28 February 2017

#28 - 'the other'

A dark line drawn across the map, the land,
the hearts and hopes. An old inconstant lover
turned traitor. Wars conducted undercover.

A cold, coherent stratagem that's planned
to split the world, to conquer and expand.
A paradigm which relegates your brothers
and sisters to the status of 'the other'.

My soul is slowly sucked into quicksand
I love you, fear you, curse you to your grave,
I want you, but your hate poisons my mind
a new refinement of an ancient art.

As flickering shadows play across the cave,
we drift into a dream of humankind
that more unites us than sets us apart.


27 February 2017

#27 And September Brings a Question

(The European theatre of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939 and the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.)

And September Brings a Question

And September brings a question of gold,
green and grey, minds struggle with gallantry.
Reckless are those boys with fight in their eyes
Uniformed for show, steel heeled, flippantly.

But June never came for innocent men
boys dressed up to glow, blood soon on their hands.
Death was a jerry can away, a fall
From frost bitten feet, tears on broken lands,

So tired they cry for the warmth of their home,
And those boys, friends whose names already fade.
The last leaves left on the branch, cold and clear
they will stay forever, trapped in the shade

where the trees grow now, in the homes they dug,
where they say, “the birds have never returned.”

26 February 2017

#26 - You Can't Possibly Rhyme Anything with Estonia, So Don't Even Try

If you don't know about Estonia
then let me clue you up on all the hype:
they've saved the lives of many lonely curs
you see, these clever folks invented Skype.

And if you think that they don't seem the type
then your impressions are erroneous –
they're part of a creative archetype:
resourceful, novel and industrious.

They've been invaded several million times;
but now they're independent once again.
They love to be enshrined in silly rhymes –
or, if they don't, they still wouldn't complain.

They love to sing and swing and carry wives
and I'm a little jealous of their lives...

25 February 2017

#25 - Contramural

Symeon the Great was King of the Bulgars from 893 to 927 CE. 
He was a badass who wanted to be Emperor.
This little history lesson is messing up my formatting.
Plus ça change.

Once more unto the walls of Theodosius!
Perhaps this time they might come tumbling down!
Your army four miles wide (and quite ferocious)
must surely be enough to win the crown –
that diadem imperial, the prize
for which you dedicated each campaign –
and cut those haughty Byzantines to size?
So march! great Symeon, and march again!

Ah, sorry, dude... Just wait a little longer.
I’m sure a bit of patience wouldn’t hurt you –
these days it’s more than just a Christian virtue;
and dreams with patience only grow the stronger.
Wait long enough, and – if you’re reading this –
a flight to Istanbul’s a piece of piss.


By en:User:Bigdaddy1204 - Photograph taken in June 2006 in Istanbul by en:User:Bigdaddy1204. All credits go to him., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=880970
To be fair, that's pretty impressive.

24 February 2017

#24 - Christiania

The guns of Christianshavn all stay mute
the isles and beaches reclaimed from the sea
the battlements now bear a different fruit:
a grass not native to this Danish scree.
As Aircondition, Autogena stand
where ball and shot and gunpowder were stored,
the Fakirskolen helps us comprehend
the pen is truly mightier than the sword.
The lazy curl of dope smoke fills the air
all down along the Stadsgraven canal,
and though our lives are never truly fair,
we have an optimistic rationale:
that Christiania will survive its trials
and look towards the future with a smile.


23 February 2017

#23 Wrapped in a White Sheet


Flag of Latvia 
 (Historical evidence places the Latvian flag among the oldest flags in the world. Legend refers to a mortally wounded chief  who was wrapped in a white sheet. The part of the sheet on which he was lying remained white, but the two edges were stained in his blood. During the next battle the bloodstained sheet was used as a flag.)

Wrapped in a White Sheet

And hope without an object cannot live
For by the time a finished smile renews,
The heat, so won, is void of that to give,
To life, the simple, fading, falling dew.

That old badge sown on top of heavy heart
A thin film, succoured on the scent of loss
Forced to hold high, the pieces torn apart
As they say, he, our saviour, held the cross.

So fight and raise the object all the same
and don't fear death, for time can always out,
So that ever after can come again
dressed, as always, in fevered dashing doubt,

That is doubled within its meaning true
And cast aside, to raise the Flag anew.

22 February 2017

#22 - Imaginary

Imagine, if you will, a Northern land
where darkness reigns for three months of the year
and, when you think you've had all you can stand,
the endless summer days start drawing near.
They've saunas, reindeer, Kiisseli and then
there's Santa Claus and lakes all laced with mist:
how shocked would you be, on a scale of ten,
if I told you that none of it exists?

It's just a myth, coz Reddit told us so
(they've never ever* steered us wrong before).
So promise me that you won't seek to go
to see that non-existent fjord-y shore.
Helsinki is a Finnish fantasy –
there's nothing there at all but open sea.

This view is completely imaginary

*There is very weird a conspiracy theory on Reddit that suggests that Finland is an imaginary country, and that there's nothing but sea between Russia, Sweden, Norway and Estonia. In this version of reality, Finland does not exist. This is clearly UTTER BOLLOCKS, but it seemed like a pretty interesting premise for a poem. In reality, Finland is a very real place, and it's pretty beautiful! (Thanks to Kelly Kanayana for the poem idea!)

21 February 2017

#21 - Navel Gazing

I’m rooted to one fixed and central spot;
the continent revolves around me. Here
I lie, ignored perhaps – or maybe lost in thought –
and mostly quiet. Once or twice a year
you might remember me – although it’s likely
you’ll get confused and think me one of my
young relatives (who both look nothing like me),
but I don’t mind: I’ll smile as you pass by.
For I remember pomp, dominion, sway –
begat in war, maintained by war, by war
eroded, then consumed. There comes a day
for cutting losses, resting limbs, and for
reclining on grass, cares in peace dissolving,
serenely watching nebulæ revolving.


20 February 2017

#20 - Southerscales

The light falls slowly, down across the Dales,
from Ingleborough out to Pen-y-ghent.
From Malham Cove, through Horton, on to Dent,
the mist hangs from the mountaintops like sails.
Where broken trees emerge from limestone scales
we pause awhile on our fitful descent,
to reminisce about the hours spent
by rocks and moor the stuff of fireside tales.

It's better that we travel than arrive
at least that's what I've heard some people say
the journey is the thing for which we strive,
it strengthens us against the fading day.
Our voyage goes full circle in the gloam
and leads to where we started back at home.


19 February 2017

#19 Cinderella Feet

Cinderella Feet

Certain that I'm lost, my eyes search the street
zoom in on a figure across the square,
eight inch heels, encase Cinderella feet.
Christ forgive me, but all I do is stare.

Holly fuck! Can't be? Fuck me, she's seen me!
Run Olly! Run Olly! But I just stand
eyes full of her, the possibility
punctured only, when she holds out her hand

unlit cigarette, slim fingers of wire,
“Beautiful boy! You like? You give me fire!”
“Like?” Then I understand the truth of it
it's not love, like I had imagined it,

'cause she lost her slipper, crossing the street
And now she walks on Cinderella feet!


18 February 2017

#18 - Myrornas Krig

Though everybody knows that ‘War is Futile’,
the phrase is still a fitting metaphor.
See, life is often dark and short and brutal,
and progress often flowers from discord.

It’s easy to observe the fighting factions
all writhing underneath the curving glass.
Their battle is a welcoming distraction;
there’s entertainment in their vain impasse.

Perhaps we’re all just ants encased in static,
our struggles silent flickers on a screen;
this sonnet has become a bit dramatic
so let me write exactly what I mean:

Sometimes the destination’s worth the ride
but are these battles ever justified?


Myrornas Krig means 'Ants War', and is the Swedish term for the static that appears on an analogue television screen when no program is broadcast.

17 February 2017

#17 - Dynastic

I go by many names, and titles grand
bedeck my brow with proud and regal grace.
All Europe’s portrait painters know my face –
the purse of lip, the jut of jawline, and
what poets call “the sneer of cold command”.
For lofty is the bearing of my race,
exalted is my charge throughout the land,
expected is that thou shalt know thy place.

I am the House of calculating Venus –
though blood of Mars may yet replenish her,
the sword is not so mighty as the penis,
the marriage bed, and primogeniture.
And if, someday, I fail my noble kin,
I’ll take it on my massive Habsburg chin.


16 February 2017

#16 - All Saints' Day

"We know that everything is for the best
in this, the best of all possible worlds.
The Lord's perfect creation has unfurled
evil exists to put us to the test."

Voltaire just laughs "My friend, you surely jest!
The fractured earth, the boiling seas that hurled
their rage upon this European pearl
disprove the 'Optimism' you've expressed."

Through Lisbon's broken bones and tumbling spires
a devastation none can understand
through bedlam, flood and all-consuming fires,
Herr Leibniz strolls with Pangloss, hand in hand,
to seek the views of those still left alive
on All Saints' Day in seventeen fifty-five.