Tag Archives: poetry

The Land Called Where You Are Not (poem)


The Land Called Where You Are Not

that place you will never go
it can be one hundred miles away
it can be a stone’s throw
but there is one thing that is sure
there is one thing that you know
in the land called Where You Are Not
you will always be a no show.

 

(I located my inner Seuss over Christmas)

Taking part in Open Link over at dVerse

Top Posts 2019 #3:The Wrong Way Home (a ghazal)

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I picked this one because it was an attempt at writing to a form that was somewhat successful.

The Wrong Way Home

happy hours and peeler bars
he’s taking the wrong way home

a friendly toke, a line of coke
he’s taking the wrong way home

the night is young, pass that bong
he’s taking the wrong way home

a McFlurry, an Indian curry
he’s taking the wrong way home

a pounding head, a stranger’s bed
he’s taking the wrong way home

early dawn, suitcase on the lawn
he’s found his way home.

 

Top Posts 2019 #2: The Beautiful Game (The Lads’ Poetry Project 2 )

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I’m including this one mainly because the subject matter of the poem – sport and the level of discourse associated with it – is somewhat neglected in the world of poetry. When you read the poem you may conclude that that is actually a good thing.

The Beautiful Game

Me and the lads are warming up
for our Sunday morning kickabout,
the weather’s not so good:
a black cloud loiters over head
spitting occasionally;
there’s a chill in the air.
Not that we care.
We are here for that moment of magic:
those three short passes
that raise life above the ordinary.
It’s all going well.
We’re stretching, squatting
sprinting, jogging, popping
Esther and Abi*
when up steps Paul
all sanctimonious-like
and starts to rattle on
about how this is a family park
and we should watch our language
and surely we can play a game of football
without accusing each other of onanism.
The lads are confused, gobsmacked even.
My face adopts an expression
which would later be described as quizzical
Onanism, I inquire,
what is that wanker talking about?

 

*Esther and Abi (Ofarim): rhyming slang for ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory. Esther and Abi Ofarim, an Israeli singing duo, had a hit with “Cinderella Rockefella” in 1968.

Top Posts 2019 #1: Todd and the Time Machine

 

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This is one of my most viewed posts in 2019, I’ll be posting one each day up to New Year’s Day. I’m picking posts from earlier in the year to keep things fresh!

Todd and the Time Machine

I
Todd’s time machine
has three settings:
time was
time is
time will be.

II
Sometimes
the time travel sickness
hits him
like a five alarm flu.

III
Returning through the time hail,
through the accelerating centuries
he hears his wife yell
from the ever present
from the basement stairs:
I’m turning off that bloody time machine
your dinner’s getting cold!

 

 

Leonard Cohen’s Final Album (plus Poem)

 

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Fascinating Interview (in The Guardian) with Adam Cohen on completing his father’s final album.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/24/leonard-cohen-adam-thanks-for-the-dance-interview

A poem from the past:

Driving Home with Leonard Cohen

Despite what he says
not everybody knows,
not everybody knows
like Leonard knows.
Not everybody knows
that the best songs
are about loss,
about endings;
about so long
ways to say goodbye
closing time,
and that age
can be laughed about
but not at,
if I had a hat
I would raise it to Mr.Cohen
perched up there alone
in his tower of song.

Limbo Blues (aka Existential Boogie)

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Limbo Blues

today I remembered limbo
you can’t stand too far from the track

today I remembered limbo
you can’t stand too far from the track

the first line is about memory
the second is a disconnected fact

Bob Dylan mentions Rimbaud
Van Morrison does too

Bob Dylan mentions Rimbaud
Van Morrison does too

today I remembered limbo
Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus

existential boogie
do that existential thing

existential boogie
do that existential thing

you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring.

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dVerse.

Bones of Contention 2 (poem)

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Bones of Contention

Bones to pick
bones to chew on
Anderson, Chris and Don
but there are no metrics to measure by
so the discussions drag on and on
and the screen splits into two heads
and the screen splits into four heads
and the screen splits into eight heads
a pundit arrives
a pundit leaves
a pundit gets indignant
a pundit gets emotional
a pundit gets that gotcha smirk
there is talk of smoke and fire
there not been one without the other
and I see this distraction of pundits
this deflection of pundits
this confusion of pundits
standing looking at the horizon
across an open plain,
oblivious, while behind them
Rome burns.

Peripatetic Blues

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Peripatetic  Blues

The signs along the highway
are leaking semiotic fluid

psychotic cacti strike a calculated pose

linguistic lizards parse the parched desert floor

Slim’s feeling demotic,
neurotic, anecdotal, over-used
he’s looking for a sanctuary
the fisherman and the shoes

he’s got those my way is  the highway
peripatetic  blues.

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Good Song Blues

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Good Song Blues

there’s a distance between a good song
and one that’s just okay

there’s a distance between a good song
and one that’s just okay

you can travel that distance in a minute
you can travel that distance in a day
but sometimes it takes forever
sometimes you can’t find the way

there’s a distance between a good song
and one that’s just okay.

 

and while I’m here i’d like to give a shout-out to one of my favourite music blogs – Zoolon Hub.  Zoolon is George Blamey-Steeden, a very talented singer, songwriter, guitar player, composer and a witty and engaging blogger. Check out his blog ( for all you guitar players out there, he offers backing tracks to jam to, and for you poets, he will put your poems to music for a very reasonable sum).

Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview) 2

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The Stack

And what a

beautiful

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

indignant.

 

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!

 

 

 

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night(2)

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Given the week that it is, I decided to bring this poem back from the dead…..

 

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night

The dead move slowly
through the graveyard,
they are few at first
but as they pass
each row of headstones
grey fists punch
through mounds of earth
in a manic salute
and the throng grows
and the throng grows
and the night howls
and the fog curls
and a thin cloud
bisects the moon
and at the edge
of the graveyard
is an old well
and at the bottom
of that well
is a little boy
and that little boy
is crying for help
and that little boy
is Thom Yorke.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse !

 

Gravity, Don’t Fail Me Now.. (gym gnostic 2)

 

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And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through….Bob Dylan

Know your gym……Slim Volume

 

gym gnostic 1

two geezers
pink and steaming
towelling down
after a shower
discussing gravity
how it is not fixed
how it decreases
with distance from the earth’s core
how, if one was to climb to the top of Everest,
since weight is the product of mass and gravity
one would weigh less at the top of Everest
and Slim’s thinking
this is one fucking erudite conversation
and he wants a piece of it
so he points out that
one would regain that weight
on returning to sea level
and one of the geezers replies
yeah but you’d probably burn 10,000 calories
climbing up and down the fucking mountain
and a nearby jock encased in breathable fabric
says shit, I’d burn that in 40 minutes on the rowing machine
and Slim fires back wryly
keep telling yourself that
and the locker room erupts in laughter
and in that moment
basking in the unbearable lightness of banter
Slim defies gravity and levitates
above the bacterial swamp
that is the locker room floor.

Ai Weiwei (quadrille)

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Ai Weiwei (quadrille)

I first came across Ai Wewei
in a gallery on the banks of the Guadalquivir
that river that runs through Seville
and although I admit
he has many arrows
in his artistic quiver
for me, his art fails to deliver
that shiver, that thrill.

 

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a quadrille (44 word poem) using the word “quiver”.

After getting a few comments on this post, I decided to add in a bit more detail, it’s hard to provide a balanced viewpoint with just 44 words .

 

I first became aware of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Seville of all places. I was walking north along the east bank of the Guadalquiver on my last day in that beautiful exciting sunny city. This section of the east bank does not have much to offer – unless you like graffiti covered vacant lots. I came across a roller blade/skate boarder park where there was a competition going on – elaborate flips, balancing tricks, spectacular wipe-outs, lots of black, lots of tattoos, some magenta hair, Spanish rap music. Looking across to the west bank of the river I saw a brick chimney and what appeared to be a series of bottle-shaped kilns. I crossed the river at the next bridge and using the chimney as a guide I found myself in a museum of contemporary art, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC).
The museum is housed in a building with quite a history. It started out as monastery, was used as a barracks in the Napolean invasion, then became the site of ceramics factory (hence, the kilns) and finally in 1997 became the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC). In the grounds of the museum are various chapels, the priory cell, church, the sacristy, cloisters, monks’ chapter, refectory, gardens and orchards.
Inside the museum, there was an exhibition of the works of the Chinese artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei. The focal point of the exhibition was Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” project which was first shown at the Tate Modern in London where he covered the floor of the Turbine Hall with a layer of hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds, a total of 100,000,000 seeds, with a combined weight of 150 tons.
It took more than 1,600 Chinese artisans two and a half years to manufacture this pile of ceramic seeds; each seed is hand-painted and unique, a huge and costly undertaking.
The Seville installation was a smaller version of the Tate installation, consisting of 5 tons of seeds spread like a carpet on the floor of a white-walled room. Outside the room, a video played providing information on the project and showing the artisans working on the production of the seeds. It also showed footage of the original Tate exhibition.
I have to admit that while I could appreciate the sheer effort that went into this piece, and having listened to the video explaining its significance and read further how one of the artist’s intentions is to draw attention to Chinese mass production practices, practices that serve western consumerism at the expense of the individual, as a work of art, it left me completely cold, visually bored. The English poet, Rosemary Tonks, said “The main duty of the poet is to excite – to send the senses reeling” and the same could be said of art in general. Ai Weiwei is a sincere and brave person and there were other Ai Weiwel works on show which better highlighted his talent as an artist, it’s just that this piece, despite the gargantuan effort that went into its production had no visceral impact on me whatsoever.
That is not to take away from the fact that my unplanned visit to Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC) was one of the highlights of my visit to Seville. Though modest in size, the grounds, history and the placement of contemporary art in the white walled hush of a Carthusian monastery is an experience that should not be missed.