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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.