Saturday, June 20, 2020

Coronavirus conspiracy limerick

the Chinese have loosed new diseases
from mutant bats cooked in their freezers
they want to destroy us
and then to employ us
as zombies to kill our lord Jesus!


All that I can't forget

what sheets our sheets all that waterfall
of attempted forgiveness
an owl hovers in the blue darkness

in the brake an eruption of nothing
just a moment, nothing again

oh just a moment

never more, though, never
can such

when the sun still wears hats
and the moon
still breaks
every moment

like a far-off baby
that rides, crying

on the red shouts
of wolves


We are the Pumpkin People

(it was the wrong world because)
every time we hopped out
of our rabbit hole together
we collided
and still concussed
demanded to know
who are you
why are your teeth in my mouth
and where are the balloons?
now our balloons are dead as pumpkins
with no candles licking light within


Tuesday, June 09, 2020


oh there once was this feller called Trump
who quite liked to emit from his rump
the most bizarre tweets
while munching on sweets
as he pondered who next he should dump



Saturday, June 06, 2020


not one sound tonight
not one hoot or shuffle
from the ancient ferns
or down the dry hills
even the lowering clouds and their black birds
all silent
I hope I am not the only one left
to speak of it to no one



my little poems
have run away from me
down the dusty hillside
into the sparkling lake

what fun to watch them 

I do kinda like this permission to look like a bank robber. Okay, worn out and going to bed.

Iambics for the Dead (to CF)

two end walls (mist)
of the ancient house
in the hill above the sea
the grass is (like fairies) rough
but yields above the knee
and there we swell
two chimneys snuffed
askance, we, side on side,
to sea birds' beck and call
(your wall there, my wall
looking hovered like the sea
hanged above the fall
of moon and sun
and rush and tide and spree
Saint Mary's Well
below the springing steep
the crickets every step
so leap
and rear and wash
the maddened hare
upon the rock above the sea
all we know divided
as bells the boat
beneath the stoop, the fall
and bright at last
from Bardsey's overfalls
breaks free
the clutch of two
walls sad as smokeholes
fireless, grassed over
whistling as all
midnight is long in you and me
hillfog, love, three
fret and spark and twee upon
these walls where once
a tree or two made three
where midnight once blew strong
in you and me
I am the Owlman.

At last my PPE has arrived.

The Night's Travel

in and now out the same door
like all knives whirling
our utter politics in collisions
of limestone pavements
across all this she travailed
with sepia sandbags
of County Clare
all sailroads to traverse
and only 8 O-clock
by the whale's chime
this big hand by the night's wild travel
points to 12
the little hand
flickers and stops
iris of heart attack hope
—love of small things
and wild places
be certain now be sure
it's that time
in between
where the hands don't count
it's okay to be scared here
to lie down and breathe
to lie a little
before waking
(Published in Poetry S/Z 2009)

Birthing Ganesha

Birthing Ganesha (an extract from a novel)
‘I shall swim into quiet water’—Virginia Woolf, 1940.

Portentous watery images occur repeatedly and hauntingly towards the end of Virginia Adeline Woolf’s diaries, which run out suddenly, shortly before she committed suicide by filling her pockets with stones and wading out into the River Ouse: ‘wet passages … water broken, white, roaring … may the flood last forever … wild grey water …’ The entries terminate shortly thereafter; there would be nothing further. That channel was now dead.
If one were to ask our Adeline how she had chosen her name at the age of sixteen (as is the tradition these days), she might well cite as influential these diaristic references with their suggestion of a dark prescience. Perhaps she wanted to be a larger-than-life literary seeress immortalised in a mythic death scene (for who truly does not want to be a superhero like that?). And of course Adeline—like anyone sufficiently Romantic—wondered what might have come next in that truncated diary if Virginia Adeline Woolf had lived to tell the tale. It was, she thought in later life, somehow similar to Paul Cézanne’s final order of oils arriving a day or two after his death in 1906. What might those paints have become? Certainly Pablo Picasso—who called Cézanne ‘the father of us all’—would have wished to know, and, like Adeline, will have mourned for what might have been.
Riley definitely wants to be a comic-book superhero; he wants this so much that he has now dissociated to the point where he is almost no longer real outside of his fictional self. Perhaps he is now only a character in a sort of graphic novel without pictures. But, however much he may have lost or gained in this transmutation, this is not a story about Riley, who waits, frozen in his charcoal shadow, for some possible future revival: this is a story about Adeline, who, in another life, allegedly bore splashing witness to a remarkable and divine metamorphosis—perhaps a birthing.

 (A lost valley, somewhere in the flooded blue jungles of southern India.)
This happened on Adeline’s eighteenth birthday, just a few weeks after she killed her father with a spade (of which there will be no mention here). She was a mycology student back then, on a field trip to India to study the fungi of the Subcontinent, which has, after all, one third of all the fungal diversity of the world, much of it still undescribed and unclassified.
It was a place of rearing elephantine baobab trees, of giant arboreal tigers, many of them white as Siberians, almost as big as elephants, curled like freakish housecats in their high nests. (One hears them growling from above, but they seldom attack in such narrow daylight.)
            Blood glistened upon the jungle-water, attracting freshwater sharks and zombie-catfish; smoke drifted through the trees, rising like a spectral offering to the gods above the thick canopy. Adeline had arrived in the wrong season, as the forest was currently drowned to a depth of three or four feet. There would be no discoveries of nameless toadstools on this expedition, but anyway and undeterred she came, lurching in her ornate howdah at the head of the procession, riding a huge Asiatic elephant bedecked.with silks and gems.
And so she splashed through the shark-infested shallows, through the drowsing trees, through the pillars of green sunlight, and all the air mad with birdsong and huge dragonflies, into the lost valley beyond.
‘I seen a horsefly,’ sang Adeline gaily. ‘I seen a dragon fly; I seen a housefly … but I be done seen about everything …’
But then, as the Tiffin hour approached, what was that scent of blood and fire? Adeline pulled up her mount, signalling the caravan to halt.
Nillisi, nanna prītiya ānegaḷu!’ she cried in hushed and urgent tones, in Kannada, the elephant tongue, raising her hand like a trunk, waving her pith helmet aloft.
And Adeline and her company peered through the trees to behold a great wonder.
            There in a ghost-glade was a blue boy, perhaps fourteen years old, no more, blithely sawing off his own head with a large, curved knife. Rolling in the water beside him was another head, that of a juvenile elephant, leaching blood and ichor into the smoky ripples, for it seemed that the water itself was somehow alight. And as Adeline watched, the slender, straight-limbed, headless youth—vivid as lapis from the haunted mines of Shortugai and Sar-i Sang—with all seeming unconcern, lifted that great head by the tusks and placed it where his own had been, whereupon it seemed that it miraculously attached itself and became alive again, though now it was half boy.
And this was the legendary moment of the birthing of Ganesha, god of wisdom and words, deva of science and art, patron of new beginnings and humble hopes.
And so Ganesha, mighty Lord of Bananas, Spouse of the Speaking Tree, there amidst the steaming waters, danced and splashed himself to life before ascending on invisible wings into the shimmering upper air.
And the date thereof was the twenty-second day of the eighth month, which is hereafter laid down in the law as holy and inviolate.
And Adeline and her yawing équipage retreated then in fear and wonderment, back to lesser lives, nevermore to speak or think of such marvels.


Mulberry Harbour

Mulberries, on the tossing sea
what now, Germany, beloved
home of revolution?
"It's okay, son; we're paratroopers
and we are supposed to be surrounded."

once you've seen it
you can't unsee it:
your ape face

In other news today, here in Yorkshire our reservoirs are still orange:

Getting away with just about
for years
has had the surprising effect
of making the police think
they can get away
with just about anything

I play Tennis
love means nothing
to me

are the breaths
within kisses