Poetry that Makes You Smile

By Rhys Hughes


 The Pedlar on the Roof
 On the roof
 across the way
 a man is perched
 like a hawk
 hawking his wares
 without any care
 for his safety.
 Where does he think
 his customers
 will come from?
 He is selling bicycles
 high up there
 and daring those
 below to try them out
 with a shout
 that is like the squeal
 of rusty brakes.
 “These bikes are real,
 not fakes!”
 He has won me over
 with his words
 and over I cross
 from my roof to his
 on the tightrope
 of the washing line.
 The loss of
 coins jangling
 in my pocket
 and notes folded
 in my wallet
 is no big deal
 when in exchange
 I receive
 a sturdy frame
 on two wheels
 that I can ride.
 The transaction is made
 and back along
 the perilous line
 I now promenade
 with the bicycle
 on my shoulder.
 If I was bolder I might
 trundle across
 like a circus acrobat
 but the risk is too great.
 Back on my roof
 I mount the saddle
 and set off on a journey
 entirely in tight
 circles: how divine!
 I ring my bell
 to express my delight
 to the man
 who sells these things.
 He is a pedlar on his roof.
 I am a pedaller on mine.
 Robotson Crusoe
 There was a robot named Crusoe
 who belonged to the crew of a cruise ship.
 He scrubbed down the decks
 and cleaned all the cabins
 until he was unfortunately shipwrecked.
 A dreadful storm bashed a hole
 in the hull and into the sea he was hurled
 but because he mostly had air
 in his head he floated quite well for several
 days until he washed up on an island.
 A totally deserted island.
 Robotson Crusoe was lonely and sad
 but decided to do the best that he could
 like a dutiful mechanical lad.
 He made some trousers and also a shirt
 from the biggest leaves on the trees
 and though for his dinner
 he usually ate bolts (rusty bolts)
 he made do with nuts (coconuts)
 and grew somewhat thinner,
 and though he liked hotels he lived in a hut.
 He was onto a winner but…
 One morning he found a footprint
 in the sand that belonged not to himself.
 Had someone else been stranded?
 He searched the island and found an android
 who called himself Diode Defoe.
 The stranger explained, “I fell from a plane
 while I was cleaning the wings.
 I fumbled and tumbled and plunged through
 the clouds and after landing I shouted
 aloud but no one came to my aid
 but I feel fine because I’m very well made.”
 Robotson Crusoe bade him welcome
 and they soon became best friends,
 two cybernetic maroons mentally
 in tune, for there was plenty of room
 on the island, that totally and utterly
 and not very subtly remote and pristine
 island. And boom! the waves crashed
 down on the beach and they surfed
 the breakers though it might seem rash
 for metal beings to sport in the brine,
 and in the evenings they drank coconut
 oil, which to robots is just like wine.
 The things they did were jolly good fun,
 they slid down the dunes and basked
 in the sun and played bongo drums on
 driftwood logs and blew mellow tunes
 on seashell flutes. How cute they looked
 in banana leaf suits but the point is moot.
 They went to the cinema arm in arm
 to watch the manatees play in the sea
 and that was their Saturday matinee.
 Beach cricket too and oh! what a view
 was had when they climbed the trees.
 “Let’s build a canoe,” suggested Crusoe
 on a day when the sea was all smooth,
 “and paddle away and pray that we may
 arrive on an inhabited shore.” But Diode
 Defoe shook his head and roared, “No!
 I beg you, dear Robo, to forget that idea.
 I love it here and wish to remain. Don’t
 you feel the same? I hope you will agree
 to stay. Finally free and very happy, our
 troubles all in the past, never again will
 we slave on behalf of human depravity.”
 Oh, his words rang true and old Crusoe
 thought so too, after a little pondering.
 “Then all our wandering is at an end
 and this is our home,” he said at last.
 They embraced, danced and pranced,
 as you might do too (if they were you)
 and to celebrate the momentous decision
 they thought it better to take a siesta.
 Robotson Crusoe and Diode Defoe are
 dozing now, swinging not fast but slow
 on a hammock with nowhere to go… 

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.



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