Photo by Adi Perets on


Stage right is my right,
But my right ain’t your right,
So my right is your wrong,
And your long is my height.
But ships have got it sorted out,
No matter which way turned about.

I’m upstage left of down,
I’m out-bound and in-town,
So my step is your kerb,
And your verb is my noun.
But ships have got it followed-through,
Where starboards start and end on cue.

Stage right is my right
To see things through my sight,
So my late is your soon,
With high noon at midnight.
But ships have got it fair and square,
Where port is port, and over there.

Black Fives

Time Transfixed by Uli Mayer, after René Magritte

Black Fives

Puffing into Rugby,
But this loco’s not a pipe,
Shunting on to Inverness,
With giant apples, ripe.
Rolling out of Derby
When the trees are like a fern,
Let’s open up the fire-box,
And watch the tubas burn.
Pulling into Euston,
Where the bowler-hatted rain –
Then chuffing-up at Templecombe,
With clouds above the train
She’s right on time, in ivory black,
But never bright cerise –
The workhorse of the LMS,
From Crewe to mantlepiece.



OO is for Curloo,
U is for Duv,
O is for Swollo and Swon, my love.
M is for Emerald –
Pretty enough.
F is for Fessant and also for Chuff.
N is for Natcatcher,
K is for Kwail,
J is for Pijjon who’s bringing the mail.
I is for Ider,
R is for Ren,
T is for Tarmigan – ta-ta, my hen.

Sons of Milka

The First Discord by De Scott Evans – I’m showing Cain & Abel here because Uz & Buz are inexplicably much overlooked by painters

Sons of Milka

Uz and Buz were brothers,
Way back in the Bible-time,
Who rightly cursed their mother
For her blatant naming-crime.

Uz was older, but Buz was bigger –
“The whole of you is held in me,
Yet I am more than your slight figure,
For you shall never be my B.”

“Not so !” said Uz, “For in the lore
Of old King James, I’ve letters three –
I have an H that stands before,
So they dub me Huz in the KJV !”

So, Uzz and Buzz, or Ooze and Booze ?
Or maybe one of each, who knows ?
And in the end, they got to choose,
But never told us what they chose.


Some example wares of the London Door Company.


I’ve seen too many doors,
And they’re nothing much, just doors –
Just as expected.
I open them, I close them,
Or I pass them by unnoticed,
I’ve turned too many knobs
And I’ve knocked too many knockers
In the gloom,
Yet never thought about them
Till I find I need a way
To leave the room.

I’ve seen too many doors,
Be they oaken, deal, or plywood,
Or cold steel.
I push them and I pull them,
Or I sometimes have to slide them
With a squeal.
I’ve crossed so many thresholds
And I’ve stepped on many stoops,
Both front and aft,
Yet never thought about them
Till I find I need a way
To stop the draught.


Photo by Andrii Lobur on


The European Garden Spider
Bore a name both accurate and dull.
Till some do-gooding Victorian
Decided to give the matter a good old mull –
And, believing truth must always bow
To poetic hyperbole,
He grandly named them all orb-weavers
And wrote to the Times after tea.
Who cares if the webs are as flat as a silk cravat ?,
(Of course, monogrammed).
Should he have named them all plate-spinners ?
Geometry be d-mned !


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


Where do all my socks go
When a fresh set can’t be sourced ?
My pairs may start out married,
But they always end divorced –
Woollen-millers, stocking-fillers,
Full-of-holes or reinforced,
Longs and shorts and blacks and creams –
Like-and-like repel, it seems.
Many lonely-socks are sulking
Limp and curled-up on their tod –
Unloved, unworn, and dresser-skulking,
Each one well-and-truly odd.

Where do all my socks go ?
Onto other people’s feet ?
Too long in drawers they’ve tarried
Now they’re keen to up-and-meet –
They’re soc-hopping, garter-dropping, –
Long-legged jeans keep them discreet.
Sock it to ’em, just for kicks,
The silk, bamboo and cotton-mix.
Whenever mismatched-socks are strutting,
Are they going on a date ?
And when they’re balled-up, are they rutting,
Knitting booties with their mate ?

Future Habitual

Future Habitual

At some point in the future,
I would have laboured ev’ry day –
I would have gone to work and back,
Is what I would will say.
But further in the future,
I would have been retired by then
(But not yet will have go to God),
And I can would be looking back
And I will wondered yet agen
At how such phrases once will sounded odd.

The Future Habitual aspect is a clause of speech that linguists insist does not exist.



The President is dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the Vice,
“I am the next in line,
For the order is precise
And this is my time to shine
A cool head and a steady load.”

But now the Vice is dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the Speaker,
“I am the next in line.
All other claims are weaker
And are junior to mine.
I get to tread the royal road.”

But now the Speaker’s dead.
Who gets the nuclear code ?

“I” said the head of the Senate,
“I am the next in line.
For that’s how the framers pen it –
And their penmanship is fine.
Let it be said, I am bestowed.”

So now the matter’s put to bed,
He gets the nuclear code.

“Wait !” said the new head of state
“Who now is next in line ?
I must appoint a running mate,
A brand new Vice to guard the shrine,
To rule instead if I explode.”

“But hang on, boss” the new Vice said,
“Hand over the nuclear code.

For you are still a Senator,
And only acting next-in-line.
I’m number two, you’re number four –
I clear outrank you, so resign !,
Before the Feds reach panic mode.”

So, now all logic’s fled,
Best hide the nuclear code.

The Curse of the Couplets

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

The Curse of the Couplets

A minister’s office.  There is a knock and the Professor enters.

Ah, professor, good afternoon.
It’s really very good of you to see me quite so soon.

Oh, no trouble, Minister, no trouble at all.
I came the very minute that I first received your call.

Then let me bring you up to speed the problem facing here:
Something has been happening, and something very queer.
Something has affected quite the very way we speak,
It’s spread across the nation within only half a week,
It’s very hard to spot, of course, which makes it all the worse –
But each and ev’ry citizen has started talking verse.

But surely you don’t mean…

Alas, I rather mean I do.

But what then made you realise ?

(on intercom)
Ah, Bridget, tea for two.
(to Professor)
Oh, little things, just nagging doubts.

You thought you had some pests ?

We wanted to be certain, so we ran a batch of tests.
We’ve got our finest boffins out there looking for the source.

But why then did you turn to me ?

It’s time to alter course.
We need to find an antidote, we really can’t delay.
And that is why I called you in…

We’re out of Earl Grey.

Well never mind, well never mind, I’m sure this shall suffice.

Bridget exits.

I really can’t imagine I could give you sound advice.

But you’re our finest scholar, you must surely have some clue ?

Nothing at the moment, I’m afraid.

One lump, or two ?

But are you really certain that we’re talking all in rhymes ?
There hasn’t been a mention in the Telegraph or Times.

We’ve had to keep it hush-hush so as not to cause a panic.
Would you like a ginger-nut ?  Don’t worry, they’re organic.
Of course, it isn’t fatal – no, the country’s not entombed –
It’s just so very curious…

We’re doomed, by God, we’re doomed !

Now not to be alarmist, or to overstate things grossly,
You’d never even know it’s there unless you listen closely
To the steady pitter-patter in the rhythm of each sentence…

We’re doomed, I say !  We must all pray, and beg the Lord’s repentance.

Professor !  Pull yourself together !  I need you now to think;
There must be something, anything, to save us from the brink ?

Wait !  There may be something…the problem is systemic.

The problem is we’ve staring at a bloody epidemic !

The problem is within the brain and its linguistic centre
Now, usually it’s very good at recognising…

Door knock


Bridget enters and clears the tea things.

…the diff’rences in how we speak, but something has confused it.

Shall I clear the paper, too ?

I haven’t yet perused it.

We need to shake it up again, with something quite sublime:
By ending ev’ry sentence with a word that doesn’t rhyme !
Now ev’ryone’s aware that there is nothing rhymes with orange…

I’ve contacted the builders to come and fix the door hinge.

Another word that comes to mind – there’s none to find with chimney.

That Watkins tries to feel my legs – he said I had a trim knee.

There must be more, there must be more – I’m sure we’re safe with plinth.

That gift I need to buy your son – was it guitar or synth ?
I’ve called the milliners – your wife has found her trilby small.
Will there be something else ?

No thanks, I think that will be all.

Bridget exits.

There’s must be more examples, such as anxious, purple, month…

No rhyme, say you ?  That can’t be true !  Why, surely there is…
There is…
Hah !  You’ve done it !  I’ve stopped rhyming.  How can I ever thank you professor ?  Your suggestion will save the country.  Finally, we can stop the rhyme.

That’s alright, Minister.  Any time.