Posted in Lies


When questioned as to how history
would regard him
Winston Churchill replied
“very highly,
because I intend to write it.”

History : indelible and erasable.
Exact and imprecise
repentant and defiant.
Insecure and bold.
Written by the winners – revised by conquerors.

I was one of three who selected her.
She gave a good performance
vivacity – the modern absurd
employment years distil to 30 minutes of sparkle.
Still, all questions were answered
without effort
and with humour.

The boss had high regard for humour.
SOH was a sort of emotional GPS
it would ensure one was never lost
no matter how difficult or forbidding the terrain.

The successor didn’t want to be told anything,
Everything was to be written down
times, schedules, rosters, suppliers
she could deal with it more easily that way.
“ Lists please.”

Work lists
holiday lists
when to-do lists
who to call lists, just in case lists
weekly lists, monthly lists, quarterly lists, annual lists
and a summary – a list of lists.

All transcribed into the requestor’s handwriting and
presented to the secretaries for typing
posted – prominently.
Management takes imprint of determination and energy
a professional
formalising the informal.

Pique was affronted but departure imminent.
Later there were many tales of scenery stealing.
It was the other two I tell a disgruntled former colleague
“ I was leaving so just went along with them. ”
Vanity rewrites history to exclude responsibility.

For the story behind a story click Backstage

Posted in Lies

Then and Now

even when achievement is long and distinguished
a single entity stands alone
a book
a film
a performance
a pinnacle not previously summitted. And never again.

The second year in the school was mine
the first year had gone well
and the following five all pretty good too.
But the second was a perfect year
everything unfolding smoothly, symmetrically – no kink or rush
even football
we almost won the championship.

Our form master was exactly what God had in mind
when designing a homeroom teacher for 12-year-old boys.
Fair, firm, compassionate, fun-loving, tolerant
and wise
knowing the almost adolescents were still children
and the world would bear down …. soon enough.

Its official name was The General Excellence Award
one per class.
We called it the poofter prize
openly disparaging it
but secretly desirous.

Two days before prize giving
our form master takes me aside
an oath of silence must be agreed to.
The General Excellence Award
came down to me and John
but John is leaving the school
going to a bigger school – where he won’t be known.
I was staying here
I’d get the prize – “ it was just a matter of time.”

I never did.
No conspiracy
the next five years were all good
that year – the second – was my perihelion.

I took it to mean I should have won
a 12 year old felt betrayed
he’d broken the rules
dishonesty – by his own irreproachable standards.
A fifty something is pleased he did
it was a Catholic school and a very Christian thing to do.

For more click Backstage

Posted in Lies


Everyone and everything was young
proprietors of youth
prospectors of the profound.
Rock stars in the ridiculed forties
screeched anarchy from conservative mansions.
Guitar heroes’ rift mythology
reverentially murmured and air plucked.
Amidst the ascending noise
a quiet soundtrack.

A folk singer with lyrics
of ordinary people and everyday hopes
endlessly played in a machine
now resting with the typewriter in antiquity.
One song became a favourite
a couple with intense dreams
dissociate temporarily
to travel single lanes of career
never to realign
a chance meeting with no magic. And no appointment.

“This will be us sad eyes tell me
for you the effort will be too great.”
No balm is applied to raw prediction.
Time corroborates her prophecy
distance distracts closeness.

The vicarious dark of middle age
early death
serious illness
brutal divorce
brings determination to remedy dispassion.
She says there is no need – friendship remains.
We both know this not to be true.

For more click Backstage