Wednesday, 9 December 2015


When calling by to see Chapman one afternoon Keats was surprised to find his friend in bed and looking forlorn. Various tablets whose packaging claimed they were good for the health were strewn around the room.

'What ails you, Chapman?'

'Difficult to say. I'd describe it as a sort of existential despair, though there must be a more exact term... '

Keats thought for a moment, 'Would taedium vitae fit the bill?'


'How about ennui?'

'No, more acute than that. Could you pass me those vitamin pills?'


'Nah, dem two over dere', replied Chapman, betraying a certain return to form.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Mourner's Ruse

The young of the Cinereous Mourner
Are cunning when caught in a corner,
So as to elude
Those thinking them food
They mimic less flavoursome fauna.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Butterfly Bush

Buddleja davidsii

The butterflies aren’t feeding
They're listening
To the theosophic whispering
Of Adam and Armand:
Two clerics in a bush


Monday, 22 June 2015

The Fishermen

After Baudelaire

Often, out of duty, an albatross
Would stoop to harry fishermen,
Forcing them to cut their lines,
Tear off their oilskins
And huddle on a slewing deck.

The monstrous mew would then alight
To prod his naked captives
With his Brobdingnagian bill
And berate them with his squawks
Until he felt they understood.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Will to Live

(For J B)

   Keats was justifiably proud of his salad dressing; its liquid caress could invigorate the most flaccid of radacchios. Over the years he had become obsessive about perfecting its recipe and went to extraordinary lengths to procure the requisite mustard, vinegar and olive oil, some of which he would salt away so as to never run out. If any of these ingredients were not immediately at hand, as was often the case due to the shambolic state of his kitchen, he became filled with despair.

   Chapman witnessed one such culinary crisis when he looked in from the dining room to see how his friend's much anticipated vinaigrette was progressing. He saw assembled amid the chaos a salt cellar and pepper pot, a jar of moutade de Dijon and bottle of vinaigre balsamique... but where was the oil so crucial to the mix?

   Keats was searching high and low all the while bemoaning his lack of organisational skills and resultant failure to locate the missing component. Finally, having ransacked in vain every cupboard and shelf, he collapsed into a chair and wailed, “I can not go on like this!”

   “Sounds like you've lost the huile d'olive”, suggested Chapman, unhelpfully.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

My laburnum blew down

Its fall exposed a high and creepered wall.
A neighbour, mourning her favourite tree,
Quietly took photos of its yellow sprawl.
I considered what all this meant to me.

Finally I had access to the eaves!
Could rip out tendrils that probed my soffit,
Get to the tresses of fluttering leaves
Garnishing my roof. And yank them off it.

Leaning a ladder on the leafy shroud,
Keen to wield my Spear & Jackson Cutter,
I edged my way as fast as fear allowed,
Grimly, assuredly, towards the gutter.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Parakeets and Chapman

   Chapman entered the room bearing a cage in which perched a parrot. He knew his entrance would cause something of a stir as his friend Keats was fascinated by all things psittacine.
   Keats leapt from his chair and scrutinised the bird.
   “I imagine you can identify the species” said Chapman.
   “Judging by its cinereous plumage I would say it's an example of Psittacus erithacus”
   “Is it really?” muttered Chapman, previously unaware of its Linnaean name, “and from where exactly does it hail?”
   “Well,” began Keats, “it used to be distributed throughout the Congo and adjacent countries, but so many have been trapped for the pet trade that there are few left in the wild and their range is difficult to define”
   “I see, so it's something of an African Grey area...” proffered Chapman, unhelpfully.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cowboy Hero

I would take a bullet for you
Like a good cowboy,
Not a bad cowboy
Who gets shot in the chest and dies
And certainly not like a real cowboy
Who gets shot in the face for example,
But a good cowboy
Who gets shot in the shoulder
Always in a particular spot
So as not to shatter the bone
Or sever a nerve
Or impede future movement in any way.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

An Abysmal Anecdote

Chapman discovered Keats atop a step-ladder adjusting a photographic self-portrait that he had placed on a large oaken joist that traversed the room. “Isn't that what's known as a selfie?”, called up Chapman proud of his grasp of contemporary parlance. “It is indeed”, replied Keats descending, “but no ordinary selfie, for if you look closely you will see it shows me holding a mobile telephone upon which is displayed a photograph I took of myself – it is a selfie within a selfie”. “I see”, said Chapman unsure that he could, “but why put it there?”. “It is a picture of me within a picture of me...” hinted Chapman. “Of course!”, exclaimed Keats after some reflection, “'Me's on a beam!”