Once Upon a Midnight Dreary by Gustave Doré



Whenever I’m stumped for an effortless rhyme,
Whenever the words won’t fall easy,
When wheezing about on the gravely climb –
So that’s when the words come to tease me;
Late-night linguistical lethargies seize me,
Whenever the trumps are the harder to find.
And oozing from creases all over my mind
Come scuttle the lazy, the sham and resigned:
“Who needs a poem to rhyme ?” so they whisper,
“Nobody else is much bothered these days.
You labour at making all endings the crisper
But is it all worth it, the pittance it pays ?
ry poet, from preacher to lisper
Has long since rejected this overgilt craze.
Why must it be you who won’t flinch at their goosing ?
Still clinging to structures when others are loosing.
Oh, haven’t you seen all the standards reducing ?
And haven’t you seen all their rhythmless fame ?
All of the while, so your petty obtusing,
Is leaving you sleepless and out of the game.”
And so on, and so on.  I hear them, I hear them;
At three in the morning, it’s hopeless to clear them.
For all of their carping and mocking and chiming,
And trying, so trying to foul and coerce.
But still my resistance I’m loading and priming
To shoot down their posy and prosy-like verse.
If only, if only I unearth some rhyming,
Some trove of concordance to echo my timing,
Some anything, anything with the right sounding –
Some something to stifle my wheedle’ing head.
Something to root for, to bring their confounding,
Something of proof that will shutter their hounding,
Anything splendid and outright astounding –
Anything quick, or the voices will spread !
I must end the poem, I must end the pounding,
To let this poor poet at last go to bed !

Index of First Lines



Index of First Lines

I just can’t think who wrote it,
And I never learned its name.
But I know it begins
With a line about sins;
Or maybe a line about shame.

I know I used to quote it,
But it’s long since slipped away.
But I know at its head
Is a line about Fred,
Or maybe a line about Ray.

I always meant to note it,
But I let the words grow faint.
But I know at its start
Is a line about art,
Or maybe a line about paint.

My mem’ry just can’t float it,
For I’ve racked yet can’t recall
But I know at its lead
Is a line that I need –
Just that line, just that first line is all.

Sex & Death



Sex & Death

“Sex and death are the only things that can interest a serious mind.”
– W B Yeats

Expunge from mind your blue-remembered hills,
Put out your tyger tyger burning bright,
Dig up your host of golden daffodils,
And walk no more in beauty like the night.
Don’t take the golden road to Samarkand,
Or raise a lamp beside a golden door,
Don’t meet with trav’lers from an antique land,
Or laughing fellow-rovers anymore !
Ignore the stately pleasure-dome,
Forget the lays of ancient Rome,
Don’t hear the steeple peeling its half-chime.
No Raven or ascending Lark,
No Jumblies or the hunted Snark,
In rose-red cities half as old as time.
Don’t fill the unforgiving minute
With a nightingale or linnet,
Hiawatha or Macavity.
And wish not cloths of Heaven,
Nor for Player Queens or Seven-Woods,
And do not rise and go to Innisfree.



Dusty Jackets

pile of assorted novel books
Photo by Min An on


Dusty Jackets

If we can’t judge a book by its cover,
Then doesn’t that just tell us that their marketing is junk ?
Amateur and changing with their ev’ry new edition –
How can they hope to build a brand when faced with corp’rate bunk ?
So why are all these authors acquiescing to the bland,
And hiding all their bindings ?, shied away behind such flimsy card
That creases up and tatters through the simple act of reading.
You wouldn’t catch a band conceding for such vagaries unkind,
That leave their babies ripped and scarred
Cos publishers won’t go the extra yard.
After all, who thinks that Sgt Pepper should be redesigned ?
Or Dark Side of the Moon, perhaps, or Bad, or Nevermind ?



News Snooze Cues Muse Schmooz

selective focus photography of two orange drinks
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on


News Snooze Cues Muse Schmooz

I met her in the silly season:
Ace reporter Lisa Leeson –
Met her in the Summer, as it moved from high to late.
She said she newly had the time
For chilling with a gin and lime,
And meeting with a stranger for a secret steamy date.
Until the real news arrived,
She churned-out waffle, faffed and skived,
To dodge the z-list luvvie-spotting at the village fete.
And so we spent the Summertime
Away from wars and wonks and crime,
And nothing went on happening in law and trade and state.

Not a love-nest, romp or threesome,
Just myself and Lisa Leeson,
While the ever-greedy presses must procrastinate –
And so we joined our choice of queues,
With not a thought to check reviews,
For visits to the restaurants, the movies and the Tate.
But Summer changed to Autumn brown,
And cooler breezes teased the town,
And she could hear the calling of the headlines and the hate.
So Lisa Leeson bid farewell,
And broke our silly Summer’s spell
By quitting idle drifting for a world that would not wait.

Wherefore by their Fruits ye Shall Know Them

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Wherefore by their Fruits ye Shall Know Them

And thus the Lord saith until Satan
“Testest thou my great creation,
Tempt and trick and lead astray:
The Righteous shall refuse to play,
And know thy works and block thy game,
And firm upon the path remain”

The Devil thought and mused awhile,
Then broke into demonic smile,
And so with cunning, wrote a tome
Forged deep within his hellish home
With hints and winks and clues abound
To show itself corrupt, unsound.

For here was found a petty god
Who knew no mercy, spared no rod,
But set such rules upon His flock
Which He Himself would break and mock,
And kill His own as took His fancy;
Proud and jealous tyrant, He.

Alas, Old Nick does now succeed
Too well, as heretics still bleed,
And signs are begged from out the skies,
As morals spring derived from lies;
The Faithful, though, shall call absurd
This book, and not believe a word.



Literary Voices

books on bookshelves
Photo by Mikes Photos on


Literary Voices

Thrillers whisper throaty in the night,
Romances gush with a weepy sigh,
Memoirs giggle, wits banter bright,
Horrors rapture with a choking cry,
Angry young men are shouting thunder,
Hard-boileds wisecrack – gabbling, hawking,
Folktales regale with a lyrical wonder –
Hark – for the books, the books are talking !