Monday, October 24, 2011

A new look at an old title

A new look at an old title

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Well, I ask myself, why not?
The difficulty will be making sure that the
summer’s day is not atypical and therefore an
inordinately awkward day with which to compare

Thee hast to be compared to something that is
not so overheated we would all prefer to
stay inside, drinking endless cups of tea,
ignoring the weather, avoiding nasty sunburns and

Nor would I be keen to compare thee to
a day starting light and shiny then steadily
clouding over, hinting at rain in the late
afternoon.  Such a day has a sense of not
boding well for the evening, leaving a
feeling of if only.  

If only I compared thee to the perfect summer’s day,
thee would be satisfied and not at all out of sorts
because of the possibilities of being compared to a
day that turns up on the weather reports as having
been less than satisfactory.

Regrettably, summer days are like any other days –
at least in our part of the world; moody, sulky,
telling lies about themselves, leaning to pretence,
opening dull and heating up, or hiding blue skies
well and truly behind a cover of cloud. 

If I compared thee to a winter’s day, then we
might all know what we were getting:
often more than a little cool, occasionally frosty,
once in a while snow-covered, iced-over,
likely to send you toppling if you step
incorrectly, bleak for a week, a
time to stay indoors and sit by the fire...

Shall I compare thee to a winter’s day?
Wrapped up warm, gloves, hats, scarves,
layer on layer over thermal underwear,
bed-snuggled beneath a bevy of
blankets, hot toddied, feet
hot-water bottled, wheat-bagged,
wrapped round each other, legs,
arms, independent parts...

Give me thee in winter more than summer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


A poem written a few years ago as part of a larger poem, but which decided it was good enough on its own. 

I’ve seen a moth near-drowning
slide across a hot bath, flicker
up and off the surface, onto walls
and ceiling quicker
than my eyes can follow,
seen it smash into the light-bulb,
flash into a mirror, speed from
wall to wall in frenzy, like a
dervish all a-shimmer, settle down
into a corner, flutter briefly,
catch its breath and in a moment
dive its suicidal path towards the
bath and start all over.


A recent poem....from just a few weeks ago. 

Last time I saw this young man
he was callow, naive, could
put his foot in whatever was
in-put-footable.  Now, he holds the
hand of a curly-headed three-year-old boy,
grinning, both of them grinning,
delighted to be in each other’s life,
the ginger-haired, short-cropped father,
the curly-topped lightning-smiling
boy.  ‘And we’ve just had number two,’
says the father, shining.  ‘Just
three weeks ago.’

Monday, October 17, 2011

Firstly, Secondly

Another poem written some time in the last couple of years, and again, somewhat revised....

Firstly, Secondly. 

Firstly, in a house full of
paper, I can’t find a scrap
to write on.   The chaos of
carpet-laying has put everything
where it doesn’t belong.

Secondly, reading Billy
Collins writing about
reading Thomas Traherne
I wonder if Billy
will be remembered
300 years from now.

Will he be rediscovered, as
Bach was rediscovered – supposedly –
by Felix Mendelssohn.
Felix was a bit of a
fraud, (though without malice)
since Bach had never been
undiscovered, even when
Felix found some of his
manuscripts being used to wrap
meat in a butcher’s shop,
(so the story goes),
even though Bach’s
Mass in B Minor was
unknown to the English
musical cognoscenti.

So Billy’s Apple that
Discovered Paris, or his
Trouble with Poetry might
well go out of fashion, but
who’s to say what will survive.
With so much alive and well
on the Net, it’s a probable
bet that Billy and Bach and
Thomas Traherne will
continue their timeless travels -
unless the Net unravels.

In spite of the news

In spite of the news,
the body got up next morning
continued to
go for a pee,
wash its face,
eat breakfast,
put on clean underwear,
check for holes in the toes of socks,
put one leg into trousers and then the next,
make sure it had a handkerchief,
brush its teeth,
comb its hair,
kiss its wife goodbye
and head off to work.

No one noticed the news on the bus.
The bus driver was cheerful as usual,
the passengers nonchalant, or oblivious,
or listening to their MP3s.
The traffic in general was busy,
checking for red lights,
beeping at drivers cutting in,
whistling along with the pop songs
and, some of them,
talking on their cellphones.

In the office, all was normal,
the news was not remarked upon.
Not even when the body told them.
It barely rippled the surface of their
newspaper, magazine, Codecracker lives.
And the ripples it did make caused
no more than an
Oh.   Ah.   Sorry.

I wrote this poem on the 29.10.08, and have slightly revised it.   I have no idea what the particular 'news' was anymore, and of course, it's not important....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Getting inside the head of a non-human creature has been one of the tasks of poets since....well, I don't know since when....

This is yet another attempt. 


Without me, Boss would be at a loss.
I dob in robbers bobbing their heads over the fence.
I stop plotters lobbing bombs on the grass.
Fob me not off, ignore my woof not!
I bark and blot out the wobbling hand,
The desire to mollycoddle – I’m a dog,
For God’s sake!  I have no problems
With collywobbles but give me strong,
Solid assurance I’ve done a good job.
Double ‘good dog, good dog’ for my
Trouble.  I have no foibles needing
Avoiding, nor rubble in the bowels
Of my cranium needing psychology:
I’m biologically

The statue in the photo is in Budapest - the dog might be after the chicken under the boy's arm, rather than the boy!   Photo by gimboland.

Two Dunedin poems

Two Dunedin poems

A small boy
Turns over each of the
Octagon’s metal chesspieces
With a clang reminiscent of a
Coke can being crushed.
When he has finished,
Having excelled in the
Art of overturning chessmen,
He stands arms akimbo.

There is a man I see everywhere I go;
In fact there are two.
The first always wears a t-shirt over his skivvy, and
Always carries a bag slung over one shoulder.
The other one is always seated drinking coffee,
Always talking intently to at least one other person –
Mostly one other person.
The first man is always alone.
I never know whether the second man’s conversation
Is as intellectual as it looks, or whether he is a fool full of words.
I know nothing about the first man.
He is always alone.