Fahrenheit Four-Hundred-Something

burning book page
Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona on Pexels.com


Fahrenheit Four-Hundred-Something

They burned our books,
But we remember, word-by-word
Except the few that slipped on by,
The odd paragraph that’s blurred,
The bits we didn’t really understand,
But set to memory
Along with all the boring bits –
They’re still all in there…probably.

They burned our books…
Except, no, we burned our books
Before they could, to make a point –
We burned them for the good !
We pass them down, like Homer –
But in secret, out of sight.
Mutation ?  Evolution ?
They just make the story better…right ?



Prithee, Sirrah ?

big cocks
details from Charles Vth by Titian, Antonio Navagero by Giovanni Moroni & Guidubaldo della Rovere by Agnolo Bronzino


Prithee, Sirrah ?

The poster announced “Shakespeare Season !”
Well, why not ?, I thought.
For no particular reason,
I’d seen precisely naught.
I know it sounds high treason,
But I guess this time I’m caught.

Yet all reviews and interviews I heard
Said much the same –
They read the play, yes, ev’ry word,
Before they even came,
To better understand.  But that’s absurd !
Just what’s their game…?

What about the spoilers, hey ?
Will Macbeth be number one ?
But the plot don’t matter, so they say,
Besides a Tudor pun !
This feels just like homework anyway,
And not much fun !

You clearly can’t be arsed to try
And make the story clear,
And surely don’t want oiks as I
To gaze upon your Lear.
I think I’m gonna pass you by
For something less austere.



The Rose & The Nightingale

a bit like the flag of japan


The Rose & The Nightingale

(after Oscar Wilde)

Poor little student, moping for a girl,
He yearns to have a crimson rose to give her –
“Shucks !” thinks a nightingale, heart in a whirl,
“I’ll plead with the rose-bush to deliver !
But woe, all its blossoms are white as a pearl…
…Unless I thorn my breast and sing a-quiver.”

Thus the little nightingale gives her life for beauty,
As nothing but a lacky to a human.
Raising future nightingales – that should be her duty !
At this rate, extinction’s surely looming !
The rose, though, is delighted with this unexpected booty –
With birdie’s rotting body, times are blooming !

Lonely in her dying breath, as atoms fall apart,
She thinks this makes a handy metaphor –
The poor romantic soul who bares her tender heart
For the callous world to savagely ignore.
(Like artists ev’rywhere, she demands we love her art,
And buy into her struggles and her lore.)

As for the student, he plucks the crimson rose
(Denying for this bud to spread its seed),
And seeks out his classmate with the pretty nose –
But she looks less than happy with his weed.
“But don’t you see ?  This blossom is a mutant !  I propose
To splice its genes and follow where they lead.”

“Pah!” says his paramour, crushing all his dreams,
“I’m bored with ev’ry rose and phlox and crocus !
For I’m in love with rubies, sparkling in the sun-beams –
I want to find a way to make them focus…”
The student is crushed – as is the crimson rose, it seems –
He’s had enough of love and hocus-pocus !



Sonnet for the Shrews

Aviator by Billy Norrby


Sonnet for the Shrews

Come, mistress, stay – no patriarch am I !
No zealous male, yet you rebuke me so;
I never wish to dim your spark of eye,
For not all men are as Petruchio.
I plead, do not agglomerate my sex,
And score the mixture only by its worst –
When many brothers scant deserve this hex
Of deeming women-passionate as curst.
If chauvinistic authors grumble loud
And laud a brute as model for our kind,
Then know of we who wish you still unbowed
And retch at thoughts of ‘taming’ such a mind.
Far better shrews, for shrewdness thence hath sprung
In women sharp of wit and swift of tongue.



The Voice Speaks

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Casper Friedrich


The Voice Speaks

            (in reply to Rupert Brooke’s The Voice)

Late in the dusk, in the ancient woods
I saw a poet on my stroll
In desp’rate search for solitude,
At one with all and deep of soul.

I bid him “Ho !” and “What a view !”
But he just sighed at ‘one-of-those’.
From lofty heights, his dagger-eyes
Shot down along his haughty nose.

So strange, we took so diff’rently
To seeing beauty silver-pearled –
When I see set a sun so soft,
I want to share it with the world.

I guess for really clever chaps,
We little people must appal –
There’s some so full of inner peace,
They need no other folks at all.

An Ideal Crony

ideal husband
A lobby card from the 1947 Hollywood adaptation of An Ideal Husband, artist unknown.


An Ideal Crony

Sir Robert Chiltern, Bart –
A plummy, chummy, bleeding heart,
Who made some dosh insider trading –
Suddenly his star is fading
When extorted by a high-class tart.

What ho !, his chums in high-up places
Shall protect him from disgraces –
Don’t let on, don’t make a fuss,
For don’t you know he’s one of us ?
So stiffen up the lips on both his faces.

So what, a sacred trust was sold ?
We’d do the same for thirty gold !
So call the playwrite with the sharp wit,
Sweep it all beneath the carpet –
No need that the voting plebs be told…



Waifs & Fodder

The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis


Waifs & Fodder

Impressionist painters in poverty
On canvasses lacking in threads,
Glamorous silent-screen starlets,
And bereted and bearded reds,
Scientists seeking-out secrets,
And dare-devils pushing their luck –
They died too soon and died too young,
When fortunes came unstuck.
In days before the drugs did for,
Disease was the way to go –
Consumption, of course – or else it’s the pox –
Or the needs of the narrative flow.
Heroines, gothic or chivalrous,
In novels antique or sublime –
They’re dying too young from the loin or the lung,
Yet they’re dying precisely on time.




farm cat



My life was good on Manor Farm –
Just catching rats and lapping milk,
And sleeping warm and safe from harm –
I had no qualms with Jones’s ilk.
Yet revolution saw it scrapped –
Ah well, a cat will soon adapt.

I let them give their speeches,
And I let them hold their votes,
As they banned all booze and breeches,
And they argued beets or oats.
I snoozed between the awed and rapt,
Because a cat can soon adapt.

By hoof and feather, cart and plough,
We each must labour, none must shirk –
But rodents are our comrades now,
So I am out of work.
My talents must remain untapped –
But hey, a cat shall soon adapt.

Yet I smell blood, and I smell fear,
Among the cowed who used to crow.
They ought to leave, but still they’re here –
For where else can these rebels go ?
They’ve made their home, and now they’re trapped.
Farewell – a cat must soon adapt.