Monthly Archives: September 2013

20/20 foresight

Set the controls of the time machine
For forty years of happily ever after
And see what has become of you and me
What is left of our romantic dream?
The children grown and out of home
Cottage garden and picket fence
Betraying the decaying ways
Of the intervening years
More toad again than prince
I see myself reflected in your eyes
Leading me to ask what enchantment
Has misled us down this garden path?

She Stooped to Conquer (or Better to Have Loved and Lost a Foot Race than…)


(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

One cannot but question why
Atalanta should have chosen
Golden apples over victory
Never bettered till she chose it
Losing all for love by choice

Swift of foot the virgin huntress
Delphic warnings she ignored
Ran a race she couldn’t win
When she sought to vanquish fate
Thereby handing love first place

Into lioness form they smote her
Ire of gods she did provoke so
This most heartfelt of mistakes
Even though one must suspect
Having lost she lost no pride.

some thoughts on those bits obituaries omit

newspaper copy reduces a life
to a ruly column of justified text
not that unlike a poem to be sure
but lacking in all poetic candor
favoring facts over the feel of
being in the physical presence
of the person no longer present
where born, what school attended
who married to, how many kids
what achievements made or
honors won tallied up like a
final balance sheet detailing an
individual’s worth instead of an
accurate portrait including those
moments filled with laughter/joy
but also equally those beset by
crabbiness and petty-mindedness
meaning that there is a total dearth of
well-rounded writing in death notices
(words that would bring their subject alive)
how different if it were said of the dead
by 6.00pm he smelled of rum most days
although in a good honest way or she
frequently spoke over the top of others
however what she had to say was far
more interesting than mere idle chit chat.




To sleep the sleep of the
anaesthesiac devoid of
dreams, empty as a sea shell
washed up onto the sands of
forgetfulness by the push-me
pull-you tides of reason
not even the memory of a
memory astir in the night
the cyclops inner eye shut
tight and the dialogue
of self shushed to less than
an ant’s whisper, for know
only this: such is the repose
of those the gods truly favor.

the joys of looking a gift nightmare in the mouth

the gift of foresight is as often
as not a curse bringing not joy
but anxiety through dreams of
events yet to happen the precise
meaning of which are unhelpfully
shrouded in ambiguity only made
clear once the prophesied calamity
has transpired or in other words
only once it is too late to change the
outcome and so night after night
falling asleep becomes part of the
greater ordeal of never knowing
what exactly tomorrow will bring
other than what one has spied
darkly like a sleepwalking double
agent in the corridors of the yet to be.

bypassing the heart of the mystery

This is the house Madame Blavatsky (as the
architect of the core tenets of New Age belief)
built although few know so now and of
how her theosophy helped assuage
the monotony of a world without God
owing to Darwin’s having pulled the rug
out underneath those who preached the
divine origin of the first woman and man
life soon becomes mechanical and bland
for while Blake long ago warned brothels
are built with the bricks of religion
the building blocks of science in turn shelter
the most irrational longings of our race.

Schlachthof Fünf — A Place of Carnage in Anybody’s Language

(photo: from Wikipedia)

(photo: from Wikipedia)

I seriously wonder if my grandfather
bombed Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden
as he sat hunkered in his eponymous
slaughterhouse numbered no.5
a prisoner of war and still not yet a writer
it’s at best an academic question, I grant you
because although my father’s father flew
as a bomb aimer with the RAF Pathfinders
his job on the eve of Valentine’s Day 1945
was to lay down flares over key targets
so as to guide those who followed to the
precise points they were to offload their
incendiary payloads onto a civilian population
thus the firestorm was orchestrated and
25,000 killed, too many bodies to bury
and a hell on Earth achieved of which I never
— unlike in Vonnegut’s celebrated novel —
heard my grandfather once tell.


Thanks are due to Dina, a fellow blogger here at WordPress, who has been helping me track the themes of flight and Kurt Vonnegut’s writing in some of my more recent poems. Her excellent writing and blog can be found here. Enjoy!

barking mad up the wrong tree

there was a loony bird in the park today
sitting perched halfway up a tree
it took three policemen in flack jackets
to talk her back down to Earth even
though at no point was she in any real
danger of falling from her roost
she went quietly enough in the end
but then they mostly always do
without warning as if following much
the same whim that saw her shin
her way up the makeshift bean stalk
to begin with the woman folded away
her wings, stowing them somewhere
about her otherwise nondescript person
before with a somewhat crestfallen air
she was next led to a waiting police van
her flight for freedom permanently

the final irony of existence

it speaks at deafening volumes
about the high esteem in which
we revere our pets that we will gladly
euthanize them out of a sense of
human kindness whereas as a display
of perverse inverse logic we refuse our
own kind a similar speedy delivery from
suffering by way of the Big Syringe
even going so far as writing laws
prohibiting mercy killing as a crime
as though denying a human being the
dignity of choice regarding when she
or he feels ready to wave the white flag
were the highest form of moral justice
the cruel joke being that the terminally ill
may indeed therefore fare better if they were
indeed literally fastened to dying animals.

the eternal humdrum conundrum of why we writers write at all

with an infinite amount of time a
monkey at a typewriter it’s said
will reproduce the collected works of
Stratford’s most famous bard but
as the lifespan of an ape such as you
or I is fixed it smacks of rank futility it
seems to me to keep on tapping at these
infernal keys only so that curséd
prince of Elsinore once more should
question the merit of ending it all, ’cause
life is short and not to act is death.