The Final Odessey September29, 2017 To the tune of ‘Paddy Works on the Railway’

In nineteen hundred and sixty-one

The great adventure was begun.

The great adventure was begun

When The Zombies got together, together,

And we’ll rejoice forever

That The Zombies got together.


In nineteen hundred and sixty-four

Their first hit single opened the door.

Their first hit single opened the door

For the world to hear The Zombies, The Zombies,

The world would hear The Zombies

And everyone loved The Zombies.


In nineteen hundred and sixty-five

The Zombies in the U.S. Arrived

The Zombies set the States alive

And everyone loved The Zombies, The Zombies,

They flocked to hear The Zombies

For everyone loved The Zombies.


In nineteen hundred and sixty-eight

They released their greatest album to date.

They released their greatest album to date

But it still couldn’t save The Zombies, The Zombies,

For Fate betrayed The Zombies

And that was the end of The Zombies.


In nineteen hundred and ninety-seven

There came the release of Zombie Heaven.

There came the release of Zombie Heaven

To bring back some love for The Zombies, The Zombies,

We’d always loved The Zombies,

Now everyone loved The Zombies.


At the start of the new century

Rod Argent went touring with Colin B.

Rod Argent went touring with Colin B

For ya canna keep down a Zombie, a Zombie,

We flocked to see our Zombies

For everyone loves a Zombie.


And in the year twenty oh four

The three new members came on board.

The three new members came on board

And they toured once again as The Zombies, The Zombies.

We welcomed back The Zombies

For everyone loves The Zombies.


‘Twas in the very self-same year

We lost a musician we all held dear.

We lost a musician we all held dear

Paul Atkinson from The Zombies,The Zombies,

We miss him in The Zombies

For we all love all The Zombies.


The year two thousand and seventeen

Unites again the original team.

United again the original team

Will play once more as The Zombies, The Zombies,

The founders of The Zombies

Play for the last time as The Zombies.


For though Rod Argent and Colin B

Continue with the newer three

This is the last time we shall see

The four original Zombies, The Zombies,

A swan-song for those Zombies

As we say ‘Farewell’ to those Zombies.


The London Palladium miracle

The Odessey and Oracle

For one last time brings joy to all

Who are there to hear The Zombies, The Zombies.

We’ll all be with The Zombies

And we’ll always love The Zombies!

In loving memory of Jim Rodford

Spain in a Jar

Bienvenido a España, señora!’

He smiled and stretched forth his arm.

His sinewy brown hand held the blue-glass sea,

the azure sky. The lemon-yellow sun

sealed its treasures. I cupped it gently

in my lukewarm, northern hands,

eagerly prised the buttered sun

from its tight, round mouth,

inhaled its heady humours. Thyme,

bay, succulent sap, heat-sweet earth.

I drank greedily the strange brew

and was intoxicated. Stumbled

drunk past clicking crickets, fell

into the arms of Spain, her embrace

a silken sash, a sigh of southern smiles.

First published in Reach Poetry


Let me tell you the story of Sammy and Scoot.

Their relationship bore the most bitter of fruits.

My tale begins gently so buckle up tight;

The ride becomes bumpy, to darkness from light.

Now, Sammy was not in the greatest of health

And so he decided to part with some wealth

To purchase a four-wheeled conveyance on whom

He hoped to escape from his cold, lonely room.

He scoured the internet, read the reviews,

Weighed up the pros and cons, which were bad news.

Finally, down to the dealership where

Sammy sought his preferred make and model, and there

He first made the acquaintance of Scoot, as he named him,

Deluxe King of Scooters. Well, who could have blamed him?

He rode from the shop on suspension and tyres

Pneumatic. Ecstatic, Sam set the speed higher

Until he was racing at eight miles per hour.

He felt liberated, elated, empowered!

Not so all the drivers who slowed to a crawl

And cursed this impediment, hoping he’d stall

So they could zoom past at their earliest convenience

Muttering and fuming in justified grievance.

Unlucky the driver who followed that day

Old Sam and Young Scoot, that fine morning in May!

Arrived at his home, Sam attempted to halt

But Big Scoot continued. It wasn’t his fault;

The first prototype of a driverless carriage

He wasn’t prepared to be stuck in a garage.

More rapidly now they approached such a junction

As caused Sammy’s bladder and bowels to malfunction.

Still Scoot hurtled on towards oncoming traffic.

Drivers slammed on their brakes and their language was graphic.

Sam shouted for help, the police sirens wailed.

They thought they could stop him; they tried and they failed.

Before them, the river. The road ahead rose,

The bridge opened upward and Sammy’s blood froze.

Now breaking the sound barrier, Big Scoot ascended

And poor Sammy with him. Our story is ended

Except when the night sky, resplendent with stars,

Illuminates both on their journey to Mars.

First published in Star Tips For Writers

Midnight in Paris

Le cloche dit que c’est minuit

and she retrieves a tiny, cobalt bottle

topped with a miniscule white minaret

releases the genie, fingers the potion,

caresses warm flesh, behind ears, beneath hair,

below head, atop pulse,

between breasts. She seals

the deal, topped off with a clockwise

turning motion. Emotion so sweet

he can scent it, while scented stock

flavours his desire. Respire.

Suck him in, breathe him out.

His mouth is salty, hers is sweet. He

whispers perfumed words into

that eager orifice.

Fake Views

I am as an island.

I make my own laws.

Rather I sign executive orders

With utter disdain.

If any part is taken away

My power is less.

As well as if the wall were brought down.

As well as if the Whitehouse were

Or Trump Tower.

When you laugh in my face

I am diminished

As would any man be

And therefore never seek to know who’s next to die

For it is thee.

First published in Reach Poetry

Feux d’artifice, Nice, le quatorze Juillet

Red lorry, yellow lorry, white lorry,

White lorry, slowly, slowly, what’s he doing?

Something’s wrong. Revving, revving,

Speeding, speeding. Stop him! Stop him!

Swerving, swerving. Killing, killing.

Screaming, screaming, howling, crying

Spare the children! On and on

And on. Now running, running,

Panic, panic. Hide us! Hide us!

Shuttered buildings. Fermés. Save us!

Alley rats, alley rats, what’s your hurry?*

Inside! Inside! What’s the problem?

Just a road crash. Cower, cower.

Shoot him! Shoot him! Bang! He’s dead!

And them. And them. And them.

*A survivor told how he and his family sought refuge in the store room of a restaurant down an alleyway because the shops along the seafront were closed. Staff and diners had not yet heard the truth of the events on 14/7/2016. The killer drove a white lorry.

Feline Good Café

We form a quartet. As oldest and widest

I sing baritone. Your daughter, soprano;

yourself, second fiddle; viola, the fourth.

First enters the duo of lowest-pitched voices

and we are conducted securely inside

the opening section. Contained for their safety

we move to the main suite, the furnishings, hard

as befits good acoustics. One audience member

moves forward, inquisitive. Others are still.

The programme was lengthy, they long for their beds.

Here come the violins, hot on our bow-heels!

A unison passage transports us to where

we rest for a few bars, purrusing the menu.

The residents table-top dance for our pleasure.

‘Nothing for us here. These humans are tedious.’

Too late for the main course, we thirst and are quenched.

A few scale the heights of the substitute woodland ;

another is curved on her miniature hammock.

We repair to the drawing-room sofas, our ease

complimented by Ash, posing gladly for shots.

Recital now ended, we leave them to slumber

resolving next time for an overture slot.

O Come and Mourn; a ‘found’ poem

O Come and Mourn; found by Eleanor Dent

First speaker*

We buried them. I took Ahmed and Aya

and buried them with my brothers.

I buried my kids with my own hands,

my wife and my brothers.

I used to call them, ‘Blondies.’

My son, come to see Papa!

My soul, my loves, my Aya!

I was right beside them.

I took them outside with their mother

when they were conscious

but, ten minutes later, we could smell it, the gas

and my children couldn’t handle it any more.

I left them with the medics

and went to find my family.

Second speaker **

I took my son

and left the house with my husband.

In the way, a big lorry stopped us

and told us that they had many dead people

and we saw our relatives.

All were my relatives, my friends, my neighbours.

I can’t believe it! My God! Children! Children!

Amarr, Aya, Mohammad and Ahmed!

I love you, my birds. Really, they were my birds.

I saw them. They were dead.

All are dead now.

Final hymn

O, Come and Mourn With Me Awhile.

Euronews broadcast a special report, ‘Syria: remembering the victims’ two days after a chemical attack killed seventy people, many of them children. The two speakers are related. Twenty-two members of their family were killed.

*  Abdel Hameed al-Youssef

**Aya Fadl

Evensong, April 2. 2017

Six. Six. Six, the number of the congregation.

Six, sounding twelve, voice praise and adoration.

Unexpected choir’s fullness wakes from meditation.

Not with them tonight, I attend in admiration.

Great-hearted Charlie ascends the height,

Precious Onyx their partner in flight.

Mellow mezzos mediate their pure delight,

White doves, black-gowned, processing left, right.

Brace of basses, foundation and tower,

Tenacious tenor matches them in power.

Could you not have been there just one hour

To succour Him who is our Passionflower?