And I quote: Brian Bilston

This is the picture from Bilston’s twitter profile, though Brian Bilston is a pseudonym, and this isn’t a picture of the poet. Very mysterious, no?


Last week Fiddler sent me a link to a poem that does a fine job of evoking the current difficulties facing UK citizens.* It’s by a poet who calls himself Brian Bilston. Before I send you off to read it, I wanted to include a few of his less political poems here, in case you need to work up to things like contemplating Brexit. Some are quite short:



The news seems broken now,
nearly every day.

I shall gather up its pieces
and throw it all away.


This one reminds me of my home-away-from-home:



how dare you suggest
I have a short attention
spanish omelette


Bilston says this next poem, Without Rhyme or Reason, “illustrates how stupid the English language can sometimes be.” As you read you can commiserate with the English language learners you know.


The more I read, the more poems I want to share. I love collective nouns, and here’s Bilston’s contribution:


A distraction of smartphones.
A reckoning of spreadsheets.
An indolence of poets.
A conspiracy of subtweets.

A pile of haemorrhoids.
A bunion of personal trainers.
A grope of presidents.
A condescension of mansplainers.

An abundance of foodbanks.
An underfunding of schools.
A pathy of voters.
A cabinet of fools.

A collection correction of pedants.
A sesquipedality of long words.
An invention of collective nouns.
An oven glove of non sequiturs.


Here’s a poem that’s emblematic of the times we live in:



Alexa, what is there to know about love?
What is there to know about love?
A glove is a garment that covers the hand
for protection from the cold or dirt and –

Alexa, how does a human heart work?
How does a human heart work?
Blood is first received in the right atrium via
two veins, the vena cava superior and inferior –

Alexa, where do we go to when we die?
Where do we go to when we die?
Activating Google Maps. Completed activation.
Would you like to start from your current location?

Alexa, what does it mean to be alone?
What does it mean to be alone?
It is the silence left by words unsaid,
the cold expanse of half a bed.
It is the endless stretching of the hours,
the needless tending of plastic flowers.
It is an echo unanswered in a cave,
the fateful ping of the microwave.
It is the fraying of a worn shirt cuff,
and the howl –
 Stop, Alexa. That’s enough.


high cliff

A real cliff to match the metaphorical cliff that Britons currently contemplate


I’ll send you to twitter for the poem that introduced me to Bilston, as it has a nice visual a few tweets below. It’s called “Hold my hand while we jump off this cliff.” And here’s a link to his blog, where you will meet all kinds of unexpected discoveries: a sad poem as a Venn diagram, and one built from auto-complete results from a search on love, just for starters.

While we’re talking poetry, allow me to apologize for sending you what turned out to be a poem fragment last Wednesday. I found A.A. Milne’s Old Sailor poem at a couple of different poetry sites, but I picked the wrong one as a source, not realizing that for some unaccountable reason the site had sliced away five stanzas from the middle. When I discovered that the poem was set down with that gaping hole, my first thought was “Who does that?!” Upon reflection, my answer was, sadly, “I guess I do,” though absolutely not on purpose. It most assuredly would not have happened if El Guapo had been around to proofread. If you received the mangled poem as an email, crumple it up forthwith, and head to the blog for the corrected copy. Those five stanzas are critical to the poem.


How’s your attention span(ish omelette)?


*Living right now in the US, it’s natural to get caught up in thinking about our various and substantial political problems. For a change of mental scene, I sometimes think about substantial political problems elsewhere in the world, and one obvious place to look currently is the UK. It’s hard to keep track of the details of what’s happening over Brexit, even if you’re trying hard to pay attention, but some details intrude. One estimate, by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said Theresa May’s Brexit deal would result in yearly losses to Britain of £100 billion [$130 billion] by 2030, compared to remaining in the EU. It’s possible that a No-Deal Brexit will be even worse.



[Image:, Wikipedia,]

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