28 February 2014


The final crown is now complete! And the first lines of each of the sonnets numbered fifteen to twenty-eight come together to form our second sonnet wreath. This one is aptly named 'Authority'.

Power: it’s all about the clout of wealth.
I want to make your choice and I can pay
for healing all my wounds, but not myself -
forgetting what the hell I tried to say
concerning subjugation by the state,
the apparatus of coercive law.
If we were richer, we could emigrate
and listen to rare starlings on the shore -
a chattering of hubris and conceit.
Below the doleful hum of coconuts
I reassess my errors and defeats.
My poetry is clearly going nuts!
What is a metre? Whereof do we speak?
Like mice on picket lines, I have a squeak.

# 28 - The elasticity of logic

Like mice on picket lines, I have a squeak:
A grievance built on blood and circumstance.
And though I'm blessed with quite the coward's streak
I'll raise my voice and praise each small advance.

For bridges are not built now by the weak
(I hear they're funded by Arts Council Grants)
And though you fear the mischief we may wreak
I think you should give poetry a chance.

There's nothing we can do to change your mind
Unless we write a sonnet or sestina.
Verbosity's the only way to find
The truth in each political arena.

When we say, “Politician, heal thyself!”
Power: it’s all about the clout of wealth.


27 February 2014

# 27 - like mice on picket lines I have a squeak

What is a metre? Whereof do we speak?
Well, metre comes from France’s revolution
to make all poems rational and neat.
Any vers libre led to execution.

An army marches on iambic feet,
at least according to Napoleon,
and sprightly rhymes revive like bread and meat.
Rebels downed their pints at The Holy Inn.

But, liberally, this form allows dissent
and though the army marches on and on
there is a place here for my discontent
before the closure of the denouement

when a trim couplet makes my thought complete:
like mice on picket lines I have a squeak.


26 February 2014

# 26 - the geometry of the vietcong

my poetry is clearly going nuts
my mathematics is out of control
my politics admits no ifs or buts
my melodies remodel rock 'n' roll

my choruses dissemble and cajole
my balladry defoliates and bleeds
my calculus kneels on a grassy knoll
my banditry plants vines amongst the weeds

my domination dances in the reeds
my assonance approximates the rhyme
my doggerel will sing of fictive deeds
my algebra will break the back of time

the Devil cannot silence Grothendieck
what is a metre? whereof do we speak?


25 February 2014

# 25 - Fourteen Caveats

I reassess my errors and defeats
I redefine parameters each day
I gerrymander politics my way
I reinvent the darkly cobbled streets

I metamorphose ’til I have no feet
I recross every line of braided spray
I counter-ruck the palace’s array
I automagically endure retreats

My prudence lies behind me, pale and numbed
My common sense is on the shelf, well-thumbed
My acumen subsists in tea-stained mugs
My marbles clack and spit across the rug
My laws are filled with hinky “ifs” and “buts”
My poetry is clearly going nuts


24 February 2014

# 24 - dust and ambergris

Below the doleful hum of coconuts,
the salamanders sing their ancient song.
While some stars burst and others simply shut,
I wonder if I've been here for too long.

All covered, now, in dust and ambergris,
I listen for the screeching butterflies
but only hear the shouting of the bees
and see the hedgehogs making their goodbyes.

The wailing worms are mourning spade-slain friends,
the spiders bark and growl at passing cars,
and so, tonight, my sanity depends
on trying not to burst, like all those stars.

And, like a song forever on repeat,
I reassess my errors and defeats. 


23 February 2014

# 23 - in the nook of sounds of wooing

a chattering of hubris and conceit
a factory of simile and lust
a flattering of vanity and poesy
to win a kiss from my fair love

a platypus of hubris and arousal
a beautiful of crocuses and rust
a dumbledore of whispering and sighs
to win a kiss from my fair love

without her love i’m banished from myself
and stuck upon an island hot and haughty
between the mournful midges in the dusk

an exile in the nook of sounds of wooing
and stuck upon a love that’s not my own
below the doleful hum of coconuts 


22 February 2014

# 22 - Five Hundred Years

And listen to rare starlings on the shore.
And hymn the fabled vanities of yore.
And swim against the truth for evermore.
And kiss those visions of the heretofore.

(For history's just a construct of the mind:
a simulation of what's left behind,
assimilating everything ‒ a kind
of mystery for posterity to find)

Fine words will garnish nothing but the tongue.
Fire spares the old, but mutilates the young.
File past the tombs with musket, fife and drum.
Five hundred years from here to Kingdom Come.

Come flatter me, come make my life complete ‒
a chattering of hubris and conceit.


21 February 2014

# 21 - the mynah birds are talking

If we were richer, we could emigrate –
But where? The eagle’s spacious nest
is riven on itself; the bear’s estate
is busy scaring rainbows back out west.
The cattle? Their green pastures now are filled,
yet bare; the lambs see little sign of spring.
And all around the lake, each lair and field
is burning with the death-stare of a king.
Let’s not go there. Let’s take the doctor’s keys,
and sail away to somewhere Palanese;
We’ll tend with care at both ends of the trees –
comparing tips from beetles and from bees.
We’ll live the life we never dared before,
and listen to rare starlings on the shore.


20 February 2014

# 20 - Political Bias

The apparatus of coercive law
Resides in property and copyright,
And manufacture builds the need for more:
“You'll never take my stuff without a fight!”

It's each one for himself in times this tight,
So cross your fingers for prosperity.
While queuing at the food bank, be polite!
You're benefiting from austerity.

And, using phrases from antiquity,
The politicians tell us who to blame.
They wring their hands with such sincerity
“The poor, and immigrants, they're all the same!”

We're governed by division, greed and hate.
If we were richer, we could emigrate.


19 February 2014

# 19 - culture ruse is smooth

concerning subjugation by the state
of hypersexual marriage in angola
and how the tyranny of coca cola
forces the brave to circumnavigate
a flooding that will decontaminate
the pretty flocks shorn by the ayatollah
now stained with badger honey and granola
if only bob crow will participate

your culture ruse is smooth and decadent
the undersigned demand a referendum
on bailing-out the plucky elephant
our impish quirks are in the addendum

please do not feed the labour carnivore
the apparatus of coercive law


18 February 2014

# 18 - An Erotic Dialectic

Forgetting what the hell I tried to say
to you last night, whilst passion raged, is not
the action of a yellow-bellied sot –
it’s just a mechanism to allay
that psychic breakdown of a cold new day.
For those three words encapsulate a lot
of what unites us, but also of what
divides our minds, leaves hearts in disarray.
So let’s just talk of far more simple things:
begin with shoes and ships and sealing wax,
move on to climate science, income tax,
misuse of the prerogative of kings.
Then finish with a fiercely-fought debate
concerning subjugation by the state.


17 February 2014

# 17 - In my head, it’s Lothlὸrien

For healing all my wounds (but not myself),
it’s heartening that there’s a place to go
where they will fix me when I’m feeling low –
where my gesundheit won’t depend on wealth.
Though Tories try to privatise by stealth,
And siphon to their mates the nation’s dough,
for now, I’m reassured and glad to know
the British Wonder called the Nation’l ‘Elf.

(While writing the above, I got distracted:
what if we had an Elven Head of State?
What magic laws would therefore be enacted?
And would we sing of Celeborn the Great?)

Apologies – I’ve wandered off the way,
forgetting what the hell I tried to say…


16 February 2014

# 16 - Second Hand Smoke

I want to make your choice and I can pay
for any damage to your skin or lungs.
There is responsibility that comes
from being both the predator and prey.
Dissected, disembowelled, and on display,
I try to shout but find my throat is numb.
You see, nostalgia's wasted on the young
and when the urges take me, I obey.
Abstinence is fine – if that's your thing –
but artificial virtue is eclipsed
by inclination. As she softly sings
I'll pass corruption on, through moistened lips.
Quitting lust is best (if done by stealth)
for healing all my wounds, but not myself.


15 February 2014

# 15 - pheasants moseyed

Power: it’s all about the clout of wealth
the means of production
the queens of seduction
the beans of destruction

I once drove though the countryside with power
and pheasants moseyed through the grain
I once licked power when it wasn’t looking
and pheasants moseyed through the rain

it fell in golden showers
trickle down
dribble pound
pickle sound

these words don’t have to mean a thing
I want to make your choice and I can pay


14 February 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, the first crown is now complete, turning back on itself.
Adorning this crown is a sonnet wreath, composed of the first lines of the fourteen sonnets comprising the crown:

I want a hero ‒ but then don't we all?
I see the hero deep in all of us:
a small, swift flame to shield against the fall
alone, into the cold impervious.
Can I be trusted? Will I heed the call?
An Englishman tries not to make a fuss
he brings sweet moderation to the ball.
Behind their backs I tut at the unjust.
I will not take this bullshit any more
the best thing you can do is be a man,
contender in no ordinary war,
ignoring anyone who has a plan.
We all must die, but then, who's keeping score?
I'll try to live a little while I can.

# 14 - Much Ado About Something

I'll try to live a little while I can
still sing the songs those lays of silver tongue;
still walk the walk that two-step of the young
pretender (one who knows his stuff no 'wham
bam thank you ma'am' in these quotidian
affaires privées). I know that Spring has sprung
and Summer's summed and Fall's fall has begun.
A fiery and uncommon courtesan
a Beatrice burning for her Benedict
is what I want, is what I need, is what
will hide my heart from Winter’s icy tricks.
Yet othertimes, I know that there is naught
but simple Claudio within my soul
I want a Hero but then don't we all?


13 February 2014

# 13 - Sometimes I wonder

We all must die – but then, who’s keeping score?
The martyrs, maybe, as they play their game:
One-nil, two-nil – it all adds up the same.
The only thing that we can say for sure
is god fights on both sides in every war:
each tallied death adds glory to his name
(I’m fairly sure that’s what the prophets claim).
Whatever. Damn their worthless ancient lore –
A modern man can prove himself more brave,
dismissing fictive fears beyond the grave;
find simpler glory in the random chance
that led him here to join in Nature’s dance.
Though brief and fleeting be my earthly span,
I’ll try to live a little while I can.


12 February 2014

# 12 - Chaos Theory

Ignoring anyone who has a plan,
Forgo all friends’ opinions and advice.
Give in to each new whim and every vice.
Take solace in confusion where you can.

Ignoring anyone who has a plan,
Stake your claim by rolling all the dice.
Live by impulse, never thinking twice
And revel in upheaval where you can.

Before we’re cast into the nameless cold,
It’s best to break the rules and have some fun.
I think we’re all just scared of growing old
And staring into sweet oblivion.

We’ll battle with regrets and lose the war.
We all must die, but then, who’s keeping score?


11 February 2014

# 11 - I snogged a man in Reno

Contender in no ordinary war
I snogged a man in Reno just to see
you cry, the night as hot as rutting boar
I spurred the fucking on like Henry Vee

For he today that sheds his seed with me
shall be my lover through the winter’s sleet
when frost has settled on the linden tree
and you have lost your love among conceits

How many times hast thou got laid this week?
I’ve done it fifteen times. I swallow night
and day a dish best served at body heat
I like it best when it is short and trite

when strangers improvise on a divan
ignoring anyone who has a plan


10 February 2014

# 10 - on second thoughts, maybe you should just take up golf

the best thing you can do is be: a man
possessed / a wing-walker, free jockey on
the fly / some souped-up laser-guided bomb
of peace / that duke of cool / the one who van-
dalises to impress, far better than
those sidekicks of the gods now dead and gone /
self-referential prophet of the non-
aligned / a prince among the fawning fan-
tasists / titanic, nonpareil burlesque
artiste, discerning in your tastes with for-
ty servants liveried / the statuesque
yet stealthy undercover pirate / or
a ninja master of the kafkaesque,
contender in no ordinary war


09 February 2014

# 9 - Like Herod: my desk is vibrating

I will not take this bullshit any more –
you know you’re wrong: at least evolve a spine,
and own up. Take a minute to refine
those tired arguments that make us snore,
and get a little curious. Explore
a different viewpoint; take a wider line –
don’t let your stone beliefs define
you as a human. Think! Open the door
and dive on through! There’s bravery in this:
to tear up all the world you once believed;
to burn the pages of your master plan,
and greet the world in free unthethered bliss.
Try it. I guarantee you’ll be relieved:
the best thing you can do is be a man.


08 February 2014

# 8 - Winter in Sochi

Behind their backs, I tut at the unjust,
Though I would never say a word aloud.
When you’re a coward, silence is a must.
It pays to learn to melt into the crowd.
My principles are only sand and dust
And I will only say what I’m allowed.
I may regard them all with some distrust
But still, in deference, my head is bowed.
Abuse is not the price we pay for love;
I can't just turn my head and let it be.
That iron fist inside that velvet glove.
I must act now, before they come for me.
Such platitudes! We've heard them all before.
I will not take this bullshit any more.


07 February 2014

# 7 - One Sugar If You Please

He brings sweet moderation to the ball
(though not too sweet) one sugar if you please.
There’s nothing moderate about his balls.
This is a country for old men and sleaze.

Middle class, middle England, the squeezed middle
I like that Middle Earth but make it shorter?
(You have guessed right) this line must end with fiddle.
Nero, eh?

Auden told us that poems make nothing happen.
When written on the walls of Jericho
a sonnet failed to move a mote of dust.

Learn poems by heart don’t let them change your heart.
I had this feeling then I made it rhyme.
Behind their backs I tut at the unjust.


06 February 2014

# 6 - On yer bike

An Englishman tries not to make a fuss,
though wars and deprivation take their toll
on the certainties that keep his people whole,
that make this island nation glorious.
An Englishman is never furious:
he rambles through the country of his soul ‒
a realm that's damned by drugs and rock 'n' roll,
where tube strikes mean he has to take the bus,
where single mothers struggle to survive,
and sneering, twisted traitors poison love.
Yet hope remains, and reason may still thrive ‒
a citizen who's none of the above,
but English, British, European all ‒
he brings sweet moderation to the ball.


05 February 2014

# 5 - "By God, sir! I've lost my leg!"

Can I be trusted? Will I heed the call?
What call can echo through this captive land,
that poets like me will rise to take a stand?
When justice and compassion stumble, fall,
what option have our pleading pens to gall
or check the sneers of those in cold command,
except perhaps to publish and be damned,
and slam our heads against a deafened wall?
But trust in this: it’s not the apathy
stunning our countrymen that gives us pause;
nor cowardice, nor fear of tyranny,
No! stiff top lips and doctrine are the cause
our biggest problem can be rendered thus:
an Englishman tries not to make a fuss.


04 February 2014

# 4 - Jekyll/Hyde

Alone into the cold impervious,
These shadows play behind my flitting eyes.
A demon dressed as man. A cruel disguise.
Automaton, spurred on by fear and lust.
Between two states of being is the cusp
And when one man is born, another dies.
With knuckles bloodied, I will improvise,
Where proud frustration mingles with disgust.
There may be no return from this dark state –
The earth behind me salted, barley burned.
Each stolen moment lived with brimming hate.
Respect taken by force but never earned.
I fear I may have further yet to fall.
Can I be trusted? Will I heed the call?


03 February 2014

# 3 - it’s no good being candid

a small swift flame to shield against the fall
when starlings dart between an orange sky
a peach of moon and the horizon’s jaw
it’s nearly dark my baby ba-bye

below the light-grazed canopy of space
above the downy grass of our bonsai
planet sings the toll of parting ways
you’re nearly gone my baby ba-bye

snuff out the candle
pack away the hoot cry of the owl
forget the facts they taught you back in school

it’s no good being candid
to strangers somewhere you are tossed
alone into the cold impervious


02 February 2014

# 2 - Thesis. Antithesis. Synthesis.

I see the hero deep in all of us,
I see the valiant warrior confined,
I see the wise and penetrating mind,
I see compassion, sympathy and trust.
I also see the hope that turns to dust,
the jealousy and fear that make us blind,
the bitter, broken face of humankind,
the angry, frightened, sad and envious.
It's tempting then to ask: 'Which will prevail?
The night or light? The chaos or the calm?'
But that struggle is what helps to mould us all ‒
a lesson learned for every time we fail,
and for every time the darkness threatens harm,
a small, swift flame to shield against the fall.


01 February 2014

# 1 - Apotheosis

I want a hero – but then, don’t we all?
A life to follow, deeds to idolise:
the tales re-told to kids with starry eyes
and aspiration, hope – a dream; a call
to all that, since we stood, made us stand tall,
and peek over horizons; made us rise
above the rocks and chase tomorrow’s skies –
to grasp the godlike once before we fall.
Now, paragons like these are hard to find:
where’s honour now? And whither chivalry?
When did it get so wrong to just be kind,
and live a life of love and charity?
But, as a hippie (which is obvious),
I see the hero deep in all of us.