TROTTER

Trotter devours the succulent steak on his plate
One of his cravings satisfied, he’s in a self-indulgent state
Has an appetite for more, eats up the night, guzzles gas in his Scooby Doo
Drives through the city, to a club, for neon entertainment in super stereo
Occupies his usual balcony, taking small sips of Pina Colada
Drinks in the delights of dancing girls, sings along to Lady Gaga
Trotter taps a toe, stylish in his designer Italian moccasins
Handcrafted by skilled artisans using triple layered calf skins
An atmosphere so electric – simmering, steamy energy
At the end of the club night, Trotter goes home alone in the Scooby
Wakes up next day in his own company. Comfortable isolation
Boots up his laptop, fires up his coffee maker, switches on the television
Checks his mobile phone for messages, there’s a text from an airline
He puts the phone on charge then turns on the grill to cook rashers of swine
When they’re ready, he throws them into a thickly buttered crusty baguette
Impulse informs him to be somewhere hot, he hungers for golden sunsets
His walk in wardrobe has a range of luxurious, imported fine clothing
A suitcase is packed, he’s dressed, passport in pocket, a plane is waiting

Tells a terrible joke at the check in desk, one that should never be recycled
Wanders through duty free shops, admires the gifts, exquisitely packaged
Trotter buys magazines at a news stand, to alleviate his aching boredom
Flicks through, studies images of floods in Peru, then he simply dumps them
Orders a burger from a kiosk. It arrives in a box, wrapped in crinkly paper
Pours milkshake down his dried up throat, from a disposable plastic beaker
The table at the burger stand is strewn with rubbish, it’s obnoxiously stinky
He considers complaining, but visits the lounge bar instead, for a little drinky
When Trotter travels alone, he finds gin and tonic the perfect companion
Swimming in a clear blue sea, enjoying the facilities of a man made resort
Civilisation at its best, where the fine things in life can easily be bought
His plane touches down, he leaps on a bus, a short ride to an ocean paradise
A memory surfaces, he recalls the Peruvian floods, Mother Nature’s malice
Arrives at a five star hotel, checks in, it’s a fabulous choice of holiday home
Built on green fields where not so long ago, mountain goats were free to roam
A large picture window gives him a wonderful view of a sun-kissed horizon
Fishermen confined to a corner of the bay, pushed aside by a tourist invasion

Palm trees sway in the breeze, punctuate the poolside, positioned perfectly
Trotter sips a cocktail, eager to enjoy himself, planted at the bar permanently
Sun gods and goddesses glisten as they fry themselves at the side of the pool
While in African provinces, rivers run dry, and the searing heat can be cruel
If those sun worshippers needed to walk miles for a bucketful of dirty water
They’d hire lawyers to sue for millions. There would be corporate slaughter
He considers himself lucky to be from the west where wallets can be fattened
The global market overflows with money: London, Tokyo, Manhattan
But when storms become savage, no amount of money can fix the wreckage
He watches news on a poolside television, a tsunami causing lethal damage
At the request of another guest, a waiter switches channels to a music station
A televised catastrophe is not what tourists want to see when on vacation
Trotter erupts, a volcano awakening, he says, ‘Hey! I was watching the news!’
Jumps down from his bar stool, a bomb blast in beach shorts, a burning fuse
The guest shrugs, and replies, ‘We all just want to hear some music.’
Trotter’s rage dies, he sits down, he should be chilling, shaking off the static
Maybe there’s nothing he can do about the horrors of natural devastation
Picks up his mobile, finds a relief fund website, makes a generous donation

The Fag Packet Fire

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So there we were
In the early hours
Warming ourselves
On the flames from a fag packet

Or trying to
And every so often
Spoonie raised his head
And hollered, ‘Wonga!!’

‘Where’s my jacket?!!’
He was shivering
And shaking
I was okay, my head was baking

Little Johnny was there
And we huddled together
Thinking maybe
We could weather this 

It didn’t do much good
‘Wonga!?!’ Was the cry
‘I’m fuckin freezin
I need my jacket!!’

Then, in a purple haze
Spoonie caught fire
Flames shooting from his back
I leapt up and jumped

And rolled him on the grass
‘Fuck off Szpuky!!
What you doin!?
Leave me alone!’

I tried to explain
‘You were on fire,
I had to put the flames out’
‘Fuck off!’ came back at me

‘Wonga!!’ The cry came again
Even more desperate
And then . . .
He caught fire once more!

I leapt through the night
Like Bruce Willis
And rolled him on the grass
A second time

He wasn’t too happy
‘Fuck off Szpuky!!’
I tried to explain
‘I had to put the flames out . . .’

Then it dawned on me 
Before the dawn came
That it was psychedelic
 I’d kissed the sky

I tried TOO HARD

I tried too hard
I maxed out
On my Mastercard

I tried too hard
I swerved around
Another bollard

I tried too hard
I purchased
Too many birthday cards

I tried too hard
Not to be
A boring bastard

I tried too hard
To reach
the lowest standard

I tried too hard
To be pleasant
That was awkward

I tried too hard
To stay in shape
It wasn’t rewarding 

I tried too hard
To expect the unexpected 
I stayed on guard

I tried too hard
In the pub
I got barred

I tried too hard
On the battlefield
I came home scarred

I tried too hard

I Grew Some Balls and Became a Hockey God

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I agreed to play in a friendly
Against Mansfield, again
Even though I’m a novice

To date, my performances
Had been lacklustre
Let’s say I’m not a natural

I decided it was time
To grow some balls
And take some responsibility 

Selected in defence, at right-back
If the ball were to go out of play
It would be all mine

And I knew I could play a pass
Over 20 yards
In a variety of directions

So, that’s what I did
I injected some self-belief
Into my head

We won by 5 to 1
I even made a brief forward run
With the ball

As usual, mistakes were made
But, overall, I lost the fear
I finally found second gear

To call myself 
A hockey god
Is a massive exaggeration 

I’ve got a long way
To go, to be half-decent
Even so, it was a giant leap

TENNIS ELBOW

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I bought a pair of rackets recently
And planned to play a few games with the family
I just need to book a court
At the local tennis club
Which is easier said than done
It’s a mysterious process

The newsagent has closed down
And that was the place to book
Whenever I pass by the club
I often mean to stop, and enquire
Just haven’t got round to it yet
But, it’ll get done, eventually

In the meantime
Without even hitting a ball
I’ve acquired Tennis Elbow
Not sure how that happened
So, it’s game, set and match
Before I’ve even got started

FRUIT MACHINE

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FRUIT MACHINE

When a teenager
In the seventies
And out with my family
I quickly got bored
So, in those days
Before digital technology 
At the social club
We had a choice
Between bingo
And the fruit machine

Pineapples
And slices of water melon
Cherries and lemons
And lucky sevens
Spinning images
Clicking into view
I dropped in coin after coin
And, I got lucky
I won the jackpot
I scooped up handfuls of change

Fast forward
Several decades later
I found different ways
To gamble
And, I became acquainted
With the Arctic Monkeys
Which got me spinning back in time
To when I won that jackpot
And put all the winnings back
Into the fruit machine

INDIAN DRIBBLE

I’ve seen it on the telly
And I thought it looked easy
That was foolish. And now I’ve learned
That I’m terrible at hockey
Sometimes, I swipe at thin air
I play with the grace of a grizzly bear
Generally, I try to keep out of the way
and attempt a few tackles

And, I’ll never be able
To do an Indian dribble

My feet seem to grow
They seem unable to avoid the ball
I give away short and long corners
Then, I stand on the post
A headless chicken, protecting the goal
Recently, I found redemption
I blocked the ball on the goal line
With my stick, I knocked it away

But, I’ll never be able 
To do an Indian dribble

TERMINATOR ON 10-INCH WHEELS, WITH STABILISERS

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As part of my fitness regime
I’ve been going out running
Usually along a disused railway line
Sometimes across the fields
And through the deer park
Sometimes, the cows are out grazing
And, one day, I had to turn back
When one of them blocked a stile
I couldn’t shoo it away
It was a cantankerous beast
Protecting its calves. Looking vicious

On another occasion, I was close to home
And, at a junction, where two tracks joined
A man on a bicycle, with 2 young boys
Stopped to let me pass
I thanked him, and said ‘I don’t believe this,
I’m overtaking cyclists!’ He laughed
And I ran on, keeping a steady pace
Then, I heard a rumble behind me
Getting closer. I looked over my shoulder 
I couldn’t really see him
But, I knew he was there

Slowly but surely, the rattle got louder
I was being hunted down
By a small Terminator
On 10-inch wheels, with stabilisers
Those little legs pumped as he passed me
And he said, ‘I caught you up!’
I managed a smile, and said, ‘Well done.’
Then, he stopped and waited
For his family to catch him up
I said, ‘Hasta la vista baby!’
And carried on, upping my pace a touch

I kicked on, not too far to go
Rays of sunshine filtered through
The trees, feeding me vitamin D
Then, I heard the rumble again
The Terminator was back!
The rattle got louder, so I kicked on again
As much as I could muster
Determined to win this battle
The noise faded, and I savoured a victory
I finally defeated the Terminator
On 10-inch wheels, with stabilisers

‘VEGAN POETRY’ Published!

It’s a bit of fun. 10 very silly poems about fruit, vegetables and tofu that might raise a smile or two. This collection is the equivalent of a small allotment, or maybe a couple of raised beds, planted lovingly with poetry, to bear fruit.

This collection grew organically, from my ‘Cabbage’ poem, which is part of my IF SPIDER-MAN WERE UKRAINIAN’ collection.

‘VEGAN POETRY’ is currently available as an ebook, on Amazon, but pamphlet editions could be forthcoming in the future.

I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of my literary labours!

Ukrainian Cabbage Recipe

Maybe it’s not the most fashionable dish in the world, but, for all Ukrainians, their mama’s cabbage is always a treat.
It’s part of our heritage. To western palettes, cabbage may seem bland, but Ukrainians have the culinary chemistry to transform this humble vegetable into a feast for the senses, and a comfort food that is hard to beat.

When I began writing about our family histories, I was conscious they were overloaded with tragedy and despair, and I made strenuous efforts to present those stories so that readers could see passion and defiance beneath the gloom. Ukrainians take pride in their roots. Sometimes, to observers, this may seem like nationalism that can take an ugly shape.

It bugs me big time when people associate Ukrainians with fascism. Although there are dark periods in Ukrainian history, where fascism showed its face, it’s a lazy stereotype to make that association, without considering what else there is to know about Ukraine.

But what’s all that got to do with cabbage? Okay, it may seem like I’ve gone off at a bit of a tangent. But, another stereotype about Ukrainians is that they all like to eat cabbage – and that observation is usually made in a mocking tone.

We don’t care. The cabbage is very good.