– Snake! Snake! Snake!

The dog raised an ear with the noise, then went back to sleep. He was a watch dog.

– Snake! Snake! Snake!

The noise was closer, so the dog thought he’d better give a yelp, better stand on all fours, better inform his masters of the noise.

– Why ya yelpin’, dog? Woke us up, ya did.

And then the two on the veranda heard the noise.

– Why isn’t that ya cousin Elmer a hollerin’? the older one said.

– That’s Elmer all right. I can see him a runnin’ down the hill, replied the younger one. Yellin’ something about a snake. Fastest I’ve ever seen him run.

The wizened Elmer finally reached the rundown ranch. Nearly out of breath, he kept uttering Snake! Snake!

– Now what’s this all about, Elmer? Another one of them tall tales of yours? the older one started.

– Ya spend all that time by yourself, Elmer. Ya don’t know the dream world from the real world, the younger one added.

The dog went back to sleep. His work was done.

Elmer collected himself and stopped his panting.

– Uncle Jed, Cousin Jethro. It’s the doggone biggest snake in the world! he proclaimed.

– What you on about, son? We only got some of them rattlers. And all of them varmints can’t get a livin’ here, just like us, Jed replied.

– Now cuz, you need some excitement or some lovin’. A woman or one of them blow up dolls, Jethro added (he always added).

– Ya all joshin’ with me agin, Elmer kicked the ground in frustration.  I’m a tellin’ ya this thing is huge. He’s a paddock long, a car high, and ya can’t even see his head. It’s stuck in the sand.

Jed spoke first – he always did.

– So boy, ya tellin’ us that ya seen some serpent on ya farm the size we ain’t never seen before?

– Uh-huh, come see for ya selves, Elmer replied.

– Elmer, so this ain’t one of them wild goose chases? If we git off this porch we had better be doin’ it for good reason, Jethro added.

– I was out a huntin’ critters in the back paddock and there in front of my eyes was the biggest snake in the world. I rubbed my eyes and it was still there. And then I git real scared and panicky, and I ran over here.

– OK son, just remember ya ain’t got no back paddock – only one paddock.

– And ya ain’t on none of that weird moonshine, or them plant concoctions?

Finally Jed said, Git ya gun, Jethro. We’ll see what’s stirrin’ up Elmer.

I’ll take over the story now. I’m the hotel owner in the neighboring town. The preceding is what Jethro, Jed and Elmer told me about how it all started, after they bust through my bar room door yelling Snake! Snake! The Largest Snake in the World!

All the locals in the bar barely raised an eyebrow when the relatives raised the snake alarm. See, anyone who named their boy after the Beverley Hillbillies TV character, but never found Texas Tea, has got to be odd, or maybe has a strong hold on reality. Jed’s wife had long gone off with a traveling salesman, to look for a better life, leaving Jed and the addition Jethro to fend for themselves. In Beverley Hillbillies terms they kept themselves in ‘vittles’ by doing odd jobs around town.

As for Elmer, he was the black sheep of the family. Middle-aged – somewhere between forty and sixty – Elmer was obviously closely related to Jed. Jed’s sister left town quickly many years ago, according to the old-timers. Did she have a dalliance with a local … or a traveling salesman? Rumor is that it was Jed, but that’s small town gossip. Whatever, we knew little of what went on out on their places – they kept to themselves pretty well.

Elmer, as noted previously, was a bachelor. No woman ever looked at his gaunt, worn, unshaven exterior, and with few words, he couldn’t engage them with flirty banter or woo them with his mediocre intelligence. He offered them nothing – no money, no sex appeal, nothing. And he had no phone out there to even ring the two local hookers for service.

So it was rare to see Elmer and his relatives in town, let alone seeing them so animated in my bar.

I was the only to respond to them – the locals went back to what they usually do: drinking and tale-telling and watching sports on TV.

– What you hoopin’ and hollerin’ ‘bout Jed, Jethro and Elmer? Not another snake story? The boys have told plenty of them, I said.

– Ya all gotta come fast. It’s the biggest snake ever! As long as a football field and thicker than a man!

– Oh yeah, some of the patrons groaned.

But I thought these boys don’t come into town much and they’re not up for real gossiping, like most of the townsfolk. So I thought I might pass over the reins to my wife, and follow the boys out to Elmer’s place. At least it would get me away from the humdrum of our small town.

And so I was the fourth person to see The Snake.

Well, believe me, The Snake wound like a river across Elmer’s paddock and had dropped its head into one of the sand hills. It was well camouflaged: a motley light orange like the surrounding rocks and dunes. It had green flecks across its girth, although there was little plant life on Elmer’s patch to blend with.

We all stood, mouths agape, a distance from the giant serpent.

– Watch out, Elmer uttered. If we go closer it might lift its head outta that sand and eat us all up. It’d be hungry out here, like us.

I suggested to the three that they move close to the front of the snake (as bait, unbeknown to them), whilst I go to its tail to feel if it’s real. They bought this, and so I was the first to feel The Snake.

I can confirm that The Snake felt snaky. I tugged at its tail, but The Snake did not move.

Back with the three, I reported on what I had found and then suggested I take a selfie using my smartphone of the four of us in front of The Snake. This would show all that we were the finders of The Snake and we owned it. A little like staking your claim in the gold rush days, I stressed to the boys. I was keen to post the snap on Facebook.

Odd, I took the selfie, and re-took the selfie, but there was no snake, only the background hills and dunes. Was The Snake an illusion? A figment of our imagination?

Undaunted, one by one we persuaded townsfolk to visit Elmer’s place to view The Snake, even though we had no photographic evidence of its existence.

Then the story took off. Those in the bar were talking The Snake, and talking it up big time. The town, always doing it tough, was buzzing.

I quickly became the trio’s manager, with Jed guiding townsfolk to The Snake, and Jethro adding help. Elmer stood protecting The Snake, ensuring that no photographs were taken (based on our previous experience).

Even as the summer midday sun beat down, townsfolk flocked to see The Snake.

The Snake, unmoved, basked in the heat, still with its head in the sand.

And then I said to the three, charge people an entrance fee. And so they put up a hessian fence around The Snake, with Jed now collecting the entrance fee, and Jethro helping. Elmer started to gain confidence and provided a brief commentary on how he found The Snake. I banked the money, taking an appropriate cut for my role of manager.

We continued to make sure that no one took photographs, announcing that if they did they could startle The Snake, and it being a wild animal, we had to think of public safety.

News spread outside our town and outsiders started to roll in. I quickly added to the accommodation at the hotel by bringing in some temporary trailers. I bought all the vacant land in town, providing it as camping facilities (at a fair fee).

The country was now abuzz. News of The Snake even made it to the White House. The President proclaimed that The Snake would make America Great Again. He was proud that The Snake came from Middle America, where all his supporters were. He would build a wall around The Snake to keep all unwanted vermin out. He would visit The Snake next winter, after he sorted out some matters.

The Snake was big! Some planes crisscrossing the nation apparently diverted a little to let people get a glimpse of The Snake. Again, although many air travelers said they saw it, there was no photographic evidence.

Our town had trebled in population and started to resemble Las Vegas with casinos, nightclubs, plenty of hookers, and so on. We started a theme park – SnakeWorld – close to The Snake.

As manager, I suggested to the three relatives that they become ‘hands-off’, and employ young people to do the work, like at McDonald’s. I was only looking out for the three, I stressed.

A huge international herpetological convention was held in town. Each of these snake experts inspected The Snake, wanting to classify it, to name it (probably after themselves). They argued, and went away still arguing.

And then it happened. All bubbles must burst. To start with, the young employees had not been vigilant. They had left an entrance door unlocked when the left at night. Next morning, when we did our rounds of inspecting The Snake’s condition and our infrastructure, we were horrified to find The Snake with numerous small incisions in its flesh. The Snake had been vandalized.

A few days later, I learnt via social media, that Chinese scientists had found that The Snake’s flesh gave men virility that they had never known before. Chinese businessmen immediately made me offers to buy The Snake and ship it back to China.

As I was weighing up offers, another catastrophe occurred.  One of the big city papers had a front page headline: ‘The Snake is Fake’. Apparently, one of the paper’s reporters had not been frisked properly by the young employees and had used her phone to photograph The Snake, with as before, no result. The paper asserted that The Snake was some sort of visual trickery, that the owners (us) were magicians – even if this was so, it would be still worth paying to see the trick.

The press descended on The Snake site, trying to get their part of what they now dubbed ‘Snakegate’. The President quickly distanced himself from the controversy, saying that in the true meaning of democracy and the American Way, people could decide for themselves about The Snake.

As manager, now a very wealthy one, I was very perturbed about the possible impact of the scandal to the revenue of my conglomerate, Snake Enterprises Inc. Elmer, as our spokesperson, fronted the media at SnakeWorld, confidently deflecting questions about the reality of The Snake. He even allowed one of the leading journalists to touch The Snake’s tail, as I did at the start of summer. The journalist confirmed that The Snake felt snaky and thus appeared real.

Just as Snakegate was abating and the first cool winds of fall swept across the landscape, one morning on our rounds, to our shock The Snake was gone, with not a trace, not even a curvy path in the sand.

I quickly called an emergency meeting with the three relatives. We need to close all The Snake facilities now, until further notice. Lay off the young employees. You three and I need to leave the country. Our bank accounts are safe in Switzerland. Leave a sign in front of the entrance saying ‘The Snake has temporarily left the house’.


It is ten years since The Snake came and went that summer.

I’m told Elmer lives a Hugh Heffner-like lifestyle on a remote Caribbean island, with scantily-clad women at his beck and call.

I’m not sure where Jed ended up or even if he’s still alive, but I’m sure Jethro followed him wherever.

As for me, I now live in China helping Chinese businessmen search worldwide for The Snake, so that they can get a piece of the action. I do this at a very healthy consultant’s fee.

As for the President, he only lasted one term in office. In the end, like The Snake, almost no one believed in him. We Chinese became great again, particularly after Russia ditched America.

And what became of SnakeWorld and our town? My wife, before she took up with a traveling salesman, messaged my secret email address to say that SnakeWorld is in ruins and the start of the President’s wall has been destroyed by anguished locals that have gone back to struggling after The Snake left. The town has dwindled back to its former self, women have left, men have returned to boozing, and The Snake’s site is now consumed by sand drifts.

Only a small group of The Snake believers hang on and have bought Elmer’s property. They have constructed a small effigy of The Snake and worship it. They say The Snake will return … one day.



Whittlin’ our life away



See me and me cousins – old Daryl and Bede,

We sat on the porch at the front of our home,

We used to laze ‘round, have a drink and a feed,

Coz we had to make sure them cows didn’t roam.


Some say folk in the sticks have so little to do,

They say we have plenty of time on our hands,

But now we are part of the active crew few,

Coz for whittlin’ we are the biggest of fans.


We started to whittle the odd gum tree stick,

Carvin’ them sticks into nothin’ much at all,

But then after a while we gave sticks the big flick,

Coz there weren’t any more on the trees to fall.


We then took to whittlin’ all the wood that we found

(I know you must think this is pretty outrageous),

And all that was left were some chips on the ground,

As whittlin’ for us was becomin’ highly contagious!


So we called for whittlin’ help from all of our relos,

(There are lots, as not much happens in them hills),

Whittlin’ was now a big job for gals and the fellows,

Coz we were sellin’ more chips than them log cuttin’ mills.


Now as we’re all whittlin’, I gets to do some thinkin’,

Started to make up a tune for all of us to know,

A song ‘bout whittlin’ that would get us all a hootin’,

Let’s call it: ‘From Big Things, Little Things Grow’!


And thought all big words could do with a whittle,

Cut them down to size, get rid of the word pith,

It would make them word books be ever so little,

For doin’ this craft, they’ll call us a ‘wordsmith’!


Back from my thoughts to our whittlin’ adventure,

There’s not much wood left as you look around,

Gone are fences, the house door and its wood floor,

And there’s none of them trees still growin’ on the ground.


Hey, we might of overdone the extent of our wood work,

May be we couldn’t see ‘the forest for the trees’,

But we’ve just heard some news that made us all smirk:

There are lots of big trees in Brazil that are free!


My Mullet



(Author’s note: To be sung to that classic ‘Achy Breaky Heart’)


Don’t shave my mullet, my lovely flowin’ mullet,

Just watch it swayin’ in the breeze,

And if you shave my mullet, my lovely flowin’ mullet,

I’ll fall down cryin’ on my knees.


You can stand and bellow that I’m not a modern fellow,

That my hair is shorter at the side,

But lookin’ at my mane that’s givin’ me my fame,

There’s no need to make it go and hide.


Now you can trash my trailer, yell it from a loud hailer,

Laugh and joke at my retro look,

But Billy Ray perfected it, why are you rejectin’ it?

I’m proud of it and will not be a sook.


I can say it’s fair that the girls just love my hair,

They stroke and fondle it like a cat,

But there’s an older dame who really adores my mane,

It’s aunt Raelene with her ciggy and her tat.


So you can look like new and grow a mullet too,

There are styles that never ever fail,

Now there‘s one with a perm, with bleach to make it firm,

Why not that trendy ratty tail?


Don’t sneer at my mullet, my lovely flowing mullet,

It’s the greatest hair-do by a mile,

And if you sneer at my mullet, my lovely flowing mullet,

It might soon come back into style!

Trump: A Sonnet


Capture 3

I’ve got one hand on the button,

The other hand on my heart,

For fame, I am such a glutton,

But trust me, I’m making a start.


Anyone annoying, I’ll surely defeat,

For me you’ll continue to be rootin’,

Just follow me, my friends, as I tweet

(I like bootscootin’ with Vladimir Putin).


And to those who think I am crazy,

Remember I’m building a wall, so tall,

We’ll be great again, not anymore hazy,

You all voted for me to stop the fall.


Back to the button, if they raise my ire,

All I can say to them is: You’re fired!




The Tour



  1. The Welcome

“Namaste, welcome to our wonderful land,

Esteemed guests, so honoured to meet you,

For everything I will be your helping hand,

Our Timeless Horizons, it is so very new.”


Our guide then asked where we heard of it,

‘Timeless Horizons’ not a name before met,

The price was good, seemed the perfect fit,

We all agreed, we’d found it on the internet.


Sunil, the tour guide, had the blackest of hair,

Tall, chocolate skin, with the whitest of teeth,

Grooming immaculate showing greatest of care,

This most striking man we felt so far beneath.


We all huddled in a small Delhi hotel room,

All of us Americans, bar the lone Englishman,

India was so foreign we could be on the moon,

But we all looked forward to this exotic land.


Getting from the airport, the traffic too scary,

Their disregard for lanes, and constant beeping,

Only for languid cows they seemed to be wary,

So many close calls had some of us weeping.


  1. Old Delhi

“Watch out,” we all cried at our fellow tourist

As a local urchin reached deep into her bag,

Wrenching it away, she displayed her big fist,

And the boy scampered off to find the next bag.


We had travelled through the historic Delhi city,

With a people mass few of us had ever seen,

The seething millions, some wanted to take pity,

Others wanted to take photos, was this being mean?


A naked man walked through the crowded street,

His penis swaying like an elephant’s trunk,

Hog’s heads on the pavement, would they eat?

Two eunuchs skulked around appearing to be drunk.


“My friends this shows our wonderful culture,”

Sunil commented as we disembarked the coach,

Overhead wheeled many a ravenous vulture,

Beady eyes decided what food they would poach.


At a mosque it happened the pick-pocket incident,

And then two of our party were late to our bus,

Where could they be? Anger we started to vent,

In time they returned saying “What was the fuss?”


  1. Agra

“How ya goin’? My name is Baz and this is Shaz,

And we are Aussies, from the Land Down Under,

And these are our mates called Johnno and Caz,

We’re on your tour, there was a booking blunder.”


We all looked stunned at the newcomer four,

Loud, brash, young, with accents so different,

So how could our tour cater for any more?

They’d be difficult to accept, we were diffident.


“Namaste,” Sunil said, but we looked dismayed,

“These people will join us, so sorry for the error,”

We grudgingly said hello, introductions were made,

To our very close-knit group they felt like terror.


To worsen matters we were struggling with fitness,

We all had ‘Delhi Belly’, even after Sunil’s warning,

With the newcomers this added to our tour sickness,

Stops had to be made for all even by mid-morning.


But the Taj Mahal distracted us, as we were in awe,

The majestic temple, one of the world’s great wonders,

We posed for a tour photo, including the new four,

For a moment we forgot all Timeless Horizons’ blunders.


  1. Rajasthan breakdown

We sidestepped the hawkers in the fort at Jaipur,

Saw women carrying loads that made us all wince,

We took photos of locals, they were so very poor!

The sun beating down did not make them flinch.


The only thing well fed were those drowsy old cows,

They dozily drifted across the very busy roads,

We drove through the desert for hours and hours,

As locals went through life in their sweaty abodes.


The Aussie four they were becoming oh so difficult,

They sat in other’s seats, no respect for routine,

What were they saying? Were they all in a cult?

They yelled, cracked jokes, causing a big scene.


And to make matters worse in Ranthambore,

As we were on safari, it was so very hot,

Just as we were photographing a tiger’s great roar,

The four jumped up and ruined our shot.


Along the road life it could not get much meaner,

The coach broke down, was it made in China?

Stopping at some place offering ‘Lunch & Deener’,

It was ironically named: ‘The Lucky Diner’.


  1. The Final Straw

Then the coach eventually started, AC kicked in,

Sunil assured us, “From now it all will be right,”

So persuasive, our worries appeared in the bin,

Plain sailing for the tour must surely be in sight.


Then it happened, in some run-down small town,

An incident to make the tour end abruptly there,

A shock to our system that made us all frown,

A worry so bad to put some grey in our hair.


As a cyclist road out, our sleepiness it ceased,

The driver swerved, we all exclaimed, “Wow!”

As our coach ploughed into the well-fed beast,

Several of us yelled “Oh no!”, and “Holy Cow!”


  1. Epilogue

“Oh Harry, ‘Tour Disasters 1’ it rated so well,”

“Good to hear Art, and the network will do 2,

We put that group through the worst of hell,

They didn’t have an idea that all was not true.”


“See some of their issues we certainly orchestrated:

The Aussie intruders, they threatened their order,

But we didn’t do the pick-pocket, their tour was fated,

Delhi Belly played a big part like a foreign marauder.”


“And the slick Sunil is an actor from Bollywood,

What’s his stage name? I think it is Sunny Roy,

Next time, we will get a big name from Hollywood,

An actor more out there, Sunny was a little coy.”


“The company ‘Timeless Horizons’, it was a big fake,

We’ll have to think up a new name, that one’s used,

And we’ll need a new story line to seal their fate,

And we also have some new passengers to choose.”


“But the tour ending it certainly was not scripted,

The coach was supposed to swerve, miss the rider,

When the driver hit the cow, that wasn’t pictured,

He wouldn’t go on, thought the road was wider.”


“Even though we had to cut the very last episode,

Our executives, well they had a very good feel,

Though there was a dead cow lying on the road,

The ratings were so high, it was all so very real.”


Run Faster, Master


2016 JP Morgan CC

We’re off in this race for the Masters –

‘Masters’ sounds dignified, read old;

Which of these codgers will run fastest?

There’s some ‘gun’ in the field I’m told.


We’ve lined up at the start with head bands,

Dicky knees, arthritis and that condition;

We’ve done our stretches and flexed hands,

Like a Richard Simmons’ video rendition.


Now loping along at no fast rate,

Like slow mo in that Chariots flick;

We’re building up a sideways gait –

The winner is so hard to pick.


Over there, that guy is the Prancer:

Lifts his legs like a hackney horse;

He should become a ballet dancer –

I wonder if he’ll finish the course.


And right next to me is the Shuffler –

Thought he was that old Cliffy Young;

Sounds like he needs a new muffler –

If he wins I’ll be biting my tongue.


And just up in front is the Treadmill:

So adept at running on the spot;

Heard he’s been taking a blue pill

To have a long stay in the cot.


Oh, I’ve lapsed into a runner’s daze;

Dream of getting physical with Olivia!

Her head band and lycra still amaze –

Why is that look so destined for trivia?


Now a flashback to my running start:

My mother felt I was taking it too far;

Thought running would enlarge my heart –

But Phar Lap with a big heart was a star?


Awake; ‘the gun’ fires away from the field –

Wonder how he’s got into great shape?

He’s shown the rest a clean pair of heels

As he sprints through the finishing tape.


And the rest of us amble to the line,

Puffing, wheezing, finding our breath;

Good news: no one keeled over this time,

As we’re running away from our death.


Real Life



I’ve climbed the highest mountain,

Dived down in the deepest sea,

Run with bulls around a fountain,

Swung like Tarzan from a tree.


I’ve jammed with Bono and Bieber,

Done recitals of Liszt and Mozart,

Gave sermons to many a believer,

Like Picasso, painted new age art.


I’ve done the big stunts of Kneivel,

Starred in many a Broadway show,

Fought in the UFC some call evil,

Won the grand slam twice in a row.


So take it from me this is all true

As I’ve lived it all through YouTube.


The Pizza Man



My wind was a torrent of darkness inside my hungry gut,

My face was a ghastly turquoise: I’d been really in a rut,

My order had been misplaced when I’d phoned an hour before,

And the pizza man came running-


The pizza man came running, up to my open door.


He had a large case under his armpit; a look of concern on his face,

I had a mouth that was drooling like a hound that just won a race,

I waited with great anticipation as I paid the man the bill,

And how I longed for that Hawaiian Pizza,

That juicy Hawaiian Pizza,

Oh no, it’s a Meat Lovers; hey, but I’ll still eat my fill!


(Author’s note: Apologies to Alfred J. Noyes for the take on his poem ‘The Highwayman’)

Gulf War: a poem




It was the morning 5.44 if I do recall,

All were trying to sleep for the long haul,

The train rocking gently from side to side,

Like a lilting lullaby to cope with the ride.


The train was the domain of the old male,

Relic body odour making it smell stale,

The odd lady amongst the testosterone,

Fragrant roses improved the dank tone.


The men divided by how they did dress,

It was plain to see, no chance to digress,

Some donned bright fluro seen from a mile,

The rest were decked out in business attire.


This chasm cut deep into the land’s history,

Blue collar versus white was the big story,

What these two did for work had to be noted,

As it even decided how each of them voted!


Blue singlets now replaced by high vis vests

For tradesmen with tough hands and strong chests,

Yellow and orange the garb of these herculeans,

They stood out in the train like bright beacons.


This the quiet carriage, no noise could be made,

Sound violation and death stares would be paid,

And patrons wanted the same seats, own spaces,

A pecking order of sorts, they knew their places.


The scene now set for the conflict that ensued,

Let’s get on with the story without further ado,

We must keep this train poem on the right track,

It was starting to wander, to take another tack.


On the right of the aisle sat the tradie in yellow,

Unshaven, he looked like a gruff kind of fellow,

Squat build, middle-aged, tattoos on his forearms,

Callouses could be seen on the both of his palms.


On the left of the aisle sat the professional man,

Slim build, bespectacled, with a slight ruddy tan,

He was typing big words, jargon like ‘resultant’,

Might be a banker, lawyer … or even a consultant!


The tradie he had a cooling box called an esky,

Emblazoned in our flag it was not very sexy,

To all wishing to alight it was a stumbling block,

As it sat part way in the aisle like a massive rock.


Now on the day in question the tradie was snoring,

Sounding like a lion on the plain that was roaring,

In the quiet carriage this noise it was most foreign,

To many awoken you could say it was abhorrent.


It must have been a day the consultant was uptight,

An intense look like he had been given a big fright,

Turning to the tradie, he glowered and nudged him,

Would the tradie accept he had committed a big sin?


The tradie he stirred and glanced across the void,

Upset by the awakening he seemed to be buoyed,

“Can’t a bloke get his sleep, is that too much to ask?

If you ever do it again, be sure I’ll break your arse.”


The consultant ignored the rant, he’d made his mark,

He went back to his typing oblivious of the nark,

But for every day as he alighted from his ride,

He felt the esky of the tradie bump on his side.


Next day, the esky upturned, contents in the aisle,

The tradie fuming, face red, looking very vile,

Then he yelled, “For that mate you’re going down!”

All the patrons shocked said “Please quieten down.”


The consultant responded saying “It wasn’t me,”

The tradie retorted with “Who else could it be?”

“I’ve got to get off the train now,” he went on,

“Better not be here tomorrow or you’re gone!”


Would the consultant return? It had to be seen,

The tradie looking around, appearing real mean,

No consultant, no one this day sitting in his seat,

The void was there, and I cheerfully took his seat.