narrative conflict

close up hand paper pen
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Narrative Conflict

i was struggling with a
verse the other day and i
just thought oh
sod it i don’t need this
trying to find a
rhyme for
i mean what’s

the point and by the
way it’s door hinge
so i just
screwed up my
paper and started afresh without any of these
like punctuation
and capital letters

And then I just thought
“You know what: sod it again !”
Cos this just ain’t my way of kicking the ball.
I’ve got myself caught
In an indolent vein
That hurriedly dashes its prosy and unrhyming scrawl.
But no.  Don’t resort
To compare ev’ry strain;
They’ve theirs, and I’ve mine, and that’s all.

But mine is the old way
The bold way, the gold way,
The staying-up-late so the rhymes-can-unfold-way.
This self-yoked endeavour that’s so damn important,
And takes for just ever (though feels like it oughtn’t.)

And three hours later, those bourgeois old rules
Have finally rendered their delicate patter.
The verse is the greater for working with tools
Where even the commas and capitals matter.

But, for the lexicographic’ly curious
Rhymings can always be found to lurk:
There’s always a door hinge for seekers laborious;
Some meritorious, others a perk.
There’s only two rules that matter unspurious,
Two rules to punish the poets who shirk,
Two rules to render all verses victorious:
– Make them all glorious.
– Make them all work.



Verses in Hades

Art & Literature
Art & Literature by William Bouguereau

Verses in Hades

Ah, those Classicists,
Those poets of antiquity !
They never faced the style fascists,
Never faced creative mists,
With lines that must engage in trysts –
They could keep it loose and gritty.
Rhythm, metre, drove their gist.
Their audience would ne’er insist
Their lines be docked and chimed and kissed;
How our plight they must so pity.
Sappho, Virgil, Homer, Horace
Never had to suffer this:
They never had their epic bliss
Reduced by form into a ditty.
Of all the literary crimes
Befallen us since ancient times,
I curse the most whoe’er invented rhymes.

The Layman of Shalott

I am Half-Sick of Shadows
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by John Waterhouse

The Layman of Shalott

On either side the river lie
The fields that stretch into the sky –
Whose lowlands raise the beans so high,
And grow the barley and the rye
That feeds the folk in Camelot.
And all this land beneath the hoe
Is owned by she who will not show
Her face to those who plough and mow –
The Lady of Shalott.

She lives upon the river isle
Where blow the lilies, mile on mile –
Although she hasn’t left awhile,
Not even to ride out in style
To dance with knights in Camelot.
She keeps within her ivied keep,
Unseen by those who sow and reap,
As if a hundred years asleep –
The Lady of Shalott.

So life goes on and seasons pass,
As sheep are grazed upon her grass –
And any surplus we amass
Is carted off by weight and class
To market-day in Camelot.
But any profits from the trade
Are not for those who turned the spade –
Instead, our labours all must aid
The Lady of Shalott.

I’ve heard it said by those who say,
That she is cursed in some strange way
To never see the livelong day,
To never be allowed to stray
To many-towered Camelot.
All the world, they claim, must pass
Reflected in her looking-glass,
And what she sees, so weaves that lass –
The Lady of Shalott.

But as I dig another ditch
And break my back to till her pitch,
I think about my Lady’s hitch –
And slowly I can feel an itch
That none can scratch in Camelot.
If she is cursed, then who’s the hexer ?
Why would they choose this to vex her ?
Such a fiddly yoke bedecks her,
Lady of Shalott.

And do I really set much store
In curses, blights, and ancient lore ?
They’ve tried to pull this stuff before
To keep them rich and keep me poor,
In temples all through Camelot !
My Lady, is it really charms
That keeps you warm and safe from harms,
While we must shiver on your farms,
Oh Lady of Shalott ?

So what would happen if you leave,
Or look direct at what you weave ?
Just who would care and who would grieve ?
You are, I fear, the most naive
Of any girl in Camelot !
But take a chance, and take it swift,
And you may find the world will shift –
And if you die, at least you lived !,
My Lady of Shalott.

So Mistress, step out, if you dare,
From out your crack’d and gilded lair,
And pull your weight and crop your share,
And help us haul it to the fair
That summons all of Camelot.
Or else, when comes the Winter’s freeze,
And I need fuel and have no trees –
I’ll raid, and burn, your tapestries,
Oh Lady of Shalott !

This of course is a take of the famous Tennyson epic.

Summer Block

clear glass cup with fruits and water inside beside slice fruitas
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Summer Block

Ah, the lazy days of Summer:
Long and languid afternoons,
When cares are short and drinks are tall,
And lives are endless honeymoons.
So who would sweat on metric feet,
To try to pen a tricky rhyme ?
Just close the jotters, pencils down,
And let it go.  It’s not the time.

On such a scorching hummer
When our cares are short and drinks are tall,
And lives are endless honeymoons,
Then no-one thirsts for verse at all.
So let it go, it’s not the time –
Just close the jotters, pencils down.
Our brains would only overheat.
If assonance should raise a frown.

On long and languid afternoons,
Just who would sweat on metric feet
When no-one thirsts for verse at all ?
Our brains would only overheat.
Don’t try to pen a tricky rhyme
On such a scorching hummer.
No assonance should raise a frown
On the lazy days of Summer.



The Bard & I

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime
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The Bard & I

Ah Will, we were not meant for one another,
For ours is not a marriage of the minds.
What can I say, my literary brother ?
We’re poets both, but very diff’rent kinds.
So yours the fame and wealth and adulation,
And mine the anonymity and debt;
But then again, we glean our exhortation
From very diff’rent mistresses, I bet !
For I could never write your lines, nor wish to –
And you, I’m sure, could never capture mine.
So you be Zeus, and I shall try for Vishnu –
And keep my metre dry, and hold the line.
And if some day I reach your heady skill –
I’ll have the way – but always lack the will.



After the Third War

agriculture cereal clouds countryside
Photo by David Bartus on


After the Third War

…………………(in response to JB Priestley’s Summer Day’s Dream)

Take your modern world away,
We have no need for it at all.
We grow our food in nature’s way,
And she shall fill our barns come fall.
So drive your cars and tractors hence,
We have no fuel to fill their tanks.
Our horses make a lot of sense,
And need no complicated cranks.

My friends, you wish for isolation,
That is clear:
You shun all outside integration,
Shun its news and stimulation,
Make your parishes your nation
Year on year.
But when you lose the progress spark
It always leads to Ages Dark –
You long to gag and leave behind
The sharp and seeking human mind,
All out of fear.

And whence will come the steel and clay
That won’t be found within your chalk ?
When all your ploughshares rust away,
I hope it’s not too late to talk.
I guess your way,
I guess your way must heaven seem
When summer days are all a dream,
But our advance,
But our advances must prevail
When winters bite and harvests fail.

For if you doubt our modern age,
Then do not shun us, but engage !
And if you have a better way,
Then spread the word and save the day !
Don’t mutter to yourselves with glee
Oh Lord, what fools these mortals be !

Your modern world will not be missed –
We have our God and have our seers.
We do not need your scientists,
Your doctors or your engineers.
We have some books, we have some plays,
And old guitar or homemade fife;
We paint and act and sing our days,
And have no need for modern life.

My friends, you wish for simple pleasures,
That is clear:
Finding in your simple measures
Honest tasks and homespun leisures.
All bestowing rustic treasures
Year on year.
But shrugging off our salaries
Will also lose our galleries,
By shunning our committee fights,
You lose our films and city lights,
All out of fear.

And whence will come the medicine
That won’t be found within your herbs ?
Before the pestilence can win,
Pray let your Eden be disturbed !
We’ll still be here,
We’ll still be here by south and north,
To take you back and bring you forth.
So look for us,
So look for us by east and west,
If you should quit your priestly quest.

For if our modern world offends,
Pray do not hope for dreams, my friends
For fairies will not feed the poor,
Nor kill the germs nor mine the ore.
So grab the future, all she’s worth,
And put a girdle round the Earth.



This is a little-remembered play of Priestleys, edging into science-fiction while at the same time imagining a rural idyll that rejects modernity, with plenty of references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream thrown in.




St Jerome Writing


The trouble with writing poetry is that there are far more writers of it than there are readers.  So pity the poor editors of literary journals who actually do have to read the stuff.  I can just imagine the brief slump they must experience when opening up my latest submission to find that yet again I have insisted of bloody rhyming.  So I thought I’d do the decent thing and punt them all into the cloud out of the way, where only bored googlers and desperate teachers will be in danger of finding them.

(I ought to say that two poetry websites have featured my in the past: Snakeskin and Lighten Up Online.  Thanks, guys !)

Anyway, I’ll try and upload a new one every few days.  Some of them might even be good.