Upwardly Mobile Middle Class

We sat out the last hanging. We’d gone inside
for a glass of bubbly something and a snack.
Once you’ve seen so many gallows birds swing wide
it’s a given probably that one more will lack

the drama justifying standing up
and paying attention. And yet this plump hors d’oeuvre
provokes in me a sense of throwing up
my hands. You’d think our sous chef could manoeuvre

some better grub for all the cash we’re paying.
‘Here’s to us,’ I toast, ‘and to rolling in new money!’
The majordomo strides up. He is saying
(while you and the others look at me all funny)

as he presents me with a hemp noose and an urn,
‘Hurry! Hangman’s waiting! It’s your turn!’

Gruyere-Some Squeals Are Heard, I Hope

Here is a chant royal written a while back (1997) in homage to a super poet, Neil Harding, creator, when he was not pursuing Eastern modes such as sushi and rings a crumpet, of many a character trumping Punch’s Bargepole, some mentioned in the scree below in answer to his Anon a mouse series of cult fame.

When summer peaks and days start turning short
and wainscots creak and the blooming mouse does that,
comes blooming out as I take my first snort
of the morning, cor, I’m off to buy a cat.
A great large cat with eyes like rancid peas
and whiskers curling up so he must sneeze.
He’ll grab that mouse and gobble him with haste
while his brows recede at the truly horrid taste
of the tail and toes and bit that was the brain.
He’ll chew and smack till nought’s left but some paste
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

When Ma Mouse whelps, it’s too late to abort
and her litter lands with giggles, squeals, and splat
and I drop the book where I’m reading of young Wort
and the dog gives chase and Ma runs out the flat.
But a nonagon staircase catches her lice and fleas
that flee as she runs, and cold flue makes them freeze
and Anon’s won’t grow up if he dares to waste
his chance to steal and grows up a pantywaist
who won’t gnaw cheese while the cat’s deaf from the train
that rumbles by while the polled fleas fall unplaced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

Now a mouse or twenty scarcely make a quart
but unlike gerbils you can’t keep them in your hat
because housebroken’s not what they’ve been taught
and they’re naught but midget mirrors of the rat.
As a midget rat with a squeal and rickety knees
who weasels on debts and often cops his pleas,
Anon’s not cute and it’s high fun to lambaste
his hide and catch him hopping, hot, shamefaced,
with his rat snout shining through the window pane
where clouds reflect how hares are oft more chaste
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

Old Anon’s author is a poet who can’t be bought
or I’d offer him a drop and invite him in to chat
of the cricket and whether he thought Botham ought
to have gone to Cape Town and taken his turn at bat,
not that I care about old histories
but he might forget to write mice, and I’d tease
for a flatman story, or a barge pole to impaste
that bleeding mouse with. No, I’m not two-faced
and I want my satire dark and that he’ll abstain
from mousing while the heavy stuff’s disgraced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

A burger-queen kit-kat mouse house can’t be fraught
with rooms where royal chants can get to bat,
so rodent cultures are what we must thwart
to make our Weaver write a requiescat
or other work to take in hand our kidneys
or make sly fun of what’s begun (bard, please!).
I dream a dream, with cats, of how a whey-faced
mouse of some repute is banished, Samothraced
not to return because out there there’s ratsbane
and whips ensuring mice get steeplechased
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

O Weaver! Weavers! Help Anon get aced
so Wimbledon and cricket can regain
our oh-so-small attention spans. Let pain
pan-fry the mouse until at last he’s plaiced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

Hymn of Veneration

If suns set into graves and did not rise
or if they hung continuously in skies
we’d think them less than we this moment do,
impressed as we are how our Sun swings through
its constant orbit that revolves round us.

For fifty-thousand years, old human tribes
wrote history picture books in which the scribes
inked pens with blood of brothers killed for wealth
they redistributed by force and stealth
but we’re enlightened now and so we’ve stopped.

Today democracy is how we rule
and every girl and boy enjoys perfect school
and learns exactly what they need to know
and finds in happy work their chance to grow
so they all end their long sweet lives fulfilled.

We’ve learned that judges settle our disputes
so everyone finds fairness and recruits
his colleagues for endeavours and high pay
in satisfying jobs we do each day
now no one is too rich and no one’s poor.

Now everyone of us resembles God
as we portray Him: He’s well-dressed and shod
in golden slippers that reflect the Sun.
He shows His Face and makes sure everyone
is never sick or lonely or afraid.

We study history to remind us how
the animals: the horse, the dog, the cow,
were made for us by God so we could eat;
and every sundown sees us singing sweet
songs celebrating how our deeds are good.

Dynamics Imaged

O haggis, hunkered halfway up the hill,
uneven legs in fore-and-aft matched pairs,
each to the other skewed like stick in plaice
before the batter’s up in golden ducks,
attend right-thinking running, circle up
or down the slope until the golden mean
of altitude, corrected for spare crags,
prevails, and you proceed goat-like to graze
at ease and restfully, your haggis rules
OK, exemplifying strange attractors,
repelling border colleens, collies, kilts,
and robber burns on ceremonial night.
And, haggis, try to live as if you’ve got
the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot.

IF the weather is nice where you are, please by all means go out and play. But if the sea is too cold or it’s raining, perhaps you could help me with these footnotes.

FOOTNOTES (so far, so good, so what):

1. ‘haggis’ — A delicate, delicious smallish creature hunted in the Highlands for its meet and for the hill of it. Pulled more successfully than birds by Dawkins shellfish jeans to the extent that its right legs (called Bermudas) are shorter than its left (called Levis).

2. ‘hunkered’ — Squatted down close to the ground, but not as in a squat. Unclear as to why this footnote is needed at all, except that one would have to renumber the rest (except one, ‘1’) were it taken out.

3. ‘skewed like stick in plaice’ — An impossible situation, like the impossible animal that exists (footnote 1), since a stick that is IN a plaice (large edible flat-bodied fish Pleuronectes platessa in European seas) can NOT be skewed (neither parallel nor intersecting) to said plaice. Cf. Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth’s castle:

MACBETH: If we should fail?

But screw your courage to the
And we’ll not fail.

4. ‘before the batter’s up in golden ducks’ — Before all the batter (for the plaice) has been used up playing with our food, making little golden-fried ducks. Alternatively, for those who find the first explanation not cricket, before the batsman’s or batswoman’s turn is up by being out with a nil score (from a ‘duck’s egg,’ shaped like a zero). There is of course a third and very important possibility relating back to the skew framework of the poet’s mind [sick? sic?] of batter as a transitive verb for building a wall or similar so as to form an upwardly receding slope ‘The Haggis Hunting Ground,’ but by now this footnote itself is getting battered beyond all redemption.

5. ‘attend right-thinking running’ — Admonishing the haggis to pay attention to conventional ideas of morality, propriety, and decorum whilst ALSO running to the right (otherwise it would turn its short legs to the downside of the hill and fall into the hunters’ sacks) and whilst ALSO concentrating to avoid coming too close to the perpendicular (and falling into the hunters’ sacks).

6. ‘circle up / or down the slope until the golden mean / of altitude’ — Advising the haggis (so that it may avoid falling into the hunters’ sacks) to find and keep to that aesthetically pleasing and just-right height (which the haggis computes on the trot, the ratio of the whole line to the larger part being exactly the same as the ratio of the larger part to the smaller part) where its leg-length challenge matches the mountain’s slope-flat challenge.

7. ‘haggis rules / OK’ — Reminiscent of the wonder which led one seeker of truth to The Linguist List, Eastern Michigan University dash Wayne State University to ask, on Saturday, 11 September at 09:22:06, ‘I’ve seen several British spray-painted slogans of the form “X rules OK” on walls and other outdoor surfaces. Can someone explain the syntax to me?’ He didn’t seem to get an answer.

8. ‘exemplifying strange attractors, / repelling’ — Attractors and repellers are, of course, WHAT THE WHOLE POEM IS ABOUT!

9. ‘border colleens, collies, kilts,’ — Since this is simply about complexity and chaos, it follows that we mix up the Borders — Scots going to Ireland, Irish girls coming back to Scotland, etc.

10. ‘robber burns on ceremonial night.’ — In Dutch ‘robber’ means ‘seal’ which is a red herring of another colour. The line itself should have Robert Burns whirling in Dumfries, which is only fair seeing how many poor little haggis have been hunted down over the years to accompany the mashed turnip, mashed potato, and mashed whisky at Burns Suppers. O, Immortal Memory.

11. ‘the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot’ — Somewhat at ‘out of the mouth (stoma) of Benoit’ but not very. More at ‘Fractal, fractal on the wall.’ I rest my case of Jacques Denials.


Come laugh with me, it is the only way,
to laugh ourselves out (a Dutchy idiom)
and nothing anyway we’d say
defuses bombs or saves our bum
’s rush that waits us. Better smile and sing
and celebrate the moment’s beauty, hein.
You have your dreams and someone must have mine
and when I find them I’ll not swoon or whine
but dance a minuet while babies boom.
I’ll pirouette inside a crowded room
and sing how happy I am prophecy
is now updated. Prozac’s set us free.

Obsessive Inertia

Yesterday I published ‘Obsessive Inertia’ over at Medium, which, as they say about themselves, is

‘a place where everyone has a story to share and the best ones are delivered right to you. Every day, thousands of people turn to Medium to publish their ideas and perspectives. Leaders. Artists. Thinkers. And ordinary citizens who have a story to tell. Posts range from scrutinies of world affairs to deeply personal essays.’

I like reading stories at Medium with a browser at their website and also with their app on phones and tablets. I will probably post more of my own there too.


Non-U Socialising

‘I am old,’ said the Durac, ‘and riddled with charm,

so I live all alone in The South.’

The Slynog replied, with a sound like it cried

though it moved not a part of its mouth,

‘You are eusocial, Eugene, eugenically broke;

you give over too early to wrath.

You keep seeking the reeking unriddling of All

though you look for it only in Math.’

‘Am I truly eusocial?’ the Durac essayed.

It pleasured him slightly to toy

with the sensible Slynog whose ‘sensitive’ seethed

under bedclothes of logic to buoy

up a billow of bubbles of misapplied thought.

‘I’d have thought that a taut skein of cells

in the skin or the blood were eusocial while I,

like an unaxoned neuron or bells

unadorned by book, candle or swung-about cat,

am waiting alone though we meet.’

The Slynog, who nurtured its own hermit past

with plunges through bloodstreams to eat,

said the Durac was right, and remarked that the light

was marvelous this time of the day.

Then they parted imparted with illusions they’d shared

a moment. Each went on its way.

Denial in The Line’s Din

A one dimensional line evolves its point
to two, a pair that like dilemma horns
go separate ways before one can anoint
either horn as better. Both are thorns
that trouble staunch denial, as they’re bound
to do, uniting, by their binding, lots
of intervening space the dye has cast
a pall upon. The space itself is sound,
although unasked for by the man God wots.
The man sees both points threatening the past
existence he’s been used to all these years.
The line the points draw leads him into fears.

What is this dye that our traveller wants to stow
(reversing “wots”) away so that its hue
can’t cry explosively and splash and glow
so brightly that it forces him to view
some to-him-unfamiliar forms of life?
What is the point escaping from the din
to which he is accustomed? Just a dot?
A dot of dotage, small in size but rife
for an expansive future, brings a grin
to Wot’s not-yet old face. He says he’ll rot
rat cheer and thanks the points not very much
for spreading out to where they’re hard to touch.