Thursday, 13 October 2016

'Ah, a Celtic Vibeiste.'

'How did Rabbit's book launch go?'
'Last Thursday…for National What Was That Thing We Can Forget About Again Day?'
'Ah…the poetry doings.'
'You'd forgotten, too, hadn't you?'
'I so had.  See how I dropped that in there?'
'I so did.  So how did his launch go?'
'Sooo…great success, Tigger said.  Rabbit--'
'--Brer Baudelaire--'
'--sorry, je suis desultory, M. Baudelaire was reading with a Celtic vibeiste.'
'Her words channel the valencies of all things Hibernian, Tigger's proportional representative said.'
'Tiffany Breathless?'
'That's the pied-a-terre occupant.'
'Who is this vibeiste?'
'Meabh Na Bandwagonagh.'
'Hibernian herself?'
'Sooo, apparently her grandad was a barman on the Isle of Man ferry.'
'For a good three months.'
'And Rabbit read what?'
'From his collection.  His slim vacuum.'
'I thought he'd only written that poem about having a leaf in his gob.  How did he--'
'--he got help from Tigger's PR and her PR.'
'She's got one?'
'Viola de Gapyear.'
'So what's it called, his slim vacuum?'
'Deep In My Heart, Where No-one Can See, I'm Oppressed But Photogenic.'
'Gosh, that's a real mouthful.'
'Oddly enough, what you just said is a line from another poem of his...theirs.'
'About what?'
'I didn't presume to ask.'

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

National Pottery Day 3: Brer Baudelaire

'Well, Pooh, it's all go.'
'Really. I'm sorry I missed it.'
'No, no, Thursday. National Pootling Day.'
'Oh, that, yes.'
'Tigger's been visioning Rabbit.'
'He doesn't want to make a habit of that.'
'It means getting him ready for his poetry launch.'
'Oh, really?'
'Yes. He has a proper poet name and everything.'
'Proper poet name? "Rabbit" not good enough?'
'Well it would have been last year. Tigger says that National Ptomaine Day '15 was all about channelling the edgeland-glade-and-wistful-wood vibe, so "Rabbit" would have done nicely. But as Tigger also says, we were then in the then then but now we're now in the now.'
'He does know he's talking out loud?'
'Yes. Tragically. Anyway, they found a name format that's been lying around for a few months because the previous owner no longer has need of it. Having…you know…'
'Having what?'
'Gone to meet his Mater.'
'Oh…oh, you mean that Mr Bowie.'
'No the other one…the one word--'
'Yes. Only he stopped being that and became The Artist Formerly Known As Prance.'
'So Rabbit became what?'
'The Poet Formerly Known As Rabbit.'
'Doesn't make sense…'
'No, they realised that--'
'I mean, Mr Prance, that was his name. He could stop using it and keep prancing.'
'Yes, Pooh, they--'
'Whereas Rabbit is called Rabbit and is a rabbit.'
'Pooh, they did--'
'He can't un-rabbit himself, National Potiphar Day or not.'
'Pooh, they modified it.'
'Tigger and his PR.'
'Gosh, he has a proportional representative.'
'Or is it PA?'
'Gosh, he's bought Philadelphia.'
'Personal Assistant.'
'Who is?'
'Tiffany Breathless. She came up with what she called an interim-facing-fix-going-somewhere-or-other.'
'Which is what?'
'The Poet Still Intermittently Called Rabbit.'
'Mmm. No. Timing problem, Piglet.'
'How will we know when he's a poet and when he's a rabbit? We might see him out and about and say, "Hello, Rabbit, how are you?" but if we, you know, pick the wrong time, we might never get "I'm well, thank you" out of him.'
'Well actually, Pooh, they realised that, too, so--'
'I mean I might just want to pass the time of day with him--as him--but instead I might get an earful of that…you know…stuff.'
'Well, that's why they did what Tiffany called an assessment and unfurther-doingness implement, so--'
'I might say "Hello Rabbit" and he might give me the old, you know, "Thou still unvarnished bed of quietness" and all that.'
'They've decided--'
'Or start wittering about that Arthur League and how he kept going onwards--'
'Pooh, they've changed his name again.'
'Brer Baudelaire.'
'French poet, Baudelaire was. Tigger says he wrote Fleurs du Mal.'
'What's that mean?'
'Flowery and bad, apparently. But he's really famous. Tiffany says the name has cashew.'
'Fleurs…you sure it isn't Mal's Flowers?'
'Ah, well, now, she and Tigger didn't rule that out either.'
'So we're talking about bouquet-facing sponsorship.'
'A tee-shirt, at the very least.'
'"How's my emoting?" No, can't see Rabbit in a tee-shirt. Or writing a poem, come to that.'
'Oh, that's not a priority. The main thing is to be a poet.'
'Has he written any?'
'Just the one.'
'Which is?'
'"With a wife and twelve kids
and a leaf in my gob
that's amore.…"'
'They've got their work cut out.'
'Going forwards.'
'Backwards, Piglet. Emphatically backwards.'

Saturday, 1 October 2016

'There must be a cream for that.'

'Well, Pooh, it's all happening.'
'Thank goodness for that. What is?'
'The BBC's commitment to supporting National Pottery Day.'
'Tigger says more presenters are lining up to re-vision poems which are old and therefore by definition useless.'
'An ancient phrase, he says. It's Old Orthopaedic for have another butcher's.'
'Fancy. So who's re-visioning now?'
'A couple from Long Lost Motorway Cops are doing John Clare's senate, "I am, yet what I am none cares or knows".'
'Special sort of poem, Pooh. All the words have to sit in rows according to power and function.'
'Ah, yes…like that "Shall I compost thee in the summer hay".'
'The very example I was about to give, Pooh.'
'So did it go all right, then? Their butchering of "I am what I am"? Always thought that was Popeye.'
'"I am, yet what I am none cares or knows," Pooh. Well, there were some teething troubles.'
'Oh, dear.'
'Yes, one of them thought John Clare was the other one's new stylist.'
'Ah, it happens. Let's hear the butchering, then.'
'"I so am but wtf I so am totes nobody gives a monkey's".'
'It has a certain….'
'Plangent yearning, Tigger says.'
'There must be a cream for that.'
'Several, I should think.'

Thursday, 29 September 2016


'Did you know, the sixth of October is National Poetry Day.'
'Oh, really?'
'What happens, then?'
'Poetry comes back.'
'From where?'
'From exerting, says Tigger, an indescribable but nourishing glow in the collective psyche.'
'So from lying down the back of the sofa till someone says, hang on, where's Poetry?'
'Well, he does forget his medicine sometimes.'
'Does it know it's the sixth?  I mean, might it turn up late.'
'It might do, but that's allowed, apparently.'
'Is it?'
'Poetic licentiousness.'
'But this year there's lots of support for it.  Their BBC is promoting it in a big way.'
'Ah…so that'd be Huw Edwards reciting 'Three Blind Mice' just before 'the news wherever you are…if you know where you are…and if you're halfway between where and where else, you get a double helping.   Ta for the licence fee.'
'Even better.  They've got those ladies from Strictly Locate and Flog doing some famous poems.  Like that one…oh…the one about calorie-count anxiety.'
'The Waist Land.'
'Yes.  They do a double-act.'
'Well there's a thing.  How does it start?'
'Erm.. So April is, like, totally the ever-so-not-nicest month.
         OMG, Claudia!
         Oh, yes, as it goes…lilacs get bred
         Shut the back door!  Out of what?
         Out of land that's not living.
         You mean land like Prince and Bowie?
         I so do.
         Shut up!
'I can't wait, Piglet.'
'Of course you can, Pooh.'

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Trousseau Distressed

'Well, Tigger says everyone's excited.'
'I'm sorry, Piglet, I still fail to see why.'
'Because it's back!'
'Back on tv.'
'Sounds a funny old name, Poldark.  What's it about?
'Nobody knows…'
'Or cares…'
'Well, actually, nothing happens.'
'So why is everyone excited?'
'Because at certain specified points the main gentleman with the lottest of words…he…well, he…'
'He what?'
'Gets his trousseau out.'
'Out, yes, his trousseau.'
'I would have thought his bride-to-be had the trousseau.'
'Me too.'
'Well can't she slope on and get it out?'
'That might provoke comment.'
'What, even more than him getting it out?'
'Mmm…even stevens, Tigger reckons.'
'Seems a bit churlish, him getting hers out.'
'No, no, it's his.  A symbol of flux, Tigger says, a mark of fluidity.'
'Sounds like they need the dry cleaners.  So he's done this before, this gentleman?'
'In the last series.'
'Hmm…doesn't sound very committed…'
'To what?'
'Oh, for pity's sake, Piglet--marriage!  If he's spent weeks just sloping on with a suitcase, flinging it open and getting his trousseau out, filling the screen with frilly shirts and red commabonds--'
'I don't think he--'
'Doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to tie the splice, is what I'm saying.'
'Well…you could be right…or she isn't.'
'Or she isn't.  They might be ready to go each time, script, director all set to yell through a megawatt, and she says "Hey, love, forget all that, why don't you just go on and do a bit of trousseau-distressing", and he says "You reckon?" and she says "Oooh, yeah, you know how I love the way you rummage about in your--"'
'Perhaps I'll tell Eeyore to give it a miss.'
'Well, it's set in Cornwall.  He thought it was about a donkey sanctuary.'

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

'Saturday evening houses in summer'

Published in Dream Catcher #33 (Summer 2016)

Saturday evening houses in summer

Saturday evening houses in summer
are all the go with pans and crockery
fed to the sink a flash of bus window
predicting out-of-season players massed
for the next stop brimful with pride with pain
but either way half-cut the table smells
of Indian or fish thin out beneath
the upstairs perfumes talcs the dresser-mess
wardrobes blown wide controlled explosions
of tops and knickers soon a thousand towns
will be turned over to the taxi-freight
of token ties alpine hems splendid lungs
till hours on a million mobile screens
skim through the dark like moonflakes
                                                               meanwhile those
becalmed in Saturday evening houses
confect distraction through other screens with
twenty year old rural bloodbaths or some
natty-pastel guide hopping trains from Rhyl
to Bangalore soon enough the taxis
will slow for drives and junctions abandon
the skewed the disassembled
the houses are growing their Sunday skin
to suffer the drag of car-boot lugging
feel retail routes unfurled the quickened breath
of churchyard grasses on the up and up

Saturday, 9 July 2016

FAQ: a dialogue for two combatants

Performed at the Progress Theatre Play Festival, Reading, and the Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham.

FAQ, a dialogue for two combatants.

A, motorist.  B, car-park attendant. 

A walks over to B.

A:  ‘Scuse me, is this a private car park?
B:  Does it look public?
A:  (gestures behind him at his car) Would it be all right to leave my car
B:  You here for the meeting?
A:  Is there a meeting?
B:  Can’t you read the signs?
A: When does it start?
B: So you are here for the meeting?
A: Could I just park here before it starts?
B: So you’re not here for the meeting?
A: Twenty minutes, half an hour, would that be ok?
B: What’s the purpose of your parking?
A: It is late-night shopping tonight, isn’t it?
B: So that’s your purpose?
A: So would twenty minutes be ok?
B: How about one of the designated car-parks?
A: This isn’t designated, then?
B: Did I say it wasn’t designated?
A: So it is designated?
B: And what did I say it was designated for?
A: (slight pause) For the meeting?
B: Can’t you read the signs?
A: So where are the designated car-parks, then?
B: Where were they last time?
A: Last time?
B: Where did you find them last time you went shopping?
A: But are they the same?
B: The same?
A: For late-night shopping?  Can you use the same ones you use for
B: Why wouldn’t you?
A: Mightn’t they be coned off?
B: Why would they be coned off for late-night shopping?
A: Special regulations?
B: And who goes round keeping folk from parking in car-parks?
A stares momentarily at B.
A: Look, would fifteen minutes here be ok?
B: Can’t you find one of the designated car-parks?
A: Are they near this one?
B: Can’t you read a map?
A: Do you have one?
B: Do I look like I have one?
A: Where’s the nearest one?
B: Map?
A: Car-park?
B: Do you know Bullivant Street?
A: Is that off Spring Lane?
B: Where on earth is Spring Lane?
A: Between the precinct and the old church, isn’t it?
B: Which precinct do you mean?
A: I’d only be ten minutes, ok?
B: Nippy shopper, are we?
A: Aren’t you, when you know what you want?
B: Does that make any difference?
A: To what?
B: Can you do it in ten minutes?
A: Why wouldn’t I?
B: What about dawdling?  Using your mobile?  Bumping into a friend?
A: Do I look like I’d dawdle?
B: Do I look like I’d know if you would?
A: Barely ten minutes, is that ok?
B: So you think you can make it?
A: Do I look like I couldn’t?
B: (holds hands up) Have I demanded to give you a health check?
A: Can’t you trust me?
B: Feel your pulse?
A: Can’t you have faith?
B: Hear your heartbeat?
A: Can’t you give me a chance?
B: Tap your knees?
A: Can’t you let me try?
B: So you know which shop?
A: Why would I say ten minutes--?
B: Barely ten minutes, wasn’t it--?
A: --if I didn’t know?
B: And one of the other car-parks?  It wouldn’t be nearer?
A: Would you say it’d be nearer?
B: Which shop is it?
A: Does that matter to you?
B: Mightn’t another car-park be better?
A: So where’s the nearest to here?
B: Do you know Bullivant Street?
A: Will you let me go?!? 
B: Seven minutes?
A: There and back?
B: Shall I time you?
A: Do you think you’ll need to?
B:  (produces watch)  Are you ready?
A: What does it look like?
B: Are you steady?
A: You think I’ll need as much as seven minutes?
B: Will you go like the clappers?
A: Has any other car arrived since we’ve been talking?
B: Fly like the wind?
A: Is there really a meeting?
B:  (holds watch ready)  Like a bird in the sky?
A: Are those notices your way of coning this car-park off?
B: Shall I press the button . . . ?
A: (turning, running)  Shall I show you a clean pair of heels?
A exits.  B looks after him.  Smiles.  Walks over to where A indicated his car was.  Takes out book, starts to write ticket.
B: Do you think I’m a fool?
Tears ticket off.  Freeze.