…I should maybe also add that the last two weeks have, in addition to the death of my father, seen my eldest son move out permanently and go back to live with his mother (after 6 rather difficult months of co-habitation) and me, erm, fall in love. At my age.

I do so have to make things complicated.

Personal note

My blog is having a hiatus.

On Sunday 25th September my father passed away, aged 90.

Apologies that I have not exactly been keeping up with my reading of the blogs of those I have got to know here at WordPress. Algebra of Owls will be continuing as normal.

Back soon.

Memory is a cruel mistress

Recently wrote a poem based on a conversation with a friend that took place about 3 years ago, about a third party. He texted me to say “ooo I like that poem it reminds me of someone I used to know”.

Well, yes. It’s the same person. You just forgot we had that talk.

This happens to me constantly. My memory of what I say to people and what they say to me is, I estimate, about 38 times more efficient than most people’s. This is great if you’re a poet. I reckon I could sit at home and write poems for thirty years solid without ever having to have another experience again.

But personally, it’s shit. For starters I have a moderate reputation for being a man of few (verbal) words. I tend to assume that if I have said something once, then it will be remembered by others as well as I remember it, so it doesn’t bear repeating. I also tend to assume that anything I say will be taken and understood in the context of everything else I have ever said, rather than heard and evaluated in isolation. I stagger conversations over several meetings, adding to things I said the last time we met, without seeing the need to recap. I talk in spirals rather than straight lines, overlapping circles of conversation over time.

This probably makes me very, very, annoying and at times, completely incomprehensible. At least poems are self-contained without the need for context (or they should be) which is perhaps why I like writing them.

The other problem is that attempts at lying/hypocrisy/revisionism are generally immediately obvious to me, which does not make for smooth relationships. I suspect that most friendships are greatly enhanced by the almost complete inability most people seem to have to remember a damn word anyone says to them. Assuming they were even listening to start with. Then there is the beer thing. I remember what I say when drunk. Other people claim not to. This may be no more than an excuse to say what they like when in pubs. I dunno. 

I’m sure my social life would be greatly improved overnight by a set of earplugs.

Of course, a capacity to remember all the things flags up, constantly, just how conflicted and contradictory most people are, most of the time. It becomes an in-yer-face facet of humanity that can go one of two ways.  You can either sink into a pit of despair over just how little sense human beings make OR you can sigh and feel all compassionate about just how rubbish we tend to be.

I’m no better. I talk constant twaddle.

Truth‘ is pretty malleable when it comes to human stuff. At best it may be what is true for that person on that day, but next Wednesday? Anybody’s guess.

Personal blogs are great for this. You can (if you feel inclined) sift through someone’s posts over an extended period and find all kinds of glaring contradictions and non-sequiturs. Proving that bloggers are real human beings rather than robots. That we are all as confused as fuck.





She clasped her arms around her knees
burying her head in the sand of her thighs
eyes closed
listening to the ocean come
again and again to kiss her toes.

OR (revised version, bit twee maybe)

She clasped her arms around her knees,
sunk in sandy thighs.
Eyes closed,
she listened to the ocean come,
in gentle beats to touch her feet
and kiss her twinkle toes.

[pfft ideally needs to be somewhere between the two]

Version 3 [gratitude to Deborah Love]

She gazed beyond her deformed legs,
watching tankers chuff and grumble,

…[bollocks her eyes are meant to be closed. Come back tomorrow]

Version 4

The girl stood on the burning deck,
her hands holding a froggy,
they both jumped overboard to see,
and now they’re both just soggy.

[That’s enough of that. Write it properly tomorrow – Ed.]

Version 5 (sigh)

She clasps her arms around her knees,
eyes closed;
listens to the ocean’s beat,
while waves repeat their cautious reach
up beach to kiss her toes,
then playfully retreat.

[No – Ed.]

Version 6

Arms clasped around her knees,

eyes closed;

listening to the ocean come,

again, again, to kiss her toes.

[you don’t know when you’re beat, do you? – Ed.]

Today is National Hug-A-Poet Day

At the weekend I had to trawl through my old blog posts looking for a particular poem and I wound up reading some of my earlier “opinion” pieces.

What a lot of rot. I think it is fair to say I am simply bewildered and leave it at that. Stick to poetry. Actually, I feel more than bewildered. In my old music festival days I would happy lie in fields for days on end, grinning. Right now, that is what I feel like doing (which is a bit impractical, I know).

Today I emailed the organiser of a new poetry night offering to take one of the open mic slots, and added that because there may be new blood there I “promised to behave”. What I meant was that I wouldn’t do any poems about anal warts or vaginal lubricant. Her response was

“Awwww. You don’t have to behave if you don’t want to”


Is that what it has come to?

Anyway. Someone else I know recently came up with Hug-A-Poet Day as a concept. Someone else thought it was already Hug-A-Poet Day every day. Either way, I’m down for that.

I seem to have written a lot of poems recently and they have been getting more gooey. Getting soft in my old age.