Recent Posts

27 September 2012


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

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

25 September 2012

Whatever and ever amen

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

And everyone is, and you relate to that.

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

21 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 5


A nonet

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

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

20 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 4


Or, You need to know what I dislike

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

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

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

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

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

19 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 3



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

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

18 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 September 2012

Richard Stallman's rider 1


Or, A microphone is desirable if the room is large

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

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

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

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

13 September 2012

Mother Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 September 2012

Trunk road

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

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

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

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

06 September 2012


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

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

04 September 2012


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

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