Recent Posts

22 December 2012


Please could you park
in the student car park if
you are in again.

The student car park
is on the opposite side
of the building.

A handwritten note found on the street near to my house in the UK, signed "Traffic Controller". The title is the date written on the note. Submitted by Steve Clement-Large.

18 December 2012

May your premises flood. Repeatedly.

May your premises flood. Repeatedly.
May your buildings cover be invalidated by poor workmanship.
May your staff be off sick, en masse, long-term.
May your food poisoning leave you with a colostomy bag.
May your dogs bite you and may you be underinsured.
May your homes burn, and your insurance company welsh on the deal.
May you be hit by an uninsured driver, while doing something quite witless to invalidate the claim.
May you be caught speeding, texting and pissed simultaneously.
Pay the man's widow what you owe her, scumbags,
and Karma might be kind.

A comment on the petition, 'Friends Life: Pay out Nic Hughes' critical illness policy'. Comment posted 5 December 2012. 'And' deleted (line 2), lines 5 and 6 truncated. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

13 December 2012

I say 'biscuit' 900 times an hour

The hippies of
outrageous fortune
weigh heavy on
the minds of dogs

Taken from an account of life with Tourette's in the Guardian, 10th February 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

11 December 2012

La vie aux bouts des doigts

Solo and ropeless
Edlinger climbs out
underneath an overhang,

hangs effortlessly off one arm
several hundred feet
off the ground while

dipping the other
into a bag of chalk,
utterly indifferent

to the danger,
before swinging his foot
into a crack above his head

and pulling himself up.

From the obituary of Patrick Edlinger, 15 June 1960 – 16 November 2012, in the Daily Telegraph. Submitted by Angi Holden.

06 December 2012


Things started to go downhill
while I was trying to
administer novocaine to a dog.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened.
I was trying to inject his gums with anesthesia
when a message popped up,
telling me I had failed.

Game over.

Taken from a review of an ipad app called 'Dental Surgery', 4th December 2012. Submitted by Mat Riches.

04 December 2012

Kugel decided then and there

that he would die a happy man,
that he would consider his meager life
a success, if
in years to come,
kicked in Jonah’s door
and Jonah was surprised.

Let him be utterly
bewildered, dear God.

Let him wonder,
raised-eyebrowed and slack-jawed,

They kick doors in now?
Since when?
Hang on, hang on—
they’re putting people in ovens?
You can’t be serious.
Since when
do people
put other people
in ovens?

From Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander (2012). Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

29 November 2012


I don't mind snakes
but sometimes
they've been quite

you know: snakes
going up legs
and snakes everywhere
warm on your skin

lots of snakes
like giant white albino pythons
I don't mind them
so it's all right

I don't mind them
I quite like them
but yeah
if you didn't I mean

Taken from an interview with Kate Moss in The Times, 26th January 2012. The interviewer's questions and some punctuation removed. Submitted by Thom.

22 November 2012

A relationship with the vernacular

Let us also recognize
our own native
detachable snake-hips,
our rangy legs,

our educated feet.
Our arms and fingers
wave and snap
in a special way.
Our shoulders hang
as no other people’s
shoulders hang.

Taken from 'Musical Myths of the American West', by Stephen Brown, a review of two books in the Times Literary Supplement, 9 November 2012. The poem is a quotation from the writings of Lincoln Kirstein. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

20 November 2012

Game over

Even our ideas
are most certainly not our own

We have read everything
or have heard it

We’ve got nothing
except each other

And we hate each other

From a discussion of the political divide on Submitted by Wesley Brown.

15 November 2012


painters don't
know they are.

Ed Ruscha.
Not Robert Indiana.

just don't
know. But they

It's good
they don't know.

be impoverished
by their art

they knew.

Taken from a blogpost on the blog dbqp, 12th November 2012. "They'd" has been contracted from "They would". Submitted by Andrew Bailey.

13 November 2012

Guitar practice

Wait until the moon is out
then go outside
eat a multi-grained bread
and play your guitar to a bush.
If the bush doesn't shake
eat another piece of bread.

From Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

08 November 2012

On Feet

Slippers are designed
to be slipped into
without help from the hand.
They are monuments to
the hatred of bending down.

A quotation from Theodor W. Adorno's Minima Moralia: Reflections on Damaged Life, first published in 1951. Submitted by Marika Rose.

06 November 2012

This much I know

I remember running
across the sand at Seaforth beach
when I was three
chasing a red bouncing ball
and hearing my aunt scream
before picking me up
her stepping between silver studs
in the sand

I'd run into a minefield
There was no red ball
It was the family dog
that I had chased
It had been blown up

From Roger McGough: this much I know in The Observer magazine, 3 November 2012. Two 'and's omitted and punctuation left out. Submitted by Lisa Oliver.

01 November 2012

Top Floor, Duke William

An upstairs room
with red and gold chairs,
military pictures,
a dumb waiter.
A corner bar
with interesting lights-
An intriguing locked cabinet.
And below,
a framed photograph
of the queen.

Taken from an update email sent to a poetry group after a meeting on 21st October in the Duke of William pub, Matlock. 'And' has been added to line 8. Submitted by Margaret.

25 October 2012

What is the use of our being told that we live in a democracy if we want fountains and have no fountains?

By all means
let us have a policy
of full employment,
increased production,
no gap between exports and imports,
social security,
a balanced This
and a planned That,

but let us also
have fountains –

more and more fountains –
higher and higher fountains –
fountains like wine,
like blue and green fire,
fountains like diamonds –

and rainbows
in every square.

Taken from J B Priestly's book Delight, first published in 1949. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

23 October 2012

I would rather work in mill than in pit

I hurry in the clothes I've now got on,
trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place
upon my head made by thrusting the corves;
my legs have never swelled, but sisters’ did
when they went to mill; I hurry the corves
a mile and more under ground and back;
they weigh three hundredweight; I hurry
eleven a-day; I wear a belt and chain
at the workings to get the corves out;
the getters that I work for are naked
except their caps; they pull off all their clothes;
I see them at work when I go up; sometimes
they beat me, if I am not quick enough,
with their hands; they strike me upon my back;
the boys take liberties with me sometimes,
pull me about; I am the only girl
in the pit; there are about twenty boys
and fifteen men; all the men are naked;
I would rather work in mill than in pit.

17-year-old Patience Kershaw's account of working in a Halifax coal pit, from a report about the condition of young persons employed in coal mines in Facts and Figures, May 2, 1842. Found in Futility Closet. A few words omitted for scansion: 'is' (line 3), 'they' (16), 'coal' (19); and 'I have' contracted in line 1. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

18 October 2012

The Clan

Malcolm was dreadful
John was quite damaged
Malcolm and Kitty were part of the Fabian set
like Bloomsbury in sexual licence
but with more socialism and less art

Taken from an email discussing the Muggeridge family. Some punctuation omitted. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

16 October 2012

The Jealous Friend

When we’re side by side
walking down the street
every glance is in her direction.
I pretend not to notice
but I feel like an accessory
it's as if I don’t exist

I was ecstatic one summer
When she put on a lot of weight
and was wallowing in misery
I had a spring in my step
when we walked down the street
but she still managed to take centre stage
even with her muffin top

From What I'm really thinking: the jealous friend in The Guardian Weekend. The poem is picked out of two sections of the article. Submitted by Lisa Oliver.

13 October 2012

Without conscience

He will choose you,
disarm you with his words.

Control you with his presence.

He will delight you with his wit and his plans.
He will show you a good time.

You will always get the bill.

He will smile and deceive you

and he will scare you with his eyes

and when he is through with you, and he will be through with you,
he will desert you and take with him
your innocence and your pride.

You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser
and for a long time you will wonder what happened and
what you did wrong.

And if another of his kind comes knocking on your door,

will you open it?

From The Psychopath in Prison, an essay by Dr Robert Hare. Two conjunctions removed. Submitted by Deborah.

11 October 2012

In Other News

I always go
for the beheading option
when I've calmed down
that it’s not possible
in a free market economy

Anyway how are you?

I’ve been writing
even tweeted the National Gallery

All I need now is a job,
a relationship
and a cup of tea (not
in that order)

Taken from a friend's email, 26 September 2012. Some words have been omitted between 'National Gallery' and 'All I need'. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

09 October 2012


Then I got up to leave
and said Stand up.
He stood. I said: Look at me.

I'm a middle aged man
with a limp and a wheeze
and a son and a wife that I love.

I'm not just a little avatar.
You're better than this.
You have a name of your own.

Be proud of it.
Don't hide it again
and I won't ruin it.

Now shake hands.

‘I'm sorry.’ he said,
and looked like he meant it.

Then we shook on it.

From the blog post Meeting A Troll. Submitted by Angi Holden.

04 October 2012


Overheard in the Co-op:
"You work bloody hard all your life
and then when you're finished
you have to go and see the doctor every day."

A tweet by @SeeingMore, 4th January 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

02 October 2012

We used to meet here, you and I

I was born when you needed me,
my life what I make it.
The constant smack of wet on wet

Trains rush by, boy on a bike
unfinished symphony
skimming stones as far as
Brindley’s heavy mitred gates.
Spreading rumours
in bracelets of fog.

There was a fatalism
as she walked along the towpath.
Black luck, slams hedges shut
in a dark space.
The bruise of blue on bone.
Rigid and dead - silent.
Yorkshire stone
and dagger-beak
seal our fate.

Don’t cry for me dear father
I bow my smokestack slowly
The canal is deep enough.

Lines from 19 poets whose work contributed to the Rochdale Canal Festival 2012 were reassembled in a cento. Contributing authors - Connie Ramsay Bott, Janine Bullman, John Darwin, Sheila Stretton, Jeanette Lomax, Eileen Wright, Andy N, John Betjeman, Ann Oxley, Annie Wright, Paul Blackburn, Diane Cockburn, Gaia Holmes, Anne Caldwell, Julia McClay, Jo Bell, Pat Trythall, Greg Freeman, Eileen Earnshaw, Val Chapman. Submitted by Winston Plowes.

27 September 2012


the fact
for 3.8 billion years,
not one
of your pertinent ancestors
was squashed,
stuck fast,
untimely wounded
or otherwise deflected
from its life’s
of delivering a
of genetic material
to the right partner
at the right moment
to perpetuate
the only
of hereditary combinations
that could result –
and all too briefly –
in you.

Taken from Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003). Several words have been omitted between "3.8 billion years" and "not one". Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

25 September 2012

Whatever and ever amen

But then sometimes it's time
for the nerd to come along and say,
I'm actually not that strong.
I actually don't believe that I'm that good,
and I actually don't believe that all of my intentions are that pure.
Actually, sometimes I'm a fucking asshole.

And everyone is, and you relate to that.

From an interview with pop artist Ben Folds published in the Charleston City Paper. Submitted by Paul.

21 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 5


A nonet

Please tell me then what unusual
music and dance forms are present;
I can tell you if I am
interested. If there is
a chance to see folk
dancing, I would

From the detailed requirements that free software activist Richard Stallman sends ahead of his speaking engagements. 'Then' added in the first line to make up the syllables. Submitted by Gabriel Smy. Part five of a five-part poem.

20 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 4


Or, You need to know what I dislike

avocado, eggplant, usually
(there are occasional exceptions)
hot pepper, olives, liver
(even in trace quantities)

stomach and intestine, other organ meats
cooked tuna, oysters, egg yolk
if the taste is noticeable,
except when boiled completely hard

many strong cheeses, especially those
with green fungus, desserts
that contain fruit or liqueur flavors
sour fruits, such as grapefruit

and many oranges, beer, coffee
though weak coffee flavor can be good
in desserts, the taste of alcohol
so I don't drink anything stronger than wine

From the detailed requirements that free software activist Richard Stallman sends ahead of his speaking engagements. Submitted by Gabriel Smy. Part four of a five-part poem.

19 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 3



I grew up in the middle of the world's biggest city,
I have crossed streets without assistance in the chaotic traffic
of Bangalore and Delhi. Leave me alone when I cross streets.

From the detailed requirements that free software activist Richard Stallman sends ahead of his speaking engagements. Submitted by Gabriel Smy. Part three of a five-part poem.

18 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 2


I like cats if they are friendly,
but they are not good for me;
I am somewhat allergic to them.
This allergy

makes my face itch and my eyes
water. So the bed, and the room
I will usually be staying in,
need to be clean of cat hair.

However, it is no problem
if there is a cat elsewhere
in the house – I might enjoy it
if the cat is friendly.

Dogs that bark angrily
and or jump up on me
frighten me, unless they are small
and cannot reach above my knees.

But if they only bark or jump
when we enter the house,
I can cope, as long as you
hold the dog away from me

at that time. Aside from that
issue, I'm ok with dogs.
If you can find a host for me
that has a friendly parrot,

I will be very very glad.
If you can find someone who
has a friendly parrot I can
visit with, that will be nice too.

DON'T buy a parrot figuring
that it will be a fun surprise
for me. To acquire a parrot
is a major decision:

it is likely to outlive you.
If you don't know how to treat
the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades

feeling frightened and unhappy.
If you buy a captured wild
parrot, you will promote a cruel
and devastating practice,

and the parrot will be emotionally
scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal
is not an agreeable surprise.

From the detailed requirements that free software activist Richard Stallman sends ahead of his speaking engagements. Omitted words: 'even' (line 11), 'much' (16). Submitted by Gabriel Smy. Part two of a five-part poem.

17 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 1


Or, A microphone is desirable if the room is large

A supply of tea with
milk and sugar
would be nice.
If it is tea I really like,
I like it without
milk and sugar.

With milk and sugar.
any kind of tea is fine.

I always bring tea bags with me,
so if we use my tea bags,
I will certainly like that tea without
milk or sugar.

From the detailed requirements that free software activist Richard Stallman sends ahead of his speaking engagements. Italics added for effect. Submitted by Gabriel Smy. Part one of a five-part poem.

13 September 2012

Mother Tongue

John have you got your umbrella
I think it's going to rain. Can you
come play with me? If I told you
once I told you a hundred times.

Things here just aren't the same without
Mother, I will now sign your
affectionate brother James. Oh
what am I going to do? So

I said to her I said if he
thinks she's going to stand for that but
then there's his arthritis poor thing
and no work. I love you. I hate

you. I hate liver. Joan dear did
you feed the sheep, don't just stand around
mooning. Tell me what they said, tell
me what you did. Oh how my feet

do hurt. My heart is breaking. Touch
me here, touch me again. Once bit
twice shy. You look like what the cat
dragged in. What a beautiful night.

Good morning, hello, goodbye, have
a nice day, thanks. God damn you to
hell you lying cheat. Pass the soy
sauce please. Oh shit. Is it grandma's

own sweet pretty dear? What am I
going to tell her? There there don't
cry. Go to sleep now, go to sleep....
Don't go to sleep!

Taken from a commencement address given by Ursula le Guin at Bryn Mawr College, 1986. Submitted by Jim.

11 September 2012

Trunk road

A motorway in all but name
the A14 trunk road blunders into
this delectable landscape
like an unruly oik
a debutante’s party.

its influence is transitory
and the canal re-asserts
its rural identity,
weaving a tortuous path between
the Hemplow Hills and the curiously named
Downtown Hill.

It crosses the infant
River Avon - which goes on in later life
to find fame and fortune
as Shakespeare’s Avon -
hereabouts forming the border.

From the article 'WW Guide to the Leicester Section' in Waterways World, September 2012 edition, p67. '556ft high' has been omitted and the last sentence cut short. Submitted by Robbie.

06 September 2012


I guess it all comes down
to you thinking you're smarter than me
and me thinking I'm smarter than you.

Taken from a conversation with a friend at 1am on the 4th September, 2012. Submitted by Wesley Brown.

04 September 2012


They ate blubber, cooked with blubber, had
blubber lamps. Their clothes and gear were
soaked with blubber, and the soot
blackened them, their sleeping
bags, cookers, walls and
roof, choked their throats
and inflamed
their tired

From 'Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin', a banned pamphlet by GM Levick, scientist with the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition. Via The Guardian, 9 June 2012. 'Tired' added to make the nonet work. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

30 August 2012

On Emily

There was an increasing divide
Between people she wished to know
And those she did not.

Her clarity could not endure
Social talk instead of truth;
Piety instead of “The Soul’s Superior instants”.

Her directness would have been disconcerting
If she did not “simulate” conventionality,

And this was “stinging work”.

But a more threatening challenge,
Deeper below the surface,
Fired the volcanoes and earthquakes in her poems -

An event,
As she put it,
That “Struck - my ticking - through -“.

Taken from a Guardian article about Emily Dickinson, 13th February 2012. 'Didn't' has been changed to 'did not' in the first stanza. Submitted by Susan.

28 August 2012

A day without deference

Let the nation’s doormen do their jobs without smiling
Let waiters at suburban restaurants leave their flair at home
Let the janitors at Princeton mop no vomit from the dormitory stairwells
Let retail greeters of every description call in sick
Let the first-class passengers board at someone else’s leisure
Let the nation’s limo drivers require their passengers to open their own damn doors
Let the production interns at CNBC send the on-air “talent” to fetch the coffee
And, for just one day, let the talent ask their interviewees hard questions

From the essay Servile Disobedience by Thomas Frank, February 2011. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

23 August 2012

What Pocket Money Was Invented For

29 x glider planes
4 x toxic slime
9 x glitter cowboy hats
30 x flashing dinosaurs
20 x aeroplane bouncy balls
15 x animal bouncy balls (seals etc)
10 x squeaky smiley face yellow things
9 x gigglesticks
1 x box of rings
5 x large flower hair bobbles
1 x box of flashing frog rings
7 x stretchy lizards
5 x stretchy snakes
7 x stretchy frogs
3 x dinosaur skeletons
6 x toxic toilets
4 x tool kits
box of eyepatch + moustach + loopy lou’s
box of turkey and eggs (24)
box of mouse waterballs (12)
box of roll tongue animals (28)
4 x Dr Who pinballs
Stretchy men
Stretchy aliens
10 wooden floppy type animals
5 wooden animal rulers
10 ‘fly back’ gliders
10 spider man keyrings

A stock list from a novelty stall, picked up while tidying up from school summer fair in Macclesfield, 2012. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

16 August 2012

Dissecting Myself

Now I can start by
pulling the heart
And cutting through the inferior vena cava
Which is bringing the blood back
From the regions of the body
Inferior to the diaphram

Again I'll take the scissors
And cut through the aorta
and the pulmonary trunk
So those major outflow vessels
have now been cut

The last large vessel
That I need to cut through
Is the superior vena cava
Returning blood from
the upper limbs
and the head
back to the right atrium

So, again, I will cut through that
And the heart will be free.

Taken from a human anatomy dissection video, uploaded to youtube on 25 September 2010. Submitted by Isart.

14 August 2012

A night at the opera

Big ideological statements
Giant snakes
One expects to get one or the other
One is rarely deprived of both.

The means are the simplest
As the audience files in
a small army of white-dressed people
are placidly picnicking.
As the music starts
they strip off their clothes
and paint each other blue.
Yes, it sounds weird
but the Ring is weird.

Sometimes they are slaves
Sometimes they are even inanimate.
The gods all sport matching platinum hair.

They don’t try to fool us
and yet something about them
is perfect anyway.

Picked out of a review of Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold on the blog Likely Impossibilities. The word 'are' replaces 'seem to be' in line 8. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

10 August 2012

Orange Juice and Ecstasy

I'm not going to lie,
it can be fun
throwing money over a naked midget
in one of the most famous
gangster strip clubs in America.
But after a while,
throwing money around is not sensible,
even if the midget is willing.

Dizzee Rascal in an interview with the Guardian, Thursday 21 June 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

07 August 2012

Lined yellow paper

feel like I don’t have to
know everything

feel strong like I could
do anything I want to

feel unrushed

something got after

feel like I know what I’m doing
at this moment

don’t feel alone or crazy

An anonymous pencilled note handwritten on lined yellow paper, found at the Charlottetown Confederation Centre Library in a book on Buddhism in 2008. It was topped off with a green organic banana sticker. Submitted by Steven.

03 August 2012

Whether you could bear the idea of marrying me

I can’t advise you in my favour because I
think it would be beastly for you, but think how nice
it would be for me. I am restless & moody
and misanthropic & lazy & have no money
except what I earn and if I got ill you would
starve. In fact it’s a lousy proposition. On

the other hand I think I could do a Grant and
reform & become quite strict about not getting
drunk and I am pretty sure I should be faithful.
Also there is always a fair chance that there will
be another bigger economic crash in
which case if you had married a nobleman with

a great house you might find yourself starving, while I
am very clever and could probably earn a
living of some sort somewhere. All these are very
small advantages compared with the awfulness
of my character. I have always tried to be
nice to you and you may have got it into your

head that I am nice really, but that is all rot.
It is only to you & for you. I am jealous
& impatient — but there is no point in going
into a whole list of my vices. You are a
critical girl and I’ve no doubt that you know them
all and a great many I don’t know myself.

From a letter written by Evelyn Waugh in 1936, after his first wife had left him, asking her cousin whether “you could bear the idea of marrying me”, found at Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.

31 July 2012

The darkness and the light

A creature born
within the comforting anonymity of darkness

Awakens in the harsh truth of daylight

It squirms
in the glare
afraid of the light
that pins it to the chair like a needle through its heart

Its heart beats faster
Panic starts to creep into its soul

Does it understand?
Or is it so blinded by the light
that it can think only of returning
to the velvet cloak of darkness?

No matter

Perhaps it is better that it doesn't realize
how close death has come

But make no mistake, there is no escape
It has reached the end, and soon it will die

It bares its tiny fangs
hoping for a chance to strike
to sink its teeth deep into the flesh of its tormentor

But that chance will never come

And somewhere
beneath the gleam of hatred in those eyes
lurks the certain knowledge of its impending death

And it begins to know fear

This is part of your guilt. You did this to me

And you don't even know who I am

I wasn't part of your war
I was an innocent

I'm glad that you remember
Don't you feel guilty?
Don't you feel ashamed of what you did

Indiscriminate killing
No sense of morality
No thought given to the consequences of your actions

That's what makes us different

The creature's diseased mind
cannot understand its plight
Its imagination is too limited
to perceive the truth

It cannot be saved

The creature's cries grow louder
but no one can hear them

It's time

From the lines of Silaran in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode The Darkness and the Light. Lines with plot points in removed and punctuation stripped out. Submitted by Wesley Brown.

27 July 2012

Dearest Jamie

I bought my lovely boyfriend Darren
your book for Christmas and i haven't
had to cook a meal

He went through the cupboards
to find out what we were missing
from your list and he even invested
£100.00 buying a magimix.

He stopped smoking Monday
and finds thinking about what he needs
to buy to prepare the evening meal
a good distraction from the withdrawal

Now i don't want you or your readers
to think that i'm complaining
i know i've got it made (he even hoovers,
irons and cleans the bathroom)
the only problem i'm having is that
is so tasty i'm clearing my plate
and i'm worried i'm going to be
the size
of a house

We're moving to a new home next month
and he's informed me he'd like a black
gloss kitchen and a range to cook on

He bought me black diamonds,
I think he's a keeper.

Taken from a comment left on a dumpling recipe on Jamie Oliver's website on the 7th January 2009. Some exclamation marks removed. Submitted by Nikki.

24 July 2012


“Eatin’s Cheatin’” echoes around the office on a Friday afternoon.
Women pick over their naked salads and extra extra light low fat
Philly on Ryvita. The preparations for ‘Rosé o’clock’ are well
under way.
They’ll grumble through the afternoon and suppress the urge
to be
‘naughty’ whenever anyone offers a biscuit, sweet or chocolate.

From Drunkorexia: A stupid name, but a serious problem on the Independent blogs. Omitted words: 'as' (line 1) and 'their way' (4). Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

19 July 2012

Purge the entire board

Testosterone-fuelled silverbacks
eat what they kill
in under-supervised dealing rooms,
skimming fortunes
from everyone else's endeavour.
So far the remedies are
cough drops for cancer.

Taken from Polly Toynbee's Guardian column, Fri 6 July 2012. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

17 July 2012

Flower battle

Enter and stand
Enter, leap at, roaring
Back slowly off

Roar, shake arm, roll on back
Eat earth, throw rocks
Rush at and past opponent

Avoid, show back

Leap at opponent’s back

(Without looking) avoid
Turn to face opponent

Catch head with rear hand (without looking)
strike head with forearm

Rise, stagger, roll on back
Roar, shake arm, leap on head

Avoid, back off
Roar, pursue
Leap at roaring

Grasp head with forearm
flick rear arm in arc
strike downward blow

Sag, moan, rise
leap and crush in bear hug
lift in air

Draw dagger
Stab in chest

Fall on back

Advance calmly, inspect corpse
Back off

Basic fighting movements: a section of the perang kembang (flower battle) from a puppeteer’s handbook for the study of wayang kulit or Javanese shadow play. As found in On Thrones of Gold, ed. James Brandon, (Hawaii 1993). Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

12 July 2012

The Legacy

The photos show a pool with a slide
and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting
separated from the gas chambers by just a few yards.
His grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries
because they smelled of ash from the ovens.

“So you ask yourself, they had to die. I'm alive.
Why am I alive?
To carry this guilt, this burden
That must be the only reason I exist
to do what he should have done.”

Goeth was played by Ralph Fiennes.
“I kept thinking this has to stop
at some point they have to stop shooting.
If it doesn't stop I'll go crazy right here in this theatre.”
She left the cinema suffering from shock.

Both she and her brother chose to be sterilised.
"When my brother had it done, he said to me 'I cut the line'."
Seeing his father's childhood home he broke down
kept repeating the word "insanity".

Taken from an article in BBC magazine about the descendants of high profile Nazis, 22 May 2012. Some words and phrases omitted for scansion. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

10 July 2012

Swallowing razorblades

Hollow man;
You’re over dead dreams—
Picture perfect, pathetic.
Flesh, bone and weakness.

Five months?
Moments in oblivion.
Feed them to the pigs.

I watched a cold day in Hell:
Emotional breakdown,
Begin breaking point,
Romance is dead.

From song titles by the band Parkway Drive. Submitted by Elizabeth.

05 July 2012

we hail you with joy

your silence
has sounded
than the jabber
of politics
and the clang
of military power;

out of deep darkness
your little lamp has
across the planet;
your stillness
has moved the world.

Taken from the oration given in honour of Aung San Suu Kyi when she received an honorary doctorate in Oxford, 20 June 2012. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

03 July 2012

You have an almost missionary zeal

So it's perfectly
possible to live
a broadly satisfying life
all on your own, communing
with high art, being a lonely
heroic figure that walks
that long, dramatic path to
the piano centre stage.
This all works fine

as long as you cling
to the notion that the music
you're playing is written
by dead, distant gods.
On the other hand, it all

blows apart when you start
integrating living composers,
as all the fixed points get swept
away; all composers take
on a human face, the church-like reverence
disappears, and suddenly audiences
become a collection of individuals
who may or may not
like what you're doing. Promoters
start getting nervous, so you,
the performer,
have to start communicating
fast. That's why.

From An Interview with Joanna MacGregor on SoundCircus. Submitted by Andrew Bailey.

28 June 2012


Try to avoid your movements
in long lonely road after sunset,
which approaches the beach
where there is a poor light.

Item 13 of a photocopied 'Advice to tourists' sheet, handed out upon arriving at Kudle Beach, Gokarna, India. Submitted by John K.

26 June 2012

From The Gentleman's Companion, Volume Two

Being an Exotic Drinking Book, or
Around the World with Jigger, Beaker,
another ODD DRINK from the CAPITAL
from the YEAR 1925...
This dates back to 19-
25 when the good old SS RESOLUTE
stopped in French Indo-China, and some
of our friends undertook to fly upriver
as near to the marvellous Cambodian
ruins of Angkor, as might be sane,
then motor back via Pnom Penh—imagine
a place called Pnom Penh—to Bangkok
to meet ship again at Pak Nam....
The plane reminded us of a celery crate
decorated, respectively, with an electric fan
and an evinrude motor. It sputtered and
died finally coming to rest on the Saigon
River, with no chance to walk home....
This addition to any anthology of damp-
ness was one remembered aftermath
when back in Saigon, and muttering about
the contrariness of fate generally.
On checking we find that it is a slightly
sweeter Jerusalem Between-
the Sheets, plus a nip of egg white.

From The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or, Around the World with Jigger, Beaker, and Flask Vol.2, CH Baker (New York, 1946). Submitted by Jerome.

21 June 2012

Found Shaunette

When I first drove
the Carlisle/ Wiltshire commute,
I’d do it southbound non-stop.

It was four hours or so
and I was keen to get home.

But, when they started the road-works,
it drew out and I started making stops:
two usually (Tebay and one other).

Some mornings I’d leave Swindon at 4AM
and head north for a 9AM meeting.

I have not been south of Manchester since July.

An email from a friend, Shaunette, sent in June 2011. Submitted by Martin.

19 June 2012

Like ghosts

tend to exist in
your peripheral

and after a while
you move around the house
in a manner that
the expectation of their

to trip you up
on the stairs
or suddenly
from nowhere
and start slow-walking
in front of you
as you try
to get
from room to

From My Life as a Cat Undertaker on the blog Blood & Treasure. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

14 June 2012

The Beauty Secrets of the Empress Cixi

She kept the habit of having sliced ginseng in her mouth
ate pearl powder, eight-treasure ointment and flower food
Peanuts, soybeans and red dates…
‘We are not preparing for cooking porridge
but for making a delicate imperial pastry
a secret breast-enlarging recipe of Empress Dowager Cixi.’

Taken from an article on the Cultural China website. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

12 June 2012

One drink too many

The other night,
as I was coming home in the dark,
I saw a strange ungainly thing in front of me;
then when I drew closer I saw that it was
a man giving a piggy-back to a woman.
They lurched a little…
I overtook them and left them
piggy-backing in the country lane.

The diary entry of Denton Welch, 22 October 1943, from The Faber Book of Diaries, ed. Simon Brett (London, 1987). Submitted by Neal.

09 June 2012

Enchanted Doll

How to play with the nude doll properly:
Pose it, bend and move its body without force
Hold it gently and move the limbs in their sockets
carefully in the direction of the slits
To clean it, wipe with water or any household cleaning agent
Braid, brush, wash or even dye its hair
Dress and undress it carefully

Dropping the doll
Submerging the doll in water
Forcing the joints to move in the way they were not intended
Pulling the joints out of their sockets - it loosens spring tension
Handling it roughly
Taking the doll apart

I cannot ship you new body parts

From the repairs page of the Enchanted Doll website. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

08 June 2012

Russian Girls in Love

Hello, gentleman!
I will be honest with you
I tell that I can't see a future
that does not include you.

I feel great inspiration every time
when I see you I feel scared
that your heart isn't single
that you won't want to build
romantic relations with me.

But from other hand,
I try to forget about all fears
to believe that you are the man of my dream
that I am a woman beyond your dreams.

It was not the easy step for me
to write to you this letter.
I didn't used to get acquainted with strangers
especially through the internet.

But I am very disappointed into real life
where I can't meet a good man and
I can't build love and family.
I decided to change
something in my life
and this first change is
my letter to you.

you won't stay cold
you will be touched with
my sincere and romantic letter.
I am always ready to write
to you a reply to continue
our romantic acquaintance.

Taken from a spam email. Submitted by Karen Greenbaum-Maya.

06 June 2012

All the tattoos I want

I’ve decided that I want a japanese tattoo sleeve
starting at the shoulder
and ending at the wrist.
It will include at least a koi fish,

some kanji, a samurai sword, some nice blue
waves, a pokemon (not sure which yet, but hell maybe I’ll get two),

probably a torii, probably something small
in dedication to yu yu hakusho (not sure what). I don’t have all

the ideas yet but it will at least
be very colorful and with basically no skin color showing. And my back piece

will be dedicated to egyptian mythology;
specifically Horus and Anubis facing each other
and some nice looking egyptian-like images in the background
to bring it all together.

And honestly that’s all the tattoos I want.

A post on the White Morgan Freeman Tumblr, 20 May 2012. Submitted by Ezra.

31 May 2012


Redira second in defensive digs –
Retain Potter.

Dumpster fire scorches bookstore –
Mariners set sail.

Lobster too good to eat –
Zuckerberg has the world by the tail.

Dead man awakens at funeral.

Plan to revive economy –
Free public workshop.

Headlines in the Monterey County Herald on the 14th and 15th May, 2012. Submitted by Neal.

29 May 2012

We wanted to let you know

The dog Billy died
on a rainy cold evening.
He had stopped eating
and exploratory surgery
found a long cancer.
He fitted right in with us,
his stoic cautious cooperative self.
He was with us for 5 years, perhaps half his life.
It feels very empty here today.
We lit a candle and played the Requiem
by Mozart.

An email from a friend, around 5 years ago, on the death of their dog. Submitted by Karen Greenbaum-Maya.

26 May 2012

Hi Emily,

This is just to let u know
I love u no less than I did at school.
Maybe it’s time we both moved on,
I will always love u
no matter how this ends.

From a text message that was sent, accidentally, to my friend Anita, 1 May 2012. Submitted by Lynda.

24 May 2012

The Shape of Our Rage

Gradually men rise up to confront them.
One of the bravest is
a teenage hairdresser’s apprentice.

Vidal Sassoon, the man who gave us
the Five Point Cut, the Asymmetric Bob
and Mia Farrow’s £2,500 haircut

was a street-fighting man.
“That popinjay Mosley.
Fascists preaching hate on every corner.

The same abuse that I remembered
from the 1930s,
I was too young to do anything about it.

The pictures we were seeing
from Auschwitz and Buchenwald and Dachau
changed the shape of our rage.

I went to work at the salon in Mayfair
with a badly scratched face
and this refined client said

Good God, Vidal, you look terrible.
What happened to you?
Nothing much, I said. I just fell over a hairpin.”

Taken from a report published by Anti-Fascists Online following the death of Vidal Sassoon, published on 9 May 2012. The poem consists of selections from the article, with punctuation added. Submitted by Jo Bell.

22 May 2012

Monday the fourteenth of May

A tanka

Urchins clustering
like barnacles to the stilled
rails. We wait. The
tannoy clicks on then clicks off
without an announcement. We wait.

A whole tweet from Reverend Richard Coles, 14 May 2012. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

17 May 2012

Yutaka Registered-Trade-Mark Sushi

Place Yutaka® Sushi Nori on a Yutaka® Bamboo Mat, 
right at the edge 
nearest your body. 
Spread evenly with Yutaka® rice over about 
two thirds of the sushi nori 
with the uncovered part 
facing away from you. Add your favourite fillings 

a little off centre. 

Roll up the bamboo mat
tucking the closer end of the sushi nori to start a roll 
and press lightly with both hands. 
Wet the final flap of Yutaka® Sushi Nori 
to stick the roll together. 

Remove roll from the mat, and cut 
into six pieces using a 
lightly moistened 
sharp knife.

Taken from the back of a sushi rolling mat packet, found in the attic. Submitted by Christa.

15 May 2012

Don't be alarmed

Don't be alarmed if your transfer isn't completely perfect
Some work better than others and
You'll learn a lot from experimenting
On different surfaces
The final image is meant to be imperfect

From 'How to transfer a photo to fabric' on A Beautiful Mess blog. Submitted by Bill.

10 May 2012

Weather Girl's Haiku

A wet and cold start
This morning windy. Later
rain dying away.

The BBC Breakfast weather forecast, as delivered by Carol Kirkwood, March 2012. 'The' removed from the start of line 3. Submitted by Fran Isherwood.

08 May 2012

can't get used to small beds

went to my sisters last year
she had double


said to greg
move over
taken all the bed

he said
im on the edge

im sure it wasnt a double

but we have a kingsize
and might go bigger


A friend of a friend's Facebook comment, 7 April 2012. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

03 May 2012

The smoke that thunders

Plateau forests
Of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir,

Cypresses that creep
Far into the water.

Under the sun that never sets
Below the smoke that thunders.

Taken from Rough Guide's Ultimate Travel Adventures, published September 2008. The descriptions refer to the Grand Canyon, the Atchafalaya Basin and the Arctic Victoria Falls. Submitted by Harriet.

01 May 2012

But Not All of the Time

Any case
in which people pursue
a single great experience or accomplishment
that occurs infrequently
or perhaps not at all –

a Holy grail,
an impossible dream,
a brilliant model,
a great white whale –

is a case of
a positively skewed distribution
in which they may be
predicted to be

most of the time.

From the book Social Comparison Processes: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives (1977) edited by J.M. Suls and R. L. Miller. In the chapter "Pleasure and Pain of Social Comparison," pp. 149-186. Submitted by Kate L.

26 April 2012

Live your dash

On your tombstone
you’ve got your birth date

and the day of your decease —
and you’ve got your dash.

Live your dash.
Hold still and watch the birds.

Like the hummingbirds —
why are there so many of them?

Taken from the London Evening Standard's review of Werner Herzog's Into the Abyss, 30th March 2012. A comma has been removed after 'tombstone'. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

24 April 2012

But if the water becomes deeper still

Positioned in the water in an uncomfortable pose,
afflicted with a relatively high mean density,
suffering from substantially high frictional drag,
and unable to raise and lower its neck
and hence unable to adopt a synchronous gait,
we conclude that giraffes would be very poor swimmers,
and that it might be assumed that they would avoid
this activity if at all possible.

Testing the flotation dynamics and swimming abilities of giraffes by way of computational analysis in the Tetrapod Zoology section of Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

19 April 2012

The Name of the Father

The first time I came home
with a hangover - I was 21
or 22 - I was in the kitchen
making a cup of tea. In those days
all I drank was Guinness - my dad
leant over to me and said:
'Do you drink spirits?' I said:
'No, I don't.' He said:
'Don't.' That's stayed with me
all my life. I don't drink spirits
at all. It was profound because
my father was a man of
very few words but,
when he did speak,
it was emphatic.

Taken from an interview with Liam Neeson in the Metro, 27th January 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

17 April 2012

When you have eaten an orange

When you've eaten an orange you have to
go back to the shop to buy another.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho describes the profitability of piracy for artists in his blog post My Thoughts on S.O.P.A. Comma removed. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

12 April 2012

In the Air

I will not make you a slave, you
will live in my 200-story castle where unicorn
servants will feed
you doughnuts off their horns. I will
personally make you
a throne that is half platnum
and half solid gold and jewel encrested.

Thankyou again for teaching us
about meteroligy, you're
more awesome than a monkey
wearing a tuxedo
made out of bacon
riding a cyborg unicorn
with a lightsaber for the horn
on the tip of a space shuttle
closing in on Mars,
while ingulfed in flames.

Taken from a thank you note written by a nine-year-old, thanking a local TV weatherman for visiting his school in Austin, Texas, as reported in the Metro on 15 March, 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

10 April 2012

Goodbye, few things

Top of the list is cupcakes. Does anyone
actually eat this sickly over-iced,
pseudo kitsch, toy food except perhaps
a few girly women who think having
a large shoe collection makes them maverick.

Big black pick up trucks as driven by men
whose default fabric is camouflage. These
swollen testosterone substitutes are
the automotive equivalent
of a liquorice flavoured ribbed condom.

PVC banners, those dingy oblongs
of bad computer graphics tied onto
every suburban pub, roundabout, school.
Usually advertising a singles nite
or fundraising fayre long since past, or worse
still, a carvery. Pop up anything.

The vaguely west coast stubbly check shirted
bloke who features in every phone, computer
and small car ad. You know the one
with scruffy hair and a retro t-shirt
probably designs apps that no one asked for
and fewer people need.

From The Pitiable Impossibility of Debt in the Mind of Someone Shopping, a blog post by the teddy bear Alan Measles. 'a' omitted from line 5, first half of the 'swollen' line removed and the remainder merged with the following line. Also, 'that' changed to 'who' and 'less' to 'fewer' in the last stanza. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

05 April 2012

Note to Service Technician

Dishwasher will enter into Test/Calibration mode
at the first power up.
Door must be closed and latched.
Wait till second fill (~6 minutes from power up)
to cancel cycle
by pressing Start/Reset key.
Dishwasher will then be ready
to operate after a pump out.

A note left behind by a dishwasher technician on the 8th March 2012. Submitted by Michael.

03 April 2012

Saying true things

I’m in love with you
and I’m not in the business
of denying myself
the simple pleasure of
I’m in love with you
and I know that
love is just a shout
into the void
and that
oblivion is inevitable
and that
we’re all doomed
and that
there will come a day when
all our labor has been
and I know the sun
will swallow the only earth
we’ll ever have
I’m in love with you.

From The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton Books, 2012). Submitted by Megan.

29 March 2012

A piece of tree bark

Half way through the night,
as recurring twinges of cramp keep me
padding off to the
I experience a quite
irrational fear of
being in the same room as a piece of

Taken from Pole to Pole: with Michael Palin, first published in 1992. Submitted by Lauren.

27 March 2012

Breaking up

What am I supposed
to do now? I've got your face
tattooed on my arm.

From a most incredible exchange on Facebook, in which a young man finds out that his girlfriend of one week has had his face inked permanently on her body. Sadly, for us, a hoax. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

22 March 2012

Groceries or pizza?

pizza is just an easy fix
for a temporary solution

A friend's facebook response to a shopping dilemma on March 1st 2012. Submitted by Rachel Helen Smith.

20 March 2012

The moderate Finnish sauna

You should not slap
your neighbours without asking
their permission first.

The sauna is dear to me, almost sacred.
My father was born in one,
and his dying wish was to bathe 

in a sauna one last time.

Summer is the best time to go.
Strike a match, hear
the crackling of dry birch wood
as it is engulfed by the greedy flames,
then sit down on the steps
to ponder the ways of the world
and wait for the sauna to warm up.

Your body sighs with relief when the first
ladleful of water hits the sizzling stove.
The experience is topped off with a dive
into a pure, clear lake.
What else does a human being need?

Both the senryu and main poem are from a piece about saunas by Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner in charge of the Eurozone crisis. Omitted: 'to the sauna' (line 5) and 'sauna' (lines 9 & 14). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

15 March 2012

Simon and Ruth

At first, Ruth was a bit put off
by the fact that Simon turned up in a car
with every imaginable gadget:
I wasn't used to flash cars, she says.

Then, on a day out to the beach,
Simon messed up Ruth's kite.
He got all the lines tangled
so I didn't use it again, says Ruth,

who had, however, noticed
that Simon was very polite.

Taken from the Announcements, Marriages and Engagements section of The Times on 18 February 2012 (Simon and Ruth are to be married on 22 June 2012). Submitted by Thom.

13 March 2012

I am not even faintly like a rose

I am not even faintly like a rose.
I wasn’t even vaguely engaged.
I have been drunk just twice in my life.
I was standing beside his bed.
I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level
of the Pennsylvania Station.
I had been actually invited.
Most of the time I worked.
I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes.
I wasn’t actually in love.
I felt a sort of tender curiosity.
I am one of the few honest people
that I have ever known.
I was more annoyed than interested.
I don’t believe they heard a sound.
I stayed late that night.
I was reminded of something.
I wanted to get up and slap him on the back.
I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his mouth.
I just remembered that today’s my birthday.
I was feeling a little sick and
I wanted to be alone.
I walked away and left him standing there.
I couldn’t sleep all night.
I didn’t want to go to the city.
I thanked him for his hospitality.
I wanted to get somebody for him.
I’m five years too old to lie to myself
and call it honor.
I turned away.
I went over.
I erased it.
There was nothing I could say.
I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world.

Nick Carraway's confessions, in chronological order as they appear in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1924). Submitted by Gary.

10 March 2012

Personal longings




The digital display board of a Thames Express train from Oxford to London, some time around 1995. The first three character spaces were hidden from view. Submitted by Dan B.

08 March 2012


Rain makes for mood of
sadness. I wish for sunny
days for all. My fans.

A tweet by Tommy Wiseau on 4th January, 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

06 March 2012

Communiqué from an absent future

We work and we borrow
in order to work and to borrow.

And the jobs we work toward
are the jobs we already have.

Lines from the we want everything blog – critical theory and content from the nascent California student occupation movement. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

01 March 2012

Confessions of a Designer

Just because you think
you can use photoshop does
not mean that you should.

One of a series of posters by designer Anneke Short, found on Designer's Block on 27 January, 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose.

28 February 2012

José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales

José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales,
in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows
of winter will flee away, the ice will vanish,
and the air will become soft and balmy. In short,
José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales,
the annual miracle of the years will
awaken and come to pass, but you won’t be here.
The rivulet will run its purring course to the sea,
timid desert flowers will put forth their tender
shoots, the glorious valleys of this imperial
domain will blossom as the rose. Still, you won’t be
here to see.

From every tree top some wild woods
songster will carol his mating song, butterflies
will sport in the sunshine, the busy bee will hum
happy as it pursues its accustomed vocation,
the gentle breeze will tease the tassels of the wild
grasses, and all nature, José Manuel Miguel
Xavier Gonzales, will be glad but you. You
won’t be here to enjoy it because I command
the sheriff to lead you out to some remote spot,
swing you by the neck from a nodding bough of some
sturdy oak, and let you hang until you are dead.

And then, José Manuel Miguel Xavier
Gonzales, I further command that such officer,
retire quickly from your dangling corpse, that vultures
may descend upon your filthy body until
nothing shall remain but bare, bleached bones of a cold-
blooded, copper-colored, blood-thirsty, throat-cutting,
chili-eating, sheep-herding, murdering son of a bitch.

The sentence pronounced on murderer José Miguel Manuel Xavier Gonzales by a federal trial judge in New Mexico in 1881, according to Futility Closet. A few words removed to aid the line lengths: 'the' (from line 9), 'or some other officer of the country' (20), 'or officers' (24) and 'from the heavens' (26). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

23 February 2012


A motorway in Germany was closed
for hours as emergency crews
scraped frozen sauerkraut
off the road.

The pickled cabbage had spilt
from a lorry involved in a crash
near Frankfurt, freezing immediately
in the cold conditions.

A news story from the 'Weird but Wonderful' section of the Sunday Times, 12th February 2012. Submitted by Thom.

21 February 2012

Liber Amoris

To have crossed the Alps with me
to sail on sunny seas
to bask in Italian skies
to have visited Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie
and to have repeated to her on the spot
the story of Julia and St. Preux

She's a strange, almost an inscrutable girl
It is all over, and I know my fate
its giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine
my courage failed me
its enormous but graceful bulk
You are struck with the point of a rock
The truth is, I never saw anything like her

From Liber Amoris or the New Pygmalion by William Hazlitt, 1823. The text comes from the very end of Part II, 'Letter the Last', and the beginning of the first letter of Part III. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

18 February 2012


There is still snow on the trees; it is that kind of snow.
One sees it out of the windows here
like some extraordinary garden.
It is the kind of snowfall about which girls write verse.

There is an uncommon silence
when I walk Federico to the school bus.
The light is eclipsed and lovely.
One wants to see it all so clearly.

From a journal entry by John Cheever in 1968. The Journals of John Cheever (Vintage Classics, 2010, first pub. 1991), p. 244. Submitted by Thom.

16 February 2012

Swimming a Horse

During seasons of high water, men,
in traversing the plains,
often encounter rivers which rise above
the fording stage, and remain in that condition
for many days, and to await the falling of the water
might involve a great loss of time.

If the traveler be alone, his only way is
to swim his horse; but if he retains
the seat on his saddle,
his weight presses the animal
down into the water,
and cramps his movements very sensibly.

It is a much better plan
to attach a cord to the bridle bit,
and drive him into the stream; then,
seizing his tail, allow him to tow you across.
If he turns out of the course, or attempts to turn back,
he can be checked with the cord, or
by splashing water at his head.

If the rider remains in the saddle,
he should allow the horse to have a loose
rein, and never pull upon it
except when necessary to guide.
If he wishes to steady himself, he can
lay hold upon the mane.

From The Prairie Traveler by Randolph B. Marcy (Perigree Books, 1994, first pub. 1859), pp.62-63. Marcy, a U.S. army captain, wrote the guide at the request of the U.S. War Department. Submitted by Alexa.

14 February 2012

Images of earth

The sky is clear over the Sahara Desert
It seems I am leaving the planet forever

The bond between Earth and its inhabitants
must be defended like a holy relic

I used to have dreams when I was a kid
Like an infant in the womb of my spacecraft

The night before you went up – did you sleep?
the rustle of my muscles moving over each other

The Earth was absolutely round
I could hear the sound of pipes whining below me

moving further and further away from the ship
and you are yourself a satellite

Only in my soul is there something unquiet
Enhancing our pleasure in these shapes

Then, of course, the realisation hit me
I waved to her, she didn’t see me

From The Home Planet (Images and Reflections of Earth from Space Explorers), (Macdonald Queen Anne Press, 1988), ed. Kevin W.Kelley. The lines come from the translated comments of different astronauts that accompany the photographs from space. Submitted by Winston Plowes.

11 February 2012

What shall remain

Our civilization will be known for our diaper landfills
and our nuclear waste sites
Other fragments of our culture might survive as well:
bits of Tupperware
mountains of lithium batteries
or maybe the traces of our highway system.

The foundation of a skyscraper might make
for a breakthrough excavation
but the islands of plastic bottles
floating in the oceans may prove puzzling.

Perhaps we will bury a cache of digital archives somewhere
to be deciphered one day
like the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian sarcophagus.

From the Design Observer review of A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil McGregor. The review is written by Adam Harrison Levy. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

09 February 2012


Christmas episode.
Billboard of underwear
model in opening. Black.
Cup of tea or coffee prepared.
Fart sound. Tea served.
Black. Coffee served.
Two doctors are shown arguing with some physical contact as well.
Black. “Thank God
my husband is not my doctor.”
Coffee drunk, and coffee machine
in the background. Black.
Scene in operating room. A baby is born. Non-graphic
and the baby is covered with a cloth.
“Thank God.” “If God”
“If God really
chooses to bless
me” Black.

Taken from KBYU Edits Sheet for a Christmas Episode of "Doc", starring Billy Ray Cyrus on the 1st February 2012. Submitted by Ben.

07 February 2012

We've got a different CD player now

We’ve got a different CD player now
and so tonight we are here
listening to the two versions
of this song, which is
about divorce.
If it weren’t so hateful, the song
might almost feel like an attempt
to climb out of the undertow
and get a breath of air:
it’s got recognizable situations,
phrases from real life,
the human touch.
But it sticks its head up
above the self-absorbed,
only to draw attention
to the immeasurable depth
of it all. This is
a mean thing to do.

An undated blog post on the website Last Plane to Jakarta, about the Radiohead song 'Morning Bell'. Submitted by Haley Patail.

02 February 2012


(for Fred Goodwin)

For a few years, Shreddies' advert campaigns
featured a cartoon personification
of 'Hunger' as an antagonist.

He appeared as a blue monster with big teeth
whose goal it was to taunt hungry individuals
by drumming on their stomachs
with a pair of silver spoons.

Hunger would then be dispatched
when the victim consumed
a bowl of shreddies,
sealing hunger inside a shreddie cage.

Despite his troublesome persona,
hunger was frequently used as a mascot
for the cereal during this period.

Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Shreddies on 1st February 2012. Submitted by Nick Asbury.

31 January 2012

Five People Liked His Status

I swear,
to everything I got,
I’ll defend my baby
till the end.

If a short,
little motherfucker
wants to
try and threatened
her for saying
to a freeloading skank,
who calls her mom
a bitch,
then I got a problem
with him.

Or else what
Threaten her again
and I’ll show you.

From a Facebook status last year. Submitted by B.J. Jones.

26 January 2012

Open Grave in a Public Place

Grip the fork in your right hand
with as much strength as possible.

With your left hand use sharp
downward blows in a circular motion.

If you are uncertain,
lift up the palm of your hand
as shown in the diagram

Quick questions
Will guarantee
A serious bodily injury

Fitting instructions for a quick release Shimano bicycle wheel. Submitted by Winston Plowes.

24 January 2012

On the surface

Greed probably undid her in the end.
She was said to have taken a bait of uncooked tiger nuts,
which swelled inside her until she floated upwards.
Telltale empty paper bags were found on the bank of the river.
Or she may have been pregnant,

with 300,000 eggs causing complications, or stressed
after so much catching and releasing,
those constant brushes with extinction.

On the line between life and death, at Kingfisher Lake,
she breathed the fatal air and did not sink again.
And there she lay,
like Wisdom drawn up from the deep:
as golden, and as quiet.

From the Economist, the obituary of Benson, England's best loved fish. Submitted by Mat Riches.

19 January 2012

The Great Money Engine of State

(after Macaulay)

All who could help or hurt at Court,
ministers, mistresses, priests, were
kept in good humour by presents
of shawls and silks, birds’ nests and
attar of roses, bulses of diamonds,
bags of guineas.

Lord Macaulay, as quoted in an article in the Economist about the East India Company, 17th December 2011. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

17 January 2012

Post-Painterly Abstraction

for Helen Frankenthaler

She departed from the romantic search
for the sublime to pursue her own path,
pouring turpentine-thinned paint
in watery washes onto raw canvas
so that it soaked into the fabric weave
becoming one with it.

Her method emphasized flat surface
over illusory depth and the nature of paint,
releasing color from the gestural approach
and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism,
landscapes looking to many like a large paint rag
casually accidental and incomplete.

From the biography of Helen Frankenthaler in the New York Times. Phrases have been picked from the article and put together, in order, instead of one whole excerpt. Submitted by Jenni B. Baker.

11 January 2012


This happens to bone marrow
in the hollow
dinosaur bones,
it’s very pretty.
it’ll seem like a solid
black fossil but
if you accidentally
you see it looks
like it’s filled with crystals

Taken from a comment on a blog post about petrification, written on the 21st December 2011. Submitted by Haley Patail.

10 January 2012

You can say I am a hater

You can say I am a hater
but I would argue I'm a lover
I'm a lover of traditional families
and of the right of children
to have a father and a mother

I believe the earth gets warmer
and I also believe the earth gets cooler

is anyone saying same-sex couples
can't love each other?
I love my children
I love my friends, my brother
heck, I even love my mother-in-law

Quotes by Rick Santorum, candidate for Republican nomination in the US Presidential elections 2012. Specifically, quotes as they appear in Rick Santorum Quotes As New Yorker Cartoons posted by Jack Shepherd. Punctuation has been stripped out and the 'I'm' of line one turned back to two words for the irresistible rhythm. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

05 January 2012

Father Rabbit

Is disciplined and discerning
irons his pillowcases and tucks his sheets in
with hospital corners
prefers the cold side of the pillow
suggests if you are going to do it, do it
properly or not at all
prefers you finish what you started
likes his crème brulee unadulterated and his
pancakes thin
is meticulous in his laundry, preferring freshly
washed and smelling of lavender
uses a top sheet

Taken from the website of Father Rabbit Ltd. Submitted by Marika Rose.

03 January 2012

The Differences Between Dogs and Cats

The most obvious external differences
are visible in the head.
Dogs have wider and shorter heads
and a more U-shaped
than V-shaped snout.
For hard-to-distinguish specimens,
the protruding tooth is the most reliable feature
to define a species.

Dogs lack the jagged fringe which appears
on the hind legs and feet of the cat,
and the toes of the hind feet are webbed
not more than halfway to the tips.
Dogs strongly prefer freshwater,
and cats can better tolerate seawater
because of specialized glands for filtering out salt.

Dogs also tend to be darker in color than cats
often nearly black
but color is very dependent on water quality.
Algae-laden waters produce greener skin,
and tannic acid from overhanging trees
can often produce darker skin.

When cleaning dog pools,
some zookeepers can tread on dogs
without eliciting a response,
though cats almost invariably react aggressively
and are for the most part
more aggressive in their natural habitat.

From a Groupon offer page. Submitted by Patty Kay Mooney.