A distant drum

The end of silence tumbles in.

Silence now that, on reflection,

ended with persistent drumbeats;

rising drumbeats rat-tat-tatting.

The Minstrel Boy has come,

bringing with him Oh brave music.

Some, remembering his father,

wept, some cheered, but you could not.

You never shouted out Bravo!

Although you wanted to

you could not do it and

he will not last now;

this is the lilac time.

The lilacs have begun to bloom

in Cuckoo Land.

Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Minstrel Boy’ from Thomas Moore’s great poem.


Rainbow in the sky,

don’t say it.




waiting for the great awaking.

When the ice melts

God has promised

no more flooding.



on and on,

this is the day;

the day is coming.

Now is not the time to broadcast,

strait the gate,

narrow the way.

Tile the world with colour.

No more gaps,

and overlapping

cups are filled with

happiness. Who

is thy neighbour,

neighbour’s neighbour?

Green and blue

yellow, red and white


fairy gold and fairy silver,

hanging on the morning after.

Strawberry fair

As I went down

first love

as down and went and I

and first love never

lived where daisies


and first love never ends

and violets blue

made microclimates

see them

warmth of grass

and man of straw,

needing a heart,

and any heart

found this.

Will not forget

first love,

blue eyes

and yellow hair.

“As I went down to Strawberry fair, I met a maiden selling her ware” (folk song)and Shakespeare’s ‘Spring’ in Love’s Labour’s Lost.


Smell the sweetness of electric force;

ozone, ineffable electrum,

gold and silver,

skaters waltz.

St Elmo’s fire,

the streaming counter-flow that drives.

The rules are strict;

do not collide!

If you do,

none will be accountable

for what might be released,

a laugh,

a shriek,

each going different ways.

Yet we can analyse all this

and then discuss

the mystery of attraction,

greater than all,

unless so energised

you smash the world,

but leave the secret of desire intact.

The Large Hadron Collider....to grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits---and then Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!  Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat.

Candy floss

The Preacher said,


There is nothing new,

under the sunlight

there is nothing new!’

The Fairman said,

‘No-one will do

what they don’t have to do.’


cherry blossom bloomed on naked trees.

Young men

who took the preacher at his word,

fell. The Fairman smirked

and yet

there had to be a third

who walked with them and said,

‘Have you considered candy floss

that man has spun,


whether it was written in the book of time

or not,

does now exist

and carries the faint hint of caramel and pink.’

The Preacher held his tongue.

The Fairman said,

‘All this

is superficial.


OK then,

bring me one.’

Ecclesiastes and The Book of Job.  Cherry blossom carries the Japanese implication of young men falling in their prime.

I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts,

There they are, a-standing in a row;

Big ones, small ones, some as big as yer 'ead

Give 'em a twist, a flick of the wrist,

That's what the showman said.

What the showman said

Roll up and

try your luck and

everyone’s a winner.

His grin implied

we’re all friends here.

My first thought was,

with every throw he’ll lose.

I’d not been training all my life for this,

just turned aside.

His leer suggested things untried.

He annoyed me!

Some insinuations more or less get

under the skin.

I mean the distance,

far too short. Some I saw,

ill-favoured, how could youth first miss,

rolled sleeves

and muscle firm,

delineated, mean,

then win? I

did not envy them the prize

as eyes connect,

and satisfying noise.

Transaction neat and trim suburban turn,

exchange, no,



at wood so round and smooth,

devoid of all inertia,

two times light. Across the skyline

those who went before,

then I, called to account,

could only hold my slug-horn to my lips too late

and silent cry,


Browning’s ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came’ carrying on his awkward use of the Slughorn. Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’.

Hundreds and thousands

Quite substantial objects were

half-buried in

hundreds and

yet inedible


all around,

not lone or level, quite

substantial multitudes,

above them


Let us just say

I did not want

any of them just

the sight of hundreds

near away and far

and thousands

made them seem desirable.

The jaws agreed.  

Let us clutch,

as water passes through

the whalebone sieve

accumulating debris

waiting for digestion.

Let us just reach out.

Needs must.

Small pieces of coloured but nearly flavourless candy scattered around desirable objects underneath steered mechanical jaws which operated for a limited time after inserting a coin.  Shelley’s Ozymandias.

Rolling the coins

Statistics cannot lie, he said,

it’s what you do with them,

and straight away

we knew two wrongs

could never make a right.

They lied to me,

they did not lie for him.

Take my advice,

he said,

and cover up your nakedness.

as into every life

some rain must fall;

the odds against are slim.

Oh yes, he said

The game’s afoot,

give chase

So, let it go,

defender of the faith,

fid. def.

faithful defender now,

unloose its leash.

See how it turns around three times,

then slumps with hopeful grin.

You cry,

I’ve won,

I’ve won!

only to find

some part, of head,

or tail, or paw, or lolling tongue,

is not tucked in.

The greasy pole

Earth turns


the greasy pole


the glass ceiling.

What is

the secret

of such a thing?

Some will succeed,

of that you can be sure.

Will it be you?

Will it be me?

Why did the knees

prevent me, why

did my grip

fail? If

at first

you don’t,

then try,



There is nothing

like it nothing

will come

of nothing like it

in the whole wide world.

A pig in a poke


Don’t buy it!


I want to.

That is what I said.

Advice is one thing,

or another.

I will never take it,

not again

and all the same,

knowing what I know

and you do not,

I wanted it,

its merits

or demerits quite aside.

Sinuous movement,

canvas sliding


that it existed,

it was quite alive.

Any fool could

see that soon

and money parted

would it be


white with spots,

or saddleback,

and would it smile?

Throwing the hoop


There can be no two ways

about it. What

you catch you keep!

So left

and left right left

and who’s a pretty boy

with arms down by his side.

Oh, throw it back you cry,

but you have reckoned without

the arrow of time.

Skittle alley


cing run

and stop and swing-



and slide













and oh













The big dipper

Marie Antoinette

may have felt the same.

This slow,



and yet with certain apprehension,


to say,

‘Why me?


it is I

who is not I

and destiny beyond control,

enjoy the ride.

If I survive this I,

I will,

I what?’

The hall of mirrors

Angle of incidence,

grotesque intention,

gnomish and underground

hall of deceit.

Reflecting from it,



that travels straight in lines,

but here does not; fish-



Part, greater than the whole,

floods and expands

as some homunculus

rears up,



and sideways overarches,


by tending to the infinite,

a singularity resides between the eyes.


(and here you have to see the funny size of things

and waists

and thighs)

give us a hand,


more than a mouse in non-Newtonian land,

the country of the blind,


sensing through its whiskers,

solid sight-like life-

lines, lives

in fluid space

where folds abound.

Homunculus:  here a spacial representation of the size of the parts of the body as perceived by the internal body map, which for a man give enormous size to the hands, whilst for a mouse the map is dominated by the whiskers.


There is no time,

our time is not enough

to square the circle,

or to ask,

‘How far is it to Babylon?’

But there is time enough to ask

these other questions


Why this?

Why that?

When will we get there,


what are they,

all these ups and downs,

these undulations? He

walked upon the water

of our discontent.

Is this what we

are now supposed to do?

The nursery rhyme:- how far is it to Babylon? Three score miles and ten. Can I get there by candle light? Yes, and back again. The Ancient Babylonians had a high level of mathematical accomplishment and to them we owe the fact that the circle is divided into three hundred and sixty degrees, presumed to derive from their aim to present the year as a perfect circle of days.

Reinventing the wheel

The point is this,

you should have seen his face.

Laugh, I could have cried,

or is it died?

You know the story,

how it goes.

Achilles runs, each stride becoming half,

the hare, all that. I had it made

and red becoming black and me, me, me

and I, my turn has come. I did not just sit back.

I had this scheme, this plan,

my quantum leap where angels fear to tread.

The cat that did not mew,

the dog that did not bark

and why, because they knew

fortune must smile,

prepare the mind.

The ball must fall into its place;

this time

the King will come into his own.

Tunnel of love


ecstasy and soft

jaws close.

The breathless wait

when two hearts,

bound together,

share a single beat,

as friends in need


should we say,

that need is very great.

Adding only, death

where is thy sting

for this cannot be it?

This is the time of rest,

the well-deserved  

tunnel of light aspires

up and beyond.

The soul,

spirit in shining white,

leaps out. The flesh


and angels

wings unfurled

ascend and wait.

The King has passed this way,

can any man than this

have greater love?


All cups, ball-bearings

trifling reward

and trigger happy.

Sport is easy. Yes!

you can say that

again, where should it

end now,

fountain of my dreams,

that clings so long,

then falls away

in parabolic lassitude.

And so

selecting any sign which seems to say,

‘This is your time,

your way’.

Ignoring any rest,

this is the game where

every one’s a winner,

every one.

Defensive tactics

never needed here,

they are so

out of place.

The child is father

of the man,

for heaven’s sake.

When the circus left town

Not forgotten,

canvas, white, evocative and

trampled path down to the gypsy’s tent

and sweet enchantment.

Sit, young man, yes here

beside me, cross my palm;

but first I must explain

that I don’t need your silver,

only something you are keeping back,

and I must have it. We will strike

a bargain, on my terms though.

I could tell you what you think you want to know,

but I won’t do it. And I can say this, with confidence,

the time will come when you,

believe me, understand


time is short

we must get on,

and I will tell you things that can disturb,

because I do see all

that you and I

both know

that you have seen;

days come,

days gone.

You say,

thinking perhaps you see more clearly now,

that this has given you a new perspective,

you, unburdened here;

but I must disagree.  

Think only,

think of all you missed,

so firm, so over-sure.

These were

your cherry-picking times.

Song by Ertha Kitt. Milton’s ArcadA distant drum



1 A distant drum

2 Bunting

3  Strawberry fair

4 Dodgems

5 Candy floss

6 What the showman said

7 Hundreds and thousands

8 Rolling the coins

9The greasy pole

10 A pig in a poke

11 Throwing the hoop

12 Skittle alley

13 The big dipper

14 Merry-go-round

15 The hall of mirrors

16 Reinventing the wheel

17 Tunnel of love

18 Bagatelle

19 When the circus left town

All the Fun of the Fair

Somewhere in the hinterland between words and music is the country of half-sense

The world is so full of a number of things,

I think we should all be as happy as Kings.