Allhallowtide’s ebb and
flow of candies and other
secular consumerism.

to consider

How I smelt the discarded innards
of my neighbour’s pumpkin over yesterday’s
bifurcating fence.

sounds so

Once upon a time,
white sheets were draped as ghosts
tricked along safer streets.

Pet dogs
too ugly to need
a disguise.

Stingy Jack,
the Devil and
turnip terrors.

That myth
of LSD in the
popcorn balls.

Pleasant Ending


I rarely enter poetry competitions, and it is some years since I last won for a submission, but this genuinely took my interest, and I wrote the following specifically for the theme:


I was pleased to read this at a zoom presentation last Saturday, along with others and their shortlisted works [which included prose entries] and I was also pleased to be awarded third prize. My found prose poetry can be difficult enough to read on the page, but I think it will have been a tough ask just to hear it, and it was a challenge to read. It wasn’t by any means a test to enter a found prose poem, but I made no compromises to what I write for entering.

My thanks to all who organised and were involved, but especially the poetry judge Dorothy Lehane. I especially appreciate her thoughtful observations on my entry, as I am sure the other shortlisted writers and prize winners do for theirs. Details can be read here.


‘Frank’s Wild Years’ by Tom Waits

tomWaits - Copy

More song lyrics as storytelling:

Well Frank settled down in the Valley
and he hung his wild years
on a nail that he drove through
his wife’s forehead
he sold used office furniture
out there on San Fernando Road
and assumed a $30,000 loan
at 15% and put a down payment
on a little two bedroom place
his wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
made good bloody marys
kept her mouth shut most of the time
had a little Chihuahua named Carlos
that had some kind of skin disease
and was totally blind. They had a thoroughly modern kitchen
self-cleaning oven (the whole bit)
Frank drove a little sedan
they were so happy

One night Frank was on his way home
from work, stopped at the liquor store,
picked up a couple Mickey’s Big Mouths
drank ’em in the car on his way
to the Shell station, he got a gallon of
gas in a can, drove home, doused
everything in the house, torched it,
parked across the street, laughing
watching it burn, all Halloween
orange and chimney red then
Frank put on a top forty station
got on the Hollywood Freeway
headed North

Never could stand that dog

Sufjan Stevens’ ‘John Wayne Gacy, Jr.’

This is another song lyric as storytelling, here on that fine line of finessing the grotesque, but there is certainly no sensationalising or obviously glamourising. This also, like the recent Jason Isbell, shouldn’t be divorced from the melody which in this case is sublimely beautiful and that is why it works so emotively in its juxtaposition:

His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne’s T-shirts
When the swingset hit his head
The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead
Twenty-seven people, even more
They were boys with their cars, summer jobs
Oh my God

Are you one of them?

He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all
He’d kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took off all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid

Tory Scumbags

It wasn’t a great move for Angela Rayner yesterday to call a Tory scum MP ‘scum’, and I don’t blame her one jot, because it allowed that scum party to have a momentary, slightly elevated position from which to dribble some self-righteous drivel, this only marginally above the effluence and big fat liebergs in which they normally reside.

Elephant’s Storytelling

isbell - Copy

I’ve written before about song lyrics as poetry, and Elephant by Jason Isbell is certainly poetic, but it is the storytelling that is most affecting. It shouldn’t be divorced from its melody, and this is a superbly written song, but I share for that plaintive, heartfelt storyline:

She said Andy you’re better than your past
winked at me and drained her glass
cross-legged on the barstool, like nobody sits anymore.
She said Andy you’re taking me home
but I knew she planned to sleep alone
I’d carry her to bed and sweep up the hair from the floor.

If I had fucked her before she got sick
I’d never hear the end of it
she don’t have the spirit for that now.

We drink these drinks and laugh out loud
bitch about the weekend crowd
and try to ignore the elephant somehow

She said Andy you crack me up
Seagrams in a coffee cup
sharecropper eyes and her hair almost gone.
When she was drunk she made cancer jokes
she made up her own doctor’s notes
surrounded by her family I saw she was dying alone.

I’d sing her classic country songs
and she’d get high and sing along
she don’t have the voice to sing with now.

We’d burn these joints in effigy
cry about what we used to be
and try to ignore the elephant somehow

I buried her a thousand times
giving up my place in line
but I don’t give a damn about that now.

There’s one thing that’s real clear to me
no one dies with dignity
we just try to ignore the elephant somehow
we just try to ignore the elephant somehow
we just try to ignore the elephant somehow


Ten years ago now I finally got to try the Dead Hippie burger at the MEATliquor in Jubilee Hall at Covent Garden. Two beef patties, seeping juice and grease, winking pink, onions held: it was delicious. No queue, and great to sit up in the mezzanine watching the market surfers below. If there had been a next time it would have been the chili dog and the corn puppies [corn meal wrapped around polish sausage, deep fried]. My kinda food.

Having said the above, it looks like ten years later the chili dog and corn puppies are no longer available. Ah well – it’s still possible to drool over this menu.