‘Tis the voice of the whinger

 

Winter comes but once a year
Days of darkness soon to bring
Weather cold and storms so drear
Blessed respite brought by spring

But too soon it then gets hot
Summer days we’re bathed in sweat
Autumn’s next as like as not
Mists and storms to make us wet

Now it’s bloody winter come
Starts the cycle once again
Constant change, my brain’s gone numb
Each new season’s such a pain

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Two Little Dickie Birds

When I was little our mum used to keep budgies. They were all colours – green, blue, yellow, white – but they were so noisy. My sister and I couldn’t stand it, chirpy-chirp-chirp all day, even at night until the cloth was put over their cage. But she loved them, our mum did, she talked to them, taught them sentences and rhymes, even recorded them on an old-fashioned tape recorder.

She gave them names, too. Georgie was one, and she taught it “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry” – except it never learnt to say the last word and stopped with the words “and made them,” which was annoying.

Mostly they were called Joey. “Hello, Joey!” it would say to itself, and “Who’s a pretty boy, Joey?” This was very annoying.

After one of the Joey birds died she got a pair. She called them Peter and Paul, like in the nursery rhyme:

Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall,
One named Peter, one named Paul.

This didn’t make sense because one of them was a girl and should have been called Paula or Polly, but mum still called it Paul. Peter was blue and Polly (that’s what us kids called it) was green. Peter learnt to say

Fly away Peter, fly away Paul,
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

There was this trick our mum showed us when we were little, with bits of tissue attached to two fingers, but I thought it was silly teaching it to the budgies because I remember thinking it would give them ideas about flying away.

One day it happened. Peter managed to get out the back door while mum was hanging out the washing. It definitely wasn’t my fault. Anyway, mum started shouting and we all rushed out into the garden, me, my sister and my dad. “He’s flown into the trees behind the garages!” she said, and sure enough we could see a bit of blue halfway up a tree. Our dad got out a ladder but I could see he’d only frighten the bird so I said I’d go up it.

So I did go up, and at the top I had to leave the ladder and use branches for my hands and feet. I was just reaching out with my left hand, quietly saying, “Come back, Peter, come back,” when my dad chucked a stone. It hit the branch Peter was sitting on and he flew away. I don’t know why he threw the stone; maybe he was fed up with all the chirping about Peter and Paul flying away.

Anyway, soon after that Polly died – it was from a broken heart, mum said – and mum got another budgie, a yellow one. She called it Joey. It never learnt to talk, just chirped.

Dad seemed to spend more time in the garage after that, but I never found out why.


  • Written for a creative writing class homework on writing for children.
    Budgerigars are also known as parakeets

Fall guy

foxy Guido Fawkes
fall guy for government fail
in gunpowder plot


Guy Fawkes was caught with barrels of gunpowder in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament the day before King James I was due to formally open the new session on November 5th, 1605. Since then autumn bonfires have been enthusiastically lit, ‘guys’ burnt and fireworks exploded to remind us that “gunpowder, treason and plot” should “ne’er be forgot.”

Restart

He sat at the laptop, fingers poised over the keyboard. Minutes passed before the proverbial lightbulb appeared above his head. He smiled, tapped out the first word . . . and the screen went blank. He’d forgotten the scheduled restart for updates. Now the impatient fingers were tapping the table. Pray inspiration wouldn’t run out before . . .


Flash Fiction Fifty Five: a short piece consisting only of 55 words, including the title

Freelancing in a swimsuit

Newgale beach

Working as a contract paralegal
has components in its favour,
and factors that are
unfavourable to some people.

If a way-off journey
and pleasure in your work life
is what would swimsuit you the very best,
freelancing may very well be
an awesome option for you!


I don’t want to bemoan the quality of spam these days but I find that very few live up to the standards I look for in found poetry. This is a tolerable exception

Fret

This morning, just like any morning, she looked out of the window as soon as she rose from bed. Just like any morning she could see the sea. Some days she could see for miles — almost to the mainland, she was sure – across the bright blue waters. Other times the ocean was grey, reflecting the storm clouds overhead, when the waves were like the team of off-white steeds she remembered leading her father’s racing chariot. But today she could barely see anything, so heavy was the sea-fret billowing towards the land. Nothing would be coming to harbour until the mist lifted, she was sure.

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What he’d learned

Not long ago – it may be yesterday – there were two children called Alice and Bran. Now Alice and Bran lived in the last house at the end of the estate on the outskirts of a large town. You won’t have heard of this town, so it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called. Every day, Alice and Bran’s parents drove to work in the town and Alice and Bran caught to bus to school. At the end of the day they all came back home, did what they had to do and then went to bed.

On the other side of their house was a wood. Alice and Bran were told never to go into the wood because it was dangerous and you could lose yourself, so they never did. Instead, if ever they went for a walk they took their dog Cerberus around the estate and then came straight back home. And so it went on for some time.

One day, Alice said to her mam and dad, “It’s a small wood, you could never get lost in there, and it doesn’t look dangerous. Why can’t we go in there?” But her parents said, “No, Alice! You must never go there, nothing good will come of it!” Though she asked more than once they would never give her any reason why they couldn’t go into the wood.

There came a day when it was the school holidays and her parents drove to work as usual and Alice and Bran were at home all on their own. “Shall we go for a walk round the estate with Cerberus?” suggested Bran, but Alice said, “Maybe later.” Well, later came, and Bran called to Alice and said, “Shall we go for that walk with Cerberus now?” But there was no answer. Bran knew then that Alice had gone into the wood.

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Patronising

A piece of doggerel prose in rhyming couplets for St George’s Day.

Calmgrove

Durer’s St George and the Dragon. The crowned princess is lurking behind a rock. With a pig.

St George fought the dragon and killed it — or did he? Such doubt could make patriots go weak and quite giddy. Did he rescue a maiden and liberate a city like Perseus, it’s said, in ancient antiquity? Or is it a myth, a tale for the gullible from powerful leaders who claim they’re infallible?

The truth is that George has a past that is murky: perhaps Cappadocia (that’s now part of Turkey) or Palestine claims him. Yes, Christian martyr — but slayer of dragons? Well, that‘s a non-starter.

He’s patron of England, the Knights of the Garter, Teutonic Knights, Reichenau, Gozo and Malta. He’s chief saint of Portugal and also of Genoa, of Moscow and Beirut and, yes, Catalonia. God help us if they all decide to go fight, for how will George know who is wrong and who’s right?

Yet it’s the far right who often invoke him…

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Apportioning blame

The quality of spam is much declin’d.
It droppeth as the state of public discourse
Upon our eyes and ears is daily ‘smirched.
It blasteth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it ill becomes
The thronèd tweeter in his office,
Whose textspeak shows the force of ignorant power
(No attribute to awe and majesty)
Wherein doth sit his wanton spiteful thoughts.

But spamming sits below this septic sway;
It is embedded in the hearts of those
Who think to embody the soul of wit itself;
Their online power resembleth trolls’
Whose cruelty seasons hate.

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