Tuesday, 5 April 2016


   Keats and Chapman were keen birdwatchers. Furthermore, they prided themselves on their taxonomic acuity when it came to the class Aves and rarely missed an opportunity to flaunt their knowledge. Such opportunities were limited, however, as no one else solicited their often colourless explanations.
   Once, when they were plodding through the wetlands of Patagonia, their boots caked with mud, and discussing whether the name of the region really was derived from 'those of big feet', Keats spotted a large white bird swimming gracefully in the distance. Squinting through his monocular he pronounced with satisfaction, ' Coscoroba Swan'.
   'Coscoroba coscoroba',' confirmed Chapman resheathing his telescope, 'an interesting case; known as a swan, but bearing many characteristics of a goose'.
   Keats wondered aloud how his friend would categorize such an atypical waterfowl.
   'I would say it's a swan goose'.
   'What kind of an Anser is that?' asked Keats, confusingly.

Friday, 1 April 2016


As I knelt,
Gathering dust,
A harvestman drifted by,
Its transient presence,
The familiar question,
Its apparition,
An answer.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015


When calling by to see Chapman one afternoon Keats was surprised to find his friend in bed and looking forlorn. Various tablets whose packaging claimed they were good for the health were strewn around the room.

'What ails you, Chapman?'

'Difficult to say. I'd describe it as a sort of existential despair, though there must be a more exact term... '

Keats thought for a moment, 'Would taedium vitae fit the bill?'


'How about ennui?'

'No, more acute than that. Could you pass me those vitamin pills?'


'Nah, dem two over dere', replied Chapman, betraying a certain return to form.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Mourner's Ruse

The young of the Cinereous Mourner
Are cunning when caught in a corner,
So as to elude
Those thinking them food
They mimic less flavoursome fauna.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Butterfly Bush

Buddleja davidsii

The butterflies aren’t feeding
They're listening
To the theosophic whispering
Of Adam and Armand:
Two clerics in a bush


Monday, 22 June 2015

The Fishermen

After Baudelaire

Often, out of duty, an albatross
Would stoop to harry fishermen,
Forcing them to cut their lines,
Tear off their oilskins
And huddle on a slewing deck.

The monstrous mew would then alight
To prod his naked captives
With his Brobdingnagian bill
And berate them with his squawks
Until he felt they understood.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Will to Live

(For J B)

   Keats was justifiably proud of his salad dressing; its liquid caress could invigorate the most flaccid of radacchios. Over the years he had become obsessive about perfecting its recipe and went to extraordinary lengths to procure the requisite mustard, vinegar and olive oil, some of which he would salt away so as to never run out. If any of these ingredients were not immediately at hand, as was often the case due to the shambolic state of his kitchen, he became filled with despair.

   Chapman witnessed one such culinary crisis when he looked in from the dining room to see how his friend's much anticipated vinaigrette was progressing. He saw assembled amid the chaos a salt cellar and pepper pot, a jar of moutade de Dijon and bottle of vinaigre balsamique... but where was the oil so crucial to the mix?

   Keats was searching high and low all the while bemoaning his lack of organisational skills and resultant failure to locate the missing component. Finally, having ransacked in vain every cupboard and shelf, he collapsed into a chair and wailed, “I can not go on like this!”

   “Sounds like you've lost the huile d'olive”, suggested Chapman, unhelpfully.