Outside The Butcher’s Arms

We stood beside the wooden gate
That overlooked the road,
We watched the ducks and pigeons
He was thoughtful as I showed
Him how the birds rose up in synchronicity
For some quick formation swooping
As a lady brought their tea
In a plastic tub, well used but clean
Her throw was practiced, strong –
The grain arced out across the pond
But wasn’t there for long.
In a storm of beaks and flapping wings
A frenzy born of greed
The food was swiftly guzzled
‘Fore it sank beneath the weeds.
With a nod the lady trudged away
Her daily duty done
Whilst I, the learned father
Passed instruction to my son
On the ways of birds at sunset
As they settled in the trees,
Such a bright November skyline
Silhouettes in place of leaves
Then we turned our backs, and went inside
To finish our repast,
The clan had had their puddings
And I drank my coffee fast
It was hometime. Coats, and back outside
The car, in sunset, shone
I glanced towards the gate again
But all the birds were gone.

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Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance

A man who loves his children
Can forgive them many things
Put up with every foible
And the trouble that it brings
But yet the most devoted,
Caring, loving, dad must shun
His offspring now, forever
If the buggers read The Sun.

Don’t read The Sun, don’t read The Sun
A red-topped sheet of bile
Rip it up and burn it
Sweep the ashes in a pile
Hold your children closely
Give them love and family fun
But sever all connections
If they go and read The Sun

They can vomit in the motor
Leave a poo upon the floor
Put lego down the toilet
Dirty handprints on the door
They can steal the chocolate hob nobs
Bring home vagabonds to shag
But they’re gone, and gone forever
If they ever read that rag.

Don’t read The Sun, don’t read The Sun
Vindictive, twisted shits
Scumbags with a keyboard
Rip integrity to bits
Raise a man to Hero
Rip him down, besmirch his name
Then pay him to abase himself
Say sorry, cry in shame.

Each man must tell his children
When the playful day is done
You can rob me, wreck me, hurt me
But don’t ever read The Sun!

Reading Festival

I’m old now. I wasn’t always. I went to my first Reading Festival when I was 17 (RHCP, Senser, Radiohead, Therapy?, Wildhearts, Terrorvision. Gutted that Soundgarden didn’t show up) and ended up going for 10 years in a row. I did my time in the mud and the dirt. I saw bands I loved, bands I hated and bands I’d never heard of. I drank the beer and ate the sausages. I went to Feet First on the Thursday nights and stumbled back over pitch black guy-ropes. I saw explosions and heard fireworks and laughed when people fell into the hidden brook. I stayed up too late around campfires, then fell asleep to the dulcet tones of a thousand campers shouting “Bollocks”. I woke up freezing at the crack of dawn.  I saw a riot that started from a single, well aimed egg and ended up with mounted police and plastic bottles full of wee. I dallied with girls that I shouldn’t have, failed to dally with girls that I should have and all in all had a stupidly good time.

But I’m old now. Those wild indulgences of my youth are nothing but fond memories, happy thoughts to pass the time as I make another cup of tea. And the strange thing is that I don’t mind. Not a bit. I’ve moved on and grown up. I remember being worried, back in the day, that the world would end when I was too old to be young. How would I cope with the boredom? The endless nights at home? Well here’s a message for my younger self: Stop worrying, fuckwit, and go enjoy yourself. I’m fine. You will be fine. Don’t sweat it.

It’s Festival time this week, of course. That’s what’s brought all this to mind. My walk home from work takes me along the IDR and towards the Festival site, so I’m knee deep in campers for most of it. Today was quite tame, compared to previous years ( the queuing cars were actually moving this year, albeit very slowly) but it was still rammed. This year’s bunch of pedestrian campers looked pretty much like any other year’s bunch of pedestrian campers, but I found myself surprised by the luggage. Mainly because it was exactly that: luggage. Actual suitcases, on wheels, with no sign of mud anywhere. Absolutely spotless. With name tags. If you’d taken a nice neat labelled suitcase in my day you’d have been burnt at the stake, but I guess times change.

Anyway. I’m waffling. I wrote a poem as I walked through the crowds, and I’ve pasted it below. I’m too lazy to come up with a proper title, so in the immortal words of Eddie Hitler, “I think I’ll just put bollocks”.

Bollocks!

Backed up along the IDR
The camper-vans and hatchback cars
Their parcel-shelves stacked up with gear
(Tents and bags and crates of beer)
Just sitting in the crawling queue
Their speed, perhaps, an inch or two
Per hour, whilst past on either side
Totemic teenage tramping tides
Fill every foot of pavement space
Identical in form and face

(The nonchalant, well practiced miens
That mask the minds still in their teens)

A route march down to Campsite G
An army, this, it’s plain to see
Whilst I, demobbed and pensioned too
Just cross the road to join the few
Who spurn the turn-off to the site
Then take a resident’s delight
In sudden calm beyond the throng
My ears immune to siren song
And I, demobbed and healthy yet,
(A battle hardened Festy Vet)
Walk home, to all I need in life
Adoring children, loving wife
And I, demobbed, a wiser beast,
Sit down. Inside. A man at peace.

A Royal Feast

 Imagine a feast. A feast from long ago. A stone room, lit only by a firepit and a hundred tallow candles. The light flickers, shadows twist and turn like backlit monsters on a screen. A table. A rough, wooden table laden with game and grease and mead. A king sits at the table. Madly bearded, dressed in his wedding day finery. An ogre of a man, at home with his own power. Beside him his new wife. Dressed in ceremonial, almost sacrificial, blood red robes. Small. Timid. Fragile beside her new giant. Her eyes full of apprehension as the wedding bed approaches. Surrounding them, The Court. Rough warriors to a man, in their cups and boisterous with it. A cacophony of drunken revelry. The king stands, abruptly. Bangs his fist on the table for silence. He gets it. He holds the royal mead cup aloft, savouring it with his eyes. Struck from finest gold, it glows orange in the overwhelming firelight. Beautiful. Holy. Kingly. He turns his eyes to his followers. Picks them out one by one, asserting his dominance. He speaks. In a terrifying, Brian Blessed like voice, he speaks.

 

BEHOLD!

MY CUP OF ORANGE!

‘TISN’T YELLOW! ‘TISN’T GREEN!

 

Behold my cup of orange!

Hear ye BELLOW! Here ye SCREAM!

 

I hold my cup of orange,

I, Othello! Royal sheen!

 

BEHOLD!

My cup of orange.

Fair thee well… my Crimson Queen.

 

 He turns and bows to his new bride. Kisses her hand. Holds her eyes with his. She sees nothing but flames beneath those close knit brows. She nods gracefully. And inside she weeps.

Midwatch (AKA Warts and All)

A short (300ish words) story I wrote whilst walking home from work.

Midwatch

The hand was small, and wrinkled, and had a wart on the third knuckle. I didn’t like the look of that wart. It spoke of disease, and a life submerged in others’ filth. I looked across at Shaw. He had a calf, and was face deep in flesh. Lucky bugger.

Jenson hadn’t opened his carton yet. He was eyeing my wart-ridden hand with unconcealed distaste.

“Blind swap?” I asked, without much hope of success. I was right to be pessimistic.

“Not a chance.” Jenson was emphatic. “That wart is horrific.” He patted his carton. “Whatever’s in here, it cant be worse than that wart.”

“Last chance? You could have toes in there. Or even a scrotum. Is it worth the risk?”

Jensen grinned in pity, and began to fiddle with the seals of his lunch.

Summarily dismissed, I turned my full attention to the hand. It still disgusted me. I picked it up and tilted it into the light. The fingernails had been removed, of course, but looking closer now I could see that the cuticles still remained. Once covered by carapace, the now exposed half-moons were a filthy, discoloured yellow speckled with flecks of red. Blood or disease, probably. Neither option was appetising.

I looked across at Jensen. He’d lucked out and got a forearm, complete with faded naval tattoo. He caught my eye and held up his prize in mock salute. Bastard.

I contemplated the hand once more. I still didn’t want it. I had the duty watch next though, an all nighter. I’d never make it through without some food in my belly. Beggars can’t be choosers.

I held the hand close to my nose and sniffed. Quelled a moment of nausea. The wart seemed to be winking at me, it’s sparse white hair like an old man’s eyebrow.

But beggars can’t be choosers.

I held the hand up to my mouth.

I closed my eyes.

I ate.

445 – The Butcher Rises Early

Poem number 445

The Butcher Rises Early

.

The Butcher rises early

Tiptoes gently from the room

Leaves behind his Mistress

Snoring softly, in the gloom

.

Washed and dressed he breakfasts

Natural yoghurt, branflakes, fruit

Hat, coat, shoes and keys to van

Embarks upon his route

.

Butcher tools beside him

In a bag upon the seat

Drives around the district

Peeling eyes, a hunt for meat

.

A tramp is sleeping by the road

The van slides to a stop

The tramp is swiftly slaughtered

Boxed, with ice upon the top

.

The engine starts, another mile

A postman in a trap

The van pulls up, an open door

A neck, a twist, a snap

.

The hunt goes on, a paperboy

A milkman, hikers two

The van is at capacity

Before the sun pokes through

.

Harvest chores complete at last

The Butcher mops his face

A pristine linen hankerchief

With trim of scarlet lace

.

Drives back home through rising dawn

Parks neatly by his shed

His mind already skipping

To his Mistress in their bed

.

Stock transferred to freezer bags

Refrigerated store

Shed locked up behind him

Combination on the door

.

Butcher tools rescrubbed, away

Slaps on some aftershave

Climbs back in with Mistress

And it’s time to misbehave

.

Mistress gives a little grunt

A negligee so sheer

He slides a trotter to her rump

And nips a hairy ear

.

Waking slowly, Mistress

In an early morning bliss

Snout slides from the covers

To bestow a snuffling kiss

.

Bristly cheeks together

Oinking softly, lovers now

The Butcher and his Mistress

Killer Hog and hungry Sow.

A poem to kick things off

This is one I wrote a long time ago, but I’ve still got a soft spot for it.

Dinner Is Always Gone Too Soon

Dinner is always gone too soon
The plate too quickly cleared.
Leaving worn ceramic patterns and a fat man’s lonely fears.
In the darkened hours that lie ahead
Before the next meal comes
Will the hunger gnaw and worry or the weakened heart succumb.
Will the urge to simply eat again
Drive slippered feet to creep
Out of bed down to the kitchen whilst the thin men lie asleep.
Will he sit all bathed in fridge-light
While his hands scoop deep inside
And the ice cream dribbles off his chin whilst tears begin to slide.
Will the silence all around him
And the darkness in his soul
Drive him deeper into madness as he guzzles sausage rolls.
Will he wake, once more at daybreak
Slumped down on the kitchen floor
Where at last he’d stopped his eating when his jaws could take no more.
Can he make it to tomorrow
To those three permitted meals
Now that dinner’s too soon over and the hunger’s all he feels,
Eternity before him.
And an agony of mind
Now that dinner’s too soon over and today’s food all behind.