Recent Posts

31 December 2014

Monkey Brand is perfect for

Spotless Earthenware
Smiling Housewives

Clean Baths
Happy Husbands

White Marble
Contented Servants

Shining Pots and Pans
In The Parlour

Polished Stair-Rods
In The Kitchen

Bright Fire-Irons
In The Factory

Sparkling Glass-Ware
Simple!! Rapid!!
Clean!! Cheap!!

From an ad in a biography of William Lever: The King of Sunlight by Adam McQueen (Bantam Press, 2004). Submitted by Rishi Dastidar.

29 December 2014


One of life's greatest certainties
is that the ground is solid
beneath one's feet

so the sudden appearance
of chasms, however small,
is unsettling.

From British sinkhole spike prompts warning, David Shukman, BBC News. Submitted by Angi Holden.

24 December 2014

The Famous Squib Case of 1793

Scott v Shepherd

A lit squib
was thrown into a crowded market
by Shepherd

and landed
on the table of a gingerbread merchant.

A bystander, to protect himself
and the gingerbread,
threw the squib across the market

where it landed
in the goods of another merchant.
The merchant grabbed the squib

and tossed it away,
accidentally hitting Scott in the face,
putting out one of his eyes.

From Wikipedia's article on squibs, retrieved 12 September 2014. Submitted by Susan Taylor.

23 December 2014

The Pornography of Everyday Life

Last year,
I woke up
in a hotel room
in Amsterdam.

There was
a woman
in my bed.

I looked
in the mirror
and saw
that my eyebrows
were gray.

I saw
that I was

Painter Alexander Melamid, quoted in Forty-One False Starts by Janet Malcolm (Granta Books, 2014). Submitted by Howie Good.

22 December 2014

My Favourite Fairy

She has very delicate sparkly bright blue eyes
and a red red red red red red dress
That’s why I love her
so much

A small girl talks to her mother. Overheard on the street, 3 September 2014. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

19 December 2014

Missed Connections

I get frustrated with things in my personal life sometimes,
especially her.
I’m missing consideration, and a loved feeling.
My life is being spent in a back seat to others
whom I always take care of with little reciprocation
and even less thanks.
I spend time fantasizing about the feeling of woman,
giving a damn,
and of the random,
uninitiated touch or smile.
Why must I work so, so hard
just to get so, so little?
All I want is someone's time and consideration
without the feeling that I owe them for it.

From Craigslist Miami, Missed Connections MfW, March 2014. Submitted by Dawn S. Davies.

18 December 2014

The Shores of Tripoli

Never sell the bones
of your father and mother.
Every damn fool thing you do
in this life you pay for.
The bastards tried to come
over me last night.
I guess they didn't know
I was a Marine.

Is it not meningitis?
All right then, I'll say it:
Dante makes me sick.
Damn it! How will I ever
get out of this labyrinth?
Useless … useless …
My vocabulary did this to me.

Don't ask me how I am!
I've got the bows up … I'm going!
I understand nothing more.
The bastards got me,
but they won't get everybody.
This is the fish of my dreams.

Last words from Wikiquotes. Submitted by Howie Good.

17 December 2014

Can I?

Write compound sentences
Use punctuation correctly in my writing
Plan a short story
Deduce information from a text and picture
Start sentences in a variety of ways
Use key events in a narrative to write a play script
Deduce information from a variety of sources
Use some compound and complex sentences to describe life in the workhouse
Extend my sentences using connectives
Use persuasive language to give my side of the argument
Use the language from a narrative text to create a poem
Understand a character’s point of view
Edit and improve my writing
Write a paragraph using connectives and a variety of sentence lengths
Use speech punctuation correctly in direct speech
Answer questions from a character’s point of view
Punctuate speech correctly
Use drama techniques to explore a character’s feelings
Use a range of more connectives to extend my sentences
Predict the next section of a story
Use the apostrophe correctly
Write a persuasive letter
Record speech
Plan a newspaper report
Write an informed letter
Write a diary entry
Create a non-chronological report
Answer questions from a report
Write a character description
Record speech correctly
Contract sentences
Write in the style of an author
Research an endangered animal
Recognise persuasive language
Write complex sentences
Create a slogan for my campaign
Collect research for a biography
Answer questions about someone’s life
Use punctuation
Write a letter to a pen-pal
Edit and improve my writing
Write compound and complex sentences
Write my thoughts and feelings about an event that has happened
Write a short diary entry
Use all the features of a dairy
Write an effective letter opener
Write a sports’ commentary
Collect facts for a report
Generate questions for my report
Create a headline
Plan a newspaper report
Use punctuation correctly
Identify the features of an advert
Use persuasive language
Write a script
Research for a biography
Plan a biography
Understand the difference between direct and reported speech
Use direct speech in my writing
Use dashes in my writing
Use effective language to have an effect on the reader
Use complex sentences in my writing
Change the tense in various sentences
Group ideas into paragraphs

Can I?

From a 10-year-old's literacy exercise book, listing the learning objectives for one academic year.

16 December 2014

12 Reasons You are my Ex

1. Exacerbate: to make worse
2. Exact: to call for and obtain (“exact revenge”)
3. Exaggerate: to overemphasize or overstate
4. Exalt: to glorify or intensify
5. Examine: to inspect, investigate, or scrutinize
6. Exasperate: to aggravate or enrage
7. Excavate: to remove or expose by digging or as if by digging
8. Exceed: to be greater than or to go beyond a limit or normal boundary
9. Except: to keep out or to object
10. Excerpt: to take out or select, especially writing, for other use
11. Exchange: to trade
12. Excise: to remove by cutting or as if by cutting

From 90 Verbs Starting with "Ex-", Daily Writing Tips. Submitted by Sean Wai Keung.

15 December 2014

A Life's Parallels

Never on this side of the grave again.
Christina Rossetti

Synthetic coconut shies.
Whiskers absurdly long.

Give the show away.
Everything tawdry and shoddy.

Was it always so?
Were they as cheap looking
in one’s youth when one loved it all?

Does one get fastidious as one grows
older and the fair
always was rowdy
and dirty
and unappealing?

As we came away,
all Himself said was:
“Our poor park,
how untidy it is.”

Diary of a Sheffield housewife, August 1942. Diarist 5447 in the Mass Observation Project. Submitted by B.T. Joy.

12 December 2014

A hundred identical hooks

Believe the unbelievable
Love hurts

The end begins
Every second counts

Get carried away
Justice is coming

No guts, no glory
Assume the position

Evil rises
Looks can kill

Once upon a time
Unlock the secret

Revenge is coming
Love is a force of nature

Journey beyond your imagination
No body is safe

Fear thy neighbor
Break the silence

There is no substitute
Hold your breath

If looks could kill

A hero will rise
A love story

Love stings
Be careful what you wish for

Blood is thicker than water
The con is on

There is no escape
Lead us into temptation

Every family has a secret
Are you in or out?

This place is so dead
The time has come

The ultimate battle begins
Everything will change

Fight fire with fire
Escape is the only solution

Life happens when you least expect it
No one gets out alive

There’s one in all of us
Nothing is as simple as black and white

A comedy for the romantically challenged
The end is near

Take a stand
No soul is safe

Love thy neighbor
Join the party

Fear nothing, risk everything
How far would you go for a friend?

There’s one in every family
The boys are back in town

The journey begins
The hunt begins

They are coming
Legends never die

The real ghost story
Heaven help us

There’s only one way out
Get in the game

Heroes aren’t born, they’re made
Revenge is a dish best served cold

Let the mind games begin
Fight or die

Get some
Time is running out

Everything you’ve heard is true
Catch her if you can

Enter at your own risk
Get in, get out

Everybody has a secret
It’s time to take a stand

It’s her world, we’re just living in it
Careful what you wish for

A comedy to arouse your appetite
Everything comes full circle

Some secrets are better left buried
This might hurt a little

A legend never dies
You are what you eat

Feel the love
Are you game?

We’ve all been there
There are no clean getaways

There goes the neighborhood
Something wicked this way comes

The legend comes to life
Everything is connected

You can’t choose your family
Trust no one

There are two/three sides to every (love) story

A list of identical taglines for pairs of different movies in a blog post by Christophe Courtois. Submitted by Mark Dzula.

11 December 2014

Welcome to inclusion

Please do not remove mice
or keyboards. Look towards
the person who is speaking.

Only you can change your attitude:
think about word chunks you know.

What can you say
if you haven’t heard or understood?
You must build the tallest tower
to win the competition.

Text from notices pinned and projected on the walls of a classroom in Haverstock School, 9 July 2014. Submitted by Natalie Shaw.

10 December 2014

Floral Tributes

The alternative is to
Pick tributes from your garden.
Seasonal wreathes, using ivy,
Berries and autumn colours
Look beautiful.
Foliage is always available
Even if there are no blooms.
Some families
Simply supply all the mourners
With a single seasonal bloom
To place upon the coffin.
Others choose a sprig of rosemary
That can be dropped into the grave.
The possibilities are endless.

From The Natural Death Handbook, 5th edition. Submitted by Karen JK Hart.

09 December 2014

Sweet Thursday

What happened in between
the troubled life of Joseph and Mary

there would be no game.

Enter Suzy - the creative cross
tinder is as tinder does

the great Roque war
whom the gods love, they drive nuts

there's a hole in reality through which
we can look if we wish.

Hazel's brooding flower
in a crannied wall

parallels must be related:
lousy Wednesday: the playing fields of

Harrow: the little flowers of Saint Mack.
Suzy binds the cheese

a pause in the day's occupation
sweet Thursday, sweet Thursday

sweet Thursday was
one hell of a day.

Chapter titles 1-21 from John Steinbeck's 1954 novel Sweet Thursday. Submitted by Victoria Bean.

04 August 2014

A simple little school dress

I love the simple style
of these check school dresses.
They look lovely on my granddaughter
     who is five
A pretty and practical design.

The yellow check is not often seen
in my local area
so I ordered on line
I bought three.
     One to wear,
          one in the wash
     and one ready to wear.

I know they will wash well
and keep their fresh look
as long as my daughter in law
     doesn’t throw the jeans
          in the wash as well.

Taken from an online review of a Marks & Spencer Classic Checked Dress, posted on 17th May 2014. Submitted by Uschi Gatward.

28 July 2014

And That’s What It’s All About

Notes, instructions, etc.,
ring in the wee hours,
or while ill or forgotten,
robotic programming
for doing the hokey-pokey
Jackson Pollack-like.
There is no number one.
The only way he knew it's got
to be a dance was finding
his cat covered in grits.
This makes me feel better.
That’s part of the mystery.

Taken from a response to a friend's facebook post, 12th June 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

07 July 2014

Ultimately Terminal

There's something in me
that wants to make everything funny.
I do find life very strange by and large,
and how we behave even more so.

I mean it's not as if we're going to get out alive.

A comment made on a facebook writers' forum. Submitted by Angi Holden.

30 June 2014

The Beautiful Game

Looking for a cross
But found
A corner

Clive Tyldesley, commentating on the England vs Uruguay World Cup match, 19th June 2014. Submitted by Ross McCleary.

28 June 2014

Sticks and stones

Unfortunately it is far from true…
The power of words to affect
your emotions and actions
is well demonstrated in science.

A word is not a crystal,
transparent and unchanged;
it is the skin of a living thought
and may vary greatly in color and content
according to the circumstances and time
in which it is used.

Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland,
determined Lisa Brown's comments
violated the decorum of the House,
"What she said was offensive" said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville.
“It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it
in front of women.
I would not say that in mixed company.”

Lisa Brown called a press conference, today.
She defended her use of the word "vagina"
saying it is the "anatomically medically correct term.”

Her English teacher even told her
you can’t get wet from the word water.

Each stanza from a different source: Susan Smalley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA; Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr; Detroit News, June 2012; Detroit Free Press, June 2012; and Nin Andrews, Sleeping with Houdini (BOA Editions Ltd, 2008). Submitted by Joanna White.

23 June 2014

Absent Father

I find myself here with a baby with delicate bones,
fine features and blue eyes, who – especially asleep,
when she's at her most beautiful – looks exactly like you.
The fine movements of the lips, the almond-shaped eyes,
the one dimple on her right cheek.
I still find this resemblance strangely, unsettlingly painful.

I imagine you waking up beside that other woman,
whoever she might be; she will never find out
about this one aspect of your life.
I find it hard to picture you; I don't know your apartment,
but I imagine you waking up in it, flat on your back,
elbow tucked beneath your head, thinking of your baby,
somewhere, with someone else, hundreds of miles away.

For a few minutes every once in a while,
more rarely each year,
and too briefly.

Taken from A letter baby's absent father in The Guardian, 7th June 2014. Submitted by Angi Holden.

16 June 2014

Attention Dear Respected One

Greetings in Jesus name Amen!
Private Message, important message you.
Prayed over select name among other
names due to esteeming nature.

I am account officer south Korea government
accounts discovered most account dormant
account on further investigation particular account
belong former president PARK CHUNG HEE, rule
1963-1979. I am widow being lost husband.

Aware relation born 2nd February 1951, last
address West Africa? Father General Jonas
Savimbi rebel leader control diamond regions
Angola 27 years successfully. Narrowly escaped
tsunami affected spinal cord also ear drum claim
lifes entire family. Simeon Arag died in estate.

New desire assist helpless. First box 200KG
of 22 Karrat alluvia gold dust second ($40
million U.S. dollars). Disguised “Family Treasure.”
This thereby triggers procedure reverting
ownership funds to her majesty's government.
Known condition I make foundation
orphanages widows propagate word of God.

Need assurance you never, never cheat as fund
hit in your account. Transaction totally free of risk.
Forward: Full Name: Sex: any Contact Address.
Not destroy my chance, if not work with me
lets move on not destroy me. What shall it profit
man to wine the whole world and loose his soul?

A collation of various scam emails. Submitted by Hao Guang Tse.

13 June 2014

On the division of animals

More often than not, the linguist or anthropologist just throws up his hands and resorts to giving a list — a list that one would not be surprised to find in the writings of Borges.
George Lakoff

Those that belong to the Emperor,
embalmed ones,
those that are trained,
suckling pigs,
fabulous ones,
stray dogs,
those that are included in this classification,
those that tremble as if they were mad,
innumerable ones,
those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush,
those that have just broken a flower vase,
those that resemble flies from a distance.

From 'Other Inquisitions' in which Borges writes of a strange way of classifying animals in an ancient Chinese encyclopaedia. Via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

11 June 2014

Help My Mastiff (Not My Business)

I am going to tell you the whole story.

And if can
help to save
my 14 months mastiff; a baby himself.

And if you still feel
like helping you can make some call
on the dog Bruce behalf.

I am trying to understand
that the dog bite a 9 year old kid
that looks like a football player.

My toddles were playing next to the dog
to the neighbors house
and this kid that we do not want

Which the neighbor told him not to go to the back yard
because of the dog. He was there in a minute
hitting the dog on the head

Which my 2 toddles was playing near by. The dog broke the leash
and bite he in the arm. And now
they are going to kill him.

How do we know if the boy was going
to hurt the toddles. There is a lake
like 20 feet away.

What did this boy really want
to do? I guess
we will never know, but neighbors said he is a trouble kid.

He has all his paper work
and not other report of bite. They said
because of the severe of the bit to his arm.

If the dog really wanted to do damage he can he easily
take his arm off or ate it. The boy
had to 36 stitches.

Now we have 2 thing at play here the boy
is really plummie boy with a lot of meat and the second thing the dog
have a huge mouth.

So One bit, easy 36 stitches.

A post on Craigslist in Pets, 29 May 2014. Submitted by Susan Cody.

09 June 2014

How to Be a Bluesman

Never have a happy relationship.
If you do find yourself involved in a happy relationship,
kill your partner and then write a song about it.
If they arrest you, all the better.
You can now write a song about being in jail.

Chicago, St. Louis,
and Kansas City
are still the best places
to have the Blues.

Blues can take place
in New York City,
but not in Hawaii
or any place in Canada.

Hard times in Minneapolis
or Seattle is probably
just clinical depression.


No one will believe
it's the Blues
if you wear a suit –
unless, that is,
you slept in it.

Taken from a discussion on the Blindman's Blues Forum, 12th January 2010. Submitted by Howie Good.

06 June 2014


My Most Illustrious Lord,

I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain,
to remove water from the moats and how to make
an infinite number of bridges, mantlets
and scaling ladders and other instruments
necessary to such an enterprise.

I have also types of cannon, most convenient
and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones
almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon
will instil a great fear in the enemy
on account of the grave damage and confusion.

I have means of arriving at a designated
spot through mines and secret winding passages
constructed completely without noise, even if
it should be necessary to pass underneath
moats or any river.

Also I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance
of very beautiful and functional design
that are quite out of the ordinary.

I will assemble catapults, mangonels,
trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful
efficiency not in general use.

And should a sea battle be occasioned,
I have examples of many instruments
which are highly suitable either in attack
or defence, and craft which will resist the fire
of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke.

Also I can execute sculpture in marble,
bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do
everything possible as well as any other.

From a letter Leonardo da Vinci wrote to Ludovico Sforza around 1483, commending himself for court employment. Via Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

05 June 2014


They are likely to have seen a world
much more alive than ours,
where every tree or hill may have had
the Spirit
or been associated with past times
or mythical stories,
where the soul of a man might inhabit
a dog after his death.
They would have known few other people
and few things they called their own.
But then
it’s worth remembering
the Scottish winters spent without houses,
the dangers of travelling
between islands in primitive boats.

Notes taken by a family member during final year of studying Archaeology at Glasgow University, 2012. Submitted by B.T. Joy.

02 June 2014

My mother would still like to know

what happened to the set
of yellow clip on bows
she bought for my hair
when I was about six. 

She put them in a safe place
ready to use
when I went to a birthday party later the same week
and thirty two years later they are still missing. 

Yet every now and again
she still wonders about them
and does this wistful gaze at my hair, and I know
she's imagining me wearing them now.

Taken from a post by user SarahandFuck on Mumsnet chat forum, July 2013. Submitted by Uschi Gatward.

19 May 2014

Barb why don’t you get an Italian greyhound?

I love the way they lean against you
with total love and adoration.

And I love those daft dogs
that kind of bounce with floppy ears.

And little dogs that sit in your arms
and tremble a lot.

I love love love those.
But then again – tigers.

Taken from Seven Silly Questions ... for Barb Jungr, 11th May 2011. Submitted by Andrew Bailey

12 May 2014

Echoes of Silence

Killed the family and went to the movies.
And nobody knows who he is.
Meat tenderizer and saliva
remove bloodstains.
Fornication changes its skin
Goodbye to the story,
memories they told me,
trees in autumn (three colors: white).
Join us at another place,
a polemical mile-high skyscraper.
Free wheelchairs available.

A selection of texts from the MoMA Member Catalogue, May/June 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

05 May 2014

A row over the cook

After the stabbing, the
£120,000 a year actuary
ripped some pages out of
a Game of Thrones book
and shot himself with a speargun.

The actuary slept with
the fluffy duck every night
because it still bore the scent
of his ex-partner's perfume.

But the actuary suffered
panic attacks and sat around
the flat all day eating food
from a saucepan,
snorting coke
and watching daytime TV.

Court reports tweeted by @CourtNewsUK on 1st May, 2014. Submitted by Marika.

02 May 2014

The burn

Boredom makes us do it, that and the chase.
The sun whitens the grass until it's ripe
to burn and then we light it, watch and wait.

The flames take the land, they come and we run.
Us in our shorts, them in their gear, too
clumsy to run but fast because they're men.

We're laughing and falling, stumbling and rolling
safe if not caught, too young to worry
about the dead birds and black landscape.

From Gawain Barnard's photography exhibition, as previewed on A Fine Beginning: Made in Wales, BBC News In Pictures, 14 March 2014. Words omitted: 'and then' (line 4), 'and' (7), 'from the burn' (8), 'broken land' (9). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

30 April 2014

Can Art Be Taught?

Learn to say “Fuck You”
to the world once in a while.
You have every right to.

Just stop thinking, worrying,
looking over your shoulder,
wondering, doubting, fearing,
hoping for some easy way out,

struggling, gasping, confusing,
itching, scratching, mumbling,
scrambling, hatching, bitching,
groaning, horse-shitting, nit-picking,

piss-trickling, eyeball-poking,
finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking,
evil-eyeing, back-scratching, grinding
grinding grinding away at yourself.

Stop it. Don’t worry about cool.
Make your own uncool.
Make your own, your own world.

Letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, quoted in Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece (Penguin Books, 2006). Submitted by Howie Good.

28 April 2014

Spring Drawings

I had had a very minor stroke
and the first drawing afterwards
took me two days to do
(the days are a lot shorter in November).

The stroke only manifested itself in my speech.
I found I couldn't finish sentences, and although
it came back after about a month
I find now I talk a lot less.

But it did not affect my drawing.
I think it even made me concentrate more.
I thought, well I'm OK so long as I can draw,
I don't really need to say much any more;

I thought,
I've said enough already.

Taken from an article by David Hockney about his Spring drawing series, published in the Guardian, 18th April 2014. Submitted by Angi Holden.

25 April 2014

If You Can't Play

If you can't play,

If you can,
Do so quietly.

Sign on a piano in a used furniture store in Charleston, South Carolina. Submitted by Paul Bowers.

18 April 2014

The corrugator supercilii

is a
small, narrow
pyramidal muscle

located at
the medial end
of the eyebrow.

Its fibers
pass upward
and laterally.

as the principal
muscle of suffering

the muscle is
sometimes severed
or paralyzed with

botulinium toxin
as treatment for migraine
or for aesthetic reasons.

From the Wikipedia entry for Corrugator supercilii muscle. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan.

16 April 2014

Supper preferences

When these birds move their wings in flight,
their strokes are slow, moderate and regular,
and even when at a considerable distance

or high above us, we plainly hear the quill-feathers,
their shafts and webs upon one another,
creak as the joints or

working of a vessel in a tempestuous sea.
We had this fowl dressed for supper
and it made excellent soup;

nevertheless as long as I can get any other
necessary food I shall prefer his
seraphic music in the ethereal skies.

William Bartram, in Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws. Spelling modernised. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan.

14 April 2014


About midnight, having fallen asleep,
I was awakened and greatly surprised

at finding most of my companions
up in arms, and furiously engaged

with a large alligator
but a few yards from me.

One of our company, it seems,
awoke in the night, and perceived

the monster within a few paces of the camp,
who giving the alarm to the rest,

they readily came to his assistance,
for it was a rare piece of sport;

some took fire-brands and cast them
at his head, whilst others formed javelins

of saplins, pointed and hardened with fire;
these they thrust down his throat

into his bowels, which caused the monster
to roar and bellow hideously, but his strength

and fury was so great that he easily wrenched
or twisted them out of their hands, which

he wielded and brandished about and kept
his enemies at distance for a time;

some were for putting an end to his life
and sufferings with a rifle ball, but

the majority thought this would too soon
deprive them of the diversion and pleasure

of exercising their various inventions
of torture; they at length however grew tired,

and agreed in one opinion, that he had suffered
sufficiently, and put an end to his existence.

Taken from Travels of William Bartram by William Bartram, published 1928. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan.

12 April 2014


The ocean is empty
again. Here and there

a small galaxy of scales
marks where a bluefin

swallowed a herring.
The victim's scales

swirl in the turbulence
of the departed

tuna now bearing off at
high speed. Then each vortex

slows and stops. The sinking
scales gleam like diamonds

from a spilled necklace
then they dim. Finally

they wink out at depth.

From Quicksilver, Kenneth Brower, March 2014, National Geographic. Submitted by James Brush.

11 April 2014

Cocoons: A Fibonacci Poem

becoming more
and more relaxed
with uncertainty, more and more
relaxed with groundlessness, more and more relaxed with

not having walls around us to keep us
protected in a little box
or cocoon.—Enlightenment
we do

From The Bearable Lightness of Being by Pema Chödrön, March 2014, Shambhala Sun. Submitted by Ali Znaidi.

07 April 2014

The Dilemma

Picture this.
A man spends a
long bus journey
groaning over a very full bladder.
The bus finally pulls into a station
for a brief stop
and the guy rushes out,
leaving his bag on board.

But there’s a problem:
all the toilets are closed.
He runs around,
one muscle-twitch
away from humiliation,
looking for someone to open them.

Then, out of the corner of his eye,
he sees the bus pulling away,
with his possessions.

It’s a dilemma worthy
(well, almost)
of Hamlet:
to pee or not to pee?

Taken from 'Stage Struck: Frankly, my dear, you gotta make ’em give a damn' in The Irish Times, 3 April 2014. Submitted by Taidgh Lynch.

04 April 2014

Do You Have?

week one:
pattern for knitted
swimming trunks
will pay postage

week two:
Record by The Turtles
She’s Rather Be With Me
willing to pay all costs

week three:
Eye needed for an emu
(Rod Hull’s 70cm/27 1/2 in puppet).
Will pay costs

week four:
knitting pattern for a
lady’s jumper with a
blue and white Chinese
willow pattern on the front

week five:
Aretha Franklin CD
or cassette, The First Time
Ever I Saw Your Face.
will pay all costs.

week six:
Microwave Cookery Books
Will pay postage.

week seven:
Manual or photocopy
for a Sharp QL310
portable memory display
typewriter. Will pay costs.

week eight:
Instructions for a sony
ericksson K7001 mobile
phone. will pay costs

week nine:
Copy of the late Steve Conway’s song,
My Thanks To You.
Will reply to all letters.
Will pay postage and expenses.

week ten:
Hayne’s Ford Focus
LX 2011 car manual.
Will pay costs.

week eleven:
Knitting pattern for
anything using two odd
pins, one small and one
large. Will pay any costs.

week twelve:
DVD of the film, The
Merry Widow.

Adverts from the 'Do You Have?' page of Yours magazine, various issues spring 2012. Submitted by Anna Percy.

02 April 2014

Window in the House of Mirrors, Market Street, 1889

At the top
is a clear-eyed maiden
whose lips smile joy.
and to the left, framed
in long hair
is a horribly sensuous face,
eye closed in a leer
thick slobbering lips.

Next, is the stupid fat face
of a glutton. Then comes
the hard cold face
of a woman not much
older than the young girl above,
the fifth
face. In the narrow
ell of the house,
behind her is that embittered
old man with cruel eyes,
his hairy moustache
cushioning bulbous jaws.

A description from a file in Denver Public Library of stone carvings on an old Colorado brothel. Via Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West by Anne Seagraves (1994, Wesanne Publications). 'Cushioned' changed to 'cushioning'. Submitted by Angela Readman.

31 March 2014

Wardrobe Mistress

My mother is ninety and likes
To wear a nice dress.
But she is tiny.

Size ten, and only five feet tall, she likes
Colour, nothing too clingy.
And needs a collar.

She would also like some nonslip
Ankle boots that are
Size four and a half.

Please help.

Nobody seems to cater for
Small, slim people of a certain age
Who are not terrifically flexible.

Do not want low necklines.
Do not like black and beige.

Taken from the "Wardrobe Mistress" column in the Sunday Times' Style Magazine, 29 September 2013. Submitted by Kirsten Luckens.

28 March 2014

Wood Green chopping city

I've shown you how to chip,
I've shown you how to chop,
I've shown you how to dice and slice.

These sad people who spend
all their time chopping stuff up
in the kitchen - all you need's just
three cuts across like this.
You won't find an onion chopper any quicker!

They're not cheap.
If you're looking for cheap stuff getahtofere.
I've been using this same machine
on my demonstrations for fifteen years.

And you get a free spirally cutter, look -
you can use the peel for earrings.
There's a booklet with both words and pictures
so if you can't read the words, just look at the pictures.

They're £24.95 on TV,
so you're saving almost a fiver.
If you can't afford it today,
stick to the knife,
don't bother me,
Not bein' rude,
but I don't have to live in your house.

The patter of a cockney guy demonstrating an elaborate kitchen vegetable cutting machine in Wood Green Shopping City, London, 2004. Submitted by Richard Tyrone Jones.

24 March 2014

Scientific American

You sink into their brains
a little socket with a screw on it
and the electrode can then
be screwed deeper and deeper
into the brainstem,

and you can test at any moment
according to the depth,
which goes at fractions of the mm,
what you're stimulating,

and these creatures are not
merely stimulated by wire,
they're fitted with a miniature
radio receiver so that they can be
communicated with at a distance.

The technique is very ingenious.
I mean you could press a button
and a sleeping chicken would jump up
and run about, or an active chicken

would suddenly sit down and go to sleep,
or a hen would sit down and act
like she's hatching out an egg,
or a fighting rooster would go into depression.

Taken from Aldous Huxley's speech "The Ultimate Revolution", given on 20th March 1962 at Berkeley Language Center. Submitted by Howie Good.

20 March 2014

Buddhist bullseye

The look of
the moment
Infinity scarves

Sign in the Juniors department of Target, 1 March 2014. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

17 March 2014

Place & Time

The atoms in a fluid can roll and tumble
and cascade around each other.
It's that flowing freedom that gives
fluid motion its hypnotic quality.

Allow yourself to become mesmerized
by the flow of a fast-moving river
around a bridge trestle and you'll know what I mean.

And there is dance in the roiling turbulence.
But, most importantly, the choreography
you're watching doesn't care about place and time.
What you see before your eyes today
is being repeated all across the cosmos.

If you don't believe me, go flush your toilet.

Taken from the NPR article, "How To See A Galaxy In Your Toilet Bowl", 18th February 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

14 March 2014


once i had a boil on my butt
and i went to the doctor. She told me

just to keep it clean and it will go away.
that was about a year ago now.

Now i get boils on my butt and in between my legs.
It is so annoying. It hurts when I sit down

and thats all we do in High School.
I am obese and my mother says

its because my legs are rubbing together.
She is probably right.

I am trying hard to lose weight
but these boils are getting in the way.

it is getting out of hand. Oh yeah, and
for some reason, which i don't know, all these boils

are leaving purple marks and not small ones.
I just need some help with this.

Is this a huge problem?

From a comment left at, 25 June 2013. Submitted by Jo Bell.

12 March 2014

From the clods

Flocks of seagulls are flying with the rooks and starlings
white plumage makes them visible.
The grass has not grown,
would hardly hide a mouse.
The smallest bird injured by
how bitter the weather is.

Sharp against the sky
four oxen draw the ancient wheeled plough
to and fro on that open ridge
like ploughing on the dome of St Paul’s:
nothing for the rooks.
Now and then a lark sings in despite of
the bitter wind shaking to pieces
agriculture generally
while the house is falling.

From Field and Farm by Richard Jefferies (Phoenix House, 1957), chapter V 'On the Farm'. Submitted by Rebecca Gethin.

10 March 2014


As the car
in front of us
the lanky German
driving our car
that he was going
to look away
from the road
and slam
on the accelerator.

And he did.

This is how
the future
creeps into
the present.

Taken from the NPR article, By The Time Your Car Goes Driverless, You Won't Know The Difference, 4th March 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

07 March 2014


there is a car
and in that car there is
a person and a person and a person

far in the distance


From the New York Times crossword puzzle, 27 January 2014. Submitted by Peter Valentine.

05 March 2014

Why We Can't See What's Right in Front of Us

People tend to fixate on the common
use of an object. For example, the people on the Titanic

overlooked the possibility that the iceberg
could have been their lifeboat.

Newspapers from the time estimated the size of the iceberg
to be between 50-100 feet high and 200-400 feet long.

The Titanic was navigable for awhile
and could have pulled aside the iceberg.

Many people could have climbed aboard it to find
flat places to stay out of the water

for the four hours before help arrived.
Fixated on the fact that icebergs sink ships,

people overlooked the size and shape of the iceberg
(plus the fact that it would not sink).

From Why We Can't See What's Right in Front of Us, Tony McCaffrey, Harvard Business Review, 10 May 2012. Submitted by Emma Rae Lierley.

03 March 2014

THIS IS NOT A LOVE THING - The Harlot’s Progress 2014

1. Arrival in London

Boy have you been a lucky girl
new in town and everybody’s
darling: love, desire and a tender
touch always has the boys high
for candy kisses, little miss.

Beware the late night
luxury love, enjoy the
good times - for a day.

2. Quarrel with her protector

Introducing a girl in a million.
A young mistress, tamed and trained
with a luxury new apartment
and a wardrobe full of fun and games.

She’s fresh and lovely, a cherry ripe
English rose. Fresh and green
she must be seen.

3. Apprehended by a Magistrate

Come on gentlemen
report now!
She’s a genuine siren
talented and in control.

Urgent, be warned – your afternoon
fun just got sensored:
it’s playtime with visiting
magistrates now!!

4. Scene in Bridewell

So, a total transformation for
the country girl – complete captivation
caged amd reduced to tears. A taste of
no mercy, a broken sentence.

Bow and show repentance.

5. She expires while doctors quarrel

Great, she’s back!
In town, in pain. Feel
the sensation – it’s agony
she has friends: caring,
friendly and understanding
a lifetime too late. Ouch!

6. The funeral

Demonstrate respect for the
pleasure princess. This is not
a love thing, she’s heaven bound –
it’s judgement day for all.

Relax Venus
and enjoy the rest.

Taken from a series of 'tart cards' found in London phone boxes. The poem is a take on The Harlot's Progress by William Hogarth, using his original titles and featuring the found text to tell the story of each print. Submitted by Victoria Bean.

28 February 2014

A City on the Edge

St. John's is
gnawing on my bones.
You can't take it in
with tiny sips; you have
to choke it back, you have
to swig it down. You have
to wheeze about and stagger.

In St. John's,
the houses tumble uphill
if such a thing is possible
and the entire place-
the streets, the squares, the alleyways-
seems to have been laid out
without the aid of a ruler
(and possibly while
under the influence of screech).
From Hill O'Chips to Mile Zero,
from Water Street to the colourful homes
lined up on Jellybean Row:
the city is full of angles that

St. John's is, as the Irish say,
"a great place to get lost in."
Wander around long enough,
though, and you will
eventually end up
at the harbour
as surely as water flows downhill.

Great ships lie tethered, bleeding
rust into the bay,
and rising and falling
on s l o w exhalations
of water. From the pier,
the bay looks like a landlocked lake,
the Narrows sealed off by
perspective and distance.
The very air
tastes of

I am homesick for St. John's,
and it isn't even my home.
I miss the city and I think of it often,
the way one wonders about
a boozy uncle who comes crashing
into your life every couple of years
and then charges off,
leaving a trail of tall tales
and laughter in his wake.

It is a good city, this fishing village
on the eastern edge of
North America.

It gnaws on you.

From The City on a Rock, Will Ferguson,, 21 July 2003. Submitted by Megan.

26 February 2014

You Latinist

You Latinist?
I doubt it.
Nah lad.
You alive?
Year man, hope so.
I’ve survived on ice cream.

It’s all good in the hood
thank you
I’m gonna get cained and wash-up
In the bath. Ahhh

The new terms will take effect from
7:30 pm
with balls and like a man.
Start your year helping someone else –
Just destroy the toilet and leave non alive.

Lines picked at random from recent text messages received by class members of the year 2 Music Practice Degree at UCLAN (Preston University). Submitted by Winston Plowes with contributions (in order) from DF, TF, AL, BE, JH, KM, JH, MG, SO, LG, JL, CE, NW, CH and MM.

21 February 2014

Controlled Burn 1

We bite
When people have something to say

Every second counts

In tune
Like a record player
Screaming at a wall

Die, die my darling

Die alone
Wide awake on Lake Street
Black heart broken

Sunbelt scars
Where are they now

Red Sky
Navigation point

Where we’re going we don’t need roads


You’re all welcome

The first 20 songs shuffled by my iTunes in the Punk genre. Submitted by Ryan Falls.

19 February 2014

Mysterious ways

I needed a new car
as my old one was so unreliable
it kept breaking down.
I couldn’t see any way
that I could afford to get one.
After I prayed the way you said,
I not only got a better car
but it was bright red.

A testimonial on the website More Than Life, retrieved 4 February 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

17 February 2014

Melody of the soul

Across a nation long captivated
By Western classical music,
People reacted with remorse, outrage
And even the rare threat of a lawsuit
After Mr. Samuragochi’s revelations
That he had hired a ghostwriter since the 1990s
To compose most of his music.

The anger turned to disbelief
When the ghostwriter himself
Came forward to accuse Mr. Samuragochi
Of faking his deafness,
Apparently to win public sympathy
And shape the Beethoven persona.

The scandal has brought
An abrupt fall from grace
For Mr. Samuragochi,
A man who looked the part
Of a modern-day composer
With his long hair,
Stylish dark suits
And ever-present sunglasses.

Taken from the New York Times article, In Japan, a Beloved Deaf Composer Appears to Be None of the Above, 7 February 2014. Submitted by Mark Dzula.

14 February 2014

This is her

Names have power,
so let us speak of hers.

Her name is Sharbat Gula,
and she is Pashtun,

that most warlike of Afghan tribes.
It is said of the Pashtun

that they are only at peace
when they are at war,

and her eyes—then and now—
burn with ferocity.

She is 28, perhaps 29, or even 30.
No one, not even she, knows for sure.

Stories shift like sand
in a place where no records exist.

From 'A Life Revealed', by Cathy Newman, National Geographic, April 2002. Submitted by Angi Holden.

12 February 2014

Working life

People simply empty out.
They are bodies with fearful
and obedient minds.
The color leaves the eye.
The voice becomes ugly.
And the body. The hair.
The fingernails. The shoes.
Everything does.

Charles Bukowski in a letter to John Martin, Reach for the Sun, Selected Letters, 1978-1994, vol. 3. Submitted by Howie Good.

08 February 2014

A UK Taxpayer Considers Concorde

As a way
of getting over the Atlantic
it may have sucked

but as a beautiful thing
to look up and see

over Reading
and the Thames Valley
at 6pm every afternoon

it was worth

A friend's Facebook comment, 22 January 2014. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

03 February 2014

UKIP Weather Forecast: It’s Raining Men

A morning kiss between two consenting adults
will lead to drizzle on higher ground.
An area of blame will move in from the east
before drifting away and settling over Brussels.
Dark clouds are forming over the Midlands
following voluntary sexual intercourse
between two unmarried persons.
Temperatures will plummet as a result
of a man in Cumbria enthusiastically browsing
through a home furnishings catalogue.
The early sunshine in the Cotswolds
has been replaced by cloud after a man
spent a suspiciously long time grooming his facial hair.
The sun makes a brief appearance
after John Barrowman stubs his toe
on the corner of a wardrobe.

Compiled from tweets by @UkipWeather in response to UKIP Councillor David Silvester's remarks linking bad weather to same-sex marriage. Submitted by Angi Holden.

01 February 2014

Typo in a Dead Language

The scene is in a synagogue,
but the word probably has nothing to do with religion.
It seems that the butchers in town
were either at fault, or the ones faulted.
Something about meat being sent out of the shtetl,
and the butchers collecting money.
Those protesting in half-mumbled sentences
end their words with "kupkes kupkes"
or possibly "kuFkes kuFkes."
I don't see how hats or head-coverings would be involved,
unless it was somehow used as a symbol of protest
(maybe something "socialist," like waving the flag,
or similar to the Bund motto: sher un ayzn [scissors and iron])
or something like throwing down a gauntlet
(in this case a hat - maybe like the Muslims throw shoes)
or used as a swear word or curse...
and someone else suggested a typo (twice?).

From a discussion about the Yiddish word 'kupkes' on Mendele, a moderated mailing related to the Yiddish language. Original post on this page (vol23011.txt), 9 November 2013. Submitted by Howie Good.

27 January 2014


The force of laughing can dislocate jaws,
prompt asthma attacks,
cause headaches, make hernias protrude.

It can provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope
or even emphysema (this last,
according to a clinical lecturer in 1892).

Laughter can trigger the rare but possibly grievous
Pilgaard-Dahl and Boerhaave’s syndromes.

There are choking hazards,
such as ingesting food during belly laughs.

We don’t know how much laughter is safe.

There’s probably a U-shaped curve:
laughter is good for you,
but enormous amounts are bad, perhaps.

Taken from Who Says Laughter’s the Best Medicine? in The New York Times, 20 December 2013. Submitted by Howie Good.

24 January 2014


In case you don’t know me, Hi. Im Diana.
I’m a 30 year old lady.
Itallerthan your average girl,
thinner tha your average girl,
and and active than your average girl.

Yeah I run an ice crea business for a living,
but like to thing
I’m healthier than your average girl too.
No priorn medical history. Nothing.

my first ever ride in an ambulance
was uneventful – the hops;ital
is a 5 minute drive from my folks’ house.

By now I had somehow regained some ability to sspeak
and answered the EMT’s incessant questionsining.
still stuumbling over my words,
even laughin at my mstakes.

From Bad Year for Boars, an account by Diana Hardeman about suffering a stroke, written 30 December 2013, a week after the event. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

22 January 2014

Notes in My Barefoot Voice

Result, restful, mellow, autumnal.
How the asters cheer me! So old-
fashioned-looking, in the plump
white mug that’s making do
for a vase. In these
strange, uncertain
times, I sit
down to

From Notes in My Barefoot Voice by Diana Atkinson, July 2002, Shambhala Sun. Submitted by Eugenia Hepworth Petty.

20 January 2014

It's a long way to fall from a skittish horse.

Horses are not meant to be sat upon.
Too high and fast. Large herbivores –
small brain, strong flight instinct.

The problem here (apart from an approaching rattly lorry,
narrow high-hedged lane, attempted evasive action
and two highly unexpected wheelie bins)
was more the equally small brain,
and total lack of skill or co-ordination,
on the part of the rider.

The lanes are normally very quiet.
We'd mostly been riding in the forest
(though that is full of scary squeaky branches,
suddenly erupting birds, unpredicted falling twigs).
Ah, but those are nature noises.

Machinery represents a threat of a different order:
a parked helicopter,
sabre-toothed bicycles.
And tractors. And buses.

Plastic carrier bags in hedges.
They are the most scary and dangerous of all.
They can eat a horse whole, apparently.

Taken from a Facebook discussion amongst riding enthusiasts about a friend's recent fall from a horse. Submitted by Angi Holden.

17 January 2014

Paradox of entailment

It is raining
It is not raining
George Washington was made of rakes.

An example paradox of entailment from Paradoxes of material implication on Wikipedia. Submitted by Sheila.

15 January 2014

Act Like a Man

Eddie stayed sceptical. He stretched, threw up his head, yawned, and tested the air with his sensitive nose. A trapped turbulence, as if the wind had solidified. He helped her to her feet. "Come, darling," he said. "Come." "You of all people," the Void communicated. Scanned him with his quick black eyes. The only thing she could make out in the dark was the gravel forecourt in front of the house. "You ain't talking to me." He called her back to pay for the cognac. He closed his book and drew out a bleating kid. the cultural context in which it was offered, the phrase "act like a man".

An online collaborative found poetry experiment, composed of the first line from page 50 (up to the full stop or end of line, whichever came first) in books taken from the shelves of 11 poets around the world. Submitted by Winston Plowes.

Contributors and sources: Winston Plowes,
The Five People You Meet in Heaven; Andrea Reiser Perkins, Sequoia; Sonja Johanson, The Future of Ice; Sarah Nichols, 'O City of Broken Dreams'; Catherine Nichols, Valis; Sherry Steiner, Midnight Cowboy; Laurie Kolp, Inkheart; Jenni B.Baker, The Sound and the Fury; Beth Ayer, The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Sheila Sondik, The Whispering Muse; Mildred Achoch, Raising a modern-day knight.

13 January 2014


I have walked that long road to freedom.
I have tried not to falter;
I have made missteps along the way.
But I have discovered the secret
that after climbing a great hill,
one only finds that
there are many more hills to climb.

I have taken a moment.

I learned that courage
was not the absence of fear,
but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not
he who does not feel afraid,
but he who conquers that fear.

Taken from a CNN article, "Mandela in his own words", 26th June 2008. Submitted by Angi Holden.

10 January 2014

Those Things Omitted in Masses for the Dead

the Altar is not incensed at the Introit
and the Subdeacon does not kiss
the hand of the Celebrant
nor is the Subdeacon blessed

the Deacon does not request the Blessing
nor does he kiss the hand of the Celebrant
nor are the lights held at the Gospel
nor is the incense carried

the book is not incensed
nor the Celebrant at the end
nor is the book brought to be kissed
the Subdeacon does not hold the Paten

the ministers
when handing something to the Celebrant
do not kiss his hand
nor do they kiss that which they hand to him

the breast is not struck

From the Rubrics of the Missale Romanum 1962, section XIII. Submitted by Dale Wisely.

06 January 2014

Hostage etiquette

You can ask them for basic questions like –
toilet, drinking, eating
In case of failure, do not mind
You can try again later.
In any case you do not have to threaten terrorists
phrases such as ‘You will still all be killed’
‘Soon comes your end’
This could cause psychological disruption
and the worst consequences.
Do not humiliate the terrorists.
Do not take weapons thrown by the terrorists.
Often the terrorists hide among the hostages.
Therefore all are suspected.
Always remember
if you are ready
calmly and confidently
to resist to the misfortune,
it will never HAPPEN to you.

Taken from a list of instructions found in a Ykaterinburg hotel, as described in the Financial Times article, A grim warning in the Russian regions, 3rd December 2013. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.