Mack & Mike

Pomegranate Still Life by Michael Ogasawara

Mack & Mike

Some of us are lumpers,
And some of us are splitters,
Some are bulky-clumpers,
And some are little-bitters,
Some of us are big-tent stuffers,
Broad-brush roughers,
Close-enoughers,
Filling-up our grab-bags
Till there’s no more room inside –
And some of us are split-hair-threaders,
Sep’rate bedders,
Excess shedders,
Spilling-out and sorting through
To further subdivide.
And honestly, we need both kinds of schemes
To help us to discover,
Masterplan and granular,
Millennial and annular –
Yet nobody can do them both, it seems,
We lean one way or ’tother –
Either rounding up or down,
With both the only game in town.
So some of us are crowders,
And some of us are sparsers,
Half of us are glommers,
And half of us are parsers.
I guess we cannot change the plot,
Our ways are set, alas –
But still, let’s take pride in our lot,
And classify with class.

Fish & Physics

Amazonian Guaperva Fish by Francis Willughby (at least, I think he did his own illustrations).

Fish & Physics

Gentle Francis Willughby,
To best of his ability
Has written us a thriller – see,
The History of Fish !
Illustrated lib’rally,
Meticulous and jibber-free –
No charlatan or fibber, he,
But honest, if not swish.
The Royal-dubbed Society
Have praised his work most high and free,
And published with propriety
His dense and hearty dish –
Examining their parity
And countless similarity,
To classify with clarity
Each finble, scule and gish.
His work will lead inex’rably
To Karl Linné’s complexity
And Darwin’s sexy theory
That the bishops try to squish –
Yet mocked in perpetuity,
His book an incongruity,
For lacking the acuity
Of Newton’s masterpiece –
His grandiose Principia,
That makes the heavens trippier
And gravity much nippier,
Is straining for release.
But things are tight financially,
With profits down substantially
And Newton sees his chances flee
Despite the Fellows’ wish –
They cannot foot the bill, you see,
The budget’s blown on Willughby –
But don’t show Frank hostility,
He’s not so queer a fish.

Silicon Sideman

Silicon Sideman

The trouble with a drum machine
Is that it hasn’t got an ego,
Trouble with a drum machine
Is that it always keeps in time:
The fourth beat goes where the first three go,
As do the crash and click and chime.
Ev’ry beat created
Is so beautifully weighted
And it comes along precisely
When a beat’s anticipated.
With never a roll and never a fill
It just keeps beating,
Beat-beat-beating,
Beating on and on until
At last the plug is pulled, the button pushed,
The damn thing overruled and hushed,
And finally each tireless brush and stick is still.
The trouble with a drum machine
From marching boys to jazz to pop,
Is knowing when to make a noise,
And knowing when to stop.

Lokomotivy

Lokomotivy

We’ve all heard of the sealed train
That carried the 36 between
Zürich and the Glasbahnhof,
In April 1917.
A couple of ferries and a new suit later,
Tornio station, platform 1,
To catch the sleeper to Petrograd –
And become the prodigal son.
Finnish metals all the way,
On over the swamps and rugged terrain
To the Finland Station and history,
Though no-one thought to note the train .
One is preserved – it may be the one,
But as likely not – we’ll never know.
Those locos were all faithful workers,
Too busy working to stop and crow.

But in the height of August,
Fleeing back the way he came –
Working his passage with a shovel,
Lenin stoked the movement’s flame.
293 – preserved in glass
The only loco we know he rode,
Not that we can blame the pistons
For their unexpected load.
American built, as the century turned,
A proud ten-wheeler, H2-Class,
A broad-gauge beauty, wood-fired boiler,
Black, without that bourgeois brass.
Does it matter ?  Holy relics ?
Lenin was also just a machine
That public anger drove to the station
In the red-heat of 1917.

The Blacktop Jungle

Mulefa from The Amber Spyglass by JamesMargarum

The Blacktop Jungle

Evolution has no use for wheels –
Nature walks, it never rolls
Beyond a spider or tumbleweed
That the random wind controls.
For real life lacks our perfect strips
Of smooth and tarmacked roads,
These alien technologies,
These edges linking nodes.
Biology’s against it anyway,
Unless the wheels are dead –
For how can blood and nerves attach
To grow the spokes, repair the tread ?

Though germs can grow their flagellates
Upon an axle, loosely bound –
And they can drive by swimming,
Just by spinning tendrils round and round.
So give a million years or ten,
And life may well adapt
To these ribbons of oil and gravel,
If they haven’t been buried or snapped.
But while terrain is bumpy
And a bogged-down caster cannot trot,
Then legs will always run the show –
The world may turn, but life does not.

Auto-Desire

Auto-Desire

I remember watching the cars go by
From the back seat of my Dad’s Cavalier –
A rep-mobile, that would sometimes change
Into a Sierra, or something near.

I could name them all, down the motorway,
From the back seat of my Dad’s works’ Rover
By make and model, and sometimes trim,
And dreamt of driving them all twice over.

But when I left home with a job,
It didn’t come with its own Passat –
And I was living in digs in London,
Without a garage, and that was that.

Besides, there’s never any parking,
And what there is will costs me loads –
And if the Tube is crowded, well,
Then you should see the roads !

But still I eye the kerbside cars
Beyond the pay of my nine-to-five –
And fantasise which one I’d have,
If I’d only learned to drive.

Until my sensible shoes recall
The fossil fuels and rusting hulks –
And the boy inside with the brum-brum dreams
Just sits in the back seat and sulks.

Any Colour You Like, as Long as it’s Charcoal

Any Colour You Like, as Long as it’s Charcoal

When did cars become so boring ?
When did roads become less roaring ?
When did bland become okay ?
Paintjobs dull as office flooring –
Offered in a monochrome of grey.

Call it Silver, call it Graphite,
Brooding Shadow, Summer Midnight
Any guff that comes to mind –
But once we see them in the light
You’re surely fooling no-one but the blind.

White and black are offered too,
And boy, that’s really big of you,
But what will people think ?
Leary over red or blue,
And terrified of lemon, lime, or pink.

Remember – we were bright and fun
Before the mortgage and school run ?
Oh, we were colourful and proud !
The dial tuned to Radio 1 –
Not Archers, Proms, or Magic, not too loud.

The reason, I suspect, is that
Our Chelsea Tractors grew so fat
Our excess-baggage showed.
And so we dressed them down in matt
To blend in with the tarmac of the road.

And as a side-effect, we get
To hide the dirt and hide the threat
That purple-headed Greens advance.
So boring cars are worth it yet
To motor on in blissful ignorance.

Purity Error

Purity Error

Back in the days of cathode rays,
Electron guns of RGB
Would bring the colour to TV –
Except they could get out of phase
If unwanted magnetic strays
Would tamper with the purity.

And boy, were mine unpure !
With ev’ry colour out of sync,
Where skies were green and trees were pink !
They told me there’s no easy cure –
“But I’ll get used to it, I’m sure”
I tried so hard to think.

I might have made it through,
But for the glaring lack of red
That ultimately screwed my head –
Faces, lips, and roses too –
Those cyan people made me blue
As if the aliens had bred !

I thought I dug the mood
To love all races in my sight –
But skin-of-denim just ain’t right !
So I rejected modern dudes
For old-time films and attitudes
That showed the world in black and white.

One Size Fails All

One Size Fails All

Office chairs with starfish bases,
Wobbly levers, sofa wheels –
They never fit quite right, most cases –
Either leaving swinging heels,
Or bunched-up knees and hunched-down shoulders,
Wimpy pistons full of slack.
But still, a useful perch for folders
Till the backside needs it back.

Conjure-Less

Conjure-Less

Hogwarts is a trade school –
Its graduates are magic-wise, but culture-poor.
Their basic maths and science tools
Are lacking, from their focus on excessive lore.
So who will pioneer the medicines ?
It won’t be Harry.
So who the next Brunels and Edisons ?
Don’t look to Harry.
And who will score the soundtracks to our lives ?
Or teach us how to exercise,
And thrust and parry ?
Just who will study bees and save the hives ?
Or write, exposing greed and lies ?
Or help us marry ?
Your world of Latin, nods, and shadows,
Operates clandestinely –
But will it save the climate ?  Who knows ?
We’ve no time to tarry.
So who will help us muggles take control
Of our own destiny ?
And who will feed the intellectual soul
That we all carry ?
And who will tell me I can be
Whatever I might wish to be ?
No Sorting Hat’s the boss of me !
Hey, Harry ?

I find it bizarre that a self-confessed lefty wrote about a super-powered elite secretly running the world because the plebby muggles were incapable of doing it for themselves. And poor Harry, having to suffer growing up with those working class oiks until he was restored to his true destiny as the golden child.