altered book
Altered Book by Isobelle Ouzman



I read the most wonderous novel last year –
So moving, so thoughtful, so witty and sheer.
I think you’d enjoy it – it’s somewhere round here.
So feel free to borrow, I’ll bring it tomorrow –
It ain’t gloom and sorrow, but will raise a tear.

I don’t mean to hassle or bug or cajole,
But these are the hands that have touched at my soul –
Yet all of their beauty is wholly unknown –
These pages get lonely to wander alone.

I heard the most marvellous album last year –
So rich and inspired, so quirky and queer.
I think you’d enjoy it – the vocals are clear.
I’ll lend you the disk if you’re willing to risk –
The tempo is brisk, but it long haunts the ear.

I don’t mean to pressure or preach or ensnare,
But these are the songs that assuaged my despair –
I long to belong, to be part of the show –
And know there are others who know what I know.

I saw the most glorious movie last year
So moody and epic, so lush and sincere
I think you’d enjoy it – oh, please volunteer !
By all means I’ll lend what I sure recommend,
For what kind of friend would not loan out their gear ?

I don’t mean to labour or pester or dwell,
But these are the visions that saved me from hell.
They may not be normal, they may not be rife –
But maybe, just maybe, they may change your life.

I’m waiting to hear what you thought of my dears,
Waiting for rapture or rancour or sneers,
Waiting for days and for weeks and for years –
Until they come sheepishly unopened back to me –
And still you will miss how remiss this appears.

I don’t mean to censure or grumble or such,
For you are my friends who have given so much –
Yet still you don’t think or else still you don’t care
When you once again leave me with nothing to share.



Squeal For Me

man using brown and black electric guitar while singing
Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com


Squeal For Me

Get back to Soul Town, you Lowboy !
This life ain’t no place for raw baritones –
Cos rock is for shrieking, not groans.

For all of you boomers – no joy.
Basses have four strings and never play cords –
Your earthquakes are cannons, not swords.

Metal might give you employ.
Growling and gabbling their horror and death –
Their technique is wheezing, not breath.

Blues are so grumpy, they cloy.
Whinging as low as the gutter, those swines –
But rock ain’t for whimpers, but whines.

Now disco’s the real McCoy
Falsetto dudes, but too poppey and lite –
They ain’t got much power, just height.

Your throbbing would really annoy.
There’s nobody rocking the joint from down there.
You rumble and roar, but we blare.

I think you’re out to destroy.
Rock is the lightning  – not thunder, not blunt.
We bellow and howl, we don’t grunt.

So drop the guitar, it’s no toy,
But a hazardous tool for no baritones –
Cos if she goes off then your tremors and drones
Won’t master this Helen of Troy.
But scream at the girl and she screeches and moans,
She hollers in harmony, pumping those cones.

So save all your moping for quinoa and soy,
For rock is too out-there for subtle and coy –
Our vocals jar teeth.  Your vocals jar bones.



Con Occhi Aperti

crimson king
In the Court of the Crimson King by Barry Godber – the subject of which is clearly just having a singalong.


Con Occhi Aperti

If I don’t close my eyes when I sing,
Don’t think that it means that I don’t mean a thing,
When all that it means is I don’t close my eyes.

It don’t mean I don’t know the words,
Or when comes the moment to harmonize thirds,
It don’t mean I’m frightened of botching the song,
By notching too low for the highs.
I’m just like the whole throng of songbirds,
Whose eyelid ain’t tightened and eyeballs are watching,
Whenever they sweet vocalize.
If I don’t close my eyes up to sing
It just means I don’t close my eyes.

If I don’t move my lips when I pray,
Then don’t get to saying I still must be praying –
I could just be thinking away.
If I don’t snap my fingers in time with the beat,
If I don’t nod my head and I don’t tap my feet,
Don’t think I don’t got it,
Or done gone and shot it,
If I keep my feelings discreet.

I don’t need to wring out no tears to sing out,
Cos weeping – that just ain’t my thing.
It just means, besides, that I don’t close my eyes,
When I don’t close my eyes when I sing.



Hello Aeronautic

flying vee


Hello Aeronautic

Astride your Flying Vee,
You beckons me
To step right up and climb aboard –
The bass is thrubbing low,
It’s time to go,
Ignition with your power-chord.
At once we lose the crowds
To walk on clouds,
As smoke comes billowing beside –
You swoop me low and high,
We are the sky,
We buckle-up and take the ride.




An original Minimoog Model D from 1971.



They may be named for Robert Mogue,
But that name never suited –
So when his synths first came to vogue,
The ‘Mogue’ was quickly booted.
For now the great subconscious found
A name as funky as their sound –
We only had to hear their fugue,
To know we had to call them Moog !



From the First Notes of Dawn to the Last Chords of Dusk

apollo & marsyas
Apollo & Marsyas by Pietro Perugino


From the First Notes of Dawn to the Last Chords of Dusk

Praise Apollo, Sun and Light !
Praise the hand-harp glorifier !
Plays them strings like dynamite,
Plays so far he’s outasight.
Bringing on the dawn with its mojo rising,
Day-long solos from his nuclear fire –
And as for his vocals, you should hear the guy sing !
From early-morning blues to evensong choir.
He plucks and strums it,
Twangs and drums it,
Whistles and hums it till his rays expire.

But to Marsyas the shepherd,
Dusk was no time to retire –
So he heckled undeterred
This yawning, lightweight, early-bird.
“Eager rising, my premising
Says is most unhealthy and absurd.
Dawn despising, my advising
Says is only nat’ral and preferred.
For those of us by music stirred
Think morning is a dirty word.
And what bards view his skies of blue or clouds of white ?
Or ever gets to see Apollo’s pyre ?
We rise with the lunar satellite
To score the shadows, sing the night,
And likewise dress in black attire.”

“So a challenge I declare,
Apollo,” said this acolyte.
“Dude, I gotta tell you square
I love your image, dig your hair,
So please don’t think that all my criticising
Is intended as a jealous slight –
But you, without your even realising,
Lost, I say, your promise and your bite.
Let us both play, if you dare,
Before the Muses, maidens fair,
To blow their fuses, lay them bare.
And they shall judge between us, good or dire:
Who’s all that or who just cruses,
Who’s got nout and who’s got flair.
(And man, those spacey chicks can sure inspire.)”

Thus the play-off was before
These groupies egging on the fight.
Order settled by the straw:
The kid played first.  (He’d lost the draw.)
This farmboy fresh from out the shire
Lets his magic flute ascend and soar
As swooping melodies explore
And drift in phrases reaching ever higher –
Never shrill, but weightless flight,
Aloft, a-dream, their souls alight,
He sates their ev’ry appetite.
Then comes a shift, the notes downpour
As raining from the sky they roar –
Led on, led on: this pilot-piping flyer,
Who brings them home with themes comprising
Of a thousand heights or more.
Surely now the gold he’s sizing –
How can old Apollo match this score ?

Picking up his trusty lyre,
Tuning up the strings a nock,
Stroking soft each tension-wire,
So he turned to his defier:
“Son,” he said, “for all you mock,
You’re not just crock, I’m no denier:
Prince of Pipes – the Fluting Jock.
Now, Mister, go home to your flock –
For I am King, and you will call me Sire.”
Suddenly by some strange sleight
His strings were ringing loud and bright,
The very air his amplifier.
He could make that catgut weep, and tenderly suspire.
Now the god was energising
Thrashing up the fahrenheit
Bass-enticing, tenor-prising
Vaporising kryptonite.
Squealing strings – discordant crier,
Then teased from the aftershock
A melody so pure and sprite:
The long-lost chord to which we all aspire.
“Son, for all your poppycock
You really tried, you weren’t just schlock
I’m almost sad to clean your clock –
But this gig’s mine, you neophyte,
For you might fly, but I can rock !

Waiting for the girls to sum it,
Who would get the nul point blight ?
Not our Marsy, for he’s won it !
Blow me down, the kid has done it !
He made all the dames ignite –
Faced the music, overcome it.
But this god won’t take the plummet:
“Just a moment, squire.”
Apollo turned his harp capsizing,
Upside-down he plays, reprising
All he played before entire.
“Can you do the same ?” came his enquire.
“Course I can’t !” the boy said, wising
To his sudden shaky plight.
“Flutes don’t work like that, as you know quite.”
“Okay, then, no need for spite,”
Apollo said, “I’ll turn mine right.”
And so again he played his harp – but still the artful tryer,
Now his voice was synchronizing,
Sweetly singing, improvising –
Such a voice !  And who can not admire ?
Swiftly was the kid cognising
How he’s losing out his prizing,
But his protests only mire –
For, Apollo makes surmising:
“Do you not use your breath to expedite
The notes within your flute ?  And might
Not I use breath to best excite
My strings, with my sweet harmonising ?”

Then came to Apollo’s aid
The Muses, (each a sweet-faced liar).
Soon the lad was cast in shade,
As Sunshine charmed each fickle maid.
They chose again their jollifier,
And upon the brow divine were laurels laid.
Apollo rent his godly ire:
Had that shepherd bound and flayed
He flogged the lad himself, to see him slayed.
Strip by strip his agonising
Sucked his wind and gasped his breathing tight –
The breath he blew with, this chastising,
Stole away forever, ev’ry smite.
“All this for a flute” he whispered as he paid,
“It is too much.  Your lashstrap is a critic’s blade.”
At this Apollo brought respite,
The execution briefly stayed,
To answer him on how he’d strayed:
“You thought my Sun was old, must surely tire,
Yet with age comes cunning and desire:
When we dim, we fight on smarter, ruthless, slyer.
It’s only talent makes the grade –
It ain’t what notes you blow, it’s how they’re played.”



A Song for the Songless

audio equipment indoors instrument
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


A Song for the Songless

They sing in the streets and they sing in the bars,
They sing in the churches and trawlers and stores,
They sing in their homes and they sing in their cars,
They sing in the boardrooms and sing on the floors:
The bachelor’s anthem to conquest,
The jilted’s lament to regret,
The sweet bridal hymns of the swan-dressed,
The beggarman’s blues and the barber’s quartet.
Not always, of course, will they court with the air,
For this ev’ryday life is a spoken affair;
But the turn of a phrase or some random percussion
Will start their intoning and stop their discussion.
Their melodies sparkle, of course,
Their voiceboxes throb with a pitch never hoarse,
Their larynxes warble at source,
Their vocals ring loud as their lungs bring the force.
And do I not envy them, do I not bruise,
Do I not see in them something much greater:
As angel and troubadour, siren and muse –
And if they speak now, well, they’re sure to sing later

I speak in the street and I talk in the bar,
I sleep in the pews and I queue in the banks,
I laugh in my home and I shout in my car,
I sigh in the shower and whinge with the ranks.
And never give voice to the op’ra.
And never enjoin with the choir.
And never partake with the pop’lar.
And never sing lower and never sing higher.
And often, of course, there is no beat or chord,
For this ev’ryday life is in prose and unscored.
But a name or a squeak, and the world is soon scaling –
And flaunting the shame of my harmonic failing.
My melodies waver askew,
My voicebox is mono, my pitch is untrue,
My larynx is cloyed-up with glue,
My vocals are strangled, there’s nothing to do.
But don’t you dare pity me, don’t you dare hoot,
Don’t you dare see me as anything lesser:
As indolent, insolent, cripple or mute.
I need no more shame and I need no confessor.

They sing in the streets and they sing in the bars,
They sing in the nurseries, sing in the field,
They sing for their supper and sing for the stars;
They sing, and the world for that moment is healed.
I’ll never equate them, I’ll never succeed them.
I try not to hate them, I certainly need them.
My vocal chords never ring true when I pluck –
I guess that’s genetics.  I guess that’s dumb luck.