Caught by the River

National Poetry Day

4th October 2012

This is unclean

This is unclean: to eat turbots on Tuesdays,
tying the turban unclockwise at cockcrow,
cutting the beard in a south-facing mirror,
wearing the mitre whilst sipping the Bovril,
chawing the pig and the hen and the ox-tail,
kissing of crosses with peckers erected,
pinching of bottoms (except in a yashmak),
flapping of cocks at the star-spangled-banner,
snatching the claret-pot off of the vicar,
munching the wafer without genuflexion,
facing the East with the arse pointing backwards,
thinking of something a little bit risqué,
raising the cassock to show off the Y-fronts,
holding a Homburg without proper licence,
chewing the cud with another man’s cattle,
groping the ladies – or gentry – o’Sundays,
leaving the tip on the old-plum-tree-shaker,
speaking in physics instead of the Claptrap,
failing to pay due obeisance to monkeys,
loving the platypus more than the True Duck,
death without Afterlife, smirking in Mecca,
laughing at funny hats, holding the tenet
how the Word be but fucking baloney,
failing to laud the Accipiter which Our Lord saith is Wisdom.

Started by Australopithecus, these are
time-honoured Creeds (and all unHoly doubters
shall be enlightened by Pious Devices:
mayhems of tinytots, low flying hardwares,
kneecappings, letterbombs, deaths of the firstborns,
total extinction of infidel unclean wrong-godded others).

Peter Reading

chosen by Tim Dee.


Herring gulls top the rain-drenched strata
fingering into sea. The ebbing foreshore,
where gathered rain meets salt, is green
as the domed cliffs here, where

wild rock breaks for air.
In a few hours sewin might pause
before heading up to spawn.
Bronze age trader, smuggler,

look out and what has changed? A pair
of seals break grey and nose the coarse
sea air. We watch a while, then climb the lime kiln,
take a picture, start the car.

John Barlow