Halloween, 2018, j Johnson Smith

Epicurean Epitaph                                                       jJohnson Smith

They said I’d die of fever, overheating.

I died of ‘Masterchef’,  overeating.




The Reaper came and with a grin

asked how much time I’d like to borrow.

I thought awhile then looked at him

and requested to die tomorrow.

He stepped back into shadow and

waved his sickled hand,

asked me politely to follow

to his pleasant Netherland.

When I declined he bowed and said

he could never come tomorrow

but would be my friend and dine with me

and contemplate our sorrows.


Together we sit, he and I,

amongst the dead and dying.

He no longer talks but only grins

and I wait for tomorrow.


Wrong words in the wrong place.

When I said, “I’d lost my mind”.

you took it so literally!    I didn’t mean to cause

that panic over such a little thing.

Because it really was just a passing phase.

A little phrase that covers many things

of dos or donts  or maybe-shouldn’t-haves

and never-do-agains.       From which I’ve  learned

(or hope I have) to re-think ways of saying; badly;

that I am madly in love with you.


………      Just loosen the buckles a little,

Let my arms relax, I feel like a skittle in this padded room;

though nice and plump it looks, ………

Reminding me of you; when we kissed beneath that moon.

When the black backed night had gone and I paraded myself

in the garden, calling your name in such memorable verse.

When I vowed, or something worse, to follow you to the end of the Earth.

………. Or maybe I didn’t.  It was someone else.  Not me….

This collar is tight…….

And when love blinds you to the world, does it have the right

to insist you wear this suit?  A jacket so tight that it binds your heart

and barely leaves your mind free to wander.  To wander in a storm

that chews the words and spits them out against your best intention?


tagged under: seasons,  JJS


For a Late October Evening…okay……Hallowe’en!!

October Evening                                           J Johnson Smith

The moon creeps through the glimmering autumn mist

to hang, a wolf’s eye, scarred by baring branches that loom

overhead as a net to catch the fall.


The dark crowd stands around, silently akimbo

as the fairy ring grows spads of white

that creep and open grey hoods to hide their gills

swaying gently to the rhythm of the breeze.


The beasts, lying in wait in the tall fronds hesitate

at the cry in the night.

The shimmering silence pitched headlong, pierced, strung through

and hung, hanging in the silence. Lost to the darkness,

overlooked by the wolf and the fairies setting their spells.


In the glade, where the beck dreams on

with its hallowed evening song in it’s soft gritty bed,

no soul sees the mingled stream red.


All Hallows Night                             Lizette Woodworth Reese

Two things I did on Hallows Night:—
Made my house April-clear;
Left open wide my door
To the ghosts of the year.
Then one came in. Across the room
It stood up long and fair-
The ghost that was myself-
And gave me stare for stare.

Black Cat                                 Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 – 1926

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,                                                                                                         she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

The Apparition             John Donne, 1572 – 1631

When by thy scorn, O murd’ress, I am dead
And that thou think’st thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign’d Vestal, in worse arms shall see;
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tir’d before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
Thou call’st for more,
And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bath’d in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie
A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee; and since my love is spent,
I’had rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threat’nings rest still innocent.

Tastes of Christmas Present

10Dec2015          J.J.S.



light flute, slow.
Bass between the beat,
counterpoint to lead, repeat.
Fade flute for bass to counterpoint
and softly run, realigned flute and bass.
Soft key piano, counterpoint chords that chase
each other gently, now piano high with beating
fine-fingered bass and rested flute.  Run piano,
gently through the keys to allow the space
between to be filled with fluted air again.
Fade piano, rest bass,
last hanging note.



Have you ever thought
About the world in terms of

Certainly the best and worst verse
have stuck since rhyme began, and always will
remain in the mind of the beholder,
insisting that their niggling lines,
surreptitiously laying down a course
to run with or from,
might just
amass a certain


Carol ran out across the square,
her heels tapping tunefully on the echo-frozen slabs.
She left the sparkling holly-wreathed door
and the mellow sounds within while
PC Rapper and his melting crew stood by the step
their noses dripping and white suits shiny wet.

Across the way, across the square, by the door, the alcove niche,
sat a shadow, dour, poor, ignored by the nouveau-riche
but Carol in her Christmas guise ran out in dress of scarlet cotton
thrust into his hand a glass of wine, turned, skidded, slipped.
Glass forgotten, the man jumped up and saved that Carol,
helped her, broken-heeled, across square of squares,
passed the crying, melting crew and through the sparkling holly-door.
Inside, greeted with a raucous cheer, Carol with fixed smile and reddened face
bent and straightened her strap and lace.
Looked up and round at the laughing crowd, suddenly ashamed of them,
while at the door the unkempt waited, gently bowed as she wavered thanks
and turned and left and walked away, across the square, towards his niche.

And now she tells this story every year as bells ring out on Christmas Day.



Apologies if there really is a PC Rapper!

pc  = politically correct

J Johnson Smith

Lost; A Plea for Hallowe’en

Lost;  A Plea for Hallowe’en

Lost, one mischievous imp’s trident.
Where and when I can’t be sure
I know it was an accident,
Maybe waiting to happen.
Dropped on the floor, in the gutter?

It was a wet night, a week before Halloween
And I was sent, like the others,
To find my intent, my taunt, my scream.
But I lost it. In the rain. In the alley.
In the runnel where the water streamed
Maybe it fell down a drain.
I watched it, three-pronged and red
With glistening spots of dread
As it slipped, half- turned and flashed at me
To slide gracefully foaming along the dark below.

So I lost it.
You would never see my grin, the glint in my eye
when the poke at your foot broke your heel,
made you trip.
The catch in your eye was me, the shadow by the stair
that flickered or the noise that snickered in the lane came from my lips.

But now I can’t go home, my smile has to be true,
my questions are polite as I ask the local folk
if they have seen my little toy as it drifted away.
Washing along the gutter it went,
I saw the studs flash at me, a devil’s wink
catching in the watery sway.

I’ve lost my nerve, my verve, to jump and skitter
along the street and push you from the kerb
or switch the light on just as you switched it off.
Nor can I put that gnawing little doubt inside your brain
or add a tic, an ache that will not go away.
Where’s the fun, the sweet delight an imp might have
to play a game without my three-pronged device?

I am placid, weak and flaccid, hidden and of no account
without my prodding stick.  So please watch out
and if you see my lost, forlorn trident, pick it up
and rest it on your nearest hedge from where I’ll pinch it
and rejoicing, whirl it round this Hallowe’en and trick and treat like Puck.


j Johnson Smith

also tagged as seasons

Of Corfe

Of  Corfe

In my recessed mind I see the layout of the station.
Platform perched before a backdrop of stone-blocked,
Empty-windowed ticket hall and waiting room.eng shed
The lines, rusted brown but silver stripe atop
Sneaking ahead passed a short, stubby siding
That ends in a secret shed for goods or cattle truck,
Or maybe for the last Western Pannier Tank with its whistled croon.


And wiring into the station, gleaming green with brass valve, stack and sills,
It’s hooped plate announcing the ‘City of Truro’ over high drivers
With steamless piston valves, to stop for the waiting porter
And the commuter to Weymouth, and maybe his wife and daughter
Who stand endlessly still.  Until the signal drops and the train
Plus coaches of brown and cream hesitate forward and click over the points,
Past that point, into the imaginary tunnel.

High above the station, above a layer of green sea-sponge trees
Above the steep angled, green-as-felt grass, sits a golden ruin,corfe gate
Stone-arched bridge over the chasmed moat leading to gated mouth.
Presented by two low, bulging towers of smooth stone.
A gate-house, no dogs of war, just silence but the whirr of a train going south
And the burn of the sun like a spot-light on the scene.
The commuter, his daughter and his wife still stand waiting, aloof and serene
For the train to return at the click of the drivers dream.

The castle, the motte, the strait-sided ruin,pic. by Wordparc
The shafts where sun, stone and gaping holes meet,
Stand waiting.
The history related, the facts well known:
Victors sated, gaping holes blown in the carcass
Of gold Portland stone.
The castle stands waiting, a ruin, a myth.
The castle stands waiting til Arthur comes home.



poem   j.Johnson Smith

in memory of a model railway of Corfe Castle

Odd and a poem, with a little light j.Johnson Smith

Poem                                                                   28/7/15
A poet said to me  ‘the way to write, is to bring to light the germ of the idea
using adjectives and verb to round the poem out
but then to seer, excise, wipe-out the non-
essential words to leave a core of substance
on which the reader weaves their heart round yours’.

Now, you can guess.
A bull-head,
Old in tooth and claw.
Almost ravaged, ghostly maw.

It was a Bird’s sigh.  Few,
I thought me herded the wynd
But I was wrung and we clapped eyes
On the belles that parodied on the sea font
With church of the aisles high behind skies
Like a cigarette, blackly stippled in blue beyond.

From the story balcony like grey fenced greats
You could hang and leer at the satirised dresses
And open cups below.  As whines flow in a stream,
Grapes bobbing over broken black and white creases,
Through holes draped over the steppes, late,
To emerge, droll over glistening crystal.

Gambling on whether, dry or knot,
Gambolling on sheers, brushing high ears.
Walking like ants in a purple haze.  And the wind
Curling the rain and slipping the sheets of the boots
Wading on metal water to metre or not.
Glistening as the wind hits drums, wavering giants.

Pounding down stares, past satyrs,
Broken as looking glass giving years
And the sun steeples across lost tracks.
Through wrack, twinned feet, fore feet hounding across.
The steppes, the sand-paper lawn littered with tan-bleached forms
And origami stilted hats.

The gulls creaked as they flew overhead spilling their craw
And the bells rang from the cliff-high steeple.
From its doors crawled the people edging the sheep-strewn lawns.
And below, the sea-view villas, and below the sea-salt road
And below the balmy beach.
And below; the empty strands.


A little light
‘Raise the light, sonny, I can’t see your face no more’
The dark was crowding in, cold fingers round the door
So I gently, gently lifted the flickering charcoaled wick
Toward the stricken face of the man, so sick.

‘I am done-for, killed, but slowly-slew’
He hoarsely spoke and wagged a finger to closer come,
To listen and to linger.
‘Don’t be ‘fright my lad, I’m just a candle going out.   Boo!’


Cats’ Corner

Cats’ Corner

It was a stand-off, unblinking eyes linking in mutual distrust of each other as they met.

The ‘outsider’ had walked nonchalantly along the dusty alley
until he came to where the slatted fence panels stopped
and opened onto the main street.
From the shade of the corner-steep a black shadow slid slowly out
and coloured into a feline with snake-like movements.
He stopped, she stopped.
Her hackles raised as she soundlessly arched her back and bared her fangs.

he looked at her ears, pulled back in anger and tipped like a lynx.
He reckoned this behaviour was typical of her.
No doubt she had fought battles for survival and time had tolled on her senses.
Attack maybe the best form of defence, learned the hard way.
He was still in walking-mode, four paws on the ground;
experience had taught him to relax so he lowered the weight slightly into his shoulders and adjusted the muscles in his haunches.
Joints slightly flexed, claws gently released,
head motionless and eyes focusing on hers, squinting through the sun.
His mind analysing her potential.

She was angry, more than usual,
and here was a stranger appearing. Wrong place, wrong time,
his tough luck.
She had to fight hard for her little place in the sun
and would be damned if someone strolled in to replace her.
Look at him, with his sleek, black coat like a jaguar, right down to his black velvet nose
and eyes that so casually burned into hers. Fur so soft and smooth she could see the corded muscles on his legs.
She could see he wasn’t scared,
well he should be!
Leather-brown hackles rippled as she turned to face him and shifted her body
closer, closer to him.
Like a cobra stilling the air
with a glare and silent spit.

We mustn’t humanise this, he thought.
She was angrier than him, he was obviously treading on her territory, her woes;
on her toes as it were.
All he had wanted was a quiet stroll from the barn he had just moved into,
and a sniff of the neighbours.
Maybe this is enough for one foray into the unknown, didn’t want to make trouble for himself so soon.

He sat nonchalantly
Turning his head away slightly though keeping an eye for movement.
She posed as a statue but her fangs were hidden now.
He lazily lowered his head, nimmed at his elbow briefly and with a final,
filing tongue on the place, lifted his face towards her,
nostrils twitching as he inhaled her scent.
Stood, turned and strolled away from the still-arched defiant tabby.

She watched as the sleek stranger walked away,
tail swaying as hips and shoulders worked smoothly.
His head moved as he glanced back.
By now she was sitting, relieved,
relaxed by his departure.
But the adrenalin was still stirring in her and she knew he would return.
JJohnson Smith. 22july2015




tagged as:  animals