Recent Posts

17 December 2015

You have parked so badly

You have parked so badly
making it very difficult for me
to get my car out.

Were you drunk?
You are certainly very selfish
and inconsiderate.

S. Banks.

A handwritten note left on the windscreen of a badly parked car in Bristol, UK. Submitted by Daniel Mehmet.

14 December 2015

Rust Belt Americana

Searching for Pittsburgh
Going there
To see if something comes next
Finding something
How to love the dead

A year later
Explicating the twilight
What is there to say?
A ghost sings, a door opens
The container for the thing contained

Older women
Carrying torches at noon
Tear it down

The white heart of God
Almost happy

From the title index of The Great Fires, Jack Gilbert (Alfred A Knopf, 2008). Submitted by Howie Good.

10 December 2015


We may come to the
sands through pathways cut in the
cliff, and the tide leaves

on these priceless shores
long lagoons which are
the delight of children’s hearts.

From a chapter on Holidays in Every Woman’s Enquire Within: A Complete Library and Household Knowledge for all Home-Loving Women, ed. A C Marshall (London: George Newnes Ltd). Estimated to be from the 1930s. Submitted by H L Foster.

08 December 2015

A modern gentleman

Carries house guests’ luggage to their rooms, breaks
a relationship face to face
has read ​Pride and Prejudice, demonstrates
that making love is neither a race
nor a competition. Never lets a door
slam in someone’s face, is unafraid
to speak the truth, arrives five minutes before,
possesses at least one dark suit, well-made.
Can undo a bra with one hand, has two
tricks to entertain children, can prepare
a bonfire, says his name when introduced,
cooks an omelette to die for. Knows that there
is always an exception to a rule;
avoids lilac socks, polishes his shoes.

From Revealed: The 39 steps to being a modern gentleman, The Telegraph, 28 October 2015. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

30 November 2015

The Great Illuminati Family


I am Sir Victor smith

I am one of the agents
Sent by the high priest
To bring as many of those who are interested in becoming a member of the Illuminati
To the great Illuminati temple.

I am a business man

I own companies all over the world but I was once like you

I could not even feed my family
What kind of life was that to live

I lived in poverty
Until I saw an opportunity
To be a member of the great Illuminati Family.

And I took my chances
And I have been a member for close to seven years now

Illuminati makes your business / careers grow
These and many more other benefits

So if you are interested write me via my mail:

Comment left in a website guestbook, found during moderation and not published, 2 August 2015. Submitted by Tim Benjamin.

26 November 2015

Soil, sand, dust

If anyone sees that sand or dust is falling on him,
then he will become very rich
and own a lot of property.

If he sees that he is walking in dust and sand
or he sees that he is loaded with the soil,
then he will have to toil much to get wealth
and he will get plenty of it.

If anyone sees that dust is suspended in the sky,
then it is a sign that his affairs
will become complicated.

If a person sees that he is digging the earth
and eating its oil
then he will be devouring wealth
with deceit and falsehood,
because “earth” means
a false religion.

A wilderness of horror
has the same interpretation.

From Interpretation of Dreams, Imam Muhammad Bin Sirin (Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission Nigeria, 1979). Submitted by Dale Wisely.

23 November 2015

And We Provided Frances Crammer Greenman with a Model

The telephone rang in the Newspaper Room. It was
Francis Crammer Greenman. A friend had just called
from the Library to tell her
that a type she had been looking for for a picture
was sitting in the Newspaper Room.
It was an old man with a beard.

Would the assistant hold him until she got there —
she was six blocks away?
The man had left.
But they thought he had gone to the Magazine Room.
The call was transferred: the man was found
by Reference in our room.
He stayed. She came.
They left together.

From the Daily Happenings log of the New York Public Library Reference Room, June 1952. Submitted by John FitzGerald.

19 November 2015

Louboutin pas cher

Sometimes weak
with your face about powerful creatures
their assailants, louboutin pas cher

Numerous times
for more information on forg louboutin
et the fear, forget escape

People call
this condition called scared no point
Qin Feng today, everywhere

In the such and all, in one state

Some Wordpress spam. Submitted by Ffion Lindsay.

16 November 2015


Remove all sharp objects from jumper!
Do not use when smoking!
Do not use with high blood pressure!
Do not use during pregnancy!
Do not use when suffering!
Do not use somersaults!
Use only bare foots!

The warning notice packaged with a trampoline kit from the Big Bounce trampoline company. Submitted by Emma Neale.

12 November 2015

Doing your duty!

I’m a patriotic husband,
you my patriotic wife,
lemme book into ya camp
and manufacture life.

Only financially secure adults
in stable, committed, long-term
relationships should participate.

A song encouraging Singaporeans to have more babies, reported in Baby Love, The Economist, 25 July 2015. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

09 November 2015

A holiday from time

It makes me remember
all the times we’ve been together
absolutely alone in some suspended hour
a holiday from Time
prowling about in those quiet places
alienated from past and future
where there is no sound save listening
and vision is an anesthetic…

When I see how handsome you are
my stomach will fall
with many unpleasant emotions
like a cake with too many raisins
and I will want to shut you up in a closet
like a dress too beautiful to wear.

A letter from Zelda Fitzgerald to her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1931. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

05 November 2015

I'm a Nurse with a Vice

off duty without a friend, a hobby to console me,
or the price of a cinema ticket, what can I do?

I enter a little shop down the road, furtively,
and ask the woman for my favourite brand.

I sneak back to my room and lock the door
against everyone. Then out comes the teaspoon

I filched from the dining room. I indulge in an orgy
of onions, gherkins, piccalilli, mustard and spice.

Yes, I finish the whole jar. Then I wash my hands,
clean my teeth, and can face the world. Maybe

it’s because pickles aren’t provided in our meals.
Or maybe my nature requires still more acid.

Mother says the vinegar will dry up my blood
and I’ll be preserved. But, oh, what a glorious end.

From a letter to an old edition of Woman magazine sent in by Miss J.D. Huddersfield of Yorkshire. Submitted by Angela Readman.

02 November 2015

When love goes cold

She was going out with him,
she was supposed to love him,
but she left him in the fridge
and let the council deal with the body.

Overheard in the street in a small city in southern England, 7 October 2015. Submitted by Mark Totterdell.

29 October 2015

Woman to woman

I know I am not the only woman in the world
with a sort of hurt feeling about fruit shops.

The windows are always so full of delicious
looking fruit. The rosiest of apples, succulent

black grapes, oranges and grapefruit that make
my mouth water. The greenest of watercress,

and sprightly mustard cress just ask for a plate
of thin bread and butter and a cup of strong tea.

Brussel sprouts are so neat and compact.
And every potato is round, neat and eyeless,

- just right to bake with half a dozen of its brothers.
Why is it then, when I get home with my basket

I find little shapeless many eyed potatoes, sprouts
dirty and loose-leaved, cress yellow and limp?

I know every fruit and vegetable can’t be perfect.
But I think some of the window fruit should get

into the shopping basket more often - in fact I know.

From a letter to Woman magazine sent in by Miss I.A.L Shields of County Durham, around the late 1940s. Submitted by Angela Readman.

26 October 2015

Violets and motorcycles

I started thinking about smell,
the strange olfactory world,

and made a collection
of evocative aromas.

Rubber, naphtha, motorcycle dope,
cuir de russe, gasoline, ammonia.

Juniper wood, styrax, patchouli,
frangipani, amber, myrrh, geraniol.

Opoponx, heliotrope, nardo
spikenard oil, civet, coumarin.

Where does karanal stand
in relation to tuberose?

Or sandalwood to sage?
Don't ask me.

From Scents and Sensibility by Brian Eno, Details magazine, July 1992. Submitted by Dale Wisely.

24 October 2015

A nice place to visit

Mommy, the universe
is such a big scary place,

says the little girl with red hair.
Oh, yes, it is such a big scary place,
says the red-headed mother
of the little girl with red hair.
But don't worry, dear,
we're not going there.

Overhead while exiting the Hayden Planetarium, New York City. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

21 October 2015

Not given to imagination

Mummy, I’m not afraid to die.
Why do you talk of dying
and you so young
do you want a lollipop?

No, but I shall be with Peter and June.

Mummy, let me tell you about my dream last night.
Darling, I’ve no time now. Tell me again later.

No, Mummy, you must listen.
I dreamt I went to school
and there was no school there.
Something black had come down all over it.
You mustn’t have chips for supper for a bit.

The next day off to school went her daughter
as happy as ever.
In the communal grave she was buried
with Peter on one side
and June on the other.

Dialogue from an account of 10-year-old Eryl Mai's premonition of the 1966 Aberfan avalanche disaster, via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

20 July 2015

A year ago last September

A YEAR AGO LAST SEPTEMBER TWO ladies with a child
were travelling on the Hudson River cars,
one of whom offered a seat to a middle aged gentleman
with light whiskers or goatee

slightly gray, who kindly pointed out to her
the red leaved trees
and said he had a number of them on his place
and made himself otherwise agreeable;

and when she was leaving him
(ten miles this side of where he stopped)
gave her a parting embrace, which she has never
been able to forget.

A personal ad from the New York Herald, 25 January 1862. Via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

16 July 2015

This shawl

This shawl is brand new and has never been used. If you have just given birth to a new baby girl or boy or you are expecting a new baby and you are looking for that extra special shawl to bring your new baby home from the hospital then this could be the very shawl you could be looking for. It measures 72 inches in diameter and is made from white baby double knitting wool and was hand crocheted by myself. If you are going to have your new baby christened then this will make a really beautiful christening shawl. Just think when you will be taking pictures of your new baby the shawl would look lovely with your baby laying down on it or you could spread it over the back of a settee with your baby sitting up or laying down it would look really adorable in the background. The shawl has a really beautiful pattern which starts off in the center with a number of rows which looks like a spider web design. Then followed by 16 pretty pineapple designs with a "v" shape pattern above each of the pineapple designs. Then after that there are 16 lacy designs which are inbetween the "v" shape patterns followed by another 16 pretty pineapple designs which are slighty larger than the other row with 16 pineapple designs with another 16 "v" shape patterns above each of the pineapple designs. Then after that there are another 16 "v" shape designs that are inbetween each of the 16 larger pineapple designs with a lacy pattern inbetween each of the "v" shape designs. Then finally there is a beautiful frilled edging which really sets the shawl off. If you look closely at the design of the shawl you will see on 4 of the rows there are cluster stitches inbetween the pattern design which is unusual. This is a very large shawl and will look really beautiful on your baby boy or girl and will keep he or she lovely and warm when you will be taking he or she out for a walk in the pram. A lot of shawls being sold today in various baby shops only measure up to about 45 inches my shawl is half that size again so it is a very large shawl. It is made from 100% white acrylic baby double knitting wool and can be either hand washed or machine washed on a delicate program. As soon as payment is made the shawl will be sent out to you the same day or the next working class day by 1st. class recorded delivery. Thank you for looking and why not take a look at the other baby items i have for sale

An Ebay item description, saved from many years ago. Submitted by Jain Gawne.

13 July 2015

Personal Call



I just wondered

what your middle name


My middle name?


I haven't got one,


I've got a confirmation name


that's not really an official name


that's Mary.


same as mine.

Alright, Susan.

Thank you.

From Kate Bush’s interview on Personal Call, a BBC Radio 1 phone in, 1979. Submitted by Luke Bailey.

09 July 2015

A brutal nadir

I took my seat
at the microfilm reader
and began to scroll
through the archives.

For the first hundred years,
as far as I could tell,
all that happened in America
was that various people
named Nathaniel
had purchased land
near rivers.

I scrolled faster,
finally reaching an account
of an early Colonial-era shaming.

On July 15, 1742,
a woman named Abigail,
her husband at sea,
had been found
"naked in bed
with one John Russell."

They were to be
"whipped at the public post
20 stripes each."

was appealing the ruling,
but it wasn’t the whipping itself she wished to avoid.
She was begging the judge
to be whipped early,
before the town awoke.

From How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life by Jon Ronson, New York Times Magazine, 12 February 2015. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

06 July 2015

Jeep for sale

Calls only, I don't do mores code
I don't text
be a man and call me.

No title no title no title
don ask

yes it is a 1986
so yes
it may have some rust
if that bugs dont buy it
that how It is

no you may not come work on it
if you buy it take it home do what you want
may run May not,
i don't know

Will not drive jeep to your place
no joy rides
no cash no test drive

Trades welcome
need to be man stuff
no toy race cars,
or over price atvs,
or rolls of used carpet
or doll houses
no junk

Jeep not for a teenage girl's first jeep,
jeep built to be driven by a man

offers ok.

From Craigslist sales posts, Charlotte, NC, July 2014. Submitted by Carlos Pelay.

02 July 2015


In this quiet inlet,
some eddy has collected
and drowned at the bottom
of the mire, now turned into marl,
enormous heaps of shells
of every shape and size.
It is a molluscs' burying ground
with hills for tumuli.

I dig up oysters a cubit long
and weighing five or six pounds a piece.
One could shovel up in the immense pile,
Scallops, Cones, Cylheridae,
Mactridae, Murices,
Turretellidae, Mitridae
and others too numerous,
too innumerable to mention

You stand stupefied before the vital ardour
of the days of old, which was able
to supply such a pile of relics
in a mere nook of earth.

Taken from an account by Jean-Henri Fabre on fossils in The Faber Book of Science edited by John Carey (Faber & Faber, 1995). Submitted by Taidgh Lynch.

29 June 2015

Tell him we love him

He has just gone in.
I am on a chair just outside.
The nurse promised to hold his hand.

They do it in the theatre
but I expect he will be sedated.
Others coming out have been.

Done. Full sedation.
I am with him in recovery.
He is snoring.

In the waiting area.
They will give him tea and toast.
He is a bit unsteady at the moment.

Everything ok.

Text replies from a hospital waiting room to messages expressing concern. Submitted by Angi Holden.

25 June 2015

auto-destructive art

Man In Regent Street
is auto-destructive.
Rockets, nuclear weapons,
are auto-destructive.
Auto-destructive art.

The drop

of HH bombs.

Not interested in ruins, (the picturesque)

Auto-destructive art
re-enacts the obsession with destruction, the pummeling to which individuals and masses are subjected.
Auto-destructive art
demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them.
Auto-destructive art
mirrors the compulsive perfectionism of arms manufacture - polishing to destruction point.
Auto-destructive art
is the transformation of technology into public art.

The immense productive capacity, the chaos of
capitalism and of
Soviet communism,
the co-existence of surplus and starvation;

the increasing stock-piling of nuclear weapons - more than enough to destroy technological societies;

the d i s i n t e g r a t i v e effect of machinery and of life in vast built-up areas on the

Auto-destructive art
is art
which contains within itself an agent which automatically leads to its destruction
within a period of time not to exceed twenty years.

Other forms of
auto-destructive art
involve manual manipulation.

There are forms of auto-destructive art where
the artist
has a tight control over the nature and timing of

and there are other forms where the artist's control is slight.

Materials and techniques used in creating
auto-destructive art

Acid, Adhesives,
Canvas, Clay, Combustion, Compression, Concrete, Corrosion, Cybernetics,
Elasticity, Electricity, Electrolysis,
Heat, Human Energy,
Light, Load,
Mass-production, Metal, Motion Picture,
Natural Forces, Nuclear Energy,
Paint, Paper, Photography, Plaster, Plastics, Pressure,
Sand, Solar Energy, Sound, Steam, Stress,
Water, Welding, Wire, Wood.

From Gustav Metzler selections, extracted 18 May 2015. Submitted by David Verghese.

22 June 2015

The very last of something

Sudan doesn’t know how precious he is,
his eye a sad black dot in his wrinkled face
his head a marvellous thing, a majestic rectangle
of strong bone and leathery flesh,
a head that expresses pure strength.
How terrible that such a mighty head
can be so vulnerable, lowered melancholically
beneath the sinister sky, as if weighed down by fate.
This is the noble head of an old warrior,
armour battered, appetite for struggle fading.

From A picture of loneliness: you are looking at the last male northern white rhino by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 12 May 2015. Submitted by Angi Holden.

18 June 2015

The Laughter-Lover

Why weren’t you lying down heads-up?
The best and most famous doctors in the city ordered me to sleep like this.

How do you know he’s not coming in by the other gate?
When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?

Time, my good man, to mix me some dark wine.
I’m not thirsty.
Do me the favor while I’m still alive.
How long were their necks, that they could drink from something so deep!
Have my dinner-clothes sent here.
Since you’re under an oath, here’s the fifty thousand. But throw in for free a small casket, in case I need it for my son.

Now you’re mad that you found me screwing your mother for the first time ever!
So is she your daughter?
(You have no clue who your real father is.)
First murder your own children and then tell me to kill mine:
Father, you eat the children; I’ll take mother.
(It’s polite to call her Ma’am.)
She was a fighter.
What made you do it?

The time will come when I’ll build a threshing-floor so big that I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to see me.
I got something I wasn’t bargaining for:
Me, now that I’m alone –
Thanks to buddies like you!
(Look after them well.)
There are a few fire-logs still left. If you want to stop suffering, get yourself cremated on them.
Because you love me.

But what if the boy dies during the night and I lose my fee?
(If he had lived, he would have been all of those things!
If he were guilty of all that, he should have been cremated while still alive.)
What’s your rate for the night?
You can choose. But we don’t have a crumb.
Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the doctor?
Alas, what shall I do? I am torn betwixt two evils!

Punchlines from the earliest known joke book, the Philogelos, attributed to Hierocles and Philagrios. Translated by John T. Quinn. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

15 June 2015

Which Of These Fires From The Fire Catalogue Would You Like For Your Birthday?

(#3) the perpetual house-hold fire?
(#4) consecrated fire taken from the house-hold fire and placed in the east side?
(#7) powerful, mighty fire?
(#8) the fire that destroys?
(#9) the classical fire, belonging to the world of men?
(#10) the old or ancient fire, the fire pertaining to the stomach?
(#11) the entwining fire?
(#17) the calm, peaceful, serene fire?
(#20) the luminous, pure, brilliant fire?
(#21) the fire who is the priest?
(#22) the great, auspicious fire?
(#24) the fire consisting of wealth, or of good things?
(#26) the fire which is ethereal?
(#27) the conveyor of virtuous persons to heaven?

. . .the fire of time?
the fire of hunger?
the cold fire?

the fire of anger?

the fire of knowledge?

Fires conveying the sacrificial butter in Section VII of the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata, selected from Variants of Agni, Wikipedia, extracted 3 April 2015. Submitted by Maya Surya Pillay.

12 June 2015

The Seven Deadly Chairs



From a notice at the Central Methodist Church, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 17th March 2015. Exactly as it appeared. Submitted by Tim Benjamin.

10 June 2015

Unexpected item in bagging area

Do you have a Nectar card?
System can be frustrating to some shoppers.
Are you using your own bags?
Growth is projected to steadily rise.
Keep customers happy.
Approval required.

Your call is currently number six in the queue. Please continue to hold.
Reduce the length of checkout lines and wait times.
Your call is very important to us, please hold.
Minimizing the stress on employees.
We are currently experiencing high call volumes.
Please call back later or continue to hold.

Please insert cash, or select payment type.
The salaries of multiple cashiers can quickly add up.
Notes are dispensed below the scanner.
Lower overhead costs.
Providing customers with the service they need.

Many customers don’t feel comfortable with the process:
Dealing with a faceless machine.
Customers enjoy a brief conversation,
Prefer to have a one-on-one interaction with cashiers.
Thank you for using Sainsbury’s self-checkout.

A combination of automated voice commands from self-service checkouts and telephone answering services, and The Pros and Cons of Using Self-Checkouts by Nick Mann, business Bee. Submitted by Andrew Walton.

08 June 2015

The Lady is a Tramp

It happened incrementally
I needed the dough
I was in a lot of trouble
I went to the library
I needed to come up with 40 bucks
to get my kitty’s, Doris’s, tests back.

I took a couple of Fanny Brice letters
slipped them in my sneakers
sold them to a place called Argosy.
They would pay more for better content.
A big white space at the bottom of a letter
after, 'yours truly, Fanny Brice’
I got an old typewriter
I wrote a couple of hot sentences
improved the letter and elevated the price.

“I have a hangover out of Gounod’s Faust”
“canny old Kraut remains one of my most cherished friends”
“a bright, talented actress,
quite attractive since she dealt
with her monstrous English overbite.’’

larky and fun and totally cool

Is it absolution she’s seeking, or admiration?

On and off welfare,
a horror beyond my talent to describe
My most enduring memory
is the odour in the elevators:
eau de desperation!

From Lee Israel, literary forger - obituary, The Telegraph, 24 February 2015. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

05 June 2015

Good old-fashioned idealism

It was winter,
and I went outside.

I said, ‘World,
I’m immortal.
I’ll always exist.
But you only exist because I see you.

If you don’t give me anything,
I won’t give you anything.’

Friedrich Liechtenstein being interviewed in Once an Ornamental Hermit, Now a German Media Darling by Sally McGrane, The New York Times, 25 July 2014. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

03 June 2015

Road Atlas

Austin, Waco, West, San Antonio
Carlsbad, Aztec, Shiprock, Tucumcari
Laredo, Lubbock, Winnie, Amarillo
Cortez, Santa Fe, Vail, Mesa Verde
Dime Box, Bellville, Waxahatchie, Reno
Abilene, Dalhart, Nogales, Yuma
Houston, Dallas, Kayenta, El Paso
Mexican Hat, Show Low, Heber, Ozona
Jerome, Sedona, Grants, Truckee, Tahoe
Chinle, Tuba City, Prescott, Parker
San Jose, Monterrey, Palm Springs, Pueblo
Boulder, Tucson, Flagstaff, Port Arthur
Texas, New Mexico, and then Arizona
Colorado, Utah, on to California

Places in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and California from the National Geographic Road Atlas 2001: USA, Canada, Mexico, Deluxe ed. (, 2000). Submitted by James Brush.

01 June 2015

Blind Man's Bluff

It may be some days before
relatives or nursing staff
stumble onto the fact that the patient
has actually become sightless.

The patient ordinarily does not
volunteer the information
that he has become blind,
but he furthermore misleads
his entourage by behaving
and talking as though he were sighted.

Attention is aroused, however,
when the patient is found to collide
with pieces of furniture, to fall
over objects, and to experience
difficulty in finding his way around.
He may try to walk through a wall
on his way from one room to another.

Suspicion is still further alerted
when he begins to describe people
and objects around him, which,
as a matter of fact, are not there at all.

MacDonald Critchley on Anton–Babinski syndrome, extracted 13 February 2015. Submitted by Howie Good.

29 May 2015

Death in the afternoon

My body is falling apart, he said
He shaved meticulously
He forgot about his eyes and ears
He smelled good

Bloody certificates
another barrier to impetuous action
in case of lovelorn despair, for example
ten minutes before noon

A sparkling, sunny day in late spring
We ate more cherries
Even he tasted one or two
and the angels looked quite grateful

No one talked about the next act
No one talked very much at all
The angels went for a walk around the garden
We stayed where we were, savouring the lovely day

Do you know what this is?
Do you know what will happen if you drink it?
Do you want me to give it to you?
Yes, I do. I will die.

His eyes shut, quietly
It’s over now
Goodbye then
I returned to the garden.

From 'I held his hand as he drank the fatal dose': the day my husband chose to die by Liesl Graz, The Guardian 7 February 2015. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

27 May 2015

Only God can make a tree

Genesis 1:11-12
Hosea 14:8

Now, there’s several different ways of making evergreens.
See? Just back and forth.
Back and forth, back and forth.
And you can just keep going on and on and on and on,
make as many branches on this tree as you want.
(Everybody knows, there’s five hundred branches on a evergreen tree,
So don’t put too many in there,
don’t overkill. . . .)
Back and forth, back and forth.
Leave some limbs out there;
you need places for the little birds to sit.
Little birds gotta have a place to put their foots.

From Bob Ross: Painting An Evergreen Tree, YouTube, 14 September 2009. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

25 May 2015


Look over there!...An antelope…






…stupid crocodiles?


…a lion??


…why not rabbits?


…an elephant


Come on if you dare, mighty buffalo!


Grrr! That’s us. Bold as brass. Keen as mustard.

Lines from Tintin in the Congo, Hergé (1930). Submitted by Cathy Barber.

23 May 2015

What They Don't Tell You

My mum doesn’t know who I am.
Sometimes I’m her sister.
Sometimes I’m her dead mother.
Once I was Shirley Bassey,
which made for an interesting evening.

I’d assumed we’d have lots of time
to get to know each other properly.
I was wrong. Instead of visiting coffee shops,
we ended up visiting the memory clinic.
It’s like going home with a newborn baby,
but with less support and no balloons.

They don’t tell you that she’ll hit you
as you coax her into the bath.
Neither do they tell you what nappies to buy
when she becomes incontinent,
how to persuade her to wear one
or stop her taking it off
and stashing it in a pillow case.

They don’t tell you what to do
when she thinks that the small boy
you pass on your walk is her grandson,
and tries to talk to him. Nobody tells you
how to placate the angry parents.

They don’t tell you that she’s never
going to phone you again, see you get married,
be a grandmother to your kids.
Nobody tells you how to channel the anger
you feel that your fellow thirtysomethings’ lives
now involve marriage, mortgages and children,
and yours revolves around a confused old lady
who doesn’t know who you are.
They’ve chosen their responsibilities;
you’d give anything not to have yours.

They don’t tell you that you’ll spend hours
trying to feed her a spoonful of hospital jelly
even though she’s pretty much given up on eating,
because you can’t just watch her starve.

It doesn’t matter how distraught you are
that she’s wasting away before your eyes,
or how much it upsets you to agree
to the doctor’s request for a DNR order;
this disease is relentless .

I’m still not sure how to feel about it
when there’s nothing tangible to mourn.
“Waking grief” someone called it.
When the person you knew is gone, but not gone.
But it’s not. It’s a waking, sleeping,
cloud of despair. But then nobody tells you
how to grieve either, do they?

Especially when there’s no funeral to go to.

From What they don't tell you about dementia by Dawn Vance, The Guardian 28 January 2015. Submitted by Angi Holden.

21 May 2015

Tying the March Brown

Catch in the wire rib
tie in the tails and bind down the loose ends
then trim, wax the thread to form
a tapered noodle of dubbing (in this case, hare).
Wind the dubbed thread to form the tapered body, then
take the rib forwards in evenly spaced wraps
catch in the Partridge feather by the tip
and wind the hackle.
One or two turns will suffice.

Instructions from fly fishing teacher Dave Wiltshire. Submitted by Sarah Watkinson.

19 May 2015

Steven Seagal is a Good Man

Steven Seagal is A Good Man. Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man.
Steven Seagal is The Patriot. Steven Seagal is The Foreigner. Steven Seagal is The Keeper.
Steven Seagal is Pistol Whipped. Steven Seagal is Submerged.
Steven Seagal is Submerged 2.
Steven Seagal is Out of Reach, Steven Seagal is Out for Justice, Steven Seagal is Out for a Kill.
(Out for Justice? Steven Seagal is a Mercenary for
(Out for a Kill? Steven Seagal is Driven to Kill.
Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill.)
Steven Seagal is The Glimmer Man. Steven Seagal is the Shadow Man.
Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man. Steven Seagal is A Good Man.
Steven Seagal is My Giant.
Steven Seagal is A Good Man.

Titles of Steven Seagal films, as they appear on movie posters. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

26 February 2015


Body collapsing in on itself
A bowed head
Shoulders curling over chest
Angling torso away from others
Uncontrollable shuddering or shivering
Hair hanging in face, hiding the eyes
A downward gaze
A flushed face
Hitching chest
Eyes dull, lifeless
Pulling down a shirt hem
Hands clutching at stomach
Covering face with hands
Bottom lip or chin trembling
Throat bobbing
Arms falling to sides, lifeless
Uncontrolled tears
Flinching from noise or from being touched
Huddling, crouching
Neck bending forward
Movement is slow, jerky
Knees locked tight together
Cold sweat
Stumbling, staggering
Backing up against a wall
Sliding into a corner
Hands gripping elbows
Pigeon toes
Sobs trapped in throat
Drawing knees up to the body's core
Wrapping arms around self
Runny nose

From The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (2012), page 90. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

24 February 2015

Theme IV

A false alarm,
caught in the act:
A joke on me,
my peculiar mistake.
The stalled car,
my experience
in a strange Sunday school.
The experiment I never repeated,
nearly on the rocks.

Essay writing prompts from English Composition Book One by Stratton D. Brooks (American Book Company, 1911). Submitted by Alex Albright.

12 February 2015

Hello I am also bored

I'm at home all by my lonesome,
reading and waiting a little while
before I brush my teeth
and go to bed.

I could go for some conversation
if you're interested.
Don't much have
a particular topic in mind.

I worked ten hours today
and ate Taco Bell for dinner.

Do you like stuff?
Do you hate stuff?

Things? Place, people, ideas?
For/against any topic?

Want to discuss
the weather?

I'm all eyes for what you have to say.
Hope to hear from you.

From Craigslist Strictly Platonic, 23 December 2014. Submitted by Erica Tucker.

10 February 2015

Jamdani Weavers

A bead of sweat rolls down my face;
I am struck by the silence. The air
is hushed and filled with concentration.

On the banks of the Lakshya
master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking
sweat at their bamboo looms.
The men are shirtless. The women rest
their arms on cheap white cotton,
protecting the delicate muslin.

Hands interlace silky gold thread
into sheer cloth the colour of oxblood.

Around us turquoise, yellow and white billows
in the breeze that – like a cool blessing –
comes off the river through latticed bamboo walls.

Motifs – jasmine, marigolds, peacock feathers –
neither embroidered nor printed,
are painstakingly sewn by hand.

Children of the loom, taught by their fathers:
strong backs and magic fingers. Dedication.

From The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand by Caroline Eden, BBC News Magazine, 14 December 2014. Submitted by Angi Holden.

06 February 2015


Just when we thought some
of the old annoyances
of the 20th century
had died out, they come
roaring back
and intensified like the government

dug up their corpses
and stuffed them with hydraulics
and, like, RAM sticks
and shit, and turned
them into deadly cybernetic warriors.
They didn't die.
They were waiting.
They were adapting.
They. Were. Evolving.

They've returned,
fortified by modern technology,
designed to annoy us anywhere,
and at the convenience of
the person who wants to annoy us.

From 4 Obnoxious Behaviors The Modern World Made Worse by Luis Prada, Cracked, 11 December 2014. Submitted by Kenn Merchant.

To integrate into society

To integrate into society
The difficulties of adapting
A kind deed
To exploit
To take advantage of
To belong to
To be a part of
A war
An opposing argument
A profit
A benefit
To educate

English translations from a French class vocabulary list. Submitted by Mim Beech.

04 February 2015

Trinity Tanka

I am become Death
We made a terrible thing
Destroyer of Worlds
What are you moping about?
We’re all sons of bitches now.

A collection of quotations from Manhattan Project physicists on the occasion of the first ever atomic explosion, the Trinity Test in Los Alamos in 1945. Lines attributed to Richard Feynman, Bob Wilson and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

28 January 2015

Beijing Brush

Brushes the wool smoothly sift,
full is not tightly easy
to fall off wool,
bright, rich, the touch is gentle
may with ease brush the cosmetics
evenly frivolous
naturally has just right.

The color nature easy to stick
to the silt, but sweeps the powder
evenly, lasting durable,
with the flesh close-fitting,
makeup effects on a more refined
and delicate, presents the perfect
tidal current cosmetics.

Blurb on the cardboard wrapping of a retractable makeup brush from China. Submitted by Cathy Bryant.

22 January 2015

Wholesome Nation

Too few countries
in the world
have chosen
a vegetable
to be their national symbol

but Wales chose the leek

From something that came from The Sacred Kitchen by Robin Robertson and Jon Robertson (New World Library, 1999). Submitted by Melanie Barbato.

20 January 2015

In the Shadow of Selene

There’s a thing about being alone
there’s a thing about being lonely
they’re two different things.

I was alone
I was not lonely.
I was very used to being by myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Far from feeling lonely
or abandoned
I feel very much a part of what is taking place
(I don’t mean to deny
a feeling of solitude.)

It is there,

reinforced by the fact ... I am alone now
and absolutely isolated
from any (known) life.

If a count were taken,
the score would be:
three billion (plus two)
over on the other side
One (plus
God knows what else...)
on this side.

That was the best part of the flight.

From Al Worden: 'The loneliest human being', BBC, 2 April 2013, and Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009). Submitted by Daniel Galef.

16 January 2015

Like Robert Frost

We have agreed to let the electric company trim some trees.
If they come when you are there

let them
Ensure they leave the wood behind.

Get them to put the small bits
behind the hazel bush

where the rest of the prunings are.
Try and get a card

from the wood cutter,
we have other trees

we’d like him to look at.
Don’t use the pump in the spring

for more than twenty minutes,
and meanwhile remember

to water everything if God
is not doing his fair share.

A note left for new guests by the owners of a holiday cottage in Brittany, 16 September 2014. Submitted by Nigel Lawrence.

14 January 2015


January. The days
are short but dramatic scenes
await the hardy.

From the Great British Year poster, Open University. Submitted by Uschi Gatward.

07 January 2015

Mysteries of Carrados

“Two left shoes" he remarked encouragingly.
"And an equally devastating sight of two practically blind states in America".

Smiling broadly, they were leaving like a airship. The war is
(P20) always exciting.

In a harmless war he had not had time to dig light that is
confidential on Monday afternoon.

I suppose you knew it was not out at sea, took it for granted.
Our submarine is echoing all which was expedient for a well-
(P40) known lady employer.

"What course for the news?", replied the girl. "Can I see who
had been asked out?" The man will tell you anything and rather
gratuitously it seemed.

Carrados could watch them licking. When the answer here
should be paid no attention until this chair is vacant and the
(P71) room without a word; like a shaken hand.

Murder something with one mistake. He will never notice a
strange message of misgiving had no difficulty in finding her.

A little attempt now to hear there's nothing like a good
testimony in a low voice. No photograph possessing
(P95) identification is unnaturally white.

It was the first time an empty chair splashed like a moments
worry. The most difficult alibi forgotten in case you cared and
nothing else at first.

It was the faintest idea to come prompted on the bare earth
(P114) followed through seriously simple explanation.

He would like to see time from just one window. Drink this
garden and assist melancholy admiration before the seal of

And the angel looked at me. A dazzling thing. The lady of
simultaneous voices rising in the dead of night without the
(P133) remotest hope to prick up their ears.

Interment, there in the dark. Unique mothers of the coming generation.

More happened if they could be drawn into the now vigorous soil.

That was plainly so much. So the giant in charge within
(P156) straightened spirits on that heart-throbbed dead weight,

His face was not her husband and children didn't know his wife.
You can hear a very intoxicated man a mile away. You must not
ask him sometime about when the paper said you could give
me an idea.

(P174) I wish I'd known. The blind and the first people who were not a
painting gave him the details of the letters.

Burning the place down was his way to be the victim.
To be spread:

(P189) Afraid to trust silent and deserted streets.

We used to have just coffee and water beetles. The very
opposite of money before our faces of pink.

(P198) A plague that furnished nightmares with quick feeling.

Touching, I appreciate onions...

As we are shrank back into fluency. The dirty appetite too near.

Hard-cased sleeping inside the dynamo to transform
(P212) mechanical force into quiet professional clatter.

The cigar that made the alibi unconvincing and the man it might blind.

To outwit five senses of old. His eyes were open, voice ingenious.

I should advise of traffic mentally described. To get some reason in the five minutes that they had atmosphere.

His mind was an inexhaustible hunger. A dish of water to be left at night. No means of stopping the leak it seems.

(P237) And for god's sake, don't stop there.

From Max Carrados Mysteries, Ernest Bramah (Penguin 1964). A hole was drilled through the book and words taken consecutively from every page, next to the hole. Punctuation and capitalisation added, some page numbers displayed. Created and submitted by Winston Plowes.

02 January 2015

The Eternal One is

Straight, upright.
Right, proper, correct.
Exact, standardized, just so.
Primary, chief, main.
Pure, unmixed.
Placed or situated in the middle.
Just now, right now.
Puts right, rectifies.

Translingual definitions of the character 正 . Submitted by Daniel Galef.