Wednesday, 31 January 2018

I always Feel Like Smoking When I Sit In This Chair

I always feel like smoking when I sit in this chair,
which isn’t really fair,
since I gave up at eighteen,
And now I’m forty eight.
It seems a bit mean
that after thirty long years,
I still imagine gazing, dreaming,
not bothering to concentrate,
small, thin, hand-rolled fag in small, thin hand,
eyes screwed up a bit, producing tears
against the pale grey spirals curling 
into the air. 

I always feel like smoking when I sit in this chair,
And I really don’t care
about cancer, though I’ve seen
it’s effects and the terrible state
to which it reduces the human brain.
I think the chair is haunted, but no fears,
no apprehension join me in my scheming,
I just feel an urge to sate
A long forgotten appetite whose only demand
is that I relax, dropdown a few gears,
let the stale day’s hours go rolling

up into the air

The Question Everyone’s Asking

Twitter is for nasty, hate filled twittering
Why can’t I get up, then switch Radio 4 on,
Without hearing the bile and mindless wittering
Of some gobshite, democracy loathing moron?

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Deal Only With Your Individual Self. (Rondeau Redouble)

Anxiety’s a Devil, always feeds
upon the knowledge of one’s darker side,
will not be quelled.  You cannot meet its needs
by taking on another’s pain. Don’t hide,
it finds you out, don’t try and turn the tide,
nor let the flood engulf. A wise man heeds
alarms, knows acting’s best, he must not bide.
Anxiety’s a Devil, always feeds
upon itself.  But if the life one leads
is comfort filled, protected, one can’t ride
to better art, or reach great heights and speeds
upon the knowledge of one’s darker side.
Awareness is a step, that’s all.  Decide
to face the devil that’s within, his greeds
are endless, gnawing, never satisfied,
will not be quelled.  You cannot meet his needs,
and he who tries, turns cannibal, succeeds
by eating only at himself. Defied,
anxiety just flows, never recedes
by taking on another’s pain.  Don’t hide
behind some group identity, implied
by victimhood, for cultivating weeds
in thousand acre fields deep inside
is not a cure, it sows self loathing’s seeds,

“Policy Based Evidence Making”

Our evidence, on policy, is based.
We speak of those ideas that we hold true,
Defining truth as that which can be traced
To ‘facts’, or statements of our point of view.
Yet when research shows real proof is thin
Or non existent, then we mention lies
And damned lies and statistics, start to spin
And label “Doubting Thomases”, whose eyes
Require substantiated proof.  For us
Our truths and truth itself are one.  Yet still
Ideas alone cannot be left to buzz
About like bees in people’s minds, the will
To make the world in our own image wins,
The sculpting of new, faith-shaped facts begins.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

“Dignity Lost Half Its Value Yesterday,“

Dignity lost half its value yesterday,
While self pity made exponential gains.
Wearing ones heart on ones sleeve remains
At its highest level ever recorded, fuelled
By the row about differences in pay
Between men and women at the BBC,
When the Twitterati ruled 
That one must be
Vocal in one’s sympathy
Towards women who earn as little as £300 K.
It was also buoyed by the new army recruitment ads,
Advocating crying as a way of male bonding.
Some commentators are saying
That offence may be over valued,
And are hedging,
While those who make their living cashing it in
Are praying that it keeps on paying,
And if nothing new turns up they can keep dredging
The past.  Others fear that intersectionality
Is such a tangled web it is bound to trip
Up one of the big players pretty soon,
As they can’t all keep up with the latest fads
So the whole edifice will come crashing down,
Which would destabilise modern morality.
The stiff upper lip is at record lows, too,
But of course its advocates are not responding,
Except by drinking a stiff one
While hoping for Divine intervention.
Being ‘over the moon’
Has held its level against ‘checking one’s privileges’.
Strangely, tolerance has taken a tumble,
But needless to mention
it’s not yet quite as low as
Loving one’s neighbour as oneself,
Or being humble.

(Also based on a snippet from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, in which he tells us the title and first line were a headline in last Saturday’s Telegraph. Dignity is a funeral directors I think he said, presumably one big enough to make the financial pages.)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Giles’s Gallery: Interiors (Rondeau Redouble)

The light in every room is like Vermeer’s,
this quality achieved by chalkiness,
it softens, mutes, lends ancient peace, appears
not as some disinfectant force whose restlessness
requires it to dance on surfaces pursuing cleanliness, 
but rather to diffuse. It guides, it steers
the onlooker towards a deeper truthfulness:
the light in every room is like Vermeer’s,
as the viewer’s drawn in, he nears
an understanding of the owner’s mind in its unconsciousness. 
The lime-washed walls add brilliance to mahogany veneers, 
this quality achieved by chalkiness
contrasted with french polish, beeswax, elbow greasiness,
seemingly applied by long dead relatives and many years.
And something else illuminates - a tenderness,
it softens, mutes, lends ancient peace, appears
unwittingly:  the artist’s quiet reverence.  Those ‘seers’
who ‘foretell’, dictate our future style and taste, pursue an emptiness.
And yet still most of us respond to their sneers
not as (to) some disinfectant force whose restlessness
we must obey, but as a false fastidiousness,
that would eliminate our history, but wouldn’t free us.
We reject the bossy imposition, of year zero tastefulness,
we like our clutter, displayed lineage, it cheers,
every room.

Cathy Newman (Rondeau Redouble)

I am the very model of a modern, right on feminist,
The one thing I cannot abide is masculine intelligence,
No, don’t make well thought arguments, you must shut up, you must desist
It’s sexist when you make me seem some nincompoop irrelevance.
If you like men, then I conclude you're full of pure malevolence,
All men are vile and stupid and you’re just a male chauvinist.
How dare you try and make your case with intellectual elegance?
I am the very model of a modern right on feminist.
I will not listen, I’ll resist
Ideas backed up by evidence,
Let it be known that I think you a nasty great misogynist,
The one thing I cannot abide is masculine intelligence
And don’t point out the dreadful fact of suicide, its prevalence,
Among the population male and then go on and on, insist
That young men need our help, not our despisal and our negligence.
No, don’t make well thought arguments, you must shut up, you must desist,
I don’t care about your years of work as clinical psychologist,
It’s just a cover up, a poor disguise, a silly nuisance
When I know that what you really are is some far right apologist!
It’s sexist when you make me seem some nincompoop irrelevance,
And answer patiently, eyes full of humour and benevolence,
Implying, I’m not any threat, and not a real antagonist,
Just one who toe’s the leftist line without even the semblance
Of one who’s questioned anything, for I am a post modernist -
The very model of!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Values (Villanelle)

“values exist in a transcendental realm, they can be neither fought for nor destroyed” (Enoch Powell)

Existing in a transcendental plain,
a spiritual realm, they are preserved -
our values are the truths that we maintain.

They can’t be fought for, they always remain,
they cannot be destroyed, they are conserved,
existing in a transcendental plain

they are beyond debate, we can’t explain
nor prove their place of safety is deserved:
our values are the truths that we maintain,

so we are fed by what we feed, and gain
by symbiosis. Yet we are unnerved -
existing in a transcendental plain

we seem to think they’re fragile, though they’ve lain
around since infancy and not disserved - 
our values are the truths that we maintain

no piled on guilt, or self inflicted pain
can cure them, they just bide, they are reserved.
Existing in a transcendental plain
Our values are the truths that we maintain.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

A Prayer For A First Past The Post Marriage.

Let our life together be better,
Than some grand, bland coalition;
Let us each do well what we each do best;
And fight and rejoice in opposition.
Let our love stand every test;
Let marriage be a happy competition.

Let us not always accommodate 
The half arsed efforts of the other,
But ‘step up to the plate’,
Father and mother,
Cat and dog, sister and brother.

We are meant to love, not tolerate.
Let us not hinder or fetter,
But let us not turn our life beige;
Let us storm and rage
Certain it is with the best intention,
The desire to win in the joint interest,
And let the winner wear the crown
Don’t always, compromise,
Let us jointly feather our nest,
Holding up each scrap of down
For the other to scrutinise
And let us criticise,
Certain, in our love, that the other is wise.


In My Mind's Nose

In my mind's nose, paraffin fumes
On the playroom air
And meths for lighting the Tilley lamp
And hot rubber urging me to chew
My hottie-bottie, kettle filled.

Musty rooms
Old and dusty, suddenly bare,
Lonely:  we shall decamp,
To Harrogate, start anew,
Be again our more sophisticated selves.

Others gone, house stilled,
Just mother sweeping crumbs
From the flagged floor,
Taking damp novels from left behind shelves,
Chucking them into the stove.
Whiff of wet paper smouldering
Before she shuts the door.

In my minds nose, orange, cinnamon and clove,
With fishy Copydex glue,
Christmassy activities, crepe paper frilled,
And chains of plain white,
But that’s partly in my mind’s sight,
I suppose.

In Pursuit Of Emptiness

In pursuit of emptiness
I must confess
That I have found that more is less.
Since I have free choice of so much
I seem to feel I must not touch
The vast array
Of well made goods
The vulgar shops put on display,
Preferring always to restrict
Myself and then 
To preach restriction to my fellow men.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

On Two Quotes From Edmund Burke (Villanelle)

“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion”

“Society can overlook murder, adultery or swindling,
it never forgives preaching of a new gospel.”

Don’t preach your brand new gospel down at me,
I will not live by your invented rules.
I’m not deluded and I know I’m free.

You might convert the sheep, the BBC,
And brainwash little children in the schools.
Don’t preach your brand new gospel down at me.

Your childishness means you can only see
Utopia, and not the fire it fuels.
I’m not deluded and I know I’m free,

While you take up your chains and wish to be
This fettered thing, that wears its guilt for jewels.
Don’t preach your brand new gospel down at me,

I don’t accept your sick philosophy.
The British stick to tried ideas like mules.
I’m not deluded and I know I’m free

As do the silent, vast majority,
Beware of them, do not assume they’re fools.
Don’t preach your brand new gospel down at me,

I’m not deluded and I know I’m free.

Integrate Your Shadow (Villanelle)

That darkness where the carpet turns quite grey
Behind you when you face into the light
It’s not just shadow made of brilliant day.

You might ignore it, it might fade away,
But better far to take this piece of night,
That darkness where the carpet turns quite grey,

Acknowledge it is there, and holds some sway,
It’s purpose is to challenge what is right,
It’s not just shadow made of brilliant day.

It must provoke and tempt and you must say:
I know you’re there, but I’m prepared to fight
That darkness where the carpet turns quite grey

I will not let it rule by stealth, I’ll play
By rules I set. For it is rage and spite,
It’s not just shadow made of brilliant day.

So integrate it, thus keep it at bay
In fits of rage it seems to take delight,
That darkness where the carpet turns quite grey

It’s not just shadow made of brilliant day.

Friday, 19 January 2018

On The Loss Of Nocturnal Wings

I wish that I could fly again, in dreams.
I flew so well, with so much grace and ease.
I flew beside the reservoir and streams
Where I had played in childhood, 
And, just as then, this out door play would lead
To that sudden yearning, inexplicable need,
To touch base,
Return to that fixed and thickly walled in space,
That most secure and solid place,
Where I could start a different game, 
Or seem to ride on empty air beneath the beams.
And there was never any sense that it was fantasy,
I knew with certainty that I’d succeed,
When I took wing I flew straightforwardly, 
Not in an attempt to please,
Or terrify myself, yet knew the thrill
Of swooping freedom and of gliding speed.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Project Fear

Because I “cannot comprehend
The difference between a nation
And a commercial enterprise”,
I shall assume that you, my lowly friend,
Are likewise ignorant.  I know that your frustration
With life cannot stem from the sudden rise
In immigration, 
Which only happened to coincide with what seemed to be the end
Of your community. I know that the determination
To make your neighbourhood diverse by increasing in size
The number of its members, not wishing to blend,
Fit in, adopt your customs, make any attempt at integration
Could not have had any ill effects, because the wise,
(That is, people like me) say so.  Instead, I contend
That what you really care about is your financial situation.
I know that you believe the lies
Of those old fashioned, prejudiced, populists, who tend
To appeal deliberately to the nostalgic, conservative population.
But I advise:
Turn a deaf ear, think only of the bottom line, do not defend
The past, or hanker after it.  Do not risk a depreciation
Of your capital assets.  Hark not to the hysterical cries
Of those who look to history, yet would rend
This carefully constructed veil, remove this modern veneer of civilisation,
Our brilliant new world, where only the poor must compromise,
And people like me can preach tolerance and send
Signals of virtue to those who share our political position.
Because this new status quo suits me, you should surmise
That it is also best for you.  I shan’t condescend
To speak of this again, I have given my instruction:
Vote to stick with the bureaucratic institution, do not cut the ties.

Prejudice (quotations from Burke and others.)

‘That untaught feeling’, 
‘That mass of predispositions’,
Those habits, customs, traditions,
That in built intuition
Of ready application,
That propensity towards civilisation
Resistant to innovation,
Safeguard against modern confusion,
Immune to abstract speculation,
Born of collective wisdom.
Those instinctive reactions
Shaped by nations,
The cumulative knowledge of what is right,
Absorbed like light,
By generations
Of new leaves on the ancient tree,
Watered and fed 
By the xylem and phloem, society,
To become something enduring,
Lignified, dignified,

Protective, reassuring.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Recruitment Ad. Safe Space Soldier Required (sestina)

You really do not need to be that fit.
To want to pray is absolutely right.
It’s great to do so looking to the east
while kneeling on the ground with head bowed low.
Feel free to cry, let tears course like ale.
Think you’re a girl, or gay? Don’t be put off

we promise not to bully, tease or scoff.
We’ll take you, though we’ll never benefit
from all your girlish tenderness.  Your pale,
face and sickliness are fine. Not too bright?
There’s nothing wrong with being kind and slow.
Overweight, obese? Join us, share your feast.

We care nought for your health, not in the least. 
Indulge in weekend love, but don’t get off
with any but the virtuous sort, for low
bred girls and boys think soldiers should be fit
and we mustn’t disappoint.  Nor is it right
that others’ ignorance, jaded, stale,

should tinge our notion of the modern male, 
the young recruit whose empathy, like yeast,
increases as he checks his foe’s alright,
refrains from causing harm, casts off
old notions about war.  We cannot profit
from old fighting talk, we’ll cast no blow

we will not shoot, or bomb, we will be slow
to anger, trying love at first. Each tale
that tells of old heroic acts we’ll retrofit
with references GBTQ, the least
macho shall be held in high esteem, we’ll doff
our caps, salute those who take fright.

We’ll do away with ritual and rite,
respect each other’s space, keep standards low,
so no one feels they can’t achieve, no toff
shall send you down the dale
to crawl through mud when it’s time to face the east:
to pray for victory brings greater benefit.

Not bright, sickly pale, one who lets their tears flow?
Lard arse slob who loves to feast, get off it long enough to join up, Capita must make a profit.