She soon became an essential tool in the detection & deportation of every illegal immigrant in Paris or its environs. She adopted a very pragmatic approach & drew up lengthy lists. Once this had been done she turned her attention to welfare scroungers. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019
She says it’s easy as running or reading
or baking a cake or simple subtractions.
Thinks herself great, glorious & demands
the necessary flattery, attention & devotion.
During recent years of austerity she spent time
making lists of people she suspected as
working while receiving benefit & those
walking who were supposedly incapable
& stuck in a wheelchair. The names
on the list were often prompted by hatred
& envy. If you crossed her she’ll hunt
you down even if you were disguised
as a wave or hidden as a stone. She gave
the authorities so many names that after
a few months they tried to persuade her
to calm down a bit but to no avail. At this
she stamped her feet & shouted
the now notorious sentence
Si vous ne m’obeissez pas, je piss!’
(If you don’t do what I want, I will piss!)
© Rodney Wood
THE RAT WOMAN
At the sight of this gruesome apparition, her victim – sweating & trembling with fear, & searching for a way out of the darkness – will enter the final phase of life. One glance from her and you stop breathing, your muscles slacken & you beg forgiveness. There are precious few who live to tell the tale of an encounter with her. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019
The cursed old hag with craggy grey hair,
bare legs nibbled by huge rats that chirp
while swarming & fighting. In the early hours
when I lie on my back my brain & body
are out of sync. Muscles can’t move
& I’m going to die. I hear a woman laughing,
smell her evil, feel Peine forte et dure,
a crushing weight on my chest. She rakes
her hand over my face, sighs with evil while
her pets are waiting to eat me alive. Already
they can taste what lies beneath the duvet.
Red eyes bore into me like a blow torch.
I want to escape but can’t. She’s stealing
my breath, gets heavier & heavier. I can’t
take any more & life fades into the shadows.
© Rodney Wood
THE KNIFE-GRINDER OF WEXFORD
His years of experience meant that he had perfected the art of sharpening such that he was much in demand. Hence the story went round that one could cut the legs off a horse in a single blow. As he sharpened knives he always whistled the same tune. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019
The Knife-Grinder was well known, respected
& had such a noble, Shelly-like countenance,
that no one could believe he might possibly be
a murderer. He wrote of peace, cared about life
& what it meant. No one knew he lived a double live.
He was usually distracted. Always tapping fingers
to the rhythm of his verses on a wall, table,
steering wheel, even on the book he carried.
Always whistling Kurt Weill’s Mack The Knife.
At night the Knife-Grinder wandered dark streets
in search of blood. His victims were always attacked
& killed with a skewer pushed from one eardrum
to the other. It was only when an old woman,
who was out looking for her wise owl, heard
that familiar tapping & whistling of Mack The Knife
before one of the murders, that people & police
began to suspect but the Knife-Grinder disappeared
& the murders stopped. Some say he went to the USA
where he made his fortune, someone spotted him
riding a bicycle on a roundabout Oxford while others
say he committed suicide. Whatever happened people
still make the sound of a poet tapping fingers
to the rhythm of their verses & whistling Mack The Knife
to scare children from the practice of versification & metrics.
© Rodney Wood
ROCCO SWENTY DI MALAGA
He is rumoured to be a murder who constantly adopts different guises. He seen near a place where a couple were burnt alive. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019
Every year, Rocco Di Napoli, a ventriloquist,
appears in the smaller towns & villages of Surrey.
In winter, especially during the run-up to Christmas,
when nights are cold & foggy, he takes his place
in front of shopping centres & tells grisly tales
with his scary companion, an ancient doll.
Nothing is known about Rocco Swenty himself.
It is said that his frightening tales are based on
real-life events as it’s rumoured he’s a murderer
who can travel through time, which explains
his ability to appear & disappear at will.
Last week a crowd erupted from “Carluccio’s”
in the town of Woking & for a lark some of the lads
grabbed the doll & threw it in the air. Rocco caught it
& shouted to the revellers Just for that I’ll kill you all.
The doll roared with laughter as Rocco Swenty turned
into a giant & stamped on their soft bodies until guts
oozed out like ricotta & spinach from a tube of cannelloni.
© Rodney Wood
The Koch family had to flee after the war. After many wandering she opened a cafe called ‘In the Old Pot’. Mondo Cane, Visitors Guide, 2019
Walking back from the pub late at night
with other never-would-be writers I heard
Ilse shout, from outside ‘In the Old Pot’,
I’m just going for a quick screw.
Morning & I saw Ilse again. Her hands
were snakes writhing round her lover’s
fingers & she was thinking no one knew
their secret. It was touching & sad.
A few years later I saw her again
& mentioned how moved I was by this
display of affection outside ‘In the Old Pot’.
Ilse said, You must have been seeing things,
before talking to the person behind me.
It must have been someone else I saw,
another drunk, sexy & reckless Ilse, an Ilse
who’d be dead by the time I write this down.
© Rodney Wood