The stars only show up
When we open up our eyes,
With our pupils set on f-2
To maximise the skies.
With focus to infinity
To catch the light-years light
And fast-films for retinas
To turn the blackness bright.
Our long-exposure eyelids
Are timed to lift their veil –
Thirty seconds is enough,
Or else the stars will trail.
And then our nerves develop it
With not a blur nor wrinkle –
It’s just a little grainy
As the pinpoints gently twinkle.

Black Fives

Time Transfixed by Uli Mayer, after René Magritte

Black Fives

Puffing into Rugby,
But this loco’s not a pipe,
Shunting on to Inverness,
With giant apples, ripe.
Rolling out of Derby
When the trees are like a fern,
Let’s open up the fire-box,
And watch the tubas burn.
Pulling into Euston,
Where the bowler-hatted rain –
Then chuffing-up at Templecombe,
With clouds above the train
She’s right on time, in ivory black,
But never bright cerise –
The workhorse of the LMS,
From Crewe to mantlepiece.

Eau Dear…

Photo by Snapwire on

Eau Dear…

Bottled water ?  What a skeeving,
What an tosser, what a waste –
A plastic-spewing aqui-thieving,
Just to get the same damn taste !
Ever since the Romans dreamed
Of aquaducts of running water,
Engineers have turned their streams
Into a torrent, piped to order.
Teeth are whiter, homes are cleaner,
Cholera and lead are gone –
Footprints smaller, gardens greener –
Thrown away for Evian !
Hipsters sip ’em, yuppies neck ’em,
Horrified by simple tap.
The only brand I drink is Peckham –
Piss-off Perrier, you’re full of crap !



Roman numerals –
They’re so bloody useless !
Their continued presence
Is really excuse-less.
Clocks are okay,
Cos we know by position,
But years shouldn’t need such
Subtract and addition.
Just how could the Romans
Be quite so bloody-well thick ?,
With numbers unwieldy
For simple arithmetic.

Don’t put them on buildings,
Or credits in movies –
You’re being a snob
Who wants to ‘improve’ me.
Well, maybe with sequels,
But stop after III –
They get so confusing
With eye before vee.
Just how could the Romans
Be quite so damn-well unwise ?,
With numbers whose value
Is so unrelated to size.

Seven Seven

The Lord Fulfilleth All his Works by Clark Price

Seven Seven

The ant, the sloth, the kangaroo,
They came to Noah two-by-two,
Except the clean ones, those were more,
But just how many ?- he’s not sure.

You see, the perfect word from Heaven
Told him to load ‘seven seven’
Of the creatures that are ‘clean’ –
But what on Earth does than all mean ?

Which are clean and which are tosh ?,
When all these beasts could use a wash.
Perhaps he’ll know the spotless souls
Because they’ll come in multiples.

Alas, the Lord is too discreet
In sharing what he folks may eat –
But does give Noah one strange clue –
“You’d best pack extra locusts too…”

So is it seven beasts, all told,
That he must harbour in his hold ?
The Lord has reasons, without doubt,
But still – which sex is odd-one out ?

Or is it really seven pairs
That he must cram below the stairs ?
Well – “seven seven”, that’s the line –
But damn, that could be forty-nine !

How is he meant to feed all those ?
Will they be small, do you suppose,
Like tortoises – who barely browse ?
Of course not !  It’s the bloody cows !


Photo by Byron Sullivan on


Iron burns so blurry,
Oxidises at the rate of years –
Rust is in no hurry,
As it slowly eats away the gears.

But sparks are over in a flash –
A firework fountain, arcing, dying,
Leaving just a ruddy ash
And the metal tang of iron-frying.

We think of rust as cold and dark,
And yet this self-same light appears –
It’s just it takes that second’s spark
And stretches it to last for years.

Compass – Needle-Norths

Some examples of mosaic compass roses from Paverart


Compasses never point to the Pole,
Not quite,
They have their own North Star –
It’s close enough to true, on the whole,
Despite it also being quite far,
Wandering through Canadian isles
To sway
The needles off the mark.
But then, True North can sometimes be miles away
From where the gridlines hark.

I recently came across an interesting theory put forward by Lance Weaver that true polar wandering had occurred during the last ice age, putting the top of the world firmly within Greenland, which might explain why Europe was covered in ice-sheets while Alaska was mostly ice-free. I have no idea if it’s correct, and would welcome a chance to read some counter-arguments, but everyone seems to be ignoring it.


Chimera by Todd Davis


Take the ends and pass them
Left over right,
Then under, round, and through,
And pull them tight,
And friction does the rest
Between the coils, between the strands,
And even between the fibres –
Like a thousand tiny hands
That hold us back
And stop the world from unravelling.
Sometimes it feels like we’re held in place
By nothing but well-bound string.

Infinity is Bullshit

The Mathematician by Rembrandt

Infinity is Bullshit

Oh, you’re so clever
With all your semantics,
And sleight-of-hand antics
About the forever.

But infinite‘s nothing
Except very big
And the laymen soon twig
That you’re really just bluffing.

The same goes for ‘perfect’,
There’s no such a thing –
So stop worshipping,
Cos your god, he ain’t worth it.

So shove your hotels
And your arrows and monkeys –
We’re no theory’s flunkies
In updated Hells.

This whole universe
Is a finite amount
So however you count
Then it’s gonna get worse –

With numbers, it’s true
That whatever the score,
We can always add more
And still never be through

But you know what ?  So what ?
So the numbers end never…
In all of forever,
Is that you’re best shot ?

Let’s cut the pretence –
When I hear infinite
I think of bullshit
And then it makes sense.

There is actually a branch of maths called Finitism which, while it does not deny that the concept of infinity exists, shrugs its shoulders and ignores it.

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.