Dr Death (allegedly)

March 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm (1, Teaspoon verse)

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Jack Straw, the UK’s justice minister, who was foreign secretary when we invaded Iraq, has ruled out an inquiry into that war while British troops are still positioned there. The Conservative opposition, meanwhile, is hoping not that Messrs Straw and Blair will face, er, justice, but that Lessons Will Be Learned and applied to the quagmire in Afghanistan.

There are lessons to be learned
and there’s respect to be earned,
after five years in which our troops
and the Iraqis have burned.

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Interrupted

March 18, 2008 at 11:00 pm (Teaspoon verse)

In the recesses of my head a little man says a prayer. I don’t know this man, he is devout. He is a zealot. He is keeping the show going while I take a break into a coma, of sorts — a self-indulgent lapse into another dimension somewhere between death and his incantations. His movements become frantic, as if he is trying to save me. Stop, I yell, but he continues the ritual, bending down, kissing the ground, posing like a churchgoer at a pew, then, levitating like a yogi, actually floating, rolling about, until he tires. Then I start to breathe. He disappears.

Yesterday I went shopping in Portobello Market. It’s a road I’ve liked since childhood, and one that I still like now. The fruit, the antiques – admire both but buy neither. Now here I am, unable to breathe, nullified by the mantra – ‘Must die, must die’. Not worthy of life, must die to live better.

Peering over a crag, I see a river. It carries my fingers in boats. They seem to be wriggling a goodbye. It’s the state’s punishment for not doing your paperwork on time. Hate paperwork, made it an excuse to destroy myself – I cannot be bound by such worldly demands and prefer the consequences of ignoring them.

A court hearing, curt spearing, I am dead. The judge dispatches the bailiffs to relieve me of my debt to society. I leave a few manuscripts, not penned by me but the previous occupant of my apartment. He left three novels under the floorboards, not the best novels I’ve read but certainly not the worst. He thought it better to stick them where they might be discovered by a plumber rather than a publisher.

Still, he has managed to reach one reader, Brian Hawthorne – his name not mine; lived here twenty years ago. The first novel is about a boy whose bicycle is stolen. Got it for his thirteenth birthday, left it outside a shop in the days when you didn’t need to fasten everything down – but you did – and it was gone. His parents tried to buy him other bikes, but like some children are with a dog, so he was about his steed. He fell ill, he dreamed of pedals and chains and mudguards and brakes.

Perhaps the story will give pause to the bailiffs, but no, they’ll rip the guts out of this apartment, sell the nails in the bloody floorboards to their own mothers, if they have them, the hounds. My fingers float further down the river. These words I write with my knuckles.

The boy with a bike grew up, married a woman who lost a pram. Her husband left her for being forgetful. She prayed to St Anthony, but not even he had sympathy for someone who’s lost their child while popping into a shop to buy cigarettes. They lived a life and they died but not before the boy – a child even in his sixties – came across the bike he’d lost and the thief who stole it.

 

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Meat distinction

October 25, 2006 at 3:31 pm (Teaspoon verse)

The difference of lamb to pork is not very big,
One is from a sheep and the other, from a pig.

Another difference between pork and lamb
is one makes good kebabs and the other ham

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What the general said

October 15, 2006 at 11:45 am (Teaspoon verse)

After Richard Dannatt, the head of the British army, recommended the pull-out of UK troops from Iraq

We kicked in the door to Iraq, the general said, we’re through.
It’s as if the Iraqis had lost their keys and called the boys in blue.

If only we had just kicked the door in, but we took away the roof,
We ripped out the foundations, the daily killings are the proof.

But in the Green Zone there’s a Burger King and a Subway too,
There wasn’t that before Saddam, reasons to complain are few.

We should stay and do what we promised, install a liberal state
Or leave these ungrateful natives to a more miserable fate.

Western democracy or oil-grabbing hypocrisy, take your pick
fact is we’ve got to stay, though it might make you sick

In a wider context, the barrels of oil are but cans of Coca-Cola.
We need our fix of energy. Aspirations of Iraq? – steamroller.

The general may say what we aim to achieve is a tad naïve,
but “I think, y’know, well, look, when Mr Bush says, we’ll leave”.

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Death by punctuation

October 4, 2006 at 12:25 pm (Teaspoon verse, The office)

I am strangled by a semi-colon
I prise it off
My jaw is hooked on to a comma
I dangle, my body an exclamation point
A hyphen impales me. Then another
Proofs – pages marked with red – pile up
I heave myself off the comma
An apostrophe picks me up by the collar
My body is italicised, my screams upper case
Then a hyphen pierces my eye
I put a pomegranate on my computer
En dash, em dash, balderdash
The red on the proofs is my blood
I bleed. I die
All that is left is a question mark

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Two

October 1, 2006 at 3:26 pm (Teaspoon verse)

A discovery is a nut whose shell
you break and find hair gel.

I discover you.
You discover me.

We may both be bald,
but we rub the gel into each other’s scalps,
on to each other’s nuts.

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Qana

July 31, 2006 at 12:44 am (Teaspoon verse)

Two extended families, the Shalhoubs and the Hashems, had gathered in the house for shelter from another night of Israeli bombardment in the border area when the 1a.m. strike brought the building downAP

They hid in a house the Shalhoubs and the Hashems
for shelter from the bombs of the Zvis and Menachems.
Israel killed some 60 — many kids — but blamed Hezbollah
though even Fox News knows it was the Zionist Godzilla

Let it be recorded how low Israel sank
that we might expect to see a Lebanese Anne Frank

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Prayer for (precision) Guidance

July 23, 2006 at 10:41 am (Teaspoon verse)

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What do Israeli soldiers think when they pray next to missiles?
‘Please Lord, is this pointing the right way, check for us. Thanks.
If it hits the kids protect us from the wrath of those it riles.
Now excuse me, I’m done here — off to say grace, for our tanks.’

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Pillow power

July 18, 2006 at 12:58 am (Middle East, Teaspoon verse)

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While Ehud Olmert promises ‘far-reaching consequences,’
a woman in Lebanon raises her defences:
“The might of your air power is no match for my pillow,
come on you big monkeys, I dare you to fly low.”

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Superman

July 14, 2006 at 2:51 pm (Teaspoon verse)

Superman returns but not to the skies of Beirut,
people head for cover as they hear guns shoot.
America stands by as the Middle East goes insane.
Is it a bird? Course not, it’s an Israeli warplane.

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