Recent Posts

25 May 2015


Look over there!...An antelope…






…stupid crocodiles?


…a lion??


…why not rabbits?


…an elephant


Come on if you dare, mighty buffalo!


Grrr! That’s us. Bold as brass. Keen as mustard.

Lines from Tintin in the Congo, Hergé (1930). Submitted by Cathy Barber.

23 May 2015

What They Don't Tell You

My mum doesn’t know who I am.
Sometimes I’m her sister.
Sometimes I’m her dead mother.
Once I was Shirley Bassey,
which made for an interesting evening.

I’d assumed we’d have lots of time
to get to know each other properly.
I was wrong. Instead of visiting coffee shops,
we ended up visiting the memory clinic.
It’s like going home with a newborn baby,
but with less support and no balloons.

They don’t tell you that she’ll hit you
as you coax her into the bath.
Neither do they tell you what nappies to buy
when she becomes incontinent,
how to persuade her to wear one
or stop her taking it off
and stashing it in a pillow case.

They don’t tell you what to do
when she thinks that the small boy
you pass on your walk is her grandson,
and tries to talk to him. Nobody tells you
how to placate the angry parents.

They don’t tell you that she’s never
going to phone you again, see you get married,
be a grandmother to your kids.
Nobody tells you how to channel the anger
you feel that your fellow thirtysomethings’ lives
now involve marriage, mortgages and children,
and yours revolves around a confused old lady
who doesn’t know who you are.
They’ve chosen their responsibilities;
you’d give anything not to have yours.

They don’t tell you that you’ll spend hours
trying to feed her a spoonful of hospital jelly
even though she’s pretty much given up on eating,
because you can’t just watch her starve.

It doesn’t matter how distraught you are
that she’s wasting away before your eyes,
or how much it upsets you to agree
to the doctor’s request for a DNR order;
this disease is relentless .

I’m still not sure how to feel about it
when there’s nothing tangible to mourn.
“Waking grief” someone called it.
When the person you knew is gone, but not gone.
But it’s not. It’s a waking, sleeping,
cloud of despair. But then nobody tells you
how to grieve either, do they?

Especially when there’s no funeral to go to.

From What they don't tell you about dementia by Dawn Vance, The Guardian 28 January 2015. Submitted by Angi Holden.

21 May 2015

Tying the March Brown

Catch in the wire rib
tie in the tails and bind down the loose ends
then trim, wax the thread to form
a tapered noodle of dubbing (in this case, hare).
Wind the dubbed thread to form the tapered body, then
take the rib forwards in evenly spaced wraps
catch in the Partridge feather by the tip
and wind the hackle.
One or two turns will suffice.

Instructions from fly fishing teacher Dave Wiltshire. Submitted by Sarah Watkinson.

19 May 2015

Steven Seagal is Good Man

Steven Seagal is A Good Man. Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man.
Steven Seagal is The Patriot. Steven Seagal is The Foreigner. Steven Seagal is The Keeper.
Steven Seagal is Pistol Whipped. Steven Seagal is Submerged.
Steven Seagal is Submerged 2.
Steven Seagal is Out of Reach, Steven Seagal is Out for Justice, Steven Seagal is Out for a Kill.
(Out for Justice? Steven Seagal is a Mercenary for
(Out for a Kill? Steven Seagal is Driven to Kill.
Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill.)
Steven Seagal is The Glimmer Man. Steven Seagal is the Shadow Man.
Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man. Steven Seagal is A Good Man.
Steven Seagal is My Giant.
Steven Seagal is A Good Man.

Titles of Steven Seagal films, as they appear on movie posters. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

26 February 2015


Body collapsing in on itself
A bowed head
Shoulders curling over chest
Angling torso away from others
Uncontrollable shuddering or shivering
Hair hanging in face, hiding the eyes
A downward gaze
A flushed face
Hitching chest
Eyes dull, lifeless
Pulling down a shirt hem
Hands clutching at stomach
Covering face with hands
Bottom lip or chin trembling
Throat bobbing
Arms falling to sides, lifeless
Uncontrolled tears
Flinching from noise or from being touched
Huddling, crouching
Neck bending forward
Movement is slow, jerky
Knees locked tight together
Cold sweat
Stumbling, staggering
Backing up against a wall
Sliding into a corner
Hands gripping elbows
Pigeon toes
Sobs trapped in throat
Drawing knees up to the body's core
Wrapping arms around self
Runny nose

From The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (2012), page 90. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

24 February 2015

Theme IV

A false alarm,
caught in the act:
A joke on me,
my peculiar mistake.
The stalled car,
my experience
in a strange Sunday school.
The experiment I never repeated,
nearly on the rocks.

Essay writing prompts from English Composition Book One by Stratton D. Brooks (American Book Company, 1911). Submitted by Alex Albright.

12 February 2015

Hello I am also bored

I'm at home all by my lonesome,
reading and waiting a little while
before I brush my teeth
and go to bed.

I could go for some conversation
if you're interested.
Don't much have
a particular topic in mind.

I worked ten hours today
and ate Taco Bell for dinner.

Do you like stuff?
Do you hate stuff?

Things? Place, people, ideas?
For/against any topic?

Want to discuss
the weather?

I'm all eyes for what you have to say.
Hope to hear from you.

From Craigslist Strictly Platonic, 23 December 2014. Submitted by Erica Tucker.

10 February 2015

Jamdani Weavers

A bead of sweat rolls down my face;
I am struck by the silence. The air
is hushed and filled with concentration.

On the banks of the Lakshya
master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking
sweat at their bamboo looms.
The men are shirtless. The women rest
their arms on cheap white cotton,
protecting the delicate muslin.

Hands interlace silky gold thread
into sheer cloth the colour of oxblood.

Around us turquoise, yellow and white billows
in the breeze that – like a cool blessing –
comes off the river through latticed bamboo walls.

Motifs – jasmine, marigolds, peacock feathers –
neither embroidered nor printed,
are painstakingly sewn by hand.

Children of the loom, taught by their fathers:
strong backs and magic fingers. Dedication.

From The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand by Caroline Eden, BBC News Magazine, 14 December 2014. Submitted by Angi Holden.

06 February 2015


Just when we thought some
of the old annoyances
of the 20th century
had died out, they come
roaring back
and intensified like the government

dug up their corpses
and stuffed them with hydraulics
and, like, RAM sticks
and shit, and turned
them into deadly cybernetic warriors.
They didn't die.
They were waiting.
They were adapting.
They. Were. Evolving.

They've returned,
fortified by modern technology,
designed to annoy us anywhere,
and at the convenience of
the person who wants to annoy us.

From 4 Obnoxious Behaviors The Modern World Made Worse by Luis Prada, Cracked, 11 December 2014. Submitted by Kenn Merchant.

To integrate into society

To integrate into society
The difficulties of adapting
A kind deed
To exploit
To take advantage of
To belong to
To be a part of
A war
An opposing argument
A profit
A benefit
To educate

English translations from a French class vocabulary list. Submitted by Mim Beech.

04 February 2015

Trinity Tanka

I am become Death
We made a terrible thing
Destroyer of Worlds
What are you moping about?
We’re all sons of bitches now.

A collection of quotations from Manhattan Project physicists on the occasion of the first ever atomic explosion, the Trinity Test in Los Alamos in 1945. Lines attributed to Richard Feynman, Bob Wilson and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

28 January 2015

Beijing Brush

Brushes the wool smoothly sift,
full is not tightly easy
to fall off wool,
bright, rich, the touch is gentle
may with ease brush the cosmetics
evenly frivolous
naturally has just right.

The color nature easy to stick
to the silt, but sweeps the powder
evenly, lasting durable,
with the flesh close-fitting,
makeup effects on a more refined
and delicate, presents the perfect
tidal current cosmetics.

Blurb on the cardboard wrapping of a retractable makeup brush from China. Submitted by Cathy Bryant.