Tag: poems

Word Hoard

There’s an interesting report in yesterday’s Guardian Review of a new book about word games and literary puzzles which certain authors have used to generate writing. Here’s a link to it – The Penguin Book of Oulipo – and reading this review was food for thought because of my curious preoccupation with ‘found’ words, those that appear whenever I click on https://randomwordgenerator.com

I never let a word go by without trying to use it. Of course the results can be patchy – some words trigger more ideas than others – but I always resist the temptation to skip through for ‘better’ words. Language is a currency which can, all too easily, become devalued.

It’s also a democracy – so here are three recent acrostic poems which I haven’t the heart to turn away from the door. Clerk, Twitch, True. Each little effusion is a poor thing but mine own … 

crack open any word
like an ancient
egg and
recover long lost meanings
killed by thoughtless custom


triumph was finally within reach as I presented His Majesty 
with my pièce de résistance - the delicious dish that would
introduce my hitherto criminally-ignored culinary genius 
to le beau monde after way too many years in potwashing obscurity -
chacun à son goût, I chortled, just before the sudden bite of a
horsefly made me dump my steaming-hot chef-d'oeuvre into the Royal Lap!


tell me what you
really think
unless you feel
empowered by drink


Kicking Against The Pricks

One poem per post? Who says? Here’s three for ya!


R ather than just cruise on autopilot to any and
e very old theme-park they choose to send you,
b etter by far to stick a pin in the map –
e ach surprise destination a new tomorrow. Best of all,
l earn to map-read. Real places are out of sight, off-piste.


R epeating pure guff off a page
E arns many a lackey their wage,
B ut let them once spy
E very word is a lie –
L oad up paychecks or lock the cage.


R emember the stroppy guy at the back of the room that nothing suited?
E ven the most obvious, trivial truths were grist to his tricksy mill.
B lack was white, he’d say, or maybe an undiscovered shade of grey.
E veryone else wanted to move to the vote and go home, pub, anywhere!
L isten, he’d say, get this wrong and out there could disappear …


Image result for rebel


Image: Twitter

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Rebel

Pop Music (Part One)

B ig me
U p, Promoter Man,
B oost my image if you can!
B ring me
L oads of ready cash –
E xtra cushions when I crash!

Image result for shooting star

Easy enough target, of course, the pursuit of short-lived fame by people – often young and low on self-esteem – who are easy prey for the cynical Svengalis that feed the ever-hungry maw of modern media!

The search for novelty is relentless. Get famous and instantly the hunt is on for new (and now not-so-nice) things to say – scandals, skeletons-in-the-closet, stylistic faux pas – and if there is any dosh most of it will go to publicity agents, libel lawyers and anti-stalker security protection.

What do I know about it, you ask, whose only brush with fame was the soft brush I once wielded when washing Bert Weedon’s car as a Boy Scout during the fund-raising Bob-a-Job Week? Bert who, you inquire? Ah well, none other than the man who shifted a million guitar-tuition books entitled, somewhat optimistically, Play In A Day. Made it sound easy, you see …

And how much did this guitar megastar fork out for his carwash? A bob. Twelve old pennies prised with some difficulty from a battered leather purse. It was clear fame hadn’t turned his head.

Actually, I’m glad it never came my way. I’d only have gone off the rails. Mind you, it might have been a hell of a way to go …

Nowadays, of course, the high-point of hubris is looking up my Stats when I’ve linked to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Today it was Bubble. A celebrity bubble may go pop but if you live in one it could be suffocating. So there! Usually my posts go pop but I’m letting this one run on a bit, if only to prove I’m no flash in the pan … though it could be smoke and mirrors if I don’t come up with a subject soon …

Yeah, fame for its own sake is a dead end. Famous for fifteen minutes, anyway. Famous for being famous, even worse. But fame that’s earned, well, that’s a different story. Last year I posted a list of my personal heroes – Guiding Spirits is the link. Perhaps you share my belief that we carry within us everyone we’ve known or been influenced by. It’s not a religious idea but it is, nonetheless, an idea I think of as sacred. If we are not guardians of the past and gatekeepers of the future, we are nothing.

Something of this is behind the poem in my previous post:


M any selves set out at first
E xploring many lives.
N ot one returns without a tale
T o tell of hates and loves.
O ne story holds them all at last –
R emains until one leaves.

There’s a slight tension here between the acrostic word and my interpretation. I made it plural. Having a single mentor has sinister overtones – makes me think of weird cults – whereas a range of influences orchestrated from within speaks to me of freedom.

Any culture worthy of the name encourages a multiplicity of viewpoints. At the risk of repeating myself – and what old codger isn’t? – coming of age in the 1960s was a gas because so many new voices exploded on the scene all at once. OK, maybe under the shadow of a bigger explosion but still …

Such a heady experience of freedom stays with you and any subsequent limitation of liberty always sets off alarm bells. Any attempt to put people in pigeonholes, niches, corners, classes, bags or boxes always gets my goat – maybe the mountain kind that leaps from crag to crag!

Which somehow reminds me of the Lakeland hermit who wrote on the wall of his cave: Don’t waste words, jump to conclusions! 

Haha, am I any nearer that subject yet? Let’s bring in some big guns …

Image result for whitman multitudes


Oh we’ve got to trust
one another again
in some essentials.

Not the narrow little
bargaining trust
that says: I’m for you
if you’ll be for me. –

But a bigger trust,
a trust of the sun
that does not bother
about moth and rust,
and we see it shining
in one another.

Oh don’t you trust me,
don’t burden me
with your life and affairs; don’t
thrust me
into your cares.

But I think you may trust
the sun in me
that glows with just
as much glow as you see
in me, and no more.

But if it warms
your heart’s quick core
why then trust it, it forms
one faithfulness more.

And be, oh be
a sun to me,
not a weary, insistent

but a sun that shines
and goes dark, but shines
again and entwines
with the sunshine in me

till we both of us
are more glorious
and more sunny.

D. H. Lawrence, 1885 – 1930

Compare this with the spotlight of fame which fixes people into set positions, rather like jelly moulds. A famous star is often called a ‘personality’ – perhaps the ‘weary, insistent personality’ that Lawrence so dislikes? Such a person lacks the facility to reflect others and thereby engage with them. They become a closed book and their life a frozen repeat performance.

A book that remains open for me is The Diceman by Luke Rhinehart. This tells the story of a psychiatrist who, feeling bored and unfulfilled in life, starts making decisions based on the roll of a die. We are all, the novel suggests, restricted by our culture in the choices we make and must take active steps to break out of a straitjacket we may not even know we are wearing.

Our current climate appears to engender fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unalike. Labels and soundbites swirl around the internet like the swarm of furies unleashed by poor Pandora. Superficial judgements are the order of the day and the sensitive feelers of empathy are withdrawn out of harm’s way. The big question becomes Whose side are you on? Unfriending is the default act of a faulty, fragmenting society.


Do you know what? My bubble has just burst. Outside the sun is shining and I’m off to catch some calming rays. But soon enough I’ll return to the fray in Part 2, my stubborn and perhaps dangerous openness to new ideas symbolised by the next WordPress Daily Prompt – whatever it turns out to be.

Will I fly high or crash and burn?

Click on Pop Music (Part Two) to find out …

Empty Promises

Yes, Doctor WordPress, I was going to give acrostics a rest but … well, you see, I noticed that your Daily Prompt word was Dim and … oh, you know how it is, when that little old urge grabs you by the … I mean, a three-letter word, almost begging you to write a haiku or two … OK, six, but I’ll give ’em up for Lent … promise!

D arkness cloaks the world –
I t’s an eclipse but some think
M onsters eat the sun.

D on’t heed no science!
I t ain’t their place to know what
M y old book don’t tell ’em!

D o you come here much?
I say that it’s my first time.
M ine too. What’s it like?

D unces’ Corner, where
I learned teachers’ predictions
M ostly would come true.

D istant galaxies
I cannot name or number
M oving out of sight …

D ave, switch off that light,
I must get my beauty sleep!
M mm, darkness helps …


Image result for darkness



Image: The religious imagineer

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Wait a mystic minute … three consecutive Daily Prompts with five-letter words?

It may come as a surprise to you but I read runes or tease out tealeaf-tattle with the best of them. And I can recognise an augury when I trip over it in the dark.

So after consulting a load of old crystal balls I have divined that those Wise Wizards at WordPress have sent out a coded challenge to those of us with the, ahem, gift to see … well, to those of us who like turning Daily Prompt words into acrostic poems … er, that’ll just be me then!

And the coded challenge? Write limericks, loser, or languish in the lost lands for all eternity!

Ever-eager for extra brownie points, I am going for the equivalent of a high-tariff dive by combining extreme brevity with the demanding acrostic format and a rare attempt to land a post on three simultaneous Daily Prompt pages. Never one to blow my own trumpet, of course, I leave any wild acclaim or thunderous applause to posterity.

A politician called Gall
G ot elected by promising all!
I f nothing went quite
L ike he said, well all right,
E very story but his was too tall.

S hop till you drop and when zapped,
H appiness comes gift-wrapped.
O ceans are dying,
C limate is frying –
K eep mouthing that mantra: ‘Adapt!’

B irdwatching bewitches geeks,
L ying in wait for weeks
I n the cold and damp
N ever far from cramp
K eeping shuteye at bay just for beaks.

Image result for funny birdwatcher

Image: Dobrador

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompts Agile Shock Blink

You Can Have Any Colour You Like As Long As It’s Orange!

Here are three for the price of one to end my little festival of acrostica. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Suppose now I’ll have to start thinking of something sensible to post about …


P olice came knocking on my door last night, ‘In
R esponse to a complaint,’ they said, ‘about music.’
E ver ready and willing to help, my very
F irst thought was to turn the volume down. ‘Is that
E nough?’ I asked. ‘Any level of free jazz is too loud,’ they
R eplied. ‘We’re preferring charges.’ I told them I’d prefer they didn’t.Image result for free jazz






P assion
R emembers.
E nnui
F orgets.
E asy choice if you’re sane!
R un that by me again …

Image result for forgetting


P lease don’t ask me whether I would
R ather attend this or that school, this or that hospital.
E very time you saddle me with choice, you duck responsibility and
F orgo your firm claim to be in charge. Any government worth the name makes
E ach school and every hospital a haven of excellence and safety.
R ather let us choose between the people’s champions and charlatans like you.

Image result for education and health



Fine Art America

Debug Lies

National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and …

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Prefer

Please Stand Well Back …

Image result for fireworks

Outside my window fireworks are exploding to mark the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot over 400 years ago, when the English parliament was saved from fiery destruction. I don’t suppose many people are celebrating that far-off event, though, and I’ll bet there aren’t many bonfires topped with effigies of the plotter Guy Fawkes. He may even be a popular hero now, for all I know, admired by those who could imagine themselves lighting the blue touch-paper to barrels of high-explosive under the modern parliament.

There is an irony that some who wanted to increase the sovereignty of our own parliament by voting to leave the EU are now furious that three high-court judges – ‘enemies of the people’ according to several pro-Brexit newspapers – have ruled that the procedure of leaving should be determined by parliament and not an unelected executive acting under the ancient and archaic crown prerogative. Divisions run deep and the fissure may widen further. Watch this space …

There’s a vacuum here as if everyone has just taken a sharp intake of air. Across the Atlantic, too, people are holding their breath before the Presidential race enters its final lap and breaks into a hell-for-leather gallop. Didn’t I once see Vladimir Putin on a horse? Wonder who he’s backing …

Hey-ho! Amidst all the hot air, I notice that the WordPress Daily Prompt is Hyperbole. I never look a gift horse in the mouth, so here is my weary contribution to the moment.

H ere
Y ou are, the luckiest
P erson who
E ver lived,
R eading the
B est poem
O n the internet.
L et that astonishing thought sink in. What could possibly go wrong?
E r …

Ha, must be able to do better than that! Suspect I’m all out of hyperbole. Wonder why

H ow can you mend
Y our wounded
P ride if not by
E recting
R ickety-rackety towers of words and
B uilding walls
O f opaque
L anguage to
E levate your amour propre?

Hmm … ah well, never mind, I do find the constraints of an acrostic oddly comforting at this peculiar time when I can’t actually think of anything constructive to say yet have a strong urge to say something. If it turns out to be useless, I can always blame the limitations of the form. And maybe it’ll be third time lucky …

H old
Y our four horses
P lease, apocalyptical
E questrians, or you’ll
R ide us down
B efore we have a chance
O f proving that
L ove really was the
E lixir of Life.

All will be well as long as we take sensible precautions against those pesky worst-case scenarios …

Image result for failed fireworks


The Mortimer Arms