Blocks of flats, Lillie Road, Fulham by Malc McDonald is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0


The Victorians built with columns and arches and pride –
Constructed with confidence, gilded and polychrome,
Moulded with ornament makes for a jolly home,
Tailored by craftsmen on every side.
From terrace to semi, from basement to sky,
With hands on lapels and their chins held high.

The Post-War built with concrete and brutal and slab –
Constructed in anguish, subconsciously thinking
It’s all we deserve – the piss-stained and stinking,
In a hellscape of Marxists, the grim and the drab.
From Park Hill to Gorbals, from Mersey to Tyne, 
The more the cement, so the more the decline.


Not only can I not find out who drew this caricature, but I’m not even sure that it is of Ogden.


Ogden Nash, a curious beast,
A sentiment-famine and sarcasm-feast,
A mem’rable name from another age,
A cynical-eyed bespectacled sage.
A clutter of couplets, a strenuous rhyme,
A rapid-fire rhythm in Brooklyn time.
And puns by the plenty, both groaners and snorters –
Whicj when we try to quote, we forget three-quarters.

You Know What I Mean ?

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on

You Know What I Mean ?

The trouble with pop songs is how they say so little,
Popping with so few words –
They open a question they barely can answer,
With most of their meaning inferred.

And choruses, of course,
Just underscore –
They only reinforce
What’s gone before.

It’s not like they’re frightened to tackle the big themes,
They’re sometimes incredibly plucky.
It’s not that they’re vapid, it’s just that they’re brief –
With two verses, three if we’re lucky.

And choruses repeat,
That’s what they do –
The feelings are complete,
And they are few.

Now hip-hop has plenty to say for itself,
But pop is a hit-and run lover.
A beautiful thought or a rallying cry,
And time’s up !, it plays us another.

And choruses declare
The point is made.
They’ve nothing more to share –
Repeat to fade.

Oh yeah, fourteen…

Oh yeah, fourteen…

What’s that ?  This is a sonnet, you say ?
Are you sure ?  It seems all at sevens-and-nines…
A sonnet, I thought, is an interplay,
And not just four quatrains missing two lines ?
And honestly, this is a mess, all the way,
With less imag’ry and more warning signs –
It just about holds to its rhythm okay,
Though that cannot be said of its half-arsed rhymes.
Regarding its volta…I guess that it has one,
Though hardly a good one, it’s barely defined –
And when it resolves, well, at least there’s no pun !
So, C+ for effort…and that’s being kind…!
If this is a sonnet, there’s loads for the taking…
Then…oh no !…is that all the point that it’s making…?

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

The Establishment honours one of its own…

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Through the village of Longbourn, the undead shuffle,
The unemployed and the destitutes.
The Luddites who moan in a rustic muffle,
Back from Napolean without any boots.
Mr Bennett says he can’t even hear them,
So alien is his world to theirs,
But they’re getting restless, threatening mayhem –
What if it spreads to the staff downstairs ?
Don’t worry, Lizzie, here’s bold Mr Darcy
With his wealth stripped from the backs of the poor,
He knows how to stop the rabble getting arsey,
Put them back down when they dare ask for more.
Crush their groups, and deport the whole crew,
This seething horde of the unwashed masses.
Best to wipe them out like we did at Peterloo –
Before the balls are overrun with jumped-up underclasses.

The Oncoming March

Photo by Jo Kassis on

The Oncoming March

We’ll do it without you,
And do it despite you,
But change will hurt less
If we don’t have to fight you.

Stop us today
And we’ll come back tomorrow –
So join us in peace,
Or you’ll join us in sorrow.

Don’t stand in the way of momentum –
We just have to let it run-out its course.
For there cannot be both an unmovable object
And irresistible force.

We’ll bring it with vigour,
And bring it with pride,
But we’d far rather bring it
With you by our side.

It cannot be stopped,
But it still can be steered –
So jump on and help us,
Or get what you feared.

Don’t stand in the way of progression,
The start of an age is the end of an era.
The past is one day older each day,
And the future is one day nearer.

A new world potential
Is straining its fetter –
Don’t let it be wasted,
Let’s mould it for better.

The outlook is scary,
And noisy, and strange –
Best hang-on together
And brace for the change.

Don’t stand in the way of transmission,
The shockwaves and echoes will rebound for years.
The levees are burst and the dykes overtopped,
And the flood will not notice our tears.

Pinhole Camera

Photo by Filipe Delgado on

Pinhole Camera

Hold this poem at arm’s length,
And peer right through its O’s.
Even the ones in lower case
Contain an awful lot of space –
But just how large is small , do you suppose ?
Good try, but a little under-strength –
Your guess is a tenth of a tenth of a tenth.

Within that ringlet, give or take,
Between the billion nitrogens,
Are photons – streaming on a breeze
From fifty thousand galaxies,
Upon a thoughtful mind or friendly lens –
As through the page, within its wake,
The universe is on the make.


Photo by Adi Perets on


Stage right is my right,
But my right ain’t your right,
So my right is your wrong,
And your long is my height.
But ships have got it sorted out,
No matter which way turned about.

I’m upstage left of down,
I’m out-bound and in-town,
So my step is your kerb,
And your verb is my noun.
But ships have got it followed-through,
Where starboards start and end on cue.

Stage right is my right
To see things through my sight,
So my late is your soon,
With high noon at midnight.
But ships have got it fair and square,
Where port is port, and over there.

Thou Shalt Not Gender with a Diverse Kind

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Thou Shalt Not Gender with a Diverse Kind

                    (in response to Leviticus 19:19)

I am the Lord your God,
And I clearly lay down word and rule –
Do not interbreed your cattle,
Nor produce a hybrid mule –
For if your beef is tough,
Then that is how I mean your beef to taste,
Do not allow these foreign cows
To make your home-grown bulls debased.
Don’t raise a mule, but make do with an ass,
And a smaller pack.
Don’t mix your strands,
But keep your garments pure upon your back.
Don’t weft your linen with your wool,
And mingle threads within your hem.
And though these laws be heavy,
Use no mule to help you carry them.

I say again, I am your Lord,
No things of yours shall fraternise –
Don’t plant your field with many seeds,
Or who can know what shoots may rise ?
Let pagans plant their carrots with their leeks
To keep them company,
But I say, let yours suffer by the fly,
For it is sent by me.
Now let the weevil dine on fruits and grains,
And slugs reduce your yields,
And praise my swarming locusts
As they take your monocultured fields.
Do not co-plant companions,
For all your crops must stand alone –
Just like my hungry chosen people
In this wilderness I’ve sown.

Mus laboritorium

Photo by Pixabay on

Mus laboritorium

We should put up statues
To the mice that we have doctored,
That we’ve prodded in the genome,
And remodelled in the womb.
We should hail as heroes
All these spidermen of rodents
With their mutant-managed powers
That we twist and splice and groom.

Quick-grown maturity,
Inbred for purity,
With white fur unblemished,
While their cultured cells outlive them.
Red-eyed and pink-eared,
Stripped-down and re-geared,
Free of fleas and all disease
(Except the ones we give them).

I try not to think of how much pain
We put them through –
It’s what we have to do
To avoid the pain ourselves, I guess.
They’ve brought us so much gain,
But we’re too ashamed to speak it –
The sterile dirty little secret of our great success.

We should sing a ballad
To the mice who helped us conquer
Tuberculosis, polio,
Leukaemia and measles.
Or give a quiet thank-you
When a treatment proves effective –
They keep us safe from swine-flu,
So we keep them safe from weasels.

Dozens, hundreds, millions,
A well-groomed swarm resilient –
And when they die, attended by
A white-frockcoated mourner.
These un-cavy guinea-pigs,
These wheel-running whirligigs,
These supermodel-organisms
Squeaking in the corner.

I try not to think how many mice
Have died for me,
Have lived a life of agony
Because they are expendable, I guess.
They are the devil’s price
For our seeming immortality –
Our flexible morality, that drives us to progress.