Canto LXI

Behold, tonight’s the night when our fair town
becomes the stomping ground for ghosts and ghouls
as accountants transform into Counts

and housing market speculators howl.
Your gyneacologist is now a zombie
and Croydon catwomen are on the prowl.

You have mutual permission, it is okay
to dress like someone you might call a weirdo
provided you all do it on the same day.

Tonight you can freak out and remain shallow,
go make a scene, drink till you’ve filled your skins
and save your inhibitions for All Hallows—

the day when all the saints come clocking in.

Canto LX

It’s funny how a nineties cartoon craze
for mutant, martial arts amphibians
has populated Britain’s waterways

with thick shelled, sharp beaked, green skinned aliens,
supine in the sun before they plunge,
to gorge on eggs or crunch through duckling’s bones,

and yet these monstrous actions won’t expunge
the excitement I feel when I spot them
lined up along a log, neatly arranged.

Who knows if, in fifty years time,
pollution might have mutated these fuckers
to move from duckling death to petty crime

like mugging pizza vendors with nunchukas?

Canto LIX

I remember when Saturday night
meant The Big Fight Live, back in the nineties,
a golden crop of super middleweights—

Eubank, always confident and haughty,
made his entrance  to Simply the Best
and proved it, winning easy, winning dirty,

his RP affectations of respect
for all of his opponents, even Benn,
the guy I cheered on every time to knock

Chris Eubank to the ground. It never happened,
the record still stands at one loss one draw,
though the judges must ‘ve been ratarsed for that one.

We watched the walkovers, we watched the wars,
with beer we purchased at the dodgy offy,
until the action pissed off to Sky Sports

our heroes lost their edge, the tragedies
of Watson and McClennan tamed our calls
to beat the shit out of the other guy.

We watched our faded icons finally fall,
to Sugar Boy Malinga and Steve Collins,
and my teen angst required new role models

like Jim Morrison and Henry Rollins,
and though I’m now the poncey London bard
I still hear the ring announcer calling—

one time, while crossing Vauxhall Bridge I spied
a familiar figure, beard and corn rows, jogging
towards me so I called out “Go on David!”

and not finding my fanboy schtick annoying
he touched his fist to mine, said, “Nice one mate”
and vanished into the fog of January morning.

And just like that I knew I couldn’t wait
to tell the next person, then realised
that I was on my way to the old Tate

to attend a symposium on the Sublime.

Canto LVIII

Within my every cell there is a ladder
that splits and multiplies as rhibosomes
read the body’s convoluted chapters.

Not one of these busy automatons
care for the person that I come to be,
a long haired, ex-Catholic republican,

scoffing at so called equality,
voted in today by sitting Lords
now chicks are alright for the Monarchy.

And I know nothing of these tiny hordes,
these microscopic sweatshops, where the shifts
will never end until I am brown bread.

And so it is that that my long suffering wife
is yet to feel the fleet acrobatics
performed by that near thirteen week old life

nor will it feel her travails, morning sick
a few weeks more before the promised lull,
just as those inbred aristocratic

parasites, waving from their gilded Rolls
will never know the nine to five dolor
of flag waving or finger flipping proles,

who are, by all accounts, their employers.

Canto LVII

That’s it baby, I’ve made a big effort,
I’m waiting at Victoria station
to be your very own high class male escort,

whistled up in true M&S fashion,
shoes buffed to a see-your-boat-race shine,
I’ll take your bags, do anything to lighten

the load until we get home from the train,
where dinner waits, some Afritada Chicken
just like they cook it in the Philipinnes.

It’s all for you, my goddess, my true soul mate
and not because I have just had the thought
that the gig’s on tomorrow, not tonight,

because that would make me an idiot…

Canto LVI

It seems the rain only dares to come at night
when pinhead bongos rattle window glass
to summon us from dreams as if to state

that this is the new tempo we must place
our archetypal images upon,
or stirring battle drums so we can face

the fears that jingle jangle deep within
like pocket change inside an old settee.
When daylight issues through our threadbare curtains,

forgetting dreams, we still hold memories
of glugging gutters, roots drinking a good fill,
outside we see the sodden wads of leaves,

the blameless sun above bourgeois Herne Hill.

Canto LV

If fatalist determinists are right,
then this morning’s argument and tears
were happenings that were already set

when the Big Bang set the cosmos into gear,
as atoms followed their trajectories
over the course of thirteen billion years.

And even if I don’t buy that treatise,
I can still say our clash of characters
came down to hormones, or the maladies

that come in the last week of the trimester.
But even then, this nature/nurture schtick
detracts from one more influential factor—

my frequent tendency to be a dick—
and if those molecules are set in motion
they move me now to take my harsh words back

and steer clear of pretentious explanations.

Canto LIV

Perhaps it’s because Harryhausen’s flicks
formed the bedrock of my infant mind,
that I can see the cannibalistic

crones that wield the one all-seeing eye
in 1981’s Clash of the Titans—
which I admit is not exactly kind

to these three nurses, each taking a turn
to slide the scanner across my wife’s tummy,
while mumbling incoherent medi-jargon.

They do not seem to find my wizecracks funny
so I stay focused on the flickering screen,
the sudden forms that loom out from the fuzzy

ultrasonic storm, I think I’ve seen
a set of fingers, gone, and then the toes,
the string of little bones that make the spine.

One nurse says, in a misanthropic tone,
“What will I do with this baby?” It bounces
every time she wants it still and won’t

turn around for her when she commands it.
“That’s it kid,” I whisper, “fight the power!
Leave these grumpy witch-nurses confounded!”

It’s only back home, in the later hours
I find the time to scan the image file,
display it on the screen of my computer

and gaze upon the face of my first child.

Canto LIII

And so it ends, the All Blacks win at home,
after a tripwire taut 8-7 final,
a score to flatter France’s patchy form

and while they will go down in the annals
as runners up, they’ll be forever flattered,
although the world will otherwise be greatful

to them for leaving English hopes in tatters.
The tournaments in years to come will frame
the preening, diving, sobbing prima donnas

in what the naive call the beautiful game.
Of course I’ll get swept up, as I still do
when Ireland qualify or when West Ham

almost escape the relegation blues.
But wait, I missed that wee shindig in Stratford,
I’ll probably watch the highlights on the news

though, in hindsight, we all would have preferred
for it to be in gay Paris, and please
don’t tell me about legacy, it never

did much to bring the happy days to Greece.

Canto LII

Twelve weeks on and two days til the scan.
Your first portrait is also the first time
that your existence will be spied upon.

We’ll breach the iron curtain of the womb
like CCTV spooks in transit vans
watching the suspect, pausing, hitting zoom,

as the unwknowing target saunters on,
his mind mulling the inconsequential—
like buying bog roll, or some catchy song

he half remembers from his days at school.
This is the only privacy you’ll get
before we inspect nappies, size up stools

or shove our fat faces into your cot.
A true place of your own, dear child, you’re blessed,
with feotal digs, a prenatal bedsit.

You’ve got two days to tidy up yer mess.

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