The Rigours of Indolence

there's a storm brewing
The Ball on Shipboard by James Tissot

The Rigours of Indolence

Ah, those aristos, who never worked a day,
Just sit back and wait for Papa to pass away.
While armies of servants and hard-working-clarsses
Would feed their fat faces and wipe their fat arses,
And loans would be brokered to fund wars of nations,
While riches would pour in from ex-slave plantations.

Ah, those aristos, who feasted on our sweat,
Those patrons of the arts, that lavish social set –
With artists and craftsmen and tailors and tours,
And houses and horses and operas and balls.
They almost were worth it, their style could defend it –
They didn’t deserve it, but knew how to spend it.

Usually I resist any attempt to rhyme ‘class’ with ‘arse’, but this poem was written in with a definite accent in ear.  ‘Papa’ of course should be pronounced with its stress on the second syllable.  This is an early poem, but I’ve started to preach a little less and let a little satire slip in.

World Peace

woman lying on bathtub
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on


World Peace

I could lie here for hours.
Just locked-in, alone, with my own private lake,
I soak in the warmth as I soak out the ache,
Massage my fingers through lathering cream,
And breathe in the salts with the tickle’ing steam.
And I lie.
Eyes closed I lie.
And let wash away all that pressure and bile.
Go on without me, at least for a while.



I always imagine a bath is the perfect place to find inspiration, but I think the brevity of this poem shows how little I do.  I’m more likely to find forty winks, and nothing wrong with that.  Anyway, any good lines I do compose will be forgotten by the time I’m dry.




Photo by Pixabay on


They are the graves and the stats and the mothers
And citizens living where forces are tasked –
Who, we are told, so willingly suffer,
And cheer on our conflict (though never get asked).
Yet those who are calling for vengeance and blood –
Beseeching the need for the selflessly lying
Of lives-on-the-line so to hold back the flood –
They’re never the ones who always end dying.

They are the facts and the doubts and worries,
The objective news and the cooler-held heads –
It feels like they’re all swept away in the hurry,
To rumour and jingo and front-page spreads.
Yet those who are calling for boots on the ground –
They’re des’prate for war, just to send the bombs flying –
But we can ignore them, and talk ourselves down,
And all be the ones who never end dying.

I think it was written at the time of the Iraq war, and has aged as badly as the decision to fight.  This now sounds very preachy – it’s still a trap I fall into when I’m angry and it rarely works.  At least yhe second verse attempts to give it a bit of optomism.

Calling All Stations

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on


Calling All Stations

Enjambment – it’s a nasty little habit
That’s likely to derail the locomotion of your meter –
For lines that run-away are sure to rabbit,
So prose may ride expresses, but the slow train sounds the sweeter.



Yet another poem about poetry, but at least it’s short.  I’ve always been puzzled by where modern poets choose to break their lines, particularly as when they read it out, there’s often no pause whatsoever between the lines.  The verb ‘to rabbit’ is used here in its cockney sense meaning to chatter – nothing to do with running, except the mouth.



Five Loaves & Two Red Fishes

those fish do not look cooked

Five Loaves & Two Red Fishes

Reverend, Reverend, writer of the tales:
Murder, guilt and passionlust, herringful and slick.
Popular and idolised, blessèd are your sales,
Though the critics pan you off as “slight” and “formulaic”.

Reverend, Reverend, writes another tale:
Murder, guilt and passionlust, once more with a twist –
The victim here is Jesus Christ, crucified, impaled.
Yet we know the killer has to be the one who kissed.

That’s okay, the Reverend is not asking whodunnit,
He tells it straight and poignant; for kudos, not for wealth.
Yet at the Ascension, so a final twist is sprung:
It turns out in Heaven waits old Lucifer himself.

“Just how can a Christian priest write of such a blasphemy ?”
Ask his readers and his bishop, still not comprehending.
“All because I do believe the Lord will yet forgive me,
(And I’d surely sell my soul for fiendish-good twist ending.)”

I feel the joke in this one is rather laboured, as are some of the rhymes.  Incidentally, the Bible contains one of the first locked-room mysteries in literature in the Book of Daniel (or at least in the versions that include the apocraphal additions including Bel & The Dragon).  And if you’re interested, the most common fish in the Sea of Galilee was the tilapia.

Juvenilia Week 2 – any improvement ?

Following on from the recently underwhelming week of early tat, and because I want to reach my third birthday next May before the barrel is dry and the cupboard is scraped, I’m once again fishing around in the week-old bag of lettuce leaves for the ones that not quite too-far gone – believe me, there are others in there which are nothing but liquid sludge.

These ones are just about presentable, especially after a few nips and tucks with the blue pencil.

The Curse of the Couplets

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

The Curse of the Couplets

A minister’s office.  There is a knock and the Professor enters.

Ah, professor, good afternoon.
It’s really very good of you to see me quite so soon.

Oh, no trouble, Minister, no trouble at all.
I came the very minute that I first received your call

Then let me bring you up to speed the problem facing here:
Something has been happening, and something very queer.
Something has affected quite the very way we speak,
It’s spread across the nation within only half a week,
It’s very hard to spot, of course, which makes it all the worse –
But each and ev’ry citizen has started talking verse.

But surely you don’t mean…

Alas, I rather mean I do.

But what then made you realise ?

(on intercom)
Ah, Bridget, tea for two.
(to Professor)
Oh, little things, just nagging doubts.

You thought you had some pests ?

We wanted to be certain, so we ran a batch of tests.
We’ve got our finest boffins out there looking for the source.

But why then did you turn to me ?

It’s time to alter course.
We need to find an antidote, we really can’t delay.
And that is why I called you in…

We’re out of Earl Grey.

Well never mind, well never mind, I’m sure this shall suffice.

Bridget exits.

I really can’t imagine I could give you sound advice.

But you’re our finest scholar, you must surely have some clue ?

Nothing at the moment, I’m afraid.

One lump, or two ?

But are you really certain that we’re talking all in rhymes ?
There hasn’t been a mention in the Telegraph or Times.

We’ve had to keep it hush-hush so as not to cause a panic.
Would you like a ginger-nut ?  Don’t worry, they’re organic.
Of course, it isn’t fatal – no, the country’s not entombed –
It’s just so very curious…

We’re doomed, by God, we’re doomed !

Now not to be alarmist, or to overstate things grossly,
You’d never even know it’s there unless you listen closely
To the steady pitter-patter in the rhythm of each sentence…

We’re doomed, I say !  We must all pray, and beg the Lord’s repentance.

Professor !  Pull yourself together !  I need you now to think;
There must be something, anything, to save us from the brink ?

Wait !  There may be something…the problem is systemic.

The problem is we’ve staring at a bloody epidemic !

The problem is within the brain and its linguistic centre
Now, usually it’s very good at recognising…

Door knock


Bridget enters and clears the tea things.

…the diff’rences in how we speak, but something has confused it

Shall I clear the paper, too ?

I haven’t yet perused it.

We need to shake it up again, with something quite sublime:
By ending ev’ry sentence with a word that doesn’t rhyme !
Now ev’ryone’s aware that there is nothing rhymes with orange…

I’ve contacted the builders to come and fix the door hinge.

Another word that comes to mind – there’s none to find with chimney.

That Watkins tries to feel my legs – he said I had a trim knee.

There must be more, there must be more – I’m sure we’re safe with plinth.

That gift I need to buy your son – was it guitar or synth ?
I’ve called the milliners – your wife has found her trilby small.
Will there be something else ?

No thanks, I think that will be all.

Bridget exits.

There’s must be more examples, such as anxious, purple, month…

No rhyme, say you ?  That can’t be true !  Why, surely there is…
There is…
Hah !  You’ve done it !  I’ve stopped rhyming.  How can I ever thank you professor ?  Your suggestion will save the country.  Finally, we can stop the rhyme.

That’s alright, Minister.  Any time.

Follow Your Nosings

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Follow Your Nosings

Ev’ry staircase runs in two directions,
Even MC Escher’s –
Join midway – on a landing, say,
And we all must make selections –
Oh, the pressure !
Do we climb for the sky through the oculus eye ?
Or sink in the bowel of the gravity well ?
Perhaps it’s endless trip round a Mobius strip…
Seems like Jacob’s dreams have gone to town,
As the stairs go up, but the stairs go down –
Descend today, and tomorrow we rise,
Or labour now for a future of ease.
Up is always hard on our thighs,
And down is hard on our knees.

In the Nash’nal Int’rest

In the Nash’nal Int’rest

Ev’ry, dammit, ev’ry time
My ev’ry sports a ’postrophe,
You howl and howl my spelling crime
As def’nit’ly catostrophe.
But still they pop extr’ordin’ry,
Dishon’rab’ly, inord’nat’ly,
By lis’ning out for how it’s said
When diff’rently from how it’s read.
So speech shall speak, and I’ll lit’rature obey –
Just deal with it, you soph’mores –  cos the commas stay !