The State of the Nation

The Lion & The Unicorn by Loneanimator

The State of the Nation

Bloody Tories, bastard bankers,
Bleeding hearts and work-shy snowflakes
Brigadiers and Rule Britannia,
Chavs and avocado-fakes.
I’ve been there, blaming them for “it’s unfair”,
This seething, faceless mass.
It’s all too easy, all too “they don’t care”,
Just blame the other class.
But have we ever once attempted,
Tried to understand just why we sharply disagree ?
Before our prejudice pre-empted,
Viewing them as ‘hippies’ or as ‘bourgeoisie’.
But could it still have worked,
Before they’re black-balled, sussed and tagged ?
Before our knees have jerked,
Our names have called, our throats have gagged ?
Can we treat our enemies
As the friends and fam’lies that they are,
And disagree more civilly
Before we take our tongues too far ?
We should us all be traitors to our tribes,
Refuse the dogma, learn to reach across the aisle –
The jeers are threats, the cheers are brides,
But we must greet them both with just a smile.
And as for those who take things further,
On their side, and also ours,
We need to try to tame their fervour,
Try to swap their vitriol for flowers.
Don’t banish them, don’t monster them,
Don’t fantasise of shooting them –
For they are people – angry, human people –
Don’t be brutal, don’t be phlegm.
We need to talk them down, not taunt them over,
Lend a hand, not give a shove.
As once we lose humanity, there’s no way to recover,
For even Reds and Fascists need our love.

A Surge of Surnames Serving as Starters

Register by Tim Reckmann

A Surge of Surnames Serving as Starters

Whenever I hear people blame
How surnames get above their station,
Moving up to the front of the name,
In a silly fads and trendy game,
Calling kids Odell or Mason,
Grabbing at that Moon Unit fame
That should belong to Jane and Jason
I love to contradict their claims
By pointing out it’s nothing new for names –
So Franklin, Brooke, and Harrison,
Meet Stanley, Joyce, and Allison,
Who opened up the door through which you came.
But then, there’s many a fam’ly brand
Whose use ain’t so contrived or underhand –
For they themselves derived from the font-side,
Taking a personal name, and riffing free,
Which now completes its jaunty ride
By cycling back as Price or Tiffany, with not a shred of shame.
For labels, monikers and nicks,
Are simply anything that sticks –
And who wants kids to all be called the same ?

It’s intersting to consider how the four different types of surname get reappropriated:
Patronymic-names (f’instance Anderson, McKenzie, Fitzpatrick) are obvious candidates, being already based on a forename.
Location-names (like Milton, Beverley, Beckett) would be grabbed if they were thought to sound nice, much like India and Vienna would be later, though now with an added dash of exotic.
Nickname-names (say Wiley, Swift, Armstrong) are slower to be taken up, but not unheard-of.
Occupation-names (such as Parker, Smith, Marshall) are the most surname-sounding, and their recent large-scale take-up could well come to define this century, just as the Victorians are associated with naming their daughters after flowers and gemstones.

By the way…if Tinker Dill was a character in Lovejoy, Taylor Dayne was an 80s pop star, Soulja Boy is a rapper…then I guess it’s only a matter of time before we can say Hello Sailor…

What ? Dang !

Unicode 203D

What ?  Dang !

Okay, hands up, gang
If you’ve ever used
Or even heard of an ‘interrobang’ ?
You all look confused at the word,
And I’m not surprised –
Of all the useless punctuation,
This abomination ought to be the most despised.
But no !, the lumpy little toad
Is honoured with a Unicode
While decent, necessary marks
Are offered no abode.
These silly lexographic larks
With so little help to bring
Are only ever seen in fun –
I mean, has anyone
The slightest need to use the bloody thing ?
And meanwhile, I cannot succeed
To get the Question-Comma recognised –
Now there’s a boy whose time has come,
Who should be common, should be prized,
Instead of all this tweedle-dum,
Mine shows our queries raised at root,
Mid-flow, when the clauses overshoot, –
Not waiting till the line has passed
And a full-stop hoves in view at last,
To plonk our squiggle over, when the matter’s all-but moot.
Yet ev’ry font is pleading ignorance,
And claiming that they’re full –
Such bull !
So now my hybrid glyph won’t stand a chance.
But why ?, when they’d gladly welcome-in the clang
Of that bastard offspring runt, the Interrobang !?
Oh…oh yeah…
I guess I kinda coulda have used one there…

And yes, I did use ‘to hove’ in the present tense, and I’m not even sorry.

That said, Wiktionary suggests that it was a separate Middle English verb roughly meaning ‘to linger’ which became conflated with the past tense of ‘to heave’, and which also spun-off ‘to hover’.

Meanwhile, here are a few examples of what we we’re missing. Sort it out, Times New Roman !


detail from Fallen Angel by Alexandre Cabanel


I know I’m good,
But I’m all alone in knowing,
And there’s no-one shares my faith –
I know I’m good,
But my telephone ain’t blowing,
And there’s no-one cares one-eighth.
I never meant to be misunderstood,
But I can’t make them see it in my neighbourhood –
And even a tree has less dead wood than me,
I’m just a nobody who knows he’s good,
But the world will not agree.
I know, I know, I could be mad,
A self-deluding lad,
Who wants to crow –
I guess I’ll never let it go…

I know I’m good,
But I’m all Jack Jones to know it,
And I’m very out of style –
I know I’m good,
But my funny bones don’t show it,
When they just can’t raise a smile.
I don’t understand why I’m misunderstood,
Like it’s all been planned thus for my victimhood –
From Sunderland to Hollywood, I’m panned
I’m just a jobbing hand who knows he’s good,
But the world is old and bland.
I know, I know, I could be wrong,
Deluded all along –
But I don’t think so.
I’ll guess I’ll give it one more go…


Alegretto by Michael Hayes


She surely must notice the calls that she’s missed,
Though why is she never beside her phone ?
I know that she knows it, that I exist,
But thinks, it would seem, that I’m best left alone.
Though when we’re together, I swear, it’s a blast,
But then ages shall pass before the next –
I sometimes wonder if this is the last,
Our drifting apart by unanswered text.

I mean, I’m not a creeper of anything,
Only call her once a month, I’d say,
To let her phone complete it’s ring
And leave a message that she’ll never play.
Is that too much ?  I don’t want to stalk her,
I don’t want to be a pest to her, or a joke.
I know she playfully calls me a ‘talker’,
But that’s cos it’s always so long since last we spoke.

It’s not that she is intention’ly callous,
But she lives such a busy, busy life –
There’s a definite absence of malice,
Although the accidental malice of absence is rife.
I wish I had so very many friends
That I wouldn’t mind to lose one to the void –
But I must work and must defend
My ev’ry closeness, forever a bit paranoid.

I know, I know, we all must share,
And we’re kind-of lucky to get her.
She’s like a cat, with her tail in the air
Who sometimes allows us to pet her.
We’re only friends, I say with a shrug,
At her drive-by company –
I must learn not to let her bug,
To ignore her ignoring me.

Sing For The Year

First of all, a Note Sounded by Riccardo Cuppini

Sing For The Year

This music’s sounding all the same,
I must be getting old.
The world moves on, the fashions change,
The old and known is new and strange
Of course, there’s nobody to blame,
But now it leaves me cold
And really, this makes perfect sense –
I’m not the target audience.

But once I was the golden ears
The bands would want to please –
A guarantee my mind would blow
Each time I tuned the radio
I thought, despite the passing years,
Their music tastes would freeze –
But tunes move on – the future tense
Will be the target audience.

This music’s sounding all the same,
I must be getting old.
And all the tunes from in my prime,
I’ve heard them far too many times.
We get one chance to play the game
To be that big and bold –
And then, we’re drifting in suspense,
Beyond the target audience.

When we are puzzling out our teens,
The music matters most –
It comforts us, it lights our fires,
It strengthens us against the liars
But as we grow and gain the means,
We can’t remain its host –
It must move on, to bring defence
To a brand new target audience.

Nudging the Thing-a-ma-jig

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Nudgeing the Thing-ama-jig

                    (in response to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap)

Finally, ticked it off the list –
So easy to put it off for another year,
A must-see show that can be missed
Because it’s always here.

Pretty much what I expected –
Dialogue from my grandparent’s day
Archeotypes who’re all suspected –
But that’s the fun of the play.

For entertainment, purely,
To be mesmerised by the whole ordeal –
Cheesy, sure, but surely
On a spike of cunning steel.

Alas, for an author so attuned
To clever plots as tight as a snare –
This one has holes like a gaping wound,
And simply doesn’t care.

Was it because it’s a play, not a book,
That undid the wit of the Queen of Crime ?
Did she dash it off, no second look,
Then order a gin and lime ?

The set was creaking, the policeman botching,
And the killer was inconsistently planned,
Conning when only the audience were watching –
It just feels a tad underhand.

So by the end, I was scratching my head,
As they raised the dead for their final bow
And the killer stepped up – here we go, I said
Here comes the solemn vow –

They begged us, before they let us go,
To not let on who done the deed
And decade after decade, wouldn’t you know,
Their pleas, it seems, succeed.

But I’m not sure they’ve earned our hush –
The plot’s phoned-in, then they cut the line.
And if were all to bust their flush
They’d close in double-time.

I can’t even give you a walkthrough
To show how the plot just doesn’t gel –
The trouble is, who can I talk to,
About the play that we must not tell ?

The most middle-class of secrets,
Woe betide the one who blabs the second act –
And here I am, despite my regrets,
Obeying the unspoken pact.

But I guess they’re breaking even,
Even after all these cynical years.
So maybe I should stop my peeving –
Clearly they’re shrugging off the sneers.

And after all, I still had fun –
(And even more when I got to complain).
So on it goes on its endless run
Just off St Martin’s Lane.

And yet, I can’t help feeling
That a redraft could make it a thing of joy,
Like a cat that sends the punters squealing
As it plays with its startled toy.

They need to build a better Mousetrap,
Up the tension in the spring,
Or else the rats waltz through the gap
Before the jaws can swing.

Munch Munch

Photo by Pamela Marie on

Munch Munch

Caterpillars – nibble-eaters, strictly vegetarian,
They’re chowing-down on sugarbeats and duckweed and valerian,
And wriggling over cabbages and newly-vented greens,
Just look at all the gaping holes between the runner beans !
Row on decimated row beneath their painted swarms –
Lord knows how they cling on through the heat and thunderstorms !
Where are all the hungry songbirds ?  Browse my salad bar.
Where the parasitic wasps ?  Attend my buffet car !
Of course, there are the carnivores, though these are very few,
And they eat ants and aphids, not the skipper or the blue.
But still, a few round here would be a very welcome catch,
Though they are in the Tropics, nowhere near my veggie patch.
But there is hope – I hear that sometimes, when the Moon is full,
That certain individuals, on a whim, turn cannibal,
Gobbling up their brother bugs, to dominate the leaf,
And sucking all their insides out like so much bully beef.
But otherwise, my only cheer is hearing on the vine
How numbers of the butterflies are in a steep decline –
A shame the planet has to burn to stop their constant graze,
But you should see the harvest that I’ll reap those final days !

Incendentally, the carnivorous caterpillars mentioned are the Hawaiian pugs.

One Last Rite

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

One Last Rite

Never thought I’d see the day –
The morning clear and weakly bright, but there’s an early chill.
Better get it underway.
Who’d’ve thought a morning’s walk would take an act of will ?

I try to force a smile,
I tell my over-polished shoes I never looked good in black.
This is gonna take a while,
But once the ending brings the end, at least I get to walk back.

It’s cold on the edge of town,
As what goes up must all come down and down,
And ruby, gold, and emerald will all blur into brown-
And we are done.

There ought to be a lonely bell,
But we have overrun.
Our hollow words are meant so well,
But numbness smothers sorrow.

There’s no warmth from the Sun,
The moment’s gone, the race has run,
And I guess that I’ll be moving on tomorrow.

The Pessimist’s Camera

Bush Katykid by Judy Gallagher

The Pessimist’s Camera

My snaps are all insects
On pavements and plants –
I’ve nothing with humans,
But dozens with ants –
A phone-full of photos,
A life at the lens,
Where people are strangers
And beetles are friends.
I’m charting my neighbours,
Who live near my pad,
And where six legs are better
And two legs are bad –
A pocket of pixels,
A screen’s-worth of lights,
To magnify midges
And marvel at mites.
Their silence attracts me,
Their beauty astounds me –
I don’t even notice
The people around me.
But people are easy,
Not tiny and shy –
They’re big and they’re messy,
And can’t even fly.