opinion
he murdered more or less nine million.

Benito Mussolini,
Il Duce of Italy,
was fond of being fascist for effect.
Perhaps too much, in retrospect.

Chairman Mao
is still revered in China now,
not so much for all the lives he took
but rather for his little little-read red book.

Augusto Pinochet,
el dictador de Chile,
turned Chile into hell.
May Hell be chilly for him now as well.

Fidel Castro:
a maestro
at giving very very very very very

very very very very long speeches

while Cuba fell to pieces.

Pol Pot
was criticised quite a lot
for deviating from orthodox Marxism-Leninism.
(He killed about two million.)

Nicolae Ceaușescu
was lionised by leaders in the West
who admired his opposition

to the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

It didn’t make Romanians any happier.

Ayatollah Khomeini:
an Iranian theocrat known mainly
for looking sour, overthrowing the Shah
and having a thing about fatwa.

Robert Mugabe
loved any political party
as long as the party celebree
was he.

Saddam Hussein
had an awfully bad name
for human rights abuses, genocide, corruption
and for his missing weapons of mass destruction.

Colonel Gaddafi
thought himself savvy,
but read his Green Book
and you’ll think him mistook.

Idi Amin
was keen to be seen
as Uganda’s Great Dictator. A fruitcake
who became a fruitarian later.

Karadžić, Radovan:
an ethnic-cleansing fan
with a propensity for epic poetry
unfortunately.

Goodluck Jonathan,
one-time No. 1 Nigerian,
could hardly believe

his nominally determinative luck:

president! and unassailably corrupt!

Osama bin Laden
never lived in Arden
where he might have found the everyday life

of country folk more fulfilling

than everyday killing.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,
the Caliphate’s Big Daddy,
believed that doing wrong is right,
the little shite.

Abubakar Shakau of Boko Haram
dedicated his life to causing harm.
After many false reports that he had died,
his dedication’s gone: he did.

Jacob Zuma
was not in good humour
when charged with

house-embellishment corruption.

It was all a misconstruction!

Jinping, Xi,
very powerful he
and much loved by every Chinese who
know much loving, that the safest thing to do.

Bashar Al-Assad,
really shouldn’t look so sad:
although so many Syrians are dead

or have fled to the exterior

he’s still the President of Syria!

Kim Jong-Un,
a rotund wrong’un,
who’s ruled with iron rod
ever since his Korea adviser said,

Why not have a go at being God?

Mohammed bin Salman,
ruler of the Saud Clan,
has relaxed the code for women’s dress,
but torture, jailing and murder

remain his major interest.

Jair Bolsonaro,
presidente brasileiro
and self-styled anti-democratic he-man hero.
A genocidal zero.

Donald Trump
got the hump,
being the quondam megalomaga win-win

mafia boss

who lost.

Vladimir Putin
is always a shoo-in
whenever, as Russia’s democratically elected

great dictator,

he’s on the ballot paper.

Alexander Lukashenko
acts the hard man, though
it doesn’t really cut it:
he’s Putin’s puppet.

Narendra Modi
has a tried and tested modus operandi:
1: stir up hatred of minority.
2: maintain your majority!

Viktor Orbán,
Hungary’s main man:
once a democrat, now –

Enough of that! –

an autocrat.

The Taliban,
victors in Afghanistan,
like repressing girls and women.
High time women did the winning!

Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia
had seemed a herald of utopia
until his Ethiopian epiphany went amiss.
It’s now an Abyssinian abyss.

Daniel Ortega
of Nicaragua:
a fighter against tyranny.
Now a tyrant, ironically.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson,
would-be World King at Eton,
was forced to restrict his ambition
to fucking up Britain.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,

et in saecula saeculorum. Ah, men.

A VILLAIN KNELL

(2021, with apologies)

Do not go gentle into Brexit shite!
Just look at how they’ve fucked up the UK!
Rage, rage against the lying of the Right!

Leave voters should have known it wasn’t right.
Instead they heeded Brexiteers as they
lied to them loudly about this Brexit shite.

Remainers didn’t go without a fight:
they fought, campaigned, protested every day,
raging against the dying of the light

but Murdoch, Johnson, Farage and the Right
spread zenophobia and fear down Brexit Way,
luring voters to bid the EU good night.

Old Remainers, like me, with fading sight
can see we’re stuffed until our dying day,
so rage against the lying of the Right!

Curses on the villains who’ve caused our plight!
May bells ring out for Europe, let us pray!
Let’s not go gentle into Brexit shite!
Rage, rage against the lying of the Right!

The European Movement

NOT TO B

According to Zeno
movement’s an illusion,

given
to get from A to B
you’ve first to go half way
and to get half way
you’ve first to go half way to half way
and to get half way to half way
you’ve first to go half way
to half way to half way
etcetera to infinity.

Therefore Zeno’s stylus never moved
and this poetic proof has no beginning
and no end.

Smithsonian Magazine, 2013: "These Patterns Move, But It’s All an Illusion"

UNSOUND MIND

This everlasting hissing
sounding inside my head
cannot properly be said
even to exist.

Nevertheless I wish
this non-existent
never-ending
soundless hiss
would un-existentially and soundlessly
desist.

TAKE 2

Milonguera! Milonguero!

As you dance
the ultimate dance
of smouldering
albeit performative
passion,
as innumerable couples
have done before
and innumerable still do

and as you dance
a dance that began in port cities
along the River Plate
among innumerable Africans,
first people
and immigrants from Europe

and as you dance
to music composed by innumerable composers
across the years
and played by soloist, duo or sexteto,

on guitar, violin, double bass,
bandoneón and more,
as innumerable musicians have played
and singers have sung
across the years
and innumerable still do

and as you dance
your steps, moves and figures
based on improvised steps, moves and figures
improvised by innumerable improvisers
over the years

and as you dance,
milonguero! milonguera!
in costumes designed and made
by innumerable designers and makers
over those years

and as you dance
for an audience entranced,
as innumerable have been before
and innumerable still are,
do you ever think,
milonguera! milonguero!

albeit in the grip
of smouldering performative passion,

do you ever think it might take more
than two?

THIS BE THE WORST

(2020, with apologies)

They fuck you up, Boris and Dom.
Oh yes, they mean to, and they do.
They won’t admit to any wrong
And lie so much it must be true.

They’ll fuck us up, Boris and Dom.
Oh yes, they mean to, and they will
And never say that they were wrong
To send our country down the hill.

Blaming problems on the poor
And adding wealth to unearned wealth
What else are modern Tories for?
Ah yes, for privatising health.

The government of May was bad
And Cameron’s may have made you curse
But anyone not raving mad
Can see, ah yes, this be the worst.

GODWIN’S 2ND LAW

(April 2022)

The more that talk goes on
the likelier it is someone
will say how similar
Putin is to Hitler.

THE LIFE AND SOUL

Can’t stand people
who think they’re the centre
of the universe, the star
of the show, the belle
of the ball, the life
and soul, the big
cheese, the bee’s
knees, the capo
di tutti capi,

people who could hardly be more happy,

who are always I
I I and me
me me and my
my my,

people so self-obsessed they cannot see
the centre of the universe
is me.

Pablo Carlos Budassi, 8 August 2020: "Modern illustration of our cosmic neighborhood centered on the sun"

LESS OR MORE

Robert Morris: "Untitled (Corner Piece)." Guggenheim.
If less is Morris,
more is, more or less,
Lismore.

Daniel Lismore. BBC, 23 November 2021: "Coventry City of Culture: Daniel Lismore exhibition in UK first." Photograph: Colin Douglas Gray.

THE REAL THING

The Guardian, 10 January 2019: "Coca-Cola influences China’s obesity policy, BMJ report says." Photograph: Peter Morgan/AP.
You’d think it unwise
to advertise anything
based on lies
but you’d be wrong

for the truth, all along,
as I’ve seen many times,
is that reality
is based on lies.

So don’t be a dope.
Drink Coke!

VISION

Last night, when I was pissed,
I had a vision
in which God told me
he doesn’t exist.

As a lapsed Catholic
I was rather shocked
but God was emphatic:
He is not to be mocked.

I had to believe
in God’s atheist word.
Not to do so seemed
absurd.

But today I reverted to
agnostic
because, as I said,
when I had the vision last night,

I was pissed.

HOW FAR WE’VE COME

I thought I’d write a list
(chronological)
of all the wars that ever were
to show how far we’ve come

but lack of time and space
(the major obstacle)
soon made it all appear,
to say the least,
illogical.

Guardian articles about the Ukraine war. Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images

HUSHTAG

Since I left Twitter
I’ve been feeling much better,
less bitter.

Life is sweet.

Please don’t retweet.

Moya Lothian-McLean in the Guardian, 3 April 2022: "Twitter is strictly for the birds: never am I more disconnected than when plugged in"

NOT ABBEY ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the Fab Four
not even four
not left to right
not evenly spread
not walking quite in time
no beards and no long hair
not wearing distinctive gear
not Scousers
no bell-bottom trousers
no policeman to stop the traffic
no steps for me to stand on
completely wrong angle
three clicks, not six
blurred, not clear
no subsequent album and album cover.

January? Yes
but not Abbey Road
not London
not UK
not 1969.

Just my three fab lads
crossing the road,
Twenty Fifteen
in Wenceslas Square.

Abbey Road cover

WHY NOT?

(Originally recited at Glenview Guest House, Aghoo, Co. Leitrim, in July 2017, on the occasion of the gathering of the Fox clan.)

Went to a wedding feast in Liverpool
and things were going fine
when I heard the MC mutter
Christ! There’s no more feckin’ wine!

Now I can’t condone bad language
or taking mi name in vain
though if I weren’t the Son of God
I might’ve said the same.

Mi mum, she heard it also
and leant across to me,
saying, There seems to be a problem.
Why doncha go and see?

Now I love mi mother dearly
but it were neither place nor time
so I just replied demurely
Tain’ no concern of mine.

But no mother’s as formidabla
as my formidabla mum:
she just called a waiter over
and said Listen to mi son.

Now I love mi mother dearly
so when she says things twice to me
I always think that really
I’d best not disagree.

So I says to that there waiter
Ya see them great big jars?
Fill ’em right up with water
and take a little glass

over to yer gaffer
before he has a fit.
I’m sure he’ll feel much better
when he’s drunk a little bit.

Which when they’d done, yer man exclaimed
Jeez! They’ve kept the best till last!
Sorted, lads and lasses!
We’ll be round to fill yer glass.

Now I really, really can’t accept
(being God’s only son)
bad language or drinking to excess
within the normal run

but when it comes to wedding feasts
why can’t folk have some fun?
(You needn’t take my word for it:
just go and ask mi mum.)

So, in the end the wedding feast
could not have been much better
and it made me glad that as well as God
I’m a living breathing fella.

Well, that were my first miracle
done before the proper time
by putting a spell on water
and turning it to wine.

Scaus Deo

to levitate

Sit cross-legged on the floor
eight hours or more
and hypnotise the tip of your nose
whilst wiggling your toes.

Fill your mind with mindfulness
or mindlessness,
believe in self-raising flower power
and step off the tower

or maybe not.
Perhaps inhale an awful lot
of steam instead
followed by helium to lighten your head

or be ever so quiet,
go on a vegan vacuum diet,
shave off your hair,
put your hands together in prayer

and as you start to self-leaven,
devoutly raise your eyes to heaven.
Then in take-off position
turn over your telly to aerial vision

and start to scale the heights of Zen,
but even then
never underestimate
how hard it is

COME AGAIN?

If Jesus were to come back now
to Earth from Paradise
would his first words be hey wow
or just be Jesus Christ?

PUNCH LINE

Floats like a butterfly
stings like a bee.
If it don’t knock you out

***

it ain’t poetry

Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston by Neil Leifer

DEAR READER

If thinkest thou
that thou shalt never be
a poem’s particular
dedicatee

ahem

This one’s for thee.

RITN IN Đ STARZ

The Guardian, 30 March 2022: "Distant star found by Hubble telescope may be earliest we will ever see."

How life works out
dpndz on nećr, nrćr or srcmstans
but always with a healthy dose of you
n ćans. In fact

the chances of our being here
at ol
are incredibly
smōl.

So ɖr’z a ćans,
how ever small,
ɖs mt hv lct lîc ɖs
and not like this at all.

AWOMENDMENT

Now is the time for
all good men to
come to the aid of
their country by
stepping aside to
make way for
better women.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

I’m rather worried
about the state of the earth.
(Just thought I’d say it
for what it’s worth.)

I’m seriously concerned,
what we’ve done to the planet.
It can’t be much more poisonous,
can it?

I’m thoroughly indignant
about all the wars.
Why don’t they consider
is this what life’s for?

It makes me quite wild
what the human race
has done to the world.
It’s a bloody disgrace!

The sixth mass extinction
is already here
and the seventh will probably
include us, I fear,

and I’m particularly preoccupied
about colonising space
and spreading our problems
all over the place

because looking at history
we don’t ever learn
and I’m worried there’s no one
whom it may concern.

Earthrise

D:REAM DAY DREAM

Up until today,
Monday the 23rd of May
2022, I’d say
the twenty-first century,
so manically fêted at the millennium
(if you can remember that),
has been a bit crap.

Maybe the twenty-second
will be a bit better.

UNELECTED BUREAUTWAT

Little Lord Frost was awfully cross
on account of the contract for NI.
He’d have been even crosser
if he hadn’t forgot he’d agreed to the lot
and had vowed it was better than any.

UNFIN

Never say nev:
ars longa, vita brev

ONE LAST QUESTION

(1st April 2022)

Now our world’s about to end
(climate catastrophe, Covid pandemic
and Third World War)
one can’t help wondering
what on earth it was for.

HAPPINESS (a translation)

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends

like a feather
floating on thin air,
fluttering
and dying
when the wind’s not there.

Carnival illusion,
happiness of the poor
who work all year
for a fleeting dream
of fancy dress
as pirate king or flower queen,
ending on Wednesday.

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends

like a drop of petal dew
which glistens when
it feels the oscillation of the stem
before, love’s tear,
it falls on cue.

Happiness is such a sweet
and delicate thing.
Flowers and kisses,
humming-bird wings,
an airy aquarelle
in blue, yellow and green.
Happiness being all the above,
I always treat her well.

Sadness is endless…
Happiness ends.

My happiness is dreaming
in my darling’s eyes
like the dawn that’s gleaming
beneath the deep-black sky.
A gentle kiss
so my love may wake
to happiness today.

A FELICIDADE

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a pluma
Que o vento vai levando pelo ar
Voa tão leve
Mas tem a vida breve
Precisa que haja vento sem parar

A felicidade do pobre parece
A grande ilusão do carnaval
A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
Por um momento de sonho
Pra fazer a fantasia
De rei ou de pirata ou jardineira
Pra tudo se acabar na quarta-feira

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a gota
De orvalho numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranqüila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor

A felicidade é uma coisa boa
E tão delicada também
Tem flores e amores
De todas as cores
Tem ninhos de passarinhos
Tudo de bom ela tem
E é por ela ser assim tão delicada
Que eu trato dela sempre muito bem

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A minha felicidade está sonhando
Nos olhos da minha namorada
É como esta noite, passando, passando
Em busca da madrugada
Falem baixo, por favor
Pra que ela acorde alegre com o dia
Oferecendo beijos de amor

POSCRIP

Wot I tink
baut tinkin baut
wot appen wen
wi die
is dat wen
wi die
der bi an end
to tinkin baut
wot appen wen
wi die

I tink.