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Friday, 31 May 2013

Crossed Wires

A side effect
was synesthesia.*
Not in the tablets' literature...
no, not the bittiest of mentions.
So: scary when it struck.

The thunder cloud that had been hovering
above us for the past few hours
began to lose its blackness
and to smell and taste of liquorice.
The lightning fizzed
on two rear taste buds
to my tongue, that long ago
the doctor called defunct. The wind,
a gentle pea green zephyr in the early morning,
had worked up through the gears:
pale cobalt blue through indigo
to madder brown and crimson cruise control,
'til finally the the cloud released
the heaviest of thunder rolls.
Long, shimmering peals flaunted themselves above
the low hills and fell in waves as though
some heavenly dancer danced the dance of seven veils.
Some were plain. White. Silver. Yellow. Grey.
But others were more sexually explicit:
kitsch, vulgar, raffish in the jazz and clash of hues.

As evening drew the shades across the sky
I smelt the perfume of the stars. The Pole Star
stank of fish left too long on the beach (at least,
it was the Pole Star that I blamed), but most
were replicating smells they'd picked up in the garden
before the roses learnt to sing instead.
A real dawn chorus greeted me next morning
with floribundas easing up and down the scales
and climbers yodelling away
for all that they were worth.

The thunder was still hanging on.
More distant now. I heard it
as it echoed in the valleys deep between the hills...
Yes! Heard it! Echo! The tablets were losing their bite...

*Synesthesia: When one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when stimulation of the hearing produces the sensation of colour.

The synesthesia prompt by Victoria C. Sloto - along with more info' - can be found at dVerse Poets Pub

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Final Kiss

Naked and sylph-like,
flesh as a seamless robe,
a source of pale, hypnotic light,
emanating which, she glides
from her underground dominion
to entice her passing subjects
with displays of her somatic arts.
She chooses carefully and teases each.
Each comes quickly to the end
of his short tether -- and not
until that point is reached
she plants the final kiss,
allows him to depart this earthly life.

Written for mindlovemisery from the wordle below:-

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Don't say I didn't warn you!

"Pony Tail".
Code for turbulence.
Turbulence in the gas chamber.
Invisible the gas,
the black smoke drawn
into elegant wisps...
Soon it will be spinning itself
into a fractal
of great beauty and complexity.

But that is not the reason why
Professor Darkman is delighted.
No, the invisibility of the gas
and the developing structure of
the smoke, these are the signs
that indicate his project will
succeed beyond his wildest dreams.
The long months of experiment and
slow development will not have been
in vain. Even now, at this, the
penultimate stage, nothing could live
in that chamber -- and no one would be
able to say how it had died. And there
are other "chambers", not made of glass.
Nothing so substantial. One the size of
Buckingham Palace, one to match the
great dome of St Paul's. One he calls
"The small perambulator"... in all, one
hundred and ninety six gas chambers, each
tailor made to exact dimensions. Naturally,
I am not permitted to reveal the purpose
of these dark plans, nor the secrets of
the chambers themselves -- for example,
how they manage to confine the gas within
such narrow and exact limits, but if in the
next month or so, you die mysteriously,
do not say I didn't warn you of the danger.

Written for Willows prompt at The Mag 170 to whom much thanks for the image "Pony Tail".

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Kids Are Running the Nursery

Everyone was taken by surprise
as they were bound to be.
No one expected it,
not even those who'd tweeted it would happen.
Nothing like it had occurred before -- ever!
So with hindsight,
something like it
had been guaranteed to happen.
Last Sunday night it did.
No blood was shed.
No one got injured.
It was a silent revolution:
the kids took over N.A.S.A. --
and they did it with kid gloves.

Out went Mission Control's
new super-fast computers.
In went their homely
cutting edge technologies.
Soon Ground Control
was suffering from ipaditis. Even so,
in absolutely
no time at all -- or less --
(three shakes of a loose antenna)
a ball game was under way
across the Western skies.
A satellite spectacular
televised on every channel
to catch the natives' interest
and show the world how serious they are.

Two days it took to launch
their first space mission.
The capsule -- rather cramped --
a yesterday's deep sea diver's helmet,
all thruster jets and macho logos.
Sola system areas thought sensitive --
the gun site on the moon for one --
were quickly blanketed
in sheets of yellow custard.
to a recipe concocted by a space girl's mum.

Already now, in this first week,
one matter is resolved
which baffled all the adults in their time:
that of life on other planets.
Their i-pads have been swamped
with messages of mild complaint
about the nuisance caused
by astro footballs landing
on their properties. N.A.S.A
has announced its policy of
NO COMPENSATION for lost peace of mind.

Written for dVerse Poets Poetics, who supplied a selection of inspirational images from the wonderful Leovi site.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The train is leaving
Tribute to Penelope Shuttle
A Glosa*

Samuel Peralta at dVerse Poets sets the challenge of composing a Glosa. (Details at bottom of page.)

The train is leaving has left
that I haven't boarded,
the journey is beginning
that I haven't begun.
        Penelope Shuttle

Other travellers and trippers
push past me, launch themselves
on their great journeys. I,
on the other hand, am a fixed point,
their North Star by which they check
their headings. Stationary time has heft
and gravitas; it's travelling
that lightens loads. I see them go
to states of mind of which I am bereft.
My train is leaving, has left.

Wait! Even in my stationary state
the world around me changes.
Exotic costumes jostle me,
the tang of unseen spaces flow,
and from luggage labels palm trees grow.
Hotels I'd never have afforded
stretch out their corridors like arms to me.
I'll book a room with a sea view!
Not all the scrap book scenes I've hoarded
went with the train I haven't boarded!

Picked up now by a sudden crush
and wafted through the barrier,
I'm taken to a small lagoon.
Grass-skirted girls with bamboo pipes
welcome me with flowers and tunes.
I cannot help the fact I'm grinning;
sunbathing here on pure white sands,
smug now, knowing that my world is good --
and furthermore, no longer spinning...
Ha! The journey is beginning!

Coming from my reverie
with six hard hats surrounding me:
The area from here to there...
(They're pointing... vaguely... in the air...)
is private land. Industrial --
A work place, see? And not for fun!

The dream is shattered. Nothing left
of what I'd thought my great escape.
My dream is back, beyond square one --
the dream I haven't begun.

The poem The Train is Leaving is in the current edition of Poetry London, and so, I imagine, a new poem. I have not been able to find it on the internet, but if you are more successful, I would appreciate a word to that effect.

*Samuel Peralta writes:- The glosa is a form of poetry from the late 14th century and was popular in the Spanish court.

The introduction, the cabeza, is a quatrain quoting a well-known poem or poet.

The second part is the glosa proper, expanding on the theme of the cabeza, consisting of four ten-line stanzas, with the lines of the cabeza used to conclude each stanza.

Lines six and nine must rhyme with the borrowed tenth.
For further info' follow my link to the dVerse Poets web page.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Night and Day

FROM mindlove misery the intriguing suggestion that we use as inspiration a song from the decade of our birth. For me that's the thirties and I have chosen Night and Day by Cole Porter. You can read the lyrics here. My offering takes the form of a reply to Cole Porter -- from a very different world, of course.

You can keep, keep, keep your tom toms,
their beat is not for me
the beat, beat, beat I appreciate
is the heart beat of the free,
and the drip, drip, drip of the raindrops
has very little to do
with the fact that I love a world made for love,
at the head of which stands you.

Night and Day
you are the one I love,
the one who rides above
every storm-kissed wave.

Night and Day
we'll be but two,
not two alone,
but out in the world
where our love was grown.

Night and Day
we'll be just two
with a mission to save
whatever the cost
what is not yet lost.

It's the beat, beat, beat of a yearning
for a world that is slipping away,
and you and I must share, my love,
in preserving our future's day.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Fragments of Memory

Two fragments here from childhood memory:
first, a searchlight like the lighthouse-light,
the way it cut the opaque darkness, where
touching then the sky it made it nebulous,
like Gran's blueberry jelly -- or so it
seemed to me. [A war time joke: two simpletons.
First simpleton: five pounds you can't climb to
the very top of that there beam and wave.
Second simpleton: No bet, I'll not get
half way to the top before you'll turn it off!]

We watched the soldiers play the light across
the sky, my dad and I, in search of Junkers
bombers, so I heard. It was a torch that turned
the sky's bleak slab to a new blazing vision
in my mind. And there below the lighthouse
the second vision, more homely, just as bright:
The dandelion clock puff balls that we blew,
breath after breath, to watch them float or hover,
timing our return to home and tea: three--
O-clock, four, five-of-the-clock -- gone time to go!
Sometimes we'd crush them if we didn't want
to go. Mostly, though we went!

Written jointly for The Sunday Whirl who supplied the above wordle and The Mag 169 for whom I am much indebted for the great image, Wyeth Jamie's Lighthouse-dandelions.

Friday, 17 May 2013


A brown and yellow ball
rolled from the square
between parked cars
and into the road.
The ball was followed
by a small boy (brown
shorts and yellow top).
A speeding car avoided him
and stopped a few yards
further on. The boy
had fallen to the ground
so that most bystanders
thought he had been hit.
Two men, one of them the
boy's father, dragged
the driver from the car
to remonstrate with him
before calling the police.
The boy was inconsolable --
the ball having been squashed.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Home-Spun Technology

It filled a corner of their living room,
but never quite produced the sounds
that we, who lived with them, were keen to hear.
The radiogram, my gran and granddad's
pride and joy. It hummed and strummed. And Churchill
must have loved it, for his voice boomed through it
often when the two of them sat close, ears
almost to the yellow grill. But others
stayed away: Dick Barton, for example,
the Special Agent never did come through.
To hear the likes of him we had our own
technology: a crystal set. Sulphide
of lead, the crystal was. We tickled it
with a long wire - the whisker from the cat.
No batteries were needed. No power
of any sort beyond the waves caught by
the crystal's long antenna. Here and there
were hot spots on the crystal which if you
tickled them just right with the long wire, not
too hard and not too soft and just in the
right spot, you'd get a crackle in the 'phones
or a long hiss before a voice or sound
effects or honky tonk. And all from no-
where and by magic, all from the ether
and all free. But if the adults used it
it would merely crackle and the only
voice you'd hear was theirs. They'd fret and fume and
curse each time the tune was lost to crackle.

Written for Poetry Jam where this week's prompt is Crystal

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How do we see a beauty - or an Ugliness

Light -- sun-light -- instinctively owned
source and nourisher of energies
that flesh is heir to.
Mind knowing it as twin.
Object -- not medium -- of sight.

See how mountains scatter light in certain ways --
the way that water smacks and breaks off rock,
perhaps -- and other things in different ways,
how trees have similar trade secrets of their own.
How all we know of anything is how it fractures light --
until, that is, we add the confirmation of a touch:
the mountain can be climbed,
the tree will take our weight.

But more: the way the light will change
a surface that it falls upon
(or the surface will change it),
so do the patterns from the world around
fall on to patterns sparking in the brain,
and like conflicting wave forms,
cause interference, each with each,
sometimes to enhance the status quo
and feed the pleasure centres of the mind
as beauty; sometimes to corrupt,
and tell us that we see an ugliness.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Desert Visions

The sun's first rays
brushed the mouth of the cave,
catching the tattered figures,
robing them momentarily
in light, and seeming to enhance
the clarity of their chants.
Their voices must
have echoed eerily in
the confined space
of their lowly hermitage,
though they soared
with crystal beauty
above the broken line of trees
where the birds of prey
were already circling.

And then the chanting stopped,
replaced by a nasal drone.
It was a signal known to the birds.
The oldest and wisest of
the hermits had long ago
made a solemn vow,
which he considered binding,
that by hook or by crook
he would save the souls
of those murderous birds.
Now he made a fist
and held it aloft.
The first and biggest of the birds
descended, perched on
the knuckles of his closed hand
and spread its wings,
forming there the image of a crucifix.

Written for The Sunday Whirl whose wordle is shown above.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


I called him uncle, who was cousin --
distant and yet close.
A hero to me -- probably my first.
A footballer in peacetime.
Professional, who played in goal,
but now in uniform, he drove a tank.
I basked a lot
in his reflected glory
and the jealousy of friends.

He took me to the beach one time --
and took the ball along.
We played a bit. He tried
to teach me a few skills. Nearby,
two rivals building castles in the sand.
One, younger than the other, got my vote.
The older boy was furious,
and bombed and kicked his vier's castle
back into the sand. That done,
he stood upon his own and sang.
Loudly he sang, repetitively, to us all:
I'm the king of the castle,
I'm the king of the castle...

Over and over and louder and louder.

Finally, I ran up to our ball
and kicked it hard in his direction.
Here memory is wanting. Did I score
a direct hit? Or did I miss
and did he lose his balance as he ducked?
At any rate he fell, and I,
to the final strains of I'm
the king of the castle...
Get down you dirty rascal!

I still am tempted to take down
those who are too triumphant when they win
and who delight in seeing their opponents,
not just beaten but destroyed. You see it
often in the football fan. Perhaps his team
came top. Their greatest rival relegated
and he crows who has been given bragging rights.

Written to the prompt at dVerse Poets (Poetics) where Mary suggests we consider something that we find tempting.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Prelude to Disaster

The sea's fluorescent hues
deepen the shadows of the bay;
the moon's graffiti on the crests
and troughs shine white as chalk
cliffs on a summer's day
and caution as to what the sea
can silently absorb.

In rock pools where the sea
sets out its stall the hermit crab,
the algae, sponges, green leaf worms
and jelly fish are overwhelmed
by bubble wrap and plastic bags,
condoms and bottle tops, tin foil
and wire -- they bring no punters in.

And out beyond the breakers where
the sea heaves like a gasping chest,
now eiderdowned in decayed leaves...
not leaves, as in some woodland pond,
but decayed fish. They swam into
a toxic pool. Fluorescence here
is oil and water: that which cannot wed.

Written for this week's prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads where the suggestion was that we should write a prelude to a poem that does not exist yet.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

what does she know?

(Written for this week's picture prompt at The Mag, Mary Cassatt's Young Woman Picking the Fruit of Knowledge. )

Does she know
the nature of the fruit she picks?
Has she no inkling of
the consequences that she risks?
Is she an innocent,
a child of nature, one
reacting to the beauties all around?
Or does she satisfy some appetite,
a craving that will not be satisfied?
Is she dependent on the juice of knowledge
for her kicks?
Or is she simply hoarding data for
a rainy day, collecting facts
like sea shells or glass animals,
trivia perhaps for some pub quiz?

We are bedazzled by some beauty that we see,
but knowledge does not grow on trees,
demands acquaintance
with the tantalising thing
in all its forms;
some element of skill,
some process of the mind.
She may enjoy
her apple, quince or apricot,
but all she knows
is how the apple, quince and apricot compare.

Written for this week's picture prompt at The Mag, Mary Cassatt's Young Woman Picking the Fruit of Knowledge.

Monday, 6 May 2013

An Alternative View

Regardless of his many lauded charms,
he has a lot of front, you must agree.
On more than one occasion recently
we've heard him give the boss a dressing down --
and always with a thunderous row the sure result.
I wouldn't trust him further, man,
than I can spit. Mixed messages are what
he'll dish you up -- I cannot even count
in thousands all the times he's thrown me
so far off the scent... well let's just say
he's left me well and truly in the soup
and seeing red, the hot blood pulsing in my veins!

From The Sunday Whirl (#107) these words from which to spin a poem: front, charm, messages, soup, thousand, pulsing, red, thunderous, dressing, count, spit, dish

Sunday, 5 May 2013

How Myths May Discompose

Imagine: Kenny. Rising eight,
child with special needs,
highly animated as I tell
Creation's story -- scientific version.
But no Big Bang for us! Continuous Creation. --
That's it. Official version of the day.
Almost, his fever of excitement is too much,
but is cut short. The bell. We file into the hall.

The head's assembly. Today: Creation.
The Book of Genesis. Kenny is confused.
Distressed. He is in agony.
Later, he asks if he may paint.
He takes two sheets of kitchen paper,
tapes the two together and launches into
yet another landscape: mountains, valleys,
trees and flowers, birds and animals,
a river, sun, moon and stars... But then:
two moons and two men in the valley.

One figure is diminutive, he's pointing up
towards the second moon. The other
man towers over him -- and wears a halo round
his head. I ask would Kenny like to talk about...
(Don't ever ask What is it? or far,
far worse What's it supposed to be? )... He nods.
The second moon is not a moon but Sputnik 1
(The Russians launched it recently.)
The little man is Adam and the big man God.
Adam points towards the Sputnik, says:
See God, it's me put that one up!

And God says: what? I ask.
He's got a wee, wee spider in his hand and
he's showing Adam and he says to him
"Well, I jist made this one. Beat that!"

Hoping to ease myself back into writing mode, I have rewritten an old version for submission to Hobgoblin2011's prompt at Poetics: The Creatures Of Mythology, Folklore and Fairy Tales

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Days on the Long Mynd : too few of them.

beneath a single pine
I make believe its branches
are a forest canopy
look heavenward ---
where I was taught to look for heaven.

White clouds drift by.
(could they be clouds
on which the angels sit?)
No, not a sound of any sort...
The wind is kicking up.
Dust clouds stir.
Sand storms threatening...

Flying Things Hill.
(I idly dream up names for it.)
Every sort of flying thing is here
(barring angels, I'm afraid):
gnats. midges. birds and bees.
Butterflies (the green
hair streak,
for one) and ants.

An unidentified F.O... I have
just seen the first Wright
Brothers' version of a dragon fly...
You laugh, my friend? All things
are possible up here. This hill was put
together in the Southern Hemisphere --
The Falkland Islands' latitude, in fact.

PreCambrian is this, survivor of
the global ice age, and of flooding by
a shallow Cambrian sea, to share in
that time's burgeoning new life,
transported here by Tecto Couriers. Com
to fill this Shropshire space with its white
sand, its trilobites and pebbles from its beach.

Above the canopy, above the heads
of angels and other flying things:
a Jumbo jet, much smaller than a bee,
and yet its baneful spray,
invisible to you and me,
affects the lesser flying things
and us -- incalculably!

If it was black, the rain
that falls from it, and not invisible
I doubt we ever would
have sanctioned it. I turn my head,
cheek into heather,
spiked by bits of gorse,
and catch my breath again:

the sun-fired purples make you think
the whole heath is alight.
Beyond the virtual flames
a glider station; sail planes
flying off the ridge.
A stone chat lands nearby,
looks round at me, takes in the view,

then follows two hang gliders out
into the empty space, exploring with them
the Long Mynd's wild extremes.
I turn my head the other way:
children flying kites. Time now
to head for home below the ridge
to glass and concrete cliffs

and concrete trees, their cables
little more in evening light
than first attempts by a small child
at ruling pencil lines. We leave
the whinberries (bilberries
if you are not a local) and six-
-teen Bronze Age burial mounds

to inch our way along the single track
of loose sand, packed with cars,
to marvel at the sudden blaze
of fiery red the sun now gives
the scene. a blaze that puts
the once-bright hues of sailplanes
firmly in the shade.

The image is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike License. The copyright holder is Sean Hattersley

Apologies for my unannounced absence, due, I am afraid to a health hiccup.(My previous post proved all too prophetic!)