Monday, October 25, 2004


My Many, Many Brothers-In-Law

Brother-in-law No. 1

At a Christmas party, in a paper hat,
He asked me what I was good at –
I never said, but I blushed:
Standing up, with my back to the seat
Of a toilet that I have flushed,
I can tell by the refilling sound
If the toilet is blocked - before looking round.
The time between flushes is shorter;
And I know the level of the water,
Before looking round:
I can tell by the pitch of the refilling sound.
And when the water behind me is high,
I know how long it takes before
The water drops, and then I try
To flush the toilet once more.
The hat on the head of my brother-in-law –
A Christmas cracker’s orange crown –
Grew grey, with wrinkled rings of brown;
Turned misty, fluffy, torn, dispersed,
As my brother-in-law was immersed
In a toilet, blocked by my shame –
My sister took his second name ...

And I, the Spiv of the Drains

My many, many brothers-in-law
Dared to go to war,
While I stayed home and spiv’d.
Some died, some lived –
Big deal:
There were still too many; and the real
Resistance, the real resistors
Should have been my sisters.

The cesspit spiv - the spiv of the drains:
My nephews could identify planes
Without looking up at the sky;
But they were impressed when I said that I
Could tell by the pitch of the refilling sound
If the toilet was blocked, before looking round.

Above the shish of the cistern and taps,
I heard my pregnant sister collapse
Outside the toilet door:
When the wretched name of my brother-in-law
Was no longer being cried,
I opened the door and reached outside;
And reinforced my nascent dam
By wiping myself on the telegram
I had snatched from my sister’s fingers.
I left without trying to unblock it
(And maybe the water still lingers),
But before I left, I noticed a locket
On a chain, and it felt like a sign:
I had seen it used by my niece to divine
The sex of the unborn child;
She had held it over the bump, beguiled
By the promise of a baby brother;
But, one day, she would find another –
One day, my niece would want more:
She would give her brother a brother-in-law.

Thereafter, I went to the house
Of every sister whose spouse
Had been killed:
I heard them sobbing as the cisterns refilled;
And I never felt regret,
Though, once, I felt the tepid jet
Of a bidet-D-Day brother-in-law
Squirting between my crack:
A ghost-in-law, coming back
To hose me clean -
Stupidly thinking this would mean
Less paper would be needed;
But when the ghostly jet receded,
My profligacy soared:
As one hand wiped, the other one pawed
The toilet roll for my next pieces ...
I pitied the brothers of my nieces.

How many wipes could stem the torrent of a sister’s love
Being switched from her brother to the groom?
Revenge is found in the smallest room.