This one won an Honorary Mention in the 2019 Literary Taxidermy competition – where you have to use the first and last lines of a famous work – in this case, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Sonnet – 45 Degrees
It was a pleasure to burn, my friends, it was,
For one like me who’d just arrived from Leeds,
For England’s North is not the same as Oz,
I loved the skin that peels, the sweat that beads.
But ten years on, my knowledge has increased,
Slip, slop and slap’s the order of the day
My days of reddened nose and ears have ceased,
The pain, the fear are just too much to pay.
I mock the bodies writhing in the sun
On Bondi Beach, the Mecca of the crowds,
And feel superior, the only one
Who understands the limits of the clouds,
The beaches, friends, are cruel though very pretty.
We will be safer when we reach the city.
While watching Patrick play billiards
Just as the cue the spotted balls direct,
The balls themselves caress now and connect.
The lines invisible to all but thee,
Whose eyes can see quite clear what we can’t see.
The curve profound, the clack false ivory makes,
The curve skewiff which spoils some lengthy breaks.
Hope springs but briefly when the ball comes near,
We need a break, what ho! It’s time for beer!
A beer, a smoke, no longer part of this –
A glass of coke, a brief and lonely kiss.
I watch in awe at machinations deep.
The game is long but does not conjure sleep.
If billiards’s not the answer we all seek,
It’s still the best of dances – cheek to cheek.
Oh how I hate it when it rains so much
The floor is wet and e’en the ceiling leaks
It’s like I’m not Australian but quite Dutch
Holding the sea back, Neptune thinks it cheek!
The dryer’s on full-time, the towels still wet
The dog leaves muddy footprints on the floor
I’ll never see the sun again, I’ll bet
Forever now our games will be indoor.
But look, what light through yonder window breaks
It is the sun, the eye of heaven! Cheers!
And it is warm and bright, my eyes do ache!
But I’ll put up with that and dry my tears.
However long the storm and hail do last,
As Beatle George once said, all things must pass.
I’ve written music for Karl Valentin’s Komiker Kabaret, Bruce Cuts Off His Hand, Emperor’s New Clothes, Train Station at the End of the Universe and Rhapsody on a Wet Day
Toys for Boys – runner up for Trade Union Songbook
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my PM sent to me – lyrics