The Chill in the Air

Photo by Merlin Lightpainting on

The Chill in the Air

Breathe deep, my dear,
Fill your lungs
With the vapour of the day –
The hint of frost
That pricks your throat,
The faint tang of decay.
A little too rapidly –
In with a stutter,
Out with a rasp.
Breathe deep, my dear,
Breathe me in –
The better to scream,
The better to gasp.
Or try to hold me in,
Until your chest must heave
Its own desire –
For sooner, my dear,
Or later,
You know you must

Requiems Retold

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

Requiems Retold

It’s the orders of service that stick in my memory –
Always the same, just the name and the photo would change.
Funeral dues for my far-distant family,
Seconds and greats twice-removed, from the sticks or the Grange.

The organ would parp but the bells never tolled,
And the bunches of flowers were lilies or roses or daffodils.
The pews were so hard and the stones were so cold,
As, forcibly suited and combed, I was begged to sit still.

The Lord Is My Shepherd, The Old Rugged Cross,
The same old hymns, in the same old badly sung.
The same “so sorry for your loss”
And same “they had a good life/died too young”.

And even the eulogies followed a formula,
Strangers with unrehearsed mumblings delivered too fast –
The reminiscences couldn’t be warmer,
But too late to tell me now, their moment has passed.

Then it’s the Lord’s Prayer, and into the home straight
With one final blast of All Things Bright & Beautiful
Which always struck me as having the wrong weight,
Far too happy – though dirged into something more suitable.

But as I grow older, the deaths have grown closer,
And it falls to me for arrangements and guests to be planned –
When I’ve no time for grief, yet I need to bring closure,
I remember those orders of service, and I understand…


Alegretto by Michael Hayes


She surely must notice the calls that she’s missed,
Though why is she never beside her phone ?
I know that she knows it, that I exist,
But thinks, it would seem, that I’m best left alone.
Though when we’re together, I swear, it’s a blast,
But then ages shall pass before the next –
I sometimes wonder if this is the last,
Our drifting apart by unanswered text.

I mean, I’m not a creeper of anything,
Only call her once a month, I’d say,
To let her phone complete it’s ring
And leave a message that she’ll never play.
Is that too much ?  I don’t want to stalk her,
I don’t want to be a pest to her, or a joke.
I know she playfully calls me a ‘talker’,
But that’s cos it’s always so long since last we spoke.

It’s not that she is intention’ly callous,
But she lives such a busy, busy life –
There’s a definite absence of malice,
Although the accidental malice of absence is rife.
I wish I had so very many friends
That I wouldn’t mind to lose one to the void –
But I must work and must defend
My ev’ry closeness, forever a bit paranoid.

I know, I know, we all must share,
And we’re kind-of lucky to get her.
She’s like a cat, with her tail in the air
Who sometimes allows us to pet her.
We’re only friends, I say with a shrug,
At her drive-by company –
I must learn not to let her bug,
To ignore her ignoring me.

One Last Rite

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

One Last Rite

Never thought I’d see the day –
The morning clear and weakly bright, but there’s an early chill.
Better get it underway.
Who’d’ve thought a morning’s walk would take an act of will ?

I try to force a smile,
I tell my over-polished shoes I never looked good in black.
This is gonna take a while,
But once the ending brings the end, at least I get to walk back.

It’s cold on the edge of town,
As what goes up must all come down and down,
And ruby, gold, and emerald will all blur into brown-
And we are done.

There ought to be a lonely bell,
But we have overrun.
Our hollow words are meant so well,
But numbness smothers sorrow.

There’s no warmth from the Sun,
The moment’s gone, the race has run,
And I guess that I’ll be moving on tomorrow.

The Pessimist’s Camera

Bush Katykid by Judy Gallagher

The Pessimist’s Camera

My snaps are all insects
On pavements and plants –
I’ve nothing with humans,
But dozens with ants –
A phone-full of photos,
A life at the lens,
Where people are strangers
And beetles are friends.
I’m charting my neighbours,
Who live near my pad,
And where six legs are better
And two legs are bad –
A pocket of pixels,
A screen’s-worth of lights,
To magnify midges
And marvel at mites.
Their silence attracts me,
Their beauty astounds me –
I don’t even notice
The people around me.
But people are easy,
Not tiny and shy –
They’re big and they’re messy,
And can’t even fly.

Who Watches the Watches ?

Who Watches the Watches ?

These days, I let me wrists go naked,
Unencumbered by the time –
Shaking loose the shackles of knowing
Of just how fast the seconds are going.
I no more have to stress if I’ll make it,
I no more have to hear it chime.

There are dozens of other clocks to choose
On walls and screens and towers –
So why must I also carry it round,
And see that it’s hands are tightly wound ?,
When we spend our lives in constant news,
Surrounded by the hours.



All my follows, all my views, my likes,
They’re all just algorithm –
All the comments, all the spikes,
Owe nothing to my hand-worked vision.
They would surely come and visit me,
Regardless what I said –
My passion and my repartee
Forever lie unread.

I swear, it’s only bots I’ve got,
And how can they be moved, be shocked,
Be made to smile ?
I’m big, it seems, in binaries,
I tick their boxes, hash their keys –
But then, why must the clones be blocked,
With their lack of snark and bile.

And yes…and yes, I know they don’t mean bad,
(They don’t mean anything at all),
And yet…they’re only clogging-up this sad
And lonely monologue to an ever-empty hall.
But sometimes…from the corners of my eyes
I only see their avatars,
And I can tell myself “don’t get too wise –
Just marvel in how many fans there are”.

To the few of you real people, thank you so much for your support over the last three years ! Now don’t be shy, come on in and have a chat…

Manifest Destiny

Ellis Island in 1905, showing the Immigration Centre by Edward Tilton & William Boring

Manifest Destiny

German Smith and Jewish Rosehill,
Italian (or Irish) Bellis,
Dutch DeYoung and Russian Kerr –
But please, do not blame Ellis.

Ships from Hamburg, ships from Queenstown,
Loaded up and westward bound –
Checking names with manifests
And leaving them as found.

Many of these immigrants
Would later choose to change their names –
And good for them – but that was all their own,
Despite the frequent claims.

Social pressures ?  Mispronounce-ments ?
New starts ?  Yes, and more.
But no-one’s name was Anglicised
On Ellis Island’s shore.


Gossip by Eugene de Blaas


Three singing street vendors.

Vendor 1
Spring is finally here
To brighten the year,
Bringing birds on the wing.
Spring has finally smiled,
Like a favourite child,
And it’s making me sing.

Vendors 2 & 3
Yes it’s finally here,
The buds are in gear
To end Wintertime’s sting.

Vendor 1
The sun is shining for me,
And ev’rybody I see,

Vendors 1, 2 & 3
And it’s making us sing.

Punter enters.  He doesn’t sing.

Morning.  Copy of the Times and a packet of Polos please.

Vendor 1
Now come on buddy,
Let’s hear some sunshine outta you.
Now don’t be shy,
Just sing me one line, why don’t you ?

Well, you’re certainly cheerful this morning.

Vendors 2 & 3
Now come on buddy,
Don’t give an earful, that won’t do.
Just sing up buddy,
If we’re so cheerful, why ain’t you ?

You guys as well ?  Seems everyone’s singing today.

Vendor 1
Ev’ryone except…

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, ole Mr Misery

Vendor 1
He ain’t got a note of joy to spread.

Vendors 2 & 3
No sir, no sir no way.

Best stay away from….

Vendors 2 & 3
Mr Misery, he’s got no fizz, you see.

Vendor 1
Wish he’d rain on someone else instead.

Hey come on, I just want a Times and some Polos.

Vendor 1
You don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3

Vendor 1
Said you don’t get nothing in this life,
Unless you gonna sing for it.

Vendors 2 & 3

Seriously ?

Vendor 1
If you wanna get something in this life,
Then let me hear you sing for it.

Alright !

The Punter sings really badly.

Please may I have a copy of the Times
And some Polos…um…and a pound of limes ?

The Vendors clutch their heads in pain.  The Punter backs off, embarrassed.

A News Reporter appears on the scene with a microphone.

News Reporter
Yes, it’s another cruel case of discrimination against the tone deaf by musical theatre.  Reporting for the BBC, this is…
Pheobe Leigh !

Bread Stick

Bread by Anthony Starks

Bread Stick

People love to grumble over supermarket bread –
“It isn’t really fresh, you know” I’ve often heard it said,
“It’s made in batch in Swindon and then frozen” they explain,
“So all they do in bakeries is heat it up again.”
Croissant, bap, or pumpernickel,
Loaf-lovers sure are fickle –
Kneeded crumpets, seeded squabblers,
Talking sourdough and cobblers.

You know, that doesn’t bother me, as long as they still taste –
And oh!, the smell of toasted carbs will never go to waste.
But why are still-warm loaves just plonked on open racks for show
In the air-conditioned hell that sucks all moisture from the dough ?
Cardboard slices, leaden grain,
With all self-raising turned to plain.
Golden crust and pain-au-choc,
As dry as dust and hard as rock.