Jolly Roger

'Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name. But what's troubling you is the nature of my game...' The Devil has had many names throughout history - Lucifer, Beelzebub, Old Nick. These days he likes to call himself Roger. Jolly Roger is an epic series of 12-line stanzas, written to accompany Hans Holbein's sixteenth-century woodcuts, The Dance of Death. From Genesis to the Last Judgment, all are brought low by Roger - the Great and the Good, the rich and the poor. He hides in speak-your-weight machines, NATO bombing missions and a bag of Semtex. He is a political survivor, a pornographer and a merchant banker; a democrat, a Humanist and the enemy of humanity. Ribald, ironic and irreverent, he hands out justice, denounces greed and the abuses of power in an age where Death is a statistic and everyone gets rogered. Strictly Come Dancing meets Horace McCoy.

Sample Poems

The Creation

'... one of those early Eden shots. I was still
inside Adam till the Boss cracked his rib.
I was there with Eve, bloody cramped until
he dragged her out and promised me a job.
I asked who put the cross on his hat.
'The son of Man' he said. 'Another problem child'
I didn't ask if he wanted Eve for that.
Eden was good. Then the Boss said it was spoiled
by that pair grunting their bit of fun,
squelching their new knowledge under a tree.
But the snake knew the score and pretty soon
the Boss proposed this killing job for me ...'

The Temptation

'Be careful. I watched a box. Mick Jagger
fish-mouthed slow motion on a stage. John Lennon,
in bed with Yoko, played tinpot philosopher
between the sheets. Think what you're doing. The moon
got walked on. Tits slopped from brassieres. A bomb
exploded in Belfast. If I were you....Woodstock
sparked futile hopes and something called Je t'aime
pouted and wriggled in air. Somebody took
a trip on LSD and something rotten
sullied Saigon while cameras stroked the thighs
of nubile girls in nineteen sixty nine......
Can you guess why I'm telling you this?'

The King

'You say, a smell of coke, Your Majesty?
Maybe your future in the royal nostrils?
You will smell coke - but that's another country.
Let's drink to what awaits you. Roger's grail cradles
a cash religion's blood. Anthems will eulogise
its potency in hostelries' mirrors
and money's transubstantiations praise
its liquid magic. The incense in your universe
can't yet be coke but a draught's intemperance
of this predictive ichor may evoke
the future's reek. My chalice holds the essence
of money's eucharist. Sire, have a Coke.'


'The moments of fierceness and the moments of humour are well balanced... impressive'


'an entertaining book full of witty cultural references... it sets in train questions of how evil, like death, haunts our days.'

Mistress Quickly's Bed

'authoritative, colloquial, punning, arch, and cruel.'

Critical Survey

'bravura verse, as powerfully compact as a blob of semtex... an accomplished and philosophically sharp collection.'

The Recusant