Constellation Prize

The figure on the mountain knew
Far higher than the eagle flew
Beyond the sun and past the light
Were men who crossed the sky by night.
Soon after dusk their fires appeared
Then slowly, once a course was steered
Their caravan set out en masse
To make its empyreal pass.


Like beasts migrating on the plains
Like swarms that form to greet the rains
He found no word for the amount
Of travelers he sought to count.
A gallery would pass him by
Whose outlines seemed to signify
Proud emblems of a noble clan
Led by an even a greater man.


The bearing, always east to west
Suggested they were on a quest
Or maybe searching for a door
They’d passed through in a time before.
Each night the figure danced and prayed
Around the fire he had made
In hope his kin might see its glow
And teach him all he wished to know.


Then with the last beat from his breast
Great Spirit granted this request
And drew his outline in the sky
That men as he should never die

Seasoned Greetings

When greeting guests in Tokyo

The custom is to bow down low

While in Tibet both old and young

Say hi by sticking out their tongue.

In France it’s chic to peck the cheek

And friends will clap in Mozambique

Though Greenlanders will sniff your face

Before they help you with your case.

Most Eskimos rub nose to nose

In India they touch your toes

And Zambians will squeeze the thumbs

Of visitors considered chums.

Through handshakes, winks and nods we say:

I’m pleased that you dropped by today!

And bless those friends who always know

The sign for when it’s time to go…

Watch Your Tongue

When canny cannibals suggest

You call round as a dinner guest

You’re right to feel suspicious

They’re hoping you’re delicious

And if the book next to the pan

Is How To Serve Your Fellow Man

It’s time to quit the venue

‘Cause guess who’s on the menu?

Best Before Date

January’s no one’s friend

A month that lingers without end

No end to winter’s deepest chill

Which steals the breath and makes us ill

No end to counting every dime

From letting go at Christmastime

To resolutions boldly made

Then just as quietly betrayed

No reason to buy a bouquet

No fireworks

No Mother’s Day

At New Year’s we all raise a glass

Bemused by how the months soon pass

Then wake the next day full of dread

In fear of that which lay ahead

St Valentine’s Day Mascara

Monkey Waiting for a Kiss

I gave my heart to you, my love
One February night
Invoking all that’s up above
I prayed you’d hold it tight.
And after we had made romance
(for that’s what I still call it)
You rose and gave a loving glance
Then made off with my wallet.
The next day you were seen at lunch
With someone I don’t know
But looking back, I have a hunch
It was with your new beau.
I hope the roasted Cornish hen
And champagne went down well
Before they came right up again
And cleared the whole hotel.
According to my Visa bill
You both then saw a play
A great night out is greater still
When you don’t have to pay.
Despite the slight cost overrun
At least I’m not alone
For in your haste to kiss and run
You left behind your phone.
And so, my love, for us it ends
As does your victory lap
For you’ve just texted all your friends
To say you’ve got the clap.

Local Weirdough

“I’ve gone into hiding.”

“We’re in a Pizza Hut.”

“That’s what they want you to think,” Laverne lowered her voice. “Look around… what do you see?”

“Happy fat people.”

All of them?”

“All the ones eating pizza,” I was able to confirm.

“What about him on his own over at the salad bar? What’s his story?”

“That’s a woman.”

“Okay, whatever, but ask yourself this: what type of person comes to Pizza Hut to load up on celery?”

“Maybe she’s the nurse.”

“Restaurants don’t have nurses.”

“This one should.”

“John, what am I always telling you?”

“It’s only a phase?”

“That was your mother.”

“Never make eye contact while eating a banana?”

“That was your cellmate.”

“If someone’s crying don’t ask them if it’s because of their haircut?”

 “There are two types of people in this world: those who like pizza and -”

“- nurses?”

“Communists.”

“You’re why aliens don’t talk to us.”

“The Macarena is why aliens don’t talk to us,” Laverne sniffed. “Anyway, I need to talk to you about something else.”

“Shoot.”

“How can I get myself into The Bible?”

“Oh my God…”

“Is that what I should do? Should I pray?”

“That wasn’t praying.”

“Then you, my friend, have just blasphemed,” Laverne waved a menacing finger in my direction.

“Since when have you been religious?”

“Pam’s published an eBook.”

“And…”

“It’s a collection of poems which are just dreadful.”

“So…”

“I think one’s about me.”

“Because…”

“It tells the story of a beautiful Mesopotamian goddess.”

“You’re from Wisconsin.”

“Maybe it wasn’t always called that.”

“So, you’re thinking that if you’re a goddess you should be in the same book as God.”

“I should at least be on the cover with Him,” Laverne reasoned.

“Right, here comes the waitress so would you please come out from under the table?”

“Are you ready to order?” the young woman asked.

“Have all of these animals on the menu been freshly killed?” Laverne enquired, emerging to take her seat.

“Please excuse my friend, she’s Mesopotamian,” I interjected.

“Uh huh…” the waitress was going to need a lot more.

“She was just looking for somewhere to bury the leftovers.”

“You’re not really allowed to do that,” she advised us.

“Then I’ll just have the buffet special,” Laverne set down her menu.

“Anything to drink?”

“I’ve just topped up my gourd so that won’t be necessary, thank you.”

“I’ll have the Buffet Special and a Coke,” I jumped in again.

The waitress stared at her pad, unsure of what to write.

“Two Buffets Specials and one Coke.”

“Right,” she sighed with relief. “You confused me there for a minute.”

“I apologise,” Laverne continued, “it’s just that all of this takes me back.”

“All of what?” the waitress asked.

“These ancient murals. That one, for example, is it Babylonian?”

“That’s Cher at The Oscars.”

“So it’s not a mummy then?”

“I can check, if you’d like.”

“Would you?”

“I’ll be right back with your drink so please help yourself to the buffet,” the girl managed to get out, before backing into the table behind her on her way to the kitchen.

“Mesopotamia?” Laverne laughed.

“From a mud hut to Pizza Hut within the blink of an evil eye.”

“We’ve got her on the run, poor thing.”

“Excuse me, but did you find your earring?” a dashing maître d’ approached our table.

“How did you know that’s what I was looking for?” Laverne asked, delighted.

“It’s my job to notice everything. For example, I also noticed that you didn’t order a drink. May I get you one now?”

“A gin and tonic would be lovely,” came the order.

“When I return, I’ll help you look for your earring,” he promised, before waltzing off.

“Dark and swarthy with an accent. Good thing he wasn’t selling sand because you’d have ordered it as a starter.”

“You know us Valley Girls,” Laverne sighed, “we just can’t resist a man in cuneiform.”

High Stakes

Nosferatu' at 40: The Quiet Horror of Werner Herzog's Remake | Hollywood  Reporter

Should I love you?
Take hold of you?
Our first kiss would be your last
Blood pulsating
Seeping, sating
Taking more than I had asked.
This lifeless life out of the sun
Exiled from God’s own plan
Its beastly feast that’s fit for none
Was not how I began.
Still, you near me
Don’t you fear me?
I can suck you into hell
No
I’ll leave you
Let me grieve you
In that place where monsters dwell

Chat Room

REVIEW: 50's Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios

The cashier took my money

Without even glancing up

So I said something funny

As a means to interrupt

Her name tag spelled out Mary

And she didn’t think it cute

When I rhymed it with scary

Before asking: Are you mute?

The parking lot attendant

Waved me past while on the phone

A job that’s not dependent

Upon people skills alone

His name badge boasted Wainwright

And that’s all I gleaned from him

While he kept playing Fortnite

With a gamer in Tianjin.

My lunch was served by Lizzie

In a small, outdoor café

Where staff are far too busy

To cite Specials of the Day

Instead when it gets hectic

They just gesture to a wall

Good luck if you’re dyslexic

When you try read the scrawl.

The bank staff social-distanced

As they monitored the line

And then at their insistence

I saw Teller Number Nine

Laverne asked for my password

Followed by my date of birth

Then after that all I heard

Was my after-tax net worth.

Without a chat

We’re hardly here

Soon after that

We disappear

But I endure

This guessing game

Because I’m sure

God knows my name.