Mischief Night, and the Devil is abroad – He could be here. For on this night, be you tenant or lord, There’s something near. Be it a ghost, or the ghost of a thought, The underworld or the over-wrought, It may be all, or it may be naught – It’s getting dark, my dear.
Mischief Night, and the Devil is amock – He could be nigh. For on this night, as our worries flock, His jinks run high. A will-o’-the-wisp, or a whisp’ring breeze, A chill in the air, or a banshee’s sneeze ? A frost tonight or a deathly freeze ? It’s getting cold – oh my…
Mischief Night, and the Devil is alive – He could be me. For on this night, the shenanigans thrive, And fools run free. Is that a ghoul, or a turnip’s head ? A friendly fright, or the living dead ? And the Devil just smiles and goes to bed – It’s getting late, you see.
Hippocalypse Now that the herd is in the barn, And now that the flock is in the fold, Then huddle close and I’ll spin you a yarn, The one my father told. And he was taught by his in turn, And he by his, the self-same airs That someday your own kids will learn When you tell them, and they tell theirs.
Sometimes, late at night, Out on the plains, or on the road, When the bats are in full flight To the singing of the toad, There can be heard the gallop Of a lonely charger wild, Through the ups of York and Salop And the downs of Kent and Fylde
There’s those who claim they’ve seen him, And they claim he rides a grey, A snow-white grey so gleaming That the very stars give way. A king, they say, with bow and crown, And horseshoes of cold steel – And ev’rywhere those hooves stomp down, The people come to heel.
Though some say he’s not invading Through our castles, towns and huts, But rather the land he’s raiding Is our throats, and veins and guts – Riding, riding, ever onwards, There is no defence – Though some may call him Conquest, And others Pestilence.
But many will say No!, he rides a chestnut When he roams abroad, And he wears a shining breastplate, And he holds a tempered sword – And he is War, yet not invasion, But a people one upon another, Year-on-year, at any provocation, Brother killing brother.
But fighting is fighting, and always near To the likes of us who are called on to bleed, And arrow or sword, it’s the same old fear When facing down the next stampede. Or maybe a few who see this horseman Get to then escape to tell – Yet whether Mongol, Moor, or Norseman, All those roads lead straight to Hell.
Still, I have also heard it told by folks That the horse is jettest black, And gaunt enough that each rib pokes, With scarcely strength for saddle or pack – But its passenger can’t weigh much, at least, He’s spindly as his balancing scales – Clearly the lord of the Famine, not the feast As he measures out losses from frosts and gales.
Then others say his is the best-fed mount In any town it passes, Glossy like the fur-coat of a count Against their threadbare nags and asses. And the dirt where its hoofprints have trodden is barren now, The only thing growing is the drought – The fields are always so shy of the plough When Famine goes riding out.
Yet the final vision of our phantom knight Is the strangest of all they claim to have seen, When robed in black, or robed in white, On a pale steed – maybe dun, yet maybe green. Some say a skeleton, devoid of flesh, And what does he carry ? An hourglass of time ? A downturned torch, or a flail to thresh ? Or a sickle to scythe the stalks in their prime ?
And they give him a name, they call him Death. But surely all these versions are that – So death by what ? Perhaps from a poisoned breath, Or the slurry from the mines, or rancid fat ? Maybe our souls aren’t chaff to the miller, But the smoke in the lung and the acid on the stone – Pollution, that’s the next big killer – And surely worth a horseman all of its own.
So light all the candles and ring all the bells, To ward off the Silent Divider, And warn them in Wigan and Walsall and Wells Of the grizzled new face of the Rider. From Wetherby weavers to Tintagel Tin, From the tar-pits of Derby to Sunderland soot, So each time we breathe we invite the rogue in And his fingers leave shadows wherever they’re put.
Then listen, my children, listen for his hoofbeat, Listen as he slowly yet surely destroys By dogging the trudging of your own two feet In the choke and the grime and the constant noise. His other visions are horrors of our past, But it’s in our future that we all must die, And the fourth of the horsemen will take us at the last As he kicks up the dust as he’s riding by.
I suppose Pollution should cover the mass-deaths by human-caused tragedies, while Pestilence cover those from other living things while Famine has the natural disasters gig. This would mean that a plague of locusts is definitely one for Pestilence, while Famine would deal with meteor impacts. But don’t even get me started on green horses…
October is the month when all the dead Are brought to life again – In our imaginations spectres tread, And sceptics howl in vain. So why must we be common-sensers, Jaded cynics, sober sisters ?, When the world wants will-suspensors, Playful panics, logic-twisters.
What the Hell ! And if it’s Hell you want, Then take it – take it all ! Mine’s a holy water from the font With a twist of lime, served tall. At least it’s safe, when Satan is A dentist wearing plastic horns. It’s ketchup blood and dry-ice fizz, And no-one’s killing newly-borns.
October is the month when all the dead Are brought to life again – In our imaginations, streets run red With ev’ry guilty stain. We’ve all got demons locked within – Let’s keep them in until they’re slayed. For that is worth believing in – The luxury to be afraid.
What the Hell ! Take all the Hell you need – I mean, at least it’s warm. Mine’s a chilly wisdom, I concede, In the face of an eerie storm. So have the month, enjoy your frights, And call me killjoy all you like, It’s fine – we’ll all sleep sound at night, As once again the dead don’t strike.
Reverend, Reverend, writer of the tales: Murder, guilt and passionlust, herringful and slick. Popular and idolised, blessèd are your sales, Though the critics pan you off as “slight” and “formulaic”.
Reverend, Reverend, writes another tale: Murder, guilt and passionlust, once more with a twist – The victim here is Jesus Christ, crucified, impaled. Yet we know the killer has to be the one who kissed.
That’s okay, the Reverend is not asking whodunnit, He tells it straight and poignant; for kudos, not for wealth. Yet at the Ascension, so a final twist is sprung: It turns out in Heaven waits old Lucifer himself.
“Just how can a Christian priest write of such a blasphemy ?” Ask his readers and his bishop, still not comprehending. “All because I do believe the Lord will yet forgive me, (And I’d surely sell my soul for fiendish-good twist ending.)”
I feel the joke in this one is rather laboured, as are some of the rhymes. Incidentally, the Bible contains one of the first locked-room mysteries in literature in the Book of Daniel (or at least in the versions that allow house-room for the apocryphal additions such as Bel & The Dragon). And if you’re interested, the most common fish in the Sea of Galilee was the tilapia.
Moses is a psycho, And Jesus is a wimp, Buddha is a lardarse, Ganesh is more a gimp, Mohammed is a pedo, While Mary is a prude, Yahweh is a rapist, And Paul is just unglued.
Onan is an onanist Who loves to bash the bish, Zeus a sexual preditor, Cthulu cold as fish, Ra just gives us side-eye, While Odin squints when viewed, And Allah must remain unseen Because he’s in the nude.
Just as a church is crowned by a spire, And just as the spire is crowned by a cross, So the cross is crowned by a stiffened wire That points heavenwards and reaches higher, Showing God that science is boss. From king to serf to country squire, Nobody’s prayers and nobody’s choir, To God or Thor or Helios, Can stop the bolt of electric fire – Not any pope or priest or friar Can tame the spark and spare the loss Like copper can. And that is why There’s a spike that jabs the eye of the sky, With a finger raised to the holy man on high.
Pick a team, son,
Any team you like,
But choose them well –
They’re yours now,
Your burden, your dream,
Through joy and hell,
Through triumph and strife –
For you must support your team
For the rest of your life.
Don’t ever think
That you can change –
For that’s disloyalty.
I know, it’s strange,
But you must persist
And treat them like royalty.
And even though
They’ll never know you exist,
You still must follow them
Through goalless draws and penalties missed –
Taste the myths and swallow them.
For they are your brand now,
Your Lord, your quest,
So bare their sponsor
On your chest
Sing in the stands, you never know,
You just might spur them on,
Or yell at the screen from your sofa,
Praying for goals –
Your wishful-thinking beaming over the ether.
Be a believer, wish upon
A star right-back, a sainted attack,
A keeper who saves our souls.
Pick a team, son,
Any team you like –
But just the one.
For now you’re theirs,
And all your cares,
Your misery and fun
Are bound up in their fortunes,
Highs and lows,
As the seasons run,
From half-time mid-life woes,
Until the final whistle blows
And your game is done.
The lions weren’t alone in the Colosseum
To kill the priests –
Not that there were none,
But the Romans also had their fun
With boars, and bulls, and dogs, especially dogs,
To be the beasts.
Their moment was the lunchtime lull
When public executions filled the interval –
And some, I guess, were Christians,
Making up the Lions’ feasts.
Of course, a Colosseum death
Was for the criminals –
And Christians weren’t often used
To feed the animals.
Persecution was rarer than lions –
It happened, but only in spurts.
But how to vilify Roman indiff’rence
And un-martyred lack-of-hurts ?
We needed far more dramatic saints,
So unleash the lions and uncork the paints !
Jephthah’s daughter never had a name to call her own,
Nor a life beyond her moral,
Nor a point beyond her sacrifice –
And so she nags us to atone
Just by being, just by dying,
Just by owning nothing but a price.
She’s just a noble loser, bewailing her virginity,
A shibboleth to adolescents searching for divinity
In mopey acquiescence.
A role model for the lonely nights,
But one of fleeting fame –
Discarded by her acolytes
Once they discover girls who bear a name.