Please use the hotlinks below to jump straight to the poem of your choice.

1. Stritch Top ↑

The goat's horn makes a graceful curve,
All hilltops undulate.
Appealing things in nature swerve,
- Should saxophones be straight?

John Robert Brown

2. If Cat could speak Top ↑

If Cat could speak, I wonder what he'd say?
To doze, or groom upon a fresh made bed,
Or taste the fine-sliced ham that came today
He doesn't need to speak. To stay well-fed
He hints with purrs and mews to get his way.

A mackerel tabby, blessed with poise and grace,
Tom naps in shafts of sunlight, by the door,
Or prowls our mews, as though he owns the place.
At my PC he pokes a furry paw,
Then runs to listen to the double-bass.

Woo's bass holds many pleasures for a cat,
Its dark, soft, bag a secret place to sleep
Beneath my bed, a perfect habitat.
And notes - like giant cat purrs, extra deep -
Hold interest, more than any mouse or rat.

If Cat could speak, would what we heard be prized?
Would cat advice be something good to hear?
Or would he chatter, carp, and criticise,
Use evil words, and pester in my ear?
If Cat could speak, would what he'd say be wise?

John Robert Brown

3. New York Villanelle Top ↑

Steel-bright shine Gotham's treasures, some profound,
while skills unnumbered bless this famous isle.
In shade of lofty towers, fine works abound.

The planet's best, things most men deem profound,
are here. New York comes first for poise and style.
Steel-bright shine Gotham's treasures, some profound.

Achievements of the talented redound,
where powers of art and commerce reconcile.
In shade of lofty towers, fine works abound.

At Av'ry Fisher, hear the Phil's rich sound;
let world-class shows on Broadway spark your smile.
Steel-bright shine Gotham's treasures, some profound.

The Frick's and Morgan's contents are renowned,
their prints, their oils, their documents beguile;
in shade of lofty towers, fine works abound.

Grand buildings, tallest known to man, surround
the streets and avenues of this small isle.
Steel-bright shine Gotham's treasures, some profound.
In shade of lofty towers, fine works abound.

John Robert Brown

4. Double Bass Top ↑

Noble and supportive sounds my double bass.
Sustaining others that above us play.
Noticed, even when noiseless, in his lowly place,

I love his great grand grainy grace,
anchoring our music, whether grim or gay.
Noble and supportive sounds my double bass.

Bull-fiddle, whichever style of music we embrace,
his rich tones do it honour, and stay
noticed, even when noiseless, in his lowly place.

He plumbs the vital depths; nothing can replace
him in our instrumental interplay.
Noble and supportive sounds my double bass.

Spruce, maple, blackwood, the sounding air embrace.
Strings sing softly, E,G,D and A,
noticed, even when noiseless, in his lowly place.

Arco lines and pizzicato patterns trace
the ways my upright bass holds sway.
Noble and supportive sounds my double bass.
Noticed, even when noiseless, in his lowly place.

John Robert Brown

5. Cyclists Top ↑

We curse your furious breakneck speed.
With lamps unlit, you disobey
Red traffic lights. To one-way signs
And hatched white lines, scant heed you pay.

On footpaths, cycling quiet and fast,
You weave and glide. So asinine
That selfish way you ride. You sneer:
'What highway code?' You should be fined.

Cyclists use, free, the Queen's highway
For which we pay. Are we mad,
We drivers? Numbered, licensed, ruled,
We are the fooled, the mugs. How sad.

For we're endangered by your ways.
We curse today's velocipedes,
And execrate the fools astride
Those wobbling, risky, alloy steeds.

John Robert Brown

6. Young Mums Top ↑

At Lakeside Café, mothers congregate.
Their kiddies' squeals disturb our peaceful lunch.
Ignoring all, mums prattle, yak, debate
And snack en masse, a noisy, selfish, bunch.

Tits out to feed, while we avert our eyes.
Insensitive to all, these hostile mums
Bag the best tables, call out, criticise,
Steer pushchairs roughly, bare their infants' bums.

Their toddlers run amok, spill drink, and food,
Walk on the seats, wheel dolly's pram indoors,
Hog tissues, menus, chairs. The attitude
of these young graceless mothers one deplores.

Mums have the right to share this lovely place,
But not to disregard the others here.
We elders, whom they ostracise today,
Were also parents, only yesteryear.

John Robert Brown

7. A Tip Top ↑

What do you gain by withholding a tip?
My friend, you must meanness abjure.
Tipping your waitress will not make you broke,
You hoarder, you skinflint, you bore.
What do you gain when no pour-boire you slip?
You'll not be a popular bloke.

Twenty per cent is a generous drop,
While half that will strike folk as tight.
Clearly de trop when, aged more than fifty,
Good manners you constantly fight.
Such mean behaviour must come to a stop.
Please, do not claim that you're thrifty.

John Robert Brown

8. Miss Cope's Profession Top ↑

It says she began as an eacher.
I confess I've assumed all along
That eacher must surely mean teacher.
Eacher is teacher, spelt wrong.

This eacher appeared on the flyleaf
Of her booklet of serious verse.
Her printer should really proof harder,
His roof preading couldn't be worse.

John Robert Brown

9. In The Bedroom Top ↑

Morning. Dozing in my room,
No sound, no word, is said.
Softly Kate creeps through the gloom.
To crawl into my bed.
Lovely female snuggles near.
Downstairs, my wife: "You-hoo?"
Kate pretends she cannot hear.
"Darling... is Kate Cat with you?"

John Robert Brown

10. Railways Top ↑

If a Martian came to visit and travelled on our trains,
I wonder, would he ask himself: "Do British folk lack brains?
Why not make the railway wider? Broad gauge, like ours on Mars?
If these Earthlings made these changes they'd need far fewer cars.
Why are British trains so short? Is the reason lack of thought?"

If a Martian went to Japan, where trains move fast as planes.
He'd ask: "Why don't the Brits do that?" I wish I could explain
Just why our dining cars are closed, and how our fares are planned.
Or why our wretched commuters are forced each day to stand.
Why are British trains so sad? Martian man would think us mad.

John Robert Brown

11. For Adolphe Sax Top ↑

Don't ever call a saxophone a sax,
A terse abbreviation, lacking style.
A sousaphone is never called a sue,
You wouldn't call a xylophone a xyle.

You'll never hear a saxhorn called a sax,
By doing so you'd certainly mislead.
A saxhorn is a different kind of sound,
A member of the brass, another breed.

No, please don't call a saxophone a sax,
Lest people think you're slightly lower class.
Sax was a famous Belgian, not a pipe.
A person, not a tube of polished brass.

John Robert Brown

12. I am a College Principal Top ↑

I am a college principal. I have a PhD.
I'm paid a handsome salary, I drive an SUV.
Music's what we're teaching here, from tuba to celeste.
I wear a suit from Austin Reed, but rarely look well-dressed.

You ask me what it is I play. Well, these days I admit
I chair the academic board, send down each thimblewit.
No, I don't play, I work from home, or hit the conference trail.
But mostly I appoint new staff, and sign huge piles of mail.

I know about retention rates and how consultants work,
Can quote you aims, and mission statements, chastise staff who shirk,
Invest in People, validate, relax, take reading weeks,
But can't adjust my marking with statistical techniques.

I write some minor papers (research is such a bore),
Then fly abroad to read them out, to groups of three or four.
I specialise in arcane stuff, say free jazz, or brass bands,
And have my travel subsidized by extra-mural grants.

You cannot hear me play, on disc or Radio Three.
I don't write books and, sad to say, I'm never on TV.
Thus, few musicians know of me. Composing's not my sphere.
Despite all this I claim an international career.

I am a college principal. I have a PhD.
I'm paid a handsome salary, and drive an SUV.

John Robert Brown

13. Writerly Habits Top ↑

Check each book index, see if you're there,
Constantly google your name.
Your book to the front on the bookshelves,
Promote only you, without shame.

Then scan each day's paper for obits.
When did your rival depart?
Ignore what he wrote in his lifetime,
Thank God, you outlived the old fart.

John Robert Brown

14. Plus Tard Top ↑

I set my watch by trains in Japan,
Yet in the UK I never can.
British railways have such slight regard
For time. Often, trains arrive plus tard.

Other methods of public travel
Make my domestic trips unravel.
The omnibus, the boat and the plane,
For punctual arrival show disdain.

Today, I sat on the motorway.
In a tailback I wasted the day.
Why we were static, I'd no idea.
When I started out the roads were clear.

Forty years hence, who'll travel by car?
By then, wise people won't journey far
By road. Then, folk will remain at home
- Or use some new contraption to roam.

John Robert Brown

15. Foreign Language Top ↑

Yankee folk use words of their own,
Of a vayse or of erbs they speak.
Their bottom they call a fanny,
A word that to Brits sounds comique.

Decatur chimes with equator,
Poughkeepsie with gipsy will rhyme.
Nu-cu-lar bomb is hopelessly wrong,
And aloominum and Eye-raq are such awful mispronunciations that to use them should be categorised as petty crime.

John Robert Brown

16. Helpline Top ↑

I'm placed on a helpline, music on hold,
Though I show patience, my problem's unsolved.
Already ill-tempered, this makes me worse.
After waiting so long it's hard not to curse.
Must music on hold be four-to-the-bar?
Must every tape include a guitar?
With random starts, peremptory end,
Jingles on helplines drive me round the bend.
'Your call is important,' I'm told, yet again,
I listen, my patience much tested. Then:
'You're progressing,' I hear, 'You're in a queue.'
The tape is repeating, starting anew.
'Thank you for calling.' A voice from abroad
Asks for my password. She says her name's Maud.
Requesting my number, my age, and address.
Thence to Kolkata, and yet more duress.
Grace, now my mentor, soon says goodbye.
'You must be on broadband.' I'm moved to Mumbai.
This time it's Ken who is starting again.
Polite though he is, I can't comprehend Ken.
Then - can it be wilful? - Ken cuts me cold.
I'm back on the helpline, music on hold.
Music once more, steady four-in-a-bar.
Same old three-chord trick, distorted guitar.

Important? My call? That's hard to believe.
Less pleasant 'help' would be hard to conceive.

John Robert Brown

17. Saxophone Bore Top ↑

Big bore, small bore,
Baffle, facing, open lay,
Small bore, big bore
Extension down to bottom A.

Big bore, small bore,
Sticky pads, reeds that squeak.
Small bore, big bore,
Chatting with a saxo geek.

Big bore, small bore,
Mouthpiece, reed and ligature,
Small bore, big bore,
Tip-rail, baffle, embouchure.

Big bore, small bore,
Curving bells, fine pearls on keys.
Small bore, big bore,
Rollers on my bottom Bs.

Big bore, small bore,
Small bore, big bore,
Big bore, small bore,
No more big bore,
Big snore, small snore,
More snore,

John Robert Brown

18. Horse Box Top ↑

Caution! Horses! It says on the truck.
Why should we worry?
Steeds on a truck can't run amok,
Can they?

John Robert Brown

19. Oxbridge Top ↑

Graduates of Oxford wish that you should know.
Swift to name their alma mater - once they've said 'Hello'.

Those who went to Cambridge likewise spread the word.
Why do alumni have such need? Really, it's absurd.

John Robert Brown

20. Cardiac Arrest Top ↑

While strolling up a steady slope
I feel a sharp - enormous - pain,
From post-prandial indigestion
Perhaps? I think the cause is plain:
I'd lunched especially well today
(A touch of greed, I should explain).

Posthaste I visit my GP.
I'm feeling awful as we chat.
Suddenly, I'm faint and feeble,
On grubby carpet, lying flat.
Cool, life-supporting oxygen
He gives me, quickly, on the mat.

Now arrives the first responder,
Next come the paramedics (two).
Breakneck journey, siren screaming,
The traffic parts, our lights flash blue.
Cardiac unit, at the double.
Admission's prompt. No time to queue.

Off the gurney, where my heart STOPS.
The CPR nurse saves my life
From early end. Though I don't see,
This terrifies my worried wife.
Is this my death? The dreaded close?
Will I pass on, amid such strife?

Through a vein a stent is threaded
Up to my heart, from my right wrist,
Where tiny cage dilates the bore.
No need for an anaesthetist.
Pills to stop my blood congealing,
No rôle yet for an elegist!

Drugs - for life - are scheduled, pronto.
Six pills per day, but what a chore,
Aspirin, Atorvastatin,
Bisoprolol, Ticagrelor.
Make my blood flow more serenely,
It's Ramipril for evermore.

Thus I expired, then breathed again.
Back from the dead I quickly came.
What was death like? I've no idea.
Seemed like a snooze, 'twas rather tame.
Felt like nothing,
No great ordeal,
No heavenly vision,
Frightful shame.

John Robert Brown

21. TV Top ↑

The day our television ceased to work
It sparked, went 'phut', smelled foul, then - toodle-pip -
Gone! Now we live our lives without the thing.
Unplugged, the dead telly lies in the skip.

Friends dissemble: 'I really don't watch much.'
Or utter half-truths: 'I just see the news'.
Don't view much? To some, that's self-deception.
To claim: 'I don't watch much' is but a ruse.

The things they ask! 'Can't you buy a used one?'
Or worse: 'How do you know what's going on?'
For, compared with wireless and printed news,
Most current TV shows are woebegone.

John Robert Brown

22. Lost Whorls Top ↑

Wendy has lost the prints on her fingers
From playing the bass , I suppose.
Would she have lost face, from playing the bass,
Had she plucked at the strings with her nose?

John Robert Brown

23. North Norfolk Top ↑

The Norfolk wind blows ever strong
Over Glaven's muddy bank.
Trilling cry of lowland wader,
Here that worn-out lugger sank.

Trippers watch a thousand seals, as
Lowland waders probe the ooze.
Shingle heaped by long shore drift forms
Blakeney Point, where yachters cruise.

Beloved Norfolk doesn't change.
Peaceful County's bygone ways
Calm one's feelings. Take it easy,
Relive childhood's summer days.

Much to love is found in Norfolk,
Scarcely changes year on year.
Reassurance, not nostalgia,
Though the past is ever near.

Motorways have not been built yet,
Through this county's vastness flat.
From clear blue skies, skylarks warble.
Sunlight burns! Put on a hat.

Samphire, local seaside annual,
Sprouting from its salt-sprayed spot.
Succulent salicornia,
Cook with butter, tasty hot.

Known by some as glasswort, and by
Shakespeare talked of, in King Lear.
Plant which welcomes autumn's end is
Tasty early in the year.

By Runton Gap, above the beach,
Cliff eroded by a gale
Fell; and on a winter's day a
Mammoth bared, a ten-ton male.

Today he's called The Elephant.
Bones now cleaned, recorded, they
Were stored away from here. When will
They show them? No one will say.

Roadside retting pond at Runton,
Flax stalks sunk here to decline.
Then they're broken, scutched, and heckled,
Turned to linen, lace, or twine.

Flax is a source of linseed oil,
Useful plant; no, not a weed,
Wrapping for cigarettes or tea bags,
Flaxen paper, made from reed.

Holt, where Gresham's school's located,
Britten was a pupil here.
Poppy Line, where steam trains billow,
Have a ride, it isn't dear.

Sheringham Shoal, offshore wind farm,
Said to cost one billion pounds.
Power from wind is what we're getting,
These days, technology astounds.

Skating rink in Cromer back street,
Big Bands played on ancient pier.
Once we shopped at Roys of Wroxham,
'Everything you need is here'.

Norfolk gave a child much pleasure.
Truly, could one wish for more?
The Norfolk wind blows ever strong
Over Glaven's muddy shore.

John Robert Brown

24. Cat Kiss Top ↑

Greets me, nose-to-face.
Single kiss is all he gives.
More is not allowed.

Wonder what he means?
Welcome? Or a cat's Hello,
Like an eskimo?

John Robert Brown

25. Epicenism Top ↑

Ev’ry female player is an actor,
And no-one's called a waitress nowadays.
All say guys. They call their spouses partners,
The epicene has now become a craze.

I know; we modified priestess to priest.
But waitperson? Oh, please, don’t make me smile.
You hijacked gay; don't ban good clear-cut nouns,
Chairman replaced by chair is bound to rile!

Cars and ships should not be given genders,
While chick is but a prepubescent fowl.
Say, why can’t we call a chap a postman?
Nazis of neutrality make me howl.

When women first partook of college life
Their dons would speak of undergraduettes.
A useful noun, discarded now I fear,
Although for girls the gender is correct.

Fashion stops us using nouns precisely,
A silliness that puts me in a daze.
With new and neutral pronouns everywhere,
The epicene has now become a craze.

John Robert Brown

26. Japanese Gyratory Top ↑

Roundabouts arrive in Japan, 2013

In Japan, and new this year,
Traffic roundabouts appear.
Mazdas, Hondas now gyrate,
Drivers must negotiate
Clockwise circles. We'll survive,
Glad I didn't choose to drive.
Hooters silent, all polite.
Taxi drivers' gloves are white,
Round and to the left we go,
Grateful that the traffic's slow.

Should he filter? He's no clue.
Mind that Lexus! "After you."
Can't browse signs; could go astray,
Though white arrows point our way.
Suddenly I feel absurd
- I can't read a single word.
Japan's taxis painted green,
Glossy black that limousine.
Driver's masked, no-one gets ill.
Never tip, just pay the bill.

Drivers sit. Somehow, they bow;
Roundabouts in Japan now.

John Robert Brown

27. The Runcible Spoon Top ↑

For widespread awareness of the runcible spoon
One gives credit to dear Edward Lear.
His owl, to his cat, by the light of the moon,
Would fret melodies, sweetly, by ear.

The runcible spoon, now largely forgotten,
Was cutlery used in those times.
Not a spoon, more a fork, sharp edged with three prongs,
Rarely mentioned, except in Lear's rhymes.

Perhaps they ate pickles al fresco that day,
In their boat painted green as a pea?
And for mince, with honey and slices of quince,
With that spoon, did they sit down to tea?

Today they're long gone to the land of the Bong
Where an owl could well croon you a tune.
Or a friendly old pig flog his ring for a bob,
And you might spot a runcible spoon.

John Robert Brown

With veneration for Edward Lear (1812 - 1888).

28. Tove Top ↑

Could I love a slithy tove
So lacking in appeal?
Though, ignorant of borogroves,
I don't know how I'd feel
Towards the Jabberwocky.

Then, unsure whether manxome foe
Was anti cat-without-a-tail,
I'd scratch my head and ponder:
Could I love a slithy tove?
You know, I think I'd fail.

John Robert Brown

With veneration for Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898).

29. Notebook Top ↑

Tiny jotter in my pocket
Carries memos of all sorts.
Lists books to read,
With fond reports,
And dates and names,
And childish thoughts.

Or press reviews
And email codes,
Or sites which list
Useful downloads,
With routes to gigs
Or parts of odes.

Lists cards I've sent
From towns abroad
And, though it's banned,
Bank codes record,
And balance-check
What to afford.

Tiny jotter in my pocket
Carries memos of all sorts.

John Robert Brown

30. Nuneaton Top ↑

Nobody ever writes about Nuneaton.
A Midlands town most visitors find dull.
No moonlight over Bond Gate,
Or strolls round Arbury Estate,
Will ever tempt the poet to extol.

Nobody ever writes about Nuneaton.
No novels ever use her in their plot.
George Eliot called her Milby.
Those who seek to name her will be
Advised that here's a town that isn't hot.

Nobody ever writes about Nuneaton.
Scribes tend to leave the little town alone.
Nobody gives a hoot
For Pool Bank Street or Long Shoot,
I guess Nuneaton isn't widely known.

Yet I must say a good word for Nuneaton.
The little town did quite a bit for me.
Grammar school I thought was great,
There it was I met my mate,
I'll put in a good word for Nuneaton.

John Robert Brown

31. Young Poet Top ↑

He speaks off-mike. He scrapes his chair, coughs and clears his throat.
Shuffles his papers, blows his nose, buttons up his coat.
Unrehearsed, he reads. He stops, repeats, says um and er,
Jiggles with the microphone, distracts - a true farceur.

He calls pounds 'dollars'. He grunts, snorts, tells a feeble joke.
Mumbles words, has unkempt hair, a most untidy bloke.
Calls Britain 'England', trips over every foreign word,
Recaps, falters, stops. A performance, er, um… absurd.

John Robert Brown

32. Deutsch im Englischen Top ↑

Sauerkraut and Dachshund are good German words,
And Rucksack and Zeitgeist I'd list
As words filched by Brits, because there's no match;
That's why we use kaputt and Kitsch.

We all speak of Strudel, Gestalt and Wurst,
Though Hamburger some mistranslate.
Yet Brits lack a word to mean Treppenwitz
- A quip thought up moments too late.

Kindergarten we find very useful,
Like Angst or Ersatz, I suggest.
But why cannot we make up our own words,
And have those bright Germans impressed?

John Robert Brown

33. Thrash Metal, Heard Emanating from a Sports Car Top ↑

His car is flash,
But cuts no dash.
Earbash, brash, trash
Wipes out panache.

John Robert Brown

34. Concert Hall Blues Top ↑

Most every big city desires to possess
A chic concert venue, to wow, to impress.
Admire a grand city? Go there, and then you
Will see for yourself a fine music venue.
A fair concert hall, a true emblem of class,
A great city needs one that none can surpass.

In London, the Barbican, ugly to some,
Won several awards. One must beat the drum
For it. Bridgewater Hall in Manchester town
Was erected on springs - to hold the noise down!
The Wigmore is gracious, Glyndebourne's paradise,
Two halls in The Lowry. Go, visit there twice!

The South Bank is pleasant, close by Father Thames,
Royal Festival Hall is one of our gems.
Royal Albert Hall, the most gigantic of all,
The spot that's been called 'The UK's Village Hall'.
Ben Britten's Maltings (once burned down, in Snape),
Looks noble and novel in Suffolk's landscape.

Up North upon Tyneside the cutting-edge Sage,
Bright, glassy and glossy, it stands for our age.
Birmingham City shows off Symphony Hall,
In contrast, Leeds suffers a hall to appal,
With wind noise, no car park, nowhere to eat,
And no-one desiring your rickety seat.

The echo, the street sounds, the poor sight-lines, spoil it.
The bar is small, stand in line for a toilet.
We feel sorry for Leeds, for losing this game.
The Town Hall is old and sad, oh, what a shame.
Up to date? No Sir! For eighteen-fifty-eight
Was the last date anyone thought it was great.

John Robert Brown

35. The Shard Top ↑

One is Oblix, one is Aqua,
Above the city, high,
Two restaurants by the Shangri-La,
Let's dine together in the sky.

Above the ground, one thousand feet
High over Tower Bridge.
Let's eat, please take a window seat,
Enjoy this privilege.

The building's called the London Shard,
You'll see for miles, they say,
But only when the sun shines hard,
- Not on this foggy day.

John Robert Brown

36. Anniversary Waltz Top ↑

At least he remembered the date.
He bought her a nice card, but then
He'd no ink to scrawl a few words,
So wrote with a wonky ball pen.

John Robert Brown

37. Pink Roller Blades Top ↑

Often seen walking his dog in the park,
He won’t enter the café to drink.
“Coffee’s expensive. On Sundays, I think,
Too many girls, too young, and too pink,”

What does ‘pink’ mean? Dare I venture to ask?
I guess that for him pink’s no gay thing.
He says: “Girls are SO loud, squealing, in crowds,
And Barbie’s their favourite plaything.”

Young lasses he loathes, on pink roller-blades.
At eight, they strike him as clamorous.
But, ten years on, those same girls he’ll exalt,
Eighteen, seductive, and glamorous.

John Robert Brown

38. Eponymous Top ↑

Léon Theremin
Is the eponym
Of the Theremin.
For an eponym
Is merely a thing
After which something
Is named. Think of its
Or of Louis Braille
And his Braille System.

It means ‘giving name’.
Like Biro, or Colt,
Or Geiger, or Ford,
Or Ampère, or Volt,
The Marquis de Sade,
Or Rolls, Royce and Ritz
And dear Granny Smith.
It’s simply a thing,
After which something
Is named.
As I’ve explained.

John Robert Brown

39. As I Grow Old Top ↑

As I grow old, my writing decays,
From ball-and-stick for school essays
To cursive, callow, cautious hand
Though clearly mine, grown ever bland,
The first of many scripting ways.

Next phase: The sharp steel nib obeys
Fastidious italic displays.
With detailed care the spacing’s planned,
As I grow old.

Today, the PC’s speed outweighs
What little grace my pen conveys.
Stranger, I hope you understand
My reasons to discard longhand.
See, how my handwriting decays
As I grow old.

John Robert Brown

40. Peacock at Normanby Top ↑

Here, warm in the greenhouse alongside her snug bed,
Sits an old mackerel tabby. She waits to be fed
While a hefty fat peacock looks down from the wall
Round the large kitchen garden at Normanby Hall.

A patrician old fowl, he parades with cool poise.
Long-tailed and superior, he grates his coarse noise,
Then turns silent in August; don’t ask me why.
His plumage iridescent, as blue as the sky

Where interference reflections harness the light
His plumage is radiant. (His legs are plain white.)
On the top of his head sprouts a wonderful crest
Which declares to his peahens: “Behold! I’m the best”.

Before long, in the young peahens’ nest there’ll be eggs,
Pale white their colour to match peacock’s pasty legs.
“Oh yes, look”, he squawks loud, “Every peahen my bride”.
To entice yet more peahens he spreads his train wide.

Meanwhile, old tabby cat still sleeps under the wall
Of the old kitchen garden at Normanby Hall.

John Robert Brown

41. Irony at the Garden Centre Top ↑

Beside the plate of tasty cakes
They proffer, they are unable
To place real blooms. They use silk fakes
To decorate our tea table.

John Robert Brown

42. Crossword Top ↑

Each day I solve the crossword,
It’s not too hard to do.
Said to ward off brain decline
I wonder: “Is that true?”
For while I read the paper
I have no ears for you.

John Robert Brown

43. Afternoon Recital Top ↑

I'm not entirely sure why I attend.
Dedicating a Sunday afternoon
To sit on bone-hard chairs to hear this stuff.
Same old pieces, piano out-of-tune,

An oboe with the reed a tad too soft.
Mrs Hogan's here. Snob, she looks away,
Speaking only to those more grand than me.
Oh dear! Dim compère fluffs the name Pierné.

Music composed by Nielsen, Bach and Dring,
The latter's Dance cheers up my afternoon.
Though too modern for such as Mrs H,
Dring's welcome here today, a cheery tune.

Later, fruitcake to eat, Earl Grey to drink,
While I chat music to Professor Pugh.
Mrs Hogan lurks, strives to catch Prof's eye.
Hard luck, old girl. I move to block her view.

John Robert Brown

44. The Endoscope Top ↑

She holds my arm, slips on the cuff,
Then gives the rubber bulb a puff.
Left arm is squeezed. A little wait.
Nurse reads out: 'B P: one-one-eight.'

Next I see the phlebotomist,
Who smiles and bids me: 'Clench your fist.
Just a scratch,' said matter-of-fact.
In truth, the sting is worse than that.

Most dire with which I've had to cope
Is entry of an endoscope.
The penis is the chosen route.
Discomfort caused? Great, most acute.

Camera mounted on a stick
To give a view in, up my dick.
'You care to look?' The surgeon asks.
I wince, but watch this complex task.

Urethra's bore is very thin,
It's not evolved to let things in.
Not anyone's idea of fun,
Such actions made my old eyes run.

Adversity of the Third Age?
Against these hurts one should not rage.
These trials through which we choose to live
Outdo the grim alternative.

John Robert Brown

45. Going Green Top ↑

She owns a lawn of emerald green,
Which cost a massive price.
It gleams with a sheen that's seldom seen,
Men came to fit it, twice.

No birds search here for grub or fly,
No butterflies here hover.
No mower needs she now to buy
- A plastic lawn's no bother.

John Robert Brown

46. Marmalade Top ↑

Jams and jellies in abundance at our New York breakfast bar.
Yet no marmalade is proffered. How can this be? Je ne sais quoi.

Bitter flavour, dark and chunky, sticky treat we Brits applaud.
Our daily choice when we're at home, no tasty marjam when abroad.

Does bitterness put people off? Surely not, it tastes so nice.
Such a pity, what they're missing,
Pack your own is my advice.

John Robert Brown

47. On the Passing of a Saxophonist Top ↑

Gone at sixty. A life too short.
Death from cancer the papers said.
That other C he liked to snort
Had hooked him fast - so now he's dead.

A corpse too young; was he a fool?
He could not beat cocaine. Who can?
Why do such victims think drugs cool?
What's hip about a short lifespan?

John Robert Brown

48. Minna Top ↑

Our new cat came to us today.
Now wormed and fed, she's micro-chipped
In case this girl should lose her way.
Deflead and spayed, she came equipped
With bed, ball, dish and tray.

She chases twine across our floors,
(She'll stalk a length of string for hours)
Then hides to sleep, or prowls outdoors,
And through the garden's shrubs and flowers
New hiding spots explores.

Her socks are white, her tail is fat,
'Tuxedo' is her type, I'm told.
Leaps high, runs fast - an acrobat.
Her age? She's almost twelve months old,
Our lovely, velvet-coated cat.

John Robert Brown

49. North-South Sonnet Top ↑

Here rocks we quarry, steel we roll,
Here smut-faced men dig deep for coal.
And in the North, firms want to frack.
'No Thanks' we say, not in our back-
yard. Here, in dales from Trent to Dee,
Our ground is scarred by industry,
A piece of Britain's Gasland now,
The landscape shaped by greed, not plough.
Yet Yorkshire treasures make me glad,
This place enchants, all is not bad.
See Haworth, heart of Brontё-land,
Or Kilburn, with its White Horse grand.
Walk Sutton Bank, or Leeds arcade,
Buy Whitby jet, our own black jade.
I hope, dear friend, you understand
Our county's worth. Such glorious land.

John Robert Brown

50. Golden Youth Top ↑

Using Google, how can I know
How she fared in life's farrago?
Shared her days with a prince - or lout?
I wonder how her life turned out.
What a pity. It's such a shame:
She who marries changes her name.

John Robert Brown

51. In The Barber's Window Top ↑

A creature, stuffed, and on display
Prompts the question: 'Why is that so?'
And where's the pole of red and white?
Don't ask me. Please, how would I know?
Why is a rabbit here on show?
Oh - I see.
It's a hare!

John Robert Brown

52. To the Right is George Top ↑

George thinks he's to the left. Please note, I said he thinks;
His thoughts and deeds are clearly not the same.
George thinks he's to the left. In truth, he's barely pink.
Of politics, his understanding's lame.

For a doctor, when he's ill, George prefers to pay.
He earns enough to meet his treatment bills,
And George believes a better cure will come this way.
He's lucky, for he rarely suffers ills.

The school to which George sends his kids has fees sky-high.
There, girls can lodge their ponies (for a charge).
Smart uniform is worn; sixth-formers learn to fly!
At private school, these extra costs are large.

George thinks he's to the left. He'd surely be upset
That we conclude his views are coloured blue.
The Grauniad he reads. Of course; it's of the left.
(George claims that he supports that point of view.)

George thinks he's to the left. Please note, I said he thinks;
His thoughts and deeds fall in a narrow range.
George thinks he's to the left, when he's not even pink,
But well we know: dear George will never change.

John Robert Brown

53. Betty's Café. Top ↑

It feels wrong, seeing 'Bettys' thus.
I hesitate to make a fuss,
But 'Betty's' is how it should be.
Yet Bettys (no apostrophe)
Is, alas, what customers see…

Ignore the grammar; pour the tea!

But if this verse is read to you,
My point is lost. What can I do?

John Robert Brown

54. Blemya Top ↑

A shrunken form, of neck devoid,
His eyes and mouth are on his chest.
Strange fierce Blemya has no head,
I've heard some say he'd eat a guest.

He's flat of face, and flat of lips,
With small round holes instead of eyes.
An ugly trunk, no head, no neck,
He's said to bake his foes in pies!

Where to view a Blemya's likeness?
Carved in wood, man-eating creature,
If his form you wish to gaze on,
There's one in Ripon cannot eat yah.

John Robert Brown


Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire has a famous set of medieval misericords, including a woodcarving of the mythical Blemya.

55. Acrostic Top ↑

And, regarding keyboard skills, he's up there at the top.        
Not to mention conducting, writing books, or playing bop.
Deft when composing a Broadway score.
Romanced five wives; can there yet be more?
Éminence grise, his operas soar.

Perfectly spoken English, German, French as well.
Royal Philharmonic he conducted, Purcell to Ravel.
Ev'ry Good Boy, with Stoppard, we enjoyed - 'twas swell.
Violin Concerto, for Anne-Sophie Mutter.
I rode with him between floors once; no word did I utter.
Never will that chance return.
I couldn't even stutter!

John Robert Brown

56. Persecuted Minority Top ↑

Stop picking on me! I've done bugger all.
I'm a WASP (with no sting), it's quite true.
My résumé is fine; I write verses that rhyme,
But I fear that my caste will upset you.

A man, with white skin, I am old, I wear suits,
Long-married, no kids, draw a pension.
I say: Have a care! Come on now, be fair.
Don't I merit unbiased attention?

I went through a prep school, grammar school too,
And at college I earned a degree.
These days, that's no aid. I'm ever dismayed
When folk turn in judgement against me.

'Useless Male Poet'? That's not very nice.
I request: Judge by Ear, not by Eye.
Don't shape your views from the threads that I choose,
Please, look past my shabby school tie.

Stop picking on me! I've done bugger all.
I'm a WASP (with no sting). Yes, that's true.
Hold those facile new lines that never use rhymes,
Ditch your cynical pose,
- Love my fogyish clothes,
- Don't look down your nose,
- Hide your prejudiced woes,
- Curb your mean, ageist, crows,
Then, I promise, I won't pick on you.

John Robert Brown

Updated and maintained by: routeToWeb