Things Take a Tern


Rotterdam port tour:
there’s a lot of containers,
I mean – a lot!

After 30 hours traveling,
with jetlag nerves
jumping mental
at metal monsters
mumbling along
the tracks
(I didn’t even know that
double-decker trains existed),
I’m on a ship touring the
historic port.
Did I say there are a lot of containers?

Then flying alongside,
distinct angular wing,
almost a boomerang:
a tern.
The sun is too bright to
see the head colouring,
but I imagine a black cap.

Then comes the moment,
a pause, for (my) breath,
wings folded before
the plunge.

Just a day’s fishing for him,
a majestic, daring display to me.

Now, a smile is on my face,
I don’t know why the tour
thinks I’m interested in
paper roll exports of a
company formed in the 1960s,
but I smile…
…and a grebe floats by.


Is Dr. Sheldon Cooper my long lost relative?


I’m a poor genetic mutation of Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s ancestry.

Once, at school,
I held my electronics teacher
(Head of Science, PhD physics)
back after class to chastise him
for his poor conduct of our class test.
I sensed some bemusement, but
he took the correction well, and
future tests were acceptable.

Conclusion: draw your own!

I am referring to the character in the TV series “The Big Bang Theory”. I also really wanted the test card t-shirt he’s wearing above…until I realized my female chest would distort it!

Social poetry update

While I’m waiting to board my flight, I thought I’d do an update of where some of my recent poetry is appearing.

“Jedi skills of Grace, my Chinese-Buddhist Sister” is featuring on Colin Sharpe’s VerseWrights

“Derek Tastes of Earwax” is on Mike Jewett’s blog Boston Poetry Magazine

“Word Foreplay” is on Mike McGuire’s blog Fugitive Fragments

Please check out these links for some really awesome content.

New poems will appear here shortly (one called “Ripples” and one called “Is Dr. Sheldon Cooper my long lost relative?”), I just need to land and get over jetlag before posting!

He nods

He was an acquaintance of friends, but
he and I have never been introduced.
He gives a casual nod of the head,
a fleeting, passing acknowledgement that
he’s seen me hanging around before.
With a shrug, I nod back, as
we both turn from each other.
I remember the first time I saw him,
when I learnt his name, but he
doesn’t seem to know mine…yet.
I bear him no malice or ill will.
I wonder when we’ll formally meet,
when will that day come when I hear
my name on Death’s lips?

Dutch Courage (a sestina)

This happened many years ago now, but as I’m flying solo into Schiphol airport again on Tuesday, it came back to my mind. I’ve been meaning to have a go at a sestina for a while, so here’s my first attempt:

I lament the last time I did visit:
cancellations were rife because of fog,
and Schiphol airport told us numerous lies,
as we darted from one gate to the next –
six hours of expectations were crushed
at 1 am when the last flight had left.

For a place to rest we looked right then left:
there was no room, no comfort to visit,
tiredness brought me tears, my hopes were crushed,
my mind could barely think from jet lag fog.
We walked on towards the transfer desk next,
and in the packed queue attempted to lie.

Scent of cigarette ash near where we lie,
blankets and pillows, for us, none were left,
but that wasn’t the worst for this came next:
Danish skinheads, also on a visit,
saw Norwegian students’ duty-free fog,
and those drunken blonde heads they wanted crushed.

I thought my mother-in-law would be crushed,
perhaps doubting: our arrival a lie,
or that her memory was fading fog,
worrying that Xmas food would be left.
Us knowing this might be our last visit,
and that there might not be a time called next.

A well spoken man appeared to us next,
Indian ancestry – feared he’d be crushed,
we talked about plans, where we would visit,
safety in numbers, with us he did lie –
hoping from skinheads’ focus he’d be left,
and this is how we spent the night of fog.

The morning came and there was no more fog,
we caught which ever plane was offered next.
I felt so grateful to have finally left.
My opinion of KLM stayed crushed,
I’d not trust the airline after its lie,
but we did at least make our pledged visit.

I pray there’s no more fog, or I’ll be crushed –
with this next flight, let me peacefully lie,
find my fear left, for a happy visit!

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously


Colorless green ideas sleep furiously
(Noam Chomsky, 1957)

Fresh vapor hints
of Clary Sage
lead to unexpected
delirious dreams
rushing me with
inner insights.

Give me words,
and I will find meaning.
Give me YOUR words,
and I will find YOU.

To celebrate the end of marking 150 exam scripts, and noting that a number of my students had quoted Chomsky’s phrase showing that it is possible to create a syntactically correct sentence, even though it lacks semantics, I decided I would find some meaning in it. The result was this short poem based on my experience of naively using to much Clary Sage (a dream herb) in my evening bath, and having hallucinatory dreams where colorless green ideas did sleep furiously!