Poems of observation and assessment, from Rachel Bentham and Neil Leadbeater. The first, the animal, is somewhat startling. The second, a plant, seems simpler at first but there are double-takes to come.

We are all science people at times, but science can threaten. Sheena Blackhall has a short poem of warning about the effects of science. It’s in Scots and if unfamiliar with the language, you may want to use the dsl.ac.uk to untangle a line or two.  An erne is an eagle, hence the image.

Next weekend your compiler is taking a bank holiday. In England. This will hopefully give international contributors a chance to get ahead of the game once again.

Thanks to authors Rachel Bentham, Neil Leadbeater, and Sheena Blackhall.

See you again in May.



Rachel Bentham
Short man

Orang pendek is hiding,
quiet in shy Sumatran forest
he walks like a man but
oh   so   fluid
like water he melts between the trees.

The science people say his feet
are like hands, while his fur is
glossy – somehow shimmering…

The forest people say his feet face
backwards – perhaps he loves the past,
trapped in shrinking forest.

The science people say they have seen him
they wept, in fact, to see him
his grace shocked them to tears.

The forest people call him short man.
They say he is half spirit, half
being; they say he is invisible.

The science people are looking for him.
He is hiding… they are counting…
“coming – ready or not!”

Orang pendek is Mystery;
mystery must be solved.
Hide, short man!
Run away backwards,
melt like water,
hide from our tears.

 First published in Apostrophe. Illustration: Ant Wallis/Centre for Fortean Zoology


Neil Leadbeater

Each plant demands to be looked at, noticed
for what it is worth. Introductions
are numerous.

Their real name is Smyrnian Olustratum,
black lovage in the vernacular,
but they would like you to invent
a tenuous link
to the Emperor.

Their one statement
is that the world is largely YELLOW.

It is a sun-filled, fun-filled thing.

On a practical note, the roots
are good for colic.

After the harvest
their black seeds are sold in shops
as a prophylactic for snake-bite.

 Just when you think you are becoming acquainted
they jump into another word
to try to describe
their colour:

lemon, say, or saffron.

Another “take” on yellow.

First appeared in The Seventh Quarry (Wales) in 2007.



Sheena Blackhall

Doon the saft dwaum berries drapt
The glaikit pressed them, kept the seeds.
‘Fact is harder than fancy, ‘ quo they.
‘Science satisfees aa fowks’ needs.’
They delled the yaird tae plant the facts.
Science raxxed far the erne showds
It brocht furth acid rain an grue
0 Lochans deid an mushroom clouds.

First published in The Hielanman’s Sporran, 2013