Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


Patsy Doe, a girl that I know,
Hates semolina second to none –
She find it just so stodgy-slow
When puddings are meant to be fun !
Her mamma tells her “Patsy, really !
It’s only a bowl of unmolded spaghetti.
Just think of it as chopped-up fusilli,
And eat up all your dessert already.”
(Ah, poor mamma, you’ve no idea just what you’ve done !)

From this moment on, young Patsy
Becomes enamoured by dried clumps of wheat –
She reads gluttonously, so that she
Can understand each straw and sheet –
Strings and pens and pipes and worms,
Shells and wheels and butterflies –
So many forms, so many terms,
She wants to try them all for size.
(Ah, poor mamma, so many types to cook and eat !)

So Patsy learns the difference
Of tagliatelle and fettucini,
(Like how her brother can tell at a glance
A Maserati from Lamborghini.)
She tells her fam’ly of how Columbus
Ate up his pasta dry, of course –
Until he discovered the tomato, thus
He finally created the perfect sauce.
(Ah, poor mamma, too much pasta means no bikini !)

Patsy Doe, a girl that I know,
Finds carb makes her grow up faster –
Time to shake up the status quo
And swap her olive oil for castor.
Enough of the childish alphabetti,
And ravioli parcels with loot in –
With Atkins, maybe she’ll be less sweaty,
And none of the cool kids are eating gluten.
(Ah, poor mamma, with cupboards full of uncooked pasta…)

A Wilful Child

A Young Girl Reading by Charlotte Weeks

A Wilful Child

Here comes Abigail,
Searching for the Holy Grail –
She looks for it in Mark and Luke,
She looks for it in John
But once she sees it’s all a fluke
She learns what’s going on.

Abigail, Abigail,
Making all the rabbis wail,
Making all the imams hush,
Making all the vicars blush.

Here comes Abigail,
Grabbing scripture by the tail –
Tearing through the Psalms and Acts,
Incase it’s all a con –
She’s chasing down elusive facts
To suss what’s going on.

Abigail, Abigail,
Making all the abbés quail,
Making all the prophets cry,
And simply by her asking “why ?”

Just Another Joe

a hard name's gonna fall

Just Another Joe

Poor little child, for now comes the naming,
The blanding and saming,
The cautious conforming,
The def’nitely not standing out from the norming.
But, loving parents, just look to your child,
For whatever’s chosen is hereafter filed –
For eighteen years onwards they cannot correct,
So only with courage and passion select.

For do we so need yet another Amanda ?
Or Johnny or Sandra ?
Or Alan or Gary ?
And are we deficient in Tom, Dick or Harry ?
So please do not foist them with Julie or Sam,
Nor Timmy, nor Mary, nor Philip, nor Pam.
For Cathy and Bill are as common as Claire
While Helens and Davids are found everywhere.

Now these names aren’t bad, they are just overused,
Their power diffused.
While others, no fairer,
Must serve in a purpose beyond their poor barer –
To label a kid with your own precious name
Is vanity foremost, to make them the same,
To moniker sprogs just to honour the dead
Is dubious burden to thrust in their head.

Yet some names stand out from the Susan and Ron –
Like Homer or Marlon,
Like Kingsley or Rudyard,
Like Heathcliff, or Linford, or else Isambard.
So Brooke and Keanu and Kelsey and Storm
Can ease off some pressure from Amy and Norm.
Give each of us fewer with whom we need share –
A little less common, a little more rare.

One of my first attempts to document my fascination with names, and also an early foray into my habit of versifyig a checklist.  I note that all of the examples in the final stanza call to mind a particular individual, which I’m sure I intended, but which I now think would be just as unfortunate on the poor kids as calling them Alfie or Sophie.

Salvation United

cute little boy with football ball on sports ground
Photo by Gustavo Fring on


Salvation United

Pick a team, son,
Any team you like,
But choose them well –
They’re yours now,
Your burden, your dream,
Through joy and hell,
Through triumph and strife –
For you must support your team
For the rest of your life.

Don’t ever think
That you can change –
For that’s disloyalty.
I know, it’s strange,
But you must persist
And treat them like royalty.
And even though
They’ll never know you exist,
You still must follow them
Through goalless draws and penalties missed –
Taste the myths and swallow them.

For they are your brand now,
Your Lord, your quest,
So bare their sponsor
On your chest
Sing in the stands, you never know,
You just might spur them on,
Or yell at the screen from your sofa,
Praying for goals –
Your wishful-thinking beaming over the ether.
Be a believer, wish upon
A star right-back, a sainted attack,
A keeper who saves our souls.

Pick a team, son,
Any team you like –
But just the one.
For now you’re theirs,
And all your cares,
Your misery and fun
Are bound up in their fortunes,
Highs and lows,
As the seasons run,
From half-time mid-life woes,
Until the final whistle blows
And your game is done.



The Knobs Turn Both Ways

Photo by Pixabay on

The Knobs Turn Both Ways

“Turn it down, for Christ’s sake !”
The anthem to my teenage years –
“Is something faulty with your ears ?
Just how much of this racket must we take ?
How can you even call that noise a tune ?
And maybe you should see the doc,
Because the way you play that rock,
You must be either halfway deaf, or will be soon !”
But now it’s me who’s one of the squares,
For now it’s me the parent –
And I have to grin and bear it
As a blast of not-like-the-old-days comes rolling down the stairs.
Yet one of mine is a gentle pup
Who keeps his modern trash down low –
I sometimes want to yell, you know,
“For Christ’s sake, turn it up !”


high six


Polly Dacktle has ten fingers,
(Well, eight fingers,
And two thumbs.)
Polly Dacktle has ten fingers,
But there lingers…
What’s that…Crumbs !
Look ! She also has a spare
Upon her hand, just waiting there –
So if another needs repair,
Then out her extra digit comes.
Of course, it’s always there, if needed –
And if not, it’s there unheeded –
Always there, the ten exceeded.
(Good for doing tricky sums.)

Polly Dacktle must wear mittens,
Only mittens,
Never gloves.
Polly Dacktle must wear mittens,
Like her kittens.
(Not like doves.)
She wants fingers free to move
With ev’ry digit in its groove –
And so with scissors she’ll improve –
She snips and tears and pulls and shoves.
Now she has contrived to riddle
There a hole ’tween Ring and Middle
Where her spare can flex and fiddle,
(Just how Polly Dacktle loves.)

Polly Dacktle learns piano,
Learns piano
From her Teach.
Polly Dacktle likes piano
(Miss Delano’s
such a peach.)
Polly has to practice scales
And stretch for keys, but never fails –
Her widened span just skips and sails
And holds all music in her reach.
Gripping racquets, catching balls,
And shooting baskets, climbing walls,
Or sculpting clay, and dialing calls –
Polly scores at all and each.

Polly Dacktle isn’t evil.
Never evil,
Often good.
Polly Dacktle isn’t evil –
(Nor’s the weevil
In the wood.)
Neither one is plotting danger
Just because their look is stranger.
Polly’s fine, so never change
Her many-multi-fingerhood.
Shake her hand – there’s no electrics,
No prosthetics, no deceptricks.
She can touch in asymetrics.
(Don’t you sometimes wish you could ?)

Power-to-Weight Cogitatio

i do like a good graph


Power-to-Weight Cogitatio

I knew a girl called Angela Engels
With wanted to know the fundamentals –
Who wanted to know how angels flew
When they were far too large, she knew,
To stay aloft the way they do.
But then…well eagles, they’re big too,
And owls are even bigger, sure –
At least the biggest ones are bigger –
And albatrosses, once mature –
And condors are bosses, they have to figure,
With wings much wider than she was tall,
And yet…they hardly seem to flap them at all.
But hang on…there’s always swans,
And swans kept pumping through the air
And turkeys, though they hardly fly,
But yes they can, from here to there.
And bustards too can reach the sky, they say,
(Though it takes them quite the run up
To get up up and away.)

So Angela looked up size and span and stat,
And found they weren’t that fat –
Those amigos averaged less that a dozen kilos
And she knew flat how she weighed more than that.
So unless the angels, like insects, were pin-head small,
They’d surely barely rise and plenty fall.
But there was also mention
Of an ancient, mythic vulture, barely known –
Now that got her attention !
Though they had only found one bone,
And had to guess the rest and how they’d grown.
And just the same for Quetzalcoatlus
Surely that was just as hatless,
Based on fossils and guesstimates,
Not measures and weights,
And was perched uneasy on its throne.
And anyway, those both were dead –
So heck, for all their trying
They couldn’t be that great at flying, she said.

So maybe angels, though their wings are feathered,
(And they cannot be untethered
From the hug of gravity),
So maybe they employ another method in reality –
P’raps their wings are really a screen
Protecting their backs from a rocket machine
That blasts them up to Heaven instead !,
Like Newton said – and yes, alright, it’s then implied
That then their flight is just a glide back down.
(They’d also need a flameproof gown,
And goggles wouldn’t go amiss,
But she could really take to this !)
Although…well, was it heavy on the carbon,
Swimming like a tarpon through the air ?
Would angels better abstain and take the train,
To show they care ?
Angela hoped they’d be aware, and do without it,
Or at least to think about it, heed her words
And maybe leave the flying to the birds.



The Rose & The Nightingale

a bit like the flag of japan


The Rose & The Nightingale

(after Oscar Wilde)

Poor little student, moping for a girl,
He yearns to have a crimson rose to give her –
“Shucks !” thinks a nightingale, heart in a whirl,
“I’ll plead with the rose-bush to deliver !
But woe, all its blossoms are white as a pearl…
…Unless I thorn my breast and sing a-quiver.”

Thus the little nightingale gives her life for beauty,
As nothing but a lacky to a human.
Raising future nightingales – that should be her duty !
At this rate, extinction’s surely looming !
The rose, though, is delighted with this unexpected booty –
With birdie’s rotting body, times are blooming !

Lonely in her dying breath, as atoms fall apart,
She thinks this makes a handy metaphor –
The poor romantic soul who bares her tender heart
For the callous world to savagely ignore.
(Like artists ev’rywhere, she demands we love her art,
And buy into her struggles and her lore.)

As for the student, he plucks the crimson rose
(Denying for this bud to spread its seed),
And seeks out his classmate with the pretty nose –
But she looks less than happy with his weed.
“But don’t you see ?  This blossom is a mutant !  I propose
To splice its genes and follow where they lead.”

“Pah!” says his paramour, crushing all his dreams,
“I’m bored with ev’ry rose and phlox and crocus !
For I’m in love with rubies, sparkling in the sun-beams –
I want to find a way to make them focus…”
The student is crushed – as is the crimson rose, it seems –
He’s had enough of love and hocus-pocus !







Highwaymen are looting on the roads beneath the Pyranees,
As abbots tend their gardens in the misty Marin breeze,
While knights are walled in cities with their castles, shields and shrines,
And farmers lie in fields while the sunshine grows the vines.
And the River Aude is rolling down
From mountain pass to coastal town,
And from the peaks we see for miles
The chequerboard of tiles.



Ovine Inspiration

focus photo of brown sheep under blue sky
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Ovine Inspiration

Barbara Blacksheep bears a name
Belonging to a shepherdess,
A damsel in a dirndl dress.
But Barbara won’t play this game –
Whyever did her parents think
Her life should be a nod and wink ?

Barbara Blacksheep, twelve years old,
Is fighting hard against the path
Her name intends to telegraph.
Defiance, though, makes Barbara bold –
She won’t be traipsing downs and dales
From soggy Kent to chilly Wales !

For she’s a city girl at heart –
The only sheep she ever saw
Was supermarket mutton, raw.
She’d struggle how to play the part –
She couldn’t be a wannabo-Peep
For anyone, not even sheep.

She doubts all that nostalgia, though –
They weren’t romantic spirits, free,
But serfs a meal from poverty.
Yet things have changed since long ago –
The modern herders of the moors
Use phones and drones and four-by-fours.

But then she sees a painting in a book –
A shepherdess amongst the gorse
Just leaning on her crook –
Rather chocolate box, of course,
With unshod feet and peasant’s dress
But in her eyes a knowing look
That said here was a shepherdess
That knew her pasture’s ev’ry nook
And knew her ev’ry sheep by sight
And knew she’d get them home alright.

She was maybe fifteen, sixteen,
Not much older than Barbara now –
The latter who would struggle between
Telling a sheep from a cow
Yet somehow, if she’d only end her war
Upon her name,
Then give her three years, give her four,
To give herself an aim –
And could she be that confident of gaze
To watch them graze ?

And so she got to thinking deep
About her future, taking stock –
And made a choice to guard the flock.
So Barbara Blacksheep will never lack sleep
Counting ev’ry one of her charges
As each bleats and bustles and barges.

She made herself a solemn vow
To shield her yearlings from disasters
As playing fields become her pastures –
For she’s a playground monitor now –
Her lambs aren’t sheep and kids aren’t goats,
But tykes in woollen hats and coats.

Young Shepherdess Standing by William Bouguereau