Attack against All Odds

I mop rain drops from the pommel of the packhorse.
From my perch high on my chestnut stallion’s back
I gaze across the river at the black source
of the kingdom’s wealth. The factory’s chimney stack
spews dragon breath. With my spyglass I track
green smoke to where it buries itself inside
the castle of twelve princesses. I ride,
packhorse behind me, across the swaying span.
We gallop. Arrows fly. A sentry cried.
With sorcerer’s sword I slay all the trolls I can.

2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge — 4 April

Gobsmacked Witness

‘I am looking at God,’ said the squirrel, ‘and at the Profligate Panda.’
The jackdaw and I enquired did the rodent feel well.
‘As well,’ he replied, ‘as the golden-egg goose of Uganda.
‘As well,’ he went on, ‘as the soil-cleansing thistles that dwell
on slights they infer from the tales that parishioners tell.’

‘This is serious,’ I said. The jackdaw agreed and surmised
that the squirrel had been maddened from being too often surprised
by random events till his brain had been seized by the odd
erroneous idea that the phenomena of nature disguised
personal messages to him from the Panda, or maybe from God.

Catherine Darc

She is waiting for the death bug unaware
that she is waiting for the death bug. She is bored.
Her life remains a trick she’ll double dare,
like life did her, presenting her the gourd
of plenty when she asked it for a sword.
She had wanted war, a war to make things right.
War came and went and though her throat felt tight
she can’t remember details like who won.
She is waiting. Will the death bug come tonight?
She does not know what they’ve agreed upon.

Note: Catherine Darc, whose initials became in the late 20th Century synonymous with electronically stored music, was in her lifetime (early 15th Century) a non-celebrity.

Here I am imagining for her that she lived a long, peaceful life while hankering for the passion, armed conflict and bright, gaudy fame that was the lot of her sister Jehanne (Joan of Arc).

Unidentified Visitor

He had a scents-of-porpoise air about him,
not fishy, really, more at like detention
halls at schools that did not have a gym.
His walk was awkward, as if he was wrenching
his way through water known for salt retention.
A Dead Sea dolphin that had been seconded
to shore duty to dry out? The last enthroned id
from Freudian literature? That would be strange.
Stranger far is why we’d left the throne lid
up, and let him loose to stride our home range.

Mad Helmut’s Tea Party

Bloomsday. Today. The 16th of June, the date (in 1904) that James Joyce chose to let his character Leopold Bloom start out in UYLSSES. One word encountered in that book — ‘hyperborean’ — stirred up the Durac and the Slynog to celebrate at Mad Helmut’s Tea Party.

Mad Helmut’s Tea Party

‘I’m hyperborean as much as you’ Buck Mulligan to Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s ULYSSES

‘Compared to you I am much more hyperborean’,

said the Slynog. ‘I am also mad for tea.

While you, my addled, fat, and calm historian

remain inert, a late-lunch parolee

as like as not to be an absentee

when North winds blow up harder, heeling ship

away from where there’s harbour, landing strip

and tipples bar.’ The Durac rose and shrugged.

It heaved the anchor, gave the waves the slip,

and pointed to the shoreline their boat hugged.

‘Hypoborean I may be,’ the Durac said.

‘If that’s a word. You steer boats by their wake

and were you our navigator we’d be dead.

So slur on, Slynog. Don’t make the mistake

of thinking finding home’s a piece of cake.’

Together the companions hoisted sail.

Together they turned green, hung oar the rail.

The North winds blew, the duo turning blue

and blowing kisses to disgusted terns

they sailed strait home by way of Timbuktu.

Greasepaint Pangs

‘The tears roll down [Which way did you expect?]
the ageing actor’s cheeks.’ [Who isn’t ageing?]
My unwanted shadow editor directs
attacks on how I speak and think. He’s staging
a sit-down strike against my muse who’s paging
the gods and me to create something fine.
The chance is nil that I’ll achieve divine
or even adequate prose with my darts
of inspiration, but I’ll keep on trying
before the ageing actor’s out of sorts.


I read until the math eludes my grasp.
I give up, do not go on to page two.
Page one has brought me rationals that rasp
away until their complements shine through
sufficiently to persuade me it is is true
that angles must be right to be correct.
I draw some, making straight lines intersect,
and on these axes try to classify
the books I’ve read, although when I inspect
my groups they are irrational, like pi.