Monday, 24 January 2022



These operate by a triple motion:

* Randomly flick through a dictionary until my interest is piqued by a word I do not know

* Search online for an appropriate image 

* Expand on what occurs to me, below the image, with notes as necessary.

Started Jan 2022



Cornflowers sound as if they are named to be agrestal. But couldn’t the word apply usefully to many people, those who go a little feral as they chafe against the  restrictions of their conventional settings? 

Agrestal: growing wild in a cultivated field 


‘Will you marry me, Jason?’

‘The sleek Triumph Amourette Range combines elegance with sophistication to create a must have for every woman's lingerie drawer’ – but not for long, I suppose, for ‘amourette’ is defined as a trifling and ephemeral love affair. 

To take a notorious example of amourette action, in 2004, Britney Spears and Jason Alexander - apparently in a state of some intoxication - were married at her instigation. It lasted 55 hours before being annulled on the grounds that Spears ‘lacked understanding of her actions, to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to the marriage.’ Of the various models in Amourette adverts, I’ve chosen the one who looks most like Britney. She’s wearing a 10166797 Triumph Amourette 300 W Bra. It sounds too good to be so short-lived: according to Swiss manufacturer Triumph International the bra offers ‘a comfortable and contemporary fit and feel, paired with chic and intricate, feminine styling… The soft semi-sheer lace is both attractive and comfortable. The stunning neckline flatters and accentuates your curves for a delicate everyday lingerie look’. 



Has the time for the return of the aventail, out of fashion for 600 years? It does, after all, cover pretty much the negative of a medical mask: what better to celebrate on the catwalk when and if we get clear of using those?  

An aventail is a flexible curtain of mail attached to the skull of a helmet that extends to cover the throat, neck and shoulders. Aventails were most commonly seen on bascinets in the 14th century and served as a replacement for a complete mail hood. By the dawn of the 15th century, the plate-armoured neck guard of the Great Bascinet replaced the aventail. 



I’ve had one, but without the language to call it anything more specific than a blister. In fact a vesicle is a circumscribed elevation of skin of 0.5 cm or more in diameter containing a liquid, and a bulla is the same thing but over 0.5cm – it’s just a size thing. Maybe I've only had vesicles. As for what the illustration shows, it depends I guess on how big you print the photograph. 


Where are we going this year? Around the Sun with Circumsolar Tours: the furthest travel, yet the cheapest holiday - you don't even have to book...

The Earth travels about 584m miles (940m km) per year in circling the sun. That's about 1.6m  miles per day, or 66,627 mph.  Circumsolar is a rather unusual unusual word, in that it's easy to work out what it means - yet I hadn't seen it used before...



Does the availability of a word affect what you look at? I think it can. I don't recall ever taking much notice of the jointed stems of grasses and sedges, but now that I know that such a stem is one of the meanings of ‘culm’…     

The photograph is of the jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica), which sounds as if it must have particularly well-developed culms. 




How do you measure a dodkin – that is, any coin of small value? Real terms is surely advisable, and it turns out that the decimal penny is now the lowest value coin in British history: even though you get 100 to the £ as against 1,920 half-farthings (1842-69), 960 farthings (1707-1960) or 200 decimal halfpennies (1971-84). All were dodkins in their day, but the half-farthing, for example, never dipped below a value equivalent to 5p in current money. The BBC graphic takes the story to 2018, since when the 1p has depreciated further…                        



Can cows eat fog? Apparently so, fog being the term for long grass and other plants left standing in a pasture for winter grazing.


The less familiar word ‘Foggage’ is defined as ‘the right to pasture cattle on fog’. As a winter feeding system, foggage is becoming recognised as having environmental benefits compared with using silage.




What is the hexaplanation for this? hexapla is a sixfold text in parallel columns, most often used to show alternate translations of the bible. These columns are in the Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri in Columbia – they are the only remaining part of an Academic Hall that burned down in 1892. So the hexapla nation in question is the United States.




What can I buy with this? Something, surely? It’s a hiaqua - a necklace of large dentalium shells, formerly used as money by natives of the North Pacific coasts of America.


In this late 19th century necklace, columns of dentalium shells alternate with colourful beads and buffalo hide spacers. Dentalium is a large genus of tooth shells or tusk shells, marine scaphopod molluscs in the family Dentaliidae. Peoples of the Northwest Pacific Coast would trade dentalium into the Great Plains, Great Basin, Central Canada, Northern Plateau and Alaska for other items including many foods, decorative materials, dyes, hides, macaw feathers from Central America, and turquoise from the American Southwest.




‘Mease’ is a rare enough word that an image search throws it up only as a primarily American surname, mostly borne by long-haired women and bearded men. Here are Kurt, Alma, Philip, Tonya; Dailisa, Paul, Leslie, Edward; Jon, Sarah, Darrell, Julie; Jessica, Quentin, Anna and John Mease. Names apart, a mease is a unit of 500 herrings, though I saw no evidence of fishmongery in what information the net provides on this not-all-that-measly sample – albit, if they were herrings, 16 of them would make up only 3% of a mease.




The narwhal is generally cited as the obvious example of a one-toothed animal, but I’m not so sure. True, it is known for its single sword-like spiral tusk, a dental development which protrudes from their heads. Yet consider: both males and females are born with two small teeth embedded in their skulls, not one. Only in males does the front left tooth normally grow into a spiral tusk up to 10 feet long, so the description does little for the vast majority of females, though 3% of them do develop a (small) tusk. Moreover, 1 in 500 males develop a second tusk from the other tooth. Monodonts? It seems a superficial claim.


Where is the worst place to store fat? Probably the heart. But the question may be academic: so far as I know, there’s no way to control the geography of pinguescence – the process of becoming fat.



We could all do with an emotional plastron to cover our vulnerabilities.

This plastron is on the underside of a turtle. The term ‘plastron’ has also been applied to human body armour.


Birds and people hear pretty similarly, even though birds don’t have an external ear structure. Rather, their ear entrances are covered by auricular coverts, circles of soft loose-webbed feathers. Many owls, you might counter, do have external ears. However, these are just tufts of feathers: they have no connection to the skeletal structure of the ear and aren’t used to direct sound to its opening. Their true purpose is uncertain, but is likely to include camouflage, courtship, and communication, and to signal aggression to other owls. The technical term for such tufts is plumicorns (say 'plume-i-corn'), from the Latin for ‘feather-horn’.

Pictured is the Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus), the common name of which is likely to compound any  confusion.                                                


Is this a qoutity?

I think not. Whereas

these seventeen syllables

make up a haiku.

‘Quotity’ is a certain number of individuals etc, a nice contrast to the less specific nature of a quantity. A haiku, at least under western conventions, consists of the inviolable quotity of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. The image is of the Korean band Seventeen, taken in 2021. It has thirteen members, potentially undermining its status as a quotity equivalent to a haiku. There is an explanation: ‘Seventeen’ stands for ‘13 members + 3 units + 1 team’, representing the 13 individual members from 3 different units (hip-hop, vocal, and performance) who all come together to form the one K-pop group. Still, I'm not sure this Seventeen is a quotity. It may be, of course, that the question refers to itself, not to the band, in which case I'd say that the number of words / syllables / letters in 'Is this a quotity?' is too arbitrary a matter to make it a satisfying example - though it does contain seventeen characters, if we're including the spaces. 



Scapulimancy strikes me as implausible, even if you’re forecasting the prices or health of cattle.


In Ancient China oracle bones were used for divination: if an ox scapula was used, that was ‘scapulimancy’. Questions were carved onto the bone using a sharp tool. Intense heat was then applied with a metal rod until the bone or shell cracked: the diviner would then interpret the pattern of cracks to answer the questions, and add the prognostication to what was written on the bone. 



Is ‘slee’ a word, outside of the self-refuting pre-dawn thought: ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to slee…’? No, the dictionary passes sleekly enough from ‘sledge’ to ‘sleech’. So let me propose it: ‘a half-formed thought’. It is, however, Dutch for a sleigh. Never mind sheep: next time I can’t drop off, I’m going to imagine the slide-past of an infinite cavalcade of polar bears.



This may be a chance to make art: the nematic phases of liquid crystal – in which the molecules are oriented in parallel but not arranged in well-defined planes – could be rendered in a crystalline liquid to make an abstract painting that enacts its molecular process.


Note: this is Figure 1 from the 2021 paper ‘Meta-stable nematic pre-ordering in smectic liquid crystalline phase transitions’ by Nasser Mohieddin Abukhdeir and Alejandro D. Rey, Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal. It shows ‘a schematic of a growing liquid crystalline front summarizing the phenomena of interest: nematic (orientational) and smectic-A (lamellar) liquid crystalline ordering and interfacial splitting. The orientationally/translationally-order smectic-A mesophase is on the left (blue), orientationally-ordered nematic mesophase is in the center (green), and the isotropic liquid (no orientational or translational order) is on the right (red).’




Is this mere snotter? Or doesn't it matter that I’d never heard of a simple word with five meanings? 

Probably not, as there’s not a lot more to say…


Snotter: something of no importance / a length of rope with an eye spliced in each end / a fitting which holds the heel of a sprit close to the mast / to breathe heavily / to snivel




The Son Doong cave in Vietnam was discovered only in 1991. At some 9km in length, 200m in width and 150m in height, it is the largest currently known cave in the world and possibly the most spectacularly speluncar site. Towering stalactites form around a river running through a space so large it forms its own clouds. It contains unique animal species and rare ‘cave pearls’ - small balls of mineral deposits which form when water laden with minerals dripping from the ceiling falls too quickly to form a stalagmite.


‘Speluncar (adjective) - from the Latin spelunca, cave: of, pertaining to, or resembling a cave; of the nature of a cave’ – OED.




Are we compatibly thigmotropic? If I move to draw you into a kiss, will you melt into my arms - or pull away? 

This couple certainly look to be on the engaged side of  'thigmotropism': the movement of an organism in response to a stimulus, in particular the habit of turning towards or away from a physical contact.


Is this O’Keeffe’s tuzzy-muzzy? Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) vehemently denied any vaginal intent in such works as The Blue Flower, 1918. Yet few have accepted that, leading to her co-option by Freudians and feminists alike. Randall Griffin, in Phaidon’s book on her, suggests that ‘O'Keeffe's aim was to distinguish herself from her contemporary male artists by producing paintings that would seem both audaciously sexual and innately feminine’. Moreover, Lisa L. Moore has argued that her flowers should be seen as part of a lesbian tradition, since evidence suggests that O'Keeffe had several affairs with women. So perhaps 'tuzzy-muzzy' is the word for what she paints.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘1. A bunch of flowers’ and ‘2. The female genitals’.




What was I saying, that warrigals couldn’t drag me away? Well, maybe these could, provided that they moved on from each other.

‘Warrigal’ is an Australian term for a wild or untamed horse.



She’s wearing one: a belted jacket in cardigan-style. Maybe the wamus will warm us, too.


Monday, 27 December 2021




(from Ashurst New Forest unless indicated)

How many webs are there?

Far more, it seems,

than I’d have thought

before frost traced their patterns sharp and white.


Who built the tree house?

Rosie and Anna and Thomas and we,

we built the treehouse –

the Christmas Tree House, more accurately.

'When does the post go?'

'When it's collected,

my own true love. 

Will that suit your purpose?'

Why has this been tied up here?

As otherwise the bag would fall

as surely as its leaf friends

fall into litter.


How many peanuts?

540 in the average jar,

and so some 20 billion in a typical year

of round-the-world consumption.


Where did this come from?

We happened to bump into Anne -

though not as hard, as she explained,

as she’d bumped her car at exactly this point by the Co-op.

Why do cars park on the grass?

is the wrong question.

Why does grass insist on growing

where cars are going to park?


Do I like apples?

Well, I’d prefer pears

if they’d only sort being properly ripe

at just the time I want one.

Why are my wires?

is hardly a question 

until you reach the crux of it:


How long is it going to be

before they move on

from closing offices

to sealing off boxes?

In 1980 there were 22,500 Post Office branches in the UK: by 2020 that had halved to 11,250. There are currently 115,000 post boxes.

Is this a Stamplug?


The problem with adjudging that

is that I have no idea

what a stamplug is or what one looks like.


The image was the first one to appear in a Google image search for what I thought was the made-up word ‘Stamplug’ on 11.1.21 

What’s the Deal?

A shortage of burglars, deterred as they are

by security measures? Or a wealth in the area,

as proven by the need for alarms?

Shouldn’t This Be Hidden?

The very opposite of covert

may advertise that this is just an unconnected

box of paradoxical pretence…

Why Do the Days Get Shorter?

Because there’s less to do in them:

you wouldn’t want to stretch things out

in winter.

That said, it evens out over the year: all parts of the earth receive the same amount of daylight, but differently distributed.

What to do?

I heard the advice

‘ignore all advice’

but decided to take no notice.

Are we in balance?

No-one suspects so,

and this kind of offset

won’t be changing anything soon.

Isn’t that a Robert Ryman?

They must have flown him in

to deconstruct the fresco tradition

in the framing guise of brick.

Robert Ryman (1930–2019) was an American painter best known for abstract, white-on-white paintings, often playing adventurously with the material of their ground and with how they appear to be framed.

Are you still here?

Of course: my creeping rhizomes

go seven feet below the surface

and each of me spews 100,000 spores.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), often called mare’s tail, is an invasive, deep-rooted perennial weed that will spread quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage, crowding out less vigorous plants in beds and borders.

What is Rust?

Iron oxide, obv. But is it part of the metal

or merely a coating? Luckily

I only ask the questions…


Too young to die?

I know, I know.

It’s simply the start of an annual cycle longer than us.

And yet I had the thought.


Wind back five hundred years

and these might have been ill-fated maids –

born again in floral form,

retaining their anaemia’s complexion.


Shakespeare, in The Winter’s Tale, speaks of chlorosis as ‘a maladie / Most incident to maids’. There was a legend that young unmarried girls who died from this anaemia – of which one sign was a yellow-green complexion – were turned into primroses.

What is Craquelure?


Not the temptation to make bad jokes,

but wondering whether that old-paint effect

might be achieved by artificial means.


Half a million craquelures - cracks in the paint - run across the Mona Lisa.

How to be crazy

without being paving, albeit fairly close. 

Or is it me that's cracking

on the path to being crazy, albeit as a road? 

Forty orange conference chairs

are forty more than I expected.

Shall we put them out and take our places

to discuss just how they got here? 

This must be a pine cone 

pretending to be an ear of corn.

For were it an ear, pretending to be a cone,

how would it have fallen from a tree? 

I believe this is from Pinus strobus, the American-originating Eastern White Pine known as the Weymouth Pine in Britain. 


She warned me


that there was a lot of black ice,

but I didn’t see any -

which is why it’s odd that I slipped.

Think of all the ways

they can disport themselves,

and you'll wonder why the Elastic Band Kama Sutra

is yet to be published…


a real nowhere sign

tells us we’re in nowhere town

at a time when nowhere is the only place to go. 

(adjusted image)

Who drains the drains?

Not I, says the gutter, that’s way beyond my job description.

Not I, says the river, I'm well out of range.

Looks as if I'd better fetch a straw...

Why the warning?

So I can check out camera positions

before committing any crime.

Yet what crime is worth committing in this empty field?

If glove makes the world go round

what a shame

that this should be

so very compacted and wet.  



The lowest form of wit, you say?

I never heard that before.

My congrats on such a cutting counter!

Deciding from what distance

to photograph the lorry, I worried a little:

if they’re always near and far,

what happens if your move is local? 

As below, so above?

Not yet, but soon -  this is a rehearsal

for when spring returns, 

restricting the leaves to the tree's reflection.

Sick Unicorns?

If business is slow

this time of year,

they may be in a niche too far...

Toy breeds: you’re exempt

on the assumption that you can’t reach.

Others: when through, please bark three times –

the doorbell isn’t working.



If your dog can’t read – 

I’ve heard Great Danes aren't great with words –

please shout the bone out loudly as you hurl it.

Which way round?

Whether owners take after their pets

or pets take after their owners,

how come she's isn't walking a leopard? 

Not named

for resembling the snow they appear in

but after Schneetropfen – 17th century German pearl earrings.

Thought I’d drop that in...


Ask yourself

Are ducks with one leg Catholic?

Do bears shit in circles?

Does the Pope swim in the woods?



How much do I love nature?

Let me count the greens:

ivy, bramble, grass, trees, moss

bus stop shelter, lamp post.


Logic or aesthetics?

Of the many arrangements

of three cuboids on offer,

what made the bin men choose this one?


Is there a message

in how pollution leads to beauty

when the science of optics

has its way with oil spills in the wet?

The glovefruit palm

is fleshy, but rather bland:

the delicate notes are all reserved

for the very tip-tips of the fingers.


What’s on TV?

It depends: do you get cable?

And if not, where’s your aerial?

Most of it is rubbish anyway.

Word Association?

Towering Passions Burning Baptism Spark Blaze

Incendiary Injustice Burst Inferno Flames Inflamed

Flammable Trail Bright Materials Fire Remark


Just part of her boots remains

I said, and that unrecognisably charred.

But it was me the sergeant accused –

of wasting his time. 

Why do birds peck the yellow crocus most?

There are theories you can google,

but I reckon it’s the lack of beetle-black ones,

which they’d be on in a flash.

The crocus has a rare plurality of plurals: ‘crocuses’, ‘croci’ and ‘crocus’ are all correct.


Anyone home?

Seems not,

but it’s one o’clock:

they may well be out to lunch.


How many cars?

When the call comes for photographic evidence

I will be ready to cover 

five minutes of Feb the 21st.

Picture shows the Metrocount Vehicle Classifier System

We all have our goals

but are they aligned,

let alone shared?

And which of them is right? 


I don’t think there’s a multiverse 

because I can't believe

that I'd end up in the one

that features Celebrity Squares and Love Island. 


The local question

of why Wood Road has metal posts

but New Road’s nicely retro-styled in wood

may be one to ask the Parish Council?


The browns dropping down

meet the home brown of ground

and go down to the depths

from which all future browns come around.


Now we have the greening of stump discs.

But what should we name this mossed-up part

of what was once a tree?


Tredge   (noun) plural: tredges


 The near-flat remnant of a tree now cut down. Believed to be a portmanteau of ‘trunk' and ‘wedge’.

The branches / Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures / But we have only a tredge’ - anonymous early C21st after Henry Reed's 'Naming of Parts', 1942 

You say no entry

I say no problem,

I’m perfectly happy making no progress,

living a life that’s only ever now.



Of gorse   

I know it’s prickly as an argument

for getting us from a to c, when b involves a cliff path route

that’s up and down far more than it’s along. 




there are no limits.

Sometimes there are gapswecannotleave.

But I suspect a limit has been reached.


Gorse can get

no friendlier than when

pretty much the same flowers

sweep away the sharpness with a new broom.

The common broom (Cytisus scoparius) is pictured, as opposed to gorse (Ulex europaeus)

The stretched and compressed

of the matter is this:

why are there more letters in ‘short’

than in ‘long’?


On the one hand I worry

the padlock’s been left unlocked.

On the other I reassure myself: 

how likely's the fence to be stolen? 


Here’s my entry

in the least interesting local statistics contest,

highways section: 40% of road signs stand on wooden posts,

30% on concrete and 30% on metal. 


If your granny’s a bit of a cow

or your father’s one for pigging out

here’s the place to rest them up

before their final rest.


Bag up the thrushes

frogs and moles:  

this is how you pave a garden

to do your best for worms.


Anyone for tennis?

I suspected not.

But you need to accept the nature of the game

when all the clubs and courts have been locked down.


Wherever I make my home

that’s not my hat –

for, if it were,

I’d hang it in the hall.

It’s a start

but if even the fraction of solar output

that makes it to earth could be harnessed in full

we could power ten thousand worlds.



Tempting as it is

to climb a tree on fungal steps

the only exercise I plan

is of my self-control. 

I crept up


at least by the lumbering standard of pigeons -

it was off in a  blur of coo.

 Who’s been eating my kerb?

And, to cut to the concrete

nub of the matter:

when and how and why?

Had the lids been swapped?

If so, I saw on second glance,

more than these three bins were involved

in what must have been a complicated multi-business business…


The advantage of this wall

is that when it falls -

as all walls must in the context of eternity -

it won’t be hard to build back, won’t be hard at all. 

Who’s stolen my lorry?

And more to the point,

how did they do so without so much

as ruffling its cover?


She was distraught

Now they were a couple 

and nothing could take away the pain

of having once stood there.

The outside mat

is puzzling. You can wipe your feet,

all very well and good for the soles -

but then what?


In the clearing  

of not-yet-trees,

where everything is what it’s going to be, 

you need only look beyond to see the future.



From the Middle Dutch

for kitten,

tails of which they may resemble,

tales of which involve me gentling a spring-kissed cheek.

'Catkin' is a loanword from the Middle Dutch katteken, meaning 'kitten' (compare also German Kätzchen). This name is due either to the resemblance of the lengthy sorts of catkins to a kitten's tail, or to the fine fur found on some catkins. - Wikipedia

Car for sale

One careful owner,

albeit with a rather narrow

entrance to the drive.


If you’re immortal

there’s no time not to waste – just as,

if you’re going to sail your boat round the garden,

it might as well be upside-down.


This makes me think of tipping points

proving closer than I think –

even when I’ve fine-tuned that

for thinking that’s what I think.

I myself like Bud  

and there’s much to be said for consistency of taste.

Marriage is based on it. But is this the house

of someone who should seek a beer divorce?



My question

I suppose is this:

couldn’t they have carried the bench around the net

instead of pushing it through?


'But I want to enjoy the daffodils

myself, not provide pleasure to others…

I guess that means

it’s OK for me to pick them.'


Convention dictates

a positive spin

on the beauties of spring

but petal drops are set to poop the party pretty pronto. 



there are hardly any flowers in the park:

the notice is superfluous or tardy.

Maybe I should move it to our garden?



Are three heads better than one?

Only if you’re multi-tasking.

Daffodils – unless you count being in poems

as doing something – are not. 

The primula  

 is common or garden –

in this case garden, though I see they've escaped

to the ambiguous territory of a bank just beyond. 


Better red than dead?

Perhaps. But what I’d ask

the red dead-nettle’s

‘Red, where is thy sting?’

One must respect

the  grape hyacinth's cheek:

neither a grape nor a hyacinth

yet making a claim to be both.

I think of narcissi

as social plants in not-quite-golden, not-quite-daffodil hosts –

but here’s a singleton,

staring into the lonely pool of its self.

This poem (and the daffodil poem above) refers to Wordsworth's 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud', 1802, as well as the legend of Narcissus 


Do not confuse

the hyacinth’s elongated pink

with the much more stunted lowercinth’s  

ironically imperial purple.


Imagine being a celandine  

and knowing that almost everyone

assumes you’re something else.

Or are these, actually, buttercups?

Holland has a billion tulips

we have eight.

But quantity is secondary:

we glory in our octet like a sea.

If I were a plant

I’d stay in the garden,

with prioritised ground and regular water.

Why act aubrietially, climbing down the wall to get out?

Ah, the netic

and nitudinous ic

of isterial and nificent nolia -  

niloquent num opus of the spring!


Or, if you prefer to magnify word lengths: ‘Ah, the magnetic / and magnitudinous magic / of magisterial and magnificent magnolia - / magniloquent magnum opus of the spring!’ Moreover, the OED gives ‘Magnolious’ as a slang term for ‘magnificent, splendid, large’.  

It comes to something

when sunflowers fade in the sun…

Is it down to soil, or location?

Or have we just not watered them enough?

Daisy, Daisy!

I'm half crazy without even loving you

the way I do magnolia’s flare

and the sonorous depths of tulips.


Cosmic rays are all around

From supernovae to the ground

it takes them aeons

to manifest terrestrially as flowers. 


Our sentries are Photinia

I’m not sure there’s any deterrent effect

but the steps are resplendent

when wearing such magnificent epaulettes.  


If you believe that daffodils aspire to be trumpets

this pair won’t help your case.

But if you reckon they tend towards the inner ear,

then these would be why. 

'Robust, fragrant, multiple award-winning Narcissus 'Tahiti' features large, double flowers, 11cm across, with multiple golden-yellow petals and vermilion interior ruffles' - garden shop catalogue

Which of us will not fall

in time 

and - at the same time - in space?

That said, I’m doing better than these camellias.



The time has come 

the end of March –

to double up on bud-to-bloom

and see how long the camenolia lasts.

These flowers may not be as real

as the emotions assuredly were,

but there’s a different kind of plangent

to bouquets that can't be refreshed.

The ageing process?

I know it well:

the rust, the bandage, the lumber past

what might have been the marker for a sprint...

When I run dry

by which I mean I go for a run

but can’t think what to write –

this is where I’ll come.



When the green invades the wall

we’re not concerned at all.

But when the wall invades the green

protesters will be seen…


My name is Paul

so where’s my property?

Can I at least

lay claim to the lorry?

Where’s my partner

and soul mate, my best friend with the benefit of sox appeal? 

If you should see my better half hanging around,

please ask her to hotfoot it back.



If unpainting the door

required as much effort as painting it first-off

I doubt they'd have bothered.

But here's the result.


When the stream delivers

 the dead to the living,

you know it’s time

to reflect on moving on.




In Boxland all are classified

according to who they used to be. 

You can peek in the boxes

but you can’t take anyone out.

Is this is the fence 

demarking the limits of make-do-and-mend

as a gloss on the tactic of taking no action

because it’s assumed that all will be OK? 

Maximum dark is maximal richness

So were I a golden dung fly –

nice combination, shit and gold! -  

this is where I’d feed.


If the car came off worse

I fear for the driver.

Or is this internally illuminated multi-aspect traffic bollard

just off in a sulk at being disobeyed?




How relevant is it

that Bluebell Knoll by the Cocteau Twins

is one of my favourite albums?

Ah well, I feared as much. 


Dog football is serious

in these parts: not only is fair play emphasised,

a video ref is always on stream

to bring any misconduct to heel. 



‘The fairest flower that ever bloomed’?

John Clare may have gone too far,

but as he hints –‘ It does me good, thou flower of spring’ –

their petals are among the best to eat.

Quotes are from John Clare: 'The Pansy', c. 1825. 


Well, of course they’re here,

leaving the bed clear for daffs and tulips

to dance and maybe smooch a bit…



I’m awarding this non-zone

the non-poem status

of fences and lines that signify nothing

beyond their own lack.


‘I didn't mind the melodrama

the schmaltzy romance, even the horror

but when it came to the avant-garde

I pretty much had to move out.’





In a road in Ashurst 

The apparition 

of these petals on the ground:

faces of Covid-19.


A reversal of Ezra Pound's famous imagist poem from 1913: 

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd: 

Petals on a wet, black bough.

That’s not my way then

though I’m nagged by the fear

that I could be falling

for reverse psychology or double bluff...





Three weeks on…

comes the post-tulip.

Longevity by mayfly standards,

but that is not our measure. 

Energy, warmth, happiness, optimism

jealousy, grief, despair and mourning.

What aren’t marigolds supposed to stand for?  

To me, they’re just orange.

See, for example, Petal Republic’s online guide




is looking good for his age,

his gender fluid in a modern way

that loops us back to the action of the plays.


Seven of Shakespeare’s plays feature cross-dressing characters, eg in ‘As You Like It’, Rosalind dresses as a man in order to reduce the chance of being attacked as she travels through the forest. When first performed - with an all-male cast - that had the additional confusion potential of it being a man playing the woman who was pretending to be a man… 


The faster the train goes

the less time you get

to take your nap or read your book.

Should I make an alternate complaint?

(between Basingstoke and Winchester)


Who thinks of a rose

in terms of its seeds?

Yet these aren’t really dandelions

until their means to multiply takes off.


'I'm sorry Madam

but they're too square.

Any old cleaner could deal with your

over-conventional windows.'



When nature meets artifice

and both meet their shadows

the metaphysical implications

cannot be held back by a fence.



The Duke of Edinburgh

 will be buried today –

and though I’m nothing of a Royalist,

here’s the golding of a black bamboo.

(Southampton, 17.4.21)


The Rustonica is doing well

I guess the soil must suit it:

not just iron-rich,

but in forms a plant can easily absorb.



If you see a cowboy with a naked head


you may not realise he’s a cowboy

due his not wearing this –

but if you do, please tell him: here’s his hat.


Top ten pollinator


caterpillar catnip, not a bad looker...

I think it was the scuddy old name

that held the Yellow Beebliss back.


Yellow Beebliss (Jacobaea vulgaris) was formerly known as Common Ragwort. 


Who’d have thought that

an iron chain could disguise itself

as a field of stone?

Or, do I mean, that pebbles could rust? 

I like the idea

of the fence-window: security maintained,

yet the view unreduced.

Something feels wrong, nevertheless.


'If you suspect that special occasion

won’t be so special after all,

our limousines will cater 

to your disappointment.'



This is like being stuck in a nursing home

forever: the tipping point

at which the head gets too heavy for its neck

may never quite be reached.

Rebecca Manson: ‘End of Season Sunflowers’, 2020, in her show at Josh Lilley Gallery, London - porcelain, stoneware, glaze, steel and concrete


How long must a ruin-in-progress

be in progress

before it becomes

a ruin, with no such hope?



Might the older form of me

usurp its younger predecessors,

rather like a dandelion

effecting a total eclipse of its previous self? 

(There is a bloom behind the seedhead)

Here's the computer

that lifts the bridge.

It seems to be signalling stop and go or up and down

at exactly the same time...



If this is the door

to inner peace

and eternal happiness,

I’m ready to go through.

(door painted on a wall in Bermondsey)


The product

I envisage –

‘Emperor Trousers’ –

will consist wholly of holes.



‘I don’t like to boast

but facts are facts. Though I’m not that keen

on the strength of condom

that the vigour of my thrusts obliges.’


'I know that money

can’t buy me love

but I’m willing

to give it a try.'

(Image to follow)

Chile, 1979

Taping the road’s dashes into crosses

was about as much protest as you could get away with.

Now it’s just a whim.


How to take portraits under a tree

Don’t point at the sky.

Don’t allow the trunk to intervene.

If you hear a very loud creaking and cracking, move fast.



We’ll get to you quickly  

to check on the volume,

dust off the mechanics

and cut back that wisteria the thieves love to climb.


Is it alright if I take two?

one to be crease-stained

by day to day use,

one to keep mint in my growing collection…



‘No offence meant, but what are you for?’

‘None taken. My function

is linking up posts that might have been lonely:

the fence as divider is very old school.’


If bluebells can be white

can heaven be hotter than hell? Can a desert

wilt in the sun? Can butterflies sting like bees?

Can all the human colours get along?


Either white horses are bigger then black ones

or this a study in perspective. 

And, as David Hume would say,

you can’t distinguish purely from the photograph.


Given that ‘all our experimental conclusions proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past’ (David Hume, 1737) we are basing our assumptions about the image on past experience of natural laws - which may prove an unreliable guide to the future - not on reason.

My question isn’t

whether you can eat them straight off the tree

but whether it’s crabapple’s onewordconjoined

or crab apple’s stretched-out two?

The word is ‘ruderal’

Old-man-in-the-spring the groundsel may be,

and dead by summer - but it’s one of the first to reappear

in places we’ve disturbed.


Among road marking specialists

the Petal Kerb's a matter of debate.

Does it mean you can’t park there,

or just that you should do it very carefully?



This is a poem

of the ilk that you find by googling the term, 

though that might be stretching

the ilk of the poem...


Wikipedia uses this image for its entry on Ilk, ‘a village in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, in the Northern Great Plain region of eastern Hungary’.


One of those days to ask

‘Whither the spring?’ 

and, given it seems to have withered without much sign of summer,

‘Just how many seasons there are?’

April 2021 had the lowest average UK minimum temperature for the month since 1922


for the flowers!

I can't tell you

How much they meant to me.


Roll on summer!

For this could be the finest mattress

I've ever seen on the street -

and right by my potentially superfluous hotel...


It occured to me that the words ‘potentially superfluous’ were potentially superfluous here, 

so I left them in



Whatever this is called

I like the mix of modesty and assertion

and the story of how the last unnamed plants

called out to God not to forget them. 

Myosotis sylvatica, commonly known as forget-me-not. 

Have you ever seen a poppy that is pink?

I suppose so, but this rinky-dink struck me

in a way its cousins don't,

for all the positivity of their reds. 

No Fake Profiles?

That’s reassuring. I’d better report this

as not being spam.

Such a shame I don’t speak Russian!

‘Everything is fine   

till I’m due to be watered:

I can't think what gets into me

when I have to attend to myself.’


Re-seeding: The Sequel

is awaiting release.

The rushes don’t look promising,

but that may be a strategy to get the punters talking.

Plant Blown Over in Supermarket Drama 

Fortunately, I didn't see it happen:

the aftermath

was quite enough disturbance for the day.





For Sale

Preloved fitted bedroom suite,

delivered in handy modular form

for flexible and rapid self-assembly.  


I didn't used to believe

in fairies. No amount of clapping

could have changed my mind.

But then I found this door... 

 In J.M. Barrie's play 'Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up' (1904)Tinkerbell's revival depends on the live audience expressing their belief in fairies through clapping.


Now I understand

the phrase ‘a pool of light’

but wonder whether this

is just a puddle...


'Well, Mrs C

I look at it this way:

if they hadn’t wanted us to talk to each other

they wouldn’t have planted us so close together.'



If I were flower

I wouldn’t accept a bovine name

at the level of a shed or a pat.

‘Spread parsley’: how about that?

Cows do in fact like to eat Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), so there is a reason for the name. 


Logic says

that ball needs kicker

less than kicker needs ball…

yet this one did look lonely.



There's a lot of bird call

in this picture: can you tell the blackbird

from the robin

from the thrush?

(Southwark Park)


I had a girlfriend

called Fern. She hated the name

and never wore green.

I was frond of her, but it didn't last.

I am rather clinical 

and that can be a waste 

of my emotional potential.

But this looks like a whole other level.

(St Thomas' Hospital, London)


I could have chosen

from several shots of empty lawn

from which the rook had fully flown -

but would you have believed the bird was there?


You really ought

to smell this picture,

then you’d have the point of it –

I’m not too sure I’d bother with looking.

There’s an oddly even pattern

to who’s up and about

and who’s asleep or out

in this tower block on the ground.



The king of the birds

pooed by a pigeon! 

There would have been trouble,

had the eagle not been made of stone.


Sooner or later

sure as landlines cannot move

there’ll be a root and branch review

of what to do with telephone boxes.

(Archway, London)


Welcome to the open society

No firewalls need be breached

to invite the neighbours and beyond

to gather in your garden.


The layers being

Petal-tarmac. Stone. 

Petal-pebble. Iron. 

Stone. Petal-grass.


You expect it, but that rhododendrons

who hardly show age – live longer than us

did catch me by surprise. 



Who’d be a dapple?

Dappled is as dapple does

and dapple does what leaf and light

doubly direct them to dapply-do do.


‘If you don't like us’ 

ran their chant -

delivered with good spirit, if rather loud and maskless -

‘You can get the next train!’


(Canada Water to London Bridge)


The perfect meal

was enjoyed near here.

Perfect, that is,

for drumming up business for the NHS. 


(Woolwich, London)



Too fast to be a guinea pig 

too big to be a mouse, too dry

to be a beaver, too forward

to be a squirrel - what is this?


Life is simply full

of mistakes stacked up in the queue of their making -

though I like to believe

that some will be waiting a while.

Image is  of a health advisory poster

How are you today?

Boxed-in by sameness?

Or in the purple-pink

of feeling welcome in the club?  


(Fitzrovia, London)


Tranton Road is dead, alas! 

The houses will be taken down,

the pavement levelled with the road 

and any cars still parked, split up for parts.





about the old mob!

What a bunch of incompetents

we used to be.




Rarely have I seen

a less dangerous snake!

But what if its role is to tie you up

until its poisonous cousin slithers in...




I didn't start it

by having nettles:

you started it

by choosing to ignore them.


‘The relocation to New Cross Road 

was a surprise – but angels are trained 

to make the best of anything 

short of the dreaded secondment to Hell.’

(Deptford, London)

How to fit a vertical blind

Straight or curly are your primary options –

and straight, I feel,

is simply too conventional.

(Smithfields, London)


I'm not sure I could tell you

what wisdom there is in these marks

or how to make it manifold

but I am not terribly wise…

(Deptford, London)

‘The beer’s on the fridge!’

sounds almost good.

Were the fridge not in the street

and the bottle already empty...



Nythical haumt 

of Robim Hood; imspiratiom for Soms

and Lovers; Chanpioms under Briam Clough…

Meed I say noore?


I dread to imagine


The blood there must have been

judged by the bandaging needed.

Those murderous maniacs ought to be banned!



How many flowers

can claim to have a colour –

and not just a shade but the its range in full –

named after their own modest hue?


Though this sounds like a joke which gets it deliberately the wrong way round, it could be true: the etymology is unclear but for example Oxford Languages suggest it is ‘mid 17th century, the early use of the adjective being to describe the colour of the flowers of this plant’, ie ‘pinks’ such as Dianthus plumarius.  Moreover, the fringed margins of the petals give rise to the term ‘pinking shears’

The mating rituals of traffic cones

are not my speciality

but this quintuple hook-up

looks like an advanced technique.




wool, brick, wood, stone,

moss, earth, ash, leaf:

nae sich a teary-weary spatch o’ groond.


From the online Dictionars o the Scots Leid:

Nae - no / not 

Sich - such

Garrick – a corner patch of land

Teary-weary (adj) – boring, tiresome

Spatch (noun) – large spot, a patch

Groond – ground




Beyond here lies nowhere

or nowhere

you can reach along this path.

Need that stop me going?  




This is the wisdom

of Glasgow City Council.

Yet I submit that in the absence of people

the streets would be fairly clean.



I’m not sure when I’ll be back

but would respectfully ask

that my cache, so systematically gathered and stored,

should not, please, be disturbed.



Let's face it

This banner’s seen better days,

this city too, this world.  

But this is the one we’re in.



William Brechin & Son  

is quite the darkest shop 

I've seen. Perhaps

They sell the night...






I spose, mst be

a breviatn -

bt 1 hrdly wor th troub.




‘Pretty in Pink’

swims into my head, then I wonder:

is this a plant dressed in a colour

or one with pink deep in its being?


Psychedelic Furs: ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1981), written by John AshtonTim ButlerRichard Butler, Vince Ely, Duncan Kilburn, Roger Morris. The flower is Osteospermum

In the battle of the Ashursts

Hampshire’s small-enough village

is ten times Kent’s or Sussex’s.

Any sports challenge ought to go well.


The name ‘Ashurst’ derives from the Old English words, ‘ash’ and ‘hyrst’, meaning hill, and indicates that the town was named for a hill on which ash trees grew. That sounds common, but there are only three such places in the UK, as opposed to – say – a dozen instances of ‘Newport’. They’re in Hampshire (pop 2,100), Sussex (pop 260) and Kent (pop 250). On 13 June, 2021 we travelled the 83 miles from the first to the second.

(Ashurst, Sussex)

I don't think

there's a fountain in Ashurst,

only a Fountain Inn. 

Ashurst water must be cider, whiskey, beer.


(Ashurst, Sussex)


If this looks like a filtered image

I assure you not. But then,

as we’ve already noted,

this Ashurst's water’s strange.


(Ashurst, Sussex)

Is the maze crazy?

Or does it just drive those attempting to solve it

in that direction? This is a school,

so they ought to know the grammar....


(Nursling C of E Primary School, Southampton)

It’s a simple matter 

for a flower to rest.

The complications

lie in the getting up.


Here’s the plan

We remove that intrusive green notice,

cut down the tree to drive through a road,

build 62 new houses on the field.  



My guess is

that the limit was exceeded,

and that the margin

may not have been all that small.



Time and tide

are inherent in all things -

even in Tarmac,

as the pavement breaks its stasis on the garden.

The purple-toed toad

the swivel-eyed aye-aye, 

the flat-chested boobie that nests in the bum grass -

they’re all in my zoo. 


This may be a water scooter

parked for speedy transit

from the trees to the town

but I remain to be convinced...




I think what this means

is the workers will take the job easy,

lounging around quite likely

surpassing the putative date.

If not quite the Roman Empire

this is as close to a glorious

decline and fall

as Ashurst is likely to provide.

(sequence shows a Camellia in Ashurst, New Forest, April-June 2021)

It will have been dark

for the urgent fumbling - the prickling

of the undergrowth -  the nearly point - the passer-by

suddenly upon them - the bra in the brambles.


To see the whole of the park

through the hole in the park

you need to move around -

though maybe you can never see the hole. 


(Sculpture is 'View', 2017, by Naomi Blake in Fitzroy Square, London)



Much as I like containing beer

there are times

when I’m glad

that I’m not a can.

(Fitzrovia, London)


Taken from a bus 

that thinks it's a tram.

Not many trams, though, want to be buses,

and hardly any trains wish they were trams...




Even when it's white

even when it's partial

even when I'm spaced 

I can recognise a poppy.


You can hang a pavement up

I guess, but why would you?

Same as there’d be little point

in ironing a slab.

(Edgeware Road, London) 


The bad news is

you can’t see our clothes.

The good news:

they never wear out.

 (Warren Street, London - In'ku is the  home of Universal Utility Limited, which sells 'clothing without season, time, age or trend; the philosophy being slow workmanship to create a life long product which won’t end up in landfill.')

That's all very well

but I’m staying here now

and won’t be again. Even a pigeon

would expect a decent discount.


(Marylebone, London)

If you can’t decide

which colour a gate

should be painted,

why not try them all? 


I don't want any jokes

Well maybe I do,

but not that one.

What do you call a lukewarm poker?


Flowers of the Kniphofia  genus are commonly known as Red Hot Pokers


The border strip

is proof that this vegetation

is wild within limits, 

a teen lawn that can always call its parents.



As if it’s not enough

to be greenest transportation,

hybrid bikes have been developed

to integrate with plants. 

(Chalk Farm, London)




‘Don’t call us’

I’m inclined to tell 'Buildforce',

 judging by this self-promotion,

‘and don’t expect us to call you’.


All night beneath my window

that Belisha has been beaconing.

When will it ever

make up its mind?

(Carr-Saunders Hall, London)


Outside the restaurant

the tang of lemon


the anticipation.

(Warren Street, London)


Actually, I didn’t

I just drove by to pick up the plaudits

and test their sincerity, which I found

to be excessive, given my lack of purchases.



More agrimony than I’ve ever encountered 

more than any wife has been awarded 

by way of cash to make up for the endless aggro

since the days when he would give her flowers.


Only later did I realise that I’d confused the locally common agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) with alimony - aggro money if you will - which I’ve no reason to think is commoner in Ashurst than elsewhere.


The long and the short 

and the middle of socks 

is that they lack the conventions of cover

that so restrict the options of a blouse.



If hair were meant to be green

wouldn't it russet in autumn

and fall to the ground

with no need for scissors?



Tombstone skulls, memento mori  

‘remind us that we’re going to die.

Yet is that not already covered

by the fact that it's a grave?





I say ‘petal’, she says ‘grass’

I say ‘grass’, he says ‘petal’

No wonder the seas are rising

and democracy is frayed.

The light bulb moment

was when we realised

we could store the power of illumination

in the beautifully opposite dark below ground.


(Notting Hill, London)


A dog rose is a rose

is a rose – although only fit,

I suppose, for a dog.

I love their crimson anthers. 

At first I thought

the tree was mourning itself, but no –

just tending the corpse of another,

dismembered. Even so…

Wimbledon Logic

My wife, an ultra-Federer fan

is almost pleased when he is pole-axed by a Pole:

no longer need she worry that Roger will lose. 

The eight-time Wimbledon champion lost to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-final of the 2021 event.  


Somewhere between the lounge and the wild

three ducks fly up a wall. 

I strain my ears

but cannot hear their call.





Actually, I didn’t

I just drove by to pick up the plaudits

and test their sincerity, which I found

to be excessive, given my lack of purchases.



since 1880.


since 2020.


(Savile Row, London)


There’s more to the lines of a railway

than railway lines, just as there’s more

to the words on a page than words on a page -

though maybe, in this case, there isn’t.



What percentage

of the blooms must remain

for a foxglove to be still

‘in flower’?

(Charleston, Sussex)


I'm just off

to fly the goldfish,

swim the dog

and walk the parrots.



‘Evening, Primrose’ 

‘Evening, Daisy’

‘Any sign of Deadly lately?

Rumour has it he met his own end…’


Oenothera biennis, the common evening-primrose, is widely naturalised in England. The beneficial qualities of its oil make something of a contrast with the poisonous berries of the deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna. I was called away by a marigold before I could hear Daisy's reply.




to a vigorous overnight drench

you can't see the dew

for rain this morning.

It’s good to see


that, here at least,

the authorities obey their own rules:

this flag is not inflatable.



Some name, I thought

Does it really look like an ox’s stare?

And – as it doesn’t close at night –

why should we call it ‘day’s eye’?


Leucanthemum vulgare may be a better name for the ox-eye daisy, also known as dog daisy, field daisy, Marguerite, moon daisy or poor-land penny. The name ‘daisy’ comes from Old English meaning 'day's eye' referencing those members of the family with flowers that do close at night and open in the morning.

All night I try to catch the beacons out

being all-off or all-on, but no dice.

Or rather, rather like a dice

that comes down showing seven. 

Subsidiary point: 'a die' is the correct singular of 'dice', but the plural is substituted so often that I suspect the error has become the natural usage, as with 'less' for 'fewer' etc. 

(Fitzrovia, London)

The mark remains 

as if, from beyond the alphabet,

the letters could have

left their thoughts behind.


(Former Primark store, Margate)

Sorry Mr Hartley!

I think you'll find it's the exact same thing

under a different description.

Though if you're reading this, I take that back.


(Highgate Cemetery, London)

I would say

'don't confuse the art with the information'

if only I knew

which category to put this in.

(Tate Britain)

Here stands the evidence

that time will go on 

buggering you up

long after it's done with your body.

(Church of St Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst)




Occupation: insect

I fly round as I wish

and take my pick of flowers for R&R.

Why settle for more? 


The action begins

to the whoops and cheers of a  seasoned  crowd

making the most of not knowing whether

the only other action will be the weather.

(Hove: Sussex vs Kent was abandoned due to rain on 29 July)


This is how you park

if you’re getting back to nature

but not rushing

to change your lifestyle all at once.




seems to be a classic of the  railway-side

even though butterflies

hardly ever travel by train.  


(Southampton Central)

Why is there something rather than nothing?

That’s the question that keeps the streetlights up at night.

They’re bright,

but not that bright.


‘I’m the Swish Ver’

‘No, I’m the Swish Version!’

‘Hardly. I’m so swish

I don’t even bother to say so.’ 

Even Newlands is getting old

if not quite as old

as New College, Oxford -

founded 1379.

Do you think they’ll make me

a cup of coffee at No. 32 -

if I ask nicely  -

and let me use the loo?


Some help here...

I asked  the meaning

of ‘Vaffanculo’

and they told me to fuck off!


Head in mind   

I mind my head

hardly minding where I'm headed

provided the two stay close.





The Hydrangea Cult

is known to be ruthless:

many a nasturtium has suffered

and I’ve heard that even thistles aren’t safe...



Death to daisies!

I'm not being callous but realistic:

death to all flowers,

all people, all structures, all worlds…


Illiterate Ashurst?

I see that 19, Dene Road

can't even get

their exclamation marks the right way up!!


The Flower Pot Flower

has some potential for sustaining itself,

but I do worry:

how will it disseminate its seeds?


The inconvenience

of the absent convenience

is nothing more than you'd expect –

a politer formulation of 'piss off!'



Big for a sheep

small for a cow.

I’m feeling disgustingly

human today.


If this seems an eccentric subject, you might wish to visit my source, @TweetYourTurd, which displays some 400 contributions from people proud of their poos.

‘I’d like a hing’

I explained, ‘not a standard ring or your tasteless bling,

but an ecial hing as a special thing for my ecial one.’

The sistant looked otally blank. 


Six legs, two bags and a head

wait for a train. The legs and bags are patient,

knowing no better. The head, too,

aware of how things go.

(Waterloo Station, London)

If you’re going to sue the Council

for falling on uneven paving,

I suggest you use this photo -

wherever, if at all, you may have fallen.

(Mayfair, London)


Shall I take a punt

on the slightly fenced existence

of a local poet who had no enemies

but whose friends disliked him?

Philip Larkin(1922–1985): ‘I have no enemies. But my friends don’t like me.’




Beyond here lies Hull

A fairly definitive end of the line,

though the start for Larkin

late away and, since 1985, just late. 


The opening of ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ runs:

 ‘That Whitsun, I was late getting away:

    Not till about

One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday

Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out…’


Allow me to recommend

the Prospect Shopping Centre.

It seems to lack just three things:

shops, centrality and prospects.


Who doesn't love a renegade?

Next up climate protest, migrant rights

and several legalisation campaigns.

Or is it an unmarked police car?

(Fitzrovia, London)


It's nice to imagine

that flowers might be friends with me

but I'm slightly surprised that even a geranium 

would think to befriend a railway station. 


(Flowers provided by the Friends of Brockenhurst Railway Station)



Painted Lady

I wonder how many photographers

have congratulated themselves on getting

an unusually good shot of  a butterfly on buddleia?





I've never seen a shorter journey

from the sweet pea to the sea... 

but I've never known a longer wait

for a line that took my first thought somewhere else.




I’m sorry but

the lines were underwater, officer:

I assumed the prohibition

applied to the parking of boats





Is she a sweet sensation?

Well, she could be:

I’d like to see her hairstyle rendered

pink and soft-ice swirly.




The laziest horse

I’ve ever seen

has wheels as well as legs

yet still demands a lift.



What is it about statues

that they cannot follow

a simple instruction

even when it's right beneath their nose?

(Portsmouth - the sculpture is 'Man and ball' by Giles Penny, in front of the Vulcan Building, Gunwharf Quays)

The respectful tree

bows down to me.

I say no need - I liked it more

when you let yourself soar. 

Time is all

that time should be

when metal puts up enough resistance

to make it worth the while.




When chips eat chips

whether in Brussels or Brighton -

or Brentford or Brazil, if it comes to that -

there can only be one result.


(Belgian chip shop, Brighton)

Ah! Wild passion

in amongst the brambles and the ferns.

Presumably just an escape from a neighbouring garden

or marriage.

Of course, the passion flower was not named for sexual attraction, but for the suffering and death of Jesus.

Passions in balance

are the passions for me:

from me to you,

from you to me.


if you close the shower door

when you are outside the shower

you will not be able to enter the shower.


(Passfield Hall, student residence, London)

Purple balls

Oh purple balls!

Whatever did befall

your echium of cock?

Spheres of artificial flowers for the garden seem to be on a run of popularity


I don’t do drugs and I don't eat mammals

but there the problems end:

I don’t fuck any other class,

and can’t imagine drugs would take me there.  

(The Breakfast Club, Canary Wharf, London) 


I’m not so sure 

that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger - 

long covid, for example, or loss of a limb - 

but can believe that tough conditions toughen.


I rather think

I tend to give a happy bin more rubbish -

which makes no sense: the chances are

the happy are well fed.

(Bankside, London)


How many does it take to mend a road? 

One to put the signs out,

two to arrange the cones…

pretty soon there's no-one left to dig.




Is there hidden beauty here

or is this is no more

than an excuse to use the word:


(Piccadilly, London)


Let Us Not Forget 

Certainly not.

But how should we remember

who they were?

(Exeter College Chapel, Oxford)


Whether Red Bull speeds you up

must depend on the balance

of drug versus drag

and how well it mixes with petrol.

 Six stars in my sky

is good.

I feel I could cope with astronomy,

could learn the constellations in a night.


(Noticeboard with pins, Bankside House student hall of residence, London)


If the Stop Valve sign is dead

does that mean the valve itself

has met its fate,

that the sign is now a tombstone, toppled?


The pansies are friendly

They hope that you have a nice day.

But their range is limited:

that’s all that they can say.


I was going to get yo

something nice - and sexy too.

B t yo   birthday

caught me on the  gift  hop.

(The Adult Gift Shop, Shirley, Southampton)


Come on down

you silly old bugger!

Or dare I hope it’s up?

I've kept this space warm long enough…


Geraniums die

from the inside out.

I wouldn’t like that to happen to me,

but I understand the chances are 50%.


Three o’clock by dandy time

invites the question:

do I get three wishes,

or three chances of the one wish coming true?

Many folklore superstitions are attached to dandelions: perhaps the best known are that on blowing away the seeds, your wish will be granted; and that if you blow until the seed is all blown away, the dandelion clock tells you the time - an hour to a puff.

I'm not sure

what the birds

eat around here

but I hope I haven't eaten it too.


I see you plantains!

I won’t pretend I don’t –

waiting for the daisies

to drop their skirts.

Pink kisses

sound a bit routine to me 

I wouldn't want brown

but black or blue could both have their allure.


These are Dianthus caryophyllus, also known as ‘Pink Kisses’

Would the world be a better place

Were every cock the same size,

were worry removed

at the cost of surprise?

This cone is here to say


and NO PARKING either,

unless it's after six.



Oh Rose

Thou art sick,

but ought to be happy as well as unhappy

for all of your vase-friends are dead.

Is it Tuesday today?

We all need structure in our lives

but I'm not so sure I'd like to be

so utterly defined by it.


If you're driving


we're quite impressed.

But you shouldn't be doing it here.

(Dulwich, London)

Can you throw any light

on just how much

the speed of growth accelerates

in a hot, wet summer? 


The gap between success and failure

can lie in the description.

Sticking to the former,

this padlock has not been stolen.


I didn’t believe

in fairies

until the sun lit them up.

Now I don’t believe in the sun.


Running up Gillsmans Hill

scourge of my teenage cycling self,

sweet with chestnuts

but cruel as the years.

 (St Leonards-on-Sea)

Death is no danger

more an immunity

against all the hazards

that can otherwise occur.

(St Leonards-on-Sea) 


‘I found these bracelets

in the loft.

They didn’t look good,

so I thought I'd bring them in.’

(St Leonards-on-Sea) 


Ee aye


So much may be wrong with the world,

but ee aye these are right!

Isn’t it cute

how the drips match the holes?

All they require is a little more camber

to flow into a union well beyond sex.

(Dulwich, London)

All day it has been waiting for me

steadily, with fortitude.

Now I've come and, sad to say,

I do not need to go.

(Dentist, Winchester)


Who is T? I want to know

How come he hasn’t washed today?

And why’s he waiting here?

But T is not inclined to say.



What's the prime role

of this bi-functionally shaggy post?

Well, that looks more like an electric forcefield

than a probable path of light.

Lions don't need to drink every day

but they do need to eat.

This one has just had a drink,

so we’d better watch out.

(Liverpool Street, London)


Flint stones

Meet the flint stones! 

They're a page right out of

ecclesiastic history.


(Norwich Cathedral - to the tune of the song)



How many 

of his faculties

will Charles still have

by the time he succeeds? 


(Prince of Wales pub, Norwich)

If I were asked to play the sax

my eyes would probably pop

in the manner of Alan Barnes’s -

but should his?


(Southwold - I suspect an intervention on the poster)

You have to be long

longer, I suspect, than any local,

to be too long

to lie down in Lowestoft.

(Oulton Broad North, Lowestoft)

Due respect please

for the fully certificated silver medallists

in the hanging basket championships

for all of Lowestoft, 2018!

(The Wherry Hotel, Oulton Broad North, Lowestoft)

I rushed in when I had no need

to go under thatch

only to find that 

the roofing made almost no difference.

(Oulton Broad North, Lowestoft)


I can’t decide

Is this jetty optimistic,

given the lack of water?

Or pessimistic, given the need for lifebuoy?



So what sort of use is it in?

Aesthetic, obstructive,

rhetorical, declamatory...

I suspect they're not uses at all.

(Green Park underground station, London)


On with tradition

I won't be the first to grasp this rail.

Or to refuse to,

clattering down without caution.

(Regent's Park Tube Station)


This is how we pace the streets

by proxy

with an ap attached

to claim the steps as real.

(Regent's Park, London)


You should see this tree

when lightning strikes 

and its pears light up

like a blaze of good ideas.



I’ve been sleeping in the garden

The stars are both magnificent

and quiet. But I can’t say the same

of the late night passers-by.





What this poster says is moot

other than that here’s a place

prominent enough to justify

both pasting and peeling.

(New Cross, London) 


Proper rain requires a gush

Umbrellas should be insufficient, nakedness

the only means to keep your clothing dry. 

This is proper rain.



Windows within, windows without

windows between:

I can't see a thing 

but the means to see.




What I like

is how, having gone to the trouble

of making the purchase,

he doesn't use a pillow.


(Jubilee Line) 

There’s always one

or maybe there isn’t:

when all are the same

you notice none. 

Dancing in the street

comes with the cachet

of wild celebration

but, now that I see it, it's stately. 



This is the building site as crime scene 

Whether they break the Health & Safety rules

or murder the supervisor

all will be ready.



As for wild berries

I like them

without necessarily

wanting to eat them.


I notice that Euston

has been rebuilt at vast expense

to improve the flow of passengers…

and this is what's holding it up.

(Euston Station, London)



We're I a maximally

flashy kind of chap

this would be my car

were I more than minimally flush.

(St Pancras, London)



How fresh is fresh

in the case of this pasta?

I’m allowing myself sufficient doubt

not to enter.

(near Bond Street, London)


This unlucky octopus, I thought

is not only stranded,

but has dropped an eye!

Then I saw it was an incidental light…


(Mayfair, London)



the new decoration is a loving recreation of the previous look

or the opportunity offered by lockdown

has not been fully grasped.

(County Hotel,Euston,London)



 Holding my foot

I wonder why I’m not better

at gripping with my toes

and walking on my hands.


The pavements round here

aren't clean enough 

to classify the washing machine

as anything other than litter.

(King's Cross, London)


The hunt is on 

for a woman who staggered  

- pretty much legless -

out of The Black Phoenix, late last night.




A bare bum

in the garden!

What will - or did - the neighbours say

to the classical defence?



When leaf meets stone as stone meets wire

we start to think the year

will turn like the trees

and maybe return the better.

Bare bums

in the garden!

What will - or did - the neighbours say

to the Photoshop defence?

Tell you what

‘You do the cooking, I’ll do

the gardening. You can help me out

if it gets too much.’

There’s nothing new

To say about the seasons.

I like them. I hope

that they continue to exist.


Noone is stealing this lamppost

Which is as it should be,

for ‘noone’ and ‘lamppost’

are somehow related as words.



The autumn cat

is self-effacing.

He stays at home in other seasons,

wishing for different fur.


A diet of grass?

Horses seem to relish it

all day long through every day,

a lesson for us all.


A diet of grass?

Horses hate it too, I think.

But needs must,

and you don’t hear them complain.



November 1st

brings the remains of a Halloween ghost,

evidently buffeted by overnight wind

the way a ghost ought surely not to be.

What’s eating you

then, pumpkin-face? The way that Halloween

is now American in Britain

and yet they won’t give us a trade deal?


I've taken a slice 

of the margherita with extra funghi -

so much extra

I could hardly taste the base. 

All of a tremble

in evening wind

I caught this bindweed out

in a moment of still.


(South Bermondsey)


Should you find you're desperate

and not inclined to prudishness,

this may be rather public

but it is a convenience.


(South Bermondsey)




can be anything and everything

with the possible exception of nothing -

though I'm happy to discuss...


(South Bermondsey)


It’s quite a trick

cycling down the top of a railing.

But relax!

He’s almost made it…


(Woolwich, London)


After the car

has ended its reign

the signs will lie down, and rest.

But have we got there yet?


(West Bromsgrove, London)


I am writing to complain

about the free jazz.

To play that in a restaurant

was highly irregular.






The Great British Garden Snake

is very long: so long that in smaller gardens

it can only find comfort

by hanging up in loops.


So, we have been warned

so no bike can be removed 

without warning,

so maybe no bike can be removed.

(Oxford - admittedly chopping language up in a parody, perhaps, of the linguistic philosophy developed there by JL Austin and co...)


I'm not asking

whether it's dead,

but whether its soul

had time to fly away.



I have every respect for trick cyclists

but the owner of this bike

is sapping my patience

when is it going to be ridden away?



There must be a lot of rubbish here

and pungent enough to need hosing down.

And that's before 

we step foot in the gallery…


(Saatchi Gallery, London)

The reds and browns and pinks are here again

as good and as reliable as gold.

I’m ready for the rustle-wade:

you’ll have to imagine the noise.


Do hedges get cold

or do the leaves keep them warm?

Either way,

they rarely wear a scarf.


Winer of The Most Boring Street Furniture Prize

2021, and many another year I dare say,

is – drum roll please , but keep it quiet –

The BT Customer Splice Point!

Ever green

meets present yellow

like a Mahonia Wintersun

blooming in a back-to-front spring.


'Mahonia Wintersun is a striking winter flowering evergreen shrub suitable for any garden. It has lush dark glossy green spiky leaves and bright yellow flowers.'  This is an impersonator, not a Wintersun.



My red shoes

go anywhere.

My feet come along,

but only for the ride.

Still I wonder

how inspiring,

even as a portrait of a changing city, 

can a building site be?

(National Portrait Gallery, London)


When I said

'Lay the Tarmac' 

that isn’t what I meant.

Your firm is sacked.

(King's Cross, London)


This exit appears to be on the way out

Maybe it's an entrance now

from an other-side, like pre-existence -

one we'll never reach.

(Waterloo, London)


Butter boobs are logical

Why go through the whole palaver 

of calving and grazing

and milking and churning?

(Butter portion in a café, King's Cross, London)

Few bicycles

are stolen in Hammersmith,
though I wonder at the wisdom
of their radical solution.

(Hammersmith, London)

The secret zone by the railway crossing

behind the fence I shot over at full stretch-up,

turns out - even by my inclusive standards -  

to be of no evident interest.

Wouldn’t it be nice

to see your actions 

influencing the environment as naturally as a duck's... 

or wouldn't it be horrid?



I expected the stake

to hold me up, only to find

I'm supporting the stake.

Must be some mistake! 



Outside the headquarters

of the Association of Spiritualists

comes a reminder that not all of life

can be lived in the mind.


(Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, Edinburgh)




The night is cold 

but not that cold. The leaves are green 

but not that green. The world is bad, 

they say it's getting worse. 




No matter

how festive the lighting, 

no matter how matchingly purple the sky,

you won't get me that high.


(Edinburgh - It is actually Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742 – 1811) up there, and in his case the 150 foot elevation may be wise, preventing the statue being toppled on account of his role in delaying the abolition of the slave trade)


isn't everything.

Especially when death is involved.

Who cares how big their grave is? 


(Gunnera manicata, a Brazilian plant known as  giant rhubarb - though it's not actually a rhubarb - at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh)


I dare say the green box

feels at home in its green surrounds

but were I that box

I would want to be red.


This is a splendid location

a quiet street, good transport links,

well sheltered. And yet

I'm not too tempted to bed down.





The railway plant has memories

The age of steam. The age of public ownership.

The ages of waiting, up against which

passengers should surely thank their luck.





is all around. 

I never saw so many pigeons

refuse to blur off.


(Archway, London)



That must have been

an awful cough the wall just had,

but from where did it expectorate?

Somewhere out of shot, of course, but also out of sight.


(Archway, London)



The world of the puddle

seems complicated: 

synecdoche comes face to face with condensation, variably ruffled by the wind's distortions.

Then comes my heavy stamp.  


(It’s pronounced suh-nek-duh-kee, at least in this poem)


Is it such hard work

being an arrow

that you have to lay down your point from time to time?

If so, they ought to introduce shifts…



When the volume kept diminishing

Samsung said reboot, Google said reset,

YouTube said point a hair dryer at the controls.

All of which failed, but this tape-down seems to work...

(true story, though it only worked for two days!)

Umbrella in the rain

So broken that –

even were it logically possible –

I doubt if it could keep itself dry.


It's embarrassing 

of course, 

to have to call for more paper.



(Battersea, London)



The nightbird sleeps

as still as stone.

I don’t suppose he lies down much

before the stillest sleep of all.   


It is not dangerous

to fall.

It is when you land

it gets dangerous.

This is an art collage of sorts: the image is the second panel of Ai Weiwei’s triptych ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’, 1995. The words are from the plunging-from-a-building sector of Marina Abramović’s film ‘Seven Deaths’, 2021. 

I always said

that picnics were dangerous.

Not so much a tiney hole as a forking great gash 

has written off our tyre!

(East Boldre, New Forest: on-site photograph by Steph Carey-Kent)


The geometry of rain

is much the same

as the geometry of sun.

It’s just that you get wet.


Once Omicron was in the air

Social distancing wasn’t enough:

even urinals had to wear masks,

preferably full body.

(Holborn Viaduct, London – the day after the Government announced new restrictions in light of the new Omicron variant of Covid 19, believed to be the most transmissible yet)

Car meets tree

in a carbon trade-off

that makes me wonder

about the relevant ratios…


The average car in the UK – at least, outside of lockdowns – is driven 12,000 km (7,500 miles) per year. A typical car emits 130g CO2 per km, so 12,000 km produces emissions of 1,560 kg per year. The average net absorption of CO2 per tree is 30 kg per year, so it takes 52 trees to compensate for the emissions of the average car.

(Bayswater, London)

Seeing mushrooms

is the much the same

as seeing the flowers on trees.

Imagine if trees were invisible most of the year!

Dinner Party

Carrots, onions, potatoes,

celery, leeks, rhubarb…

We pretty much live off our allotment.



There’s consolation

in the following thought:

if any shop can come to terms with closure

this must be the one.



Hat doff to designers

but road signs can be rather bland.

Perhaps we should switch

to abstraction’s less predictable directions.


Where will it end?

First they cull us,

then they build over our sets.

Now they spell us incorrectly. 


You know you shouldn’t

You know that you'll regret

the absence of any way back

from the temptation of poking through. 


(fence in Ashurst)

I planted this tree

and no-one said Wow! A few billion more

and the planet may be saved -

though somebody did say Wow!


The Angel of the Telegraph Pole

may strike an attitude of celestial devotion

towards our methods of transmission,

but actually he speaks to God direct.

(Christmas decoration, Lyndhurst) 

This is very clinical

as it were

what it actually is,

which, I guess, it must be.


(Fortius Clinic, City of London)

Even in its absence

the geophysics of beetroot

flows into a landscape

not easily denied.



How much

do the deatils matter -

whatever they are -

if you get the overall impression?


(Pimlico Underground Station, London)




I’ve done the decoration

Have you finished

wrapping all the presents,

apart from yours?

Does modern thinking

leave any wiggle-room

for this sort of place,

even if the critique’s built into the title?



Not only do street lamps look better at night

I sometimes suspect that they can’t see at all

during their currently lengthening days

of blindly pretending to be trees. 


I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas

with temperatures the like of which

we never used to know…

Maybe it isn't a dream.

Yes we have plans

but as for completion

I find the vegetation

a little discouraging.



Is this the reduction

of a tree to its essence,

or to the point at which

it isn't a tree at all?


Night is the time

when monstrous jungles

swim out of the flashlight

just over the height of your knee.

Spot the difference

This isn't the usual

Engineering Leaves on line Lack of driver Fault on train Incident at Brockenhurst…

This is Christmas day.

When the star crashed

it took on the form of the local terrain

to act as a link

to the universal.


Road Signs

are so predictable.

That’s why the pilot scheme for shuffling them

has now got under way.


And how are you benches?

'Same old sat-on - or worse, perhaps, not -

but mustn't grumble  - 

if we did no notice would be taken.'




About Me

My photo
Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.