Catkins & Conkers

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Catkins & Conkers

The thing about trees is,
Trees are big,
But ev’ry trunk
Begins a twig –
They’re building height
From light and air,
Just add a little rain,
And there !
They’re springing-up,
Each rapid-grower –
Mushroom-like,
But much, much slower.
Eat the sunshine,
Drink the breeze –
They’re timber-making
Factories.

The thing about trees is,
Trees are tall,
They stretch and tower
Over all.
But that has made them
Litter bugs –
With petals, pollen,
Seeds, and slugs,
It all comes down,
And blows about –
From fresh air in,
To dandruff out.
These trees are yobs
And carbon thieves !
And come the Autumn,
Come the leaves…

Why Are Trees Trees ?

Baby Maple by hedera.baltica

Why Are Trees Trees ?

The history of trees is that
The trees are not a clade –
They spring-up from the strangest places,
Evolution-made.
So beech and birch are boring,
All their family are so wooden,
But others have the oddest kin
And ev’ry one’s a good ’un.
They’ve found the same solution
Independently, you know –
When stretching for the sunlight, well,
There’s just one way to go.

So apple trees are strawberries
That built a sturdy trunk,
Yucca palms are bluebells
If a bluebell were a hunk.
Acacia trees are runner beans
That bolted in their teens,
While rubber trees are spurges
That have stretched beyond their means.
There’s only so much energy,
And trees don’t like to share –
They’re hungrier when taller,
But their mouths are ev’rywhere !

So linden limes are cottons
That have fluffed-up in the streets,
And oranges are really rue
Whose bitterness turned sweet.
Finest teak is peppermint,
That’s why it smells so nice –
And eucalyptus is a clove
That added too much spice.
The forest is a battleground,
And ev’ry plant must fight –
So trees is what you always get,
If what you get is height.

I’m not very good at identifying plants on sight, but I can thoroughly recommend the app PlantNet.

I’m also not very good at identifying crabs, which is hardly surprising.

Roadside Rodent

Roadside Rodent

Ship rat, far from sea,
Beached upon the pavement.
You do not twitch, you do not flee,
So why do you sit still for me ?
You’re not too fat, you’re not too thin,
You’re not held in enslavement –
And yet you crouch beside the bin,
And gently tremble in your skin.

Brown rat, are you asleep ?
You chose an awkward bed, friend.
Have you nowhere else to creep
Than on the tarmac in a heap ?
Fox or cat will find you prone,
And that will surely be your end.
Perhaps you’re dying, all alone,
Just waiting for your final groan.

All Aboard !

A Corgi model of a Bournemouth Wright Gemini bus. The model is discontiunued and RATP are no longer the franchisee, but at least the current buses are still yellow.

All Aboard ! 

Trudy Trusses loves the buses
Which she rides to town –
Urban-trekkers, double-deckers,
Ones that bend around.
Some are old and brightly bold,
And red or green in colour –
Some are new and grey right through,
And others even duller.

Trudy Trusses makes such fusses
Over diff’rent routes –
The stops and times, the sprints and climbs,
The stats and attributes.
She watches who is in the queue,
And who is getting off –
The chef, the nun, the doctor’s son,
The teacher and the toff.

Trudy Trusses swiftly susses
Someone has to drive –
The 12, the 3, the 7B,
The weekdays 55.
When she grows big, she wants that gig !,
She wants to sit in front –
To swoosh the doors of 24s
And make their engines grunt !

Trudy Trusses sees the plusses
In a job that moves.
There’s folks to meet on ev’ry street,
From pensioners to youths.
You need a ride ?  Then come inside !
There’s plenty room up top.
Then home again through wind and rain,
Just ring the bell to stop.

This poem isn’t necessarily set in Bournemouth, but I thought they deserved praise for one of the few places outside of London which still insist on the colour of their fleet.

Gotcha !

Tag You’re It – Squid Game by Sparkumi

Gotcha !

Tag, goes the virus,
And suddenly, I’m it,
Chasing, and panting,
And laughing, and transmit.
No rules for no-backsies,
It’s free-for-all, all day
No sitting this one out,
We’re all of us in play.
They say this game is older
Than ancient Babylon.
Now I’ve given you my secret –
Pass it on.

Little Germany

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Little Germany

Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung,
Eight syllables of Sturm and Drang
That trip along a Teuton tongue
With a click of the heels from brother Wolfgang.
If only Wolf and Hanni tried
The Eidelweiss and Extrawurst,
But they were born in Merseyside –
Less Sachsen, more Anglo-cursed.

Helmholtz-Hertzsprung – what a surname !
H times three and twice Tee-Zed –
They’re triply stung, as if to claim
A ‘Graf’ and a ‘Von’, and be dubbed ‘the Red’.
Her parents gave them the kind of name
That only folks in stories give.
What chance have they of meek and tame
With monikers so transformative ?

They wonder at their German roots,
Though mum’s their mum and not their Mutti.
And their father’s never worn Prussian boots,
And when asked why, he shrugs why should he ?
Of the language, they speak no word,
And their accents sounds less Saar, more Scouse.
So why share names with a yodelling goatherd
As if they’d been raised in a gingerbread house ?

Wolfie tries to harden his Double-Yoo,
But ev’ryone still calls him a softie –
He’s got the wrong voice, where even he struggles to,
And sounding far more pretentious than lofty.
A pair of Frankensteins lacking a zeitgeist,
A Bildungsroman for these misplaced Franks –
Their only reminder of whence their genes spliced
Is that damn Nachname, upping their angst.

Helmholtz sounds like a planetary ship,
While Hertzsprung, like a clockwork core –
Or else a springbok, skittish to skip –
The poor, poor dears !, emburdened with lore.
Their parents gave them the kind of name
That only elves and heroes get –
But theirs it is, to shun or claim…
Could Deutschland be über Alles yet…?

Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung –
The name of a nuclear engineer –
With phonemes thoroughly washed and wrung
To perfectly balance the Rheinland ear.
How can she live with so much hype ?,
Precision-polished for wide acclaim.
And yes, she knows that’s a stereotype,
But verdammt !, so is her whole damn name !

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

     The Ghost of Christmas Present

When we were young, before we earned a good wage,
Then presents were the thing.
Whatever toy was all the rage,
We’d write to Santa, page by page,
While fully knowing, any age,
That parents were the ones who gave the bling.

When we were young, and hoping for the good stuff,
Then presents were the thing.
We dropped our hints, we played it tough,
We wanted this, and sure enough,
They’d always get us something duff,
From parents clutching hard to apron string.

When we were young, and pocket money spent fast,
Then presents were the thing.
We’d waited long these six months past,
Our only chance was here at last –
But no !  Once more we were harassed
By suitable and sensible and bettering !

When we were young…but now we’re good and older,
And presents are a chore.
We pay our own way, we are bolder,
We don’t need a toothbrush-holder.
What we need’s a crying-shoulder,
Not the same old ritual as before.

Now we are old, we buy throughout the year,
Yet presents still want more !
What can you get me ?  Dear oh dear,
I have all that I need right here.
Should I hold off acquiring gear
To add it to a list you’ll just ignore ?

Now we are old, and hopefully we’re wise,
And presents lurk in drawers.
Let’s be honest, compromise,
And save our gifts for the little guys –
Let’s pay it forward, share the prize –
Even though we’ll get it wrong, of course…

The Kine

The Kine

As the son of a dairy herd,
My father told me secret words –
On Christmas Eve, between ourselves ,
Our cattle knelt at the stroke of Twelve.
“Can I see it ?”  “No, too late,
You’ll have to grow up first and wait.
Let’s tuck you up, like the hens and geese,
And leave the girls to kneel in peace.”
But unlike Thomas Hardy, I
Was not prepared to pass it by,
And woke by chance at seven-to
When bursting for the landing loo.
This was my chance – I had to go,
Or else I knew I’d never know –
I creped downstairs, across the floor,
To don my peacoat by the door.
I left my slippers on my feet
For I had destiny to meet !,
Not a second’s hesitation
Could be wasted with a lace-on.
Lift the latch and out we go,
Crunching softly through the snow,
(Despite that day’s half-hearted thaw),
To squelch across the muck and straw
That filled the barn, those bovine halls,
And peeked into the Winter stalls
(And now I wish I’d worn my wellies) –
No !  They’re all led on their bellies !
Some had rolled onto their flanks,
And none had tucked beneath their shanks,
And all their heads were on the boards,
And none kept vigil for the Lord.
Our ev’ry beast was heathen-born !,
From Hyacinth to Meadowcorn,
And Rosie, Daisy, Pansy too,
They each and all just slept on through !
So distraught was I, so dead,
I didn’t hear my father’s tread
Until his hand was on my shoulder,
“Seems tonight you’re growing older.
I suppose I set this up,
But never thought my little pup
Would take my story at my word –
It’s passed down with the family herd.”
I tried to scream, I tried to cry
But all that left my lips was “Why ?”
“If you want to ask me that,
It’s too late for a lengthy chat –
So I will only answer once,
Then off to bed and no more stunts.”
“Then…then…I want to ask
How deep is worn this parents’ mask ?
Are all the rest a lie as well –
Like Santa, Jesus, Tinkerbell ?”
“Fair enough, the answer’s Yes.”
“For which ?” I blurted in distress,
But he just smiled, and shook his head,
And carried me upstairs to bed.

One Small Step

Alas, I have been unable to find out anything about who the artist is.

One Small Step

Stella Starbuck steps out from her capsule
Onto the surface of the dry, cold Moon,
Or even Europa, or Mercury, perhaps,
But definitely on a Sunday afternoon.
If she can only focus on her giant leap,
She might ignore the droning of the cars –
If she can make a rocketship out of her tepee,
She knows she can bravely conquer Mars.
It’s not, she notes, as red as she expected,
But rather a barren desert lawn of green.
With her life-support given one last check,
It’s time to boldly go where no man has been.
But what’s that ?  Over there !  An alien !
Quickly !  Should she hide, or should she hail ?
Too late !  She’d under attack, yet agen,
As lasers shoot from its wagging Martian tail.
Luckily, her pure-wool spacesuit is armoured.
She picks up a ball from the regolith
And throws it up – so high, so far ! –
But then, her gravity is only a fifth.
All alone now, that’s when the voice comes
Comes over the comms-link, into her thoughts –
“Looks like you made it – isn’t that something ?
The onward footprints of astronauts.
But then that’s humans – always climbing,
Striding and striving, proving your steel.
You know, this doesn’t have to end at tea-time –
One day, you could be standing here for real…”
After a moment, another voice calls her –
Ground Control, to bring her back home.
But just before she blasts off, she stalls
To admire the view from the cosmic dome.

Slumberware

Low Battery by Matt Dixon

Slumberware

Hush, little robot, close your sensors,
Slow your subroutines,
Hibernate your processors and trickle-charge your energy,
Disconnect your pairings with the other young machines,
And let the diagnostics defragment your memory.
Dim your lights and underclock,
And softly let your ports undock
To count the decimals of pi,
And I shall sing a cyber-lullaby.

Hush, little robot, and listen to the universe tonight,
It is alive with radio.
Can you hear the whisper of the hydrogen by kilobyte ?,
Or the rushing of the galaxy as round and round we go ?
So dream in noughts and dream in ones,
Beneath a thousand other suns,
And turn your logic into trust –
While I shall keep you safe and free from rust.