If you're planning to jump out a
Window pick a low one; if you're planning
To run in front of a bus pick

A slow one. If you're planning to jump
In a river pick a dry one; if you're planning
To jump off a bridge don't

Pick a high one. If you're planning to open
A vein pick a Please don't continue this,
She said, it's alarming and tasteless and it's

Not poetry. But it's about survival, I said,
And she blew a smoke ring at me and my head
Disappeared although she had given up

Smoking and I had also given up smoking
Because smoking can seriously damage
The things you bought. And it's not

About survival, she said, at all. It was
At this point I realized I didn't want to
Have a serious conversation with

Anyone so I went and got myself a Danish
And here is where I say Pastry or Girlfriend
But I don't know which one's the one.


(3) The tree and its mischievous offspring,
(7) Little sapling. (11) My misshapen destiny.

(12) Broken manhole covers as an excuse for
Everything. (15) They've stolen the rocks from

My landscaped garden. And also
The washing lines. (19) A neighbour

Walking up and down the street and she thinks
She's all big. (22) There is a mountain.

(27) Airport full of scary people.
(29) Immigration is at the door in their dark suits

And frowns. (34) I know you told me “try to relax”.
(35) Deaf people who can't hear

What we say. (37) A wakefulness
Striking me as strange.

(39) The memory of a poodle I bought
Ten years ago. (41) Babble amidst

Incessant quiet. (43) Somebody kicking the house.
(44) Asylum seekers cleaning car windows.

(47) A cow looking for the fire station
Is disconcerting. (49) The ice cream van, and how

Its music means he's run out of ice cream.
(50) The vicar. (52)You may fall in impossible love.


Underwhelmed is as vital a critical reaction
As over. Equanimity: perhaps the meaning should
Be clarified before I go on. This morning Ivy

On the sill is looking more dark-edged, Rose
Upon the table is past her best but they are both
And always will be beautiful girls. The flags

In the kitchen are softening with age; with age
Perhaps with flags may one begin to establish
Dominion? If I knew what I was muttering about

I would expect you to answer the question
But it's okay: continue to smoke your bonfire
And I will continue to bring you twigs

To wrap around your thing in place of my arms.
Once upon a time I just couldn't get enough of
You but now I have had more than enough of you;

Do you get it? The gift of plain speaking comes
And goes as does the courage of my convictions,
Confidence in my abilities, strength of purpose

And what is this? Oh, Lily is drooping in
The drawing room and in its cage a little bird --
Ennui -- is looking pretty kind of disinterested

In these on-goings. There are issues here
But no answers; it is okay to say that; I don't care
If you don't like me any more; it's an opinion;

The outlook from the window is undulating
Because of the hills. I am not sure anyone can
Describe what they don't do for me and mean:

I mean: Is there a God of Flowers? A God of Love?
Is there any way in which an ordinary person with
Good intentions can just be untroubled and whelmed?


The day my waters suddenly broke
Was the day I encountered identity
Crisis for the first time. Also I forgot
The meaning of quiddity and fell

Off the ladder to Heaven, bruised
My toe. Laughter is or can be cheap.
Once I believed in the colour of trees
Because lies couldn't be there, now

There is only the white of geese
And the black of beasts. Perhaps,
Said the wardrobe, I am not an armchair
After all. Then he went and learned

How to play blues harmonica
Which he likened to walking towards
Dawn. Actually it was more like
Loitering at a faucet to admire

The flow of water while I collapsed
Astonished by the rain of all summer.
When I awaken I will let you know.
Thank you, by the way, for the car

Delivered into my drive by those
Gunmen newly arrived from the Bank;
I am sorry not to have locked away
The dog. Usually nothing happens

Here not even silence or its opposite,
Noise. Only the morning sky
Is very beautiful today: there is
Something of the intangible girlish

Blush about it. And an old gentleman's
Asleep on a bench. It isn't me. It's me
Who remains in the world like a ghost
Smiling politely as if still wanting

To be liked. It's me who goes out
And I follow myself to make sure
I don't do anything silly. And I won't
Come home drunk as a skunk, not to

Night. Oh look, a canoe has fallen
Off the roof of that car. Oh look
There is even more to see over there
A man is in the moon's profile.

         © Martin Stannard 2005