A Locked-Tomb Mystery

Scottish Hot Cross Buns by Marijke Blazer

A Locked-Tomb Mystery

Maybe there really was a guy who said,
“Why can’t we get along ?”
Maybe the poor sap went and wound-up dead,
From when it all went wrong.
And maybe his still-believing converts claimed
He rose up from the grave,
Like dozens of disciples of previous prophets
Framed their loss to keep them brave.

Hardly a two-pipe problem, this.
Not much call for the little grey cells.
But round-up the witnesses if you wish,
And compare the parallels.
Now, how many women approached the site ?
Three ?  Or two ?  Or one alone ?
How many young men dressed in white ?
Was there a guard ?  Or tampered-with stone ?

We’ve so few clues for the how, why, or when,
But remember the first rule of proof –
If we first eliminate the impossible,
Then what remains is likely the truth.
Maybe there really was a guy who said
“Let’s love our neighbours, hey ?”
And maybe, alas, he really wound-up dead.
And that’s all there is to say…

The Bootymen’s Air

Beneath the Waves – Garden of Buried Hopes by Nightblue-Art

The Bootymen’s Air

There is, it’s said, a pirate ship
That haunts the Caribbean.
Or does she sail the Orient,
Or pilot the Aegean ?
Was ever there a stranger craft
On which men went to sea on ?

No-one seems to know her name,
For all she rides the swell.
Some say she’s The Banshee,
Some The Siren, some The Belle,
Perhaps there’s plenty meet with her,
But none who live to tell.

Yet one fact all agree on,
Is you hear her when she nears,
By a slow and lonely singing
That the ozone brings our ears –
And a world away from the racket
Of the usual pirate jeers.

They claim that it’s her figurehead
Who keens upon the waves –
That is, it is the ship herself
And not her crew of knaves,
As she bares down on the helpless souls
And sings them to their graves.

But eerier yet, her voice, they say,
Will echo off the sea,
And bounce upon the clouds and back
While the breeze blows in her key,
She sounds from all directions,
And in perfect harmony.

So if you ever catch a snatch
Of ghostly murmurings,
And if your hold is full of coin
And fingers full of rings –
Then pray it’s just the whistling wind,
And not the ship who sings.

Prayer to Self

Prayer to Self

Please remember to remind me
Where I left my keys.
I know you know, but will you say ?
You do so like to tease…
I cannot ask a god I can’t accept,
I’m on my own –
Just you and me, Subconscious –
Be an angel, not a drone.

I know, I know, we two are one,
You’re no more than a hunch,
And Up There is infinity,
That’s swallowed-up my bunch.
I cannot ask a god I don’t believe
To bring a fix –
So all that I can do is prod about
Till something clicks.

So please, by all that’s holy,
Shine a light upon my ring,
And I shall pledge the soul I lack
To better processing.
I cannot ask a god I‘ve never felt,
So I ask you.
It’s us against the endless void –
Just praying for a clue…


Read by Athelstan

1 AD

Photo by Barnabas Davoti on Pexels.com

1 AD

Hush, my little Yeshua,
So newly born, you are.
Hush, and I shall tell you
What is happening afar.

The Romans, under General Tiberius,
Strike North,
Campaigning through Germania,
In endless back-and-forth.

The Cartigena theatre has opened,
Hosting plays –
Full of tragedy and farce,
To while away the days.

They sculpt the finest statues,
And they write down history,
And measure circles and the Earth
To learn philosophy.

And out beyond their furthest outposts,
Other kingdoms rise,
From India to Polynesia,
Far beyond our eyes –

In China, a new emperor is crowned,
Just eight years old.
The Mayans build their pyramids,
The Incans mine their gold.

A thousand gods are worshipped,
From the Arctic to the Cape,
Where coelacanth and kangaroo
Rub shoulders with the ape.

I tell you this, sweet Yeshua,
Incase you cannot go.
There’s so much human life out there
Of which you’ll never know.

A more accurate but less pithy title would be 10001 HE..

The First of Logos

Photo by Barry Plott on Pexels.com

The First of Logos

My folks were full of the fear of God,
And full of His holy gravity.
Music, and dancing, were frivolous wastes
And bywords for depravity.
And birthdays passed with nary a mention
So’s not to lead our thoughts astray –
But I was still the lucky one,
For I was born on Christmas Day.

I was born in the dark of Winter,
In the midst of an Almighty freeze
Too far North for much of sunlight,
Too bleak for that many trees.
But ev’ry year, the town would string up lights
As if to lead my way,
And hope that it might snow for me –
For I was born on Christmas Day.

Ev’rybody wore a smile,
And nobody wore grey –
Ev’rything was done with style,
Right through to Hogmanay !
And my fav’rite animal, the deer,
Were ev’rywhere, with a sleigh !
How much I loved this time of year,
To be born on Christmas Day !

I was born in ignorance,
And thought all this must be for me –
The whole of the town would celebrate
That time I changed from two to three,
They cheered some more when I turned four,
At five and six, they cried hooray –
My parents couldn’t stop it all,
For I was born on Christmas Day.

They may not have given me presents,
But they gave me the greatest gift on Earth –
I used to think how lucky Jesus was
To coincide with my birth.
And piously, I’d thank the Lord
For far more joy than words can say.
And so I grew up loving life –
For I was born on Christmas Day

The choirs would sing,
The bands would play,
The bells would ring,
The shops display,
And all the world felt good and near,
In one long cabaret –
How much I love this time of year,
To be born on Christmas Day !

Menin Gate, 8pm

Menin Gate, Ypres by Chrostopher Martin

Menin Gate, 8pm

We, the onlookers, dressed for Summer,
Less of a troop and more of a pack.
Shins and forearms and heads uncovered –
Only the jackdaws are dressed in black.
Partly honouring, partly gawking,
English voices amiably talking,
Not many present are younger than fifty –
One or two pause to read the plaque.

Officials in blazers, though we’re well-behaved.
Squaddies’ fatigues, their shoulders say Dutch,
Though I swear their “left-right-left” is in English –
The crowd wear no medals – would that be too much ?
The towers of names are columns of debt,
Bearing down, by rank before alphabet,
In a random sample, I look for my own
In the Surreys and sappers and serjeants and such.

Suddenly, a hush, an announcement by speaker,
Telling we must not talk or applaud.
A trio of buglers – was that the Last Post ?
Then a soldier steps up, a little over-awed.
“They shall grow not old” he reads,
His accent heavy, and yet succeeds
To draw from us a shared Amen:
“We shall remember them”, these Brits abroad.

The bugles again, and wreaths are laid,
The squad march off in the evening sun,
And suddenly ev’rything melts into chatter –
We mill for a while, but the service is done.
The road reopens, the traffic drives through,
We pose for a final selfie or two,
But we’ve far too many atrocities to remember,
To focus on only one.

Godless Devilry

Photo by Mitja Juraja on Pexels.com

Godless Devilry

One day, I’ll be dead as a parrot,
I’ll feed the worms, I’ll buy the farm –
With neurons in my brain at peace,
As ev’rything I am shall cease.
One day – in my lonely garret,
Or else within my lovers’ arms –
But either way, when all is said,
They’ll tuck me in my final bed,
One day –
Aye, but not this day,
For this is the Day of the Dead !

So grab your tridents, grab your horns,
Your furry paws and crowns of thorns,
Tonight, there’s no-one weeps or mourns,
Unless it’s out of fright !
For this is a time to be alive,
In overdrive, till our veins run red –
There’s just no time to die tonight,
There’s a long long way to go before we’re dead.
At this time of year,
When entropy is near – let’s keep it light,
And laugh at our inescapable fate instead.

One day, I’ll be nothing but a past tense –
And that fact lurks at the back of my mind.
Ev’ry road will lead me to the grave,
With no prayer to pray and no soul to save.
It all makes simple, terrifying sense –
So I’ve learned to leave such thoughts behind.
For either way, come joy or dread,
They’ll close my eyes and shroud my head.
One day –
But not now, I say !
For this is the Day of the Dead.

So grab your accents, grab your cloaks,
Let’s haunt this technicolour hoax !
We’re just your av’rage mortal folks
Who laugh in the face of blight.
For this is a time to be alive,
Let’s joke and jive wherever we tread –
Who cares if we must die some night,
Let’s worry about dying once we’re dead.
At this time of year,
When existential fear is at its height –
Let’s laugh in the face of the mirthless void instead.

I cannot take any credit for the opening line. I just wish I could remember where I first heard it.

Appointments in Samarra

The Grim Reaper by Thomas Roth, showing a sculpture by August Schmiemann.

Appointments in Samarra

I meet the very best of men, too late,
At their very end,
I meet the kindest women, small and great,
As they unblend.
I also meet the very worst,
But even they become un-cursed –
I find a goodness in them all,
My temporary friends.

I couldn’t say what sends them on their way –
Biology or fate –
Who knows what dividends await ?
I’ve lost track of the holy text.
I only get to spend a minute or two,
To take them by the hand,
And help them pass on through
To whatever land shall be their next.

I meet the very best of folk,
And always just in time,
For one last breath, for one more joke,
Before they quit their prime.
I know not why it has to be,
Our sand runs out so fast –
But what an honour it is for me
To meet with you at last.

The title is a nod to William Maugham’s 1933 play Sheppey which, besides from being a rare celebration of working class life in a British play 24 years before John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, also popularied an old Arabian story. It’s so well told that it’s a shame to have to point out the absolute zombified world of Predestination it implies.

Middle-Class Voodoo

Photo by Joy Marino on Pexels.com

Middle-Class Voodoo

The Wiccans are newer than Mormons,
Are older than Jedis,
As ancient as Hubbard and Xenu.
For all that they claim to be Pagans,
They’re Beatniks and Hippies,
And Goths in a green hue.

And that’s all fine,
They’re free to be free –
With crystals and Maypoles and love-spells galore.
But there’s a good reason
They call it all New Age –
There never were witches at Salem, for sure !

So write your magick with a K,
And write your faerie with an E,
And dance around Stonehenge all day –
But you ain’t fooling me.

These magpies of Masons and folklore
Make far more sense
As their Twentieth-Century selves.
The Wiccans belong with the Martians,
From skiffle to hemp-heads –
Suburbanite dreamers and nuclear elves.



The scallop is the seafood of the gods,
The oyster of the Hells,
When plucked from out their wavy pods
And slurped within their shells.

As succulent as seaborne lambs –
Just witness Venus and St James,
United in their love of clams
To winkle from their frames.

James prefers his upside down,
As if to hide a pea beneath,
While Venus separates the crown
And scoops out with her teeth.

James gives pilgrims empty shells,
To aid in their devotion.
Venus mounts hers in hotels
To pose on with no clothes on.