Poem: No Markers

Here is another poem, belonging in my Dr Cogito series, if without any direct naming of this persona. No Markers There are no markers for when I pass To this world that holds me fast But permits at least with frequent trips Brief reports on conditions there Most of the lands are unmapped The cities... Continue Reading →



A.S.Byatt has written a short and puzzling book, Ragnarök: the end of the gods (2011, public library). It is a kind of tribute to the Norse myths that she learned as a child through a gift from her parents of a book, Asgard and the Gods. Most of the book is told through the eyes... Continue Reading →


Towards the end of Mikhail Gorbachev's The New Russia (2016), Gorbachev recounts an anecdote told in a speech by Richard Pipes, the American historian of Russia and a former Cold War warrior, although this appelation is rather a simplification. Pipes was given the task of giving a speech in honour of Gorbachev many years after... Continue Reading →

Dr Cogito’s Fall

Here is another in the series of poems featuring Dr Cogito that I have been writing. Dr Cogito’s fall To this no-man fathomed deep, In Dante’s written hell, Down long, down cold, to flames I fell. To the great men in union dues I begged revenge to ill effect, In the plumbers room, Where power... Continue Reading →

Democracy’s discontents

Election nights are rites of reunification. The divisions of a society spew out over weeks, with licensed vitriol and contemptuous sneers permitted for all, and then as the consequences of the strife are tallied, the champions of right and wrong bicker about predictions and polls and the latest certainties they have received by rumour. Then... Continue Reading →

Blessed rage for order

This morning I read through two more chapters of Andrew Scull's Madness in Civilization, which broadly covered the nineteenth century and the gentle transformations from madhouses to asylums to lunatic hospitals, from moral treatment to alienism or psychological medicine to psychiatry, and from madness to mental illness or, still worse, degeneracy. The term, psychiatry, was... Continue Reading →

Inspirations on being

Yesterday I listened to the On Being podcast, which is surely one of the jewels of our culture, in which Krista Tippet interviewed, in the way of the times in front of a live audience, the Irish poet, who before yesterday I had never heard of, Michael Longley. It was an inspiring chat, from a charming... Continue Reading →

The Chinese Ancients

I have had a dry spell the last few days, and so have dug into my archive for material for my post. This poem I wrote a few years ago, but it spoke to me this morning as I have been wrestling with writing about that most perfect symbol of the monstrosity of power, Ivan... Continue Reading →

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