Poem of the day

Ruffled Feathers

by Debjani Chatterjee

My parrot with the ruffled feathers

is bolshie;

its language

is nobody’s business;

its squawk stabs the ears.


And such attitude!

You see it when it cocks its head;

catch its crazed gleam — and freeze!

When it flies

above you — duck!


My bird’s one wicked pet.

Yeah — it’s teaching me a thing or two.

4 June

Festival Notebook

by Kingsley Amis

CLOSING SCENES of the Salisbury Festival:

Haydn and Mozart in St. Edmund’s Church,

A building soon to be deconsecrated

Because irrelevant to civic needs

And turned into a meaningful hotel.

Involuntarily the mind throws up

Fancies of Japanese, back from Stonehenge,

Quaffing keg bitter by the pulpit stair,

Swedes booking coach-tours in the chancel.


SALISBURY becomes a part of Area 5

In 1974, and so its mayor,

Whose office dates back to 1611

(The year of the King James Bible, actually),

Will soon be as irrelevant as the church,

But need not be turned into anything.


LATER THAT NIGHT, outside the City Hall,

Past the Cadena, Debenham’s, Joyland,

Men of the 1st Bn. the Royal Scots

Perform the historic ceremony of Tattoo.

Plaids, bonnets, flash of tenor-drummers’ sticks,

The pipes, stir the blood unmeaningfully

Till ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ rings out

In the quick march, and relevance is restored.


3 June


by Pekko Käppi

2 June

Woody Guthrie (You are the poet)

by Dennis Gould

1 June


by Jo Bell

At the corner shop on Union Street,

I dosey-doe around a man my age

who’s just popped out for milk.

He scoots back to his door and opens up.

That serrated sound – the house key going home,

the scrappy jangle of the others on the fob –

is how it was when my door opened to another hand.

I would have been behind him with the fish and chips,

some shopping; finishing a phone call as he let us in.

He would push the door closed with one foot,

step unlooking to the kitchen and the coat hook,

throw the keys onto the side.

There’s the lover’s jingle, there’s the key

that opens a house and clicks it into occupancy.

31 May

There Is Nothing I Can Tell You

by David Constantine

30 May


by Simon Armitage

   It begins as a house, an end terrace

in this case

   but it will not stop there. Soon it is

an avenue

   which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics’ Institute,

turns left

   at the main road without even looking

and quickly it is

   a town with all four major clearing banks,

a daily paper

   and a football team pushing for promotion.


   On it goes, oblivious to the Planning Acts,

the green belts

   and before we know it it is out of our hands:

city, nation,

   hemisphere, universe, hammering out in all directions

until suddenly,

   mercifully, it is drawn aside through the eye

of a black hole

   and bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy, emerging

smaller and smoother

   than a billiard ball but weighing more than Saturn.


   People stop me in the street, badger me

in the check-out queue

   and ask ‘What is this, this that is so small

and so very smooth

   but whose mass is greater than the ringed planet?’

It’s just words

   I assure them. But they will not have it.