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Wednesday 9 October 2013

Hello everyone who follows David King (My Father). On behalf of the family this post is to let you know that Dad sadly passed away, peacefully, on Friday 4th October; following his recent illness. I know that he really appreciated everyones feedback and support. Kind regards. Gavin King.

Monday 16 September 2013

Why can only the living mourn?

What makes us suppose
that only the living grieve?

Now all but lost in this new
and familiar world
of tall, leaning-together buildings,
grey and grubby as they are.
I walk between them in the rain,
tasting the water, soaking it in,
into the pores of my skin,
into every sensation.
Pure water. Holy water. Water for baptism.
Water enough to end a world
or build another drop by drop,
enough to bring world peace,
enough to wash the old one away.

I know these tenements of old,
she lives in one of them, she whom I mourn.
All around me the echoes of water. Water running.
Water splashing and gurgling.
Holy water to bless my mood.
Not to rubbish or vanquish it,
but to fashion and welcome it.

And she, does she grieve for me?
she in her tall, dark world,
topped by the light of the sun?
Does she hear my rain. Or even see it?
Does she know that I grieve?
that not only the living can mourn?

Sincere thanks for all the kind and interesting comments on How do I prepare for death? and huge apologies if I frightened anyone. It was, as always, interesting to hear of the beliefs of our Druid, Hindu and other friends. Again, today's poem was not specifically addressed to my present condition, but I guess must have been influenced by it. Hope it was not another fright or a poem too far!
As for the even more appreciated enquiries and good wishes for my health, I cannot begin to tell you how much they mean to me. I did manage to type out a personal reply to each one -- and forgot to save it!! That is about the measure of my present state of mind. I was warned that I would feel exhausted towards the end of my treatment, but in fact I did so from the first day, and still do beyond midday. That might not have mattered, as A.M. was when I mostly worked, but A.M. now seems to be taken up by a steady stream of medics of every hue and tint. I will now do my best to get round to you all. Please keep the comments and posts coming, and I will continue to attempt the same. It is just weakness, sleepiness and a lack of opportunity preventing me from doing more at present. Thanking you once again.

Friday 13 September 2013

How do I prepare for death?

(Not to read too much into this.)

How do I prepare for death?
I asked a wise man long ago.
You don't, my son,
the wise man said:
Let Death prepare for you.

Her laundered sheets
and candle lights
or spring flowers round the bed
will take you back
to early days...
How bright the vision then!
How clear the way ahead!

She'll sweep the house
of all those fears
accrued along the way:
the frights that have no form.
Not dreads of death,
but worse than those:
to not exist;
the aweful void.

Such terrors follow the more solid ones,
those obstacles the world threw up
to make you doubt or start again,
to hesitate.
Each in their turn depart.

(Always the optimist, I hope to be around a little more hereon than just recently.)

Friday 6 September 2013

There was a witch

There was a witch once lived in a tree,
as witchy as any old witch could be --
not that you'd know, for she dressed quite so,
sometimes as duchess, sometimes as queen,
but never were witch's rags to be seen.

The bones of the tree were as dry as hers,
but she'd wrap herself in some sumptuous furs
(under which she'd wear but never a stitch)
and fly to her mansion of musty smells
in the land of voodoos and spells.

The twigs of her broom were coming apart.
They should have told her. They hadn't the heart.
So the three pet birds she kept in the tree --
Tax and Id and the long-dead Dermy --
tweeted to warn: Stay away from the sea!

But slowly the witch lost power to the deep.
(Old adversaries these, concerned to keep
their secret enigmas inviolate.)
(It seemed inevitable that the weight
of Nature's mysteries would seal her fate.)

A late submission to This week's prompt at The Mag.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Silly Little Nonsense Poem

Down in the left hand corner of the world,
beyond the rows of buttersplatch
and gongoliferous trees,
beyond the stirring spoonpools
where the sizals ooze their way
and all the lochs are tightly locked
except on Turtle Day,
'tis there my granny taught me
how to whingel whingels in --
and please to whingel whingels in
before they start to spin.

'Twas when whingelling a whingel
that I almost met my match:
its krox had ripened early
and was hanging off the catch.
With lowered cranial blubberbutt
it came at me like frrruck --
which is whingel for the best of rotten luck.

I jumped a passing songtrain
that the frangle bird had sung
and clung on to the clutchets
(which tell us right from wrong)
'till we got To Pokeham Arrberry
where I watched them ghoul the sun.
And having ghouled the sun they went
and ghouled the blood red ocean espcially for me.

Thursday 29 August 2013

So who did Raphael Paint
if not Isabel de Requesens,
wife of the viceroy of Naples?

(see here )

One thing that you should know about this portrait,
deemed by many, the world's most perfect yet:
the sitter and the artist never met.

Commission 199: Portrait: Lady
Viceroy of Malta: a.k.a. The Ice Queen...
But Raphael was busy, so dispatched
a Jack-the-Lad assistant from the ranks
to sketch the high born lady from the sticks
while he made hay with nobles grown near home.

It's here I interject my small conceit:
Jack tarried in the local inns a while,
boasting wildly of the fortune that would follow
when once he'd lifted this old dame to fame.
Then on the very eve of the first sit
a ne'er-do-well who'd overheard him, spiked
his ale with something clearly meant to put
Jack in his his power. Jack hardly noticed
how brush and silverpoint found harmonies
of flesh and hue which only The Divine
had seen before. He painted like a man
possessed, a man possessed of every skill
and passion which the artist craves, the like
of which were never in his bag before.
And none could say the model's likeness had
in any truthful way been captured in
Jack's image. But neither could be found just
one detractor who would say the two were
not the same. From fevered art a beauty
radiated that was never in the flesh

And then there was the business of the eyes.
As Jack unrolled his work to Raphael and
the studio, it would become quite clear
that Jack had changed, not once but many times,
his subject's eyes from straight ahead to left
or right then back again -- details all of
iconography to show her status.
How come her status was not known to Jack?
How come her beauty paled Jack's art?
Who was this dame he picked up at the inn?

Notes: The third line of this poem is the only trustworthy one. The business of the eyes is factual, but relates to Raphael's (?) final painting and not Jack's sketches.

From The Sleepy Zombie.

Sunday 18 August 2013

The Kaleidoscope and the Microscope

My body had died
and only my head and two hands were alive.
So what can a head and two hands do
when that is all there is of you?

The head can think and the hands can move,
you could imagine a world more in the groove,
more open to all the needs of man
and sketch it there where your world began.

You could paint all the pictures in The Louvre
in alternative hues, in DayGlo bright
or Virgin white with just a touch of celestial light
and newly constructed, enlightened views.

Trite images from yesterday, perhaps, but in the plan
displaying all the powers and skills of old
Renaissance man. His masterpieces all survived
traumatic lives, endured abuse, are damaged souls,

are halfmen walking in the light,
conquerors of their own, more personal night.
But damaged people just might ghost
the blueprints for the world that lies in limbo now.

This wasn't a dream or a reverie
or a nearer to death experience,
but the bump of a spacecraft back on Earth
and I the only occupant -- Pro Tem disabled by the bump.

As with The Louvre, so with the forest and the high rise town:
look where you will, in church and factory,
in school, on playing field, in airport lounge
and shopping mall, on road and rail, in hospital

and swimming pool, you'll see
the blueprints for a better deal.
These are the ghosts that haunt the now,
the dead men live on tomorrow's page.

Saturday 17 August 2013

I Miss Me Hot Flushes!

They're changing me treatment,
me hot flushes have gone!
With side-effects missing,
it all feels quite wrong.

There's nothing to kid me
this thing's on the run
without a small heat wave
to rival the sun.

There's no reassurance
that the plan's still on track...
has it simply stopped working,
or found a new tack?

Can you not fix it
that when it kicks in
it will give indications,
say a flush or a spin?

There's nothing comes back to me
as sign from the war
to say how it's going,
to let me keep score.

Could you speak to the doctors,
have some flushes restored,
something to stop me
getting anxious or bored?

I miss me hot flushes,
I miss 'em like hell:
a quickie at bedtime
would suit me real swell!

Friday 16 August 2013

Teaching the Kids to Cheat

We took the kids to the beach for a week.
My brother, having lost his wife, came too.
We thought the kids might have a role to play,
and so they did, they played along just fine
and asked us for the biggest castle ever!

My brother found enormous chunks of flotsam
timbers of all sorts. We laid them on huge rocks
to hold the walls and towers high above
long rows of flimsy arches, gates and roads.
We'd been early to the beach that day and long

before the other children came, the timbers
were well covered by the sand. Kids gathered
to admire -- and to make pleas for castles
of their own like ours. We watched them all collapse --
until our two began to feel the guilt.

Finally, tears led them to the secret shown,
and queues of kids requesting photo-shoots --
posing in our castle grounds, and even on
the battlements. Then when the sea came in
all helped it lay siege to The Castle Cheat.

Thursday 15 August 2013

I am far less visible in Bloggoland

than I was when I was far more visible than I am now. Furthermore, numerous kind -- and tactful -- fellow bloggers have given me opportunity to tell why, and although I have been very moved by your concerns, I have mostly not answered them, certainly not adequately. So time is, I think, to give some indication of what is going on.

In March of last year I was diagnosed with terminal prostrate cancer, the tumour having already spread to various bony bits. I was put on a course of hormone therapy, and for a while this worked splendidly. Then the tumour went out of control and spread to my liver and into the bowel. It was at this time that I haemorrhaged and was hospitalized for six days, having various scans and blood transfusions and so on. Next week I start a course of radio therapy and may disappear from the scene completely for a while -- or maybe not!

It is not that I am too ill to work, or anything like that, though reading anything longer than poem length becomes an effort at times. Meanwhile, your blogs are a vital part of what keeps me going! Thank you all so much. I have no plans to drop completely off the radar in the immediate future or to do so without a hint of some kind in the future.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

The Original Dancing Bear

Spirit Bear from Wiki Commons

This is the bear not forced to dance,
for this is the bear that was born to dance,
this is the bear that brought the dance
to a race called man that had yet by chance
to discover the rhythms of heart and breath,
but moved as if to a timely death,
each step the same as the one before,
not faster, not slower, not less nor more.

This is the bear that could vary its gait
from heavy to light, and with change of weight
express the vicissitudes of fate.
This is the bear that could shuffle or spin,
the second for virtue, the former for sin.
This is the bear whose movements would tell
all the dramas of Heaven and deepest Hell,
born of the spirit with us to dwell.

This is the bear that was in the groove,
who taught the rest of the world to move,
the first of its kind, with nothing to prove,
it danced for itself, 'till the world fell behind --
and movement at last was quite unconfined.
Then from seeds called art, being sown in mankind
came wild things tough as the redwood trees
and others with grace that danced in the breeze.

Submitted to dVerse Poets Open Link Night

Friday 9 August 2013

A Funny Thing

In a week or so
children in the playground
will flee before him
like chicks before
some predatory bird --
or stutter to a stop
by threatening looks.

Now here he comes, the new
alarming deputy,
to share my dinner duty
for the first time. Beneath
his arm the sin-black... what
this time? A Bible? Prayer Book?
Hymn book? Or Detention Journal?

The children wait with patience
to queue up at the serving hatch
one table at a time. But first,
the Holiest of matters: Grace.
All eyes are closed -
except of course, for a few sinners.
I'm looking at you bunch of miscreants
back there! Delinquents..! reprobates..!
and I'm not liking much
the transgressing that I see. And
what occurs to me is that
Almighty God is looking at you too -
and He's not liking what He sees,
and your immortal souls are hanging
in the balance here!

Thwack! The hymnal lands a direct blow.
(On what I cannot say,
but the whole dining hall
is suddenly electrified.)
The children shiver in their most
impressive Holy Manner.

So now you've met him:
Mr Fulcher, Responsible
for discipline around the school.

Fourteen Christian names, he has --
Which maybe why I can't remember one
of them! Each one a saint, none known to me.
The children have their own,
a fifteenth name for him.
To them he is The Vulture.

Now here's the funny thing:
while all but one class in the school
will hate and fear the man
that one small group (his class --
and later on, all those who ever
were in his class)
will see a different side,
will come to love,
adore the man, and hear no wrong
in him at all.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Boys Run a Dolls' Slave Market.

Against the fence are dolls arrayed:
rag or china, wood or bone,
never a doll stands there alone,
and in their hands are signs displayed
of what you might give to make one your own.

Role model X stands third in line --
though on his shirt a number 9 --
strikes his pose: the Alpha Male...
The price for him? A pint of ale!
(Or a pair of boots of exclusive design.)

Or what would you give for The Evil One,
for his brand of nonsense to enlighten your fun?
For hours of unrivalled iniquity?
To complete each each day with such devilry
the ask is a Nat King Cole C.D.!

There's a dragon on fire (seems a strange device)
with a list of apps as its bargain price.
So what should one do with a dragon on fire,
but use it to light the funeral pyre
of the dead girl begging a bowl of rice.

There's a skeleton rising out of a grave
bristling with sensors and weapons of death.
He's come to destroy or he's come for to save.
he's hero or villain, but don't smell his breath!
He's yours for a Batmobile and cave.

There comes a small girl with dolls in a pram --
F1 vintage and faster than that. Stops with a slam.
Dolls tumble together. Beware of whiplash.
Displays for the boys a purse full of cash.
I'll buy them all, boys. Wham-banger- Bam!

They laugh at her then, so she goes in the shop,
comes out with a box of small bags of sweets,
hundreds and thousands and toffees that pop
and liquorice boot laces and faces and teets.
The deal is soon done, the air full of tweets.

Friday 2 August 2013

A Love Poem

Do you remember how it was?
It was not always hearts and flowers
and sunshine through the trees.
The clich├ęs sometimes passed us by,
but that first handshake fast became
two hands of friendship -- and the start
of all my happiness to come.

And then it was that joyfulness
slipped by unnoticed for a while,
the way it often does.
Not just contentment: beauty,
and a kind of bliss I had not known before.
Dormant at times beneath a heap of cares --
the mortgage, job security, the kids --

but there as ever was in that same hand
that shook my world
when nothing seemed it could.
And now it is that all is treasured
dearly once again, and known for its true worth --
and tightly clutched as in two hands.
A drowning man, I will not let it go.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Two Poems

Where To?

With our new technologies,
awareness of the pitfalls
of attempts to re-tune nature,
new understandings
of the ways that nature works,
we should be heading for
a new age of enlightenment.

I do not think we are.

I think we're heading for a new dark age
and taking all our gadgets with us --
which will make the new dark age
much darker the old.

Special Delivery

Delivered just this morning
by courier
(Stork Logistics Inc)
a wooden crate
stuffed with straw:
the very latest
new idea.
Not in solid form,
no clever
the newest of ideas
still at its inception,
lost among the straw.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Conversation Piece

Too far-fetched by half, it seemed,
to those whose births had been less public,
that you could bolt a man together.

But so he'd been;
assembled there from six steel bars,
their eyes by turns
amused and disbelieving.

The one raised from a bag of dust
had found it most incredulous,
the other two seemed not to care,
were happy to enjoy the show.

One against each wall they stand,
too far apart for intimates,
yet visitors can plainly sense
there's dialogue between the four.

The steel man
in new zinc coat
and pastel shade of patina,
rings forth his voice
(as well he might)
whenever small boys
(armed with questionnaires
and drawing books)
tap him with their pencils.

The woodblock man
happy to be free
exhumed at last
to be himself
not part of something else,
shaved to a baldness that is sensuous,
invites the hands of visitors
to assist their eyes,
range over contours
and discover forms.

And from a hundred hands a day, he learns
the image that is new to him,
the image of himself.

The man raised from the dust,
mixed with water, pummelled
to a new consistency and shape,
with every birth pang left --
a kind of hall mark --
on the surface of the clay.
He is the guru of the four:
too old, too wise, too holy
for the straying hands to touch.

The stone man is the most remote of all.
Has most in common
with the wood block, I suppose.
Except he is aloof, a world unto himself.
Perhaps his birth was just too difficult,
the trauma just too great to overcome.

Friday 26 July 2013

The Great Exchange

You are lost in a wood.
It is a real wood,
a wood you thought you knew --
that was until a moment back
when all the trees changed places
with their cousins from your dream.

Now here you are,
facing all the threats of dream
in vulnerable life.

You start to panic,
though in truth
not all the panic's yours.
Some comes from the wood.
There's panic in the leaves.
Which way will you go? they say.
Not this! Not that! Not there!
Not if you want to live!

There are whispers all around,
the snap of breaking twigs,
but you are frozen
in the moment of
The Great Exchange of Trees.

The trees are busy
(as they always are).
You are a paper cut-out
from another land.

The wind is slowly rising
and for sure will take you
to a place where what is real
is only dreamed about.

You see a thorn tree,
visualise yourself
impaled upon its horns.
You've seen the tree before.
It features in your dream.
There, the thorns are quite benign,
but here they drip with blood.
You wonder if it's yours.

A feather reassures.
The impaled one was a bird,
and you remember now
how in the dream the sky
was never crossed by birds.

Dream was a no-fly zone.
Birds need reality
the way reality needs birds.

You see a nest,
some fledgelings
and a kite.

The leaves are calmer now,
the birds are coming back.
The wood is less frenetic.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Trees Are Pulling Up Their Roots

The trees are pulling up their roots,
not waiting for the end.
They always did have cultures of their own,
could calculate at dusk how much
of every vital nourishment they'd need
to see them through the night. Not only that,
they knew to make the hard decisions
when reservoirs ran low.

And now in pulling up their roots
they have a purpose loud and clear --
though quite mysterious to us.
They've pushed their complex mathematics
far beyond their world, investigated ours
and made their careful audits, sensed
what we still doubt -- or so dishonestly debate.
They've fixed their faith in life's finality.

Perhaps they've other thought forms underground --
their leaves a product of some secret art,
and not what we had thought. For sure
they had their land art long before
we had the nous to think of ours.
The oaks and redwoods lead the way,
the smaller trees, like children in their play,
do what they see the grown-ups do.

They were the first to feel earth tremble at the thought
of what must come to pass, the first to catch
the note of grief the trembling portrayed,
and were the first to say 'tis time to go at last!
They'd watched the birds fly off much earlier this year,
leaves drop like dead flies shrivelled by the sun;
they'd caught the resignation that we fear
when what's to come can't hold a candle to the past.

Friday 19 July 2013

Three Short Poems

New boy on the block
CostCutters shop
has opened on the square
and for our anniversary
(Doreen's and mine)
bedecked a corner
that was looking bare
with buckets full of flowers!


Ask any local, he will tell
how she has always had
that evil glint in her blind eye
when she been 'bout to flood.

Below the cataract
in that dark pool
you'll see the bones of her
before you see the glint --
the bones Dark Jesse laid
before he had his way with her.

The glint's to say
she's tucked her skirts up high
around her waist -- as Jesse did --
her eyes are down,
the flood of retribution
still to come.


I thought the kids had lost it on the square.
High voices raised in squeaky rage:
Fxxx off home, you fXXXXXg wXXXXXr! --
Stuff I'd not heard since playground duty days.

But now, from where I've come to watch -- small
bedroom eyrie looking out between
the acer and the tall (unpruned) forsythia --
an old man slightly staggering,
adjusting spectacles and finger combing hair
makes for the safety of the shop.

The shopkeeper comes out to comfort him --
arm round the shoulder sort of thing --
before a youth (inelegant) appears.

The two men remonstrate. He starts to sing.

Written for Tony's Mix and Match prompt at dVerse Poets. It relates to the "Short Poem" prompt of March 3 2013.

Tuesday 16 July 2013


The neural net
sifts ocean depths.
Catching what?

Old ideas,
offspring of those old ideas,
what is or was,
of the days before
their time had come.

These throwbacks hope
to come into their own
the second time around;

seem larger now;
ARE larger -- in their context --
than before.

a sleep is long enough
for offspring to mature;
assorted flotsam
show its provenance;
a harvest wave
wash through the mesh.

So listen as you dream
how gently rocks
the harbour buoy;
its solitary bell,
soft hollow toll
monotonous low DONG!

(which means in dreamspeak that
the fish are up
and answers the soprano TING! TING!
from the altar boy's new hand bell
in the church)

The net is fragile --
there's the rub.
Ideas have heft
have life:
a momentary
change of colour
and they're gone.

They've slipped away.

Not having notions, then,
but landing them,
is all the thinker's task.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Open Day

Too hot to eat,
school dinners go to waste;
too hot to play,
the kids look to the shade.

Nurse Rose gives two
(who'd fainted on the field)
her ice and water cure
when through the open sick room door
they see The Stranger -- quickly changed
to our new teacher for next year!

Tall, in six inch heels,
a conflagration of red hair,
and arms piled high with books,
she walked down to the hall -- they said --
and disappeared.

The rumour quickly spread,
I tried to kill it off:
Where is she then...?
The heat... a mirage... and
the school's a brand new building. New
buildings don't have ghosts --
and would I take on someone
dressed to kill?

The feeling was, I would!
And so the story clung, and I
pooh-poohed it best I could --
until I later learnt
my wife had seen her too.

Claudia at dVerse Poets asks us to write on mirages, summer heat illusions, etc

Thursday 11 July 2013

Figure in Landscape

Please take a look at Peter Doig's Jetty, the inspiration for this poem ,(here)

in landscape

in his own thoughts.

is the mind active
or passive?

Is he thinking
thoughts of himself
or being thought of
by some inner self?

The landscape
drips with self-absorption.
Is one
with the manner
of his thinking.

only the indefinable
has the detail
to define us,
archiving our profiles
for some future
day of the spirit.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Transcending Time : Three Poems


Bronze man
+ heat
+ acid
= patina

8 bronze figures
+ variety of temperatures
+ acid
gives range of patinas

Transcending time.


at easel

and vision
= mismatch.

battles through

Transcending time.


at easel

+ figure(s)
- narrative

Transcending time.

Friday 5 July 2013

The Empty Box

Opening the matchbox
is a safety curtain raised
an opera revealed
a space completely filled
by a vertical black wheel,
a stationary hub
round which the stage
proscenium arch and orchestra
are turned like turtles, like a page
of music that the maestro missed.

Watch when the box is upside down
how every match has tumbled out
and struck its flame upon the ground...

From sight comes sound
from fire comes song,
the matches dance off two-by-two
in high duet or pas de deux.

Shadows fall of spoke and rim,
fire turns the wheel that would not move,
the world must follow in its groove
and all obsessed by flame or song
be crushed beneath the awesome heft.

What will be left?
The matchbox holding empty space
remakes itself and finds the grace
for buffalo and killer whale,
an octopus, a small boy's zoo
of mini-beasts from underground --
revolting seen in morning light --
that turn most adults chalky white.

It's from this box your nightmares come.
Abhoring vacuums, nature boasts
that little boys oft help it out,
that vacuums are a nightmare's home,
an empty box a place for ghosts.

The matchbox closed, the small boy smiles:
he's trapped a world with childish wiles.
What when your muse moves to dispense
inspiring thoughts that make no sense?

Beneath the blankets through the night
the small boy makes his curtain calls,
the matchbox opening a chink.
Man thinks of God with thoughts that shrink.

Anna at dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft is asking us to consider Atmosphere in our writing.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

The Rest of Creation

I wonder if God meant
to fill the world
quite as full of us
as it's become.

I can't believe
He saw us from the first
as cuckoos in the nest
edging all His
other creatures out.

And when he used such words
as fruitful, multiply,

did He stop to think
what we might make of them?

They were a license,
we supposed,
to bully and abuse
the rest of His creation.
To procreate among ourselves
without restraint.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

My First Landscape

My first landscape.
Concrete first. Between two sheds.
(Bicycles and coal.)
Beyond the concrete, grass -
both crawled across
until the grass stopped suddenly,
the rose bed massing hues for our delight
at journey's end for me,
drawn not by blooms, but by
the fallen petals on the ground.
These early odysseys, but fading memories
pinned to a photograph or two,
cross-referenced with later recollections -
like perfumes from the petals,
made for mum and gran,
received with great enthusiasm.
Never whiffed again.

Clear as crystal though, the coal shed memories;
there I'd build my own Black Mountains in the dark.

Apart from that, there is a mist
until the day I passed my first horizon: that
of the trellis, almost garden-wide and backing
all the standards, floribundas, hybrid teas
and shrubs with high-rise climbing plants.
Soon I would discover whole new continents:
a corner full of lilies of the valley,
a path edged either side
with gooseberries and other fruits,
the bushes low enough for me to taste -
and tear my flesh.

There was one far horizon that would wait
maybe another year or so:
tall loganberries formed the final screen.
Beyond were apple, plum and elderberry.

None gave more pleasure, though,
than those Black Mountains in the dark.

Monday 1 July 2013

My Best Friend for a Short While

Somehow, we have become attached to one another.
At dead of night, when I was out of it a while,
somehow we got hitched.
But for the moment I am on a mission:
to prove to Sarah; sister, guard dog, guardian angel, she
who looks askance to see me on my feet and unaccompanied,
that I am viable alone,
have all the powers at my disposal
to stay upright for a half hour -- plus those I'll need
to move around... But then,
I'm not exactly unaccompanied just now:
I have my best friend, Mr Bloodbags by my side.
Tall, ram-rod stiff, flat feet with castors,
cheerful screen for face, and only one shortcoming:
he only speaks bleepese.

Come on, I say, spotting that the corridor is quiet.
Beeep, bip, bip, bip, bip, beeeep! Beep, beep! he says,
meaning something like I'm right beside you kiddo!
I'm making for the toilet first of all.
Once both of us are safely in, I bolt the door
and from my hospital jim-jams extract
The Meanest Flower , a Mim-
i Khalvati book, no more than pocket size.
Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, biiip, blo, blo, blop, peeeeeeep, pop,
he goes. Then three raps at the door.

David! Are you alright in there? I know you're there,
I can hear your blood transfusion beeping...

I put the book away and look at him.
Why can't you keep your mouth shut chum? I ask.
Blop, blo, blo, pleep, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!" he goes.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

The White Mask

The man in the white mask
died anyway,
dropped dead on the fog-bound street
on the pavement on which
he'd missed his footing --
nothing being wholly visible that day.

Several pedestrians
would stumble over him --
dozens maybe --
before somebody or something
would move him on.
The scavenging dogs may have taken him.
All that is certain
is that nothing was ever seen of him again.

It would become a town of white masks.
Soon, white masks would be everywhere.
The streets would become full
of those slowly dying or about to die.
Death wholly unexpected when it came,
but wholly in keeping
with everyone's expectations.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

I'm Back!

Yes, good to be back, though it may not be for long. Apologies all round for dropping off the radar with no word of explanation. Truth is, last Wednesday morning in the wee small hours, I began to haemorrhage and was whisked away to A and E. Transferred to the Surgical Assessment Unit, I didn't escape until late yesterday. I am now awaiting the results of biopsies and tests and things.

But for now, here I am with a week old post inspired by Tess Kincaid's prompt for last week, the painting by Marc Chagall La Promenade. (Find the site here

Being in sore need of a quick post, I have taken the liberty of using it anyway.

In the meantime grateful thanks to all those kind friends who have left comments and/or good wishes. I have read them all and am now off to do so again,

The Promenade

He stands astride the world;
astride the hills that someone squeezed
from a baker's dozen toothpaste tubes;
astride the rolling hills - not water
and not solid earth,
but something spiritual between.
The corporeal lies discarded on the floor:
a picnic's crumpled cloth;
unwanted egg cups, flowers, wine -
decanted, part consumed. But these
he does not stand astride. He dances
past the town, its church, its houses, civic halls,
all thrown like dice along the line of hills.
They fall in broken lines, a sort of stave
for his atonal songs. Music is his thing.

She is the song he sings.
Embodiment sublime plucked from the score.
His voice has thrown her to the stars.
Pregnant with the stars' reverberations,
pregnant with their light
and other-worldliness,
their landscape lifts, becomes one with
the world beyond.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

The Cliche

Some cliches are as old as the hills,
some writers think anything goes,
but from time immemorial
we must say that strictly speaking
there's no smoke without fire
and we should avoid them like the plague --
unless we want our manuscripts
to be as dead as doornails, that is.
After all, at this moment in time --
not to mention the end of the day --
the bottom line (not to mention
the name of the game) should be
to leave no stone unturned, and to
explore every avenue that avoids
the use of threadbare language.

Cliches was the theme suggested for this week at mindlovemisery

Monday 17 June 2013

Making It Up

I knew when he started to giggle
that he was going to cave in.
All evening he'd been chattering,
on and on, all a load of moonshine.
At any minute I had thought I
would wake up from his crazy, surreal world.
Mind you, a sudden awakening like that
can shatter all sense of anything
approaching the reality I seek.
Therefore, I decided to ride it out.
Anything he said I would write up later
and somehow make a scoop of it. My editor
would cut me in, I knew, and split
his ill-gotten gains with me.

Wtitten to The Sunday Wordle 113.

Sunday 16 June 2013

A Beauty Rare and Commonplace

Polio at age thirteen
had closed the shutters on her teenage world:
on dancing, high heels, sport and boys --
the latter through her mum's great fear:
impossible to run away.
(One leg a lowly fraction of its former self:
two babies would reduce it further later on.)

Concluded too, her great desire to nurse. And then
the local schools would not accept her.
(Too dangerous, negotiating stairs!) And yet
I've never heard complaint, not once,
of how life spins its roulette wheel.
(I doubt that such a thing as randomness exists,
not absolutely. Random numbers are
a fiction. Random chance? No chance at all!
I'm looking at her now;
she in the garden, me upstairs,
she on her kneeler on the lawn,
around her spread her plants and pots,
her compost and her tools.
There's beauty both in her and how she works;
does what she does the way she can,
shows not a sign of all her struggling.
Makes light of all that's burdensome for her.

Sound of a stick upon the floor, a sound
from somebody that toils from chair to chair

wrote Yeats. He might have written it of her,
the words a perfect fit. It's commonplace.
It is. She makes it so, and makes it so
afresh from day to day. And yet
there's nothing stirs my heart as much --
nor ever will.

Simply to avoid misunderstandings: Reader, I married her.

Hobgoblin at dVerse ~ Poets Pub suggested that we wrote about beauty in the everyday.

Friday 14 June 2013

Geranium Pepper Mill Thompson Lake

Geranium Pepper Mill Thompson Lake
had a rhinoceros, thin as a rake,
fed it on whiskey, turnips and clocks,
took it to school in her pencil box.

Was it the whiskey or was it the clocks
saw the rhinoceros knitting white socks?
stuffing them into a kilner jar
with seaweed and semtex to fuel the car?

The car took off with a bit of a start
like a time machine in an elephant's fart.
They stopped at Mars for puddings and rolls,
coconuts, wellies and costume dolls.

At school the rhinoceros sailed through his sums
while Geranium counted on fingers and thumbs.
Out in the playground an ostrich flew by
and offered them both a flip round the sky.

The sky was so big, they didn't get back,
but encountered by luck a yak in a sack.
They stayed with the yak, who remarked to Miss Lake:
My Goodness, my girl, you're thin as a rake.

Let me fatten you up on bats' ears and glue --
I've an app on my phone that will do it for you.

Said Geranium Lake to the short-sighted yak:
It's the rhino' whose thin -- get back in your sack.

Back on the ostrich and home in the night
with the twitchers all tweeting a nocturnal kite,
Geranium Pepper Mill Thompson Lake
settled down in her bed of cottonseed cake.

At mindlovemisery this week we are asked to write a nonsense poem.

Thursday 13 June 2013

The Thingy

Shimmering in the curb
it caught my eye from the top
of the house steps, some thirty yards away.
From there it seemed to be at rest. (Later,
I would see the tiny vibrations animating it.)
It lay beside the spot where I had parked
my car, though so obsessed by it was I,
I failed to spot the car had moved --
been moved -- much further down the road.

Closer, I made out that it was brass,
of maybe a hand's length, with three fins
at the blunt end. Along the top was printed
the one word: STATUS, beside which
an orange light, pinhead size, was flashing long,
long, short, long, off. From the object's nose
two jets were spewing thick, hot, bubbling
liquids like two mini oil spills,
one of which, dark brown, evaporated slowly
in the gutter as I watched; the other, yellow,
was disappearing down the nearest drain.

Being on call, I had my doctor's bag with me,
and used my stethoscope to listen to the thing.
Inaudible without my doctor's listening device,
from inside I heard a noise like distant thunder.
That decided me to page a guy I knew who had
some expertise and influence. Janita brought
the bomb squad, calling it an exercise. And that
was just as well, because when they arrived
I and the rest of the road - all my neighbours,
as far as the paper shop -- were sound asleep;
the bomb had split open, and was playing
The Marseillaise , whilst above it
a twenty feet high cardboard elephant was dancing
and waving strings of banana shaped balloons.

Written for The Sunday Whirl from the wordle shown below.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Strange Meteorology

Pin pricks
these rain drop darts
colder than we'd thought...
Rain darting
copse to field
then field to lake
and back to copse.

Spiralling indeed.
Our eyes have followed it
above the heathered hills.
We are agreed
the shower returning
airborne in the sense of everyday
seems not to touch the surface of the lake
so bright the light reflecting there.

Day darkens
and the lake's arms open,
welcome back the darts
which pit the surface.
Tiny craters
each with its tall steeple
placed dead centre.
(Strange, I had not noticed them before.)

Short lived, of course,
as everything is bound to be
in such a spiralling universe.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Janus Words : Eight "Haiku"

She dusted the cakes
with icing sugar -- my job
was to dust the floors.

Stuck fast in the mud --
unfortunate consequence
of driving too fast.

Lack of oversight
therefore shoddy work slips through --
too many oversights!

root out the old weeds
and see what grand displays of
flowers will take root.

Cleave a carcass clean
in half he can -- yet still he
cleaves to mum and dad.

Do not refrain from
following your own desires --
his constant refrain.

Once the sanctions bite
then we can sanction something
rather less extreme.

The sun has come out
so we will make hay -- and sleep
when the lights go out.

Following the suggestion of Manicddaily at dVerse Poets that we write something on twins, opposites or the divided self, I thought of Janus Words, those words which carry two opposite meanings and tried using the haiku form - though not too successfully, I feel

Friday 7 June 2013

Dadaist for a Day

I lift up my eyes
to the hills
the G4 towers
from which cometh
words in the right order
leaves on the tree
the rats eat
sitting at my table
and not disturbing a penny
for my sins
daring the future
hoping to be buried in a woodland glade
beside a yogurt factory.
But everything is digital these days
except happiness
and sadness is machinery.
Cogs are so destructive
and madrigals
the tinnitus of music
accumulate red earth
and the sound of skate boards
coming out of church.
Birds at their dawn chorus
colour the air.
Warmth turns to winter
and what is worth saving
is the knowledge that nothing lies
outside life
but a man in a copper kettle.
Memory foam
synthetically fills
the ocean of your mind

Charles Miller at dVerse Poets Form for All is encouraging us to write as Dadaists this week and suggests two methods, both of which involve scissors. I have tried a slightly different method: choosing one of my note books, I prepared a list of random page and line numbers, looked each up in turn and wrote down the corresponding line in strict order. Finally, I allowed myself four adjustments, changing the positions of certain lines.

A Visit to the Garden Centre

Foxgloves? Shakes head
Might be over yonder...
"Over yonder" is foxglove free.
Expanding, see... waves hand freely through air.
Points to board with details
drawings like an ultra neat graffito.
Double-sizing it "The Future" reads.

Relief then... two years' time... who knows? Foxgloves on the menu?

At least they have begonias. Six trays please! mixed.

Dumper trucks (concrete
mix) mixing it with flatbed
barrows with one wheel
(manure, compost, trellises)
and supermarket trolleys (betting plants - sic -
and herbaceous).


(maybe from the salvias?)

A hard hat abseils down from The Pavilion roof.
Lands among the roses.

Two ladies wander by (80? 90?)
Well, as you know, I'm no drinker. Not at all!
One full glass of whisky. That does me!

Later. (Looking at delphiniums)
I must have my dry sherry dear before I tackle tea!

Tuesday 4 June 2013


The train winds its lonely way across the prairie
and disappears into The Throat, a rock formation
like a fan vault, but open at the top.
Part tunnel and part cutting of foliated gneiss,
an observer on the prairie would see nothing of
the train at this point than a swirl of smoke
travelling from north to south at sixty miles an hour.
Not, that is, until the train emerges from
its semi subterranean sightseeing tour
before another rock formation, a cave known locally as
The Halls of the Outlaw Kings. The driver feels
as though the blood has frozen solid in his limbs and heart.
Here in these caves it was that forty years ago
a rapture overcame him as a girl he'd never seen before
danced nimbly from his arms, there to be turned to gneiss
before his unbelieving eyes. He craves her still --
and more and more profoundly with each passing day.

Using the twelve words selected as prompt by The Sunday Whirl. (Wordle 111)

Monday 3 June 2013

Three Shorts

From mindlovemisery the theme: Personification


Spring came early that year,
didn't stop for pleasantries,
but wiped her wintry feet
on our new "WELCOME" mat
then sallied back into the fray.
Resumed hostilities.

Almost a prisoner of war
when next we met.
Winter now her jailer.
His grip more tightly round her.
No thoughts of her release.


My car a Super Beetle --
second hand but crafted by
those clever
Vorsprung durch Technik people --
inspite of which:
it went jerkily to school one day.

Lunch time and with the cowling up
I'm poking at the engine bits
and stroking them
and crooning in my smoothest voice.
Unseen behind me
one interested pupil, very small.

What y'doing then, sir?
"I'm talking to her very nicely,
hoping she will go for me."
What, she knows English then, sir?
or you knows German?

"A bit of each Paul. She hears
the friendly sounds in voices
and likes to please them, see?
At least, that's what I'm hoping...
all done by love and kindness!"
My mum says things like that about our cat!
"Very wise, your mum. Listen to her, huh?"


Ask any of the locals,
They will tell you how
she always has those evil glints
in her dark eyes
when she's about to flood.
Below the cataract,
behind the foaming white,
just where the water lies
the blackest it can be
and still,
you'll see the double glint
where moon and sun
have both spat in her eye --
Sure sign she'll soon come raging down the valley
full of spite.

Sunday 2 June 2013

60 Years ago today saw the Coronation of our present Queen, Elizabeth II, in Westminster Abbey.

The ceremony was performed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, who would later say of it:-
The country and the commonwealth were very close to The Kingdom of God.

Comments, anyone?

(The image is from wikimedia commons)

Friday 31 May 2013

Crossed Wires

A side effect
was synesthesia.*
Not in the tablets' literature...
no, not the bittiest of mentions.
So: scary when it struck.

The thunder cloud that had been hovering
above us for the past few hours
began to lose its blackness
and to smell and taste of liquorice.
The lightning fizzed
on two rear taste buds
to my tongue, that long ago
the doctor called defunct. The wind,
a gentle pea green zephyr in the early morning,
had worked up through the gears:
pale cobalt blue through indigo
to madder brown and crimson cruise control,
'til finally the the cloud released
the heaviest of thunder rolls.
Long, shimmering peals flaunted themselves above
the low hills and fell in waves as though
some heavenly dancer danced the dance of seven veils.
Some were plain. White. Silver. Yellow. Grey.
But others were more sexually explicit:
kitsch, vulgar, raffish in the jazz and clash of hues.

As evening drew the shades across the sky
I smelt the perfume of the stars. The Pole Star
stank of fish left too long on the beach (at least,
it was the Pole Star that I blamed), but most
were replicating smells they'd picked up in the garden
before the roses learnt to sing instead.
A real dawn chorus greeted me next morning
with floribundas easing up and down the scales
and climbers yodelling away
for all that they were worth.

The thunder was still hanging on.
More distant now. I heard it
as it echoed in the valleys deep between the hills...
Yes! Heard it! Echo! The tablets were losing their bite...

*Synesthesia: When one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when stimulation of the hearing produces the sensation of colour.

The synesthesia prompt by Victoria C. Sloto - along with more info' - can be found at dVerse Poets Pub

Thursday 30 May 2013

The Final Kiss

Naked and sylph-like,
flesh as a seamless robe,
a source of pale, hypnotic light,
emanating which, she glides
from her underground dominion
to entice her passing subjects
with displays of her somatic arts.
She chooses carefully and teases each.
Each comes quickly to the end
of his short tether -- and not
until that point is reached
she plants the final kiss,
allows him to depart this earthly life.

Written for mindlovemisery from the wordle below:-

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Don't say I didn't warn you!

"Pony Tail".
Code for turbulence.
Turbulence in the gas chamber.
Invisible the gas,
the black smoke drawn
into elegant wisps...
Soon it will be spinning itself
into a fractal
of great beauty and complexity.

But that is not the reason why
Professor Darkman is delighted.
No, the invisibility of the gas
and the developing structure of
the smoke, these are the signs
that indicate his project will
succeed beyond his wildest dreams.
The long months of experiment and
slow development will not have been
in vain. Even now, at this, the
penultimate stage, nothing could live
in that chamber -- and no one would be
able to say how it had died. And there
are other "chambers", not made of glass.
Nothing so substantial. One the size of
Buckingham Palace, one to match the
great dome of St Paul's. One he calls
"The small perambulator"... in all, one
hundred and ninety six gas chambers, each
tailor made to exact dimensions. Naturally,
I am not permitted to reveal the purpose
of these dark plans, nor the secrets of
the chambers themselves -- for example,
how they manage to confine the gas within
such narrow and exact limits, but if in the
next month or so, you die mysteriously,
do not say I didn't warn you of the danger.

Written for Willows prompt at The Mag 170 to whom much thanks for the image "Pony Tail".

Sunday 26 May 2013

The Kids Are Running the Nursery

Everyone was taken by surprise
as they were bound to be.
No one expected it,
not even those who'd tweeted it would happen.
Nothing like it had occurred before -- ever!
So with hindsight,
something like it
had been guaranteed to happen.
Last Sunday night it did.
No blood was shed.
No one got injured.
It was a silent revolution:
the kids took over N.A.S.A. --
and they did it with kid gloves.

Out went Mission Control's
new super-fast computers.
In went their homely
cutting edge technologies.
Soon Ground Control
was suffering from ipaditis. Even so,
in absolutely
no time at all -- or less --
(three shakes of a loose antenna)
a ball game was under way
across the Western skies.
A satellite spectacular
televised on every channel
to catch the natives' interest
and show the world how serious they are.

Two days it took to launch
their first space mission.
The capsule -- rather cramped --
a yesterday's deep sea diver's helmet,
all thruster jets and macho logos.
Sola system areas thought sensitive --
the gun site on the moon for one --
were quickly blanketed
in sheets of yellow custard.
to a recipe concocted by a space girl's mum.

Already now, in this first week,
one matter is resolved
which baffled all the adults in their time:
that of life on other planets.
Their i-pads have been swamped
with messages of mild complaint
about the nuisance caused
by astro footballs landing
on their properties. N.A.S.A
has announced its policy of
NO COMPENSATION for lost peace of mind.

Written for dVerse Poets Poetics, who supplied a selection of inspirational images from the wonderful Leovi site.

Friday 24 May 2013

The train is leaving
Tribute to Penelope Shuttle
A Glosa*

Samuel Peralta at dVerse Poets sets the challenge of composing a Glosa. (Details at bottom of page.)

The train is leaving has left
that I haven't boarded,
the journey is beginning
that I haven't begun.
        Penelope Shuttle

Other travellers and trippers
push past me, launch themselves
on their great journeys. I,
on the other hand, am a fixed point,
their North Star by which they check
their headings. Stationary time has heft
and gravitas; it's travelling
that lightens loads. I see them go
to states of mind of which I am bereft.
My train is leaving, has left.

Wait! Even in my stationary state
the world around me changes.
Exotic costumes jostle me,
the tang of unseen spaces flow,
and from luggage labels palm trees grow.
Hotels I'd never have afforded
stretch out their corridors like arms to me.
I'll book a room with a sea view!
Not all the scrap book scenes I've hoarded
went with the train I haven't boarded!

Picked up now by a sudden crush
and wafted through the barrier,
I'm taken to a small lagoon.
Grass-skirted girls with bamboo pipes
welcome me with flowers and tunes.
I cannot help the fact I'm grinning;
sunbathing here on pure white sands,
smug now, knowing that my world is good --
and furthermore, no longer spinning...
Ha! The journey is beginning!

Coming from my reverie
with six hard hats surrounding me:
The area from here to there...
(They're pointing... vaguely... in the air...)
is private land. Industrial --
A work place, see? And not for fun!

The dream is shattered. Nothing left
of what I'd thought my great escape.
My dream is back, beyond square one --
the dream I haven't begun.

The poem The Train is Leaving is in the current edition of Poetry London, and so, I imagine, a new poem. I have not been able to find it on the internet, but if you are more successful, I would appreciate a word to that effect.

*Samuel Peralta writes:- The glosa is a form of poetry from the late 14th century and was popular in the Spanish court.

The introduction, the cabeza, is a quatrain quoting a well-known poem or poet.

The second part is the glosa proper, expanding on the theme of the cabeza, consisting of four ten-line stanzas, with the lines of the cabeza used to conclude each stanza.

Lines six and nine must rhyme with the borrowed tenth.
For further info' follow my link to the dVerse Poets web page.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Night and Day

FROM mindlove misery the intriguing suggestion that we use as inspiration a song from the decade of our birth. For me that's the thirties and I have chosen Night and Day by Cole Porter. You can read the lyrics here. My offering takes the form of a reply to Cole Porter -- from a very different world, of course.

You can keep, keep, keep your tom toms,
their beat is not for me
the beat, beat, beat I appreciate
is the heart beat of the free,
and the drip, drip, drip of the raindrops
has very little to do
with the fact that I love a world made for love,
at the head of which stands you.

Night and Day
you are the one I love,
the one who rides above
every storm-kissed wave.

Night and Day
we'll be but two,
not two alone,
but out in the world
where our love was grown.

Night and Day
we'll be just two
with a mission to save
whatever the cost
what is not yet lost.

It's the beat, beat, beat of a yearning
for a world that is slipping away,
and you and I must share, my love,
in preserving our future's day.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Fragments of Memory

Two fragments here from childhood memory:
first, a searchlight like the lighthouse-light,
the way it cut the opaque darkness, where
touching then the sky it made it nebulous,
like Gran's blueberry jelly -- or so it
seemed to me. [A war time joke: two simpletons.
First simpleton: five pounds you can't climb to
the very top of that there beam and wave.
Second simpleton: No bet, I'll not get
half way to the top before you'll turn it off!]

We watched the soldiers play the light across
the sky, my dad and I, in search of Junkers
bombers, so I heard. It was a torch that turned
the sky's bleak slab to a new blazing vision
in my mind. And there below the lighthouse
the second vision, more homely, just as bright:
The dandelion clock puff balls that we blew,
breath after breath, to watch them float or hover,
timing our return to home and tea: three--
O-clock, four, five-of-the-clock -- gone time to go!
Sometimes we'd crush them if we didn't want
to go. Mostly, though we went!

Written jointly for The Sunday Whirl who supplied the above wordle and The Mag 169 for whom I am much indebted for the great image, Wyeth Jamie's Lighthouse-dandelions.

Friday 17 May 2013


A brown and yellow ball
rolled from the square
between parked cars
and into the road.
The ball was followed
by a small boy (brown
shorts and yellow top).
A speeding car avoided him
and stopped a few yards
further on. The boy
had fallen to the ground
so that most bystanders
thought he had been hit.
Two men, one of them the
boy's father, dragged
the driver from the car
to remonstrate with him
before calling the police.
The boy was inconsolable --
the ball having been squashed.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Home-Spun Technology

It filled a corner of their living room,
but never quite produced the sounds
that we, who lived with them, were keen to hear.
The radiogram, my gran and granddad's
pride and joy. It hummed and strummed. And Churchill
must have loved it, for his voice boomed through it
often when the two of them sat close, ears
almost to the yellow grill. But others
stayed away: Dick Barton, for example,
the Special Agent never did come through.
To hear the likes of him we had our own
technology: a crystal set. Sulphide
of lead, the crystal was. We tickled it
with a long wire - the whisker from the cat.
No batteries were needed. No power
of any sort beyond the waves caught by
the crystal's long antenna. Here and there
were hot spots on the crystal which if you
tickled them just right with the long wire, not
too hard and not too soft and just in the
right spot, you'd get a crackle in the 'phones
or a long hiss before a voice or sound
effects or honky tonk. And all from no-
where and by magic, all from the ether
and all free. But if the adults used it
it would merely crackle and the only
voice you'd hear was theirs. They'd fret and fume and
curse each time the tune was lost to crackle.

Written for Poetry Jam where this week's prompt is Crystal

Wednesday 15 May 2013

How do we see a beauty - or an Ugliness

Light -- sun-light -- instinctively owned
source and nourisher of energies
that flesh is heir to.
Mind knowing it as twin.
Object -- not medium -- of sight.

See how mountains scatter light in certain ways --
the way that water smacks and breaks off rock,
perhaps -- and other things in different ways,
how trees have similar trade secrets of their own.
How all we know of anything is how it fractures light --
until, that is, we add the confirmation of a touch:
the mountain can be climbed,
the tree will take our weight.

But more: the way the light will change
a surface that it falls upon
(or the surface will change it),
so do the patterns from the world around
fall on to patterns sparking in the brain,
and like conflicting wave forms,
cause interference, each with each,
sometimes to enhance the status quo
and feed the pleasure centres of the mind
as beauty; sometimes to corrupt,
and tell us that we see an ugliness.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Desert Visions

The sun's first rays
brushed the mouth of the cave,
catching the tattered figures,
robing them momentarily
in light, and seeming to enhance
the clarity of their chants.
Their voices must
have echoed eerily in
the confined space
of their lowly hermitage,
though they soared
with crystal beauty
above the broken line of trees
where the birds of prey
were already circling.

And then the chanting stopped,
replaced by a nasal drone.
It was a signal known to the birds.
The oldest and wisest of
the hermits had long ago
made a solemn vow,
which he considered binding,
that by hook or by crook
he would save the souls
of those murderous birds.
Now he made a fist
and held it aloft.
The first and biggest of the birds
descended, perched on
the knuckles of his closed hand
and spread its wings,
forming there the image of a crucifix.

Written for The Sunday Whirl whose wordle is shown above.

Sunday 12 May 2013


I called him uncle, who was cousin --
distant and yet close.
A hero to me -- probably my first.
A footballer in peacetime.
Professional, who played in goal,
but now in uniform, he drove a tank.
I basked a lot
in his reflected glory
and the jealousy of friends.

He took me to the beach one time --
and took the ball along.
We played a bit. He tried
to teach me a few skills. Nearby,
two rivals building castles in the sand.
One, younger than the other, got my vote.
The older boy was furious,
and bombed and kicked his vier's castle
back into the sand. That done,
he stood upon his own and sang.
Loudly he sang, repetitively, to us all:
I'm the king of the castle,
I'm the king of the castle...

Over and over and louder and louder.

Finally, I ran up to our ball
and kicked it hard in his direction.
Here memory is wanting. Did I score
a direct hit? Or did I miss
and did he lose his balance as he ducked?
At any rate he fell, and I,
to the final strains of I'm
the king of the castle...
Get down you dirty rascal!

I still am tempted to take down
those who are too triumphant when they win
and who delight in seeing their opponents,
not just beaten but destroyed. You see it
often in the football fan. Perhaps his team
came top. Their greatest rival relegated
and he crows who has been given bragging rights.

Written to the prompt at dVerse Poets (Poetics) where Mary suggests we consider something that we find tempting.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Prelude to Disaster

The sea's fluorescent hues
deepen the shadows of the bay;
the moon's graffiti on the crests
and troughs shine white as chalk
cliffs on a summer's day
and caution as to what the sea
can silently absorb.

In rock pools where the sea
sets out its stall the hermit crab,
the algae, sponges, green leaf worms
and jelly fish are overwhelmed
by bubble wrap and plastic bags,
condoms and bottle tops, tin foil
and wire -- they bring no punters in.

And out beyond the breakers where
the sea heaves like a gasping chest,
now eiderdowned in decayed leaves...
not leaves, as in some woodland pond,
but decayed fish. They swam into
a toxic pool. Fluorescence here
is oil and water: that which cannot wed.

Written for this week's prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads where the suggestion was that we should write a prelude to a poem that does not exist yet.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

what does she know?

(Written for this week's picture prompt at The Mag, Mary Cassatt's Young Woman Picking the Fruit of Knowledge. )

Does she know
the nature of the fruit she picks?
Has she no inkling of
the consequences that she risks?
Is she an innocent,
a child of nature, one
reacting to the beauties all around?
Or does she satisfy some appetite,
a craving that will not be satisfied?
Is she dependent on the juice of knowledge
for her kicks?
Or is she simply hoarding data for
a rainy day, collecting facts
like sea shells or glass animals,
trivia perhaps for some pub quiz?

We are bedazzled by some beauty that we see,
but knowledge does not grow on trees,
demands acquaintance
with the tantalising thing
in all its forms;
some element of skill,
some process of the mind.
She may enjoy
her apple, quince or apricot,
but all she knows
is how the apple, quince and apricot compare.

Written for this week's picture prompt at The Mag, Mary Cassatt's Young Woman Picking the Fruit of Knowledge.

Monday 6 May 2013

An Alternative View

Regardless of his many lauded charms,
he has a lot of front, you must agree.
On more than one occasion recently
we've heard him give the boss a dressing down --
and always with a thunderous row the sure result.
I wouldn't trust him further, man,
than I can spit. Mixed messages are what
he'll dish you up -- I cannot even count
in thousands all the times he's thrown me
so far off the scent... well let's just say
he's left me well and truly in the soup
and seeing red, the hot blood pulsing in my veins!

From The Sunday Whirl (#107) these words from which to spin a poem: front, charm, messages, soup, thousand, pulsing, red, thunderous, dressing, count, spit, dish

Sunday 5 May 2013

How Myths May Discompose

Imagine: Kenny. Rising eight,
child with special needs,
highly animated as I tell
Creation's story -- scientific version.
But no Big Bang for us! Continuous Creation. --
That's it. Official version of the day.
Almost, his fever of excitement is too much,
but is cut short. The bell. We file into the hall.

The head's assembly. Today: Creation.
The Book of Genesis. Kenny is confused.
Distressed. He is in agony.
Later, he asks if he may paint.
He takes two sheets of kitchen paper,
tapes the two together and launches into
yet another landscape: mountains, valleys,
trees and flowers, birds and animals,
a river, sun, moon and stars... But then:
two moons and two men in the valley.

One figure is diminutive, he's pointing up
towards the second moon. The other
man towers over him -- and wears a halo round
his head. I ask would Kenny like to talk about...
(Don't ever ask What is it? or far,
far worse What's it supposed to be? )... He nods.
The second moon is not a moon but Sputnik 1
(The Russians launched it recently.)
The little man is Adam and the big man God.
Adam points towards the Sputnik, says:
See God, it's me put that one up!

And God says: what? I ask.
He's got a wee, wee spider in his hand and
he's showing Adam and he says to him
"Well, I jist made this one. Beat that!"

Hoping to ease myself back into writing mode, I have rewritten an old version for submission to Hobgoblin2011's prompt at Poetics: The Creatures Of Mythology, Folklore and Fairy Tales

Saturday 4 May 2013

Days on the Long Mynd : too few of them.

beneath a single pine
I make believe its branches
are a forest canopy
look heavenward ---
where I was taught to look for heaven.

White clouds drift by.
(could they be clouds
on which the angels sit?)
No, not a sound of any sort...
The wind is kicking up.
Dust clouds stir.
Sand storms threatening...

Flying Things Hill.
(I idly dream up names for it.)
Every sort of flying thing is here
(barring angels, I'm afraid):
gnats. midges. birds and bees.
Butterflies (the green
hair streak,
for one) and ants.

An unidentified F.O... I have
just seen the first Wright
Brothers' version of a dragon fly...
You laugh, my friend? All things
are possible up here. This hill was put
together in the Southern Hemisphere --
The Falkland Islands' latitude, in fact.

PreCambrian is this, survivor of
the global ice age, and of flooding by
a shallow Cambrian sea, to share in
that time's burgeoning new life,
transported here by Tecto Couriers. Com
to fill this Shropshire space with its white
sand, its trilobites and pebbles from its beach.

Above the canopy, above the heads
of angels and other flying things:
a Jumbo jet, much smaller than a bee,
and yet its baneful spray,
invisible to you and me,
affects the lesser flying things
and us -- incalculably!

If it was black, the rain
that falls from it, and not invisible
I doubt we ever would
have sanctioned it. I turn my head,
cheek into heather,
spiked by bits of gorse,
and catch my breath again:

the sun-fired purples make you think
the whole heath is alight.
Beyond the virtual flames
a glider station; sail planes
flying off the ridge.
A stone chat lands nearby,
looks round at me, takes in the view,

then follows two hang gliders out
into the empty space, exploring with them
the Long Mynd's wild extremes.
I turn my head the other way:
children flying kites. Time now
to head for home below the ridge
to glass and concrete cliffs

and concrete trees, their cables
little more in evening light
than first attempts by a small child
at ruling pencil lines. We leave
the whinberries (bilberries
if you are not a local) and six-
-teen Bronze Age burial mounds

to inch our way along the single track
of loose sand, packed with cars,
to marvel at the sudden blaze
of fiery red the sun now gives
the scene. a blaze that puts
the once-bright hues of sailplanes
firmly in the shade.

The image is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike License. The copyright holder is Sean Hattersley

Apologies for my unannounced absence, due, I am afraid to a health hiccup.(My previous post proved all too prophetic!)

Tuesday 30 April 2013

The Dark Oath

harrowing, you might say,
seeing all that blood run out of me
thin and watery,
transparent even.
Not blood that I might recognise
as being mine,
yet knowing it
as blood drawn from my very marrow
by those foul grubs,
those slaves of Satan.

I saw all this,
but could not guess
the depths to which my tattered soul
was being dragged,
how spirit can be borrowed
for a wickedness so rare
that one must either
march beneath its flag
or take the oath that leads --
as it has now led me --
to ultimate destruction.

Written for The Sunday Whirl #106

Sunday 28 April 2013


Mum had promised the zoo,
the doctor shook his head
and vanished in a puff of pipe smoke
through the chimney breast.

Next up was mum
holding in her hands a camel's head --
the rest was parked behind,
zebra-striped and in its hump
a tiny first-aid cupboard door
from which mum took
a glass thermometer
for sticking under tongues.

I must have blinked
a quite amazing blink
that swapped the kitchen
and the bathroom round.
I saw mum wave a silver wand
and heard a noise and turned about
to see a great big crocodile
splash water from the bath
and pick the bones of what remained
of Peter's rubber duck.

A train came by
which all got on --
aunts, uncles, distant cousins,
folk I'd never seen.
We sat in open trucks.

They said it was a wonderland.
I swear we never moved,
and all I saw was fog --
until the train pulled in at last
and I lay in my bed.

And mother with the doctor's bottle,
bottle green and fluted glass,
the tallest cork I'd ever seen,
and -- as I now believe --
in big red letters,
LAUDANUM on the side.

Written for the prompt at dVerse Poets by ManicDdaily to Trip the Poem Fantastic -- the emphasis being on TRIP, of course.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Notes for a Retrospective

#1 Leaves falling from the Tree of Life : spring comes to the garden.

#2 The Big Bang : God throws his paintbox at the biggest blank canvas ever.

#3 Therapy : I found these patterns on the edge of nowhere.

Sunburst : a cancer cell emitting electromagnetic signals.

#4 The Tower of Babel : a tumour of a million cancer cells, all emitting their unique electromagnetic signals.

#5 Landscape without figures : we pick out the pieces which best fit the landscape we have within.

#6 This egg yolk is not an egg yolk, but a fungus : nothing came of it.

#7 Speak to the hand, the ears aint listening : Adam and Eve talking to their three children about the consequences of sin.

#8 Pornography : the three children put into practice what their parents told them.

#9 A string bag : the strings vibrate to the distortions of time and space.

Friday 26 April 2013


Round the aspen's trunk, the squirrel's double helix -- one up, one down,
like Aunt May's little house whose garden boasts the magic tree.
In my mind's eye the squirrel weaves the DNA I'm sure they share!

Written for dVerse Poets where Samuel Peralta is introducing us to this form of Korean Poetry.

Thursday 25 April 2013


into this small wood
has been compressed
a world too large for it.

the world beyond the trees
was decompression chamber
which now is stressed
beyond the measurable

allowing interested parties
to deny the data --

sense impressions
more compelling
than the dry results
of number crunching.

of old resources
established weather patterns
breathable atmospheres
present a united front
of censure.

What moves between these verticals? Moves
horizontally. Run. Scamper. Scuttle. Flit.
Swoop. Lollop. crawl. Instinctively we plot
trajectories runs paths tapestries
of movement. Catch
the sparrow hawk. His dive-bomb dive.

Gate crash through the canopy. Becomes
one of the verticals.
Does it bring the tapestry alive?
Or is it rent in twain?
The Three-Dimensional
transposed as Two-.

in here it has been said
is where God died
or has been buried
or memorialized.
Something like that.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

The Resilience of Plants

The resilience of the plants to survive
against all odds a winter such as we
have just experienced... what doesn't
kill you, hardens I suppose. But some
were killed. Chrysanthemums. (The very
ones which seemed the hardiest of all.)
Shocked. Water-boarded -- plant variety.
A few found shelter. Some under snow.
Bluebells, for example, honoured their
appointments, but with energy full spent.
Yet still you'll need to look with care
to see the gaps the weather makes in land.
Some early plants still struggle - and
this well into spring. Most thrive and
little by little nature keeps its promise.
But even so, they've shipped in extra
daffodils to circumvent the shortfall in
the shops. Some traders even selling silk
or plastic blooms that made a bomb -- or so
I have been told. But then again, some
customers have been appalled and charged
the traders with being eco-infidels -- or
do I mean insurgents (of the green variety?

Written in response to The Sunday Wordle Post #105

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Too hot for daffodils

How all the others
lean on her
or lay themselves across her back.
Untidy bales of hay.

She stoops
beneath the withered corpses.

Either side
trumpets sound their yellow notes
bright as that first day

when they were wings...
were they wings...?  are they wings?
The yellow sound surges

Image of wings         whose wings?
Hers? Maybe she is/was
an angel   what sort of?   of death?

Too hot
that's what
did for her --
and all the others.

Never so tightly packed in life
never so close.
Death huddles them together.

Monday 22 April 2013

Language, Ethics and Curiosity

Listen. Let me tell you.
Eden was a trick, a sham
like a show trial put on by an autocratic state.
Could not have ended any other way!
Not one of us,only a simpleton
would not have behaved
the only way the human mind
is programmed to behave.

How do I know? Well, let me tell you,
I have played at being God,
have seen it all pan out,
almost before my eyes. The dice,
I say, were loaded. Overloaded.
Could not have fallen any other way!

When I say I played at God,
I mean I set up my own Eden.
Part of it. The tree. Forbidden fruit.
And tempted those who were so innocent
they simply had to fall.

I chose my Edens with great care --
location being so important
in these modern times. Let me tell you
of the time I chose the rose wood table
and spread it with a range of goodies
tempting to a child: two paper-weights
complete with snow, some costume dolls,
a crystal ball, a box of soldiers,
a castle and a tower. And centre stage,
my tree of Good and evil:
a bright red Chinese lacquer box
that rose above them all.

Teachers brought in eight top infants,
sat them at my Eden and then left.
It was not long before the angel came
(School secretary with a pre-arranged, fictitious
phone call in the office.
Could I take it now?)

I tell them they may talk among themselves,
may pick up the objects and play with them --
but on no account may the box be touched!

Exeunt yours truly and the secretary.

Has he gone?
Dunno. Can't see...
Open the door a bit, then.
You be me!
We've not got long!
Not got long for what?
To see what's in the red box.
He said not to.
He won't know.
He might!
Dunno. My gran, she was a teacher. My mum say she's got a nose for things like that. All teachers have!

That's nonsense. He'll never know!
Something might fly out if we lift the lid!
Like what?
When you look in this crystal ball you sees the classroom upside down!
It's humming!
What is?
The box, of course!
The windows go all out of shape in the corners.
Could be a bird in it then!
Birds don't hum, silly!
Some do!
Like what?
Humming birds!
That's their wings does that when they flying. There's not room to fly in the box, so it's not a bird.

I wonder why we can't open the box...
He thinks it's special, I s'pose.
It is special. It's got all these lovely lions all over it.
Don't be daft! Don't you know anything? They dragons, not lions. It's a Welsh box!
If you look right through it everything looks out of shape... only it's all behind you!
Welsh is dangerous. There's witches and things in Welsh!
That's why we mustn't touch it then! We might get spelled on!
I says we open it!
Who else says we open it?
That's all of us then, but not Peter.
No, he's too busy magicking with that there crystal ball! So Peter look away. Don't see us do it.


It's a tape recorder!
AND it's running!
AND it's on record!
That's how he'll know!

The reference in the poem is to an investigation I made in an infant school into the development of language and an ethical "compass" in young children. It was in fact one of two such investigations. The other I have already posted in a more straight forward report form. You can read it here http://picsandpoems.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/chalk-and-cheese.html

Sunday 21 April 2013


For long -- too long --
they've hesitated:
trembled in the wings,
stars of this year's pageantry,
their costumes under
winter's heavy wraps,
asking if it's time.
Was that our cue?

Then suddenly,
not as we'd thought
or where we'd thought,
not from the earth
(or so it seemed)
but conjured out of air:

just overnight,
the bright magnolia
is spangling the sky.
Stella, she's called --
so aptly named. Near-by
vies with the sun
for colour and for light.

And now the flame bush,
seeming nearer earth,
dispels that myth
as all its flames
spontaneously ignite.

Even the earth-bound hellebores
have raised themselves
to face the sun,
so lightening their load.

Diaphanous, the willow's gown,
bought yesterday on-line.
She shakes her skirts
with patent glee
and pride in how she looks.

Written for Claudia's Poetics ~ Spring at dVerse Poets

Saturday 20 April 2013

Art and Theories of Art

While we argued
The Truth of the painting,
its meaning -- and could
such a thing as meaning exist?

while we debated
how much he'd been swayed
by the skies of Bellini
or the mysticisms of Blake,

while we wrangled about
the folds in the clothes
(was it the Romanesque
line that we saw?)

or the slight elongations --
did he intend
the subtle rotations
that made form seem bizarre?

Even then, as we bickered,
the wind was rising,
the sun slowly falling,
the birds fallen quiet, and

the sky (though not a Bellini),
had gone suddenly dark --
and all the while
as we argued

these ponderous thoughts,
the sole custodian
of the answers we sought,
was dying alone in his bed.

Thursday 18 April 2013

The Coming of Godot

Peggy at Poetry Jam invites us this week to present a fictional character from a Point of View. I have chosen Godot from Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot". In the play Godot never appears. Waiting, interminably, for him to do so are two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon. In the spirit of the prompt (I hope!) I have given Godot sole occupancy of the stage.

Vladimir! Estragon! Where are
you -- Surely you have not left? Gone?
Can it be so? Are you not here?
Of course not. I see you are not.
Could ye not watch for me, one brief
hour more? Of course not? Why should you?
You waited well beyond what might
have been expected. I delayed
my coming -- God-like, but not God.
My non-appearance then became
far more than you or audience
could bear. Soon it became the main
point of the play. Academics
argued it was all. (What thoughts did
you, my friendly tramps, have then? Did
you think it all? Or did you think
I might not come at all? Perhaps
you were among those few who thought
me God: all wise, invisible,
and at the end, unknowable?
There were such and still are -- so I
was bound to come. A pity then
you are not here. What would you make
of me -- or did you long suspect
I am a woman? I guess you did.
And so you danced attendance on
me for so long -- not long enough
though, as it came to pass. But had
you known for certain sure I was
a man you would not have stayed long --
or would have stayed for ever. But
for a woman you would do what
you in fact did do -- wait long, though
not quite long enough. So am I?
Am I God? And does the play ask
that -- or answer it? No, never.
Is that the point of it? My non-
appearance, is that the crux we
need to understand? Or me, here,
now, and you departed God knows
where -- the final revelation
as I speak it now to no one.
That is an abiding truth; that
the final revelation goes
unheard. The trees may hear my words,
the birds may glean some molecule
of what I say, a fox may steal
my words, and so the day may come
when someone finds them, finds a use
for them. Our two good friends, perhaps:
friends Vladimir and Estragon.
One way or another, the words
that we speak will come back to us.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

The Cross

I am the way, I said.
How could they understand?
All faith is path, the path
the ultimate expression
of all the footfalls down the years
that have compressed the earth
and left a deep impression --
yet one so mystical
that only I could clearly see
the way the feet had worshipped it
and where they'd let it peter out
and lose itself in sand.

But only from the cross I saw
the state of man and things:
his soul and mine
so inextricably entwined.
It took the cross for that.

I saw the path laid out afresh,
the path he'd walked,
the path I'd walked,
the path that lay ahead.
It passed through flood
and tempest too,
in mountains disappeared,
was trapped by snow and ice.
Enormous rock falls buried it.

This was the path,
a rough and ready way
on which no tarmac lay.
It was reward --
the only one --
to man and I
for a rough cross
across the years
and Resurrection Day.