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Excerpt for The Impetuous River and Other Poems by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

THE IMPETUOUS RIVER AND OTHER POEMS

RICHARD BATCHELOR

Copyright

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law.

Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

Epub ISBN 979-10-92524-02-4

Version 1.0

Published by Richard Batchelor at Smashwords

Copyright © Richard Batchelor 2018

Thanks to Joanna Lewis, whose love and moral and practical support has been invaluable during the writing and editing of these poems, I give my love and undying gratitude. She is my rock, without whom I’d probably still be scrabbling together the odd incoherent line here and there.

To Jane Tomlinson for providing such a wonderful front painting.

Do visit Jane’s website for more of her inspiring work. Her website link is just below.

https://janetomlinson.com/

The lettering is by Joanna Lewis.

The main poem, The Impetuous River, is composed entirely of limericks. Thanks to whoever invented the limerick!

Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

This book is dedicated to my beloved son, Antoine Henry Batchelor, aged 13½.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE IMPETUOUS RIVER

ANDY PARTRIDGE

THE BLUNDERER’S DEFENCE

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLITICS

THE NEW FASCIST UPRISING

VOYAGE TO YOUR OWN BACK DOOR

KREBSBACH THE NAZI

REVERIE IN THE WORKPLACE

THE SECOND LIFE

GO WEST

TRIBUTE TO SHEL SILVERSTEIN

THE ANGRY TROLLS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Impetuous River

The river ran into the ocean

With lethargy wrought in its motion

'Twas jealous of the sea

So wide and so free

It wept salty tears; wreaked commotion.

The ocean said, 'If you keep crying

Those freshwater fish will start dying

The flounder will flounder

And all those around her

Will sadden the air with their sighing'.

But sadly, the river wept on

The fauna first stifled, then gone

Unnatural brine

Made water birds pine

For the days when their troubles were none.

The monstrous green tears kept on flowing

The fish floating lifeless kept growing

It knew it had erred

But it wasn't deterred

By the mayhem its envy was sowing.

'Poseidon, intervene!' yelled the ocean

But this was a curious notion

For the sea god's domain

Is strictly contained -

To the turquoise alone, his devotion.

A river boat carried a porter,

His sweetheart, her dog and its daughter

But his steering was sinful

He'd guzzled a skinful

In he plopped; 'Strange, it tastes of sea water'.

With heavy hearts creaking and breaking

And salt round their sore mouths a-caking

Six otters fled hell

And swam t'wards a smell

That was fresh like some bread after baking.

The smell came and went like a breath

Yet delivered the otters from death

A mirage of the nose

Had galvanised their toes

To urgency, bristling their fluff.

By brooks and by small innocent streams

Pursuing vague, shadowy dreams

Determined, they weaved

Through swamps clogged with trees

And bogs dogged by sweltering steams.

Through offshoots the sodium was seeping

As the river continued its weeping

The otters swam hard

But their scant meals were marred

By brine through the rivulets creeping.

The otters were left in the lurch

With no salmon, no trout, nor no perch

To keep them alive -

Six soon became five

Yet still they went on with their search.

Some minnows swam by, by and by

But as much as the otters did try

To grab the wee shoal

Exhausted and cold

They failed, arms weighty, not spry.

Meanwhile, the sea salt was mounting

In the estuary, where Neptune was counting.

The floods of fresh drops

Were ruining the crops

And farmers all shook their heads, doubting.

The ocean with anguish did cry

'Too much salt and it all goes awry

A thick sea's my dread

From the froth to the bed

All fish, plants and penguins will die!'

'Please, river, stop sobbing!' it pleaded,

But the words were unheard and unheeded

'The creatures I cherish

Will wither and perish

You've wept far beyond what was needed'.

'Your jealousy is venom and canker

The heart of you could not be ranker

My words may be harsh

But old fields, now salt marsh

Are stinkier than ever, and far danker'.

But the river had lost all common sense

The salt in its currents so dense

That an elephant, bloated

Would surely have floated

The pickle was mighty intense!

The otters had heard of a dell

Where magic and mercy may dwell -

Though three had expired,

One hungry, one tired

The other one trapped down some well.

The two soldiered on, barely knowing

The direction in which they were going

Yet sensed that the glade

For which they were made

Was nearby, trouble was, they were slowing.

Though crawling and virtually halted

Shale skies blew - the duo were exalted

Black clouds roared and burst

To quench furry thirst

But what horror! Even rain came down salted!

Parched but resilient, they slithered

To an opening where beech trees had withered

Dark bark caked in crystal

Fluffed up by a mistral

That blew their damp fur, how they shivered!

Just as the pair felt death at hand

Two burbots did writhe upon land

'You may as well eat us

Our maker's to meet us

This salt we could no longer stand.'

The taste of the fish was bizarre

A cross between oysters and tar

It scuppered their guts

And stuttered their butts

But was better than nothing, by far.

Renewed and refreshed by the meal

The otters could finally feel

The mythical clearing

Was nearing and nearing

They had faith that the legend was real.

A relatively unblemished brook

Flowed soft to a sweet little nook

The niche opened wide

They tumbled inside

And drips from their whiskers they shook.

They flopped and they slept in a flicker

Like abstinents plied with hard liquor

They snored like volcanoes

And twitching its grey nose

One otter grew sicker and sicker.

As you know, rest can oft be a lever

That cranks up the jaws of a fever

Its teeth sleepers bite

For they've called off the fight

And it strikes! Will the friend become griever?

The poor thing awoke shivering and shaking

His thundering blood, fast and baking

His crimson eyes wet

His fur drenched in sweat

In delirium, he felt the earth quaking.

His friend was absorbed by her nursing

With kind words and care interspersing

But while her pal slept

The friend moaned and wept

Her teeth gnashing, her tongue sourly cursing.

Absorbed she was, so did not see

The green glow that poured from a tree

Then lime-coloured smoke

Its fingers did stroke

'Round their nostrils, so delicately.

The strange scent was subtle but sweet

Giving rise to a strong urge to eat

'Come dine at my table

In cuisine, I'm quite able'

The fumes whispered, then curled a retreat.

The otter girl turned round amazed

Upon this new marvel she gazed

The glowing mist drifted

The otter, uplifted

Where fog was, an animal now grazed.

Was it tench? Was it vole? Was it goose?

Or beaver or mink broken loose?

All freshwater creatures

Fluoresced in its features

And its size it could swell and reduce.

With the terrifying face of a pike

Each tooth a fat thorn or thin spike

It reared up and roared

Its fins proud and broad

Then it screeched, sharp and shrill like a shrike.

Next, it was radiant, resplendent

Its brilliance and beauty dependent

On a kingfisher plume

Which dazzled in the gloom

Of the night, which drew in, unrepentant.

It then took on the aspect of trees

That crouch above rills in the breeze

Its fine branches crept

Like willows that wept

While whippoorwills nest in their knees.

A twig, mottled and algae-patterned

Crackled like ice as it fattened

Then longer and lither -

A wriggler and writher -

To a sleek water snake the thing flattened.

At last, the fine creature reverted

To an otter's face, roughed up and dirtied

At one with its guests,

It imagined their quest

And tears from its gentle eyes spurted.

The sick otter had missed all the action

The well one fixed in stupefaction

The first fast asleep

The second one deep

In a reverie of calm satisfaction.

She dragged her ill friend to a seat

That the thing had prepared, nice and neat

With rich woodland flowers

And river-hung bowers

The decor was really a treat!

In a tick, the sick otter had awoken

'I declare that your sickness is broken

It was nought but a spell

And those I break well

A trick, strangely, I learnt in Hoboken!'

'Oh, New Jersey!’ the thing reminisced

Its expression immaculate and blissed

'The rivers over there!

Though none can compare

With our sick one, whose good sense is missed.'

'As I told you, I've some skills in cooking,'

But the otters were already looking

At three luscious fish

On a lily-laden dish

Who'd come straight from their bait and their hooking.

The scent and the taste of the roast

Was most surely the work of the host

Though things had been frightful

The meal was delightful

And made them feel light as a ghost.

The morphing host flickered, as ever

With colours the otters had never

Imagined existed

Their starry eyes misted

With reverence etched there forever.

The male otter, recovered and sprightly

Summoned up the guts to ask lightly

'Are you, then, the sprite

Who wanders the night

'Round our waters, if I may ask politely?

'We've heard legends of a spirit who dwells

On the edge of this woodland of dells

Who cares for the river

And all that goes with her

From the shore to her source in the fells.’

'I'm not spirit, nor legend, nor sprite

But I'm something like that, so you're right

I know why you seek me

We mustn't act meekly

We'll go swift when the dawn shakes off night.'

'On the other side, the water is bluer’

No adage has ever been truer

This insufferable sadness

Has worsened to madness

Salt is king, from the clouds to the sewer.'

'I think there's a chance she'll stop crying

To the coast in the morn we'll be flying

To talk to the sea

For he, only he

Can stop Our Great Lady from dying.'

'No questions for now, otters brave

Your fatigue is a matter quite grave

Catch up with your sleep

Make it sound, make it deep

Make it calm as an empty old cave.'

The otters dropped off with these words

All was peaceful, except for two birds

Who chuntered and twittered

For they were embittered

By the salt flavours in their worm curds.

The she-otter dreamt of a bank

Her paws in the soft mud she sank

It was warm, it was spring

And she loved every thing

Fresh, cool water she gleefully drank.

The other, I'm afraid, was less lucky

His nightmares were maudlin and mucky

Saline clay slopped

While foul bubbles popped

Scant reward for an otter so plucky.

Their slumber was cut by a song

In which all the singing seemed wrong

Subdued was the lark

Its voice grave and dark

Its requiem miserable and long.

'Dear otters, the light has now broken

The grey day has softly awoken

To the ocean, let's rush

Before all turns to mush;

Before words will no longer be spoken.'

They shook off the dewdrops that chilled them

And finding two acorn cups, filled them

With slivers of fungi

To stop them going hungry

And plugged them with sap, lest they spilled them.

From their saviour protruded a beak

Its expression gone wild, yet so meek

A great heron stood there

'Climb on, if you dare,'

They heard his majestic tongue speak.

The heron rose, graceful and swift

Then a swoop, then a kick, then a lift

The otters felt heady

And rather unsteady

Around them black nimbi did drift.

A gale pumped up drifting to swirling

The nimbi spat drizzle, unfurling

Into vicious wisps

While a coldness so crisp

Chilled nostrils, its iced fingers curling.

Each otter gripped hard on a feather

Soft as down, yet as tough as old leather

Thrilled, scared, aghast!

They'd made it at last

Through the terrible, inclement weather.

Below them the sick river wound

Its vain grief unfettered, unbound

Still splashing its spume

And its petulant doom

To the salt-stained and suffering surround.

Yes, the river kept on overflowing

And cattle were wailing, not lowing

Since salt and the flood

Were ruining their cud

No grass in their soggy mud growing.

The sun came out, glorious and warm

Fields, forest and river did form

A wondrous sight

So verdant and bright

Though the distance spoke strong of a storm.

On ripples the golden sun shimmered

As droplets in tiny glades glimmered

A gaggle of geese

A sheep draped in fleece

Laughed softly, with nature enamoured.

But the warning held true to its word

Deep rumbles and grumbles they heard

All darkened in a tick

With lightning bolts thick

As oak trees! Then one struck the bird!

But this was no ordinary wader

It rebuffed the forked, flashing raider

It withstood the jolt

From the slam of the bolt

Of the crackling and sparking invader.

Quite queasy and head in a spin

Like a sot topped with whisky and gin

One poor, battered otter

Did stumble and totter

She slipped off the heron's thick skin.

She hurtled to earth like a fireball

All scrunched up and furry and small

The heron dove quickly

'Hold tight', it cried, prickly

It wasn't best pleased, after all.

For each stroke of the clock outshone gold

And was stubborner than statues grown cold

'You should take more care!'

There's no time to spare!'

Its eyes, incandescent and old.

Like a rocket it plummeted down

Face fixed in a furious frown

It snapped at the air

'Til it caught something there

In its beak - something furry and brown.

'You were inches from meeting your doom'

Said the heron, with a snap and a boom

Then back up it flew

To the sky, blue anew

With a whip and a zip and a zoom.

With speed reminiscent of planes

And thrust that would bust brilliant brains

The bird thundered on

Ochre-beaked, like a swan

As it whizzed through the Earth's airy lanes.

A guttural wail pierced the ether

As the swan sensed the bedlam beneath her

It dived as it must

Its soul turned to dust

Catatonic, no creature could reach her.

A terrible, horrible sight

Bombarded the three's downward flight

A plethora of death

Polluted their breath

Their faces gone spectrally white.

In the river, so vile and corrupted

Where salt from its eyes had erupted

A thousand fish floated

Their lifeless scales coated

Their natural decay interrupted.

Dead otters, dead rats and dead trees

Swam creepily, edged by a breeze

They jammed up a stream

All crammed up with bream

Long perished from wasting disease.

'This cannot, this will not go on'

Were the words of the desolate swan

Its bill, firm as stone

Shrank back with a groan

And a swift crouched, black-eyed, thereupon.

Hellbent and determined, from love

With a heart wherein tiger meets dove

The guardian stormed high

Like a flash in the sky

With only the sun left above.

The river got whiter and wider

But the beelining, cloud-riding glider

Would not be waylaid,

Set back nor delayed

By some spectacle or trifle outside her.

The otters, however, did spy

Things curious and odd to the eye

As the estuary fattened

And flooded fields flattened

Betraying that the ocean was nigh.

They saw saline mounds, currents clogging

Through crusted plains, animals slogging

While monsters of salt

Brought birds to a halt

All creatures this wrongness was dogging!

The descent was a terrifying rush

They both felt their bones turn to slush

By G-force all mangled

Their fur thrashed and tangled

Their paws pressed to pulp in the crush.

That was, at least, how it felt

'Til soft sand broke their fall and that spelt

The end of the ride

As the clambering tide

Washed their whiskers and sweat-sodden pelt.

Without any further ado

The guardian knew just what to do

'Old ocean, my dear,'

It hollered with no fear

'This swift needs a swift word with you!'

'It's hopeless,' the old ocean moaned

'Quite useless!' it grumbled and groaned

The river's gone mad

She's rotten and bad

With envy she's drunken and stoned.

The swift replied, 'True, but you must

Put an end to this foolhardy lust

She just needs to see

That a river must be

Just a river - or all will be dust.'

'It won't help owt to judge or to scold

I know her - she's rash and she's bold

Just tell her the sea

Is as dull as can be

That your life is so lonely and cold.'

'But more, you must sing of her beauty

Her banks rich with scents sweet and fruity

And it would be sincere

Since a river has no peer

In loveliness - Sea, it's your duty!'

But the ocean was jaded and proud

He cried, 'No', emphatic and loud

'I won't do as you ask

It's too tall a task'

So they argued and bickered and rowed.

'You're as stubborn as a mule!' yelled the bird

'Your refusal is blind and absurd!

Your tides will be graves

Dead fish ride your waves

Already, or haven't you heard?'

The ocean just mumbled and grunted,

Defensively, as if being hunted

He wouldn't take orders

On his own sandy borders

His majesty had been affronted.

One otter said, 'Do it for me.

We have cousins who dwell out at sea'

'I admit they are nice,'

The ocean said twice

'I may yet be forced to agree'.

'Oh, hell, why not try, what's to lose?

Surplus salt to my fine beaches glues

Of course we must end

This terror, my friends

It brews, it accrues and it stews.'

'Now listen, dear river,' it thundered

'Have you stopped just a second and wondered

What it's like to be me?

The big, bland old sea

When God made me, I tell you, she blundered!'

'Being huge is no fun, it's so tiring

While tides are just drab, uninspiring

The same boring blue

In the same boring hue

I can't bear it, in case you're inquiring.'

'Through a forest my way I would wend

Fresh flowers around every bend

You think I am free

Without leaf, plant or tree?

Think again, my versatile friend.'

'Out here it's the same whether spring

Or winter or fall, what a thing!

It's awesome, my range

But you don't see leaves change

And you don't hear the reed warbler sing.'

'My coral is too deep to see

Yes, ships pass - but occasionally

I'd love your vole burrows

Your warblers, your furrows

Fine alders in proximity.'

'The wind here is dismal and stark

I long to see burgeoning bark

A few weeping willows

That sway in the billows

The call and response of the lark.'

'I see your sweet sunsets in spring

And insects that hover, in a ring

But it’s all in my mind

As I grind out the grind

I bear it, but never do I sing.'

'Weep no longer and love what you are

You're the prettiest in nature, by far

You're gorgeous, to a fault!

So banish the salt

You're a queen! You're the best! You're a star!'

The ocean spoke quietly, aside

To the river's great guardian and guide

'Do you think that will do?'

'Yes I do, since it's true,

Though I know that one part of you lied.'

'Yes of course, since it's swell being the sea

With deep creatures as weird as can be

Such as tropical shoals

And flat, flitting soles

A billion things swim inside me.'

'There are puffins that squawk upon cliffs

Hippocampi with bulging midriffs

The fat dugongs flop

With a splash and a bop

And a nutting of thud-bumping biffs.'

'The grace of the sweet-hearted porpoise

The dolphin that leaps without noise

The devil-eyed shark,

Whose jaws miss the mark

When they bite upon clam-spattered buoys.'

'My extraordinary venomous snail

The shipwrecks, the top decks a-sail

The octopus grip

The sly seaweed slip

The sight of flicked spume in a gale.'

'The tip of the iceberg I've covered

As for icebergs, ten score undiscovered

Lie 'neath the wave top

Where they crackle and pop

A great vessel, now and then, is unruddered.'

'There are cucumbers, see-through and pink

Whose intestine wraps round in a kink

While the slimy sea slug

Is a spirited bug

And you'll retch at the stink of its ink.'

Then loudly again boomed the ocean

Its voice made a flurried commotion

The waves tossed and spat

The otters prayed that

His words would set sanity in motion.

'My final word, river, is this

Drown not in tears, but in bliss

This astonishing earth

Should sate you with mirth

My tender wind blows you a kiss.'

The three lay in silence and waited

Their breath, rather obviously, bated

Their gaze turned inland

Would the river understand

That its life must be loved, and not hated?

The otters' eyes closed as they must

Their lids layered soft with sleep dust

For two days they dozed

In the sweetest repose

As the guardian, so tireless, discussed

With the ocean, all matters in hand

Would the salt count be less in the sand?

They sought subtle changes

In the far mountain ranges

Some signal of hope from the land

The bird made a recon up river

Of promise, there now was a sliver

With signs here and there

Like a rabbit or hare

Who, though damp, headed home with a shiver.

A stork flock flew, skimming for lunch

Three trout were gulped down in a bunch

'Were they living, when caught?'

Asked the swift - the retort?

'Yes, I think so, they made a fresh munch!'

To the heart of the river it whizzed

Where a ghyll burped and bubbled and fizzed

Surreptitiously creeping

And sneakily peeping -

The Grand Lady was in less of a tizz.

She grizzled where once she'd spewed grief

And the spells of this grizzling were brief

Though odd sobs still tumbled,

With fresh water jumbled -

Hail seedlings of blessed relief!

And the guardian had a notion, a whiff

That the clouds were less sticky and stiff

Just a feeling, unmeasured

That the waters he treasured

Might once more welcome mammal or skiff.

Though corpses in scores floated by

Three salmon, alive, he did spy!

The poison was thinning

These currents were winning

He prayed that all envy would die.

But this was no victory, not yet

No - as long as this river were wet

Rough battles, she'd fight

With herself, every night

'Tis at moonshine one longs to forget.

Then two days of hot orange light

Burned from dawn until aubergine night

Where once there was flood

Now squelched only mud

Amidst, glinting granules of white.

Next, came cool droplets of drizzle

That bounced off warm rocks with a sizzle

The sun pulled its cloak

Of vapour and smoke

Vast blankets of mithering mizzle.

The Earth was not in the best mood

For days it continued to brood

But gradually, the ground

Got more clement, some found

Scraps and patches of edible food.

Meanwhile, the otters had been resting

In a dune by the sea, snugly nesting

On shellfish they’d fed

On a makeshift sand bed

Then dreamt more adventure and questing.

In truth, all they wished for was home

Was it safe to return there alone?

They'd patiently wait;

Should the tumult abate

Then back up that river they'd roam.

But troubles afresh were a-brewing

The sulking sky’s ire had been stewing

Down came the deluge

Washing many a refuge

Away, their foundations unscrewing.

Ferociously, furious rain lashed

Onto swathes of the country it smashed

Its sheets, full of stings

Its droplets, fat rings

Long shards of it hammered and slashed.

The otters were hopelessly soaked

They caught influenza; one croaked

‘This ravaging curtain

Will kill us, for certain

The fires of revenge have been stoked.’

They thought that the Earth was enraged

That’s its fury could not be assuaged -

That the river’s caprice

Had ripped it from peace

And now war was most wholly being waged.

But their thoughts were unfounded and wrong

It just happened to rain hard and long

But the otters were worried

Under boulders they scurried

Dune scuppered, in a flash, in a song.

Back up river, the guardian could see

All that passed, perched on high, up a tree

Each raindrop that fell

Each surge, splash and swell

With a wry smile he watched carefully

More creatures lay slain by the flood

While channels of thick gushing mud

Swept through corn fields

To decimate yields

The crop count a dithering dud.

Though the guardian was shocked and dismayed

And his spirit appallingly frayed

He dared then to hope

To fumble and grope

For some light, in this grim escapade.

Nature giveth and taketh away

There was mercy in the deluge, some say

Since the brine was diluted -

And though homes were uprooted -

They’d been empty and ruined anyway

‘Twas about four weeks back the rains ceased

From their duties the heavens, released

Each drop of clear blood

Had been set to the flood

Each atom of liquid unleashed.

The guardian plunged his proud beak

In the river, and found things less bleak

‘Though the water’s not right

It’s less riddled with spite

And less salty up stream and down creek.’

This story I cannot conclude

For the river’s still thickened and stewed

A few trickle back

There are new stickleback

I cautiously sense lighter mood.

The otters stay moored on the shore 

But some news; they’re not two now, but four!

They’re biding their time

‘Til it’s safer to climb

Back up river, to the home they adore...

Andy Partridge

In the public latrine, stenches stick to my coat

Excreta’s foul gases wind up in my throat

But at least I can smell, so I’m chuffed as a cook

Who is smelling his wafts and an old cookery book.

I’m locked in a coach, my ears are distressed

The best of Phil Collins, please give it a rest

But at least I can hear and tomorrow, you’ll see

I’ll hear birdsong or harps or Sir George of Formby

The street here’s all trash, piss and fag ends and dirt

I look at the sky so my eyes do not hurt

But then I look down as I’m glad I can see.

Tomorrow a full moon and sunset there’ll be.

The beetroot I crunch and it tastes just like soil

My taste buds assaulted, my mouth does recoil

But at least they work fine so I smile and I beam

Tomorrow I may eat Italian ice cream

I feel all my spots burning livid and pink

The fever it mounts and I’m sick in the sink

But at least I can feel and tomorrow, who knows?

I’ll feel a suede coat and a hooked marble nose.

The Blunderer’s Defence

Clumsiness and bumbling

May oft cause a stir,

Might get on your nerves,

Could your wrath incur,

But was ever a funeral left unattended,

Because your favourite plate was broken and could not be mended?

To be kind to others,

Leaves more of a mark,

So give us a break

And stop being a nark.

Honesty is the Best Politics

If you like me,

Tell me about it

If you don’t,

Don’t bother.

The New Fascist Uprising

Compassion,

Is out of fashion,

Consideration,

An abomination,

Suspicion,

A mission,

Hope and trust,

To be trampled in the dust.

Voyage to Your Own Back Door

Them there bureaucrats in Brussels, telling me what to do!

I’m having none of it. I’m voting Brexit.

That bloody lot in that bloody London, telling me what to do!

Putting up the price of beer! Sod that, I say, ‘Independence for Rambleshire!’

Those buggering bureaucrats in bastard bloody Ramble, telling me ...

PS He’s got a point about the beer.

Krebsbach the Nazi

I have an objection

To Doctor Injection

For doctors we must trust

It really is a must

Their job’s to help the lame

Not murder, gas or maim

To heal the sick’s their role

Not shove ‘em in a hole

But Doc, you and your kind

Were sicker in your mind

Than any bed bound case

A tick from death’s embrace

Your heart was crutched and crippled

No feeling from it rippled

Your victim I would be

Than end up sick as thee.

Reverie in the Workplace

Serene and lovely reverie

Whisk me from this drudgery

Take me to a distant plane

In some corner of my brain

Thoughts enjoyed for the sake of thinking

Hail a gift divine, daydreaming

Over desert I do glide

A warm and cacti-dotted ride

Then river boats do take me swift

I give a thousand thoughts a lift

Reflections fast and sharp and bright

Flood my mind with calming light

Work is in the next dimension

Tasks performed devoid of tension

Robot limbs obey their brain

Grey matter hums a soft refrain

Anxiety has disappeared

A bulging boil of boredom speared

It was swelling now it’s gone

Woes and grinding there are none

Like wine kicked in on second cup

From thought I drink, from reason sup

Notions flow, so smooth, such fun

It makes such sense to worship sun

And moon and stars and trees and wings

The tangible, not abstract things

In deeper still, my mind does bathe

The next man melts, becomes a wraith

The insubstantial mill around

Silent feet on silent ground

My mind is mine and mine alone

Ten galaxies from flesh and bone

My private cloud is bound and locked

No airship moored, no flyboat docked

I say again, it’s mine alone

Then, ‘WHAT THE HELL? SWITCH OFF THAT PHONE!’

The spell is broken for today

A wave of chagrin comes my way

I spy the clock, one hour to go,

I can’t get back that state, I know.

The Second Life

I trip out with Khayyam

Gliding through Samerkand

Astronomy and verse

An irreversible curse

Penned by Maalouf’s

Quite remarkable hand.

I had a second life going on,

A parallel world, but’s it’s gone

I was spellbound and elated

But now I’m deflated

Since the last page is read,

But one day I’ll go back there

For a tale’s never dead.

Through Earthsea I roam

Its landscapes I comb

From caverns that coop

To dragons that swoop

The fruits of Le Guin’s

Most astonishing dome.

I had a brighter life going on,

In parallel lands, but they’re gone

I was left with the grind

Of the everyday bind

As the final page turned

But the bookshelf has secrets anew,

I have learned.

St Petersburg shimmers

With unnatural glimmers

It’s freaky, it’s spooky

Alarming and kooky

From Bulgakov’s brain

In dark stars it simmers.

I had another life going on

A wondrous nightmare, but it’s gone.

I’m hurtling down

As I groan and I frown

The story is done

But as long as I live

Its gates are still open.

The pendulum swings

My second life begins

The unsettling mysteria

Of a thousand esoteria

In the depths of the library,

Umberto’s the king

I had another world by my side

When it finished, I cried

Exhausted and spent

On crutches I leant

Tight shut, hard and cold

Yet Italy’s in reach, through the leaf

Should I become old.

How monstrous, the sea!

Monstrous sun over me!

The sharks, monsters too!

The seagulls mock you!

Grippingly spun

By the skilled quill of he

Who gave me a second life

To my dull plod, a wife

But Velasco has reached the shore

Drained to his every last pore

From mesmer to drizzle, flat is my brain

Which had invested all in the sailor

From the safety of a train.

Go West

There are too many songs in the world,

To be frank.

So many billions of ditties,

All those trillions of tunes

That drink at the bar

Of a middling saloon

They sure don’t get drunk there

On a nondescript noon

They wilt in the sun

And shrivel under moon

Ten of thousands of tracks

Stuck in mediocre marsh

In the bog of bog-standard

Am I being too harsh?

Yet how marvellous and divine a sliver of them are:

The sweet, swanky swing of Evesham’s Hill Song;

The heavenly holler of Sly Stone’s sparkling tongue;

The joyful jing-jangle of Heyward, of Kite,

His work spills with ochres, some subtle, some bright;

James Brown’s jerky jinking, inhumanly tight

The mystic Biggs’ Sideshow; hate that if you might;

The sad, wistful wisps of Waterloo Sunset;

With Bhosle, great beauty, is all you will get;

The effortless angel Sam Cooke croons out gold;

Brel’s Jef is a story that has to be told;

The magical madness of Strange’s Mainlines,

While Blitz glides above, unfettered, untwined;

The luscious lush lulling of Sparrow’s Maria;

Obsessed, possessed pounding in The Cavaliers’ Gower;

Triumphant yet tragic is Bush’s Cloudbusting;

From cloudburst to bed, Cohen’s soaring, then lusting;

Meander, mesmerised, on Cope’s Tralee Road;

Jaw-dropping is Shake Appeal’s brutal unload;

Simone hits the core of the earth in a heartbeat;

Ideal make fireworks go off in your feet;

There’s the lyrical lilting of Jake’s La-Di-Dah,

If it’s words that you want, he’s the greatest by far;

If it’s ambience you want, Moondreams is your air,

Its shimmering bow, it’s wondrous despair;

The nonchalant nectar of Sinatra and Riddle;

I Think We’re Alone’s quite miraculous fiddle!

The Hoff’s such great fun! Though some grave toes have curled;

Blue Heaven by Fats – the best song in the world.

The awful, the dreadful, the hopeless, the puerile,

The staggeringly horrid, the unspeakably vile,

All have their place in the history of song,

We can laugh at the process gone horribly wrong.

The excruciating terrors of Doctor in Distress.

The sick-making filth of Lady in Red.

The fallow, flat flotsam of the sterilised Sting,

Whose clinical disinfectant kills flowers in spring.

The hysterical nonsense of over-the-top wailing,

And gnashing and belting, my poor ears assailing,

As swishing, thrashing mullets clash and intertwine

Like horns of follicles, porridge and stale wine.

The love duo publicly tear out their own genitalia. What a racket!

Yes, I’m talking to you, Bolton!

The entertaining vulgarity of the Final Countdown,

Is better than songs that are dreary and brown.

Hail Coppin! Whose mawkish, banal, chirpy tripe,

Ferments and congeals, like a plum overripe.

I’d sooner have Collins’ insipid turd whinge,

Whose blandness so bland makes you grumble and cringe.

At least you react as you nosedive to hell

Through an album of stinkers that fester and smell.

The rub is the millions and millions of tunes,

That just pass you by like neutral balloons,

Neither beatific sloth, nor red-arsed baboon

Just boring old chuggers in a sky with no moon.

Tribute to Shel Silverstein

Genius is an overused word,

And ‘genius is an overused word’

Is a cliché I have far too often overheard,

But I’ve read old Uncle Shelby

And perhaps - yes - just maybe

Genius is a word,

That in this case, could justifiably be heard.

The Angry Trolls

A constant cacophony of clicking cicadas

Detuned dulcimers,

Screeching old saxophones,

Pompously pounded pianos,

Slackened sitars,

Jabbering Jew’s harps and

Droves of drummers who cannot drum, drumming drums

With maddening thuds and irksome rattles,

Whilst pelicans squawk and toads croak under creaking oaks

And vixens wail like abandoned Martians.

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About the Author

This is Richard Batchelor’s third book and first work of poetry, largely limerick. His first book, The Temp Pest, a largely autobiographical half-comedy mostly set in warehouses and packing factories, is also available to download on Smashwords, as his his second book, a scrumptious compilation of colourful and psychedelic short stories, The Pelican school of Bird and Other Stories. Batchelor is also a musician and the front man in the longstanding rock and roll indie group, Ricky Spontane. The group have released three studio albums; Spontane Time, Hit the Town and Spontane 3, as well as a clutch of singles. A new EP, The Seeds of Doom, is also available to download/listen to on various digital outlets (i-tunes, spotify, deezer, bandcamp etc). Batchelor has also released a solo album, Richard I. Click here for a track.

Batchelor, who currently lives in Chartres, France, is a hypochondriac, a Fats Domino obsessive and a bungler. He is both imprisoned and liberated by his own imagination. It depends on the day. He can be contacted on: mailto:rjbatchelor2501@yahoo.co.uk


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