All Chalk, No Cheese

All Chalk, No Cheese

Cowes, atop the Isle of Wight –
East and West, though much the same –
Victorian and seaside-y,
With boats and seagulls running free.
And not a single cow in sight –
No running of the bulls – for shame !
No fording droves between the piers,
No cowboys showing off their steers.
And don’t come here in Cowes Week, right !
It doesn’t live up to its fame !
It’s not the time when bullocks battle,
Not a trace of rutting cattle.
Why then whet our appetite,
To wastes its strange and lively name ?
There are no bovine sacrifices,
Just cream teas at tourist prices.

I know, I know, despite a spine of rolling chalk downs through the Island, Cowes itself sits atop clay…

Warm-Water Waves

Photo by Pixabay on

Warm-Water Waves

Too far North, and barely notice,
North, yet swimming in the seas –
Where beaches should be icy-cold,
There’s ice creams, tans, and mushy peas.
There’s little snowfall on the coast
As far as even Sixty-North,
And days of t-shirt weather stretch
For far beyond the Firth of Forth

It’s crazy how the ocean brings
The Caribbean to the Clyde,
While closer to the Pole than even
Fuego is on the other side,
And Trondheim firmly basks within
Antarctic latitudes,
Yet broadleafs line the verdant fjords
To show their gratitude.

And not just warmth arrives all year, but rain –
And rain it is, not snow –
So Western Europe only works because
Its crops and people grow.
Too far North, and that’s the beauty,
Norther than we’ve any right,
When Winter Moons are long above
And Summer Suns last half the night.

I’ve commented before on how much further North Europe is than North America, at least in terms of their respective population centres. For instance, the Southern point of Hudson Bay lies at the same latitude as London – but whereas the former has polar bears, the latter doesn’t even have them in London Zoo.

The Only Lefty in Poundbury

Cottages in Poundbury by Chris Ison

The Only Lefty in Poundbury

She sits on her first floor balcony,
Overlooking Casterbridge Square,
She sits and sips her Earl Grey tea
In the light West Country air –
Here in her true-blue toytown
Like a tolerated pet,
Her flat dressed-up and she dressed-down,
As she joins the Georgian set.
Dorchester is hard on Hardy –
Thomas, yes, but never Keir,
And the local Labour party
Is about to disappear.
But the class-struggle can still advance
With the taste of the elites –
Should not all workers get the chance
To live in pleasant streets ?
And yes, she’s aware of their breeze-block hearts,
And their ceilings lacking height,
And don’t get her started on glazing bars !
But all-in-all, it does alright.
Developers on best behaviour,
Showing that they can play nice –
But oh, the cost for a little flavour !
Beauty has its bogus price.

Of course, whenever HRH comes by,
She must lay low
As locals swoon and neighbours sigh
At the whole boot-licking show –
And even when it’s safe to leave
And stroll about the place,
The very streets still live and breathe
With his family’s air and grace.
She sees it in the names of roads,
The names of buildings, names of shops,
She hears it in the toady toads
Whose croaking never stops.
But the sad fact is, it’s thanks to him
That there ever was this town –
It may be prim, but never grim,
As sparkly as a crown.
So yes, she knows, for all her gripes,
It’s thanks to him, her joy –
For were it left to lefty types
Then tower blocks ahoy !
She sits on her balcony under the sun
Over the flagstone square –
And curses the Tories, but knows they’ve won –
For she’d rather be here than there.

Go See the Elephant

Armed Forces by Tom Pogson

Go See the Elephant

Hey kid, did I tell of my time in the Gobi,
And the camel that tried to eat my sock ?
Or how ’bout cycling to Nairobi ?
Or the Outback, when it was still Ayres Rock ?

I did ?  Then why’s you still here ?
Just lis’ning to me rabbitting on so ?
I like to see you, but just disappear.
Shouldn’t you have places to go ?

Just walk out the door, right now,
And walk down to end of the block,
Turn left, don’t stop till Curacao,
By way of Seoul and Plymouth Rock.

And when you go, do not look back,
There’s more than enough out there to see.
You’ll come home by a diff’rent track,
By Bloemfontein or Waikiki.

Don’t you wanna hit the road, Jack ?
Mandalay or Timbucktoo ?
I’m too old, I won’t be going back,
But just what’s keeping you ?

Here, take my itchy feet,
Cos I can’t use them, so you must.
And walk them through the desert heat
And wear them out with wanderlust.

Monte Rosa

Monte Rosa

Hamburg built, to take the Germans
Down to Argentina.
A prize of war, she soon was serving
Those who thought the grass was greener.

In her life, she’d carried Jews to Auschwitz,
But that’s over now.
Now she carried demobbed troops about,
A thousand berths from stern to prow.

Renamed for a Cotswolds river,
Some say that’s bad luck –
Fortune, though, would soon deliver
When her new name really stuck.

Under-occupied in Kingston,
Looking for some cash,
A bill in Parliament that worried some
Enough to make a dash.

She didn’t carry most who followed those,
Yet hers the fame –
The right ship at the right time, I suppose,
And with a poet’s name.


Photo by Tom Fisk on


Downriver, below the final bridge,
The last of the swans patrol –
To meet the early terns, who reach
Only this far from their native shoal.
Passing strangers, side-by-side,
Sharing the brackish tide.

Up-ocean, above the muddy flats,
The first of the mussels are found
To meet the sticklebacks and sprats,
On the down-stream, up-bore bound.
Passing currents, slow and wide,
Sharing the brackish tide.

Ghost Town

Coventry architecture before and after images taken from Coventry Now & Then

Ghost Town

You sneer at Dresden’s quaint rebuilding
As oldè-world and fake –
Covering up the brutal past,
Denying us our wake.
But would you rather the concrete of Coventry,
Cancer choking its former bliss ?
For sure, we’ll never forget the War
In ugliness as ugly as this.
The Luftwaffe came and finished the job
That the Council already began,
And one of the prettiest towns in England
Was levelled in line with the Plan.
I hear that Dresden has too many tourists,
So why is there only one ?
It seems we have a ration of beauty,
But blandness will run and run.
The perfect place to film your dystopian nightmares
Or kitchen-sink soaps –
Was ever a town more grey and rain-stained ?,
As the concrete bullies and gropes.
It’s called ‘brutalist’ for a reason –
Cos it’s raw like a wound across the eyes.
And meanwhile Dresden is putting on her ballgown –
Enough masochism – let’s rise !

Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021.

Aurora Australis

Okay, I admit it, the Moon’s far too large and too far South, but you get the idea

Aurora Australis

Way down South, where looking up
Is looking upside down –
The Man in the Moon is wrongside-right,
And the Plough ain’t even in town.
The Dog Star sails above the Pup,
Throughout the Summer sky,
With Betelgeuse kept low at night
And Rigel kicking high.
To Northern eyes, where looking up
Is looking strange and stark –
The Milky Way is far too bright,
The pole is far too dark.

West Country R.P.

Francis Drake by William Holl (?), Thomas Hardy by William Strang and Arthur C Clarke by Donato Giancola

West Country R.P.

Ev’ry -ing is singing,
And ev’ry plosive plodes,
Arrs are round and rhotic –
But not to overload.
Vowels are never clipped
And haitches never drop –
Ays are broad and classy,
And glottals never stop.

London Pebble

London Pebble

I found a fossil in the park today –
An ammonite in iron grey,
Hardly rare, this type of fare,
They get found in their scores –
They all died by their millions
Till they died with the dinosaurs.

But all the rock round here today
Is built on London Clay –
On the scene in the Eocene,
With its lush and tropic shores,
Yet laid down some ten million
After the end of the dinosaurs.

I guess the path on which it sat
Was older than all that.
I guess its gravel had to travel
From who knows where, of course –
He’s an immigrant, like the millions
Coming here since the dinosaurs.

Though I suspect it’s less of an ammonite and more of a snail.