Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tuesday Poem: "Comeclose and Sleepnow" by Roger McGough

it is afterwards
and you talk on tiptoe
happy to be part
of the darkness
lips becoming limp
a prelude to tiredness.
Comeclose and Sleepnow
for in the morning
when a policeman
disguised as the sun
creeps into your room
and your mother
disguised as birds
calls from the trees
you will put on a dress of guilt
and shoes with broken high ideals
and refusing coffee
by Roger McGough

Sam Hunt, Leonard Cohen and Roger McGough were three poets that really spoke to me when I was a teenager. They all employed humour in their work, each in his own quirky, inimitable way. And they were all poets who focused on the realities of life, its ups and downs, its sorrows and joys and its absurdity at times. Leonard Cohen has a reputation (unfairly, I feel) as a doom and gloom merchant, but often his poems were shot through with a wry smile or perhaps a stab of black humour.

But Roger McGough was probably the funniest of the three and also often the tenderest though Sam and Leonard also had their tender poems.

For more about the international treasure that is Roger McGough see here:


And don't forget to check out all the wonderful poets on the blog roll at:


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Tuesday Poem: "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles" by Billy Collins

It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.
Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.

     -- Billy Collins

For more about the life and work of the poet, Billy Collins see:


After you have read (and I hope enjoyed) this wonderful poem, please take the time to read some of the poetic offerings by my fellow Tuesday Poets of their own poetry or by poets they admire. Return to:


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tuesday Poem: "This Be the Worst" by Adrian Mitchell

 (after hearing that some sweet innocent 
 thought that Philip Larkin must have written:
 'They tuck you up, your mum and dad')

They tuck you up, your mum and dad, 
They read you Peter Rabbit, too. 
They give you all the treats they had
And add some extra, just for you. 

They were tucked up when they were small, 
(Pink perfume, blue tobacco-smoke), 
By those whose kiss healed any fall, 
Whose laughter doubled any joke. 

Man hands on happiness to man, 
It deepens like a coastal shelf. 
So love your parents all you can
And have some cheerful kids yourself. 

     -- Adrian Mitchell

The wonderful and sadly missed Adrian Mitchell. For more on his life and career see:


and the poem that this poem references, Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse", can be found here:


For more wonderful poems to enjoy on a Tuesday, or indeed any day of the week, visit the Blog Roll of excellent and invigorating and stimulating Tuesday Poets alongside the main hub poem.

Bon Appetit pour la poésie!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Poem for the forthcoming Australian Federal Election: "The Carnival" by William Esther Williams (via John Clarke, humourist)


Why is it that every year
On remote coastlines
Labour leaders
Beach themselves?
Whole schools of them, 
Apparently healthy Labour leaders
Thousands of miles off course and stranded, 
Spume drifting from their tragic holes. 

Why do they do it?
Is it not knowing where they are going?
Or is it guilt over where they have been?
There is no more futile prospect in nature
Than ordinary folk with flippers and buckets
Working urgently in the deepness of the shore
To turn the stricken Labour leaders around
Before nightfall. 

     -- William Esther Williams

Another John Clarke gem from the Even More Complete Book of Australian Verse in honour of the forthcoming Australian election which seems to be shaping up as a contest between a party who hates its leader and a party whose leader can't keep his clothes on.

Seamus Heaney again - speed the great man straight to heaven

Act of Union 


To-night, a first movement, a pulse,
As if the rain in bogland gathered head
To slip and flood: a bog-burst,
A gash breaking open the ferny bed.
Your back is a firm line of eastern coast
And arms and legs are thrown
Beyond your gradual hills. I caress
The heaving province where our past has grown.
I am the tall kingdom over your shoulder
That you would neither cajole nor ignore.
Conquest is a lie. I grow older
Conceding your half-independent shore
Within whose borders now my legacy
Culminates inexorably.


And I am still imperially
Male, leaving you with pain,
The rending process in the colony,
The battering ram, the boom burst from within.
The act sprouted an obstinate fifth column
Whose stance is growing unilateral.
His heart beneath your heart is a wardrum
Mustering force. His parasitical
And ignorant little fists already
Beat at your borders and I know they're cocked
At me across the water. No treaty
I foresee will salve completely your tracked
And stretchmarked body, the big pain
That leaves you raw, like opened ground, again

     -- Seamus Heaney

Thursday, 5 September 2013

RIP Seamus Heaney, you will be sadly missed

     Funeral Rites 


I shouldered a kind of manhood
stepping in to lift the coffins
of dead relations.
They had been laid out

in tainted rooms,
their eyelids glistening,
their dough-white hands
shackled in rosary beads.

Their puffed knuckles
had unwrinkled, the nails
were darkened, the wrists
obediently sloped.

The dulse-brown shroud,
the quilted satin cribs:
I knelt courteously
admitting it all

as wax melted down
and veined the candles,
the flames hovering
to the women hovering
behind me.
And always, in a corner,
the coffin lid,
its nail-heads dressed

with little gleaming crosses.
Dear soapstone masks,
kissing their igloo brows
had to suffice

before the nails were sunk
and the black glacier
of each funeral
pushed away.


Now as news comes in
of each neighbourly murder
we pine for ceremony,
customary rhythms:

the temperate footsteps
of a cortège, winding past
each blinded home.
I would restore

the great chambers of Boyne,
prepare a sepulchre
under the cupmarked stones.
Out of side-streets and by-roads

purring family cars
nose into line,
the whole country tunes
to the muffled drumming

of ten thousand engines.
Somnambulant women,
left behind, move
through emptied kitchens

imagining our slow triumph
towards the mounds.
Quiet as a serpent
in its grassy boulevard

the procession drags its tail
out of the Gap of the North
as its head already enters
the megalithic doorway.


When they have put the stone
back in its mouth
we will drive north again
past Strang and Carling fjords

the cud of memory
allayed for once, arbitration
of the feud placated,
imagining those under the hill

disposed like Gunnar
who lay beautiful
inside his burial mound,
though dead by violence

and unavenged.
men said that he was chanting
verses about honour
and that four lights burned

in corners of the chamber:
which opened then, as he turned
with a joyful face
to look at the moon.

     -- Seamus Heaney

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Tuesday Poem: "I Am Not A Robot" (with apologies to Isaac Asimov)

Is it just me or is typing the fuzzy numbers and swirling nonsense words in order to prove you are not a Robot commenting on someone's blog post getting more difficult all the time?

Just wanting to say something positive about a person's poem or other post has become a minefield of deciphering. The other day I came across an 11 that I had to get through that was so fuzzy and obscure as to be almost unreadable. And I am 56 and do not yet need glasses for anything, reading or otherwise.

Is it an optician's plot to create eye strain and up their customer intake?


I am not a Robot and, in fact,
none of the Robots of my acquaintance
read blogs. They are too busy

reading Popular Mechanics and New Scientist.
Only yesterday, I asked my friend,
Spock 12-37CB-R if he had a yen for poetry
and after I explained that I was not asking whether
he bought poetry books with Japanese currency,
but illuminated my question by pointing my stubby,
inefficient, human finger at the OED entry which said:

yen 2 |jɛn| informalnoun [ in sing. ]a longing or yearning: [ with infinitive ] she always had a yen to be a writer.
Spock 12-37CB-R replied in that tinny, reverberating timbre:"Don't be absurd, reading poetry is for fools and childrenand writing poetry is for lunatics and ne'er-do-wells who areaddicted to laudanum."
So I will read your blog and if your poetry moves me to heights of ecstasyso that I MUST comment and pour praiselike warm honey upon your sticky muse
then I will squint my eyes so that they blur my vision
hallucinogenically and like Carlos Castanedaindulging in peyote with Don JuanI will discern the magic number and the sacred wordwhich admits me to the kingdom of the just.