In Kateable Hands

Saint Catherine
St Catherine by Caravaggio


In Kateable Hands

Catherine, Ketevan, Caitlin and Kate.
They’re level and sensible, seemly and straight.
They know how to work and they know how to wait,
Do Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate

I must have met dozens
In neighbours and cousins,
And every one is an Empire State.
They’re clear and collected,
With diction perfected,
All thoroughly practical, thoroughly Kate.

I’ve always thought Catherines seem so contented
So frankly presented,
So fresh and undented.
Now Kates may seem dashful, or rash or unruly,
But deep down, all Kates are still Catherines truly.

Karen and Cathy and Katya and Kate,
They’re never the Average, always the Great.
Never Unready, or Reckless, or Late
Are Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate,

Steadfast and sisterly,
All throughout history
Buttoned and booted and striding their gait.
Laying down winter fruits,
Backbones of institutes,
Anyone getting things done is a Kate.

I’ve always thought ‘Catherine’ sounds so dependable,
Calm and commendable,
Never up-endable.
‘Kate’ sounds diminished, unfinished, and merely,
But secretly Kates are still Catherines really.

Trine, Catrina, Kalena and Kate,
They’re Hekate’s daughters, and carry her trait.
They’re masters of fortune, not victims of fate,
Are Lina and Ina and Cathleen and Kate,
With K or with C,
With a hard or soft T,
They’re Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate.



A Glut of Collective Nouns

elphants standing on brown soil
Photo by Pixabay on


A Glut of Collectives

Some creatures are packs,
Or are flocks, or are nyes,
Or are schools, or are smacks,
Or are swarms, or are cries.
These names are but games,
Be they clowders or clans:
Unheeded, unneeded,
In knots, knobs and spans.

So what are these words for all critters and birds,
With their bands and their gangs and their cohorts and herds ?
Just gaggles of banter and hunches,
To pep up the huddles and bundles and bunches.

And such linguistic fizz is clearly more than farmers made,
With ferrets by the business,
And ponies by the marmalade.

Let no sneer of pedants
All lather and quack:
“It’s army for red ants
And scurry for black.”
A mole-tain of hillocks,
A cotton of wools,
A bollocks of bullocks
And bullshit of bulls.

Just who are these sods who are playing at gods
With their troops and their squads and their plagues and their pods ?
As if we might ever be caring
To credit each cluster and quiver and glaring.

And so their meanings dwindle till the whole safari’s spent,
With kittens by the kindle,
nd ravens by the parli’ment.



Most collective nouns were invented by the Victorians.  It’s what they did.