Goldilocks: Philosopher

I’m in danger of just rewriting fairytales for the rest of Lent… but I thought I’d share Saturday’s poem. And will write some book reviews at some point…

It comes, to those in fairy tales
As the mildest of mild shocks
To be objectified by males:
Such, indeed, was Goldilocks.

Though (charitably) meant to praise,
Dear Goldie was more than her looks.
While victim of the male gaze,
She infinitely preferred books.

As Goldilocks must needs explain
“A model, I would scoff to be –
I’d rather be (I have a brain)
A student of philosophy.”

With this in mind, she took a stroll
(Ideally one devoid of men)
And, thankfully, saw not a soul –
But found a cottage in a glen.

“I’m tired,” thought Goldie, “And want food,
And seem to have misplaced my map,
A little sick of solitude,
And desperate (frankly) for a nap.”

She knocked and entered, seeing still
No owners – though the furry chairs
(And photos on the windowsill)
Suggested it was owned by bears.

In fact, in every room she’d see,
On shelf, or floor, or hook, or wall,
That every object came as three:
One big, one medium, one small.

Recalling that her first intent
Was sleeping, she ignored the rest:
And to the bedroom, off she went
And found three beds (as you’ll have guessed).

And, with philosophy in mind,
Adjudicating what she’d seen
She lay down on the middle kind:
The Aristotelian mean.

(You may be asking yourself why
The porridge has been overlooked:
Let’s say the sleep would fortify
Her strength before she went and cooked.)

She woke to find three angry bears
And also found she’d caused offence
She told them why she’d used what’s theirs,
With Aristotle as defence.

Unhappily, the bears as one
Preferred a different Greek instead.
“Your theories, dear, are quite outshone
By the Platonic ideal of ‘bed’.”

A little scared, she could observe
Each bear appeared as one who brooks
No argument – and, losing nerve,
Poor Goldie fell back on her looks.

She batted eyelids, twirled her hair,
Apologised for breaking in,
And found small, large, and middle bear
Forgave, in moments, every sin.

The moral of this tale, you see
Is – well, let’s think – do what you’re told.
And, if you don’t, philosophy
Won’t help – unless your hair is gold.

The Three Little Pigs

I was going to write a Things I Have Learnt From Two Weeks of Writing a Poem a Day post today – but, by the time I’d finished today’s poem, it was quite late. So I’ll do that post soonish – suffice to say, so far I’ve managed to write at least some sort of poem every day of Lent. And today’s is on The Three Little Pigs – yes, it’s been done, but I thought telling a nursery rhyme could be fun.

Three pigs (of no enormous size)
Decided – with great enterprise
To try something transformative:
They’d build themselves a place to live.

But having got that far, they found
That each believed the plans unsound
Propounded by the other pair.
They split: one here, one here, one there.

Pig number one determined: straw
Was best for roof and walls and floor
And doors and windows and, indeed,
If liquefied, made potent mead.

Now, building regulations state
The roofs should be, ideally, slate
And doors and walls require more
(To keep them standing up) than straw.

The wolf passed by, prepared to huff
(And puff) – but nature called his bluff
A breath of wind, a tiny one,
And wolf found that his job was done.

(It’s sad to say, that little breath
Of wind meant pig was crushed to death.
It turns out straw, if in a stack
Can break more than a camel’s back.)

Pig number two observed the scene
Where Piggy number one had been.
He thought, “I knew that straw was wrong.
Now, sticks – they’re much more safe and strong.”

Suffice to say, no building guide
Has ever yet identified
As ‘Place To Start for Builder Pigs’
The hasty gathering of twigs.

The wolf turned up, and quickly saw
That ’twas with sticks as ’twas with straw.
His services were not required:
The pig had, under sticks, expired.

Let’s throw the third pig in the mix.
He’d (rather wisely) chosen bricks
Since noting (unlike straw or trees)
That almost every house used these.

He hired contractors, drew up plans,
Employed a fleet of men with vans.
The house was built and Pig, with glee
Moved in, and made a cup of tea.

The wolf was waiting – hungry, stressed,
Mere days from cardiac arrest –
And, rageful, watched the pig move in –
But vowed no porcine foe would win.

He Googled how to win this fight
And, after that, bought dynamite.
So, while poor Piggy drained his cup,
Wolf huffed, and puffed – and blew him up.

The Man Who Loved Virginia Woolf Too Much (Day 2)

It’s the fourth day of Lent, and I’m about to start on my fourth poem – so it’s all going to plan so far. As I said, I won’t be posting every poem – but I thought I’d share what I wrote on day 2. It’s something of a self portrait…

The Man Who Loved Virginia Woolf Too Much

A pensive smile, a far-off look,
A sense that here, at last, is truth
A somewhat tattered library book,
Oh lord… he loves Virginia Woolf.

He has fixed ideas about the sea
(Which mariners would contradict)
Each rock-pool is a simile
However dull or nondescript.

For holidays, he sometimes takes
A walking tour of Bloomsbury Squares
And points out all the guide’s mistakes
In case, by chance, somebody cares.

Occasionally, he handwrites prose
Inspired by Woolf (or so he claims)
With comma : full stop ratios
To rival those of Henry James.

Mention Faulker, Brontës, Proust,
Either Eliot, Brothers Grimm,
You’ll find it isn’t any use –
Only Virginia for him!

He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke,
He has no sinful thoughts, as such,
His only vice, his heavy yoke:
He loves Virginia Woolf too much!


A poem a day for Lent (day one)

I hope you’ve had your fill of pancakes – Lent has begun! For many of us, it’s a time of contemplation leading up to the joy of Easter – but it’s also, of course, a time for giving up or taking up things. My brother has gone vegetarian for Lent (taking up vegetarianism or giving up meat, depending on how you look at it) – this excites me greatly, mostly because he has teased me for being vegetarian ever since I started, in 2001.

I’ve been watching a couple of arty programmes lately – The Big Painting Challenge and Portrait Artist of the Year – and it got me wanting to take up something creative in Lent. One artist said he had a New Year’s Resolution to paint a self portrait every day. Any sort of artwork every day seemed impossibly time-consuming, but I decided I could manage a poem a day. There’s always the option of a single rhyming couplet on hectic days. (And the project would require – yay – stationery!)

Lent poetry book

Perhaps I should emphasise this isn’t because I think I’m a great poet – rather it’s that I want to practise it more, and I like the idea of a record of Lent to look back on. I’ll be trying lots of styles, tones, and forms (though my go-to form is always something which takes a rigid structure and shakes it up a bit), and I will probably share some of them here, if people are interested. In fact, here’s day one – I thought ‘beginning’ was a suitable theme, and it was my jumping-off point for writing this one, as well as the title.


She is there in a house on a cliff,
Facing out to sea and out to land,
The place both meet; the place where both begin,
A refuge for escapers, holidaymakers,
From all that’s past that’s not permitted in.

In a room in a house on a cliff,
Cold with age and waiting to awake,
The day begins; the dying back of night,
A light-switch makes a lighthouse of a cave;
A wary hand declares ‘let there be light’.

In a room on the edge of a cliff,
She finds that she has walked to every wall,
To use each sense; to know that they are there,
The witnesses to something wholly new,
But witnesses which must stay unaware.

In a bed in a house on a cliff,
Blankets form a powerless defence.
The warmth may come; perhaps she has to wait,
For now no walls can stop the creeping cold;
The world outside will always infiltrate.

In a house on the edge of a cliff,
Caught between the country and the coast,
The last escape; the first place to defend,
Sometimes an end is the beginning;
Sometimes a beginning is the end.