Brain, baby! Brain!

Curse these hormones
They make me cry
More for the plight
Of others – for kindness
At joy, or pain,
Or seemingly nothing
Than any worst of mine
Experience of life to date
How can I tell my eyes
To shed no tears
For those who die by fire
For those who risk
Both life and limb
To save another’s child
I cannot make myself
Immune to the suffering
Of animals, women, children
Nor even violent, middle-aged,
Mercenary misogynists
Whose words belie their actions
What are these thoughts?
These feeling of unexpected
And even unwelcome
Compassion for all things
All creatures, living and dead
Even mosquitoes, crushed
For being as they are
My bleeding heart would nurse
What good is such weakness
Am I now infirm of purpose
So blind to the darker side
Of human nature
That I would embrace it
Heedless of my own
And others’ safety?

Counter Culture Cafe

The place where the antisocial
Gather to be alone
Each claiming a four-seat table
As space they can call their own.

We read, write and sip in silence
Observing our counterparts
Affronted by vocal violence
Where chattering children pass

I’m nearing the end of one cup
But pause while another stands
It wouldn’t be fair to counter
The pull of their drink demands

So queueing for table service
I duck to avoid the eye
Of waitress who makes me nervous
By bussing a bench nearby

We know those we see here often
But only on nodding terms
Some barriers never soften
And hand-shaking passes germs

Anxiety takes no notice
With all interactions dear
We pass out our days in closeness
And try to ignore our fear

We’re hardly inventing lonely
Though solitude equals peace
And we are our one and only
Unlikely to breed – we’ll cease

It isn’t a cause for wonder
That our generation stalls
When clearing one’s throat is thunder
Too sensitive for applause

And here in our counter culture
We’re safe from the fond embrace
We run from our awkward feelings
Too late to be in the race.

A Head in the Clouds

How ironic it seems
That a selfie of Jen
Has eclipsed other headlines
Of conflict again

It’s as if through a lens
Entertainment appears
To be focused on comments
By anchor and peers

Though our hungriest, game
For a laugh as may be
Under clouds and on Sky
Must disrobe for TV

Where it leads if it bleeds
All depends on the dress:
The front cover of Vogue
For a dazzling temptress

Or a reddit thread, late
Where true fans would agree
Little more than click bait
Will be all that you see

There’s a choice for the viewer
And it’s moral – how quaint!
Pick which story to follow
To see through the paint

While there’s Isis; the Syrian
Conflict goes on
And shells still fall on Gaza
All through Libya’s Dawn

Civil war slowly creeping
Through Ukraine and East
As the whole world sits, watching
Awaiting the feast

We have crackers and hackers
Stampeding both scenes
And celebrities dropping
Like the flies of their jeans

We may be quite discerning,
Pick a view to a kill
Or an intimate evening
With a very cheap thrill

When the freest of thinkers
Chooses girls in the buff
Over lifting their blinkers
To examine the rough

I’m amazed readers make it
This far through a poem
Without pictures explicit
To lighten the tone

So the best we may hope
For a future of peace
Is a world that’s too broke
To afford to release

All the weapons still stored
Under ground, as above
Though it’s MAD to assume
That when push comes to shove

Such assurances mean
There’s a soul in the flock
Still refusing the fruit
That’s created to shock

Here’s an uncivil liberty
Waiting to pounce
While the government votes
For less private accounts

HarMonica

Why is it the ‘other’ woman
Brings us out in rash hysterics
Howling at the moral failings
Of our politicians? Clerics,

Parents, teachers, doctors, shrinks
All united in their hatred
Of a figure that still stinks
Clad in pot pourri de tabloid

That blue dress, evocative:
Events that should be long forgotten
(Youthful indiscretions hid)
Provocative, with gains ill-gotten

We suspect and we accuse –
Cynical, the cuckold’s friend
And tap out mindless platitudes.
While vain, her struggles to defend

What shreds of reputation, scorched
And tattered to her yet remain;
We gather up our pitch and forks
And stoke the pyre once again

Anticipating further fun
Rough justice for another’s slight
We gather at suggestion
She might escape unhappy flight

Delighted at the sacrifice
Of one more soul to unjust mob
Let he without sin cast the first
(So many more the crowd will lob)

In brave hypocrisy at what
No doubt too many may have done
Themselves and not been hotly caught
Entrapment by ambition

Pilloried or harried hence
Built to take a desperate dive
Fashioned into common, dense
Unfit for consort, Saints alive!

The very thought a woman wronged
Who made a choice that haunts her still
Might be allowed to face the throng
And live down public shaming? Ill

At ease with those she counted on
Whose turncoat ways still cause distress;
We won’t allow her to move on
And rake old muck to make new mess.

What is it we hope to gain
Constructing walls to keep her caged
When influence she held through fame
Is long dissolved and disengaged?

A public life, her sentence stands
With little room for private grief
Unhappy Recognition’s hands
Control where she may find relief.

Now with a cause she would promote
To shame the bullies that still flaunt
A woman’s infamous deep throat
For speaking up for truth not taunt.

I wish our morals stretched as far
Restraining tongues at twitter time
Realpolitiks remain sub par
We’ve little else to do online

Slut-shaming is our dearest trend
As one more hussy kicks herself
For lending hands and more to end
All dignity, career and wealth.

This altar calls for fresher blood
I fear the next will pay a price
The mob is in an ugly mood
With barely-legal sacrifice

Lined up for entertainment here
Soon rubber-necking, righteous louts
Will crowd around to shove and leer
At those who try to tough it out

We’ll see them crawl and cry and squirm
Extracting vengeance from each one
With twerking fervour: all must burn
Up goes the cry – the hunt’s begun.

25 Glorious Years

I was only seven when
The world wide web was born
Helped nurture it as it did me
Though sometimes both were torn

Now controversy jostles next
To videos of pets
And governments are waking up
To cybercrime and sexts

They talk of regulation, laws
Protecting those who surf
Such optimism gives me pause
For who can claim this turf?

How would you try to regulate
Where speech is truly free
Outside the firewalls of nations’
Charted territory

They want to sell, or tax, exploit
The assets they don’t own
Regain the power to deny
Dissent has reached them, grown

A massive haul, this data mine
To use for good and ill
Through monetising yours and mine
They hope to profit.  Still

While youth retains advantage here
Technology will grow
Though moralists may phish to smear
They will not stop the show

Insomniac

I stayed up hanging on the line last night
My eyeballs were putting up a terrible fight
With my lids defiant and the screen too bright
Skin so itchy in pyjamas, something wasn’t right

With the tablet scrolling, tapping black on grey
Skimming lousy fan fiction ‘til the break of day
Guilty pleasures to distract me from this state of play
Knowing all too well what he would have to say

I’ve been lounging round in bubble baths to help me snooze
With late night meditating, self-hypnosis, pills and booze
Relaxation seems an ever more elusive muse
Necking Nytol, chugging camomile but no good news

Been a long time now since I couldn’t sleep
Keeping busy, feeling dizzy ‘til the clock goes beep
Waking dreams so crammed with thoughts that slither dark and deep
Just keep walking through the daylight feeling ready to weep

When your brain won’t slow and your ears won’t close
And you’re feeling sort of coldy from your head to your toes
No hot toddy makes you noddy, as the restless grows
Squirming prone beneath the duvet in your sleeping clothes

But the minute you stretch to find your feet again
He starts complaining in his sleep and clutching at your hem
As his snoring fills your senses and you pray for REM
You’re still stuck playing teddy while you count to ten

Sick of sheep that wander wooly through your neural net
As you lie caught between ‘it’s bed-time’ and ‘not-breakfast-yet’
Swearing blue streaks in the curtains trying to forget
It’s been an hour since you last visited the cabinet

Essential oils to make you sleepy getting in your face
With the stink of lavender all over the place
Singing whales offend the cat but buy you no more grace
He steals the pillow, sprawling fur in every inch of space

When the sun comes sneaking through the soggy dawn
You’ve given up on any rest; just put your knickers on
Stumble downstairs grumbling looking pale and wan
Bag grabbed, you’re lurching to the bus stop with the zombie throng