Aves Rupulica

bird birds usa raven
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Aves Rupulica

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower;
Strange to think these scavengers
Should hold such royal power –
To keep the crown from toppleing,
They’re crippled in one wing,
To fawn and clown for punters,
(All still peasants of the king.)

But you should be flying, Raven,
You should have flown,
For what cares a raven for propping-up thrones ?
Be mightier, Raven, than magpie or rook –
For the higher you fly, so the smaller we look.

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower –
So much like us, they’re savaged
Just to keep the nobs in power.
They’re victim of Victorians,
They’re prisoners to lore –
If only they could bring them down,
And goad them “Nevermore !”

For you should be soaring, Raven,
You should be gone,
For what cares a raven for owners of swans ?
Be mighty, oh Raven, and help us stand tall –
For the higher you fly, so the further they fall.


The whole myth only started in Victorian times, and to this day these magnificaent birds are denied their natural instinct to fly for the sake of tourist pounds.

A Pile of Babbage

Difference Engine
The Difference Engine at the Science Museum


A Pile of Babbage

You built a Diff’rence Engine
Just to see if it would work,
Then locked it in a cabinet
And let it snooze and shirk.
In all of its magnificence,
It’s still in cog and joint.
You say it makes no difference;
I say, that’s just my point !




Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman giving a lecture on the motion of planets around the Sun


(after Walt Whitman)

When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer,
When the proofs and figures were ranged
In columns before me, to add and measure,
When shown his charts and diagrams strange,
When I, sitting, heard the Astronomer,
Where he lectured with much applause,
How soon, tired and sick, I stirred
And wander’d off by myself outdoors.
There in mystical moist night-airs,
From time to time I look’d up clear
In perfect silence at the stars,
(And thought them small, and rather near.)

This is my take on Walt Whitman’s poem of the opening line. I’ve shuffled things around and made it rhyme, but most of it is his words except for the last line. Turns out he was just a luddite after all.

The Queen of the Cockles

black seashell beside beige stone
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The Queen of the Cockles

Fine scallops and oysters
For townlands and cloisters,
And cockles and mussels – alive, sirs, alive !
Come find one and pluck it
From out of my bucket –
It’s yours for a penny – or fourpence for five.

…………Fresh from the beaches of fair Dublin Bay,
…………Fresh from the sands where they thrive, oh !
…………Fresh from the beaches, and fresh ev’ry day –
…………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !

There’s no need to scrimp it
With whelk or with limpet –
I’ll sell you no snails, sir – I’m clams through and through.
Don’t ask me for sprinkles
Of peries or winkles –
Why settle for one shell, when you can have two !

…………Fresh from the wash of the fair Irish Sea,
…………Plucked-out as soon they arrive, oh !
…………Fresh from the sand to the boat to the quay –
…………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !

There’s some who dig beaches
For lugworms and leaches,
But they make a slimy and wrigglesome catch.
And scampi and crab, sir,
Will scamper and jab, sir –
But mine are like eggs that are waiting to hatch !

…………Fresh from where seagulls love combing the sand,
…………Fresh from where cormorants dive, oh !
…………Fresh from Portmarnock and Dollymount Strand –
…………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !

So what do you say, sir,
To venus or razor ?
Just tease-out my beauties with jack-knife or steam.
They may hold a pearl, sir,
A feast for your girl, sir,
You’ll soon warm her cockles with cockles in cream !

…………Fresh from the beaches of fair Dublin Bay,
…………Fresh for your ladies and wives, oh !
…………Fresh-in from Skerries and Claremont and Bray –
…………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !



Sweet Placebo

color drugs medicine pills
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Sweet Placebo

Doctor, doctor, I’m losing it for sure –
I need a hit of medicine, I’m begging for a cure;
I’ll suffer any needle and I’ll swallow any pill,
Just make it quick and do your shtick, I’m sick of feeling ill.

Squirt me full of salty water: mercy, how I parch !
Grind some powder in your mortar, even if it’s starch,
Pop me full of sugar tablets,
Give me lucky feet of rabbits,
Give me anything, I’ll grab it.  Health is on the march !

Doctor, doctor, my body’s playing tricks –
I need a shot of remedy, I’m aching for a fix.
I’ll dose on any tincture and I’ll slather any balm;
Just take my pulse while I convulse, and never lose your calm.

Scrip me up a snake-oil tonic, trick me back to health:
Humour me my case is chronic, medicate with stealth.
Wear your lab-coat, reassure me,
Use your stethoscope to lure me,
Use your firm deep voice to cure me.  Help me help myself.