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The Meaning of Life


Plato pursued the platitude of good,

Aristotle urged we do what we should.

The Cynics rejected wealth, fame and power,

The Hedonists were a party-going shower.

Epicureans wanted a life pain free,

Stoics were patient and sighed c’est la vie.

The Enlightenment taught natural rights,

Liberal wimps practised politics light.

Bentham’s ‘greatest happiness principle’

Utilitarianism is the title.

Kant can’t abide the unprincipled fool,

Nihilists think God is dead as a rule.

Pragmatists struggle through practical strife,

Existentialists create their own Life.

Absurdists expect a disharmony,

Secular humanists claim we are free.

Logical positivism doesn’t ask,

For Postmodernists scrutiny’s the task.

Pantheists nurture the environment,

Confucius was an ordinary gent.

Buddhists are hippies and seek nirvana,

Mohists give free love in their pyjamas.

Legalists pursue natural knowledge,

Christians on Sunday like to trim their hedge.

Catholics prefer love au natural,

The Mormons collect a harem of gals.

The Jewish God loves a wild killing spree,

The Baha’i faith seeks human harmony.

Zoroastrianism divides right from wrong,

Quakers are silent, never sing a song.

Islamists worship Allahu Akbar,

Hinduists seek karma and sansara.

Janists are veggies, never hurt a fly,

Sikhs wear headscarves but never wear a tie.

Taoists maintain natural truth in tune,

Shintoists watch sumo from April to June.

Don’t let the bastards tell you what to do,

Ask a computer you’ll get forty-two.

Never be hoodwinked, never bend the knee,

And most important — never give money.  

                                                                   [from book Hi, I'm Elohim: The Trouble with God, 2012]




Adam’s Brow


Today, my Lord, the moon hangs high above,

And grey cloud smothers hoar the furrowed down

Where peels the farmer late with carefree love

To ply his thick-hide hand and scatter ground.


In bleak and solemn fields the scarecrow lurks,

Whistling wastes the wind and breaks aloft

The burly thistled leaves and brushes soft

To strangle, strafe and gouge the farmer’s work.


Bowed sickles, shovels, picks and bogwood scythes

To heave and harvest before snowdrifts drive,

Alone, one hand rotates till night to free

The fallow fields fret-crossed with straggle-weed.


Fragments of field-dead soldiers churn’d and chopp’d

By the blades of the plough a second death,

They serve to seed in rank an autumn crop,

Ignored unseen a harmless shibboleth.


The potted path is trod, now seas of rain

Sluice slabs of mud and by the clocktower face

Bespatter him, the hero will remain

Apart from Life’s mad rat-infested race.


The aching chores have ceased, the charcoal flue

Burns through the night, the barn owl cries anew

Perhaps the fallen fields will yield their due

One hand moulds the landscape’s unhurried hue.





Dorset Drifter


When I lope down those clumpy lanes

I shall think of ’ee – aye, I shall,

Suddenly, bluebells blast my eyes

And the imperial yew tree,

For a wee hopping sparrow

I stop.  And blink.

And hope,

Aye, maybe I was one who used to notice such things too.


We who used to notice such things?

Aye, suits us well,

Ah!  Sentiment o’ bliss!

Yet in a blink,

’Tis sad to muse much we missed.


Down.  Down those country lanes

I’ll rein and sigh,

I was never so high

As when I used to notice such things.


Hardy is in his Heaven

And all is right with the world.



       [1998  cf. Thomas Hardy’s ‘Afterwards’:

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, 
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves
like wings, 
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the
neighbours say, 
"He was a man who used to notice such things"?]      






We’re a God-awful small affair

In the bar of the grime-brown Goat.

The devil with the coal-black hair

Blows smoke through a hole in his throat.

I’m sorry, you haven’t a prayer

The rules of the game he rewrote.

Take your cue and fracture the pack

But the game is a frightening bore

Odds of evens to clear the rack

He’s cheated you ten times before

He’ll bring his hand down on your back

And pick you up from the soiled floor.

Don’t wager your very last cent

Watch him spit in the eyes of fools

And be warned that the cards are bent

Drinks on the house as a rule.

Your hand-earned dollars better spent

On books rather than cards or pool.

If they find aces up your sleeve

Don’t deal from the base of the pack

They’ll politely ask you to leave,

You’ll bust the flush of one-eyed Jack

The sleight of hand you’ll disbelieve

Takes practice to acquire the knack.

A dime in the slot of the box

No dancing on tables and chairs

Choose from Elvis or old-time rock

Upsets the ashtrays and glasswear

Time, gentlemen, please, now take stock

You shouldn’t have blown your bus fair.

Just three more beers, guv, on the slate

I’ll stick at three, not one more drop

My pussy waits with bowl and plate

Welcome home with a belly flop.

My salvation is somewhat late,

We all might learn one day to stop.

                                                       [1983 cf. David Bowie’s Life on Mars:

It's a God-awful small affair

To the girl with the mousy hair …

But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools …]