Advent in November



Advent in November

I remember we’d troop off to Grandma’s old church,
(My parents not having a church of their own),
And there, with my brothers and cousins, we sat
Through the joyfulless carols and reverent drone
That tried to cajole in us love for lord Jesus,
And bribed us with candle-and-currant Christingles.
We’d dutif’ly queue up, us kids, at the rail,
For our symbolic fire-risks – and catch the first tingles:

The season had started !  The countdown was counting !
And even before the first door was prized open,
The tension was banking, the pressure was mounting –
The avarice simmering, quaintly called ‘hoping’.
Our candles were dripping, the service was over,
So back home to Grandma’s for crumpets and cakes,
And writing our lists from the big book of Argos,
And tingles that gradu’ly built into shakes.


Photo by Leah Kelley on


Ev’ryone makes typos,
Where a silly misspelled rush of prose
Is hiccupped in its fluency –
Careless hands work careless labours,
Jumping cases, catching neighbours,
Letters standing in for others,
Covering their brothers’ truancy.

For as our fingers run and leap
And waltz and peck,
Too busy to go back and check,
So in the errors creep.
Too quick they ran, too soon they leapt,
And where our eyes should intercept,
They’re mesmerized by finger-dances,
Only sparing random glances
At the all-important screen.
Or else they stare out straight ahead
To read instead the words unseen,
That float midair, as thick as flies –
The copytext behind the eyes.
But if we’re lucky, underlines in red
Will warn us what we’ve said
And give us chance to clean.
But otherwise, each error cries unheard,
Each mangled word and un-snipped thread
Is slurred by digits over-keen.

So ev’ryone makes typos,
Where our textual flows get bent and dented,
Letters get disoriented,
Weakening intent –
They may look careless and inept,
But these days we’re all quite adept
At reading what was really meant.


The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals


Blockbusting, balls-walling, entrepreneur,
Overman-achieving and Sorbonne-viveur,
Moving-and-shaking and never-make mistaking –
God, I could never be so bold !

I’m the one who failed to get to know you,
I’m the one it’s easy to say no to,
Nobody’s enemy, nobody’s go-to,
And always the last one to be told.

I know that you work hard, but always with results,
You go the extra yard, but you don’t do nuts-and-bolts
It’s down to me to tidy up and lock the doors at night,
While you’re off making masterplans to set the town alight.

I’m not like you, off to change the world again,
The hero of the story, the driver of the train,
The leader and infallible, the oysters and champagne,
The charismatic marvel to behold !

We cannot all be actors, we cannot all be confident,
We cannot all ignore the inner voice that never gives consent.
I guess I don’t blame you, when your talents are so rife –
And when even I would toss aside the novel of my life.

You’re the exception, but you think that you’re the mean,
It’s only for your eyes that the world is bright and keen,
While I’m drowning in the wake of wherever you have been –
But hey, that’s just the way the dice were rolled.

What Have We Learned ?

Hope by George Watts

What Have We Learned ?

I know it doesn’t feel like it,
Especially on the news,
But the world is getting safer all the same.
Wars are killing fewer,
Though it’s hard to spot the clues
In the endless rounds of jingo, spin and blame.
But there, buried in statistics,
Proof is waiting to be found
That murder, rape and violence are down.
We’ve never had a world so good
As this world here, right now –
Better than our hope could dare allow.

It never was forgone,
It’s taken so much hard work to achieve –
Work we never knew that we could do,
Was going on.
So ev’ry time we heave,
It seems we get a little calmer,
And we get a little kinder,
Though we need the odd reminder to believe.

And yet,
We know it doesn’t feel like it,
Especially on the news –
For all this peace, there’s not that much about.
We’re killing people daily,
And ev’ry time we do, we lose –
So war is down, but war is far from out.
Our angels may be better,
But our angels still fall short of best –
The world is getting good, but not yet blessed.
Our progress may be progress,
But it’s coming far too slow –
We cannot wait for fairer winds to blow.

It never is forgone,
And all this work could quickly fall apart –
The darkest days of our old ways
Could yet be set upon.
Let’s hope that we are smart –
We haven’t time for shock and awe,
We haven’t time to settle scores –
We need to stop the wars before they start.

Acid Verse

Acid Verse

Lis’ning to psychelic music,
Joss stick sending up a stream,
Lava shadows on the ceiling,
Red wine drifting off to dream.
Don’t need drugs to taste the acid,
Just an over-yellow mind-
It’s gonna be one of those fitful nights
When the gears of my conscious grind.

Too much psychedelia,
It’s not from the drugs, this trance, though –
I swear, just wine, and a lack of coffee,
So why do the colours dance so ?

I guess that I must be dreaming ?
I really hope that I’m dreaming…
Cos if this is really psychotrope
Then I’m trapped inside a kaleidoscope.

I guess there are folks who deal with this ev’ry day –
Does it make me a bad person to say
That I never wanted to end up that way ?
Like this way.  Like slipping down the slope.

Lis’ning to psychelic noodling,
Playing somewhere, distant, bleak –
It’s gonna be one of those endless nights
When the door of perception creak.

Too much recycled dioramaa,
But if not drugs, then what have I taken ?
If only I’d swallowed some bloody caffeine
Cos I need to reawaken.

So why am I still here dreaming ?
Or what am I not here dreaming ?
It’s not any pills from off the shelf,
But maybe my brain has brewed some itself ?

Maybe it’s cloning its own serotonin all day,
Or morphing endorphins to help it to play.
Or doped-up on dopamine, drooling away ?
Who’s to say ?  Is it madness by stealth ?

Lis’ning to psychedelic mumbling,
Needle jumping, stuck on repeat –
It’s gonna be one of those Mobius nights
When Alice can’t find her feet.

Too much psyched-out sepia –
I don’t even own a secret stash,
But these uninvited thoughts wanna dance,
Now this party’s about to crash.

Can I still hope I’m nothing but dreaming ?
I gonna need help if I find I’m not dreaming
Cos I just don’t know how I’m gonna survive
If I’m right here awake and I’m streaming this live.

I don’t want to crash, but I don’t want to stay,
So help me to crash to an overcast day –
Cos there’s so many colours, I can’t find my way –
Help me, pray, when the DTs arrive.

Lis’ning to spaced-out psychic music,
Sometimes my mind is not my friend,
Cos psychedelic may sound angelic,
But it’s based on the blues in the end.

Challenging & Worthy

Photo by Pixabay on

Challenging & Worthy

Ballet, op’ra and poetry –
Loved by luvvies and the BBC
But otherwise ignored by all and quite right too.
Up their own arses, these brown-nose arts
Are permanent’ly trapped in a bubble of farts
Just like the upper-chattering classes talking poo.
Please, oh please, let me never be trendy,
Keep me away from the cognoscenti,
Shovelling tax-pounds into their bottomless troughs.
I’ll take my chance with the free-will market
Than crawling on my belly on a critic’s carpet –
They may be lefties, but trust me – they’re just a bunch of toffs.

Those Who Can’t

Photo by Markus Spiske on

Those Who Can’t

So you say you don’t like my fill-in-the-blank,
Well okay grandad, off you trot,
So you think my taste is ‘square’ and ‘rank’,
Well God bless you and off you trot,
And love what you love and leave what you don’t,
And tell what you will and spare what you won’t,
But if you can’t wait to gossip what you hate,
Well groovy, daddy-o, off you trot,
Don’t let me stop you, but hold on there,
Just let me work out how much I care
While I crank my fav’rit song upto ten –
You were prob’ly calling it a ‘din’ and ‘rot’
Cos these days, whinging’s all you got –
So I guess you don’t like the whole ‘darn’ lot,
But don’t worry, geezer, off you trot.

World Peace

woman lying on bathtub
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

World Peace

I could lie here for hours.
Just locked-in, alone, with my own private lake,
I soak in the warmth as I soak out the ache,
Massage my fingers through lathering cream,
And breathe in the salts with the tickle’ing steam.
And I lie.
Eyes closed I lie.
And let wash away all that pressure and bile.
Go on without me, at least for a while.

I always imagine a bath is the perfect place to find inspiration, but I think the brevity of this poem shows how little I do.  I’m more likely to find forty winks, and nothing wrong with that.  Anyway, any good lines I do compose will be forgotten by the time I’m dry.

A Bout with a Spout

Gargoyle by SarahLouiseHathaway

A Bout with a Spout

Tucked up under the eaves of the church
The gargoyles lurk upon their haunches,
Spindly fingers stroking their paunches.
Out the corners of my eye they lurch,
But when I turn, they’re stony still –
A sneer on every maul and bill.
“You can’t fool me by playing statue,
Because, one of these days, I’ll catch you !”

Craning up at the eaves of the church,
I’m staring-out their stones and mortar,
Gagging on their breath of fetid water.
Square is my gaze upon their perch,
Just waiting for their craggy blink
To prove they move as much as they stink.
But I stare in vain, and most unwise,
When one of them gurgles, and spits in my eyes.

To Niccolò

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

To Niccolò

See all of your princes who grasp at our lives
With their handshakes and greased palms and fists wrapped in cotton –
They claw for a kingdom where sleight-of-hand thrives,
But their fingers are crossed and their nails are all rotten.
You keep all your holdings tight under your thumb
As your signet-wrapped digits are stroking your beard –
But grips can be prised as the years render numb,
And the light-fingered upstarts are squeezing you plum,
And there’s no-one to catch you when ’last you succumb –
Your talons are chipped and too weak, in the end, to be feared.