One god, two gods,
Sitting on a cloud,
But we killed them both for dead
When their wrath was disallowed.
Three gods, four gods,
Lurking in the gaps,
But we winkled all them out
When we stole their thunderclaps.
Five gods, six gods,
List·en·ing to prayers,
But we did them out of jobs
When we always dodged the fares.
Dead gods, fled gods,
Nothing left to show;
Five thousand down,
And one more to go.



Shall-he Shanty

Jewel of the Amazon by Stephen Jesic


Shall-he Shanty

One man drifts upon a door –
Too far from home, too far from shore,
Without supplies, without an oar.
Or so I’ve heard it told.
Both he and raft, three days ago,
Were languishing upon the deck –
Now all the rest are ten below,
And he by chance escaped the wreck.
Instead, he gets to starve and stare
     At water, water ev’rywhere !
Beneath the fierce, unflinching skies,
He waits his death and hungry flies –
When a shadow crosses salt-caked eyes…
A figurehead in gold !

So weigh the anchor, hitch the stay,
I’ll blow you back to yesterday –
We’re all adrift and outwards bound,
An island’s waiting to be found.
So dance with the carambola,
Come to my isola of the giorno prima,
Ev’ry newborn gleamer.

One man drifts below a prow
Too far from home – but safer now,
If he can only climb somehow…
And so our yarn sets sail.
Up top, he finds no sign of life,
Yet down below are cages crammed
With birds, and beasts, and flowers rife:
As live as he, and just as damned.
A hold to behold !  All brought
     From out the land he sees to port.
But where are they who stocked this store ?
If only he could swim ashore,
To the island of the day before…
Ah, therein hangs a tale…

So drop the anchor, be becalmed,
We’re porpoised, parroted and palmed
In paradise, in distant climes
A long long way from Greenwich times.
So dance with the mola mola,
Come to my isola of the giorno prima,
Ev’ry shipworn dreamer.


This is based on the opening of Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before.



1% Inspiration

close up photography of crumpled paper
Photo by Steve Johnson on


1% Inspiration

I wonder, does it start with hoofbeats,
Or the rush of flapping wings ?
The hiss of gas ?  A perfect fifth ?
Or pistons, switches, cogs and springs ?
That moment when the muse comes calling
Bringing insight in her wake –
She gifts her targets sparks and notions,
Just to see what they will make.

And some folks are raptured, and some folks are seizured,
And some folks will cherish and others will fear it –
And I can but look on and ponder their wonder
And try not to envy their genius spirit.
And if I can’t join in their synching,
Can’t speak in their tongues, or can’t waltz in their dance,
At least I can urge them to write down their thinking,
And not to leave mem’ry to chance –

So scurry and scramble to get the sprites pinned,
That jingle or joke or invention or gen –
For how many mousetraps are lost to the wind,
When somebody spoke or for the want of a pen ?

I’ve long since stopped expecting the tap,
Or the draught from angels’ wings
I’ll never be a chosen one
Who gets to feel such precious things
For I am nothing transcendental –
Too much static on the line.
I’m not complaining – so it goes,
I guess we can’t all be divine.

So I have to prod it, and I have I to wring it,
And I have to plead with my brain for a vision –
For I can but whittle upon some idea,
And patiently bring it, I hope, to fruition.
But keep chasing down on that inkling,
And tinker about in the back of the mind –
And most of all, keep turning up at the thinking –
Ah well – back to the grind.

Your whispers and trances may get your thoughts firing,
But mine just meander and dawdle and wend.
My only damn flashes are sparks in my wiring –
But maybe my work is as good in the end ?



Trinity Cubed

The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini


Trinity Cubed

Christians pray to three gods:
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
But ’tis the Cath’lics have the most;
“The Virgin’s ours” they like to boast,
“We’ve Cherubs, Seraphs, Angel host.
A God of Bread to feast upon,
And wash Him down with bloody toast.”
And then there’s Saints, the list is long,
Like Seer Paul and Pete the Strong;
But strangest yet amongst this throng:
A Pope who cannot e’er be wrong.



A Rose by Any Other Name but This

The Brutal Murder of Jezebel at the Hands of the Baying Mob by Gustave Doré


A Rose by Any Other Name but This

Atheist parents do not breed Jezebels,
Their daughters are precious, not pawns in a game.
Atheist parents may mock what the Bible tells,
But that is no reason to resurrect the name.
It may sound pretty, and the Bible may teach slander,
But why would any parent choose a stripper’s name to brand her ?

Atheist parents do not breed Jezebels,
Their daughters are Marys and Sarahs and Janes.
Atheist parents may not fear burning hells,
But that is no reason for bully-bate names.
It may sound pretty, but it’s home to tarts and brats:
For we cannot name our children in the way we name our cats.



The Parable of the Mustard Seed



The Parable of the Mustard Seed

“The Kingdom of God is a mustard seed,
The leastest of all of the seeds of the earth,
From out which the greatest of herbs shall be freed,
With branches so stout for the birds to find berth.”

“But Master, are then not the seeds of the duckweed,
Or even the orchid, or poppy, or rue,
Yet ever more tiny, yet too they succeed ?
From dust on the breeze, so the wilderness grew.
Whyfore is mustard so sacred ?
If smallness is wanted, when all’s said and done,
Then surely the Kingdom of God should be second to none ?”

“Then look at the size of the mustard and poppy:
The former grows five times the height of the latter.
Within such a speck lies so giant a crop, see,
And we should remember that, next time we scatter.”

“But Master, if increase in size is so vital,
Then why not the mulberry, grapevine or cane ?
There surely are worthier plants for the title,
For look at the growth of the poplar and plane !
Whyfore is mustard so sacred  ?
The not-tallest herb from the not-smallest seed.
And surely the Kingdom of God is a tree, not a weed ?”

“But those other plants are not found in the garden;
Their seeds are but sown by the wind, not the hand.
And mustard grows tall and its branches will harden,
So even the nests of the birds can it stand.”

“But Master, the mustard grows tall in late summer,
And then, as an annual, each winter it dies.
When nesters are building, this plant’s still a comer,
And so till the fledglings have long filled the skies.
Whyfore is mustard so sacred ?
For any birds perching must cause it to shake.
But surely the Kingdom won’t tremble and quake ?
Why then make mustard so sacred ?
Here till the autumn, but dead in its wake.
But surely the Kingdom of God should not wither and break ?”