Recent Posts

29 June 2011

This Is That

Do you know why teachers
use me? Because I speak
in tongues. I write metaphors.
Every one of my
stories is a metaphor
you can remember. The
great religions are all
metaphor. We
appreciate things like
Daniel and the lion’s
den, and the Tower of Babel.

People remember these
metaphors because they
are so vivid you can’t
get free of them and that’s
what kids like in school. They
read about rocket ships
and encounters in space,
tales of dinosaurs. All
my life I’ve been running
through the fields and picking
up bright objects.

I turn one over and say,
Yeah, there’s a story.

Taken from an interview with Ray Bradbury, via Genealogy of Religion. Submitted by Marika Rose.

28 June 2011

Growth of a Poet's Mind

We had hurried to the shelter of the alders
alongside the river Derwent, as dark clouds
drifted across the sun and a rain squall
swept through the valley. It passed in minutes,
soon followed by shafts of sunlight that pierced
ever-widening gaps between clouds whose
racing shadows traced the contours of the fellside.

As the wind subsided, the descending scales
of willow warbler song began again
and bumblebees emerged from shelter to feed,
shaking raindrops from the last of the bluebells
and newly opened wood crane's-bill flowers,
a floral succession that marks the transition
from spring into summer in these woodlands.

Down at our feet a male ghost moth had emerged
from a brown chrysalis half-buried in the soil –
not without struggle judging by the damage
to one of its wings that had still not fully
expanded. It took its first uncertain
steps across wet grass towards the bracken
fronds, where it would remain until nightfall.

Ghost moths are unusual in engaging
in communal courtship displays at dusk,
drawn together in leks by emitting
come-hither scents that are reminiscent
of the aroma of goats. They hover
just above the vegetation, swaying from side
to side as if dangling on the end of a string.

From Country Diary: Blanchland, by Phil Gates in The Guardian. A few words removed for scansion: 'a' (line 17); 'shelter of' (20); 'of a dozen of more' (24); and 'said to be' (25). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

23 June 2011

I'll never forget the moment we kissed

I'll never forget the moment we kissed,
the night of the hayride –
that flash-in-the-pan magic moment
that makes your hair stand on end.
Could be the surge forward

as the house lights fade,
a glance from the lead singer
or a badly timed scissor kick from a trombone player.

Part of an email update from Koko, 10 June 2011. 'It is all about' removed from line 3. Submitted by Laura.

21 June 2011


A tanka

Daddy, put it in
the microcave. The micro
Oh, sorry, I've
not said that since my early
sixies. I mean microwave.

A conversation with my 7-year-old daughter, 11 June 2011.  Submitted by Neil.

16 June 2011

From H– to L–e.–

Your letters are destroyed
and you have nothing
to fear from my indiscretion.
Your ring, &c., is ready packed,
and will be sent when
opportunity offers or
you choose to indicate a way.

Your 'ever' lasted five months
and I was a fool to expect
it would be otherwise.

An advert in the Times, some time in Victorian London. Submitted by Marika Rose.

14 June 2011

A Riddle

Is it
possible to
combine two
toppings on
one portion
of hummus?

From the Hummus Bros restaurant in Soho, 9 June 2011. Submitted by Andrew.

09 June 2011

Corpses To Remember Him By

I hope I shall not offend you; I shall
certainly say nothing with the intention
to offend you. I must explain myself,
however, and I will do it as kindly

as I can. What you ask me to do I
am asked to do as often as one half-
dozen times a week. Three hundred letters
a year! One’s impulse is to freely consent,

but one’s time and necessary occupations
will not permit it. There is no way but
to decline in all cases, making no
exceptions; and I wish to call your

attention to a thing which has probably
not occurred to you, and that is this: that
no man takes pleasure in exercising
his trade as a pastime. Writing is my

trade, and I exercise it only when
I am obliged to. You might make your request
of a doctor, or a builder, or a sculptor,
and there would be no impropriety

in it, but if you asked either for a
specimen of his trade, his handiwork,
he would be justified in rising to
a point of order. It would never be
fair to ask a doctor for one of his
corpses to remember him by.

The typewritten message Mark Twain would send to autograph seekers, via Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.

07 June 2011

This Text Is Just To Say

The rose bush
is falling over
with the wind.

A whole text message from my wife, 23 May 2011. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

02 June 2011

Into what is the universe expanding?

Our universe
is all of space-time,
and space-time
is all of our universe.
Our language,
with the possible exception of mathematics,
is rooted in space-time,
and we have
no language
for that-which-is-not-space-time.
There is no what
that the universe is expanding into
because what,
and when
are properties of space-time,
not that-which-is-not-space-time.

So where does that leave us?

it leaves us with Wittgenstein:
What can be said at all
can be said clearly,
and what we cannot talk about
we must pass over
in silence.

From a submission by Jim Ford of Watford to the Guardian's Notes and Queries column, 13th April 2011. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.