Game of Cones

I have a dog whose name is Spark

Who sometimes takes me to the park

Where we enjoy an evening stroll

I feed the ducks; he’s on patrol.

An old pro, Spark knows all the tricks

From playing dead to fetching sticks

His latest one involves a scheme

Which bags him loads of free ice cream.

He’ll spy a toddler on his own

Who’s struggling with a waffle cone

One far too big for little hands

And all the balance that demands.

Spark uses charm and big, brown eyes

To get him closer to the prize

Then as he nears these little ones

That’s when he grabs the cone and runs.

I’m deeply saddened by each theft

And every howl from the bereft

Whose double-scoops of lemon lime

Perpetuate this life of crime.

The mothers round on Spark and curse

So I make sure they’re reimbursed

Which throws the whole plan in reverse

For he was taught to steal a purse…

Ante Establishment

Randomly flicking through the TV channels I happened upon a show called Child Genius, a programme whose aim is to discover which children in Britain have never been allowed to climb a tree, drink Fanta and make friends their own age. Contestants range in age from 8 – 12 in Earth years and from what I gather there are only two eligibility requirements: they must dress like Puritans and manage their own hedge fund. As for the parents, alas, there are no rules otherwise these same kids would be attending birthday parties and dancing to K-pop.

One distinctive family comprised Calliope (the child genius), Octavia (her overbearing mother), Peregrine (her hipster father) and 4 year-old twin brothers, as yet unnamed.

“We’re waiting for a Labour government first because then the whole ordeal will be less traumatic for them,” Peregrine explained.

“Watch out for the fat one – he’s a biter. He ate three of the gerbils in my control group,” Calliope warned. “Octavia, it’s 3 o’clock.”

Interviewer: What happens at 3 o’clock?

“I give Calliope her feed.”

Interviewer: Her what?

“She’s still on breast milk,” Octavia stated matter-of-factly, now fumbling underneath her burka. “Excuse me for a minute. I’m afraid these are more form over function.”

Interviewer: I was going to ask you about that, actually. Isn’t that a Peperami in your bag?

“Oh, I’m not Muslim,” she grimaced. “I don’t even believe in God. It’s more of a statement.”

Interviewer: Got it, but getting back to the feed: are you telling us that Calliope has lived on nothing but breast milk since she was born?

“Oh, no. I add my own juices to it as well.”

[viewers stopped eating at this point]

Interviewer: Please, God, tell me we’re talking about lemon grass.

“I have a juicer for vegetables and fruit,” Octavia confirmed, “but I also have all their placentas in the freez-“”

It was a shame really because Calliope seemed like a nice kid who wasn’t bothered whether or not she won Child Genius. Octavia, however, was on a mission. After years of subjecting her first born to stem cell shakes and hyperbaric chambers, this TV programme would vindicate her once and for all. After all, it wasn’t about the children; she was the true genius and, by her own calculations, Calliope only needed to make it to Week 4 before TV producers and the viewing public realized this. After that it would be book deals, speaking tours and Oprah.

Interviewer: Calliope, do you have any regrets about coming onto the progreamme? Did you ask to come on it?

“To be honest, I’d rather be doing something else,” she wrinkled her nose.

Interviewer: Playing with your gerbils?

“Gambling online. Every minute I’m in this stupid studio I’m losing money.”

Interviewer: I beg your pardon?

“My game’s Poker. Last night I was about to beat the bubble until my Aces got cracked. I ended up folding faster than Superman on wash day. I looked like a total fish,” she rolled her eyes.

Interviewer: Uh, okay. So you won’t be going to Oxford then?

“Oh, I’ll be going to Oxford,” she arched an eyebrow, “but it won’t be Flash Cards I’ll be playing with, if you catch my drift.”

Interviewer: How will you balance gambling with your studies? And is it even legal? You’re too young to gamble, aren’t you?

Calliope discreetly opened her Frozen II pencil case to reveal a wad of crisp one-hundred dollar bills. Drawing one out, she folded it expertly with one hand until she’d fashioned a small fish, which she handed to me.

“Why don’t you go buy yourself something pretty and leave the legal stuff to me? After all, who’s the genius here?” she asked, morphing from Girl Guide to Al Capone before my eyes.

Interviewer: What about your mother’s plans for you?

“Octavia’s seeking validation but it can’t come through me. Her insecurities stem from a lifetime’s inability to rise above her own mediocrity. The whole breastfeeding thing’s a manifestation of it: she believes she’s passing on matriarchal wisdom when she pumps that junk which, for the record, I pour straight down the drain. I prefer a single malt – it keeps me clear-headed.”

Interviewer: Won’t she be disappointed though?

“When isn’t she? Look, do you want me to wrap this up nice and neatly for your viewers at home? Give them my take on life?”

Interviewer: Please, do.

“Okay, here we go… in life, you need to play the hand you’re dealt. If you don’t like the dealer, switch tables and if you don’t like the odds, switch games. Then again…” she said coyly, throwing a piece of popcorn into the air and catching it in her mouth, “I’m just a kid, so what do I know?”

It Started When You Farted

It Started When You Farted: Witty Rhymes For Playful Minds by [John Ormsby, Andrea Benko]

It’s taken a lifetime to get here but it’s been worth it; I’ve published my first book of poems.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

You can find It Started When You Farted: Witty Rhymes for Playful Minds on Amazon.

All proceeds from its sale will go to support Teenage Cancer Trust UK.

Thank you for your support.

Here’s a review by Light Poetry Magazine in Chicago.

lightpoetrymagazine.com/book-reviews-summer-22/

Maximum Overload

Stay-at-home moms and working mothers equally stressed out at home ...

My mother was a medical professional who worked long hours. When she came home in the evenings her day didn’t end there because she would then make supper, help us with our homework, do laundry, iron, wait up for my father to return home from work, etc. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised just how tired and rushed she must have felt every time she walked through our front door.

One evening in particular when my twin brother and I were still quite young, my mother put us to bed and then changed out of her hospital whites into a pair of navy blue slacks and an old, floppy blouse. She next washed her hair and wrapped it in a towel before heading back downstairs to see to our older siblings and a waiting pile of dirty dishes. Paul and I, however, had no plans to go to sleep as we whooped and hollered while swinging from our bunk beds like a pair of baby chimps. My mother, up to her elbows in suds, issued a few verbal warnings from the kitchen but we took no notice.

This proved a fatal error on our part.

Tired, hungry and now angry, Mum had had enough. Storming upstairs she banged open the door to our bedroom and let us have it with both barrels, issuing threat after threat until the blood drained from our faces. Convinced the message had finally gotten through, she turned to leave and as she did she overheard a small voice tentatively ask, “Who was that?”

Carmen Miranda and Her Incredible Tropical Hats | Ellie & Co

Unaware our mother had transformed herself from Florence Nightingale to Carmen Miranda since putting us to bed, my brother and I thought a mad woman had broken into our home and killed everyone before coming upstairs to wrap up any loose ends. Now realising the situation, Mum wasn’t struggling to contain her anger but her laughter. After a couple of deep breaths to stop the giggles she re-entered our bedroom, flicked on the light and removed the towel to reveal her true identity.

I still smile every time I picture her sitting on the bottom bunk, unravelling the sequence of events to two traumatised toddlers.

And I have to admire her for that.

Because I would have kept walking, then explained over breakfast that the mad intruder actually lived in our cellar and only came upstairs when wakened…

Lockdown Knockdown

Easter shoppers stuck in 'insane' queues for 3 hours due to ...

“Why are you in school?”

“What do you mean?

“I mean, why are you in school? Shouldn’t you be distance learning like everyone else? I’m in school because my parents are key workers.”

“Then I guess mine must be as well.”

“My father’s a Member of Parliament and my mother’s a doctor. What do yours do?”

“My dad stacks supermarket shelves and my mom works in a toilet paper factory.”

“Awesome!”

“Yup.”

“Come and eat lunch at our table.”

“I’ll get back to you.”

In Emergency: Break Class

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus? Hong Kong Pet Tests Positive | Time

We sent the students home today
And then wrote off the year
Agreeing we would all downplay
The panic and the fear.
The younger ones all whooped and cheered
As soon as they were told
Then out the door they disappeared
To watch events unfold.
The seniors nervously dispersed
First, shell-shocked, then resigned
This endgame they had not rehearsed
Would leave some friends behind.
Worse still, I had no lesson plan
No academic text
No clever quote from some wise man
To say what might come next.

Image result for last day of secondary school shirt sign

I struggled with this year’s goodbyes
But didn’t let it show
Instead I joked and signed their ties
And let them call me Bro!
Throughout the revelry we knew
The world was not the same
Our balanced lives were now askew
And we were not to blame.
But you can’t keep a good kid down
When they’re up for the fight
And as I watched them rally round
I knew they’d be alright.
The proof came when I reached my car
That’s when my vision blurred
In foam they’d written Au revoir!
Then What’s the French for NERD???

Helluva Twist

To the Finder

Should you happen upon these pages, Dear Reader, you will acquaint yourself with the final remembrances of a life – my life – which is no longer of any consequence to those who mattered most to me. For the record, I was christened Anne, branding me with the same scarlet stain borne by my mother, who died in childbirth. My father’s name I know not, nor was it ever a matter of record, which resulted in my being spirited away under a veil of shame to an orphanage on the very day I first drew breath. I am told I have a sister three years my elder, but Providence has never guided her along the path I have travelled, which, I suppose, has spared her the shame of having to acknowledge our kinship. Yet, I should have liked to look upon her face just the once, if only to discern even the slightest resemblance to the beloved sibling who appears every night in my dreams. But dreams are not to be trusted, for they ease the torment of not knowing with trickery, filling in gaps where there ought to be knowledge, lending convenient falsehoods which soothe the conscience, unperturbed, until morning.


I am Anne, not yet twelve years of age; this is all I can confirm to you.


My life as an orphan could not have been more wretched, even if I had been sent to the colonies where men feed upon the flesh of other men and fail to know their Maker. It is not the lark which wakes us each morning, but the birch across our faces in cold darkness, accompanied by the dull ache of hunger. Our tormentors squeal with delight at our sufferings as they watch us wince and stumble with fatigue, a weariness which pushes downward with such force that some are unable to straighten and walk upright until mid-day.


Today – my final outing on this Earth – I was not permitted even to see the sun, let alone feel its radiance. When I climbed up to the only window within reach, I discovered that it had been smeared with grease, so as to blur the comings and goings of those on the other side. I cried, but without tears, for they too have abandoned me, reducing my anguish to a whisper and little else, as even my breath fails to serve.
For you see, I am these days, breathless, due to incessant coughing which knocks at my chest with the force of a blacksmith’s hammer. I know what it is that has come for me – I know. From the look of panic among those who cannot hide their horror, to the countenance of quiet resignation which stares back at me from the darkened window. Without mercy, a malady burrows deeper and deeper into the soft, delicious flesh of my lungs; its hunger insatiable, its progress relentless.


So now, Dear Reader, as my spent candle’s tiny light beckons me to follow it into darkness, I must to bed for the final sleep. I lay me down with a heavy heart for it is without friends, without family and without having told my sister how much I love her. I can see her now… Esther (for I have named her) is trying to find me as I write this, but the race is now over without the prize being claimed.


To my sister, I offer my heart.
To this life, I offer myself.
To My Maker, I offer my soul.
Remember me – I am Anne.


And now to dream.