Tag Archives: Writing

Three Living Room Lights

Lambent Light

En route to my bathroom,

in the middle of the night,

I pause, to stare at a soothing sight:

my living room glows, with soft, lambent light.

No mystery, no invisible forces;

this glow is created by three different sources.

TV Aerial

A deluded victim of self-deception,

for years, I endured poor TV reception.

TV, I thought, was there to entertain

the masses, the “plebs”; those of little brain.

I saw myself, with self-regarding conceit,

as part of an intellectual elite.

Populist entertainment was not for me;

give me literature, high culture, and Radio 3.

The indoor aerial on my ancient TV,

I would move, and manipulate, constantly.

I finally gave way; put an end to all

the mounting frustration and mental turmoil.

Bought a decent TV, with outdoor aerial;

its cable connects to a socket in the wall.

This socket, in the darkest hours of the night,

sheds a small, sepulchral white light.

It suggests the serene light of sanity,

prevailing over years of conceit and vanity.

Wi-Fi Hub

The second source of sublime white light

is symbolic of victory in another fight.

With my old router I could never get

a secure connection to the internet.

Flickering lights, in extensive array,

held me under hypnotic sway.

My new Wi-Fi Hub rescued me from this hell;

its single white light shows that all is now well.

The Moon

And the Moon bestows its magisterial light,

in silver benediction, throughout the night.

This poem is really a compilation of three poems in one, and, as such, it took me ages to work out.  It all stems from one of my visits to the bathroom in the middle of the night, when I couldn’t help noticing that my living room was bathed in spectral, white light.



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Death by Tortoise

Aeschylus, or Death by Tortoise

Men like me, with no hair on my head,

grow inured to the jibes and the cruel things said.

We console ourselves that such comments don’t kill us;

it can’t be worse than what happened to Aeschylus.


Aeschylus was the master tragedian,

but his death was more befitting a comedian.

Lack of hair was the reason he soon was dead:

the similarity of his hairless head

to a rock, deceiving the great bird in the sky

into dropping the tortoise, causing Aeschylus to die.

Had he been vain enough to wear a toupee,

the eagle would have simply flown away.


Reflect upon the playwright’s sorry fate;

be sure to cover up your balding pate.

I was reading an article recently, in The London Review of Books, about classical Greek Drama, in which the story (possibly apocryphal) of the unusual death of Aeschylus – the great tragic dramatist – was recounted.  In case you’re not familiar with it, the story goes as follows: Aeschylus was, apparently, completely bald on the top of his head.  While he was out walking, one day, an eagle flew by overhead.  The eagle had a tortoise held in its claws, and was intending to drop the poor creature onto a rock, in order to kill and eat it.  Spotting Aeschylus below, the eagle was deceived into confusing Aeschylus’s bald head for a rock.  It dropped the tortoise, directly onto his bald head, killing him immediately.

I had come across this story before, but I suddenly started to think it might make a suitable subject for a short, humorous poem.  I actually find writing “light verse” usually more challenging than writing serious poems, and this one was no exception – the name “Aeschylus” itself not being the easiest word to fit into a rhyme-scheme!   

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Red Lights

Red Lights

Red lights on my router,

where there should be green.

Red lights on my router;

I dread what this could mean.


In the midst of life’s journey, my eye on the summit;

lies an uncharted abyss, into which I plummet.

My existence dissolves, dwindles down to this.

The only sounds emitted: humming and hiss.


Mere moments ago, communication was infinite;

now my world has shrunk, within limits so tight.

No emails, no websites, no radio, no TV.

Nothing can be done; what will become of me?


My life now in crisis, situation drastic;

little red lights, shiny black plastic.

This is life’s essence, this cannot be right;

shiny black plastic, little red lights.


Red lights on my router,

where there should be green.

Red lights on my router;

I dread what this could mean.

As is probably the case with most people these days, my internet provider also provides me with my TV channels, including I-Player, and my telephone landline.  I am currently problem-free, with all these services, but I have had problems – as we all do – from time to time.  A few weeks ago, I suddenly experienced a complete loss of internet connection, for no apparent reason, which lasted for a couple of hours.  I began to realise, towards the end of the two hours, just how serious this problem could be, if it wasn’t soon resolved.  It also began to sink in just how vital our internet connection has become; our self-worth, our well-being, our whole identity now depends upon it.  The sense of liberation and renewal I had, as soon as the red lights on my router changed to green, led me to write the poem above.


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Tiny Spider

Tiny Spider

As I lay in the bath,

a fleeting movement

caught my attention.

A tiny spider, abseiling down

the sheer cliff face

of the bathroom tiles,

so nimbly, seemingly unaware

of the dangerous waters below.


It paused, in its heedless descent.

Then, in sudden panic,

began climbing, lost its footing,

fell, spun another line,

clambered up again,

fell again. . .


I decided to help it; to save it.

It ran onto my paperback book,

then disappeared.


I turned the book over,

expecting, hoping, to see the spider

running underneath; but no sign.


With a sudden sense of dread,

I looked into the water,

and saw a motionless black speck:

the drowned corpse.


My act, carried out

with the best of intentions,

had only ushered the spider

into another dimension.

Following on from the Tiny Black Fly of my last posting, followers of this blog must be thinking I’ve got a particular fascination with small insects, but this poem was inspired by an incidental event, that happened only a few days ago.  It’s simply an exercise in observation, and reporting on exactly what happened, although the rhyme in the last verse refers to the universal truth that well-meaning acts often trigger unfortunate consequences.

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Black Fly

Black Fly

I am currently haunted, by a tiny black fly.

I am waiting, in vain, for it to die.

You’d think it so easy, to expunge

its tenuous life, in a single lunge;

but it seems to sense my malign intention,

and vanishes, into another dimension.

From whence it emerges, to persecute me,

as I slump, half-asleep, half-watching TV.


It comes and goes; its movements so fast.

It often appears on the edge of the glass

I’m drinking from, full of wine, or beer.

I pick the glass up, and it disappears

into a world of dark energy, anti-matter,

where black holes suck up the spray and spatter

of dying planets. A tenebrous world;

the complete obverse of our

brightly-shining universe.

A world of negative truths, or lies;

presided over by the Lord of the Flies.

Because I have a phobia about insects – particularly wasps and bees – I keep all my windows closed, at all times.  Nonetheless, I still get the odd little intruder, penetrating my defences, from time to time.  The most recent one is the tiny black fly of the above poem.  The poem started off describing what had been happening, as a lot of my poems do.  It was only when I got the idea of it disappearing into another dimension – which had to be one of appropriate blackness, of course – that I felt the poem starting to “take off”, and the Lord of the Flies seemed to be a fitting ending.

Just a reminder, in case anyone missed it in my last post: a first collection of my poems, entitled The Bunuel Martini and Other Poems, has recently been published, and is now available as a paperback or e-book from https://www.amazon.co.uk and https://www.lulu.com

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Bare Walls

Bare Walls

The walls of his rooms are completely bare.

You would think that it must, indeed, be rare

for a person to live within walls so bare.

But he likes it that way; he likes to stare

into the blankness enclosing his lair.


His mind is full, but his walls are bare.

His mind can work in the clear, plain air.

His mind can work, infused by his brain,

creating notions inspired and inane.

His mind is full, but his head is bare.

His head holds scarcely a trace of hair.

This poem can, perhaps, be read as a kind of sequel to the poem “Lions and Tigers”, that I published on this blog a few weeks ago.  I was thinking about that poem, which made me start thinking about the subject of “walls” in general.  The next thing I knew, the idea for “Bare Walls” suddenly popped into my head.

And now, some IMPORTANT NEWS FOR FOLLOWERS OF THIS BLOG.  A first collection of my poems has just been published, entitled “The Bunuel Martini and Other Poems”.  It is available as an e-book for Kindle (Price £1.99) and as a paperback book (Price £4.99), and you can get it from https://www.lulu.com and https://www.amazon.co.uk

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A friend of mine once walked

into a greengrocer’s,

to request Russet apples,

of which he was inordinately fond.


He was depressed, at the time,

and the depression obviously

affected his diction,

for, on returning home,

and opening the brown paper bag,

he saw a loose gathering

of Brussels sprouts, not

the Russet apples he had requested.


He was truly depressed; so depressed

that, instead of expressing outrage

at this blatant affront to his wishes,

he merely uttered a sigh, of resignation;

almost as if he had expected

the brown paper bag to contain

the pungent vegetable, instead

of the sweet-tasting apples.


He then, without further ado,

consigned the blameless Brussels sprouts

to the rubbish bin.

Egremont Russet apples (commonly known as “Russet”) are a particularly distinctive British apple, that are only available for a brief period in the autumn.  They have always seemed to me to be redolent of the earth, with their mottled brown and green colouring, and they evoke images of apples painted by Van Gogh (in his earthy “Potato-Eaters” period) and Cezanne.  When you bite into them, the flesh seems soft at first, but is also, somehow, firm and crisp.  The taste is sweet, delicious, and unique.  The incident described in this poem happened a long time ago, but I’ve always found it amusing, and I suddenly thought that, if I recounted the incident very simply, it might just work, as a sort of a poem.

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Endless Rejection


Classical Music, Philosophy,

Art, Science, History,

Literature and Biography

are all grist to my intellectual mill.


The problem is, the wheels of my mill

are dulled at the edge, and grind exceeding slow,

producing poems and prose

that no-one wants to know.


Week after week, anxious, tense;

week after week, steeped in suspense.

The vain hope my luck will change; this time I won’t fail.

Then the curt dismissal: the rejection email.


After so much failure, I cannot respond.

I just sink deeper in my slough of despond.

Readers of this blog over the last few years will be well aware of my struggles and frustrations with getting my poems published in magazines and journals.  Apparently it’s generally accepted that most poets submitting to literary journals will have around a 90% rejection rate.  The only reasonable way of looking at it, I suppose, is to adopt a stoical, philosophical attitude to the rejections, and to rejoice when you get the occasional acceptance.  The problem for me is I find it very difficult to adopt such an attitude, and I still tend to treat each rejection I get as a personal affront.  I was provoked into writing the above poem by the latest rejection, after having built up my hopes, yet again.  I suppose I shall recover, eventually.


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The Philosopher and the Spider

The Philosopher and the Spider

The spider was trapped,

under the rim of the urinal.

We don’t know its origin,

or its means of arrival.


The spider didn’t know

when it had begun.

The spider didn’t know

when it would end.

The spider hunkered down,

not far from the u-bend.


Its daily weather forecast:

intermittent showers, of golden rain.

We don’t know if it felt pleasure;

we don’t know if it felt pain.

We don’t know a spider’s feelings,

or if it even has a brain.

All we can state, for certain, is this:

the spider lived, every day, in showers of piss.

Perhaps, for the spider, this constituted bliss.


Every time he needed to take a leak,

the philosopher observed the spider,

over a period of weeks. Should he intervene?

The consequences could be huge,

if he extracted the spider from its daily deluge.

How would it react? He had no idea.

He hesitated, torn between compassion and fear.


He did what philosophers do: he thought.

He pondered distinctions between “could” and “ought”.

Having probed the matter, in all its dimensions,

he acted, upon the best of intentions.


Two days later, the philosopher hung his head,

when he finally saw where his intervention had led:

the desiccated husk of the spider – dead.

I’ve had a keen interest in philosophy ever since coming across Colin Wilson’s “Beyond the Outsider” in my local public library at the age of sixteen.  It introduced me to Wilson’s “New Existentialism”, awakened my interest in philosophy and the history of ideas, and my life was suddenly transformed.

Unfortunately, philosophy and poetry have turned out to be not the easiest of bed-fellows, whenever I’ve tried to combine the two of them.  When I read about the philosopher Thomas Nagel and his encounter with a spider, however, I thought it might lend itself to poetry, and the above poem is the result.

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The Old Man and the Ice

The Old Man and the Ice

It’s the confidence that counts, that you won’t slip or slide,

come a complete cropper, land on your backside.

It’s always a gamble, walking on ice;

almost as if you were rolling a dice.

It could be a game, a bit of good fun;

but you need the confidence that belongs to the young.


I still remember the old man, on our street.

A harsh winter’s day; snow turning to sleet;

the ice, covering both sides of the street,

a shining, shimmering, endless sheet.


I heard cries of fear, went to my window;

looked out, onto the street below.

The old man, who lived further down the street;

stuck, motionless, afraid to move his feet.

Crying out in panic, clinging to the wall;

convinced his next step would lead to a fall.

A frail old man, in freezing cold weather;

trapped, alone, at the end of his tether.


Across the street, ignoring his cries,

a group of teenage boys passed by.

With shouts of joy, whoops of merriment,

sliding effortlessly along they went.

The energy, the confidence, the ignorance of youth;

I witnessed an eternal, depressing truth.


A sobering scene, in vivid tableau;

I watched it all, from my window.

Today happens to be a gorgeous day of clear blue sky and sunshine, here in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England.  The enticing hints of Spring are somewhat deceptive, however,  as it remains surprisingly chilly, for the time of year.  Nothing like as chilly as it was a few weeks ago, when we had the last of three blasts of wintry weather directly from Siberia – nicknamed The Beast From the East.  It was the first appearance of “The Beast”, back in February, that inspired The Old Man and the Ice.  The actual incident described in the poem happened a couple of years ago.  It made an impact upon me, but I made no attempt to write about it, at that time, and it was only when the brutally cold weather returned in February that I was reminded of the incident.  I always find narrative poems like this quite difficult to do – compressing a lot of information into a brief format – but I hope I’ve finally managed to convey the essence of the situation.

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