The first of these poems is a satire attacking a gentleman I used to play chess against, a former Young Scientist of the year, who is blessed with a somewhat abrasive and challenging personality. I actually feel rather guilty about this. My victim has many redeeming qualities, and does not really deserve to be so vigorously monstered.
The second poem relates the story of a weekend in Amsterdam, in the style of an Anglo-Saxon or Norse sea epic.
The third poem draws a comparison between the modern penchant for using psychotropic drugs in order to achieve transformative experience, and descriptions of transformation found in classical literature, e.g. in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Filmed recitations of all three poems can be found on my YouTube channel:-
Young Scientist in the Old England
Congratulations, fool. You won that prize
when you were young. Now you are old,
the glory – always tepid – has gone cold.
The ingénue, the gullible, may think you wise;
perhaps, to some, the ranting and the rags,
the carping bile, the books in plastic bags
the constant sneering and the open flies
are redolent of philosophic gold.
To us, more lustre’s lost with each retelling; still, we’re told.
Wherefore we trouble deaf Heaven with our bootless cries:
will no one rid us of this knackered hag,
this flatulate, this coefficient drag?
CERN pygmy! Whenever you pontificate, a fairy dies.
We’ve heard the dentures clacking, smelt the mould,
witnessed the collapsing manifold.
Congratulations fool. You won that prize.
An Anglo-Saxon Poem About Dutch Drugs
Life-lusting, to unlovely Luton drove we,
in Big Dave's bile-black Escort. Coned jams there were,
and contraflow. Counter-intuitive, if you ask me.
Finally, fearless, we found signs saying "Flughafen".
Big Dave car-parked in the car park whilst we waited,
piss-taking his parking technique,
thence walked we to check-in at EasyJet desk.
There carping clerks camply checked us into cheap seats.
Journey's jargon it was, a customs cliché how we endured
pattings down and prurient proddings, pokings
in uncomfortable places, and passport control.
At length boarded, air-lifted were we over Babylon
England, flood-inundated as it then was,
freighted with fear as it remains.
Over dire North Sea surge, into night we flew,
until we drew nigh Schipool-Amsterdam, and our plane's prow
aimed unerringly at runway lights.
Thence shaped we our course for city-centre,
factfinding boldly but for our bourgeois fears
of cruel kidnappers drugging our coffee, dragging us off
to certain doom amongst the bondage freaks and sadists,
the demimondaines and their dread diseases.
Cannabis cafés abounded. Thai Stick and Temple Ball
smoked we, until our gorges groaned with spew suppressed.
Then some bright spark suggested that so-called smart shops
dispensed psilocybin. Thenceforth fungally fixated,
in these heroic hours we had Hawaiian:
shriven were we by our slate-swart 'shrooms,
corse-shrived, crinklecut by our peyote purchasing.
At least we took some culture in,
imbibed ambrosia in mushroom-midst:
visited the Van Gogh museum, art-discoursed
validly as Visigoths, lucidly as Lombards.
Things went on like this until,
weekend-weary, sick of Big Dave's night-snore,
Chris and I bummed Haile's temazepam,
slept soundly, Monday came up smiling 9am,
in time for Schipool's dutyfree, all fags and fruit-wine.
Then winged it over chafing waves
back to yob England, December-damp, and for some
drear, with her keg-lager pubs and broke churls;
But for we, escaping chastisement, chipper,
henceforth eschewing psychoactive herbs,
heros' homecoming it was for us,
boding hospitality and hearthkip.
We cared not. We couldn't give a toss.
De stultificatione omnis
I do arise and fuck off now
for a binge and a lost weekend
where the Lethe’s crossed upon a sacred dhow
and a fugue-like state descends
where I become meat but live on
in my snidely detached head.
And later, considering what was done,
half wishing I was dead.
It is with observer’s guilt,
but as Charon takes his coins and splits
without a sightless glance
I shall return to humanity
to the canting and prating horde
and somehow cope with the inanity
until the next time I am bored.