poetry

Selfies

But he had so many friends, they said,
on hearing the news.
And they went back through his posts,
searching for clues.

But no, there was nothing
to explain it away.
Just selfies, with filters applied,
from that last day.

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This Bookshop Life

I’d buy everything from a bookshop if I could.
All my food would come from there.
Atwooden tables I would sit, eating Dahl,
Kipling Tartts or chocolate Baudelaires.
There’d be flat tortillas, focaccia and the rye:
it would be a literary-luncheoned life of pie,
all washed down with a glass of Carver
or a Swift half, if I’d rather.
 
I would make myself an Eco-friendly home:
go Greene and buy recycled tomes.
It Wodehouse a Self-portrait in the attic,
where no-one else could look at it,
and a looking-glass, of course, for the hall,
(amazing how I’ve not changed at all).
My house would Spark delighted looks;
I’d build a coffee table out of coffee table books.
 
I would also buy my clothes from there:
ragged trousers, experimental novel underwear,
dust jackets and striped pyjamas.
Boyd by the comments that I would Garner,
my days would pass quite Harper Lee,
this bookshop life, these books and me.
 

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.

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.