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20 July 2015

A year ago last September

A YEAR AGO LAST SEPTEMBER TWO ladies with a child
were travelling on the Hudson River cars,
one of whom offered a seat to a middle aged gentleman
with light whiskers or goatee

slightly gray, who kindly pointed out to her
the red leaved trees
and said he had a number of them on his place
and made himself otherwise agreeable;

and when she was leaving him
(ten miles this side of where he stopped)
gave her a parting embrace, which she has never
been able to forget.

A personal ad from the New York Herald, 25 January 1862. Via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

16 July 2015

This shawl

This shawl is brand new and has never been used. If you have just given birth to a new baby girl or boy or you are expecting a new baby and you are looking for that extra special shawl to bring your new baby home from the hospital then this could be the very shawl you could be looking for. It measures 72 inches in diameter and is made from white baby double knitting wool and was hand crocheted by myself. If you are going to have your new baby christened then this will make a really beautiful christening shawl. Just think when you will be taking pictures of your new baby the shawl would look lovely with your baby laying down on it or you could spread it over the back of a settee with your baby sitting up or laying down it would look really adorable in the background. The shawl has a really beautiful pattern which starts off in the center with a number of rows which looks like a spider web design. Then followed by 16 pretty pineapple designs with a "v" shape pattern above each of the pineapple designs. Then after that there are 16 lacy designs which are inbetween the "v" shape patterns followed by another 16 pretty pineapple designs which are slighty larger than the other row with 16 pineapple designs with another 16 "v" shape patterns above each of the pineapple designs. Then after that there are another 16 "v" shape designs that are inbetween each of the 16 larger pineapple designs with a lacy pattern inbetween each of the "v" shape designs. Then finally there is a beautiful frilled edging which really sets the shawl off. If you look closely at the design of the shawl you will see on 4 of the rows there are cluster stitches inbetween the pattern design which is unusual. This is a very large shawl and will look really beautiful on your baby boy or girl and will keep he or she lovely and warm when you will be taking he or she out for a walk in the pram. A lot of shawls being sold today in various baby shops only measure up to about 45 inches my shawl is half that size again so it is a very large shawl. It is made from 100% white acrylic baby double knitting wool and can be either hand washed or machine washed on a delicate program. As soon as payment is made the shawl will be sent out to you the same day or the next working class day by 1st. class recorded delivery. Thank you for looking and why not take a look at the other baby items i have for sale

An Ebay item description, saved from many years ago. Submitted by Jain Gawne.

13 July 2015

Personal Call



I just wondered

what your middle name


My middle name?


I haven't got one,


I've got a confirmation name


that's not really an official name


that's Mary.


same as mine.

Alright, Susan.

Thank you.

From Kate Bush’s interview on Personal Call, a BBC Radio 1 phone in, 1979. Submitted by Luke Bailey.

09 July 2015

A brutal nadir

I took my seat
at the microfilm reader
and began to scroll
through the archives.

For the first hundred years,
as far as I could tell,
all that happened in America
was that various people
named Nathaniel
had purchased land
near rivers.

I scrolled faster,
finally reaching an account
of an early Colonial-era shaming.

On July 15, 1742,
a woman named Abigail,
her husband at sea,
had been found
"naked in bed
with one John Russell."

They were to be
"whipped at the public post
20 stripes each."

was appealing the ruling,
but it wasn’t the whipping itself she wished to avoid.
She was begging the judge
to be whipped early,
before the town awoke.

From How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life by Jon Ronson, New York Times Magazine, 12 February 2015. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

06 July 2015

Jeep for sale

Calls only, I don't do mores code
I don't text
be a man and call me.

No title no title no title
don ask

yes it is a 1986
so yes
it may have some rust
if that bugs dont buy it
that how It is

no you may not come work on it
if you buy it take it home do what you want
may run May not,
i don't know

Will not drive jeep to your place
no joy rides
no cash no test drive

Trades welcome
need to be man stuff
no toy race cars,
or over price atvs,
or rolls of used carpet
or doll houses
no junk

Jeep not for a teenage girl's first jeep,
jeep built to be driven by a man

offers ok.

From Craigslist sales posts, Charlotte, NC, July 2014. Submitted by Carlos Pelay.

02 July 2015


In this quiet inlet,
some eddy has collected
and drowned at the bottom
of the mire, now turned into marl,
enormous heaps of shells
of every shape and size.
It is a molluscs' burying ground
with hills for tumuli.

I dig up oysters a cubit long
and weighing five or six pounds a piece.
One could shovel up in the immense pile,
Scallops, Cones, Cylheridae,
Mactridae, Murices,
Turretellidae, Mitridae
and others too numerous,
too innumerable to mention

You stand stupefied before the vital ardour
of the days of old, which was able
to supply such a pile of relics
in a mere nook of earth.

Taken from an account by Jean-Henri Fabre on fossils in The Faber Book of Science edited by John Carey (Faber & Faber, 1995). Submitted by Taidgh Lynch.

29 June 2015

Tell him we love him

He has just gone in.
I am on a chair just outside.
The nurse promised to hold his hand.

They do it in the theatre
but I expect he will be sedated.
Others coming out have been.

Done. Full sedation.
I am with him in recovery.
He is snoring.

In the waiting area.
They will give him tea and toast.
He is a bit unsteady at the moment.

Everything ok.

Text replies from a hospital waiting room to messages expressing concern. Submitted by Angi Holden.

25 June 2015

auto-destructive art

Man In Regent Street
is auto-destructive.
Rockets, nuclear weapons,
are auto-destructive.
Auto-destructive art.

The drop

of HH bombs.

Not interested in ruins, (the picturesque)

Auto-destructive art
re-enacts the obsession with destruction, the pummeling to which individuals and masses are subjected.
Auto-destructive art
demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them.
Auto-destructive art
mirrors the compulsive perfectionism of arms manufacture - polishing to destruction point.
Auto-destructive art
is the transformation of technology into public art.

The immense productive capacity, the chaos of
capitalism and of
Soviet communism,
the co-existence of surplus and starvation;

the increasing stock-piling of nuclear weapons - more than enough to destroy technological societies;

the d i s i n t e g r a t i v e effect of machinery and of life in vast built-up areas on the

Auto-destructive art
is art
which contains within itself an agent which automatically leads to its destruction
within a period of time not to exceed twenty years.

Other forms of
auto-destructive art
involve manual manipulation.

There are forms of auto-destructive art where
the artist
has a tight control over the nature and timing of

and there are other forms where the artist's control is slight.

Materials and techniques used in creating
auto-destructive art

Acid, Adhesives,
Canvas, Clay, Combustion, Compression, Concrete, Corrosion, Cybernetics,
Elasticity, Electricity, Electrolysis,
Heat, Human Energy,
Light, Load,
Mass-production, Metal, Motion Picture,
Natural Forces, Nuclear Energy,
Paint, Paper, Photography, Plaster, Plastics, Pressure,
Sand, Solar Energy, Sound, Steam, Stress,
Water, Welding, Wire, Wood.

From Gustav Metzler selections, extracted 18 May 2015. Submitted by David Verghese.

22 June 2015

The very last of something

Sudan doesn’t know how precious he is,
his eye a sad black dot in his wrinkled face
his head a marvellous thing, a majestic rectangle
of strong bone and leathery flesh,
a head that expresses pure strength.
How terrible that such a mighty head
can be so vulnerable, lowered melancholically
beneath the sinister sky, as if weighed down by fate.
This is the noble head of an old warrior,
armour battered, appetite for struggle fading.

From A picture of loneliness: you are looking at the last male northern white rhino by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 12 May 2015. Submitted by Angi Holden.

18 June 2015

The Laughter-Lover

Why weren’t you lying down heads-up?
The best and most famous doctors in the city ordered me to sleep like this.

How do you know he’s not coming in by the other gate?
When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?

Time, my good man, to mix me some dark wine.
I’m not thirsty.
Do me the favor while I’m still alive.
How long were their necks, that they could drink from something so deep!
Have my dinner-clothes sent here.
Since you’re under an oath, here’s the fifty thousand. But throw in for free a small casket, in case I need it for my son.

Now you’re mad that you found me screwing your mother for the first time ever!
So is she your daughter?
(You have no clue who your real father is.)
First murder your own children and then tell me to kill mine:
Father, you eat the children; I’ll take mother.
(It’s polite to call her Ma’am.)
She was a fighter.
What made you do it?

The time will come when I’ll build a threshing-floor so big that I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to see me.
I got something I wasn’t bargaining for:
Me, now that I’m alone –
Thanks to buddies like you!
(Look after them well.)
There are a few fire-logs still left. If you want to stop suffering, get yourself cremated on them.
Because you love me.

But what if the boy dies during the night and I lose my fee?
(If he had lived, he would have been all of those things!
If he were guilty of all that, he should have been cremated while still alive.)
What’s your rate for the night?
You can choose. But we don’t have a crumb.
Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the doctor?
Alas, what shall I do? I am torn betwixt two evils!

Punchlines from the earliest known joke book, the Philogelos, attributed to Hierocles and Philagrios. Translated by John T. Quinn. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

15 June 2015

Which Of These Fires From The Fire Catalogue Would You Like For Your Birthday?

(#3) the perpetual house-hold fire?
(#4) consecrated fire taken from the house-hold fire and placed in the east side?
(#7) powerful, mighty fire?
(#8) the fire that destroys?
(#9) the classical fire, belonging to the world of men?
(#10) the old or ancient fire, the fire pertaining to the stomach?
(#11) the entwining fire?
(#17) the calm, peaceful, serene fire?
(#20) the luminous, pure, brilliant fire?
(#21) the fire who is the priest?
(#22) the great, auspicious fire?
(#24) the fire consisting of wealth, or of good things?
(#26) the fire which is ethereal?
(#27) the conveyor of virtuous persons to heaven?

. . .the fire of time?
the fire of hunger?
the cold fire?

the fire of anger?

the fire of knowledge?

Fires conveying the sacrificial butter in Section VII of the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata, selected from Variants of Agni, Wikipedia, extracted 3 April 2015. Submitted by Maya Surya Pillay.

12 June 2015

The Seven Deadly Chairs



From a notice at the Central Methodist Church, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 17th March 2015. Exactly as it appeared. Submitted by Tim Benjamin.