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factual
SATURDAY LIVE: Meet the Poet
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click here to listen to the latest edition of Saturday LiveSaturday 09:00 - 10:00.
Matt HarveyPoet, columnist, enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting, Matt performs up and down the country at festivals, cabarets, conferences and colleges and shares his thoughts with the world on his Wondermentalist blog.

The Guardian described him (accidentally) as “one of Britain’s leading poets”, the Dorset Echo as “fabulously understated”, and the Times as “a word-based organism from Devon.” The Independent called him “a pale man in a suit”. His latest book is The Hole in the Sum of my Parts “It’s a tiny treasure – not only funny, but tender and true” (William Cook, The Guardian).

Matt's new book 'Shopping With Dad' is published by Barefoot Books.
The threat of social websites

the neuro-scientists are alarmed
our children’s brains are being harmed

they’re being re-wired, infantilised
they’re not learning to empathise

with endemic obesity
it’s all too easy now to see

we will inevitably find –
enormous kids with tiny minds

a bloated, brainless generation
with no concept of concentration

hang on – I use facebook, I’m quite clever –
I don’t suffer from attention defic- whatever

do I…? what were we talking about?
…it’s Saturday Live soon with that nice Richard of Dibley…


The Frozen Few

say no to biodegrading and to corporeal corruption
say death is not an absolute it’s just an interruption

while some await the last trumpet to sound to be saved
others wait for the ping! of a kind microwave…

then they’ll quench their curiosity – get futuristic tlc
get their body fine-tuned by a Dr McCoy
get their psyche seen-to by a Counsellor Troy

and while I wouldn’t criticise
those few who would revitalise –
reconstitute – reanimate –
drop off without a wake-by date…

…to lie in liquid nitrogen
in a vacuum flask in Michigan
at minus 196 degrees
– indefinitely –
doesn’t do it for me

as it seems to, say, for Chrissie de Rivaz
frankly it gives me the Martin Chivers

while there are those few, to whom, I know,
the notion of being deep-frozen gives a nice warm glow

rather than be a birdseye sleeping beauty woken with a techno-kiss
I prefer to achieve immortality through unforgettable poetry… …like this
 
so Kaka close

A hundred times a hundred grand
They offered up for Kaka’s hand
It’s had for us to understand
How AC Milan could not’ve bit it off

But don’t pity City
it’s no kaka-catastrophe
they’ve got the Kaka cash you see
(currently worth 9 Heskeys, 3 Bridges, 2 Craig Bellamys and half a Berbatov )


Trousergate – or, Never mind the quality, feel the bitchiness

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
sparked a spat upon the catwalk
with a curious pyjama

a quilted confection that on close inspection
looked far too like jim-jams from Giorgio’s collection…

the cut of their cloth brought down Armani’s wrath

but it would get your goat for sure
if someone nicked your overture
- must be the same with haute couture

if it was me I would restore
sweet harmony with Armani
in case he set the law on me

I’m sure he’s a forgiving bloke
(as well as being a knock knock joke
Armani who? Armani asking…)

but they’re ready to swear that their ready-to-wear is their own
and when Giorgio Armani squared up, well they wouldn’t back down

they said, ‘you and whose army, Armani?

So I say to Giorgio: Untwist your knickers, let it go…
Domenico and Stefano: It isn’t worth it.

Listen up for pity’s sakes - you’re not Renaissance city states
You’re grown-up fashion houses, and it’s just a pair of trousers

it’s a storm in a turn-up, but nevertheless
here’s my chance to confess I prefer M&S
‘cos if I try to buy from you guys off the peg
I know it’ll cost me an Armani leg
I am a Merchant Banker

I am a merchant banker
All day long I merchant bank
Now I’m adrift without an anchor
And I know what you think

In spite of what you think of me
I’ve many fine features and facets
Still I don’t expect your sympathy
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me assets
 
 
Oil of Eulogy (for Pam Ayres)

Opportunity knocked back in ‘75
Pam appeared and the public went ‘Crikey!
She was 28 then - I was barely alive -
But she left quite a mark on me psyche

I remember the way she would sit there
And act like a muscle-relaxant
In bright yet unthreatening knitwear
And a very slight regional accent

At observations, tall stories, small dramas
Funny verse that we all feel the better for
She’s the bees knees, she’s the cat’s pyjamas
And that’s enough animal metaphor

She’s famed for her fun and her friendliness
She’s not blue, then again she’s not too shy
To touch upon trembly tenderness
Or hint of intimate minutiae

She’s never been one to make trouble
She’s not a loudmouth or a pushy-gob
I've heard being Pam Ayres’ stunt double
Is considered to be quite a cushy job

Now I’m sat here in happy proximity
To the Oxfordshire phenomenon
Of rhymin’ femininity
And I know that I’m going on and on and on

Because Pam makes words frolic and caper
Inducing great hootings and howls
And I’m glad that she put pen to paper
And I’m glad she’s looked after her vowels
the value of sharing may go down as well as up
(a lament for lost love)

the footsie index plunges
the economy’s unstable
and those who once played footsie
under Sting and Trudie’s table
- the artists formerly known as Mr and Mrs Ritchie -
find long-distance love untenable…
…and the feet that once played footsie
growing itchie


Mission Impossible – Happiness

He handed me a smiley file,
We need to find Happiness - before the other side do.
They’re looking for happiness too?
Everyone is.
I raised an arch eyebrow, and vice versa.
Happiness. I’d heard of it.
But what I didn’t know
Was how far people would go…
They’d rob, they’d cheat and kill, lay waste
For even just a fleeting taste
For the chance to snort and snuffle at the trough with the smiley face.
Some had even give up caffeine and taken up voluntary work.
We were dealing with fanatics.
I said: With my innate ability
My good looks and my gadgetry (with micro-nano-circuitry)
I’ll find the source…
I’ll listen in. I’ll root it out.
…So I went underground
But happiness it outcrept me
It kept a step ahead of me
For all my gifts of subterfuge
to change my prints, my body smell
I hadn’t really done that well
I tasted failure. I went grey. I stayed away,
Did honest labour in a garden
Ran little errands for my neighbour
I dropped my guard and… then it came
Crept up on me and woke the sleeping mole within
Deliberately I dropped my guard again
The mole of happiness nestled in my cardigan
In amidst the want and squalors
I found my quantum of solace
Upturn of the Turnip

sales of turnips up 100%

it's the upside of the down-turn, it's a turn-up for the turnip,
its neep tide has turned and we've learned not to spurn it

they stretch out a stew and they bulk up a casserole
so now Baldrick's brassica's back in our dinner-bowl

nijamiegordeliawhittingrhodes all endorse and explain how to fashion it
I have seen the post-credit-crunch future-munch - and it's got mash in it


For Matthew Ahmet
 
it's nice to see you in repose, unflustered in your mustard robes,
a peaceful smile upon your face, and when you move, you move with grace
but Matthew, think about the waste...

you could have done texting, had big macs and fries
you could have had facebook and ipods, told lies
on your CV, had piercings, done beer things with peer-pressured mates…

but you wanted to go and to live in Henan,
and to learn to be still and to speak Mandarin
and to harness your Qi, wear the robes of Shaolin

you could have had dvds, downloaded mp3s, ringtones…
are you listening to me? You missed so much TV,

Matthew Ahmet, dammit, you could have been a consumer

but you wanted to move like a bird, like a cat
to be strong from within, and to speak Mandarin,

you could have had rap, hip-hop, garage and indy bands
death metal disco thrash, ambient trance
but you wanted to learn discipline and to dance
and to coach, and to teach, and reach out to the young,
who will listen to you when they learn what you've done
and think: What could I become?

because you gave it all up for the key to your Qi
to follow your star till it wasn't a star
just the things that you do and the way that you are
for you have discipline, and you speak Mandarin
and you follow the way of Shaolin
Beijing Bull

Okay, we’ve two more medals in - for swimming and for pedalling
But my pulse isn’t racing - it's just not engaging

For me there’s a limp in Olympics
For me there’s just beige in Beijing

There’s medals for coming and medals for going
For running and jumping and diving and rowing
Medals for to-ing and medals for fro-ing
Medals for swivelling, knitting and purling
Wrestling, wriggling, curling and hurling

But what’s really impressed is the way the protesters
Do FREE TIBET banner unfurling

just for it's own sake


For Kew

it's really peaceful here
lion grass lies down with lamb’s ear
beneath Raggeh Omar’s flight path
lies a UN's worth of plant life
arboreal ambassadors, leafy foreign secretaries
variegated delegates with deciduous portfoliage
earthy representatives from each landmass and hemisphere
It’s peaceful here

tamarind from Somalia
eucalyptus from Australia
from Russia there are crocuses
from Georgia, euphorbia - endemic to the Caucasus -
they bring tea in the Orangery
that comes all the way from China
(that’s Camellia sinensis)

and whether they've blown in or flown in or grown from a seedling
you won't find them moaning or groaning or wheedling or needling
no invaders or marauders
they respect each other's borders
very strictly
for though they may be prickly
you won't meet any truculence
amongst the cacti and the succulents

they all get on just fine in TW9

so is there, then, a lesson here
can Kew teach us to lessen fear
to give a chance to peace for once
and learn the art of tolerance,
to be polite, to beg each other’s pardon?

or is it just a really lovely garden?
A Little Something for Kylie

she popped to the palace for an OBE
- the Order of the Bubbly Elf -
she's been plucky, plucky, plucky
and we're glad she's got her health
(that's the main thing)


Vital Statistics

"Satistics are like a bikini - what they reveal is enticing, but what they conceal is vital"

I read. And slept. And dreamt I was there
at the Vital Statistic Beauty Show
ogling a bevy of stunning stats
the smooth curves of their perfect percentiles
rounded to the nearest whole number

90%-of-Accidents-Happen-in-the-Home
was voluptuous as a pie-chart with one slice missing

69%-of-Household-Dust-is-Human-Skin
the acme of elegance in a plain line graph - axes left daringly blank

interviews were conducted by the square root of Michael Aspel,
chanting protestors were dismissed by the media as an unrepresentative fraction

the sash and tiara went to
86%-of-Women's-Industrial-Injuries-Are-Caused-By-Glass-Ceilings
garbed in stark Arabic numerals

and I only guessed I was dreaming when
90%-of-Drivers-Believe-They're-of-Above-Average-Ability
gave me her phone number...

Beryl Cook

In cards, on prints and postage stamps – but never in the Tate
Painting women of a certain age and in a certain state

Stroppy, lippy, happy types, with big bosoms and appetites
As bumptious and as scrumptious as they’re plump

And it’s art with a heart, served up in great dollops
She likes us as we are, she’s the dog’s jackson pollocks

She’s one of our national treasures
She’s my cup – a big cup – of tea
She gave pleasure in generous measures
Beryl Cook, O.B.E., R.I.P.


This House isn’t Haunted…

… we’re sorry to say
If it had a ghost once, then the ghost got away
As the ghouls in the street in kagools will attest
This house isn’t haunted but it’s doing it’s best
For each room has a mood and the moods aren’t the same
There’s an anger, a hunger, a grief and a shame…

Down in the kitchen a sense of regret
That’s as hard to remove as it is to forget
Halfway up the stair there’s a passing despair
That is there, then it’s gone…

On the landing a sense of a wistful ‘if only’
There’s a spot you can stand where you’ll always be lonely

When you open this door there’s a chill, a strange light
It’s a fridge, I admit, still it doesn’t feel right

Right here in the hallway, just sometimes, not always
A desolate whimper, a gasp and an ominous pounding
Is it the echo of evil time past in the ethers resounding?
Or maybe, just maybe, the couple next door
Who’ve been trying quite hard for a baby?

In the living room a sense of doom’s pervasive and persistent
But these chalk outlines aren’t original – I drew round my assistant

So…
Though some people scoff and say ‘phooey’
It’s got quite a gothic feng shui
[But no, it’s not haunted…]
When Anger Management Wears Off

Louis Vitton designer policemen
Escort Naomi down from the plane
Which takes off soon after, without her
Cos she’s flown off the handle again

In an airport in middle America
Straight-backed, and lonely as hell
There’s some unclaimed emotional baggage
Going round a carousel


Sonnet celebrating the elegance, ingenuity and sheer cerebral power of Darren Crowdy’s creative use of Schottky Groups to complete the Schwarz-Christoffel formula so that it works with irregular shapes and those with holes.

You’re clever, you. Far out. You’re way out there
Beyond the bozone layer where we reside
You plot the line fantastic in the air
Where Ancient Greek and Modern Geek collide

You do Jazz Geometry – it can’t be taught –
Express yourself in dancing neuro-glyphs
Placing in brackets things that can’t be taught
Then multiplying by their absent widths

You’re out there where the holy grail or chalice is
Where masthmatics like me can hardly breathe
Then with applied complex analysis
You bring it down to Earth – just for a wheeze

You’re far out. So far out. And so, so clever
Yet when you say Eureka! we say Whatever…
10,000 Cracks in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

A thundery under-grumble
Spoke of doom and melodramas
Made dream-steeped people stumble
To the street in their pyjamas
Perplexed, bewildered, lost
In the February frost.

A magnitude of 5.3
An aftershock of 1.8
Enough to spill a cup of tea
To make cake crumble on its plate
It would have done - but it was late

And midnight lovers in the throes
Of passion and distress
Said, ‘You know that question that you pose…
…well tonight the answer’s Yes!’


Ultra Lite Verse

To travel unencumbered
Liberated, unimpeded
Not impoverished nor lumbered
With kit you never needed
Tripping lightly cross the tundra
With an ultra sense of wonder
Feeling far closer to nature
Than you did when you were younger
And you forked out for the clobber
And it really used to costure

Meanwhile your backpack-lacking back
Has a relaxed and upright posture
As you leap from tuft to tussock
With the contours of each buttock
Silhouetted in the sunset
Cos there’s nothing in your pocket

Travel lightly, travel sprightly
With so very little outlay
To carry nothing hefty
Cock a snook at health and safety

To the uber ultra-liter outlay’s outré

But I’m not an ultra vulture, I don’t go for ultra culture
Ultra-this that or the other – I like staying under cover
A quilt cover with some weight in,
That a man might hibernate in
with a serious tog-rating

If I’m looking for adventure And I’m feeling pretty hardy
I’ll pop down the shopping centre In a thin acrylic cardy
Okay, I’m fat and pasty But I like my health and safety
But if, for you, it’s obsolete –
Then go ahead –
You have nothing to lose but your body-heat…

The price is right

Okay, suspend him from the Commons
Then there’s money to repay
And of course now he won’t be standing
Come re-election day

But it’s what Dave Cameron did that’s worst
That’s the highest price to pay
Because it really hurts a Tory
When you take their whip away…


The Company of Leeks

Down through the generations
We’ve been venerating leeks
We’ve not won all the prizes
But we’ve had our winning streaks
Won enough to furnish houses –
We’ve had fewer troughs than peaks
In the company of leeks

Rosettes, I’ve had a few
And then some honourable mentions
To see a leek you, yourself, grew
Receiving plaudits and attentions…
When that leek in peak condition
Wins a Best Leek Competition
You feel so cock-a-hoop
It calls for cock-a-leekie soup
Although it isn’t Mum’s leek pudding
…It’ll do

For what is a leek – what is it like?
Let’s sneak a peek – let’s take a look
A cylinder of bundled sheafs
Tortilla wrap of Welsh motifs
A spring onion on steroids
Upside down Olympic flame
Close relation of the onion
They are Garlic’s kissing cousin
They’re en eco-party-popper in freeze-frame
Or pagan Barbie
A little bit ineffable
A heavy metal daffodil
It makes me feels so affable
The company of leeks

So you can keep your Spanish beach
I’ll stay where leeks are within reach
The tasty part of vichyssoise…
Beneath the undemanding stars
While the world around me sleeps
I’ll keep company with leeks
Magpie Messiah

In factories and offices
there’s talk of Geordie prophecies
the king who it is said would come
then go again
and then come back
then go againaAnd then, a third time
come again, yes, here he is
the Magpie Messiah
to kindle their fire
to love them
to lead them
so high up the league
and redeem them
King Keegan
has come
as prophesied
and I have seen the banners say:
we’re going all the way
– to Wembley, to Europe and to Heaven

so there you go
no pressure, Kevin


Quantum poem

The wondermental things apply
as quirky quantum time goes by

it’s quirky and it’s quarky
and it’s kind of like a doorkey
to a world so charmed and murky
only physicists can visit it
and handle its vicissitudes

it is a most absorbing thing
to watch electrons orbiting
to sit there and imagine them
without a hope of catching them
the fundamental particles
like toilet rolls and smarticles

they’re smaller than bacteria
but in no way inferior
though they occupy less area
they’re infinitely eerier
and scarier

so much that even physicists
can hardly grasp that they exist

they have ‘non-local’ properties
exist as probabilities
as possibles and parallels
as parables and dizzy spells
a neo-nano-nothingness
attention-seeking emptiness
an absence with an aftertaste
a ripple in a state of grace

for some the sub-atomic’s
both a riddle and a tonic

east of reason, shy of rhyme
the quantum world confirms that time
is circular and cyclical

on top of that it speaks of why
the wondermental things apply
as quarky quantum time goes by…
Merry Christmus Everybody

You can keep your bah humbugs
I’m not playing Scrooge
Don’t wince at my tinsel
I’m not in the mood

Because no man is an island
No woman is an isthmus
And people are people wherever you go
So have a Merry Christhmus


I Prefer Ibupfen

Life is so much easier with effective analgesia

The purpose of pain is to say to the brain:
Ow! Houston we’ve got a problem…
But once we’ve got the message we don’t need it again and again…

What do we want? Symptom Relief!
When do we want it? Now!

When you’ve had enough of it there’s just no need to suffer it
Just pop a little caplet and Ibuprofen will buffer it

I've had a go with Aspirin, Codeine and Paracetamol
With Solpadeine, Co-codamol, with Anadin and Ultramol
I love them all, I really do, but I prefer Ibuprofen

There are other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs around
Your NSAID’s these days are quite thick on the ground
There’s Naproxen, there's Nabumetone
and, of course, there's Indomethacin
Each with much to offer us. But I prefer Ibuprofen

I love the way the compound sticks its cheeky little hand in
The way it blocks the enzyme that creates the prostaglandin

Reducing fever, inflammation, and mild to moderate pain

Yes I know it isn’t curative, in anyway preventative
But to dwell on what it doesn’t do is anally retentative
I know it doesn’t treat the cause, the cause will still be there
But it lends a hand, it puts the ‘pal’ back into palliative care.

It does exactly what you’d expect it to say it would do if it came in a tin
Evel Knievel

Showman, frontman, stunning stuntman
In a tight white leather jumpsuit

Celebrated, sequinned, scarred
Evel flew, and landed, hard

He knew triumph and disaster
He knew bandages and plaster

So rev the revs, the engine roars
Knievel leaps, Knievel soars

Let’s leave him freeze-framed in the air
His name synonymous with Dare

They called him ‘Elvis on a motorbike’
Ladies and gentlemen, Evel has left the building

The Kipper

Lying there like leatherwear, eyes glazed just like a teddy bear
Familiar, yet foreign, like a smooth, flat, smelly sporran

You can serve yourself a kipper on a tasteful brekky platter
You can mash it in a paté you can serve with toast and butter
With a little bit of pepper it’s the perfect kind of tucker
Put a little bit of kipper on the corner of a cracker…
…You can call it kipper canapés
Mmmmmm

And should you come a cropper, slip or trip and drop your kipper
There’s no need to agonise about the kipper’s injury
Mix it up with egg’n’rice and call it kipper kedgeree

It’s got such versatility; DHA oil; Omega 3
In parts of middle England kippers qualify as currency

A kipper in a jiffy bag can liven up a postal strike
Or pop one in the pannier of a diplomatic motorbike

If you’re feeling moody
You can happy-slap a foody

When they hang like golden ladies they are aromatic bunting
They can lay false trails for hounds so you can sabotage the hunting
[Which is where the term ‘red herring’ originally comes from]

They enrich the English language
And they’re quite nice in a sandwich

So let’s make a bumper sticker that will stick up for the kipper
And say: “A kipper is for life – not just for breakfast”

St Pancras

We’ve all been where you’re standing, we’ve stood there, St Pancras
Stood empty and friendless, neglected and thankless

And you’ve stood forlorn as the powers-that-be scorned you
Both persons of rank and us ordinary punters
How you must have hungered and hankered, St Pancras

For the life you have now for arrivals, departures
For lovers to linger beneath your grand arches

But now you’re emerging, refurbished, resurgent
Your platforms buffed up and washed down with detergent

And you welcome us all, from near and from far
To your cathedral grandeur, your new champagne bar

St Pancras – you know what you are
You’re a star.

Magical Memories – a regrettably forgettable yet unforgetful love poem

I remember the dress that you wore when we met
The dress with the dots – how could I forget
Two hundred and four – none exactly the same
I counted them all as you came through the door
…I gave each one a name

We walked out together, beneath a lumpy grey sky
I see it so clearly now in my mind’s eye,
The pavement, the drizzle, the cars grumbling by…
Ford Mondeo, blue, N76 RBT
Toyota Corolla, white, C213 XPL
Citroen Picasso, red S79 YAE

You kissed me. I missed one. But I didn’t mind.
We were young. We had time.

The restaurant. We held hands. Once more we kissed.
And whispered sweet nothings - well, you did,
I whispered the whole set menu and wine list…
[And what’s really nice is:
I can still recite it, including the prices]

And then back to your place, your face stuck to my face
While my eyes memorised your cd’s
I noticed a book there beside the computer
The abridged Kama Sutra (for the hurried lover)
And took a quick look – in two minutes, I’d read it – from cover to cover
You said, Hey do you seriously think that kind of thing can impress me?
And I closed the book, and my eyes, and said, Test me.
England Expects…

The scrum, the ruck
The pack, the maul
Bulked up bodies
A misshapen ball
A red rose
On a blood-stained shirt
Oggi… Oi! Oggi… Oi!
Oggi Oggi Oggi – Ow! That really hurt!


If I said you had a bit of a problem would you hold it against me?

Alcohol. It’s magical. It works its hocus pocus
Makes all of us attractive, turns the shy ones into jokers

It’s the precipice poured from a bottle
The gateway to heaven and hell
It’s the portal that leads to a chortle
And a few other places as well

But while it makes the sour sweet it turns the sweet things sour
And ask yourself who’s really smiling during Happy Hour?

Because there’s
Hinge-drinking - oils the social levers, eases you out of your shell
Binge drinking – leaves the shell well behind, heaves you out of your skull
Whinge-drinking – downing measures of wine at your pitious condition
Cringe-drinking – throwing out the baby of dignity with the bathwater of inhibition

Is one of these you?

Don’t be like the sopping wet pharaoh who said with a smile
“I just like a drink. I am not in denial...”

It’s a soft, slow slide down a slippery slope
And no, you can’t have ice with that
I mean the sort of slope it’ll take twelve long, hard steps to climb back up…

Sometimes the Path of Least Resistance
Leads to the Place of Least Existence…

Don’t let excessive moderation grind you down
But think before you drink before you drown

(Doing the) Northern Rock

you put your savings in
you take your savings out
in
out
your high anxiety account
you’re not okey-dokey
you are insecure
even though they reckon they’ve bailed it out
Oi!

You’re not okey-dokey
You’re not okey-dokey
You’re not okey-dokey

pointy finger
blame blame blame

Portrait Poem

Hold still.
I’m going to paint you.
Yes, with words.
A ‘poetrait’ – very good, I see what you did there.

Clothes on is fine.
I won’t be doing unflattered flesh, mauves pinks and blues
Depict your body as a kind of bruise

Just arty similes – word art
So, sitting comfortably? Hold still. I’ll start…

Her forehead is a wide beach at low tide
Eyebrows two Swedish forwards way offside

Prosthetic crab claw fingers clutch her cardy
Their nails glimpses of ice cubes in Bacardi

Her eyes pools – No, wells – No, open invitations (yes!)
To be accepted without guilt or shame – good
Tch! you moved!
um…her eyes are invitations to a booth
to openly review a recent claim

Her breasts are… glad thought bubbles… that insist they be expressed…
You moved again! You did! I’ve lost my thread!
…breasts….um …coastguards in souwesters – no! tch!

Okay, touch up the eyes:
….eyes two blank forms each yet to be filled in
her jaw a door on a post-war public building (great)

That’s it. Yes, have a look. Don’t be annoyed.
I know I’m not Lucian Freud – or Beryl Cook
I beg your pardon – what did you say?
“I don’t know much about art but I know what I weigh?”
Don’t be like that! Anyway it’s not about you –
It’s about challenge, technique, form and composition.
And also you kept changing your position.
I didn’t take you for a philistine.
Oh, can’t talk now – got Sotheby’s on the line…

Self-Made Man

He picks his palette up, and starts to paint
Invests the canvas with expressive oils
The tight off-white stretched cloth absorbs the daubs
And out of dull chaos a face takes shape
It’s recognisable, sharp and severe
His brush fulfils its brief, portrays the traits
The early random-looking lines cohere
By increments an image constellates

My father’s mother, as once drawn by him
In brown felt tip when I was in my teens
Beneath today’s still life the play of genes
Beneath the leaf - the twig, the branch, the limb

He’s traced me back, revealed the family tree
The embedded dna in dynasty

Next session’s strokes will see this overlaid
With features I can claim as just my own
The part of me that passes for self-made
Fresh-grown from seeds so very long since sown
In quiet fields which never quite lay fallow
Which never quite wake up, nor ever sleep

Perhaps the me that’s me is just skin deep

I hope he doesn’t make me look too shallow

Our Queen is not  a Drama Queen

That apology from the BBC:
We’re sorry Ma’am – we meant no harm
One did not flounce out
Nor did one pout
And someone’s chances of a knighthood
Are seriously up the spout…

Poem Inspired by the Wearing of Bees

Today Philip McCabe is wearing an all-over apiary ensemble
That offers that warm swarm feel
With the fuzzy feudal buzz of clinging bee
– Combines high tog-rating with ease of sloughing off –

Elsewhere in the Entomological Eco-Outfitters Catalogue:
Why not try our Exoskeletal Erotica?
There’s the Ladybird Lingerie line
– When they feel the flames of passion they fly away home -
Or Stag Beetle Boxers – They’re perfectly safe,
though they might nip a little and some say they chafe –

We have a range of symbiotic styles to fit every level of integration and intimacy

Evening wear:
The Lepidopteral Lounge Suit
Sharp as Moss Bros, cut from Moth Cloth
It’s not made-to-measure but it settles to fit
Gets a little fluttery under the streetlamps
But it’s lovely and rustly when they’re sleepy
Though some will say it’s creepy, we say:
Hey, it’s also crawly

So sleep tight, mind the bugs don’t bite (really)
And remember:
Never mind the quality, feel the itch…

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)

He stands the far wrong side of safety’s door,
Must pick the lock to be allowed back in.
For him the minefield is no metaphor –
Breathe in. Breathe out. Hold still. Now, breathe again.

Here is the warrior with the gentle touch,
A soldier’s courage and a surgeon’s care.
Adrenalin enough, but not too much.
Fear is a friend. But still he has to dare.

Each movement is an act of conservation,
The moment’s taut meniscus can’t be broken.
Forced calm of concentrated concentration –
The demon in the box must not be woken.

Cells brace against the latent darkening blast,
The first mistake you make will be your last.
Move slowly. Look. Inbreath. Feel. Prod. Outbreath.
Rising relief… …Not today, Mr Death

Feral Beast
Darling? What’s that snarling? Oh, that’ll be the media
I don’t know, I think it just gets nastier and seedier
It’s out there prowling, scavenging scurrilous scraps on which to feast
At least Saturday Live shows the sensitive side of this ravenous feral beast…

Let’s Hang
They hang in the air with the greatest of ease
Those aesthetically pleasing and relaxed young women on their stationary trapeze-i

They hang there like bats do in caves or in trees
With gorgeous red welts on the backs of their knees

Without stars or spangles or greasepaint or glitter
They dangle at angles and slowly get fitter
(It’s not true ‘you only slim when you’re swinging’…)

But though plainly as gainly as those in tight clothes
Who swing to and fro for the punters below

They will never be caught by a muscle-bound boy
Like some lycra-clad sequinned executive toy

They hang there asserting a cool independence
Like calm hanging baskets, post-feminist pendants

They hang there quite humbly, not seeking applause
On their stationary bar not too far from the floor

They strike graceful poses though no-one can tell
Which herbivore’s that– it’s quite like a gazelle…

They dream of being super-heroes – Batgirl, or Catwoman
In fact any one will do so long as it doesn’t turn out to be Splatwoman…

Ballad of the Tropical Systematic Botanist
He’s a plucker, he’s a picker
He’s a cutter, he’s a snipper
He knows too much about ginger and when given room to roam
He gathers great big armfuls of brand new botanic samples
And he presses them and logs them and he brings them all back home

It’s the only form of logging ecologically acceptable
He doesn’t care if each new leaf’s disgusting or delectable
Toxic, psychotropic, soporific or medicinal
His quest is non-judgmental and completely unconditional

When he turns over a new leaf it’s always pretty literal
“Ooh, not seen that one before…”

With his eyes on the horizon and his hand around a rhizome
You’ll see him bleed but you won’t hear him moan
With his ankles cut by switchgrass, far from home and Alan Titchmarsh
He’s a foliage-focused Indiana Jones

Yeah he’s a mild-mannered tropical systematic botanist
            But at the end of the day
He’s a pretty determined-looking mild-mannered tropical systematic botanist
            So don’t get in his way



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Fi Glover

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