Armageddon Hedonism

Pandemonium by John Martin


Armageddon Hedonism

All aboard for the End of Days,
When kingdoms drown and cities blaze.
See stars burn out and worlds collide,
As the dead shall walk and the damned shall ride !
I’ll see you all at the bitter end,
When gods take arms and fates entwine.
We’re six-six-six for nil, my friend,
Let’s party like it’s ninety-nine !
The long goodbye, the last farewell:
I’ll see you all on the Road to Hell !

Fires to the north and fighting to the south,
The time has come, the Walrus said, and gently dabbed his mouth.
Famine to the west, and plague upon the east –
The Quick comingle with the Dead, the Angel with the Beast.
Penitents shall weep and moan –
Some prayers pleaded, others hurled.
We’re all for one and all alone,
So step right up for the End of the World !

Roll up !  Roll up for Ragnarok !
For hark !  There raps the Reaper’s knock.
Our days are short, our time is come,
I hear the trumpet and the drum.
I’ll see you all on Judgement Day,
When gods lay bets and futures mix.
We’re thirty-coins-per-soul, they say –
Keep tuppence back to cross the Styx.
We’re three-score-ten before the tomb:
I’ll see you all at the Gates to Doom !

Chaos to the left and jokers to the right,
The wind of Thor is blowing cold, the Morningstar is bright.
Shouting to the front and screaming to the rear –
The Saved shall ally with the Sold, the Comrade with the Clear.
Penitents shall beg and curse –
Some prosaic, some sublime.
It’s goodnight to the universe,
And set your clocks for the End of Time !




black spider
Photo by Anthony on



I cannot tell you why I should be so afraid,
Except I am.
Perhaps it’s evolution keeping me alive
That makes me scram.
But I have always hated spiders, big and small –
Oh god, so small !
They’re lurking in this room, right now –
They lurk, until they crawl…

But sooner yet than later,
Then the peace between us must be made –
For I don’t want to be a hater,
When, oh please !, I hate to be afraid…

And with tarantulas – so big !- we get to see
Just how they’re built –
Their legs, their palps, their spinnerets,
Their onyx eyes and downy quilt…
Yet small ones have these too, too small to see –
But oh, they’ve got the lot,
Upon a strange and creeping body –
Never let this be forgot !

But I am more than this, and greater –
I shall love them, I shall not be swayed.
For I don’t want to be a hater,
I don’t want to spend my life afraid.



Z. apocalypsus

E Coli
Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times, microscoped by Eric Erbe, colourised by Christopher Pooley


Z. apocalypsus

Squirming and writhing in unthinking hordes
That cannot be dented with bullets or swords;
They’ll find us and kill us and shred our remains,
They’re after our bodies and after our brains.
They’ll mess with our minds worse than Dali or Escher,
Our stomachs will turn and our bowels feel the pressure,
I sense in my gut that they’re here in the flesh –
Oh my…
Escherichia coli !


I feel a little bit guilty about the last line, as apparently the stresses should fall on the RIC and the CO, whereas I would prefer them to fall on the I and the LI (that is, the next sallybles along).  But honestly, whoever actually ever says the name in full anyway ?  So I reckon my stresses are every bit as valid.

E. coli, incidentally, is a natural part of our gut bacteria without which we would probably be dead.  That is, until it turns bad…





backlit black candle candlelight
Photo by Toni Cuenca on



It’s Halloween night, and I’m still right here –
Death, you coward, you failed to appear !
Did you send forth your goblins and demons and wights ?
Cos I’ve still got my wits and I’ve still got my lights.
So where were the werewolves, the hairy-scare werewolves ?
And where were the zombies and spectres and sprites ?
Is it really too much to want to believe in
Some un-hallows odd on All-Hallow’s Even ?

It’s Halloween night, and I’m still in the clear
Death, you blackguard, you just ain’t sincere !
Plague and Pollution, Famine and War
Now those are damn scary, and worthy of awe.
Cancer and cold snaps and car wrecks are killers,
Not witches or vampires – they don’t come near !
Vengeance and greed are the stuff of good thrillers,
But I ain’t heard a peep from a banshee all year.

It’s Halloween night, and I’ve nothing to fear –
Death, you pussy, you’ve lost all your sneer !
And a rubber spider or pumpkin grin
Will scarcely scare me out of my skin.
My heart’s barely strumming,
So Death, if you’re coming,
You’d best get a-frighting to stand any chance –
So unleash your devils
And skeletal revels –
Quit tuning your fiddle, and strike up a dance.



Ba-Bump in the Night

man walking on floor
Photo by Umberto Shaw on


Ba-Bump in the Night

Why do shadows lurk and clump
Wherever there’s a lack of light ?
Why do hearts and footsteps thump
When too much nothing gives us fright ?
So why do throats grow sharp and taut,
And fingers white, and faces pale ?
And why does breath get loud and short,
And turn into a vapour trail ?

I know, I know, it’s only night
When only nerves attack…
Yet what is watching out of sight,
And turning shadows black ?

Who’s that walking where I’m walking,
Pacing half a pace behind ?
Who’s that lis’ning when I’m talking,
Twitching back the mental blind ?
What’s this tongue that’s speaking tongues ?
Who’s beating heartbeats next to mine ?
Who is that breathing in my lungs,
And shivering upon my spine ?

I know, I know, I’m overwrought,
From which my phantoms stem…
But who is thinking all my thoughts,
And who is hearing them ?



The Haunted Schoolyard

black wooden door frame
Photo by ramy Kabalan on


The Haunted Schoolyard

We’ve all heard the stories in the school lunch-queue,
Every village has its ghost or two:
Headless horsemen, women in white…
’Course, we don’t believe you, and you’re just kidding, right ?

Witches had a presence – there was always one around,
But werewolves and vampires, were rarely ever found.
We knew them from the telly, sure: a terrifying throng,
Yet somehow in the villages they didn’t quite belong.

And then there was that we·ird guy who hardly ever spoke,
Since ever since he’d lived alone, and never smiled at folk,
And his house was full of boxes full of empty snail shells,
And it made these funny noises, and sometimes funny smells.

The heroes of the playground were the locals who won’t rot:
The strangled and the drowned and the poisoned and the shot
Spirits of our neighbours – though they’re long since dead and gone –
Except, of course, they’re not.  They’re out there.  Pass it on.



Listen, Children…

low angle view of man standing at night
Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw on


Listen, Children…

Listen to the east-wind as it rattles at the window latch…
Listen to the mice behind the skirting…scritter-scratter-scratch
Listen to the garden foxes gnawing on some unearthed bones…
And listen to the creaking and the thumping and the sighing groans…

Now the sun has gone to bed and now that night has spread its gloom,
Then shall I tell you, children, of the ghost that haunts this very room ?
Listen closely…closer still…behind the death-watch beetle’s click…
And there he is…the ghost of time…the never-ending tick-tick-tick

Shall I tell you, children, shall I tell you what is worse than witches ?
Scarier than sprites and spectres…filling sleep with sweats and twitches…?
Listen then…and listen for the tiny voice on nights like this…
The tiny voice that ev’ry child must hear…must hear its icy hiss…

Never witches…never spectres…nothing ever living on…
Nothing from an afterlife, and nothing but oblivion…

Listen…can you hear it ?  Can you hear the voice from the abyss…?
Listen to the tiny voice that terrifies on nights like this…