Tuesday, September 1, 2020

 Growing up in a Big County


Norfolk has such big skies, they always say 

and yes it does but that sky was never a sky

but an airspace with no space for anything

but the jets to fly.  Only the Bomb-watchers 

waited out for the clouds.

The birds had all gone.


Norfolk has such wide landscapes they always say

and yes it does: so much the easier for it bc

a free fire zone, all ambitions carelessly mown down.

Like the hedges that weren’t there.


In the end, there was always the horizon

stretched like a taut wire across the throat

of the land. 

Only the radar dishes and the missiles 

ever dared look up. 

Mark Johnson

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Elevated higher than you and I
On a pedestal
A plinth
A marble base
Glorifying one above another.

Whatever the cause
Whatever the reason
How is equality achieved
When such venerated persons tower above
Those they have served
Those they have led
Those they have exploited.

Do away with such icons
If we are equal, we are all equal
Let no one look down on another
Make no one look up to another.

Celebrate and commemorate
Events and actions
Turning points
In our history
But let us not elevate
Men and women to a higher status
Than they deserve.

Donald James Dolby ©2020


When you see a tree, is it not just a tree
If you see me, do you not just see me?

What is it that frightens you?
What is it that scares you so?
Can you not see the life inside?
Why is your mind so tight?
Closed to any other thought
Than the colour of the skin
Why, with all the things you miss
Are you so blinded by your prejudice?

What is that darkness in your heart
The evil in your soul
Do you not realise
How narrow is your view
Open up your fettered mind
And let your heart fly free
If nothing else consider this
Don't be imprisoned by your prejudice.

Break free
Will you break free
When you see a tree, will you just see a tree
If you see me, will you just see me?

DJD ©2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

ON VE DAY (or Liberation for all of Europe Day)

On VE Day
My dad was there
And my mother too
They survived the war
And the celebrations too!

For dad not quite the end
Off to Palestine he went
Two more years
Before they married
This poet is grateful for that!

Your mum too, enjoyed the day
Dad still in Burma, far away
Victory delayed
Perhaps sweeter for that
A few months longer but he came back.

We missed the war by a few short years
But they knew what it took
To win the freedom we enjoy
To overcome the threat
The debt we owe, we haven't paid back yet.

Let's remember what they did
Let's remember what they saw
Let's celebrate their lives
Enjoy the day today
And never forget what they were fighting for.

Donald James Dolby ©2020
8th May 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020

Raven Black

When Morris came to the silk-bound town 
he sought a subtler shade of dye; a pigment 
of his imagination, yet to be made and not yet found.

Raven Black was his holy grail: a richer tone lent accent,
then bent to a fierce intensity by native indigo ­
For this thing Morris knew: for black you must have blue. 

His blue could be no alien hue: no Prussian trick
mordant-fixed, no need of additive, no aniline 
from the coal-banked Rhine, seeping in a vulgar slick.

Another river wound round Wardle’s town; 
not chemist’s brine ­-– the Churnet, mineral-soft 
and serpentine. There, long days over dyeing trays: 
between the waters Morris learnt old mens’ ways.

But not for him the cruder search of absolute 
For Morris knew a deeper truth – that, however far you reach 
you will always find a blacker black beneath. 

Morris craved the corvid sheen
a moment in between two others combine
produced the glisten on a raven’s wing

That moment gained he knew would pass; nothing 
is for ever fast. No matter that it fades; it is right 
that the colour is true and the memory bright. 

Mark Johnson

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Ten Years


Of austerity
Of paycuts
Of council cuts
Of understaffing
Of worn out nurses
Of exhausted doctors
Of waiting to see GPs
Of poor mental health care
Of care home closures
Of cuts to schools
Of overworked teachers
Of benefit cuts
Of universal credit
Of too few houses
Of too many homeless
Of increasing rents
Of not enough police
Of police station closures
Of fire station closures
Of this cruel and unnecessary austerity

but also Ten Years

Of increases for MPs
Of bankers' bonuses
Of multinational exploitation
Of tax cuts for the rich
Of the rich getting richer

but still
we voted
like turkeys

and now we have
Five Years
of the most inept
Government we will ever see.


Donald James Dolby ©2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What Is This Virus For?

A question I've not heard,
What is this virus for?
Everthing in nature has a purpose
So what is this virus for?

Is it nature redressing a balance?
Is it nature levelling the score
Reducing our pollution
What is this virus for?

Are there too many of us now?
Too many here on earth
Have we reached our saturation
What is this virus for?

Some say it is an Act of God
Some say that cannot be
But if there is a god
What is this virus for?

If made by man
As some theorists say
For what purpose, to what end
What is this virus for?

Is this the armageddon
That we have waited for
Is this how it ends
What is this virus for?

Donald James Dolby ©2020

Monday, April 20, 2020

Gompertz’s cycling machine

Gompertz’s cycling machine

Terry Newholm
“Ah, that ... will ... be ... three thousand two hundred and twenty three pounds.” Anna takes the proffered credit card, places it into the reader, hands the reader back and, as custom demands, looks away: towards the shining bikes racked approximately in order of consumer desire. Each pristine aerodynamic cycling machine is designed to maximise the ratio of visual impact to unit cost. Each innovation in style and engineering sweeps across the rack of Cambell’s daydreams[i]. Together, and this cannot be unintentional, these cycles offer the consumers’ eyes a kaleidoscope of alluring colour. 
Anna turns back to the customer’s raised eyebrows and extended hand. “Sorry, sorry, thanks.” She takes the reader, completes the transaction and returns the card to its owner.
“Delivery?” says the customer.
“In ... your ... area, Thursday.”
“Absolutely no later, I’m team racing on the weekend, must be used to it. Do you understand?”
“They’ll do their b... absolutely, yes, no question.”
“And the chainset?”
“The replacement on your other bike?”
“Of course.”
“Oh yes, ah, on the maintenance desk over by the counter. If you ask for Don, that’s Donna, she’ll tell you when it’s scheduled. She’ll have a better idea than I will.”
“Hope so”, says the customer as she wheels about.
Some day please, please send me a gentle, grateful customer.
Eventually John arrives to swell the evening staff and so it has to be 4pm. “I love the bikes” she calls to him in the empty shop “Should I say something charitable about the customers? Perhaps just an unlucky day. Over to you John.” Anna stuffs her belongings into her backpack, wheels her bike to the goods entrance and begins her precarious journey home. It is the start of the working week, 22nd April 2013 and still a little chill.
Tuesday is mending Anna’s mood with some customers grateful for her good advice. As the afternoon progresses she notices someone in an old coat is standing by one of the racks of shiny bikes facing away from her. Short with unruly hair so probably in from the cold, Anna thinks. The old coat stands back, moves forward and gently runs fingers around a front brake calliper.
“I’m looking for gloves” says a woman standing at the counter, “What I’m actually wanting is a full glove not a mitt, is that what it’s called? .... do you have such a thing?”
“I’m sure we have, please, follow me over to the gloves display.” From the display Anna can steal a glance to see the old coat is worn by an unshaven man. Anna selects gloves, “Sealskinz, we get excellent feedback, good brand and have more durable cushioning for the grip than most. Oh, are you looking for warmth?”
“I get Raynaud's, you know, white fingers .... even this time of year.” The customer takes her smart phone and points the camera at the barcode. “Hm, really is seal skin, that’s bad news, something else please?”
“I think Giro are all synthetic if that’s what you want. They’re a bit pricy but really warm. We only carry the two brands in long-fingers at this time of year, so ....”
The customer flashes the phone again and asks the price. “Fifty-one ninety-nine.” The old man is watching but turns away when Anna looks. “Okay, I’ll think about it. You’ve been really helpful, thanks.”
“If you need any more help I’ll be back at the counter” says Anna embarrassingly aware that she’s used the same retail cliché yet again. John arrives marking the end of Anna’s shift. She looks about but cannot see the old man.
The following day the man appears again. Anna goes across to him to speak. “Can I help you?” Anna says.
“I am right in thinking these many machines to be for travel, am I not?”
“Some are touring others are for commuting or racing, it depends what you need.”
“I wonder how it might be possible to ride one of your cycling machines?”
“Are you looking to buy one? For a friend, perhaps?”
“It is I who would wish to experience .... I have ten guineas” he says scooping coins from a pocket and offering them for inspection, “but I confess I am confused by what I take to be the tariffs applied to the machines.”
“Do you mean .... the ones displayed here cost between five hundred pounds and four thousand. I doubt we take guineas sir.”
“My goodness” .... “Since I shall be returning to make a purchase, I hope, might I be permitted to enquire as to your name? Oh, do I presume too much ..... or should I not ..... unwise perhaps?”
“My name, you asked ... Anna.”
“Lady Anna” said the smiling potential customer, or was that to put too high a commercial expectation on the encounter.
“I’ve never been called Lady before, but you can ask for me by name if you wish” says Anna subsequently unsure whether such an offer had been wise.
“Forgive me, forgive me because I once knew a lady called Ann and....” he puts his fingers to his mouth and then in an exhaling breath “My name is Gompertz .... Lewis Gompertz.” Anna recognises the richly pronounced ‘because’ from her friend Ariella. Lewis Gompertz slightly bows his head, turns slowly and walks from the shop. He is over-polite and she revises her guess: he is a professor down on his luck, or, aren’t they all rather dishevelled?
Curious, Anna, taps ‘Lewis Gomperts’ into her smartphone:
‘Lewis Gompertz’ = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Gompertz
 “1783/4–1861 oh nooo, and Jewish, and short, and the picture”
‘Lewis Gompertz’s bike’ = https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VDlaT0KxJfAC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=lewis+gompertz%27s+bicycle&source=bl&ots=SNVYAwTzhh&sig=X94zlgMVgO_Xtqb-Lb3GBxFmbss&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwp5aElN_WAhVEIsAKHWTIDVMQ6AEIRTAI#v=onepage&q=lewis%20gompertz%27s%20bicycle&f=false
“Fuck .... fuck ... the bike as well.”
Lewis Gompertz strides in through the door mid-morning on Wednesday and would have looked impressive, clean, shaven but for long sideburns and in his new long coat were it not for his short stature. Anna intercepts him.
“Lewis Gompertz”
“The same, I ……”
“Born 1783?” She says more quietly, close to his face.
“Ah, 1784 but ……”
“Died 1861? Vegan, Inventor of a velocipede?”
“Indeed, be calmed Anna.” Gompertz pleads as Anna repeats Oh my god. “I have as little understanding of my presence here as do you. I think I may have precipitated this calamity because it fulfils my dying wish ... I am so sorry ... somewhere to converse Anna? I am in need of your help ... please.”
Anna holds Gompertz firmly by his elbow and walks him out of the shop, she a young woman with confidence found of fear and confusion, he a 77 year old man uneasy in this world. Right and right again she turns him till they reach the café where ‘not-so-handsome-Joel’ struts his stuff.
“Two coffees Joel, no freeking questions, no f....., no bloody Joelness, just two coffees.”
“I’m ser’ving, you’re freeking my customers, sit down quietly and wa’ait” Joel sings.
“He’s insufferable. Sit down Lewis, you are in the 21st century, explain before my mind explodes ... do you understand?”
“Dear Anna I ...”
“No, no I am not your ‘dear Anna’, I’m me, Anna who works in a perfectly normal bike shop, explain.”
“I have little idea why it might be so. My dying wish was, if I soundly remember, that I might come to see the fruition of the velocipede, as you call ‘bike’. Why such a think might be granted, I am, I insist at a loss. Anna you severely treat the ghost of Gompertz.”
“Ghost of ... Joel, come here now” she shouts across the café.
“You’re in a foul one Anna; at your command and all that” says the stooping Joel on arrival at the troublesome table.
“This is Mr Gompertz” Anna asserts gesturing extravagantly in his direction.
“That’s his name?”
“Shake Mr Gompertz’s hand, Joel.” Gompertz stands and dutifully obedient, the two men shake hands.
“Hmmm” says Anna nodding her head.
Joel shakes his head, “Yeees”, and sensibly sulks away, backwards at first.
“Why now? On my watch, why?”
“On my watch?” Gompertz repeats slowly.
“Why arrive NOW Gompertz to give me grief .... to upset MY life .... sanity?”
“Why now” Gompertz reflects “I cannot say, save that the cycling machines have far surpassed my expectation.”
An uncharacteristically timid, not-so-handsome-Joel brings coffees to the table.

“You think the cycling machines, oh god you’ve got me saying it, are … what … wonderful?”
“Indeed I so do Miss Anna. .... might I enquire if you have seen illustration of my now feeble effort?”
“Yes, it’s possible now to find everything about you, or any others .... easily.”
“There are many more wonders?”
“Huh, I suppose you could say so.”
“Perhaps I should caveat one point. Whilst I wonder at the elegant machines of which your shop is purveyor, my feeble efforts redesigning the velocipede were for quite a different purpose than you might imagine. As in all your exploration of my history will I suppose have informed you, and I am shocked both that knowledge of my oft unsuccessful life might in some way be preserved and that access to that might be available, I have championed the rights of brutes and loathed their exploitation. My interest in the velocipede was as much .... probably mostly to relieve the great burden of my time on the horse and the ill-treatment that occasioned.”
They sit quietly letting their coffees grow cold. A lady is eating her slice of cake as if the obesity police would imminently pounce. Joel fusses about his customers. The coveted window seats are held against all pretenders. Two dazzling ladies on the white couch effuse over the social world they construct while a grey man hunches in a corner over his mesmerising Apple. All now seems in good order in the coffee shop.
“Anna, I understand little of this and in that, I need your help. Perhaps my wish has been granted by some deity.”
“Oh god ... if we’re having wishes granted... taaa ... I may have ... I may also have wished, Lewis.”
“I believe that if I, with your help, were to ride one of your wonderful machines, my wish fulfilled, this unaccountable sequence might end” Gompertz conjectures.
After a pause to consider Anna conjectures “Then isn’t the reverse also true? If your wish isn’t fulfilled, Lewis, you will live .... again, I mean on, or whatever?
The coffees may survive these intense customers intact.
“I’ve got to go back, I can’t lose my job .... as well as my mind” and Anna stands “drink your coffee Lewis and, look, I’ll .... see you here tomorrow .... four-fifteen, okay?”
“A quarter past the hour of four .... I am merely assuring that I understand because your instruction is most precise. Anna, I am truly most grateful.” The coffees are untouched as one customer leaves before the other.
Lewis Gompertz arrives in his new coat as the cycle shop opens on Thursday. He briefly observes the staff preparing for the day then moves as quickly as he can to the rack of sparkling bicycles. He observes purposefully and moves skilfully to avoid contact with the staff. Arriving back at the door, he turns and glances at the video screen showing as it does cycling in action. Then he leaves to return to his lodgings always observing intently and a little nervously as he goes.
“He’s been in again, Anna” says Don as Anna arrives. “God, did you hear about that awful factory collapse, Rona Plaza or something, makes clothes and things, Bangladesh; loads killed, how do they do it! D’you think any of our T shirts?”
“Have to ask Lizzy.”
Black painted concrete walls set off the shiny brassware and a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric 4 Espresso Machine graces Joel’s chic industrial interior décor but contrast oddly with the one ironical(?) small white alcove with its soft white furnishings; all something of a contrast to the listed 60s brutalist exterior; both equally perplexing to our hero as he encounters them for the second time. The inside is warm, however, and since Gompertz is now known to its proprietor, perhaps welcoming? It is Friday morning and Gompertz arrives at Black and Beautiful café. “A fine day, is it not so” is his greeting to Joel.
“Reserve judgement Mr Gompertz.”
“As you wish. It would please me if you were to call me Lewis and I might be permitted to call you Joel as seems customary.”
“Joel or Nos.”
“Joel, it is settled. But Nos, how so?”
“Short for ‘not so’ Mr Gompertz, can I get you a coffee, sell you a cake, buy my shop, make my day?”
“Ah, droll Joel wonderfully droll .... I have no doubt that you are capable of getting me a coffee and I would be pleased if you would .... black if you will. And I might enjoy a cake if you could assure its recipe to include no ingredients deriving from brutes .... animals I believe you would say.”
“Vegan Mr Gompertz, you’re not the only one nowadays. I’ve a red velvet cake” says Nos proudly presenting his white and red special.
“I shall take your advice Joel … but, I have heard Anna use this word ‘vegan’ and … might you explain it for my edification.”
“Ffffff, you’ve not been on social media Mr Gompertz, vegan, someone who doesn’t have any animal …. food. I’ll bring the coffee over ... er... Lewis.” Even 21st Century Nos didn’t feel quite comfortable on first name terms with this loquacious but principled septuagenarian. Gompertz drinks his coffee, orders another and eats his cake whilst reflecting on the availability vegan cuisine some one-and-a-half centuries after his death. He is still not entirely sure he understands the use to which his new friends put the word ‘vegan’ and certainly didn’t want to tackle Joel on ‘social media’. There is something pleasing to Gompertz, however, about having established some rapport with not-so-handsome Joel.
Gompertz notices, for the first time perhaps because he has been so distracted in conversation with Anna, that many of the customers in Nos’s café are intent upon .... various implements, if that is the right word. Most are quite small and held in one hand but one is like a large silver clad open book set upon the table in front of its reader but the wrong way for reading. Nos notices Anna’s friend staring intently at one of his customers and slowly leaning to the right; peculiar. When Gompertz is able to see the screen, the illuminated text and illustrations, he realises that this is alike with the screen he has seen in the cycle shop and perhaps, as with books, is a source of information.
Gompertz returns precisely at fifteen minutes past the hour of four to find Anna seated facing the door. “Good morrow Nos” Gompertz says just sufficiently loudly for Anna to hear. He bows, “Lady Anna”; it is a test, he thinks, of her mood.
“Hello Lewis, I have a present for you” and she rummages in her back pack to produce a copy of Moral Inquiries[ii] reprinted 1992.
After a moment’s thought, Gompertz exclaims “Good heavens, I had not thought to look. You are kind and thoughtful indeed” he says as he examines the apparently unbound book.
“You’ll have to explain your aversion to carrots Mr vegan!”
For the first time in this life Gompertz laughs “Carrots, indeed I shall Lady Inquisitor; if I read correctly you are in jest?”
“I’ll get you a coffee ....”
“Oh tea I think please, black tea, but I must ....”

Anna acquiesces and continues “then I have two things I must tell you Lewis.” She turns and fixes her trajectory towards Nos.
As she returns she says, “I’m terrified I’m going to starve but I’m going for vegetarian .... don’t say vegan Gompertz, I can’t do that .... are you pleased Lewis?”
“I am deeply flattered that you might think me of sufficient import that you wish for my pleasure in your decision. I hope that is not your sole motive Anna.”
“I’ve been reading your book and Singer’s Animal Liberation so I think .... look, I’ve decided you can borrow my bike. Were about the same height and it’s a ‘fine cycling machine’” Anna says ironically. From the bar, Nos sees Lewis and Anna stand up, move together, in sequence they touch their own crown and then that of the other and then seat themselves again. ‘The observer’ does not always have an easy role to play. 
That Friday Anna, John, Don and Lizzy are customarily marking the end of their working week on the white sofa. “Item one” says Lizzy, chair for the evening, “Rana Plaza … oh, that’s me. Well I couldn’t get anything much out of the buyer, they’re all tight lipped. I chatted with Precious Woembi, you know, she cleans the offices, says the T-shirts are made in Bangladesh but in a different factory” she looked at her papers “Interstoff in … Gazipur?” “Probably another hell hole” says John. “Even asking makes them think” says Lizzy. “But we can’t do anything … can’t exactly tell customers John thinks they might be shit garments, and central’s not going to listen to us.” says Donna. Lizzy says she’ll check Interstoff on the internet and will, in a funny voice, ‘report back’. There’s a murmur of disappointment, despair or may be consent and Lizzy moves them on.
“Item two, Anna’s bike … Anna?” Anna starts telling the others that she’d been stupid and let the old man go off with her bike in Kennington Park. He’d ridden through a huddled group of people on the path gathered around … around, she wasn’t sure what. There’d been shouts of ‘bike, BIKE’ and they’d parted to let him weave precariously through. As they closed company again she’d lost sight of him. She hasn’t seen him since. That’s why she’d borrowed the old Condor from the store; the one that had never been picked up after repair.
“It’s all been an elaborate hoax Anna!” laughed John. “Noo” insisted Anna. “Anyone can find this stuff” begins John ponderously, “you did, and pretend to be some crazy old bike geezer … you’ve been caught and lost a bloody good bike.” Protests. “Leave her John Bolham, no point in making her more upset” says Donna. “Why bother to be some Victorian” asks Lizzy “there’re easier ways of conning people, no?” John responds in I told you so mode “But she fell for him, didn’t she, and the story, no?” “She” Anna emphasizes, “thinks you’re right Lizzy, it was just too … elaborate … didn’t make sense … just to get a bike?” “So, I see, easier to believe he was a very, very nice ghost?” “You didn’t know him” says Anna, “he was gentle and …” “Not too many gentlemen these days ah, John Bolham?” says Donna possibly referring to their brief affair. “I’d settle for one” says Lizzy.
Nos approaches the table with a letter and a small neat green box tied with real red ribbon. “Hay Annar, it’s really your lucky day, Nos is on the make!” says John. Leave it out says Donna almost as soon as John has started his jibe. The tranquillity of a lady eating yet another slice of cake is disturbed by noise, not by the obesity police. The two dazzling ladies look across disapprovingly that their almost perfected social world might be so rudely interrupted … and they’d found their white couch occupied again. All seems out of order in the coffee shop.
“Naa” says Nos “not from me but shhhh, upsetting the punters.”  Anna takes the package and opens the letter addressed to ‘Anna, care of Nos at the Black and Beautiful café’. She reads:
Dear Lady Anna
I have not been entirely truthful with you. At the end of my last life I made two wishes, not one. The second, as you know, was to see the anticipated development of the velocipede. In that I am entirely and greatly satisfied. I confess I made no attempt to alter the cycle gearing of your admirable bicycle. The stumbling start you must have witnessed, however, was followed the most sublime travel in space. To have entrusted such a fine cycling machine to Gompertz was an act of extraordinary trust for which I am most grateful and you will have concluded by now that our plan was indeed successful.
Please open the red parcel box and you will find ten gold coins. If you take them to Philip Cohen, the numismatist in Cecil Street he assures me that you will receive sufficient modern coinage to amply replace your cycle.
Be kind to Nos and please give him one of the sovereigns. Beyond the strange terms of his converse there is, I believe, much to recommend him. Insofar as I began to feel comfortable in the 21st Century it would be in my feeble mimicry of Joel’s clipped elocution.
I wonder if I might believe that you, Anna, will be in the vanguard of a gentler future where mankind asserts no right to kill or harm the brutes. Keep wishing Anna; I believe your compassion serves us all well.
My first wish was to see again my beloved Ann.
Lewis Gompertz
Kennington, LONDON
26th April 2013

[i] Colin Campbell The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1987).The sociologist, Campbell, observed that much of our lives are lived through daydreams. Since the experience of a daydream, with its various consumption fantasies, always exceed reality, our acquisitiveness always remains unrequited.
[ii] Lewis Gompertz Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes, edited by Peter Singer (Fontwell: Centaur Press, 1992).
Viral Venus

I shouldn’t hate you
but I do  
hanging there in in the sky
night after stagnant night
crimson eyed and high over Brown Edge:
April is your month the cruellest month
of course: breeding virus out of the dead land
mixing memory with desire
for summer fruit
Instead, strange blossoms bloom
under a cold furnace light:
Vesper at dawn and Lucifer at night

Saturday, April 18, 2020


On the street
haunted eyes and your drug-shuffle feet
gaze set down in case you meet
someone you know
you know them all
and they’ve seen you
in the papers
and the evening news
and they know
the things you do
and they know
what you use
but you’re walking there in full plain sight
when you should be locked up fast inside
a cell, a tomb, away from folk,
marked as abberant
no return no hope
no resurrect
this Easter, or the next

Mark Johnson



that bloody blackbird whistling for its hen
kicks right off at sparrow’s fart
loud as you like calling for that tart
of a bird  – doesn’t he know
that she’s off shagging with his mate Joe
Yeah, the one with the sheen and the satisfied glow
The timbre is melodious, the pace relaxed’
so says the Ar-Ess-Pee-Bee, well that is crap:
if you lived next door to that twittering bore
you’d find yourself screaming SHUT IT! NO MORE!
if you please, I’ll take my ease
preen my feathers and pick my fleas
with the volume turned right down to mute
where’d I put that bloody remote?

who’s that now – that bloody wren
CHRIST ALIVE! you know it when
that little prick starts to trill
can’t someone just saw off its bill
shrill as you like and twice as loud
with its tail in the air like it’s so proud
what it’s got to give it all that chat
can’t it see the neighbour’s cat
creeping up behind that tree
only quick jump and that’ll do me
then I can get some more shut-eye
and dream of crumbs and lullabies

OH MY GOD that bloody robin
bob, bob, and bloody bobbing
along like there’s no tomorrow
one for joy and two for sorrow
or however it bloody goes I don’t know
what idiot would write a song about a bird?
that Keats is the biggest drivel I ever heard
Who killed Cock Robin? IT WAS BLOODY ME!
knocked him right outta that bloody tree
with a sawn-off shotgun BAM! off it popped
Hands Up Gov, IT’S A FAIR COP
Anyway, haven’t you heard about climate change
pretty soon you’ll be out of your range
flap right off up to sunny Skegness
see if I could just care less
leave this park to me and my mates
cooing away behind the wrought-iron gates…

Mark Johnson

Wednesday, April 15, 2020



A dead-end that we
All travel to strutting on
With a vacant smile


Like a man on a wire
Who fears a fall from desire
Tears stained my eyes


Evil is my friend's pain
It hurts me to see the pain
Twisting his kind face


Depression you are
So cruel that I spit on your
Heart with my acid words


Hold steady my heart
Be my dark coloured stone
That will see me see


Cry for all to see
The wind that chases
My dreams into sand

Bruce Glasser


Rock do not roll to
A place that can do you harm
Stay against the tide


Stare up to the stars
Knowing that you are so small
In the way things are


In this pool of life
Many things try to twist and turn
To find a warm place


Grow ever stronger
Take life to its highest height
To see the real dawn


Love is a prison
That holds me in a grip of
Forever feeling love


Pouring down from high
The rain knows no limits of
Rainbows in the sky

Bruce Glasser

Thursday, April 9, 2020


As I walked out alone this morning
The sun was shining
The birds were singing
I could almost believe that all was well
With this world.

Ashwood Park shared with few others
The man was standing
All alone
I asked him how we was
Keeping our distance of course.

He did not reply so I moved a little closer
Cautious as we must
I asked again
No reply
No words came from his lips.

Closer still I moved to him
Keen to hear his view
Close enough now
To see he would answer if he could
But this quiet man was made of wood.

He could not speak
Express his view
State his opinion
Then I realised to my surprise
That if he could not talk, he could tell me no lies.

©2020 Donald James Dolby (Le Griffonnier)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


Two metres apart
Is where we start

Then self-isolate
Before it’s too late

Wash your hands
Else virus expands

Using PPE
Helps safety

Society shut
We all stay put

Food shops empty
Used to be plenty

No supermarket trawl
Just Internet haul

But what of the old
Whose lives now unfold

There’s no face-to-face
Nor virtual place

We laugh, we sing, we joke
Keeps spirits up for us folk

Videos to see
WhatsApp glee

Woman’s sneeze
Toddler flees

Toilet roll
Not cash he stole

Human environmental attack
Pandemic weapon – nature fights back

World at war
Like never before

So many go that extra mile
Never happened for such a long while

Good things can come out of so much pain
Self-centred actions we all must refrain

Once over it’s time to rethink
As humanity steps back from the brink

Wake up call
For us all


Simon Rogerson 7 April 2020