Thanks for all the goati!


Goati makes me smile.  It is, says Wikipedia,  “a creative respelling of the word fish, used to illustrate irregularities in English pronunciation and spelling.”  It is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw, a supporter of the cause for English spelling reform, but does not appear in any of his known writing.  It is pronounced like so:

gh as in enough or rough,
o as in women,
ti as in nation or motion
So, is pronounced fish.

But there’s another work that plays with English’s eccentric pronunciation and spelling – a poem titled “The Chaos”, by Dutch writer, traveller and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité.

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
⁠I will teach you in my verse
⁠Sounds like corpsecorpshorse and worse.
It will keep you, Susybusy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear.
⁠So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it?
⁠Just compare heartbeard and heard,
Dies and dietlord and word,
Sword and swardretain and Britain,
(Mind the latter, how it’s written!)
Made has not the sound of bade,
⁠Say—said, pay—paidlaid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
⁠But be careful how you speak,
⁠Say breaksteak, but bleak and streak,
Pipesniperecipe and choir,
Clovenovenhow and low;
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughterlaughter and Terpsichore,
Scholarvicar and cigar,
Solarmicawar and far.
From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”;
Lumberplumberbier but brier;
Chathambroughamrenown but known,
Knowledgedone, but gone and tone,
GertrudeGermanwind and mind;
⁠This phonetic labyrinth
⁠Gives mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
⁠Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with “darky”.
Viscousviscountload and broad;
Toward, to forward, to reward,
And your pronunciation’s O.K.
When you say correctly croquet;
Roundedwoundedgrieve and sieve;
Friend and fiendalive and live;
Libertylibraryheave and heaven;
⁠We say hallowed, but allowed;
Peopleleopardtowed, but vowed
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between moverploverDover,
Chalice but police and lice.
Petalpenal and canal;
Rime with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
⁠But it is not hard to tell,
⁠Why it’s pallmall, but Pall Mall.
Worm and stormchaisechaoschair;
And enamour rime with “hammer.”
Pussyhussy and possess.
Desert, but dessertaddress.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt, but aunt;
Shoesgoesdoes.[1]) Now first say: finger,
And then: singergingerlinger.
Realzealmauvegauze and gauge;
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dostlostpost and dothclothloth;
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Putnutgranite, but unite.
Reefer does not rime with “deafer,”
Feoffer does, and zephyrheifer.
Hintpintsenate, but sedate;
Tour, but our, and succourfour;
Gasalas and Arkansas!
PsalmMaria, but malaria;
Youthsouthsoutherncleanse and clean;
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Sally with allyyeaye,
Say aver, but everfever,
⁠Never guess—it is not safe;
⁠We say calvesvalveshalf, but Ralf!
Crevice, and device, and eyrie;
Face but preface, but efface,
Large, but targetgingiveverging;
Oughtoutjoust and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and wear and tear
⁠Do not rime with “here”, but “ere”.
Seven is right, but so is even;
Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk;
Aspgraspwasp; and cork and work.
Pronunciation—think of psyche!—
Is a paling, stout and spikey;
⁠Won’t it make you lose your wits,
⁠Writing “groats” and saying groats?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlockgunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewifeverdict and indict!
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying latherbatherfather?
⁠Finally: which rimes with “enough,”
Thoughthroughploughcoughhough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup”……
My advice is—give it up!

So… English.  I don’t know if it has the desired effect of helping students to learn English pronunciation/spelling (or even if that is a true reason for its existence) but it certainly helps me to smile.

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Like the back of my hand


I knew you, I’d boast,
like the back of my hand;
never realizing
that I spent little time
actually getting to know it.

I knew you, for years,
like a member of the family.
But I’d had no family
for most of my life.

I knew you’d never leave me.
When I came home
and all your things had gone
I knew there’d be a simple explanation.

And there was:
you’d left me
even though I’d always known
we would be together forever
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Under the blasted tree the horse lies dead,
Its face upturned, eyes black with flies,
Nostrils and lips encrusted
With chitinous, rank coagulate.
The insects crawl on the lolling tongue;
Its belly bloated though two days past
It starved, ribcage protruding.
And here, there, the horse hair parts,
Skin and hidden layers uncoil
As maggots eat their way out
To the wider fly-blown world.

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Paying to enter a poetry competition? A lottery… with rhyming couplets…


Going through some poetry sites that have recently been brought to my attention. I noticed an appalling beast: poetry competitions that require an “entry fee”.

No doubt other people have differing opinions, but here’s mine: competitions that require an “entry fee” are not dissimilar to lotteries.  If enough poets enter, the organizer gets a nice wad of cash.  He then pays one lucky guy the $100 (or whatever) prize, and pockets the rest.  If not enough poems are submitted to make the scam pay, he simply returns the poems (maybe with a percentage of the entry fee for “administrative costs”) – or, even better, he enters a poem with a fake name and awards himself the prize.

"Starving poet and publisher", stolen from

“Starving poet and publisher” by Thomas Rowlandson, stolen from

Call me a cynic if you like – but I tell it the way I see it.  When I was a youngster I used to write short stories.  I was going to enter some competitions, but a couple of older writers (my “mentors” I guess) warned me off.  Later, when I got into photography, I was told the same thing.  Do NOT enter competitions that require an “entry fee”.  Legit competitions don’t require a fee to enter.  And if you google “poetry competition” you will find many such competitions (you’ll also find plenty that do require an “entry fee” but that shows how widespread the scam has become).

Also, if a competition wants you to assign copyright to them – that’s a scam.  A genuine competition will want “first use” rights, and probably a right to use the poem solely for use in promotion for their competitions… but the copyright should remain with you.  Same thing with “selling” your poems: you’re not selling the poem itself, you’rte selling the right to print the poem in their magazine/book/whatever.  But at the end of the day, your poem and its copyright should remain as yours.

I know many poets want really bad to be published.  I understand that completely.  I even know poets who have gone down the dark, dank, slippery route to self-publishing.  Very expensive.  And (if you’re lucky) you end up with a stack of books you need to sell, with no distribution networks.  Basically unsellable.

Please believe me: if someone wants you to pay them, they are not legit.  Stick with the standard free-to-enter competitions.  Don’t help the dodgy sods make money – there are already enough mugs out there ready and willing to pay the “fees”.


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The Chosen One…?


The Chosen One?
A stupid lie
Nailed to a cross
And left to die
The Magdalene will tell her tale
And martyrs all, they’ll fail


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So all you want is bloody poetry huh?


I try to blog as often as I can.  But I’m really depressed that only my poems get Likes.  My political, cultural and other entries get next to no interest.  I’m not going to stop posting stuph about politics, culture, privacy, security and the other subjects that get me riled.  And the poetry of course (bread and circuses FFS).  I’d just be happier if my “serious” posts got more attention.

Also, even the poems get next-to-no Comments.  I need Comments so I can hopefully improve. Please please, poetry Likers, could you also Comment?  I’d really appreciate it.  Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: as of 18 April (day after posting) I’ve received two Likes: from anthonymize and Juansen Dizon.  Just general, click-the-Like-button likes, and no comments.  Likes please me, as I have an ego that enjoys beeing stroked; but the whole point of this post is that I want Comments too.  If you’re too shy to make Comments readable by everyone who visits the blog post, there’s a Contact Form button at the top of the page.  You can put your Comments there, abd if you want anonymity that’s what I’ll give you – your name etc will not be kept on record if that’s what you want.


Leave Comments, damn your eyes!

This blog isn’t an anthology of what I consider my best work.  I put works-in-progress here, meh stuph that I’d love to be reviewed and love to get Comments on.  So pleeeze! – if you have the time, write something in the Comments or Contact Form.  Comment on my blog, I’ll come look at your blog, if you have a blog of course, and if I can create a window in my already bursting bag of commitments.  That last bit is a joke of course.  But in all serious, Comment on me and I’ll Comment on yours.  Quid Pro Quo I think it’s called: washing each others’ backs.

Cheers, Martin X!

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Murmuration near Gretna, by Jim Duncan.  Borrowed from

When Others observe our homeward commute
Pouring onto bus or train
And disgorged at the other end
Or, wrapped in our own steel boxes
Are funneled along our roads
Are we to Them as the murmurations of starlings
Twisting and wheeling in their skywide displays
Before the dark drives them
To their own nighttime roosts?

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