for more of my found poems see Verbatim



How to play with the Nude Doll properly:

Pose it, bend and move its body without force

Hold it gently and move the limbs in their sockets

carefully in the direction of the slits

To clean it, wipe with water or any household cleaning agent

Braid, brush, wash or even dye its hair

Dress and undress it carefully



Dropping the doll

Submerging the doll in water

Forcing the joints to move in the way they were not intended

Pulling the joints out of their sockets - it loosens spring tension

Handling it roughly

Taking the doll apart


I cannot ship you new body parts

[from the website of the Enchanted Doll/ repairs]





The photos show a pool with a slide

and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting

separated from the gas chambers by just a few yards.

His grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries

because they smelled of ash from the ovens.


“So you ask yourself, they had to die. I'm alive.

Why am I alive?

To carry this guilt, this burden

That must be the only reason I exist

to do what he should have done.”


Goeth was played by Ralph Fiennes.

“I kept thinking this has to stop

at some point they have to stop shooting.

If it doesn't stop I'll go crazy right here in this theatre.”

She left the cinema suffering from shock.


Both she and her brother chose to be sterilised.

"When my brother had it done, he said to me 'I cut the line'."

Seeing his father's childhood home he broke down

kept repeating the word "insanity".


[from an article on the BBC website,  22 May 2012 ‘Nazi Legacy: the troubled descendants’]




Big ideological statements

Giant snakes

One expects to get one or the other

One is rarely deprived of both.


The means are the simplest

As the audience files in

a small army of white-dressed people

are placidly picnicking.

As the music starts

they strip off their clothes

and paint each other blue.

Yes, it sounds weird

but the Ring is weird.


Sometimes they are slaves

Sometimes they are even inanimate.

The gods all sport matching platinum hair.



They don’t try to fool us

and yet something about them

is perfect anyway.

[from a review of Wagner’s Das Rheingold on the blog Likely Impossibilities, 12/07/2012]





She kept the habit of having sliced ginseng in her mouth

ate pearl powder, eight-treasure ointment and flower food

Peanuts, soybeans and red dates…

‘We are not preparing for cooking porridge

but for making a delicate imperial pastry

a secret breast-enlarging recipe of Empress Dowager Cixi.’

[from ‘Cultural China’ website, ‘Beauty Secrets of the Empress Cixi’ and her favourite pastry recipe. ]





To have crossed the Alps with me

to sail on sunny seas

to bask in Italian skies

to have visited Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie

and to have repeated to her on the spot

the story of Julia and St. Preux


She's a strange, almost an inscrutable girl

It is all over, and I know my fate

its giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine

my courage failed me

its enormous but graceful bulk

You are struck with the point of a rock

The truth is, I never saw anything like her

[from William Hazlitt, Liber Amoris or the New Pygmalion, first published 1832]




Malcolm was dreadful

John was quite damaged

Malcolm and Kitty were part of the Fabian set

like Bloomsbury in sexual licence

but with more socialism and less art



[from an email discussing the Muggeridge family]



One of the lines began standing out

demanding attention

It was the line that ran along the side of the nose

approximately where the bone ends

and the cartilage begins

I actually grew annoyed with this line’s insistence

and erased it

hoping to quiet its demands

but it only added significance

and so I drew it back in


Paper never forgets though

and that line kept its heat and at times

I could see little else

Looking back and forth from mirror to paper

the line started taking

its place on the surface of my skin

When my eyes weren’t on that line

but focused elsewhere

it would begin a trampy little dance for attention

in bright magentas and blues until my eyes

would dart over to see

and back to flesh it would go. . .

[from an interview with the artist Ian Ingram on the art blog Venetian Red]





Enter and stand

Enter, leap at, roaring

Back slowly off


Roar, shake arm, roll on back

Eat earth, throw rocks

Rush at and past opponent


Avoid, show back


Leap at opponent’s back




(Without looking) avoid

Turn to face opponent


Catch head with rear hand (without looking)

strike head with forearm


Rise, stagger, roll on back

Roar, shake arm, leap on head


Avoid, back off

Roar, pursue

Leap at roaring


Grasp head with forearm

flick rear arm in arc

strike downward blow


Sag, moan, rise

leap and crush in bear hug

lift in air


Draw dagger

Stab in chest


Fall on back



Advance calmly, inspect corpse

Back off

[Basic fighting movements: a section of the perang kembang (flower battle) from a puppeteer’s handbook for the study of wayang kulit or Javanese shadow play.

As found in 'On Thrones of Gold' edited by James Brandon, published 1993, University of Hawaii Press]



Wait until the moon is out

then go outside

eat a multi-grained bread

and play your guitar to a bush.

If the bush doesn't shake

eat another piece of bread.

[from Captain Beefheart’s ‘Ten Commandments of Guitar Playing’]




They are inquisitive

It was a lot of trial and error

I started with two, had eight…

it snowballed from there

It is tough at times

There are days you just don't love your job

There is good and bad, but a lot more good

She'd walk onto the stage all by herself

then walk back to me

or hang out with the cellists

She loved the violinists

They died on the same day

Just old. Can't stop that

They went and laid back-to-back

and passed away on the same day

But they lived a good life, that's for sure

[from ‘Reindeer in Hamburg’ on WNY.FM]






Our civilization will be known for our diaper landfills

and our nuclear waste sites

Other fragments of our culture might survive as well:

bits of Tupperware

mountains of lithium batteries

or maybe the traces of our highway system.


The foundation of a skyscraper might make

for a breakthrough excavation

but the islands of plastic bottles

floating in the oceans may prove puzzling.


Perhaps we will bury a cache of digital archives somewhere

to be deciphered one day

like the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian sarcophagus.

[taken from a blog post review of Neil MacGregor’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects





Such shows have become a popular trend in China

mainly arguments about the ownership of family property

suspicion about extramarital relationships or

the disputes between in-laws.

It is only occasionally that you'll see a surprising episode

such as the one featuring a midget, his wife (of average height)

and an affair with his secretary.

Still, I found myself admiring the producers

and wondering how they persuaded everyone involved

to come to the studio.

That is until the news leaked out little by little

that some of the guests might be

paid actors and actresses.

Some producers even said these are not news programs

they don't have to be completely real.

[from an article in the Global Times]




When a man is riding through this desert by night

he hears spirit voices talking to him

as if they were his companions,

sometimes even calling him by name.


Often these voices lure him away from the path

and he never finds it again

Many travellers have got lost

and died because of this.


Round the necks of all their beasts

they fasten little bells

so that by listening to the sound

they may prevent them from straying off the path.


[from The Travels of Marco Polo]





Every time I go back to America

it tugs at my heart

not just the hills

and tree-lined streets

the values, optimism, equality



When I was six my family moved to America

hopeful, heedful and hungry

we chased the American dream

I moved back to Asia

for a better dream


What is success?

Owning a flat owning several flats

lunch at the Four Seasons

pillars of the Asian dream


the decay of America

endless lines at the airport

the general torpor

Our people work hard

don’t complain incessantly

don’t take everything for granted


democracy and meritocracy

people need to believe in something

unleash it

my heart full of hope

[from an opinion piece by Kelly Yang in the South China Morning Post, 10 August 2012 ]





My prayer each night is for you to realize

how much I love you

When I go to bed I think of nothing

but how much this passion for you

has consumed me


My heart is in this eCard

I forwarded just for you

Click here to see your ecard

[from a spam mail received on 09/07/2012 to my inbox]




Smiley or happy face

a version without colon is common in Russia

Laughing, big grin, laugh with spectacles


Frown sad Angry

Horror, disgust, sadness, great dismay


Surprise, shock

Skeptical, annoyed, undecided, uneasy, hesitant

Straight face disgusted, grim, no expression, indecision strict


Angel, innocent


Cool, bored/yawning




Partied all night, drunk, confused

Being sick

Crying, tears of happiness

Secret smile



Homer Simpson

Elvis Presley

John Lennon

Santa Claus

Bill Clinton

Ronald Reagan

[from the Wikipedia entry ‘list of emoticons’]




Find a picture of a Christmas reindeer

You don't want a picture of a real reindeer

which isn't really Christmassy at all

Create the reindeer costume

using the picture as a guide

Slip on a pair of brown sweats

Don gloves and shoes

It doesn't matter if they're brown or black

Put the antlers on your head.

Pin a little "tail" made of yarn

to the back of the sweatpants

Wear the red nose, if desired

[from eHOW]



Once he lost his way in the winter tundra

His legs were frozen

and in the Yamalo-Nenetskij regional hospital

doctors amputated them till his knees

Prokopij returned to the tundra

He lives in a tent with his parents

wife and two sons

Here in the tundra

his homeland gives him power

to follow the rhythm of nomads

to be strong in his mind

Prokopij migrates on a reindeer sledge

He helps to collect wood and water

He is making sledges

by himself for other people

He cannot throw the lasso

or catch reindeer anymore

His sons do this now


[ from Arctic Anthropology]





When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers

the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained 


There were four flight directors

working in 48 hour shifts

the average age of the team

was twenty-six

Three tracking stations

Goldstone, Madrid and Honeysuckle Creek

transmit voices and commands – a dish 200 feet across

Computers the size of frigidaires

covered in flashing lights

with the memory of your average wristwatch








This is just like a simulation

We’ve got dust now…

One small step




Everything worked

We didn’t really have any embarrassments

or anything to conceal from public scrutiny

or anything to worry about

Everything was great

The pictures were seen in 49 countries

this was peaceful

Today we really landed on the moon

We were just a bit of the team

It was the goddammest thing you’d ever seen

in your entire life

We aimed for the Sea of Tranquillity

and found magnificent desolation

We gulped fine wine

we didn’t have time to enjoy it

I suppose you could say I never really recovered

because I’m still living those missions

We came in  peace for all mankind


 [Sources: First two lines: the King James Bible, rest of poem transcription by the author from a BBC radio 4 documentary, ‘Walking on the Moon’, first broadcast 11 July 2009.]



It just feels like we're going around upside down

Focus is on infinity

Jesus Christ, look at that horizon!

Isn't that something?

God damn, that's pretty; it's unreal.

Get a picture of that.

Ooh, sure, I will. I've lost a Hasselblad ....

Has anybody seen a Hasselblad floating by?

It couldn't have gone very far –

big son of a gun like that.

Trees and a forest down there

it looks like trees and a forest or something

Looks like snow and trees.

Fantastic. I have no conception of where

we're pointed or which way we're going

or a crapping thing, but it's a beautiful

low pressure cell out here.

Yes, I didn't know when the hell we were airborne

I just took his word for it. It was sure shaking,

rattling, and rolling, son of a bitch!


Boy, look at that ... crater

Hope none of those meteors come by right now

Well, where's the freaking earth going to be now?

I 'm confused.

God, look at that moon l

Fantastic. Look back there behind us

sure looks like a gigantic crater

Look at the mountains going around it

My gosh, they're monsters

Yes, there's a moose down here you

Just wouldn't believe.

Yes, there's a big mother over here, too.

Come on now, Buzz,

don't refer to them as big mothers

Give them some scientific name.

It sure looks like a lot of them have slumped down.

A slumping big mother.

Hmm - here comes the moon.

Really beautiful.

Hey, you-

I wonder where we are.

We're going to stop here pretty soon, right?


Boy, there must be nothing more desolate

than to be inside some of these small craters

these conical ones

People that live in there probably never get out.

Boy, look at that big mother coming up there.

Looks like we're heading for –

... over the horizon.

Oh, that is weird –

that crazy moon out there again, huh?

Funny-looking thing.

Doesn't it look like some of these crater walls

had scallops inside like a design in a fan –

like feathers


Like seashells - very pretty, very symmetrical.

Where the hell is the horizon with the world coming

over it? I guess it's behind us, huh?

Houston, Columbia. Do you read?

Sure seems like we're going the wrong way.

Coming down already.

And, one thing I'd appreciate if you could - see

if you could - find the -


The map.

Hear that, too, huh?

Sounds like wind whipping around the trees.


40 feet, down at 30 . . . down at 15 . . .

400 feet down at 9 . . . forward . . .

350 feet down at 4 . . .

300 feet down 3 1/2 . . .

47 forward . . . 1 1/2 down . . . 13 forward . . .

11 forward? coming down nicely . . .

200 feet, 4 1/2 down . . .

5 1/2 down . . . 5 percent . . .

75 feet . . . 6 forward . . .

lights on . . . down 2 1/2 . . .

40 feet? down 2 ½ kicking up some dust . . .

30 feet, 2 1/2 down . . . faint shadow . . .

4 forward . . . 4 forward . . .

drifting to right a little . . . O.K. . . .


Houston - Tranquility Base here.



Look at that, would you? Look at that.

Isn't that beautiful?

Pretty good.

A thing of beauty is a Joy forever.


[Source: from the NASA Onboard Voice Transcription]



Here lies a little bird

Here lies sweet Isabell

Here she lies, a pretty bud

Here she was wont to go, and here, and here

Here where the fields lie lonely and untended

[from Index of first lines, Come Hither, edited by Walter de la Mare]


Several of these poems first appeared in the delightful VERBATIM.