Sudden Death

no gate


Sudden Death

The game goes on, despite the news,
Despite the empty stands –
No pre-match build up now, of course,
No captains shaking hands.
With silence as the coin is tossed,
But not born of suspense –
Then the ref’s whistle deafens
But you couldn’t call it tense.
The sound of boot-on-ball
And teammate calls are very clear
Even from the back row,
Has the action felt so near ?
Except, from our separate sofas
On this long, long afternoon,
They might as well be playing
On the far side of the Moon.
The empty seating does not care
What happens down the wing
And though the cameras catch it all,
Their ops don’t want to sing.
Like a stand-up cracking belters in rehearsal
To an empty hall,
The elephant in the stadium’s
Not trumpeting at all.
A goal is barely celebrated,
No-one’s bellicose –
Their tackles are half-hearted,
They’re unsure of getting close.
A pigeon pecks the touchline
And the players work their shift –
As if the world has changed the channel,
Cutting them adrift.
It all feels rather academic,
Pondering the score –
For does a lonely goal still count
If no-one’s there to roar ?



An English Country Garden

brown wooden house beside green trees during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on

An English Country Garden

New to the village then, hey ?
Ah, the cottage of old man Beck.
All that garden in the way !
Well, good luck keeping that in check…

Tell you what, let’s take a gander,
Milk and two spoons, lovely, cheers.
Of course, it used to be much grander –
But gone to seed for donkey’s years.

These flowers like potatoes…
Nightshade ? No, it’s bittersweet.
Oh, don’t look so relieved mate –
Those are just as deadly if you eat.

What’s that, you hope to keep some bees ?
I really wouldn’t, were I you –
Cos when they pollinate all these,
It turns their honey deadly too !

Now here’s a fine old holly tree,
Though he could do with quite a trim.
Yes, he’s a he – a male, you see,
You’ll get no berries out of him !

Your buddleia is running free,
In crumbled mortar, rotten sills,
And, yes, between your slates, I see.
Pretty flowers, massive bills !

And stonecrop on your gable-end –
Hanging mid-air, what a champ !
But best to hoick it out, my friend,
For room for roots is room for damp.

I see you’ve last year’s veg galore,
All overgrown and moulted.
Too late to shut the greenhouse door,
Your cabbages have bolted.

Your bindweed bullies ev’rywhere,
Insinuating strangling strands
While its triumphal trumpets blare –
A cheeky chap with wand’ring hands.

A shame about the knotweed, though,
And ragwort too ! And bracken fronds,
And ivy, nettles, thorny sloe,
And duckweed choking off the ponds.

This hemlock – best not touch it, natch –
All snowy-flowered, poison-flecked.
Much like your giant hogweed patch
With last year’s corpses still erect.

Your wild tobacco’s quite a hit,
And morphine poppies look a treat –
Oh don’t sweat guv, they’re quite legit –
But weed-out all your weed, toot-sweet !

And are those shrooms I see in spawn
Between the death caps ‘neath the trees ?
And fairy rings all over your lawn,
And stinkhorns flavouring the breeze.

But say, your dandelions roar !
A joy, a golden-yellow sea,
And ev’ry year, there’s more and more –
Old Beck would brew the leaves for tea…

Speaking of which, is there more in the pot ?
Well, can’t stand jawing round here all day.
I’d say you’ve got one hell of a plot,
To keep you busy for many a May.

Heavy Canvas

cracking a smile
detail from The Veth Sisters by Jan Veth, remastered with FaceApp


Heavy Canvas

The modern portrait comes in many gazes –
Some are staring at us,
While others ponder into space –
And profiles never even know we’re there.
But the thing that most amazes
Is the thing we barely suss,
Until the aggregate of faces
Steals upon us what it is they share:

It is their air of serious concern –
The weight upon their brows,
Their watchful eyes,
Their level lips.
These sitters sit unblinking, deep and stern,
In ranks of frowns and scowls,
And endless masks of empty guise
Through which their boredom slips.

They’re pictured well, each grave expression,
Well enough to find them in a crowd –
And yes, they entertain us for a time,
For all their dour style.
So portraiture’s a serious profession,
Justly resolute and proud –
And yet…can it be such a crime
To sometimes paint one with a smile ?







On the Inability of many Victorians
to adequately append to their Dissertations
such short and succinct titular Benamings
as would better serve their weighty Publications
without exposure to crucial Details
of sundry Devices and Plots thus delineated
by which the presumed Reader is disprivileged
and their subsequent Enpleasurement undersated.



The Green & The Red

shepherds' warning
Maiasaura & Azhdarchid by Wayne Barlowe


The Green & The Red

To comment that Nature is always in balance
Is viewing it just in the shortest of terms –
Infact, as the countless extinctions all show
How the strong will go on, and the weak will just go.
For Nature exploits with its various talents,
From predator apex to parasite worms,
With no thought for planning or smoothing-out quirks –
And the law of the jungle is ‘whatever works’.

Like the tusks of a babirusa
Or a peacock’s sexy tail,
Nature will often fail through greed –
And as for the losers, let them all bleed !

From ancient bacteria breathing out oxygen,
Right upto elephants knocking down trees,
They do it regardless, they live for today –
And the balance keep shifting, and life finds a way.
So don’t think of Nature as perfection’s proxy
When plague-rats are swarming with some new disease –
For humans could not be more nat’ral, in truth,
When Nature is selfish and red in the tooth.

Like the cheetah and gazelle,
It’s an arms race to the bottom
The tree of life is rotten through
With its endless fascination for the new.

But warnings are warnings – why must we resist them ?
We still haven’t learned not to piss in the wadis –
We poison ourselves when we poison our neighbours –
The stables need cleaning, but nobody labours.
And sure, we are smart, but we’re part of the system –
For just as our thoughts are a part of our bodies,
So bodies are Nature, and Nature is us –
As perfectly nat’ral as cancer and pus.

Like the lemmings booming and busting,
There’s too many of us, however clever
But Nature’s balance is never still –
And if we can’t fix it, other life will.




hands up



A survey sought to sample us
Down to a thousand souls –
I was never questioned though,
So others filled my roles.
But who were these individuals
Standing in for me ?
I always hoped to be unique,
Not cloned so easily !
Am I nothing more than maths,
A mindless analogue ?
Am I so predictable,
A predetermined cog ?
Probably.  With seven bill’yon-odd,
The odds are high,
All thinking they’re alone, like me –
Statistically shy.



No Biography

this chair does not look comfortable


No Biography

When I die, don’t worry who I was,
Don’t carve my name at Poets’ Corner –
I hope my rhymes still cause a fuss,
But let no stranger be a mourner.

When I die, let me die and be done,
Don’t raise blue plaques or rename streets –
I’d love to think my words still run,
But they weren’t written for receipts.