In search of something

Looking up the ancestors

Tracing a family tree

Am I in search of them, my love

Or really in search of me?

Finding pairs of twins who married

Sailed off across the pond

Only to find in a generation

Home was what they’d scorned

Trying to cram onto scraps of paper

Names and dates and more

Wondering why they had chosen to scatter

Themselves from shore to shore

Picking over the bones of stories

Scraps of my family lore

Wishing I’d asked before someone passed

A couple of questions more

Chuckling over the old intrepid

Tales of derring done

The girl who ran guns in place of her brothers

As they’d only blab to mum

The lady highwayman; army driver;

Girl of a thousand smiles

The one whose paintings went down with the ship

The ones who ran quite wild

How would I fit, these elderly legends

How would I measure up?

Putting myself into clogs and sabots

Filling old boots with luck

Knowing the secrets that spring from boxes

Hidden on dusty shelves

Of births and deaths and marriage and proxies

Chicken-scratch bibles and tombstone kells

The hideous source of a score of quarrels

Love letters from the wrong side of a war

Black sheep and politics; actors and brothels,

Family heirlooms and so much more

Mystery facts are now uncovered

A lady who lied for years

Pretending to youth and no old lovers

To soothe a new husband’s fears

Learning why some names were missing records

During a time of strife

Who had migrated and waited and waited

For news of their family’s life

Postcards and poems and brochures and programmes

From concert and theatre and prom

Knicknacks and geegaws and troubles and trinkets

Collections they handed down 

Sepia prints and chemical glass

My ancient faces scowl

Melancholic in rented clothes

They are caught dead in now

Ah, Palmyra

We care more for ancient ruins
And destruction wrought on tombs
By whatever means they may
Than for lives that end today

While the blood and flesh and bone
Leaving everything they own
To escape the latest purge
Travel desert, sea and gorge

Those who voyage only land
On their uppers, close at hand
To the help they sorely need
Yet the politicians plead

Not to have to break their word
To the xenophobic horde
Those whose votes they barely won
From the hardened right, anon

Thus with bottle-necks and fence
We corral and harry hence
Workers that we sure could use
Grateful, welcome, unabused

Skilled and keen to integrate
To prop up our ageing State
In permissive company
Knowing just who let them be

As the fight takes to the skies
And the waves fill up with lies
We would throw away resource
Inconvenient and coarse

With no tally of the cost
Nor of what support is lost
Though our leaders might feel tall
While our borders stand, we fall

Something to declare

They’re closing the borders
And checking for crime
We’ve signalled our orders –
Each kiosk; its sign
For twenty-one days
On the honour of those
Running far from the virus
No quarantine slows
Here’s the health of a nation
Held palmed in your hand
Shaking; quaking relations
That no one can stand
Find they’re no longer welcome
While terror’s abroad
Though the shape of their income
Is what we applaud
It’s a risk to our public
Unhealthy and pale
No banana republic
With goodies for sale
Will be bribing their way
Past the guards on the line
Who know only to say
“Gosh, yes, everything’s fine!”
Though you’re likely to bring
Things that may cost the Earth
Still we can’t let you in
More than our job is worth
As the siren is sounded
The gates clang at last
All asylum for hounded
A thing of the past
We suspect you of sheltering
Dangerous germs
So we’ll lock down the sweltering
Under our terms
No sex, please, we’re British
The same goes for fun
And in case you seem skittish
I’m holding this gun
With no end of compassion
Our hearts on our sleeve
We’ve resources to ration
So, kindly, just leave.

For lack of a connection

When John went to Euston with Rita
(As from her train, he’d sworn to meet her)
He found it quite hard to tell from the card
Which platform from which he should greet her.
So John asked a guard or a porter
How he could find out where he ought-a
Be meeting his pal, as it wasn’t long now
And her temper was fast growing shorter.
To John’s great dismay though, this tactic
Backfired almost like elastic
He was sent to the end far away from his friend,
And missed her, which made her quite irate really.

The low down dirty old Underground blues

Why do we at break of day
Brace ourselves to plow the fray?
Surely Britons ain’t forgot
That queueing is our national sport?

Daily, though, I feel the thrill
Of elbows meeting ribs until
Inside and out, I’m black and blue
And panting and perspiring too.

There must be a better way
For me to get to work today,
But tube is quicker, you retort
We like to keep our journeys short!

Yet overcrowding and delays
Especially on ‘weather’ days
Are making this commuter frown
Each time she travels into town.

A little bitty ditty of a journey to the city

A girl got on a train, tra la!
She soon would go insane, tra la!
For service there was none,
And tickets bought for fun.

The girl sat down to wait, tra la!
Hoping she’d not be late, tra la!
But vain were all her hopes,
For Virgin trains are jokes.

The girl was on her knees, tra la!
A bunch of tourists teased, tra la!
Not knowing she could speak
Their lingo, tongue in cheek.

The girl was far too tired, tra la!
So she just sat and smiled, tra la!
And tried to read her book
While Europe cocked a snook.

The girl was now ashamed, tra la!
Of people not so strange, tra la!
She felt she ought to speak;
Too tired, bit her cheek.

The girl wanted her bed, tra la!
To hell with all things red, tra la!
But this was not her night.
The tannoy put her right.

The girl was now pissed off, tra la!
At snotty woman’s cough, tra la!
But trained to be polite,
She kept her mouth shut tight.

The girl got on a train, tra la!
To take her home again, tra la!
She needs a good night’s sleep.
To help her through the week.

Patriotism in far-off places

My sometime love for hearth and home
Lies not by fire, nor yet with those
Acquaintance of my passing day
For things material fade to grey
And colour-leeched, do turn to dust
They in my plains of mem’ry rust.
But lusty, strong, my heart does beat,
Not gazing ‘pon familiar street,
No haunt it loves, no buildings stir
My choosy organ, yet I fear,
That trav’ling through a countryside
All brown and barren, far and wide
Doth wake in me a tender gleam
For skies of grey and fields of green.
As seen from windows of a train,
My mind’s eye flashes ‘pon the rain
And ‘midst the warmth of climes more sunny
Tho’ yes – I also find it funny
Born not of humour, more of pain
I wish to be back home again.

Socially Satirical Poem

Three little businessmen, ran to catch a train.
The salesman got there first, but strangely turned around again.
The lawyer shouted ‘stop!’ then ran on as the others paused.
The politician huffed and puffed, but there was no applause.

On entering the carriage, all the passengers aghast;
The salesman barged straight up the aisle, the lawyer then pushed past,
The politician coughed a spell then mopped his weary brow,
I sat there in a corner, watching, wondering, what now?

The salesman made a tired mum give up her seat and move,
The lawyer rudely staked a claim by crafty elbow’s shove,
The quiet politician, without a word sat down,
Then unpacked papers from his bag, enough to fill a town!

Three little businessmen, settled in to ride.
The salesman got straight on the phone, my word, but he was snide!
The lawyer chose to read a while, then unpacked not just book,
but torch and pen and bookmark to make sure we all would look.

The politician next to me had work to do, it seemed,
Yet as he sifted papers, I watched and thought I dreamed.
No laws was he a-reading, no bills, naught penned of State,
But letters to the editor, the Daily Mail of late.

Three little businessmen, caught the four-eighteen.
‘Tis truth, that which I tell you, though it may seem obscene.
The best-dressed in the carriage, the least well did behave,
As one by one they all did start to rant and then to rave.

The salesman’s telephones after a while had ceased to work.
He chose to vent his spleen at all and sundry, what a jerk!
The lawyer found their ticket was not quite the one they claimed –
Not valid on this service, nor even in their name!

The canny politician, avoided all the fuss,
By nipping to the lavatory when the inspector passed.
But such was his frustration, on coming back to find,
The trolley passed already, that his manners slipped his mind.

Three little businessmen, had a rotten trip.
The salesman made a fool of himself trying to act so slick –
He loved his voice so dearly that, despite his useless ‘phone,
He pitched his product to a youth – alas, if he’d but known!

The student studied chemistry, was quite a whizz in fact.
He knew about the product, and what’s more, that it was crap.
He told the salesman nicely, just why it didn’t help.
Oh my, was that poor salesman shocked by this young whelp!

The lawyer tried to argue with the manager of the train
To let her off her fare as she would not pay it again.
‘Though arguments may be your job’, the train attendant cried,
‘You’ll pay like all the rest of t’mob!’ – she did, for all her pride.

The politician also, took a rather nasty fall –
For farting in a public train is hardly shame at all,
But blaming what you did upon another who did not,
Is like to get a politician in an awkward spot.

Three little businessmen, pride before a fall,
Might have learnt a lesson, but I fear have not at all,
For daily do I see them, each one on my train,
Try the same tricks over, and fail at them again.

(Based on actual events, any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely beside the point – you all ought to know better at your ages!)