Do Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk ?



Do Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk ?

Henry moves his vertebrates,
And Louis tunes his tunicates,
While Malcolm swims his sharks and skates
To battle Olaf’s ranks of starfish pawns.
Boris risks bacillus rods
To fight with Oskar’s fungal squads,
As Richard launches octopods
To counter Philip’s shrimp-less group of prawns.
So James arrays his gymnosperms,
Like Ferdinand his cyan germs,
And Otto’s nematody worms,
At Charles’ yet-to-be-discovered spawns.


I should point out that the title is a mnemonic for the Linnaean ranks of life: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus & Species.  Actually, Domain is a relatively new addition, and plants have Divisions instead of Phylums (or Phyla if you’re a pedant), and the whole thing now looks hopelessly simplistic in the wake of cladistics, but it’s still a handy starting-point.




Eyelash Mites – you’ve probably got them and didn’t even realise



I’ve mites on my lashes,
And yeasts in my guts,
And hundreds of species
Of germs on my skin;
But not cos of rashes,
Or buboes or cuts,
Or dry parts or greasies,
Or illness within.

For ev’ry itch I curse,
There lurk my lurkers:
I know you’re there, my pretties
And I know I am your food.
My constant hitch-hikers:
My loafers and workers.
You are my troops, my cities,
You’re my nations and my brood.

Way down my intestines
Are hundreds of others,
Who outpace each cell
In my body by ten;
And while some infestings
Are life-giving brothers.
They yet could rebel
If they turn pathogen.

For ev’ry inch of me,
I am outnumbered;
And long before my birthing
Saw you terraform my loam.
I thrive unflinchingly,
Yet so encumbered.
Be gentle with this earthling
As you make yourselves at home.



Since I wrote this, the theory that bacterial cells outnumber our own by 10:1 has been called into question, and a figure of 4:1 is now proposed.  Alas, I have already rhymed with ‘ten’, so it has to stay.



Not Only Pascal’s Wager

white dices on checked wood
Photo by Pixabay on


Not Only Pascal’s Wager

If God is not, and I believe,
Then my mistake shall matter none to me;
And when I come this life to leave,
I matter none to void infinity.

If God there is, and I abstain,
Then my mistake shall matter great and well;
And when I quit this earthly plain,
I matter none to He who saves from Hell.

If God is not, or God there is,
Still our mistake, for taking up this bet;
So ere our lives are done, know this –
They matter much, they might be all we get.



Overwhelmed by Subtlety

Cup & Saucer made from Earl Grey Tea Bags by D Postlethwaite


Overwhelmed by Subtlety

You undergo life just a little too much,
You taste ev’ry nuance and stray molecule
In vision and sound and in palate and touch,
You never can blend them to seamless and whole.
But the good and the bad must equally live
Inextricably encurled –
You are, I fear, too sensitive,
To suffer this imperfect world.


This verse was inspired by a friend who insists she can’t use teabags because she can taste the paper.



A Fate Worse Than Death

white graphing paper
Photo by Pixabay on


A Fate Worse Than Death

Forget all choice, forget all thought,
Forget responsibility –
For ain’t you heard they’re worth as nought;
Our will is broke but sure ain’t free.

For all the world is but a stage,
And all its folk are actors thence;
With scripted lines on unseen page,
Directed by the Higher Sense.

For take one atom, set it stray,
And watch it ripple, interact –
With those it wasn’t meant to play,
Till all those careful plots are wracked.

But if our input’s fake and stripped,
Then thinking such seems wry to me:
For saying thus, we speak a script
With wicked sense of irony.

My words, my moves, my thoughts ain’t mine –
The puppeteer, he runs the show.
It isn’t me who writes these lines,
For they were written long ago.


Ah, predestination – the only downside of time travel.



Moody Lintels

Demolition by Greg Phipps


Moody Lintels

This building, is it still so great ?
No masterpiece or pioneer;
And now it’s looking quite a state,
And none too safe in brick and slate –
It really ought to face its fate,
Admit the end is near.

It did it us proud, it served us well,
But now it’s really past its best;
And as its city-centre dwell
Has far more worth as bank, hotel,
Or office block – we had to sell,
In public interest.

So down it comes, and in its place
Development beguiling new:
A fresh design this site will grace,
A source of jobs and conf’rence space;
We may yet choose to save the face,
And gut the insides through.

These architects with magic touch
That turns the golden into shite –
Their helping hand’s a concrete clutch
Which crushes, smothers eversuch
And chokes the life they hate so much,
Because it shone so bright.

And when they try to match the theme,
They cannot think along that line –
Just vague pastiche and stripped-down scheme.
Yet form must come from vein and seam
As penetrating all like steam,
And scream these forms are mine.

Their new designs cannot be stood
Besides the old, for both then wilt;
So segregate each neighbourhood,
And save the past whene’er we could
For once it’s gone, it’s gone for good –
Will never be rebuilt.