I verb lonely as a noun

I verb adverb as a noun
That verbs on high o’er nouns and nouns,
When all at once I verb a noun,
A noun, of adverb nouns;
Beside the noun, beneath the nouns,
Verb and verb in the noun.

Adjective as the nouns that verb
And verb on the adjective noun,
They verb in adverb–verb noun
Along the noun of a noun:
Ten thousand verb I at a noun,
Verb I noun in adverb verb.

William Wordsworth, 1804

Almost is enough

It’s quite alright to live a life of ‘almost’
if you tried.
To stretch for stars but barely scratch the sky
if you tried.

There’s nothing wrong in coming second place
if you tried:
the victory’s in finishing the race,
if you tried.

Pay no heed to critics,
to nitpickers and cynics
if you did your best
but didn’t lift the cup.

If you pushed beyond your limits
with your focus on the finish
then you passed the stiffest test
that life throws up.

It’s quite alright to live a life of almost
if you tried.

But not if all you’ve done
is almost tried.


I’d rather we made points than scored them,
prime minister. If we could stick to the facts…
Do you deny that we’re funding a ministry
managed entirely by cats?

Is that why Hyde Park has been re-sown with catnip,
dogs have been curfewed at night,
and doors nationwide have been swapped out for flaps
a fifth of the previous height?

Does it explain the free-flowing cream
in fountains in each major city,
not to mention the tonnes of white gravel
on every street corner with shit in?

It’s answers we want, not a squint and a purr –
your reticence is a disgrace.
And while on that subject, if you don’t mind,
stop rubbing your nose on my face.

Not so smart phone

corrects me
less than I
correct it.
Its only purpose
seems to be
to make me look
a tit.

Am I dying already?

Do I already own the clothes I’ll die in?
The songs I won’t hear from my casket?
What of the mourners who’ll claim to have known me
– who among them have I met?

Has the picture they’ll put on my coffin been taken?
My hearse had its first set of tyres?
The crem been paid the price of the gas
that will light up my funeral pyre?

Do my cupboards contain the groceries
from which I’ll make my last meal?
Is a chain of events already unfolding
through which my fate is now sealed?

Memories of times past

Remember when you used to be able
to shit without a smartphone,
and loosen your sphincter without a finger
tapping a touchscreen display?

Happy days.

The wreckless school of motoring

The Wreckless School of Motoring,
reckless with its claims,
closed down after several crashes
(couldn’t handle lanes).

Pas de chat

A better ballerina
    I bet I’ll never meet
than my cat astride a fence post,
    so sure upon his feet.
All focus is ahead of him,
    his eyes on living meat,
his head aquiver, measuring
    the inches and the feet
that a plié and a sauté clear
    so teeth and meat can meet:
not even Rudolf Nureyev
    could hope to match that feat.


You can’t put out water with fire,
burn off the sea in a day,
outswim a tide of helplessness:
life doesn’t work that way.

You need to find out what’s holding you back
if you’re going to achieve your desires,
so scoop up the ocean in buckets
and throw some more wood on the pyre.

Stoke the furnace to boil off the water
until all that’s left is the silt.
Then, when you see what the obstacles are
your life can perhaps be rebuilt.

The cleaner

A cleaner sees her client in the shop

She doesn’t recognise me
(We’ve never met in person)
but I’ve fingered through her knicker drawer
and peered between her curtains

I’ve straightened up her duvet,
brushed the ginger hair:
obscuring infidelity,
(her hair’s brown; her husband’s fair).

I found an indicator once,
in the bathroom bin.
Its telltale spot glowed sapphire blue,
betraying carnal sin.

After that, the leaflet:
‘Easy termination’
for cheating women who, like her,
can’t resist temptation.

She must have thought her secret safe
stashed beneath her “women’s things”
for no wife’s husband likes to think,
of gussets, thrush cream, pads with wings…

I took it and I kept it,
and I plucked the ginger curls,
knowing that one day I’d have
a good use for those whorls.

In a year or two, I thought,
they’d oil negotiations
for a rise of ten percent
‘to keep up with inflation’

But sod that now
she’s blown her chance
by acting like a queen
looking down her nose at me
and pushing in between
the man ahead and where I’m standing,
waiting in the queue,
unaware of who I am
or what I now shall do.

I’ll salt her husband’s pillow
with the little ginger hairs
and the telltale test will settle nicely
in the loo downstairs.

He’ll be the first one home tonight,
and think she’s tried to flush away
the evidence that while he’s working
she’s been led astray.

He’ll head up to the bedroom
(where I’ll ruffle up the quilt)
and find the crumpled leaflet
that I’ll drop to prove her guilt.

I hope it wounds her more than him;
stings her with regret,
and teaches her a lesson
she’ll not easily forget:

That everyone deserves respect
regardless of their pedigree –
for they might be your cleaner,
and cleaners copy keys…