How Now, Tao Dao ?

chinese guardian lions
Photo by Magda Ehlers on


How Now, Tao Dao ?
Taoist, I’m told, should be said with a ‘D’,
As ‘Daoist’, as voiced in the throat.
By why must it be then written with ‘T’,
To wear both a cloak and a coat ?

Perhaps the Chinese say it between,
But English is spoken by English tongues –
We must decide which way we lean,
And write it like the word is sung.



The Name of the Wind

Wind by Vladimir Kush


The Name of the Wind

Siroccos blow across the Sahara,
North from the desert to the inland sea,
Where Mistrals meet them, off the Alps,
To buffet the coasts of France and Italy.
The Helm roars in from Winter Norway,
And the Bora from the Steppes out East,
But most of all, from gale to zephyr,
None can blow as often as the beast –
From out the West, with not a name but Westerly,
He comes, and comes, and rarely drops for long.
He’s blowing turbines, hats and weathervanes,
From Summer-teasing soft to stormy-strong –
Bringing the Atlantic in his clouds,
And laden schooners in his wake,
From Kerry landfall to the Humber,
He’s the one for whom the branches shake.
In truth, we rarely name our winds in Britain,
Save to tell us where they’ve been –
And Westerlies are born on ocean-blue,
In cloudy-grey, to keep our island green.



Insults are Written by the Winners

the last laugh


Insults are Written by the Winners

Don’t call me a philistine,
That’s racist !
Don’t call me a vandal or a thug.
Don’t think just because you’re lower-case-ist
That these words don’t have history to lug,
That each was once intended to be place-ist,
And keeping up old rivalries is strictly for the mug.

Or am I being studenty and smug ?
The slandered tribes are all long gone,
They’ve changed and merged and all moved on,
And only pedants care enough to bug.
Of course, the history involved
Is fascinating to behold,
Yet language doesn’t care, as it sweeps it all beneath the rug
But if you disagree, that’s fine,
You’re free to call me philistine –
And even though I’m not, I’ll only shrug.







Who burned down the Temple of Artemis ?
“I,” said a man, “I did it for fame.
I am proud to be the arsonist,
Forcing the world to know my name !
Whistle me in nervous breathiness,
Whisper me between your cheeks.
You’ll all remember Limpfart of Ephesus !
Carry my name on the wind where it sneaks !
Toot my horn till my name reeks !”







So, two ohs, and an umlaut to boot –
Or is it four ohs, of differing size ?
Who knows ?
Is the e long, or is short, or mute ?
You might as well pray to the skies !
How many syllables ?  Which one to stress ?
Your answer’s a guess –
Claims to an ancient authority, false and unwise –
That way, pedantry lies.

So is he a guard for a bear (a big bear)
As says his main star ?
Or a plough ?
The Greeks said it’s really the cart of a cow.
Well, I see a plough, or dipper, or cart,
But how in all of this heavenly art
Is that a bear ?  (And black, or white, or brown ?)
Enough !  I swear, I’ve had it with this clown !
I just want to say his noun !

If we take a telescope to the second O,
And focus in on its second moon,
The one at five-past noon –
Will it show us satellites of its own ?
And could we keep on zooming in
To find another fractal clone ?
Like double stars, like Gemini,
There’s more than meets the naked eye –
Unpronounceable, but not alone.



Swimming Head

A Mola mola Relaxes… by Paul Nicklen

Swimming Head

The Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola
Why the adjective at all ?
Why the need for double mola ?
Is it cos they’re so un-small ?
Just a puffed-up pufferfish,
And over-named to double-check –
It moons around encumbered
By this millstone round its neck.
And yet, it turns out, other sunfish
Share the genus and the name –
And even unrelated fish
Are rashly called the same.
So fair enough, the ocean kind
Is thusly dubbed to be precise.
And as for mola-of-the-Mola –
It’s so good, they named it twice.



Trees in Threes

flight landscape nature sky
Photo by Pixabay on


Trees in Threes

Alda Oldman the alderman
(Or Alda the Elder, as she is called),
Once planted an alder (or was it an elder ?)
That stands so bold (or stands so bald ?)

Linda Limey loves her lime tree –
Maybe citrus, maybe not,
But looks sublime in Summertime
When limelit in its limestone pot.

Poplar black and willow white,
I think that I have got that right –
But easy to confuse them, each,
Like copper birch and silver beech.




six !
Six Legged Knobbly Starfish by StormFall



To my mind, at least,
For all their charms,
A starfish only has five arms –
Or fewer, I guess – the occasional fours –
Those species (or mutants ?) from stranger shores.
And then there are those that have been in the wars,
And still clearly lack what they’ve yet to grow back.
But more than five, at least to me,
Must clearly be a sea-star, see ?
Now, I have no idea how far or near they are,
The -fish and -star
If species with x-number limbs displayed
Are brothers-in-arms within a clade ?-
Or whether an extra arm or three
Is all within the family ?
But since the urchins are based on fives,
And brittles bear fives too,
It does seem like the multiples are something new.

But when you tell me not to call them
(Any of them) as starfish,
I’m sorry, I cannot grant your wish.
You claim that they ain’t fish in fact,
They broke off from the stem before
The backbone got I on the act.
But what the hell ?  There’s plenty more,
Like jelly-, silver- and cray-fish by the score,
Which are even further from the core !
The word is Anglo-Saxon
And it simply meant a creature from the sea,
But now you claim the taxon
Is whatever you decide that it must be.
And then you say that we are fish as well,
It’s in our genes, you tell –
Well yes, but then the fishy way you preach
Is stinking up your speech.
I know that I’m a vertebrate –
That I am closer to a lungfish
Than a lungfish is to any trout.
But that’s not what I’m on about –
It’s not the science that I hate,
But how you cannot separate
The mathematic from the ev’ryday.
So would you really try to ban the lot ?
The sea-horse is no horse, you say.
(The hippopotamus is not
A real river-horse, of course –
But that’s in Greek, so seemingly okay.)

You want me to favour the sea-star for starfish,
So even the fives will henceforth be
Now sea-stars in perpetuity.
But that still makes no sense to me –
They may not be strictly fishes like we are,
But stranger by far to name them after a star !




girl with towers
Finding Myself by Cassia Arellano



Skyla McLeod, her parents named her,
Hoped to shoot her to the top –
Alas, the ev’ryday has claimed her,
Clipped her wings and let her drop.
She’s just a loser in the sky,
Although she knows it’s all a mock –
For now she only reaches high
By living in a tower block.

Skyla McLeod in her fairy-tower,
Watching the tiny people go,
Pretending that she has the power
To interrupt their to and fro.
But still, her life is not so grim,
When comes her prince, at the end of his shift –
Then she’ll let down her hair for him,
And he’ll ascend (though in the lift).



Mr and Ms



Mr and Ms

If ev’ry man’s a Mister,
Then ev’ry woman is a Miss.
Yes, even those in wedded bliss –
For single, married, we don’t care.

To ev’ry bro and sister,
We each have names, as is the norm –
Yet when we need the family form,
To speak it naked feels too bare –

So Mister and Miss are all we need
To speak to ev’ryone we meet –
For ev’ry face on ev’ry street
Is either Mister or a Miss.

I guess some egos have to feed –
But Baron, Father, Dame or Sir,
I couldn’t care what you prefer –
We each are only this.

Doctors, Captains, Highnesses,
And Justices and Reverends,
This snobby title-tattle ends,
So stick it up your upmanships.

We’re equals all, not more and less,
We’re Miss and Mister, first and last,
We’re colleagues of a single caste –
For life’s too short for sporting pips.



The title should of course be pronounced as ‘mister and miss’.