Music Theory for the Bored and Confused

Who gave music its name?
It was Boethius, tinkering with treble and bass
The screwdrivers of sound
Falling in piles and arpeggios
He broke up the Romans into
Seven strokes of a brush
Seven notes black as pine
Rushing towards a stop
As brittle as an empire

And who placed the notes on the lines
Stuck them there
With his tongue lolling from his mouth?
Italy’s sheepdog
Guido D’Arezzo
Symbolist entrepreneur
Lover of paste and water:
He carries the notes to the vine
And pushes them in
Like God making grapes


Poetry: Writing a war in the margins

This is something I wrote about some poetry that made me particularly angry… I hope that the kind of poetry in question is apparent from the writing.


shuffle the words

a fan of cards

spread hand

five and fifty

it is almost


the lengths we stretch



spin money away

flatten our dread

into stocky equaliser lines

maybe I shall

begin with a single word. So.

A fragment: surely that

will course up the ire and itch

of prescriptivists

incite a war in the margins

or perchance

a dictionary definition

the delicious skill of

copy and paste

is our lunge and riposte

[it will save time if

you declare your ignorance

in the prologue]

Franz Gruber said

‘we fall back on the classics


we are too lazy to improve’

I shall begin with quotation – in latin for preference

[it will save time if

you declare the reader’s ignorance

in the prologue]

history is a puzzle that is mostly sky

Perhaps I should bring out

a squat blue fragment

at random; magnify it until

it fills the frame of reference

until everyone can see

yes this is a piece of sky

‘Is it gold flecked, imbued with

the sweat and suds of promise,

with crystallized language?’

no, no, it is after all, only sky

George Wolfram said

‘If I name all shades of blue

in a towering column, that must

be poetry’

It certainly cannot be science

You are

the discarded parings and dregs

of history and philology

perhaps we should move

away from the 800

Editing poetry: Obscurograph

I am labelling this as satire. Take note! I hope I need not say more.   I remember being very angry when I wrote this!

There is little to interest me
In the light sloping over
A waking crowd
The dance of particle
Wide wave neon salute
Momentary history of photons

Nothing of note
In the bitter silence
The diaphragm rise
And shriek of expressed ire
The way her hands
Frame your face
Tracing a finger on the
Outside of the window

Instead I’d rather be
In the archives and footnotes of history
The print is so small
That reading almost touches knowledge
And I decided
That everyone should know
The most famous clockmaker
In all of 17th century Bern
Imagine how he tore his bread
And polished his spectacles
Quite unlike anyone had done before
Or is doing now
A thickness of glass away

Those yellowed pages
Of the dictionary
Unwilling to part
I cling to the dust
Leftover creation
Only in the places where
We’ve grown bored of looking