Welcome to the UK

Why is there a guy selling perfumes
in the toilets of a club? The fact
most houses don’t have bars on the windows.
Spring and how utterly lovely it is.
Strangers ending messages with a kiss.

Everything is tighter, narrower, closer.
You coming with us for the bonfire,
they’re burning the Pope. I wasn’t expecting
the litter to lay on the ground for weeks.
Where are the people cleaning the streets?

Houses have string light switches. Two taps.
Gravestones older than my whole country.
You can buy drinks and snacks in a pharmacy.
Quiz nights, Marmite, no bargaining in shops.
Two snowflakes fall and everything stops.

Most people in London aren’t from London.
People who play dominoes in pub bars.
A small group of cheerful protestors
led to a police car, no need for drama.
People shopping in their pyjamas.

All the food is wet. Sandwiches oozing
with mayonnaise, chips drowning in gravy.
Everything is too sweet. Limes are so cheap.
Long fake eyelashes, orange tanning.
How green everything stays. Did I mention spring?

No burglar bars and security gates,
no pallisade fencing. The resigning
of everyone who has a setback.
How much Brits hate Britain, talk it down.
Women pushing prams on the streets on their own.

(From UK immigrants, what surprised you when you moved here?)

Fail better

Is this your career?
Get a real job!
Writing postcards doesn’t count!

Turn up the television.
Anyone can do it.

I don’t get it.
The window has shut.
Don’t you even care?
Success depends upon money!
Asides must be dumped.

Your house is burning.
We’re out of vodka.
Your document is blank.
It’s a good start.

(Entries from spoil a writer’s mood in 4 words competition. Submitted by Howie Good)

Hello I am also bored

I’m at home all by my lonesome,
reading and waiting a little while
before I brush my teeth
and go to bed.

I could go for some conversation
if you’re interested.
Don’t much have
a particular topic in mind.

I worked ten hours today
and ate Taco Bell for dinner.

Do you like stuff?
Do you hate stuff?

Things? Place, people, ideas?
For/against any topic?

Want to discuss
the weather?

I’m all eyes for what you have to say.
Hope to hear from you.

(From Craigslist Strictly Platonic, 23 December 2014. Submitted by Erica Tucker)

How to Be a Bluesman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Typo in a Dead Language

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

(Discussion about the Yiddish word ‘kupkes’ on Mendele (vol23011.txt). Submitted by Howie Good)

Found confessions

my husband tiptoes
through life

afraid someone
might ask him
to leave


i fix my lover’s typos,
grammar mistakes
before i send his emails

to my friends
to read


this summer
i will teach my children
a few tricks
on the trampoline

in hopes that they
will run away
and join the circus


my wedding song
was meant to be
Take My Breath Away
but we didn’t play it
he wasn’t
the one


at my fortieth
when i blew out the candles
a room of people
watched me
silently wish
for my husband
to die


i like my dog
way more than
i like my cat

i should probably
never have kids


i cry in my office
when my colleagues
go out to lunch
and don’t invite me


he calls himself
my boyfriend

i call him
my current boyfriend


i root for the hurricanes


every time
my boyfriend tries
to pronounce french words
i think
he is the reason
why the french hate us


i wear frumpy pajamas to bed
so he won’t get any ideas

i wear short skirts to work
so somebody else will


i am


(Confessions from CAVE canum. Submitted by Michael Haeflinger)

Shoreham harbour

In the harbour a single Guillemot
and two Purple Sandpipers roosting
with Turnstones on the inner wooden breakwater
and Peregrine sitting in the nest box
on the Power Station chimney.

Widewater; I searched the entire length
of the beach from the flats to the sailing club
without finding the Snow Buntings once again.

On the beach a single Rock Pipit
and twenty-four Sanderling, off shore little other 
than a few regular gulls.

(From a Recent Sightings post, Sussex Ornithological Society, 12 Dec 2011)

The Complaining Lunch Queue Riposte

However the children complain
that they have to wait
they are hungry
they have less choices
they should even not have to wait
because they have their own lunch—
maybe this is all done deliberately
maybe temporarily
in order to teach them patience.

Why not?
They are not starving to death.
Should everything be easy?
Life is not like that.

Personally I trust the school.

From a Google groups message written by a parent at my child’s primary school. He wrote it as a reply to a stream of complaints from other parents that their children were having to wait too long to get their lunch. Commas removed. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Unfurl unfold

I would shape myself into your pocket.
I will shake, sneak, shrink, slip
I was shapeless infant to your pocket.

I was shaking and I disappeared
I was thinking I would disappear
I would shrink and
I will sink and

I wish ink and I would disappear.

I will slip into the groove and cut me up.
And cut me off. You cut me off.

There’s an empty space inside my heart
Where the weeds
Where the wings
And it won’t take root
And there I’ll
So now I’ll
Tonight I’ve set you free.

Just to feel
Just to feed your fast ballooning head.

We would shrink and then
We will shake and we’ll be quiet as mice.

Take the lotus flowers into my room.
The bird lights float
The bird that’s flown
Put this flower
A bird has flown into my room.

Mm, moments float into my room.

‘Cos all I want is the moon upon a stick.
A man upon a stake.

I dance around the pit; the darkness is beneath.
Dancing round the pain. The darkness is relief.

(Compiled from fans’ transcripts for Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, released Feb 2011 with no lyrics)