Stop all the clocks

August 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm (Uncategorized) ()

This week’s poetry bus challenge offered several options and I sat musing about what is the first thing I experience when I wake up, or rather am woken up by my alarm, and it led me off at a bit of a tangent. The first line of Auden’s poem came into my head and became the title.

Stop all the clocks, shut off that incessant din

deliberately jarring to the dormant nerves,

like an infant’s urgent cry,

and dragging from the depths of sleep

reluctant slaves to time.

Curse the man who came up with the notion

that we should abandon natural rhythms

of waking when rested and sleeping when tired,

but instead be bound to mechanical devices

that count and dictate

our comings and goings

our ups and downs

our eatings and sleeping.

Curse that luminescent green

flashing from the corner in the dark

demanding your attention

smugly judging you for the dissipation of your life

as you try in vain

to cling to the vestiges of that haven



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your cigarette

July 18, 2010 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized) ()

Missed a few weeks on the bus, some interesting voyages, that I had ideas for but not the time to put into words (or pictures as it turned out). This week we journey with Delusions of Adequacy, with two possible prompts, to be funny or poignant, not sure I have managed either.

we stand

all of us

cups of tea in hand

chatting in the yard

waiting for the second van

telling bad jokes

sometimes they kick an old football

back and forth

like kids in the playground

it’s all just casual

but I position myself

next to you

your voice vibrates

in my head

the scent of you

sets my nerves on edge

and I catch a trace of your smoke

from your lungs into mine

it is


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Jesus Haiku

June 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Uncategorized) ()

The Poetry Bus driven this week by Kat at Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes, visit for more thoughts on the destruction this week of a rather bizarre statue. Mine is an instinctive gut reaction.


gone in a conflagration

God has taste after all

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childhood daisy chains

June 6, 2010 at 7:16 pm (Uncategorized) ()

This week’s challenge for the Poetry Bus was to write on the more general category of ‘flora/fauna’, which I suppose left it wide open for people to do what took their fancy, though nicely in keeping with the season. We have been cutting the grass this week so I was thinking of times when I was young and always feeling annoyed at my dad for cutting the grass and chopping down all the daisies. So here is my offering, and a homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘Binsey Poplars’, of which I am very fond.

Daisy chain

Daisies, only yesterday scattered across

the lush expanse of un-mowed lawn

All chopped, chopped, are all chopped

their petals heaped amongst the verdant mulch

not spared, not one

for small girl to frolic in fancy and

festoon herself a fairy queen.

O if he but knew what he did

when he mowed and trimmed

cut down those fragile blossoms

the dreams of childhood

so transient,  in wild abandon

she who bedecked with garlands

would dance among the saplings

now stands forlorn.

After-comers cannot guess the beauty

that might have been

the spinning blade wipes clean

makes neat, pristine

Daisy chain, a daisy chain

sweet delicate daisy chain

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what is the what

May 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm (Uncategorized) ()

We had a very interesting challenge for this week’s Poetry Bus (visit here for more passengers); to take a sentence (at random or specially chosen), remove half, create new endings and then play about with the ideas that came from it. I started trawling through quotations looking for something clever. Then I looked at famous opening lines of books, still nothing. So I picked up the book I had recently started reading, it is called ‘What is the What’ by Dave Eggers and took the opening sentence, as soon as I read it I felt it had interesting possibilities. The sentence I started with is “I have no reason not to answer the door so I answer the door”.

I have no reason not to answer the door

I have no reason not to answer the door

even though it is late

and I had been waiting

my fingers pause at the latch

and I am scared.

I have no reason not to answer the door

where two shadowy figures

one tall

made taller by his hat

are visible through the frosted glass

waiting impassively.

I have no reason not to answer the door

but in that pause

in the silence of the hall

I can hear the rush of my own breathing

and the blood pounding in my ears.

I have no reason not to answer the door

that stands firm and solid

between me

and the world outside

but I take a step away.

I have no reason not to answer the door

through which I can hear

the scuffle of their boots in the gravel

and the muted murmur of conversation.

I have no reason not to answer the door

except something urgent tells me

I should stay here and now

on this side

in this suspended moment


I have no reason not to answer the door

but something hovers outside


I have no reason not to answer the door

when they knock again

it feels impolite

to keep them


I have no reason not to answer the door

so I breath again

reach up

and grip the handle firmly

I have no reason not to answer the door

so I answer the door.

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April 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm (Uncategorized) ()

he walks down here in the world

of rustling skirts and bumping shopping bags

a warm hand leads the way between towering racks

he follows curious and compliant

carefree and trusting to her

then momentarily distracted by sparkly trinkets

he stops to see his face in the huge mirror

and laugh

turning round he is suddenly alone

confused and forsaken

she was there then she was gone

corridors of clothing stretch away in all directions

his future flashes futile before his eyes

in a split second a cold panic grips

tears well up and a tight throat cracks his voice

the cry comes out a whimper

unfamiliar grown-ups scurry past unconcerned

another split second

she steps out from behind the ties

a smile, and warmth returns.

(Linking back to The Poetry Bus hosted by Argent at Delusions of Adequacy, this trip is leaving on Monday 26th April)

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April 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Friends Reunited reunited us

for just a moment,

after 30 years.

We were once best of friends

but I remember very little now.

We did not chat girly stuff

I never saw her in a dress.

I recall doing her latin homework

while her mum vacuumed the bed

(she was allergic).

Her sister had the most beautiful hair,

long, white blond and gently wavy.

I coveted it.

Hers was a harsh boyish cut

and her body always seemed awkward,


her stance almost hunched

fighting against the inevitable blossoming.

She would poke me viciously

with her long fingers

for no apparent reason,

or wrestle me to the ground

then sit on me and  hold me down.

All she told me was that

she worked in television,

never married

and had moved to the country

so she could keep a dog.

And she was taking up gardening.

I never wrote back.

All I really wanted to know was

did she ever admit to being gay?

(I counted down from the top of my e-mail inbox and found the name of a former school friend and a very old message, and the title came from my most recent message at the bottom of the inbox.)

(Linking back to the home of this week’s Poetry Bus)

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Poetry Bus again

April 2, 2010 at 8:01 am (Uncategorized) ()

(I chose this image from the ones that Swiss offered as inspiration for this week’s Poetry Bus. My initial reaction to it was that it resembled a woman’s womb and ovaries, but with a somewhat ghostly quality, or like a wisp of smoke, so that was my starting point.)


down the hall I hear distant echos

the footfalls of children who never were

whispers of existence so faint

the ticking of my watch would drown them out.

My smile reaches out to stroke

the downy skin of babies unborn

the scent of them drifts past just out of reach

a sigh scatters their essence into the ether.

I cannot see their faces

obscured as they are by another history

though my belly longs for each of them.

I inhale and absorb the thought

the idea of what they might have been.

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unforeseen (thirteenth draft)

March 26, 2010 at 7:32 am (Uncategorized) ()

Little did proud Mr and Mrs Babbage know

in their moment of elation

at young Charles’ creation

that the engines of his imagination

would spawn

this modern day revolution

a transformation

of our social relations

and communication

from the mere written word

and telephone conversation

to mass participation

with binary notation

a celebration of congregation

(ok, with frequent frustration)

so there is a distinct correlation

between his fascination

and experimentation

and our conjugation

so he is guilty by association

of bringing you

to me.

(The Poetry Bus this week is being driven by Rachel Fox, this link for how to join in, or her home page on Monday 29th to read contributions)

(Word taken from the lyric “in ways that are yet as of now unforeseen” from the Suzanne Vega song ‘Song in Red and Grey’)

(Now not sure if it is worse to put an esoteric reference in a poem and assume that people will be educated enough to understand it, or to add a little footnote and risk people feeling patronised. Anyway, will risk the latter and point out that Charles Babbage is credited as being ‘the father of the modern computer’.)

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we don’t need no education

March 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

You come in the morning and stand in a row

waiting to be told just where you must go.

Stillness and silence are the most precious virtue

without them the system will be forced to subdue.

Fingers on lips and arms folded tight

if everyone behaves nicely we really just might

… get to play a game

or sing a song.

Don’t try to engage or enjoy while you are able

when the bell rings it’s quick to the next on the timetable.

They give you gold stars, house points and the rest

but only when they judge that you’ve done your best.

They keep you in line with the promise and threat

if you don’t work your hardest you’ll forever regret.

… ‘Must try harder’

or ‘a good term’s work’.

They call it blue table but everyone knows

the thickies all sit there in the corner and doze.

And as they progress through the system it seems

that the teachers they meet will crush all their dreams.

They are steered on a course that keeps them in place,

dead end jobs with no prospects at the back of the rat race.

… or maybe hairdressing

and the army, of course.

Squash down your own passions, keep them inside,

nobody cares what you want, you’re just along for the ride.

Don’t try to be different or to do your own thing

learn to blend with the crowd, individualists won’t fit in.

And if you demand some freedom and kick up a stink

they’ll pile on the homework so you’ve no time to think.

(we don’t need

no thought control)

Just answer the questions and confound all the sceptics

so they can tick all the boxes for the government statistics.

The system works hard for society and state

that’s why it’s there, don’t try to escape.

And if you take some time alone to revive your soul

they will track you and hound you with the truancy patrol.

… Education Welfare Officer

then a PRU.

They dangle before you the promises of success

but what they ask in exchange must surely depress.

Twelve years of your life, shut up in a school,

(about as much fun as twelve years in a cesspool.)

So free your mind and your life, what would I advise?

why not try taking your education …otherwise.

(teachers leave

them kids alone)

(Notes: 1. PRU is a Pupil Referral Unit. 2. education otherwise refers to section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, where parents are responsible for providing education for their children “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”)

(Based very loosely on John Taylor Gatto‘s ‘Seven Lesson Schoolteacher‘ in Dumbing Us Down – The hidden curriculum of compulsory schooling)

(Linking back and arriving rather late for The Poetry Bus)

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