A Bard’s Tale

(A Caudate Sonnet. The clue’s in the title ;) )

Have you been injured while out on a quest?

You know the sort of thing – you’re out exploring

the Caves of Drakk’un Raï, where Orcs are warring,

when Thorneval the Valiant, all dressed

in shining plus-one plate, destroys a chest

to get the snacky loot the Orcs were storing.

This activates a trap set in the flooring,

which skewers you and Ǽnavhar the Blessed!

Nightmare! Have you been halfway down a cavern,

and taken damage clearly not your fault,

because – before descending to this vault –

your Cleric left her potions in the tavern?

Have any clumsy members of your party

rolled epic fails that left you less than hearty?


Then give Galadriel and Squigg a call!

We specialise in suing all your guild –

from rubbish Rogues, and Monks who get you killed,

to Wizards who explode – we sue ‘em all!

and all we ask, in terms No-Win-No-Fee,

is ten per cent of all the twat’s XP.

Sacrifice ™



“In Flanders fields the poppies grow?

A breach of Trademark, dontcherknow!

A symbol of the British Legion,

not some soggy Belgian region!


“How dare these Belgies steal our flower,

that vaunts the sacrifice that our

brave boys once gave, and give today,

defending Freedom – how dare they?


“The Poppy is a British brand:

like Empire, Beef, and ShakespeareLand!

For celebrating British glories –

and decking the lapels of Tories;


“Of newscasters and weather lassies,

footballers and Shirley Basseys;

those lovely chaps at BAe,

the Queen, the Duke, the Prince, and me!


“’Twas Churchill (I imagine) said

‘Wear a poppy! Praise the dead!

And all who fail to beat that drum

are rotten leftie pinko scum!’


“Yes, this is Britain! where you’re free

to worship all who serve like me:

the Fallen fell for Liberty,

so lock up those who disagree!”


On British planes, the poppies fly,

while raining fire from the sky;

in Flanders fields the poppies wave,

as Wilfred spins inside his grave.


I urge you to read the article by Veterans for Peace UK which inspired this poem. It’s posted here. Also Hello Tom.



One For The Major

Those fellas with umbrellas who
            parade around the town –
they’re not keeping the rain away,
            but just slowing it down.
I wonder why they feel the need
            to hold a mobile roof –
don’t these eejits realise
            their skin is waterproof?
They take up all the pavement,
            they get in people’s way,
and jab their ears with soggy spikes,
            then freeze their necks with spray.
So nowadays when I go out,
            when rainclouds gloom the skies,
I take a piece of guttering
            and jab it in their eyes.

Sonnet for the Missus (after Larkin)

If my sweet wife could see behind my eyes,
would she see gardens filled with roses there?
Would she see hearts, and cloudless summer skies,
those cosy winter nights we’ve yet to share?
Would there be stately, well-appointed rooms –
where kids and spaniels frolic through the years –
the windows decked in silken fragrant blooms,
as loving laughter echoes in our ears?
Of course not – that’s insane – she’d likely find
a dusty shelf that’s wreathed in lurid smoke,
jam-packed with scraps of verse both mad and blind,
with boardgames, beer, and half-constructed jokes;
no honey-crusted romance would she spy –
but who needs hearts and flowers when there’s pie?

…and so it falls to me to say

To all the poets in my life

In Ancient Greece, with its Golden Fleece,

and its tales of brave Odysseus,

they celebrated conquests with physical contests,

like throwing a hammer or discus.

When they won a battle, they’d slaughter all the cattle,

and sacrifice the blood in its veins,

then run around in circles, jumping over hurdles,

and so began Olympic Games.


As well as running races, they’d fill up public spaces,

with sculpture and the poesy of the time;

and artists would compete to decorate the streets

with the finest in marble and rhyme.

Then, through some Attic test, the judges picked the best,

and garlanded the winner in his glory;

and with a laurel crown, he’d be fêted through the town,

dining out forever on the story.


Now in our modern days, we do things different ways –

the Olympics is a cavalcade of branding:

for Macdonalds and for Coke, and for Atos (what a joke,

and an irony that passeth understanding).

To some, what’s even worse is the shocking lack of verse,

or any form of Arty competition;

but why should our poetics be treated like athletics –

oh, aren’t we better off for the omission?


Some say we must give thanks to those loud and clicky Yanks,

for bringing us the Slam to fill the gap –

but while I’m speaking truth, please forgive my short, uncouth

display, but I think Slams are (mostly) utter crap.

A place for poetasters to preen like Ancient Masters,

evincing little skill, and much less art;

and Gristy, you can show ‘em that “It’s still a fucking poem,”

but that doesn’t make it worth a soggy fart.


To all you Slamming poets (if you’re one of them, you’ll know it):

you’re brave and dedicated, this is true;

but kindly pick a topic that won’t send me psychotic,

or huddle in that corner there and spew.

I’m sick and bloody tired of you preaching to the choir,

saying “Prejudice and Racism are Bad!”

and who could have guessed your emotions are a mess,

and that your Granny dying made you sad?


To the judges in the crowd, I’ll say this, and say it loud:

I couldn’t give a monkey’s what you think.

So score me as you will – give me ten or give me nil –

whatever, I’ll just sit back down and drink.

Poetry’s no sport to be judged in open court,

compared and ranked in arbitrary ways;

poesy’s only duty is to speak of Truth and Beauty,

regardless of the score at close of play.


A hypocrite I am, when performing at a Slam –

my presence there is nothing but ironic –

but slagging English Bards (it turns out) is not that hard,

as well as being wonderfully Byronic.

This silly little rhyme has just wasted all our time,

and shown a stunning lack of all technique;

but if you think that Art should compete with all its heart,

then I guess we’re pretty fucked, just like the Greeks.

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