Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Verb "To Be"

The verb to be we over use,
We claim to "be" and then confuse,
The things we do with who we are.
We mean it not as metaphor
And thus reduce ourselves; refuse
To pigeon hole.  "To be" imbues
Significance, we change our views
Of who we are, so don't misuse
The verb to be.
We're complexity which argues
Caution, not summation, choose
Wisely, speak of that which you prefer,
Use do or have. Better by far
To be precise than to abuse
The verb to be.

The verb to be just gives Carte Blanche
To others to fill with prejudice,
With their idea of what it means
To be the thing you've said you are.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Hormones



The funny, happy woman who yesterday
Inhabited this space, known as me,
Has disappeared, cleared off, gone away,
And left behind this tired wreck; the sea
Of chemicals which has its high spring tides,
Washes clean my eccentricity,
Leaves me boring, dull on the inside,
And misery is muse; creativity
Does not depend on happiness, but still,
Humour makes a pleasant change; monotony
Of mood does not help insight and the will
To see things clearly under a monopoly
Of cloud is hampered. And yet "Be gone dull care",
You're only hormones, not resistless despair!

Tescos Finest Flowers



Amazing colour, form and shape,
Chosen each one for the sake
Of complimenting him adjacent,
A subtle blend of pinks and reds,
But no scent.
Rising over roses heads,
Lilies trumpets cream-white perfect,
Dusted lightly with dried mustard,
The anthers on each filament
Glow their crude advertisement:
But no scent.

A Crow in the Ouse



This morning down beside the Ouse
I watched, as in the silt and mud,
Which shows in stretches ridged and grey
When gravity sucks tide away,
A crow taking his morning bath,
As tentative as any girl,
Dipping in his lower half,
Ruffling up his shivering quills,
Daring himself to greater depth,
Splashing the shimmering cold
To his skin, egged on to greater
Daring and thrills,
By his friend on the path
And a crowd of gulls.
And when he was done
He just went his way,
And his friends stood about
With nothing to say.
And I walked on,
Thinking I'd seen
An insignificant incident,
A fleeting moment of morning routine,
Like my own by the river,
Each day with the dog.
Yet I've never seen it happen before,
And might live to grow old
Ere it happens again.
And our lives are like this,
Though we seek profundity,
Clarity through metaphor,
Yet there's something to learn
From dull old simplicity,
Witnessing things as they really are,
Enjoying a thing for the sake of itself,
Not always trying to understand more.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Just a Load of Sweaty Kids

I'm like sitting in the armchair by the fire,
When my daughter strolled in, I'm like "Hiya"
She'd been singing at Huddersfield Town Hall
I'm like " Celia, how was the other choir?"
I'm like " Were they as good as SCJC?"
But she just stood there looking vague and I could see
That she just didn't care at all,
I'm like, "Celia, how was the other choir?"
She's like Veronica Lake meets Garbo
Channelling cool with a kind of retro
And then she turns to me
And she's like
"They were just a load of sweaty kids,
Just a load of sweaty kids,"
I'm like "Celia!"
I'm like "in this context what does sweaty mean?"
Hoping it wasn't something vaguely obscene,
She's like "its like, kids that try hard,
Just a load of sweaty kids,"
I'm like, "did they sing in tune
Did they have charisma?"
She's like, "no, and they had really bad posture"
I'm like, "what did  they sing, was it owt good?"
She's like "No, I thought I told you,
I thought you understood,
They were just a load of sweaty kids.

Bingo and I Listen to Alex Writing a Fugue.

The cat and I upon the sofa,
Lying where the sunlight warms us,
Underneath the oil lamp pendant,
Where the crystal rainbows glisten,
Stretching out our limbs above us,
Mine on cushions, elevated,
His on mine, in faded denim,
Purring with his claws retracted,
Black and white and blue and beige,
Keeping still and trying to listen,
To a fugal composition,
Emerging quietly from the piano,
Noted down upon a page
Of manuscript quite artificial,
Existing on a laptop screen,
And sometimes playing back
Notation, accurate,
Though sounding less serene
Than when each phrase was first created
By the mind of a musician
In control of two hands.

6am 24th March

"Sun in a mist like an orange in a fried fish shop",
Frost on the grass like a yeast infection on a tongue,
Trees without leaves like silhouettes, in two dimensions.
Eyes without sleep, thinking that if spring has sprung
Then it's cleared off again, and pretty quickly,
That it's hesitating; it's intentions
Might be worthy, but it's feet are
Growing icy, it has faltered,
Is stepping backwards, has grown faint hearted,
It's on the run.


Sun in a mist like a melon floating, in suspension,
In the grey air, above a chip pan,
By the fir tree, above the roof tops,
Looking lovely, like a new bride,
In a veil of gauzy chiffon,
But it's coward, it's mind is hazy,
Dare not burn strong, it's weak and lazy,
So the garden, dressed in yellow,
For the service, is too uncertain,
And is hiding it's glowing freshness,
Behind this washed out winter curtain.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Different Sorts of Water:

The spiral twist, a corkscrew curl
Of cloud, sucked up the sky,
A steamy, smoky slate-blue snake,
Before a wash of creamy, flake-white streaks,
A shimmering, droplet, glistening twinkle
Of starry wetness in the bristling grass,
A wide, curved sweep of tidal churning
Waves of grey and silver rushing
Ever in land, while the air,
Retains its tenuous, vaporous hold
On a myriad, microscopic globules.

Friday, 21 March 2014

A Heap of Clothes



A messy tangle of weak tea tights,
Like washed up seaweed on the shore;
Belonging to she who doesn't care,
Who doesn't give a damn anymore,
And other sorts of underwear,
In various stages of decay,
Lying, tattered on the table top.
Tired jumpers, not put away
Enfold in limp and twisted arms
Skirts and blouses, bluey-grey,
A heap of garments whose strange charms,
Once caught my heart and made me pay,
A price for an imagined day,
When I would wear them happily.
Their creases now and scrumpledness,
Their too big, too small uselessness,
Pay homage to my vanity,
Pay homage to my laziness,
And to the fantasy whose endlessness
In the shape of some new dress,
Is sadly, really nothing less
Than the will to carry on.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Strange Black Dog



This morning in the north west wind
Which bent the bright green winter wheat
A strange black dog came running, fast.
As fast, as manic as the gale, which blew the grass,
All edged with brown,
And blew the dog, so small and neat,
Across the field and up the bank,
One ear turned back and skin side out
His fur was wet with sweat and dew, his feet,
So dainty, seemed too small.
His bright, sharp eyes were black and keen
Pursuing something quite unseen,
Chasing an idea, a scent.
His running seemed quite twice the speed,
Of any dog I'd seen before,
When all at once he heard a call,
And turned around and fleet as fox
Retraced his steps across the mud,
Until he was a speck once more,
A tiny, crazy thing so small,
And then he was invisible,
And as I gazed, entranced and stood,
Beside the willows in the wood,
I wondered was he physical,
Or had I seen a metaphor.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mad and Grey

I know, with hindsight, I am mad,
But never when it counts.
I see my trail of grand delusions,
Pointless arguments, the sad
Attempts to describe concisely,
Ideas comprehended imprecisely.
I see, over my shoulder,
That these don't amount
To what I hope they will.


In positive moods, on sunny days,
When nothing seems utterly futile,
When the still small voice of self esteem,
Calls from somewhere faraway,
I listen and think that I might redeem
Something of what I might have been,
Think things will be different,
Now I'm older.


I imagine something really worthwhile,
Might emerge from this sudden energy surge,
And I write, and fight, and think I'm right,
And urge myself on in what I must say.
But it's just a way of passing the day,
Playing, or writing,
It's mad and exiting,
And it stops life being grey.


But greyness is safe,
It is really not bad,
It allows you to hide,
And it lets you be calm
Though it squashes your pride.


 Benedict Cumberbatch

 (This is the first go at a new form I dreamt up, inspired by the way diagrams of recessive and dominant genes, which influence physical characteristics are drawn - Alleles)

A. His eyes are pale blue, yet not recessive;
B His hair, once pale gold-brown is dark with 'Just For Men;'
C His jutting cheekbones hint at Scots descent;
a One sees him everywhere, which seems excessive;
D His face is rather long but not too thin;
b His quiff is waved and English, so that Ben
c Gets all the rather 'upper' roles. And his ascent,
E To stardom seems foretold within his genes
F Since he is from the upper echelons, that is, he's posh.
d His white teeth flash a big American grin
G But this can't detract from his acted, English reserve.
f He seems quite clever, but that is just tosh,
e He's thick as two short planks, although this means
g His acting skills are great.  We should preserve
F(Since he is from the upper echelons , that is, he's posh)
a Those institutions whence he came. His CV is impressive.
C His jutting cheekbones hint at Scots descent;
b I'd like to hear his 'Cabin Pressure' once again.
B His Hair, once pale-gold brown is dark with 'Just for Men'
D His face is rather long but not too thin;
A His eyes are pale blue, yet not recessive.
e His politics are middling: bluey-reddish-greens
c The road he traveled (straight not bent)
E To stardom seems foretold within his genes.
f He's not one of the lads, he does not josh.
d As Holmes he sometimes plays the violin
G But this can't detract from his acted, English reserve
g. Perhaps we havethe idol we deserve.

Camp World


When did we grow so bloody insecure?
So mindless, lame,  in love with the frivolous.
When was thinking put aside?
When did shallowness take precedence;
Life become a game of dressing up,
A state of being permanently immature ?
The superficial, the ridiculous,
Artifice, the stage set, the pretence,
The melodrama,
When did we decide
They should be viewed with reverence?
When did we exchange understanding,
For summing up, listening to gossip,
Accounting anecdotal evidence?
When did we start to believe
That a life, not just art,
Could be reduced to its essence
Based on its trivial outward appearance?


Monday, 17 March 2014

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Flat cap and whippet land,
Place of the pigeon and
Canary, home of the slag heap
And colliery, now has tigers.
Armthorpe, you know the name,
Well, it's gone from Main to manes,
In less than twenty years,
Lions roam the plains
At Old Cantley, and tigers and gazelle.
Oh well! 
You can ski
At Glass Houghton,
Spend the day saying "weeeeeee";
All year round.
Cortonwood's just an Asda,
Matalan, B and Q,
You can play golf on quite a few
Former slag heaps, they make
Good links.
If you can afford to pay
(Sixty quid, for two adults, two kids)
You can spend the day
Not far from Markham Main,
Imagining you're in Madagascar,
With the lemurs,
Where men once toiled their lives away.

At the Gym

A line of men and boys who think they're fit
(But work out at the gym as well to prove it)
Before a giant mirror, preening stand.
A row of equal peacocks, can't command
Attention from their fellows, they won't fight -
Too much tension in the room and by the sight
Of themselves they're absorbed. They bob instead,
In obeisance, bending knees, so that each head
Is lowered, but not bowed before reflections
Arrogant and proud, raising no objections,
Criticism's not part of narcissism.
Self centred love and egotism
Are what we seem to be observing,
And yet, perhaps it is the self preserving
Instinct, born out of immaturity;
Too close confinement breeds insecurity.
And working out's self flagellation,
Of a kind, egged on by imagination,
Building up the body in the mind
First by rejecting it, then hoping to find,
By improving it, that life is better.
Escapism by means of getting fitter,
Poor creatures, admiring their features,
Regarding their hair with self satisfied smiles,
When they could be out walking or reading books.
If each man was the only one for miles
He wouldn't give a damn about his looks.

Walking the Dog Late Afternoon

There was something of September in the afternoon sky,
But something of July in the heat and stillness,
Walking out in the grass turning pale brown
Among cow pats.
There was something of September in the light,
A clarity. And the cumulus nimbus
Seemed as jazzy as Charles Mingus
Playing Fables of Faubus on Radio 3
Making the kitchen bright and crazy.
But that inexplicable "back to school" feeling
Seemed to fight
With the hot and hazy "Go Between" scene
Of the flat land by the river,
Silty, sluggish behind willow
And the masses of sorrel, just turning coral
Instead of lime green.
There was something -- a feeling of déjà vu
Because I've seen it all before,
A blonde dog bouncing ahead
And the farm, an oasis, leafy old trees
Among ripening wheat.
There was something lovely, calm,
But nothing new.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

"Lifestyle"


I shall not beat about the bush,
There's no such thing,
What's stylish about a messy human life?
We're born in blood and mucous and in pain,
Squeezed into the world a helpless thing,
A puking, squealing scrap of great potential,
Availing our selves, with luck, of what's essential,
In response to the great impulse to sustain.
What is an infants "lifestyle" but existence?
And when does style attach itself?
Is subsistence life, alone, without the style?
So that the choices one would make if one could,
Count for nought in summing up a human being?
We make our choices, state our preferences, it's true,
Obsess, enthuse, sometimes imbue,
Our objects of desire with great importance,
But that is habit, merely our perception,
A set of thoughts acquired through instruction.
Cultural or fashionable ideas
Which pass, as tides pass through us,
Leaving flotsam on the shorelines of our minds,
Which might take many decades to decay.
Yet we live in separate moments of each day,
We comb the beach, finding recurring themes,
And thus we make our choices,
Recognising things we've seen before, their voices
Speaking more clearly. Yet in dreams
We might be startled to awake,
Hearing, seeing there expressed such unfamiliar notions
Our unconsciousness seeking to contradict,
To shake us from our certainty. Our emotions,
Our responses to these inner questions often fearful,
But this does not imply our minds are closed.
So why are we so disposed,
To classify, to make our summations,
Believe in trends and social statistics?
Each man is himself, has his own characteristics,
Separated each from the next in subtle gradations.
We cannot generalise,
Nor should we seek to,
We are not manufactured and we change,
Sometimes acquiring new,
Sometimes seeking to rearrange
Collections in our heads,
Which shape the things we say and do.
The way we live our lives is not our style,
The pillars which support us not Corinthian, Ionic,
The tracery of our thought scribbled, chaotic,
Whichever way we're pointed, we're not Gothic.
What makes us who we are is complicated,
Only those who welcome fashion,
Lovers of camp, not interested in substance,
Could think in terms of 'lifestyle',
And yet they seem to run the world,
And wish to fit us to their moulds,
Dismissing, what's unique, worthwhile,
Specific.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

"High Intensity Parenting".

Parenting was not a verb my mother knew,
A parent was a noun, a thing you were,
Now it seems it is a thing you do,
Not in the old way, the way which I prefer,
Absent-mindedly, muddling along,
Doing your best and getting it wrong,
Vaguely hoping your kids would outstrip you.
It's not a messy, old human relationship,
It's a carefully thought out and planned dictatorship.
A schedule of endless bullying and nagging,
Resulting, with a bit of luck, in endless bragging.
A project to be managed, another life
To live, vicariously, all the way through,
From the cradle, to the Oxbridge interview.

A Baby Plays With an iPad (rondeau)



(A silly article in today's Times says babies can click and swipe from a few months.  When asked at what point parents intervened and decided the baby had had enough, one parent replied "when the screen is covered in drool".)

The baby's drooling on the screen,
It clicks and swipes and it seems mean
To take the iPad from its hands
When there's so little it commands,
And yet a parent should be seen
To be in charge. The old 'has been'
Must act, she ought to intervene
It is her job, she understands
The baby.
And as its tiny brain expands
She might in moments calm, serene,
Introduce him to other brands,
Knowing Korea and far off lands
Will outstrip Apple, when he's a teen:
The baby.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/technology/gadgets/article4034566.ece

Friday, 14 March 2014

We Humans (Rondeau Redoublé)


We humans, we're all pigs, one might say,
A metaphor being merely a metaphor,
Forgetting this, we have been led astray,
Chalking new rules for each species - more and more.
As pigs we have our pig like needs, or,
To put the thing another way,
We are all equal. As I mentioned before,
We humans, we're all pigs. One might say
We are not indivisible, though each day
Our thinking grows more sheep-like; one can't ignore
This - as the web of influence grows we are more grey -
A metaphor being merely a metaphor.
Each pig is different. The boar
And sow I'll grant have different shapes, but we're not prey
And predator:
Forgetting this we have been led astray.
We need to put things right, must not delay,
Take back the idea of equality and restore
Our sense of commonality, not waste away
Chalking new rules for each species - more and more,
Each of us is pig; each unique. The flaw
With Orwell was that he'd portray
Classes: horses, sheep, dogs, hens. Heretofore
This had its use, but still we're all pigs I say,
We humans.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bird Song



The volume of the sound out of proportion
To the volume of the bird, but why compare
A thing that's made to sing with what we are?
Innocence is ignorance, but caution!
Scientific 'fact' can be distortion.
Our comprehension of the world, so far
As it exists is good, but be aware,
Over simplifying, is reduction.
To seek a single motive in a bird
For giving voice or seeking to express
Some avian thought is narrow, quite absurd.
They are not human, but one must confess
They are inclined to speak and to be heard;
We can't translate, it's not us whom they address.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Venn Diagram (intersectionality)

To represent humanity,
Our common needs, our human dignity,
One might think it logical
To make a single circle,
Encapsulating what we know to be self evident,
Our need for food and love and liberty,
For shelter, warmth and tolerance,
To live without the interference
Of those who'd do us harm.

I find this is sufficient,
Since each of us is different,
To take these simple statements
And represent them clearly.

But just as an experiment
I took the counter argument
And started out to represent
Ideas about identity.

I did not like the spiders web, the spirograph,
The tangled mess of specificity,
That tried to show complexity,
But reduced our great humanity
To fine slices, segments, sociological.

For one thing it's impossible
To intersect all combinations,
Which means one gives priority
To those fashion deems as relevant,
Ignores the commonality
Of all human experience,
Ignores what is unique:
Our individuality.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Julgans Nigra Circa 15th Century Hatfield Estate, Felled in storm 2014. (Written on the opening day of the winter paralympic games)

How small the compass of the matted roots,
Protruding now above the ground, nest like.
How gnarled the limbs which horizontal lie,
Reaching out along the grass beneath the sky
Which, from the moment of emergence
From its squirrel-buried shell, fragile shoots
Have gained their strength, increased, converting
Sunlight into starch and growing lignified;
Slowly turning seedling into walnut whip
And adding annually to shape and size,
So, after centuries, its stature
We regard as representative
Of all that totalled, all that signified
Ancient wisdom, knowledge - that which man holds good.
Some arms reach upwards still, seeking the sun;
Three open orifices Bosch-like show,
Somehow obscene, among the twisted branches,
Crying out in prayer or pain, "I am undone".
We weep to see it thus reduced, a metaphor
For human age and death, but this facility
To always make connection to ourselves
Is vanity and simplification.
Our trunks and limbs are here to serve our minds,
And though we must accept that death,
Is fate, inevitability,
That flesh at last is frail
And all that is undignified,
Though even brains must fail,
In life we are not fixed or rooted,
Limited by things corporeal,
Every human being can be free,
We are our spirits; no man is a tree.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

17th Century Prosthetic Eyeball



Two hemispheres joined at the equator,
An odd and rather gruesome yo-yo,
Made perhaps of marble or of soap stone,
Designed to nestle in an empty socket.
Creamy yellow, hard and smooth, its maker
Must have tried to match its partner, to show
His skill, though the sclera looks like bone
Adjacent to the iris.
Leaf-like is this thing of beauty,
The eye itself,
Of blue-grey-green the iris made of glass,
The surface is convincing in its richness,
And belies its nature, cold un-living.
It served its purpose well, it did its duty,
Looking at the world but never seeing,
So much bounced off, did not pass through it,
It did not judge, nor was it unforgiving.
An encapsulation of a mind and soul,
Blind and yet one reads its fixed expression,
Implanted there by him who thought to make it,
Moved by kindness, sympathy, compassion.

Seeing History: The rise of spectacles in early modern Britain