Monthly Archives: March 2015






My father’s sneeze always came in threes;
a series of escalating, shattering explosions.
We would watch the spectacle,
our amusement tinged with awed reverence.
The very air in the living-room retreated,
quailing from its impact. Our eardrums
reverberated from its echoes.
After the climax, he would look around,
skin flushed with a roseate glow,
eyes gleaming with exultation,
and release a laugh of sheer merriment.
The pleasure he felt from his prowess;
the thrill of its purifying power.

As I approach the age he was then,
I realize he must have appreciated it
as one of the dwindling catalogue
of pure pleasures, granted us
by our ageing bodies:
the simple grace of
a perfect bowel motion;
the cleansing burp,
lifting the heart;
the thunderous, brute
exhilaration of the fart;
the rare, yet still salvatory
spasm that signals
the (inevitably)
onanistic orgasm.

I sneezed while I was relaxing in the bath, the other day.  A sneeze is one of those mundane, everyday occurrences that you wouldn’t normally think about as a subject for a poem, but followers of this blog will be familiar with my habit of reading anthologies of verse in the bath, so bath-time, for me, has an automatic association with poetry.  Immediately after the sneeze, I began thinking about the curious nature of the event, and how everyone sneezes in their own, idiosyncratic manner.  When I sneeze, it is invariably a double event – the first sneeze followed immediately by a slightly louder explosion.  I remembered how spectacular my father’s sneezing had been, and realized that the sneeze could, after all, be the material for a poem.


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The Fallen



It was the day of the fallen: Madonna and me.
Ageing rock goddess; unknown poet.
Random blip in time; no-one would know it.
She fell at “The Brits”, I saw on TV.

“Should she be doing this, at her age?”
But she controlled her pain, suppressed her rage,
stepped, calmly, back onto the stage.

There was drama in her fall, undoubtedly,
but I like to think, personally,
of the drama in the fall that happened to me.

My foot clipping the top of the kerb;
this simple act, enough to disturb
the whole ongoing mass of me.

Out of my element, floundering in air.
My big shopping bag, sailing in the air.
My bunch of silver keys, soaring in the air.
My overweight bulk, suspended in air.

Landing, on my side, so heavily.
Heavily, heavily, so heavily.
I landed, like a whale, so heavily.
Like a whale, a beached whale,
sore from lack of sea.

My Oxford English Dictionary has the following entry, under the definition of “kerb”: Do not confuse kerb with curb.  Kerb means “the stone edging of a pavement”, while curb means “control or limit something” (she promised to curb her temper) or “a control or limit”.  In American English, the spelling curb is used for all these senses.

So “kerb” and “curb” are homophones that the OED advises you not to confuse.  When I had a bad fall, just over a week ago, incurred by simply crossing a road and tripping over the kerb, I suppose you could say I fused or confused the two words, for this particular kerb certainly put a “curb” on my on-going progress.  Kerbs can be dangerous things, and should be approached with care and caution; take it as advice from one who knows!

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