Confessions of a Newsjack Reject

Confession Alert: Yes, I too am one of the small ragtag army of desperadoes trying to get a joke aired on BBC Radio4’s topical scrapbook sketch show Newsjack, diligently following all the ‘dos and don’ts’ like a little lost puppy dog and praying to my inbox every Thursday evening like it’s some kind of Yahoo anointed deity.

Over the course of the past seven or eight series I’ve had one near miss (by that I mean; a oneliner that made the live recording but was edited from the radio broadcast). It was a joke about a long lost character from Winnie the Pooh, which happened to be a panda, but got mistaken for a badger and was shot by a member of the Countryside Alliance patrolling Hundred Acre Wood *canned laughter*.

Anyone trying to get inducted into the Newsjack Hall of Comedy Writing Fame and receive an invitation for tea and biscuits (having signed a BBC gagging order to make no mention of Jimmy Savile once inside the building) will know what an infuriating, doubting and narcissistic old trade it can be. However, opportunities for wanna-be comedy writers are scanty, and with that in mind we need to wrap up shows like Newsjack in sustainably farmed organic cotton wool and try to resist falling foul of any number of conspiracy theories that surround it, whilst also avoiding drowning in our own dummy spit of rejection. I am just another Charlie Bucket in search of that illusive golden ticket lovingly wrapped inside a Newsjack Wonka Bar…Je suis Charlie!

Judge for yourself. Here is an impudent Top Ten of my unbuzzworthy Newsjack flopsters circa 2017 and beyond, chosen by yours truly – the man with the near-miss Winnie the Pooh joke..Anything pre2017 was sadly condemned to my burnt out hard drive…

10: A German man had to be freed by firefighters after he got his genitals stuck in a 2.5Kg free weight. The crew used specialist cutting equipment to loosen the Helmut.

9. UK military chiefs have described the possibility of 1,000 job losses as ‘a kick in the privates’.

8. A woman in Derbyshire has given birth in a Co-op car park: a spokesman for the food retailer wanted to remind other expectant mothers that it also runs a home delivery service.

7. Ousted UKIP leader, Henry Bolton, has compared his love life to Princess Diana’s. The revelation came while sat at home in his underpants with his lips round a Carling.

6. A marine-biologist has worn a graduation gown made out of crisp packets to highlight the effects of pollution. She avoided any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions by double-bagging her Wotsits.

5. Trafford Council has become the first public library authority to scrap fines for late returns. The move is seen as long over-due.

4. Church spires to be used to boost mobile coverage in rural areas. Customers can expect great rates on pray-as-you-go.

3. A shark has fallen from the sky and landed in a garden in Whitstable. Police say it’s not an unusual occurrence in seaside towns but await the results of the post-Morecambe.

2. Toys ‘R’ Us has filed for bankruptcy in the US and Canada sparking concern about job losses and the prospect of ‘millions of Jefferies all under one roof’.

1. The government has banned wild animals from performing in travelling circuses. Leonardo the lion tamer has so far received mixed reviews about his all new thrusty chair routine.

And there you have it, my dirty laundry aired in public (and not live to the nation). You’ll no doubt read these and think, a couple weren’t bad but I could do better; I know I would be thinking the very same thing, because: when it comes to laughs, everyone wants to be Maverick not Goose, and when it comes to laughs, everyone thinks they ARE Maverick not Goose.

Thanks for coming!







A face to ward off evil spirits –
is that your way of telling me I’m ugly?
Stare at the same ‘vue’ for six hundred years,
see who’s ugly then.

They cast my wings in stone,
left me perched and frozen;
scant regard for my terror of heights;
marooned here with mouth agape,
eyes bulged and nostrils flared,
fangs greened with algae.

I see the lovers by the river,
when it rains, I’ll piss down on them.



Rewriting Trump

My first attempt at rewriting Donald Trump, his words, but in a different, poetic, and more hopeful order.

Trump’s original ‘walls’ speech:

“I will build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our Southern Border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

What Trump said in a parallel universe (same words, different order):

“Nobody on our Southern Border
will mark my words better than me.

I will build a great, great Mexico.
I will build and build inexpensively!

And build walls?
A Great Wall?

For that very wall,
I pay them!

And I’ll make-believe.”


Fly, my pretties, fly!

So far…

April’s sweet showers returned and The Pilgrim’s Prize finally woooo’ed. For those of you not in the loop, The Pilgrim’s Prize, was a project I got involved with (in?) last year; an online retelling of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The project itself was very ambitious, and armed with a limited budget we had to be highly imaginative with our contributions. Although it didn’t breach the stratosphere as we’d hoped, it turned out to be great fun and I really enjoyed adopting some of Chaucer’s (spins in grave) pilgrims. Where would the world be without Mike Priest I wonder?

My big poetry news has to be the completion of my MSc *fanfare and trumpeting is heard*. The portfolio was submitted well in advance of the deadline (me and stress don’t grapple so well let me have you know) and whoosh goes three years of my life! I was happy enough with the collection, but there’s only so many times you can read something without it becoming just words on paper, so by the end, I hit the ‘go forth and multiply’ button with much relief. Here’s a link to our final year showcase…notice I’m the only poet in the year (something of an endangered species).

Elsewhere, I’ve had poems published by Anomaly Lit and The Rialto: Anomaly, a brand new e-zine full of burgeoning talent, and the Rialto, an elder statesman and welcome sight on any coffee table.

In other news, my poem ‘Excuse Me For Dancing’ was longlisted in The Remember Oluwale Writing Prize and appears in an anthology launched last week. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, and such a worthy cause! If you’d like to know more, you can read my last blog post.

After being involved in last year’s Heavenly Bodies anthology, this year saw the release of Beautiful Dragons latest book, My Dear Watson, a poem for every square of the Periodic Table; one of which was my attempt at unraveling the wonders of magnesium. Beautiful Dragons appetite for adventure is relentless, and the next anthology is already gathering smoke, this time ‘it be’ oceans and seas. I’ve taken the king’s shilling and I’m all aboard (my sea of choice is The Coral Sea, see).

And on a lighter, dreamier note, once again I’ve dabbled into spoken word thanks to our dear chums at Lies,Dreaming. After the dizzying heights of IKEA, my lie dreaming took on the primetime might of The One Show, and all to the retro/jungle beat of the Umbongo Advert that helped define the 90s.

All for now.

Remembering Oluwale


How I Came To Remember Oluwale by Dan Stathers

I first became aware of the watchwords ‘Remember Oluwale’ after reading an article by Yorkshire poet, Ian Duhig. Duhig recalls his time as a warehouse labourer in 1970s Leeds and a ‘particular venom’ reserved by his workmates for a man called Kenneth Kitching. Kitching, then head of security, had served time in prison for his part in a campaign of brutal assaults, both physical and mental, on a homeless man known as David Oluwale. Beside him in the dock, and also found guilty, was his superior, Inspector Geoff Ellerker. Never before had members of the British police been successfully prosecuted for involvement in the death of a black person, but as the disgraced officers stepped down, there were many who felt this pair of ‘senior bobbies’ from old Millgarth station had escaped verdicts far more damning.

When David Oluwale’s body was dragged from the River Aire in May 1969 it seemed like a tragic accident of little significance; a rough sleeping loner, unable to help himself, constantly being moved on from shop doorways in Leeds city centre. That’s where his story could have ended had it not been for a low ranking whistleblower who heard about a rumour regarding an attack on David, most likely with a truncheon, while he (David) was sleeping in the entrance of a furniture shop on Lands Lane. The emerging evidence suggested that David’s assailants were both well-known to him; he had been on the receiving end of numerous beatings from Kitching and Ellerker – sometimes fighting back – his desperate situation playing right into the hands of his tormentors. What made this disclosure particularly grave was the fact that David’s drowned body was recovered from the River Aire a fortnight after the alleged assault; his corpse was badly decomposed but it was clear to members of the ambulance crew in attendance that he had received a damaging blow to the forehead. Other evidence, such as the sighting of two police officers chasing a man towards the river during the early hours of the morning in question, did not stand up in court, and so the truth behind the events that led to David Oluwale’s drowning remains untold.

Kester Aspden’s Search For Truth

David’s story is a haunting one. The fog of suspicion that surrounds his harriers has never lifted. Determined to understand the circumstances behind David’s life, along with the sobering fact that he was the same age as me – thirty-eight years old – at the time of his death, I ordered a copy of Kester Aspden’s award-winning book, The Hounding of David Oluwale. Painstakingly detailed in his account of Scotland Yard’s investigation and the handful of brave characters willing to testify against their own, Aspden follows the course of David’s life; the young stowaway from Lagos with dreams of becoming an engineer whose descent into mental ill-health saw him slip through countless institutional cracks before finding himself broken and abandoned.

The book draws on personal accounts, those who knew David in his earlier years; the short, stocky Nigerian who had smuggled himself to ‘The Motherland’ behind a cargo of groundnuts and walked with a Hollywood swagger, earning himself the nickname ‘Yankee’. Aspden, led by a sense of duty, set out to “restore some humanity” to David’s story and paints a very different picture to that of the scruffy, violent vagrant so frequently portrayed in courtroom one of the old Leeds Assizes during the trial of Regina v. Geoffrey Ellerker and Kenneth Kitching. He follows in the footsteps of the Yorkshire Post which ran a series of articles written by those who had known David, while also pressing for a detailed enquiry about the events surrounding his death. Aspden maintains a wider social context throughout David’s story, from the changing face of Leeds as it emerged from the smog of its industrial past, to Enoch Powell’s now infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and the resulting 1971 Immigration Act. He also highlights catastrophic failures within a social welfare system that could only pass David from one institution to another, namely, the cold walls of Armley Prison and the sterile wards of Menston Psychiatric Hospital, where David was a patient for eight years and numbed by various treatments.

A month before David was released from Menston, Powell, then Minister of Health, had rolled out his plans for ‘care in the community’. David, who throughout his stay in Menston had never received a single visitor, found himself alone and on the streets, and in the words of Aspden (pg 67), “The best years of his young life had gone. Ambition had gone, zest for adventure had gone. The sharp clothes had gone, the swagger had gone, Yankee had gone”. Turned away from hostels, seen off by other rough sleepers, David sought refuge in shop doorways, sleeping under newspapers and reliant on acts of kindness. Friends, shopkeepers, and passers-by recalled a quiet man, someone who remained immensely proud and never asked for handouts.

A police charge sheet filled out a month before David died had the slang word, WOG, handwritten and in crude reference to his nationality; something Aspden decided to use as part of the book’s original title, Nationality Wog: The Hounding of David Oluwale. “If it gets people talking about these issues, that’s all I can hope for,” said Aspden during an interview for the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I wanted to do what we didn’t do in 1971, which was to really examine this case again and what it says about law, about homelessness, racism, about how we treat the marginal people.” Tony Harney, a deputy editor at The Post and junior reporter at the time of the Oluwale case, also spoke in support of Aspden’s desire to set the record straight, “There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from David Oluwale’s death,” said Harney. “If David Oluwale had been helped in the years between 1949, when he left Nigeria and landed in this country, and that day in the Spring of 1969, when somebody,  I believe, put him in the River Aire, then we wouldn’t be talking about the book and we wouldn’t be talking about David. Hopefully he’d be cured of the mental problems that he had and he would be a member of the same society that we all live in.”

Aspden’s account of David’s life, and the insufferable events that led to his death, is, at times, both stark and harrowing, but there is also the warmth of those who showed compassion towards David, helping make up ‘the court of public opinion’ who saw no justice in the lightweight sentencing of Ellerker and Kitching, both now deceased. And that’s what becomes touching about the direction of Aspden’s book, despite its rightful gravity it emphasises the people who understood David’s situation and recognised the gentle good in him. Take, for example, Bill Wheatley, a member of the ambulance crew who helped recover David’s body, whose voice occupies only a few lines, but who speaks with a fondness and understanding lost on charge sheets and institutional records. I’m sure the city of Leeds will be forever grateful to authors such as Aspden for having the courage and determination to go in search of the truth.

David’s Powerful Legacy

Today, in Leeds, David Oluwale’s legacy is both colourful and abundant. Plans for a memorial garden – open to all – are taking shape, and a charity, Remember Oluwale – working for social justice, diversity, equality and inclusion – has been set up in David’s name. Also, this year, a writing prize in partnership with The Leeds Big Book Festival, Fictions of Every Kind and Remember Oluwale, will result in the publication of an anthology reflecting on David’s Life. Poems and prose have been chosen, including my own poem, ‘Excuse Me For Dancing’.

David’s story continues to touch people, not only in Leeds, but from far and wide, me being one of them. It remains a sad reality that life’s most vulnerable are often forced to endure unimaginable suffering before worthwhile change happens, and this tragic but noble chord resonates throughout the story of David Oluwale, and in the spiritual sense, we are blessed with the unlikeliest of saintly figures, his name more powerful in death than it ever was in life, which is why we’d all do well to Remember Oluwale.

Since writing this, ‘Remembering Oluwale’, a book composed from stories and poems about David’s life, has been shortlisted for ‘Best Anthology’ in the 2017 Saboteur Awards.  If you think the book would be a worthy winner, you can vote for it here 

The Pardoner’s Tale

Written by Dan Stathers

A scruffy pub on a run-down estate,
you know the kind; smashed windows,
blood-stained pool table and a landlord
with tattooed forearms and a sawn-off shotgun.
Outside, a trio of skunk blazing scallies sit
in the concrete excuse for a beer garden,
soaking up the sun with bare chests
and bragging about their wasted heads.
Now anyone of these droogs
would pawn his own grandmother for a hit,
and when they’re not dropping it,
they’re dealing it; cutting their dust
and pushing their pills all over the estate.
There’s Bungle, he’s the muscle,
you could make a bed with his rap sheet.
Porno; the wannabe pimp who likes
to film himself, and the youngest ‘blud’,
that’s Tealeaf – can make things disappear.
They all drink, snort, gamble and grope
down the Black Dog – a right den of thieves,
many of whom are unwittingly related –
and that, my ‘andsomes, is where our tale begins…

It’s never a clever idea to walk past
three rotten, greedy, ‘orrible toerags;
head down and texting on your gleaming
new, fresh out the box Blackberry Classic –
but that’s exactly what young Lenny Daniels did.
Oh dear. A split lip later and Bungle’s scrolling
through poor Lenny’s text messages with a smug grin
on his boat race: “Ere, Porno, check this aaat.
Sum picture of a geezer lookin’ propa brown bread.

Now standing over Bungle’s shoulder is ‘one tooth Bob’,
landlord of the Black Dog, and he recognises the stiff:
That’s ‘Mothball Micky’. Kids found him OD’d
and blue in the face dan the allotments, yesterdee.
The Grim Reaper strikes again
,” says Bob,
and carries on collecting empties.
Wots he mean, Grim Reaper? I ain’t never erd of ‘im,” says Porno:
Us ‘ad better find this goon and learn ‘im sum respect.”
Yeah,” says Bungle: “Who does he fink he is whacking people on our manor?
Yeah,” says Tealeaf, who always agrees with everything:
Let’s teach this Grim Reaper a lesson he won’t forget.”
And so our three unlovable rogues wage turf war
against the Grim Reaper, embarking on one almighty,
intoxicated binge, including several trips
to a well-known fast food outlet, branded by a scary looking clown
whose allegory will soon become pertinent to their misadventure.
Bungle, having taken the advice of Porno,
sells the stolen Blackberry to ‘Harry the handset’
for half a dozen ponies shy of a monkey,
and this is spent in earnest at Oggles pole dancing club.
Tealeaf gambles their last twenty on a crooked dog race;
enough for a tray of Jagerbombs and a bag of blue boys,
and on returning to the Black Dog for last orders,
our merry band of scoundrels, mashed off their mangled swedes,
are finally feeling feisty enough to take on
the murderously mysterious Grim Reaper…

The gang decide to get tooled up;
Bungle finds a loose brick, Porno smashes
a bottle and Tealeaf slips a cue ball down a sock.
Armed to their rotten teeth, they roam the estate
like a cackle of hyenas; shouting and hollering,
laughing and pissing – textbook anti-social behaviour.
“He’s gawn ‘n’ scarpered. Must ‘av urd we woz after ‘im,” says Bungle.
“He’s ‘ere somewhere. We’ll flush ‘im aaat like a sewer rat,” says Porno.
“Yeah,” says Tealeaf, ready to pick a fight with his own shadow.
Despite the bravado, it’s clear our braggarts’ attention
is in deficit; the odds on them hotwiring a motor instead
and donutting it around Asda carpark,
are shortening by the second. But that wouldn’t be
much of an ending. I vote for something far more creepy…

The lift in the tower block had been out-of-service for months;
rumour had it condemned along with the flats.
Despite the cables being removed and the motor defunct,
the arrow flashed green, and very slowly, the dented steel doors
begin to slide open, leaking an eerie, pulsing fog.
Dem mugs from the council ‘av fixed the elevator.
Let’s smash it up again,” says Bungle.
‘Old up,” says Tealeaf: “I fink there’s someone inside.
Don’t be a dimlow,” says Porno: “It’s just gawn ‘aywire that’s all.”
But Tealeaf is right. Standing behind the opening doors,
in a bed of clearing wisp, is a geriatric figure;
withered hand on stick, head bowed under cloak.
Wot the ‘ell is that?” says Bungle.
It’s the Grim Reaper!” says Tealeaf.
Don’t talk daft,” says Porno: “It’s just sum old granddad.”
The decrepit figure shuffles out from the lift on buckled legs,
bones click as he straightens his turtled neck revealing
his sunken face: “Is that you mother?” he says on toothless gums.
Urrrrrrrrr! Look at the state of ‘im,” says Bungle.
Gorrrrrrr! Doesn’t ‘arf stink,” says Porno.
Let’s nick his wallet,” says Tealeaf.
The old man continues to shuffle forward,
each slow step looking like his last.
Been stuck in that lift for three, long years,” he says:
Begged the Grim Reaper to take my life, but he never answered.
How much longer must my tired bones ache?

His Adam’s apple bobs like a cork behind the wrinkly skin of his neck.
How do you know the Grim Reaper?” says Porno:
You ain’t going nowhere ‘til you tell us where he is.
The old man limps forward, taking an age
to raise his hand and point a bony finger upwards:
He’s been waiting for you. You’ll find him on the top floor.
He continues on his way, tapping his stick and muttering:
Mother. Is that you mother?” and soon he’s lost to the night.
Wot if he’s lyin’ to us?” says Bungle.
Then we’ll catch up with ‘im later,” says Porno.
Not trusting the lift, our angry trio climb the stinky stairwell,
stopping only to powder their hungry noses.

The top floor of the block was beyond scuzzy;
front doors smashed in, dead flies frazzled
in heaps on window sills, carpets alive
with wriggling maggots below mouldy, black ceilings.
All, that is, apart from one. One flat, last in the row,
had its door intact and a light on in the kitchen.
Porno places his finger to his lips: “Sssshhhh.
Bungle and Tealeaf follow him down the walkway,
tiptoeing like cat burglars. They arrive at the door.
Porno gives Bungle the nod. Crassshhh!
A size fourteen forces the lock
and our mob of three burst into a pokey hallway.
Where are ya?” says Porno, broken bottle in hand.
We’re ‘ere for yer!” says Bungle, brick aloft.
No good hidin’,” says Tealeaf, swinging his sock.
The gang scatter through the flat but it’s soon
apparent that there’s no one home.
Wot’s that?” says Bungle.
Wot’s wot?” says Tealeaf.
That!” says Bungle, pointing towards the coffee table.
It’s one of dem Bonzo trees,” says Tealeaf.
No, not the plant you mug. That thing wot looks like a bag!
Porno wades in, grabbing the black holdall from the floor
and landing it on the table.
Wait!” says Bungle: “Wot if it’s a bomb?
Porno sighs and shakes his head.
He slowly unzips the bulging duffel…

Cash! Bundles and bundles of cash;
wads and wads of fifties,
there on the table, the mother lode.
Limited imaginations run wild:
Porno’s driving around the estate
in a pimped up five series with tinted windows;
Bungle’s sipping champagne
and eating a bottomless bargain bucket;
Tealeaf is in the bookies smoking a fat cigar
and hogging the fruit machine.
After exhausting excited expletives
and an outbreak of body popping,
our three chancers guesstimate the value
of the Grim Reaper’s unlaundered stash
to the tune of a very big number with plenty of noughts.
All this money countin’ ‘as made me ‘ungry,” says Porno.
Me too,” says Bungle, having already emptied the fridge.
Porno looks over at Tealeaf: “‘Ere, Tealeaf.
Go un get us somein’ to eat will yer. And grab some tins while yer at it.

Tealeaf is instantly suspicious:
Why do I ‘av to go? Why not Bungle?
Porno pulls rank: “Because you’re the youngest ain’t yer.
Me ‘an Bungle will stay an’ guard the stash.

Tealeaf half-heartedly agrees.
Porno waits by the kitchen window
until he sees Tealeaf dragging his heels under the streetlight below.
Wots yer maffs like Bungle?” says Porno.
Dunno,” says Bungle, already puzzled by the question.
Wots better than a big bag a notes divided by three?” says Porno.
Dunno,” says Bungle, counting up to three on his thumb and fingers.
A big bag a notes divided by two,” says Porno,
picking up Bungle’s brick and smiling.

Where’s Bungle?” says Tealeaf,
throwing Porno his extra double cheese burger.
‘Ere!” says Bungle, stepping out from behind the door.
Tealeaf doesn’t have time to turn his head.
Crack! – the sound of brick on skull.
Slap! – the sound of Tealeaf’s face on vinyl floor.
And the dastardly deed is done.
Porno and Bungle wrap Tealeaf’s dead body in bin liners
and stuff him in the airing cupboard.
Can I eat my chicken deluxe now?” says Bungle.
We’ll scoff these, neck those cans,
then grab the money and do one
,” says Porno.
But wait. All is not what it seems, isn’t that right, Tealeaf…
Who’s there?” says Tealeaf.
It’s the narrator,” says the narrator: “You’re speaking to us
from the other side
It’s blummin’ dark in ‘ere,” says Tealeaf.
Hardly surprising seeing as you’re wrapped up in bin liners,” says the narrator.
Am I really dead?” says Tealeaf.
Afraid so,” says the narrator.
I knew them sneaky bastards woz up to somefing,” says Tealeaf:
Are they eatin’ them burgers yet?
Yes. They’re in the kitchen where I left them,” says the narrator.
Ha! Good,” says Tealeaf.
Why’s that good?” says the narrator.
You know,” says Tealeaf.
Do I?” says the narrator.
Course ya do ya mug. It’s your story ain’t it?” says Tealeaf.
Actually, no, it’s not. I’m retelling a tale by Geoffrey Chaucer,” says the narrator.
Geoffrey who?” says Tealeaf.
Chaucer. You must have heard of ‘The Canterbury Tales’,
‘when in April the sweet showers fall’ and all that?
” says the narrator.
Wot you on about?” says Tealeaf: “Listen. I’ve gotta bounce.
Some geezer with a big
, white beard is staring at me and he looks proper vexed.
Why don’t you tell ‘em what I gone and slipped in those burgers
,” says Tealeaf #RIP
Oh thaat! Of course. Silly old me for forgetting your twist,” says the narrator.
Can you ‘ere a funny noise coming from the airing cupboard?” says Bungle.
Shu’ up and eat your burger you mug,” says Porno.

Now, what Porno and Bungle don’t know,
is that the burgers they’ve been scoffing are laced with more
than just ketchup, lettuce, gherkin and growth hormones.
Before his bonce was bashed in by Bungle’s brick,
Tealeaf had masterminded a devilish plot of his own.
He remembered the super, dodgy batch of pills the gang
had been pushing last month – fresh out the lab.
They’d picked up the street name ‘dodos’.
Once dropped, the poppers believed they could take flight
and felt avian enough to jump out of tall buildings. Ouch!
After a few near death experiences, Porno, Bungle
and Tealeaf decided that their punters were more useful
alive than splattered all over the pavement, and the venture
was shelved….that is, until Tealeaf’s stroke of evil genius:
because what’s better than a big bag of cash divided by three?
A big bag of cash divided by one. Tealeaf ground
down the pills into dodo dust, powdered up Porno and Bungle’s burgers
and climbed back up the stinky stairwell, all the way up, back
to the top floor of that very tall tower block –
I think you can see where this might be going…
Don’t them stars look pretty,” says Bungle, wide-eyed at the window.
Hurry up and grab the money,” says Porno.
I want to touch one,” says Bungle, opening the front door.
Where the ‘ell are you off?” says Porno, but Bungle isn’t listening;
he’s perched on the wall outside, flapping his flightless arms.
Stop dicking about will yer,” says Porno.
I can flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-” are the last words ever spoken by Bungle
whose aeronautics are rudely interrupted by the spiked railings below;
his body impaled like a giant, fatty, human kebab. #RIP

Porno stares down at Bungle’s punctured torso
and the puddle of intestinal fluid on the pavement.
He tightens his grip on the big bag of money;
clumsily refilled and too stuffed for zipping.
The scent of crisp, night air makes his head turn funny
and he begins to feel as light as a goose feather, free
as a bird. “Looks like it’s just me then,” he says:
Bout time I ‘ad an holiday. Fink I’ll go somewhere flash.
Vegas. I’ll takes me a trip to Vegas.
Porno climbs up on the wall, hypnotised by the bright lights of Asda:
What’s that Vegas, you want me to fly to yer?
I love you too, Vegas. Me and you is made for each other.

And that was the end of Porno: face down in the crumpled
roof of a Vauxhall Corsa, a few thousand miles shy of his destination. #RIP
Fifty pound notes gently tumble like a scene from a ticker tape parade,
each wearing a queen’s forged smile and a crooked tiara:
Tap, tap, sounds the old man’s stick, a sly rise
on his grim, cracked lips, a deathly glint in his reaper’s eye.

The End

The Pardoner’s Tale Retold

I present to you Gael Henry Smifferton, a modern, socially networked, cyber-bred, nearly-incarnation based on Chaucer’s pardoner, arguably the sneakiest, shadiest and most opportunistic pilgrim to saddle his way to Canterbury. This is his (my) adaption of the original tale, considered by many to be one of the best short stories ever written (not mine, his, as in Geoffrey’s). Everybody clear? If you enjoy a short story, although technically speaking it’s a narrative poem, like some gore and a good spook, be my guest and follow the Pilgrim’s Prize link below…

The Pardoner’s Tale Retold

Wolf Tears

Believe it or not, this poem is about the incarceration of Russian feminist rock protest group, Pussy Riot.

Wolf Tears

The lights go out, and deep in the city
black petals fall in requiem,
descending past cathedral domes
to mottle emptied streets.

They stumble in the dark
behind the paper-thin walls
of cankered apartment blocks –
hands reaching past splintered windows.

Down in the gulags
comrades sing the songs of freedom,
sharing broth and secret ink,
taking turns to watch the moon
as it cleaves a forbidden dance
across the frost-slow river
to the banks of the starving wolf.

(The Interpreter’s House 54 )