poetry

Love Excels

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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.

Football’s Getting Homesick Blues

Harry’s gone for placement, dishin’ out the medicine,
Nation’s in the basement, despairin’ at the government,
The man in the waistcoat, looks out, jumps up,
Shoulder’s feeling pretty rough, readjusts his shirt cuffs.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
God knows when you’ll be doin’ it again,
Approached it the right way, makin’ lots of new friends,
Man in an England cap in the Wig and Pen
Goes and turns the sound down: that’s enough, thanks, Glenn.

Stones rocks, shirt red, Maguire leaps, big head,
Trippier in the heat puts balls in the box but
Think about how you play, don’t give the ball away,
The people in the pub say Raheem’ll score one day.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
Walk on your tip toes, tuck in your elbows,
Watch out for the long throws, dictate how the game flows
Keep the door closed, confidence grows,
It helps to have a proper plan and know which way the kicks go.

Ah, Dele sick, Dele well, group stages farewell
Team, squad, country gel, three lions, hearts swell,
Work hard, Lingard, get back now, Kyle,
Dig in, use guile, workin’ out our own style.

Look out, kids, you’re gonna get hit
By foulers, cheaters, penalty spot abusers,
Turnin’-up-the-heaters,
Pickford leapin’ and stickin’ out his left hand,
Build a team of leaders. Who was markin’ Mina?

Ah, get through, keep on, advance, romance,
Fortnite dance, IKEA, no fear, football gets near,
Free-kick, freak out, hearts lift, chance come, chance missed,
It’s grippin’, it’s gruelin’ but they’ve not picked up Mandzukic.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
Don’t hide down a manhole, think of all you handled,
Avoidin’ all the scandals, leadin’ by example,
Now see what you’ve begun, it’s time to move on,
Hard work, teamwork, relightin’ the candle.

Ten Rules for Aspiring Poets

1. Poetry does not have to rhyme.
Well, at least not all the time always.

2. Metaphors are great!
But mixing them is not so good.
If they start to fly in all directions,
then nip them in the bud.

3. Focus and concentration
are important skills to hone.
Turn the wi-fi off.
Don’t get distracted by your ph-

4. Avoid clichés like the plague.

5. Don’t do stuff that’s too vague.

6. The use of needlessly long words
may result in reader alienation.
Rein in your sesquipedalianism
in case it should cause obfuscation.

6. Always proof-read you’re work.
Accuracy can be it’s own reward!
And remember that the penis
mightier than the sword.

8. Haiku look easy
but plan ahead or you may
run out of sylla

9. Never ever follow rules.

Selected Proverbs

A fool and his hair are soon parted.
Do not put all your baskets on one egg.
People who live in glasshouses shouldn’t.
Summer comes before a Fall.

Don’t count your line drawings before they are hatched.
History repeats itself.
If at first you don’t suck seed, try, try a grain.
Incidents will happen.

A flat tyre will get you nowhere.
A watched pot gathers no moss.
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to be Fish
and he’ll ask Kayleigh whether it’s too late to say he’s sorry.

He who hesitates is … um …
Don’t get mad, get even madder.
A leotard cannot change its spots.
History repeats itself.