Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

A theme of sexism this week, so I cobbled this poem together earlier today.

Discrimination in all its forms is abhorrent, but sometimes I get the feeling that some people try and pervert the justified efforts of others towards their own means. Probably a human thing. 

Enough philosophising. Here's the poem.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Sexism checks is a male or a female a
Choice that is fair when all else is deemed square.
It’s clear when it’s not,
But what else have we got
When there’s nothing to go on except facial hair?

How does one choose if there aren’t any clues
To mark she above he or vice versa?
For some people fume
And they often assume
That lobbying might just coerce ya.

What, then is sexist-a-bout Miss or Mister
If terms such as these are not used to divide?
For your information
It’s discrimination
That should be denied. Don’t let common sense slide.

Refuse to excuse those who widen the term
As a means to force us on their own hobby-horse.
Many just hold a
Big chip on their shoulder
So let’s all calm down. Let them scream ‘til they’re hoarse.

All this hypocracy, so-called democracy:
Certainly I am more equal than them.”
Let’s wish for an age
When we all reach the stage
When we look beyond genders and do not condemn.

Yearning for parity, looking for clarity,
Maybe we’re trying too hard to excel:
Ladies and gentlemen:
Equally mental an’
Equally prone to be sexist as well.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Our Time Together

I finished this poem in the early hours of this morning (24 May 2014) and it is on the theme of clocks. The first clock reference is to the same trusty LED clock I mentioned in my poem Associations. Credit where it's due...

Our Time Together

Silent and red-eyed I watch whilst he’s sleeping.
Blinking, I wait while the hours* bleed away.
Sometimes he reaches towards me, so keeping
Me quiet; no sound at the start of the day.

Do we have time to do this?” he will ask
And I will provide him the answers he needs:
Turning my hands to so many a task;
So many jobs -  and this he concedes.

Home entertainment is one such concern,
Checking his favourite* TV’s taped on cue.
Mealtimes I’m watching his food does not burn.
Checking appointments and when they are due.

Leaving the house, as on most days he’s prone,
I’m left by myself and I’m not even missed.
But I can take comfort that he’s not alone:
My cousin is there with a grip on his wrist.

Here in this house I have so many faces;
I’m there in the hall when his key’s in the lock.
I know he gains comfort here in this oasis;
I welcome him home: hear my tick, hear my tock.

* The word 'hours' should be read as one syllable, and 'favourite' as two, i.e. pronounced "fave-ret".

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Belittled Oratory

The theme - Charles Dickens. I wrote this on 3 December 2013 and thought I'd try a different approach, incorporating book titles (or alluding to them) within the text.

Belittled - Oratory

Last Christmas, Carol had a leak.   
A pipe had burst, the prospect bleak,
House getting wetter, time was late:
Her expectations were not great,   

Not knowing any Galahads
She picked quick from the paper’s ads.
How curious it is to shop  
When rushed.     Came Edwin on the hop.

“It’s costly – this job is – to sort.
It’s hell the sluice it is,     to thwart”
So Carol, the options thus laid
Upon her, begrudgingly paid.

How dumb. Behind some work – slapdash –
He stemmed the mains, left with the cash.
How can he sleep, that little rat,
Or live a twisted life like that?

He wouldn’t take a nicker less;
Nick’ll be where he confess-
-es how he tried this latest con.
In these hard times it is not on.

For Carol and her mate are cops;
Their mutual friends pulled out the stops.
So Edwin rued that soggy day
A copper feeled his collar. Hey!

For completeness, the books are Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expectations (switched, sorry), Pickwick [Papers], [The Old] Curiosity Shop, A Tale of Two Cities (at a stretch), Barnaby Rudge, Dombey and Son, Oliver Twist, Nicolas Nickleby, Hard Times, [Our] Mutual Friend, [The Mystery of] Edwin Drood, [David] Copperfield.

The Introspective Veggie

A short poem on the theme of vegetables. Written quickly on 9 November 2013 whilst the Dead Good Poets Radio Show was on the air, so I could submit it to the show.

The Introspective Veggie

I am not a beetroot, although I blush at times
I am not a runner, bean caught for selfish crimes
I am not an iceberg – I melt at soppy songs
I am not a little gem – handle me with tongs
I am not a chunky Swede – not Scandinavian Bjorn
Although I like an artichoke, I don’t like too much corn
I am not a petit-pois, don’t want to pea myself
I just sit and vegetate, sitting on the shelf.

An American (Bad) Dream

The Theme of this poem was "Snog Marry Avoid". I wrote it on 22 November 2013. For the anti-penultimate (!) line to rhyme, you should really read the poem with a suitable accent.

Snog Marry Avoid - An American Bad Dream

It was so long ago in New York State
That I first saw the face that changed my life.
An instant that would redirect my fate:
I had no plans to make that girl my wife.
Jumping up and down at CBGBs
That’s where we were - the room exuding heat.
The drink would lead us to heebie-jeebies
But that was after we’d danced off our feet.
A smile, a look, we danced and moved nearer
Perspiring like a Central Park jogger.
Her aim, like mine, could not be much clearer
So close, we knew that soon I would snog her.

And there it started, attraction that’s so
Indicative: the exuberance of youth;
When hormones fire, when lips engage, you know  
The brain is not in charge, and that’s the truth.
The next few months together, how they sped;
And then, one night as I thought “Time to go”,
She turned to me, as we lay in our bed
 “I’m late,” she said, and tears started to flow.
She blubbed, “I’ll bloat and you’ll leave me for good
And I’ll look like an aircraft carrier!”
I felt protective, knowing that I would
Stay by her side, that I would marry her.

There was no child, it was a false alarm
(That’s something I did not know at the time)
So down the aisle we walked, our arms in arm.
A sentence began, but what was my crime?
Her mom, her dad, her drugged up brother, too
Moved in our home with us – not my idea.
My bride took their side, never mine. It’s true.
A marriage of convenience I fear.
Her gambling dad, incessant derision,
The brother arrested, charged with “moider.”
My wife? No life. I made a decision.
I left them all. And now I avoid her.

A Plea, From Me

Now, this poem is on the political side. Biased? Probably, but as it's my poem it can be. It was written on 29 November 2013, setting myself an exercise to write a poem in iambic monometer - i.e. two syllables per line with the emphasis on the second. The first couple of lines came so naturally and  before I had decided on a subject, but having these lines in my head I simply had to continue the anti-government theme.

So, to continue the British habit of complaining about the current government (of whatever party), here is

A Plea, From Me

Bog off
You toff.
Your crew
Can too.
I'm sick
Of Nick,
I'm through
With you.

We've toiled,
You've spoiled.
In vain.
Don't care.
Our pain,
Your gain.

So Dave,
Please save
Your lies;
We guys
Have heard
Each word.
Truth dies.

Don't need
Your creed
Up there.
Our prayer?
You greet

That's why,
Dave, I
Once more
Bog off
You toff.
Head for
The door.

Hidden Agendas

I don't recall the theme for this one, possibly politics. Written 2 November 2013, it helps if you are familiar with the British TV progammes mentioned - in particular, the character Cameron in the soap "Emmerdale" was a serial killer that remained anonymous and on the loose for some time.

Hidden Agendas

Art reflects life - isn't that what they say?
Well, I was reflecting on this, yesterday -
How sometimes, the shows that I watch on TV
Hide shades of the future - politically.
Not Glenda rejecting the Hollywood scene
Nor Widdecombe dancing - that's not what I mean.

Recall that celebrity? Picture his grin
Light on his feet, a master of spin.
You must remember Lionel Blair?
I think it was Mondays, his show was on air
Whereupon mass distraction had us in grips
"Give us a Clue" - not a word passed his lips.

Comedy, too. Foggy, Compo and Clegg?
No vision, blame culture. He's pulling my leg.
And then, if you would, take a look at the Soaps:
How life seems to be good, then they're dashing our hopes.
One man's action in "Emmerdale" tore lives apart,
But now Cameron's gone. Let's hope life reflects art

Origami - All I Know

A theme of Origami, and written on 16 November 2013

Origami - All I Know

Some years ago on ITV
When TV channels numbered three
Robert Harbin had a show
An Origami “how to go.”

I only had a mild int’rest
But someone thought that they’d invest
Their money in his spin-off book.
They gave it me to have a look.

Finding Napkins just collapse
I cut some squares from paper scraps.
First I made a paper hat
It didn’t fit, so that was that.

Bigger sheets are best (I heard).
I’d try and make a flapping bird.
The national dailies! Just the thing –
But sadly most were too right wing.

Last, I learned, with much aplomb
How to make a water bomb
A paper cube to fill and throw.
Origami – all I know.

Impressions of Dorian Gray

A theme of Dorian Gray had me stumped for a while, then I thought, why not write about being stumped about Dorian Gray and finding something out about the book? Written 11 December 2013.

Impressions of Dorian Gray

When I heard the theme of this Dead Poets’ show
I thought “Here’s a subject I don’t really know.”
My knowledge of lit’rature’s lit’rally scant –
Perhaps I could give it a different slant.

There’s always the fall-back: TV that I’ve seen.
I seemed to remember a Dorian Green –
Promiscuous cougar who lived Chigwell way?
But try as I might: couldn’t picture her grey.

Not “Birds of a Feather”, then. Where should I look?
I thought, “In the loft. We just might own the book.”
I found it and started to read, reconciled.
You don’t need an Oscar to know that it’s Wilde.

An artist who’s smitten, Sir Henry – a friend
Who spouts without doubting, who talks without end,
Who thinks that his views should be taken as fact.
Yet some, though not all, we may care to extract.

Consider Sir Henry’s ideas set today:
How Z-List celebrities preen as they say,
“Don’t think paparazzi are much of a curse –
Not being talked about’s something that’s worse.”

And then there is Dorian – bit of a wimp –
(Not much of a book if he looked like a chimp)
Who jealously envies his portrait in oils
Predicting a time when he ages and spoils.

My gran had a saying – I’ll paraphrase here –
“What they want is someone to wee in their ear!”
Wake up. Do not fixate on trivial things
As many do now; much worse waits in the wings.

I’ve only read some, but I will persevere.
The prose is descriptive; the characters “queer”.
Forget daytime telly, there’s plenty to do:
My cache in the attic has other books, too.


Written on the 19 December 2013. The theme for the poem was "numbers", and was not inspired until I woke one morning to see the red LED digits on my old-fashioned digital clock.


I woke in darkness, turned my head,
Saw Five Eighteen emblazoned red
And as I snuggled down, a thought
Inveigled there: my sleep cut short.
I paid that much for “David Live”;
Such longing – for it to arrive.
I’d never paid that much before
For Bowie at a record store.

That waking thought: It’s odd, I find,
How numbers linger in your mind,
Associate with things of note,
A trigger for an anecdote.
Yes. Numbers, prices of all sorts
Bring special albums to my thoughts
Two Seven Nine. An analogue:
Collecting Mott’s back catalogue.

Now “digital”, we’re all aware,
Means noughts and ones are everywhere.
The CDs, DVDs, TVs
The Internet and MP3s
The smartphones, tablets that we use,
The eBooks, laptops that we choose;
They all have numbers at their source –
The software. Makes them run, of course.

I wonder if one day I’ll see
An Eighty Nine and think with glee
That’s what I paid, recall what I’ve
Downloaded, saved on my hard drive.
Associations. Not the same.
Anticipation’s lost the game.
A victim of that God, “Progress”;
A minor thing – but I digress.

Yes, numbers trigger memories;
A calendar, its legacies.
The Twenty-Fifth: it’s Christmas Day.
The Twenty-Third: St George’s Day.
The Fifth: A bonfire lights the sky.
The Thirty-First: the year’s goodbye.
Specific birthdays: twenty-one,
Each passing year, each decade gone.

The date you wed that precious spouse.
The date you parted from that louse!
A loved-one dies: all’s Pre and Post
That date, that year – the least, the most.
These digits, they define our lives.
They’re abstract, yet their ‘fluence drives
Us from that babies’ feeding cup
And will, until our number’s up.

The Fuchsia

Written on 30 December 2013, the theme was "the future", but I decided to vary it slightly...

The Fuchsia

Two pairs of petals, broad and short
Four slender sepals, slender, wrought
In shapes both long and pendulous.
I wonder, would they endure less
Should they not show in blooms so bright:
Red, purple, pink, magenta, white.

See how they strive to keep their blooms
As autumn dies and winter looms;
They brighten up the dullest plot –
Some evergreen, though some are not,
Their leaves in whorls of three to five,
They’re predisposed to stay alive.

Unchallenged, they would never stop
Their hardy growth, and so we chop
Them back to size: they do not care,
Re-growing as if unaware,
Ignoring such minutia.
And so repeats the fuchsia.

The Future

Written on 31 December 2013 on the theme of "the future".

The Future

It’s easy to be negative.
The future’s when the present ends,
Beyond the time in which we live:
We can’t know what next week portends.
So much on which it all depends,
A fatalist would drift along,
The time-stream’s something that transcends:
What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong.

He may be right, how can we know?
But don’t be swayed – uncertainties
Should not detract us, we should grow,
To plan for possibilities,
Assess the probabilities,
To make the best of what can be,
Avoiding life’s absurdities,
The future’s there for you and me.

The World Goes On

I wrote this poem towards the end of December 2013, It originally had three stanzas (1,2,4), but I decided to put it to music and added the third stanza in April 2014. I needed two stanzas for a single verse in the music. The extra text at the end are the words I used for a chorus, although you really need the tune for the relevant rhythm.

The World Goes On

Five hundred and eighty-five million miles:
A long way to go in a year,
But planet earth goes its elliptical way,
Retracing its course as it does ev’ry day,
The passengers carried inside Рso blas̩,
Ignoring the great atmosphere.

Two thousand and fourteen years now on the clock:
A service is long overdue,
Yet planet earth’s journey’s just goes on and on,
It just goes straight round (that’s an oxymoron) –
Well, it doesn’t care when the fossil fuel’s gone,
It’s never too tired, right on cue.

Remember that others were here long ago
Before we as primates evolved,
But fossils are all that there is we can see
Of life from that time long before you and me:
The dinosaurs wiped out irrelevantly
Whilst planet earth simply revolved.

So here we are now – it’s another new year:
The calendar that we have made.
The world is oblivious to our own flaws,
The starving, intolerance, greed causing wars,  
Our choice how we handle these things, mine and yours;
The world just goes on, unallayed.

Extra words for chorus

The world goes on, and on and on
It will continue ev’ry year. To make it clear,
It will go on, after we’re gone.
It will not care that we were here.

The Record

This one was written in October 2013, shortly after I first joined a Creative Writing class. There was an exercise to write a Rhyme Royal to incorporate descriptive writing. Whereas I'd written the odd 'alternative lyric' to songs prior to this, this is really the first poem of note I wrote. (Note I wrote? Get my coat) Cheers, Ashley.

The Record

The touch, the feel of laminated sleeves.
A varied range of artwork comes and goes.
From this, a puff of air each movement leaves
A plastic smell of ink inside my nose.
But then, at last, I see the one that shows
A cursive logo I have sought for years…
The stylus drops; such music to my ears.

Why is it that the feedback feeds my soul?
Why does that bass warm the base of my spine?
No need to be at the Hollywood Bowl –
My eyes are closed but I can see just fine.
And as the singer sings the final line
The music fades – I hear the vinyl hiss –
My thoughts become clear and I reminisce.

The night was cool and the atmosphere hot.
The drizzle raised scent from her golden hair.
Did the weather bother us? Not a jot –
We were so ecstatic just to be there.
We watched as crisp lasers sliced through the air
And the band walked onto the stage once more,
Strapped on their guitars – the final encore.

A Les Paul axe struck the opening chord.
The crowd cheered and clapped in recognition.
The tickets were more than we could afford;
We’d scrimped and we’d saved to gain admission
So as not to miss this fine rendition.
‘Twas then we shared a smile through lashes’ drips
And tasted the jewelled drops on our lips.

Eyes open again, I pick up the sleeve
“Limited pressing”, it says on the top.
Soon, when she gets home, she will not believe
I found the disc in that charity shop
A piece of our past I just could not drop
Recording the time that finally let
Us share our first kiss – our future was set.


This poem was written mid January for the theme "The End of The World". Another 'grumpy-old-man reflection on society. Grr. I'll bite the table.


“It’s the end of the world!
I want straight hair, not curled;
My mascara has made my eyes red.
I’ve gained twenty grammes
And you don’t need exams
To see what I’ve got on my head.
If I can’t lose that zit
Then he won’t think I’m fit
An’ he’ll go off with somebody new.
I’ve brought the wrong lippy –
I look like a hippie –
And look: his name’s on my tattoo!”

“Our world’s at its end!
We can never defend
With our goalkeeper in his sick bed.
And as for the ref
Well, he must be deaf –
He ignored what his own linesman said,
Though he should have spied
That their bloke was offside;
The moron is just without reason.
Kick our manager out
For our team’s – without doubt –
In a lower division next season.”

It’s an overused phrase
Used for every malaise:
The “end of the world” for all maladies.
One could be excused
If the phrase was abused
Purely for personal tragedies,
But this overreaction
Is just a distraction
Diluting the meaning for fun.

Unless this is evidence
Society’s decadence?

The end of the world has begun.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Same Old Road

I wrote the following poem when provided with a poetic theme of "Roads". Cynical? Maybe. It might simply be a symptom of age. And experience...

The Same Old Road

Haven’t you heard? Haven’t you heard?
Election Day is coming soon:
At last the candidates have stirred
Themselves and leaflets have been strewn.
Yes. Countless leaflets through the post
From parties red, green, yellow, blue,
Repeating that familiar boast:
A road to futures bright and new.

The same old road, the same old road.
That’s not the way we want to go.
The rhetoric that they offload,
The plastic faces that they show,
Pretending that they really care,
They all show diff’rent shades of grey,
Not bright at all, so think: is there
Another option we can weigh?

Is there a way? Is there a way?
I wish I knew. I really do.
To win, a party has to sway
The floating voters for a coup,
Convince the unsure and insane,
Convince them that they’ll keep their word,
To drive like cattle down the lane.
Avenue herd. Avenue herd.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Written for "A Poetry Show" where the featured poet is Sylvia Plath (broadcast 10 May 2014). Initially.


   Something will turn up; it’s later than you think.
   You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
 – Look on the bright side, it’s darkest ’fore the dawn.
   Vultures are circling. ‘Doesn’t know he’s born.
   It could – be – worse; they are that way at sea,
   At least the pain is over. It wasn’t meant to be.
   Patience is a virtue; all comes to he who waits.
   Let it all slide off your back. At least you’ve got some mates.
   A dime a dozen; all the same; seen one, you’ve seen them all.
   Tomorrow is another day. Give thanks for mercies small.
   His bark is far worse than his bite. Let sleeping dogs lie still.
   Practice makes things perfect, though no-one’s got that skill.
   Others go through this each day; don’t think that you’re alone.
   Ev’ry cloud’s a silver lining. Don’t fear the unknown.
   Maybe your heart’s not in the task. These things are heaven-sent.
   Show gratitude? Each platitude: no help, but most well-meant.