My Genetic Flaw

Your canal’s very narrow, he says.

Narrow?

Yes, like the Thai tunnel cave divers had to negotiate to get those boys out. Not  much sound can get through. There are no cave divers small enough to help it along.

Like that film in the sixties? I say.

Which film is that?

‘Fantastic Voyage’, where a submarine crew are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a scientist to repair his brain.

Can’t help you there, he says.

Is it hereditary then?

Quite possible. The left auditory canal is quite large. Can carry a lot of sound.

Maybe that’s why I lean a little to the left, I say.

Politically? he asks.

No, doc. When I walk.

  • pic courtesy of Pinterest

How Does That Work?

My mind is a scold.

It calls me sloth,

a lassitudinous layabout.

Is that even a word, I say?

Get off the couch, it says. It’s early afternoon

Attend to your blog.

Your Yorkshire mate puts up three posts

to your one.

Write that poem about airing the sheets.

How they purr like cats as they are stroked

by the sun.

Re-read that article :

‘Should Leopards Be Paid For Their Spots’.

Phone your daughters.

Go see your sister.

Give people their worth.

Go to gym.

Release your inner Thor.

Okay, okay, I grumble

but, in truth, I’m happier

and have loads more energy

when I’m buzzing around

like a gingery bee.

How does that work?

Taking Over

You’re taking over, she says.

Am I? I say. I didn’t know that.

You men are all the same, she says.

I go away and think about it.

Can one take over without even realizing it?

Did Alexander the Great conquer all those kingdoms without

even being aware of it?

Did Genghis Khan?

Did these warrior leaders perform their actions with sleight-of-hand

fooling even themselves?

Take over? Who? Me?

I talk to my therapist who is mightily amused at the very notion.

She said what? Who? You?

I take a good look in the mirror as I pass by.

Ummm. My tentacles do seem to have grown longer.

pic by pinterest. Andrei-Pervukhin on DeviantArt

That Man Looks Like You

That man looks like you, she says, as we pull up near a block of shops.

So he does, I say, having a good squiz.

Only he’s got more hair, she smiles, and less of a paunch.

Go easy, I say.

And look he’s going into the same shop you plan to go into.

Saves me going in, I chuckle. Hope he buys what I want to buy.

Only a minute passes and he comes out carrying a shopping bag.

Let’s see where he lives, she says. Could be fun.

So we follow his car down Pridham and Plymouth past the long Covid Testing queues.

Hello, I say, he’s pulled up outside your place. And he’s marching to the front door. Like he owns the place.

Saves you coming in, she says.

So I let her out and drive away in my little blue Subaru, scratching my cerebrals.

A Magnificent Lockdown

I almost tread on this fuzzy little chap on the sidewalk, out for a stroll, soaking up the mid-winter sun.

How’s it hanging? he asks.

Oh , you know; not bad.

He looks up. You out of lockdown yet?

Almost, I say, one day to go but we’re allowed to walk. How about you?

I’m about to enter the biggest lockdown of all, he says in a tone half way between excitement and trepidation.

Wow! I say. Really?

Yes, he says, metamorphosis. You heard of it?

Why, yes. It sounds magical.

Up to 14 days, he says. No food. No visitations. Reckon you could handle it?

If I could turn into something light, winged and beautiful, like a butterfly, I’d give it a go.

You humans can’t have everything, you know.

I nod my head sagely.

True, I say, true. Well, anyway, have a good …. metamorphosis, and off he trundles on his way, giving me the thumbs up, a tricky thing for a caterpillar. Such a clever chap.

On the Shortest Day

On the shortest day

I take the longest run

between one jetty and the next

and back again

rest myself against the rump

of a dune

listen to the sea shanties of the waves

while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves

swinging her wild, wild hair

in the sun-drenched breeze

until spotting me she coyly slips

beneath the water.

The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea

to catch a glimpse.

On the shortest day I tell

the tallest tales.

Ambrosia Lite

The sun peeps behind a cloud

I hope it is not too loud

The swallows doze in the trees

I’m in dreams up to my shiny knees

tweedledum and tweedledee

the honey-eater swings on the trapeze

of the scrawny twig

& I have another swig

of ambrosia lite

and this poem is shining much too bright

unmoored again I chase links

but my cottontail heart shrinks





  • image courtesy of Wikipedia

Do I Have to Call the Police?

I’m on the phone to my insurance company about a torn car seat,

We don’t cover wear and tear, Sasha explains. Unless there is a third party involved.

There is! I say. My comb.

There’s an embarrassing silence.

Your comb? Your comb is the third party? I don’t think combs can be considered culpable.

Hear me out, I say. It was in my back pocket, the place where I sit down and a few of the teeth — I hate to use a melodramatic term here — a few of the teeth clawed the stitching.

I need to speak to my supervisor, she says.

Music plays in the background.

Sash comes back.

You’ll need to get a report, she explains.

No problem.

And you’ll need to pay the excess.

How much is that?

450, she says.

I almost hit the roof. But the repair only costs 340, I say. It costs me more to go through insurance than if I paid it myself. Bloody comb!

Now, now … Sash says.

I’m going to thrash that comb to within an inch of its life, I roar, channeling Fawlty when he flays his car with a leafy tree branch.

Oh dear. we don’t need to call the police, do we? Sash chuckles.

I won’t use a closed fist, I promise.

Well, that’s alright then, she says.

And we both double up with laughter.

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

Some Poems Start Out as Poems

Some poems start out as poems, homely descriptions

of slippers, for instance or berry bowls, toasters

but then over-reach, chasing chimeras, conundrums,

leading us down a rabbit hole of nonsense.

Others take the easier way, finding their inner teacher,

their gasbagging guru. Some poems start out as poems

but end up as pedagogy. You feel you’re in

the classroom again.