Wanted: words for poem – washed      (7)
Ashore, awaits the next tide.                      (7)






Come on in, the water’s lovely!

If you’d like to add 5 lines to my shared poem, please click on https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/renga/


PS  I’m getting plenty of views for this post but for some reason nobody has yet taken   the plunge … a pity, because the poem so far is looking interesting … I’d dive in myself  but don’t want to empty the pool! 🙂 Anybody else?

PPS  Since posting this, we’re up to 28 lines. Final call: any more swimmers?

PPPS Renga now finished! See https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/rengarama/



This is my second attempt to create a shared poem on WordPress. I thought the first one, a series of linked haikus, turned out really well. Click here to view the finished poem: https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/haikumania-the-results/

This time there are some refinements. A renga is a shared poem which begins with a haiku (an unrhymed 3 line poem of 5-7-5 syllables) to which are added two more lines (each of 7 syllables) which thereby forms a tanka (an unrhymed 5 line poem of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables). The process continues with a new haiku which also gains two lines to become a tankaand so on.

I thought it would be fun for each contributor to convert the previous haiku to a tanka and then write a new haiku for someone else to convert. I’ll write the first haiku and invite someone to add two 7-syllable lines plus a new 5-7-5 haiku. Each new contributor continues this pattern until I decide to bring the poem to a close by finishing the last tanka and adding a concluding haiku.

Anyone can participate more than once if they wish, the only bar being don’t add to your own haiku. Please use the Leave A Reply box because hitting Reply may jumble things up.

There should be some connection, however slight,  with the contribution immediately preceding yours – a tanka should hang together and a haiku have some link with the previous tanka. This shouldn’t stop people striking out in new directions, however. You may prefer to ignore earlier lines. Half the fun is watching the poem shift emphasis and I relish the challenge of pulling disparate elements together at the end!

This is the poem so far, although please check the Reply boxes in case the latest contribution is there. I’ll add new lines here as they come in and credit them in the finished poem. Thank you for your contributions.

Walk at the tide’s edge
Here where ceaseless ocean surf
Whispers to the land.

Prehistoric sharks teeth gleam
Pools appear and disappear

Wave shush absorbs sound
I float in the vast, cold sea
From whence we all came.

my blood merges echoing
memories of ancestors

who will keep this song
from the silence of neglect?
ripples collect thoughts

The great oceans sing their thoughts
Reverberating whale songs

Frothy tidal surge
Playing wet snare drum brushes
Sea lions bark cadence

As stars illuminate life
To imbue the foam with awe

A planet’s dreams wish
To encapsulate a wave
On which to escape

The water’s depths invite me
into their coolness within

And in the coolness
life renews
and I am ready to live again

 Renga now closed. Finished version on https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/rengarama/.

Just poured myself a beer …

It’s time I let rip. Most of my posts are composed like school essays, plenty of notes and constant editing to achieve A* and all that stuff. This one comes straight from the black hole somewhere deep down. First thought, best thought … Alan Ginsberg had it right. DH Lawrence too, he never edited anything he wrote and you sure in hell couldn’t uninvent him! DHL was a great admirer of Walt Whitman, another literary berserker. Anyway …

A bottle of beer by my side, JB Hutto’s Stompin at Mother Blues on the hi-fi … real music, check it out! … and a solid determination to let everything I type stand, no matter what! Deep breath, here goes!

We are an evolved species. We share that with every other species on the planet. That means we are as good as it gets. We know how to survive. It shouldn’t be beyond our collective wit to create a sustainable world for future generations of all species. Make no mistake, we find ourselves with a hell of a past – much of it recent – to expunge. In my lifetime, on my watch, we have even entered a new era named after ourselves – the Anthropocene.

But for most of our history we were in partnership with nature. We knew how to play her with finesse, living off her without taking too much. We only took as much as we needed to survive. Honourable, you might say. Something happened – the jury is out on the what and why of it – to make us want a cushion, an excess of protection against what nature often in the form of other humans threw at us. We created money, property, secure investments and whatever took us through the night …

Panama is the outcome, Panama and all the other so-called tax havens in the world that separate humanity more than any bogus division that has been devised – and devised by whom, one might ask, but isn’t that a whole other question? – bogus divisions such as race, creed, class or colour. Modern science has proved we’re all the same under the skin so get used to it. Everything you read is propaganda of one sort or another – this excepted, of course! – and most of us are pretty good at spotting spin. Hemingway said the most important thing a writer needed – and which of us isn’t a writer? – is a built-in crap detector. I know when I’m talking shit and so do you.

That’s what I mean. We’re an evolved species. We been around a long time. Strip aware the bullshit culture we’re all immersed in – me included, I’m not pulling rank – and we’re left with inherited instinct coupled with an awareness of the instinctive sense still alive in others. I look at the reproductions on my wall – may science be praised! – and see the art of Monet, Turner, Japanese prints, Van Gogh. Coming out of my speakers – the JB Hutto ended – is Boo Boo Davis, erstwhile harp player turned drummer with Muddy Waters, singing along in Howling Wolf style with a superb Dutch band. This was another random choice from my CD collection. Anything I don’t like goes in the bag for Oxfam. This is a stayer. It connects with history.

We are here to fulfil the hopes of our ancestors. We live the life they imagined. They weren’t all struggling in the mud. Our own idealism didn’t spring from nowhere. We may have been lucky to encounter idealists in our own lives – I cite my granddad and his daughter, my mum, as personal examples – but all they did was strike a chord in our inherited potentiality for this stuff. We are primed for hope and mad optimism, like it or not. Depression is a stupid cultural imposition. The human brain is hardwired for happiness.

I speak as one whose glass is half full. If you’re interested, it’s Hobson’s Rich Ruby Porter aka Postman’s Knock 4.8% Vol. Never mind half full, it’s nearly empty. What say I open a bottle of something else? You’ll have to shout, my internet is kinda slow … OK, we’re agreed on another beer, or is that just me?

Right, glass refreshed, onwards! Only connect, said EM Forster. Great … the question is, what to what? Duh, you’d have to be stupid not to know the answer … everything to everything else. We can do this stuff. The elephant in the room is death … and who doesn’t love elephants, with their long memories and touching graveyards? Pun intended …

Our awareness of the Grim Reaper is universal. It binds us together. Birth, taxes, death. Get used to it. Unless you tried to buck the common trend in Panama, or wherever. My dad was a tax inspector. He was proud that he helped shift the burden from poor to rich. To live in a land was to accept its rules, to feel honoured that you could contribute to the fairness that made your nation great. To honour the spirit of the law as well as its letter.

I didn’t always get on with my dad. To be honest, he was a bit of a cold fish. His own dad was lost at sea in WW1 … which of us isn’t affected in some way or another by that appalling conflagration? … so without a role model himself, he wasn’t that great a dad. Plus there was that big generation gap in the 60s … we were something new, man! My mum took dad to the musical Hair and he wasn’t comfortable with hippies crawling all over him on their way to the stage although my mum was up for anything. He and mum had their problems and for a while I was piggy-in-the-middle so dad was hard to get on with.

With the benefit of hindsight, though, my dad was spot on when it came to the morality of taxation.

Where was I? Oh yes, death. Our common knowledge of death binds us like nothing else. Some fantasise about an afterlife, but what if this is it? An all-too-brief window of wonderfulness? Doesn’t that make it all the more precious?

I’m 67. Who knows how much longer I’ve got? As they say, I’ve had a good innings. My generation is probably the luckiest ever to have lived. Free cod-liver oil and orange juice on the NHS, no war, no obesity after rationing and before fast-food, the mind-expanding experience of rock’n’roll and all that entailed, full employment, the sexual revolution … I’m starting to bore myself, need I go on?

Waddya mean, pour another drink you old soak? I told you this would be uncensored. A friend of mine once said I had a shopping-bag mind. By this he meant I no sooner made one point than I would answer it myself much as a supermarket shopper would pluck items from here, there and everywhere. Probably comes from the observation of my parents’ incessant arguments … one long argument, as it happens. I’m painfully aware of both sides of every question.

Right, where were we? The CD has ended, time for another. What’s it going to be? I have a big collection. Another random choice. I bet you can hardly wait.

Can. Ego Bamyasi. Life is good, each day borrowed from nowhere, the music continuing as long as it can. Joke, haha. Gallows humour is all we have. Best make the best of it. Seriously, though, the sweet thing about not believing in the sweet hereafter is that here and now is all the sweeter.

Did I just say that out loud? What I crave above all is a natural reverence for life to replace the crazy cults that crave a higher existence beyond. Life can be hard. Keats called it a process of soul-making, envisaging a heaven on earth. Nietzsche said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Buddhism offers a useful description of what we’re up against to achieve higher consciousness:

Ordered from the least to the most desirable, they are: Hell–a condition of despair in which one is completely overwhelmed by suffering; Hunger–a state dominated by deluded desire that can never be satisfied; Animality–an instinctual state of fearing the strong and bullying the weak; Anger–a state characterized by an unrestrained competitive urge to surpass and dominate others and often a pretence of being good and wise. These four states are referred to as the Four Evil Paths because of the destructive negativity that marks them.

Continuing, Humanity is a tranquil state marked by the ability to reason and make calm judgments. While fundamental to our identity as humans, this state can also represent a fragile balance that yields to one of the lower states when confronted with negative conditions. Rapture is a state of joy typically experienced when desire is fulfilled or suffering escaped.

Which of us hasn’t been there and bought the T shirt? And could Google be the portal to a new stage in human evolution? If so, we need to evolve a way to use it to our advantage. The facts are out there but we need to teach our children how to access them … or perhaps, get them to show us! As I understand it, the higher worlds available to us all here and now are Learning, Realisation and Compassion. These are the escape routes from the lower worlds. Together, they constitute Nirvana.

Or as near vana as you can get. Let’s not get precious about this …

Moral: keep studying, keep your mind open, keep your empathy flowing. As to the last, I’m intrigued by the French poet Rimbaud’s phrase Je est un autre – I is another. For me, this is a cry against the egoism of subjectivity and for a more objective fellow-feeling … I contain multitudes in the words of Walt Whitman … but I’m open to other interpretations.

Anyway, the beer has run out and the CD has ended. The rest is silence …


New Broom for Bafflesby?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the turn of our final candidate this evening to try and convince you that he is your best choice for the job of Bafflesby Town Mayor …

“Hi, folks, I’ve got something to confess. Last night I sat down to write this speech, but you know what? I couldn’t. That’s right, my friends, I couldn’t write a single word.

Now that don’t sound like Ewell B. Flush, I hear you say, Ewell B. Flush is always shooting his mouth off. Haha, maybe so, but not last night! Last night, whenever Bafflesby came to mind, my hand began to shake and my eyes just filled with tears. You guys have had it rough.

Believe me, I know, I’ve seen the TV coverage. The quaint old streets of your beautiful battered borough awash with filthy water. Your historic job-centre full to overflowing with the good folk of Bafflesby – decent, honest, hardworking – what a choker! And do you know what I said to myself? Ewell B. Flush, I said to myself, there but for fortune go you! I’m filling up right now just looking at your eager, expectant faces.  Yeah, it’s the gospel truth, I’m full of it!

This is a great crowd. I bet we got people here from every part of town. A cross section, as the boffins say, and let me tell you … you have every reason to be cross! You know what, you guys deserve a voice for a damn change! Come on, let’s hear you! Who have we got from Barmcote? Yay! Witsend? Whoo-hoo! Potherfield? Haha! Greater Dumdale?

Yeah, one or two … now, all together, give it up for Bafflesby!!!

See what I’m saying, folks, what can’t we achieve when we stand shoulder to shoulder? Believe you me, if I wasn’t way up here I’d be right down there alongside you! Oh yeah, I hear what you’re saying, what does Ewell B. Flush know about us? What does a multi-millionaire from Nobhill know about life down here on our foolishly built-on floodplain? Well, let me tell you, I’m listening. I hear what you’re saying.

Rest easy, I’m looking out for you. Every day without fail a copy of the Bafflesby Bugle is delivered to Flush Fortifications, freshly-ironed and brought to me on a silver salver. Nothing but the best for Bafflesby, you see! And every day without fail I have it read to me cover to cover, every word, no matter how depressing – even the football news!

Elect me mayor and I’ll buy Bafflesby Rovers!

Only kidding … or am I? Seriously though, I share your pain. And I take special note of the Letters Page. Several correspondents suggest that flood-prevention barriers around my golf course made the flooding of Bafflesby town-centre much worse. I say, sure, the children’s playground was six foot underwater but life is much more than swings and roundabouts.

Scratch that … er, life is no more than swings and roundabouts. You win some, you lose some. No pain without gain. My golf course goes under, the golfers go elsewhere. Golfers are competitive people, they know it’s dog-eat-dog out there. They go to Broad Acres, they go to Par Venue, they go to Leafy Lanes.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What does Ewell B. Flush care? He owns every golf course in the damn country! It’s no skin off his nose. He throws a bunch of golf-course workers from Bafflesby out of work, so what?

Excuse me … so what? Is that your idea of how Ewell B. Flush thinks? Well, it’s my turn now and have I got news for you? You can’t be too greedy but Ewell B. Flush doesn’t just think of Number One, thank you very much. His golf course keeps going, his workers ain’t adding to Bafflesby’s unemployment statistics. We’re talking win-win here. I’m a winner but I don’t play winner-takes-all. Elect Ewell B. Flush and you can all be winners.

Apart from the losers, of course … you can’t have winners without losers. Elect Ewell B. Flush and make sure the losers aren’t from Bafflesby. You all know that Offshaw & Gonn are considering decamping lock, stock and barrel to Dymbleton. You gonna give those jerks down there your jobs? Let’s hear it! Hell, no!

And guess what, an incredibly reliable source tells me that Offshaw & Gonn can be persuaded to stay here if Ewell B. Flush is the new face in town. So I tell him that all you decent, honest, hardworking folks – yeah, give yourselves a round of applause! – will work for peanuts to put their beloved Bafflesby back on the map.!

It’s true, last night I had nothing to say. But tonight I’ve seen the fire burning in your eyes. Tomorrow I’ve a mind to put my money where my mouth is. Elect Ewell B. Flush and we’ll build a wall round this town. Those dopes from Dymbleton are a bunch of lazy freeloaders. They don’t deserve to shine your shoes. You folks have battled in the teeth of a gale. Flash floods, falling visitor numbers, fleeing employment opportunities – a perfect storm! Elect Ewell B. Flush, my friends, and together we can change the weather!”


Lost – Reward Offered!

Nothing personal, Cyberspace, but here is a wild shot in the dark …

Many people have past experiences which haunt them, hazy memories that hover just out of sight like a dream you can’t quite remember. If only you could draw them out into the light of day and give them a good hard look, find out what they really mean to you …

When I was a young child I read a story – whether short story, novella or novel I can’t recall – which affected me deeply. I would dearly love to find it again. Trouble is, I can’t remember much about it, other than the way it seemed to stir something deep inside me.

Anyway, here’s what I remember, in case it rings a bell with someone.

The main characters were two very contrasting creatures who go on a voyage across water – sea or river or perhaps both. At one point they sail up an inlet or estuary. They set out with a purpose or quest of some kind and have experiences from which they learn important, perhaps gently philosophical lessons. The creatures – two, I’m sure, though there may have been others – were an unlikely pairing. I’ve always thought crab and bear, for some reason, but this may be a later memory overlay. The difference between the creatures was as striking and peculiar as that, though.

Other than that, well, this image fragment – an illustration, perhaps, or more likely an inner  visualisation – the boat arriving at a wooden quay or pier, lights twinkling in a village … and that’s it. Not much to go on, is it? It sounds like a children’s story but there was probably a more grown-up dimension, too, some quasi-religious or ethical message within a kind of myth or fable. I remember thinking how beautiful the story was and being moved by the creatures’ thoughts and feelings, perhaps by their unlikely friendship.

So can anybody help me find it? I’ve tried libraries, bookshops, the internet … all to no avail. Please feel free to pass this on, reblog, whatever. Being reunited with my uber-story would mean a lot to me.

And your reward?

Well, as the bishop says to the actress, what could be better than the satisfaction of knowing you have made an old man very happy?

I’d also love to know if you have something like this in the dusty attic of your mind – if you’ll forgive the metaphor! Who knows … perhaps I, or one of my readers, may be able to help you find it?

Haikumania (The Results)

Well, that was fun!

Fishing online for linked haikus netted some little treasures. My thanks to those who contributed. Their sites are well worth visiting – just click on the names below. The first and last haikus are mine, as is the title.

I shall definitely do this again with some variations gleaned from other blogs. WordPress is the best school I’ve ever been to and this little collaboration has been a lovely learning curve for me. Just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn …




Travelling Light

Where to be happy?
Misty lands far away or
here beneath blossom?

Beneath sun and leaf
under an English oak tree
where we breathe and sigh                                   Opher

or sharing our souls
as we nature’s soul share?
The place? In our minds.                                        dunnasead.co

Our minds disconnect
into the sun’s warmth, the wind
a thought on the skin.                                             memadtwo

In the urinous shade
Of the car park’s stairwell, green
Lichens sit and swell.                                                peter boughton

Decay begets life.
Beauty is in the mind’s eye
Here, there, everywhere.





Thought it might be fun to follow up my previous post with a little experiment in collective composition, a series of linked haikus. The idea is that I write a haiku and invite another which has some, perhaps slight connection with mine while standing alone as a poem in its own right. This allows the emphasis to shift between poems.

The first haiku received will become the second poem in the sequence and in turn provide a springboard for the third, which triggers the fourth and so on. Each new haiku need only connect with its immediate predecessor but to keep things orderly please respond in the Leave A Reply box, ignoring Reply button under Comment boxes. Scroll down these to find the latest haiku in the series.

My role will be to decide when to bring things to a close, at which point I’ll publish the sequence so far and ask for a concluding haiku – this will be the only one that has to connect with all previous haikus in the chain. Throughout, the first poems received will be used provided they conform to the Oxford Dictionary definition:

Haiku – a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

Can’t think of anything else, so here’s my haiku to get the ball rolling:

Where to be happy?

Misty lands far away or

here beneath blossom?