Tanka Collection

A tanka is an old form of Japanese poetry. It is a kind of epic haiku: 5 lines instead of 3.

 Tankas have 31 syllables instead of the haiku’s 17.

The syllables are arranged strictly in a 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 7 pattern. 

Five-liner Funnies

A Many Splendoured Thing

“I am looking for

emotionally safe sex,”

was his chat-up line.

So she scalpelled out his heart

And kept it in a condom.

What Do Babies Do With Their Pocket Money?

“In Japan more nappies are

sold to adults than

to babies” (The Sunday Times):

Irresponsible babies!

Buy nappies now! Give a shit!

Make Love Not Bore

She liked his foreplay

and found his after-play fine.

The perfect lover?

Sadly there was a problem:

his during-play was M.I.A.

Put Money on the Yeti

Let’s have a punch-up:

Nature versus Religion,

with sound-alike champs:

Abominable Snowman,

Hebdominal Councilman.

Feed the World

Mutton dressed as spam:

what price a true naked lunch?

What’s on our fork’s end?

Which came first, Chicken Nuggets

or Egg MacMuffins? Eat up.

Belly Button Window

The Buddha met Christ,

and Mohammed was there too.

So he spake unto them thus:

“If you two had a navel

like mine you’d gaze at it too!”

Love Is In the Air

Today’s big question:

masturbator on a plane,

in-flight selfie man.

Is he in the Mile High Club

or is he just a wanker?

I Think I’ll Stick To Haiku

Homer’s Iliad,

and his Odyssey as well,

Virgil’s Aeneid, all hits!

My long Paradise Re-Lost?

Nothing. No sale. Epic fail.

Don’t Go There

Number one no-no

when talking to a lover:

“What are you thinking?”

With a poet, best avoid

“Ooooh! There’s a poem in that!”

Blood Clot

“Never mind down there,

my brain needs Viagra most!”

was his escape joke of choice –

till one day she found her voice:

“Now I know you’re a dickhead!”

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

“A top footballer!”

“A t.v. celebrity!”

“A cool astronaut!”

“A polymath”, says the one

with the smashed up spectacles.

Cleaning in Progress

He pissed on my rug.

“Now there’s gratitude”, I thought.

But redemption rules -

he quickly placed a yellow

folding sign: Caution! Wet Floor.

Mood Swingers

It rained front door keys. 

Same sex and opposite sex,

they all tossed them down.

Then random realignments 

threw tantrums at each other.


War On Want

His desire was 

for her desire, not for

her. Her desire was for

his desire, not for him.

Possessive pronouns can’t love.

Let’s Just Be Friends

In relationships

his true function has always

been to disappoint.

Good at starting love’s heartbeat,

better at stopping it dead.

Losering Blues

Oh little boy lost!

He was such a good loser

that he had even

swallowed down that final fear,

the victim’s fear of winning.

Out of the Blue

Your leaving hurts me:

it has all the sudden pain,

the unforeseen shock,

and the total innocence

of a baby’s firm head-butt.


Just two kinds exist:

the ones who live secret lives

with the same partner;

and those who live one clear life

but with different partners.

A Kind of Loving

They spoke together

with secret embarrassment:

the mutual plight

of those who have been dreaming,

vividly, of each other.


Drop the ‘N’ Word

Saccharine Alley

is the true and honest name

for Memory Lane:

childhood games, t.v. and sweets.

Tell! Were you born Nostalgic?

Age-Related Concession

Beware of old folk,

that great army of strangers

out to recruit YOU.

But have no fear, their press-gang

will not find YOU, of course not!

Hit Me, Baby, One More Time

Yes you have caused hurt

but such self-flagellation

must have its limits.

No more beating yourself up -

pick on someone your own size.

Common Lies, no. 237

“It’s not the money!

The money’s not important.”

But truth must stand clear:

translate “It’s Not the Money” –

It IS the money! Always.

Coping Strategy

Nice comfort blankets!

Buy your comfort blankets here!

Sir, madam, tell me:

your favoured blanket, is it

Nostalgia or Amnesia?

A Buddy Movie

Lego Man! My friend!

See how I dismantle him,

reassemble him

as a different figure.

His name? Call him memory.

Flash Drive Laureate

“Back up all data”,

sound advice that bookended

Computers For Dolts:

hence each poem on each page,

memory sticks for the heart.

The Big Machine

Rich but still needy,

greedy but so insecure,

we spread our systems:

we sell the Thing to others –

the Thing returns to eat us.


Unquiet spirits

no longer attach to place,

ghosts brook no mortar.

No more haunted houses here:

ghosts dwell in haunted people.

From the Bookself

I fondle my past

like an old fondly kept book;

it flops wide open

at all my favourite bits – 

the rest stays stuck together.

The Big Picture

The Latest Model

Hominid species

have come and gone, come and gone:

we are just one more.

Which environment riddle

stumps US? Outer or inner?

The Fate of the Indigenous Population

Finally! They’re here,

the creatures from outer space.

But what’s that you say?

Suddenly you don’t feel well?

Martian Measles! Cosmic Pox!

Triumph of the Will

God has flown his plane

into the Babel Tower:

pious terrorist!

But our cunning pride will win –

we’ll dig a Pit of Babel!

There’s No Profit In It


corrupt, crisis-prone, callous

system of a down.

Rampant, selfish greed making

Nihilism look humane.

Forewarned Is Forearmed

Our kitchen units

will outlive us by decades -

planned obsolescence!

Only humans know of death:

who to thank for that knowledge?

Myopia Dystopia

Any horizon

is better than a foreground.

But what if, let’s say,

you have been taught that foreground

is your only horizon?

Holier Than Thou

God came up with the

definition of a saint

(He preferred angels):

a human being whose life 

has not yet been well researched.

Making an Exhibition of Your Self

We sculpt our bodies

and cultivate our faces:

pimp our homes with art –

judicious selection rules.

We are all curators now.

What Matters

I renounce belief

with both horror and relief:

here is my body –

it is the only thing that

reminds me I am alive.

Childish Things

Shall we pray to God?

Can we be so infantile?

How can we grow up?

life starts when we put away

our imaginary friend.


We are often told

that the sky is the limit.

But in a cosmos

of ever expanding space

that seems too unambitious.

Corporate Merger

I am who I am,

I am who I think I am,

I am who you think 

I am. How close can we bring

these three imperfect strangers?

What Rhymes With ‘Nature’?

So you love mountains?

Then why use words like ‘conquer’?

So you love the wilds?

Then why use words like ‘empty’?

Conquer your own empty head!

Root and Branch

Trees smell good, look good,

feel good, sound good, and do good.

If that’s not enough,

they grant us one more great gift:

they point beyond their own selves.

Having It Both Ways

Sitting safe at home

he likes to think of the wild,

and in wilderness

he likes to know in his heart

that a secure nest awaits.

Alone in the Dark

Waking wild land nights

kept the bear away with fire:

sound travels by fear.

Now, though the bear haunts my dreams,

the bear will not dream of me.

Sensory Deprivation

A forest danger,

makes vision a luxury;

sounds and smells are prime.

The opium of the woods:

powerful intimacy.


Lone wolf on tundra,

stunty bonsai level trees

reveal no pack hope:

desperate as a magnet

in a world without metal.

Wizzard Lizard

Ah! Chameleons!

They converse through colour change,

silent pillow talk:

their sexual intercourse

fires visual orgasm.

Blowing in the Wind

Winter: here the trees

shake dead brown leaves to the earth -

dark candelabras,

yet perhaps not so barren:

plastic bags are in full bloom.

Wilderness Approaching

Steppe, taiga, tundra:

a land ablaze with itself.

Nothing of beauty,

a landscape rejecting love

but stirring contemplation.


Paying Your Dues

Commuting to work:

fighting the motorway wars,

enduring packed trains –

it made me feel so beaten,

so unpleasantly grown up.

Put Down

“I really don’t know

anyone who thinks like you,

whose mind works like yours.”

It was not a compliment:

but I might take it as one.

Gran’s Singer Sewing Machine


dog-leg with wheel that will whirr:

shiny black thrummer.

Her home was full of needles:

Gramophone; this; and sharp tongue.

Any Last Request?

The firing squad waits

as he writes his last poem

on a Rizla Red:

he lights up, inhales the words

until bullets pierce their smoke.

Media-Fasting Is Good For the Brain


I cannot march to the tune

“The Whole Nation Mourns” -

when a National Treasure dies

voilà! Alien nation.

Not a Victimless Crime


flit, room to room, in my home:

from teaspoons to books,

not one thing is safe from me –

self-kleptomania rules.

I Have No Shame

A disappointment

to mother and to father:

always wrong choices -

but wait something is missing,

the comfort of feeling guilt.

Life and Death

My fierce consciousness:

sometimes it feels immortal,

vivid beyond death.

What pathetic fallacies

script-write our vanishing act.

Pacifism Breakfast

Boiled to perfection

this warm brown free-range awaits

egg-soldier attack:

but these buttered fingers are

conscientious objectors.

A Call For Witnesses

Between the 19th

of March 1949

and the date today,

a human being is said

to have taken place right here.