A Perfect Day

This week I have been a busy poet: I’m writing a sonnet on the theft of childhood called ‘The Golden Child’; I shall also be featuring a special Knitting Poem at Pinggk! tomorrow, so look out for that.

And!  Yesterday was a pretty damn-near perfect day: an extra hour in bed followed by church followed by the Fall: a poetry workshop on Autumn themes at Embrace Arts, after which a quick dash to Yesim’s brought me close to bed-time.  And so to sleep…

The workshop was a ‘choreopoem’, a fusion of poetry and choreography which looked great staged (at least I surmise it did as I was taking part: there may be some photos later) and was really enjoyable to do.  We took ideas of autumn and began to construct a poem; then did a mime around some words in the poem.  At Yesim’s I did the poem I’d written and Mark and I did a hand-poem together.  But now, as a tribute to the man, I’ll leave you with the BBC’s excellent video of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’:



Kirk out

Send out the Clones

On the i-player this week I have mostly been watching ‘Orphan Black’.  This is a Canadian/American TV series about cloning, featuring a tour-de-force by Tatiana Maslany, who plays six or seven of these clones.

The story begins with Sarah, a petty criminal from England, who sees a woman committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.  She steals the woman’s bag in order to assume her identity and escape from the hopeless life she is leading; but this takes her into a web of increasingly bewildering events, as she gradually discovers that she is one of a series of clones – and worst of all, someone is killing them all one by one.

The annoying thing about this programme is that we all want to watch it.  Now, you might thing that would make it a bonding family experience, but in fact it is the cause of a great deal of friction, partly because of the difficulty of getting everyone sat down for 45 minutes at the same time and in the same place!! – and partly because everyone else insists on talking ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT!!!!

I’m watching the next episode on my own.  That way I’ll stand an even chance of hearing the dialogue – so long as the voices in my head keep quiet, that is…



And finally – how did I not know it was National Poetry Day today?  I have no idea how I escaped knowing that, especially as I realised everything else about Everybody’s Reading Week; however, here once again is my favourite poem of all time.

Death Be Not Proud

by John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,

for those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

die not, poor death, nor yet cans’t thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be

much pleasure; then from thee, much more must flow

and soonest our best men with thee do go,

rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fortune, chance and desperate men,

and dost with poison, war and sickness dwell

and poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

and better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

and death shall be no more: death, thou shalt die.


Congratulations: It’s a Monarch

Yes, even as we speak the air-waves are full of the ongoing labour of You Know Who.  Apparently it’s a girl, and we already know she will be heir to the throne: this is undoubtedly a Good Thing, and a sign that society is changing at the highest – and deepest – levels.  Life’s a fleeting thing, though; and as one baby is born someone else dies.  We have, as Hamlet observed, our exits and our entrances – or, to put it another way, a sparrow flies through a lighted hall, and that’s our life.  We come from darkness and we go out into darkness, and the brief interlude in between is what we call la vie.

So farewell then… Mel.  Yes, for it is he: Mel Smith of ‘Alas Smith and Jones’ and ‘Not the Nine o’clock News’; writer, broadcaster, performer and director, has died aged 60.  Wild?  He was absolutely livid!  But the Guardian puts it better than I can:


RIP Mel.  Here was your finest hour:



And since today is poetry day, here’s my favourite poem about death, which I would like read out at my funeral:

Death Be Not Proud

by John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


I’ve more or less decided which poems I shall be doing for ‘Simon Says’ on Saturday.  So come along and watch:


Kirk out

Don´t say you don´t…

…get value for money on this blog. Yes, another poem! This one is a poetic version of the short story I posted earlier, Spiral Stair.

Spiral Stair

Pink bedclothes, flowered wallpaper oppress

I long for poverty, turn to the view;

He, showered, says “Cathedral”, goes to dress

Down on the street, the word acts as our cue:

“Dimly lit” – words flicker, and go dark

I search for messages among the dead:

Nothing. My need grows sharper; calling Mark

“I have to climb the tower; clear my head”.

This spiral stair like hell goes on forever

the spine of some rough beast our steps will waken

I, Sisyphus, still hoping to be clever

but finding every thought already taken:

at last, a burst of light: the parapet

I lean and gaze: I’ll cheat this karma yet.

Here´s today´s poem – a Herculean task!


How do I moan about thee? Count the ways:

I moan about the dishes in the sink

The turmeric that sticks around for days

Tainting with jaundice everything I think

About the tide of clutter I complain

It rises to my gorge like global warming

The landfill of our house like endless rain

congeals, then freezes, like an ice-age forming:

Recycle? Yes – but that’s the iceberg’s tip,

It’s that which is below it makes me shiver;

It’s inconcievable to get a grip;

This Herculean task requires a river –

I give it up; I turn to you in bed –

Embrace me; let me moan with thee instead.

This is of course about the Herculean task of clearing the Augean stables (pronounced “Orgy-an”, hence there is an implied pun in the sexual reference at the end. It is also a moan about the endless problem of clutter in our house, which is just about the only real bone of contention between Mark and me. Oh, except for margarine. But that’s another story. Read the full account here (of Hercules, not Mark!) Although….

www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/stables.html – 6k –


You might also like to know that the line “About the tide of clutter I complain” is a reference to Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress” (theme: F**k me now, time’s running out) and to the lines:

Thou by the Indian Ganges side

Should’st rubies find: I by the tide

of Humber should complain

Read it here:


Here’s today’s poem


I write, yet what I write, none reads or scans

My daily blogs fall lifeless to the floor:

My motto is ironic: triumpans

in gold upon a locked and bolted door;

Like Sisyphus I heave my heart upstairs

but keep my mouth shut tight against the wind

After long hours’ dictation lie like prayers

or birds, the pages waiting to be binned:

Ars longa, vita what? How does this rule

measure me up? What do I make of me?

By living longer must I seem a fool?

Where is the blueprint that I’m supposed to be?

Look there: against the West the sun is rising

We will run backwards yet – and end surprising.

A bit self-consciously literary, I thought – yet it started me off today, when I couldn’t think of a word to write. It is an homage to John Clare’s poem


I wrote a parody of this, which began

I write, yet what I write, none reads or scours

For my friends’ sake I suffer memory loss…

A bit contrived, but fun all the same.

Pip Pip!

(If you’re looking for the “letters to Leonard”, I’ve taken them off. Far too embarrassing, now that I’ve come back down to earth.)