200 Section 27 Zhenya does Yellowstone

Zhenya puts her foot down and drives through a

storm of tears across the state boundaries;

over canyons, mountains, deserts, plains

into the great volcanic caldera,

and the national park sprawling over it

like a gecko in the sun. Sulfurous

jets eject faithfully from steaming mud

into the sultry mid-year air. Zhenya

totters drearily round the boiling springs,

wishing a fissure open up the very

earth beneath and swallow her. She wills

the planet’s crust eruct its magma up

over the capped tourists with their offspring

taking smirking selfies with their cams, up

over the troupes of snowflake college kids

led by ageing hippy geology

lecturers, up over the brand new-age

vegan hipsters with their healing crystals and

Sanskrit tattoos, out over the misfit

loner out on a day-trip dressed in black

and tan packing heat, up and out over

the pairs of hands-held lovers peering deep

transfixed into the pitchy craters of

each other’s souls, over the sing-song of

drilling marines and the swing of

fracking machines, over cradles rocked by

saddened lullabying postpartum moms,

over the half-lives of exurbia,

and freeways and diners and shopping malls

and up on out over the out-of-date

nuclear waste storage facilities, on

over the wily old crones and brash young

bloods in Congress, cooing over donors

in lobbies, up out over the copper

lady in the harbor, seawards; over

lost Atlantis, scooping up one full half

a hemisphere of oh so weary, not

so brand-new civilized world off along

in the mournful ashfall of its uplifting

wake of petrifying cloud. Would the world

end thus, Zhenya wonders dreaming and throws

herself in.

200 Section 24 Part 2 Zhenya Arrested

Zhenya Arrested

Zhenya is on the landline

in the drugstore bothering

emergency services.

“I love this fucking country,”

she pleads. “Just give me meds.”

“I’ll fuck. I’ll do whatever

you like. Any quid pro quo,

she begs, her palms clasped tightly

in urgent prayer together.

The druggist calls the cops and

cops promptly roll up. Her cell

has dropped out of her jeans shorts

pocket and been buzzing off

jumpily across the floor

for some time now. The cops stoop

down to pick it up. “Kseniya’s

been calling. Wanna call her

back?” “Whatever,” Zhenya snaps

back in a huff, and she is

briskly cuffed and marched outside,

one glum eye on the workers

towing her hire car away.


Zhenya’s Prison Cell Lament

I know the sort who lock me up;

I see the violence in their shaded eyes.

I’ve seen the refugees on plastic boats

ferried across the seas. I’ve seen

my sisters sold and raped

and babies tossed out of the float

into the Mediterranean Sea.

I know the ways of pimps and pigs

and see them in your cold unflinching eyes.

Just get me drugged

and slap a ticket on me

and send me off along my merry way.

200 Section 26 Meeting

Yu limps into the meeting-

place, in drenched oilskin, out of

downpouring rain. Kind old dears

rush to ply the newcomer

with cookies and tea, sit down

in silent listening to her

sobs & story through soft slurps

of hot soup and tea; bid her

sit in worship with them all

a while. No word is spoken.

Nor does sermon thunder down

from pulpit. No sweet hymns are

sung. Nothing is read. No prayers

or incense rise heavenwards. Tears

ripple down cheeks as time streams

slowly by. And Yu is slipped

back into her oilskin and

disappears out into night

and rainstorm. ‘Come again soon,’

someone whispers in her ear.

‘Sure I will,’ her lips quietly


200 Section 25 The Chancellor and the Fox

The Chancellor has lain abed too long,

spouse #7 a-slumbering by his side,

dreaming of England and her empire.

Full of the joys of spring, he hops down

from his perch and crows his luck. Choler

and melancholy dispelled, he dreadeth

no dream, fresh from the precognition of

witnesses antique and holy, heedless

of god’s foreknowing, the songster plies

his tweeting wit to outwit vulpine plans,

unknowing and unknown in his own mind.

The white horse tiptoes down the darkened hill

to tipple down the local pub and stagger

back up to his bed of chalk under the cloak

of moonless star-specked night atop mons

equi albi to toast the German king.

Foresight goes out the window for the sake

of wish fulfillment and free will. The Chancellor

is troubled by his vision of a future

great as any past. His instinct bids him

balk at any strangeness or change that he

may chance upon in his entitled work.

Vox populi’s a tramp. A wolf in foxy

dress appeals to selfish genes, flatters

his inbred duty and his rights. Fox stops

the Chancellor in his tracks; the still small

inner voice cowers still calm and small, while

from without Vox booms mighty applause.

Public opinion has got the Chancellor´s

sin-wracked corpus by the scrawny neck

in jaws thirsty for fur and treasure,

feathers and blood. John Bull is bullied now

by all and sundry. The swarthy wretched

of this ex-colonial earth beat at his

door to hate him to his face; the French could

never stand his guts; now the whole rest of

Europe loathes him too; Luxemburg boos him;

Ireland the North and South despise him too; even

the Welsh and Scots want out; and the United

States have nothing but contempt for this

Kingdom of disappointed souls. Ex-wives

revile him; and other women too flock

to repudiate his ill-repute. And yet,

as when abandoned Ariadne bewailed

those black departing sails or when Hecuba

and Andromache bewept the debellation

of Troy; or when Medea bemoaned her

Jason’s extramarital endogamous

amours; Dido Lavinia; or when

Peshmerga warriors rose up in

arms; as did the suppliant Danaids,

the Pleiades, Hasdrubal’s wife and the

Phoenician women, so did the clan of

Chancellor kick up a helluva ruckus

in the barnyard of that animal farm:

the pigs and dogs and cows and ducks and geese

and swarms of drones and black sheep and Jack Straw

and all his merry peasant band, Phaethon

in all his glory bearing the chariot

of the Sun across the Sky all set about

the wily fox with clattering of spoons

and pans. Fate does a joyful joyride hand-

brake turn. The Chancellor bids the fox berate

the whooping hoi polloi pursuant and

the noisy tribunes of the unwashed plebs.

Fox turns on cue to crow for his close-up

for paparazzi, while the Chancellor,

released for now from those cruel jaws flits up

onto the safety of the telegraph wires

strung overhead. “Vox populi’s a bitch

as fickle as the wind,” he gloats, as Fox

takes off, licking his wounds, tail between legs,

dreading his master’s voice. No joy this day.


200 Section 24 Kseniya and Zhenya do Sunset Boulevard

Kseniya had always fancied a pool

and one of those old Citizen Kane-style

mansions shielded from the Boulevard,

should she be so lucky some oligarch

sweep her off her Pretty Woman feet

one fine day. Zhenya can come with.


rests one middle finger on the wheel,

as Kseniya looks out through 1950s

shades at residences of the well-

to-do. “Stop right there, kid!” she barks sharply

and takes a snap of the pharmacist’s.

“Let’s drive on up the hill,” Zhenya grumbles

but obeys her friend. The old car grunts

up the steep secluded private hill-

side drive in too high a gear. The tires crunch

over the gravel forecourt.


steps out headscarved and takes another snap

of the old place. Zhenya sits arms crossed

and stares tediously out through the wind-

screen and the haze of chemical smog

draped over the tinsel town horizon

like a poorly executed fake

eyebrow under the scorching LA sun.


“Are you the girls from casting?” booms out

the voice of an overweight African-

American security guard.

“Yes, we are!” Kseniya pipes up, lowering

her shades and fluttering her eyelids,

as Zhenya firmly barks out “No!”


heels stumble on the steps leading up

to the dream house. The heavy oak front door

eases ajar. A portly old care-

worn man’s balding head looks out after her,

in wine-stained opened dress shirt, grinning

through bad drooling teeth, and beckons her in.

Sunshine Blogger Award


I am truly grateful to Rizza Jairi for nominating the dark little corner of the Web that is my blog for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Rizza is a budding blogger from the Philippines who deserves our support. https://younggirlsvoyage.wordpress.com/

The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 Questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts.
  5. Ask the Nominees 11 new questions.

Here are my answers to Rizza’s Questions

  1. Describe how you first got into blogging? I was looking for something to do in my retirement and had a lifetime’s worth of writings and reflections that I wanted to publish in some way.
  2. Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging? Liking writing obviously helps. Being kind and generous in dealings with fellow bloggers is important in today’s online jungle. I am forever grateful to my mother for teaching me to touch type.
  3. What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog? This is something I confess I am not good at. I am too shy. I try, in the words of Philip Larkin, to be ‘true and kind’ or at least ‘not untrue and not unkind’.
  4. What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers? Food for thought
  5. What would be your ideal working environment? A walled garden in summertime.
  6. How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently? I have plenty of time and really should spend more of it blogging. I find interaction with other bloggers a great spur to productivity.
  7. What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging? Surviving thus far in life with a lot of help from others.
  8. What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far? For me, the most challenging thing was plucking up the courage to start in the first place.
  9. What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging? I find it quite lonely a lot of the time.
  10. What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging? I am much more confident, fluent and prolific as a creative writer,
  11. Would you encourage other people to make their blog? why? Writing is the best way to develop your soul and blogging is a way of sharing that process with others.

My Nominees and their websites are:

And here are some questions for my Nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What qualities does a good blogger require
  3. How do you attract visitors to your blog?
  4. What is the nicest comment anyone has posted on your blog?
  5. What is the nicest comment you have posted on someone else’s blog?
  6. Why is writing important?
  7. Why is blogging important?
  8. What is the purpose of poetry in this digital age?
  9. Can images be as powerful as words?
  10. What is your favorite part of speech—noun, verb, adjective, preposition etc?
  11. How do you stay sane?





200 Section 23 Bell at Seven Part 2

Bell at Seven — Part 2

Bell at seven. Bella leaps

up out from under duvet,

grabs peach-colored dress laid out

pressed on dressing table, skips

happy downstairs to breakfast

table through strewn mail, front porch,

out through flower garden and

drive, to car to school, mum at

the wheel.

The schoolchild crocodile

snakes, boys, girls hands held in hands

in quaint anticipation

of coming matrimony,

along urban kerbs, crosses

the pelican and zebra

crossings between traffic

lights and Belisha beacons,

led by lollipop lady

through danger to the city

zoo, to watch panthers prowl through

bars and penguins fill their bills

with fish and lions roar and

gorillas beat their chests, to

sit on benches out the back

of the rhino compound and

eat egg and cress sandwiches

and animal crackers out

of tiny plastic boxes

and sip pop through fluted straws,

as pink flamingos squawk.


is led off in the blood-stained

keeper’s arms, exotic scent

of hippo excrement, and

primate grunts and gibbons’ shrieks

and ululations: too young

for love, her silent tears cry

out to the whole animal

kingdom for mercy and sweet

relief from sin, as church bells

gather congregants in prayer

and children board the bus back

home for tea. Bell at seven.


Flipping back through the scrapbooks,

the fading Polaroids, the

power cuts and birthday cake

candles blown out, the strikers

huddled around braziers, as

hippies love and dance and hate

war, Nixon lies and Manson

orders family murders

and men’s boots stomp on the moon,

Bella curls up in the safe

space of the womb, the journey

over. The backward-ticking

clock unknits her wet fetal

tissue and unpicks her genes.

The coup de dés of onto-

genesis undone. Two dice

and seven is commonest,

plainness the default. Bella

slips back into a happy

nothing and disappears through

a pinpoint of pure non-being:

better for not being born.




200 Section 23 Bell at Seven Part 1

[I have finally gotten round to writing another section of 200, which follows the Bella/Bell(e) character backwards through her lifeHere is half of it.]

Bell at Seven Part 1

Flashing back through Bella’s life,

the regression moves back over

the rekindled late-coming

love, sweet jubilation in

her jubilee, skip in step

over solstice cornfield and

stone-strewn ancient meadowland;


back at sixes and sevens,

fresh out of the faceless old

sanatorium and straight

into care in the local

community, benefits,

and back on methadone and

the streets fishing fish ‘n’

chips out of newspaper in

bins out the back of the chip

shop, cheeky chappy, chip on

the shoulder off the old block

in tow;


back through therapy

in a half-way house half way

through three score and ten, putting

sun-yellow acrylic paint

in sunflowers rimmed with black

crayon surrounded by wire

and chains, accepting badness

and sadness and constraint and

still seeking the sweet exit

of depth in this shallow world.


Two times fourteen now and it’s

time February’s girl made

up for what she lacks in good

judgment and wisdom and self-

awareness with spirit and

exuberance, and for days

lost to the leap year: snakebites,

V&Os, brandy chasers,

Rizlas, Peter Stuyvesant,

Embassy, Malboro, crack-

pipe cough and track lined forearms,

and promiscuity in

rock fest toilets and smiley-

faced little pills, stretchered out

of the stone-circle like some

Eurydice half way back

from the land of the dead, earth-

bound like that Farsi-chanting

Persephone for the want

of a pomegranate seed.

If her life were a figure

of speech it would be zeugma,

non sequitur, a constant

rolling of dice in quantum

space: alea iacta est.


Back to coming of age, key

to the door to Wonderland,

two pills and a spliff in one

fair lace-gloved hand, and a hunk

of iced red velvet birthday cake

on the other hunched over

Rilke’s Duino elegies,

no angel in between her

final cramming for exams.


“Orwell was wrong on language;

Lewis Carroll and Ludwig

Wittgenstein had the right idea.

Nothing makes sense: it is all just

a game,” the trendy English

Literature teacher with

the blond ponytail avers

to his class of teenage girls

down the Seven Sisters free

house after Top of the Pops.

1984. Some look

old enough to nurse grown-up

girlie drinks, while others take

thoughtful sips of lemonade

and notes they hope will help with

their Jane Austen homework. Belle

puts Sweet Dreams are Made of This

back on the pub jukebox for

the umpteenth time. “When Jean-Luc

Godard dreamt up the nouvelle

vague, I don´t imagine he

had Spandau Ballet in mind”


Belle lets down her long blond hair,

leafing nonchalantly through

this week’s NME and an

unthumbed copy of Dr.

Jacques Lacan’s Écrits. The air

is sweet with rum punch, Gitanes

and Scritti Politti. She

sighs; kicks off her mum’s shoes. Her

lipstick touches his.


                                   Mum and

Dad ‘send’ each other the same

Xmas card every year and

lion and unicorn lie

down together in peace through

the wardrobe she thinks. As they

drive back home from the family

planning clinic, in silence,

through the driving rain, wipers

clear way through the pathetic

fallacy of unshed tears.




is broken

in that final fire

that does not come

as an ending

but lies

at the heart

of all things


all the illusions

of light and life

into cold truths

of darkness, stone and ash

like ingredients

in a wedding cake

that comes out of the oven

hard as a tomb



trumpets or angels

proclaim an apocalypse


as a two-bar electric


in the living room

whose plastic coals and flames

are fakely flickered

by a calm rotation

of dusty, creaking, rusted metal blades



as the blue wisp of paraffin

in the portable kitchen heater

or the steam from Ready Brek

dissolved in warm milk

in a winter morning stomach,


as the muffled clunk and

early-morning hiss of central-heating

coming on

one snowy morning

through freshly-bled




is broken down

to the bare fact of existence

in thick pink hospital blankets

where we shit our last

in a sleeping-bag under

a rain-dripping tent

where we had our first blow-job

under the 3-tog double duvet

of couples at home,

every cry of the damned

is tucked in for the night

under a quilted eiderdown.



is broken down

in the boiler

starched with blue and pegged out

to freeze on a winter-garden

washing line


is broken down

and mixed up

and spun dry

in the magic of the new Electrolux.

everything is broken

down in the warm

flip-flopping air

of college tumble-driers



found in the woods

is broken up

—twigs and dead leaves,

and branches dank with moss—

and stuffed in the old clothes

of a guy

for Bonfire Night



is broken up

crushed to almost nothing

by time or accident

like old Ford Cortinas

at the scrap yard




you have given

will be broken up

brittle as if dipped in liquid nitrogen


all loves

will be lost or left

so much kitsch and junk

shattering across a hard-stone floor

of empty space

and swept up by a cleaning-lady

the next morning





in the warm morning breeze

on your feet

in the twinkling atoms of dust

in the warm summer light

through bedroom windows

in the warm flushes of caresses

caused by care or lust

in the warm sea

under the warm sun

on the warm sand

between her warm thighs

behind her back

everything is broken

up, down, off and away

everything is broken

and bloo

as a sky-light or a bruise


everything is broken

up, down, off and away

everything given

is given up

and back and away

everything is given

into that final fire –

into that two-bar electric fire

into that paraffin lamp

into that blanket

into that greenhouse earth

into that radiator –

zipped up

in the warm-cold sleeping bag

that does not come

only at the end

but lies

at the very weeping heart –

the oven and the fridge –

of all things


all the illusions of light

and life back in

as it first did at the beginning.


The ladybird, which is neither lady nor bird, was a sufficiently infrequent visitor to my childhood world, to justify a special welcome. The red wings with black spots, which served also, when clasped together, as a crusty beetle-like back, appealed to my infant attraction to hard, brightly coloured things, but, in an instant, could disappear into a fluttering upward moving criss-cross of black, bearing the precious thing suddenly and thrillingly away on the wind.

Most times, however, they were docile and domestic, hugging the carpet floor. I kept one in a match-box once, and fancied I could train her to do little tricks, like climb, at my bidding over ramps and bridges made of bricks and encyclopaedias. One day, my mother was making jam-tarts, and I had been playing with her on the floury kitchen table, when she disappeared. I hadn’t noticed her fly off as they are wont to do, as mentioned above, and wondered whether she hadn’t by chance been seduced by the sweet scent of the sugar, to burrow herself into the jammy centre of one of the tarts, which had already gone into the oven. The doubt was strong enough that we threw the cooked tarts out into the garden for the birds to feast on. So, my ladybird, if indeed she was entombed in them, received, after all, unwittingly fitting Zoroastrian last rites.


Ladybird, ladybird

Fly away home

Your house is on fire

Your children are gone

Sonnet on Autism #9

Sonnet on Autism #9

 close all stores, eyes & mouths

or better still just close

because we who are already always

closed as blessed stones know


there is no blooming reason

to flower out into the world

& make a mess of it

as we will


we will our selves into being

because we are pulled by others

who cannot really love us


you close off to a point

& knowing that there is no point

point to that


with my closed eyes in your hands

& we are somehow close