4/3/4 (#4)

yet another
of these poems

that aren’t really
poems at
all, now, are they


#79: spite, obduracy

the whole point of
this is that
it annoys you


#80: a failure of words

there is not a
clear way to
say this at all


#81: on pens #1

i don’t like this
pen but its
all i have left


#82: on pens #2

ink doesn’t flow
across the page


#83: on pens #3

scratching away
the paper
each word a scar


#84: on pens #4

left the lid off
ink’s gone dry
pen thrown in bin


#85: sufficiently advanced self-awareness is indistinguishable from self-pity

i do not like
who i am
even slightly


#86: on waking #3

my brain has shrunk
like a voles
in midwinter


#87: lost in a dream (variation #1)

lost in a dream
of a life
hazy, drifting


#88: lost in a dream (variation #2)

lost in a dream
of my own
constant failings


#89: lost in a dream (variation #3)

lost in a dream
of a world


#90: bird poem #1

seven egrets
in a row
still as statues


#91: bird poem #2

a thousand ducks
braced against
the winter wind


#92: bird poem #3

crow flying off
holding an
egg in its beak


#93: bird poem #4

the cormorant
dives below
gulls hover above


#94: bird poem #5

a swan’s feather
floating past
caught in the wind


#95: the coming end of the bird poem cycle

cat sauntering
across road
over the fence


#96: happiness

road black with rain
heavy boots
joy of puddles



the puddle fits
in its own hole


#98: despair #1

made the mistake
of reading
twitter today


#99: despair #2

some people seem
to really
want civil war


#100: waiting for the doors #1

phone-lit faces
the snaking queue


#101: waiting for the doors #2

cigarette smoke
matching breath
bring your own fog


#102: the end of the process

this little box
is full now
of written words


#103: a lifetime of regrets

so many words
i shouldn’t
ever have said



a perfect world
as silent
and still as snow



1. Written in September and October 2019
2. The three previous collections of 4/3/4 poems can be found here, here and here
3. Bird poem #3 was actually based on a misidentification
4. And it was a walnut in the crow’s beak
5. rather than an egg
6. I disocvered this yesterday, when a crow dropped a walnut on the road in front of me
7. from it’s perch on the roof of the house
8. trying to crack it
9. but failing.
10. But then I noticed that the whole road was littered with walnut shell shrapnel
11. pleasing proof of their eventual success

Tale #78: On Hansel And Gretel, And Horror

For me, perhaps for everyone, what I find to be the most dreadful part of Hansel and Gretel, the most horrifying bit, where it ultimately turns it into a tale of horror beyond compare, is the happy-ever-after ending.

There is an escalation of horrors throughout the story, of course – their mother’s death; the jealous malevolence of their stepmother; their abandonment in the woods; the pitcher-plant lure of the gingerbread house; the witch; the imprisonment; the slavery; the threatened (but never actualised) death by cannibalism.

But in a way this is all for show, a deft piece of misdirection, obscuring the real horror at the heart of the tale, the monster lurking at the edge of the screen as the credits roll, that final moment of dread as the screen goes black, that gnaws at you all night.

For here is our happy ending: the witch is dead, the stepmother is dead, and Hansel and Gretel return home to their father.

Their father, who took them to the woods and abandoned them, not once but twice.

Their father, who was perfectly willing to let them die, simply to appease his new wife.

Hansel and Gretel escape from the forest, and they escape the witch. But can there be any possible escape for them from their father. From his blankness, from his pliability, his disinterest and neglect. From his next, inevitable, betrayal.



1. Written in 2017 sometime
2. I remember starting it in January 2017
3. While ill
4. At the Eden Project
5. But I have no idea when I finished it