Silence please during the ontology

The man was, it was a man not a woman,

Standing on a stage quite near to the orchestra pit, back to the audience,

Pale skin and short dark hair, broad shoulders. Tall.

This is not a fantasy I assure you, I merely recount what I saw.

Some persistent muscle from former years

Now subdued below slightly looser, freckled skin

The stage was empty the light white, no show

And the man stood there, still,

Giving us time to take in the beauty of the floor-length cloaks of

Indigo velvet draped from each shoulder, two curtains holding a thousand stars,

tiny points of light sewn by hand by small women somewhere else who cares

Between the curtains, the pale skin,

Nape, back, buttocks, part of a thigh, of a calf.

He was silent, there was no music, someone coughed

and the cough echoed embarrassingly

The audience shifted, dared a sideways glance to check they had the appropriate response,

Looking at this bare flesh.

But yes, indeed the only remedy to the discomfort was to concentrate on the man

concentrate all one’s thoughts on the curve of his back and the crease where bum meets thigh

and either side his velvet drapes with their deep and silent folds

and let the minutes pass until this image is now your life, your world

A hushed world/ not thirsty / not hungry / no longer embarrassed

Accepting the present state as the only way into a new one

Time stretched / the audience had been there forever when

The two cloaks fell to the ground and the audience gasped

And gasped some more as the stage curtains in turn

came crashing down in a tonnage of star-studded velvet

Taking seconds to complete their synchronized descent

Until there was but velvet mounds and dust in the air and man.

The audience clapped for seventeen seconds and headed for the bar.


A yellow orchid, or is it hibiscus; Surely not but what

Of it, a yellow flower, say.

Now we have a purple plane, a flat surface, smooth I think with a reflective surface.

In which case is it purple throughout, or is it, in itself purple?

Sorry? Ok

No, let us admit that it is merely mirroring the blue and red hues of a nearby source.



Can’t see it

Let us admit

Where is the yellow flower at this point?

The orchid?

Or the hibiscus…

I do think you are confusing your flowers.

Orchid then

Alright, better. Where is it?

It’s there, poised on the cool surface of the glass, rolling gently to and fro. Roll roll stop. Roll roll stop.


The wind moves it.

The wind would only move it one way. Keep blowing as wind does. Blow it off the glass.

This wind works differently.

I’m beginning to doubt your observational skills.

It blows one way then the other, in turn.

No wind blows in such a way, no natural breeze.

This one does, look.

Hey let go of my hand!

Look, it’s rolling the other way now, I told you.

We’re standing the other side. The flower is still rolling the same way

It’s going to fall off

No it won’t



Five centaur kitted out in black and white crowns came dancing in the moonlight, all stirred up and fizzing with glee at the very thought of it.

The onlooking angels were not impressed — tired clapping, dimmed halos

They stayed a while longer, hopeful

watched as garlands of seaweed came to frame the scene then shrugged off

Aching trees, their branches serving no other purpose but to bear witness (passage, time) stood there silent of course until one of them in the smallest hour, once everyone had left, screamed

(It woke us up)

A blue, dark blue indigo sound coloured the air so thickly that its residue remained the next day to stain the wings of a passing moth.

That’s where we were then, that time (you weren’t there) and where we’ll go now (you and I)

Over the field by the river at midnight with the air still warm and the stars out

We will dine on oysters and crack jokes.

Pass the parcel

This morning I took my youngest (who is fifteen and a half)

to his father’s and

I walked back slowly knowing I will not see him for a month

And while I’m certain he will be loved and cared for and will have laughter in the sun

Of a summer we could only dream of just weeks ago

I miss him in a way that makes me feel dumb

For now there is little wisdom to my years,

Just his absence

And a fittingly nostalgic pale blue sky

That I shall stare at as I sip on tea

Until I manage to turn this heavy ship around from silly voices

and board games and long forest walks with serious talks and pizza dough and tennis, made-up songs and warm milk with honey

And turn my attentions to serious pursuits

of more intellectual worth,

That simply cannot be taken care of

when there are children present to be



Another life another rifle

Jesus look at your pernicious shift from yellow warbler to game pheasant

Sitting on the desk in plain view just asking for it

Then the bartender asks everyone to leave because there’s an event about to begin and none of us are invited

We could play golf I suppose there’s enough time but it’s just so boring

Rather spend the time in front of the fire sipping your peaty whisky the smell of which turns my stomach by the way

But I won’t say anything untoward

This is all in my head I’m besotted


Go to the other side of the park before the light gets too dim you’ll have to stoop a bit. There’s a sort of small bridge strong iron stout with a trickle of a stream beneath. Green the grey the green and the grey of it are always there. That’s the place anyway it’s sort of a secret. By the lake yeah that’s it the ducks a swan or two just near. Climb down the rocks are damp and grassy. Climb down you can stand up down there. It’s a rectangle shaped box that doesn’t make sense but you know it has purplish transparent edges like it’s made of glass but it’s probably not it’s not cold to the touch. Some kind of plexiglas. The purple shifts to green sometimes the sides are transparent but you can’t see through it you can’t see the floor through it you can just see inside but there’s nothing inside. Go now if you don’t believe me I couldn’t bring it here. You try. You’ll see. It doesn’t like it the box. Park’s closing soon.

Crop rotation

For millions of years the aliens had been happy with Earth, which was one of the quieter planets. They had gone about their business farming its silence for as long as they could remember; extracting its inexhaustible calm and shipping it to the rowdier spots of other galaxies. The noise duly muffled, the aliens were able to rest and concentrate their brainpower on more important things, like expansion.

But then the inevitable happened. On a routine decibel-gauging trip, one of the aliens dropped its lunch and before they knew it the place was teeming with lifeforms. It was bearable for a while, the insects and the reptiles didn’t make too much noise, and they couldn’t hear all the stuff in the water but then the apes happened. Oh the apes and their vocal tracts. The quality of the quiet declined sharply, Earth was no longer exploitable.

So the aliens got used to taking the saucer out every now and then and giving the place a good dusting. After a while though the lifeforms showed resistance, so they had to up the doses and even try out a new formula that caused heated debate. It wasn’t a nice product, the lifeforms writhed a lot before dying.

It was quieter though.