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7.6k · May 2010
For Fin
Thomas Thurman May 2010
When your creator took her crayon box
That day she thought to draw you all alive,
She found a certain green to sketch your locks,
Another green to show you grow, you thrive;
A green of richest thought unlimited,
A green to match the green of your creation,
A green to go, to boldly forge ahead,
A green for lands of peaceful meditation;
  The Greene King, standing proud with all his queens,
  Jack-in-the-green, surrounded by his trees;
  A thousand other shades of other greens;
  The greenness of the deepness of the seas;
And I, I fall and marvel at the light,
A million greens, like fireworks in the night.

That day she thought to draw you all alive
She drew your outline, sketched you, and refined
And shaped your eyes, that surely saw arrive
The laughing people in the frame behind,
The humans, dogs and kittens, trailing plants,
Who fill your background; all you love are here
Around you in the middle of the dance,
And as you watch, still more of them appear
  Beyond your face within the frame advancing
  Children and relatives and loves and friends
  Holding their merry hands in merry dancing
  Extending off beyond the picture's ends;
I know your other folk would say the same:
It's such an honour dancing in your frame.

She found a certain green to sketch your locks,
A deeper green, a perfect green attaining;
And now another from her crayon-stocks;
Refreshing and repeating what's remaining:
She bleaches it and tries another shade
Then leaves it for a while and grows it out,
Returns it to the colours that she made
Begins to work again, and turns about;
  And why this careful labour to provide you
  With perfect colours captured in your hair?
  She knows your colours mirror what's inside you,
  Eternal greens within you everywhere;
And still beneath, the ever-growing you
Shall dye, and yet shall live with life anew.

Another green to show you grow, you thrive;
Out from the snow the snowdrop breaks in flower.
Who could have called this sleeping bulb alive?
Yet buried patiently it waits its hour,
Counting the snowflakes slowly settling
Their weight upon the heavy earth above;
One day its Winter changes to its Spring.
Who can predict the power of life and love?
  Hope that at last the final frost is dead.
  Faith that the Winter dies and Spring shall rise.
  Love for the life that up through blades has bled.
  Joy to a hundred children's waiting eyes;
For every hour it slept beneath the ground,
A thousand wondering eyes shall gather round.

A green of richest thought unlimited.
I try to say I love you every day:
I know I keep repeating things I've said.
Perhaps I'll try to phrase another way:
Suppose I counted all the money ever
From now until when Abel risked his neck
With my accountants, who were very clever,
And wrote it on a record-breaking cheque...
  It wasn't half your empathising, was it?
  Your thoughts are treasured more than bank accounts;
  The bank won't put your loving on deposit.
  And could they take it, given such amounts?
The jealousy of cash makes misers blind,
And who needs money when you have your mind?

A green to match the green of your creation!
She took her time in sketching out your features,
Shading you well, and, drawn with dedication,
You took the pen she gives to all her creatures
And set about some drawing of your own,
Filling the art with arc and line and shade,
Showing your work the care that you were shown,
And making them as well as you were made;
  And much as life your drawing hand was giving,
  Another life from deep within you drew:
  A life, not merely likeness of the living,
  So separate, yet such a part of you:
Who finds your baby-picture on the shelf
And smiles and finds you, showing you yourself.

A green to go, to boldly forge ahead,
Should shine on traffic lights for every person.
If you should find a colour in its stead
That stops you-- not an arrow for diversion,
To Edmundsbury, Hatfield and the North,
Or any other place that's worth the going--
But rather reds that block your going forth;
If traffic signals freeze your days from flowing,
  Your life is green and you deserve the green.
  And if you try to go about your day
  And greens are coming few and far between,
  And reds and ambers blare about your way:
If so, I pray your days to hold instead
All green, and never amber, never red.

A green for lands of peaceful meditation.
You call: Come stand upon my sacred ground,
Come sit and breathe the peace of contemplation,
Come feel the grass beneath, the lilies round,
Come sleep, come wake, and drink the quiet waters,
Come to the maytree, blackbird, waterfall;
Come know yourselves the planet's sons and daughters.
The people pass and pause, and still you call:
  It's waiting for you when you ask to try it:
  Peace (and the air) cannot be bought or sold.
  You'll never gain it if you try to buy it:
  It's not an asset crumpled fists can hold.
All that you have is nothing you can lose;
You stand on sacred ground. Remove your shoes.

The Greene King, standing proud with all his queens,
Guarding a land of oaks and aches and cold.
It's not a normal place, by any means,
This island of the oldest of the old,
Where bow the ancient oak and ash and thorn
In homage to a figure on a hill;
Deep in the hills where Wayland Smith was born
You stand, an English body, English still.
  For odes and age and air and ale have filled you,
  Made you their own and promised you belong;
  And since their homesick longing hasn't killed you,
  I think you'll be returning to their song;
Come, take your time, and sit and drink with me!
What say you to another cup of tea?

Jack-in-the-green, surrounded by his trees,
Had given birth to leafy life aplenty,
He'd introduced his firs by fours and threes,
And sowed his seedling cedars by the twenty;
The field was filled with trunks and twigs and roots,
The soil was sound and fertile, and the fall
Would fill the forest floor with growing shoots,
And none but Jack was there to watch it all
  Until you came to wander through this field,
  To walk within the ways within the wood;
  Your mind was brought to peace, your spirit healed,
  The forest given form and blessed as good;
Jack-in-the-green will wonder all his days:
your presence never ceases to a maze.

A thousand other shades of other greens:
"Leaf", "emerald", "sea", "bottle", off the cuff;
"Viridian" (uncertain what it means),
But there's so many. Names are not enough.
Yet, in another life, your maker might
Have picked you out among primeval glades
To work as keeper of the rainbow's light
And in another Eden name the shades;
  If so, the planet's poets will rejoice
  That, given life together with a name,
  The colours sing a stronger, clearer voice,
  And every hue will never seem the same:
Each of the shades looks loving back to you,
Its namer and the one who made it new.

The greenness of the deepness of the seas:
A home to fish of many a scaly nation.
Follow the shoals; the smallest one of these
Swims as a fishy summit of creation.
Yet every one's indebted to the shoal,
All subtle in their difference from the rest:
A fish of friends, a member of the whole,
A mix of traits, a taking of the best.
  So you and those of us you love so well
  Will grow along with other friends' increase,
  Required ingredients in the living-spell:
  Each person brings a necessary peace.
The level-headed people mix with mystics,
And both are living mixtures of holistics.

And I, I fall and marvel at the light,
This changing light that grows throughout the years,
Extinguished not by hardship nor by night
Nor foolishness nor sadness nor by tears.
When we were separated by the sea
I wished myself amidst your myriad days.
My wish was mirrored in your missing me;
Your maker joined our wishes, joined our ways;
  She placed our hands on one another's heart,
  And you and I began a lifelong learning
  Of one another, like a magic art
  Whose telling grows with every page's turning,
And holds our friendship as a growing bond
Till seventy years old, and still beyond.

A million greens, like fireworks in the night.**
I fear this sonnet never can be done.
So many colours burst upon my sight
I cannot tell the tale of every one.
But I can tell how vast excitement fills me
When all the flying sparkles fill the sky;
I want to tell the world how much it thrills me
To hold you close, reflected in your eye;
  I want to tell in all my earthly days
  And yet beyond, of what you mean to me;
  I want to say I love the myriad ways
  Of what you are and what you'll grow to be;
These counts combining made the building-blocks
When your creator took her crayon box.
Written as a Valentine's present for and about my partner, Fin.

I recorded myself reading the poem at .
5.6k · May 2010
Minimal pairs
Thomas Thurman May 2010
For you
my dear
for you
all through
the year;
for you
my dear.
4.2k · Jun 2010
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
A dragon was the beast to fear,
With shining, perfect teeth,
And deadly spines upon its back,
And scaly skin beneath.
You'd see them fly across the sky
With dreadful wings unfanned,
In far-off days of long ago
When dragons ruled the land.

And as they flew they'd watch the ground,
With eyes devoid of pity,
They'd follow humans to their homes
And breathe upon their city.
The dragon's breath was instant death,
No houses still could stand,
In far-off days of long ago
When dragons ruled the land.

Then someone had a wise idea:
King Arthur and his Knights.
They travelled round the countryside,
And held great dragon-fights.
Each dragon's heart was split apart,
So triumphed Arthur's band;
And now no dragons linger
Any longer in the land.
This is a poem from my children's storybook, "Not Ordinarily Borrowable".  Let me know if you'd like to know about it (or just ask Google).
Thomas Thurman May 2010
For all the words I mean to say
that I can squeeze inside a book...
I've written them, another day.
For all the words I mean to say
I'll say them in another way
and give my love a second look
for all the words I mean to say
that I can squeeze inside a book.
Impromptu, written on the flyleaf of my sweetheart's chapbook.
Thomas Thurman May 2010
And I have nothing else to do again
But walk these halls and wish I wasn't here,
But picking berries in a country lane.
A shadow is my face, the dust my brain,
My voice is but an echo in your ear.
And I have nothing else to do again
But counting every pace to keep me sane.
Dead as I am, I've nothing else to fear.
But, picking berries in a country lane;
Within me lives the spectre of a pain,
The ache of endless summer, yesteryear,
And I have nothing else to do again
But live in memory without my chain
And walk an aimless autumn Cambridgeshire...
But picking berries in a country lane.

Each universe must reach its long refrain.
A moment all my chains must disappear
And I'll have nothing else to do again
But picking berries in a country lane.
Thomas Thurman May 2010
How sweet the name of Cthulhu sounds
In raving mystics' screams!
It drives them mad, enflames their brains,
And troubles all their dreams.

It brings insanity and dread
Into the world of men,
This world which once seemed safe and sane
Shall not make sense again.

We gaze upon thy face more dread
Than any watchful dragon;
And sing the eternal hymn to thee,
Ia ia Cthulhu fhtagn.

Cthulhu! my dead yet sleeping king,
Thy cults shall be restored,
Thy tomb shall rise to air again,
Just, r'lyeh, r'lyeh, Lord.

Weak is our twisted woodland dance
And cold our campfires cursed,
But when the stars shall rise aright,
We shall be eaten first.
3.4k · Mar 2011
If Lady Gaga wrote sonnets
Thomas Thurman Mar 2011
How do I love thee?  In a way that's bad,
by which I mean so bad it's almost good.
I need you, and you know it drives me mad.
I want you more than any other could.
And we could write romances, you and me.
I want to hear your Hitchcock movie schtick.
I want your everything.  I hope it's free.
I want you in my window, and you're sick.
And yet you know my raving is a sign
I'd rather we were paramours than friends.
You're outlawed from the moment that you're mine
Until the day our bad romancing ends;
I'll love you in a leather-studded bra.
Rah gaga gaga roma ooh la la.
This is not the most serious sonnet ever.
2.7k · Dec 2010
Thomas Thurman Dec 2010
I thought I recognised some guy
asleep off Berkeley Square.
His face had such a peaceful look
behind his ***** hair;

his beard, the scabs across his head,
I thought I'd seen before,
if anyone that I would know
was sleeping in a door.

On second thoughts, it wasn't him.
Or, well, I'll never know.
A glance was all the time it took
to pass him in the snow.
2.7k · Jun 2010
Two creatures
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
Two creatures' eyes have seen the sun,
and now their lids are filled with dust.
But if their eyes were blue, or brown,
I cannot tell, and yet I must.

St Claire's an Amiable Child
who sleeps secure and snug as Grant,
but who can tell me of his eyes?
(The city parks curator can't.)

And Johnson had a cat named Hodge
who fed on oysters, and was fine;
his coat was black, but not his eyes,
whose shade I cannot now divine.

Two creatures hold me in their gaze,
and thoughts of it I can't dislodge:
the nature of your eyes, my friends,
your sleeping eyes, St Claire and Hodge?
After Edward Arlington Robinson.  I make no claim for this to be good work; it just turned up in my head this afternoon.
2.6k · Sep 2010
Thomas Thurman Sep 2010
Ah, would I were a German!
I'd trouble my translator
With nouns the size of Hamburg
And leave the verb till later.

And if I were a Welshman
My work would thwart translation
With ninety novel plurals
In strict alliteration.

And would I were Chinese!
I'd throw them off their course
With twelve unusual symbols
All homophones of "horse".

But as it is, I'm English:
And I'm the one in hell
By writing in a language
Impossible to spell.
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
Because I could not wire a Plug,
It wired itself to me.
The carriage held but just ourselves,
And Electricity.

We passed the school, where children strove
To gain some erudition,
Ah! what a shame I did not learn
To be an Electrician.

For who would think a wire called live
The life of humans halts?
My wiring style contains, I fear,
Two hundred forty faults.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet
We drive for all we're worth;
The eternal heavens seem so live;
So neutral seemed the earth.
I think Emily Dickinson's "Death" demonstrates that the common metre can make even the best metaphor sound trite.
2.5k · Aug 2010
Thomas Thurman Aug 2010
If anything should happen to The Hague,
if someday they abandon Amsterdam,
philosophers will take these strange and vague
descriptions, and derive each tree and tram
by mathematical necessity:
should nations shake their fists across the seas
with words of war, it follows there must be
a middle ground, a people loving peace.
And is this scrap alone a netherland?
Not so: we spend our nights beneath the sky,
and every country's low for us, who stand
a thousand miles below the lights on high;
if only I could learn to live as such,
and count myself as kindly as the Dutch.
Written, with thanks, for the organisers of GUADEC 2010.
2.5k · Nov 2010
The Caller
Thomas Thurman Nov 2010
"Is there anybody there?" said the caller,
"Six ten eight oh one two four three nine?"
And his ears attuned to the empty hum
Of the long-forgotten line;
And an LED on the handset
Flashed, for a moment, red,
And he dialled the number a second time:
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one replied to the caller,
No sound but the dialling tone
Came drifting into his waiting ear
As he held that haunted phone;
But only a host of phantom listeners,
Of spectres weak and strange
Stood hearkening to that human voice
That echoed around the exchange;
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
And his heart was afraid and nervous,
With his hand on the final digit
Of that number not in service;
For he suddenly tapped the receiver
And spoke on that line of dread:
"Tell them I called, and no one answered,
That I kept my word!" he said;
Ay, they heard him replace the receiver,
And his mumbled cursing later,
With the usual subdued but enthused delight
Of the switchboard operator.
(This is a parody of "The Listeners", by Walter de la Mare; you should read that first.)
2.4k · Dec 2010
Turing's sword
Thomas Thurman Dec 2010
See you our server farm that hums
And serves HTTP?
It's spun its disks and done its sums
Ever since Berners-Lee.

See you our mainframe spewing out
The Towers of Hanoi?
It's moved recursive discs about
Since Babbage was a boy.

See you our ZX81
That prints the ABCs?
That very program used to run
With Lovelace at the keys.

Magnetic floppy disks and hard,
And tape with patience torn,
And eighty columns on a card,
And so was England born!

She is not any common thing,
Water or Wood or Air,
But Turing's Isle of Programming,
Where you and I will fare.
A rather silly homage to a rather lovely poem in Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill".
Thomas Thurman May 2010
A dozen years, the length of feline days:
compared to human lives it may appear
the cats lose out. To be a human pays.
I think on this, and on companions dear:
Successive cats whose whiskered lives touched mine
Have lain upon my lap— do you suppose
Their tiptoe through the years is but a sign?
I measure out my life with kitten toes.

As they and I pursue the hilly ways
that fill our lives, "Beware! The end is near!"
"Your death is nigh!" or some such friendly phrase
will tell me that it's all downhill from here.
And soon the ***** more steeply will incline,
And drop away as quickly as it rose.
You trace the arc? My life is on the line:
I measure out my life with kitten toes.

Though now, my cat, we feel the sunshine's blaze—
your windowsill is warm, the skies are clear—
yet still I feel the sun's all-seeing gaze
remind me of the coming day, I fear—
the coming day I cannot feel it shine,
and on my face the smiling daisy grows.
I only have the one, where you have nine:
I measure out my life with kitten toes.

Prince, lord of cats, may endless meat be thine!
O grant that thine immortal princely doze
may evermore upon my lap recline!
I measure out my life with kitten toes.
I was challenged to write a ballade on the subject of cats' toes.  This is the result.
2.3k · Nov 2010
Ballade of Adventure
Thomas Thurman Nov 2010
Go north. Go east.  Get lamp.  Get food.  Get key.
Get sword.  Examine sword.  It's glowing blue.
Say "plugh".  You watch the world around you flee.
You're standing near a boulder marked "Y2".
Put Auntie's thing in bag.  It doesn't fit.
(By Infocom.  Wherever games are sold.)
Such antics are the price for us to sit
where Thorin sits and sings about his gold.

You're standing west of house again.  You see:
a robot and a door.  The door sees: you.
You're carrying some fluff, some shades, no tea;
Be careful.  You'll be eaten by a grue.
Oh, now you've gone and fallen in a pit.
You're carrying as much as you can hold.
In Bedquilt.  You see shadows through the slit,
where Thorin sits and sings about his gold.

But Activision's little shopping spree
had turned the world to wanting something new.
It's sad, but still, I think we'd all agree
the Z-machine's demise was overdue.
The day when all the world went sixteen-bit
the era died.  I think they broke the mould
when pictures took the place of words and wit,
where Thorin sits and sings about his gold.

Prince of the numbers, worlds have watched you knit
the memories of processors of old;
you've made a better planet, I submit,
where Thorin sits and sings about his gold.
Another failed attempt at a ballade: it should be ababbcbc, not ababcdcd.  Still, it might amuse some of you.
2.3k · May 2010
As the drawing shall tell
Thomas Thurman May 2010
As the drawing shall tell
and the paper responds,
some enchantment just fell,
as the drawing shall tell...
in a paper for spell
with your pencils as wands,
as the drawing shall tell
and the paper responds.
2.3k · Aug 2011
Thomas Thurman Aug 2011
Perhaps we lived a night and day away
and never knew the other one was breathing
and so we saw the sunrise stained with grey
but never fully realised we were grieving;
perhaps our eyes or bodies might have met
when on the Northern Line, or on a plane,
and left us cursed, unable to forget
and nursing till our death a treasured pain;
perhaps you read my story in a book,
how I'd been dust these seven hundred years,
the dreams I'd dreamt of you, and how it took
a dozen books to hope to reach your ears;
perhaps the Lord had mercy on us; hence
this coinciding's no coincidence.
2.2k · Apr 2011
Not about any church I know
Thomas Thurman Apr 2011
Thou who sent thine own Anointed
once for all the world to bless:
Should we make our windows pointed?
Should our deacons wear a dress?
Should our candles light the dark?
Lord, remain within the ark.

Should our priests be mild and matey?
Should our men be nervous types?
Should our women all be eighty?
Art thou fond of ***** pipes?
Or dost thou, above the stars,
yearn for amplified guitars?

We shall sit around the fire, and
mumble of the Crucified,
preach his gospel to the choir, and
never mind the night outside,
where despite the rain and chill
winds are blowing where they will.
2.1k · May 2010
Daffodils: memento mori
Thomas Thurman May 2010
This scent, semi-sour
Of the daffodils four
Holds time in its power.
This scent, semi-sour:
There must come an hour
I'll sense it no more:
This scent, semi-sour
Of the daffodils four.
The problem with this triolet when written down is the visual confusion between "sour" and "four".  It works better spoken.
2.1k · May 2010
Hallelujah Simpkins
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Hallelujah Simpkins, Syllogism Brown,
Wandered up to Barkingside to walk around the town.
Does it make you wonder, when they ring the bell,
How they press the ***** keys and sing along as well?
Syllogism wondered so he climbed the tower to see;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, I know that I am free.

Hallelujah Simpkins, Pendlebury Jane,
Hurried to the hospital and hurried home again.
Does it make you wonder, when they run so fast,
How they know they'll ever reach the hospital at last?
Pendlebury wondered even though she couldn't run,
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, today I have a son.

Hallelujah Simpkins, Academic Smith,
Never et an orange if they couldn't eat the pith.
Does it make you wonder, if oranges can float,
Why they catch the Underground and never catch a boat?
Academic wondered so he went and caught the train;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, and said it once again.

Hallelujah Simpkins, Concertina Flight,
Hear the song the angels sing in Dagenham tonight!
Does it make you wonder, climbing Heaven's stair,
How you'd speak to Hallelujah Simpkins, if he's there?
Simpkins only wondered whom he followed as he soared;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, and glory to the Lord!
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Llywelyn, looking down with glee — to see
the sea that the country
from Edward's domain cuts free.
The coastline of Cilmeri.
An englyn for Bethan, who had to travel through the floods.
1.9k · Jun 2010
A lamp to my feet
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
I heard there was a secret metric foot
that David knew was favoured by the Lord,
and when he penned the psalms he'd often put
this pattern the Almighty best adored
amongst the endless praise and imprecations;
unstressed, plus stressed, suffuses through his pages,
though hidden by the English of translations;
pentameters still echo down the ages.
The spondee's spurned, and has been from the start;
an anapaest's anathema, and grim.
Though trochees may be near the Maker's heart,
you'll never hear a dactyl in a hymn.
There's only one the Lord thinks worth a ****:
the sacred, the unchangeable iamb.
I must get back into writing serious things again.
Thomas Thurman May 2010
My Welsh is just not good enough for verse.
My dw i'n hoffi coffi's lacking fizz;
cynghanedd is pedestrian or worse;
I wish it wasn't so, but there it is.
My struggle's still to learn, as yours to teach,
and so my englyn's still in English sung,
and aching awdls cower out of reach,
and English shows the thinness of the tongue.
But here's my goal: some month the Gorsedd meet
so many miles ahead— I may be there
to share my bitter words, my verses sweet,
at common table. Never mind the chair.
But that's a dream, and not what's on the card,
and much as I might dream— for now— I'm barred.
1.8k · Dec 2010
Three saints
Thomas Thurman Dec 2010
St Henry was for Finland, and before he took the land
He wandered through Uppsala with a beer-mug in his hand.
For through his understanding of the Finns and what they are
If you should serve him sahti, it must be in a jar.

St Patrick was for Ireland, and before the snakes were out
He ate a steak, and washed it down with pints of Guinness stout.
For since he was from Ireland, people shouldn't make mistakes:
Unless you give him Guinness, then you mustn't give him steaks.

St Louis was from France, and before he was the king,
He bought champagne and cheeses and he ate like anything.
For since he was from France, I must say it once again:
Unless you give him cheeses, then there must be no champagne.
This is all extemporisation on Chesterton's poem "The Englishman", about St George, which you can find online.

p.s. I know St Patrick was not from Ireland, so don't worry about telling me.
1.8k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
So many years have passed since first you sought
the lands beyond the edges of the sky,
so many moons reflected in your eye,
(familiar newness, fear of leaving port),
since first you sought, and failed, and learned to fall,
(first hope, then cynicism, silent dread,
the countless stars, still counting overhead
the seconds to your final voyage of all...)
  and last, in glory gold and red around
  your greatest search, your final quest to know!
  yet... ashes drift, the embers cease to glow,
  and darkened life in frozen death is drowned;
and ashes on the swell are seen no more.
The silence surges. **Error 404.
Written for a server's 404 page many years ago.
1.7k · Jun 2010
Leaping like calves
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
Once, a young fresher was reading the rules, and was more than perplexed at the place where they state
"All undergraduates, if they are Anglicans, must be in chapel each Sunday at eight."
Wracking his brains, he began a small rumour that spread through the town on the weekdays that followed; he
was not an Anglican, nor Nonconformist; his faith and religion was mere Heliolatry.
Saturday evening, our hero retired with a smile on his face and his bin at his door,
only to wake to a thunderous hammering, made by the porter, next morning at four.
Ah, how a little lie, told with great frequency, gains repercussions that no-one expects!
"Dawn's almost here, sir, the Chaplain expects you; go down to Main Court and you'll pay your respects."
This is no longer the rule, but it used to be.  "His bin at his door" = standard Cambridge signal that you don't want to be disturbed in the morning.
1.7k · May 2010
The crocodile
Thomas Thurman May 2010
A little FISHY saw a smile,
And curiously, he followed;
He knew not 'twas a CROCODILE:
He very soon was swallowed.

The little FISHY cried and cried
To try and call his mummy,
Because he was shut up, inside
The CROCODILE's dark tummy.

The CROC had heard the FISHY's tears.
She pushed him past her liver
And through her heart, and out her ears
And back into the river.
I've read this on video at .
1.6k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Your poetry holds picnics in the places
where some would say that words should never go;
there's strange delight in passing through those spaces
where nouns are tame and verbs are safe to know
to kingdoms where you colour past the lines,
where adjectives and adverbs long to tread—
the other side of “do not enter” signs
where rulers cannot reach the words you said.
    Yet nothing's for the sake of mere transgression:
    your words below, your metaphors above,
    with every part of speech in your possession
    together make a verbal kind of love;
conceiving thought anew, and giving birth
to cast and recreate the very earth.
For Carmen Machado, who is the sort of person poetry should be written for.
1.6k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
This wall you build around angelic things
to keep their halos shiny-bright, instead
you'll never hear the sound of downy wings.

These Precious Moments smiles and wedding-rings
(for mixed-*** couples only), when they wed,
this airtight wall around angelic things,

a thousand miles from where a seraph sings
God's love for hated folk and underfed;
you'll never hear the sound of downy wings

unless you break the prejudice that brings
the boundary where angels fear to tread,
this airtight wall around angelic things

that shutters out angelic visitings,
or when you too are dying on your bed
you'll never hear the sound of downy wings.

you never know with whom they'll break their bread,
or so the writer to the Hebrews said;
This wall you build around angelic things
Will never hear the sound of downy wings.
written as a response to a thought-provoking blog post by Thomas Bushnell, BSG :
1.6k · Jun 2010
Do not kowtow
Thomas Thurman Jun 2010
When I am old, as owned by wrinkled skin,
and not by thought, since I'm already old,
do not kowtow to what you see. Within
the wrinkled skin's a child of three years old,
a teenager in terror of his sin,
a twenty-two year old in love, an old
and bitter fool, whose inspiration's thin;
when I am full of tales, and sick, and old,
do not kowtow to old and wrinkled skin.
1.5k · May 2010
Tell me, O shell
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Tell me, O shell,
what have you heard?
Into my ear
floats the cry of a bird,
and also I hear
pebbles, sea-stirred.

Tell me, O shell,
what did you see?
Into my eye
floats a glimpse of a tree,
a palm, on an island,
surrounded by sea.
I wrote this in 1985, when I was ten.  There were about eight stanzas, and my adult self has cut the bad ones.
1.5k · Nov 2010
Morning prayer
Thomas Thurman Nov 2010
Go praise thou the Lord! It's seven o'clock!
You cannot afford to slumber ad hoc.
Five times you've hit snooze, and you've wasted an hour,
Forget your excuse, and go get in the shower.

Go praise thou the Lord! The prayerbook awaits,
its words unexplored, so get on your skates.
It stands on the shelf for the start of the day,
For Jesus himself rose up early to pray.

Go praise thou the Lord! Praise him in the morn!
You seem to be floored. You don't know you're born.
I wake you at six and you wail that you're sunk
but just try your tricks as a friar or monk!

Go praise thou the Lord! Take heed what I say:
I know you've implored today's Saturday;
No more may you lurk with alarm clock ignored;
For praising takes work, so go praise thou the Lord!
I think I should set a hymn as my alarm tune. Something like this.
1.5k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
When good hot tea
Encountered cream;
When passioned truth
Met passioned dream;
When all the sky
Met all the sea...
And I met Katie;
She met me.

When good fried fish
First met with chips;
When longing lips
Encountered lips;
When squirrel once
Met silver fir...
Katie met me.
I met her.
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Here from the hilltop down towards the dell
I'll wander till this evening, I don't care.
An afternoon all fertile with the spell
Still calling me: be still and drink the air.
And so I'll pause, and ponder as I hike,
I'll take my time before the valley floor,
And meditate, and maybe, if I like,
Climb back again and walk the path once more.
  Full twenty years I've walked this hillside trail,
  And every time it makes itself anew;
  Unveiling as I head towards the vale,
  A flower unseen, an unexpected view...
Again I lose my footing with a scream,
Fall forty feet, and drown beneath the stream.
1.5k · May 2010
Requiem for an oak
Thomas Thurman May 2010
I thought I saw an execution there.
The fascinated public gathered round.
The cheerful hangmen stripped the victim bare
And built their gibbet high above the ground.
The rope was taut, my wildness filled with fear.
I saw him fall.  I heard his final cry.
Yet when the hangmen left I ventured near
To find my fault: I'd never seen him die.
In fact, I think he'd died some years ago.
There's blackness of decay in every breath.
The sound of flies was all that's left to grow,
Now free to come and feast upon his death;
Prince of the trees, I have a simple plea:
I will not die till death has come to me.
1.5k · May 2010
And yet you show surprise
Thomas Thurman May 2010
The world's so queer, and yet you show surprise
to find him solid in the midday light.
He looks at you with strangely laughing eyes.
You told yourself you're sure to recognise
the green-clad arms, the ring upon the right;
the world's so queer, and yet you show surprise?
His name won't pass your lips. You know... those guys.
You know his name. At least you think you might.
He looks at you with strangely laughing eyes.
The happy folk? And after many tries
you force a smile, a single smile, polite.
"The world's so queer, and yet you show surprise...
You've seen me here before, contrariwise;
You can't pretend you don't recall the sight."
He looks at you with strangely laughing eyes.
(Your sister's outer clothing all of lies.)
(Your brother was a changeling in the night.)
The world's so queer, and yet you show surprise.
He looks at you with strangely laughing eyes.
1.4k · Aug 2010
Thomas Thurman Aug 2010
I knew an undergraduate at college
who spent his days asleep, or drinking beer;
he never needed academic knowledge
until the day of reckoning drew near,
when, as he found his time was growing short,
he’d borrow books, or photocopy them,
and, downing frantic coffee by the quart,
he’d burn the midnight oil, till five a.m.
It puzzles me a little when I find
the ones who press conversion at the end
expecting atheists to change their mind
in panic, like our coffee-drinking friend,
with fingers crossed and hoping for the best
in case this life’s continuously assessed.
Written impromptu as a comment on a sonnet by Roz Kaveney. ( )
1.4k · Jun 2011
When first we met
Thomas Thurman Jun 2011
When first we met, I was so young in years,
I feared the unfamiliar smiles you give;
I found they were the keys to fit my fears,
to break my cell, to run away to live;
when first we met, I was so young in wiles,
I stumbled round the world at every turning;
I did not know the magic of your smiles,
the wisdom I could read there, and the learning;
when first we met, with slow and aching cane
my mind had lost the path to run and play
and dragged its feet through mires of mental pain
when first we met, when first we met. Today
morning by morning, in your smiles, I find
each waking moment makes me young in mind.
1.4k · May 2010
As I love you anew
Thomas Thurman May 2010
As I love you anew
for the rest of my life,
I haven't a clue
(as I love you anew)
what other folks do
without you for a wife;
as I love you anew
for the rest of my life.
1.4k · Nov 2010
Stations of the Cross
Thomas Thurman Nov 2010
I watched from Farringdon as Satan fell;
I’ve battled for my soul at Leicester Square;
I’ve laid a ghost with Oystercard and bell;
I’ve tracked the wolf of Wembley to his lair;
I’ve drawn Heathrow’s enchantment in rotation;
at Bank I played the devil for his fare;
I laugh at lesser modes of transportation.
I change at Aldgate East because it’s there.

The Waterloo and City cast its spell;
I watched it slip away, and could not care,
the Northern Line descending into hell
until King’s Cross was more than I could bear;
he left me there in fear for my salvation,
a Mansion House in heaven to prepare:
so why return to any lesser station?
I change at Aldgate East because it’s there.

Three days beneath the earth in stench and smell
I lay, and let the enemy beware:
I learned the truth of tales the children tell:
an Angel plucked me homeward by the hair,
to glory from the depths of condemnation,
to where I started long ago from where
I missed my stop through long procrastination.
I change at Aldgate East because it’s there.

Prince of the buskers, sing your new creation:
the change you ask is more than I can spare;
a change of spirit, soul, imagination.
I change at Aldgate East because it’s there.
Bother, I've got it wrong again. Ballades are ababbcbc, not ababcbcb. I think this can be saved anyway.
1.3k · May 2010
Song of Easter
Thomas Thurman May 2010
When I was young I feared my growing old
lest, being old, I should want youth again,
or lest the growing old should cause me pain;
I knew the worth of silver less than gold.
I tried to hold the sun and not the moon,
I asked the clock to stop-- it paid no heed!
Time blew away like dandelion seed,
as sure as day, the evening came too soon.
   This road I cannot tread the other way.
   The ages passed, and age has come to me.
   Yet still asleep I dream, awake I see,
   as sure as day brings night, the night brings day,
youth, sun and dandelion seed, and why?
They cannot have new life unless they die.
1.3k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
This moment, I am God upon this town.
I compass every window spread below:
each pinprick point in total looking down
a pattern only overseers know.
I feel the human flow and ebb each minute
perceiving both with every passing breath;
each lighted room has home and hoping in it,
each darkening a sleeping, or a death.
    And nothing, nothing makes it wait to darken;
    had I the power it should be shining still.
    Some other one you have to hope will hearken,
    some other on some yet more lofty hill--
whom priests and people plead to, not to be
as powerless to hold these lights as me.
This one has a photo with it:
1.3k · Jun 2011
Fury said to a fish...
Thomas Thurman Jun 2011
Fury said to a fish,
"I've a whim and a wish:
let us both go to war; you shall fight against me.
Come, I must make a stand:
we shall fight on the land,
and if you insist we shall fight on the sea."
Said the fish to the cat,
"The result of this spat
will be nothing but bubbles to mark where you sank."
"I'll be gun, I'll be bomb,"
said the cunning old tom,
"and I'll target my missiles and blow up your tank."
After "Fury said to a mouse..." in "Alice".
1.3k · May 2010
Not April in Paris
Thomas Thurman May 2010
The sea lies solid under ice,
The blizzard seldom stops;
The glögi's running freely
In friendly coffee-shops;
The trams still run and life goes on
And still I can't remember
Why no-one ever calls a song
"Helsinki in November".
1.3k · Dec 2010
Thomas Thurman Dec 2010
Spanyel! Spanyel! Thine embrace
Places Paws upon my Face;
What celestial Factory
Dare fill thy doggy Heart with glee?

From what Furnace flowed thy Blood?
Whence proceeded all this Mud?
Was that a Cow thou hidst beneath?
What the Tongue? and what the Teeth?

What the Nose? and what the Jaw?
In what Quagmire was thy Paw?
Hast thou swum the Pond as well?
That perhaps explains thy Smell.

Spanyel! Spanyel! Thine embrace
Places Paws upon my Face;
What celestial Factory
Dare fill thy doggy Heart with glee?
1.2k · May 2010
Thomas Thurman May 2010
They say my future follows on your past,
Commanded not to love you by the wise:
They say he never truly lives who lies
A captive still, and by your charms held fast:
Your warmth was torn by chilly morning air,
through daytime heat your image in my eye
would ever grow, would wane, would never die,
and with the night, you’d once again be there.
You took my life, and took away my breath;
You took my world, and left your words untrue.
No dreams are left I haven’t left with you,
And still you keep reminding me of death.
I’ve abdicated kingdoms for your sake:
And yet, and yet… I wish myself awake.
1.2k · May 2010
The day I die
Thomas Thurman May 2010
My inside's on the out, the day I die,
Though (here and now) my inside's on the in.
Spread out like spirit butter on the sky,
the sunrise flaunts its colours in my eye
like all I'm not, sequestered here in sin.
My inside's on the out, the day I die,
yet here the world's outside and I am I,
divided from the cosmos by my skin.
Spread out like spirit butter on the sky
the clouds reflect my soul, the lights on high
are macrocosms matching what's within;
My inside's on the out. The day I die
is creeping slowly closer. By and by
will freedom of my captive self begin,
spread out like spirit butter on the sky.
And separated out, I still may sigh,
The waiting's brief, the barrier is thin;
My inside's on the out, the day I die,
Spread out like spirit butter on the sky.
1.2k · May 2010
Dear Sir...
Thomas Thurman May 2010
Dear Sir: This application form,
from one potential employee,
will tell you how I should perform.
I have a first-class BSc,
ten years of writing ANSI C,
some Java; Perl with DBI;
and tendencies to wander free
and gaze, all wordless, at the sky.

I know perhaps it's not the norm
to mention this on one's CV.
I wonder if you'd just transform
the job I'm asking for, to be
not writing code, but poetry.
Do ask your boss. It's worth a try.
He'd sing, himself, when he was three,
and gaze, all wordless, at the sky.

I'd stay till ten beneath a warm
duvet, and then I'd climb a tree,
my face upheld towards the storm,
or paddle barefoot in the sea.
Perhaps a friend comes round for tea.
Perhaps among the corn we'd lie
in silent solidarity
and gaze, all wordless, at the sky.

Sir, I enclose an S.A.E.
I wonder if you might reply
and leave your desk to run with me,
and gaze, all wordless, at the sky.
For the benefit of any HR managers reading, I would like to explain that this is not entirely autobiographical.
Thomas Thurman Nov 2010
For Pennsylvania is the Land
Where Men with Hearts may Understand,
And much the nicest part must be
The County of Montgomery.
And in that district I most like
The town that ends the Pottstown Pike.
For heaven's blessings rarely stick
to folk who live in Limerick,
and you would be the worse to know
the crimes that they commit in Stowe,
and heaven's wrath comes raining down
on men who live in Boyertown,
where sins are strange, and stranger still
are secrets hid in Douglasville;
they'd slit your throat for twenty pence
in frightful Lower Providence
and rumour tells me true that no men
are virtuous in Perkiomen.
But Pottstown, oh, but dear Pottstown!
Why, there a person may lie down
upon its riverbanks so stony,
or paddle in the Manatawny.
They laugh and love their life so well
They're purchasing a carousel.
(And when they get to feeling old,
A thousand senior Cokes are sold
with super fries and apple pie:
McDonalds, Hanover and High.)
This was fun to write.
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