Linda Lynx
                             Michael Shenton

There was a dark period in my life when, thanks to depression and its siblings, I was more or less cut off from the world.  This was long before depression became fashionable, so I couldn’t sell my story to the papers.  Verse was my only way of reaching out and communicating with my fellow man.  I wrote humour mainly - laughter from the abyss - and got a lot of positive feedback.  Below is a small selection from the 150 or so items that have found their way into print over the years.  There is an excerpt from my ill-fated songwriting career too, for which I apologise in advance.

     In the verse below, Little Lizzie Lizard represents a girl I once fancied.  She wasn’t all that keen on me unfortunately, hence she draws the Two of Cups (a card of love) and quickly puts it back.  As for the rest, the hidden meanings are too obscure for even me to fathom after all this time (20 years). 

Halloween Dream

Little Lizzie Lizard with her tarot card pack
Drew the Two of Cups and quickly put it back.
She said, ‘Now, what I’m after is the cup that cheers.’
The Knave of Cups yelled ‘Hip-hooray!’ three times into her ears.
The Six of Swords sprang from the pack and sliced the Knave in two.
‘I’ll join you in a drink!’ laughed he and went to get the glue.
‘Of course,’ cried Liz, ‘it’s Halloween, let’s have some celebrations.’
She built a house of cards and conjured up her close relations.

Robert Rat reclined upon the organ by the door,
Played sixteen successive songs and then played a score. 
A pair of dancing quavers quivered quietly round the room,
Waltzed across the keyboard and swept out with the broom.

Grandpa Ghoul glued on his head and said ‘Now look alive!
I’ll resurrect some oldies so that we can twist and jive.’
Peter Poltergeist put in: ‘The idea sounds just fine.’
He threw a picture off the wall and raised a glass of wine.

Wilhelmina Witch wailed, ‘Halt!  Let’s all stop for a spell.’
She waved her magic wand and said, ‘I do this rather well.
Hubble Bubble, shave my stubble ...’ she chanted on and on.
A sudden airy flourish, and lo - her wand was gone! 

Charlie Cockerel crowed aloud: ‘Your error is plain to see. 
I saw this selfsame trick last night on a show on my TV.’
He flapped his wings.  ‘It goes like this,’ he said and narrowed his eyes.
A clunk was heard.  ‘I’ve laid an egg!’ said Charlie with surprise. 

‘Enough of this!’ bawled Barney Bat.  ‘Forget the cabaret.
Let’s save this Tommy Cooper act until another day.
Let’s have a bite, let’s drink our fill before the mood goes sour.’
‘No!’ snapped Wilhelmina, ‘for it is the witching hour.’

So Batty Barney bit her back and then bit it again. 
She raised her broom and cursed: ‘Henceforth you’ll thirst for blood in vein.’
But just as Barney’s fate seemed sealed Little Lizzie saved the day.
She said, ‘The party’s over, folks,’ and packed her cards away.

                                                                                                          -  MWS


I wrote this one for the Daily Mail a while ago after reading about a butterfly that had been modified with a jellyfish gene to make its eyes glow.

                           Beak Freak

   The bird was the strangest thing I’d seen.
   Its beak glowed a bright fluorescent green.
   ‘That beak,’ I said, ‘seems fishy to me,
   Like something you’d find deep under the sea.’

   My scientist friend was beaming with joy.
   ‘You’re right,’ he declared. ‘That’s our new toy.
   We slaved until we were almost deranged
   To see how a woodpecker might be changed.
   We nearly failed, but I’m glad to say
   A gene from a jellyfish saved the day.
   Now we’ve created a genuine freak -
   A bird equipped with a green glowing beak.
   Why? Well, er ... because we could,
   And if we didn’t, there’s others who would.
   It’s quite a feather to have in our cap,
   Doing this first, without a mishap.’

   I asked, ‘Are you sure you’ve thought this through?
   Suppose it escapes and breeds, as they do?’
   He said, ‘Not a chance, but hey, what a lark -
   All those beaks glowing in the dark!’
   ‘But jellyfish sting,’ I said, ‘and kill;
   Can you be sure this bird never will?
   Fools rush in and when they do
   They often land in an awful stew.
   Take those horses you thought one day
   Would end congestion on the motorway.
   A gene from an eagle gave them flight
   And it seemed at first that you’d got things right,
   But now of course we’re never sure
   If it’s going to rain water or horse manure.’

   ‘Ah yes.’ He nodded. ‘I beg your pardon.
   But look on the bright side - it’s good for the garden.
   As for the woodpecker, take it from me
   Our lab’s got the finest security.
   Our record with birds is second to none.
   That creature will never ... cripes, where’s it gone?’

                                                              - MWS

This was how I discovered that immortalising a woman’s nose in verse is not a surefire way to her heart.  The sonnet, complete with my lovingly drawn cartoon, was published in a national magazine called Revue, which was very popular at the time.  Far from falling into my arms, the lady in question never spoke to me again.  Aren’t women strange?  I mean, this was a tremendous compliment for what was not really a very outstanding nose at all. 

Heaven Nose

In all the world there is no nicer nose
Than that which nature set upon your face;
Although it does not look quite like a rose,
It has the selfsame loveliness and grace.
Its sharp, majestic outlines form a shape
Which brings to mind a trophy or a prize
Befitting of the fine, exquisite grape
That put the champagne sparkle in your eyes.
The bridge it is a pathway of mystique
Which leads towards the intrigue of your mind.
The nostrils, which oft flute and flare with pique,
Are truly of the most expressive kind.
Your nose lacks naught its beauty to increase -
No wonder it’s your face’s centrepiece!

                                                             -  MWS

Cartoon of girl with large nose.

This one did very well on GOT, BT’s literary website. It went to No.1 in the chart three times and gathered many enthusiastic comments.

Cartoon: Mr Carrot

                           I Said to My Tomatoes          

I said to my tomatoes when I got home from the shops,
'An awful lot of tosh is talked about these GM crops.
I mean, it's clear enough to see they're better than the rest.
The fact that they have arms and legs ... it's truly for the best.
No longer when out shopping do I need to use a trolley:
The fruit and veg just follow me - it's really rather jolly.
I pay the bill, we leave the store, they line up at my feet
And sing a cheery song as we all conga down the street.'

Then turning to my carrot, which had just walked through the door,
I said, 'This Irish stew of yours is looking rather poor.
It hasn't got a single pea or spud to call its own
And of the meat it is bereft - it's just a water clone.
I think it's quite a hoot that you should ask to cook the dinner,
But what you're cooking here, my friend, is not a likely winner. 

'But Mr Carrot, what's that knife you have there in your hand?
And what's that nasty look upon your face which once was bland?  
You want me in - what's that you say? - you want me in the pan? 
I can't believe ... ouch, ow, gerroff!  Now look here - I'm a man!
Mankind's the eater, you're the eats; reversed it is a sin, 
So just put down that knife and - ouch!  All right, I'm getting in!'

                                                                      -  MWS

MP3 Anyone? 

And now for something completely different: a demo of one of my songs - Macho Girl - which I paid for out of a £500 competition prize (to win this I had to say what I’d do with the money, so I said I’d make a demo of my song ‘You Can’t Rock ‘n’ Roll in Bournemouth’, and move to London to seek my fortune in the music business.  In the event I opted for the Macho Girl demo, and spent the rest of the cash on enough malt bread to fill a Ford Sierra.  If you’re wondering why anyone would want to fill a Ford Sierra with malt bread, see Be a Winner).
      I entered Macho Girl in the Castlebar Song Contest and the Isle of Wight Song Festival. I don’t know how I had the nerve.
     The MP3 version given here is ultra lo-fi, due to the fact that I possess no sophisticated audio gear and had to use a battery-operated mono cassette player to transfer the studio-made demo to the computer.   I then compressed the living daylights out of it to make it load faster.  None of this will detract from your listening pleasure, however, because the song is performed in a deliberately old-fashioned ‘megaphone voice’, and the effect is actually improved by the low-tech sound.

Macho Girl - MP3

Click on the icon above to hear Macho Girl (MP3 - 693k).  Don’t ask me who the singer is - I’ve no idea.
    My own singing career, which took off after I made a brief appearance on local radio crooning another of my songs, came to a premature end when the police moved me on

Cartoon: Man busking while woman behind him covers her ears.

Finally ...

I wrote this one for Writing Magazine in respose to the BBC’s Poem for Britain competition in 2003.  The purpose of the contest was to find a verse to replace William Blake’s New Jerusalem.  No small task, but the prize for the winner was a dollop of fleeting glory and nothing else.  Poets are well used to not getting paid for their work, of course, but it should be different when they win an important national competition.  And it wasn’t as if the Beeb couldn’t afford it.  Mean sods.

Stiff Competition - the novel

    The New Jerusalem for Poets

And were those teeth in ancient times
Forced to graze on grasses green?
And was the tasty lamb or cod
Not on poets’ menus seen?

And did the BBC divine
Reach forth and close its bulging tills
And leave the poet starving here
With naught to pay his grocer’s bills?

Bring me my bowl of steaming soup.
Bring me the bread rolls I desire.
Bring me my fork: O chefs regroup!
Make me a vindaloo like fire. 

I will not shrink from grill or stove,
Nor shall the saucepan be unmanned
Till we have put a decent meal
In every hungry poet’s hand.

                                          - MWS

Romantic Poetry by Michael Shenton

© Michael Shenton

Stiff Competition - the novel



Comps Novel

Be a Winner


Writing Comps

Treasure Hunt