Sunflower Saviour

person holding van gogh book beside sunflowers
Photo by wendel moretti on


Sunflower Saviour

(in response to Don McLean’s Vincent)

Dear Don,

You often speak of they and them,
So, so shall I.
You see, I’m firmly one of them
Whom you decry as sheep or swine
Who are too careless with their gaze.
But Don, I also use that phrase,
I also have my thems and theys
And you are one of mine.

For you, like they, have ordered me
To venerate their saints:
Picasso, Rothko and Matisse –
Apostles in their paints.
Never must my adulation cease
Upon your feted clutch –
But who’s the Zeus of all these gods ?
Of course, your martyred Dutch !

I know, I know, it’s treason,
But I still think that depression,
Though it’s pretty good a-reason
Is a really bad excuse
For his whingey self-obsession,
And his self-harming abuse,
And for his total lack of wit,
And being such an all-round shit.

But what’s the use ?  You won’t agree.
And truth to tell, that was obtuse of me –
Both me and him are far more complicated
Than we either you or I have stated.
And anyway, let’s judge the work and not the man –
Who cares if he’s a relic or a brash young Turk ?
Except you’re doing all you can
To make the man the work.

So here I stand – a heretic –
A unbowed Philistine and hick.
For Don, though I can listen fine,
I’ll never like the tune he played.
Ironic’ly, I quite like yours –
A modern hymn to hector and persuade.
I guess that Vincent makes you happy,
And for that, I’m happy too.
Just never try to set me free.

With love, from one of them, to you.



Pips in the Slips



Pips in the Slips

There’s no such thing as in-the-round,
For ev’ry stage has front and sides,
And despite ev’ry good intention,
Actors shall forget the wides.
So sit dead centre, free from such malarkey –
For ev’ry circle has its hierarchy,

Round tables, while we’re at it,
End up far from democratic:
Always there’s a head, and it’s
Whichever side King Arthur sits.
Then right hand, left hand, straight across –
There’s no disputing who’s the boss.



Dramatic Tension

audience auditorium bleachers chairs
Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on


Dramatic Tension

Ah, Theatre !  I think I’m gonna miss you,
But maybe not the agony you always put me through –
You may raise gasps and titters from the proper-postured sitters,
But you leave me bent like Richard, black and blue.
Your drama may be modern, but your seating is Victorian,
Which quickly sees my comfort heading south.
Your balconies and rakes are my source of joys and aches,
That always leave me heart-and-knees-in-mouth.




altered book
Altered Book by Isobelle Ouzman



I read the most wonderous novel last year –
So moving, so thoughtful, so witty and sheer.
I think you’d enjoy it – it’s somewhere round here.
So feel free to borrow, I’ll bring it tomorrow –
It ain’t gloom and sorrow, but will raise a tear.

I don’t mean to hassle or bug or cajole,
But these are the hands that have touched at my soul –
Yet all of their beauty is wholly unknown –
These pages get lonely to wander alone.

I heard the most marvellous album last year –
So rich and inspired, so quirky and queer.
I think you’d enjoy it – the vocals are clear.
I’ll lend you the disk if you’re willing to risk –
The tempo is brisk, but it long haunts the ear.

I don’t mean to pressure or preach or ensnare,
But these are the songs that assuaged my despair –
I long to belong, to be part of the show –
And know there are others who know what I know.

I saw the most glorious movie last year
So moody and epic, so lush and sincere
I think you’d enjoy it – oh, please volunteer !
By all means I’ll lend what I sure recommend,
For what kind of friend would not loan out their gear ?

I don’t mean to labour or pester or dwell,
But these are the visions that saved me from hell.
They may not be normal, they may not be rife –
But maybe, just maybe, they may change your life.

I’m waiting to hear what you thought of my dears,
Waiting for rapture or rancour or sneers,
Waiting for days and for weeks and for years –
Until they come sheepishly unopened back to me –
And still you will miss how remiss this appears.

I don’t mean to censure or grumble or such,
For you are my friends who have given so much –
Yet still you don’t think or else still you don’t care
When you once again leave me with nothing to share.




The Louvre looking less than healthy as a nasty parasite latches on



At architecture’s stony heart,
The most intrusive form of art –
The hardest form to just ignore
It’s always there, forevermore.

And yet, each ancient monolith
Must first be built so they may live –
And stand a thousand years, or one,
The wrecker’s ball will always come.

Now see this cycle gather pace
As sprawl eats up all empty space –
To build from floor to chimneypot,
We now must find a victim lot.

To build, we first must pull apart,
A former draughtsman’s work of art –
Each building that we fight to save
Is stood upon another’s grave.



Green Park Gallery

green park
photo by Urban75


Green Park Gallery

South side of Piccadilly, up against the railings
Paintings by the vanload are displayed –
Portraits and streetscapes and abstracts are prevailing,
Lots of dogs and Monet fogs and sailing-ships a-sailing.
Will we find the next Van Gogh just waiting its unveiling ?
Or likely find there’s nothing makes the grade ?
It doesn’t bother me, for it’s still a fine distraction
Where even daubs and dabbling hands can bring out satisfaction –
But then, I’ve no intention of enacting a transaction,
Despite the fact their purpose here is trade.
Oh, sell them to the tourists and to trendies with some empty walls,
I’m just browsing through the upright and reticulated stalls –
Varied works in ev’ry sense, from almost-tempted down to scrawls,
But either way, I never leave dismayed.
Not pampered by the critics or what some celeb endorses,
But subject to the fickle winds of naked market forces –
Which might explain the presence of so many racing horses,
With prices set by what the punters paid.
South side of Piccadilly, up against the railings,
Unfailingly is London’s best parade.



Flimsy were the Borogroves

Jabberwocky by John Tenniel


Flimsy were the Borogroves

Whenever a line is correctly misquoted,
It’s odds-on much better that way.
The warts-and-all version may be more authentic,
But sometimes the masses must have their say.

To which I say: lead on Macduff,
            Let each subconscious cast its vote.
            Play it again, Sam, let them eat cake –
            I’ll defend to the death your right to misquote.

So: just the facts, ma’am, it’s not always garbles,
It’s sometimes invented from naught but thin air –
Or maybe the right words are placed in the wrong mouth,
For no other reason than simply it’s there.

Oh mirror mirror on the wall,
Crisis, what crisis ?  I cannot tell a lie.
We must disagree: Me Tarzan, you Jane,
So excuse me while I kiss this guy.

But Hell hath no fury quite like the misquoted,
Of being abridged and rewritten by peers.
So brace for their sighs and their tuts and their glances,
And no drop to drink but our blood, sweat and tears.

Some say, of course, “You dirty rat,
You’re letting their corruption win through.
You spare the rod and spoil the child –
Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

To which I reply “Oh, not tonight, Josephine !
Beam me up, Scotty, from self-righteous bunk !
If you aim for perfection, you’d ask the question –
Do you feel lucky, punk ?”

It’s elementary, my dear Watson –
Survival of the fittest, in fact.
We all gild the lily when we paraphrase the famous –
And not a lot of people know that.