Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Last Day of December 2013 as seen from the Bathroom Window.


The tree that once was lightning struck
Looks itself like a fork of light
Reaching and branching to make a connection
A dead and jagged imperfection,
Right on the line of sight,
Stretching up to the crowd of crows
Who circle it during the day
And seem to portend something;  nobody knows
What it is, or wants to say.
And the water runs brown and dull
And the backdrop of sky is grey
And before high tide the river's full,
And the old year runs away.
The tree that once was lightning struck
Reaches up to the dull grey slate,
And the air is wet and cold,
And the sky seems dark though it's not yet late,
As the last day ages and seems to grow old,
Like the year, before its time.
And the crowd of rooks who circle the sky
Act a ragged black ballet or pantomime
A traditional end to the year as they fly
Over the water both brown and dull
Before a backcloth of sky, which is grey,
And before high tide the river is full,
As the old year runs away.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Thoughts After Watching the Film ' Gravity'.


Come to my arms my Beamish boy,
Drop dead, gorgeously, out of space,
Fall down to me, I'm waiting, bring me joy.
Present me with your handsome face
What care I for rigor mortis
Just fall by, land on the grass,
Contra vim mortis, non crescit herba in hortis,
But George Clooney, under the glass
Visor of his white space suit,
Is dead cute,
And just the Kind of space debris,
A girl might really thrill to see.


video




Silent Worship

Did you not see my lady?
I've been stalking her on Facebook,
Surely you've seen her picture
You really ought to have a look,

I've fancied her for her an age,
She's in my class at school,
She makes my hormones rage,
She thinks I'm a spotty fool.
Though I would never look at her,
And though she would never look at me,
I've found a way of observing her,
That's exciting, but not guilt free:

There's a virus on her Android,
Which means that she really can't avoid,
Letting me see her close up,
When she is of clothes, devoid,

Oh surely you've seen my lady,
Upon her bedroom chair?
Rivalling all the porn stars,
With her absence of pubic hair.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

High Tide


The tide is lapping brownly round the trees,
The water smelling salty and exciting,
And in the dark, the gentle swilling seas
As they rise up, are quietly inviting.
The still, cold night, does not seem charged with fear,
The street lights burning greenly white and clear
Accentuate the old domestic scene,
In contrast to the wildness in its midst
The tension now, just as it's always been.

The footpath by the grey-brown brine is kissed;
The licking, sucking, gentle, splashing sound,
Is just the moon, taking its loving parting,
Absenting, for a while, but not forsaking,
This piece of muddy, saturated ground.

An Enunciation at Bursea Chapel.


Two miles south west of 'Land of Nod,'
A little chapel sits,
Of even orange, rustic brick;
To the tasteful glory of God,
Designed by William Butterfield,
I think that's why it fits.


It glows in cheerful morning light
And welcomes its old friends,
To take communion in the warm
And strongly recommends itself
Simplicity feels right.


The hymns, Ancient and Modern,
Are quietly intoned
And o' er the prayer book's paths well trodden
The congregation bends,
And mumbles its responses,
With feeling, most well honed.


And you should hear the minister
Who oversees proceedings
In Yorkshire-Oxford accent clear,
Which voice repels the sinister,
And confirms joy and drives out fear,
What blessings are his readings!


And all upon this Sunday morn
Within this chapel place
Upon this warp land fertile fen,
Because of God, His grace,
We heard the words of Betjeman,
Spoken lugubriously,
Each one sounding alone, forlorn,
Like Alan Bennet being Eeyore,
So the congregation, me,
Or anyone without the door,
Might know what all this fuss is for,
Might hear the truth in accent clear
As they do this time of year,
And as they will continue to;
Alan Bennet being Eeyore:
"And is it true, And is it true?"


(I don' know where the centre of 'Land of Nod' is, it is sign posted from Tollingham and there is a bridal path to it off Skiff Lane)

Saturday, 28 December 2013

An Inside Frost (rondeau)


An inside frost, a common sight;
Until this year, in bed at night,
I 'd feel the rime coating like mould
The sashes in the freezing cold,
And wake to find, in morning light,
Interior glass with ferns bedight,
Despite the heating and despite
The wooden shutters, sagging, old,
An inside frost.
But this year cold has taken fright
And even when the moon shines bright,
The air behind the shutters' fold
Upon the glass does not make bold
And curious imprints which delight -
An inside frost.

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Elements of Eloquence (The Pantomime Version)



Computers, tablets, mobile apparatuses,
News, lies and facebook statuses,
Wit, punch lines and feeble ends,
Friends, acquaintances and facebook friends,
Address them with a TRICOLON,
And they'll all wonder what you're on,
That gives your news such strength and clarity,
At least they might if they're not lacking charity.

The ISOCOLON'S much more subtle,
Not like to lead to a rebuttal,
Join two statements both together;
"Share a status, boost an ego."
Your friends might wonder whether
You've borrowed it from some amigo
"He takes a selfie on waking, a selfie when walking."
"And in the mirror, a selfie of taking a selfie of talking."

My favourite sort of sentence
 Is the great SYLLEPSIS,
Not likely to cause grammatical sepsis
Make the first verb do for everything,
And then show no repentance;
"I put on the computer, a status on facebook, and a smile on your face."
And then, without a trace of irony;
"I took a hat, a coat, the dog for a walk, and an awesome selfie."
OK so it's not exactly Byron-y!

The POLYPTOTON gives rise to humour,
Be careful not to start a rumour,
Use a word with different parts of speech,
To touch those depths of silliness other sentences can't reach.
"Present me no presents,
For the only treat I ask is that you should treat me well,
And please use the swell
And please me when I hear you at the organ,
Although I'll hear your pleas,
I'll never let you please me, here,
With  your organ's swell!"

The SYNECDOCHE requires one to become a body part,
If you can't it shows how dull thou art.
" What hand did this dreadful typo make?"
"Which finger touched the screen, which then auto-corwronged,
And lead my eyes to read this sad mistake?"

THE TRANSFERRED EPITHET requires you to apply
An adjective to the wrong noun, or at least to try,
"She typed the freezing text message in the church,
Then dumped him creaking at the lychgate, and left him in the lurch."

If pointless negatives are your thing,
Then the LITOTES's sure to bring
Some comfort to your verse and prose.
"It would not be untrue to say I'm not tremendously pleased with my new profile pic."
It wouldn't be wrong to say that I never forgive bad speling. {sic.}

A sentence that is wrong but somehow right,
Such that it does not induce emesis,
Is that rather strange thing, the CATACHRESIS.
"I will speak mincepies but bake none"
Said Nigella, which might have had her undone,
Had she uttered it, without at first, having buttered it.

A sentence form much less calamitous,
Is the really great CHIASMUS
"Type no blame and blame no typo."
Is an example of how one might go,
"Ask not whether your friends have liked your status,
But if you have liked the statuses of your friends."
What you're doing here is making pompous statements,
Then taking them, reversing them, and gluing them at the ends.
To form a whole that sounds uplifting,
It isn't, but it sure pretends!

The MERISM breaks things into its parts,
If you wish to sound legalistic and ignore people's hearts,
The BLAZON lists a lover's features,
As distinct from those of other creatures.

SYNASTHESIA smells the sights
Of melodies, rumbling and bright.

If you put words in an order that's odd,
You run the risk of offending God,
This oddness is called HYPERBATON,
And nobody wants that on
Their conscience, so think,
Write before you drink,
Opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose, noun.
A lovely, small, old, round, red, Bulgarian, polyester, toy clown.

ANADIPLOSIS repeats the last word of a sentence
As the first word of the next,
"Sinners must seek repentance.
Repentance leads to forgiveness.
Forgiveness leads to love.
Love leads to ...
APOSIOPESIS is three dots
Which lead the imagination
To lots and lots and lots
Of wrong conclusions,
And unhealthy, sad delusions,
"I like you..."
Does that mean the opposite is true?
HYPOTAXIS is just long windedness;
It has no place on Facebook,
But if you want to have a look
Read a Classical English novel,
And then proceed to grovel
At the brilliance
Of the great sub clause,
Which has stood the test of time
With such resilience.

And that is the end of eloquence,
Explained in rhyme,

My December 27th, silly pantomime.


Watching The Gradual Appearance of Dawn as Described by the Shadows.


The dark destructive forces of the night,
Have fled before the pink and creamy dawn,
And only jagged, crumpled, torn
Remnants, formed as shadows in morning light
Are hanging on the painted plaster wall.
All that remains is this greyness
Which marks the shapes of objects, all
Dappled and marbled with paleness
In patches of brilliant strangeness
Whose edges are quite undefined.


The end of the blackness is clear
But, like an obvious metaphor for a state of mind,
As the shades of light's absence disappear
They fade seamlessly in their gradations,
And merge without seeming to blend.
And the old hand blown glass undulations,
Which cause this display as they bend
The light, through the south eastern window,
Are unconscious of their effect,
As the sun gains in strength, though it's low
In the sky, but one still can't detect
The moment of change...
Then it's past.


The gramophone' s trumpet' s repeated,
There' s a fold where a shadow is pleated
As it echoes the curtain, and last
In the shades parade is the clock
With its swan neck pediment doubled
And its endless, soothing, tick tock,
Its quiet noise, untroubled
By this ancient rite,
Which marks, without delineation
The ending of the night.

Wharram Percy

The muddy path on which we slipped
Our December descent from the road,
To the place where the trees moped
Over the stream,
By the wooden gate,
Where they dripped;
Was one on which we slowed.
It took us away
From the positive warmth
And the brightness of the day,
Whose faint,
Buff flush,
Of dry, dead grass
Upon the sun kissed wold
Hockney could n't have hoped
To recapture in
Purple paint.
It took us into the hush,
Beyond a deeper shade,
And the sense of perpetual cold.
And although we made another ascent
On the hill, on the opposite side
Still we went drearily further away
From the laughing and optimistic day,
To the green, grass clearing lumpy and wide,
Where the long deserted village lay,
And nothing was there save a crow.
There were excavation mounds
And demarcations to show
The former dwelling places.
And in the grounds

Surrounding the church,
abandoned now,
Was a board telling what had been learnt,
From the place,
And why and how.

Antithesis

Those who can, drink,
Those who can' t, preach,
Those who can, clean
Those who can't, bleach,
Those who can drink bleach,
Cannot thereafter think or preach
The virtues of cleanliness of thought,
Nor can they confess,
The drunkenness,
Which caused this mess.
The moral of this story isn't clear,
Except you cannot clean your mind
With bleach, but have no fear,
Though there is much that
Is reduced by copious drinking,
Including man's capacity for thinking,
His thoughts wouldn't often be so impaired such that
He might believe he was made of asbestos
And able to withstand a pint of Domestos.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Cold in Bed ( rondeau)


Despite the lack of frost, my head,
Is still so cold at night, in bed,
Since I have cut my poor thin hair
That I'm so chilled I cannot bear
To lie quite still, and so instead
I wake, thinking of making bread
As my mother did. And so I tread,
Quietly across the floor, where,
Despite the lack of frost
My many layers of clothes are spread,
And reach the door and open it in dread
Lest the joyful, bouncy dog is there.
I tiptoe on the creaking stair
The stone floor feels as cold as dead,
Despite the lack of frost.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Blazing Fire


Blazing fire
Makes sleepy noises,
Something like a dry sheet flapping,
As the logs and sticks are snapping,
And the orange flames are licking
Up the chimney's black wool throat,
Throwing out its heat and sapping,
All one's will to stay awake,
Soporific warmth and hissing
Sap in ash wood spitting,
Sending me to dreamland sitting
By its side, head nodding,
Dozing off to sleep while writing,
Trying to describe it, fighting
Its effect; a spontaneous reaction,
Trying to reflect the sense of exultation,
At one's own creation
And something of the great attraction,
Of a contained conflagration.
Blazing fire
Makes sleepy noises,
Something like the water lapping,
Bits of gassy coal are cracking,
And the orange flames are licking,
Round the dry well seasoned timber,
Falling like a metaphor
For how I'm drifting into slumber.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Kelpies


A mist above the water swirls  around;
The air is still, the sky dull grey; the sound
Is tiny, lapping ripples, lullabies,
The water's surface taught and mill pond calm;
Then suddenly from  silence an alarm
A cry of shock, or terror or surprise,
As there from out the muddy bank arise
A pair of giant kelpies galvanised,
Reflecting back the colour of the sky,
At this, the eerie breaking of the day,
And lesser, earthly creatures shrink away,
Before the sight of each majestic beast,
The one who lifts her head and loudly cries,
The other who looks down, demure and sweet,
They vanish in the mist, but in the east,
A pair of nymphs, into the dawn, retreat.

BBC News - The Kelpies horse sculpture completed


Friday, 22 November 2013

November Sunset Over Drax


A cloud from Drax is grey now,
Where moments ago it was white,
The sky is streaked with peach glow
Where moments ago it was light,
And a glorious beryl blue,
Contrasting the leaves of the beech tree
In tones of an amber hue,
The last in this late autumn,
Which now look  dull and few.
And as I watch, the cloud
Turns a tint which has no rhyme,
Accuracy can't help now,
We are running out of time,
As the colours start to fade,
Lilac into lavender, back to pigeon grey,
And finally a shade of slate
As the last light leaves the day.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Programmed

I'm not programmed I'm a woman,
Can't we find some other word,
No one planned each perfect human,
No one could, it's quite absurd.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Selfie in the O E D


My O.C.D has made it,
Into the O.E.D,
My constant silly habit,
Of photographing me
Is recognised,
As truly, it should be,
And now it is official,
And everyone can see,
That it's the real reason
We love technology.
So here's to the selfie,
Symptomatic of our age
The surface of a pool
Reflecting back the face
Contained in pockets,
So we can,
Without disgrace,
Admire the beauty
Of ourselves
At any time or place.


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Swinsty


I know that in your thick and cold stone walls,
Exists some abstract part of me,
And one day when I am no longer here,
I shall return to you again, as in my dreams,
When I glide the old familiar corridors,
And see with unbelieving eyes,
And wish to rearrange,
The furniture and books of others,
Whose taste is strange.
And that flying thing I do in sleep
As I gaze down upon you from the beams,
Whose shapes and patterns
I knew intimately once,
Will be a real sensation as the means
By which my spirit moves around.
And I shall marvel at the warmth you now contain,
Which rises up to meet me in the hall,
Not from the open fire
Where, as a child, I sat an inch or two away,
But from radiators,
Where I will stay,
Hovering above, so in the shimmering
Heat my spirit might be seen,
Or experienced as sudden shivering
In someone else's spine.
And I shall float about the solar
Or inhabit the dark oak,
Like death watch beetle,
And meld myself
With the transomed, sandstone mullions,
Soaking in the southern sunlight,
As I sift it through my soul,
Knowing, once again, that you are mine.




Friday, 15 November 2013

On the Joy of Argument.


You should not feel that argument is wrong,
But welcome it with open arms.
For what is better than to act
With impulse on your instinct and to pitch
Your mind against your fellows'?  So go
From here into this world and start a row


With anyone. Demonstrate to them how they could grow,
If only their own thinking were not wrong.
Show them how, not all that long ago,
You thought like them, but loud alarms
Kept sounding in your mind, and their shrill pitch
Drove you to see the error of your ways. Act


As if upon a mission to persuade.  Question every 'fact'
And champion the cause of change.  Row
Against the tide, certainty the pitch
That keeps the vessel of your argument afloat. It's wrong
To keep storms raging all the day, let them go
When you have said all you can say.  For this disarms


And opens up opponents' minds for change, pre-warms
The oven of their heads, to ideas you've put forth.  Have tact
And if, later, they quote your words, which, not so long ago
They had dismissed, relax, for this is how we grow.
Concentrate on finding other ways in which they're wrong,
And challenge them on these, for what is better than to pitch


Your wits against one you know can change.  Tell them black as pitch
Is white as snow; see how far this argument can go. Take up arms
And thrust and tilt at windmills, making out they're wrong.
Demonstrate there's little that is fact.
Ideas which most others hold as good, will not go
Easily away, so javelin like,  you must throw


Your complex thoughts which undermine.  Show no sorrow,
For rugs are meant for pulling from under feet, to pitch
Those standing on them where they choose not to go.
And there is little one can say that really harms
For very long, but the impact
Of the fall might smart awhile, as your fellows must adjust to being wrong.


Pitch a battle, question fact,
take up arms, don't let go,
Start tomorrow, everyone else is wrong.

Listening and Dozing

The sonata for cello and piano by Frank Bridge,
Resounding out in stereo from the car,
And I am back at Swinsty,
On the edge of sleep,
While down below,
Beneath the floor,
Black bearded Basil Howitt wields his bow,
My father seated at his Erard grand,
Adds so much more than mere accompaniment,
And my mother, weary from this testing day,
Is reading by the fire, a Barbara Pym,
I see the drained out colour,
And the way the pale light flickers with the flames,
The thin black line that is the threshold of the door,
And feel a happy sadness;
I can/not go there anymore.

Monday, 4 November 2013

At The Humanist Funeral Of A Choir Member

The light about the place was beautiful;
This autumn being late the leaves were there,
Still clinging, glowing red, as, dutiful
To their position, marking spaces, where
The dust of others was, beneath them, spread
They made a metaphor for memory.
They brought your coffin in, and as we said,
Because you sang, it seemed derisory;
Your huge form and your deep bass voice,
Contained within that dreadful enclosed space.
And those who loved you best, as was your choice,
Made eulogy sans reference to God's grace,
And marked your passing without giving song
But grief expressed in words alone seemed wrong.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Waiting for the Children

The sky and tarmac meet at silver birch,
Punctuated here and there with prunus,
And greedy cedar painted by a child
In shades of Christmas further dulls the scene,
The orange-ing khaki and the ochre-ing green
Creates a long and rambling Alexandrine
But colours this meeting slightly less darkly,
Reducing the negativeness,
By relieving the grey and the endless rain.
But trees enclose, confine, contain,
So nevertheless seem mean;
The great capacity for dreariness,
Within a Wombwell carpark, once a mine,
Shouldn't be underestimated,
Even when the weather's fine.

University Surfing Club Guidance for Organ Scholars


Well there are no medals
For knowing the board doesn't have pedals,
There are no manuals and you should try and avoid stops,
Pistons, let's not go there, especially in wet suits,
There are no trumpets, no flutes,
16 ft is not a suitable wave for a beginner,
You can play the organ after dinner,
But don't go surfing until you feel thinner.
But the swell,
Well,
That is something you have in common,
Though you can't exactly control it with your feet,
You have to try, so,
Remember it doesn't come in a box.
You might, on the swell, feel a little tremulant, at first,
But what's the worst
That could happen? You could drown,
But don't bother with your vox humana
You might just as well not,
you won't be heard over the roar
Of the sea,
(Much louder than tutti)
So just pipe down
Acoustics aren't important.  But of course the great attraction
Is  - it's all about action,
Coupling, surely the point of all student activity
Though an organist might find her fellow surfers proclivity
To speak of nothing else rather dull, and they make a lot of noise,
Wind of course is necessary to both,
And 'caught inside' means trapped by a wave,
Nothing to do with hanky panky in the organ loft with choir boys,
Or in the nave.

video

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Ladybird

Ladybird,
Haven't you heard,
I told you to clear off,
Earlier this morning,
Using a rude word,
You're the third
Insect today,
I've told to go away
It's quite absurd
The way
I waste my breath,
Threatening death,
Well, you've had your warning,
A ladybird in the hand
Is worth two in the bush
Only more of a crush.

Butterfly

Butterfly
Why flutter by
My bed,
Why not instead,
Spread
Your wings
And say goodbye
And then I
Won't utter
Curses like a nutter,
Wishing you were dead,
As I squash you with the shutter.

Fly

Fly
Why
Bang your head
Incessantly
Against the sky
As I lie
And try
To sleep?
Stop, I pray,
Else I'll magnify
A light ray,
And watch you fry,
Unpleasantly.

Friday, 1 November 2013

If Music be the Food of Love


My love, I shall change my pitch to thine,
An octave higher, so our sounds combine,
As in the air our bodies intertwine,
In aerobatic ecstacy divine,
And such sweet music shall we make
As in the wind we deftly procreate,
That human minds shall hear it and mistake
Our song for one they hate,
But little will I care, when you are mine,
Because we shall achieve the triple pleasure
Of making love and music at our leisure,
While simultaneously seeking out such treasure
As human blood is, taken in large measure,
So come my love; let us both whine,
Together.

video


BBC News - Can the buzz of mosquitoes be art?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Two Songs Juxtaposed

I move the earth from the great pile below,
Back up the slope, to where the roses grow;
October sunshine warm upon my back;
The soil friable, currant black.
Then, talk, that's been the gentle background noise,
Is broken by a song, a tenor voice,
The limitation of the melody,
Proportionately inverse to the joy
The singer feels, this warm October day.
The outburst isn't long, but I would say
Sufficient to express a happiness,
Which, born from simple pleasure, none the less,
Most clearly speaks to something deep in me.


But then I go inside; on radio three
Is someone singing with a fiddle, Bach,
The alto aria: Erbarme dich,
I feel an almost sad embarrassment,
That this superior beauty, transcendent,
Be juxtaposed against a  paltry thing:
A man rejoicing autumn warm as spring.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Neglected Autumn Garden

Copyright Alison Houston

The lawn is patched and bald, the grass there is too long,
The border's overcrowded by the wrong
Perennials which thrive too happily and breed,
And crowd each other out and run to seed,
And ask but little in return from me,
Except an autumn cutting to the ground.
And there isn't much left here now to see,
The flowers are done there's nothing much around,
The beauty of peonies in alkanet
Is dying  palms, all leathery, next hirsute,
Drying tongues, so rough they graze, and I forget
The blue sea which springs up from every root,
Reflecting back the beauty of spring sky,
It's time to restore order's all I know
So I wish death on Boraginaceae's race,
A total cull, so there would be no trace
Of blue next year, just soil, to show that I
Have the upper hand, over things that grow.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Turning into Rob Cowan

What is that quality we hear,
In a really old recording?
An intangible something
We can't get near,
That stirs us up
And sends us exploring
YouTube, for more of the same,
And I wonder,
When did it disappear?
And does it have a name?
There's one for the effect of it,
That sends us into raptures
Which I think really captures
That great propensity
To speak of the immensity,
Of any given singer or musician
In superlatives, as long as they are dead,
And we know when we've been hit
By: 'Nostalgia Cowanensis',
When, instead
Of enjoying the music of ...Delius, say,
Transcribed by his amanuensis,
We look to see which year
The soloist passed away,
And then seek out more of his work,
With extra crackling
Like roast pork,
And proclaim him the best;
Temporarily forgetting the rest,
And that this one's just the latest ...greatest!


BBC Radio 3 - CD Review

Dreaming of a Cat I've Never Owned.


Drifting back to early morning sleep,
Lying on my stomach,with my face
Squashed sideways, in the valley
Where the pillow
Forms two lumpy, feather halves;
I feel you take a leap,
From the footboard at the bottom of the bed.
You step with light and dainty grace,
Over the soles of my feet,
And settle, purring on my calves;
Kneading for a moment before sitting.
And I seem to know you so completely,
Your visit to me does not surprise.
Your female, feline ways, are most familiar
You are gentle, loving, rather wise.
And there seems to be a sympathy between us,
Given expression in the undemanding nature
Of your happy little settling down noise.
I move my legs and you flop down in the middle,
Compromising, accommodating, fitting.
And as I slowly start to surface towards morning
I can see you clearly in my head,
Your white fur, patched with tabby
Almost tweedy, an intelligence in your face,
And flecks of orange in your greenish eyes.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A Swinsty Dream


Last night I was at home once more,
Bursting in at the back door,
Letting in the cold air,
Rushing to the kitchen sink,
To stand and gasp and quickly drink,
Water which tasted like the stream,
Of soil, sphagnum, peat,
A much recurring dream,
An umpteenth time repeat,
Ducking beneath the clothes,
Slung to dry between the beams,
In winter light at 5 O' clock,
Before the Tilly lamp is lit,
And we are sent on despatches,
To bring down the upstairs matches,
And candles for the night,
And purple meths, whose scent,
Should be evanescent,
Being highly volatile,
But which (to me) will always be,
Both symbolic and redolent
Of adolescent energy,
Teenage irritability,
And frustrations,
(With hindsight infantile)
Which suddenly flare.
I don't know why this dream ends there,
Except that its theme,
Not at all mysterious,
Is the need to shed light.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Early Morning Sun On A Cobweb.

There's a hammock
Slung between two sheets of glass,
Trembling in a current of warm air,
Which rises up to touch it and pass through it,
Testing Gossamer's steel strength. I view it
As a sort of weather vane,
And glancing up at it on waking
If I see tiny shadows fleeting,
Passing over it as tremulously quaking,
It stirs between each window pane.
Then I know the beauty of the morning,
And, eager for the day ahead
I leap up to walk the dog
Forsaking all the comfort of my bed,
Knowing that there's beauty to be seen
And poetry perhaps to be making
In the observation of the river, calm, serene
And still in early sunlight, glinting on the surface
Like the shimmering of light on hand blown glass,
Creating cycles of ideas, like convection,
Moving currents in my head.
I wonder how long I'll let it stay there,
Rocking dessicated corpses in eternal sleep,
I would not wish to pointlessly disturb it,
And yet, how strange a thing to wish to keep?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Room Turns Gold.

The room turns gold, as I sit still,
As sunlight through decanters pours;
I think I'll never drink my fill,
Of prism rainbows on the walls.

To Listen

To listen properly and pay attention to a stupid man,
Tires out the mind, as you  try, every way you can,
To understand and make connection
Between random statements. And interjection
Is useless, as he will only go off at a tangent,
And take a road meandering, his tone evermore plangent.
And so you smile and nod and do your best,
To take in the gist of what he says, hoping that the rest,
Was not somehow the point, and you feel
A kind of triumph, knowing where the story's going,
That it actually arrives there, and reveals
The very truth you guessed it would,
Half an hour ago, before your thoughts turned black,
When you could
Bring yourself to listen and keep track.


But then, to listen properly to a very clever man,
Tires out the mind, as you try every way you can,
To understand the complex references, quotations,
To make connection between ideas, hear subtle inflections
Those warnings of pet themes, to which the speaker
Is warming. Interjection is useless, the outlook grows bleaker,
He has his subject, will not let it go,
Though you know he could,
And so, you must do your best,
Take in the gist of what he says, hoping that the rest,
Wasn't somehow the point, and one feels,
A kind of triumph , knowing where the story's going,
That it actually arrives there, and reveals
The very truth you guessed it would,
Half an hour ago,
When, with much frustration,
(After all you're only human)
You came to know,
If you want good conversation,
You'd better to stick to woman.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

On Conkers


The strength of will required to resist
A whole family of shiny new conkers
Is immeasurable,
Except in as much as it is directly comparable
To the resistance required to ignore
A whole box of shiny new chocolates,
And, therefore,
One could construct
An equation of temptation,
And there would be something quite pleasurable
A kind of jollity
Amidst the frustration
Of trying to decide
What should be added to the conkers side
In order to achieve equality.




photo credit: nzbuu via photopin cc

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Making Pork Curry In Time To Jazz Record Requests 'Sound of Cinema' On Radio 3.


The onion is chopped in syncopation,
Giving rise,
To uneven size,
And the the spices' distribution,
Becomes a matter of concern,
As I toss it in on a riff
And recoil from the whiff
Of turmeric which burns
In the gas flame
Licking madly round the pan
As I scan
The fridge for something crazy
Enough to match the sound of the sax,
Squealing in ecstasy.
But then I understand; my expectancy
That this lazy,
Way to cook and simultaneously relax,
Won't change the way
The food tastes, it'll be the same
Old pork curry as ever,
Food that tastes like my food,
Because there's never any Billie Holiday
In the cupboard, to change the mood.

BBC Radio 3

Friday, 6 September 2013

Logs

The euphemism 'thinned' applied to trees,
Does not imply a strict diet imposed,
The euphemism 'thinned'  applied to trees,
Suggests a day when quietude, supposed
To reign in woodland; noise of falling leaves,
A snuffling as the  forest floor is nosed,
The snap of twigs, the clap of wings, the breeze,
The silence which of small noise is composed,
Is smashed by sound which cuts the calm and peace,
As easily as logs, and juxtaposed
To stillness, which is balm, jars nerves and frees
The mind from rational thought and thus exposed
To instinct one forgets one's winter needs
For timber and its solar heat enclosed
In fragrant tissue, lignified; one sees
Only destruction, and thus, so disposed
To a romantic form of thought, to please
Poetic mood, illogically opposed
To human need, one thinks "I'd rather freeze!"







Tuesday, 3 September 2013

On Film Music


How can it clarify and best explain
With eloquence superior to speech,
So much we only partly understand?
If it were absent, what would then remain:
The actors looks, and smiles, eyes that beseech,
And words which either question or command?
But looks can be deceiving, words contain
A double meaning, obscure, out of reach,
And so we need an aid, a guiding hand.
Thus music speaks and helps us to retain
A comprehension of the nature each
Character possesses, so the band
Plays on and gradually we  come to gain
A nuanced knowledge; music can impeach
And then acquit, ask politely or demand,
With leitmotif or riff or sad refrain,
And by manipulation it can teach,
Inform us of a fresh, surprising strand
Of complication in the plot, a train
Of thought quite new, then stabbing sound or screech
Of saxophone might show us how, as planned,
We've been lead falsely and again
Have been deceived. Or music can, like bleach,
Remove the darkness from a plot, turn bland
Then just as we begin to  feel relief,
Provide a final, deeper, blacker stain.

video





Monday, 2 September 2013

The Pink Grey

The pink grey
At the break of the day
Is like light shining through clay.
It seeps into me
In a strange way,
As my thoughts stray
From dreaming
To seeming
Coherence.
Then pink grey
Loses opacity
As my mind
Regains its capacity
For thinking of things to say,
And the light's play
As the dawn unfolds
Brings real clarity.
And as pink grey
Becomes blues and golds,
I long for a child's charity,
Which would present to me,
Without being told,
My breakfast, on a tray.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Alex Plays The Accompaniment to Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine

An undulation of triplets floats outside
Into this warm September air,
Joining the pigeons as they glide
On currents, beneath cirrus,
Fine as angels hair,
And even the dog is lulled to sleep
Basking on the flags, drying his fur,
And I swing in the hammock wide and deep,
Keeping time 'til all becomes a blur,
The words in my head of the piece,
The heat, the south wind, and the peace.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

August Morning Walk

On the sloping bank of the river,
A thousand purple thistles all a quiver,
Their furry faces turned towards the sun,
And a peacock butterfly on everyone.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

On seeing a photograph of a friend before he went bald.

How sad it is to see
A middle aged man as he used to be,
Before he ever felt despair,
Before he ever lost his hair,
When he was young and didn't care.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

GEORGIAN SIDEBOARD


Cuban mahogany, dark as night,
Close grained intensity,
Hard as stone,
What strange perversity,
That your own destiny,
Reflects the history,
Of an iniquity,
Not yet well known.

Cuban mahogany,
Smooth and tight,
Innate solidity,
Deep red-brown,
What classical symmetry,
Derived from geometry,
Solves an equation
By balancing cruelty,
And demands that your history,
Shaped by your density,
Mirrors a fate that is not yours alone,

Cuban mahogany,
Pillar of strength,
Scented with beeswax,
And strangely intense,
Felled in maturity,
Sapped of vitality,
Brought down by gravity,
Used with alacrity,
In your capacity,
As a provider of weight, so immense,
You served as ballast,
To weigh down the trade ships,
Whose cargo, let out of the hold,
Had been....
Sapped of vitality,
Brought down by cruelty,
Captured impassively,
Split from their families,
Deprived of dignity,
Beaten at length.

Cuban mahogany gleaming and bright,
Straight grained integrity, forest grown,
With what vile insanity,
Born of barbarity,
Was this obscenity,
Man’s inhumanity,
Twisted intrinsically,
Into this rarity,
Pleasing our vanity,
Showing our stories,
Aren’t ours alone.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Dartmoor



I shall roam no more on the moor,
For I have had my fill,
A moor is a moor is a bore,
Barren and bare and soggy,
Desolate, empty and boggy,
Cowy and sheepy and pony,
Gritty, and rocky and stony,
Reedy and marshy and poor,
A tour of a tor is no better,
A walk by a stream is just wetter,
And so I have come to regret a
Day spent on the top of a hill.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Dartmouth



I shall walk no more on the quay,
For I have had enough
Of chandlers shops and fish mongers and all that seaside stuff,
The light's too bright to see,
When you're at the mouth of the sea,
And it's yachty and boaty and dinghy,
Knotty and ropey and stringy,
Crabby and liney and netty,
Harbour, pontoon and jetty,
And wealthy locals with money,
Who sound like yokels ----- funny.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Brain Stain


Were you a member of the SPAB,
And they were marks on a wall,
In some ancient hall,
You would imagine their cause,
As originating behind the plaster,
Perhaps in the tannin of an old oak beam,
Golden brown among the cream,
And would ascribe their appearance,
To levels of humidity in the atmosphere,
And would not dream of interference,
They would indicate age,
And the porous, breathability of lime,
You would not regard them as a disaster,
You might think their mottled look charming,
And of ‘Glory Be to God for Dappled Things’,
You might even hold them dear.


But on a forehead, it would seem,
Though melanin might be tannin’s twin,
It is not regarded with such reverence,
Though it indicates age and the passage of time,
Its stippled appearance is alarming.


And your options seem clear:
Make the marks disappear,
Buy L’Oreal,
BB Luminize Cream,
‘Enriched with liquid Light,’
Which ‘illuminates the skin’,
As if with radiance from within,
While keeping blotches out of sight,
By ‘reducing the appearance of irregular pigmentation,
With a perfectly nude and luminous finish,
And a weightless, bare-skin sensation'.

Or, you could imagine them brain stains,
Left by the tide
Of age;
The marks of a sage,
A dot to dot,
Which, when joined up,
Become an abstract, pointilliste portrait of wisdom.




Thursday, 25 July 2013

IN THE 18TH CENTURY DRAWING ROOM OF AN EBAY ADDICT

Airmyn Hall, ballroom, Tolly, copyright Paul Houston


I’ve just been pointlessly browsing the antiques on ebayagain, which reminded me of this poem I wrote last year.  After buying a little table I discovered was cobbled together from a square piano.


In answer to a question no-one’s asked me,
Namely what’s that table doing under there?
Then here’s the answer, truly stated,
That I know it’s odd but I don’t care!
Though only cellarettes go under sideboards,
On occasion one just has to break the rules,
The space beneath is really too inviting,
Just made for log baskets and little stools,
And the fluting goes so well with the gadrooning,
And it fits so very nicely underneath,
And the rosewood frieze contrasts with the brass beading,
And the sunswirl paterae (or are they floral?)
Both such archetypal regency motifs,
And I know deep in my heart that it’s immoral,
Spending money I myself have never earned,
On a thing I must confess was once a piano,
And I wouldn’t really want to start a quarrel,
But that concave drawer, so typical of Gillows,
The eb’ny knobs, concentric rings so nicely turned,
They just called to me through cyberspace on ebay,
One day when my resistance was quite low,
And though I turned and hid my face within the pillows,
I just wanted it I could not let it go!


So here it sits, so prettily ‘neath the sideboard,
A mahogany pedestal to either side,
Serving as reminder lest I need it,
Things aren’t always what they seem when first espied,
But the fluting goes so well with the gadrooning,
And the brass bead lends a military air,
And one shouldn’t miss the chance to rhyme dragooning,
When it’s handed to one fair and square.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

On the Day After The Birth of The Prince Of Cambridge.


Today the plain
At Ging gang Goolia parva
Looked beautiful in the rain;
The turbines
In lines,
Each cooling towers',
Great girth,
Dwarfed by the closer flowers,
Brighter after showers,
Everything still
No cacophony of bells,
Just peculiar smells,
Emanating from long dry soil
Newly wet,
And yet,
It was different,
Each furrow and ridge,
Of chocolate plough,
Where there had been peas,
Was slaking its thirst,
And at the wheat field's margins,
Were seas,
Of borage, looking purple at first,
Only blue on closer inspection,
And the reeds
At the edges
Of the irrigation dykes,
Were verdant,
A perfect foil,
For the willow herb spikes,
And each reflection,
Was marred by oil,
Which made rainbow distortions,
Among the pond weed,
And the giant proportions,
Of man's creations,
In this flat landscape,
Were slightly reduced by the haze,
So that hogweed,
Brown, and gone to seed,
Was tall as the glass works at Glews Hollow
And close where phacelia merged
with the last of the oil seed rape,
(A very modern colour scheme)
One's gaze,
Might follow,
A path from the tower of St John's in town,
Back down
To rest on his bright yellow wort,
And as if in a dream,
Salt and Pepper rise up,
Behind a creamy froth of Fillipendula,
And just as suddenly vanish
In the fog,
Like last night's almost full moon,
Behind storm clouds.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

EAST YORKSHIRE IDYLL

All Saints, Holme-upon-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, copyright Paul Houston

Sunday morning in the high church yard,
At Holme on Spalding Moor above the wold,
The organ sounding out, not too impaired,
By sealed in years of damp, decay and mould,
A spreading cedar tree guarding the graves,
Its blue-grey-green contrasting with the yews,
The hymns resound in warm contralto waves,
From farmers wives on regimented pews,
And I am here refreshed by summer’s breeze,
Moved by ancient forces and impelled,
To stop and wait and listen to the trees,
And know that here all human time is held,
As nothing next to this resistless calm,
Immune to hours, elder scented balm.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

KIFTSGATE ROSE


Kiftsgate rose up the Wellingtonia tree,
I sometimes wonder if you’re in a nark,
Your long, cruel thorns, have pierced the soft brown bark,
And you’ve scratched my face for everyone to see.
Kiftsgate rose up the giant seqoia tree,
The other day I heard your mean remark,
As your soft pale blooms, iridescent in the dark
Dripped their scented disappointment down on me,
You said I was a short arse and a fatty,
That I would never soar as you have soared,
You said that in all truth I was quite batty,
A small and feeble thing to be ignored,
I went back to the house to get the shears,
Feeling hurt and sad and desolate and low,
Thinking back through all the days and months and years,
When I’d nurtured and encouraged you to grow,
Then I hacked you up into little bits,
And it served you right for getting on my tits.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How to Become a Member of the Self Preservation Society


 How does one acquire a hide like a rhinoceros?

Perhaps one does not start by writing poetry but...
Compare me to a hippopotamus,
I am less gentle and more leathery,
Compelled merely by instinct without doubts,
I am no thoughtful kindly elephant,
Who moves through life with careful tenderness,
I look not where I tread nor whom upon,
But blunder unaware and don’t look back,
Rough skin contains my dense unfeeling bones,
I know not how to feel another’s pain.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Asleep With my Eyes Open


The sky, framed within the old sashes,
Is painted by someone rather slapdash,
Whose palette was not truly clean,
And yet it is so complicated and perfectly itself;
Though the clouds resemble both bruises and ‘Germolene’,
That it speaks of endless time,
And the beauty of the world to my sleeping brain,
So that I am suffused with an intense sense
Of how interesting it all is.


And the greying wood of the shutters,
And the faded green damask of the curtains,
Are one, in the sight of my mind's open, sleeping eyes,
With the wet May garden,
And the warm heaviness of limbs.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Troll

Temptation rears its ugly head and I
Must raise mine in return and stutter out
A half thought, half baked, half witted reply,
More instinct than intelligent, a shout
From some more reptilian part of mind,
Which must act first and doesn't really think
At all.  And yet as far as science can find
Out, this is how we work, living on the brink,
For consciousness comes at the end, it seems
We are the last to know what's going on,
As if our waking thoughts occur like dreams
Self assembling into sense, but sometimes wrong
Or with bits missing which come to light too late.
And thus to be a troll is my poor fate.

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Prayer for Facebook

Go forth into this world with humour;
Be of good courage;
Hold fast to that which is odd;
And post it later in an exaggerated form for comic effect;
Render to no man seriousness for seriousness;
Strengthen the fainthearted by clicking the thumbs up;
Support the weak by not drawing attention to their misspelling;
Help the affected with the use of gentle humour;
Honour everyone;
Love and serve your friends by slavishly liking all their posts;
Rejoicing in the reconnecting powers of the internet;
And the blessing of being able to imagine you're really popular
Although the only ,friends you actually know are your father, your son and the holy ghost;
Let it be among you and remain among you always. Amen