Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If by Rudyard Kipling

As a little background, "If" was written in 1895 - two years before the birth of the Kipling's son, John, in 1897. It appears not so much to be a code designed for a son as much as a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson - who at least according to Wikipedia had a rigid code of honour and was much loved by his contemporaries. Anyway, if by radical and reformist, people mean Jameson was seriously anti-slavery then I will forgive Rudyard his all to apparent sexism (he is,after all, a product of his time), and also celebrate the good doctor/politician.

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

If All the World were Paper

If all the world were paper,
And all the sea were inke;
If all the trees were bread and cheese,
How should we do for drinke?

If all the world were sand’o,
Oh then what should we lack’o;
If as they say there were no clay,
How should we take tobacco?

If all our vessels ran’a,
If none but had a crack’a;
If Spanish apes ate all the grapes,
How should we do for sack’a?

If fryers had no bald pates,
Nor nuns had no dark cloysters;
If all the seas were beans and pease,
How should we do for oysters?

If there had been no projects,
Nor none that did great wrongs;
If fidlers shall turne players all,
How should we doe for songs?

If all things were eternall,
And nothing their end bringing;
If this should be then, how should we
Here make an end of singing?


Treasury Islands (a cute site you should definitely check out if yo're faicnated by children's literature) says this piece appeared in John Mennes and James Smiths  Facetiae, published in or after 1658.
It's always interesting to speculate about the inspiration for any work -  and I can't help but wonder if it could have been this piece from the Quran. There are various translations but this is the simplest I've found. "If the seas were ink and trees were pens, the words of Allah would not be exhausted." Such magnificence. Every so often I wish I could read something in it's original language, and that is definitely the case here. 

And all this was because I thought an "If" poem would be a great way to introduce my students to poetry. But I'm so taken with if poetry, next week, don't be surprised if you see another "If" poem. (Not necessarily mine) 

Have a great week


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Voting Rights Anthem & does Twitter really need all those words?

We can't wait
in every district, every state
paper, pen get it done
voting rights for everyone

Okay, twitter decided to increase the limit on the number of characters, but just in case they go back to the old standard, this little ditty - at only 101 character including spaces and hastag - this would still work.

Proving 1: increasing the number of words was silly, as longer ideas could be linked to anyway.
2: important ideas can be expressed in very little words. Hell, you could cut the first two lines and be down to 58 characters.

And of course there's the idea that started this poem: the idea that voting rights should be universal, and beyond reproach. Just like having more women in politics, it appears we also need more people supporting voting rights in key locations. So remember, democracy is not a spectator sport, so we should all do what we can, so we can all have a voice. :)

Have a great week
A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Impeachable" parody based on Nat King Cole Unforgettable

Impeachable, that's what you are

Impeachable, ask your Russian tzar
Just know the details do ring true for me
Even the thought of you is sick for me
You should know, there’s never been someone more

Impeachable, in every way
Impeachable, why won’t you walk away?
you’re so evil, so jailable - why are you so unreachable
This moment's surely teachable, it's unbelievable -
when the facts say you’re impeachable, you

Impeachable, that’s how you’ll stay
Unless you step down, the price we’ll pay-
will be uncountable, the lives unlivable
That’s why you, a snake like you, it’s incredible
Your buddies haven’t discovered - you’re impeachable, too

A bit of stupid fun - because the word "impeachable" just seemed to synch with "unforgettable" it seems I'm not the only one, there are a few versions up - or at least one - which I will now check out - I didn't even want to look before I wrote it. 
Have a fun week 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

George Gordon, Lord Byron,“Darkness” (1816) is the holloween poem this year

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came, and went - and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires - and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings - the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire - but hour by hour
They fell and faded - and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash - and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: The wild birds shriek'd,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless - they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again; - a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought - and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails - men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress - he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies; they met beside
The dying embers of an alter-place,
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects - saw, and shriek'd, and died -
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful -was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
A lump of death - a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge-
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them - She was the universe.

I was instructed in no uncertain terms that because it was halloween this Tuesday, that it was essential to post an apropriately themed piece.
I can't help but think a modern version would have the sun burning. But that would totally ruin the halloween spirit ;)

Have a great week everyone, I hope you have a great week, and enjoy the fun of All Hallows Eve - or manage to avoid it - whichever you prefer :)


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's been a week, sorry no poem

First things first, I'm having the week off next week due to a wonderful Monday holiday, Labour Day. It commemorates New Zealand workers winning the right for an eight-hour working day. Yet another progressive landmark that has been eroded. In 1840 Samuel Parnell won an eight-hour day in Wellington, kudos to anyone who knows the ordinances that destroyed that right.

But the world is a strange place, sometimes we take steps backward. Sometimes we take steps forward. It's been a weird week, climate change, fires, hurricanes, and yet there are some amazing steps being taken with clean energy, and increasing acknowledgement of the jobs and opportunities that clean energy offers, along with the hope of saving us from climate change.

There's also been a rise of people, both men and women, standing up and saying, "me too" in response to the revelations that Harvey Weinstein's abuse of women. Sexual abuse has long been a taboo subject with little and no support for the victims, and we need to move away from that. That such behaviour can be such an open secret, and that some very well-known women were caught up in it was somewhat of a revelation. But as of yet there have been few moves to support the powerless. Given the lack of enthusiasm of kicking out several other well-known abusers from Academy membership, it appears there's still a long way to go.

So there we have it, the good news is opinions can change, and opinions are the first step to real change. The bad news is, change takes time.

But if we can imagine it, we can do it.
Wild is the wind: the resource that could power the world 
And if we can make the world a better place, we should.

Have a great fortnight
A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tim Minchin's "F- the Poor" with a link to his video

I would be liar
if I pretended to admire
the red-light windscreen-cleaning empire
that you've built

But my heart is good
it's not a thing of stone or wood
I'll give you 50c
to take away my guilt
etc etc...

...with all the usual Tim Minchin charm and determination to shock.

I love the little internal rhyme-scheme he drops in from time to time. (yes, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.)

I think I first saw Tim Minchin playing "a coked-up rock star" and the role strangely suited him. Now, every so often, a song of his pops up on my feed. I thought I'd share this one. Hope you checked it out and enjoyed it - it seemed very important at this time, when we are facing so many disasters, and when people are saying how important their charity is, while turning away from the bigger issue of poverty.

Have a great week, I hope you enjoyed the piece in all it's horror :) 
A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Where do you stand?

It's the old tug of war,
left vs right
us vs them
Except someone's found a tractor
and set the field on fire

Where do you stand?

They're busy yelling out the rules-
of up is down
and down is up
of watch thy neighbour burn
I've never been good at following rules

Where do you stand?

I've never been very good at standing, either
but now the heat's on
are you worried we'll make it-
left, right or in the middle?
Authoritarian or liberal?

Where do you stand?
And who stands with you?

A.J. Ponder

To find out, why don't you take the Political Compass Test https://www.politicalcompass.org/test
For many it is an eye-opener, it's easy to believe you're more moderate than you are, that a party is left leaning, when it is really right leaning, or a party is libertarian because they are against taxation.

Now while you might not agree with everything in it, it does seem to work, and is a ready frame-work to compare countries, parties and even movement over time. For NZ, US, AU, UK, DE, and more.

Have a great week people, let's hope we can all pull together and put out the flames. :)

The Tug of war competition at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris - Denmark/Sweden v France
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Discovering Science with tomato power! :)

Apologies for the lack of a poem this week, we're going into an election at the moment in NZ and it's seriously tense, will we have Green policies, or not? Will we have fiscally sensible policies, that come from a deep understanding of how poverty and homelessness are expensive? Or giveaways just to look good, but not actually fix the problem?

Who knows. But what I do know is our kids are amazing, and their future is worth fighting for. Also this is just a cute little review of my book The Frankie Files.

Now all I need are some of Einstein's wonderful quotes about creativity and the imagination.
We need that creativity and imagination more than ever so we can look at the world and imagine what might be. :)
A.J. Ponder
Rona Gallery

(paid link)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Goldilock's Jewel

This was originally called Blue-Green World, but as that currently has political connotations, I decided to change the name to Goldilock's Jewel.

Goldilock's Jewel

There's a blue-green pearl
dancing through
the darkest night
lit by
distant stars, and
whirling in the
tight embrace of the sun.

Its lustre
a blanket
barely 300 miles thick
stands between us
the dark of night
and the tight embrace
of the sun.

A.J. Ponder

Worth celebrating the world today, because why not. How can we look after it, if we can't appreciate it?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Whose World is it, Anyway?

We're adrift
in a tv show
with Drew Carey's evil twins
the facts don't matter

Only we're not talking about
who gets the credits -
or the last word.

It's not like we can escape
the gas that's seeping,
or the oil you're sweeping
under the stage

Not to mention the
loose wires,
the smouldering fires
and the sprinklers set to Climate Change.

Come on, guys,
it's too late for improv
and some nob
spouting metaphysical
"what's real, anyway"

This is a crisis.
We're dying down here.
and drowned in

You can't make these things up
and not even Josie or Sandi
can balance the obvious bias.
We need the audience
in this game,
pointing out
the facts.
This theatre,
this game
was never about the points,
it was about having the time of our lives.

A.J. Ponder

A piece inspired by a right wing "libertarian" who insisted that facts don't matter so much that I couldn't help but think of Drew's famous line on Whose Line is it Anyway, "Where everything's made up and the points don't matter."
Who knows what we're meant to do with these people who fly into endorphin releasing righteous indignation any time the lies they base their lives on are threatened - Seriously, what are we meant to do with people whose opinion can't be swayed by facts, and who've ensured that, by simply refusing to believe that facts are a thing?

I almost put "where the spin's made up" but that spin is
terrifyingly real so...
BTW the clip opposite has been captioned many times, you'll find most of them by searching the slogan. Where everything's made up and the points don't matter. so here's another one, because the meme is so screamingly obvious, the U.S/America line had already been taken.

Have a great week,
And never take a good fact for granted ;)

A.J. Ponder

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today by Thomas Carlyle

So here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.

Out of Eternity
This new Day is born;
Into Eternity,
At night, will return.

Behold it aforetime
No eye ever did:
So soon it forever
From all eyes is hid.

Here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.    

I found this poem by looking to see if William Allingham had written another poem I liked, besides The Faeries. Then I thought maybe he had some friends or influences, and that that'd be interesting in itself. I found Thomas Carlyle, and while it wasn't the forresty poem I was looking for, I liked him and his work immediately -- it doesn't hurt that he coined the term "the dismal science" for economics.

So there you have the poem of the day - let's hope you enjoyed it, and that your day has a blue sky, and slips away meaningfully. :)



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Miss Lionheart is getting the message out

Found footage of Miss Lionheart in Mr Big's underground bunker - We need to know if she's going to be alright...

To keep up with any new events, you can go to Lilly's website at misslillylionheart.wordpress.com and pick up your copy of Miss Lionheart...don't miss out, it's more than your life is worth!  

PS we hope she can make it to the book launch on Thursday...


(paid link)

Thursday, August 3, 2017


There's a hole in my mind
where the world seeps in.
A filtered unknown
infiltrating a closed

There's a hole in my brain
where the facts drift through.
And in the heavens can you say
what allowed them to fall
so far?

There's a whole lot of bull
to make a brain more spongy
than spongiform encephalitis.
The neurons having lost their shape
have struck out -
gone their separate ways to retire
far away from
the simmering sea
of questions:


For there are no anwers
unless you go digging

and find the holiest of holes -

where you'll find emptiness
stuffed with 
lies, damned lies
and money.

A dissolution of non-particulate matters
not particularly mattering
as the tide rolls in and over
a dead sea.

A.J. Ponder

Another week, another poem, I hope you enjoyed it. I quite like this one.  Despite the fact that's it's an awful lot of words for the old saying, "follow the money"

Have a great week, and hopefully I'll have some exciting news next Tuesday. (Nothing to do with cats, I just wanted to add a cat picture, because why not?)


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Circle of Life: The Crocodile's Verse 

The Circle of Life: The Crocodile's Verse 

Come little fishes
Adore our golden scales
And smile
It's easy to flit between our claws
To grasp the tidbits...dangled
So enticingly out of reach
I dare you.

And if you fail
You should have swum faster
And if you fall
We will crush you

Come little fishes
Imagine your scales turned to gold
And rejoice
Our riches could be yours
If you work forever
Or win the lottery
We rigged just for you

And if you fail
You should have worked harder
And if you fall
We will crush your family

Come little fishes,
Cry all you like
We don't need to make the water drinkable
Your tears overflow our crystal glasses
We don't need to have the water wadeable,
When sweet oils fill our swamps to overflowing

And if you drown
You should have grown lungs
And if the rivers should fail
We will eat our fill

Come little fishes,
Not much longer now,
Offer your puny lives
And we will give you


Part of my Circle of Life series, this began as a simple poem, but keeps on growing. We can do better, we can bring voices to the table, create a more equitable world, but not when we incentivise people to look after money and not people.

1) The Circle of Life
We have let the snakes 
Into the hen house...

2) Circle of Life II (Snakes in the Henhouse)
Too long
We left the snakes in charge of the henhouse...

3) Circle of Life 3: The facts of life
I know you've heard
There's a new snake pimped out on the lawn...

But however dark it may look, there's hope on the horizon. What do they always say?  "it's always darkest before the dawn" Of course in the physical world, we don't all need to battle against the night to have the return of day, but this is a metaphor here...

Have a great week
A.J. Ponder

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Great Weta Robbery

Once again I have failed to meet the Tuesday deadline with a poem, I'm trying to keep up posting every week and get a new book out, but in the meantime, I'd like to link you to a book I co-wrote with Peter Friend, a few years ago now, called The Great Weta Robbery. It's a great little book published by Gilt Edge for early readers. There's an audio version at the above link, and even better for teachers, there's an educator's guide here.

The blurb: When your after-school job is looking after weta the size of cats, it'd be understandable if you thought that your life couldn't get any more exciting or dangerous. But there is a darker secret lurking in the laboratories of Krell Reserach and it's down to one boy – with his sidekicks Snapper, Fluffy, Five-Legs and the other mega-weta – to get to the bottom of it.

I hope you enjoy it (even though it's definitely not poetry!)
A.J. Ponder

Links (for people who like to see where their links are going)

The Great Weta Robbery Book and Audio Link

Educators Guide

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A New World, Today

We could home the homeless
End poverty

If only we wanted

We could create a new world
Based on facts
And reason

If we followed the evidence

We could save ourselves heartbreak
Misery and sorrow,
Even death

And not be any poorer

We could do all this and create a better
A fairer world
For everyone 

No more ifs

We are way past dreaming
It's time for action

A.J. Ponder

See links below to understand just how expensive austerity is, and why we need to change the paradigm we've been conned into believing.

Have a great week

A.J. Ponder

Housing homeless cheaper, more effective than status quo: study


Six Examples of the Long-Term Benefits of Anti-Poverty Programs



And a few more UBI talks (Universal Basic Income) 

Ted Talk: Poverty Is not a Lack of Character, it's a Lack of Cash


 Basic Income and other ways to fix capitalism 

(https://youtu.be/A2aBKnr3Ep4) - Let's look at the data - and stop following corporate narrative - or as the presenter says, "fairytales" - and dangerous ones, because they're actually twisting reality, rather than reflecting it.

Why everyone should have a basic income | Guy Standing


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Masque of Anarchy, Percy Shelley The Mask of Anarchy

When Jeremy Corbyn quoted the last stanza of the poem - I had to check it out.

It's more than interesting, Wikipedia calls it, "perhaps the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent resistance." Written shortly after the Peterloo Masacre, cavalry charged into a crowd killing 15 and injuring hundreds. The poem wasn't published until after Percy Bysshe Shelley's death, due to the publisher's concerns that people wouldn't understand "the sincerity and kind-heartedness of the spirit that walked in this flaming robe of verse."

I can see why Jeremy Corbyn chose it. The parallels of gold over people are not exactly subtle. But more than that, it encapsulates the strength spirit required for stand for your fellow human beings who are suffering under tyranny.

The Masque of Anarchy

As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

I met Murder on the way -
He had a mask like Castlereagh -
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next cam Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

Last came Anarchy: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw -

With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he passed,
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.

And a mighty troop around,
With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword,
For the service of their Lord.

And with glorious triumph, they
Rode through England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.

O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea,
Passed the Pageant swift and free,
Tearing up, and trampling down;
Till they came to London town.

And each dweller, panic-stricken,
Felt his heart with terror sicken
Hearing the tempestuous cry
Of the triumph of Anarchy.

For with pomp to meet him came,
Clothed in arms like blood and flame,
The hired murderers, who did sing
'Thou are God, and Law, and King.'

We have waited, weak and lone
For thy coming, Mighty One!
Our purses are empty, our swords are cold.
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.'

Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd,
To the earth their pale brows bowed,
Like a bad prayer not over loud,
Whispering - 'Thou art Law and God.' -

Then all cried with one accord,
'Thou art King, and God, and Lord;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!'

And Anarchy, the skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to every one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.

For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were rightly his;
His the sceptre, crown, and globe,
And the gold-inwoven in robe.

So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank with Tower,
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament

When one fled past, a manic maid,
And her name was Hope, she said:
But she looked more like Despair,
And she cried out in the air:

'My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!'

'He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me -
Misery, oh, Misery!'

Then she lay down in the street,
Right before the horses' feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy

When between her and her foes
A mist, a light, and image rose,
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale:

Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,
And speak in thunder to the sky,

It grew - a Shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper's scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was the light of sunny rain.

On its helm, seen far away,
A planet, like the Morning's, lay;
And those plumes its light rained through
Like a shower of crimson dew

With a step as soft as wind it passed
O'er the heads of men - so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked, - but all was empty air.

As flowers beneath May's footstep waken,
As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall.

And the prostrate multitude
Looked - and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien:

And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.

A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt - and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose

As if their own indignant Earth
Which gave the sons of England birth
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And shuddering with a mother's throe

Had turned every drop of blood
By which her face had been bedewed
To an accent unwithstood, -
As if her heart had cried aloud:

'Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Hereos of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another;'

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many - they are few.'

'What is Freedom? - ye can tell
That which is slavery is, too well -
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.'

''Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,'

'So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.'

''Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak, -
They are dying whilst I speak.'

''Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye;'

''Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More than e'er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.'

'Paper coin - that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.'

''Tis to be slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.'

'And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew
Rise over your wives and you -
Blood is on the grass like dew.'

'Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood - and wrong for wrong -
Do thus when ye are strong.'

'Birds find rest, in narrow nest
When weary of their winged quest;
Bets find fare, in woody lair
When storm and snow are in the air.'

'Asses, swine, have litter spread
And with fitting food are fed;
All things have a home but one -
Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none!'

'This is Slavery - savage men,
Or wild beasts within a den
Would endure not as ye do -
But such ills have never knew.'

'What are thou Freedom? O! could slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand - tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery:'

'Thou art not, as imposters say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.'

'For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.'

'Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude -
No - in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.'

'To rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victum, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.'

'Thou are Justice - ne-er for gold
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England - thou
Sheld'st alike the high and low.'

'Thou art Wisdom - Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.'

'Thou art Peace - never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.'

'What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.'

'Thou art Love - the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,'

'Or turn their wealth to arms, and make
War for thy beloved sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud - whence they
Drew the power which is their prey.'

'Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.'

'Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou - let deeds, not words, express
Thine exeeding loveliness.'

'Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of Engligh ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.'

'Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.'

'From the corners uttermost
Of the bounds of English coast;
From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan
For others' misery or their own,'

'From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold -

'From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares -'

'Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around'

'Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale -'

'Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold -'

'Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free -'

'Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targets let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.'

'Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.'

'Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.'

'Let the fixed bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.'

'Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.'

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

'And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armed steeds
Pass a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.'

'Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,'

'The old laws of England - they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo - Liberty!'

'On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Slash the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.'

'And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew, -
What they like, that let them do.'

'With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.'

'Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.'

'Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.'

'And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.'

'And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.'

'And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again -'

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'

Percy Bysshe Shelley

So many great verses, and not just the one above quoted by Jeremy, but like these two. It takes little imagination to apply them to the swamp crocodiles infesting our current political arena:
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

And the old-as-the-hills tactics used to intimidate those who wish for better democracy:
Or turn their wealth to arms, and make
War for thy beloved sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud - whence they
Drew the power which is their prey

I couldn't help but think this is what Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" was about - almost 200 years later. (If you haven't heard about it - this video is a start) As students, or at least observers of history, we should remember the hard-fought lessons of the people who came before us, if we too, wish to be free.

A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Have You Heard the News

Have you heard the news today?

Did you notice that the lights have changed?
or when?
seems we've all been driving for too long
and that's the song-
but it doesn't have to be
we can be free

If you'd just listen to the fool on the hill-
but you never listened to fools, did you?
and those experts
oh boy
so you kept your cents close
and spent profligately,

Yeah, well, that's a luxury
it's time to notice that your rights are gone
there's no flying on
when we cage the poor
no-one sings sweeter
when we throw our brothers, our sisters
off the cliff
it's not if

But who pays the piper -
to pick up the pieces.

A.J. Ponder

NB Yes, of course I acknowledge the influence of a couple of lines from The Beatles song. Comes from listening to their music in the car while thinking about current events.

Best wishes to all, and have a great week,

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Need my Dragons

I needed a dragon,
A very fine dragon
So I went to my bookshelf
To see what was there

I looked up Tolkien
And he had a dragon
A golden dragon
A dragon that didn't much like to share

I needed a dragon
but not that kind of dragon
I needed a dragon
to fly me everywhere

So I looked up Funke
And she had a dragon,
But the very best dragons
Should give you a scare

I wanted a dragon
A fine fiery dragon
Like George's dragon
Just not 12th Century fare

I found R R Martin
And he had three dragons!
But he hadn't a soul
Not anywhere there

So I picked up his book
And it had no dragons
Just some toys:
A piglet,
A kangaroo
And a teddy bear too

I opened the page
To the market square
And hidden in there
Someone was selling me

Now whenever I sit on a stair
There's a dragon at the bottom
And a dragon at the top

And when I'm walking
down the street
Others can watch where they
put their feet

'Cause I've been down
Past the end of the town
with my dragons

A.J. Ponder

A fun poem this week, after a bit of a silence.
Because who doesn't need dragons?

News from me - I really enjoyed the science march - although I had to try not to laugh as someone waved an anti-science fiction poster over my head, because to be fair, it was anti science fiction in policy decisions. :)

Also, I'm very excited because BlindSight, a horror story in the anthology At the Edge just made the Sir Julius Vogel Award Shortlist along with some other really awesome stories. http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvNominations-2017.html
Many of them are on the anthology At the Edge, and one is from Asimov's something I'm not sure has happened since Peter Friend. So good luck to Sean Monaghan, and everyone making their mark in NZ Science Fiction.

Have a great week, everybody
A.J. Ponder

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sir Julius Vogel Awards

Love New Zealand Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror?

You can nominate works for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards by filling in this easy form online to help your favourite authors receive recognition for their work (published in 2016).

I have a short story called BlindSight in At the Edge, an amazing collection edited by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts
You can find it here,or in bookshops.

All the stories are by New Zealanders and should be eligible for awards, including the anthology itself.

The 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award closes 8.00pm on 31st March 2017 (NZST).
Into the Mist

 I'll just have to put off reading Maurice Gee's The Severed Land (published 2017) for a few more days while I look to see if there are any more authors I want to nominate - authors like Lee Murray with her great thriller/horror Into the Mist.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dear Captain America

Pardon me, but your sword and shield are trampled in the dirt
they're a little broken,
a little rusty perhaps
but I know you can dust them off
and mend the cracks

I don't mean to intrude, but we're all being squashed by a golden elephant
maybe it's rude
not to all love gold and all
but the shit is toxic
and it only helps itself to the ball

My apologies, I know it's a hero thing, but really, do you have to
exhaust all alternatives
before doing the right thing?
surely the small problem of climate change
is enough embroiling?

So, please, if you wouldn't mind, my dearest, and most influential friend
pretty, pretty please
let the vote ring out fair and free
and mend your broken sword and shield
of justice and of liberty.

No need to hurry you, or anything, but children are dying
the air is poisoned
and the water too
but the problem can be fixed-
the only question is-
will you?

A.J. Ponder

Apologies for the couple of weeks off, had a touch of a seasonal cold, it's coming up to autumn here, but now the cicadas are out, the sun is shining, and it's been a surprisingly nice couple of days after a bit of a cold front and parts of the country under water.
Wishing everyone well, especially the kids who are fighting against climate change, for a better world http://www.ecowatch.com/trump-climate-change-lawsuit-2307504755.html


Friday, March 10, 2017

Fun new game, to educate and annoy :)

#YourLogicalFallacyIs the most fun I've had since I started twitter. Inspired by the Michelle Wolf of The Daily Show, and www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html, I found the slightly more interactive YourLogicalFallacy.com and invented a new way to waste time: trying to inform people about the types of argument they shouldn't use, and certainly shouldn't listen to. It's too easy to fall for common misdirects.

Great for English teachers, as well as social studies or politics classes, because when it comes to media manipulation, the next generation will need to be more awake than ever. You can try and find as many different types of misleading statements as you can on social media, and even tally them. Or, if you're like me, you can make sure everyone knows of the misstep, so that others won't fall into these surprisingly common traps. Maybe try politely at first, because most of these people are victims, but some are just trolls. When the abuse has nothing to back it and exists solely to discredit a person's agency, disengage with "That's ad hominem, but thanks for playing #YourLogicalFallacyIs"

Logical fallacies come in many different and exciting forms, running all the way from appeals to authority to another Kellyanne Conway favourite- tu quoque (you too), but the one whose description is unmissable is "Begging the Question," mostly because we all know of a Zorbo the Great.

So there you are, congratulations, and thanks for playing #YourLogicalFallacy. I hope you have fun too. And maybe, just maybe, the conversation will turn to facts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The horror I am facing (not a poem)

Here I am, trying to write a thriller, but it's near impossible. Every time I think to settle down, back to my run of the mill - I really can't be bothered with politics, progressivism - along comes another egregious assault to human rights and civil liberties. Assaults that are designed to turn back the clock to an era nobody wants except the would-be-lords-of-all-they-survey. It's scarier than anything I've ever contemplated writing up to now.

So it comes to this. A fight for head-space between fictional demons vs the real-life morally undead. People who think it's literally okay to kill people in the pursuit of money, and power. Who, no longer content with pulling the strings from a distance, are elbowing in with a power play of epic proportions.

Dammit, but never in my life has real life been fringed with such fear and suspicion. But as many Americans are saying normal service will be resumed shortly. I can't be sure when. So I'll paraphrase Douglas Adams - I'll be restoring normality just as soon as I'm sure what is normal anyway- (to be fair, this isn't strictly true. Sureties are not for times like these. And I've never really been a fan of normal-more a live and let live creative chaos.)

But aside from persnickety details, the important message is I want my brain back, away from the dreadful contemplation of how close we are to the precipice - minutes to midnight. Not that I needed that awful clock to tell me the danger, the evidence is everywhere and it's inescapable for thinking people. Either people win, or corporations do, or nobody. And if it is not the first option, the world will be facing horror worse than any we've faced in my lifetime - or worse.

But this is a long game.
And I'm a tiny piece. But if we all do something, maybe, just maybe we'll come out of this with a near utopian society that is so close the millennials can almost reach out and touch it. There's no wonder they feel cheated. But they're fighting because they also have hope. So should we all.

Apologies for no poem, but do have a great week, and please feel free to share any good ideas. Especially if you have a good alternative to Amazon. We can't all do everything - but we can all do a  little bit and consider we are all together in this little ship called Earth. :)


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Battle Hymn of the Resistance

Public domain image from the Project Gutenberg archives
I went to see the truth about the changing of the guard
(After it was over because watching was too hard)
They'd sugared it through serpent's fangs and covered it with lard
And the lies kept marching on

Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
And posttruth keeps marching on

Women's rights were gutted with a scribble from his pen
He's happy to risk women's lives, and so are all his men
Right to life's an awful lie - and now thousands will die
And the lies kept marching on

Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
And posttruth keeps marching on

Then he asked Guiliani to impose a Muslim ban
But one that protects his companies, and so they hatched an evil plan
And now they have the gall to say it's not a bloody ban
And the lies keep marching on

Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
Glory glory, what's it to ya
And posttruth keeps marching on

Will America be gutted on the altar of his greed?
From Goldman Sacks and lobbyists the US should be freed
And taken to a place where there's respect every race and creed
Let's stop the lies from marching on

Glory glory, time to free ya
Glory glory, time to free ya
Glory glory, time to free ya
Stop posttruth from marching on

For too long your rights to work and vote have been twisted heartlessly
To the right to work for nothing, and to vote provisionally
But you can stop your lives and votes being thrown in the bin
Join a local human rights organization!

Glory glory, and good on ya
Glory glory, and good on ya
Glory glory, and good on ya
Keep #posttruth from marching on

A.J. Ponder 

My goodness, it's not easy to stay current and keep accurate! Also there's heaps I haven't covered eg #NoDAPL, so please tell me if you manage a verse or two and I'll link to it.

Have a great week! Breathe! Democracy is a long term objective, it's not perfected anywhere yet. All we can do is keep working toward a society that gives everyone the best opportunities to achieve-without stepping on the rights of others.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Silver Sword

you are a silver sword
with which to slay the dragons.
For though their heads are many
and I cannot take them all
we can share the cutting truth
will you hear its clarion call?

from all around the world
as women we have spoken. (And men too! And non-binary, but this is a poem!)
We'll cut through the serpent's lies
knowing each is but a token,
then we'll take the fight to the Wyrms of greed
and dance as each head falls.

A.J. Ponder

A slightly more traditional offering this week, even if it's still within a certain theme. Apologies for using every synonym for dragon - because of the different flavour each has. At least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Have a great week, and stay strong. And remember, as Thom Hartman says, #democracy is not a spectator sport.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I Will Not Yeild - William Shakespeare Butchered

Yield thee, coward,
Your juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope. 

Yield thee, coward,
Or be sure to be expos'd
And live to be the show and gaze o' th' time.
We’ll have thee, painted on a pole, and underwrit,
“See the tyrant.”
Yield thee, coward,
For until then, I will not yield,
Or be baited with the rabble’s curse.
And thou opposed, 
I will try to the last. 
I will not yield.

A.J. Ponder
Was looking for rebel poetry, but couldn't quite find what I wanted. So had a little play with the Scottish play. :)
Have a great week, and if you're protesting (The Women's March is this weekend in 386 places around the world), stay safe. http://resources.womensmarch.com/  https://www.acludc.org/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/aclu_8.5_x_11_trifold_v21.pdf
And remember non-violent protests have been shown to be significantly more effective, unfailing politeness is a weapon to be marshaled, because we need to change hearts and minds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Have you heard the news?

If you're reading my blog at the moment this will be a horribly familiar theme.
Anyone can make a stand - not just Meryl Streep in her Golden Globes 2017 speech. But on the phones, in the street -banding with friends and doing whatever needs to be done for human rights environmental needs, and democratic principles.  Corporate interests have shown money will trump all, and they're framing the debate. They tell us that we're not powerful and we can't change the world - well, that's only right if they can keep you at home and ignoring politics because you feel powerless. So...

Have you heard the
Do you know?
Where you were
democracy died?
the free world fell?

Have you seen the news
What did you choose?
Where the f*ck were you
the lies flew
And before we knew
The meme had set

Did you see #maga become #masa
Make America Scared Again
And all because
We forgot it's our job
To stand up to power
And make the world a better place.

Have you seen the
Do you know?
Where you were
the free vote fell?
Did you see?
Jim Crow raised his head
Did you raise your voice?
Or did you watch him
Tear the vote
From the poor
The huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free?

Now you can choose to sing
Everything is
To drown out
Or you can stand against
The entity that is corporate greed
And demand our world back.

Where are you?
The world is falling.


Right, and lets get to it. What can we do?

Well, I have only one thing to say- Are you Ready? okay nobody's really ready for "interesting times"
But small things can make a huge difference. Here's a piece from Ecowatch. 6 Lessons Learned Fighting Oppressive Regimes While Trying to Protect People and Planet.
We can do this.

If we stand for truth, human rights, and the environment, and try to make a tiny difference for at least one of those we can make this world a better place. :)

One of the most important things an American can do is protect their voting rights. " The US Civil Rights Commission concluded that the odds of your vote being miscounted or tossed out are 900% greater if you vote in a community of color." So if I was an American I'd join the local @ACLU   https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights  But there are other great organizations you might prefer.

Stay strong, have fun, and never give up hope. We need you. :)
A.J. Ponder