Rose and Crowne Niggles

Nigel the court’s pianist had been up to his nose
in finger exercises when the queen’s groom
called him out for a crusade to be fought with a rose
and a half crown found funding the ladies room
until, pyramid-scheme like, the new ruler’s broom
had swept the forecourt cleaner than star-crossed BP
could hope to dream of. Cheaply shouting ‘whoopee’
for reason if any of rhyme, Nigel, with thorn as sword
and coin as shield, essayed stopping totally
the oil slick thrown up by taking at their word

the crown’s oil barons, greedy as us all
but not restrained by pecuniary difficulties.
The groom, oily and opportunistically bad, suggested they start small
and they did, attacking not the entroughed aristocracies
Left and Right, but butting butlers till they wheezed,
and savaging supine servants of all ranks
beneath their own until they both gave thanks
to the God who’d let them rise so far.
Outside the court, along the river’s banks,
survivors watched the water turn to tar.

Sheepish Sheik

For Mother’s Day he gives to all his spouses
who have proved viviparous Maseratis.
To the others he gives sherry (sweet) and flowers,
and a Haitian potion to the one who’s dotty.

Perhaps it’s him who’s dotty, they’re not telling
what only they and he know. Coming clean
would tear it and their treasure trove would dry up
should the world learn he was eunuched when thirteen.

Twin Set Match

Living ’neath my expectations
and way the hail beyond my means
I nick Luther’s ancient pickup
and haul ass for Bobby Breen’s

’cause old Bobby’s got twin daughters
that in springtime give me chills
when they sunbathe in the pasture
where Bird Creek runs from the hills.

Chills that turn to fever as the show gets underway,
Red-hots that can corpse a man too dumb to stay away.

Folks down here fear reputations,
say Breen’s killed men in rage,
say that he shot creep bird peepers
with his double-ought ten-gauge…

(I’m gonna make my move today
and to hail with my cold fear
I have to see those honey twins,
four strong legs, long, up to here.)

…say he spied those peepers panting,
hunkered down Bird Creek’s left bank;
gave them both acute lead poisoning,
weighed them down so much they sank.

Folks say the twins cried, “Daddy, shoot!”
sauntered, dressing, making fun
of the creek’s pale rosy bubbles,
twin sets in the setting sun.

Chills that turn to fever as the show gets underway,
Red-hots that can corpse a man too dumb to stay away.

I act a little cool, half wise,
when folks tell me all this stuff,
glad they’re so dumb and forgetful
that I told them most of it

to keep the other guys impressed,
so far from Breen’s domain.
Laugh to see the yokels shudder
when they chant the old refrain:

Chills that turn to fever as the show gets underway,
Red-hots that can corpse a man too dumb to stay away.

Here comes Brenda bouncing blithely;
she’s the blonder of the two.
Where the hail did Ellie Mae go?
Can’t set sail with half a crew.

I step out and wave to Brenda,
shade my eyes against the sun
then spot Ellie in the shadows
as she raises her pa’s gun.

Chills that turn to fever as the show gets underway,
Red-hots that can corpse a man too dumb to stay away.

“We’ens hear you’ve bad mouthed Daddy,”
comes to me in stereo,
“The wrong you’ve done that righteous man
means now you will have to go.”

Brenda hurls a chunk of mine quartz
that I dodge but she just grins.
Ellie Mae sights down both barrels,
fires a round into my shins.

Chills that turn to fever as the show gets underway,
Red-hots that can corpse a man too dumb to stay away.

They drag me down the creek’s left bank.
I see buckshot on the rocks,
shreds of still-new stone-washed fabric
from red Wigwam hunting socks.

Both twins laugh me down like witches,
that’s the last sound my brain gleans
as Breen’s double-ought chops cotton
in my Calvin Klein blue jeans.

Dry Me, I’m Alchy

You want philosophy?
Your short end of the fudge stick?
All stories true
Some relevant,
None complete.

Few matter
here hurtling
halong the ‘arbour quay
on Helen’s husband’s Harley’s
handlebars, doing me knees up
my flared and flaked nostrils,
nares aflame
and nary
a narc
in the nursery

but is wagering
a week’s wages
he can pot me
pardon the phrase
or Helen, or her husband
before we stash what
they say we’ve got

which we don’t
of course
and we can.
and will

except if The Parrot
gives us away.

Have I left out
or omitted anything

The Parrot, we call him that,
talks a lot
and is in deep donkey
with the Law
caught short with a long tin
of CAMRA bitter
he was spilling with Louise.

Dumb is our Parrot
and will stay so till dead.
Should know not
to halve six with the tax man’s wife.
It’s hell on these handlebars.
I looked in
on Sue down in Apartment
G.   Sue swept

though I cried
all my things in the bin
her chary jut racing a Rénault
for last seat on front row
at Harrow
where Ted was put down
his name I mean
at birth
as a barrow boy
or cricket cap.

Stories are more relevant
than relevance itself
when related
in the rite weigh
they’re having down the Safeway’s
counter of love.

Childe Harolde’s forty-fourth
generational descendant
for example
blinded by his own incessant
punched his own ticket
while crying You’re Out
and gave his game away
Pull the Other One.

Occam, let us adorn it

I think that I will never see
the point of tarting up a tree
too small to bless me with some shade
or fruit to press for lemonade.

A tree so minuscule to need
protection when the dachshund peed.

A tree if by a marmot climbed
would break and let him get enslimed
in mud dug up among its roots
by truffle-hunting bandicoots.

A tree attributed to chaps
who’ll stew a spaniel if it naps.

A bonsai tree whose fairy size
is meant some say to maximize
the egos of our human race
that loses little losing face.

A tree as large as broccoli stumps;
a sort of mushroom with the mumps.

A tree whose lumber would if pressed
fail to provide one decent chest.

Enfin a tree too small for me
to eulogize. A flimflam tree.

The Pig Who Thinks in English

The pig who thinks in English takes his ease
and taps his trotters daintily on tiles
that echo pleasantly while sun and breeze
bring pleasure to him, teasing out those smiles
he’s famous for among his litter mates.
‘What is Man good for? There are many things.
Men bring us dinner morning, noon, and night.
They track our pedigrees, record our weights
and wear, as we do, ear and nasal rings.
When alone, some like to warm our nights.
What’s best? This fact, I think: It’s really neat
how, if you close your eyes, they’re good to eat.’

The Pig Who Thinks in English was published in Möbius, The Poetry Magazine, May, 2000.
It was also presented on the Porkopolis website in July 2002 and appeared in the book Sometimes in Balance by Alan Reynolds, 2007.