Write, Don’t Talk

(Random thoughts regarding Adelaide Writers’ Week, 2023 – a verse dialogue)

(With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Stearns Eliot)


A lovely form there sate beside my bed,

And such a feeding calm its presence shed,

A tone so pure, far from earthly leaven,

A message reassuring, newly down from heaven.

‘Twas some comfort – A fact drawn from bone;

“We read to know that we are not alone.”


And yet here it shrinks back, as if mistook!

That weary, wandering, disavowing look!

‘Twas all another feature, look and frame,

And still, methought, I knew, it was the same!


And yet, not so, to whom does a book belong?

Is’t history? vision? ranting, or an idle song?

Or rather say at once, within what hell-space,

What toxic tent this wild disaster took place?


Call it a moment’s work (and such it seems)

My tweets and speech, fragments from a life of dreams;

Whereas hard graft and years matur’d the silent strife

Of my books, the product of a hard-worked life.


But reading, too, can become a strain;

No more can hard work justify a gain,

So we clutch our pearls, our books, and pen,

Hoping to glimpse the familiar again.

Author! author! we declare:

Clap our hands held in the air,

Stop and stare and venerate

As ‘celebrities’ pontificate.


The mist that stands ‘twixt God and thee,

Dispersed to pure transparency,

That intercepts no light and adds nothing

But aged hags who rattle their bling!

We display a range of views,

All in deprecation of the Jews

In varied vitriol. Thus we raise Voltaire

On high in this public/private square,

And decry the figures of the left –

Criticizing them all from the left,

Intellectual property is the theft.

We are the hollow ones

We are the hollow ones

Leaning all together

Headpiece filled with straw



Permission to speak? I shall anyway:

There is no light here at midday,

This tent to honour the Caliphate;

Grassy knoll of ignorance and hate.

An orgy smacking of progression

That puts in mind a great depression;

Diversity is measured in coffee-spoons,

Inclusion sings quite exclusionary tunes.

A group of ‘rebels’, lacking fangs;

A tired set of pantomime gang-bangs,

Marxists cavilling at the cheery

Ones, absent, and moreover, leery – 

Someone to blame for their lack of talent:

Who points, and points-out that the gallant

Has no clothes. Yet a motley, capable to please

A group of senile OAPs.

“Please, mister, would you sign your book on Intersectionality?”


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