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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)