Mistranslation of French Tax Forms

There is still plenty of unfinished business on the French side of my administrative papers, so I amused myself with some ‘literal’ translations of their menacing letters. Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf and wakes up at night panicking about fines and other punishments? Not me, not me!


Apple of the Côte, apples of all orchards unite!

Pursue this chance

limit the number of dates you go out on

keep your bearing regal

and return your ransom

in the envelope joined to the hip of this letter.

You major retard.

Even I can’t keep the imperatives and bad language out.

A man doing his taxes using a calculator and pencil on a white background


I am always late for the event (not even elegantly late, but REALLY late), but do join us over at dVerse Poets Pub for the Open Link Night.  Today it’s all about the poetry of the everyday, the mundane, the meretricious…


‘Awkward,’ he said,

dashing out of her bedroom and into her brain.

Forever to measure the yokels who followed,

the husband found wanting,

the wood left entangled,

the burbling of Jabberwocks

that filtered and flitted,

never to be caught again.


So they lived and soldiered on,

grim lines they furrowed,

objective: silence.

Not the harmonious calm of unspoken shared thoughts

but the hush for fear of a storm.

So they dealt with the past.

Not brushed aside but lulled,

put to pasture,

With nervous asides for skittish breaks.


Non-mention will cicratize the wounds.

Commuter Paradise

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Newspapers and gadgets are props

covering the hollowed glaze of non-looks.

How to avoid searching too deep,

meaning best left formulated by others,

through shopping sprees and TV,

in front of which you fall asleep.


With pendulous lids and bags dangling on hips

they shuffle along, spilling on platforms,

thundering the footbridges with their cadences of resignation.

Sleep-flushed faces in the dank reek of stations at dawn,

they come and go,

and in their tread I detect fear

of letting down,

of being let go.

Crime Fiction Fan

On the page she strides boldly

through gore, spattered, flung

arms dramatic, brain sharpishly screwed on.

No suspect is spared, no plotline too raw,

she ventures where others gasp, look away.

And she knows at least sixty ways

to dispose of a lover.


Yet the glimpse of a needle

makes her gibber to nurses.

She watches crime on TV through

chinked fingers and wine,

she dithers at shadows, jumps at

rustles in the road. A floorboard

creaking in the night sends her diving.


Scurry, scurry, little paws,

the horror of that nib on paper!




The Remains

Like little birds startled by crumbs we scatter

for cover when the big words come,

the ones stripped of any art, the ones that singe,

mostly avoided, successfully dodged those lumps of dry bread.


Keep truth abay with a light swathe, a gauzy cloak of

half-heard, half-uttered little drones of

nothingness, conventional riffs of jazz, too polite to improvise.

A necklace of platitudes we spin for each other:

barbs disguised in vanilla puddings

to be uncovered by the archaeologists of

our dead love.



Word by word they sucked it

void of treasure, dry of sap.

The lotus seed burst not into bloom that year.

Bit by bit they chiselled

away at its proud likeness.

How hurtful, how convenient

when friends hurl friends to oblivion.


Clenched, jaw-like,

in a world of its own hating,

we shivered with the knowing,

we struggled with the touch.

The gush has settled down into a mere trickle

and mud is silting oddly the channels of delight.


We sigh and add more caustic

as inspiration dies.

Guess the Title

The challenge for this poem, should you choose to accept it, is guess the title (or the ‘subject’ of the poem).  I know, I know, sometimes a poem isn’t ‘about’ anything, but this particular one was written in response to a very specific fear (some might say I have too many fears in general).  A much earlier version of this poem appeared in the online multilingual literary (and arts) magazine http://www.respiro.org/

First the little slip.

Name much praised

remembered slightly aslant

like a jigsaw piece chewed and frayed

not quite fitting in its groove.


Then a petulant rewrite

of yesterday’s events:

a pout of a travesty

bearing no semblance, no cause, no fruit.

Too stubborn to admit all is haze and indifference.


Next, the heartbeat stop before mad scrabble

and dig and delve

to capture that elusive frame

in the broken film of the mind.


Finally, the chasms beckoning:

throw self in?

chuck pretence out?

make way for shadows,

population of yesteryear?


Darker and darker the woodland cover

hunched, stop-cock breathing,

waiting for the elliptical, haphazard flux to cease

the lynx-bared jaw of foaming bite

those fixed clear eyes of poison fire.


Precarious rock after rock

the chamois cleared.

But only just.


Next day

next week

its foothold less secure

chasms will close in-

to beckoning pools of blankness.