Words of the day – betjemen 

Now if the harvest is over / And the world cold / Give me the bonus of laughter / As I lose hold. 

From ‘A Nip in the Air’ by John Betjemen. 

I laughed yesterday for the first time in too long and this poem summed up my thoughts exactly. I need to take a week off work to read more Betjemen and laugh and lose hold. 

Back on the Competition Horse – or Why am I so Pathetic That I Can Only Write When I’m Told to?


Francesco Hayez

I was sat perched on the end of a sofa Saturday evening wondering what to do with my night. If I leant back into the sofa and allowed myself to relax I would probably have inadvertently caught up on 6 weeks of shitty sleep and that would have resulted in the sack, obesity, and sub consciously getting addicted to a soap. But, if I stood up I would have to look as though I had some sort of destination. I was rapidly getting my head around plan A.

Then my phone beeped at me and told me that there was a competition deadline on Sunday.
For poetry.
On the theme of love.
In particular, romantic love, or the absurdities of love.

Now, other than writing technical manuals (Oh, wait, that’s my day job – what was so wrong with plan A after all?) there is nothing I want to write about less than love at the moment. I’m even starting to wonder whether perhaps it wouldn’t be too much trouble to take a Stanley knife to my book collection and meticulously cut around the word love in every book so that I can just get on with reading about war, misery, and political exile instead.

Perhaps it’s from my schooling, during which we weren’t allowed to take our blazers off until the whole class, in alphabetical order, had answered a math’s question correctly (sucks to be a Williams), but I now couldn’t contemplate anything other than meeting this deadline. P.S. Sorry sir, I chose words over numbers in the end.

And as though I was still stood there in the maths class sweltering under a blazer I started to panic at what was going to happen to my brain when I started to quiz myself on love. I think I actually shook my head from side to side a bit while I was writing, to avoid looking at my own words. I decided that the least input from me the better. And so it happened. I gave the guard of my self-preservation door a wink and told him to come back in a couple of hours, and let myself cough up some memories of absurd romantic love stuff.

If the judges are also looking for ‘absurd’ in terms of writing style then I may be in with a chance, but if they want decent content then I may be lacking somewhat. I’m a little out of practice but if I do happen to get placed then I may invest in a door stop and see what else comes out.





He dreams I want to leave him
Roams through the night forest desolate
and I dream I’ve abandoned him
feel waxy pleasure of that sin
Its subsequent atonement
Next morning, both our faces mark the change
Mine with the guilty look of those
Who knowingly succumb to dreams
And his the speculative gaze
Of someone learning


In bookstores there are no books,
in books no words,
in words no essence:
there are only husks.

In museums and waiting rooms
are painted canvases and fetishes.
In the Academy there are only recordings
of the wildest dances.

In mouths there is only smoke,
in the eyes only distance.
There is a drum in each ear.
A Sahara yawns in the mind.

Nothing frees us from the desert.
Nothing saves us from the drum.
Painted books shed their pages,
becoming husks of Nothing.



Smelling the age you loved the most
With half of each other in your hands,
The ink is pushed along by empty fingers
Across a path to you and your eyes.
The grass is waiting with nothing in between
As you choose between left and right.
There is the phrase from a million mouths
Making myriad hopes.
I want to light up your face
But I would be smudging what has started to form.