On sunny summer evenings
You'll see Martin in the park
With his little robot duck
Who can quack, meow and bark.
The duck likes milk and honey
Even though he doesn't need them.
Martin has no choice
But to buy the food and feed him.
Something has been hard-wired
In its electronic head
To make it want some milk
And some honey, but not bread.
But Martin's food's not wasted
On his small robotic friend.
All the milk and honey
Will come out the other end.
The robot duck releases them
Into two plastic bowls
By opening two doors that block
Two well-concealed steel holes.
Martin's always looking out
For ways to save his money.
That's why he drinks the milk
And he eats excreted honey.
He says they taste just fine,
Though some think it's obscene.
He makes the duck drink water
Just to keep the passage clean.
The robot duck has feathers
But his two webbed feet have no toes.
He's got photographic eyes.
He's always taking photos
Of Martin in the shower.
This tendency is odd.
No one else would look at him
Without clothes. Even God
Would wish he couldn't see all.
The duck can look for hours.
But Martin doesn't mind because
He hardly ever showers.
The robot duck had never
Felt a need to go away
Till he met a duck from France
Who wore a small beret.
Since then he's thought of travel
But he's got a fear of flight.
He thinks all planes are drunk
And that in the air they fight.
Martin can't trust pilots
Since he saw one steal a flute,
And laugh just like a madman
As he ran off with his loot.
So Martin and his duck
Stay at home throughout the year.
Neither minds admitting
They are grounded by their fear.
Martin's brother, Roger,
Likes to travel far and wide.
His letters come with photos
And they make a useful guide
To a strange, exotic jungle
Or a small unstable state.
Martin and his duck
Use these guides to help create
The atmosphere and ambience
Of places Roger's been.
They use some props and costumes
Just to help them set the scene.
So if you see them wearing
Alpine hats that have a feather
And leather Lederhosen
In the coldest winter weather,
Don't think the brains of Martin
And his robot duck have gone.
It's only mental travel.
Nothing funny's going on.
Clare thinks there's nothing at all left to say.
She's holding some bread in a threatening way.
I hope she remembers that she has a choice,
And that she will listen to this good advice:
Tears will soon flow and emotions will rise.
Friends will avoid looking you in the eyes.
Mice will refuse to eat cheese from your traps.
Your storm-force seduction won't turn on the chaps.
Dark soundtrack music will sum up your life.
At family dinners you won't get a knife.
You might get a small plastic spoon and a fork,
A weapon that's been rendered safe with a cork.
People will say that the flies often die
When they're close to you, and small children cry.
When you enter pubs, others will exit
As quick as a runaway prisoner legs it,
Tracked down by dogs who like leg bones to chew,
Who'd hide in the woods if they had to chase you.
Bands will play quicker to finish their set,
Even the ones who are darker than death.
Ladies whose job is to grow a thick beard
And their circus friends will all think that you're weird.
You'll be shunned by friends and by animals too
And even the Z-list celebrities who
Will do anything on reality shows,
Where they allow creatures to crawl up their nose.
Hobos will treat you as if you're unholy.
So put the bread down and just walk away slowly.
Howard spends evenings delivering orders
At models of battles once fought over borders.
The stars of past wars appear in his daydreams.
They treasure his brilliant escapes and his schemes.
Admiral Nelson admires his swift mind.
Napoleon says, "We are one of a kind."
Monty consults him on matters of stealth.
Rommel will raise a wine glass to his health.
But soon they get bored of his war fantasies.
Their compliments cease and they don't want to please
The daydreams' director. This breakaway faction
Insist that he drops them from his mental action.
Howard refuses. He tells them they're trapped.
They're prisoners now and their future is mapped.
They'll stay in his mind and they'll gladly take part
In make-believe battles where death is the art.
The military men are unhappy with him.
They tell him his future is sure to be grim.
That night in a dream they are smiling with menace.
Their armies will soon use his head to play tennis.
Nelson, Napoleon, Monty and Rommel
Use soldiers on camels. He tells them his mom'll
Chase them away with a black frying pan,
But she's on a camel and so is his gran.
They chase him through deserts. He gets to the sea.
He sees an old ship and a good chance to flee.
But all of its cannon are aimed at his head.
Before they destroy him he wakes up in bed.
He can't sleep again. He fears this nightmare.
It's worse than the one with the drunk Yogi Bear.
Yogi was violent. He broke a pint glass,
And cried uncontrollably at Christmas mass.
Later that morning he goes to see Joan,
Who lives by herself but she's never alone.
She has mental actors performing her plays,
As well as some critics who only give praise.
But sometimes in dreams all the actors unite.
They write their own lines and they frequently fight.
The critics will damn her with scathing reviews
Of her writing skills and her favourite shoes.
To make sure her actors and critics remain
On their best behaviour at night in her brain
She tries to bring beauty to her waking hours.
She talks to the birds and she listens to flowers.
That's why she takes Howard to meet with her friends
Who have conversations each day with the winds.
They sit around fires and they sing about peace.
Their pets include chickens and pumpkins and geese.
When Howard is there they are hugging a bee.
They take off their clothes and sing songs to a tree
Where they've made a swing with some rope and a tyre.
They fly paper fighter planes into a fire.
At night in his dreams the attack recommences,
And this time he's trapped behind sharp barb wire fences.
All he has left is a blunt rusty blade,
But thousands of hippies now come to his aid.
Each time they shoot at their foe they say 'oops'.
Their huge paper planes carry hundreds of troops.
The flag of surrender is soon waved by Nelson,
And everyone dances just like Boris Yeltsin.
Sometimes time goes quickly
And sometimes it's as slow
As a snail who's frail and sickly
When he's feeling very low.
I make the snail go quicker.
I prod his brittle shell
By drinking homemade liquor
That smells like the snail's hair gel.
It roots me to the spot
And I tell the snail some tales
Of fights and getting shot
When I hunted hairy whales.