Category Archives: humour

Sweet Murder

pot-a1

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A familiar odour disturbs my peace, awakening my spirit. It floats by, ethereal and evasive; the offensive smell of burnt caramel. My raddled nose seeks it a moment before my bones recoil. This fragrance is not designed to be a comforting reminder of mother, as she stirred creamy desserts, measuring vanilla to drip into the mix, grating nutmeg for my delight. Such fripperies ceased long before my fall. I recognise the intent; this cheeky warning of coming chill is repeated annually

The witching hour is nigh. As Big Ben chimes, the wind attacks, insinuating between gaps in my rotting coffin, blowing away the clods of clay that weigh me down, evicting the insects that dig in vain for vanished flesh, lifting grey threads – the only remaining shreds of my skirt – its cold fingers creeping like a pervert seeking entry.

Neighbouring ghosts begin to whisper. Innocent ghouls float free, while convicts clank their chains. Witches intone spells. Captured frogs screech. I hear the eerie breath of demons as they tread between the shifting graves, mocking my predicament.

The wind builds a bony fist which grabs my feet, dragging me, forcing me back into grim history, back to the workhouse kitchen, where ragged shifts and worn clogs torn from the poor lie defeated beside a giant vat of syrup. Once again I see the faces of the helpless, eyes terrified, lips distorted by agonised screams as their naked skin sizzles. The screams quickly die, leaving only the bubbling stink of boiling flesh, combined with burnt sugar. Once again, I feel my bile rise. I see the ruined remains of women and children floating in darkening liquid as blackened flakes rise from the bottom of the pot, and I weep for the loss, the waste, inconsolable as if I had never before been witness to the scene.

My sweets were famous, eagerly devoured in the best houses in Christendom. I used the finest chocolate, the rarest spices, the freshest fruits. Lords and Ladies sought my carefully boiled and moulded treats, willing to pay any price for the rich flavour and texture that only I could create. Jealous competitors constantly spied on me; some hoping to steal my secret, others planning to contaminate the mix, thereby ruining my reputation. Perhaps I was too sure of myself, but my pride turned to shame the one time I erred. I left the kitchen only briefly,  to oversee the storing of  a consignment of walnuts, delivered to the back door. Since there were thieves and desperados all around me, I trusted nobody. All of my ingredients had to be instantly locked away, and the key secreted on my person. When I returned from my task  it was too late. I confess, the blame was mine alone.

Time has consumed two centuries. Have I not suffered enough for my mistake?

It seems I must spend eternity atoning for the simple error of burning one batch.

.chocolate-mwa3

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Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Atone

With added inspiration from Waltbox: 

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Yellow newlyweds and greedy breeders

ATTENTION! ATTENTION!

THESE POEMS WERE GENERATED

BY A CRAZY MACHINE.

NOT BY ME!

While I was searching for a useful tool for helping to shape concrete poetry (which seems to have vanished without trace) I found a free poem generator, so just for fun, I gave it a go. After selecting the free verse option I was asked to type in three words. The generator chewed on my words for a moment, then requested a further three, related to three new words it had spat back at me.

In no time at all it coughed out this strange list of phrases:

Greed

The drive that’s really climb,
Above all others is the ardent ambition.
Artistic, ardent ambition.
Does the ardent ambition make you shiver?
does it?

An astonishing avidity, however hard it tries,
Will always be eagerness.
Does the astonishing avidity make you shiver?
does it?

Better breeding is multiplying.
multiplying is better breeding.
Does the better breeding make you shiver?
does it?

Anyone who knows me well will be aware that I go in for overkill. Here’s the hilarious second poem it wrote for me, inspired by a different set of word prompts. I expected it to be romantic…

Marriage

A wonderful wedding, however hard it tries,
Will always be celebration.
Wonderful wedding.
Does the wonderful wedding make you shiver?
does it?

The unify that’s really married,
Above all others is the warm wed.
Now ringed is just the thing,
To get me wondering if the warm wed is marital.

yellow, nervous newlyweds sings like romantics
Nervous newlyweds are yellowish. nervous newlyweds are irrational,
nervous newlyweds are chickenhearted, however.

So there you have it: nervous newlyweds sings like romantics. However, in addition to their skin being yellow – a point that is repeated in case you weren’t paying full attention – their hearts come from chickens.

Finally, I requested rhyming couplets. For this I was asked to submit a larger group of words. The resulting rhyme is… unusual. I was hoping for a poem about a road-sweeper and a psychiatrist. Maybe that’s what this is; it’s hard to tell.

See the laughing of the shunter,
I think he’s angry at the hunter.

He finds it hard to see the blouse,
Overshadowed by the angry dormouse.

Who is that screaming near the broom?
I think she’d like to eat the elbowroom.

She is but a black analyst,
Admired as she sits upon an annalist.

Her shameful car is just a prescription,
It needs no gas, it runs on subscription.

She’s not alone she brings a baccy,
a pet beaver, and lots of laxey.

The beaver likes to chase an alternation,
Especially one that’s in the association.

The shunter shudders at the hilarious armadillo
He want to leave but she wants the morillo.

Maybe it’s better at haiku, but I don’t have the heart to find out.

 

shiver (2)

 

In case you feel like playing silly buggers, here’s a link to the generator. If you do, don’t be mean; please share the results.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Piffle

naked-pun

Once

a pun a time

saved nine

~~!~~

 Written for the Word of the Day Challenge: Piffle, I present to you part 1 of a 1 part series of short poetry. Each part highlights a single aspect of the nonsense embodied by the word Piffle.

This is both the first and the last poem in a short series which is too sad to make a sandwich, or even to be buttered. It curls alone on the plate, drying to a crisp while readers glance toward it, then look away quickly, embarrassed to witness the shame of this small, tragic pun.

“Take pity,” croaks Pun, its eyes growing hazy, but Pity has changed its name to Party and is celebrating the excellence of metaphor, meter and rhyme. It’s drunk too much wine and has no time for humble Pun, who disconsolately chews a few crumbs of humble pie, a single tear falling from its eye. Just when I think it is losing consciousness, it catches sight of me. It points the withered tail of its P in my direction, and with its dying breath it cries:

“She’s to blame. She made me.”

Fortunately nobody is listening. They’re either at the party, enjoying great poetry, or this nonsense has lulled them to sleep.

I see my mistake now, but I think I’ve got away with it. The poem should say:

Once

a pun in time

saved nine.

THAT makes perfect sense.

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 ©Jane Paterson Basil

Miscalculation

Or

bad-idea-words

Inebriation
Flirtation
Assignation
Sensation
Titillation
Lubrication
Elation
Vibration
Gyration
Deflation
Cessation
Frustration
Castration
Prostration
Hospitalisation
Recrimination
Investigation
Litigation
Mitigation?
Erectile emigration vexation

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Written for the Word of the Day Challenge: Investigation

Inspired by Nestle Five Boys Chocolate

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Games with Names

W

Within wildest Wales,
Will will walk with warm, wilting Welsh women,
Wayland will wail with whales.
Warner’s warning whispers will waken wary Wade;
Wade won’t wade – will wonder why Wally wildly wallows.
Watching wistfully, Wiston will wait
while Willow weaves wet withering willow.
Wanda will wander,
Woody will whittle wood, wishing Walter wouldn’t waste water.
Wan will wanly wave wands, wasting wishes.
Warren will waft weak warrants,
Winnie will whinny, wearily watching,
Wayne will whine woefully.
Wendy will wend westward
while Wallace will wince and writhe in shame,
since Jane is tired of playing alliterative name games.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

From the Horse’s Mouth

gathering

I ‘spect you ‘eard the rumours back then, but you can’t set too much store by Chinese whispers. I know exactly what ‘appened that day, since I was practically there. See, my mum used to chat with Sally, the fishmonger’s wife, when she went to get our lovely fresh cod of a Friday, and Cuthbert – her ‘usband – well, ‘e used to deliver fish, regular, to the Royal Kitchen. He got quite pally with the Royal Cook, Sally’s Cuthbert did. Oh yes, he moved with the cream of society, ‘er Cuthbert, what with goin’ round to all the best ‘ouses an’ mixin’ with all the best cooks in the realm, an’ all. He was a nice chap so they all made allowances for the smell. Anyroad*, the Royal Cook got the story from the kitchen maid who got it from the chambermaid, who got it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. That’s right; the lady-in-waiting ‘erself, who was peaking round the door just after it ‘appened.

So, like I said, I was practically there at the time, and this is ‘ow it went:

The girl ‘ad been tossing and turning all night – couldn’t sleep a wink by all accounts. The palace was getting ready to celebrate since it looked like she’d passed the test, but now she was turning a nasty shade of green an’ ‘aving difficulty breathing. The king ‘appened by, and he saw it and summoned the lady-in waiting, who called for the chambermaid, who ran to find the courtier, who rushed for the physician.

The doctor examined the girl, then wrung ‘is ‘ands, like they does when the king looks at ’em, and mumbled something about balls.

“Speak up, man, and moderate your language, or I’ll order the guards to cut off your head,” cried the king. Just like that, an’ I wouldn’t put it past ‘im. I could tell you some tales would make your hair stand on end, but me lips is sealed.

The physician gathered up ‘is wits and spoke more clear. “Your majesty,” says ‘e, “there hhis no cure for this lady’s hhallergy. I fear the worst. If only Hhi had had been hhinformed, Hhi would have recommended a golf ball and a dozen extra mattresses instead.”

(Physicians is trained to talk proper, for all their funny ideas about leaches and blood-letting. They knows where the aitches is meant to go.)

Just then, the girl sits up like some knight ‘as stuck a red-hot lance up ‘er unmentionables, gives a scream, and collapses as if dead, poor dear. The worst of it was, when she fell back so sudden like, the pile of mattresses started wobbling, and before you know it, she’s rolled out of them and plummeted all the way to the floor like a bloomin’ bag o’ teddies*.

Oh, bless, don’t go upsetting yourself, dearie – I’m sure she didn’t feel nothin’, but like I was about to say, next thing,  all them mattresses got to slippin’ an’ slidin’, and before you know it, the floor’s plastered in ’em. By the time the dust settled, she was buried up to her neck – just lying there underneath those stuffed wodges of striped ticking, with only one pale arm sticking out like the dead end of an amputee party or what-all.

And what did they see but that little green pea, released from its feathery prison, rolling across the floor, like it didn’t have a care in the world. ‘Course, it was quickly absolved of that notion, since the dog – I forgot to tell you about the dog; there was a dog asleep in the corner of the room, an’ it’d managed to sleep through having a mattress land on its back, but it must have ‘eard the pea, makin’ its way across the royal rug, takin’ a straight line between two of them puffy mattresses. The daft dog musta thought it was a rabbit or what-have-you. It was up and on the pea like lightnin’. In a blink, the evidence o’ cause o’ death was down ‘is gullet.

So then the prince come ambling in, with that clipboard they made for him from the last o’ the gold what ‘is previous wife had woven out of straw. I’m talking about his second wife, mind. I ‘spect you ‘eard about the first one, who broke an old glass slipper, trying to prove that her feet were the same size as back when they first started courting. Turned out they wasn’t. She’d bled to death, which was a shame, ‘cos she was pretty, but ‘e married again.

The second marriage had started off awright, what with all them roomfuls of gold and all – bound to make you ‘appy, seems to me – but pretty soon it was all around the palace that his wife was ‘avin’ an affair with a short ugly bloke with a bad temper, who kept comin’ out with strange rhymes an’ wouldn’t tell anyone his name, and if you ask me,  I’d say the rumours was true; she weren’t no better than she shoulda been.

Well, that’s another story, and I’m not one to gossip, but it’s worth a mention since it was ‘cos of ‘er that they weren’t taking no chances this time. The next one ‘ad to be a proper princess – the thing they tried with the glass shoe ended in tears, and they didn’t want any more of that hobnobbing with commoners who makes ‘oles in the floorboards and disappears down ’em before you can cite them as just cause for divorce. See, it’s not like they wanted to behead her – they’d rather have done it the nice way, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Not that they was beggars; they was royals, but still.

Getting back to the prince; the shock of seeing the grisly scene before ‘im give ‘im a bit of a start and his bowler ‘at slid down over ‘is eyes. Did I mention the bowler? ‘E liked to wear it for official stuff like checkin’ for the authenticity of princesses – reckoned it gave ‘im an official air; professional like, along with ‘is important clipboard with its long checklist of names of all the virgins in the realm what claimed to be princesses – or was it all the princesses in the realm what claimed to be virgins?

None of us was sure, but no matter.

Regaining ‘is balance an’ dignity, ‘e slid the bowler back into place an’ stepped over to what he could see of the young woman. Kneeling down, ‘e reached toward her slender ‘and. By all accounts, it looked like a romantic what-‘ave-you, till ‘e pressed a finger to her wrist, where the pulse should ‘ave bin. He looked up at the doctor, ‘oo avoided his eyes, and then at his father, the king, ‘oo rewarded ‘im with a “you win some, you lose some’ kind of a shrug.

Smartly getting up from ‘is knees – princes is good at that kind of thing; standing and sitting and generally moving graceful like dancers, it’s their upbringing, you know – ‘e pulled a pencil from beneath his silk doublet, licked the end and neatly crossed ‘er name off the list.

Written for 3TC: Mattress, Golf ball, Green

*anyroad: anyway

*teddies: a regional name for potatoes.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Last Laugh

postal-32383__340.png

I got a soggy dog-lick-kiss, breakfast on a tray
with the dreaded birthday sentence: Fifty years today.
Gifts enshrined in angry bills, ring box on a tin can,
and on the bed beside me, my oh, so funny man.

I wouldn’t touch my breakfast; the tea was weak and cold,
the bread was stale, the marmalade thickly furred with mould.
I unwrapped all the presents; fake poo and inked perfume,
I threw aside a birthday card, then marched out of the room.

He chased me to the kitchen; he knelt on knobbly knees
to offer me the ring box, said: Please don’t be a tease.
He looked so hurt and serious I thought he was sincere.
I’m glad I chose to take it, or he would still be here.

I carefully prised it open, expecting glittery bling,
but in that stupid jewellery box there was no diamond ring;
no long-denied proposal, no promise from my champ –
curled amidst the velvet was a grubby postage stamp.

I glared at him in fury, but he waved my rage away,
and laughing shrilly, said to me: It’s for a holiday.
Climb into this box, I’ll add the stamp and the address
of any destination, North, South, East or West.

It might be midlife crisis, but I’m weary of his humour;
I wished a heart attack on him, or a most aggressive tumour,
so feeling thus disgruntled, I shot him through the head.
He’s curled up in an outsize box, not joking now he’s dead.

I’m posting him to Timbuctoo, with no return address,
So I will never get him back, and I’ll suffer no redress.
It’s funny what you think of, when you scrub a bloody floor,
kitchen units and two windows, one kitten and a door:

We met on Friday the thirteenth, an unlucky day for me,
but the thirteenth has returned; how unlucky now is he!
I don’t regret the past, and there’s something I will miss;
I’d like to give him one last breath and see him laugh at this.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Written for Three Things Challenge: thirteen, midlife crisis, past

©Jane Paterson Basil