Bridges

Not Katherine Anne Paterson’s Bridge

to Terabithia,

the one that Leslie and Jess cross

to get to their magic kingdom.

Nor that bridge too far.

Not the one Over Troubled Waters.

Nor that terrible one on the River Kwai.

Not even the bridges you burn

so there’s no turning back

but that rope suspension bridge

dangling high over the gully

that me and my faithful mutt, Salem,

can’t bring ourselves to cross

photo by Andre Amaral on Unsplash.com

The Man in the Box has a Few Things to Say

He had a rough time as a kid, a tough time as a teenager, and did hard time as an adult in maximum-security, an ideal upbringing for a Coffin Confessor, a calling Bill Edgar, the author, pioneered.  

You need balls to be a coffin confessor, a job, if you’ll excuse the pun,  he fell into. A coffin confessor gatecrashes funerals, and reads out what his client, the deceased, discloses to him on their deathbed. He is entrusted to let the mourners know the bitter truth that has been largely hidden from them all this time. There is always at least one of the mourners who receives a right royal drubbing, a public flogging by the lash of truth.

He3re is his spiel: “Excuse me, but I’m going to need you to sit down, shut up or fuck off. The man in the box has a few things to say,”

You gotta read this book. Every chapter is rivetting.

How Many of These Have You Read?

I was chatting with Worms the other day about Proust,

about his masterpiece, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’

and how neither of us had read it; Worms even found

the name ‘Proust’ intimidating; and I thought how many

of the world’s best known works I have never read,

like Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’, Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’,

even Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ and even though

everyone has heard of it, who’s read Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’?

There’s even a short story by David Gilbert devoted to

the George Elliot book that no one I know has ever read,

and few have heard of: ‘Adam Bede’. There must be others.





*can you think of any?

* have you read any of these books?

* what has put you off reading them?

pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia

Thief: for Terveen

I am a thief

a thief of words.

Watch out for me.

I am never at rest.

My tools

are my ears, my eyes,

my prey

the streets of my city.

I scan for the unwary face,

the frown or smile

that betrays.

I listen into conversations,

arguments.

Priest-like

I elicit confessions.

I watch for

the unguarded sentence,

the revealing phrase.

I am the one with the notebook

opposite you on the bus;

the one with the slightly intent look

at your side.

Watch out for me.

I am the purloiner of language.

I snatch words

and use them as my own.

I am the poet, the novelist,

the thief of words

* from my second book, 1990. Longman Cheshire

No Special Hurry

The crow

in the crossbars of

the power pole

is saying, Hey John.

You don’t have to worry, man.

You are not one of those who bring so much courage

to the world that it has to kill you

So don’t ruffle your feathers.

Pardon? I say.

I can read you like a book, he says, speaking of which

‘But it will break you.

It breaks everyone.

But you are one of those strong in the broken places’,

as Hemingway would say.

You read Hemingway?

Of course, who do you think I’m quoting?

You are a most learned crow, I say.

But it will kill you, he says,

‘It kills everyone

the very brave and very gentle

but if you are neither of these it will still kill you

but there will be no special hurry’.

That is sort of comforting, I say. Thank you.

‘Farewell to Arms’, he adds. Due attribution.

You should read it sometime.

I think I have, but not with the diligence you accorded it.

And with a flick of his suave black wings, he flies away.

Dairy Dreams

As soon as I began reading it, ‘The Ice Cream Palace,’ I began to have dairy dreams.

Don’t you know it is forbidden, I said. I banished you from my diet years ago.

But the dream  pulled up to me like a Mr. Whippy van chiming.

What could I do?

I settled back into my vanilla-and–pistachio armchair and read Gianni Rodari’s deliciously delightful tale.

My eyes greedily licked every sentence.

I scooped the words up with pleasure.

They melted in my mouth.

The residue ran down my chin in rainbow rivulets.

Come Closer and Listen

I reckon if someone calls a book, ‘Come Closer and Listen’ they ought to have something to say.

Something vital, urgent, new. Provocative.

I leaned real close and listened. I wanted to be shocked out of my stodginess.

Take something away, to share with my mates at the pub Friday night.

Something revelatory.

But there was nothing.

Admittedly the poems are well crafted, And there are a few good ones

and even one stand-out poem but that’s it in 60 + pages.

But really it’s the same old stuff as in the previous 10 books.

God help us, we;re all in danger of repeating ourselves and if I do I pray someone

calls me out.

But it’s like I said of the Seinfeld book.

You coulda done better, Charles. You coulda done better.

The Ninth Crypt

I am about to read a book called ‘The Ninth Crypt’,

A novel I acquired for twenty dollars at the supermarket

But fear I may have made a grave mistake:

Browsing through the blurb I see mention of only

The ninth crypt, all well and good, but what about

The other eight? Perhaps the author is planning prequels

Based on the success of this volume but seeing he is

Now a septuagenarian who came to writing late,

This is most unlikely; perhaps if I bury myself deeply

in the text I shall disinter enough cryptic clues

To keep me happy — but at 800 pages !!! I await

Clarification; in the meantime this tombstone of a novel

Shall stand on my shelf of great unread books.





  • have you got any big unread books on your bookshelf?
  • photo by Grangeburn on Pinterest

Life Isn’t a Beanbag

I am reading a book of jokes

that looks like a book of poems

double-spaced typing, plenty of white space,

400 pages long.

almost unheard of unless it’s a ‘Collected’

& it’s by a comedian,

the comedian of comedians — Seinfeld

and it’s been 25 years in the making

so you’d think something with heft

like a comic ‘Crime & Punishment’, for instance.

Look, I wasn’t expecting Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor

but this stuff was tame, kindergarten, Christmas cracker

material, vanilla, timid as marshmallow.

What I wanted to ask was:

where are the pangs, the pricks, the pranks

life has played on you? the prangs of relationships?

Your life couldn’t have been that cushiony, surely?

Life isn’t a beanbag, Jerry. Where is the dark matter?

All I’m saying is, you coulda done better.

After 25 years of  nothing in print,

you coulda done better, Jerry. Will you give me that?

a Flatulent Thought

It’s alimentary, my dear Watson

said Sherlock of the fart

but it’s in how you use it

that’s the tricky part





It can be used as exclamation

or as a well-timed riposte

or to prick the bubble of pomposity

when perspective is lost





or just to let the body go

in unbridled hilarity

a fart is the highest honour

you can bestow on ribaldry





I hope you are taking notes, Watson

of all that I impart

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling

flatulent as a fart.





pic courtesy of wikipedia