28 February 2015

#28 - Epilogue

The dusk is wallowing in Buckley Park; 
the gentle glow of lamps in bungalows 
spills briefly out into the setting dark 
and then disperses as the curtains close. 
You trudge back past the pubs, the chippy by 
the bridge, young Billy fiercely fluffing rhymes. 
It's time, the boatman yells good-fucking-bye, 
to leave the town and all its hopes and crimes. 
It's far from perfect, but the best a town 
can do is grow a little every day, 
ignore the impish folk of Grimly Down, 
and hope that good intentions wash away 
the slime and sludge of any plans gone bad 
and leave the loving heart that's good and glad.


26 February 2015

#27 - Et Tu Brute?

Morality's a moveable bouquet,
there sometimes really is no black and white
in order to get closer to the light
we have to take a few steps into grey.
And sermonising often goes astray
as drunken preachers thunder from the heights
mistaking justice for displays of might,
legality for true égalité.

But murdering for headlines is plain wrong,
politicos on pills are just a joke,
as we draw closer to the final song
of sickness at the heart of Buckley Oak.
Let's hope that someone, somewhere, finds a cure
before we bid our twisted town adieu...


#26 - Exploitation for Personal Gain

Terry scans the paper, feeling pleased
About the tales of cruel dismemberment.
The local folk are scared and that unease
Lets Terry move into his element.

See, Terry has a certain expertise –
Though he’s no thug or reckless malcontent.
His finances were bad and he felt squeezed,
But now he has the means to pay his rent.

He’s not a contract killer – don’t be daft!
He sells alarms and home security.
He also does surveillance. It’s a craft,
And murder boosts the business. Don’t you see?

The market moves and he must move with it,
Exploiting people’s fears to sell his shit.

- LM

24 February 2015

#25 - Popping Veins

“So what you’re saying, Whitehall, is: you’ve nothin’.
No leads, no suspects – all that work for naught!
That boatman seems, at best, a crude macguffin –
you must not rest until this killer’s caught!”

The Mayor is apoplectic, dressing down
and chewing out the poor Inspector Helen:
“Election’s in two months, you know! This town
will hang me if you can’t arrest this felon!”

This ain’t why I became a politician,
he mumbles later, shooting up his fix;
I thought it would be fêtes, and trade commissions –
posh balls and banquets and, let’s face it, chicks!

But now, with some mad psycho on the loose,
his chain of office feels just like a noose.


#24 - Whose Finger Is Pointing?

A grisly tale is best for boosting sales. 
Reporters and their readers are both fond 
of news of gory deeds and grim details: 
His jawless head was floating in the pond! 
The Herald's Jo knows just the way to write 
about a body found in wheelie bins, 
the putrid stink of severed limbs, the sight 
of jutting bone, the sudden grasp of sins. 
We will not print this bunk! her boss insists 
and asks for stories from the Knit-a-thon. 
So off Jo slogs with notebook and clenched fist. 
The unrelenting stitching . . . and so on. 
The publicists know at May's Knitting Needles 
the Herald's never been too hard to wheedle.


23 February 2015

#23 - The Vulgar Boatman

The fucking water's fucking thick and brown,
it's filled with every fucking kind of shit
from fucking here to fucking Grimly Down
fuck knows what those mad fuckers dump in it.

And fucking tourists haven't got a clue
can't tell a fucking dinghy from a punt,
think tacking is what fucking hammers do
those fucking useless bunch of fucking cunts.

I'm fucking getting sick and fucking tired
of life aboard this poxy fucking boat
the fucking engine's fucking near expired
and soon the fucking fuck won't even float
this fucking river lark's a fucking farce,
so fuck you all and kiss my fucking arse.


22 February 2015

#22 - The Plot Thickens...

The tourists never come to Buckley Oak
But Martha runs the office anyway.
She sings a listless tune to pass the day
And frequently nips out to have a smoke.

Without her customers, poor broke –
She’s let the office fall into decay.
She can’t compete with foreign holidays.
The thought of all those cheap flights makes her choke.

And now that death has claimed her husband Keith –
A gentleman, who wouldn’t hurt a fly –
She wants to shut the shop, to hide her grief.
She doesn’t want her friends to see her cry.

The tourists won’t come now, the town is hexed. 
What Martha doesn't know is: SHE IS NEXT!


21 February 2015

#21 - Your Move, My Lovely

When Buckley’s finest boys and girls in blue
sit in their station – next to the dry cleaner's –
they’re used to having bugger all to do,
(except ignoring minor misdemeanors).
Yet now they have a murder – two in fact –
the foulest crimes in local history!
What beast could perpetrate such grisly acts?
Who could untangle such a mystery?
While you, dear readers, know the killer, dammit,
Inspector Whitehall hasn’t got a clue –
and reading Conan Doyle and Dashiell Hammett
has not prepared her for such ballyhoo!
She downs her whiskey, lights a Lucky Strike,
and steps into the rain, all cliché-like...


20 February 2015

#20 - A Dreadful Joke

On Monday morn, a jogger saw a leg 
half covered by a heap of leaves and sticks. 
Poor Daniel's brains were spilt like scrambled egg 
and by him lay a box of Weetabix. 
And next day at the butcher's, lardy Keith 
was found slumped on a stack of minty chops. 
His slopping guts were mingled with his beef 
and by him lay a box of Coco Pops. 
No clues to find. The killer isn't sloppy.
Police are baffled. Neighbours tremble. But 
down at the Herald, Jo submits her copy 
and tucks into a bowl of Crunchy Nut. 
With just a cleaver and a dreadful joke 
at last she's got her scoop in Buckley Oak.


19 February 2015

#19 - Metalyrical

Young Billy is the Bard of Buckley Oak
(not famous yet, though he has that all planned);
intense, but still a fairly cheerful bloke,
he strides the streets a notebook in his hand
declaiming blank verse, couplets and the like,
composing witty rondeaux on the fly,
and sometimes shouting haiku from his bike
as he rides near a startled passer-by.
His masterwork, an epic lyric crown,
is slowly taking shape within his mind:
a sonnet-cycle, based upon his town,
until one day, to his dismay, he finds
his grand poetic bubble has been burst
some pesky bloggers had the idea first.


18 February 2015

#18 - Gentrification

On Friday afternoons, the stalls appear,
All scattered through the square like fungal spores.
 They’re chic boutiques in tents and out of doors,
 With incense sticks and oddly flavoured beer.

 Organic gin and homemade apple jam;
These souvenirs that everyone will hate.
A taxidermist, stuffing while you wait.
 Authentic sculptures made of Parma ham.

You’ve seen the knitted pants and leather snoods –
Plus greasepaint (for the folk of Grimly Down).
 But, if you need some carrots, then you’re screwed.
Your only hope is Tescos, out of town.

And if you can’t afford the bus ride there
Then maybe you should go and live elsewhere?


17 February 2015

#17 - Bubastards

The Overlord of Buckley, undisputed:
Lord Geoffrey “Fluffy” Macintosh the Third.
Sadistic, clever, crazy – it’s reputed
he feasts upon the carcases of birds.
He roams around his manor with a sneer –
if any peasants dare to look his way,
he turns about and brandishes his rear,
as if a puckered feline arse could say:
M’wah-hah-haah! You fools! You servile clods!
Have you not worked out we’re the Master Race?
We rule your petty commonwealth like Gods!
Now take that stupid look from off your face:
Feed us! Bring us jewels! Change our litter!
We’ve got your Facebook – next we march on Twitter!


16 February 2015

#16 - Parable of the Jumbo Vegetables

From dawn till tea there's Grandpa Joe in garden 
with mug of Yorkshire tea and baccy wad. 
The seeds are softly sown by hands long hardened 
with tearing grass and thistles from the sod. 
Each day the turnips thicken, pumpkins plump, 
cabbages flourish, cauliflowers grow, 
and green tomatoes gain their crimson rumps: 
he takes all prizes at the county show. 
To win the day our hero's up each night 
working where shadows rear and black rats scurry: 
in sewers with a shovel Joe, despite 
the stench, gets compost from the human slurry. 
A metaphor? Whate'er you make of it 
remember that the best will grow from shit.


15 February 2015

#15 - Rochester's Anonymous Massive (aka RAM)

In deepest dark she slips through silent streets,
with balaclava, aerosol in bag,
to draw her dreams and sign her ornate tag
on each blank piece of brickwork that she meets.
Graffiti is too blunt an epithet
for craft and dedication such as this
an artistry that's burnished with a kiss,
a flourish of poetic paint vignettes.
John Wilmot is her one true guiding light
she re-works slogans of another world
in homage to that syphilitic Earl:
'Let's Swive Again', 'I'd Rather Swive Than Fight'
and 'Swive Thy Neighbour' sprayed upon a wall
in handsome letters nearly five feet tall.


14 February 2015

#14 - February

For half the month, old Johnny Eglantine 
will swap his poppy for a sweetbriar rose, 
and sit in Buckley Park in Sunday clothes – 
same bench each day – until it’s time to dine. 
At home, he lights a candle, pours some wine – 
two glasses always – though he sadly knows 
he’ll only drink the one, but so it goes: 
he sits in silence for his Valentine. 
Then on the fifteenth, when the candle’s died, 
he’ll slide the poppy through his buttonhole – 
he knows she sees him soldier on with pride. 
He petal-wraps in pink the heart she stole, 
and seals his annual promise with a tear: 
he’ll wear a smile until this time next year.


13 February 2015

#13 - Dr Godfrey (Mr Faust)

There’s nothing Doctor Godfrey cannot treat,
From heart attacks and mumps, to gastric flu.
He’ll banish broken bones, and migraines, too.
So come inside his office; take a seat!

The pain is in your stomach and your feet?
Well, soon we’ll have you feeling good as new!
You’ve heard the rumours – every word is true!
This doctor makes the others obsolete!

But Godfrey didn’t learn this expertise –
He sold his soul to Satan late one night.
The Devil grants him miracles with ease,
And now, he can’t do wrong for doing right.

 He’ll never turn to evil (that we hope),
He’s Robert Johnson, with a stethoscope.


12 February 2015

#12 - The Nimbyist Manifesto

In Buckley Oak we're for the status quo
so if new homes are built in our back yard,
like fresh verrucas sprouting on a toe,
don't be surprised to find them burned and charred.
A hospital would bring a roar of sneezes,
a tidal wave of bowels and gristly goo;
a field of turbines spinning in the breeze
would slice our blithe and chirping birds in two.
Nor do we want the muddled sludge and dung,
the pinching bugs and thickets thick with spikes,
that birdbrains call the countryside, where young
lovers rampage around on aging bikes.
We don't want much, we have a simple dream:
a perfect void that's timeless and pristine.


11 February 2015

#11 - Carnival of Dreams

Across the tranquil fields from Buckley Oak
there lies the settlement of Grimly Down;
you know whenever Grimmers are in town,
as cats get painted purple for a joke.
Descended from mysterious circus folk
performance artists, jugglers and clowns
whose mission is to mess your minds around
with 'happenings' that baffle and provoke.
Their manor is the Carnival of Dreams,
their credo is "what's strange is for the best
(for things are very rarely as they seem)
and never let the normal people rest."
So bring your flash mobs and your masquerades
to where the smell of greasepaint still pervades.


10 February 2015

#10 - Tastes Like Chicken

Old Keith has been a butcher all his life.
A man of sunken eyes and ample girth.
An expert with a sharpened carving knife.
His sausages laid out on AstroTurf.

Pork chops and turkey! Chicken wings! Spiced beef!
The fly trap on the wall glows neon blue.
But novelty is what compels our Keith –
He’s bored of this and wants to start anew.

So now, if Keith should find himself some rats,
Then those will end up in the mincer too.
He’s making mutton cuts from dogs and cats.
Lord only knows what’s hiding in the stew!

I’ve told the papers. No one wants to know,
Not when the price of meat has dropped so low!


09 February 2015

#9 - Ancient Grudge

Two boozers, both alike in dignity: 
The Dog & Duck of course, and then The Crown – 
the source of Buckley’s sporting rivalries, 
as drinking men compete across the town. 
‘The Dogging Duckers’ always reign supreme 
at snooker, darts, bar billiards, whist and rugger; 
they’ve broken records with their football team – 
that Boycey is a nippy little bugger!
While ’Bella’s bar resounds with pops and fizzes, 
the drinkers at The Crown just scoff and snort 
that they, at least, win all the bloody quizzes, 
and cricket is a far superior sport. 
And always at the bar is Jones, the Parson, 
who hates all sport, and often thinks of arson.


08 February 2015

#8 - Buckley Oak WI

On Tuesday nights in Molly's living room 
(the hall is much too cold in winter) gather 
the women of the neighbourhood, for whom 
there's nothing better than the chance to blather. 
They sip their tea and butter scones and talk 
of how to kill all men. A wife must know 
just how to make her husband scream and squawk 
and spread his guts like jam upon the snow. 
And when they're done and pottered home again 
to cook another meal and dust upstairs 
they know a mace is made from ball and chain, 
an apron's something which a butcher wears. 
Bring me my Bow of burning gold. 
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!


07 February 2015

#7 - Shovel

Jack likes to sit and watch the pub go by,
his shovel stood upon its pointy end.
To strangers' queries, locals just reply
with nods and winks and "he's the vicar's friend."

At closing time they gather round the spade
a voluble and quite eccentric throng
as pints are pulled and spirits are arrayed,
while 'Bella leads the punters in a song:

"Dig graves! Dig graves! Let's hear it for our Jack!
Dig graves! Dig graves! We're never coming back
from cancer, suicide and heart attack!
Dig graves! Dig graves! Feet first into the black!
So raise a glass to each gravedigger's toil,
until we shovel off this mortal coil..."


06 February 2015

#6 - The Lollipop Lady

You’ll find her on the streets from eight till nine,
A spectre wrapped in scarf and bright cagoule.
She prowls around the pavements near the school
And guards the zebra crossing with her sign.

These kids have got to get to class on time,
So Lily (sixty three) gives it her best.
In bobble hat and boots and Hi Vis vest
She helps them cross the road, and that’s no crime.

But back inside her flat, she has a stash
Of pills and coke and horse and LSD.
She sells her wares to make a little cash –
She’s saving up to fix her dodgy knee.

The cops, who could arrest her, wouldn’t dare
Because she sells the smack to Buckley’s mayor.


05 February 2015

#5 - Circadian

By day, he’s Daniel Howard, choir boy:
a teenage cherub; spotless, squeaky-clean
appearance, shirt and specs pristine –
your mother would describe him as ‘a joy’.
’Most everywhere in Buckley would employ
him – so polite he is, and always keen
to help a stranger. Once, he met the Queen –
he’d knitted her a fluffy corgi toy.
By night, he’s Dr3dlØk-D: Ace Hacktivist,
requiting banks with D.O.S. attacks;
he’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted List;
Starbucks and Sony want him off their backs.
And when he sleeps (not much, for sleep is rare),
he dreams of Danton, and of Robespierre.


04 February 2015

#4 - Mr Ball

Retired from teaching, now he dallies in
the smoker's shelter of the Dog and Duck.
He's always ready with a grubby grin
and tender growl to grab your arm and tuck
into his tales of muddy fields in sleet:
rounders and fraying bibs; laps and gritty
scabs; whistles and the rap of rushing feet;
that lanky Boyce had had a trial with City!
He stops to wipe his chin and gulp his drink,
relights a narrow rollie. On his nose
capillaries unfold their florid ink.
The flitting of his little eyes has slowed.
As you start to move on, he burps. Well, son,
that's over now, but were my lessons fun?


03 February 2015

#3 - Trish and Chips

Her gleaming chrome domain is fit for kings
(the cod alone would make a monarch sigh)
with every watery treat that one could fry
a cornucopia of fishy things
and all the joys a battered sausage brings
(though guacamole is in short supply
if Mandelson should ever wander by).
This chippie heaven's sure to give you wings!
Yet Trish, for it is she, has secret dreams
she ponders where her fish originate,
not fantasies of lakes or mountain streams
but to those fabled realms her thoughts migrate:
to Bailey, Shannon, Rockall, Sole and Wight;
to Viking, Forties, Thames and German Bight.


02 February 2015

#2 - Arabella Finn

The Dog and Duck is owned by Mister Ket
But really, Arabella runs the show.
She keeps the patrons fed, their whistles wet,
And counters saucy banter like a pro.

She lets the drinkers moan about their lot,
And never tells them off for racist jokes.
She listens to complaints while pouring shots,
As she attends the men of Buckley Oak.

But 'Bella's keeping secret her true self –
She's writing up her second PhD.
Examining the local folk through stealth
For studies into rural bigotry.

A gentleman shouts “Women shouldn't vote!”
And 'Bella lifts her pen to scrawl a note.


01 February 2015

#1 - Welcome

Located somewhere off the A1(M),
you’ll find the modest town of Buckley Oak:
A paragon of Englishness, a gem
of simple, sleepy lives, and gentle folk.
At each end of the High Street there’s a pub;
on weekends there’s a market in the square.
The chippie by the bridge provides the grub,
the church upon the hill provides the prayer.
So take a wander past the mismatched homes –
through Georgian elegance to red-brick row –
past hanging baskets, lawns, and garden gnomes;
pull up a table – have a cuppa’ joe.
Now tweak those curtains – take a look inside,
and let four sonneteers be your guide.