Sunday, 27 December 2015

After the flood Warning.

The dining chairs have made a barricade,
So I can't get at my underwear.
They're keeping out of imagined water,
Are huddled by the chest close by my bed,
Like children hanging round in gangs.

Instead of paddling
They're up by the arcade.
And one at least is standing on its head.

They're keeping out of the deluge, 
Out of the fictional flood,
Yet they seem quite jolly.
There's no sense of gloom,
As they guard their mahogany legs 
From the silt and sewage and mud,
And make conversation with dispossessed drawers,
Stacked up at random, chaotically,
When they're normally always neat.

And some of the drawers are quite rude
As they panic about carcasses,
Left where
The waters might lap hypnotically
Round their bare
And bandy Queen Anne or cabriole,
Chinese Chippendale,
Fluted or reeded stands,
Causing them to fall,
Where their polish might turn pale,
Or grow quite white from the dregs
Of the river washed into the room,
Or be scratched by abrasive sands,
Or blackened with oil or tar.

And the sideboards discuss the benefits,
If any at all,
At such times as these are,
of feet
Which are 'spade.'
But who knows what they conclude?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Role of Woman within a Farting Club, Early 18th Century.

The Farting Club, which met at ten,
Comprised exclusively of men,
Except one dame,
Who came alone
From somewhere north of Harwich.
Inspecting breeches and shirt tails
She checked that odoriferous smells,
(Like sulphur from the deepest wells,
Brought up from mother earth, her bowels
In wooden and in leaden pails)
Were caused by gasses on their own
And not the Brewers' miscarriage.

Monday, 14 December 2015


There is no dog but dog
Its essence is the same
Whichever form it takes.
And yet each dog that we adore
We know is just itself.
And so we love the subtlety
Of difference and we frame
Our references to show we know
That X or Y is yet more tame,
Or faster, gentler, more awake,
More loving, than the one before.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Celia and Trevor in Brief Encounter.

Her teeth were false and yet were true,
Fulfilled their role as she filled hers.
Her vowels it's said were like cut glass
And so she sounded like a snob,
A member of the upper class,
Her plastic teeth helped do the job.
Her eyes were big and soppy, sad.

He looked quite nice, but he was mad,
(Although his teeth were all his own)
He was quite barking and was prone
To mess things up and make a fuss,
Because he didn't understand
The plot and only wished to act
The part as he would act in life:
To take the woman by the hand,
Not caring she was some man's wife,
Not caring she was cold and posh,
And kiss her lips and suck her teeth
And feel those firm breasts underneath
Her stylish, winter macintosh,
And do such things as man might do,
Alone with woman and Rach. two.

(An article in the Daily Mail explained that Celia Johnson had broken her front teeth in her teens, when she fell on a stoney beach, and that Trevor Howard was a psychopath with very little understanding of the plot of Brief Encounter.  He couldn't understand why they didn't just get stuck in, once they were alone.)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Left Hand Only

Desolation in the minor -
Chopin chords bring satisfaction
To the mind that craves 
A finer kind of blue.
Sad perfection, iteration,
Makes a soothing grey distraction,
Melancholic repetition,
Reinforcing recognition 
Of a wintry hue,
That lurks below the hard facade,
But yet is never out of view.
Resonant within the chamber
Of the soul, no great diviner
Is required to tell the meaning.
What's sequential is prophetic:
Know the end from the beginning,
Sound itself provides prediction,
Chopin chords bring satisfaction
To the mind that craves what's true.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Two Long Cold Services

He isn't in the cold air or the old stones,
He isn't in the vicar or the words,
Isn't hiding in the rhythm or the meter.
He isn't in the altar or a candle
Although He might be somewhere in the Handel.
He isn't in the creed or in the pews,
He isn't in the prayers, but in my bones
I know He's somewhere nearby
And if I close my eyes and try
I can find Him in the warmth right by heater.

Musing on a Game Pie

Not much united by fine herbs or wine
And pastry's only function's to restrain.
No chopping can disguise or redefine:
The nature of each element is plain.
For venison will never taste like hare,
And rabbit like a pheasant cannot be,
As each thing is itself and we're aware
Of how each creature formally was free.
And how it's former freedom made its taste,
Gave it its character which is unique.
And yet had we the chance would we make haste,
Had we some spell would we restore each beak,
Each hoof, back to its owner, new life grant?
And reason that it had the right to live
As it saw fit, or would we fail, give scant
Consideration to the choice, forgive
Ourselves for thinking of the present?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Our 'Safe Space'

You mustn't hurt our feelings, we are weak,
and you cause great offence, when e'er you speak
as if we're capable of hearing.  When you seek
to challenge us we block our ears and hum. 
Our bleak and fatalistic view of life 
prescribed by God or chromosomes
must not be contradicted, we are meek,
subservient, pre-programmed, not unique.
Our safe spaces, like our homes
protect.  Any reference, veiled, oblique,
couched in terms implying that our clique
is less than perfect will be met with cries
of "We are victims", "You tell lies."
And you know to hurt our feelings is unwise,
for the armies of the feeble and offended
shall inherit the earth; no compromise.
We're not interested in reason and debate
you've had your chance and now it is too late.
Your generation elevated victimhood,
you drew the rules, worked out the reference frame;
it isn't our fault we understood,
and decided how we best might play the game.
So don't bother to ask us whether
we might change our minds and take time to consider
from any perspective that might differ from our own.
Though we're feeble, frail and sensitive we're not alone:
we victims of the feather flock together.

Monday, 30 November 2015

A High Spring Tide In Late Autumn.

The storm that drenched the Yorkshire hills in rain,
That lashed at Gordale Scar and Malham tarn
And sent its drops to congregate and merge,
And travel where the rivulets converge,
Becomes a gushing, noisy, stony stream
That rushes underground. And in my dream
I sense approaching flood. Through market towns
And drab industrial scenes, through old nightgowns,
Through valley bottoms, all along the bed,
And clean white sheets. And quilts will not be spared.
The liquid flows unstoppable. I dread
To move but sensing torrent, lie impaired.
I'm forty six and still I'm not prepared.
Through Keighley, Leeds and Bradford it has flowed
Sloughed off such rubbish all along its way
And  clots of flotsam gifts are now bestowed,
And still it charges on across the plain,
In desperation till it meets the tide.
And rises o'er the banks at break of day.

Friday, 27 November 2015

On The Joy Of Dog

I did not understand that there was joy
In long wet miles and freezing icy air,
In endless throwing of some half chewed toy,
Or combing seeds and burrs from matted hair.
I could not know in all my life before,
The joy of morning greeting, the renewal.
That poem of deep, unspoken love which more
Than any mere aubade can fuel
Such fire as keeps a love alight,
Sans jealousy or meanness or suspicion.
A flame that burns not with desire;
Nor yearning for a meeting of two minds,
Is never satisfied but by imagination,
But simply re-establishes, confirms
In gentle nuzzling, or in wild excess
Of bouncing, heart-felt, crazy tenderness,
A bond of love that binds without condition.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

To A New Recruit

Do you really think that God
requires an imbecile like you
to prove that He is "greater?"
Can't you recognise the Devil
and his message of corruption
when he whispers in your heart
and tells you what to do?
Do you really think that God
would trust a coward and a traitor?
Don't you recognise the devil?
Shall I make an introduction?
Mr Iblis, meet a moron,
up till now he's been a fan,
just a passive spectator
but today he has decided 
that he really loves destruction
and his tiny brain cannot contain
such basic information
as the rather simple notion
that we instill in our children:
good's superior to evil.
So he's ripe for your seduction.
He has come to join Isil
your most recent, vile invention
and he won't put off till later
what he wants to do today.
For his cretinous affection
for your habits, is his affliction,
and he's pious in his action
and his manner of devotion
though he knows not who you are,
believing you are God,
The Divine and the Creator,
yet believes himself to be
the great adjudicator
quite capable of choosing
who should live and who should die.
And he wishes to impress you
with his ignorant intention
as he blows the world apart
shouting Allahu Akbar.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

On The Day After Islamic Terrorists Slaughter Civilians In Paris

On this day of making cider in the kitchen,
Of crushing apples in the hired press;
On this day of standing chopping, bashing, squashing;
This day of pulverising flesh;
This day of my transforming
What the passing of three seasons
Had created, whole and perfect, 
Into something broken, smashed, where stress
And weight and force and pressure
Were applied, and where corruption
Will be encouraged: this day of turning more to less;
On this day of life revolving
Round this simple, homely task -
Let me remember 
Those souls who now are passing
From this life into the next,
On this fourteenth of November,
And let me ask:
Why should we weep and sing the Hostias
For fellow men, who yesterday, perhaps,
Were standing, laughing, joking in the kitchen;
Why tolerate this dereliction
This insanity that passes for religion,
This turning what is lovely, whole and perfect
Created through the passing of each season,
Our life and liberty and reason,
Into a pint of piss?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Five Minutes in a Scunny Carpark, on a Wet November Evening, Trying to Think Profound Thoughts, before writing a Rondeau Redouble.

I sit in blackness and I seem to stare
But yet see solely with my inner eye
And flit about in search of something rare:
The place where thoughts with greater meaning lie,
Waiting for a chance encounter with a butterfly.
I sit in solitude and do not care
I'll find some bright, new flower if I try,
I sit in blackness and I seem to stare
Eluded by this blossom small and fair.
I touch on things which do not multiply,
On war and peace and even upon prayer.
But yet see solely with my inner eye
And inexperienced find only "why?"
No sophisticated daisy chain leads where
Philosophy brings clarity, I sigh
And flit about in search of something rare
A random Googling for something to declare
Unique, original, my own which will defy
All counter argument.  Instead I find I share
The place where thoughts with greater meaning lie
With stupid pigs, which come out of their sty
To drag in trivia and to layer
It in between the flowers; and that they satisfy.
I'm a mental Mail Online; I am despair.
I sit in blackness.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

No Other Option Than to Live.

Death is not a choice
It comes quite of its own accord.
You may invite it,
And it may take you at your word
Accepting joyfully your invitation.
Or you might voice
A clear desire to fight it,
At which it may just feel an obligation
To fight back.  Therefore rejoice,
Not 'living each day as if it is the last,'
But realizing dullness also has its merit
We can't undo the past
Nor can we alter much the natures we inherit.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


How strange that there should be a need
To use the word (or should I say
To think it?) In this happy day
When nobody is forced to wear
A wide striped suit or dye their hair,
Or sport a polka dotted tie
And pink and stripy shirt to boot.
Indeed, we ought to praise the way
To type some people must conform.
It makes life easier for poets,
All dreary in their spattered tweed,
If mostly people fit the norm,
And give the general bad impression
Allotted to them by profession.
For though we seek the subtle clue
The cliché is most often true.
And who would wish to buy a house
From a dowdy little mouse?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

An Oushak on the Comfrey Bed.

It sprouts now in its comfy bed
Of moist and worm filled soil,
Under its blanket, a warm Oushak rug:
The comfrey in the comfrey bed.
And yet it sprouts in vain,
And soon it will be dead.
In smothering darkness and growing pain
It will seek for the light
In the warmth and rain,
But etiolation and death wait instead,
For the comfrey in the comfrey bed.
Because I'm a sadist as gardeners are
And I like to play God,
And when viewed from afar
An old Oushak rug
With its faded shades of blue and red,
And green and orange and gold
Is a pleasant sight to behold,
As it suffocates baby comfrey
In its comfy comfrey bed.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

A New Kitchen Devil

The slightest pressure downwards
Of the index finger stretched
Along the top side of the blade.
The slightest movement of the hand:
Forwards, backwards and it falls, cleanly.
No time for bowing skills.
No time for sight in the mind's eye
Of my mother's capable arms,
Strong hands, wide-ended thumb,
Gripping, cutting finely
The stoneground, wholemeal, homemade, 
Hard-as-brick, brown, crusty loaf.
No time to recall the clean, firm sweep 
Of the butter knife scraping the primrose surface
In the 'right way', whose tiny serrations
Left cat-tongue corrugations,
So that one was only ever sure that is not what they were
By the purposefulness of their horizontal direction.
No time to think of the bow saw
And the saw horse, the wheelbarrow
Full of picked up wood, and the lessons 
In preserving strength, by using the whole length
Of the blade, letting it do the work.
Just, Hey Presto! a slab of soft,
Thickly buttered poppyseed filled
Machine baked, honey daubed,
Instant gratification of greed.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Coming Home To Hear A Party in Full Swing.

I heard a doobie doobie do
And a tra la la,
I saw: my bedroom door ajar
A pair of cast off socks.
I heard the dub a dub and baa
Of a vocal beat box,
"Who are these strangers from a far
Whose irritating pop is vox
Who've broken in and picked my locks?"
I cried.

But "dabba, yabba doobie daa"
Was all the answer they replied.
And something in their tone implied
I really ought to mingle.

I handed round some canapés,
To doobie doo and doobie daa,
And very soon cast off my bra
While someone else got off their rocks,
Oh joy! what fun, oh fa la la,
What simultaneous joys these are
(As long as I don't catch the pox
Beside the catchy jingle)
From swinging with an itchy, scratchy,
Swingle singing single.

An Inferiority Complex Induced by Looking at The Mail Online.

I have never flashed a side boob,
And I fear I never will,
Though I may have flashed a nipple,
While a baby took its fill.

I have never flashed a side boob;
I'm not big enough to spill
Out of daring low cut gowns,
So there's no anticipatory thrill
As I "step out" on the street
Un-toned, un-honed, 
Small boned and neat,
And I find I needs must bolster
Each saggy little teat.

I have never flashed a side boob,
I have no embonpoint, that guides
The roving eye to cleavage:
Only hard flat chest divides.

I'm a small and saggy woman,
And though I look quite thin,
I have a droopy stomach and a fold
Of flab that hides
Beneath enormous knickers whose untold
Glory is their strength 
In holding back the tides
Of stretch marked skin.

I am boring, dull and old
Or over the hill,
(Small hummock or wold)
I'm not clever, never did the Rubik's Cube,
And yet I feel I really am a woman still,
And have woman's vanities and prides,
Though I've never flashed a side boob
(Never even worn a boob tube)
For my bosom's much too little to have sides.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Two of Us

The woman in the mirror looks more sane
Than the one which the selfie shows,
Who looks plain
Weird.  But if vanity is a form of insanity
(Which heaven knows
One might suppose,
Given the time they spend pointlessly preening
When they ought to be doing the cleaning)
Then one has to conclude, though it's sad,
That they are both  mad.


Our freedom is not manifest in looks,
A man in jeans and tee shirt with tattoos
With shaven head, and pierced brow or nose
Is no less spied on, no less forced to bide by arbitrary rules,
Than his counterpart in suit and shirt and tie.
And yet he thinks the snook he cocks by turning on its head
The hangover of sumptuary law,
Is sufficient of itself to show he schools
His mind in ways of liberty.  
Fashion is a form of tyranny
And laughs at those who don't perceive the irony
Of conforming to a rebel's code of dress,
Believing, as they do, that they themselves
Are quite apart, beneath its reach and able to express
Their individuality.

And it's offered as a panacea for all ills
A hard crust dunked in laudanum to soothe a starving child
And embedded deep within it is the barb:
The idea that we are freer since we appear wild,
That we can portray
Liberty in what we wear,
Embody freedom in our choice of garb,
Blinds us to the truth. In trying to be fair
And put things right,
In trying to make amends for history,
In ignorance, not thinking of the consequences,
Only that which is sufficient to the day,
Such fools have rushed straight in,
And freedom has been trampled, crumbled away.

Middle aged Arm

A middle aged arm

Has no intrinsic charm

But despite each crinkle and wrinkle and fold,

It still manages to hold

That which the hand

Picks up, and

Despite its droopy and saggy appearance

It shows determination in its adherence

To the lifelong principle of not just giving up and randomly letting go

Of heavy objects, above the big toe:

Which is useful. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cartoon Sex

Discussing the Sex Life of Children's Cartoon Characters as a way of Talking to Children About Real Sex

The vexed question of sex
Between two cartoon characters
Should not be avoided simply because it is complex.

To begin with you have to decide
Whether you want your child 
To grow up to be a rational human being,
Who values logic, or a woman.

First one must define terms:
A woman in the context
Of imagined cartoon sex
Is a figure who wears clothes 
Which hang in such a way as to suggest
The secondary sexual organs,
And a small waist.
Her proportions vary with time and taste,
She is warm and kind with a certain fragility.
She has a name typically associated with females.
Because she is clad
We cannot determine if her given name
Is associated with her cisgender or transgender 
Version of reality.

Now let's look at her little, male friend:
("No, it's not her dad!")
A man in the context of potential sex
Between two cartoon characters
Is a figure whose clothes suggest 
An absence of breasts.
And the measurements of chest, waist, hip, 
Appear equal.  The presence of a zip
Might appear to indicate 
The presence of genitalia
But it would be a failure
Of logic to assume that lurking beneath
The drawing of trousers
Is a drawing of a penis and testes,
More so than an assumption of the existence of knees
Would be, since he can bend,
But it would be a lie
To say we have seen him undo his fly,
Unless he's Homer Simpson.

Because there is no concrete evidence
For the reproductive organs
One must logically conclude that sex is impossible.
But that is to reduce sex
Merely to an act,
It is to deal only with fact.

We know that it's much more than that.

"So, Mummy,

Is it necessary for the idea of sex
To have occurred in the imagination
Of the creator, before it can occur in
The brain of the beholder?
Are we complicit in the sexual act,
In so far as it cannot exist
Unless we are present
To retrieve it from the mind of the cartoons maker
By observing the desire for it between
The characters and making it real in our head?"

Oh, go to bed!
We'll talk about that when you're older.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Bread Maker

We had one once; she had blue eyes with flecks
of hazel and dark limbal rings. Her hands
were capable and strong, and marked with specks
like wheat germ.  Sometimes pale, soft, grey-white strands
of hair would fall across her face as she
began to mix and knead the dough. Her dress
was one she'd made herself, silk jersey. We
loved her, in that way that is a mess
of fierce instincts barely spelled in thought,
combined within a pancheon perhaps
within our hearts and leavened with a sort
of carelessness so there was no collapse.
And we ate her bread with treacle every day,
appreciatively in that savage, childish way.

Madness After Insomnia

When day proceeds a night of wakefulness,
One finds that the interior of the mind
Has been reorganised and redesigned
And one feels the strange mistake, unless
One can return to sleep, forsake the less
Than perfect Tudor house and try to find
The Georgian one with corridors.  Behind
Each door in this place dreams lurk, make access
Into consciousness with ease.  Preambles
Aren't required; strange images burst through
Doors, which left ajar let in the brambles
And incoherence snares at reason, too.
So all is mad.  Where sanity rambles,
Lunacy crouches and leaps to grab you.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Fauré Requiem, Hemingbrough Minster.

No greater contrast could there have really been
Between the golden light on golden stone,
Which through the window poured upon the scene
In balmy air and ancient stillness, known
Nine centuries to heal, where we had met to sing
A requiem, just for the sake of song;
And that dead day of frozen fog, when spring
Seemed at its furthest distance, and the long
Descent into despair was matched by grey,
And breath made steam upon the icy air.

No greater contrast with that dreadful day
Could there have ever been, and yet we two,
Transported via 'In Paradisum' were with you;
As there beneath pale hyacinths you lay,
And listened, so we hoped, to Fauré then,
Believing it could permeate the cold
And penetrate to some part of the mind,
Where death had not yet, really, taken hold.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Raspberry Picking

A thick, glass bowl held firmly in my hand
I stoop and lift the drooping, bent, brown cane,
And summer sun beats down upon my back
And goose grass clutches, scratches, where I stand.
And heat evaporates the sharp, strange scent
Residing in the soft and hairy leaves
Of flowering dead nettle, as I crane
To reach the red ones near the fence. My sleeves
All floaty chiffon catch and snag; a strand
Of climbing rose attacks my arm;
And yet I persevere, possessed by greed,
In competition with imagined mice.
I cannot leave a single soft, red fruit;
I seem impelled to pick and spread the seed
By some force stronger than my will.
I drop the odd one into long, dry grass,
But cannot leave it be and needs must root,
Determined it shall not be there to feed
Some other hungry creature who might pass.

Strimming the Herbaceous Border.

I squeeze the handle and exert a force
With my right thumb which sets the whizzing wire
Upon its spinning, spitting at high speed,
As instantly destructive as is fire.
The dying alkanet is smashed, a weed
Again, not wanted now the blue
Of it's spring flowers is just a passing thought,
A recollection brought about by sky,
Cerulean, azure, that weedy hue
Belonging to Boriginacea.
The wild garlic's yellow leather falls
And fills the air with vile, pungent smells.
The earth beneath is once again exposed,
And crumbles, breaks, is ready for the seed
Of Queen Anne's lace, whose tough, dry stalks
Are chewed, but still stay standing, as I try
To buzz them, break them. Then I smash the balls
Of rotten peony heads, reduced by rain
From pale and  frilly, pink, potential flowers,
To useless, dead reminders, medium brown,
Of all that nature hoped for when in May
She made things fresh and new after the grey.