The key

The front cover is the door that opens,
the portal that allows us entry
into new worlds, new times,
new lives in which to lose ourselves,
discover others
and see our own world
from a different perspective

Please don’t throw away the key

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Fall guy

foxy Guido Fawkes
fall guy for government fail
in gunpowder plot


Guy Fawkes was caught with barrels of gunpowder in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament the day before King James I was due to formally open the new session on November 5th, 1605. Since then autumn bonfires have been enthusiastically lit, ‘guys’ burnt and fireworks exploded to remind us that “gunpowder, treason and plot” should “ne’er be forgot.”

Restart

He sat at the laptop, fingers poised over the keyboard. Minutes passed before the proverbial lightbulb appeared above his head. He smiled, tapped out the first word . . . and the screen went blank. He’d forgotten the scheduled restart for updates. Now the impatient fingers were tapping the table. Pray inspiration wouldn’t run out before . . .


Flash Fiction Fifty Five: a short piece consisting only of 55 words, including the title

Freelancing in a swimsuit

Newgale beach

Working as a contract paralegal
has components in its favour,
and factors that are
unfavourable to some people.

If a way-off journey
and pleasure in your work life
is what would swimsuit you the very best,
freelancing may very well be
an awesome option for you!


I don’t want to bemoan the quality of spam these days but I find that very few live up to the standards I look for in found poetry. This is a tolerable exception

Fret

This morning, just like any morning, she looked out of the window as soon as she rose from bed. Just like any morning she could see the sea. Some days she could see for miles — almost to the mainland, she was sure – across the bright blue waters. Other times the ocean was grey, reflecting the storm clouds overhead, when the waves were like the team of off-white steeds she remembered leading her father’s racing chariot. But today she could barely see anything, so heavy was the sea-fret billowing towards the land. Nothing would be coming to harbour until the mist lifted, she was sure.

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What he’d learned

Not long ago – it may be yesterday – there were two children called Alice and Bran. Now Alice and Bran lived in the last house at the end of the estate on the outskirts of a large town. You won’t have heard of this town, so it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called. Every day, Alice and Bran’s parents drove to work in the town and Alice and Bran caught to bus to school. At the end of the day they all came back home, did what they had to do and then went to bed.

On the other side of their house was a wood. Alice and Bran were told never to go into the wood because it was dangerous and you could lose yourself, so they never did. Instead, if ever they went for a walk they took their dog Cerberus around the estate and then came straight back home. And so it went on for some time.

One day, Alice said to her mam and dad, “It’s a small wood, you could never get lost in there, and it doesn’t look dangerous. Why can’t we go in there?” But her parents said, “No, Alice! You must never go there, nothing good will come of it!” Though she asked more than once they would never give her any reason why they couldn’t go into the wood.

There came a day when it was the school holidays and her parents drove to work as usual and Alice and Bran were at home all on their own. “Shall we go for a walk round the estate with Cerberus?” suggested Bran, but Alice said, “Maybe later.” Well, later came, and Bran called to Alice and said, “Shall we go for that walk with Cerberus now?” But there was no answer. Bran knew then that Alice had gone into the wood.

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Patronising

A piece of doggerel prose in rhyming couplets for St George’s Day.

Calmgrove

Durer’s St George and the Dragon. The crowned princess is lurking behind a rock. With a pig.

St George fought the dragon and killed it — or did he? Such doubt could make patriots go weak and quite giddy. Did he rescue a maiden and liberate a city like Perseus, it’s said, in ancient antiquity? Or is it a myth, a tale for the gullible from powerful leaders who claim they’re infallible?

The truth is that George has a past that is murky: perhaps Cappadocia (that’s now part of Turkey) or Palestine claims him. Yes, Christian martyr — but slayer of dragons? Well, that‘s a non-starter.

He’s patron of England, the Knights of the Garter, Teutonic Knights, Reichenau, Gozo and Malta. He’s chief saint of Portugal and also of Genoa, of Moscow and Beirut and, yes, Catalonia. God help us if they all decide to go fight, for how will George know who is wrong and who’s right?

Yet it’s the far right who often invoke him…

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Apportioning blame

The quality of spam is much declin’d.
It droppeth as the state of public discourse
Upon our eyes and ears is daily ‘smirched.
It blasteth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it ill becomes
The thronèd tweeter in his office,
Whose textspeak shows the force of ignorant power
(No attribute to awe and majesty)
Wherein doth sit his wanton spiteful thoughts.

But spamming sits below this septic sway;
It is embedded in the hearts of those
Who think to embody the soul of wit itself;
Their online power resembleth trolls’
Whose cruelty seasons hate.

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Rapier wit

crosswordblank

If ever forced to try out swordplay
I’d fail to be a Cyrano.
And as for impro wordplay,
expecting puns? Oh, sirrah, no!

Clash of steel best fitting crossed swords
(whether epées, foils or rapiers),
flash of real wit suiting crosswords
(often met in broadsheet papers):

all would go from bad to worse
(same as when I’m writing verse).
I’m as like to win a duel as
write a gem fit for a jeweller’s.