Recent Posts

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.