Neubooterdammerung, 15: Mandy Macdonald

The Famous Birdwatcher Visits Aberdeen

Look over there! Yellow earth-movers, a pair –
Feeding on shattered concrete, splintered glass!
See how elegantly they swan their metal necks,

how gracefully they dip their steel heads
to scoop up a particularly tasty morsel –
a crunchy wooden panel, a chunky joist,  

some new vinyl flooring, only just laid down.
Fortunately, they’re not endangered – far from it,
they’re multiplying here since the downturn

attracted them to these new nesting grounds
among the blighted office blocks, the vacant hotels
soon to be sacrificed to false efficiency. We’re finding

more and more breeding pairs: they graze
on the outskirts, among the demolition sites,
their steampunk dirge a groan of pistons,

rattle of tracks, grinding and flattening, unmaking.
But for the racket, their dance would be as eerie
as a Vettriano waltz in those empty open-plans.

Oh look, look now, they’re spinning round!
Circling in a courtship dance, offering each other
bucketloads of economic carrion!

They mate for life, you know.


Neubooterdammerung, 14: Sophie Herxheimer

Really, Who is in Charge Here?

Once a cabbage
was declared null and void
by a fly
who was the arbiter
of all things vegetable

Hang on
said the cauliflower
I know that cabbage
and can vouch
for its authenticity

this made the fly jump
he’d not heard a cauliflower
speak before
it got right on his nerves

once back in the office
his superior, a horse,
made him write a letter
to both vegetables

It was an apology
in green ink
and validated
the voices of previously
unheard brassicas

unfortunately before
the letter got sent
the fly got stuck
to a strip of sellotape

he is suspended there still
emitting a death whine
that spirals
through eternity.

Neubooterdammerung, 13: Myfanwy Fox

Why Calliphoridae Vote Alt-Right

Things have changed for the worse.

Bring on Brexit! Penicillin shortages, insulin scarcity and vaccine lack. We want our old diseases back in action.

My great-great-great – keep great-ing for three-thousand wing-beats – grandmama founded our fecundity in rancid entrails on Flanders Fields. Her great-great-great grandson hitched a pupal ride to Portsmouth in a gangrenous thigh when the Spanish flu offered prospects.

Too many foreigners now – cleaners, hospital orderlies, bin persons-of-either-or-any-fucking-gender, medical research scientists, pest control erectors of ultra-violent blue death traps.

Keep calm and carrion, as my mam said. She had an air-Raid warning system; a scatter of ommatidia focussed on that under-sink bunker anytime she sucked gravy from a still-hot hob.

Health and safety be bug-ridden.

Plus plastics should be banned: wheelie bins, nappy sacks, poop-scoop doggy bags, body bags – all abhorrent to any right-thinking insect.

N’ere a smear of blood left at crime scenes. If only it was up to us – we’d clean-up this country, back to bare bones, true to our maggot heroes.

What do we want? More austerity!

Cut the council budget: let refuse overflow.

Slash environmental laws: fly-tip us toxic hospital waste on wastelands.

Scroungers should be allowed to die peacefully alone, as the geopolitical elite intend couldn’t give a rat’s arse, not allowed to limp along until buried under patronising bureaucracy.

Let’s hear it for climate change and refugees fleeing unnecessary conflicts; a buzz of news soon forgotten around corpses washed-up on our beaches.

Let’s foment some conflict here and now: blood or glory!

Guess what gets our blowfly antennae twitching.


Neubooterdammerung, 12: Ruth Aylett

The Last Spitfire


In their persuasive speeches the past

has that cheerful  bounce

of music-while-you-work, the taste of

NHS orange juice and digestives,

(not cod liver oil and powdered egg),

offers you a seat on the red plush

of the BBC Coronation commentary,

with all that possessive pink on the map,

and the Few, flying with or without their legs.


‘Here are the controls’ they say, ‘off you go,

on your own, as they were too. But watch out

for bogies diving down from the sun:

here’s your trigger, a rattle or two

and they’ll be gone.’ Which seems good,

until the air begins to feel empty,

minus film certainties, the plane rolls;

why is navigation so difficult?

How does anyone know where to go?

Looping the loop of nostalgia

makes the ground rush up so fast.

Spectators are scattering, screaming.

Tell us what to do next…

Neubooterdammerung, 11: Beth McDonough

From Tayport, Unmooring

Wade out to remains of less-dredged days,
suck-foot muddy time in the Tay’s vast ebb.
Reach for one belief of dry, just hinting green.
Ankle into damp flats by trans-shipped banks,
dropped deposits and deep dug needs.
Uncover hauls once cribbed from Perth.
Think nothing glacial of that transaction.
This is manufactured land, quick-built
in component pebbles, spread, made flat.
Once rendered fit for salmon nets. Long gone.
Now find a site where tenacious mussels squat.
They, in turn, appease peckish eider appetites.
A mile away, on the Ferry’s esplanade,
ask a dozen watchers what they believe.
Learn what they rarely dare to dredge of this isle.

Neubooterdammerung, 10: Nick Allen

the future manifests as three dead whales at Skegness

who read the runes so wrong   what manner
of malfunction   how far out of kilter
were the magnets to leave us stranded   landed

like a bad bet   a thing beyond repair
this no through road   this blunt dead end
so recently smoke and promises

now a suppurating mass to be covered
over   left to rot on this recalcitrant land
walk away   the stench is overwhelming

Neubooterdammerung, 9: Judi Sutherland

Wearside Lullaby

The people of Sunderland have been making Brexit
for thirty years. On an abandoned airfield from the War
they built a factory for Brexit. It is haunted by the ghosts
of fallen airmen, who walk, goggled and helmeted,
among the robot-assisted assembly lines of Brexit.

Many of the workforce are proud to drive a Brexit.
They know the ones they built themselves, each one custom made,
every colour, trim, and engine size of Brexit. Just in time
they build them, the sub-assemblies trucked in hour by hour,
bolting on the headlamps and the hubcaps of Brexit.

Every household knows it depends on Brexit;
the component-makers’ families know it too.
They will not bite the hand that feeds them. They know that Brexit
has transformed this run-down town. From Port of Tyne
a fleet of ro-ro ferries exports shining rows of Brexit.

What would Sunderland be, if not for Brexit?
All the young people hope it will furnish their careers –
apart from the ones who try out for the football team.
There’s seven thousand jobs for life; five shifts and office work.
So many dreams and aspirations all tied up with Brexit.

The people don’t believe in the end of Brexit.
It is their meat and drink, their mortgages and clothes.
Look at all the investment the Brexiters have made!
That proves the commitment to this town from Brexit.
We live the life we want, and we choose Brexit.