An Ideal Crony

ideal husband
A lobby card from the 1947 Hollywood adaptation of An Ideal Husband, artist unknown.

 

An Ideal Crony

Sir Robert Chiltern, Bart –
A plummy, scummy, bleeding heart,
Who made some dosh insider trading –
Suddenly his star is fading
When extorted by a high-class tart.

What ho !, his chums in high-up places
Shall protect him from disgraces –
Don’t let on, don’t make a fuss,
For don’t you know he’s one of us ?
So stiffen up the lips on both his faces.

So what, a sacred trust was sold ?
We’d do the same for thirty gold !
So call the playwrite with the sharp wit,
Sweep it all beneath the carpet –
No need that the voting plebs be told…

 

 

Waifs & Fodder

chatterton
The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis

 

Waifs & Fodder

Impressionist painters in poverty
On canvasses lacking in threads,
Glamorous silent-screen starlets,
And bereted and bearded reds,
Scientists seeking-out secrets,
And dare-devils pushing their luck –
They died too soon and died too young,
When fortunes came unstuck.
In days before the drugs did for,
Disease was the way to go –
Consumption, of course – or else it’s the pox –
Or the needs of the narrative flow.
Heroines, gothic or chivalrous,
In novels antique or sublime –
They’re dying too young from the loin or the lung,
Yet they’re dying precisely on time.

 

 

Katya

farm cat

 

Katya

My life was good on Manor Farm –
Just catching rats and lapping milk,
And sleeping warm and safe from harm –
I had no qualms with Jones’s ilk.
Yet revolution saw it scrapped –
Ah well, a cat will soon adapt.

I let them give their speeches,
And I let them hold their votes,
As they banned all booze and breeches,
And they argued beets or oats.
I snoozed between the awed and rapt,
Because a cat can soon adapt.

By hoof and feather, cart and plough,
We each must labour, none must shirk –
But rodents are our comrades now,
So I am out of work.
My talents must remain untapped –
But hey, a cat shall soon adapt.

Yet I smell blood, and I smell fear,
Among the cowed who used to crow.
They ought to leave, but still they’re here –
For where else can these rebels go ?
They’ve made their home, and now they’re trapped.
Farewell – a cat must soon adapt.

 

 

My Mind, She Runs

sugar

 

My Mind, She Runs

I’ve always heard them say
That Golden Brown & Perfect Day
Are smuggling in some heroin
Cos that’s so rock & roll !
But I don’t think that’s such a feat
When looking at each lyric sheet –
There’s nothing there to threaten or cajole.

The Stranglers waltz around with metaphor
About…well, what ?
Some vagueries that lapse into an ideal love, perhaps,
To fox our trot, but little more.
And Lou is not opaque at all,
Just thanks for needed company –
And if it’s from a needle, well,
He fails to wink sufficiently.

Now, there’s no reason songs can’t hide
Another message deep inside,
But usually they’re straight ahead –
And if we let our fancies fly
We’re chasing diamonds in the sky
And swearing blind that Paul is dead.

 

 

Necessary Narcissism

omnia
Omnia Morte Cadunt by Barthel Bruyn

 

Necessary Narcissism

Yeats ?  I’m better than him, any day !
Shakespeare ?  Kipling ?  Take them away !
Wordsworth ain’t worth a word, nor a letter –
Betjeman, ha !  Bet you meant to be better.

Sure, they have moments – as do I, if you only knew –
But it’s only their moments forever retold and adored.
I could write beauty, should it suit me – and it does !, and I do !
But it’s always their words get remembered, and my words ignored.

To tell the truth, I’d always hoped I could have loved them all instead,
But then they never wrote the lines I wished and needed to be said,
And so it fell to me to please myself with what I couldn’t find,
And that is why it’s only I who sparks my picky, prickly mind.

Oh, they all have moments, and I cling to these for dear love –
That just for once they get me – when they get me right and get me good !
I need these, only ten times more so – scattered crumbs are not enough –
Why must I hack my own damn verses just to feel I’m understood ?

Perhaps I over-dramatise a little, make too much a fuss,
But surely we’ve all felt at times abandoned, like we’ve missed the bus –
They make such lofty claims of how they speak for us, these sacred arts,
Yet often fail so mis’rably to touch us in our hungry hearts.

Sure they have their moments – as do I !  Ah, but you’ll never know.
I wouldn’t care, if only they could steal my thoughts and set them free.
I know I have some beauty, somewhere – Ah, forget it, let it go…
If only I could love them as you love them – but it ain’t to be.

Yeats ?  I’m better, when we’re both said and done !
At least, to my audience of one.

Jellyfishes

disco medusa
Discomedusae by Ernst Haeckel

Jellyfishes

jellyfish – OED first citation 1796
medusa (in this sense) – 1752
sea-nettle – 1601

What did we call the jellyfish
Before we called them that ?
Aristotle was the first
To note what they were at –
He called them akelephe
In his mighty omnibus –
While Pliny called them sea-lungs –
That is, pulmo marinus.

At some point, they were likened
To Medusa, with the snakes –
So when Linnaeus crowned them that,
He simply upped the stakes.
But what about in English,
From before the mighty Swede ?
Shakespeare never mentioned them,
Nor Caxton, Chaucer, Bede.

I guess those Middle Ages folk
Just neither knew, nor cared –
Though fishermen, at lease, you’d think,
Would need to be prepared.
Sea nettle, I suppose
Could make the strongest claims,
But hands that felt the stings were not
The hands that wrote down names.

Yet surely they are tailor-made
To populate in Hell ?
It seems their nightmares missed a trick,
When jellies did not gel.
They kinda look like floating heads,
(Though clearly going bald).
Much like Cthulhu’s nameless ones,
Who knows what they were called ?

Adle Strop

adlestrop

 

Adle Strop

Yes, I remember the poet’s train
That pulled up one afternoon,
And waited by my bare platform
Unwontedly.  Was it late June ?

I had been whitless-still in fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky,
Listening to a blackbird sing
Of meadowsweet and haycocks dry,

When the express-train drew up there.
No-one left and no-one came.
The only thing they even saw
Were platform boards which bore my name.

And then they went, and took their noise,
Their hissing steam and flashing brass,
And left me once again in peace
With willow, willow-herb and grass.