narrative conflict

close up hand paper pen
Photo by Pixabay on


Narrative Conflict

i was struggling with a
verse the other day and i
just thought oh
sod it i don’t need this
trying to find a
rhyme for
i mean what’s

the point and by the
way it’s door hinge
so i just
screwed up my
paper and started afresh without any of these
like punctuation
and capital letters

And then I just thought
“You know what: sod it again !”
Cos this just ain’t my way of kicking the ball.
I’ve got myself caught
In an indolent vein
That hurriedly dashes its prosy and unrhyming scrawl.
But no.  Don’t resort
To compare ev’ry strain;
They’ve theirs, and I’ve mine, and that’s all.

But mine is the old way
The bold way, the gold way,
The staying-up-late so the rhymes-can-unfold-way.
This self-yoked endeavour that’s so damn important,
And takes for just ever (though feels like it oughtn’t.)

And three hours later, those bourgeois old rules
Have finally rendered their delicate patter.
The verse is the greater for working with tools
Where even the commas and capitals matter.

But, for the lexicographic’ly curious
Rhymings can always be found to lurk:
There’s always a door hinge for seekers laborious;
Some meritorious, others a perk.
There’s only two rules that matter unspurious,
Two rules to punish the poets who shirk,
Two rules to render all verses victorious:
– Make them all glorious.
– Make them all work.



Isopod Nod

Woodlouse, “from Lankester’s Treatise on Zoology, after Sars”


Isopod Nod

Don’t blame the woodlice,
It’s not they who rot our skirting  –
Better they than flies or mice,
Whose numbers double in a twice,
Or roaches finding paradise
To go about their fruitful flirting.

If woodlice are abound,
Then yes, there’s something rotting –
But the woodlice are not plotting
How to spread the rot around.

So don’t blame the pillbugs
It’s not they who spread infection –
Better they than fleas or slugs,
Whose numbers lurk in cracks and rugs.
Or else mosquitos’ biting hugs
With who-knows-what in each injection.

If woodlice fill their jaws
Then yes, there’s something rotting
But the woodlice are just squatting –
They’re the symptom, not the cause.



The Unfeted

agriculture clouds colors countryside
Photo by Binyamin Mellish on


The Unfeted

Remember when we dreamed
Of all the ways we could conceive
To change the world ?

Remember when the future gleamed
In rainbow rays ?
And we were so naive
To really think that we would change the world.

Remember when it seemed
Those early days were just the eve
To our success ?

Remember when our promise teemed
In endless Mays ?
And we would soon achieve
The riches rightly due our just success.

But a simple application of statistics
Should be enough to warn us
Of our herculean mission:
When our pe·ers too were flush with optimistics,
No dais could have born us
Till so many faced attrition.
We thought enthusiasm was the only vital spark,
We didn’t see the chasm till we woke up in the dark.

Remember when we schemed
Of what to play and what to cleave
From all of life ?

Remember when frustration screamed,
With cold dismay ?
We could no more believe
That we were brash young kings enthralled with life.



Verses in Hades

Art & Literature
Art & Literature by William Bouguereau

Verses in Hades

Ah, those Classicists,
Those poets of antiquity !
They never faced the style fascists,
Never faced creative mists,
With lines that must engage in trysts –
They could keep it loose and gritty.
Rhythm, metre, drove their gist.
Their audience would ne’er insist
Their lines be docked and chimed and kissed;
How our plight they must so pity.
Sappho, Virgil, Homer, Horace
Never had to suffer this:
They never had their epic bliss
Reduced by form into a ditty.
Of all the literary crimes
Befallen us since ancient times,
I curse the most whoe’er invented rhymes.

Astro Quizzics

astronomy circle dark eclipse
Photo by Drew Rae on


Astro Quizzics

Do you suppose of all the stars
Within the galaxy,
Do you suppose of all the worlds
That loop them endlessly,
Do you suppose of all the moons
In orbit, there could be
Another moon which occultates
Its sun so perfectly ?

Do you suppose of all those worlds,
How many must have rings ?
Do you suppose they’re dark and faint,
And wispy, puny things ?
Do you suppose those Saturnine
Are pan-galactic kings ?
This matchless set of haloes bright,
These golden angel wings .

Do you suppose of all those worlds
That circle all those stars,
Do you suppose another world
Has oceans, lakes and spas ?
Do you suppose they’ve Amethysts
Or slates and cinnabars,
Or elephants, or cockatoos ?
Or bees and jaguars ?

Do you suppose of all the worlds
Within our galaxy,
Do you suppose another world
Is looking back at me ?
Do you suppose they might suppose
How distant I must be ?
Do you suppose they’ll ever know
What wonders I can see ?



The Layman of Shalott

I am Half-Sick of Shadows
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by John Waterhouse

The Layman of Shalott

On either side the river lie
The fields that stretch into the sky –
Whose lowlands raise the beans so high,
And grow the barley and the rye
That feeds the folk in Camelot.
And all this land beneath the hoe
Is owned by she who will not show
Her face to those who plough and mow –
The Lady of Shalott.

She lives upon the river isle
Where blow the lilies, mile on mile –
Although she hasn’t left awhile,
Not even to ride out in style
To dance with knights in Camelot.
She keeps within her ivied keep,
Unseen by those who sow and reap,
As if a hundred years asleep –
The Lady of Shalott.

So life goes on and seasons pass,
As sheep are grazed upon her grass –
And any surplus we amass
Is carted off by weight and class
To market-day in Camelot.
But any profits from the trade
Are not for those who turned the spade –
Instead, our labours all must aid
The Lady of Shalott.

I’ve heard it said by those who say,
That she is cursed in some strange way
To never see the livelong day,
To never be allowed to stray
To many-towered Camelot.
All the world, they claim, must pass
Reflected in her looking-glass,
And what she sees, so weaves that lass –
The Lady of Shalott.

But as I dig another ditch
And break my back to till her pitch,
I think about my Lady’s hitch –
And slowly I can feel an itch
That none can scratch in Camelot.
If she is cursed, then who’s the hexer ?
Why would they choose this to vex her ?
Such a fiddly yoke bedecks her,
Lady of Shalott.

And do I really set much store
In curses, blights, and ancient lore ?
They’ve tried to pull this stuff before
To keep them rich and keep me poor,
In temples all through Camelot !
My Lady, is it really charms
That keeps you warm and safe from harms,
While we must shiver on your farms,
Oh Lady of Shalott ?

So what would happen if you leave,
Or look direct at what you weave ?
Just who would care and who would grieve ?
You are, I fear, the most naive
Of any girl in Camelot !
But take a chance, and take it swift,
And you may find the world will shift –
And if you die, at least you lived !,
My Lady of Shalott.

So Mistress, step out, if you dare,
From out your crack’d and gilded lair,
And pull your weight and crop your share,
And help us haul it to the fair
That summons all of Camelot.
Or else, when comes the Winter’s freeze,
And I need fuel and have no trees –
I’ll raid, and burn, your tapestries,
Oh Lady of Shalott !

This of course is a take of the famous Tennyson epic.

Conspiracy of Love

Whispering Angel
Whispering Angel by Agostino Carracci


Conspiracy of Love

Ev’ryone knows that love is real –
Ev’ryone knows it, cos ev’ryone says.
Ev’ryone knows how they’re meant to feel,
And if they don’t feel it – well, who’d dare confess ?
Ev’ryone’s doing it,
Ev’ryone’s wooing it,
Ev’ryone, pair-by-pair,
Couplets in rhyme.
Ev’ryone plays along,
Ev’ryone can’t be wrong,
Ev’ryone, ev’rywhere,
All of the time.
We’ve all seen the movies,
We’ve all sung the songs,
We know what succeeds and we know what belongs,
We’ve all of us wanted and wanted to be
So wanted and needed,
So giddy with glee.

Ev’ryone knows that love is true –
Ev’ryone knows it, cos that’s what they’re taught.
Ev’ryone knows the whole hullabaloo
And if they don’t know it – well, surely they ought !
Ev’ryone’s doing it,
Ev’ryone’s brewing it,
Evryone’s winning –
It’s all in the art.
Ev’ryone wants to shine,
Ev’ryone toes the line,
Ev’ryone’s in on it,
Playing their part.
And who wouldn’t want it ?
And who could rebel ?
And who’d be a heretic, breaking our spell ?
We all of us want it, we want it so bad
That all who foreswear it must surely be mad !