House of Hope [twin poem discussion post!]

[My friend wrote a poem. Then I rewrote it, changing every word but keeping the meaning and the precise 100 word total. I won’t say which is which just now, because I’m not certain I can remember. Maybe half of you reading (yes you, not not you) should scroll down and read the second one first. Anyway, thoughts? Which do you prefer? Does it even matter? Can we just appreciate both. Answers on a postcard (gosh, that would be romantic).]


House of Hope #1

Bowing, bending beams and walls

‘Tread softly’ I repeat,

‘Take care’, broken bricks and mottled mortar

Sharp silhouettes and angles fill the gloom

Leering out, reaching up

Beyond the boundaries of candlelight;

Passageways take shape


The soft hum that signals slow collapse,

Pierced with urgent screeching,

Timber snaps and starts the descent,

Gradual, but gathering, past every path,

Each side taken, each challenge faced

Even challenges I couldn’t face.




Building blocks, cracked with age,

Shape undecided, indeterminate, growing and decaying.

A hollow whisper whistles round dead end corners

For each one that got away

The blueprint for my past


House of Hope #2

Great groaning husk of building

Proceed slowly,

Carefully, rotten wood and blackened timber

Strange angles and shadows in the darkness

Looming forwards, extending upwards

Further than light’s glow can show;

Corridors unfurling


Gentle murmur of slow decay,

Broken occasionally by a more destructive leap,

A beam breaks and begins its fall,

Its slow, sonorous fall, down all the passageways of your life,

The choices made, the bridges crossed,

The bridges you turned away from.


They fall.


The wood creaks under the pressure of time,

The structure changing, shifting, morphing, parts falling.

An empty wind blows through the broken house

The unredeemable moments

Architecture of your life


Food and drink you need for a party

[The following list has been compiled from empirical evidence gathered by the author during recent study in the field of annual vivocelebratory hosting of young adults. The information given represents informed conjecture and has yet to be statistically proven.]

1. Spirits. Like way more than you think. Let people B their own B when it comes to beer and cider and wine, but make sure you have copious gin and jäger and vodka.

2. Chocolate cake. Healthy salads are great and all but Point 1 of this extensive and exhaustive list means people will develop strong feelings about chocolate cake over the course of the evening.

Showstop (jhewsyol)

I dream I’m not on a train with 200 other people
(I didn’t count them all, just my carriage before extrapolating)
but in the thick of all that’s troubling me, wading through the minefields
of love and friendship

and though by day I long for simplicity –
that we can be without reproach or interruption –
I shake awake, still on the train,
and pine, thinking ‘at least it was exciting’.

[No, I’m not quite sure what this piece is either.]

Sands of Time

[Just a little piece I wrote after a lovely weekend back in the seaside county of Cornwall, where I grew up and love going back to. Shout out to Bex and Dan whose wedding was absolutely wonderful!]

Fragments of rock cling to me
like memories of childhood days
Rose-tinted and sweeter now
We never knew our luck

For all I’ve grown: pain & love
& tribulations – it’s effortless
to come back here, too familiar –
as if nothing changes in lazy days
under a benevolent sun –
and the years slide from my shoulders,
a kid again

I embrace this relapse from my half-adult life:
grown and flown the nest but still
clueless, pockmarked with fear &
uncertainty, wide eyes rolling
through grad jobs, leases &
pension policies; searching for my
place in this mature world
“what are your plans?”

shit, i don’t know. the only thing mature about me is my taste in cheddar.

[Let me know if the final line ruins or enhances it. The permanent version will be decided by public opinion so get voting!]

Please Send Dragons

Being the creative, whimsical, free-spirited soul that I am (by that I mean easily distracted as well as… [drifts off mid sentence]) I occasionally find myself bored, and then daydreaming, and then wishing for a dragon.

It’s a slippery slope.

I can remember countless times I’ve been sat in a school chapel, sports hall or meeting room, ears under attack from a unending drone on responsibility or rules or the emancipation of the proletariat (I probably should’ve listened to that one), and just thought,

‘Imagine if a dragon smashed its way in here now. That would spice things up.’

It works best when there’s a big window, the destruction of which is overwhelmingly pleasing to visualise. Rose windows in chapels are my favourite – sorry god, but a giant reptilian jaw gonna look so sweet smashing through one of those!

[My inner writing voice is telling me that tips for a great daydream are where this piece is headed (Tip #1, ‘Rose Windows’, I guess?), so…]

#2 ‘Vantage Point’. Pick a window a good distance from you. Unless you’re going to daringly tame and ride the dragon (respect) or slay it nobly (there best be maidens watching, else you’ve just wasted a dragon) you want to be at a safe (out of the way for the first few seconds) distance to chuckle as your fantasy comes true and that classmate/colleague/tennis coach you never really liked gets scooped up in the mighty beast’s jaws. If you’re going into an event with the expectation of being bored, at least the foresight might allow you to pick an optimum daydreaming spot (I always liked some elevation where possible, or a nice corner in an office).

#3 ‘Sly Grin/Wee Nod’. There are two purposes here. The first is to provide an intense feeling of satisfaction and generally ‘being cool’. To achieve this, imagine yourself giving the dragon (and the bodies of your currently-deceasing unliked colleagues) this combination: sly grin (because you’re far enough away to be safe, clever you) and a wee nod (a show of mutual respect between you, virtually a demi-god for being called Skylance, and this mythical beast). You can even do this dual-action in real life, because of the second purpose: feigning interest in whatever’s actually going on. Your boss, examiner, chaplain etc. will be thrilled.

There are, of course, obvious drawbacks to imagining dragons, which is why I will soon post about my excitement for the impending zombie apocalypse, my preferred option.

This seems like enough nonsense for one day (one week in fact, sorry I’ve been so quiet!). Have a great weekend!

P.S. As a little aside, I really admired and respected my school chaplain, who was a great man and to whom I mean no offence, but the subject matter just wasn’t my jam. Plus, rose windows!

A Spontaneous Rant

[Disclaimer: The following may offend you if you permanently look attractive and stylish. However, if that is you, I don’t really care about offending you. In fact, take all the offence you can handle with your charmed existence. I’m not at all bitter.]

<insert bitterness>

What’s the deal with these people who walk around looking good all the time? How do they have the energy to do that?

The types you pass on the street and think ‘ah damn, I look bad today, or at least I look human…’ because there are these preened gods strutting around. All these guys in turned up jeans and ralph lauren polos and it’s January for goodness sake, aren’t you and your stick-thin model girlfriend cold?

Look at me (your look, silly-attractive man, is no more than a cursory, derisory glance). I’m wearing safety shoes because it looked like rain (if not snow!) and my battered brown work shoes have a hole in the bottom which means my sock would get wet, and the same black trousers I’ve worn to work for the last year (I wash them at weekends, ok?!) and while my shirt (no tie, admittedly) is pretty smart, it’s completely covered by the massive ski jacket I’m wearing because it’s January and it’s more comfortable to be a shapeless lump than to be stylish.

Granted, I can scrub up alright when I make the effort – nice shirt, skinny jeans, contact lenses, a bit of a pout – but that takes time and effort and is generally reserved for nights out, or dinner parties, or dates, and is not something I can maintain every day!

And you strut past, clearly not on a date or a night out as it’s 4pm on a Thursday in an industrial estate SO WHY HAVE YOU BOTHERED, while I trudge along in my safety shoes looking grey and dreary but I have the last laugh because when I finally get into my glamorous transportation (bus) I can snuggle up at a window seat and keep my boring black beanie on because it’s cold (January!!) and read 1984 and damn that book is good.

<end bitterness>

[Note from the author, after he’d calmed down a bit and apparently started speaking in the third person: The conclusions to draw from all this must be that I get grumpy when it’s cold and that having a good book into which to escape can make everything better.]



For Binks and Magic, who have great people around them.


It stings at first, like antiseptic clearing cuts
burns as scabs will, knitting us together
and aches the ache of muscles pulled apart
with perspiration to come back bigger, stronger
Our hearts must exercise as any other muscle.

Births are painful for a reason
Only from ashes do phoenix rise
Spring follows the bleakest season
and we know pain throughout our lives

The consolation’s simple: equilibrium
Happiness soon to return as you are due your turn
Tears: life grows where they fall in the desert of desolation
and their sparkle catches the eye of a new hope
one with the sense to see all you are worth

We learn to fly by falling
We laugh just as we cry
Rejection stings like healing
to tell us we’ll survive


Don’t Waste It

[I listened to some rap, thought about some other music and wrote a song. Shout out to the diverse influences of Lethal Bizzle, Lonely Island and Electric Six]

Get a chance better grab it
We’re chasing dreams: white rabbit
Blink once and you’ll miss us
Blink twice we’ll be off with your missus
Live fast die famous
Mess up but stay blameless
You can’t touch us: Hammer
We’re messing up works: spanner

I only write when I want to
It’s a right then a left it’s a one-two
I’ll knock you out cold, you be falling
That’s what you get if you’re coming cold calling
I don’t get sold to, I’m a buyer
I’ll tell you what I want it’s my desire
They want to know why I keep starting fires
High voltage lifestyle: live wires
I don’t care if you want to be me
Just don’t stare every time you see me

Take my advice: live your own way
It doesn’t ever matter what they all say
Proved wrong when they said I couldn’t make it
It’s my song I ain’t ever got to fake it
It’s not long but the message lasts forever:
We stay strong ’cause we always stay together.

A Life of Lies

You lie and wait in your web of lies
Ensnaring beauty to tantalise
Any unfortunate soul who flies
Too close and they’re done
Too soon they are gone

I see your eyes upon me taunting
I will no more allow this haunting
Striking fear into my wife
Now, monster, I end your life!

“Please honey, cut the poetry and just get rid of the thing.”

“Sorry dear… Gone now. Any thoughts?”

“That you’re my brave spider-slaying knight of course!”

“I meant about the poem…?”

“Oh, that, well sure it was nice sweetie.”

I sigh. I’m wasted as a dependable husband. Were I really a knight, maidens would go mad for this.