Synapse Error


Synapse Error

All my school-mates, all my former colleagues –
All now broken links.
When clicking on their memories,
I find each name and face un-syncs.
I’ve left a trail of 404s behind me,
An archive of data decay –
I’ve got no backup with which to remind me,
As all my friendships leak away.

The Ultramarine Dark Sea

Photo by Lorena Martu00ednez on

The Ultramarine Dark Sea

Blue, is hard for nature to be it –
We’re told “no pigments” is the why.
Forget-me-nots, though, give the lie,
And kingfishers darting by,
And rocks of lapis lazuli,
And the irises of Lady Di –
And Planet Earth, I hear you cry,
Together with the frigging sky !
So yes, the ancient Greeks could see it,
Just as well as you or I.

Raspberry Ripple

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Raspberry Ripple

The whiskers on my chinny-chin-chin
Just taunt me at ev’ry turn –
I’ve practiced shaving since I was a lad,
But I don’t think I’ll ever learn.

So I dread to see the morning mug,
Yet never dare adjourn –
My beards are patchy, rough affairs
That raise looks of concern.

I use my blades too long, I know,
My moneysworth to earn.
Yet new ones only last a week
Before they start to burn.

And so I tug and scrape and mow
In a job I’d gladly spurn,
As I pull my jowls and wattles taut
With a stretch and crane and gurn.

I’ve tried electrics shavers,
Yet for all their motors churn,
My fingers raise striations still
On a chin like a windmill’s quern.

And that was with the hair of youth,
As soft as a newborn fern –
But now it shoots out gnarly thorns,
So straggly, grey, and stern.

Maybe one day, razors with lasers
Will give me the finish I yearn !
Till then, for all the years and swipes,
The stubble will always return.

The title is my name for blood spots on shaving cream.

I Leave It Up To You

Photo by Frank Cone on

I Leave It Up To You

My end was written into my very beginning,
Into my terminal genes –
My past and future are always inferred,
Before I was born, my death was assured.
With fate or biology, there is no winning,
We’re entropy machines –
But the road we take is mine and yours,
To pass the time between the wars.

Brackish Streams

detail from Fallen Angel by Alexandre Cabanel

Brackish Streams

I’ve always been a weeper in the wind –
It only takes the slightest breeze
To turn-on my capillaries,
As drip by drip, I am chagrined,
And have to whip my hankie out
To stem each overactive spout.

I don’t know why
The weather makes me cry,
Especially the cold.
An eye-jerk sense,
Or anti-drought defence
That will not be controlled.

I’ve always been too salty in the frost –
All the Winter, all those leaks,
To run and freeze upon my cheeks.
So tear by tear, my poise is lost,
Into a sobbing, briny wreck
Who cannot keep his ducts in check.

I don’t know why
My gaze is never dry,
Until my eyeballs rust.
They even seep
While closed and fast asleep,
Then desiccate to dust.


Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on


Things keep turning into worms, it would seem,
And not just invertebrates
Exhibiting a certain trait
For straightness in the beam
And legless in the gait.

Things keep sausage-ing to worms, we observe –
The eel and caecilian
Are bound by their criterion
To maximise the curve,
Like the tongue of the chameleon.

Things keep slithering to worms, to and fro –
As through the soil they swim,
The burrowers who drop a limb.
The slowworm may be slow,
But he’s wonderfully slim.

Things keep developing newer way to squirm –
From the lowly and unsung
To the feared and cursed who creep among –
For snakes are just a worm
With a backbone and a tongue.


Photo by rompalli harish on


Things just won’t stop turning into crabs,
From claw to carapace –
They look as if they’re engineered in labs
Or zapped from outer space.
Except…the fishes show no cancric tug,
Nor do the worms or squids –
It seems it’s just crustaceans have the bug
To spawn such crabby kids.
Not counting woodlice, shrimps, or barnacles,
Nor the copepods –
But still, a fair few join the carnival,
In their squat new bods.
And as for them, the more derived they get,
The more the format grabs –
Converging on a winning set,
And walking sideways into crabs.

This meme relies on a fairly liberal definition of ‘crab’ – it seems to come down to three things – claws, an oval fused carapace, and an absent abdomen/tail (it’s actually tucked underneath). So hermit-crabs, for instance, certainly have the claws, but lack the other two (though when in a shell, they give the impression of them).

So, yes it happens, to the extent that the squat-lobster seems to be half-way through the process. But it’s also helped along by our wishful-thinking. Or, as I put is recently, plants won’t stop turning into trees.

Tellingly, other aquatic arthropods like dragonfly larvas and water spiders show no inclination to crab-up.

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,
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.

Pinhole Camera

Photo by Filipe Delgado on

Pinhole Camera

Hold this poem at arm’s length,
And peer right through its O’s.
Even the ones in lower case
Contain an awful lot of space –
But just how large is small , do you suppose ?
Good try, but a little under-strength –
Your guess is a tenth of a tenth of a tenth.

Within that ringlet, give or take,
Between the billion nitrogens,
Are photons – streaming on a breeze
From fifty thousand galaxies,
Upon a thoughtful mind or friendly lens –
As through the page, within its wake,
The universe is on the make.