Roofus

ancient architecture building church
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Roofus

How do churches stop the rain ?
And send the downpours down the drain ?
That’s pretty simple to explain –

The footing holds the buttress,
And the buttress holds the flyer,
And the flyer holds the springing,
And the springing takes the strain.
The springers hold the vault ribs,
And the vault ribs holds the kingpost,
And the kingpost holds the rafters –
Both the common and the main.
The rafters holds the purlins,
And the purlins holds the sheathing,
And the sheathing holds the shingles,
And the shingles stop the rain.

 

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

The Iron Forge
The Iron Forge by Joseph Wright

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

There was a time before the steam,
The world was truly manned:
Each ditch was dug and plough was drug
By animal or hand;
And all the light to see by came
From tallow or the sun.
So lives would trudge on just the same,
Each short and brutal run.
There was a time before the steam,
The only help was wind or stream;
So up we moved to brook or hill,
Forever lashed to nature’s will –
We’d tap the earth to drive our mill.
A little better, maybe – but we’d only just begun.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was short and slow.
Our only fuel was ox or mule,
Or when the wind might blow.
And all the heat in winter came
From hearths of wood or peat,
With forests lost to make a flame
And give a little heat.
There was a time before the steam,
Before the pitch-black golden seam,
When all the energy not hooved
Could not be bottled, bred or moved.
Our lives could only be improved
By pilgrimage to power on our thousand weary feet.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was harshly ranged;
The days were long, yet swiftly gone,
And nothing ever changed.
But then came coal – the good earth’s soul,
The black and frozen fire –
And finally we took control,
And built our chimneys higher.
There was a time before the steam,
But that was then – before the gleam
Of pistons, valves and proud machines
Whose vapour-thrust provides the means
For endless and precise routines:
To serve our ev’ry labour and to never miss or tire.

There was a time before the steam,
To which we dread return;
But once the coke is up in smoke,
Well, what then will we burn ?
We’ve still got wind and rivers, sure,
But those have local clout.
Their power cannot take a tour
To where there’s folk about.
Will there be times beyond the steam,
A flywheel to prolong the dream ?
If only we can tame the spark –
The lightning bolt, the static arc –
And store it, then release its bark !
Or else we face an Age of Dark, when all the lights go out.

 

 

The Voyage of the Novum Organum

frontispiece
frontispiece from Novum Organum Scientiarum by Francis Bacon, art by anon

 

The Voyage of the Novum Organum

’Twas in the summer of ’20
When our galleon set sale.
Now gather ye, and plenty,
As I lay the fearless tale:
We soon approached the pillars bold
That Hercules himself, we’re told,
Had planted, so’s to say “Behold !
Behold these sights, and quail !
Here lies the End of the Earth, my friends,
And who knows what may lie beyond ?
It’s time to find what you’re worth, my friends,
If dareꞌst ye leave your pond.
Will you view my gates as a warning ?
Then head for home on the turning tide.
Or will you view my gates as a dawning ?
Then pass on through to the other side !”

Who knows if God shall forsake us ?
Who knows where the currents take us ?
Over the seas on our questing quest:
With our fortunes pressed for the holy grail,
As on and on we sail.

So wise old Captain Bacon
Gave the word to pass on through.
We prayed he weren’t mistaken
And a-gambling with his crew.
We sailed betwixt those ancient piers,
And set a course for new frontiers.
Once Argonauts, now pioneers !
’Twas time to earn our due.
“There lies the Start of the Earth, my friends,
When we find out what lies ahead !
It’s time to give rebirth, my friends,
It’s time to raise the dead !”

We knew great riches would await us,
All our maps were full of exes !
We dug up booty with apparatus,
And unearthed keys to fresh complexes.

Follow the clues, be smart and plucky;
Here be dragons, if we’re lucky !
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The better we guessed, the more we unveiled,
As on and on we sailed.

We plumbed that deep wide ocean
So’s to chart her reefs and bars
The first we found was motion –
It was written in the stars !
Then spied we microscopic forms –
A hidden world of tiny swarms.
We shuddered, but we rode such storms,
And better for the scars.
There lies so much joy on this Earth, my friends –
Let’s find out what we share her with !
There’s nowhere upon her in dearth, my friends –
She’s always more to give !
We sailed upon her seas of numbers,
Fathomed her amounts amounting:
Formulas and patterns slumbered –
Ev’rything, we learned, was counting.

And the point where the limit of our learning meets,
There’s always a fair wind filling our sheets.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we professed, the more we regaled,
As on and on we sailed.

The further out our striving,
So the better stocked our stores.
And always we’re arriving
Onto ever-stranger shores.
And on those lands we took our drills
And tapped the streams and dug the hills
And set down bridges, rails and mills,
And just and noble laws.
We learned how the whole of the Earth, my friends,
Is built from the same few blocks, not more !
We learned how the life round her girth, my friends,
Is built from life before !
We sailed away to explore and learn,
And still there is so much more to find !
We know we can never again return
To that ancient world that we left behind.

We’ll never be bored and we’ll never be done;
We’ll never arrive at the setting sun.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we progress, the higher we scale,
As on and on we sail.

 

 

No Sinjun

who

 

No Sinjun

Sir John St John the Sixth esquire,
Is strictly iambic and strictly a Saint.
He won’t stand for slurring his old money surname:
His Saint-hood is sacred – so ‘Sinjun’ he ain’t !

Sìr Jòhn Sàìnt Jòhn (to use sprung rhythm)
Was knighthed for service to country and queen.
It isn’t a parvenu baronet title
That’s passed-down with silver and eyes of grey-green.

Sir John St John is a John at the double,
Whose handle is firing both barrels to boot.
The hyphen’s still present, though these days it’s silent –
The fam’ly tree’s old, but it’s still bearing fruit.

Sir John St John is a doctor, also:
Dr Sir John the surgeon, no less.
He once sojourned on a journeyman’s journal
In old St John’s, with its permanent ’s.

Sir John St John has a inborn condition
That makes him assume that we jolly well care.
His symptoms assisted his self-diagnosis:
The syndrome of Sinjun Sinclair.

Sir John St John, (like his father, Sir John),
Insists as the firstborn, his name gets full worth:
He claims both his Johns by the right of tradition,
And claims he’s a Saint by the right of his birth.

 

 

Attacat

signal box
Yeovil Pen Mill Cat & Signal Box by Tim Jones

 

Attacat

There is a cat who watches trains
And makes his home in signal boxes,
Lives beneath the weathered gables,
Catches rats who chew the cables.
Grey, he is, with smoky grains
That fleck his coat the way of foxes,
’Cept the tramlines down his back
Which earn his name of Clickerclack.
They shine out silver, brow to rump
They even bear the marks for sleepers;
Branded thus, his fate assured
His working for the Railways Board.
So where a plague of rodents clump
Within the homes of signal-keepers –
Unannounced by midnight freight
Comes Clickerclack to extirpate.
He bites, he claws, he chews in half
And shreds them into vermicelli –
Drives them out and leaves his scent
To fright them off resettlement.
And when his work is done, the staff
Will feed him fish and rub his belly.
Then it’s off to boxes new
Aboard the 07:22.

 

 

My First Imperial Adventure

pole

 

My First Imperial Adventure

As a child, I loved to pore
Upon an atlas like a book.
The early chapters laid out Europe,
Where I knew it’s ev’ry nook.
Later on came Africa or Asia,
I forget which first.
The other next, then North, then South America
Would be traversed.
Oceania bringing up the rear,
And scattered islands next,
With local names italicised beside
The faithful English text.
That was the story’s climax, now the coda –
Now the final pair of plates –
The Arctic, then the Ant, in round tableaux,
The Baring and Magellan Straits.

Antarctica, to my surprise,
Had place-name labels scattered round –
The Ross Ice Shelf and Ellsworth Mountains,
Kemp Land, and McMurdo Sound.
Such British names !  The Arctic, though, was foreign –
Though I’d love to think
How Queen Victoria might send
The Royal Navy out to turn it pink.
Take Greenland, with its Anglo-Saxon name –
From Cape Farewell down in the South,
On through Discov’ry Bay to Upper Tooley,
And out East there’s Scoresby Mouth.
The Viceroy has his Residence in Goodhope,
With the inevitable railway lines –
Heading South to Hope St Julian,
Through Greenvale and the Squarehill mines.

And heading North on the Great Green Line,
With a branch and boat-train out to Sugar Top,
And via Lower Streamouth aerodrome,
To Foxborough – which once was the final stop,
Until the junction to Jacob’s Harbour,
(Ferries to Goodhaven from the pleasure pier),
Then the final push to Springfield Isle,
On viaducts of steel that we’d engineer.
Of course, in time the Esquimaux would learn
The ways of cricket and the bowler hat,
And in later years, there’s some would settle down
In Blighty, in a council flat
In Ashford, Accrington and Aberdeen,
To drive the buses and newspaper stands,
Opening churches, opening restaurants,
Marrying the local girls and forming bands.

I know, I know, so many problems
Unthought-out in the fantasy of a kid.
Just as well it never happened –
And yet…on a parallel Earth, it probably did.

 

 

You Bet Your Life

ball casino chance gamble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

You Bet Your Life

Blaise Pascal once placed a Bet,
And for a Stake he risked his Soul:
“If of Gods there’s Nothing yet,
Then all our Faith can’t fill the Hole;
But then, since no God will Notice,
For no God then Is at all,
So our Prayers unto Abyss
Have done no Harm nor broke no Law.

But, should I now choose Desisting,
Claiming Heavens are Unmanned;
And, should now our Lord be lis’ning,
So shall He declare me Damned.
Therefore, weighing Odds and Chances,
Losses made and Gains received,
Wager wise where Luck enhances:
’Tis far Safer we Believed.”

Roll up !  Roll up !  The Tote is open,
Honest Blaise the Bookie always gives the Smartest Odds.
And ev’ry Sharp and Rookie can apply
His Patent Foolproof System to the Big Game in the Sky.
Poker-Face Pascal knows the Score,
He’s Croupier to the Heavenly Draw;
He’s got the Inside Track on Hoping,
He’s the Turf Accountant to the Gods,

Alas, Blaise, your God is not
The Only Game to play in Town,
A thousand other Evens Lots
Can yet be Laid when eyes are Down.
Such Longshots aren’t worth a Flutter,
Spin the Wheel and watch the Ball,
And pray it Lands within your Gutter;
Better not to bet at All.

So, whichever Gods are Winners,
Rank us Luckless all the same:
As Heretics and Bankrupt Sinners –
Even those not in the Game.
And if I Bust, I’m Damned if they
Shall claim the only Stake I’ve got.
But Stick or Twist, collect or Pay,
Let’s ante-up the Mortal Pot.

Roll up !  Roll up !  The Gods are waiting
Three Prayers for a Fiver, and the Fate Tombolas roll !
Now ev’ry Saint and Skiver gets to play
With Aces high and Jokers wild, and Tabs till Judgment Day.
Brokerman Blaisey knows the bid,
With Afterlife Shares just seven-a-quid:
He has the Dope and Gen and Rating,
He’s the Underwriter to the Soul.