The Poets’ Almagnac

The Poets’ Almagnac

One more tot and then I’ll start –
My pen’s uncapped and primed,
Indeed it’s been that way all afternoon.
I know my almanac by heart,
With beats precisely timed
And metric feet to dance to ev’ry tune.
It lays it out by grid and chart
Of syllables that chime,
By trochees by the phases of the Moon.
But writing’s such a thirsty art,
Especially when it’s rhymed –
But one more tot and I’ll be starting soon.

Heroic Verse

Viking Axe by Lexx

Heroic Verse

Bloodaxe Books are publishers of poetry –
And what a name !
As though these are the sagas of berserkers
Seeking Thor and fame,
For telling down the trestles of the feasting hall
From lord to knight,
Or singing by the troubadours to mistresses
By candlelight.
Odes to ale and hymns to war,
And saucy wenches by the score –
To lustily recount and roar,
And ready for a fight.
Or razor-sharp in their attacks,
From broadside blasts to cutting hacks –
Their impish imprint swings the axe
To let their verses bite.

All my teenage years I sought
For such a flame –
Till, furnace-wrought, it came !

Not for them, one conjures, the namby-pamby
Hearts on sleeves –
Nor whinging of confessionals,
Or whimsies to the Autumn leaves –
No, these are the words of men of action,
And dames of destiny,
To stir my loins and quick my heart
And never rest in me.
Yet much of what they print is dry –
Their blade is dull, their name a lie –
A rubber-and-ketchup alibi
That’s sorely testing me.
So spare me flabby free-verse faff,
And mopey milksops full of chaff –
I need good craic to blow the gaff
And hone the best of me.

I guess what they do has its place,
But all the same,
It’s such a waste of a name…

Scanning the Last Words of Lines

Nothing to do with the poem, I just thought it a curious name for a nail-polish.

Scanning the Last Words of Lines

Street, white, hand, song – No rhymes there, best move along.
Roots, come, page, near – Shan’t be lurking long ’round here.
Found, sharp, luck, role –  Nothing there to lurch my soul.
Pen, sighed, when, tide – Go on then, I’ll take a ride.

Et Ego in Ego

Photo by Mike on

Et Ego in Ego

Poets: we’re never too subtle or shy –
We’re big on the drama, on even the small days.
The all-knowing pen of the all-seeing I,
In the first-person first, and last, and always.
With a couchful of angst and a sleeveful of heart,
We splinter all meaning, we trample all art –
For we are the masters of words,
And are well-worth the fuss.
Depend upon it, from old boy to upstart –
For all of our sonnets to lovers and birds,
Our verses are all about us.

Calling All Stations

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

Calling All Stations

Enjambment – it’s a nasty little habit
That’s likely to derail the locomotion of your meter –
For lines that run-away are sure to rabbit,
So prose may ride expresses, but the slow train sounds the sweeter.

Yet another poem about poetry, but at least it’s short.  I’ve always been puzzled by where modern poets choose to break their lines, particularly as when they read it out, there’s often no pause whatsoever between the lines.  The verb ‘to rabbit’ is used here in its cockney sense meaning to chatter – nothing to do with running, except the mouth.

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.

In the Nash’nal Int’rest

In the Nash’nal Int’rest

Ev’ry, dammit, ev’ry time
My ev’ry sports a ’postrophe,
You howl and howl my spelling crime
As def’nit’ly catostrophe.
But still they pop extr’ordin’ry,
Dishon’rab’ly, inord’nat’ly,
By lis’ning out for how it’s said
When diff’rently from how it’s read.
So speech shall speak, and I’ll lit’rature obey –
Just deal with it, you soph’mores –  cos the commas stay !

Poetic Truth

The Passion of Creation by Leonid Pasterak

Poetic Truth

You are so wrong, so very very wrong,
To think that rhymes wreck the verse.
Sure, they get used where they don’t belong,
And when ill-used are a curse.
And yes, they take their time to mature
In the life of the poet’s pen –
They cannot be nervous, must always be sure,
And practiced agen and agen.

They write their verses blank and free,
And barely bait the hook;
But Keats and Frost and Tennyson
Can still be grasped by anyone.
They write their verses free and blank,
And barely sell a book;
While Blake and Burns and Betjamin
Can still sell-out and fetch ’em in.

I tell myself, its cos they rhyme –
They hate me that, they hate me that.
I know my verse is in its prime –
They must see that, they must see that.
But still they always get rejected,
While some prosy tripe’s selected.
Must be just how I suspected –
Must be that, it must be that.

The Click

The Click

Ev’rywhere in poetry,
Ev’ryone must show it free –
Jarring, scaring, woe-is-me –
Fashion of the times.
Me, I think their mumbling knows,
Ev’rybody’s writing prose –
But not I, I’m fighting those –
Gotta have my rhymes.
Gotta have my flowitry,
My meenie minie moetry,
My Edgar Allen Poetry –
Rhythm is no crime !
Even when it strains my lung,
Even when it stains my tongue,
Even when my brain is wrung –
I sing it till it chimes.

Circle Lines

city night architecture metro
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Circle Lines

I see the poems popping up again
Upon the Underground –
Prosy, earnest, and ignored
By all except the very bored.
They’re forced to slum it on the crowded train –
At least they get around,
But free from glottal stops and grime,
And far too erudite to rhyme.
And yet, it does them good to mix where
Plain-speaking folk abound –
And tailor their delivery
To suit the Drain and Jubilee:

“Mind the gap please, mind the metaphors,
Next stop is Leicester Square,
Tyger tyger burning bright,
She walks in beauty like the night,
Change for Piccadilly, mind the doors,
Use Oyster for the cheapest fare,
Remember me when I am gone away,
The darling buds of May,
South Kensington for dinosaurs,
Beyond the spiral stair,
Beware the Jabberwock my son,
All trains to Bank from platform one.”