Thursday, 30 January 2014

Crap Thinking

Crap thinking, always prevalent,
immune to reasoned argument,
the power of human vanity
so strong that our capacity
to question, be intelligent,
seek only real enlightenment,
is put aside, development
stopped. Familiarity -
crap thinking-
reciting taking precedence
we are our own establishment
and thus, preferring certainty,
we're reduced by this inanity,
this cult of what is relevant:
crap thinking.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Donald Macleod and Donald Maclean.

This afternoon I said Donald Macleod,
when I really meant Donald Maclean
and thereafter couldn't refrain
from sighing aloud
at the thought of the beautiful face,
fair hair,
blue eyes, high cheek
of Rupert Penry Jones,
as I imagined him,
presenting 'Composer of the Week',
stuffed full of musical knowledge
and wishing to impart it to me
in person, without the restrictions
of time and place.
Ah! To dream of a beautiful geek
and to dare
to imagine how I would show my disdain
when he spoke of Philip Glass,
and alas,
how I would have to keep him at arms length,
which would require all the strength
of my musical convictions.

BBC Radio 3 - Composer of the week

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty shades of grey in winter weather,
not all eliciting resistless sorrow,
most beautiful of all the pigeon feather,
it's iridescence giving hope - tomorrow
will be bright, cheerful in greater measure
than this day's dreary hue;  look slant, see heather
violet, peacock blue; no pigment, it must borrow
fifty shades of grey in winter weather,
and make them modulate in incidental light, in turn together
amplify, attenuate and thus produce a rainbow.
Fifty shades, within a single treasure,
not all eliciting resistless sorrow,
and yet, having to find hope within the shadow
feeling one must search to find one's pleasure,
the colour in the endless chiaroscuro,
most beautiful of all the pigeon feather,
feels sometimes like a chore, and altogether
one wishes that the palette were less narrow
and one wonders at such beauty, whether,
it's iridescence giving hope - tomorrow
will be brighter, is false; might it wither?
Is this optimism,like the feather's shaft, quite hollow,
as there's beauty of a sort when storm clouds gather,
and who knows what's to follow -
Fifty shades of grey?

Monday, 20 January 2014

“Being More Dog”

Being 'more dog', when I am alone,
Because I am normally cat,
Is a skill that I thought that I'd never hone,
But each morning I put on my 'more dog' hat,
And when I see others I wait and chat,
And then walk for miles and don't stop to moan,
At the rain and the frost and things like that.
Being 'more dog', when I am alone,
Means I try to treat friends like things that I own,
And enthuse and encourage and knock them down flat,
With my joy at their very existence.  It's unknown,
Because I am normally cat,
For me to give praise and be glad, but at
The height of my 'more dog' mood, I disown
My English reticence.  Being kind with eclat
Is a skill that I thought that I'd never hone,
But to compensate now I just bark at the phone,
And this is a valid response; dogs also like combat.
At my 'dog' bonhomie I guess friends sometimes groan,
But each morning I put on my 'more dog' hat
And continue to think about fun, but I own
That it gets rather tiring and sometimes the cat
Claws come out, else the dog is a bitch, has a bone,
And needs must bare its teeth, is that
Being 'more dog'?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Morning Whistles

Shostakovitch  passacaglia starts it,
Emitted from my lips, chapped and dry,
With too little breath to really complete it,
And switched off quickly from passers-by.

Then the high distress of an oyster catcher,
As it circles the mud banks now exposed,
And the sudden clap of a flock of pigeons,
Ignored by the cormorants in rows,
Hanging their ragged black washing to dry,
On what’s left of a tree stump nearby.

But taken up by hysterical widgeon,
While the terrified egret, frogspawn snatcher,
Amphibian and reptile dispatcher,
Rises up slowly and flaps away,
When the dog, still youthful and uncouth,
Startles his equal in vulgarity,
A mallard duck like a dinner lady,
Cursing loudly and lacking in charity,
Repeating the same words each working day,
Whose mate acknowledging she speaks the truth,
Albeit with indifference, rude and grudging,
Adds to the chorus a half-arsed croak,
Before continuing diving and dredging,
Before declaring that he‘s feeling needy,
And sweeping fat Doris duck under his cloak,
Down at the old pond’s edge, where it’s reedy,
Bobbing up further off bright and beady.

And the loutish dog ventures in for a soak,
While in the wheat field behind the floodwall,
The crazy radio interference
Of a skylark, making its first appearance,
Adds to the morning a new dimension,
And momentarily diverts my attention,
As I try to discover the birds loud and small,
Whose inhaling/exhaling whistling,
Sounds rather rude to anyone listening,
Like ancient bed springs pumping and creaking,
In short bursts, as if things are flagging.

And I feel voyeuristic, almost sneaking,
And the dog turns round to see why I’m lagging,
When suddenly all the mornings squeaking,
Is drowned out by a noise more urgent and loud,
As a wayward rabbit apart from the crowd,
Seized by the throat by a weasel or stoat,
Trumps the morning whistles with squealing.

September Afternoon Jaunt

Whizzing along in the Jag,
Windows open wide,
Swooshing down hill,
Like the last of the swallows,
Smelling the heat outside,
Over the Wolds we go,
And there, spread out below,
Almost too beautiful sight,
Limestone and pantile delight,
Hovingham basking in afternoon light.

Scented and shimmering haze,
Hay bales and cattle which gaze,
At visitors watching them graze.

Then up to Helmsley we fly,
Indigo car under cobalt blue sky,
To this pretty and trippery place,
To find a parking place,
Then hike past the castle and over to Riveaulx,
Steep stony steps, forcing a go slow,
Romantic ruin reflecting the last glow,
Of this glorious high summer day,
Up on the Wolds way.

This Bed

Smooth mahogany, slightly scratched,
Constructed in 1922,
By grumpy Grandad Broadbent,
A man by nature deeply attached
To neatness. And I think it's true
To say, a man who wouldn't relent
From striving to achieve it, so that
If he were to come back from the dead
And see it now: a little dusty,
Clothes disheveled, and the cat
Curled up asleep beside my head,
And the dog, smelling rather musty,
At my feet,
And a very crumpled bottom sheet,
And the remains of things to eat,
The table beside sporting cold cups of tea,
And my clothes cast off upon the floor,
And some Biro marks by children drawn,
He might feel cross. But we
Can't arrange our lives anymore
To suit the dead than we can scorn
Entirely their influence.
So when my back clicks back to place,
I'll tidy up and tuck it in
And live where the confluence
Of his ideas and mine meet in a thin
Stream until, within a short space
Of time, I'll revert to type again.

I see three pigeons and my mind takes off.

I see three pigeons fat and grey as cats
Squatting careless on the branches, swaying;
Darker blobs against a pale, dull sky, that's
Only beautiful when it's not weighing
Down on your imagination, squashing

 If you pretend it's watered silk, or crepe
Intended for a dress cut on the cross,
Which bias cut will always sweetly drape,
Then this might compensate the loss
Of cobalt, beryl, and cerulean,
Adorned with cirrus swirls or mackerel shoals,
Above this plain so plainly ging gang Goolian,
Which on such days can seem to fill the souls
Of those of us who walk upon its ground,
With a mad happiness, which we absorb
Through pores within the skin, as all around
Is sky and light; the sun (it has to be an orb)
Is never really hidden from our view,
There is no hill to hide it, only cloud.

But then come days like this, there is no blue,
And we must suffer long and cry aloud,
Unless we use our strange imaginations,
Or focus all our thoughts internally,
And this is why it seems such compensations
As expressing these ideas long windedly,
Are so very beneficial, for you see,
They help to cure the pain of being me.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Imaginary People


Imaginary people have house trained rabbits!

(“Or rabbits that live in hutches outside?”

No, that’s normal people –no good for beating oneself up with,

Since one doesn’t aspire to normality.)  Anyway...........

Imaginary people have house trained rabbits,

They do not descend to the kitchen each morning,

And, as one of their ritualistic habits,

Tread in the red and ochre puddle while yawning,

And stretching on tiptoes to open the shutters,

Then stub their toes on the mule chest.

Imaginary people aren’t nutters!

Imaginary people are blest,

With the pleasing knowledge that they would never spend,

An hour with the tube of a vacuum cleaner,

Sucking ancient, desiccated, fibrous currants,

From the cracks in the settle’s back,

Because imaginary people would not offend,

One’s fragile sanity (and what could be meaner,

Than an imaginary person pretending to be as weird as you?)

Imaginary people somehow have the knack,

Of grooming their dogs ‘til they’re almost hairless,

And their houses are minimalistic, chairless,

Because they know how to resist an ‘ebay’ bargain,

(1820’s, sabre legs, what can one do?)

Imaginary people know how to go on,

Understand computers, and know the jargon

(Or is that normal people, I can’t always tell?)

Imaginary people would never tread in poo,

Then turn the experience into a song,

Is there anything these figments can’t do well?

Yes! Of course! 

Imaginary people can’t go wrong!




Thursday, 16 January 2014

Darjeeling First Thing

There were sometimes mice
in the upstairs kitchen
and on occasion it was  difficult
to make the distinction,
between the evidence they left,
declaring their existence;
which was invariably their habit
on visiting
and the large black leaves,
scattering the surface
of the contemporary, Formica
teak effect  cabinet.

Faith was required,
a strong conviction,
that however odd the taste
that was the intention,
the nature of Assam , Earl Grey
or Lap sang,
not the accidental addition
of mouse excretion.
'Here's a cup of tea darlings,
we've run out of Typhoo,
so it's a cup of Darjeeling,
there's no milk, so its Carnation
and no sugar,
but thankfully necessity 's the mother of invention
so I've sweetened it with treacle.'

So we sat up in bed
and drank the strange concoction,
pale and weak
or strong and syrupy,
we daughters of invention,
grand daughters of necessity,
partly out of thirst, and partly out of duty
and partly out of a great curiosity
and partly with a hope that our mother's devotion
would mean she'd not allow us
to drink brewed mouse poo.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

This Morning For A Moment The Dog Caught A Hare.

A kestrel which swept low over the field,
a red gold brown in  brilliant winter sun,
alarmed a hare which startled then revealed
itself, not camouflaged against the dun
and lumpy plough, as it had been before
among the grasses at the fields edge.
In panic it ran back along the wire,
to where the irrigation drain with sedge
grown close prevented its escape.

And there the dog, just for a moment, stood,
and pinioned him, and I stood by agape,
until my sense returned, so that I could
shout a loud and Sergeant Majorish command
and watch the hare fly up and over land.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dozing Off and Remembering Vegetable Stew With Cabbage.

Drifting into fireside armchair dreams
exhausted from the housework of the day,
I'm standing in the kitchen and I seem
to keep glancing down into a pan, the way
that children do, in charge of cooking.
And the pan's the pressure cooker full of stew,
and what I notice in my anxious looking,
is savoy, so I know that it was you
who made it, with pearl barley. And the scent
drifts up, of vegetable stock.

And then as I begin the slow ascent
to wakefulness, accompanied by the clock,
I feel a great nostalgia and the pain,
of knowing I'll not eat your stew again.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Links North of Retford

And did the feet in recent times
Of blackened, tired working men,
Walk upon these hummocks, emerald green
As winter wheat grown on nitrogenous ground,
And were these gentle  undulations all around
Really slag heaps,
Dirt and nutty slack piled mound on mound?
And do the sons and daughters of such men          
Now walk in natty looking brogues,
Sporting Pringle jumpers, wide legged slacks,
To demonstrate that man is meant for leisure,
Utopia's to be found here on the earth,
In pursuit of this most mindless pleasure?
Was Oscar Wilde right simply to dismiss
The idea of the dignity of labour?
Do I really wish the mines might still exist?

 I do not have the answer to these questions,
So I asked D H Lawrence, in my head,
And as we drove past, his beard
Filled with flecks of foamy spittle
As he fumed in his confusion,
And I really can't remember what he said,
But he got his knickers in a dreadful twist.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Silent now, though never still,
Buteo Buteo, beautiful,
beside the boring bypass bridge
against the changing sky
wheeling raptor, prompting rapture,
out of some instinctive duty.
Above the scrubby bit of wood,
along the man made ridge
back above the sandy hollow,
rough and holey warren meadow,
you fly;
your wide wings spread
as if you would,
through sheer force of will,
above the alder and the willow
and the Drax clouds' pure white billow,
drive out rabbit, pheasant, hare,
and there above the muddy field,
chocolatey and lying fallow,
at the sudden point of capture,
your cruel talons wield.

Monstrous and dark brown shadow,
ravenous and wheeling raptor,
rapture at your strength and beauty
born of some poetic duty
seems to drive off care.

Tootling and Pootling

Tootling and rocking in my chair
I play The National Song Book, and each air,
Remembered and performed, sans care,
Annoys the cats, whose hair,
Stands up on end. For they can't bear,
The Mermaid, Londonderry Air,
Tom Bowling or Begone Dull Care,
They wish to know not where
The bee sucks, or the fate of any lady fair.
It's not because they're
Musical. They're
Cross because I dare
To sit and stare
Just pootling and tootling and rocking in my chair!

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Pruning of Apples and Pears by Renewal Methods

I have a first edition somewhere here,
filed with non-fiction alphabetically.
No dust jacket; a useful book, with clear
instructions given non poetically.
And yet how much of poetry is pruning,
how truly pruning makes a tree poetic,
a means of striking balance and fine tuning,
to gain a strong and simpler aesthetic.
And yet in cutting out the oldest wood,
criss crossing branches, timber inward growing,
we gain new growth, both vigorous and good,
succeed in improving what we had, showing
that when we cut, the branch, fed from the root,
regenerates to yield much finer fruit.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Jan 1st 2014

The first day of 2014,
Grey, bleak and cold
Spiteful, harsh and mean,
Rain on the wind,
Familiarity with this kind of dismal weather
Has bred contempt,
January: dull and old
Before its begun.

And now I wish to make myself exempt
From its effect,
Exclude myself altogether,
My desire is to rescind,
Cancel my contract
Until April,
Annul participation
Indulge in hibernation.

The first day of 2014
Grey, bleak and cold,
Gloomy, dark and vile,
As so many other January firsts have been,
Familiarity with this kind of weather
Has bred contemptuous whinging
Since the dawn of time,
There is nothing innately worthwhile
About putting it in rhyme,
The skill
Of meteorological moaning.