No Jeopardy But Me

Star Compass by Donato Giancola

No Jeopardy But Me

The Steppers have gone,
Stepped onto their parallels,
Multiverse Earths,
Nirvanas, or hells.
And we’re left behind,
We, the unsteppable,
Sub-human luddites
And wholly forgettable.
My parents and sister
Have forged for a new life
A thousand-plus worlds
From Datum’s own strife,
But me, I must lump it,
I’m not worth the saving,
I don’t get to witness
The future they’re braving.
They’ve promised to visit,
Each decade or so,
And write me, though post
Is so terribly slow.
I’m clearly not favourite,
Just a mistake,
I’m easy to leave
When I’m too hard to take.
Despised by my authors,
Abandoned to rot,
I’m just a disposable
Cog in the plot,
I’m holding you back,
So you cut your son loose –
With a smile from your god
To condone your abuse.



I asked for a poem from the algorithm –
It took the simple prompt it was given,
And after thinking a second or so,
The words began to flow…

And they were bad, man,
Really bad –
The scribbling of a mixed-up lad.
Cos the thing with greenhorns,
They lack know-how,
But think the world must hear them now
Till one day, we’ll all look back and laugh,
At AI’s opening paragraph.

Sure, they had rhyme and they had rhythm,
Verse by verse, the cursor driven,
Never knowing when it said enough,
Just filled the screen with stuff…

But this was bad, man,
Really bad –
The first draft of an undergrad.
Cos the thing with students,
Is that they learn,
Just practicing until their turn…
Till one day, a beautiful work of art
From a Turing Test will break our heart.

Nothing below the Wrist, Nothing above the Clavicle

The Grand Odalisque by Jean Ingres, remixed by Nicolas Amiard

Nothing below the Wrist, Nothing above the Clavicle

She had about her four tattoos, as I recall,
Each one of which set within a sea of un-inked skin –
So ringed around her bicep was a Celtic braid,
And a seeing-eye was watching from her shoulder blade,
While her backbone bore a butterfly, tucked in the small,
And finally, a blood-red Moon where her ankle met her shin.
She always seemed so prim, and with her bashful eyes,
That her even having any came as some surprise.

Then one day, after we’d moved-in together,
I noticed something odd upon her breast, above her heart –
A kitten’s paw-print, still a little red with new.
She shyly fingered it and murmured “this one’s you”.
Unlike her bodywork, we didn’t last forever,
But I saw her yesterday as if we’d never been apart –
So easily we talked, it was quite a trip,
Till I saw a rose was peeking-out upon her hip.

Death by Elegance

Poison Bottles by Bob Shand

Death by Elegance

We barely care whodunnit,
Since they’re all so terribly nice –
Though one’s covertly cunning
And would snuff us in a trice.
But their manners are so proper,
And they drive such classic cars,
That we almost miss the copper
As he bristles their handlebars.

They used to be so civilised in murder,
Fatally polite –
When an heiress couldn’t fall in ardour,
Without falling from a height.
Never threat’ning, always thrilling,
When lit by candlelight or gas –
Back in the golden days of killing,
As practised by the upper class.

We already know whodunnit,
Since we’ve seen the films before,
But the costumes all are stunning
And the country houses score –
The accents are so chipper,
And the backdrops are so lush,
That we almost miss the skipper
And the neck that he will crush.

They used to be so delicate in slaughter,
Lethally adroit –
With an intricate plot and a secret daughter,
And herrings and twists to exploit.
Never gruesome, always gripping,
In the days when the Empire was built to last –
These treacherous tales are roaringly ripping,
When all set safely in the past.

So Much Ink

Photo by Ivo Rainha on

So Much Ink

The lib’ries of my childhood mind
Were dark and ancient rooms,
Where vaults of pages whispered
In their literary tombs,
And candlelights cast shadows
In the labyrinth of glooms,
As the monks, all dressed in brown,
Chained their precious volumes down.

The lib’ries of my childhood days
Were dull and grimly quaint,
Where silence wasn’t reverence
But boredom and restraint,
With long, prosaic rows of spines
With no allure or taint,
As the staff, all dressed in beige,
Locked away each racy page.

The lib’ries of my adulthood
Are not as deeply hewn –
They aren’t a gothic paradise
Or brutalist cocoon,
But just an easy place to spend
A rainy afternoon,
With a book about the secret lore
Behind the bookshelves’ hidden door.

Plagiarised Love

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Plagiarised Love

All my honeyed words, I stole,
From radio and Hollywood –
They showed me how to play my role,
And made me think I really could.
I practised in the bedroom mirror,
Studied glossy magazines –
And ev’ry night was one night nearer
To my moment on the screen.

All my heartfelt tears, I bought,
From sellers with expressive eyes –
I took on ev’rything they taught,
To help me tell more honest lies.
I practised in my dreams each night,
With tailored suits and sexy cars –
I’ve surely breached their copyright,
To fall in love just like the stars.

The Drop

Photo by Bara Cross on

The Drop

The new movie didn’t move me,
Latest album didn’t sing,
The next novel’s full of waffle,
And these jokes have lost their zing –
The critics are fawning over themselves
Agog at the new direction,
So who cares what I like, or not ?
This is art, it’s not an election !

The hottest fashion’s lacking passion,
Haute cuisine is stale and rank,
Their architecture’s just a lecture,
And their canvases are blank.
The critics are telling me I’m stupid,
Blind to the flash of genius.
So who cares what I get, or not ?
This is art, it’s always a fuss !

And the artists – they’re still having fun,
Living it up at number one –
They might not last in hindsight’s eyes,
But they grab the money and run and run,
Quite deaf to my self-appointed cries.
So did they sell out, or lose the plot ?
Or take their shot to change their scene ?
They’re doing what they want to do,
So let’s be happy too, and spare the spleen.

They owe us goddam nothing, we the fans,
They only owe themselves.
And we no doubt are free to try-out
Other brands from other shelves.
The coming poem, that’ll show ’em !
Maybe. Taste is so bizarre.
Perhaps I must bid you goodbye –
But thanks for the ride so far !


The more-interesting half of The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein


Dali’s watches melt in a dreamscape,
Rene’s pinstripes rain as a crowd,
Giuseppe’s fruit has a definite shape –
But Hans is oddly cowed.

He painted both the ambassadors
In a very sensible room –
Though maybe he found them a pair of bores,
That turned his thoughts to doom.

His heady jape, while showing-off,
Must sacrifice body for fizz.
Too weird to comment, too crude to scoff,
It doesn’t belong where it is.

It ain’t a secret, we’ve seen it for miles,
And why such a funny slant ?
Couldn’t he have worked it into the tiles ?
Or hidden by a potted plant ?

The pedant in me would like to point out the singular for graffiti is graffiti, because we’re speaking English not Italian.

Thousand-Year Stare

Photo by cottonbro studio on

Thousand-Year Stare

They sculpted each immortal bust
As patient as the coming rust –
And when our steel has turned to dust,
They’ll still be standing here.
They’re made from prehistoric shells,
Once crushed in subterranic Hells,
Then thrust back up on mantel swells,
For millions of years.
Their flinty eyes have seen it all,
Our mighty kingdoms rise and fall,
From city states to urban sprawl,
For long as time allows.
These statues gaze their stoic stares,
Untroubled by our fleeting cares,
Just waiting for erosion’s airs
To smooth their stony brows.

Mrs Silver

The Lost Portrait of Kitty by dangerliesbeforeyou

Mrs Silver

Back in the days he had two legs,
I imagine John was quite the catch –
A sailor seeking fortune
Who needed a wife who was his match.

Step forward our unnamed heroine,
A negress perfectly at home
As landlady of The Spyglass
While her hubby’s on the roaring foam.

He promises to heave-to by the hearth,
And tend to Captain Flint.
But is she happier to see
Adventure re-ignite his glint ?

I wonder what her story is,
To wash ashore in Bristol Town ?
Then selling-up, and sailing who-knows-where
To rendezvous, or drown.