Author: brianbilston

Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Love

I convened an academic symposium
and gathered together the great and the good
from a wide variety of disciplines
to consider the question, ‘What is love?’

The philosophers said we must first start with Plato.
The historians showed how it had changed over time.
The chemists spoke of oxytocin and dopamine.
The psychologists thought it was all in the mind.

The political scientists declared it undemocratic.
The sociologists deemed it a social construct.
The economists said that nothing else mattered
except for how little there was, or how much.

The linguists explained the word came from Old English.
The theologians claimed it came straight from God.
The media studies professors weren’t present
but they said they’d send their thoughts in a vlog.

The anthropologists spoke of love across cultures.
The mathematicians tried to work out its square root.
The neuroscientists pointed at MRI scans.
The musicologists played its song on a lute.

The art historians said it was all about perspective.
The geologists believed it from molten rock hewn.
The classicists read extracts from Sappho and Ovid.
The astrophysicists thought it to do with the moon.

The geographers tried to map all its contours.
The literature scholars quoted Auden and Keats.
At the end we were no nearer an answer;
we reconvene on Wednesday next week.

Advertisements

Love in the Age of Google

is love an abstract noun
is love a verb
is love actually on Netflix
is love a word

love is a temporary madness
love is a hurricane
love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs
love is a losing game

can love last forever
can love break your heart
can love2shop vouchers be used online
can lovebites scar

love can build a bridge
love can set you free
love can hurt ed sheeran
love cannot heal me

does love cure depression
does love have an age
does lovejoy marry charlotte
does love always fade

love does not need an explanation
love does not exist
love doesn’t need a slogan
love is all there is

 

This poem was constructed entirely from auto-completed searches about love on Google.

Poem for International Cat Day

International cats
assert their right to relax
in international laps
at any time of day or night.
If disputed, they will cite
the Universal Declaration of Feline Rights.

International cats
sit on international mats
that proclaim WELCOME
in each of the world’s languages.
International cats can sleep
in up to seven different languishes.

International cats,
proud flouters of human orders,
support comrades across borders.
They extend the paw of friendship
to cats who flee catastrophe,
terror and cruel adversity.

Liberty, equality, caternity!

Alexa, What Is There to Know about Love?

Alexa, what is there to know about love?
What is there to know about love?
A glove is a garment that covers the hand
for protection from the cold or dirt and –

Alexa, how does a human heart work?
How does a human heart work?
Blood is first received in the right atrium via
two veins, the vena cava superior and inferior –

Alexa, where do we go to when we die?
Where do we go to when we die?
Activating Google Maps. Completed activation.
Would you like to start from your current location?

Alexa, what does it mean to be alone?
What does it mean to be alone?
It is the silence left by words unsaid,
the cold expanse of half a bed.
It is the endless stretching of the hours,
the needless tending of plastic flowers.
It is an echo unanswered in a cave,
the fateful ping of the microwave.
It is the fraying of a worn shirt cuff,
and the howl –
Stop, Alexa. That’s enough.

There’s a Supermarket Where the Library Once Stood

There’s a supermarket where the library once stood.
I sometimes forget that it’s now gone for good.
Last week I asked if they had any Flaubert.
A shrug in response. ‘The cheese counter’s there.’

There’s a supermarket where the library had been.
I’ve been reading some Dhal in ‘Indian cuisine’.
No golden tickets, witches or giants, of course;
just chickpeas and lentils in a creamy spiced sauce.

There’s a supermarket where the library once was.
I had tried to hand back an old Grapes of Wrath.
Sorry, they told me, but it’s really too late,
they’ll be shrivelled and well past their best-before-date.

There’s a supermarket where the library once stood.
A Sainsbury’s Local has bulldozed my childhood.
The library had been starved of state funding, I guess.
Take books off the menu and live well for less.

Some Lesser-Known Collective Nouns

A distraction of smartphones.
A reckoning of spreadsheets.
An indolence of poets.
A conspiracy of subtweets.
 
A pile of haemorrhoids.
A bunion of personal trainers.
A grope of presidents.
A condescension of mansplainers.
 
An abundance of foodbanks.
An underfunding of schools.
A pathy of voters.
A cabinet of fools.
 
A collection correction of pedants.
A sesquipedality of long words.
An invention of collective nouns.
An oven glove of non sequiturs.

Hold my hand while we jump off this cliff

‘Let’s jump off this cliff – it’ll be fun! A right laugh!’
urged all the people (well, I mean just over half
of those who had bothered to speak up at all).
I peered down at the rocks; it was a long way to fall.

I said, ‘This cliff’s more than three hundred feet high
and my doctor tells me if I jump I will die.’
‘Cliff-jumping’s fine!’ they said. ‘Don’t trust doctors, trust us!
We read all about it on the side of a bus.’

Worried, I met up with my local MP.
I shared my concerns. He was forced to agree:
‘Why the rocks below would smash you to bits!
Where did you get this idea of jumping off cliffs?’

‘It was the will of some of the people,’ I said
and his expression changed to another instead.
‘I think,’ he revised, ‘you’re being melodramatic.
The problem is you. You’re undemocratic.’

On the clifftop, we waited. In silence we stood.
Then a voice: ‘Remind me, why is cliff-jumping good?’
But we looked down at our shoes, baffled and stumped.
Then, out of embarrassment, we held hands and jumped.