Sleight of Mind

I laugh at failure and failure laughs back

I feel like I’m under attack

Like a crunchy shark snack

Fade out to black


I am trying my hardest to be tight,

Throw off the shackles, move into the light,

Hiding in plain sight,

Sleight of mind.



I’m as loyal as the dog that bites the hand that feeds

I’m as subservient as the one who bends the knees and kneels

I’m too needy, like the one whose greed exceeds,

I’m like a dirty wound that bleeds,

I’m blinded, but, I’m sure I’m in the lead.

Duck Hunt

I like snowball fights

Flinging icy sprite

And a nice slice of lime sublime

Flashes of light

With hazy sight

And cool delight

We snipe.

Another duck hunt.

The Breach

Climbing heaven, storming hell,

God ascended, Satan fell.

Riders deep on storms they ride,

Blitzing through, the angels glide.

You’re by my side and that’s enough,

We’ll never part, my one true love.

Slither King

I am the silver slither thing,

King of all things slithering!

I slither hither,

I slither thither,

Over here and yonder there,

I slip and slide most anywhere!

Never dither,

Never blither,

Lest you fall into a river,

And shudder, shiver,

Never to live or even slither,

Never ever again.

HMS Plug

It was a dark midday. Thanks a lot, pollution.

At Stableforth Docks in the suspiciously grimy part of town, a small gathering had turned up out of nowhere to see what all the fuss was about.

There was a man wearing a crown adorned with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. The crown was drawing many interested parties who had designs on the acquisition of said crown, with varying degrees of likelihood.

The King Hillvelm (Hail Hillvelm!) and his modestly beautiful Queen Lania (long live Lania!) were heavily bodyguarded by men whose understanding of ‘heavy’ was something they don’t teach you in Physics class.

The wind blew softly, with all due respect, clearing some of the smog away from the vicinity. You could even see the sun!

The crowd was large and in high spirits: that is to say, they were high, and on spirits. The liquor flowed like white-water rapids.

The sun shone gaily. It also had designs on the crown: gold being one of the heavier elements.

‘What, what!’ shouted King Hillvelm, digging in his coat pocket for a box of snuff.

Beady eyed youngsters followed suit and lit up their cigarettes.

‘Are we done here? I’ve got 500 pounds on Sod’s Law at the 2.30 at Epsom,’ said Queen Lania.

There was a tittering from the crowd.

‘Madam… I mean, Miss… erm… your Majesty, Sod’s Law is 230/1,’ said a young urchin with more honesty than sense.

‘Excellent!’ cried Queen Lania. ‘I stand to make a pretty penny. 115,000 pretty pennies. You’d like that wouldn’t you Hillvelm?’

‘What, what?’ shouted the King, eyes darting about the place.

‘Well, let’s just get this over with and then to the races,’ said the Queen determinedly.

A young seaman stepped boldly forward.

‘Your majesties, I am Captain Washbuck of HMS Plug. It is an honour and a privilege to serve under His Majesty’s Royal Navy.’ The young captain beamed positively, brighter than each of his gold braids. The sun exerted itself and beamed down even harder just to show them who is boss.

‘Ah!’ exclaimed King Hillvelm. ‘Navy chap, eh? What, what? Can you swim?’

‘Your Majesty,’ said Captain Washbuck, ‘forgive my impertinence, but it is bad luck to ask a sailor if he can swim.’

A tricky silence lingered, and the wind turned direction to avoid it.

‘Well?’ demanded King Hillvelm. ‘What is it then? What, what? Can you swim, or do we throw you in the water to check, what? I won’t have any of this namby-pamby nonsense in my armed forces. Back in my day if you were a young sailor you were thrown off the side of the ship and those who survived were given extra grog. Builds fortitude, what? Testing you young whipper-snappers’ mettle, what, what?’

Captain Washbuck was taking the inane brunt of an idiot monarch and striving to survive the ominous test of mettle.

‘Would you care for some champagne?’ Quavered the young Captain.

‘He doesn’t drink before midday,’ said Queen Lania.

Captain Washbuck checked his pocket-watch and willed it to have gone 12. The watch was a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. It was said that it had been won in a game of poker, and the loser, an Irish gypsy, had placed a most sinister curse upon it.

The Captain blinked in bewilderment.

‘It’s a quarter past 12, your Majesty!’

‘Jolly good!’ exclaimed King Hillvelm. ‘Scotch or brandy? Can’t go to sea without getting totally sloshed beforehand, am I right, what, what?’

‘There is champagne, your Majesty,’ offered Captain Washbuck. ‘Also, there is a special bottle for the ship. Breaking a bottle of champagne on the ship’s hull brings good fortune for ship and crew!’

‘Silly superstition, what?’ growled King Hillvelm. ‘I bet you believe in mermaids as well, hem hem?’

Captain Washbuck’s face turned a deep red. He believed in mermaids all right, having seen several and impregnated several more.

‘Now your majesty, the magnum bottle is attached to a rope on the conning tower. All you have to do is swing it towards the hull,’ Captain Washbuck handed King Hillvelm the bottle of champagne, his hands trembling slightly. The bottle cost more than a month of the Captain’s wages.

‘You say that this vessel is designed to travel underwater, what?’

‘Yes, your Majesty.’

‘Well how is the enemy meant to see you? What an abomination! It’s sly, devious, underhanded! It’s unnatural, what? Back in my day we played by the rules! Line them up and charge, charge the devils to their grave, what, what?’

Captain Washbuck was treating his meeting with the King like someone who has been instructed to take care of an exceedingly obstreperous toddler: a toddler who was curiously pulling the metaphorical pin out of the metaphorical grenade, leaving the Captain up the metaphorical creek.

‘OK then, what?’ exclaimed King Hillvelm. ‘Pass the bottle then, chop, chop; what, what?’

The Captain was relieved. ‘Swing it hard your majesty!’

The old king fumbled with the bottle and it dropped from his hands over the precipice of the dock. The champagne swung indifferently towards the hull and with a spectacular withdrawing of breath, bounced back, then bounced a few more times until it lay at rest hanging from the submarine’s conning tower.

Captain Washbuck’s face was blanched white, his eyes wide. He quickly considered bouncing swiftly away from the crowd and the whole shenanigans. He could cut his hair, change his name. America seemed like a good option! He might meet the woman of his dreams! They could farm a plantation, have children. He could write that book he was always promising to get around to.

‘Now what, what?’ demanded King Hillvelm.

‘Ah, well, er… see, the thing is, sailor’s superstition and all, rather silly of me to say it really, erm, since the bottle did not break, well, some might say… totally ridiculous really, well…’

‘Get to it! What!’

‘If the bottle doesn’t break first time, ill omens will follow the ship. It’s bad luck,’ said Captain Washbuck, who was weighing up his own portents and could not help but feel like he had a big target hovering over his head.

‘Nonsense!’ cried King Hillvelm. ‘I’ll hear nothing of the sort, what, what?’

Captain Washbuck sighed deeply, relieved slightly (down the inside of his trousers).

‘You! Soldier!’ shouted the king.

‘Yes, your Majesty,’ said the soldier.

‘Hand me your rifle, what, what?’ the King’s eyes were on fire. A herald from the gods flew swiftly by, executing a perfect barrel roll, to tell anyone who bothered to listen that shit was about to get seriously fucked up. You can forgive the foul language, it’s tough work working for gods.

‘Let… me… what… see… here…’ muttered King Hillvelm, tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, aiming the rifle at the champagne bottle.

*click* went the rifle.

*click* it went again.

‘BOOOOOOOOO…’ was the resounding sentiment from the crowd. A few young lads threw their empty Stella Artois bottles at the side of the submarine. Each one smashed with a few cheers from the crowd.

‘YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU ARE ALL CARRYING WEAPONS WITH NO AMMUNITION?’ screamed King Hillvelm, building himself up into a state of dire ire.

‘Honey, calm down. It’s not the end of the world,’ said Queen Lania soothingly, flying in the face of the fact that the next person to mess up would not be alive to know about it.

‘BRING ME AMMUNITION!’ bawled King Hillvelm like a baby who has realised that its rattle is not of sufficient size or weight to be used as an efficient weapon.

‘Here, your Majesty!’ panted a boy of about 15, who looked like he had run the marathon. He plonked the ammo tin in front of the King.

‘Ah, see? A true patriot, what, what? I shall have you rewarded, what! Here is 3 shillings, be gone with you.’ King Hillvelm opened the ammo tin and loaded the SA80 he had wrenched from the grip of the disgraced soldier.

‘NOW THEN!’ bellowed the King. ‘What, what!’

The first shot went low by about 3 inches.
The second shot went high by 2 inches.
The third shot went left by about 5 inches.

‘BOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ clamoured the crowd.

‘Honey, why don’t you let one of the soldiers do it?’ advised Queen Lania.

‘Nonsense! Just need to get my eye in, what, what!’ King Hillvelm grinned and reloaded.

‘Let’s see what she makes of this, wh… hw… what!’

The rifle had been set to fully automatic. The resounding ripple of gunfire lasted for the length of time it takes 30 bullets to blatantly miss the hanging bottle of champagne.


Captain Washbuck was on the bus to the train station. America beckoned: the land of the free, well-armed, and totally batshit-insane.

‘Your Majesty,’ breathed another naval officer. ‘There has been a slight… hiccup…’

‘Out with it, man!’ said the King.

‘Well, out of the 47 bullets you fired into the hull of HMS Plug just now, you have made… ahem… 17 confirmed kills. Also, er… the nuclear reactor has been breached and is, well… leaking.’

‘Leaking?’ said King Hillvelm. ‘Not on MY ship!’

‘Technically, your Majesty, it is a boat.’

‘Abandon ship!’ screamed a sailor diving from the conning tower.

‘I thought you said it was a boat, what?’ mused King Hillvelm.

Men and women were jumping from the submarine into the water below, some of them not wearing life-jackets.

‘Can they swim; what, what, what?’ asked the King.

‘Erm… it’s bad luck to ask, your Majesty.’

The bullet holes in the hull of HMS Plug were letting water into the vessel. Its fate was almost sealed.

‘Such a shame,’ murmured the naval officer with tears in his eyes. ‘She would have been the power in these waters for decades to come.’

‘Pull your socks up!’ demanded the King. ‘You can weld the bullet holes to seal the gap! Even the underwater ones! I’ve seen it on David Attenborough.’

‘Actually, your Majesty, since one of the 17 seamen you, ah, killed… he was the Commodore, meaning I am in command now,’ said the freshly appointed Commodore.

‘Well? What, what? What of it?’ King Hillvelm fumbled his words.

‘With the reactor leaking, I recommend abandoning the submarine and setting a 5-mile perimeter to safeguard against radiation poisoning.

‘5 miles, what?’ murmured the King in shock. ‘Is there no way to tug it out into the ocean? Maybe I could deliver it to Emperor Chishi as retaliation for getting me blind drunk and thrashing me at poker, what, what?’

‘I am not a diplomat, your Majesty.’

Queen Lania was tugging on the sleeve of King Hillvelm’s coat.

‘Honey, we need to get going. The 2.30 at Epsom, we can’t be late.’

‘Harumph, what, what? You picked the rank outsider. Sod’s Law?’

Queen Lania smiled devilishly with cold grey eyes.

‘The rest of the horses have been spiked with ketamine,’ said the Queen chuckling.

‘Oh, really? What, what?’

‘Our horse is running on methamphetamine,’ she grinned; pausing subtly, pensive. ‘I wouldn’t say the race is rigged, necessarily. The horse may die of a heart attack on the final furlong.’

‘Sod’s Law.’


“OK people. I’ve done this a thousand times before, it literally can’t go wrong,  so there’s nothing to worry about. Firstly, we all need weapons… oops, wait no, I mean instruments, yes.”

“What instruments? Sharp ones? Blunt ones? I hope this isn’t going to be invasive.”

“No, no, no. A walk in the park, a piece of cake. Trust me.”

“Anyone who says ‘trust me’ is not to be trusted.”

“Yeah my mum told me never to follow instructions from someone with missing limbs.”

“How dare you, that is discrimination. I thought better of you.”


The sounds of hungry hands rummaging through boxes for instruments.

“Why am I left with the triangle? It’s a kiddies’ weapon.”

“You mean instrument…”

“A kiddies’ instrument! It requires no skill whatsoever.”

“Hand eye coordination is key to the mysterious and esoteric art of the triangle! Fix up.”


A scuffle ensues, along with the foreboding ‘TING’ of the triangle.


“Why is it called the triangle anyway?”

“You never learned your shapes in school? Or your percussion instruments?”

“It’s square!”

“So it is. How unusual. I wouldn’t worry about it, no one will hear it anyway. It’s a bit like calling a vacuum cleaner a ‘hoover’. Trade name sort of ting. Besides, it’s hip to be square.”

Ting….’ Went the square triangle with 5 interior angles.

There seems to be some confusion…

“What do you call this when it’s at home?”

“The same thing you call it when it’s outside, I imagine.”

Problem resolved.

“Oh, look at this one… makes the sound of the rain! Listen to the rattle.”

“This flat thing makes the sound of the thunder!”

“What about lightning?” asked someone inquisitive.

“Sorry, the author couldn’t afford the special effects.”

“Typical stingy author, just expects it all for nothing. I bet he’s in a union.”


“There are no drums, I am a master of the circadian rhythm, but nothing to play with!”

“Try this, it’s a drum machine. You program it to make rhythms.”

“I don’t hold with machines, they are ungodly. You think you are in control of the machine then it ends up controlling you. Soviet style.”

“BEEP BOOP,” intoned the drum machine with a malignant foreboding.


“BEEP BOOP,” echoed the drum machine.

“So it begins,” lamented the man as the thermostat joined the struggle against humanity, ramping up the temperature to hellish new heights.