The King’s Head!


You’re looking well, the doctor said ironically as I stumbled into his office
Don’t mention it,I replied,It’all Greek to me
Are you drunk, he said solicituously
No and I am not a tart either,I lied truthfully
What a pity,I fancy an apple, he shared
Doctor, keep you voice down.The patients will think you are a pervert.
Well, one tart is as good as another to a dead man
Is that a trope or a simile?
What a pointed question.
But not disappointed?
Who was Adonis?
Mrs Thatcher’s husband  with a Lancashire accent
No, it DIS I am thinking of
You seem to be imitating a racist film
Fancy  that, without even knowing!
Well, you are a real doctor,I hope
No, but I am rational
I’m afraid you can be counted
But who could count an infinite set?
It’s in theory
That’s intellectuals for you.It can be done in  Theory.But where is Theory?
Where intellectuals hang out using their imaginations.
Well, blow me down
Why can’t you jump?
I can only do it in theory
Well, better get on with the surgery.Which head are we cutting off today?
The King’s Head
Well, it is his turn now….how  will he take it?
Under his arm
Like a deodorant?
I can think of better alternatives
Not a pig’s head?
No, an apple in his mouth
See,apples again.Why not go to an Art Class and paint some?
Because  my wife won’t eat them painted
How will  she know?
Because I have no artist’s palate
Well, it’s never to late to grow your own
I have my own palate
How is that?
It’s like  a bed before beds were invented
How come?
It is a bag of straw
But nowadays  they don’t sell straw
In case it’s  china?
How can  one sleep on china?
Go to a Tea Service and ask the Vicar
Ooh, you are artful
You do look well today
Am I the doctor or not?
I don’t know Not
You know Nothing!












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What a load of old tropes



Metaphor is only one kind of trope. Trope is any rhetorical technique that describes something in non-literal ways.

For example, metonymy is a technique where one word is replaced with a phrase that is related but is literally different, such as “the law” for police.

Synecdoche is using a part to describe the whole: “Can you give me a hand?”.

Irony is the use of words with opposite meaning, such as saying “You’re looking well.” to someone who is clearly quite sick.

There are also some expressions that are not considered as fully fledged tropes but as sub-tropes.

Here are two websites to get started on tropes:

(The latter website may explain the information you have been given: “The late-twentieth-centurywidespread reduction to one master trope, metaphor, especially under the influence of Lakoff and Johnson (1980), is the most radical (and absurd) of these projects.”

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Some shelled shore

Walking to the bus stop from our door
We fell into a subtle harmony 
Like little children   dawdling  on the shore

No haste, no chiding, wanting nothing more
Like swimming in a balmy pale blue sea
Or walking to the bus stop from our door

Who is known and which one is the knower?
What is here and what is yet to be
For little children   dawdling  on the shore?

Setting aspirations ever lower
No competing, rush nor victory
Just walking to the bus stop from our door

Though human   who gave us creative power?
Who has loved and who evoked in  me
The feel  of   dawdling  on the sea, the shore?

Who  hears the sorrow, plangent , of the sea
Where earth and stars  reflect  so rhythmically
Walking with you touching nevermore
Oh, that I were with  you on some shelled shore


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Quivering in the meadows of the heart

We saw the cows at Easter freed from barn
We were on a hill beside our lane  
They were running in the meadow’s  fresh green charm

Renting a small cottage on a farm
Dorset  has its literary fame
We saw the beasts at Easter freed from barn

Beasts will share their feelings  and their heart
Not for them the clever,wordy games
But dancing  in the meadow’s   alien charm

These images annihilate the harm
Suffered by the sick and by the lame
We saw the beasts at Easter freed from barn

The green of spring, the green thoughts, the great calm
Thus poverty brings us emptiness for gain
Running  to shelter of your arms

Was it not a right to be insane
Freed from prison  when the summer came?
We saw the cows at Easter freed from barn
They were  quivering in the meadow while I yearned


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The unthought known

There is a very strange concept now in psychoanalysis called
” the unthought known”,
I think it refers to something in the patient which they experienced and so know but they had not then learned words ,so if it was too painful it constantly bothers them  yet they can’t explain it or tell anyone.This is why psychoanalysis takes so long and even then I am unsure if a therapist can supply what the mother couldn’t
Perhaps if we know that we will never understand some of our feelings and worries but can accept them even if we don’t want to. then we can live with them
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The churchbells shuddered

When God came down , the rivers overflowed
Great trees were floating ,angled and exposed
The houses broke up like a loaf to crumbs
The hearts of humans  trembled  till they hummed

The winds deceived, the gusts unmeasured stung
The churchbells shuddered then untimely rang
The power was cut and all our screens were dark
Where were the rulers, where the saving Ark?

The women  giving birth were paralysed
The babies in the womb took ill and died
Their cradles rocked the world,  they swung so fast
And in a moment all of life had passed

In the void, God started  his new  world
Rich and strange,  the grit and then the  pearls


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When God came down

We may know what’s right and still do wrong
Greed and envy run our inner world
Like a crazed drunk bee we like to sting

Even as the blackbird is in song
The darkness of the heart will on it fall
We may know what’s right and still do wrong

We love to think we are the Queen or King
Perfect in our power , oh iron the walls
Yet crazed drunk bees can float on high to sting

The hurt inside the heart can last too long
The self retreats , the matador has failed
We know the end , the bull will kill the throng

When God came down, our spies soon had him nailed
The burning bush , the little voice, the tales.
We may know what’s right and do the wrong
Take pleasure in our violence, kill and sting

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Your sacred smile


Embraced  entire , your sacred smile held me
Until we  both were one deep in  our souls
As still as a white dove  held tenderly


For a little time so warm and free
As if your smile contained  me, made me whole
Embraced and loved , your sacred smile  touched me

As  we  cross together the  dark sea
I wish this sacred love could  always hold
As  gently as a dove ,as tenderly

And if I felt the  brilliant light  touch me
My eyes would weep,my tears would turn to gold
Embraced and loved, oh sacramental  tree

Would that humankind were truly free
That in the darkness, we could find our home
As dies  the  fragile Word on Calvary

We fear  the Tempest and we hear the Storm
The still small voice  will whisper , not perform
Embraced  entire , your  smile   encompassed me
As still as a white dove, as tenderly
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Take your love and in your arms enfold.

Did anyone believe blind rage expressed
Could benefit the agent without harm?
Did anyone read Freud and then digest?

Feelings need the heat of blacksmith’s fires
Held inside until they find their form
An image worthy of our right desire

As well as rage, we should mistrust love too
Be backward in expression till more’s known
Or risk an avalanche of cruelty.

Take care of others, they are not our fools
From sacred meetings all mankind has grown
We misuse folk to test our worth and tools

Holding in the inner fires our wish
The blackness of the heart can turn to gold
No contradiction hides such sacredness

Take your love and in your arms enfold.
The future of the world is growing cold
We liked to have the choice for rage and death
Until we found the charred remains of bliss

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The hidden workings

mountains nature arrow guide



Though an atheist – in that I believe we’re here only by happy accident – my sensibility is religious. I like ritual and heightened states. I like mind-altering drugs. I believe in invisible forces – radioactivity, magnetism, sound waves – and I’m more than willing to sit for an hour listening to a church organist practice, which I did just last week. And I’ll let myself shiver along with the immense chord changes. I don’t like faith but I’m fond of its trappings- the kitschy icons, the candles, the paintings, the architecture and, especially, the poetry. Though many great religious figures, from Augustine to Screwtape, have taken prose as their instrument for confessing or cajoling, when it comes to praise, poetry’s the usual choice. I’ve been reading Robert Alter’s magnificent new translations of The Book of Psalms, and “My heart is astir with a goodly word”.

The relationship between poetry, those goodly words, and religion is hard to quantify. Both involve the hidden, working at the borders of the sayable. They share an experiential dimension. Personal religion involves a private speech act (prayer), chanting (psalms), heightened states achieved by ritualised words. The Lord’s prayer is one of the first poems I learned. Leached of its import by years of mindless recital, it’s almost a Sitwellian sound poem to me.


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On a poem by Sylvia Plath about her baby son


Photo by Mike Flemming 2017 copyright


“In “Nick and the Candlestick,” a woman walks through a dark house toward her sleeping infant, and this ordinary action becomes fused with a metaphoric descent into a ghostly otherworld. Addressed to Plath’s son, Nicholas, the poem belongs to the tradition of poems such as Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” and Yeats’s “A Prayer for my Daughter” that directly address a poet’s sleeping infant. “Nick and the Candlestick,” however, teems with evocations of the speaker’s pregnancy and continually merges these images with descriptions of the baby himself. Like the poem’s opening fusion of metaphor and reality, this conflation collapses the boundaries between two things: past and present, memory and experience. In the poem, pregnancy is, itself, a time when two individuals are contained in one strangely altered body. As such, pregnancy, like metaphor itself, becomes emblematic of both the tenuousness of distinctions and of the inevitability of transformation.

As in many her poems, Plath borrows language and imagery from nursery rhymes, harnessing their peculiar mixture of menace and cheerful, linguistic playfulness—a juxtaposition that mirrors the poem’s insistence that seemingly disparate emotions or states of being are often closely entwined. This poem’s title recalls an old rhyme:

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over
The candlestick.

If Jack is not nimble, after all, he risks setting himself on fire

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Where are men when I need buttered bread?

I broke three back teeth while in my bed
I  prefer to love  but where’s my choice?
What nonsense am I chewing in my head?

I  once had a husband,but he’s dead
Now and then I seem to hear his voice
I broke three back teeth while in my bed

Where are men when I need  buttered bread?
Can I have one  here, I would rejoice?
What nonsense am I stewing in my head?

I used to keep my husband so well fed
I thought he’d never go ,I am annoyed
I broke three back teeth while in my bed

I guess he’s chosen Raphael instead
So I am free to  go out with a buoy
What rubbish am I brewing in my head?

  1. If I am your mistress,  am I coy?
    Andrew Marvell, whom did he employ?
    I broke three back teeth while in my bed
    What substance am I grinding in my head?

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