Day 26 — predicting the end of monopolies

Monday’s volume of poetry read was a recent purchase & one I’ve been saving for the end of the month: Brian Bilston’s Alexa, what is there to know about love? I was saving Bilston for the end because he’s so fun & playful & cheeky & clever in his word game poems — & I suspected/knew I’d need an energising pick me up (this month more than usual; or perhaps not, perhaps it always feels this way by the end. I suspect it does, we just choose to blank it out).

“Love in the Age of Google” is a poem made up of single lines from google’s predictive text. I’ve seen a couple of other attempts at this type of poem & thought today is a good day to test it out (for reasons which will hopefilly become clearer in Poem 2). Curation of results has taken place. I wish I made more time to make both poems shorter, tighter, but I don’t …


Predicting Orpheus

1. DuckDuckGo
(yes other search engines are available)

did orpheus save eurydice
did orpheus look back
did orpheus die
did orpheus have children
did orpheus see eurydice in the underworld

— think most of these are pretty easy to answer, though the children one pulls me up short

why did orpheus look back
why did orpheus look back at eurydice
why did orpheus decide to rescue his wife
why did orpheus go to the underworld
why did orpheus die

— hmmm, feel like these are questions i should’ve asked at the start of the month. life mightabeen easier.

why was orpheus
why was orpheus killed
why was orpheus adored in thrace
why was ephesus abandoned
why was ephesus an important city
why was morpheus recast

— sometimes the algorithm breaks down, yes, even before i do

2. Google

i. did orpheus
what instrument did orpheus play 
…..oh good, an easy one. the lute. ah, harp. the lyre, the lyre…
what did orpheus do
…..wandered round the place singing. after that, things get ugly
how did orpheus get into the underworld 
…..excellent question, one which took me considerable
…..time in my books & online to answer
how did orpheus die 
…..not pleasantly. will that suffice?

ii. why did orpheus
why did orpheus go to the underworld 
…..even not knowing the tale, surely this is work-outable
why did orpheus look back
…..which is, of course, the crux
why did eurydice run away from orpheus 
… away? really? that’s the verb you’ve chosen.
why did orpheus look back at eurydice
… really all comes back to this, doesn’t it?
why did the maenads kill orpheus 
… “it’s complicated” a good enough reply?

iii. outtakes & bloopers
(in the interest of balance, google had its share of quirky predictions too)

~why did roman kill orpheus wife 
~why did hades give orpheus a condition 
~why did the gods gave condition to orpheus 
~why did thanatos come out of orpheus 
~why did morpheus kill orpheus


Day 26 — TACD (Today Another Company Died)

The Online Jungle — worse than the real Amazon

Audiobookstand, Avalon 
Books, Bookpages, BookSurge, 
Telebook, TobyPress, 
& Waldenbooks 

all book-related businesses 
Amazon has bought 
& closed (sometimes 
parts are “merged”)

sadly today Book Depository 
has been added to that list

a UK online book store 
once known for its wild range
affordability, & free worldwide D

launched in 2004 Amazon 
“acquired” the company
in 2011 (it was several years
before i realised 
my protest purchasing
was still lining
bald Jeff’s pockets)

but don’t feel too bad
(Amazon don’t)

they still own: 
Audible, Abebooks, 
GoodReads, ComiXology

none of which they 
developed themselves. 
all bought out to 
prop up/become 
part of the Bezos 

& this isn’t all of them

there’s MGM, Twitch, 
IMDb, Kiva, WholeFoods 
& countless others across 
disciplines i’ve not even listed 
at least 115, possibly more

these “killer acquisitions” 
aren’t limited to the cut
throat world of books

fossil fuel companies do it
buy green startups
shut them down
because they don’t 
want the competition

pharmaceutical companies 
buy rivals to eliminate 
competing therapies 
under development
so theirs is the only

it’s something we should all care about 
it’s why our antitrust laws need to be given real teeth

Day 25 — the dead & the biscuit

The superimposed theme has made this year’s Anzac Day Poem a trifle harder than previous years. I’m pleased with the angle taken, though I think it might be expanded upon in a future draft…


the dead down under

long squatting on a rock
observing the ferryman

causes me to note the dead do not
seem to ever cease arriving

lately though it’s easy to tell
some het up petty king up above

must be arguing with some 
other equally belligerent lord

cos the deadstream of bewildered soldiers 
is wider swifter & deeper than Styx itself


Day 25 — TIL about biscuits

The Original Anzac Biscuit

first up: the delicious 
sweet biscuit of childhood
rolled oats & golden syrup 
is not the original Gallipoli treat
(*even if it is best)

hardtack biscuits are exactly 
as tasty as they sound 
having been a soldier’s staple 
ration for centuries
(& some allegedly were that old)

a bread substitute whose best attribute  
is it doesn’t go mouldy (well yum)
unlike bread, they’re very, very hard
not to mention pretty well unpalatable

to make them semi-digestible
they were ground into a kind 
of gruel by grating & adding water
— for something more exotic 
(once soaked) jam was added 
before baking over a fire into “tarts”
not quite like mother used to make

if you didn’t want to eat them
(& why would you) you could 
also to write letters to loved ones
& send them home or use them 
as paint canvases or photo frames
one even transformed to “christmas card” 
with that most christmas of topics
— a tropical scene — painted on it
including the wonderful verse

Day 15 — Day 2 of the Festival of Grief: dream + &

With Big O & Eurydice being the theme this year, it feels a little like every day/poem explores the issue of grief so at times I’m not sure whose writing what about whom or when. The only thing I am sure of is why.


always know when you dream 
of me — it’s why i never sleep.

abandon the rasping light of day 
to pretend you’re calling my name.

the hazy lamps murky blue 
dragging me from the road.

walk on without knowing the way
repeating thought eternally fast, faster.

tracing back black stone steps
down again into echoing caves.

the dog by the great gates 
barks three times, or once each.

the blood river creases & curdles
with endless ponderous energy.

always knowing i’ll never find you
— we exist in incompatible worlds.

Day 15 – NTBLAIL about more than a forgotten letter of the alphabet

In Celebration of &

the ampersand’s formed 
from the ligature 
of the letters ET — 
the Latin word for “and

… & the term “ampersand
is a corruption of
and (&) per se and
which literally means 
“(the character) & by itself 
(is the word) and”

… & this small odd looking
character was actually once 
(kind of) the 27th member 
of the English alphabet* 

… & when reciting the alphabet in the 1800s
long-suffering schoolchildren would 
sing-song-say, “X, Y, Z, and per se and” 
so the students were essentially chanting
X, Y, Z, and by itself and” 

… & being lazy children this was 
routinely slurred to the mondegreen
ampersand & thus entered common usage

… & there’s a graffiti & in Pompeii from 79 CE

… & when it appears as &c
where it means etc
(the ampersand time travels
back into its E & T bones)

… & in screenplays, an & 
denotes a writing team 
[the word and designates 
the writers wrote separately, 
read: someone rewrote, 
& if there’s more than three 
ands on a credit, it’s a good sign 
you should probably stay 
the hell away from that movie]

… & when creating new type
faces the & character 
allows designers to inject 
a little joie de vivre & artistic 
flair into proceedings

… not to mention some quite nice 
poets really love it & if that’s not
a cause for celebration — then there isn’t one

*the thorn and the wynn are also members of the Former Members Of The Alphabet Club
but sadly we don’t have time (in this pome) to learn what led to their demises

2 Bob’s worth: a bonus poem

i. Jerk Bob
that old bundle of chuckles 
the joy-killing chump
Robert Hartwell Fiske 
in his dreary, dull AND utterly unreadable 
Dictionary of Unendurable English: 
A Compendium of Mistakes in Grammar, 
Usage, and Spelling with Commentary 
on Lexicographers and Linguists 

believes ampersands should only exist 
in proper names, business names, 
book titles, and the like
never in place of the word and

he further opines:
aside from the hurried, the only 
people inclined to use & in place of and 
are those who have scant sense of self 
and scant sense of style, 
and believe using & 
somehow swells them both.

ii. Lovely Bob
Robert Nares in his far more charming
highly erudite & intellectual work
A Glossary; or, Collection of words, 
phrases, names, and allusions to customs, 
proverbs, etc., which have been thought 
to require illustration in the works 
of English authors, particularly Shakespeare 
and his contemporaries. Vol. I. A new ed., 
with considerable additions 
both of words and examples 

believes the ampersand’s calligraphic qualities 
make it a compelling design element 
that can add visual appeal & personality to any page.

So go suck on them eggs Mr Hartwell Fiske

Day 14 — double loss

For someone who loves this myth, I’m really struggling for quality content. Wondering if I should abandon it for something different for last half of the month. The Poetic Factoids, however, remain a treat to create.

lost with, out haven

since : losing, you twice : in, two worlds : one green, light : one shadow, mist : find myself : lost : always, wandering : looking for a, home : that, never approaches : heart : out, of land : out of, hope : out, of, tune : every moment : miss you : more, than human heart : should : or can : this side, madness

Day 14 – TIL how deeply brain & body are connected


when your “inner voice” 
whispers wisdom deep within
the wetness of your brain
tiny muscle motions 
trigger in your larynx

no wonder i suffer
so many sore throats
after my multiple personalities
have had their say on
every conceivable topic

the muscular cacophony 
leaves my chords, exhausted

Day 13 – shadows & the probability of lightning births

I’m really struggling to find Big O’s voice in this project. I’ve tried not writing in first person but it comes off very cold (which I suppose could be good thing) but I always end up flipping it back again. Worse, the words which are coming out are far more banal than the ideas which sound in my head. Frustrating, yes. Unusual, no. 

the shadow of today

one long year ago
i was abruptly evicted
from your world 
for no good reason

no reason at all

after foolishly

trying to rescue you
& failing

which i suppose was all
just a half-cocked
attempt to save 
from insanity’s solitude 

now i am worse 
than i was before

having forgotten 
how to sing

or even — 
why i once did

Day 13 – TIL I learnt about birth & lightning but not maths

the odds of 
— giving birth 
    to a baby 
       at 12:01am
          on January 1 
            are around 
               1 in 526,000*

which is 
     roughly the same 
        as getting struck 
           by lightning

the odds of 
— giving birth 
    to a baby 
       at 12:01am
          on January 1 
              while getting struck 
                 by lightning

— knowledge of 
      maths way way 
         above my pay grade 

like 276, 676, 000, 000 
   times above it

*less so if you’re a male

Day 12 — geology & non-standard measuring system

Trying to capture the claustrophobia of going underground.


i don’t know how far i’ve come
no idea how far to go
only know
the path seems to be thinner
the path narrower
the way darker
the stones heavier above me

try not to think
of the weight
of all that earth 
& rock
& mud & shale & clay
& gravel & scree & boulder & slate
& soil, sod, clod, loam, silt, dirt, turf & dust


Day 12 – TIL about pandas & dairy

buttergrams & buttermetres

A newborn giant panda 
is about the size 
of a stick of        butter.

Since when did butter
become a socially approved
measurement unit?

In which case (for context):

I weighed 31.23 sticks of butter
& was 10.23 buttersticks long
at my birth!

Day 11 — losing a muse + losing mobility

A fragment of a song & a in-depth look at a very real phenomena for older Australians.


i’ve lost my voice
worse i’ve nothing worth saying
the songs cannot be sung
the notes no longer sound
the words will not form
the world is hoarse
with my grief 

Day 11 – TIL about a highly triggering word


Ackwards is (allegedly)
an old English dialect 
word describing a creature 
lying on its back 
that can’t get up.

I’d just like to say:

1. I’ll have you know 
I’m choosing not to get up,
So, thank you very much

2. Get your damn camera 
Out of my room before
I call the cops big time.

3. It’s a bit awkward that
The only reference I can find
To this on the whole internets
is one. solitary. tweet.*

Now there’s a creature on its back 
that can no longer get up …

Day 10 – The Ferryman + buggy love buzz

Played with a couple of Charon-related poems today. Big O pleading with Charon (& then from C’s POV). The one I found myself finishing was Dialogue poem as he connives a way to cross the Styx.

This excerpt is the last lines of the poem.

The Ferryman

You will not take my coin?

You cannot cross, coin or no.
This is not a place for mortals.

Herakles crossed.

Herakles is a brute. He beat me up.
I know you’re not like that.

No, I’m not.
I start to sing.

I’m even more brutal.

Day 10 – TIL about cicadaian mating calls

buggy love buzz

over-aroused (if a trifle confused)
female cicadas sometimes mistake
roaring power tools for mating 
calls, occasionally even 
swarming sweaty men 
machoistically mowing lawns

— oh well, there’s one thing 
i’ll be safe from at least

Day 09 — underground again + birdiewatching

A simple poem for Day 1 of the Festival of Grief; the second day of my annual wallowversary not till next weekend. Trying to combine my usual subject matter for this day with The Big O. It works okay. My Poetic Factoid has the potential to include words from other languages but I don’t really have the motivation to make it bigger today.


underground again 
spent the day underground again as i do every day since losing you shouting across the river till my voice is hoarse but no one ever comes its against the rules been broken for me once already they cant be broken again no matter how great the agony how much i plead for mercy from the gods for once no creature listens to me the losing is worse than never having had you at all torture to have been so close to sunlight only to see you swirling dissolving disappearing down the sewer i will never sing again

Day 9 – TIL about taking photographs of Victorians


where we say “cheese”
as a prompt to make us grin 

Victorians said “prunes”
despite preferring to keep things in

i think that explains
just about                  everything

Day 08 — wedding day goat song + title tartling tartan-style

Today’s volume of poetry was one of Bukowski’s I’d recently bought second hand but never read. Diving into him was like jumping into a lovely warm jacuzzi (where the water had just been freshly added & mine was the only body to have been immersed so it was all quite clean & hygienic thank you very much) — soothing, comfortable, relaxing, delightful, & I wondered why I don’t remember to read/reread my fave poets more often.

With that in mind, I set out to write a Big O poem in B style. I gave myself the added task of just stream of consciousing & not editing it (that can come later).


wedding day goat song

why’d the god-damned 
fool girl go & step
in a snake nest
for anyway
it’s the stupidest
damn thing 
i’ve ever heard
& i’ve been hearing
stupid damn things
all my damn life

& now the wedding guests
are gone home 
& my amphora
is empty 
but i’m still full 
so i step outside
to take a piss
come back in
pick up the amphora
realise it’s empty
still empty
swear at the
fucking gods for
their sick son-of-a-bitch
senses of humour

look about 
for my lyre
till i remember 
i smashed it
after i found
her dead (my 
second best lyre
obviously i’m not
quite so stupid 
as to smash Hecate)

decide i’m no where near
drunk enough
so set out to visit
Calais & see if
i can drown myself
in his ample cellar

Day 6 – TIL the Scots can deal with forgetfulness

title tartling tartan-style

so the Scots have a word 
for that brief panicked pause 
experienced while you 
temporarily un-remember 
someone’s name as
you rummage through
the haggis-baggage 
of your overworked,
irrelevant fact-clutching,
bewilderbeasted brain

all well & good 

tartle is not that terrible

after all — the name’s known
you’re simply having trouble
accessing the correct
datapoint in the outdated
software system 
of your cerebral substance

but do these paragons 
of polite protocol
these pontificating 
have a word to personify
that bowel-clenching juncture
when you realise 
you’ve already forgotten
the name of the person 
introduced to you
mere microseconds ago