Welcome to Britain

August 28, 2015

Today Snakeskin’s essayist, Bruce Bentzman arrives in Britain (with of course Ms. Keogh, his more significant other) to begin a new  life in Wales.

Being a Patrick O’Brian fan, he has crossed the Atlantic by sea, and has already sent dispatches indicating that he has noted the regular flashes of the Portland Bill lighthouse. He also had a taste of Britain on board, when served a pint of London Pride beer. It was not to his liking. (I warn you, Bruce, you’ll find many worse pints in Wales.)

Once established in Wales, Bruce will, of course, continue his series of essays.

When he moved from suburbia, he changed the title of the series from ‘Suburban Soliloquies’ to ‘From the Night Factory’.  What we have to consider is – should he mark this new change in his affairs with a new title.

‘Welsh Whimsies’?

‘A Yank Abroad’?

‘Transatlantic Themas’?

Doubtless he will think of something.

Meanwhile – Bruce, welcome  to Britain. I think you’re going to like it here.

Last poem: an opening number

June 15, 2015

The verse-writing that I have enjoyed  most over the years has been in collaboration with musicians, producing songs for shows and cantatas. In particular, i enjoyed writing pantomimes for nineteen Christmases, knowing that they would be presented by a cast who always rose to the occasion. Here, to finish this small collection of poems, is my favourite panto opening number, the Song of the Mediaeval Peasants from Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood.

The age that we are living in
Is known for grimness, plague and sin.
It’s the darkest of History’s pages.
But we sing with a cheerful grin –
We like the Middle Ages!

There’s lovely castles for the rich,
The poor get scurvy and the itch,
And the Black Death generally rages.
But once a week we burn a witch –
We like the Middle Ages! Read the rest of this entry »

A pair of Limericks

June 14, 2015

Today’s poetical post is a pairing called Two Perverse Limericks.
The limerick is a splendid form – compact and zinging. I like it even more when another constraint is added to its rules, so these are two formal experiments. Square limericks have been around for a while, but I think apocopated ones are my own invention.

Two Perverse Limericks
This one is a Square Limerick. The rule is that the words on the left hand side of the poem repeat the words of the first line, while the last line repeats the words going down the left-hand side. This is as near as I’ve got to a successful one:

A person from old Bangalore –
Person? No! Frankly call him a bore! –
From noon to night sings
Old B-sides by Wings
Bangalore bore sings Wings evermore.

This one is an apocopated limerick. Apocopation cuts off the last syllable of the word you’re rhyming with, and you rhyme with what’s left. Confused? The poem should make it clear. As I say, this kind of limerick is my own invention. I doubt it’ll catch on.

The poet cried: “Look! Bluebells glistening!
And are those fairy footsteps? Do listen!”
But his eight-year-old daughter
Replied with a snort:
“Wossat? Dad, are you taking the piss?”

Poem 3

June 12, 2015


The fast from Bicester is rattling on
As it usually does, towards Marylebone.
I’m deep in a novel; the fertile green
Of Buckinghamshire flits quite unseen,
But we slow to a crawl, we stop – and now
Our driver’s voice explains: a cow
Is loose by the track, so he’s instructed
To go with care till he’s conducted
Us safely past, and so, slow, slow,
We shuffle along – now gazing, though,
At tangled verges ignored before,
And the fields and fences and bushes and more
And the bullock (not cow) that caused the fuss,
Who stares rather vacantly at us.
For this brief space his presence brings
A consciousness of rural things,
Till we’ve passed him by, as all things pass.
Soon he’ll return to munching grass,
And I’ll be back devouring my book,
And a world’s outside, but I shan’t look.

Poem 2

June 11, 2015

Here’s poem number two. It’s from a collection I wrote for my grand-daughter, Alice, and is based on a postcard bought at the British Library, which shows a sleeping hippopotamus.


Poem for Alice

Oh happy is the hippo who is fast asleep.
His snoring is enormous but his dreams are deep.

He dreams he’s young and handsome and he’s living in a palace
And he loves a perfect princess who’s as beautiful as Alice.

In his dream he’s light and lively; he can dance and he can leap.
So don’t disturb a hippo who is happily asleep.

My Facebooked poems (Number One)

June 10, 2015

There’s a big Facebook thing at the moment where poets are tagging each other to post a poem a day for five days. I got tagged and joined in rather reluctantly, but it’s been a good experience. Most of my Facebook friends are ex-colleagues and friends from where I used to live, and not folks from the poetry world, and they’ve been nice about the poems.

Mind you, I’m not very good at using Facebook. I go there mostly to play Lexulous.

Anyway, since I’ve had nice feedback from sharing poems there, and since there is not a great deal of overlap between readers of the blog and my facebook acquaintances, I thought I’d put the same poems here as well, just a couple of days later. They’re mostly old poems, by the way.

Here’s number one, designed to set a party mood: Read the rest of this entry »

Shorts online

April 2, 2015

April’s special ‘Short Poems’ issue is now online, with more poets than have ever before appeared in an issue of Snakeskin.

It’s good to have many new names mingling with the familiar ones.

No special themes for a month or two – but what shall I do then?

Has anyone an idea they’d like to suggest for a Snakeskin special issue? It could be a subject, or a form, maybe poems written for a particular audience, or anything really.


I like short shorts

March 23, 2015

The short poems are flowing in spectacularly. Can I find space for all the ones I like? Must do some thinking.

March Snakeskin

March 1, 2015

The backlog of poems has built up over a couple of months, while Snakeskin was given over to Jessy’s monsters.

So we’re now online with a cornucopia of new verse – I was spoilt for choice.

For next month, remember – we need short poems.


The monsters are here!

February 1, 2015


Spread the word!

Big thanks to Jessy Randall for guest-editing this month’s Snakeskin.


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