Manifest Destiny

Ellis Island in 1905, showing the Immigration Centre by Edward Tilton & William Boring

Manifest Destiny

German Smith and Jewish Rosehill,
Italian (or Irish) Bellis,
Dutch DeYoung and Russian Kerr –
But please, do not blame Ellis.

Ships from Hamburg, ships from Queenstown,
Loaded up and westward bound –
Checking names with manifests
And leaving them as found.

Many of these immigrants
Would later choose to change their names –
And good for them – but that was all their own,
Despite the frequent claims.

Social pressures ?  Mispronounce-ments ?
New starts ?  Yes, and more.
But no-one’s name was Anglicised
On Ellis Island’s shore.

Singalong

Gossip by Eugene de Blaas

Singalong

Three singing street vendors.

Vendor 1
Spring is finally here
To brighten the year,
Bringing birds on the wing.
Spring has finally smiled,
Like a favourite child,
And it’s making me sing.

Vendors 2 & 3
Yes it’s finally here,
The buds are in gear
To end Wintertime’s sting.

Vendor 1
The sun is shining for me,
And ev’rybody I see,

Vendors 1, 2 & 3
And it’s making us sing.

Punter enters.  He doesn’t sing.

Punter
Morning.  Copy of the Times and a packet of Polos please.

Vendor 1
Now come on buddy,
Let’s hear some sunshine outta you.
Now don’t be shy,
Just sing me one line, why don’t you ?

Punter
Well, you’re certainly cheerful this morning.

Vendors 2 & 3
Now come on buddy,
Don’t give an earful, that won’t do.
Just sing up buddy,
If we’re so cheerful, why ain’t you ?

Punter
You guys as well ?  Seems everyone’s singing today.

Vendor 1
Ev’ryone except…

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, ole Mr Misery

Vendor 1
He ain’t got a note of joy to spread.

Vendors 2 & 3
No sir, no sir no way.

Vendor
Best stay away from….

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, he’s got no fizz, you see.

Vendor 1
Wish he’d rain on someone else instead.

Punter
Hey come on, I just want a Times and some Polos.

Vendor 1
You don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3
Doo-wop-doo-wop.

Vendor 1
Said you don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3
Doo-wop-doo-wop-a-lop-a-doo.

Punter
Seriously ?

Vendor 1
If you wanna get something in this life,
Then let me hear you sing for it.

Punter
Alright !

The Punter sings really badly.

Punter
Please may I have a copy of the Times
And some Polos…um…and a pound of limes ?


The Vendors clutch their heads in pain.  The Punter backs off, embarrassed.

A News Reporter appears on the scene with a microphone.

News Reporter
Yes, it’s another cruel case of discrimination against the tone deaf by musical theatre.  Reporting for the BBC, this is…
(singing)
Pheobe Leigh !

Bread Stick

Bread by Anthony Starks

Bread Stick

People love to grumble over supermarket bread –
“It isn’t really fresh, you know” I’ve often heard it said,
“It’s made in batch in Swindon and then frozen” they explain,
“So all they do in bakeries is heat it up again.”
Croissant, bap, or pumpernickel,
Loaf-lovers sure are fickle –
Kneeded crumpets, seeded squabblers,
Talking sourdough and cobblers.

You know, that doesn’t bother me, as long as they still taste –
And oh!, the smell of toasted carbs will never go to waste.
But why are still-warm loaves just plonked on open racks for show
In the air-conditioned hell that sucks all moisture from the dough ?
Cardboard slices, leaden grain,
With all self-raising turned to plain.
Golden crust and pain-au-choc,
As dry as dust and hard as rock.

John Bull Jack

boots footwear indoors parquet
Photo by Emily Wilkinson on Pexels.com

John Bull Jack

1.
At least with patrons David and Patrick,
They visited the lands which went on to claim them –
But George and Andrew are strangers to Albion,
(We had local talent, but no-one can name them).
I bet they never heard of us, we’re just hicks from the sticks –
They’re busy being famous, they won’t return our call.
To patronising saints, we’re just fanboys with a crucifix –
Mini-me Man-U supporters, posters on the wall.

2.
But then, what does it matter anyway ?
Especially for England,
Especially on George’s Day.
The red and the white are only for fascists –
The Guardian insists,
And the bleeding hearts will wail –
The flag is now the possession of the Mail.
Haven’t you heard ?
Patriotism is a very dirty word.
The only time, the only time
That national pride can still be shown
Is during the World Cup alone.
And when they lose, that very day,
The flags must all be put away
And never more be flown.

3.
Ah, perhaps I’m being too hard,
But still the Left can’t lose the twinge
To see their homeland as only bland and scarred.
They never can relax their guard,
Or shake the shame and cultural cringe –
They love the stranger, hate their own back yard.
And yes, I know the old old stories –
Slaves and Empire, toffs and Tories –
Nobody’s disputing –
But still there’s Newton, Attlee, and the Bard !
So all the more the need, I say,
To set aside a National Day !
Forget old Georgie – let’s be cannier,
Make ourselves a Saint Britannia –
She can be our national birthday card !

Kosher Slaughter

In Anticipation of the Guests by The Dots

Kosher Slaughter

Why are there so many zombie films about these days ?
I would say they’re testament to our improving ways.
We have beaten violence, beggered hunger and disease,
And quarantined our lust for blood into our fantasies –
Shoot a Nazi, gas a pedo – harmless fun for kids to play,
Just regulation bogeymen without the shades of grey.
Squash pedestrians with trolleys,
No need to feel even sorry,
Killing humans sure is fun when there’s no guilt to pay !

Easter Rising

Flora by Evelyn de Morgan

Easter Rising

April – Month of Aphrodite,
Flirting with fertility.
The earth responds to her almighty,
Springing with virility.
Tributes thrust from out the ground
With kinaesthetic keenness,
As bulbs are bursting, bound by bound,
To hail the month of Venus.

Easter was a goddess too,
And once she wooed the blooms aloft –
She called them up, and up they grew,
Her sun was warm, her rain was soft.
Forget the death her name evokes,
Forget the manly, fabled sin.
Let’s open blinds and loosen cloaks
To let her April in.

Gulls & Marks

Laughing Fool by Jacob van Oostsanen

Gulls & Marks

April only makes a fool of fools,
But that is all of us.
We’re all believers, come our turn,
Who rarely twig and rarely learn.
We’re far too busy-bees to question rules,
We’re far too nice to suss.
Not all the time, it’s true, but then
We’ll soon enough be fooled agen.

April only sets the trap, and waits –
It’s us who makes it spring.
It’s up to us if we succumb,
If we’re the sharp or we’re the dumb.
And if we spy the ruse, and shun the bait,
We still admire the sting –
For gullibility, it seems,
Will spark our love and build our dreams.

April only gives us all a chance
To fool our foolish selves –
And boy, we’re ruthless in our art,
We know our weaknesses by heart !
We never see the cunning serpent’s glance
When we are rolling twelves –
Reality is harsh and glum,
So keep on fooling us till kingdom come.

Sons of Milka

The First Discord by De Scott Evans – I’m showing Cain & Abel here because Uz & Buz are inexplicably much overlooked by painters

Sons of Milka

Uz and Buz were brothers,
Way back in the Bible-time,
Who rightly cursed their mother
For her blatant naming-crime.

Uz was older, but Buz was bigger –
“The whole of you is held in me,
Yet I am more than your slight figure,
For you shall never be my B.”

“Not so !” said Uz, “For in the lore
Of old King James, I’ve letters three –
I have an H that stands before,
So they dub me Huz in the KJV !”

So, Uzz and Buzz, or Ooze and Booze ?
Or maybe one of each, who knows ?
And in the end, they got to choose,
But never told us what they chose.

To the Baron

Stratego Spy by Donato Giancola

To the Baron 

To the nicest baddie I ever knew –
Always cast as a goon or a creep,
I guess you wear that air of menace
When that’s what’s needed of you to seep.
You’re not exactly anyone-for-tennis,
But behind those brooding eyes is something deep.
Your humour is too quirky
To belong to all these villains you engage –
Your smile is given freely,
Yet you have to keep it hidden on the stage –
But your secret gentle side,
The one you hide behind your sneer,
Could not be more sincere
When off-duty and confided between friends.
You could have been a leading man
If fate had had a diff’rent plan –
But you were never one to follow trends.
And hey, at least you had some fun
With ev’ry yob and wayward son –
And anyway, the day ain’t done,
And this ain’t where the story ends.
I could go on, but I know you’re shy,
And I guess you get the gist –
So here’s to the sweetest bad guy
That I’ve ever booed and hissed !

I wrote this about a friend, you don’t know him, don’t let it bother you.

How Men Part

Photo by Tiger Lily on Pexels.com

How Men Part

It’s always strange to say goodbye,
Especially after all the years I’ve known you.
Of course, we do not hug or cry,
And we both know I’ll never write or phone you.
Just a matey slap on the shoulder
And a handshake that’s a bit too strong,
And a gradual feeling of being older –
It’s all so brief, yet somehow still too long.
But even in restraint, we say it all,
Though we’ll never realise –
The clues are there, however small –
The nervous laugh, the sheepish eyes.
And then it’s “Should be off” and “See you maybe”,
“Give my best to your old mum”.
I guess I’ll kinda miss you, vaguely,
Now and then, for years to come.