Forky Murder Sno-Cat

(For this festive offering, we give you the full lyric sheet for ‘Forky the Snow-Mule’, plus the first sighting of the infamous Murder Bear. WARNING: do not approach or attempt to apprehend this poem, the text is armed and highly dangerous.)

Forky the Snow-Mule

Forky the Snow-Mule was an onager of woe
with Swiss chard ears and a parsnip nose
and his arse made out of snow.
Forky the Snow-Mule was a donkey once they say
he had bones and skin
but a tricksy djinn
thought he’d take all that away.
There must have been a curse in that
old broomstick that he found
for when it was inserted
how the heehaws did resound!
O Forky the Snow-Mule
was a frozen streak of pee
and the children say that he would weep
at the thought of you and me.
Slumpetty crump dump
Slumpetty crump dump

What does Forky know?
Slumpetty crump dump
Slumpetty crump dump

The onager of woe.

Forky the Snow-Mule knew
the frost was cruel that night
so he cried for help
with a piteous yelp
and did a little icecube shite.
Deep in the forest
with a broomstick up his bum
freezing bit by bit
from arse to tit
yelling ‘Christ, my nuts are numb!’
He told the deers about his fears
and hollered at the stars
but they only paused a moment then
went into topless bars.
Poor Forky the Snow-Mule
he had to stay outside
but he waved goodbye
saying, ‘Tho I die
at least I’ve got my pride.’
Slumpetty crump dump
Slumpetty crump dump

What does Forky know?
Slumpetty crump dump
Slumpetty crump dump

The onager of woe!

(NB You may want to singalonga Henry the Cat here – he appears to know the tune.)


Hendecakillabics for the Restive Season

In the month of the marked increase in shopping
by his donning a slightly-chewed-up man-suit
(victim chosen for having such a fat head,
though it’s still quite a squeeze to cram his ears in),
the most murderous of bears will pass among us
on the metro, the bus, the escalator,
in the cafes and bars that warm large cities,
and select his exciting Christmas victim.
While old humbugs may sit unscathed beside him,
the unduly punctilious buyers of slippers
and insisters on proper thankyou letters
may expect an unusual midnight visit
and their neatly-wrapped skin ripped open roughly
till their seasonal lights festoon the fir tree.
It’s the time of the year to clean his rifle
as he hopes that old fool presents a target
he can aim at upon the yuletide rooftops,
then it’s out with the hunting knife for Rudolf.
In the meantime there’s always office parties
to be crashed and then photocopied bleeding
from each orifice; boss and secretary
bound together and flung into the river
in a touching noyade of class relations.
Always drunks to be nudged off station platforms,
little match-girls to sautee by flame-thrower,
snowmen needing to eat their magic top-hats,
anxious mothers who must see all their trimmings,
lazy fathers who need a shot of buckshot.
It’s a miracle how he gets around us
all in just one night, but a bear must do in
whom a bear (so the voices claim) must do in.
So you be just as good, or bad, or ugly
as your conscience sees fit, because the main thing’s
to be lucky and quick and unobtrusive
like a rat or a strain of flu or music
that might soothe this most savage beast: no carols,
please, unless you can live without your larynx,
though a phrase from the Stranglers or old Sweeney
(if your whistle be wet) might mean he walks on
by, the wing of Death’s angel fails to beat in
your pale face, eyes screwed shut, heart, for now, still beating,
heart still serving up blood in pints. Go, bootsteps;
heart, relax; and those nails, release the brickwork –
then his whisper: ‘I see you when you’re sleeping…


About Bill Herbert

Poet and pseudo-scholar W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, educated there and at Oxford, where he completed his DPhil thesis on Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and now lives and works in Newcastle. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and his books are published by, among others, northern publisher Bloodaxe Books. He is also the Dundee Makar, or city laureate.
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