Odds and Sods

A Poem, Strong and Stable

How blessed am I
to live beneath a strong and stable sky
and the warmth it enables me
from a sun that shines down,
strongly and stably.

Me, with these strong and stable legs,
that take me past the queues
of people – long unable to be fed –
waiting to give thanks
outside the strong and stable food banks,

and beyond where the library once was,
now strongly converted
to stable a private medical centre,
that makes the sick (but financially abler)
stronger and stabler.

And further on, the school
strongly lacking in staple equipment –
whiteboards, books, teachers –
all signs of a strong and stable commitment
to the dismantling of lives.

I thank the government
for such strong and stable times
then wander to the park, alone,
pausing to watch a cricket match.
I bend to sit upon the bench,

and fall through its rotted slats.

Revolution, Inc.

This social movement protest is brought to you
in association with Pepsi –
putting the pop into popular demonstrations
for generations.

If all that shouting is making you hungry,
try the all-new McDonald’s GuevaraBurger ®,
available now at all major marches.
Just look out for the Golden Arches.

We are also delighted to inform you
of our 3 for the price of 2 offer
available on placards at the moment –
choose from a wide range of slogans,

including “APPLE EACH DAY KEEPS THE FASCISTS AWAY”,
“STARBUCK THE SYSTEM NOW”
and “POWER TO THE PEOPLE, POWERED BY GOOGLE”.
Stay fresh and youthful

even when being brutally beaten by the police
with the soothing balms
of Clinique’s “Revolutionary You” skincare range,
cleansing tyranny since the Ancien Régime .

We hope you enjoyed this protest brought to you
in association with Pepsi,
but before you go, why not enter this survey
for a chance to win

a better world, free from injustice and lies.
Terms and conditions apply.

Tales from the Bunker

Back in the White House
from the club house,

putting
America first,

he would tell tales
of eagles and albatrosses

and the swagger
of his stroke play.

Hoping to blind
the truth

by kicking up sand
from his bunker,

swinging wildly
out of the rough,

these stories
of eighteen holes

and the ball’s
uneven lie.

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.