Breaking News

We interrupt this poem to bring you reports
of an explosion

of wild untruths and other signs that the news
is broken.

Early indications from those who were first
on the scene

have led to widespread fears of another Sweden
or Bowling Green

and that peace might erupt at any moment
in other places.

It is believed that amongst the rubble of reality
were found traces

of humanity and an understanding that stretches
beyond borders.

Many experts predict this will lead to a new wave
of presidential orders

for such trumped-up charges form part of
a familiar pattern.

But back to the poem: we’ll bring you more news
as it doesn’t happen.

On Escaping from Nature

The birds are at it again,
arguing about Brexit
from their branches;

the smug song of a starling,
the crows’ cry
of blue murder,

and the inexpert chatter
of a so-called chaffinch.
Across the street,

a dog cocks its leg
against a lamppost
in protest against

the chronic neglect
of the National Health Service.
A leaf lies ignored

on the pavement
it slept on last night,
and dreams of home.

Further out,
in surrounding fields,
cows hold seminars

on the refugee crisis
and the pigs debate
what to do about Syria.

Goats stare bleakly
from desolate crags,
remembering Trump.

Soon it will be time
for the penguins to march
against global warming.

I do what I can
to keep nature at bay,
drown it out

with radio or TV,
find refuge
in the tranquillity of Twitter.

But it’s late now
and outside
I can hear the owls

calling parliament
into session
once more.

The Flowers of the Garage Forecourt

Budding lovers beware
of the Flowers of the Garage Forecourt;
they are not for courting.

Love will not blossom
with the Flowers of the Garage Forecourt,
these blundering bouquets

of cellophaned sadness:
the slip-road roses and tarmacked tulips,
petrol pump peonies

and crushed-dream chrysanthemums.
All those dahlias of desperation.
The I-forgot-you forget-me-nots.

Please know this, would-be customers
of the Flowers of the Garage Forecourt:
romance wilts with a lack of forethought.

As I Grow Old I Will March Not Shuffle

As I grow old
I will not shuffle to the beat
of self-interest
and make that slow retreat
​​​to the right.

I will be a septuagenarian insurrectionist
marching with the kids. I shall sing
‘La Marseillaise’, whilst brandishing
homemade placards that proclaim
‘DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING’.

I will be an octogenarian obstructionist,
and build unscalable barricades
from bottles of flat lemonade,
tartan blankets and chicken wire.
I will hurl prejudice upon the brazier’s fire.

I will be a nonagenarian nonconformist,
armed with a ballpoint pen
and a hand that shakes with rage not age
at politicians’ latest crimes,
in strongly-worded letters to The Times.

I will be a centenarian centurion
and allow injustice no admittance.
I will stage longstanding sit-ins.
My mobility scooter and I
will move for no-one.

And when I die
I will be the scattered ashes
that attach themselves to the lashes
and blind the eyes
of racists and fascists.

From The Encyclopedia of Alternative Facts

Frankenstein was the monster’s name.
There’s no such thing as climate change.
A solero is a type of hat.
The planet is not round but flat.

Six is the legal drinking age.
Women are paid an equal wage.
Elvis was influenced by Take That.
The planet is not round but flat.

Achilles had a dodgy knee.
Terror comes from refugees.
Insomnia affects most cats.
The planet is not round but flat.

There are no fascists on the rise.
A politician never lies.
It’s impossible to change a fact.
The planet is not round but flat.

Baby on Board

This badge
proudpinned to my lapel

may proclaim Baby on Board
but it fails to dispel

the mistrust that sits
around me. Suspicion crams

itself into the carriage.
They would rather see me hang.

Me! With my aching back
and Monday morning sickness,

these need-to-go-to-bed eyes,
and a belly that thickens

beneath my shirt
like skin on a rice pudding.

Me! A clearly pregnant man
in his forties, unshaven

with three days’ stubble
who is experiencing unruly cravings

for pistachio ice cream
and shredded wheat.

But no, not a single
please, DO have this seat.

I suppose that’s what happens
in these post-truth days;

no-one believes anything
another says.

Inside, I feel
something stirring.

I clutch at straps
for the remaining journey.

My Resolution Will Not Be Televised

after Gil Scott-Heron

You will not be able to discover it from your sofa, brother.
You will not be able to sit there under the cat, sister,
remote control in one hand, phone in the other,
and put the kettle on during the ad breaks,
because my resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be announced on Twitter.com
in 140 characters of self-promoting concision
to be retweeted by Ricky Gervais in between posts
concerning animal cruelty and the release date of his latest film.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not feature next to an inspirational quote
set against the backdrop of a soaring mountain or a mirror-blue lake.
My resolution will not be posted beside a shining infographic
illustrating how many kilos I have lost, how many pennies
I have saved, how many drinks I have not drunk.
My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures on Instagram
of kale soup and black bean-quinoa salad.
There will be no pictures on Instagram
Of NutriBullet breakfast smoothies.

My resolution will not be vlogged.
My progress will not be revealed to you
in a twenty-minute daily video diary
documenting my trials and tribulations
whilst being brought to you in association
with John Lewis, Iceland and Marks and Spencer
and my resolution will not be right back after a message
about my brand new range of eyebrow pencils.
My resolution will not be vlogged.
There will be no pictures on Instagram.
My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be available to preorder
on DVD, Blu Ray, CD-Rom, VHS or Betamax, brother.
My resolution will not be prerecorded or livestreamed, sister.
My resolution will not be part of a thought-provoking video installation
and exhibited in a Museum of Modern Art to critical acclaim.
My resolution will not survive more than two days.
My resolution will not be televised.

Your 2017 Haiku Horoscopes

Capricorn

Trousers start to sag
as your pockets bulge with coins.
A year of much change.

Aquarius

You join the circus.
Retrain as tightrope walker.
Good work-life balance.

Pisces

You leave the city
to become a sheep shearer.
New year, a new ewe.

Aries

On Twitter you find
your new haiku horoscope.
It tells you little.

Taurus

You hate your star sign.
Disgruntled, you convert to
Capricornism.

Gemini

Mars enters the sphere
of concupiscent Venus.
Not sure what that means.

Cancer

The year drifts past you
in TV shows and hot food.
Netflix and chilli.

Leo

You date all your cheques
with the year twenty sixteen
until November.

Virgo

You stare at your phone,
look up briefly in July,
then stare at your phone

Libra

At last you make it!
That flat pack IKEA desk
from their Croydon store.

Scorpio

You decide to stop
thinking about anagrams
and sort out your file.

Sagittarius

Year of good fortune.
Not once do you encounter
Jeremy Clarkson.

Have Yourself a Brexit Little Christmas

Have yourself a Brexit little Christmas
and fill your days with fun,
because we know our troubles will have just begun.

Have yourself a Brexit little Christmas
and drink your days away.
From now on, our troubles will be here to stay.

Here we are as in olden days,
so-called golden days of yore.
Failing those who are near to us
for they are dear to us no more.

So just say auf wiedersehen to Europe,
au revoir and ciao,
then hang a tattered flag upon a lonely bough,
and have yourself a Brexit little Christmas now.