Friday, 16 November 2018

Esther's Pants

Esther’s Pants

Esther used to sell white lace panties
to the bra buying frantic masses
crotchless consumption on the box
giggling her maybe born with it maybelline 
wearing harmony supersoft is she isn't she seen
sofa perching with peephole socks
 her glitterball powder puff cleavage
late-night-morning television camera lingered
sticky flicker handset sucky fingered
a dripping longing kind of phone in moaner
begging you to call her like some loose loner
a flag day waving not drowning 
 wet bent children in need charity donor
weather girl raining scum suds on your parade
should’ve left, should’ve right, should’ve stayed
soured whipped cream rain is very likely
during tonight’s seasick crossing of the lobby
from her gut to Plymouth Sound
tacky gummy stain on zipped-up trousers
because play-pause viewing is an irredeemable hobby
tissues ripped rough from the carton
soaked and sodden it’s true
tightly cupped tits pressed
together with marzipan glue
oozing from last year’s wedding cake
full beam on like erect thrust rippled fabric
or rough shanked nipples like when
she complained it was wrong putting Ed on piano
he was all too shallow
to sing some duff mindless song
like shut the fuck up and dance with me
she groaned she was sure it was
some fucking cack like this or that
or north of northwest Budapest
so clamp her let me leave mouth and give it a rest
because all the mindless proles
who voted for the dole and the rotting coal
dead buried in the ground deserve nothing less
look she’s left them hanging out
in the heat to melt
spilling over her frock leaning forward
legs open cashing in the camera flash
in a Dick Emery exit Brexit babyshambles
oh you are awful waving that thing at me
using your stiff cream to whip up the French letter trifle
blender to sticky mix Dutch oven pancakes
fixing sickly melted wax German candles
to the table top and squatting
repeating dribbling oily custard
up down in out shake it all about
resigned to sounds of beef curtains drip-dripping
twelve rounds of despatch boxer skipping
coy winking in public during the afternoon sitting

Saturday, 10 November 2018

In Dreams

In Dreams

Now that you live only in my dreams,
we hold hands and often meet there.
 Two again as once we were.
After you had murdered me
and I, in turn, killed you too
without us ever really meaning to,
for life got in the way,
and what’s a soul to do?
And, God knows, we never meant it, did we?
It was the last thing on my mind;
you have your reputation for being kind.
And me? Well now, love forever shines.
Oh, how citrus-bitter, how tart; 
we died too soon,
and lemons will stay sharp
no matter how much we sugar coat them;
 our eyes will sting. They will smart;
see murky shapes instead of hearts.
Too short, too brief an affair;
dodging bullets when we should have dared:
threw it over for fickle flirtations,
made excuses, found explanations,
rocked and wrecked our very foundations.
Still, now.
In dreams I keep you here with me, warm
while you shield me safe from harm,
hold us in our abstract arms
sheltered by silent spells and charms.
In dreams I wind us in and bring us back;
guard you close against attack,
touch you with those smiles we now do lack.
Fingers through my whispered hair,
laugh with love and careless share
with us our lost scented secret pleasure.
In dreams our minds still can meet,
revive first shy greetings, coy in desire:
wary still to relight the fire
that with us better knew the other you
close entwined as one in two.
Quiet. Hush. Don’t weep
when dreams brush night and softly greet.
For it is there we live and there we cry,
in dreams we burn, in dreams we die.
Between us make no mortal sound:
lost forever, yet forever found.

Friday, 9 November 2018

The Writer

The Writer

“Pleased to meet you, so pleased…I spend all week telling my A Level girls, ‘you know, girls, you know…your first line…that is the most important one,’ is what I say…”

“Is it? Where do you think my box of books is?”

Jeremy scratched his head with the sharp end of a pencil, winced and sucked the end with a grimace. He tongue-tipped on his yellow front teeth a couple of times. “Box of books?”

“Yeah. Box of books. It’s important. I think the Deputy Head said she’d have them in her office.”

“Well, I can go and look if you’d like, Robin. Then maybe we can talk about writing. I’m something of a writer myself, you know. Not in you league, of course, but I… ”

“Yes, yes. Would you find my box?” Robin answered, bent over and scumbling around in a dog day holdall. Like a magician down on his luck, disparate items began appearing on the parquet flooring. A bit of plastic in gaudy red with a black arrow, some tatty well-thumbed playing cards, and a few coloured pencils, sharpened half way down that xylophoned cheerfully as they bounced on the hard surface. “And a table. Normally I get a table. To display the books, you see?”

Jeremy scowl-balled the ever-growing seedy tip of tat on the flooring. “OK.”

“Don’t be long, for fuck’s sake. I’ll be on soon.”

So Jeremy deliberately sauntered through the wide corridor in something of a sulk. Earlier that morning, this was not the case. He’d arrived at school, scuttered out of the bus, fingered in and there had been something fuckling his brain. What was it? Yes, yes, famous writer to visit the kids in lower school.


Well, OK, published author. More than he’d achieved, to be fair.

Rumoured to have some connections with the BBC. And, it had to be said, the one last year had been a hoot. He’d written screenplays for some animated television series that Jeremy had never heard of, but, well, the kids had, and they cheered at the name every time it came up. Not to be sneered at given they were 6000 light years from home and in the middle of the hottest desert on the planet.

In fact, last year’s writer had been great. He’d simply turned up with a magic carpet and a grin full of teeth. Self-deprecating, funny and willing to do all sorts of humiliating stunts, followed by kindly rufflings of hair here and high fives there.

This time, to his horror, nothing had been set up.

“Famous writer. Here? In the school, you mean, and nothing organised?” he’d Basil Fawltied at the Deputy Head, “Well, let’s just have a computer hunt and be done with it.” And she’d smiled, shrugged and wafted away like the scent of lavender candles at sunset, leaving him to chase it all down, with minutes to go.

And, boxes within boxes, he now did recall the competition, that some three months earlier they’d somehow won. ‘Young Author Gulf Beatboxers!!’ or roughly that; high on the tacky side.

“Great stuff,” the Deputy Head had said, passing him the flyer, “teach this and we’ll enter it.”

“What do we do?”

“Simple. Next to nothing. Five famous writers have written the start to some short stories. All our students do is continue the stories to a conclusion. The winning schools get visits from one of the writers, a celebratory plaque and the stories published in an anthology.”

“I see. How do we judge these stories?”


“Pick the best ones.”

“Get your teachers to mark them and choose.”

“Well, yes, I can see that, every child writes a story and we mark them. Fair enough. We’re looking at three or four hundred pieces of writing. Are you sure?”

“You have a better idea?”

“Yes. We don’t do it.”

“This is a prestigious, Gulf wide competition. Every school in Kwatar will be fighting to get a famous British writer to their school. We cannot pass over this opportunity.

So, Jeremy studied hard the list of writers and the openings. The first one immediately caught his attention. It was called ‘The Box’ by F. R. Leavis. In fact, he recalled, he’d read it aloud. “Oh look!” he’d uttered, “A mysterious box! I wonder what it could contain? Shall we look?”

The second opening, titled ‘Beefburger’ went thus: “Mmm, this beefburger is good.” “Yes, but it came from a cow.” “Did it?” “For sure it did. Do you like killing cows, Punchy?”

By the time he came to ‘Hanging from the Cliff of Doomfulness’, he’d had enough.

Returning to the Deputy Head the next day, he’d said: “You know? I’m not sure any of these writers are actually that famous.”

“Not that famous?”

“Yes. Have you ever heard of ‘Duck Detective’ by James Splooge? Or ‘Winkers Academy’ by Terry Pruck?”

“Just get on with it, Jeremy.”

Three months later, they’d won. And their star prize was Mr Robin Blind, published writer.

Who was seconds out and stood in front of Jeremy’s hastily sourced laptop, projector and microphone and a fistful of young boys from Year 7. “A selection of my books.” Robin gestured at the screen and then at the table. “Available at the end of my presentation at 45 Riyals each. Or from the Deputy Head’s office. Just put your 45 Riyals in an envelope. Or cheques? Do you have cheques here? I didn’t check.” And he paused for laughter but received only polite attention. And some jeering. “Has anybody heard of cheques?”

And the boys applauded eagerly, pinched each other, indulged in some head swatting, glad to make noise.

They were a rowdy lot, these children. Jeremy was pleased to note.

Robin reached for the square of red plastic he’d fished out of the holdall earlier. Jeremy looked more closely at it – about three inches square with a black arrow that whizzed around as he flicked it with his forefinger. “This is my arrow of destiny.”

The boys whooped with mock delight.

The arrow spun. Jeremy wanted it to be exciting, but it was just some tacky black plastic prick, fizzling and revolving. Robin hand-waved his free palm above it like The Great Potato: “Round and round it goes and where it stops nobody knows.”

“Or cares.” It didn’t come out loud.

The arrow pointed into the audience of boys. But they couldn’t know this.

“YOU!” Robin pointed towards them. “The arrow has never been known to lie.”

The plastic prick might have been pointing anywhere and so might the arrow of destiny, but some kid stood up anyway. “Yes, sir?”

“You! Yes, the arrow of destiny has declared that you can be the next great writer. Come. Approach. And so could all of you, too.” And he waved his arms hither and thither as though they held a mighty cloak.

The 11-year-old scrap looked doubtful but approached his garden anyway. “Sir?”

“Now, how do we write a great story?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Fear not, young sir. I can enlighten you! I was once one such as you. A mere novice.” He waved his hands at the table of books. “Which of these takes your fancy, my stripling?”


“Which book do you want?”

The lad looked at the table. Then backed away. As though the table smelled of rotten socks. Or a sweated shirt after two hours of toil under the desert sun. “None of them.”

More delighted noise.

For the first time since he had begun, Robin looked less confident and Jeremy smirked behind his back.

“None? But I’m offering you one of my books.”

“No thank you.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t say.”

“OK. But maybe you’d like to learn how to write really great, best selling fiction?”

“Yes sir.” But the voice lacked conviction.

Nevertheless, Robin continued. “Nothing simpler,” he boomed, arms a-flapping. The boys had their dictionaries with them and, at his command, accompanied by a curt, cheaply made Prezzi presentation, they started to flick through them. Noisily. “Find a word,” Robin was explaining, “Then find another word. Give the two words a title.”

Much guttural noise accompanied some earnest page turning. “What you mean? What he mean? What words?”

“Like…er…Commander Pipecleaner.”

Gradually hands began to pop up. Robin started to pick one or two out.

“Lord Cocktumbler.”

“Chief Fangnibbler.”

“Colonel Titxylophone.”

Robin nodded in approval and turned the young lad. “See? And once you have such great names as these, you can soon make up exciting stories. I mean who wouldn’t want to hear about the adventures of Colonel Titxylophone, eh?”

The boy still didn’t look converted, “What’s a titxylophone?”

“A very special instrument. Very special.”

“Is it?”

“Of course. Like these.” he grunted, indicating the book table. “Exactly how I got started, you see? Now which would you like?”

The boy reconsidered and took one of the novels. As he picked it up and flickered it more closely with fingers, the air conditioning caught hold of an opened page or two and the whole thing began to flap around like a flimsy pamphlet.

A page detached itself, caught in the airstream, and began floating high above the lad’s head; a leaf in autumn.

Robin scowled, watching it flux. “Don’t just stand there, boy. Grab it. That cost me fifty pence!” But it was too late. An external door, opened by a cleaner, intervened and it just slipped away. “Always bloody happening, cheap as bloody chips,” Robin spluttered, abandoning hope. “This book is now retailing at 42 Riyals, boys. A magnificent discount and at no extra cost. That page wasn’t important anyway.”

More hands up and hubbub: “Was it about General Titxylophone?”, “What’s it about, sir?”

With a flourish, Robin pushed a button on the laptop to reveal the next slide. “Salty Pig, Pig Policewoman,” he announced. And the slide revealed a rather fat looking porker attired in a pink dress.

In front of him, a sharp intake of air. Silence. Mutterings.

Jeremy sniggered and poked Robin. “That is wrong in so many ways.”

Robin was losing it.

A hand shot up.


“Sorry, sir. Is that a bit like Pepper Pig, sir?”


“It looks like Pepper Pig.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Pepper Pig is banned in Kwatar.”


“It’s a pig.”

“It’s haram.”

“No it bloody isn’t. Well it’s a pig, obviously. But not anything like bloody Pepper Pig. I resent that. You think it doesn’t hurt? I created Salty Pig a long time before Pepper Pig came along, you hear? If anyone else insinuates that I, Robin Blind, ripped fucking Pepper Pig off to create the entirely different Salty Pig, they can do one. Get it?”


“Well Salty’s a detective for a start, isn’t she? When did Pepper ever detect anything? Well?”

“What about that time she had to look for George’s watering can in the swimming pool?”

“Yes, sir. In ‘Pepper is a detective’, sir.”

“Shut up.”

Jeremy blocked off Robin and spoke sternly. Well as much as he could, under the circumstances. “That’s enough, boys. Go to lessons.”

Robin protested. “But I haven’t finished. What about my books?” As the boys filed out, he continued, “my books? Doesn’t anybody want to buy great literature?”

“Your books are haram.”

“But what about the girls? I haven’t seen the girls, yet. You promised me girls.”

Jeremy looked Robin square in the eye. “It’s break. I’ll get you coffee. After that, I’m afraid I have to teach. But you know where my office is. Should you need me. Good luck.”

It must have been nearly the end of the day when Jeremy checked back to see how Robin was getting on.

And he was surrounded by a group of girls. Many of whom looked adoringly at him and were holding copies of his books. Jeremy strained to hear:

“Can we have a selfie?”

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to meet a famous writer.”

“Will you sign this book, Mr Blind?”

Robin Blind was all smiles, shits and giggles. “Of course, my pleasure. But only if you sign my book in return. Because, you know, you’ll be famous too. And I want an advance. On your autograph.”

Jeremy squinted to see. And Robin was indeed holding a book.

Now Jeremy couldn’t be totally certain, but he could have sworn it was a cheque book.

A blank one.