Am I the Only One who Does This?

( this was just published on ‘The Drabble’: thought you’d like a read too 🙂 ]

I’ve been clearing up the house

sweeping up the crumbs.

It’s a monthly ritual.

Am I mad? or just dumb?.

I clear away the cobwebs

sweep up the dust

collect and bin the rubbish.

Somebody must.

They won’t wash themselves,

mum used to say.

The sink’s full of them

so I put them away.

Make the place spotless

so it shines & it hums.

& I better get a move on

before the cleaner comes.

Looking Back: my Favourite Posts

Looking through the pages of my commonplace book

I paused to take a look at the posts I had copied down

in 2020, the ones that had brought me much pleasure,

that made me pause, take a measure of my life:

here they are without fear or favouritism, in the order

they appeared:

‘Birch’ and ‘Boring’ by Beth

‘Nimmitabel’ and ‘My Suburban Horror Movie’ by Out of the Cave

‘The Old Dog’ and ‘the length some people will go to kill butterflies’ by D R Bogdan

‘How to Survive as a Mental Patient’ and ‘Wait for Me’ by Sarcastic Fringehead

‘Some People are Trees’ by Jewish Young Professional

‘No’ and ‘Monochrome; by Cathy’s Real Country Garden

‘Watching Candles Burn’ and ‘Just Came for the Burger’ by Mark Tulin

“Sweet Sundown’ by Michael Jordahl

‘Carpet of Frosty Leaves’ by Ulle Haddock

‘Testing’ by Hobbo

‘Here I Am’ by Boromax

* what were some of your favourites in 2020?

My Wine Bottle has Pretensions

My wine bottle, I am told, has pretensions.

It came from the top shelf where the expensive

bottles are kept, for starters.

Too good for the hoi polloi.

It has airs, she states.

See how stiffly it carries itself.

Why, it even comes with a cork in it!

Too good for a metal cap.

And to top it all it has been aged in bourbon barrels.

What’s that all about? she says.

I take a good hard look at it.

It does look a little snooty.

We both glare at it off and on during the evening.

I don’t know what it makes of us.

You Really Have to Lift Your Game

You really have to lift your game, I say to my poems:

pull the finger out, push the envelope, think outside the box;

you’ve been resting on your laurels too long.

Other poets are doing amazing things with words,

smashing them together like neutrons in a Hadron Collider.

Get this: ‘these widowed months’, ‘the dents of highway laughs’,

and my favourite: ‘the soul is a runway for anything willing to fly’.

Whew! they say. Is that all you can say? I say.

Will you try a little harder? I say to my poems. Come on, guys.

For the Home Team. They look a little hesitant, abashed.

I don’t know, they say. It’s just not us.

We’ve been through this before. Okay, okay , I say. I’m sorry.

Just be yourselves. Just occasionally, Huh? Would it hurt?

They look at me. Give me the thumbs up.

Then I play them Slowly Slowly’s ‘Jellyfish’ as a stimulant.

They light up, move to the music.There’s hope for them yet.

* quotes from Bob Whiteside’s blog: naïve haircuts

The Poem Outside my Window

There’s a beautiful poem outside my window

a shrub two and a half metres tall

with coquettish purple flowers

and a little frost of throats.

There are other colours too

lavender and white

a trinity of colours.

It has a botanical name, of course,

though I much prefer its common name:

Yesterday. Today and Tomorrow.

I’ve written about it before but not like this,

Yesterday was our 215 th day with no community transmissions.

Today we have 20.


We watch the News Bulletins, updates from the Chief Medical Officer,

Blooms of anxiety.

Viral blooms.


I want to make a bee line for the shop —

there is panic buying again —

but my bowels won’t let me,

Please let me go, I say.

But my bowels are recalcitrant.

When they get in this mood there is nothing

you can do.

I threaten them with torpedoes,

my moondrop grapes

but they grip their fists even harder

against the attack.

So rather than sit and wait & twiddle my thumbs

I write this little poem.

My bowels immediately relent.

There are enough bad bowel poems out there


Mine does not want to be added to the list.

My bowels heave a sigh of relief.

the Coffee Cup


my coffee cup


an atlas

of stains:

a dark blotch vast as Asia,


a continent of khaki

shaped like Australia;

there’s a South America too

[but no North]

And around the rim

an aurora borealis of brown

when the sun

lights it up.


Clean it, a visitor declares.

Clean it? I say.

This miracle of incidental art?

This repository of rudimentary remarques?

It’d be tantamount to the Taliban

blowing up

the Buddhist statues

in Afghanistan!


The Impossible Task

I gave it an impossible task

but it was my mind

what could it not do?

There was a song

we’re talking way back

I thought the early nineties

an oddball song

with a female lead

and a bouncy backing group.

Can you work it out?


Nor could my mind.

It bugged me all day.

There were some nonsense lyrics

but the song was catchy.

Any idea yet?

Nor had I.

I took a Bex and had a lie down

then the initials KLM came into my head.

Hang on, I said, aren’t they the initials of a Dutch airline?

But I hopped up anyway and keyboarded it into my laptop.

Have you got it yet?

Well, what popped up were the initials KLF.

Now do you know?

Then the name of the female singer came up, then the band then the name of the song,

one of the most oddball songs ever to become a # 1 or 2 all over the world.

Go and check it out on YouTube.

I did and yes I did get up and dance

and I was taken back to MuMu Land with Tammy and the KLF

all over again.

  • have you ever undertaken a search like this with so little information?

More Lamb than Hedgehog

My mentor told me how to write a poem about slippers. Make it easy, he said. comfortable and cozy, warm, no prickly bits. More lamb than hedgehog.

I had a girlfriend once who forbade me to wear slippers: ‘Next thing  I know”, she said, ‘You’ll be wearing a dressing gown, reading cozy murder mysteries and shuffling around the house like an old man.”

My dogs when they were puppies took a violent dislike to slippers, tearing them apart with a vitriolic zeal of which my girlfriend would have approved. For years I walked around the house in loafers until the puppies grew up and out of their habit.

Whenever I hear Bing Crosby sing White Christmas over the PA system in his hush puppy voice I think of slippers. Slippers are like bean bags for the feet.When you slump into them they have the feel of home.

I forgot to Remember how a Poem Works

Let’s see. Firstly there’s the way in.

‘The Way In’ sets the poem going,

it also sets the tone: what sort of poem

it’s going to be: jaunty, jocular , or,

thoughtful and serious, a poem with heft.

Then there’s the ‘Exposition’, I suppose,

where things indicated in the opening lines,

unfurl with some detail and gusto,

however restrained. Neither undercooked

nor overdone. A good poem is like

a good meal, satisfying and sustaining.

  • is that a fair summary, do you think?
  • what have I left out?