Category Archives: Conversations with Slim

Vancouver Jazz Festival (Re-Mix) – a poem, a discussion, a bonus poem.

Vancouver Jazz Festival (Re-Mix)

 a humid

lion house

hogo hangs

on the air


dogs and trees

dogs and trees

free jazz, jazz

for free, the


bass player

leans like a

drunk around

a lamp post.


Well, 3 posts into April – Month of Slim and I’m wondering will this 12 syllable madness ever end? I asked Slim if he found this verse form, this 3 syllable line too confining. Did he not want to escape its shackles and roam free, go for 5, 6 syllables or even stretch a line across the width of the page. “Au contraire”, he said. He actually said that, “au contraire”, and I thought that’s a bit effete, a bit foppish for a bald guy with gravity issues.

“Au contraire, in fact I find it liberating to escape the tyranny of free verse, the endless decisions – upper case, lower case, line length, is it really a poem or is it just chopped up prose, if I am writing a poem about a flower, should the poem be in the shape of a flower, should I rhyme or not rhyme, what is doggerel anyway? – this is like fundamentalism, the boundaries are clearly defined, this far and no further, the Lord gave you 12 syllables, make the best of it!”

Well, that answer was a bit more than I needed or wanted, if I owned a watch I would have been looking at it.

“Got to go, Slim” I said.

“Hang on” he said, “talking of religion, I saw that movie ‘Spotlight’, here’s my review.


Spotlight (slim review)


priests find the


higher ground.

Having a Pint with Adele (and the meaning of post modern)

It is late afternoon in The Post Coital Beetle and Slim and I are starting into our first pitcher of Blue Buck Ale, nachos have been ordered. On the television screen on the wall in front of us, a baseball player is attacking a dugout water cooler with his bat. The television is on mute. Adele emotes in the background.

It’s been a while since Slim and I have got together and although nothing has been said, I sense that he has a beef of some kind. Not that this is unusual, having a beef is Slim’s default mode, but at the moment he seems relaxed. He has just finished a three hour practice with his band “Bad Complexion”. Slim plays bass and does background vocals. The armpits of his faded Clash T shirt are wet with sweat and the T shirt has been washed so many times that it no longer fits, leaving a gap of bristly pink flesh above the belt of his jeans. The image of a pig’s cheek pops into my head.

He’s smiling.

“She’s really just an old-fashioned British pop singer, isn’t she?” He says.


“Adele, you know…somewhere between Lulu and Shirley Bassey.”

“I guess…she also has that girl next door thing”

“Exactly,” Slim says, “like Cilla Black.”

“That name brings to mind a small black and white television set”

“You could have a pint with Adele,” Slim says, wistfully, and we both fall silent thinking about sharing a pint with Adele.

The pub door opens and closes. Cold blast of January air. Skunky whiff of over-hopped ale. Or is that Slim’s armpit? The silence lingers a little too long.

“I’ve taken up cooking, I’ve become a devotee of Wolfgang Puck.”

Slim does an owl blink, I can almost hear his brain working.

“Who the fuck

is Wolfgang

Puck? And why

should I care?”

He intones smugly.

“You’re doing that 12 syllable slimverse thing again, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he says, “and that reminds me, I have a bone to pick with you.”

Ahh, not a beef but a bone.


“This lame-ass blog of yours, I thought it was supposed to be devoted to my poems, but lately it’s all your stuff and you’ve taken stories I’ve told you and used them for your poems and created this character called Slim”

“I’m being post-modern”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“You know, there are many ways of knowing and many truths to a fact.

“Crystal clear then, how can anything be post-modern? ‘Modern’ means ‘of the present’ – ‘now’, the only possible way a work could be post-modern would be if it was written in the future, for that we will have to wait for the invention of time travel.”

He folds his arms, discussion over.

“You have a point. Anyway, you haven’t been giving me much to publish lately.”

“Ok, how about this one, it’s called ‘Rasta’:

It’s a fact

all Rastas

are born out

of dreadlock.”

“Amusing, but a bit thin, we need flesh on the bones, Slim, flesh on the bones. Besides, I’m not so sure about this slim verse thing.”

Slim drains his half full pint glass and refills it.

“Go on.” He says.

“Well, you know, the haiku has got a headlock on internet poetry and it has seventeen syllables to work with, that’s five more than a slimverse. Now I hear that someone in the north of England has come up with a new form – the ‘anchored terset’ which is essentially a three word/four line poem, the fourth line being a punctuation mark, for example:





It’s a race towards nothingness.”

Slim drains his pint glass and leans forward, his finger poking in my direction.

“Here’s an anchored terset for you….





He tries to storm out but because we are in a booth he has to slide along the bench seat, his stomach rubbing against the table’s edge. His T shirt rides up. At the same time the waitress arrives with a plate of nachos shaped like a volcano, a volcano spewing molten cheese lava. The waitress stares in horror at the sinkhole that is Slim’s navel. Slim shouts at the waitress:

“I thought I said ‘hold the jalapenos’!

We watch him leave, on his back Paul Simonon slams his Fender Precision Bass into the stage at The Palladium in New York city.

“He seems upset”, the waitress says, and I’m thinking:

I can’t see

the pulled pork,

she forgot

the pulled pork.


After all

that bother

she forgot

the pulled pork.







Golf, Of Mice and Musicians, Another Bull Simile

Well, April-Month of Slim is slowly drawing to a close and this blog is starting to feel like a seaside resort at the end of the season…

a rain-swept pier

all the tourists gone

a few locals

bending into the wind

et moi, I am feeling a vague ennui, a certain je ne sais quoi and I have this urge to use every hackneyed French phrase I know in a pathetic attempt to sound world-weary, like I’m sitting in an outdoor café, a scarf knotted at my neck, smoking a Gitane and nursing an existential crisis.

Right so, more 12 syllable madness, here we go, something new, something old, something revised:


 the one sport

that demands

blandness from

its heroes.


And No Tom

 Danger Mouse

Modest Mouse

DeadMau5. It’s

all Jerry…….


Party Animal

 he walks in

the room like

a bull to

a paddock


the air shifts


eyes lower

bells jangle.


Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview)

The Stack (remix)

And what a


plume we have

here, Nigel,


a plume with

time on its

hands, look at

it loping


across the

sky like a

giant Chinese

dragon, let’s


hail a cab

to find the

plume’s end, where

the last wisps


of vapor

drift upwards

and a blue

mist hangs, yes,


there it is

in the sky

to the west

stalking the


cars in the

parking lot

outside the

big box mall


while the sun

bawls and the

sky gets all



Post Poem Interview 

You played well out there tonight, Slim.

Slim: Well, you know it’s not about me, it’s about the poem, I’m just part of the process.

Are you suggesting that you are perhaps some kind of conduit linked to some higher power, some higher resource.

Slim: No, I am just mouthing platitudes, isn’t that the idea?

Quite, so I am sure everyone is wondering, who is Nigel?

Slim: He’s my cousin.

That’s a very English name.

Slim: That’s hardly surprising, he is English.

Do you call him ’Nige’ for short?

Slim: No!

It sounds like he could be a member of one of those floppy-haired synth bands from the eighties, you know, like Soft Cell or Human League or The Pet Shop Boys. Didn’t XTC have a song about a guy called Nigel. Is he in a band?

Slim: He’s a welder.

Does his hair not get in the way?

Slim: He’s bald, where is this going?

(mumbles) somewhere slow or nowhere fast. So tell me about the structure of this poem.

Slim: I took the 3 syllable line, 4 line verse , I have been using, and applied it to a poem that I was never happy with and it worked, at least it made me trim a lot of the fat and I came up with a better poem, I think?

……….what? Sorry I nodded off there for a bit. Well, I’m sure you are itching to get back to the dressing room and join the rest of the lads in a lukewarm bath of diluted sweat.

Slim: Can’t wait!




Slimverse Down Under (Quantum Foam and the Subjunctive)

Well, this is exciting, slimverse goes antipodal! My good friend Snoop Doggerel in Adelaide, Australia has just joined the international movement towards slimverse. Can anything, other than widespread apathy, stop this juggernaut now? Here it is, Snoop D’s paean to the power of nothing:


By Snoop D. Doggerel

Nothing’s great

It can sate

Quantum foam

I can roam

By way of explanation, from Wikipedia:

“Quantum mechanics predicts that space-time is not smooth; instead, space-time would have a foamy, jittery nature and would consist of many small, ever-changing, regions in which space and time are not definite, but fluctuate.

The predicted scale of space-time foam is about ten times a billionth of the diameter of a hydrogen atom’s nucleus, which cannot be measured directly. A foamy space-time would have limits on the accuracy with which distances can be measured because the size of the many quantum bubbles through which light travels will fluctuate. Depending on the space-time model used, the space-time uncertainties accumulate at different rates as light travels through the vast distances.”

Speaking of a foamy, jittery nature, I asked Slim to comment on ‘quantum foam’ and how it could enhance Snoop D’s ability to roam. He had this to say:


 the answer

lies in the


gnomic? moi?

What can I say? We are experiencing an embarrassment of riches. But wait, this just in, another gem from Snoop Doggerel:


By Snoop D. Doggerel

As it were


No-one saw

It coming

Strut that subjunctive, Snoop.

I present this to Slim and he goes silent like he’s experiencing a food chain moment, like he feels he’s been out-versed. But wait, something is coming in….


 It’s enough

to make me

floss outside

corn season.

Yep, if you want gnomic, if you want cryptic, if you want  non-sequiturs, this is the blog for you!!



12 Syllables that Shook the World

Well, after a brief diversion into haikuland, April – Month of Slim returns with the first sighting of slimverse outside of North America (well, actually, outside of this blog) and it comes from Stiofan O’Broin   (over in Ireland/ Italy ?) who shows a complete mastery of the form in his first attempt! Here it is:


a slimverse

is an odd



On closer examination, this is actually a poem in which the poem is the subject of the poem itself, a kind of poetic selfie. It’s like writing a sonnet about a sonnet, or a haiku about a haiku. For example:


haiku: seventeen

ineffable syllables

five, seven and five.


I think we’ll call it a“ Narcissus”.

Here’s a vaguely related blast from the past from Slim:


The Pre-Selfie Years (a slimverse)

fifteen years

ago, no

one could spell



(Be sure to check out Stiofan’s blog, it’s an eclectic mix of poetry, Irish politics and music and always interesting.).


Rialto Beach Re-Mix (a double Slim)

Rialto Beach Re-Mix

a glabrous

sea, a plinth

of severed

head land sulks


limp waves like


men, collapse,

on the shore.

It’s safe to say that when it comes to nature poetry Slim is no William Wordsworth or Seamus Heaney, but he has on occasion opened a gate or jumped a fence to commune with Mother Nature, as can be seen above. Here is another example:

Nature Poem (Reprise)

you call your

self a tree

my bank has

more branches.








April – Month of Slim 1 (2 poems)

Yes, as promised, April  just got a bit crueler. In response to Slim’s recent complaints about being ignored, we kick off with 2 poems – a slimverse and a slimverse lite (12 syllables, 4 lines, 3 syllables per line, utilizing only 6 letters).

Names (a slimverse)

those that can

stand alone

those that can’t



(Inspired by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaine )


Too Many Questions (a slimverse lite)

 U is at?

Is u at?

At issue?

Is it u?

Coming Soon! April – Month Of Slim

The great TS Eliot once  wrote :”April is the cruelest month”, well it’s about to get crueler. In response to almost no demand at all, for the month of April this blog, as was it’s original intent, will be devoted to the writings of resident poet, Slim Volume. There will of course be slimverse, slimverse lite. a reboot of the Lad Poetry project and one or two guest appearances.

Also, I encourage all you poets out there to create your own slimverse. It’s the simplest of forms – 12 syllables, 4 lines, 3 syllables each line. Knock yourself out! And let me know about it!



Autumn and Death (2 poems and a Conversation)



The leaves have abandoned

that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking yellows and reds

like a paint store catalogue.

Death (a slimverse)

A God’s voice

roaring: You!

You are not

in control.

Conversation with Slim

Me: Slim, in a previous post “Slim’s Advice Part 2” you said and I quote:

“Avoid Autumn and Death

they’ve been done before

there’s little more to say

on either score.”

Are you being ironic here in a self referential way?

Slim: No.

Me: “Slim, the first poem here is an outtake or revision of a previous poem (Slim’s Advice Part 3), are poems ever really finished?”


“Words can be ‘


if you just

talk to them.”

Lately, Slim has taken to talking in these 12 syllable bites he calls “slimverse” and I find it irritating and more than a little disturbing. So, as gently as I can, I say to him:

“Slim, that makes absolutely no sense to me, do you not think you are being a tad cryptic, a tad gnomic, if you keep on like this, you are danger of turning into a fucking garden ornament”

We haven’t talked since.

Bob Dylan’s Worst Line Ever

Last week there was a Simon Pegg retrospective at our local cinema and Slim invited me back to his one bedroom apartment after we watched an early showing of “Shawn of the Dead”. Slim had prepared dinner and by that I mean he had peeled back the tin foil edge of a take-out carton of butter chicken, removed the cardboard lid, and handed me a plastic fork and a can of Old Style lager. He then lapsed into one of his silences.

I found myself noticing the beads of condensation on the clear plastic lid of the steamed rice container. The rice was long past fluffy. The evening stretched before me like a Sunday in Ottawa. My only recourse was to ask Slim an irritating question.

“So, Slim”, I said, “who do you think is the better poet, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?”

Slim’s  face wrinkled in disgust. “Bob Dylan’s not a poet”, he snapped,“ he’s a poetic songwriter”.

“And Leonard Cohen is…..?”

“Leonard Cohen is a poet who writes songs”.

“Ok then, what’s your favorite Bob Dylan line, verse, whatever”

“I can only think of the bad ones”

“So what’s the worst Bob Dylan line ever?”

Slim blinked once like he was accessing a folder in his brain with an internal mouse.

“John Wesley Harding, ‘As I walked out One Morning’, third verse:

‘Depart from me this moment

I told her with my voice’.

It’s like saying ‘there’s going to be a jailbreak somewhere in this town”

“But that’s “Thin Lizzy”.

Slim looked like he had taken a sip of battery acid.

“My point is they are expressing the obvious just for the sake of a rhyme. It’s obvious that the jailbreak will be at the f….ing jail and how else will he tell her except with his voice, they’re in a field, for f… sake!”

“Oh”, I said, reaching for a poppadum.

The Most Over-rated Album of All Time

This is a continuation of a previous blog, titled: “Bob Dylan’s Worst Line Ever”.

After Slim’s brief outburst, he lapsed into silence again and did his impression of a lizard sitting on a rock. The not unpleasant smell from the Indian take-out mercifully masked the usual faint odour of sour sweat emanating from Slim’s bedroom. His bedroom door was closed, a yellow light leaked through the gap between bottom of the door and the threadbare carpet. The room  pulsed  in a vaguely sinister way.

I began to panic; he could pull out his blueprints of the Star Ship Enterprise at any minute. I was about to ask him why so much depends on a red wheelbarrow, but thought better of it. I reached for my phone.

“Slim”, I said, “I was looking at Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time, the other day, do you want to see it?”

“Not really”, he replied.

“Ok”, I tried, “what do you think is the most over-rated album of all time?”

“All right”, he sighed, ”show me the top 10 albums.”

I passed him my phone and he studied the list for a few minutes, then pounced.

“Number 7, ‘Exile on Main Street’, by the Stones”

“Really, why?”

“Because, it’s awful. It’s recycled 12 bar, refried boogie, Jagger sounds like a cat being neutered. It’s not even the seventh best Stones’ album. Creedence and The Band did this kind of thing a few years before and a lot better. This is the sound of the Stones throwing in their creative hand and saying, ‘enough, we’re tired’. It’s the artistic equivalent of taking a package holiday to Majorca. Look, it’s listed higher than ‘The White Album’ and ‘Kinda Blue’. Absolute bollocks!”

“Kind of…”


“It’s ‘Kind of Blue’ not ‘Kinda Blue’

Slim looked at me like he was wondering why he bothered to speak to the rest of the human race at all.

“Well”, I said,”why do you think Rolling Stone rates it so high?”

“Because, it’s a Keef album and, to rock critics, Keef embodies the rock and roll spirit, the dead romantic hero, except he’s not dead. He’s the guy who would never have hung out with them at school. Plus, there’s this legend of the Stones hunkered down in a house in France recording the album, escaping from the tax man where in fact, Mick, Charlie and Bill never stayed at the house probably because they didn’t want to be around Keef’s junkie friends. Anyway, Mick didn’t think much of the album at all”.


“Look it up”.

So I did.

This is Mick Jagger talking about ‘Exile’ in “According to The Rolling Stones” (Chronicle Books, San Francisco):

Exile on Main Street is not one of my favourite albums”.

“…when I listen to Exile it has some of the worst mixes I’ve ever heard. I’d love to remix the record, not just because of the vocals, but because generally I think it sounds lousy. At the time Jimmy Miller was not functioning properly. I had to finish the whole record myself, because otherwise there were just these drunks and junkies.”

Exile is really a mixture of bits and pieces left over from the previous album recorded at Olympic Studios…..These were mixed up with a few slightly more grungy things done in the South of France. It’s seen as one album all recorded there and it really wasn’t.”

“So there’s a good four songs off it, but when you play the other nineteen, you can’t, or they don’t work, or nobody likes them, and you think, ’Ok, we’ll play another one instead’. We have rehearsed a lot of the tunes off Exile, but there’s not much that’s playable.”

Poet’s Corner 12 – Slim’s Advice Part 3

In which, Slim ignores his own advice. See Slim’s Advice Part 2.

A Clear Day in Late October

 A clear day in late October

is like a call from the Governor,

a stay of execution.

It is just such a day,

the leaves on the trees bordering the soccer field

have abandoned that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking yellows and reds

like a paint store catalogue;                                                         

on the side lines, the soccer dads

bark and pace like chain-linked hounds

like dogs locked in parked cars on a sunny day,

while in the bushes, Thwarted Ambition

waits to join them

on the long journey home.

Photo: Chlorophyll molecule (Chlorophyll-a-3D-vdw, licensed under public domain)

Poet’s Corner 11 – Slim’s Advice Part 2

In which, Slim delivers a poem for aspiring poets.

So, after his outburst in the pub (see Slim’s Advice Part 1), Slim comes up to me, mutters an apology and mumbles something about having to learn how to control his anger.

“No problem” I said” it worked out fine in the end”

For a moment, there was a feeling between us that approximated warmth.

“Anyway,” he said “I wrote a poem for aspiring poets”

“Is it inspiring?”

Slim looked puzzled.

“You know, an inspiring poem for aspiring poets”.

My wordplay seemed to irritate Slim immensely. That warm feeling evaporated like sweat in the desert.

Here’s the poem!

Slim’s Advice

 Avoid autumn and death,

They’ve been done before;

There’s little more to say

On either score.

Also, waves like marathon runners

Collapsing on the shore,

The inexorable march of time,

Don’t go through that door.


By the way, as you have probably guessed the delicate-looking guy in the picture is John Keats, who pretty much nailed “Autumn” in 1819 at the age of 24.

Poet’s Corner 9 – Slim’s Advice Part 1

I ‘m talking to Slim, or I should say, he’s talking to me about Manchester United and their new Dutch coach, Louis Van Gaal. Slim is disappointed in the team’s progress since Van Gaal’s appointment at the beginning of the season. He is convinced that their problems are due to the coach’s stubborn insistence on playing three centre-backs.

“It’s just too much inertia, too much plod, no team can take the weight of three centre backs plus a slow holding midfielder like Michael Carrick. Also, wing backs?? Who knows how to play that position? Antonio Valencia, maybe, but who else, certainly not Danny Blind…he doesn’t have the speed.”

Slim has the bit between his teeth and from my experience, it can stay there a long time. I look past Slim along the bar and out through the window, there’s a construction crew outside working on a hole in the road. It’s a sunny day. I need to interrupt or this will turn into a rant that lasts the whole lunch.

“Talking about games” (awkward, I know) “have you any advice for people starting out in the poetry game”

“It’s not a f***king game”.

“Business, then, the poetry business”

“It’s certainly not a business, you hardly ever get paid and when you do, it would be barely enough to pay for this lunch”

“Why do you write, then? Slim looks thoughtful.

“I write poetry for the same reason that a dog licks his balls.”

“And that is?”

“Because I can and because I like to.”

“Wait a minute”, I said,” you can…”

“For Chrissake’, Slim roared, and banged his glass on the bar,

”I’m outta here!”

A guy in a business suit at the other end of the bar looks up from his newspaper. I stare at the full pitcher of pale ale and the mound of nachos covered in melted cheese, jalapeno peppers, diced olives, tomatoes, onions and topped off with something called shredded beef although it looks suspiciously like cat food sitting on the bar in front of me. I have an image in my head that I would really like to erase. The door to the bar opens and a lady wearing a hard hat and a high vis vest enters. Her hair is bleached blond and her face is red and weather beaten, she’s carrying a sign that says “Stop” on one side and “Slow” on the other. The “Slow” side faces towards me. I take this as a sign.

“Would you like some nachos,” I say “I’ve got guacamole”.

To be continued.