Recent Posts

29 December 2011


I am the coat
I am the jumper
I am the coat
I am the jumper

I am the magic dress

Signs in the window of French Connection in Newcastle, spotted on the 17th October 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

22 December 2011

I decided not to save the world

It is of utmost importance
that we repeat our
mistakes as a reminder to
future generations of
the depths of our stupidity

An advert for an exhibition at the Tate Modern, spotted on Jonny Baker's blog on 16th December 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

20 December 2011

Shoreham harbour

In the harbour a single Guillemot
and two Purple Sandpipers roosting
with Turnstones on the inner wooden breakwater
and Peregrine sitting in the nest box
on the Power Station chimney.

Widewater; I searched the entire length
of the beach from the flats to the sailing club
without finding the Snow Buntings once again.

On the beach a single Rock Pipit
and twenty-four Sanderling, off shore little other 

than a few regular gulls.

From the Sussex Ornithological Society, a Recent Sightings post by Bernie, 12 Dec 2011. The post has been topped and tailed, and the word 'very' removed from line 10. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

15 December 2011

Papa Don't Shoot

"Papa rushed into the room”
Rola El-Halabi
told the newspaper. "He threatened us with
a gun in his hand and shouted
‘Everyone out!’ And then he shot me
in the hand from three meters.
I cried and screamed."

Bild reported that El-Halabi split
from her stepfather as a manager
in January. “When I had problems
I could talk with him about anything,
except when it was about boys,”
El-Halabi said.
“That was taboo.”

Taken from a news story on April 3, 2011 about a female boxer in Germany, shot in the hand by her stepfather before a bout. Submitted by Marika Rose.

13 December 2011

The Passenger and the Privy

I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station
and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit.
I am therefor went to privy.

Just I doing the nuisance that guard
making whistle blow for train to go off
and I am running with LOTAH in one hand
and DHOTI in the next

when I am fall over and expose all shocking
to man and female women on platform.
I am got leaved Ahmedpur station.

This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung
that dam guard not wait train minutes for him.
I am therefor pray your honour to make big fine
on that guard for public sake.

Otherwise I am making big report to papers.

A letter of complaint sent in 1909 to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in West Bengal. Source: New Delhi Railway Museum, via Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

08 December 2011

Insects In General

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failures unless
it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Taken from a letter by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 12-year-old daughter Scottie, away at summer camp. Submitted by Marika Rose.

06 December 2011

The Complaining Lunch Queue Riposte

However the children complain
that they have to wait
they are hungry
they have less choices
they should even not have to wait
because they have their own lunch—
maybe this is all done deliberately
maybe temporarily
in order to teach them patience.

Why not?
They are not starving to death.
Should everything be easy?
Life is not like that.

Personally I trust the school.

From a Google groups message written by a parent at my child's primary school. He wrote it as a reply to a stream of complaints from other parents that their children were having to wait too long to get their lunch. Commas removed. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

29 November 2011

Chickens on bikes

Things like boiling water, lizard watching,
mosquito nets, thorns in my shoes, wearing
skirts and t-shirts all the time, waking at
five AM, seat feeling sweaty, hearing
spoken Swahili, admiring cornrows,
dirt tracks and colourful markets and snacks
that all seemed so new when I first arrived,
now just feel normal. Glass pop bottles, old
Tsh notes, mud brick houses, chickens on bikes,
Karibu, men at bus stations, heat, dust,
colourful buses and dala-dala
and colourful clothes, rice and beans, insect
repellant, hot showers heated by the sun,
watering the garden morning and night,
African singing, mangos and pawpaw,
taking antimalarials, buying
green vegetables for the girls low in 

iron, frogs, owls, feeding chickens … I got 
that challenged feeling again today,
of having practical skills to offer.

For those of you 

expecting a blog
on South Africa, 

well, what can I say?
They did show G.I. Jane 

twice in four days.

From the individual blog posts of a married couple, separated by 3,000 km in Africa: the first verse is from Sarah's blog post about her experiences in Tanzania, while Luke is working in Johannesburg, his article providing the last six lines. The marvellous decasyllabic rhythm has been maintained by the removal of four little words, and phrases in lines 15-16 have been swapped over. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

24 November 2011

I love you and I

I love you and I
will be screaming with my love
from San Jose.

Taken from an MSN conversation, 4th November 2011. Submitted by Devin.

22 November 2011

Plowing at high knottage

Plowing at high knottage
through time itself
even in stasis

Plowing temporally ahead

With time coming off him
like water in sprays and wakes.

From endnote 57 in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, (Little, Brown and Company, 1996). First published on Zach Higgins Is A Designer. Submitted by Zach Higgins.

17 November 2011

Soon enough came fearfulness

Once she was born
I was never not afraid:

afraid of swimming pools,
high-tension wires,
lye under the sink,
aspirin in the medicine cabinet…

rattlesnakes, riptides, landslides,
strangers who appeared at the door,
unexplained fevers, elevators without
operators and empty hotel corridors.

A paragraph in Joan Didion's Blue Nights, as quoted in the London Review of Books, 3rd November 2011. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

15 November 2011

God Bless America Yes I Believe

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Text picked from the front page of the website What Would Jesus Do? on 11 November 2011. Submitted by Lucie Shuker.

10 November 2011


I confess:

I have become 

a runner.

I go 




Like a 


Which is what 

I have become.

A running 


Forgive me.

Oh Christ.

Forgive me.

Taken from Charlie Brooker's Guardian column, 6th November 2011. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

08 November 2011


Lynsey Peterson likes we want
a Scottish flag on Facebook.

Anna Hammond Сака ли некој
да одиме во парк денес?

Rebecca Grohl commented on her own 

status: Ich bin eigentlich ueberfluess…

Luke Southey is listening to 

Que Veux-Tu by Yell on Spotify. 

Clive Law commented on Peter Meadow's
status: I always put too much red wine…

Natalie Southey and Ruth Garcia-Lopez
are now friends.

Russell Goodwin OMG!

From my Facebook friends latest activity stream (or whatever that short update column on the right is called) on 17 October 2011. Exactly the order in which they appeared, names altered for privacy. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

03 November 2011

Slip in their veins

I started as a boy
straight from school
in nineteen fifty
and I enjoyed my
twenty five years here.

It was almost like
a home from home, really.

It was always said
that potters had
in their veins
instead of blood.

That’s what we were.
We were potters.

Terry Abbotts, former Royal Doulton worker, interview in the BBC4 programme Ceramics: A Fragile History. The Age of Wedgwood, first broadcast 17th October 2011. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

01 November 2011

Never go to a horse race

Who loves a horse race?
Are not too many fond of it?
Does it not lead to many evils,
and to frequent ruin?
Never go to a horse race.

Mr. Mix had one child,
whom he called Irene;
he had also a good farm,
and some money.

He went to the races with his child,
dressed in black crape for the loss of her mother.
Here Mr. Mix drank freely,
and bet largely,
and lost all he was worth.

At night he went home a beggar;
took a dose of brandy,
and died before morning,
leaving his child a pennyless orphan.
Never go to a horse race.

From The Clinton Primer, 1830, via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

27 October 2011

Beneath Us

In a way it is even humiliating
to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you
a momentary doubt about your own status
as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior
person generally. For it is brought home to
you, at least while you are watching, that it is only
because miners sweat their guts out that superior
persons can remain superior. You and I
and the editor of the Times Literary
Sup., and the Nancy poets and the Archbishop
of Canterbury and Comerade X, author
of Marxism for Infants–all of us really
owe the comparative decency of our lives
to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes,
with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels
forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.

From George Orwell's 1937 book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' as cited on Fors Clavigera. Submitted by Marika Rose.

25 October 2011

Brooklyn, Brooklyn

You live very self-consciously, in Brooklyn.
Do you drink juice or coffee or eat vegetables?
How do you live with yourself
and your bourgeois lifestyle choices?
Have you ever grown a plant?

You monster, you
gentrifying Brooklyn monster.

Your plant is a symbol.
Punch that up on your sushi iPhone app
where you get your food from
in your new robot Brooklyn dystopia,
you invasive specie.

Do you like quirky things?

It's people like you
who are ruining the Brooklyn remembered
by old folks who sit on stoops
and provide readily available sound bites
about the days of old.

From the article Brooklyn is cool until you start reading about it in Gawker. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

20 October 2011


Habitual close-talker fogs up screen
with grub-related obfuscation.
Nation: whither Listerine?

Sarah Dempster's review of Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking, 16th October 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

18 October 2011

You just can't pitch behind

I had my at ‘em ball going today.
We’ve got to have fun. The catcher and I
were on the same wavelength. That’s why they pay
him x million dollars. Give the guy

some credit; he hit a good pitch. Yes. No.
You saw it … write it. You’re only as good
as your last game. I just wanted to go
as hard as I could as long as I could.

That All-Star voting is a joke. It takes
twenty-four players. I couldn’t have done it
without my teammates. With a couple breaks,
we win that game. I don’t get paid to hit.

Hey, we were due to catch a break or two.
I did my best, and that’s all I can do.

From Futility Closet: 'In 1990, weary of repetitive interviews, Phillies pitcher Don Carman posted this list of responses on his locker. “You saw the game,” he told reporters. “Take what you need.”' Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

13 October 2011

Remember This

Thanks to the girls for
a laugh-out-loud weekend
away. I will never forget
us walking into that bar
full of golfers when we
were dressed in our
white dressing gowns
and slippers.

A text message featured in the Metro newspaper's Good Deed Feed, 4th October 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

11 October 2011

No Comment

A large percentage of what you claim
happens to be astonishingly accurate
and it makes me ponder why I hadn’t
looked at this in this light previously.

This article really did turn the light
on for me as far as this specific
subject goes. But there is one point I am
not necessarily too cozy with

so whilst I make an effort to reconcile
that with the main theme of your point, permit
me to see exactly what all the rest
of your visitors have to point out.

A spam comment from the blog SmyWord. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

06 October 2011


Looks fab. Alas I
tame the feral youths
of Wythenshawe on Wednesdays.

Taken from a friend's facebook page, turning down an invitation on 3rd October 2011. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

05 October 2011


There are a lot of secret camera which
in my house,
in my toilet,
in my bedroom,
in my bathroom,
at my clothes
and in my eye glasses
from 2002 until now.
In turkey businessman
Yahya and his son Avni
spy me seven days and twenty-four hours.

I apply to public prosecutor
at many times.
But public prosecutor of turkey doesn’t
do something until now.

They know where I am
and my life is in hell
by the Yahya and Fetullah’s friends

they put urine of bottle on my road.
somebody drives car direct on me.
somebody threaten me sometimes.

I always see disabled human on my road.
thus they destroy my psychology.
prostitute always disturb me.
somebody blaspheme to my father and mother.
A lot of people laugh to me.

This psychology war
are done by Yahya in 2002-2006.
from the 2007 this psychology war
is done by the Fetullah and newspaper’s man
which name is Zaman.
Fetullah’s friends threaten me

I apply to prime minister TAYYİP,
president of the republic ABDULLAH,
Office of the prosecutor,
justice minister
and police department,

All of them didn’t do anything.
I want you to help me.


Bizarre email spam received on 26 September 2011, with last names removed to allow for the slim possibility that these are real people. Submitted by Tom Cashman.

29 September 2011

Mine Host

No thieves, fakirs, rogues or tinkers
No skulking loafers or flea-bitten tramps
No slap an' tickle o' the wenches
No banging o' tankards on the tables
No dogs allowed in the kitchen
No cockfighting

Fintlocks, cudgels, daggers and swords
to be handed to
the innkeeper for safe-keeping.

A poster spotted in a pub in Berwick upon Tweed, 25th August 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

27 September 2011

Faster than the speed of light

It is something
was expecting.

The constancy
of the speed of light
essentially underpins
our understanding
of space and time and
which is the fact that

Cause cannot come
after effect
and that is absolutely fundamental
to our construction of
the physical universe.

If we do not have
we are

The words of Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University, in the news article Faster than light particles found, claim scientists. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

22 September 2011

Model Code

Flick yer bean
For Agyness Deyn
Give us a blow
Daisy Lowe

Wham bam
Thank you Stam
My flies are undone
Lily Donaldson

I'm a tosser
For Coco Rocha
Fancy a screw
Behati Prinsloo

Do me daily
Christoper Bailey
Cause me pain
Hedi Slimane

Gareth Pugh
My legs are crossed
Georgia Frost

Grab my weiner
Give us a backhander
Rachel Alexander

Let's play naked Twister
Linda Evangelista
You would if you could
Cindy Crawford

I'll show you who's boss
Kate Moss
I've got more than a handful
For Naomi Campbell

Who needs a husband?
I've got House of Holland

T-shirt slogans from House of Holland's AW07 collection (under Catwalk>AW07 on the site). Submitted by Marika Rose.

20 September 2011

Bunny Mother


Bunnies are not permitted
to chew gum or eat while on duty.
Bunnies are not permitted
to drink alcoholic beverages
in the Club at any time.
Bunnies are not permitted
to drink soft drinks, lemonade
or even water in view of keyholders
and guests, but may drink these
nonalcoholic beverages behind the scenes.

Fifty dollars is paid to the finder
for the first Bunny she has referred.
The referred Bunny must be employed
for ninety calendar days.

Seventy-five dollars is paid to the finder
for the second Bunny she has referred …
Referred Bunny must be employed
for ninety calendar days.

One hundred dollars is paid to the finder
for the third Bunny she has referred …
Referred Bunny must be employed
for ninety calendar days.

Bunnies will keep the dressing room clean
and neat at all times.


General Manager, he's head man of your hutch.
Bunny Mother, she'll hire and train you,
coordinate your hours and supervise your work.

Overstaying break
(for each minute over limit),
one demerit (per minute).

Five to ten minutes, five demerits.
Eleven to fifteen minutes, six demerits.
Sixteen to twenty minutes, seven demerits.

Improper Appearance, such as:
unkept hair, improper makeup
(including too pale lipstick),
improper costume, unmatched
or shabby shoes, dirty
or unpolished fingernails,
five demerits.

Bunny ears not worn in center of head,
bent incorrectly, reporting without nameplate,
penlight, lighter or cash for cigarettes,
bikini panties showing or not worn,
unkept tail,
five demerits.

Bad Service, Improper Procedure, such as:
Not doing Bunny Dip,
not keeping tables clean,
not changing ashtrays,
five demerits.

Improper Conduct, such as:
Drinking any liquid in view of patrons,
chewing gum or eating in view of patrons,
infingement of smoking rules,
ten demerits.

Failure to attend Bunny Meeting,
twenty-five demerits.

The accumulation of thirty-five demerits
results in a personal interview
with the Bunny Mother.


Do arrive on time and look
your loveliest with your hair styled,
your nails freshly manicured
and your Bunny costume clean.

Do smile and be personable
to all those with whom you come into contact
during a promotional appearance.

Do stay in the company of a mixed
group, a couple or chaperone at all times.

Don't date the sponsor
of a promotion or someone
you meet at this promotion
while you are at a given promotion
for the specific promotional assignment.

Don't allow yourself to be
in a situation where complications arise.

Although we do not in any way try
to control your behaviour away from the club,
you must always conduct yourself
in a manner that can only bring credit
to your job and the other Bunnies
with whom you work.

(twist, watusi, bugaloo, etc
are examples of acceptable dances)

If you are doing a good job,
obeying the rules and giving
the gracious good service you are taught,
you need not concern yourself
about the fact that you are
from time to time shopped
by a shopping service representative.

Insubordination, fifteen demerits.




Good grooming starts with a daily bath
and good deodorant.

It is up to each Bunny to make sure
that a situation never occurs when
she does not have a clean, well fitting costume
including matching ears and shoes, clean
and fluffy cottontail, immaculate cuffs and collar,
proper hose, regulation undergarments,
Playboy cuff links, nameplate and bow tie.

Wigs and hair-pieces
can be a Bunny's best friend.

Keep in mind that our dimly lit rooms require
evening, glamour makeup for maximum flattery.
Skillful eye makeup includes the use
of shadow, liner and false lashes;
lipstick must be bright, vivid and highlighted
by lip-gloss to avoid a washed-out look.

Hose should be rinsed in cold water
and refrigerated before wearing
for extra service. To relieve tired feet,
soak them in a solution of epsom salt
and warm water for one half hour,
then elevate feet. Massage your legs
with an upward motion from ankles to thighs.
Try rolling your feet over an empty coke bottle.
Arch your back during costume fitting
for best possible fit.

The Bunny Mother has an open-door policy
and is always happy to talk with you.

Taken from The Playboy Club Bunny Manual, 1968. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

15 September 2011

He loves me?

That’s what I’ll do!
This’ll really cheer you up!
I’ll clip a clothes peg
to your tail!
And put rubber bands
around your ears!

DOG (looking up with sad eyes):
I’d rather be hurt
by you than loved
by anyone else.

A blog post on Faith and Theology, 4th September 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

13 September 2011

My Name Is

president. Jesse
Boston. Merry
Chicago. Max
Chicago. Della
Chicago. Hollie
San Bernardino.

Cambridge. Dick
and his son Dick
Junior, San Diego.
and his daughter Penny,
San Francisco.

Some of the members of the My-Name-Is-A-Poem Club, founded by journalist EV Durling in the 1940s. Found on Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

08 September 2011


I am on the seafront in Brighton, in 1994.
I have just told my best friend that
we shouldn't go out with each other.
'We were meant to be just friends,'
I am saying.
I have read about love in novels and am sure
I know all about it. This is one of the cleverest things
I have ever done.
I am 18.
I exhale my cigarette, like a grown-up. Here
I am four years later, on the same stretch of seafront
with the same friend.
We are on a bench. My head is in his lap.
We are talking about what to call
our baby in my belly. My wedding dress is in a bag at
our feet.
We get married in three days. Since
we were last here,
I have learnt that
I knew nothing at the age of 18.
I know now that love can be a quiet, sure thing
– like the first April sun on
your arms – and not the pyroclastic blast
I was waiting for. In 19 hours,
we will find out that the baby
is dead. The grief that is coming for
us has five blades on each hand: it will fall on
us like a blizzard, and leave
us on the floor.
We will weep on
our honeymoon in Ullapool – so lost
I could not tell you if it did rain at all,
that time. At the time,
I thought the deep-sea pressure of sorrow was
so great, it would crush
my heart smaller, for ever.
I was sure I knew everything about it.

Taken from Caitlin Moran's column for the Saturday Times on 20th August, 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

01 September 2011

If this is love

Back when I was five, I used to stick yellow Hula
Hoops on my fingers and pretend to be engaged. Tiny
hands all salty, our big maroon-grey rescue Mastiff
– a girl, like me – licked them clean. Bundled in duffel
coats and balaclavas we’d meet Dad at Seal Sands
after work, watch the black-footed Little Stints wade
in the froth by the pipeline.

Dad had a stroke in the year that Lady had her first
litter. The nurse taught me to inject Lovenox (“if this is
love,” we’d grimace) straight into his stomach. He
was so angry, that’s what kept him with us so long.

But last year, we threw Dad’s ashes on the Estuary,
and skimmed stones after him.

I love walking by water, talking to him.

In pink jeans, walking Lady’s daughter (all grey now)
by the chilly inlet off Scotts Road, I catch a sapphire
sparkle – steel hoops and a furled wire net – “Planet’s
Biggest Public Art Project”, the Gazette said. Far
across the water, in silhouette, one giant loop is a
half-inch circlet. My ring finger fits right inside it.

Gallery texts written to accompany an exhibition by Annie O'Donnell, taken from a conversation with Becky Hunter. Submitted by Marika Rose.

30 August 2011

On the accidental death of Frank O'Hara

Dear Ketchuplover,

well, these freaky things happen.
Poets have had more
ridiculous deaths than that.

We urge you not to blame anyone.
We are sure Mr. O'Hara was
humongously drunk on that evening.

But it was definitely a big loss.

From a comment by user revistamododeusar on the YouTube video of Frank O'Hara reading one of his poems. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

25 August 2011

Of godly life and sound learning

Totter legged and pilled priest; stinking
knave priest; scurvy, stinking, shitten boy;
Polled, scurvy, forward, wrangling priest;
Runagately rogue; prick-eared rogue;
Drunken-faced knave; copper-nose priest;
Wrangler and prattler; Scottish jack;
Jack sauce and Welsh rogue; black-coat knave.

Insults suffered by members of the clergy in 16th and 17th century Britain, taken from a review of The Plain Man’s Pathways to Heaven: Kinds of Christianity in Post-Reformation England, 1570-1640 by Christopher Haigh. Submitted by Marika Rose.

23 August 2011


It's got a big yellow dog,
sharks, a dead dugong,
attracted millions of viewers
on YouTube and you couldn't
make it up.

From the Reuters story about a recent viral YouTube clip, Dog Bites Shark. Submitted by Christian.

18 August 2011

Clothes make the man

Naked people have
little or no influence
on society.

Mark Twain, quoted in 'High and Mighty' shop window in Newcastle, spotted 18 August 2011. A perfect senryu. Submitted by Marika Rose.

16 August 2011

Don't cry for me Vancouver

This is not us
Born and bred in Vancouver
Remember this, the morning after

Why did you trash my downtown backyard?
Such a beautiful city
Destroyed by such a few

Shame shame, double shame
Where does this anger and hate come from?
A riot in the city of love

We are so much more than this
These are not the fans we need or deserve
I wish we could have been better

When you talk about destruction
You know you can count me out

You will pay, somewhere, somehow

The city belongs to us
The people whose words are on the walls
I am proud to walk around the morning after

And see everybody clean
What a few people destroyed
Love can save us, only love

Vancouver sigue de pie
Te amo hermosa cuidad
Better luck next year boys

A compilation of phrases written spontaneously on window boarding by Vancouverites who were cleaning up after the Stanley cup riot on 15 June 2011. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

09 August 2011

The Sample

I want a specimen of your urine.
I have my own syringe.

I had a suckling brother,
who died at the most tender age.
The beast had a human body,
the feet of a buck, and
a horn on its head.
The corpse will be taken to Tonga.

Because I was out buying a pair of wooden shoes,
I had yams and fish for two days,
and then I ate fern roots.
At what time were these branches
eaten by the rhinoceros?

I don't play the violin, but I love cheese.

'Useless phrases drawn from actual phrasebooks by Swedish linguist Mikael Parkvall, from Limits of Language, 2006,' from Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

04 August 2011

Full of dead men's bones

All your talk
about freedom and democracy
is sheer claptrap,
parrot phrases,
fashionable twaddle,
or hypocrisy.
It is just a painted signboard.

And you yourselves are
whited sepulchres. You
are mean-spirited boors,
and your education, culture,
and enlightenment are
only a species of
thoroughgoing prostitution.

A quotation from Lenin's Collected Works, found at Stalin's Moustache. Submitted by Marika Rose.

02 August 2011

Hamlet R.I.P.

Hamlet was a young man very nervous.
He was always dressed in black because his
uncle had killed his father, shooting him
in his ear. He could not go to the
theatre because his father was dead
so he had the actors come to his house
and play in the front parlor and he learned
them to say the words because he thought he
knew best how to say them. And then he thought
he’d kill the king but he didn’t. Hamlet
liked Ophelia. He thought she was a
very nice girl but didn’t marry her
because she was going to be a nunnery.
Hamlet went to England but he did not
like it very much so he came home. Then
he jumped into Ophelia’s grave and
fought a duel with her brother. Then he died.

From 'English as She Is Taught: Genuine Answers to Examination Questions in Our Public Schools, 1887,' as featured on Futility Closet. 'By' removed from line 3 and 'he' from line 12 to keep the decasyllabic pattern. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

28 July 2011


Black is blacker
Wheels turn
Lift drops
Water follows

Spinning tungsten
Teeth cut out
The black gold.

Some of the words written on benches in Chester-le-Street marketplace, spotted from a bus which drove on before they could all be copied down. Submitted by Marika Rose.

21 July 2011


They existed before my hands.
But it seems like I took them and
put them on my hands and put them
on other hands too. I like the
idea of rhinestones for fun.

Karl Lagerfeld's response to a question about his gloves in The Peripatetic Fashionista, on the Imagine Fashion website. Submitted by Marika Rose.

19 July 2011

The devil in its sights

It is, frankly, an amazing story.
The indomitable patriarch who will shortly
be forced to plead age and infirmity;

his headstrong son whose eagerness
to do what his father would have done
will shortly doom him;

the loyalists who will unquestionably fall
on their swords; an upending of the moral
landscape in which the miscreants once

happily functioned; and the virtuous newspaper,
perhaps the last great newspaper,
with a last great editor, who, long waiting

for and never believing it would get
such an opportunity, now has
the devil in its sights.

From Will the Guardian Bring Down Rupert Murdoch by Michael Wolff in Adweek. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

14 July 2011

The Remaining Robot

The remaining robot continues to walk
but eventually also gives up.

He falls to his knees and tries
to reach the buttons
on his own back,
but to no avail.

Instead, he removes his helmet
and reveals a printed circuit board face.
He repeatedly slams the helmet onto the ground
until it is shattered.

Using one of the shards
as a burning-glass,
he focuses the sunlight
to set his hand ablaze.

The film ends
showing the robot,
completely on fire,
walking in slow motion
through darkness.

Part of Daft Punk's 2006 Electroma DVD summary, discovered here. Submitted by Jason Davies.

12 July 2011

When I'm Seventy-Five

It's very difficult to fall in love
when you are seventy-five
because, at that age,
people are not delicious.

A quote from a colleague's English Language student. Submitted by Miriam.

06 July 2011

Way Out

You develop an
instant global consciousness,
a people orientation,
an intense dissatisfaction
with the state of the world,
and a compulsion to do something about it.

From out there on the moon,
international politics look
so petty. You want to
grab a politician
by the scruff of the neck
and drag him a quarter of
a million miles out and say,

‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, as quoted by Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.

05 July 2011


Vain and
shallow people
treating other vain and
shallow people in a vain and


A comment on the Guardian website in response to Dating website for beautiful people dumps 30,000 members. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

29 June 2011

This Is That

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

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

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

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

28 June 2011

Growth of a Poet's Mind

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

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

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

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

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

23 June 2011

I'll never forget the moment we kissed

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

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

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

21 June 2011


A tanka

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

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

16 June 2011

From H– to L–e.–

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

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

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

14 June 2011

A Riddle

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

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

09 June 2011

Corpses To Remember Him By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 June 2011

This Text Is Just To Say

The rose bush
is falling over
with the wind.

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

02 June 2011

Into what is the universe expanding?

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

So where does that leave us?

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

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

31 May 2011

Where Is Thy Sting?

Sweat bee; light, ephemeral, almost fruity,
a tiny spark has singed a single hair
on your arm. Fire ant; sharp, sudden, mildly
alarming, like walking across a shag
carpet and reaching for the light switch.

Bullhorn acacia ant; a rare, piercing,
elevated sort of pain. Someone
has fired a staple into your cheek.

Bald-faced hornet; rich, hearty, slightly crunchy,
getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
Yellowjacket, hot and smoky, almost
irreverent, imagine W. C. Fields
extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

Honey bee and European hornet;
a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
Red harvester ant; bold and unrelenting,
somebody is using a drill
to excavate your ingrown toenail.

Paper wasp, caustic and burning. Like
spilling a beaker of hydrochloric
acid on a paper cut. Blinding, fierce,
shockingly electric, a running hair drier
has been dropped into your bubble bath.

Bullet ant; pure, intense, brilliant pain.
Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal
with a three-inch rusty nail in your heel.

From the examples of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index on Wikipedia. A few words removed to aid scansion: 'Similar to' (line 10); 'Like a' (15); 'distinctly bitter aftertaste' (19); 'Tarantula hawk:' (21). Punctuation amended. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

26 May 2011

As in life

The ship is as in life, as in death;
the ship is eternal, a symbol of this
and the life to come, of the gods,
of this middle earth.

A friend's facebook update, 3rd May 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

24 May 2011

In the Merry Month of May

Arsenal missed
the chance to close the gap on Premier
League leaders—

Arsenal's rapidly
deteriorating season
took another blow.

only earn a point as their Premier League title
aspirations were dented.

Arsenal's Premier
League title aspirations suffered
a significant setback.

Arsenal kept
up the pressure—and maintained
their title hopes.

Arsenal's title
hopes were left hanging
by a thread.

Arsenal's Premier
League title hopes were dealt
another devastating blow—

Arsenal's Premier
League title challenge is all but over after
they lost to a last minute goal—

Arsenal blew
the Premier League title race
wide open.

Stoke extinguished
Arsenal's Premier League title dream
with a deserved win at the Britannia stadium.

Lines from the opening paragraphs of Arsenal football match reports on the BBC football website. The reports quoted cover a run of 10 games from Sunderland (home), 5 March, to Stoke (away), 8 May 2011. Ellipses replaced with m-dashes. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

19 May 2011


A kitten is so flexible
that she is almost double. The
hind parts are equivalent to
another kitten with which the
fore part plays. She does not
discover that her tail belongs
to her till you tread upon it.

A quotation from Thoreau, via Futility Closet, 25th April 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

17 May 2011

The incident of the barbecue in the night-time

Successful barby,
christened new fire pit,
ate much tasty food,

burnt much British charcoal,
did a wheelie on a mate's bike
(in a small garden),

went over handlebars
into (thankfully cold) barbecue,
landing on face,

drank ale. And I'm not
relishing going to work
in the morning.

A friend's Facebook status from 3 May 2011. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

12 May 2011


James Ensor, in a letter to his friend,
Jules Dujardin, mused:
To live in a big bathing hut
whose interior is clad
in mother-of-pearl shells,
and to sleep there
cradled by the sound of the sea
and an indolent
blonde beautiful girl
with salty flesh.

Taken from the book Ensor, by Ulrike Becks-Malorny, published in 2000. Submitted by Robert.

10 May 2011

For Whom The Earth Was Made

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press,
the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad,
the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph,
the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure,
the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light,
the sewing machine, and the amazing,
infinitely varied and innumerable
products of coal tar, those latest and strangest
marvels of a marvelous age.
And you
have seen even greater births than these;
for you have seen the application
of anesthesia to surgery-practice,
whereby the ancient dominion of pain,
which began with the first created life,
came to an end in this earth forever;
you have seen the slave set free, you have seen
the monarchy banished from France, and reduced
in England to a machine.
Yes, you have seen much —
but tarry yet a while, for the greatest
is yet to come. Wait thirty years, and then
look out over the earth! You shall see
marvels upon marvels added to these
whose nativity you have witnessed;
and conspicuous above them you shall see
their formidable Result — Man at almost
his full stature at last! — and still growing,
visibly growing while you look. In that day,
who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege
not attainable by his neighbor, let him
procure his slippers and get ready to dance,
for there is going to be music.
and see these things! Thirty of us who honor
and love you, offer the opportunity.
We have among us six hundred years,
good and sound, left in the bank of life. Take
thirty of them — the richest birth-day gift
ever offered to poet in this world —
and sit down and wait. Wait till you see that
great figure appear, and catch the far glint
of the sun upon his banner; then you
may depart satisfied, as knowing you
have seen him for whom the earth was made,
and that he will proclaim that human wheat
is worth more than human tares, and proceed
to organize human values on that basis.

From Mark Twain's letter to Walt Whitman for his 70th birthday, written May 1889. The word 'indeed' was removed from line 18 to aid scansion and three more prosaic lines taken out after 'England to a machine'. Found at Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

05 May 2011

The eye of the beholder

Ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

Grey skies,
Grey streets,
Grey grass.

Chimney stacks, factories.
Everywhere a factory.
Belching smoke. Black gates. Brick walls.

A wretched dog.
And the brilliantly
red nose of
the heavy drinker.

The industrial landscape of
1930s Salford wasn't a pretty one.

But one 'clumsy boy' grey up, looked beyond
the bleakness and saw something beautiful.

Grey skies became
A silver canopy
undulating over a sea of red brick.

Factories became cathedrals of industry
with soaring chimney spires.

Crowds of workers became colourful, matchstick people
And black smoke became the
breath of a city alive with hard graft and banter.

A full page advert for an ITV documentary on L S Lowry, spotted in the Observer magazine on the 25th April 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

03 May 2011

I should have drunk more champagne

I should have drunk more champagne. And the rest
of the world can kiss my ass. Plaudite,
amici, comedia finita est.
Better to burn out than to fade away.
Tell Fidel that this failure does not mean
the end of the revolution. I see
black light. I can't sleep. Rain had always been
a harbinger of tragedy for me.
You can stop now; I'm already dead. All
my possessions for a moment of time.
Please put out the light. Please don't let me fall.
I am not in the least afraid to die.
I must go to meet God, try to explain…
Do you hear the rain? Do you hear the rain?

Compiled from the famous last words of real people, as recorded at Wikiquotes. The contributors, in order, are John Maynard Keynes, Johnny Frank Garrett, Beethoven, Kurt Cobain, Che Guevara, Victor Hugo, JM Barrie, George Beard, Abigail Folger, Queen Elizabeth I, Theodore Roosevelt, Mary Surratt, Charles Darwin, Bernard Montgomery, and Jessica Dubroff. The word 'in' has been added to line 12, and a comma substituted for 'and' in line 13. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

28 April 2011

Marine Drive

O we do like to be beside the seaside
Voulez vous promenader avec moi?
Kiss me quick!
Come unto these yellow sands and then take hands
O we do like to walk along the prom!

Words written along the seafront in paving stones in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, spotted on the 11th April 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

26 April 2011

The World of You

I think the world of you means
I think the guy I like has a girlfriend.

I think the world of you meaning
I think the rain is calling,

I think the rain is falling down,
I think the kids are in trouble.

I think the rain is coming down
lyrics. I think the ayes have it.

I think the world of you.
I think the world is coming to an end.

Google (UK) autosuggestions for the search term 'I think the'. Order changed and punctuation added. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

21 April 2011


An old man
Filled with regret
Waiting to die alone.

A repeated refrain from Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, 2010. Submitted by Marika Rose.

19 April 2011

Oak Beach

The black police dog winced
as its paws touched the thorns
on the bushes by the side
of a remote beachside highway.

A little reluctantly, the cadaver dog
followed its police handler into
the Long Island brush, looking
for yet more human remains.

We always say 'another day in paradise'.
The wind whistled through the reeds
and the brush crackled
as the cadaver dog carried on sniffing.

Selected text from a BBC news article about bodies found on Long Island, 7 April 2011. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

14 April 2011

The Travelers


A threatening note sent to baseball player Jackie Robinson, 22nd May 1951. Submitted by Marika Rose.

12 April 2011

Apologia Ignis

We incorrectly stated
that Julian Brooker, twenty three, of Brighton,
was blown fifteen feet into the air
after accidentally touching
a live railway line.

His parents have asked us to make clear
he was not turned into a fireball,
was not obsessed with the number twenty-three
and didn't go drinking on that date every month.

Julian's mother did not say,
during or after the inquest,
her son often got on all fours
creeping around their house
pretending to be Gollum.

From an apology in The Sun, 29 April 2005. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

07 April 2011

What leaks within

… leaks seeping
into the soil, fresh water
and the sea
are continuous.

has found its way
into local produce, milk
and tap water

as far as Tokyo…..

Taken from a BBC news report on the 31st March 2011. Submitted by Kim Rooney.

05 April 2011

Fabrice Murinzi Minega

Age, eight

Favourite sport, swimming
Favourite sweets, chocolate
Best friend, his mum
Behaviour, gregarious
Cause of death, bludgeoned with club.

The words under a picture of Fabrice in the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda. From 2004. Submitted by Nathan Lechler.

31 March 2011


Fangfoss, Earswick, Legsby,
Nafferton, Catfoss, Laceby,
Rotsea, Fitling
Dringhoe, Gembling,
Foggathorpe, Monkdike, Duggleby.

A list of place names in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Submitted by Marika Rose.

29 March 2011

The summers of his youth

In Algiers, you don’t talk about ‘going swimming’
but ‘knocking off for a swim’.

I won’t insist.

People swim in the harbour
and then go rest on the buoys.

When you pass a buoy
where a pretty girl is sitting,

you shout to your friends,
‘I tell you it’s a seagull’.

These are healthy pleasures.
They certainly seem ideal to the young men.

A quote from Albert Camus found in this essay. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

24 March 2011

Vitriol and Opportunity

I would love to say we’ve got a great show for you tonight,
but I’m not sure that’s the case.
Old friends, no one wants to do this listening.
All too often we are here.
Stunned by a crazy that is rarer than we think,
how incredible, the packing of the deceased,
the pain of disturbing nature with a moment of graphic speak,
of toxic and absurdity.

Here we are again, violent.
Vitriol and opportunity on television,
in the way we talk to each other.
Exonerate from blame a reality that we cannot approach verbally.
Our capacity to be horrified by being truly sad.
The shattered lunacy of real dignity,
the sense of such situations.
Senselessness in being cut way too short.

Read up on being numb,
the dispiriting implications,
troubled enemies with families of pain.
Match the forever-paranoid with great rhetorics
of light and thank you.
Never worse than when the actions of madmen take forever.

Don’t you know the leading of thought
away from the tragedy of shame?
How much living and catharsis in predictable crazy.
Something incredibly stupid and silly
that we had previously lost.
Manifestos of anonymous goodness.
More often than not, people creating solace
for tomorrows they’ve never even met.
Wouldn’t it be nice to cause this hyperbole of feeling,
however fleeting?

Taken from the Jon Stewart show after the Tucson shootings, on the 20th January 2011. Submitted by Haley Patail.

22 March 2011


Most falseworks
are designed to support
but in practice
they are also subjected
to forces in the horizontal plane.

These result
from dynamic effects
as the rapid pouring
or vibrating of concrete,
from the movement of ten-
sioning cables,
from the wind, from differential
under heat or load,
and from many
other causes.

Some of these forces
can be estimated
but others can not,
and the fact
that they
are usually contained
is no proof
that they are not important.

They may be
particularly significant
in skew spans
where displacements in two
perpendicular directions
produce unexpected strains
in the third,
or in cases where
the design loads are applied
rather than simultaneously.

Taken from an article (that I have, without reason, kept for a very long time) on the Building Standard 449:1959 - The use of structural steel in building. Submitted by Kim Rooney.

17 March 2011

De Hors

Do not lean out
Do not punch the horse
No spaghetti
Night of the tinsel hen

A rather loose translation of a warning sign in a New Zealand train, February 2011. Submitted by Noah Slater.

15 March 2011

Unfurl unfold

I would shape myself into your pocket.
I will shake, sneak, shrink, slip
I was shapeless infant to your pocket.

I was shaking and I disappeared
I was thinking I would disappear
I would shrink and
I will sink and

I wish ink and I would disappear.

I will slip into the groove and cut me up.
And cut me off. You cut me off.

There's an empty space inside my heart
Where the weeds
Where the wings
And it won't take root
And there I'll
So now I'll
Tonight I've set you free.

Just to feel
Just to feed your fast ballooning head.

We would shrink and then
We will shake and we'll be quiet as mice.

Take the lotus flowers into my room.
The bird lights float
The bird that's flown
Put this flower
A bird has flown into my room.

Mm, moments float into my room.

'Cos all I want is the moon upon a stick.
A man upon a stake.

I dance around the pit; the darkness is beneath.
Dancing round the pain. The darkness is relief.

Radiohead released their latest album, King of Limbs, on 18 February 2011 via digital download with no printed lyrics. This poem is made up of the various, differing transcripts found on the Internet for the track Lotus Flower, deciphered from the audio or video track. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

10 March 2011

Not in Our Name

There were mutterings that each day grew louder,
signs and portents that we refused to believe.
Local militia were organizing and drilling
getting ready to answer the call should it come.

Not that people thought that it would come.
They believed, as they hoped,
that something would be done to prevent war…….

As for those others who prophesied and prayed for it,
who wanted the vials of God's wrath uncorked,
they got what they wanted.
Their prayers were answered;
the land was drenched in blood.

But for the most of us
we did not.

Taken from 'A Virginia Girl in the Civil War, 1861-1865: Being a Record of the Actual Experiences of the Wife of a Confederate Officer', edited by Myrta Lockett Avary. Submitted by Juliet Wilson.

08 March 2011


read it


NO sisters and apsolutley NO brothers

Just sisters

Just for today

and me

A notice blu-tacked to the sitting room door by my son, aged seven, 24 February 2011. It was half term. Submitted by Amy.

03 March 2011

Long-lived and Manly

I woke up at 4am, before dawn.
You should be asleep. You’re all tired after
a sleepless night. I am like the Queen
of England. I am much bigger
than any rank, for those who are talking
about rank, I am a fighter. Your face
will melt off and your children will weep over
your exploded body. These resentments,
they are the rocket fuel that lives in the
tip of my saber. I have defeated
this earthworm with my words – imagine what
I would have done with my fire-breathing
fists. Life without dignity is worthless
Every great movement begins with one man.

Quotations from recent statements by Charlie Sheen and Muammar Gaddafi, taken from a Guardian quiz, 1 March 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

01 March 2011

I have a phobia

I have a phobia
of leaving my arm
out of a car window
when I'm driving.
I think it has something to do 

with playing the guitar 
and needing my arm.

Slash interviewed in the Guardian. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

24 February 2011

An anemone also

This is a whelk.
When it dies its shell lies
On the sea bed until......

A growing hermit crab
Takes up residence.

In his new home
The hermit does not
Feel the arrival of a ragworm,
Which crawls into the same shell.

Later, an anemone also
Settles on his shell.

So the ragworm, anemone and
The hermit, all live together
In an old whelk shell.

When the hermit feeds,
The ragworm takes his share
And the anemone clears up
What is left on the floor.

If attacked, the great claw
Provides an armour-plated door.

Taken from a display in an aquarium on the Cobb in Lyme Regis. Submitted by Nathan Lechler

22 February 2011

An Exclamatory Discourse In Predictive Text

Oh goody.
Oh honey.
Oh goofy.
Oh gooey.

Mobile phone predictive text spelling suggestions for the phrase 'Oh goody.' Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

17 February 2011

The spineless man

My dad had
an affair with his
21-year-old secretary.

He regretted it
almost immediately when she
started standing on bridges
and threatening suicide should he
go back to
or pay maintenance to
his wife and three
very young daughters.

Disgusted, my mother
refused to have him back. The spineless man
was then marched up the aisle,
vasectomy reversed, child produced. Anti
depressants ensued, along with
the loss of any meaningful
relationship with his
previous three daughters.

He currently works
long hours with a
serious heart condition to
support his wife and her
expensive horsey hobbies.

Meanwhile my mother
grew strong, witty and
wise. His daughters all
suffered. The lure of
a youthful admirer!
More fool him.

Taken from a Guardian article on readers' experience of divorce on the 9th February 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

15 February 2011

Backing for old age

Foulness, say, is light.
Not altogether courteous, almost icy,
nothing but a party type.

July nuts cracked with criminal intent
Underwear that's left to hang about.
Leave record in river.

Spirits for composer and poet
Reader's possessive,
Spots hesitation with less careful cut.
Plant makes radio almost quiet.

Clues from the Guardian cryptic crossword 28 February 2010. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

10 February 2011


We forget that there are
masses of people
that live without silence
and they need
a little bit of space
and a little bit of time
to think.

Taken from a film made by We Love Libraries in January 2011, in response to planned library closures. The line arrangements aim to reflect the rhythm of speech. Submitted by Marika Rose.

08 February 2011

The Lower It Falls

Try and
remember me
beloved as the flower
you plucked, not the flower you tread

From the farewell letter by Ruttie Petit to her estranged husband Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Dated 5 October 1928. One word, 'and' replaced by a comma. Source: Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

03 February 2011


hushed homes
dishevelled and stuck
with oxlips, primroses, cowslips, violets, and
manifoldness and steadfastness of the universe
is as truly whoring trade

Taken from spam email on the 24th January 2011. Submitted by Laura.

01 February 2011

The Tip of the Bud of the Lotus

In a certain lake swarming with geese and cranes,
The tip of a bud of lotus was seen one span above the water.

Forced by the wind, it gradually moved, and was submerged at a distance of two cubits.
O mathematician, tell quickly the depth of the water.


There is something divine in the science
of numbers. Like God, it holds the sea
in the hollow of its hand. It measures
the earth; it weighs the stars; it illumines
the universe; it is law, it is order,
it is beauty. And yet we imagine
that its highest end and culminating point
is book-keeping by double entry.

Lilavati, a 12th-century Sanskrit text by Bhaskaracharya, presents mathematics in memorable verse (translation by Shreevatsa). The poem itself is taken from Longfellow's novel Kavanagh, where a character poses problems from the text to his wife to show that maths can be poetic, as published on Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

27 January 2011

The Cut

When I was first elected as a
councillor in Cambridge - many years ago,
I went to a budget survey meeting
with the public in a local shopping
centre which the then Labour council had

I was handed a form which gave a list
of spending areas for the budget
debate. It said:

Please tick all those areas where
you would like to see more spending.

I am a small state Conservative in
some ways, and I found many items on
which I wanted to spend more. I was
terribly aware of what went on in
my ward - the lack of provision for young
people, the need to do more in many
areas - and I wanted to tick
many boxes.

However, the Labour council had
sensibly included a proviso,
which said:

All we ask is that for every
box you tick to give more money,
you identify another
item on which you want to spend

Extract from a speech by MP Graham Stuart given in the House of Commons on the 19th January 2011. Submitted by Marika Rose.

25 January 2011

Human scale

Houses are mostly arranged in
‘blocks’, with boundary walls
to streets, lanes and courts.

There are no large front gardens,
and the heights of the houses vary.
The resulting width of the streets

is narrower – though the ratio of
building height to street width is
not much different than elsewhere.

More in keeping with traditional
towns and villages of the area.
More in keeping with a human scale.

Taken from a UK property developer's design specification document. Submitted by Mark Antony Owen.

20 January 2011

What did you talk about?

Early ambitions to work in the arts,
old cinemas, theatres and pubs,
home ownership,
Eddie Izzard’s theory on cat psychology;

Cubism, Aperol, synaesthesia,
the size of Yorkshire, Venice,
Harry Potter, Peggy Guggenheim,
marathon training, Glasgow, siblings,
sleeper trains, bleak landscapes,
the attentiveness of the staff,

plus sailing stories, basking sharks
and how ‘Jaws’ has traumatised
us both for life.

We had a lot in common.

Taken from a Guardian interview with a couple who had been on a blind date, 8th January 2010. Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

18 January 2011

The Mystery of Pittkapples Stone

Mrs. Gordon of Coneregie lies close
to the north dyke near the middle.
Miss Nans Leslie of Pittkapple
lies below Pittkapples stone.

Mr. George Mereson lies
at the south dyke at Mr Reid's head.
Mr. Reid lies at the south side
of Pitfodle's stone next to the dyke.

Mrs. Ann Allan or Cambell, wife
of ––– Allan, of the Coast Guard Station, Cove,
was buried second grave,
south of Bishop Grant's grave.

Mr. John Goodsman, lies in the north
side of Isobel Gordon, close by her.
Mrs. Rankin lies at the head
of Bishop Grant's, below a stone.

Bishop Grant lies in the middle
of west end of the Pittkapples stone.
For Pittkapples stone read Pittfodle's.
Miss Wishart lies near the stone in the middle of it.

Mr. Alexander McNab was buried
in the Snow Churchyard with his daughter
in the grave next to Bishop Grant's
stone on the north side.

James, infant son of Capt. Kyle,
was buried in the Snow Churchyard
in the grave betwixt Pitfodles
and Mr. Massie's stone.

A child of Mr. McDonald lies
in the grave next to the north dyke
opposite Miss Rankin's gravestone.
Bishop Geddes lies in Bishop Grant's grave.

Miss Margaret Cruickshank lies
in the north side of Pittfodle's stone
close by it. Mrs. Gordon,
his sister lies in his grave.

18th and 19th Century burial records for Snow Churchyard, Aberdeen. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

13 January 2011


He LOVE printer.
He SCARED clingfilm.

A friend's twitter update about her cat, Ftse, on 13th January 2010. Submitted by Marika Rose.

11 January 2011

This is the cow

This is the cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.
–Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'

The cow is a successful animal.
Also he is quadrupud, and because
he is female, he give milk, but will do
when he is got child. He is same like God,
sacred to Hindus and useful to man.
But he has got four legs together.
Two are forward and two are afterwards.

His motion is slow only because he
is of asitudinious species.
Also his other motion is useful
to trees, plants as well as making flat cakes
in hand and drying in the sun. Cow is
the only animal that extricates
his feeding after eating. Then afterwards
she chew with his teeth whom are situated
in the inside of the mouth. He is
incessantly in the meadows in the grass.

His only attacking and defending
organ is the horn, specially so when
he is got child. This is done by knowing
his head whereby he causes the weapons
to be paralleled to the ground of earth
and instantly proceed with velocity

He has got tails also, but not
like similar animals. It has hairs
on the other end of the other side.
This is done to frighten away the flies
which alight on his cohoa body
whereupon he gives hit with it.

The palms
of his feet are soft unto the touch. So
the grasses head is not crushed. At night time
have poses by looking down on the ground
and he shouts his eyes like his relatives,
the horse does not do so. This is the cow.

From a supposedly genuine essay on the subject of 'the cow', written by a student for the Indian Civil Services Exam. Undated. A few minor words have been removed to maintain the natural decasyllabic rhythm: so (from line 3); much (10); the (22); great (23). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.