PMQs

I’d rather we made points than scored them,
prime minister. If we could stick to the facts…
Do you deny that we’re funding a ministry
managed entirely by cats?

Is that why Hyde Park has been re-sown with catnip,
dogs have been curfewed at night,
and doors nationwide have been swapped out for flaps
a fifth of the previous height?

Does it explain the free-flowing cream
in fountains in each major city,
not to mention the tonnes of white gravel
on every street corner with shit in?

It’s answers we want, not a squint and a purr –
your reticence is a disgrace.
And while on that subject, if you don’t mind,
stop rubbing your nose on my face.

An eye for an I

Deleted myself today.
Wrote ‘love you’ without saying who.
Not who to… (which was you) …only ‘I’ went astray.
I should have seen then we were through.

Maybe I’d known that to press every key,
would have been to admit my defeat,
and I’d hoped by omission I’d keep myself free –
so left the phrase incomplete.

Who knows?

But somewhere, our messages crossed on the line
and a chime from my inbox announced your reply.
Four fatal words, ‘luv u 2 sugapie’,
summarised all we had lost.

I’ll never explain my silent farewell,
since I know that you’d not understand
why I dragged those nauseous words to the trash,
along with the future you’d planned.

I erased your name and address from my contacts
and swept your books from my shelf;
relieved, truth be told, your detestable syntax
had freed me to refind myself.

I returned as ‘u’ disappeared
and I found myself undeleted.
I logged in again to the site where we’d paired,
and thus the process repeated…

Middle-aged gent with own hair, distinguished;
seeks female companion, long legs and large bust.
Essential you have respect for Queen’s English;
fine spelling and grammar a must.

ALA

Telebomb

They took all the money they’d saved up for bombs
and spent it on healthcare instead
then ran “Alms for Arms”, a TV appeal,
packed with lingering shots of the dead.

But apparently viewers aren’t so inclined
to chip in ten quid for a warhead,
for almost as one they switched off their sets,
locked up and hurried to bed. *

Many a man slept his best night for years,
content in the thought that no bloodshed,
however so caused, would be staining his hands,
even if strife lay ahead.

* The ratings bombed.

Almost is enough

It’s quite alright to live a life of ‘almost’
if you tried.
To stretch for stars but barely scratch the sky
if you tried.

There’s nothing wrong in coming second place
if you tried:
the victory’s in finishing the race,
if you tried.

Pay no heed to critics,
to nitpickers and cynics
if you did your best
but didn’t lift the cup.

If you pushed beyond your limits
with your focus on the finish
then you passed the stiffest test
that life throws up.

It’s quite alright to live a life of almost
if you tried.

But not if all you’ve done
is almost tried.

I Verb Lonely as a Noun

I verb adverb as a noun
That verbs on high o’er nouns and nouns,
When all at once I verb a noun,
A noun, of adverb nouns;
Beside the noun, beneath the nouns,
Verb and verb in the noun.

Adjective as the nouns that verb
And verb on the adjective noun,
They verb in adverbverb noun
Along the noun of a noun:
Ten thousand verb I at a noun,
Verb I noun in adverb verb.

— William Wordsworth, 1804

Sleep

I envy those with strength of will to tackle it cold turkey;
not like us who squander life nine minutes at a time
then mount the wagon wearily and wash the comedown off
without a high or hangover to show for hours lost.

The weak among us satisfy our cravings far too quickly
and sip the inexhaustible supply throughout the day,
then come around, annoyed, to find that we’ve gone under
forgetting that the blessing is in waking up at all.

One day, we won’t.
We’ll overdoze on mother nature’s sedative –
and how we’ll crave nine minutes then,
but not to sleep: to live.

No laughing matter

I thought it was rather harsh,
locking him up for a century quarter
for having a bit of a laugh.

Until I discovered that wasn’t the crime
for which he was set to serve time.

Autocorrect
(far from perfect)
had softened the facts of the case
and not for man’s laughter
at all but manslaughter
was he confined to this place.

Doctor Johnson’s diagnosis

I knew not to hasten this man for whom words
were not to be wasted, but handled with care,
so I watched and I waited while he debated
in silence that night at his house in Gough Square.

A clock in a darkened recess to my right
was lost to the eye in the gloom, but outside
the bells of St Brides chimed for nine,
and on hearing them, Johnson replied:

‘It saddens me greatly that summoning London
to mind should bring on this fatigue,
and would counsel that only embracing
the city can ease your vexatious disease.’

(He stood and he paced,
hands behind back.)

‘For when a man grows tired of London,
yet more he will tire of life –
what next, we wonder, might stifle his humour?
His work, his children, his wife?’

‘But it’s only a week of paid leave,’ I explained.
‘My desire is not to offend.’
But it seems that I had, for he opened the door
and our audience came to an end.

I gathered my satchel, and with his back turned
I stole his life’s work, the book (incomplete)
of words and their meanings, which once back outside
I tore and I scattered, like snow on the street.

I’ve come to regret that moment of madness
that left many holes in our language
like vookle and vernet and persept and pring,
and most precious of all nerolandage.

But I rather enjoyed my final revenge
in rewriting some others as nonsense,
such that ‘tit’ became breast, and ‘shag’ now means sex,
and for phallus I chose the word Johnson.

‘Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ – Dr Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, 20 September, 1777.