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Saturday 31 March 2012

the falling man

From a  young age
I had a private myth:
a falling man
dropping from the sky.

I didn't know
that as he
existed anywhere
except inside my head

and so he'd pop
up when he liked
in poems, dreams
and games.

And then one day
I heard the tale
of Icarus.
So was my dream

a plagiarism?
A not-for-real -
not in the way that
all dreams are for real?

And then I saw
for real
the falling man
of 9/11.

Not just the world
but the whole realm
of myth for me
was changed that day.

A behemoth
was loose upon the world:
bottom feeding
consuming lesser myths,

leaving bloodless corpses
in its wake
or making them
its own.

Its shape
and size blacked out the sun.
Darkness like a carpet
rolled across the Earth.

And when they rolled
it up again
those myths that had survived
were motifs in its weave.

My falling man
was there,
now doomed to fall
for ever -



The image is from the Wikipedia site. It gives the misleading impression that the man is falling in a controlled, head-first manner. In fact, other images confirm that he was tumbling.

Friday 30 March 2012

Stale Beef and Oranges

Victoria C Slotto at dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft, guides us down a Buddhist Path.

Through the open window
the square beyond the garden makes its presence felt.
Exuberant girlish laughter - though its dark out there by now -
rings like a bell
bubbles above the bubbling sound
of water in the kettle coming to the boil.

Much further off
a sound like bat on ball or ball on fence,
a dead sound, dull, unechoing,
punctuates the laughter
as boys perform their tricks on scooters
down steps from elevated sections of the square
or pirouette on bollards, just for kicks.

More distant still,
a train negotiates the points
and grumbles on its way.

Now for a moment  this whole panoply of sound
is swept away. A helicopter, flying low.
The whoop whoop whoop of rotors drowning all.

A slight aroma lingers from the evening meal.
A range of scents the kettle's steam -
is it my fancy, a conceit
to think the steam responsible? - now bodies up
'till I can taste the beef and oranges.

The maple dips its twigs into the street light, scrawls
the window pane with copies of a Coptic art.

Thursday 29 March 2012

a miracle to behold

Subnormal. Mentally Deficient. Daft.
All terms applied to them,
the last by boys like us, of seven.
In real terms what they meant
was  that the child could not be taught
and was in need of training.
It made me think: wild animals.
"Unteachable", their "schools" belonged
to health, not Education.
Their "place" was next to ours,
and for its day, enlightened.
I cannot over -stress how much.

That summer came an invitation:
our class to watch their dance display.
We sat on wide, well tended lawns
with rose beds all around.
Two lines of pupils faced each other,
danced and advanced,
cymbals clashed above their heads
then dancing backwards
they regained their starting points.

Except one lad reversed too far
and ended sprawling on his back
among the standard roses.
From us great gales of laughter.
Much hilarity, and to my lasting shame
I laughed as much as any,
but wondered decades later
if that had been the spring
that sent me into special education.

Sometime between those times
the thought had risen in my mind
that had we as a race evolved thus far,
had that become the apex of all life,
it would have been no less a miracle.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

the parabolic mirror

This is a Magpie Tales prompt by Tess Kincaid.

Below the surface
where lines from part-parabolas
encounter lines from me
the mirror shows
the me that might have... might still be.

Contours from a nearly-me,
half-familiar gestures
implying other lives
I might have lived
had I been free.

Then other images, like peas
in pods or siblings in a womb,
are thrust from other concave
into my face.

They speak of subtle changes,
nudging contours up or down,
of rows of alter egos,
of how a features changes
at a twist in life or light.

Monday 26 March 2012

to cross the bridge

Thanks for the prompt for this goes to Kat's Sunday Challenge at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads .

I was about to...
when this orange glow
from nowhere,
throwing dark blue shadows,
lit the bridge.

The further bank
was radiating yellow,
so I turned back,
content with my dull world
of monochrome.

Why jeopardise
its comfort and security
for glitz and glamour,
the cajolery
of spectral gaudiness?

Sunday 25 March 2012

Homo Arboreal

Written for dVerse  Poets' Pub Patterns, Pictures and Poems.

A race lives here,
folk timber boned
and cotyledon skinned,
who were no different once
from you and I.

We thought they had died out
among the beech, the rowan
and the ash. Not so,
survivors all,
they had preserved their genes
by breeding with the trees.

Unless they know you well,
you will not meet them. At any
sight or sound they freeze,
become the trees they are.
Pure root and branch.

Those whom they trust
may see them walking tall,
part tree, part man -
part god, as I believe,
so tall and stately,
sturdy and in-grain,
and not above
a sacrifice or two -
or so I've heard.

Like as not,
it's all you'll see of them,
a wisp of smoke -
and not a sign where from.


The image I have posted previously, one of my ancient digital doodles series. I thought I would recycle it for the occasion.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Joining the dots

" Where are you going, my pretty maid?"
"I'm going a-milking, sir," she said.

How many people
over how many decades

sang that rhyme or heard it sung?
Yet no one - maybe Jenner -thought to ask
the reason for her prettiness.
Why every milking maid was pretty.

(It was a known phenomenon.)
(The cows prescribed them cow pox -
protection from disfigurement
from the deadlier small pox germ.)

And so the phrase a pretty girl
was synonym for not pock marked.
The clues were there, the dots
just waiting to be joined.

The way Marx realised
how plain as day dots ran from filth
in new and crowded cities
to ownership of capital,

the way that Darwin
joined the dots
from  varieties of species
to their various histories,

the way Freud linked
a man's distress
to what he dreamed
at night,

the way that all such thought
is driven by
its time and place
in history,

the way creation's work is done
when in its random scatter
someone sees first principles,
the pattern of a grand design.


This poem is entered for Poetry Jam's Connections prompt.

Friday 23 March 2012


In the beginning: light.
Nowhere was there not light,
for all that was to be was bathed in light -
for time and tense had not begun -
and even in the strongest darkness there was light,
for the light was the light of God,
an aspect of his Godness.

And when God finally exclaimed:
Let there be light!
He was not then and there creating it,
but sanctioning its earthly form
to be perceived by those with eyes to see,
who'd welcome it.

And the light that was and is
proved revelatory:
form, colour, texture, mood
and character all lie
within its gift to us,
it is the sculptor sculpting out our world.

Not in its gift -
the darkest thing about it -
its own nature.
Light, actual and metaphorical,
as with the peace of god,
still passeth understanding -
and still the darkness
comprehends it not:

an elementary particle
that travels like a canon ball...
or like an ocean wave...
or either one at different times...
or both together, take your pick.
Yet those who cannot fathom
light as of the now, purport
to talk about its genesis!

I have submitted this poem to Poets United's Thurday Think Tank.

Thursday 22 March 2012

First Trip

I almost chickened out, but no,
it all went well enough,
the perfect forward roll.
Only when the thrill
had shaken me
and then passed on,
only now I realise...
how far too far above the earth
I am... and how too fast the spin.
Too far, too fast by far for me, so
stretch out, full length,
that’s the way to slow the spin...

Now try the ripcord once again...
Damn. No joy! Bird following,
been there some time...
too high for birds... surreal.
I looked that up on Google yesterday:
"The most surreal thing ever."
Pages of it. Utter crap, the lot.
Not one surreal event,
not one surreal occasion there.
So how surreal is this? And will
I ever know? The waterfall that time...
swept over like an autumn leaf, I was...
should have been a gonner. Thought I was.
Top to bottom. Rocky all the way.

This thing that's s'posed to happen
seconds before you die... your whole
life flashing past your eyes...
It didn't happen.
Not then, at the waterfall.
And not now.
I survived the waterfall.
Good omen, eh?
I will survive again. Quod
erat and demonstrandum and all that!
And the bird swoops past
still chirping: "Much too fast.
Slow down a bit! Slow down!." But Hell! 
he's right. I'm even leaving him behind... 
Large flock of birds appearing now -
far as this or any eye can see.
A sea of chirping beaks and beady eyes
and out of those melodious beaks comes...
unbelievably, a motif from my
new concerto scored for flute and choir!

Time I got back. No sooner thought
than I am back inside the hall - just like that!
Above the audience, above the spot lights,
heading for the stage. The choir still
there, still singing the first movement's theme,
so not missed much. A perfect
backward roll to land beside the rostrum.
The bird was totally correct. I'm going
much too fast. The conductor struggles
to keep up. But now the trip is over,
I'm in command again - at least of me.
I slow it down and hear
the maestro and the orchestra
sigh from sheer relief.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

our clockwork world

A small cog in a large machine
until his chance discovery:
the world he lived in - Earth - was clockwork too.
And if the Earth, perhaps the universe...
and he, a watchmaker by trade,
had never even guessed the fact!

Somewhere its works must broach the surface of
the earth. Or at the very least, come close.
His knowledge and his nose in harness tracked
it down. He laid the mechanism bare.
What tales he now could tell the world!
He'd be a grand celebrity for sure!

Once he had sussed out all the clockwork secrets
of the Earth he'd have it in his gift to tell
the world when earthquakes would erupt,
when storms would sweep the tropics
and floods descend on areas of drought.
He would be Prophet. King. Messiah. Seer.

Perhaps he'd even change the course on which
the universe was set. He had the key, he knew
how to reset the mechanism. He did so
in the depths of night. Away from prying eyes
he tuned and then fine tuned the Earth - and
inadvertently set course for early Armageddon.

I have linked this to this week's Magpie Tales prompt, but Blogger still will not let me upload my image, so I am afraid you will have to follow the link to see the picture.

Yippee! Belatedly, and thanks to Daydreamer Too I have managed to upload the image. (Not "managed to", with the greatest of ease. Thank you Daydreamer Too!)

Monday 19 March 2012

Figure / Ground Confusion

My friends and I
have come down to the copse to play.
We'll start by climbing trees. As I approach
I see the trees between the spaces, and I see
how spaces go much further back
and higher than the trees. I'm thinking now...
if I could climb the spaces
I could get above my friends -
it's a sort of game I often play:
a total redesign of how this old world works.

The trees get narrower as they rise higher -
the spaces therefore open out.
I stare up through the spaces,
imagining myself
above the canopy and looking down
from what were ash and rowan, but are now
enormous redwoods threatening the sky.

Now they're higher than a boy could climb
and as I look the spaces are the solids now,
the trees are open spaces, dark background
shapes that have begun to shape new thoughts.
The solid spaces and the empty trees
reverse the natural order,
but which is which depends upon my focus.
My friends are motifs on a tapestry,
motionless shapes that I will overtake.
This happened all without my thought -
now that's what I must call surreal.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Depression, Fear and Anxiety

This is a submission for Poetry Jam's prompt So How Do You Feel? It is concerned with the relationship between intangibles like an emotion and a tangible descriptor such as a colour.

When you are young
and darkness comes,
it dominates your mind.
I don't remember fear,
not real fear. Never
did I need a night light lit
or anything like that,
but I recall anxiety
which spread in time
from darkness to
the colour black.

So much that I have
undertaken since,
in terms of art,religion,
poetry must owe its birth
to trying to reverse
that state. Like blowing
on a fire to see it flare,
to see the embers, black
and burning still, fall back.
And yet I think, the close
association is intact. Black
represents anxiety - and
as for many others, speaks
of a depression. Even,
dare I say, that black dog
or the dark night of the soul.

Saturday 17 March 2012

The God Hat

Like a diver going down into the sea
the helmet seems to seal the fact.
Gold lamé. Stylish. Think of a cloche hat
but made of brass and covered like a Pearly
King's with buttons. Not a diver, though;
not going down into the sea, and not,
most definitely not, a Pearly King.
The monk goes down into a prayer,
a meditation - but the scientists
are here to map the god part of his head.
Where is the godhead in the head, they ask.

They have injected tracers in his veins.
Chemicals. Small shots of radiation.
Something for their sensors to detect.
The parietal lobes, their sensors say
are being starved of blood. The flow
drops ever lower as he dives
into his sea of prayer and contemplation.
This they know because the helmet lets in
their strong pulses of magnetic waves -
gives open sesame to his unguarded head.

The parietal lobes are known to be
the seat of mankind's sense of time and place.
Like eight in ten of others like him, he
will have sensations to report:
a presence he's encountered on the way.

Friday 16 March 2012

Filling in the Gaps.

Charles Miller (Chazinator to his friends) at dVerse Poets Pub has come up with a fascinating angle for their Meeting the Bar : Critique and Craft prompt. Please do go and read it, for it is too long to reproduce here. It is a prompt which - in my interpretation - requires us to post a poem which, as all good poems must, stands by itself, yet gains from some sort of explanation of its background, how it came to be written, etc etc.

I have chosen a poem which I have posted before, but whose genesis might surprise. I shall therefore leave the latter until after you have read - or, as it may be, re-read the poem.

The Photograph

A Sunday Supplement, a photograph.
Cuckmere Haven. Not that we’d
have recognized it, not without the caption.
The cliffs, distinctive, might have given it away.
Taken from above. The Cuckmere
all but banished from the scene -
and much else missing from that day...
pebbles, white upon the beach; and you,
exquisite, dressed to kill, a splash of green;
the sea kale (was it?) by the stream: all tucked
away between the hills and nowhere to be seen.

And so I wondered: what if we
could see as from above, the hills
and valleys carved in us by human love?
What would be there to see?
What would there not?

That day the sun-drenched chalk and beach,
and shady woods had each unleashed
a fierce burn of increasing beauty.

Offshore, the tides and Cuckmere clashed,
Canoes capsized, and men we’d lately
followed from the bridge were stayed,
all balance lost, bare inches from the sea.

It too was like a photograph, our day,
so silent and so still,
with gulls hung poised, like birds of prey,
on tiny cirrus threads. The breakers froze,
refused to break. Creation seemed to us to take
a year to spend that day.

The sun poured champagne on the sea
as tides and Cuckmere whirled together.
One maelstrom. One tranquility.

My love, I saw this photograph
and heard, I thought, our favourite song
being sung in a foreign language.


I had just qualified as a canoe instructor on inland waterways, with the intention of taking on the school canoe group the following term. I had in fact had only one term and one school holiday in which to learn to swim, learn to canoe and take the instructor's test. As a celebratory gesture I had booked myself on a sea canoe introductory course, a long weekend, canoe camping on the beach at Cuckmere Haven, a pebbly foreshore under the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, not far from Beachy Head. We slept nights under our upturned canoes.

We had launched them at Alfriston and paddled the few miles along the River Cuckmere to Cuckmere Haven. Idyllic weather and idyllic scenery. The day was hot and sunny and there were plenty of walkers and  couples on the path beside the river which was extremely meandering. We were the focus of a good deal of interest - I prefer not to speculate on why that might have been!

What we had not been told was that we would leave the river for open water at a point where three tides and the flow from the river met, where the water would churn. We all, except the leader, capsized. Which was fine, for we were able to practice our deep sea rescues and no one was drowned, exactly. I was still high in celebratory mood and wanted to mark the perfect day. I was not writing just then, had not written a poem for a few years, but I wrote a poem to remember that day. But then a strange thing happened. Not intended, it was instinctive. As I began to write I did so as from the point of view of one the walkers watching us. I imagined myself and my wife had walked along that path observing the canoeists. And then, removing it one stage further, I imagined the poem as a letter to her years later reminding her of that day.

I still find it odd that I did this, but I am still glad that I did.

Blogger still will not let me upload an image, but you can see some images and read about the area here

The Wolf by the Hole

Time is different for us
and the wolf by the hole in the ice
who in the water watches the stars
that above are circling the earth
that in the hour that he sits and stares
have turned full circle and more.

And he learns from this,
Earth's roulette wheel -
as he perceives it to be -
that Earth is a house of luck or chance
that cannot be fathomed
or quizzed to know
where or when it might stop
or who it will bankrupt
of this good life
or whether it matters a jot.

Thursday 15 March 2012

The Death of a Sculptor

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King! he'd sung
and had to sing so many times that week,
that week which had gone like a month -
not to mention the endless rehearsals
over the months before, or having to wear
that daft pirate costume. And it doesn't
begin to acknowledge the drain on his sang-froid
from having to feign enthusiasm for it all -
and all for nothing more than a few
equally ludicrous points for the Cock House Cup

Then skylarkingly along a moonlit path,
that final evening,
The Pirates of Penzance
behind us, crunching our way home
in utterly revolting style, the ground
beneath our feet a chain-mail carpet with
a brittle pile of giant stag beetles,
ankle deep and falling all the while
from trees above our heads.

Black snow, he cried,
to mock our squeamishness;
They feel no pain!
Remove a beetle's abdomen,
it eats on unaware!
We watched him slay
a score of demons in his head,
chopping beetles by the thousand clean in two.

End of term. End of year. End of school - and years
before we'd hear of him again.
Then on T.V. one evening. Art for All.
A new show with a new presenter, offering
The Next Big Thing in art. It opened with
A Breakfast at the Sculpture Farmstead.
He'd worked all night. We saw him finishing
his shift. A flashback to the thermal lance;
an effort on the bending bars, and then he introduced
his Bifurcated Beetles series.
After which the random touch. The piece
on which he'd laboured so much love
we saw thrown from the hayloft door
before he ran it over with the 4X4.

Over breakfast he explained.
The world is broken. Out of joint.
A photo booth that judders when we smile.
The flash explodes,
the shutter sticks,
light melts the reference points.
The brokenness is in the loss of tension, friend.
We none of us perform unless we're slightly stressed.
We see the tension or its lack in all our artefacts.
The sculptor gives the form the necessary stress
but over time the lump goes out of tune.
The hayloft door, the 4X4 - they simulate a fist,
a fractured rib, electrodes on a lifeless heart.
This moment is the dawn of a new day. From now
I'm offering this service after sales.
My punters can bring back their purchases
and I will make them good as new.

From that seed-thought his Sculpture Clinic grew.
Where came one day, one Lotte Pinkhorn,
mystic, phantast, seer, with Pterosaur
with Lateral Splits for Stress Replacement Therapy
For hours he worked with hammer, file and saw
until... The final touch, the hay loft door.
Free fall. The flying pterosaur
plunged through the narrow space of his imagination

to spread itself in pieces on the floor.
Wings flapped and buckled wildly, fragments soared
like scraps of paper from a bonfire
as the ground turned black with with beetle, crow and pterosaur.
He saw an angel with its palate cleft and cloven hoof for feet
as whores in clouds like locusts flew
with crooked mouths and broken staves
to lacerate the back of men who staggered to their graves.
His mind was broken by the sight. His body by the fall.


I am convinced that sometime in the past I posted an early version of this, but neither I nor Google have been able to track it down, so if any kind person out there in cyber space should happen to know where it is, I would be very grateful t learn.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

And Now A Russian Secret Weapon*

I have submitted this to dVerse Poets' Open Link.

With the Cold War at its height,
my Gran became convinced
that the Russians had a secret weapon
primed to use on us and undetectable.
It made you mix your sentences -
or at least transpose their ends.
Russian agents made it
on the bus to Wimbledon
or they cycled round Big Ben.
Released into the atmosphere,
it played The National Anthem -
in a new arrangement
by Rachmaninov -
fifteen times a day.
Her brother said he's seen it used
sometime in World War II -
though everyone had been screwed up
about the German weapons then -
to install some broken windows
in a derelict church hall.

Such tales were rife.
Her neighbours told her many
about weapons by the score,
but this one really got to her
and whispered things in Russian
that she wouldn't tell a soul.

My Granddad called it rubbish,
said she shouldn't say such things,
it was just a load of
firewood that he'd chopped the night before.
 *compare with German secret weapon here

Tuesday 13 March 2012

The Ghost of Our Old Selves

The world is too much with us 1
but never quite in focus.
I wish it would sometimes stand off
and not invade my space.

When we were children and the world
pressed in on every side,
we loved it so, were part of it.
Nature and we were seamless then.

Little of us we see in nature now.2
We crave some distance, a perspective.
Soft focus would be great -
anything but this close-in confusion.

The ghost of our old selves,
the natural man, is snagged
the other side of nature.
What's seen and what is known don't match.

If we could re-explore
the nature in our face -
spilt milk and honey, smudge -
we might find ways to reconnect.

Or is it language that we lack?
Words to differentiate,
unpick a language or a home,
sift fresh air from freshener.

1 The first line of a sonnet by William Wordsworth. Read it here
2 Remodelled from the third line of the same sonnet.

This is a Magpie Tales prompt.
Unfortunately Blogger would not let me upload the image. You will have to follow this link to see it.
(I wonder what they won't let me do tomorrow!)

Monday 12 March 2012

Building Site : The New Complex

Looking down into a cauldron that's coming to the boil,
imagination making bubbles in the sand. Sand bubbling
along before the diggers, 'dozers, donkey-workers and
a trail of toiling tractors. There Levels 1 through 2
to Level 3 are to be flattened, levelled out to make a plane
as level as the playing fields of politicians' dreams.

More elegant and slender yet, than garden trellises,
tall spires of steel, and cables thin as spider silk, ascend,
section upon section, past my viewpoint, past my eyes,
to partly vanish in the mist where is - but not for long -
the wonder of a sky unable to survive the final phase,
for other wonders yet are on the way. We're looking at

the modern counterpart of something like Stonehenge,
for there above the towers, the booms have made their bows.
They criss-cross just below the sky in horizontal play
where they'll whisk away the daylight with their loads.
Where yesterday was green land and a doctor's surgery,
are now the forceful signs of progress on the way.

Beyond all this, the end game signs, last days for some:
steel girders rise in 3-D matrices like one enormous puzzle
that a cruel world has set, yet knows you will not solve it, for
the biggest puzzle no one gets is what the puzzle is.
Let's guess each space is glass or grey - there must be
something we can do to win this life's life-changing prize!

Sunday 11 March 2012

1956 and 1999

For Poetics 1999 byRosemary Mint at dVerse Poets.

1956 and teacher training college. I
am here to study art,
but voices of the friends I've made
are quoting poetry,
I'm hearing snatches, lines like: The
apparition of these faces in a crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.1

Or, even more remarkably:
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table. 2  
Or:The corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 3  

And then I'm blown away by this and others like it:
After the funeral, mule praises, brays,
Windshake of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap
Tap happily of one peg in the thick
Grave's foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black.

These are a gale of fresh air blowing
through those august corridors to someone
weened at school on works such as
Robert Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The voices that I'm hearing speak of Eliot and Pound,
of Dylan Thomas, Marvell and John Donne.
The very names are incantations and the poems spells.
There are images to die for and concepts still to fathom.

They have the power to replace thought
and so I do not realise for now
how much of these great works I do not understand.
Later I will understand it does not matter: it
is possible to lose yourself in poetry, enjoy 
it for itself and understand it later if need be.

I write some poems in a first enthusiasm. One or two.
The college magazine: that sort of thing. Then nothing.
Four decades. Life is happening around me, to me,
everywhere I look. But then:

in 1999 I am retired and taking up the pen again
before technology and blogging gets its hold.
 1  Ezra Pound:Ina Station of the Metro
 2  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock : T.S.Eliot
 3  The Waste Land : T.lS.Eliot
 4  After the Funeral :  Dylan Thomas  

Saturday 10 March 2012

A Triptych

This is a prompt from Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - to produce the literary equivalent of the tripych.

Centre Panel

He was all Marcel Marceau;
the way he'd tap
the door's glass panel
with fingernail,
forefinger crooked...
the way he'd mouth
(we couldn't hear him)
Let me in, please let me in!...
while from his other hand,
waist high, no more,
a pile of books
steadied by his chin.

But neither door
nor boys behind it
would budge an inch
until the well-judged,
unexpected moment
when he'd stagger in.

Right Hand Panel

Top Academic at his school.
At Oxbridge
First Class Honours (twice),
he'd authored books
on mathematics, full
of his creative thoughts.

Left Hand Panel

It must be said
in all that his brain held
there was no room
for knowledge of young lads,
what made them tick.
He was adrift, a light raft
on a sea of treachery.

Friday 9 March 2012

2 Triolets

The triolet is the form set by Gay Reiser Cannon in this week's FormForAll at dVerse Poets' Pub. Just follow the link for a full explanation of the form.

I don't remember entering this life,
I'd like to not remember exiting.
I can recall great joys and days of strife,
but don't remember entering this life.
How did I come? by birth canal or knife?
That I have lived outdoes remembering.
I don't remember entering this life,
I'd like to not remember exiting.


I love the shades of night for detail lost,
broad shapes replace the fussiness of day
like landscapes under snow or a thick frost.
I love the shades of night for detail lost,
they thrice repay in magic their small cost.
Some find the night delightfully risqué.
I love the shades of night for detail lost,
broad shapes replace the fussiness of day.

Thursday 8 March 2012

100-Word Play

The Royal Court Theatre is inviting ALL members of the public to submit 100-word plays for its Young Writers' Festival. The plays will not be staged, but displayed around the theatre. They are speaking of the concept of plays oozing out of the walls. It is not competitive, the aim will be to show all the plays.

Not for submission, but I thought I'd try my hand.

- Excuse me.

-Yes Sir.

-I've just taken this off your shelf.

-Yes sir.

-It says there's a special offer on it.

-Yes sir.

-With this model, the attachment comes free.

-Yes sir.

- I cannot find the attachment.

-No sir, we don't stock them.

-But you can't do that!

-No sir, we don't.

-It must be against some act or other.

-Some of our stores stock them.

-But not you.

-No sir.

-Why not?

-No call for them.

-I'm calling for it.

-Yes sir.

-Can I take the cheaper attachment instead?

-No sir.

-Why not?

-Not part of the offer, sir.


Wednesday 7 March 2012

The elephant in the room

It's the elephant in the room, he'd said,

and so it has proved. The way clothes both define

and hide a form, there is this vague, suggestive,

fungus of a shape, an elephant you saw once in a cloud

and see now at the north end of The Green State Room.

A shroud, a billowing skin,

anchored in places, somehow tracing

the contours within -

as if the decorators are expected by and by.

The ghost of an elephant out on its haunts.

Unwinding the cover

to show off the skeletal sculpture beneath -

basalt, I'm thinking - life-sized

and studded with jewels. The Indian version displayed.

Then without more ado. To the tune of:

we never discuss this, of course...

the subject's taboo!

He's winding the shroud round and round,

like the covers had slipped for a moment, that's all

and now it is back in its cloud.

Two years and a fortune in jewels? I ask,

then hidden away in.... Exactly! he says

Irresistible subject, the talk of the town.

Outside of here, it's all go.

But the funding... I try a new tack. Working that trick...

He cuts in with that grin: seduction, he says.

Her ladyship courted and... well, not just the once.

She likes to be done on the bounce.

So she kept me in all my desires for two years

and provided the diamonds and pearls.

Is there nothing, I ask, you'll not do for art?

See here, he replies, it's art doing something for me.

What we have, she and I, is a mammoth to share -

my best installation to date. We are, you might say,

the elephant most in the room.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Larger than life

A Magpie Tales Tale.

Larger than life
that's how I like 'em
women of mine
gotta be larger than life!

I wanna climb in through those eyes
splash around in them big, limpid pools
drown in the vitreous humour
of a woman larger than life.

The ultimate prize
of lost in those eyes
floundering somewhere
out of this world.

I could spin like the earth round her sun
and all the four seasons would come
each in its turn, to freeze or to burn
with a woman much larger than life.

Can't take her all in
not in one go
but that's how I like it
larger, much larger than life.

Would you look at those brows
trimmed straight as two dies
never arched in surprise
stern as they come and cool as her lies.

Larger than life

that's how I like 'em
women of mine
gotta be larger than life!

Monday 5 March 2012

amazing what you see in car parks!

Parked to kill time,
the world's going by.
Children with mums
are walking to school.

First, Little Miss Muffet -
I guess from the fact
that she's coming complete
with spider and net.

Batman is missing
his Batcave, I think -
in a flood of
unstoppable tears.

Two skeletons now,
one big and one small,
and a fierce lioness
and a dog with a ball.

There's a fireman - no fire
Correction: comes mum
with a portable one
of cardboard and gum.

A fairy comes next -
Diminutive thing,
pink wings and blue wand
and a bag made of string.

And now an Ice Maiden,
a witch with a hood
a chocolate soldier
and one made of wood.

Then just when the show
seems over and done,
Bat Man returns
his hand holding mum's.

Next comes a dwarf
(I missed him before)
and then there's the fairy
and the small labrador.

The youngest, it seems,
(not yet recruits)
will not be left out
of sibling pursuits.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Abstract 02 (from Walter Smith's Musee D Orsay series)

A dVerse Poet's Pub prompt by Sheila.

Think what an ocean of live flowers
might do for you;
how rollers breaking not on shingle but
far out at sea
might be the venues for new villages
beyond our dreams
built not beside or under but between
those fragile waves;
how breaking surf and spray might drench the air
with fragrances
at once restorative and volatile;
how life might be
so much more transient than now;
how change becomes
a constant, gentle and organic,
obeys clear rules,
how brachts and petals lap and overlap,
close and disclose
how just the folding of a flower
could end your life,
inflorescence be the birth force to
sustain the world,
how birth, rebirth and death are painless here.
This is a world
immune to all pollution from outside
the flowers keep
the focus of the mind on what is real;
how other worlds
might visit to discover what we have
of wonder here,
might bounce upon our currents, ride our waves
and fertilise
anew this lonely world we try to run.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Shadows of You

Imagine looking down into a river,
there watching the reflections change,
the shadows creeping round towards the evening,
the sun's rays skipping purl to purl.
You begin to feel the chill, but still you stay to watch.
The people on the other bank
are puckered and inverted in the flow,
the ponies in the field will jump no more today.
But now it's really cold and you should go.
Yet still you cannot tear yourself away,
must stay a bit to watch the surface cloud.
At first you think it's semen that's been spilt,
a milky gloss or glaze, uneven at the start,
but slowly thinning as it creeps and evens out.

The images are losing clarity,
you stare but cannot grasp what they're about,
they blur beneath the ice, the movement's frozen out
as surely as the images are frozen in.
You look down at yourself, immobilised,
serene. It's you, as if you had been drawn
on blotting pads. The shapes of you are neither
there nor not. The edges that define you are erased.
The river's memory is dimming as your own.
It's throwing out some hints on what's to come.

Friday 2 March 2012

how deep a plum was then!

My thanks to Claudia at dVerse Poetics Pub - Translucent Poetics : Writing the spoken word, for this prompt.
It was my tree.
Here, in my mind it was my tree,
for planted on the day that I was born.
I first and best remember it
when it and I were five.
My first excursion into it
(with someone holding me),
the earliest of sensual memories: 
allowed to pick the plums,
those velvet bombs of taste,
incendiaries of colour,
soft waxy reds and yellows,
purples, blues and indigoes.
Those plums, those sweet Victorias!

I found that you could spit
and rub them with your thumb,
make lines and other subtle colours rear
their lovely heads. You made a sort of map.
Inside, you'd find the prize: a golden flesh,
juice-filled, that squirted when you bit.

Later on, and maybe six, the hands
still round my waist, my head now full
of stories from the war, Atlantic
convoys and the like, I found
that if you bit the seam from end to end,
the squirting juice could easily
become a depth charge in your mouth.
Then if you gently squeezed the base,
the sharp stone surfaced like a crippled submarine.

This is a rewrite of part of a poem - rather too long and too opaque. One of the first I posted.

Thursday 1 March 2012


Joseph, Marie, Bryony,
each of the unholy three,
had slept, on separate occasions, with
each of the remaining two -

though not one of the three could know
that this, in point of fact, was so.
Each of their three rooms had grown
to favour one and one alone.

And so it was that Joseph's room
to Bryony would sigh Marie,
but then when Marie came to call
the room said nothing much at all.


When we were in the womb
if we had asked
(had there been someone there to ask)
what is the meaning of this life?

Would we have heard:
to look beyond its shallowness,
food comfort, warmth, security...
A soul is made for love.

Though sounds of love surround you, here
is only loneliness
and distant are the sounds.
Beyond the breaking of the waters lies

a journey, trauma, to a world
that could not be 
more different than
the one you've grown to know.


You do not realise when you're small
how everything you do and say,
how everything the VIPs around you do,
how every happening of consequence
goes to build an ark for you - for which
you will be grateful some late day
when being adult falls like rain
to flood the earth, the whole terrain
of what you thought you'd got to know.