31 January 2016

The book was Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, p.454. The line I landed on: "the acceptance of the thoroughbass"


Alas poor Bass
before becoming thorough
she was a dilettante.
Nobody knew her sorrow,
the reason she was so gaunt. 

She suffered from insomnia,
that's right, she couldn't sleep,
until she met the guru Omnia
who said: stop counting sheep,
count Oms instead, one at a time,
I promise you'll be fine.

That's how Bass became thorough,
now accepted in every borough.
The moral of this story,
plain to see,
better thorough
than flibbertigibbety.

30 January 2016

Making words rhyme is not only fun but also a sort of cave you fall into where innumerable connections lie in wait and all you have to do is link them up by rhyming. It's as if we have an in-built receptor for rhythm and automatically respond to beats and measures, whether in music, dance, drumming, chants, games. Here's one which popped into my head a little while ago, but not by the random bookshelf method.


The silver spoon was out of tune.
Get me the tin one, the artist said,
the one I keep under the bed
to remind me I am working class
and wasn't always such an ass.

With silver spoons I made my name
and now I'm in the hall of fame.
At stately homes and clubs I'm feted
at Glastonbury I'm awaited
I know damn well I'm over-rated
but hey, they pay.
what can I say?

Get me the tin spoon, there's a good girl,
after the show I'll give you a whirl.

29 January 2016

I swear I didn't open my eyes when pulling the book from its shelf or choosing page 78 with this sentence: "introducing an element of accident and chance". The book is: Francis Bacon: Taking Reality by Surprise by Christophe Domino.


Mortimer jumped on the table and began to dance.
The board of directors was not impressed
unanimously they shouted "Next!"

When Mortimer fell off the boardroom table
he laughed and said "Now I'll be able
to claim for accident insu-rance.
This is an example of accident and chance.

This time, the first sentence didn't arrive suddenly when semi-conscious, however I was still in bed when I made it up this morning.


The woman who howled at the dog
appeared on everyone's blog.
Poor dog, blogged Gail,
put the woman in jail.
Commented Guest:
I know the dog, he's a pest.
Ha ha, replied Stu,
she stepped in his poo! 

On Facebook and Twitter it trended
for only a day and then ended.

The world is going to hell
I howled to my little dog Nell
Come on Nell let's get there first
before the bubble bursts.

There's nothing new about such a process. Innumerable visual and literary methods have long been used to release the mind from the effort of rationality, allowing spontaneous invention to flow. Games like Exquisite Corpse or Consequences, or finding images in clouds, stains, inkblots and so on. Of course this doesn't mean that such methods magically produce masterworks, or even minor works, in any medium at all. But there's no doubt that something captivating and stimulating to the imagination happens when you give yourself permission to follow apparently nonsensical rules of a game.

In today's blind bookshelf-stroking, I pulled out Numbers: The Universal Language and p. 47 gave me these starting words: "Marking the empty place"


Oh now you're asking me to face
an ancestor I cannot trace
a secret tale I do not know
buried so deep so long ago....
Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear oh!
Don't make me go back to zero.
The empty place shelters a ghost
whose face ressembles me the most.
If she or he could speak they'd say
Please go oh please do go away
there's nothing here for you to see
only zero and infinity.

28 January 2016


Boosted and bolstered by the response (on FaceBook) to my un-premeditated Man Who Typed Lear, I've decided to try a daily experiment. You're invited to join, if so inclined. Random, provocative sentences don't often appear to me when falling asleep, so, to trigger something similar to that state deliberately, I've devised rules of the game.

1. Close eyes tightly (no cheating) and approach bookshelves.
2. Run hands quickly over book spines and pull out one book.
3. Eyes still shut, put book down and open at random, placing finger anywhere on page.
4. Open eyes and take one sentence from the place marked by finger.
5. That is the opening sentence of your poem, which must rhyme, and must be completed the same day, preferably the same hour.
6. When finished, give the title of the book you got the sentence from.

Here's my first one. The first sentence is from Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, p.50:


the shit out of that bad old block?

Listen here mister prophet
from your wisdom I cannot profit.

I'm the chip off that old block of wrongs
and out of it I make these songs.

28 January 2016


Knocked out by a flu virus over the past couple of weeks, I must have become susceptible to anything else floating about in the atmosphere. It started with this sentence that popped into my head just as I was about to fall asleep : The man who typed Lear.

Later that day, this is what emerged:


The man who typed Lear
didn't mean Shakespeare.
He was thinking of the private jet
which he doesn't own yet.

His novel is not ready
his hand it is not steady.
Lear will be the hero's name
and in his search for fame
Lear will lose the plot.

So far, that's all he's got,
the man who typed Lear.
You heard it here.

I posted it, and the subsequent rhyming things, on my Mirror Blog and Facebook. I do not pretend to be a serious poet, this is just for fun. When I've got about twenty I'll stop. Should I call them pomes, so as not to confuse them with proper poetry? I think I might add drawings to each one later on.

That damned Lear sentence is nagging me again. Here's a second version:


The man who typed Lear
for his PhD
wanted to make his concept clear
desperately wanted the world to see
the play's the thing:
the thing, you know?
Typed sheets in ring
binder is the show!
The thing's the play.
Now can I go?


26 January 2016


The Lesson, construction

The Lesson is a video 
I made a while ago based on my 1992 construction of the same name. Gnarled Oak is the excellent online literary journal edited by James Brush. That those two have connected is my reason for joy today and I raise a glass of orange juice (alcohol being bad for flu) in celebration.

If it's permissible to love some of one's own work (and if it's not permissible I don't care) then I truly love my 3-D tableau, The Lesson. If there was a fire I would probably grab it before jumping out of the window and trust naively that we would both not end up in pieces. The subsequent video was fun to make and I'd like to experiment with other versions some time but what I like is that The Lesson summarises what is essentially my outlook on life: not forgetting to be amazed. Not a happy-clappy wishy-washy cliché but solidly based on my own experience.

I must define what I mean by amazement, in case I'm misinterpreted as somebody who lavishes the word indiscriminately on anything and everything, in the same way that the words "incredible"' and "awesome" are flung about, unstoppable showers of stale confetti littering the environment.

What I mean is the realisation, sometimes sudden, of the magnificent and un-graspable reality of life, the universe and everything. Yes that is a cliché, but how else to say that standing on the corner waiting for a bus, for example, I look at  the pavement beneath my feet and realise - actually real...alise that I'm standing on a sphere spinning around in deep dark space and, if that is not enough to be amazed about, this miniscule dot which is "me" is also, in reality, a cluster of unimaginably small whirling atoms which are also somehow conscious of being "me": this tiny cluster of DNA, memories, ancestors ...yes, I am aware of spiritual or materialist theories about the existence or illusion of self, ego, etc. but please please right now let me focus only on the amazement which fills me from head to toe in such moments, when ordinary life is actually seen and felt as beyond extraordinary and all the explanations, whether scientific, spiritual, philosophicall, aesthetic etc. are simply not enough. They're just hay-coloured needles in a multicoloured haystack.

Rolling around in that haystack is what I mean by not forgetting to be amazed.

23 January 2016


It's been a very slow start to the New Year and now I'm at the tail end of a nasty bout of flu that has knocked the stuffing out of me, left-over stuffing from the too-long holiday period. But what's more boring than griping about flu etc?

There hasn't been anything I wanted to blog about, hence the absence of blog posts. Now I want to get back in here before I'm totally forgotten by the cyber world. Imagine not existing AT ALL on the internet! The horror! A fate worse than real death............I'm joking!

Just to fill this blank space I've pulled out from the virtual filing cabinet something to entertain anyone who is still here. The image is new (drawn digitally with ArtRage software) but the poem is 2007.

canary Yellow Scarf

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