Little Germany

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Little Germany

Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung,
Eight syllables of Sturm and Drang
That trip along a Teuton tongue
With a click of the heels from brother Wolfgang.
If only Wolf and Hanni knew
The Eidelweiss and Extrawurst,
But they was born at Twenty-Two The Laurels –
Accringthorpe-by-Hurst.

Helmholtz-Hertzsprung – what a surname !
H times three and twice Tee-Zed –
They’re triply stung, as if to claim
An extra ‘Von’, or else ‘The Red’.
Her parents gave them the kind of name
That only folks in stories give.
What chance have they of meek and tame
With such a name with which to live ?

They wonder at their German roots,
Though mum’s their mum and not their Mutti.
And their father’s never worn Prussian boots,
And when they asks, he shrugs why should he ?
Of the language, they speak no word,
And their accents sounds less Saar, more Scouse.
So why share names with a yodelling goatherd
As if they’d been raised in a gingerbread house ?

Helmholtz sounds like a planetary ship,
While Hertzsprung, like a clockwork core –
Or else a springbok, skittish to skip –
The poor, poor dears !, emburdened with lore.
Their parents gave them the kind of name
That only elves and heroes get –
But theirs it is, to shun or claim…
Could Deutschland be über Alles yet…?

Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung –
The name of a nuclear engineer –
With phonemes thoroughly washed and wrung
To perfectly balance the German ear.
How can she live with so much hype ?,
Precision-polished for wide acclaim.
And yes, she knows that’s a stereotype,
But verdammt !, so is her whole damn name !

Nine-to-Forever

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Nine-to-Forever

I long since came to a weary pact
With my ambition and self-esteem –
I gave them both the sack,
And they in turn have promised not to dream.

And with that, I put on my tie,
Polished my shoes, and buttoned my coat,
And dived headlong with barely a cry
Into the passion-snuffer’s throat.

I take-on full responsibility –
I knowingly rejected thrills
For mind-numbing futility
To let me eat and pay the bills –

I do the work with competence
And nothing else – not even gripes.
It’s dangerous to drop your fence –
Don’t fall for pride, just sit and type…

And yet…can it be…?
That out there, somewhere, running free,
Some folks have a job they love ?
A job that’s always something new
And makes a diff’rence what they do,
And pays them more-than-well enough –
But ah, those kinds of job are precious few,
Not for the likes of me.

I have my hobbies, have my friends,
I make the best of tedium,
And anything blind fortune sends –
And tell myself that something else will come…

But what must it be like, though,
To wake up with a smile ?
To do a job that’s worth-the-while ?
I guess I’ll never know…

I considered titling this poem 9 – ∞, but the two figures don’t look like they belongs in the same font.

Trigger Warning

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Trigger Warning

Ev’rybody, get an offence to take,
You too can be just as special –
Your very identity’s at stake,
And now you are such a delicate vessel.
All the cool kids are getting upset,
While words are being redefined.
Remember, the world owes you respect
To spare your innocent mind.

Death of the Artist

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Death of the Artist

I don’t want to know
If my favourite writer
Served time for beating-up his wife.
I don’t want to care
If a star were a blighter
With an ego and a wasted life.
Their business is none
Of my goddammed business,
Their headlines are not worth my time.
Only their art is worthy of a greatness –
Anonymous, timeless, and sublime.

I don’t want to hear
If my favourite singer
Is a boorish, boozy bro.
I don’t want to learn
Who’s an avid right-winger
If their work doesn’t want to let it show.
Spare me their biography,
Just celebrate their movie,
Without the kiss-and-tell and dirty stains.
Only their art, not their story, can move me,
Masterpieces free of baggage trains.

I don’t want to make
A god of my hero,
I don’t want a perfect polished shell –
But nor do I need
To make them a Nero –
I’d rather they were faceless, truth to tell.
Their interests are none
Of my goddammed interest,
Their privacy is vital – as is mine.
Only their art – for it shows them at their best –
As a stranger, neither devil nor divine.

Lousy with Names

Male Human Head Louse by Gilles San Martin

Lousy with Names

A louse is a louse is a louse,
Close enough,
In German, Norwegian and Dutch,
While Romancers keeps it in-house,
Close enough,
From the Latin pedis, and such,
While Slavs use a different nous,
Close enough,
With vusi – it doesn’t change much.
So a louse is a louse, from West to East,
And ev’rywhere the same.
But a woodlouse, that’s a diff’rent beast –
The bug with a thousand names…
Roly-poly, cheesey wig,
The sow bug, pill bug, backyard blimp –
And dandy postman, parson’s pig,
Or slater, cafner, carpet shrimp.
And other tongues have a similar feast –
Or so the pundits claim…
But an insect louse ? That’s just a louse –
They’re itchy, but they’re tame.

I have touched on woodlice before, and also eyelash lice. Their diversity of names reminds me somewhat of butterflies. Incidentally, though both ‘wood’ and ‘louse’ are present in Anglo-Saxon, they don’t seem to have been put together until 1611.

New Year’s Daze

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New Year’s Daze

Some years will start out with a bang,
In such a hurry to begin –
While others wake-up with a tang,
A few days late from lying-in.
They can’t remember what they sang,
They can’t remember how much gin –
They never bounded, never sprang,
With more a grimace than a grin.

And some years open with a vow
Of trouble brewing, much mayhem,
As worries knit our fevered brow,
And gall is tasted in our phlegm.
But on they came, they’re here now –
Let’s not be too quick to condemn.
I’m sure that we’ll survive, somehow –
We’d best get on with living them.

Pre-Decimal

Pre-Decimal

Roman numerals –
They’re so bloody useless !
Their continued presence
Is really excuse-less.
Clocks are okay,
Cos we know by position,
But years shouldn’t need such
Subtract and addition.
Just how could the Romans
Be quite so bloody-well thick ?,
With numbers unwieldy
For simple arithmetic.

Don’t put them on buildings,
Or credits in movies –
You’re being a snob
Who wants to ‘improve’ me.
Well, maybe with sequels,
But stop after III –
They get so confusing
With eye before vee.
Just how could the Romans
Be quite so damn-well unwise ?,
With numbers whose value
Is so unrelated to size.

Old Year New Year

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Old Year New Year

This year is the best year that I’ve ever had,
And last year, that year was the best year too,
But this year is a better year than that,
And next year will be such a ballyhoo !
Sure, there’s always bad stuff comes my way,
But what’s the use of crying useless tears ?
I guess there must be slow and washed-out days,
But they’re always nestled in the sunny years.
And if I tell myself each morning,
Working up my derring-do
With not a trace of snark or scorn,
I maybe can convince me that it’s true.
This year is the best year that I’ve ever had,
Cos if it’s not, then I must make it so.
I know, I know, it’s hard to shrug the bad,
But bad or good, the years still come and go.

Solo Carol

Lonely Snowman by Stanley Zimny

Solo Carol

Looks like we’re on our own this year,
Just us and a million others,
The eccentric and the volunteers,
Cut off from our human brothers.
Some in Antarctica, some in their cells,
And some in their quarantine –
In one-bed flats and empty hotels,
With the world reached through a screen.
For the rest of the year, there’s nothing wrong with it,
It suits us fine, or we make the best,
But when the world gets the holiday spirit,
Then we’re suddenly nobody’s guest.
Looks like we’re on our own this year,
Remote from the thoroughfares.
Let’s sing like nobody can hear,
And let others fill our empty chairs.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

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     The Ghost of Christmas Present

When we were young, before we earned a good wage,
Then presents were the thing.
Whatever toy was all the rage,
We’d write to Santa, page by page,
While fully knowing, any age,
That parents were the ones who gave the bling.

When we were young, and hoping for the good stuff,
Then presents were the thing.
We dropped our hints, we played it tough,
We wanted this, and sure enough,
They’d always get us something duff,
From parents clutching hard to apron string.

When we were young, and pocket money spent fast,
Then presents were the thing.
We’d waited long these six months past,
Our only chance was here at last –
But no !  Once more we were harassed
By suitable and sensible and bettering !

When we were young…but now we’re good and older,
And presents are a chore.
We pay our own way, we are bolder,
We don’t need a toothbrush-holder.
What we need’s a crying-shoulder,
Not the same old ritual as before.

Now we are old, we buy throughout the year,
Yet presents still want more !
What can you get me ?  Dear oh dear,
I have all that I need right here.
Should I hold off acquiring gear
To add it to a list you’ll just ignore ?

Now we are old, and hopefully we’re wise,
And presents lurk in drawers.
Let’s be honest, compromise,
And save our gifts for the little guys –
Let’s pay it forward, share the prize –
Even though we’ll get it wrong, of course…