Dust to dust

The new me is an old me.
The old me once was young.
Young me has no future though
the future’s just begun.

The present me is a fallacy,
a link upon a chain
from fertilised to fertile ground —
again, again, again.


Sooner or later

We’re all in eternity’s anteroom,
waiting to step through the door.
None of us knows when our name will be called
or what we’re waiting there for.

There’s no system; no tickets or marshall;
first there aren’t always first seen,
and when it’s our turn, it’s too often in public
where even the meek make a scene.

The wretched might think that by jumping from heights
they’ll jump to the front of the queue
but they always lose out to the murderer’s muse
who unwillingly barges straight through.

While to those who are tired of waiting,
old age seems to cling like disease.
They long for their slot on the rota to come
and bring them a measure of ease.

None of us knows when our name will be called
or how long we’ll be in that queue.
So live like you’re close to the top of the list
and if life isn’t perfect, make do.


Am I dying already?

Do I already own the clothes I’ll die in?
The songs I won’t hear from my casket?
What of the mourners who’ll claim to have known me
– who among them have I met?

Has the picture they’ll put on my coffin been taken?
My hearse had its first set of tyres?
The crem prepaid the bill for the gas
that will light up my funeral pyre?

Do my cupboards contain the groceries
from which I’ll make my last meal?
Is a chain of events already unfolding
through which my fate is now sealed?



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.


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.