Poetry Ping Pong – An announcement!

Thanks to an amazing amount of hard work, organisation and administration on the part of Daniel Haynes, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we shall be going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year with our show, ‘Poetry Ping Pong’.

To be honest I never thought we’d get in. It’s as part of the Free Fringe organisation, which means that all though we don’t get paid, we don’t have to pay ( much) to be a part of it. And having been to the Fringe twice before as a viewer, it’s something I’d always wanted to do.

So what’s Poetry Ping Pong all about?

It’s 5000AD and humanity has changed beyond recognition. Only two remnants of 21st century culture remain, albeit twisted, mutated into a new blood sport they call Poetry Ping Pong. The legends of poetry through the ages are resurrected, then pitched together in horrible, gladiatorial combat. Only two remain. Robert Garnham showed his worth by knocking out the bookies favourite, a cyborg TS Eliot reconstruction in the semis. And Daniel Haynes, slipped into the final by vanquishing a genetically extracted bio-slurdge Pam Ayres thing.

That’s the premise, anyway.

So we are putting on this show, and so far Dan has got us on the bill at the Bath Festival too, as well as the Barnstaple Fringe with our other show, ‘Bard Science’.

And I’m really looking forward to it, because it makes everything kind of official. I’ve always wanted to be a part of something like this. So for the next couple of months we shall be writing and practising and rehearsing and coming out with promotional material and all the other things that Real Poets Do.

On Tuesday we went to Barnstaple to look for a venue to perform in and we ended up in the science labs of the community college. The science teachers showed us round and interrupted the sixth form lessons to show us the different types of rooms that they had. The students seemed well behaved and only a few of them sniggered at the strange people who were standing in the doorway!

So that’s what’s coming up, then. Look out 2014, here we come!

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Performance Poetry and Me

This is the speech I shall be giving in a couple of weeks time at a sixth form college.

Robert Garnham – On Writing and on Being a Poet

For some reason I have always wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid I would write whenever the opportunity arose. Blank paper and notebooks used to fill me with a strange excitement as if I could just reach out and touch the stories that hadn’t come into existence yet. They seemed imbued with the promise of a thousand possible plot developments, characteristics, humour and high jinx, whimsy and rhyme. I would walk to school hoping that it would rain at lunchtime so that I could stay in the classroom and write on scrap paper instead of running around the playground and playing ‘It’ or whatever the hell it was we used to do. To this day I still love it when it rains because it reminds me of those days. The rain brings people down to my level.

As I grew up I found myself with less time for writing. But I did a lot of reading. Where friends watched football and sports and would know everything about what I believe they call the ‘FA Cup’, I followed the Booker Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Best Seller lists, the Culture Show, the weekend book reviews. Instead of Keegan, Wayne Rooney and David Beckmann, I had Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Marcel Proust. These were my heroes. I’d write emulating their style and I’d hope that someone might read it and say that I was just as good as them. My writing was rubbish. And my school friends would laugh because I didn’t know who was leading the ‘FA Cup’.

And then modern life intervened, like a rhinoceros poking through the bins out the back of Lidls. GCSEs, A-levels, exams, my first job in Sainsbury’s, falling in love, all the usual things. Powerboat racing. Haberdashery. Eventually I had a full time job and I was an adult, and then I decided to do Open University in the evenings while working during the day time. My writing suffered, as you can tell from this paragraph. And instead of writing to write novels and epics and modernist classics, I found myself writing short stories, plays and poems. Looking back now it’s a wonder I found the time even to do these. I had a bit of moderate success when a couple of short stories were published in a magazine. I was so happy that I wrote to the editor to thank him for taking a chance on an unknown twenty-three year old. He wrote back to say that he was seventeen. A few years later, a play I wrote called ‘Fuselage’ won a competition and excerpts from it were put on over two nights at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter by a professional cast, one of whom had been in Doctor Who. Things were looking up. And then the Northcott went bankrupt and fired everyone I’d been working with. I’m still not sure if the two events were connected!

‘Fuselage’ is in a drawer at home, at the moment.

In late 2010 I decided I needed to get out more and see some culture in my local area. By this time I was doing an MA in Museum Management and my brain was becoming frazzled. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to manage a museum as a job, but I concluded that I’d better finish what I’d started. To distract myself, I went to a night of performance poetry hosted by a comedian poet by the name of Chris Brooks, and I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw. It seemed to speak to me, and the audience was engaged, supportive, appreciative.

I’d never heard of performance poetry before, but I could see that it was a cross between comedy and poetry, and I thought, ‘I want to have a go at this’. Chris Brooks took a chance on and offered me a slot at the next evening. Feeling incredibly nervous, I went along a performed a couple of silly poems I’d written, and to my surprise the audience liked it, and so did Chris. They laughed in all the right places and clapped at the end. Nobody booed and nobody threw anything, and the one person who did walk out had only gone to the toilet. Chris invited me along to the next night, and then every night thereafter.

From this point, things built up steadily. I studied the craft of performance poetry – or ‘spoken word’, as some like to call it – and quickly deduced who the best ones were. There were the obvious choices, like John Hegley, Matt Harvey, John Cooper Clarke, and yes, Pam Ayres. These were the big names, with radio and TV exposure, legions of fans and each with well-crafted and rehearsed poems, polished rhymes, a certain rapport with their audiences. And then there were others, just as good if not better, like Byron Vincent, Rob Auton, Ash Dickinson, Liv Torc, Thommie Gillow, Nathan Filer. These were the people I was completely in awe of.

Big names from the spoken word circuit would come down to Torquay and I’d start to find myself invited to other places to perform. When Liv Torc, the Bard of Exeter at the time, invited me to her evening in Exeter, I felt like Wayne Rooney when he scored that thing he did for that team he plays for in the FA Cup Championship. Rachel Pantechnicon so liked my oeuvre that they invited me to London, offering me my first paid gig as a performance poet. And since then I have slowly built up a little bit of a reputation as poet of interest, performing regularly in London and various other places. The fact I get paid for it is still, for me, deeply surprising.

The other thing I’ve done of late is to start entering slams. Poetry slams are competitions in which the poet and their performance are judged by the audience. I was fortunate enough to win the Exeter Poetry Slam in 2012, and I came second at the Bristol Poetry Slam in 2013. I also came 22nd in the Cheltenham Slam, but I don’t talk about that one. My favourite slam was in Berlin, where I came fourth, even though I was the only one in English, and I couldn’t understand a word that anyone was saying.

So. How do I write?

To write, I have to be in a certain frame of mind. Sometimes this frame of mind comes easily, and I can just sit down and go for it. Sometimes it doesn’t. I might be distracted by small things, like whether or not the freezer needs defrosting, or whether or not to do a selfie and put it on Instagram, or why on earth it is that people like Eammon Holmes. So I have to get myself in the mood for writing. The best method is to get a piece of paper and just write anything. It can be a poem, or a paragraph, or some lines about nothing in particular, anything just to get the ink flowing and the mind conditioned. It’s kind of like swimming in the sea. You just have to plunge in and get used to it. Once you’ve got over the psychological barrier, then you’re free to go.

It’s good to have a specific place to write. I have an old-fashioned desk in my flat which is great for note taking and rough outlines, but there are too many distractions, like books, the TV, the freezer as it defrosts, and how many people have liked the selfie I put on Instagram. If you’re good at ignoring such distractions, then that’s half the battle won. The best place I have for writing is at my parent’s house. They have a room at the back of their garage which is totally shut off from the rest of the world and far enough from their house so as not to hear them arguing about dinner. There’s no TV or Facebook or Family Guy or whatever it is that young people watch these days. The only distraction is the tumble dryer, the rhythm of which, I find, actually helps with poetry.

I always write in pen first. I’ve used the same pen since 1995 for everything I’ve written. I write everything in hand first, then type it up. I’m writing this right now in long hand using the 1995 pen. This very sentence. This very word. And the full stop at the end of this sentence. Some people can just type straight away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was chatting to a poet the other day who uses a voice recognition computer program and just speaks his poems right on to the screen. Maybe this is something I’d like to try one day, but I’d probably get a sneezing fit halfway through. Which would be very interesting.

The other thing I do is to read. I read all the modern poets, particularly those in the performance poetry community. I watch poets on YouTube and I go to poetry nights, usually with a notebook to make notes on what I see. I read as much as I possibly can for inspiration, and I take the poems I really like apart just to see how the poet gets a certain effect. I also get inspiration from other places, like music. I love pop music. The use of words in pop music is both economical and pure. Take for example The Wanted’s ‘Walks Like Rhianna’, or a song by One Direction. No matter what you think of the bands, the lyrics do a really good job of creating an impression quickly, efficiently.

Finally, I take my notebook everywhere. It’s amazing where inspiration comes from. Just listening to people, or seeing things happen and the way people act, may result I a certain line or idea coming into your head. I’ve filled in so many notebooks with lines and snippets of conversation that it’s fun to read back every now and then. Of course, sometimes ideas come at the worst of places. I do a lot of swimming, and that’s when ideas seem to come.

So to top it all off, if I had one piece of advice for any writer, it is to read a lot, see a lot, write a lot. Read books, read the classics, look at the world, look at both high and low culture, literature and pop, listen to people, but most of all, write!

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Bang Said the Gun

Well I’ve had a great week as a poet, doing all kinds of poety things in front of other poets and audiences and travelling the breadth of the country from Devon to Guildford to London. And last night at the Roebuck was definitely a highlight!

Bang Said the Gun is, quite simply, the finest poetry evening in the country, not including the wonderful Poetry Island in Torquay, ( which has the best host). And last night was no exception. The raucous noise and energy was infectious and seemed to build to a mighty crescendo before a verse had even been uttered. But tonight was special. There were more people crammed into that room than I had ever seen there before, and everyone was in amazingly high spirits.

The host, Jack Rooke, was amazing and as full of energy as any I’d seen. A highlight for me was seeing the sublimely wonderful Rob Auton in action. In my belief he is one of the funniest poets in the country, and the fact that he looks almost exactly the same as a friend of mine, even down to the facial expressions, makes it all the more sublime. Anthony Anaxagorou was word perfect, poignant and personable. But for many the highlight of the evening was Emma Jones. Not only was she funny, energetic and entertaining, but she ended her last poem by proposing to her partner. The place just went wild! There was cheering, yelling, stamping, champagne, the most heartfelt applause I’d ever seen. It was all I could do not to start blubbing. A really special moment which I was so glad to have witnessed.

And then came the open mic section, of which I was on first. How can I possibly follow on from a marriage proposal? Well, I did ‘Fozzie’ and it seemed to go down really well, even though I had to edit it down to two minutes in order to fit in with the slam requirements. The competition element was won by a singer / guitarist, who was very good indeed.

Caught the tube back to my hotel in Central London. And I found myself in a lift down to the platform level at Borough tube station with some poetry fans who all liked what I’d done and were saying such nice things that I wished I could have taped their remarks.

It’s back to work on Monday. Back to the day job. But it’s been a good week doing all this poeting.

Pop Up Poetry, Guildford

Last night I went to Pop Up Poetry in Guildford. It’s the closest spoken word event to where my sister lives in Woking and it’s the closest to where I grew up in Surrey. For these reasons it always feels like coming home . Not that South Devon doesn’t feel like home. Most if my friends live in Devon but in my heart I am a Surreyer. Or whatever you call someone from Surrey. Reaching out towards London, fingertips quivering.

So it’s always with strange emotions that I revisit my old home area particularly that I had no interest in spoken word or poetry when I moved to Devon. And now, every time I come back, well, there’s actually something I’m good at! So on a psychological level, performing in Surrey is very important to me.

And what a wonderful night Pop Up Poetry is! Donall is a magnificent host full of energy and humour, he bounds around like a teenager and interacts with the poets, while Janice provides support and administrative duties. Between them they have cultivated an atmosphere of acceptance and creativity.

One of the joys of performing somewhere far from my normal area is that I get to see new poets and styles and there were plenty of fantastic poets. I was particularly taken by a young man in a trendy hat who did a fantastic slam poem taking Alice Through the looking glass as his inspiration. There were also a couple of poets who had only just started performing and they were both of a very high standard, and very funny, too. It was also great to catch up with Rodney Wood, we met before the show started and spent an hour or so chatting about poetry and poets we’d seen and inspiration and stuff.

So if you’re ever in the Guildford area and you fancy some poetry, get down to the Bar des Arts next to the River Wey.

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Wolverhampton Love Slam

Well I had another one of those poetry adventures at the weekend.

For weeks I’d been excited about the prospect of entering the Wolverhampton Love Slam, but when the day arrived there was, of course, consternation over the state of the railway and the sudden realisation that it would take a while to get there. Which it did. Bus, coach, coach, coach, train and train. It took about eight hours to get from Paignton to Wolverhampton. Not that I’m complaining, others have had it much worse of late.

Many people were surprised when I announced on Facebook that I liked Wolverhampton. The people all seemed nice and the town while somewhat smaller than I thought, had a great vibe to it. I had a poke around the museum.

The slam itself was typically well organised by Sarah Jane and Marcus. I was the first poet of the second batch and my classic ‘Fozzie’ was very well received, and while I didn’t win my group, my score of 254 was higher than any of those who performed before me, and stayed the highest runner up right to the end, when someone else got a 255. Damn! But as luck would have it, I was allowed into the next round.

I did The Straight poem next. And it was also very well received. Mindful that some of the score goes to performance, I really went for it, and managed to score a 259. Alas it was not good enough for the final, but I was very happy with my performance.

Met some lovely new people, such as Richard Tyrone Jones and Dominic Berry, and to catch up with Johnny Fluffypunk, Nick Lovell and Dave Viney. We all went for a quick drink afterwards, and all the time I could only think, ‘Wow, here I am out for a drink with Johnny Fluffypunk, Dave Viney, Richard Tyrone Jones and Dominic Berry’. And then on the way out I was accosted by first one and then another table of people who had been in the slam audience and wanted to chat about my poems. Oh yes, it was a good night!

The day after was even stranger. A set of trains and buses brought me to Exeter where I appeared on Martin and Karen’s Listen out show on Phonic FM. I had a great time, did a few poems and chose some music by A-ha and Pet Shop Boys. But then, catching the rail replacement coach to Paignton, I found myself on oove Sky News, sitting on a seat and gently crouching down as not to be seen. And as if that wasn’t weird enough, one of my Tweets was put on the BBC News website!

So it was a busy weekend, with lots of fun and some marvellous people. Can’t wait for my next poetry adventure now. Indeed, I’m off to London next week!

Uncut Poets, Exeter

Ok, so it was like this.

I went to Uncut Poets last night in Exeter. And it was good. Very good. A page poet night of ‘readings’ rather than a performance poetry night, the quality of writing was amazing.

The only trouble was, I took a friend.

I tried to put him off. I told him how ‘dreary’ it would be. ‘Not at all like Poetry Island’, quoth I. ‘You wont enjoy it’. Because I knew he wouldn’t. He’d sit there grumpy and moaning all the time about how slow people talked and how nobody would be doing any comedy poetry.

And how nothing rhymed.

So we get there after an hours train journey and I get him a lager and the night begins. The poets are brilliant. Astounding wordsmiths, worthy and heavy, deep emotional, plaintive, everything was going on. But Mark played computer games on his phone.

Now, as off putting as this was, I at least thought it would help him get in to the seriousness of the night. Next thing I know, the headliner is on and Mark is snoring.

The interval began. We arranged to split up. Mark would wait for me in the bar, I’d stuck it out with the Uncut mob. And indeed, we did do this. I stayed and listened to the poets, Mark sat in the bar and got bladdered.

As the night drew on I realised that I would have yo leave before the end to get the last train home. As quietly as I could, I began filling my bag, putting things away, putting on my coat. Only I didn’t realise that Mark’s lager had spilled slightly and made the floor sticky. When I lifted up my bag, right at a moment if poetic introspection from the current reader, my bag made a sudden and very loud ripping sound.

I met Mark in the bar. He was quite merry and a bit wobbly. We got the hell out of there.

But it was a good night. The poets were amazing and inspirational and I can’t wait to go back and perform again. ( I perform rather than read). Only this time I might go alone!

Some useful tips for performing performance poetry at performance poetry performance nights.

Some useful tips for performing performance poetry at performance poetry performance nights.

1. Sit at the back. Don’t sit at the front. If you sit at the front, when it’s your turn to perform you’ll be performing to an empty chair.

2. Also, if you sit at the back, the audience will clap for longer while you’re walking to the microphone.

3. If you are a prop poet and you bring a cow to the stage, don’t point out that you’ve brought a cow to the stage, because people can see that you’ve brought a cow to the stage.

4. Don’t milk it.

5. If you bring books to sell, beg the host for a slot in the first half. That way you can sell books during the interval and still have time to run off and get the train. Make sure you can change a twenty.

6. If someone says they like your stuff, they usually mean it. Sometimes they say it so that you’ll automatically reply that you like their stuff, but not always. Sometimes they’ll say it because you were awful and they feel sorry for you, but not always. But most of the time they mean it.

7. I mean, I think they do.

8. I’m pretty sure of it but you’ve got me thinking, now.

9. If it’s an open mic, spell your name legibly on the sign-in sheet. I usually end up being announced as Rupert Graham.

10. If you’re performing haiku, for gods sake, we all know what haiku are, so you don’t have to explain what a haiku is. Syllables and stuff. The explaining is usually longer than the haiku. Sodding haiku.

11. Don’t get rat-arsed.

12. If you’re using props, check for light fixtures and obstructions.

13. I mean, is it me, or do haikus always seem like they should be longer?

14. If you want to have a laugh while performing, make eye contact only with one audience member, then glare at them, give them the old state, really freak them out.

15. It’s not a competition.

16. Well, except for slams. I forgot about slams.

17. Don’t give away all your poem in the introduction.

18. If you bow to the audience at the end of your set, don’t bang your forehead on the microphone. It bloody hurts.

19. The long walk back to your seat is still part of the performance. Maintain your aura. Try not to trip over handbags. And listen out, because the compere might make some wise-arse remark about you.

20. Always leave them wanting more. Try to do less than the time allocated. The host will love you for it.

My biggest poetry influence : Professor Zazzo Thiim

I owe it all to Professor Zazzo Thiim

I’ve been writing poetry now for the best part of ten years. Yet my foray into the world of ‘comic’ verse did not come completely by accident.

There is one man who came before who showed me that performance poetry was a real art form and worthy of investigation. Indeed, when people ask who my influences are, (which, come to think of it, has only ever happened once), I often reply ‘Frank O’Hara, and to a greater extent, Professor Zazzo Thiim’.

Who is Professor Zazzo Thiim? Notwithstanding several attempts by many in the Californian poetry community to attribute the invention of performance poetry to their particular clique, or the claims of those within the British poetic movement to assign invention of this genre to those from various diverse backgrounds both cultural and symbolic, there remains a theory within the English departments of some major university establishments that the invention of ‘performance’ poetry can be traved to the moment in June 1953 when Professor Zazzo Thiim accidentally sat on a harpsichord while reciting the works of Tennyson. Indeed, it was seen as the most whimsical and amusing moment of the Basingstoke literary season, mainly on account of the audience reaction – (sheer disbelief mixed with a fair amount of loathing) – and the apparent embarrassment not only of Thiim himself, but also the Mayor, and Arthur Miller, to whom the harpsichored belonged. There were immediate appeals for a repetition of Thiim’s groundbreaking (and harpsichord-breaking) work. Indeed, he was asked to perform it on the radio (to general acclaim), and before the Ambassador to the United States, (who turned out to be just a man in a hat who was passing by). Performance poetry was born.

Thiim was astounded by the fact that he had invented an entire new genre. He began writing his own verse, which he would perform either sitting on a harpsichord, astride a harpsichord, while playing a harpsichord, while lying on a harpsichord, and finally, while lying underneath a harpsichord. This lasted for six years, until a colleague is said to have inquired of him, ‘What is it with you and all these bleeding harpsichords, anyway?’ He turned up at the next poetry event with a mouth organ. Throughout this time, not only did Thiim write poems to fit in with his harpsichordsmashing regime, but he also began to dissemble and play around with the poetic form. Working in unison with the University of Staines, he looked at poems in more detail than any other literary practitioner until he acquired a reputation as a literary and poetic experimenter. Poems were shot from cannons. Poems were jumped up and down on. One poem was whispered to the Queen, who was asked to ‘pass it on’. (She didn’t). One poem, entitledFrank (23 ½ Seconds of Silence)’ was performed as twenty three and a half seconds of silence. And another, ‘Frank (23 ½ Seconds of Silence with a Brief Interlude)’, was an extended version of the first but with a slight clearing of the throat in the middle. ‘Frank’ was a poem performed with a tambourine with the eminent professor repeating the word ‘scones’ over and over, finally ending the consuming of a whole scone live on stage, while ‘Frank’ consisted of the Professor shouting out the words ‘I do not believe in Aberystwith’ while pouring yoghurt over his head. One of his most famous poems, ‘Frank’, received some notoriety when it was discovered that it had been the last work read by Tony Blackburn before his debut on Radio One. And of course, who can forget the stirring moment when one of his better known poems, ‘Frank’, was included in the first space probe sent out by the Belgians?

There has been of course some question as to why the Professor should have , entitled all of his poems ‘Frank’. But as the good professor has pointed out on numerous occasions, all titles are essentially meaningless and spoil the anticipation of a poem or a work of art. Just look at ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. ‘Frank seemed as good a name as any. Do we enoy the Professor’s poems today? Naturally. As the performance poetry scene goes from strength to strength, the work of Professor Zazzo Thiim has been cited by many, including myself, as their main inspiration for taking to the stage. In areas where performance poetry is popular, there has also been a marked increase in sales of harpsichords, and there can be no other reason why this is so than the enduring legacy of Professor Zazzo Thiim. It also helps that he was something of a nutter

On being forty.

Tomorrow I shall be forty years old.

This is very scary not least because I remember my Dad being forty. I was a Scout at the time, and my Dad was one of the Scout leaders. One day after Scouts my mother came to pick me up, and she made sure he wasn’t looking before writing on a blackboard in big letters, ‘Bosun is Forty in January’.

It’s never struck me as unusual that I share the same birthday with my dad and my uncle and also my Grandfather. That’s three generations all born on the same date. In different years,of course. But 2nd January has always been ‘Birthday Day’ in our family and for me it seems somewhat weird that people have their birthdays on other days. My friend the performance poet and comedian Chris Brooks also has his birthday on this day. Which kind of just proves my point.

But forty seems very old. Especially that I feel much younger. I spent the whole of the last decade in academic work, with a-levels, undergraduate and postgraduate, which all ended in 2012, and now my time is taken up with writing comedy poems and performing them while wearing silly hats and dressing as robots. As a result of this, all of my friends are much younger than me, which in turn makes me feel younger. I’m down with the yoots. I can high five with the best of them. I know who’s at number one in the charts and I’ve seen Family Guy.

A result of this is that people are getting old all around me. The people I went to school with are mostly slap heads now. Yet my hair obstinately refuses to recede. I worked out that a lifetime of hair products, hair cuts and shampoo will cost me several thousand pounds, money which the slap heads won’t have to fork out for. It’s just not fare.

Forty years old. It’s frightening. Everyone has been very kind and saying things like, ‘it’s not that old, not really’. And the one of my yoot friends texted yesterday to say, ‘Ha ha, you are so old!’ I was so grateful to him.

So what’s my plan for next year? To get even younger? No. Just to keep plodding along. Write some poems. Wear silly hats. Make the occasional wisecrack.

Anyway. Here are some poems I’ve been working on. Best wishes for the next year, everyone. See you soon!

Poem

Today I feel very distracted.
I like greenhouses.
I wonder when my
Is that a rhododendron?

Poem

Piers are great, I love the way they elongate.
Pies are great, I love the way they taste.
Pi is great, I love the way it goes on and on
Unlike this poem.

Poem

Duck, I said.
I know, he said.
Quack quack, he said.
Knocked him on the head.

Poem
Helen’s got an X-ray goat.
It’s just like a normal goat
But with X-ray vision.
Or so Helen said.
She keeps it in a shed
To protect the modesty of the other goats
Some of whom object
To its X-ray vision.

I asked Helen
How she came about
This goat with supernatural clout.
She said she found it in a field
Looking at a horse
Strangely.
And later it turned out
That he horse had eaten a flip flop.

What are you going to do
What are you going to do
What are you going to do
With an X-ray goat, I asked.
And Helen beamed that famous grin
And said she was hiring it out
To Exeter Airport
In order that it search for bombs.
I asked what it would do
If it found a bomb
And she said
‘It will probably run away’.

It also shoots lasers
Out of its horns, she said.
Last Thursday it ignited a barn.
I had to remove the combine harvester
And two roosters.

That night we made sweet love
But I was put off by the X-ray goat
Glaring up at the bedroom
All night long in the yard,
Just staring up, staring up, staring up
At our bedroom.
It does that, she sighed.

In the morning, she continued,
Remind me to show you my fire-breathing donkey.

Boobs (2013 Remix)

Another of my older poems which I’ve started updating and making snappier. This old classic, which always used to get a great reception at Epicentre on those crazy Epicentre Nights, now confined to legend.

 

Anyway, as a bonus there are four new poems:

 

On boobs. (2013 Remix)

Haberdasher in custody.

Space is big.

Singularity.

Urges.

 

Boobs. (2013 Remix)

 

I’ve never liked boobs.

I’ve never been in to them.

You can put those away, Mrs Palmer.

I’m not interested.

They cling on

Like limpets on the hull

Of a sleek yacht.

 

I have no fascination

In that area.

I’d much rather have a flapjack.

 

Why do they wobble

Like jelly on a washing machine

When you have a coughing fit?

What’s that all about?

My only interest is architectural.

 

My friend Mark goes all unnecessary

When he sees them.

I have to fan him with the Argos catalogue.

There’s only one tit in this room, I quip.

 

They make me feel

Claustrophobic.

Thrusty busts.

Improper floppers.

Bulbous knockers.

Flame-grilled whoppers.

Burial mounds

Harbouring the last rotting remains

Of my heterosexuality.

Protruding impediments to intimacy,

I expect,

I’ve never really tried it.

I don’t see the point.

The points.

Of them.

 

Unnecessary full-frontal terrain.

Stop that, Mrs Palmer!

I was going to have dumplings later

But you’ve put me right off.

It’s like being nuzzled, simultaneously,

By two rather curious polar bears

And I don’t like it.

 

When you dance they sway like airbag pendulums.

You went to buy a bra

But the alphabet only goes up to Z.

When you were sunbathing

A passing helicopter hovered for eight hours

And then ran out of fuel.

When you wore that tight t-shirt with a quote from

Wordsworth on it

The town’s literacy rate improved

Particularly among teenaged men.

And then a man

Walked straight into the window of Costa Coffee.

I don’t want to see your cleavage.

I can do without your puppies.

I’d rather not make one with your fun buns.

Not for me your gazongas, your jambongas,

Your bosoms, your melons your twin honkers,

I don’t find them tempting,

I don’t find them teasing

It’s a wonder carrying those around

You’re not constantly wheezing

They jump up and down whenever

You start sneezing

But you can’t tempt me, you can’t capture me,

You wont get very far with me

Because quite honestly

I don’t get boobs and I never have done

I can think of other ways of having fun

They don’t do it for me

They make me feel quesy

I prefer knobs.

 

Haberdasher in custody.

 

They’ve arrested my haberdasher.

He phoned and asked me for bail money

But I had none.

I can’t just magic it out of thin air,

Mr Haberdasher,

And say ‘Abracadabra’,

Mr Haberdasher.

I’d cook a meal

But I haven’t got a potato masher,

Mr Haberdasher.

Nor am I a party crasher

Or an atom smasher, or a gravel basher, or a flasher,

Mr Harberdasher.

Nor will I start a fight

While saying how much I like Swedish pop

Surrounded by people who like other kinds of music,

I’m no music mish-mash Abba clasher,

Mr Haberdasher.

What have you been arrested for, Mr Haberdasher?

Did you really do it, Mr Haberdasher?

Or have you been stitched up?

 

Space is big.

 

Space.

It’s big.

And there’s lots of room.

It’s why it’s called ‘space’.

It’s in your face.

It’s all over the place.

You can disappear without trace

In space.

You can always find somewhere to park the car.

It’s got a vacuum

Unlike my flat.

It’s got no atmosphere

Just like my flat.

It’s bloody cold

Just like my flat.

It’s got galaxies and things.

It goes on and on.

It’s very persistent.

It’s existence.

It hasn’t got corners,

Like my flat,

Or a Specsavers.

Space.

It’s kind of like Dartmoor

Except without the ponies.

 

Singularity.

 

I once had a nightmare

That the world had been stretched out,

Nothing left, squeezed,

Elongated into a very thin line

Upon which I, the last man alive,

Must tightrope walk over the abyss

Of nothingness.

 

I woke sweating and,

Thinking it was real,

Pushed myself right into the corner of my room,

My sweaty palms flat on the walls

So that I knew they were definitely real.

 

Years later

I read about black holes

And what happens to things that get

Sucked in.

 

Urges.

 

He anticipates his urges

And occasionally he purges

Himself of his urges.

His fascination with urges

Verges on the perverse.

As the pride inside him surges

He merges into the background

Of a world without urges.

Excited, he swerves

From urge to urge

As if his oeuvre

Is a scourge of those

Whose urges converge

Into one

Big

Overwhelming

SPLURDGE

Of anti-urge sentiment.

Then he has a bit of a lie down.

And here’s a little video I made today, too: