The President is dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the Vice,
“I am the next in line,
For the order is precise
And this is my time to shine
A cool head and a steady load.”

But now the Vice is dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the Speaker,
“I am the next in line.
All other claims are weaker
And are junior to mine.
I get to tread the royal road.”

But now the Speaker’s dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the head of the Senate,
“I am the next in line.
For that’s how the framers pen it –
And their penmanship is fine.
Let it be said, I am bestowed.”

So now the matter’s put to bed,
He gets the nuclear code.

“Wait !” said the new head of state
“Who now is next in line ?
I must appoint a running mate,
A brand new Vice to guard the shrine,
To rule instead if I explode.”

“But hang on, boss” the new Vice said,
“Hand over the nuclear code.

For you are still a Senator,
And only acting next-in-line.
I’m number two, you’re number four –
I clear outrank you, so resign !,
Before the Feds reach panic mode.”

So, now all logic’s fled,
Best hide the nuclear code.

The Curse of the Couplets

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

The Curse of the Couplets

A minister’s office.  There is a knock and the Professor enters.

Ah, professor, good afternoon.
It’s really very good of you to see me quite so soon.

Oh, no trouble, Minister, no trouble at all.
I came the very minute that I first received your call

Then let me bring you up to speed the problem facing here:
Something has been happening, and something very queer.
Something has affected quite the very way we speak,
It’s spread across the nation within only half a week,
It’s very hard to spot, of course, which makes it all the worse –
But each and ev’ry citizen has started talking verse.

But surely you don’t mean…

Alas, I rather mean I do.

But what then made you realise ?

(on intercom)
Ah, Bridget, tea for two.
(to Professor)
Oh, little things, just nagging doubts.

You thought you had some pests ?

We wanted to be certain, so we ran a batch of tests.
We’ve got our finest boffins out there looking for the source.

But why then did you turn to me ?

It’s time to alter course.
We need to find an antidote, we really can’t delay.
And that is why I called you in…

We’re out of Earl Grey.

Well never mind, well never mind, I’m sure this shall suffice.

Bridget exits.

I really can’t imagine I could give you sound advice.

But you’re our finest scholar, you must surely have some clue ?

Nothing at the moment, I’m afraid.

One lump, or two ?

But are you really certain that we’re talking all in rhymes ?
There hasn’t been a mention in the Telegraph or Times.

We’ve had to keep it hush-hush so as not to cause a panic.
Would you like a ginger-nut ?  Don’t worry, they’re organic.
Of course, it isn’t fatal – no, the country’s not entombed –
It’s just so very curious…

We’re doomed, by God, we’re doomed !

Now not to be alarmist, or to overstate things grossly,
You’d never even know it’s there unless you listen closely
To the steady pitter-patter in the rhythm of each sentence…

We’re doomed, I say !  We must all pray, and beg the Lord’s repentance.

Professor !  Pull yourself together !  I need you now to think;
There must be something, anything, to save us from the brink ?

Wait !  There may be something…the problem is systemic.

The problem is we’ve staring at a bloody epidemic !

The problem is within the brain and its linguistic centre
Now, usually it’s very good at recognising…

Door knock


Bridget enters and clears the tea things.

…the diff’rences in how we speak, but something has confused it

Shall I clear the paper, too ?

I haven’t yet perused it.

We need to shake it up again, with something quite sublime:
By ending ev’ry sentence with a word that doesn’t rhyme !
Now ev’ryone’s aware that there is nothing rhymes with orange…

I’ve contacted the builders to come and fix the door hinge.

Another word that comes to mind – there’s none to find with chimney.

That Watkins tries to feel my legs – he said I had a trim knee.

There must be more, there must be more – I’m sure we’re safe with plinth.

That gift I need to buy your son – was it guitar or synth ?
I’ve called the milliners – your wife has found her trilby small.
Will there be something else ?

No thanks, I think that will be all.

Bridget exits.

There’s must be more examples, such as anxious, purple, month…

No rhyme, say you ?  That can’t be true !  Why, surely there is…
There is…
Hah !  You’ve done it !  I’ve stopped rhyming.  How can I ever thank you professor ?  Your suggestion will save the country.  Finally, we can stop the rhyme.

That’s alright, Minister.  Any time.

Follow Your Nosings

Photo by Pixabay on

Follow Your Nosings

Ev’ry staircase runs in two directions,
Even MC Escher’s –
Join midway – on a landing, say,
And we all must make selections –
Oh, the pressure !
Do we climb for the sky through the oculus eye ?
Or sink in the bowel of the gravity well ?
Perhaps it’s an endless trip round a Mobius strip…
Seems like Jacob’s dreams have gone to town,
As the stairs go up, but the stairs go down –
Descend today, and tomorrow we rise,
Or labour now for a future of ease.
Up is always hard on our thighs,
And down is hard on our knees.

Some Officers Have Coaches And Horses To Order About

detail from Royal Sappers & Miners, Working Dress, 1854 by George Campion

Some Officers Have Coaches And Horses To Order About

Landau, take me down the lane.
Hansom, turn beyond the trees.
Phaeton, take me home again
By fifty-four degrees.
Ride a tangent from the mews
To the sign of the Hypotenuse.

Adjacent to the Octogon,
Opposite the bend in the strand,
For a measurable distance on.
Times by the four-in-hand.
Send a spyder, send a fly,
On a steeplechase by the root of pi.





On the Inability of many Victorians
to adequately append to their Dissertations
such short and succinct titular Benamings
as would better serve their weighty Publications
without exposure to crucial Details
of sundry Devices and Plots thus delineated
by which the presumed Reader is disprivileged
and their subsequent Enpleasurement undersated.




a load of balls



Here’s a sing-song on playing ping-pong,
With a rat-a-tat-tat on the tic-tac-toe
With a whack and a smack and a snickersnack,
With a there and back to the come and go –
But the pitter-patter must clatter, I bet
When heard from the other side of the net.

Here’s a song-sing on playing pong-ping,
With a mi-re-doh to the swash and the swish,
With a tock-tick tock-tick clacker-click,
With a slow-slow-quick and a bosh-bash-bish,
With a fum-fo-fi-fee la-la-land –
But how does it sound if you play left-hand ?

Here’s a sing-ching on playing pong-pong
With a buckle-my-Schubert under par,
With a nee-nah nee-nah stick it up your jumper,
Baa-baa blast-off twinkle star,
With an eeney-meeny knees-and-toes –
But how does it sound if you’ve got no nose ?

Here’s a see-saw on Plato plink-plonk
With a yan-tan-tesseract mamma-me-and-you
With an all-for-one and a four-four-two,
A diddy-diddy-doo-da and lop-bop-be-doo
With an ella-menno-pee and a ringo-john-and-paul
But how does it sound from inside the ball ?

Here’s a *dok-dok* on playing *pat-a-pat*
With a *boing-boof-bok* and a *spit-spot-SPLAT*



Trees in Threes

flight landscape nature sky
Photo by Pixabay on

Trees in Threes

Alda Oldman the alderman
(Or Alda the Elder, as she is called),
Once planted an alder (or was it an elder ?)
That stands so bold (or stands so bald ?)

Linda Limey loves her lime tree –
Maybe citrus, maybe not,
But looks sublime in Summertime
When limelit in its limestone pot.

Poplar black and willow white,
I think that I have got that right –
But easy to confuse them, each,
Like copper birch and silver beech.


egyptian symbols
Photo by Lady Escabia on



We’ve seen them all on ev’ry wall
In Egypt – carved in profile style –
But here’s a game to try and name
The most – Let’s see, it’s been a while…
The eye of the Sun, I know that one,
The wavy lines that mean the Nile,
The ankh, the egg, the owl and leg,
The feather, sphinx, and crocodile,
The scarab of course…and was there a horse ?
The slug-like snake, that’s worth a smile…
The goose (or duck)…and then I’m stuck…
But the walls stretch on for mile on mile.



Twenty Seconds

washing hands


Twenty Seconds

Eeny meeny, counted Queenie,
Fingers one two three and four –
A fish alive and thumb makes five,
And on the other hand there’s more.
So rub-a-dub and squeeze and scrub,
And this little piggie wee wee wee
Index middle ring and little,
Pinkie perky owe-you-tee.

Queenie went to market
To buy a bar of soap
She went to Deal and Margate,
And Cape Town on the Hope,
But a laundry-maid from Washington
Had bought up ev’ry crate,
So Queenie had to wash with none
But ashes from the grate.

Queenie on her lone and only,
All her friends are all indoors –
All down with spots and chicken pox,
And tummy-aches and sores.
Queenie finds the streets are empty,
Like the swings and slides and stores –
They cannot come and play today,
They’ve all been through the wars.