Monday, December 31, 2012

CDXXXV - Clean Slate

Carry on Tuesday asks us to use the line 
“I have wiped the slate clean” in a writing.  
The line originates from 
a George Bernard Shaw poem.

I decided to chance my hand at another Herrick’s stanza,

Clean Slate

The year’s been great; I can’t complain,
The good has swamped the bad,
With many things I wont forget
And few I wish I had.

Describes the year I’ve spent.

And yet —

Despite the manner blessed,
I have wiped the slate clean again
To start the year refreshed.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CDXXXIV - Transformation

Imaginary Garden with Real Toads challenges us to write a poem
using the quite intricate syllable and rhyme pattern
used by Robert Herrick in his poem “To Daffodils”.


A many legged eating machine
Receives a gardener’s curse
As it reduces living things
To skeletons.  Or worse.
But hold!
As wond’rous things unfold:
What springs,
Refashioned and refreshed,
So far removed from what its been,
Forgives it for the rest.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012
Originally I called this 'The Butterfly' but realised that
I have another poem of that name, so changed it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

CDXXXIII - Sticks & Stones

Three Word Wednesday requires participants
to use the three words of the week in a composition.
The words this week were tedious, limber and detonate.

Sticks & Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me.”
- Children’s chant.

Intended to hurt.
It leaves a mark.
Anger and shock.
The sting lingers.
A once limber heart
Later, on recall,
The brain replays
The whole event.
The anger is real
But the sting —
The sting is
That while pain fades
Words don’t.
Even with tedious repetition
Pain fades away.
Words are reborn.
And resharpened.
And again.
And again.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

CDXXXII - The Dilemma of a Horn

The Age Oddspot — Tuesday December 4, 2012

"North Korea has proved the existence of the unicorn. 
Archaeologists say they found a large rock
carved with the words ‘‘unicorn lair’’ near a temple in Pyongyang. 

The temple was once used by an ancient Korean King, Tongmyong, 
who, according to written texts, kept a stable of them 2300 years ago."

(I’m assuming that the ‘them’ refers to unicorns and not temples 
but you never can tell with The Age.)

The Dilemma of a Horn

The ancient king, Tongmyong,
Kept unicorns, but knew it wrong;
Those most wond’rous beasts
Were kebabs at his feasts:
A delicacy but, alas, not for long.

The unicorn stocks declined
As the King nonchalantly dined.
He caused quite a scandal
Using the horn as a handle,
Compounded by a poor choice of wine.

When last was just fricasseed,
The King was forced to concede
He’d mishandled the flock
And labelled a large rock
In memory of the end of its breed.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

CDXXXI - The Inspector

No special reason;  just that the picture amused me.

A lady was employed to inspect
Bare bottoms, for signs of defect.
She assessed the gluteus
For its level of cuteus
And any that weren’t, she’d reject.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

CDXXX - Hansel & Gretel, The Remake.

And now, in the spirit of Christmas pantomimes, I give you —

Hansel & Gretel – The Remake
A Cautionary Tale

— CAST —

The Father, a woodcutter
The Step-Mother, standard issue, nasty, 36D.
Hansel, the son; clean-cut, shorts and braces type.
Gretel, the daughter; flaxen-haired, pig-tails, gingham dress-type.
Witch, standard issue, average wickedness rating.
Social Worker, keen, earnest, carrying a clipboard.
White Swan, token addition, to appease the Audubon Society.
A Wolf, an accidental inclusion, an innocent bystander.
Constable, on sabbatical from Midsomer.
The Forest Chorale – three finches, a duck, a badger and two rats.


The Forest Chorale
Our story’s set on the edge of a wood
A woodcutter lives there, as a woodcutter should.
He has a woman, the love of his life
And two young kids from a previous wife.
He cannot see that wife number two
Is a mean and nasty, scheming shrew;
Blinded by her two well-rounded breasts
He meekly agrees to all requests —
So besotted is he by her feminine charms
He’d crawl over coals, with broken arms.

Step Mother:
We need to be prudent, our money’s dwindling,
And you earn such a pittance from chopping kindling.
The kids are the problem, the kids are a pain,
Food is scarce and the kids are a drain.
If you really loved me, as you swear,
You’d take the children out of my hair!
Times are tough, we are pretty poor,
And there’s a hungry wolf scratching at the door.

Not me, I promise, I’m elsewhere in the wood
With my eyes on a little girl who wears a red hood.

But they are my children, what can I do?
I love them dearly, just like you!

Step Mother
Well, if you’re too weak and too lightweight
Let Mother Nature decide their fate:
Take them to the woods and leave them there.
They can stay if they return.  Does that sound fair?

The Forest Chorale
In the next room, with his ear to the wall
Hansel was shocked and gave Gretel a call:

I’ll go out and collect some small white stones;
Dropped as we go, they’ll guide us home.

The Forest Chorale
So Hansel slipped out through the door
And looked for stones on the forest floor.
He filled his pockets with small white rocks
A couple of spare were stuffed down his socks.
The next day the father suggested a walk:

Come!  The woods are a great place for a talk!

The Forest Chorale
Hansel dropped stones as the trio progressed
Their father, he noticed, was quite depressed
But he’d promised his wife to deliver the goods
And the children were left out in the woods.
In normal events they would surely die
But the moon was full and high in the sky
And on the path the stones showed bright
And guided them home, though the night.
Much later on, at about half past four
They loudly knocked on their parents door.

Mother! Father! Open up the door!
We don’t want to sleep on the forest floor!
Aren’t you glad that we’re not lost?
Father — where you went to has got us tossed!

It’s (ah) a long story. We’ll save it for another day
Suffice to say we just parted ways.

Step Mother (to children)
Oh. I. am. so. very. happy. to. see. you. back.
Now, to your room and hit the sack.

Step Mother ( to woodcutter)
You hopeless clot.  Can you do nothing right?
I will take them out myself, once it’s light.
Must I do my work and do yours too?
Look at my eyes when I’m talking to you!

The Forest Chorale
Once more the children heard them scheme
As they lay in bed pretending to dream.
But they couldn’t get any stones as before
As the mother had firmly locked the door.
Next day the mother packed a lunch
And put brandy in the drinks, for added punch.

Step Mother
Come, we are going to learn bush lore
So you can’t get lost as you did before.

The Forest Chorale
Hansel, in place of stones, took some bread
And left a trail of crumbs behind him instead.
Far out in the woods, where few people pass
The mother pointed to a patch of grass:

Step Mother
Come, this looks like a good place to sit
You can eat your lunch and rest a bit.

The Forest Chorale
A parenting tip, naughty but handy:
Children sleep well if dosed up with brandy.
When they awoke it was cold and dark
Their mother, it seemed, had left the park.
They looked for the crumbs to guide their trekking
But it seems the birds had done some pecking.
They wandered along until the forest cleared
And a vision of loveliness suddenly appeared.
A gingerbread cottage, all candy and cream:
A dietician’s nightmare but a young child’s dream.
As they pulled off tiles, intending to eat them
A wizened old lady came out to greet them.

Be careful now, you’ll make yourself sick!
The Heart Foundation declined me a ‘tick’.
But take your time, there’s plenty to explore:
My personal favourite is the caramel door.

The Forest Chorale
The old lady seemed so nice and so sweet
And Hansel and Gretel were desperate to eat.
They never thought that she could be a creep
When they lay down and drifted to sleep.
But when they awoke from their slumbering plains
Hansel was caged and Gretel in chains.

Social Worker
Don’t be harsh.  Don’t judge her quickly;
She was beaten as a child and was quite sickly.
She was also traumatised, by my case log
When a prince she kissed became a frog.

The Forest Chorale
A sad tale, one to produce copious tears,
But it did nothing to allay the children’s fears.
They cried and yelled to be set free
But it soon became clear that it was not to be.

Social Worker
I’d love to help, I can feel your pain,
But my budget has been cut again.

Young lady, to stop your brother’s squeals,
You’ll clean my house and cook my meals.
You’re brother’s caged, but worry not,
I’ll feed him well with all I’ve got.
I want to put some more meat on him
I’ll release him when he’s not so slim.

The Forest Chorale
Gentle reader, you can guess the plot:
Young Hansel’s destined for the cooking pot.
Every day the witch comes checks his state,
In order to guess her dinner date.

Show me your finger, you little brat!
I need to know when you are good and fat!

The Forest Chorale
Hansel knew that the witch’s sight
Was quite poor in the dappled light
So he offered her an old bone to feel
Left-overs, we fear, from a previous meal.

Your fingers boney, I’ve seen fatter germs!
There’s no meat at all, have you got worms?
Your sister’s fatter, I’ll eat her instead
And mop up the juices with some gingerbread.
There no feasting in your meager serve
But perhaps I can use you as hors d'Ĺ“uvre.

The Forest Chorale
Now, Gretel saw this show unfold
And quickly guessed what her future would hold.
When the witch asked for the oven prepared
Gretel feigned ignorance and said she was scared.

Silly girl, you’ve done it before…

I’ve forgotten. Show me how to open the door…

The Forest Chorale
The witch opened the oven by loosening a nut.
Gretel pushed her in and slammed it shut.
Howls of pain echoed through the air
As the witch was roasted, medium-rare.
Gretel then took the keys down from the shelf
And unchained her brother, as well as herself.

Social Worker
Oh! Well, I’m pretty sure she wont be missed
And it does free up my client list!
Now that the poor old witch has gone
I’m happy to take your cases on.

We appreciate your concern, somewhat belated
But it appears our problems have rather abated.

The Forest Chorale
They then searched the house, at their leisure,
And found a vase that was full of treasure.
They stuffed their pockets as best they could
And headed off to escape the wood.

Gretel!  Look a lovely white swan!
Let’s catch it back to where we’re from!

The Forest Chorale
Gentle reader, I have no choice, of course,
As the swan is in my reference source.
But you can’t demand logic or bemoan absence of nous
After accepting the idea of a gingerbread house.
And so the swan carried them over the water
To reunite father and son and daughter.

Father, our step mother was so cruel and mean,
Where is the old bag of hate and spleen?

The Forest Chorale
The father said, vaguely, that he hadn’t seen her
But a part of his lawn was noticeably greener.

Father!  Look! We have jewels and gold!
Never again will we be hungry and cold!

The Forest Chorale
Where the witch had got them was unexplained
But fair to say she wouldn’t want them again.
As they spread the treasure out on the floor
There was a sharp knocking at the door…

Good evening, Sir.  Could I have a word?
It seems a heinous crime’s occurred.
And do not think that you can run and hide —
The Murdoch press is camped outside.



© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

CDXXIX - Come and Gone

Come and Gone

Christmas has come
And Christmas has gone
Just footprints in the snow. (1)
But never fear
It will return again
Just 364 sleeps to go. (6)

Christmas has come
And Christmas has gone
The wrappings fill the bin. (2)
The Christmas tree
Is largely ignored
And the sales can now begin. (7)

Christmas has come
And Christmas has gone
There’s cricket at the ‘G, (3), (4)
The ‘fridge is full 
Of left over stuff
To eat sliced, cold, for tea. (5)

Christmas has come
And Christmas has gone
A rest for Santa and the elves
The marketing machine
Moves to the next big thing:
Hot Cross Buns are on the shelves. (8)

Christmas has come
And Christmas has gone
But have we learnt a thing?
Where is all the peace
And joy, the season’s
Supposed to bring?

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012
(1) OK, granted it doesn’t snow here but all the Christmas cards can’t be wrong.  Can they?
(2) Recycle Bin, of course.   Wouldn’t want to have a larger carbon footprint than necessary.  Would we?
(3) Cricket – a game devised by the English, a largely Godless race, to give them some idea of what an eternity would be like.
(4) The ‘G = The MCG = The Melbourne Cricket Ground.
(5) Tea = dinner, supper, …well, any meal of your choice, really.
(6) OK, 243 sleeps until the carols are in the supermarket.
(7) Excluding the Boxing Day Sales that started before Christmas.
(8) They are in the labs for testing in September.  Fresh?  Don't go there.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

CDXXVIII - Missed the List

Missed the List.

Santa was at pains to insist:
That the good were found on his list.
But the ones who weren't there
Got their presents elsewhere
And weren't too sad to be missed.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Reflection 6 : Life without Faith.

Theme Thursday asks us to write on 'Faith'.

Life without faith.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I believe that I will be eating pudding in a few days.

Assuredly, life has ways of playing tricks. 
Things may not turn out that way.
But, in the absence of information to the contrary, I believe it to be true.

A believe built on the annual testing a ‘pudding appearance’ hypothesis.

The sun will rise* tomorrow.  It will.  
It has done so for some time now.
In the presence of history and understanding, faith is not required.

Faith is the hope that something implausible, 
something with no proof or history behind it, will happen.  


Faith is life deferred. 

My pudding has history on its side.

Tomorrow’s daybreak has history on its side.

Proof enough.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

* Technical footnote: ‘Rise’ is an illusion when viewed from a rotating platform 
with only a notional sense of what is up and down.

CDXXVII - As If Apart

Imaginary Garden with Real Toads challenges us to write in the ‘Common Octave’  form.

As If Apart

Watching the world, as if apart,
Remote and on my own —
Can others not see what I see,
The follies that we’ve sown?

We live our life and then depart
Beyond this mortal zone;
Those not of the majority
Must walk this path alone.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

CDXXVI - Going, Going...Oh, Wait...

Seemed a topical thing to write about:

The Mayans predicted our demise,
Said disaster would roll through our skies,
But were quite quick to vanish
When invaded by the Spanish
Who apparently caught them by surprise

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CDXXV - She Murmured Thanks

Three Word Wednesday requires participants
to use the three words of the week in a composition.
The words this week were echo, soft and hardship.

She Murmured Thanks

Like the echo 
Of a satisfied cat
She murmured her thanks
As he caressed her, 
Softly, tenderly,
Down her flanks…

It was no great hardship.

But it was just a prelude 
To the spanks.
© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

CDXXIV - The Bread Van

Sunday Whirl (Wordle #87) presents a list of words
that we must incorporate in a writing piece.  

The words this week are: 
top, milky, glassy, unfolded, itch, blast, rushes, slicks, listen, sigh, lighten, tragic, visibility.

Magpie Tales had a photo by Andy Magee as a prompt. 
The two seemed made for each other. 
I have made the photo look a bit wetter than it did originally.


Visibility was poor that morning.  

Behind the misty, milky haze of rain, the wind shivered the valley with an icy blast, a promise of the harsh winter to come.  Sheep huddled together for warmth, jostling for the middle position.  One, responding to an itch, rubbed against the gate post and unexpectedly found itself released onto the hedge-lined road.

Oil slicks and ice made the driving treacherous but the van rushes along the country road. Time is short and there was bread to deliver.

The van crested the top of the hill, saw the wayward sheep at the last moment, swerved, crashed through a hedge, rolled three times and ended on its roof.  The engine gave a last long sigh of resignation and stopped.  Some time passed.  The weather lifted and the day lightened but there was no movement from the van.

It was sometime before the facts of what unfolded were established.  

When the villagers turned on their television to listen to the evening news,
the lead story was ‘Bread van rolls’.

Tragic really.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

CDXXIII - The Open Window

The Open Window

There is a sense of disbelief:

The window is wide open,
Your things are in disarray;

Drawers are open, 
Turned out on the floor.
Intimate items scattered.
Someone has been here, in your room, 
Past your defences.
And valuables are missing.

Money, money is nothing.  
Memories, how do you replace memories?
Pawned for $20 in a bar somewhere.

Days weeks months later you go looking for something —
And can’t find it.  Is it just lost?  Or was it stolen?

You will never fully realise everything that you have lost.

Death is like that, 
Like being burgled.

You never fully realise everything that you have lost.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

CDXXII - Insecure

One Single Impression has the prompt 'insecure'.

A fellow who felt insecure
When out with a lady, demure,
Took a glass of red wine
To strengthen his spine
And maybe one more, to be sure.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflection 5 : Bananas

I had a conversation once.

One of those acrimonious  comment jousts
You find on  libertarian websites.

“Why”, I asked, “do you need a gun?”

“In case the Mexican drug lords invade the US”, I was told.

Well, the gentleman in question lived in Ohio.

This was no place for logic and reason.


If you give people cars, some will misuse them.

If you give people alcohol, some will misuse it.

If you give people guns, some will misuse them.

The unasked question is:

How much misuse can you tolerate?

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

CDXXI - The Party

Three Word Wednesday requires participants
to use the three words of the week in a composition.
The words this week were abnormal, dangle and lavish.
This is my second attempt at this challenge.

The Party

It was a most lavish affair,
All the cream were there,
With their well tended hair,
And dress was strictly formal.

Their wealth was displayed
In the games that they played
In this most social charade:
A world both strange and abnormal.

They sipped the champagnes
Dangled jewellery and chains 
Boasted capital gains
And generally hated each other.

The waiters shimmied past
And refilled their glass
Without ever being asked
They knew they needed another.

They talked posh and polite
And then danced all the night
And if their shoes were too tight
They were far too proud to say so.

When they can drink no more
And are hugging the floor
The host shows them the door
And counts the spoons, once they go. 

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

CDXX - The Treasure Map

Magpie Tales has the above photo as a prompt.

The Treasure Map

A pirate who flew the cross bones,
Tattooed his wife with sepia tones,
And “X”s marked the ground 
Where treasure was found;
By coincidence, her erogenous zones.
© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CDXIX - Low Water Allotment

Three Word Wednesday requires participants
to use the three words of the week in a composition.
The words this week were abnormal, dangle and lavish.

Low Water Allotment

The hair is slicked and oozes Brylcream, 
The smile is fixed and set on 'high-beam';
Cowboy boots, rubbed down with grease,
Designer jeans, ironed with a crease.
A gold chain dangling around his neck
And a mouth that can’t be kept in check.
A breath that scented with a musky spray
And the sense of a lion stalking its prey.

The brochure’s lavish, in weight and ink.
The photos designed to make you think
That the property that is his to show;
Is the best around and will quickly go;
That an abnormal bargain is close at hand
Should you purchase the offered land.
But you will learn, to your chagrin,
That it disappears when the tide is in.
© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

20 Questions (more or less)

Poets United have done an interview with me.
Only the facts have been changed 
To protect the innocent.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

CDXVIII - A Fellow Who Needed a Doc

Mad Kane has a regular limerick challenge.
She provides the first line,
the rest is up to us.

A fellow who needed a doc
When hit in the head with a rock
Found his character changed,
And his life rearranged,
And favoured high heels and a frock.

© J Cosmo Newbery 2012