C K Wetton

Song of the bug

Segmented tankman

with glass-noodle legs,

we never stop questioning

O monk’s louse, monkey-peas

peasie-bug, doodlebug

medieval perambulator

buffed to a dull sheen

both horse and knight

O butchy boy, boat-builder

monk’s louse, monkey-peas

tiny-footed scuttle

to the dark mulch

underbelly of anything

we’re grammersow, granny grey

peasie-bug, doodlebug

when will we stop asking questions

with our twin antennae

half folded like a music-stand

sing peasie-bug, doodlebug

cheesy bob, chiggy pig

corner like a bendy bus

articulated wagonette

the size of a vitamin

grammersow granny grey

cheesy bob, chiggy-pig

busy in the garden every weekend

in our autumn gabardine

on our Scottish-reel legs

sing monk’s louse, monkey-peas

cheesy bob, chiggy-pig

peasie-bug, doodlebug

pill millipedes armadillidiidae.

Project management

is a mental illness

a weird kind of syndrome that blacks out the present,

the present is annoying! The future is the thing!

We tend to speak in jargon and to type very fast,

we swig from water bottles and we pop Pro-plus

we sit scrunched up at the ergonomic desks,

don’t take vacations ‘cause we just get behind.

Living in the future keeps you earning more and more,

we are the managers who think we’ve got it all.

Time is too many too small boxes.

Time is a terrorist who ambushes projects.

Time is white water rapids that will not stop.

We’re living in the future and we can’t come back.

We estimate capacity, allocate resource

what the point of it is – we don’t really ask,

our love is for spreadsheets and a smooth transition

we are the managers who get things done.

We go fast and faster but it’s never fast enough,

quarterly reports make us feel bish-bosh.

Nights, we hit the gym – burn off excess stress

– getting lean with these projects fuelling us.

Time is a tapeworm, knocking at the gut.

Time is a cake cut in ever smaller bits.

Time is a suitcase you can’t quite shut.

We’re living in the future and we can’t come back.

Us managers are sick, our eyes are dull and glazed,

we don’t hear birdsong, we don’t feel the rain

we’re sitting in meetings but we’re not really here

in March we live in May, and in May we live in June;

but visit Quarter Four and you’ll see that all is well

with our Gantts realigned and the sponsors all informed.

Temporal disorders are often diagnosed,

prescribing a pay-cut doesn’t go down well.

Time is the enemy. Time must be fought.

Time is feral and bites you on the arse.

Time is a horse that runs itself to death.

Time is a bug I think I’ve caught,

I’m living in the future and I can’t come back.


I kill the engine,

the moor’s dry grasses lit pink,

cut-out crow exits.


My lone red tulip

lolls over, loosens into

an open-mouthed kiss.


The earth seethes with ants,

a broken nest erupts in

urgent, angry work.


I tell my children

the slumped badger by the road

is only sleeping.


I lay sugar trails,

form a mandala of ants,

fetch boiling water.


Little white feathers

from the hen-harrier’s kill

float in the sunshine.


Sweating onions,

easing pop of the corkscrew,

us not arguing.


Map OL21

Slaughter Gap, Cat Stones,

Horrodiddle, Paradise,

Canker Lane, Jam Hill.

Great Ding, Jubilee,

Dungeon Wood, Fill Belly Flat,

Wolf Stones, Clunters, Tongue.

Commissioning a map

The cartographer and I have had a tiff,

I don’t appreciate his profession,

my slapdash approach to boundaries is troubling,

the distance the crow flies is not the same as walking.

But that’s just fine because I

am more interested in flying than walking.

He explains my map is not to scale,

that I’ve mixed Northings with Eastings,

that A and B roads aren’t choices made or unmade.

A variable of five degrees can be the difference

between success or failure.

But my concerns are not to scale and furthermore

I want the bridleways unbridled,

the best bacon sandwiches mapped,

where to go sledging and

what time not to walk alone at night.

Maps, he explains, don’t do temporal,

and I say, well, the hydrographer did the whales,

spouting beautifully in the ornamental lake.

He points out the hydrographer got lost

trying to draw an armada at the swimming pool

and asks me not to hop-scotch on his grid lines.

He thinks I’m a slagheap (dis).

But he has plotted the silence of the moors

(marsh, reeds or saltings)

and the gorgeous swoop of the motorway.

My contour lines are scum rings round the bath.

The cartographer is sick of drawing dragons and

if I have that many dragons there’ll be no cattle left in


BS! I say, I’m the one making this map,

you’re just my technical advisor.

You need more than technical, he says, more than advice.

It’s true that there’s a bubble in my compass.

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