Twenty Seconds

washing hands


Twenty Seconds

Eeny meeny, counted Queenie,
Fingers one two three and four –
A fish alive and thumb makes five,
And on the other hand there’s more.
So rub-a-dub and squeeze and scrub,
And this little piggie wee wee wee
Index middle ring and little,
Pinkie perky owe-you-tee.

Queenie went to market
To buy a bar of soap
She went to Deal and Margate,
And Cape Town on the Hope,
But a laundry-maid from Washington
Had bought up ev’ry crate,
So Queenie had to wash with none
But ashes from the grate.

Queenie on her lone and only,
All her friends are all indoors –
All down with spots and chicken pox,
And tummy-aches and sores.
Queenie finds the streets are empty,
Like the swings and slides and stores –
They cannot come and play today,
They’ve all been through the wars.



Coming of Age, Twice Over

Self Portrait by Auguste Vinchon, also showing his imaginary twin brother (the original is on the one on the left).


Coming of Age, Twice Over

When I was just your age, you twins,
I dreamed of heading West,
Of hitching rides between the inns
That stretch from hill to crest.
I planned to leave at earlybird –
And yet…I never did.
For on that very morn, I heard
Your ma was got with kid.

When I was just your age, you twins,
I almost saw the world.
I almost got to grin such grins…
Till word came from my girl.
I longed to sail the ocean blue,
To joist with sharks and squids –
And oh!, I would have made it, too,
But for you pesky kids !



My Leaping Friend



My Leaping Friend

The Twenty-Ninth came round today
It’s years since last she passed my way,
But on my birthday, there she was –
Alas, she couldn’t stay.
But that’s because that’s what she does –
She rarely comes to play.

I shrug, and try to not get sad –
For oh, when she does appear,
It always makes a special year,
Like an Olympiad.
It’s not a proper birthday, I might add,
When she’s not here.



The Extra Guest

Odin by Georg von Rosen

The Extra Guest

I don’t remember being told
About old Father Christmas –
He’s just someone I’ve always known.
Popping down the chimney
That we didn’t even have,
With a candy cane or xylophone.
It somehow seemed so rational,
To fly from Perth to Honolulu,
Via Cape Town and Cologne –
But strangest yet, I never even
Thought of how he was a stranger,
All the year alone.

So when my parents placed
An empty chair upto the turkey,
I assumed it was for him.
And when a neighbour came instead,
Or refugee, or homeless man –
I didn’t find it grim.
As long as he possessed a beard,
I believed in Father Christmas –
Even with a pseudonym.
He wore a diff’rent face, each year –
But so did Mother Goose,
And Peter Pan, and Tiny Tim.

For all the gifts he gave,
Did he ever get one in return,
From Moscow to the Amazon ?
Each year, I’d long to thank him,
But the meal would soon be over
And my moment never seized upon.
Yet in my mind, he’d wink, and say,
“Don’t worry, I already know.”
And then he would be gone.
We never get to give a gift to him,
But ev’ry year,
Instead we pay it forward, pass it on.

Humbug on High



Humbug on High

I’m sorry, kids, I cannot lie,
That flash you see across the sky
On this, the night of Christmas Eve,
Is not a magic flying sleigh,
However much you may believe.
I’m sorry, kids, I cannot lie,
The laws of physics still hold sway.

But do you know, kids, what you see ?
That dashing light, what can it be ?
The ISS is flying by –
Or rather, falling, always falling,
Falling through our Christmas sky.
And far more magic than a sleigh,
This shining star on Christmas Day.

I’m Making a List, I’m Checking it Twice


I’m Making a List, I’m Checking it Twice

Hey, kids ! I know a magic word,
That stops Christmas blues and scoffed disdain
From ever being heard

Now, kids, attempt to listen not
And don’t endure their upset or profane,
Nor cynicism’s rot

So kids, declare “Oh, humbug, yea !
Oh partypoop, oh blanket-wet, begone !
I won’t hear what you say.”

Then kids, a flush of thwarted rouge
Should stop them speechless dead, so follow on
With “killjoy” first, then “scrooge”.

But kids, don’t give their logic chance,
Just plug your ears and “Humbug !” them away
With loyal ignorance.

And kids, believe your parents’ lies
Of chimneys, reindeer, magic sack and sleigh –
Don’t doubt or analyse.

Oh, kids, you have obeyed me well,
And kept their urbane trickery afar
To keep you feeling swell.

Yes, kids, you must avoid such nous
Just like the good consumers that you are
And all is fine. Or else !

Spider Spiters

chalk spider


Spider Spiters

Innocent spiders close down schools
When ignorant humans panic.
Why the hell are we so prepared
To see them as Satanic ?
We wonder why our schools are broke,
And so is our inside –
Yet choose which phobias we’ll stoke,
And wear our hates with pride –
It only takes the merest sight
To send us shrieking with delight.
Our fears are learned, and screeching
Ain’t what our schools should teach in.

Far, far better we learn to love
The harmless ones, at least –
Let our babies play with monies,
Let our kids embrace the beast.
Rearing spinners out of eggs,
And never let the wolves repulse –
Daddy, bring a daddy-longlegs,
Mama, bring a widow-false –
Or better yet, we should be shown
To watch awhile, then leave alone.
And maybe then, here’s hoping,
The schools can all stay open.