Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

And what better way is there to round off the year than being mentioned on Evil Editor's blog? I wrote a continuation for EE's New Year's Eve Visitor opening competition and he very kindly chose it as the "best" science fiction entry. He also edited it, which is just as well as my original punchline was dire!

On a more mundane note, my new betrothed and I have decided to spend NYE in our own company, probably watching a Harry Potter DVD. We do have one guest with us - my very latest gum abcess:

Rik's gum abcess

So I shall wish you both a very productive and enjoyable 2007. My wish for the new year is for the Amoxycillin and Iburofen to work as quickly as possible. What's your wish for 2007?

Friday, December 29, 2006

No Tell Motel

I like No Tell Motel, both as a concept and as a venue (even if they don't want to feature my love poems there). Go visit, have a browse, enjoy. Tell the receptionist Rik recommended the place to you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

So what did you get for Crimbo, Rik?

I got a proposal of marriage from my lover.

My answer? "Yes!"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas for two

Christmas for two

Now we've potted the tree
and strung lights from the ceiling,
we can shut out the neighbours
and friends, our expectant
families, and set about
opening each other.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Early Crimbo Prezzie

Crimbo's come early for Rik this year. Santa has said to Rik: "yes, you can be a writer for the next few years - if that is what you really, really want to do". Rik is very happy. But Rik is also not stupid, and will be investing some of his new-found time in an Open University course or two, just in case his nib dries up.

When asked to comment, Rik said: "It's all very exciting. I'm sure nothing substantive will come of it and I'll probably end up on the streets begging for coppers and dog ends, but I won't miss the rush-hour commuting, that's for sure!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stood outside the office, smoking

More verse. It's December: humour me here ...

Stood outside the office, smoking

Spits of winter knock on my skull:
"you don't belong", prints the rain
on the paving slabs. My feet cramp
in their tight, new shelters; my coat
welcomes the sharp wind's nails.

As I suck my liver warms my blood
enough to keep a video
of you running through my head.
I cannot press my lips to pause
your smile centre screen. No worries -

our scraps of chat scatter the world
around me like the heaps of leaves
we kicked last week, our shopping jaunts
for furnishings, our idle bickers.
I grin at strangers: "you don't exist".

Friday, December 01, 2006

Take this Man

I need to write more love poems!

Take this Man

I married you on a couch in Clarkenwell,
its stuffing the curls of groin-hair
that Sebastian had buzz-cut from clients.
We held hands as he dabbed the needle
in vodka, pressed its exquisite point
through the seam of my glans. Not once
did you glance away, not even to watch
my testicles dance from the pain. We swapped
our vows in white-hard hand grasps and later
we kissed, my trousers loose on my waist
and a dribble of lust on my newest ring.

Maybe a leeeetle bit too much on the personal side for many, but I think it has some good possibilities.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

From Each Skull, A Story

I threatened to do it, and here it is! A new downloadable chapbook from Rik - the first in 4 years - for your pleasure and delectation. This one is called From Each Skull, A Story, and includes poems mainly written in the past couple of years, though one or two older ones have managed to creep in through the back door.

I'm still working on the love poems chapbook - I expect to be in a position to publish that in the next 2-3 months, assuming I survive Christmas.

Anyways, to celebrate this new publication I'm going to give away 5 signed copies of my book, The Rik Verse, to the first 5 people who email me with the text of the dedication they want me to write in the inside front cover and the address they want me to send it to. This is a strictly first come, first served offer. And yes, I will pay the postage costs; think of it as an early crimbo prezzie from me to you!

Friday, November 24, 2006

It's the new rage

Bloglebrity, that is.

C-List Blogger

I kinda like my edge-of-the scene status ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My pffa sevenlings

... didn't win the 2006 pffa poetry competition - and, frankly, they didn't deserve to. You want proof?

Sevenling (As He Settles In His Pot)

As he settles in his pot his bones
migrate to the top, sorted by shakes
and caresses, the currents of time.

She hid him in the toilet, let spiders
weave him to the wall. His handles become
birth-chambers, banqueting halls, crypts.

She rubs tears on her chest to ease the pain.

... and for the final round I managed to write something even worse:

Sevenling (So the Devil's own cur)

So the Devil's own cur must hang, his command chain
hooked on the jibbet, a tight rope to swell his tongue
past blushing lips: Kuwait; Karbala; Dujal.

Old news; cold news; spun from a president's grave
desire for compassion in evil times: embryos must breathe,
sodomites repent, a Jesus embossed on each heart.

On every voter's card, a secret candidate: "J'accuse!"

The eventual winner fully deserved to win - I voted for it as soon as I read it. Go read it here. As for my contrived piles of dogshit, I'll be happy to let them descend into the obscurity they so fully deserve. I only posted them here to remind myself that, as the sainted Scavella keeps on telling me, "I'm not as good as I think I am". Amen!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yes, I will permit you ...

... to worship me!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

November kitty photos

Because I know you love my cats almost as much as I do.

"I think we're supposed to play with it!"
"But if we ignore it they might buy us something even better!"

"If you plant me, will I grow up to be as big as you?"

"Do you think they've spotted us yet?"
"Not if I keep my eyes closed!"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kalieda biology snippet: the Rainbow Germ

At the microscopic level, the Kaliedan oceans, rivers and soils are teeming with life. Much of the bulk of this is composed of Germulaic lifeforms, analagous of the second creation [note: this means terran] lifeforms known as bacteria, but whose biochemical pathways are matched to the first creation [note: this means kaliedan] biosphere.

Germulas are fairly simple single celled organisms with a basic internal structure. The cells are defined by having a cell wall - of various materials dependent upon family - which is often tough and flexible. Cilia and flagella often protrude beyond the cell wall and are used for locomotion. Many species support this cell wall with an internal structure, often composed of different materials to that of the cell wall.

Inside the cell wall is found an inner membrane, whose functions vary but usually include controlling the transportation of molecules across the cell wall and managing chemical balances between the cell matrix and the outside wall. It also plays a role in energy metabolism, particularly energy production (chemically or photosynthetically) and the building of storage granulas (typically starches).

A second series of membranes - reactive membranes - can be found throughout the cellular matrix, often wound around the support structures. These are closely associated with the production of many types of proteins and other materials used to build and maintain the cell, and proteins associated with detection of external stimuli. They also play a key role in the transporting of materials across the cell, including signalling chemicals.

DNA is generally in the form of rings and short lengths that bundle together and float freely through the cell matrix (ie there is no nucleic membrane) - at least one such pseudo-chromosome bundle is present in the cell, though multiple copies are more often found. One bundle will always be found embedded within the reactive membrane and will be the active pseudo-chromosome controlling the biochemical activity of the cell. The purpose of the other bundles (if present) will vary between species - sometimes they are used during sexual reproduction, or in some species for the hijacking of other cells. In other species the additional pseudo-chromosomes will compete with the active pseudo-chromosome for control of the cell.

Cells do not exist in isolation: rather thay have a proactive relationship with other cells of the same species and of other species, forming a complex web of predation, cannibalism and parasitism. All Germula species posess protective granulas which float freely within the cell matrix, protected from it by simple lipid membranes. Almost certainly these were originally free-living species of Germula which have evolved a symbiotic relationship with their host. There are probably as many types of protective granulas as there are Germula species, varying in complexity from simple strands of RNA with a few associated proteins to miniature Germula cells that have lost the ability to survive or reproduce outside of the host cell. They all have a key role in defending the host cell from hijack or predation by other cells, and many are capable of other functions such as more efficient waste management or more complex energy storage mechanisms. Most Germula species will have their own type of protective granula - a few granula types are found in more than one species, and a few species have managed to aquire more than one granula type, which manage to coexist within the same host.

Taxonomic divisions within the Germula Kingdom
Knowledge of the range and diversity of Germula species is incomplete. The sharing of genetic material between species is common, and the web of predation and parasitism is complex. Some microbiologists prefer to think of the whole Kingdom as a single, highly diverse species.

For practical purposes, species are identified according to their physical appearance, the main materials used to build the cell wall and (if present) internal struts, their ability or otherwise to survive extreme conditions, and their key sources of energy and waste products. These characteristics were chosen as they are the least likely to change down the generations.

The Rainbow Germ
One of the most intensively studied Germula species is the Rainbow Germ. This is an organism commonly found in estury muds, noted for its wide tolerance to changes in salinity and its propensity to grow an internal structure using metalled silica (an Si02 matrix within which can be embedded atoms or molecules of various metals - in particular nickel and copper, and less frequently palladium, silver, platinum and gold). The major component of its cell wall is cellulose, with bands of acetated cellulose spiralling from the base of the cell to its tip. A flagella with two strands twice the length of the cell is located at the base of the cell. The organism is so common in some esturies that accretions of dead cells form deep sandbanks. Ancient strands of organisms similar to the Rainbow Germ have been mined in some areas, principally to extract copper and nickel.

diagram of a Rainbow Germ organism

The organism obtains most of its energy from photosynthesis, principally from the shorter visible wavelengths, giving the cell a green-red shimmer when observed under the microscope - hence its name. It uses the energy to produce a range of starches which are stored throughout the cell matrix in storage granulas, with a particular concentration of granulas around the flagella root and the cell spike.

A typical cell will possess two DNA pseudo-chromosome bundles, composed of 8 rings of various sizes joined together by a ninth DNA ring which appears to have a purely structural role. The pseudo-chromosomes do not appear to compete for control of the cell; instead one bundle acts as the active pseudo-chromosome controlling day-to-day metabolism, while the other controls both sexual and asexual reproduction (and is thus known as the sexual pseudo-chromosome). Both bundles possess a complete inventory of the organism's genetic code.

The Rainbow Germ is an opportunistic parasite of a number of closely related, and a few more distantly related, Germula species. In addition to being able to reproduce asexually by simple division, the organism is also able to hijack other cells.

The hijack follows a similar pattern to sexual reproduction in the species. When two cells come together to mate, they each transfer to the other cell their sexual pseudo-chromosome, via the cell spike. The transferred pseudo-chromosomes then undergo a quasi-mitotic gene swap with the resident active pseudo-chromosome, mediated by a sexual membrane grown specifically for the purpose. Hijacking follows exactly the same procedure, except that only the Rainbow Germ cell transfers its pseudo-chromosome.

The cell spike plays a crucial role in this process. The tip of the spike is packed with enzymes and RNA snippets which, on being injected into a new cell, rapidly attack and destroy the resident DNA structures. Once this is achieved, the sexual pseudo-chromosome enters the cell and immediately begins to reorganise the cell contents and structure to meet its requirements. Membrane building takes precedence over structural changes and the hijack can take several days to be completed, by which time the pseudo-chromosome will have produced a copy of itself to act as a new sexual pseudo-chromosome.

Sexual reproduction follows the same course, but with both cells impaling each other. Each cell is able to neutralise the other's enzyme attack and subdue the transferred pseudo-chromosome, which then plays a passive role in the gene swap. Once the swap is completed the implanted pseudo-chromosome is destroyed and the active pseudo-chromosome produces a new pseudo chromosome from the remnants of the old.

Many hijack attempts fail, and the Rainbow Germ is in a constant spiral of evolution with its prey as it develops new enzymes and DNA snippets to overcome the attacked cell's defences. The protective granulas, which consist of between 6 and 12 well developed organelles (the primary protective granulas) and a separate granula set of proteins and mixed nucleic acid chains (the secondary protective granulas), play a lynchpin role in the Rainbow Germ's own defence system.

The Rainbow Germ does not undergo an alternation of generations, though it does go through a 4 day inactive phase every 6-8 weeks when the flagella are lost and regrown.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Many apologies to those of you who subscribe to this blog via RSS feeds. I converted over to beta.blogger yesterday and in my excitement decided to give all my archived posts some labels. The sensible thing for me to have done would have been to turn off the RSS feeds feature thingy before I started, but in typical Rik fashion I only realised what was going on halfway through the process. Oops.

Now all I've got to do is figure out how to get the labels to list down the sidebar without losing other essential text like my RikVerse image and links.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rikweb rises again

Technical problems at the home of all things Rik meant the website took a small midweek break. The good news is that it has returned and can now be accessed again. I've taken the opportunity of this enforced break to tweak a few things on the poetry side of the site - for instance many of the poems listed in the Archive now show the first line of the poem as well as the title. The bad news is that I have to choose some new favourite Rik poems as I'd forgotten to update the mirror database. If either of you have any suggestions about which poems ought to go in the Showcase, then let me know!

The not quite so bad news is that I've taken this opportunity to dump the Periscope. So you can both breathe easy, there'll be no more mad website-y ideas from Rik for a little while.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Moving beyond the RikVerse

This time last year I was busy going through the process of getting my first proper book self-published via those very nice people at It was probably the thrill of that adventure that led me to sign up for NaNoWriNo 05 - an experience I'm not planning to repeat this year!

So, one year on. How's things going? They're going fairly well, thank you for asking. The book has not sold in bucketloads, but then the amount of advertising and promotion I have done for it has been in an order not short of "bugger all" so that's nobody's fault but my own. The important thing is that people who know and like my poetry have been able to buy a hardcopy collection of it - and I hope they're still enjoying the poems now! The thought of my book being lost down the back of someone's sofa, or stored in someone's garage, or (shudder) being put out with the rest of the garbage for recycling is not one I'd like to entertain. I want my book to be owned by careful, considerate and loving owners who remember to wipe the mugstains off the cover before they put it back on their (well-dusted) shelves.

Googling for the book brings up a few surprise results - mainly courtesy of, whose reach across the virtual shopping mall continues to amaze me. Did you know you can obtain the book in France or Germany? I didn't. Even more shocking to me was learning that you can order the book from W H Smith and even Tesco (hopefully gaining yourself some Tesco Clubcard points in the process).

Anyways, there's no point on looking back at old triumphs. Rather, I need to start looking forward to new ventures - for instance (if things go right) I'm hoping to have a new pdf chapbook of love poems ready for download either just before christmas or just after new year. I've already got the title for the collection: the question is, will you have the resolve to download it?

(ps: it's still not too late to order the 2007 Rik Calendar from perfect for Auntie's or Uncle's christmas present - it'll be much more useful to them than hankies or socks).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Is the Periscope worth it?

The trouble with computer magazines is that they come with DVDs full of exciting programs which idiots like me feel compelled to try out. I tried updating my operating system from the 2006 version of Linux Mandriva to the 2007 version, with the inevitable consequences. Everybody form a circle around Rik, point a finger at him and start laughing ...

In other news, in a fit of absent-mindedness I wrote a sevenling and entered it into the pffa annual poetry contest just before dashing off to Cuba. To my surprise (because I'm not enamoured of the form) my poem got selected as a finalist. Now I get the pleasure of writing another one of the pesky things to a deadline - should have read the rules of the competition before entering it! Oh, well ...

Anyways, the Poetry Periscope which I host on my website. Nobody's bothered to add their poetry webpage or blog to the listings for coming up to a year now. I'm wondering whether it's worth continuing with the project. If I hear no shouts from folks about keeping it up then I'll probably discontinue it at the end of the year. I mean, there's plenty of other stuff I could be putting up on my website in its place - like nekkid photos of me in "artistic" poses ...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bunfight at the OK Erato

While I don't tend to post many draft poems to the online poetry workshops these days - I currently lack the enthusiasm to critique in the detail other poems deserve - I do visit a number of workshops on a regular basis. Why? Because I do enjoy a good bunfight, and every now and then a poetry workshop will explode in a dazzling display of anger and bile.

True to form, such a fracas erupted while I was away from a connection to the 'net. Able Muse's Eratosphere had a wonderful slugfest following the (temporary, I think) banning of one of their longstanding members. The denouncements and accusations in the relevant threads are wonderful to read.

So why am I advertising a poetry board's family tiff on my blog? Because it gives me a chance to post one of my (un-workshopped, though it needs a bit of work) poems. And the beauty of this poem is that I only have to change a single letter to make the poem fit the current circumstances! Enjoy!

Serving the Muse

I chose to dine at E's establishment:
a restaurant well marked for style, panache
and quality, a place for nourishment
of soul and sense - at least they kept the trash

at bay when one's inclined to eat good food -
or so I was informed. I ordered boar
and settled back to contemplate the crude
parade of riff-raff shambling past the door.

"My deeply felt apologies," a voice
beside my elbow murmured. Looking down
I saw the chiselled bones of service hoist
into my view. "Why so?" I asked, a frown

across my brow. "We've had to ban the boar,"
the waiter cringed: "It charged around the place
creating havoc, carnage! Such a chore
to clear the mess - we turfed it out, disgraced!"

Nonplussed, I checked the menu once again.
"What else is there to eat?" The old man smiled,
his lips a gruel of soup. "The chicken, plain,
is rather good - a filling dish, par-boiled."

"But rather boring, I'd have thought?" He shook
his head and said: "You do not understand, young sir,
but plain is best - no sauce to hide the look,
no herb or spice disguising taste! The bird

served bland delights the plate. Just try a breast
or two."
I was intrigued, I have to say:
"You use no salt? No stuffing? Just undressed?"
"Oh yes!"
he said. "It is the only way

to exercise the muse! We don't allow
ingredients to spoil the meal, the chefs
must work in peace and comfort - once the row
of discontent is banished, gone, they're left

with harmony in which to hone their skills
and arts! A space where they can learn to shape
their honest, soul-full heart-wrought chicken meals
to feed our guests: a dish you can't escape!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Beautiful country - well, most of it.

Beautiful people - well, most of them anyway.

But how can a country and a people with so much going for them become so seriously fucked up? Power cuts. Water supply problems. Dismal public transport. People living in buildings literally rotting and disintegrating around their heads. Beggars on the streets. Hustlers on every corner of Old Havana - "You wanna buy cigar? Charlie? Girls?" Food is a choice of pork, chicken or fish served with rice and peas, but no interest in adding a bit of flavour. I mean, Mexico's just down the road - can't they be bothered to import a little bit of spice and imagination?

Cuba could be so much: a fiercely proud people; soil that throws up abundances by the waggonload. And yet their major export today is doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil - what the fuck is that all about?

Cuba's going to change soon - the Old Regime is dying. I really, truly hope that when change comes the Cubans grasp the opportunity with both fists to build a better country - one that provides them with incentives and innovation to make them proud of their history and gives them confidence for their future. They can't afford to have their future shaped by outsiders any longer - they deserve better than to become just another client state (most likely to the US multinationals) again.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The answer to life, the universe and everything?

Don't ask me! I'm just the bloke who's going to be 42 years old in 4 days time.

What I do know is there's a bloody great former hurricane heading for Blighty and I've no intention of celebrating my nativity with gales. So I'm off to Havana for a fortnight of culture, architecture, rum factories, occasional thunderstorms, old cars, oldtime communism and possibly cigars. And rum - did I mention the rum?

Note to God: no hurricanes.

I've always wanted to go to Cuba. Now that the old fellow's feeling his age and the exiles are getting Uncle Sam a bit excited about possibilities following his (hopefully long to be delayed) demise, it's a case of now or never. Once Fidel and Raul are gone, nothing will be the same for that island. Advertising hoardings all over the place. J C Penny. WallMart!

Additional note to God: No state funerals or American invasions, either. And definitely no hurricanes!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gvekuu update (round 10)

It is the 527th orbit according to the Gevey calender, and as the 81st Gvekuu season nears the halfway stage things are beginning to sort themselves out. The three cities of Emadiase, Pidome and Elfane are the powerhouse of the game, with 10 teams between them - 6 of which are in the masters league, with 5 of those 6 occupying the top half of the league at this point. Only Gadite from the Cheves Isles appear capable of threatening this hegemony. In fact, the master's pennant has not left the three cities for 9 years; it made a short journey down the coast to Fanstrate in 518. The last significant journey it has made was in 515 when Brege took it north to Nevari Isle.

Following the 10th round, which saw 5 score draws in the six games played (Elfane's Tratintesh, champions 2 seasons ago beat Brege at home to help ease their relegation worries) Arausuu from Pidome have built up a 3 point advantage over second placed Osemevrhesh, Elfane's other team in this orbit's masters league.

But the key interest appears to be settling around Emadiase's perennial underperformers. Krasistesh are the least successful of the four Emadiase teams. They have won the master's pennant just once - 25 orbits ago. 13 orbits ago the team delivered the ultimate humiliation to their long-sufferering supporters when they came last in the apprentice league. Since then, things have improved, with a new, young team being brought together to win the apprentice pennant in 520 and the journeyman pennant in 522. Their re-entry into the master's league has been a journey of thrills and spills: runners up in 523 and 525; just avoiding relegation in 524 and 526.

The signs at the beginning of this season did not look good. Two heavy defeats in their first two games - ironically at home to Aruasuu and away to Osemevrhesh - saw the team firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. But then the team pulled themselves together with 4 wins at home and 2 wins and a draw away to leave themselves in a strong position as the competition is about to pass the halfway mark. If they can beat the teams above them in the return legs and carry on their form against other teams in the master's league, then the city of Emadiase may just be celebrating its 19th master's pennant from the least likely of sources!

More urbis stuff

Well, the site seems to have moved out of beta and into production. And I found a good poem to critique! I also got a bit of feedback on some of my other critiques. I am now an official grammer nazi, so watch your backs!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lost in myspaceland

I am a bad person for not blogging more often.

My excuse is simple: I have been lost in myspaceland. It is a foreign land, an alien world whose rules I don't understand and whose cultures I have decided I am too old to begin to assimilate.

But it traps you. Two things in particular have trapped me in myspaceland.

The first was some sort of entity advertising a new sort of poetry site., which is still in development, puports to be a place where aspiring writers and poets can bring themselves to the notice of agents and editors. How could I resist joining? So I joined.

The site operates a wierd credit system where you earn credits for writing reviews of other people's work and spend those credits to reveal other people's comments of your own work. I posted a version of "First Night" and waited for the comments to roll in - which they duly did. 12 comments in total, of which about half were coherent. Most were positive. A couple offered some editing advice. The second poem I posted - "The Knife" - has, on the other hand, managed a grand total of zero comments over the past 48 hours. I would have thought the second poem would have generated more substantive commentary, simply because there's more in that poem that needs fixing. Apparently not.

The downside of is offering your own commentary on other poems. The poems I have been offered fgor critique have ranged from interesting ideas poorly executed to no-fucking-idea-whatsoever. If you have ever had to attempt constructive critique on dire material then maybe you will know how I'm feeling after that experience. I've managed 5 critiques over the past week: I want my medal now!

But back to myspace. Myspace is all about the people, and there's always a small chance that you will run into someone you haven't heard from - or thought about - in decades. My friends, it happened to me!

Now, for me, school was not an issue. Yes, I was often bored at school, but I was never bullied, I was rarely belittled. I wasn't part of the "in-crowd" as such, but I wasn't part of the "exiled" either. My reports were decent, my behaviour was acceptable within limits.

But the day I walked out of that place, I never looked back.

The person I met on myspace wasn't a close friend, or even a friend as such. We vaguely remembered each other which, given there were over 300 kids in our year, isn't bad going. We exchanged a couple of messages and did a bit of reminiscing about the old alma mater.

Yet the impact of that contact on my has been fairly devastating. I've spent the best part of the week reminiscing, trying to remember people (not easy if you're prosopagnostic) and activities, trying to work out why I've not bothered keeping in touch with old school friends or visiting the old haunts on a regular basis.

I'm not comfortable with those thoughts. I'm beginning to wish I had not ventured into myspaceland at all.

And no, I'm not going to write a sodding poem about it, 'kay?

Monday, September 11, 2006


I've joined the damn thing, but I'm not sure I get it.

I posted a couple of love poems to the myspace blog thingy, and the obligatory photo of Rik-with-monkey. I think I want to advertise the book on there but haven't worked out how to do that.

So far I've got 1 friend - Tom, who seems to be friends with about 100 million other people. I'm not sure Tom's a real person, but don't tell him I said that.

Oh, yeah. Also listed in the sidebar here in case I forget where I put myself.

Ugly bags of mostly water

Now, I know that my conlanging habit is a bit, well, wierd. But I'm happy to indulge myself because I know nobody is harmed in my pursuit of my hobby. Unless they ask me about it, of course, in which case I'm quite happy to bore them into taking refuge in the cat litter as I whitter on about conjunctions and the importance of redundancy in a constructed language.

I can't imagine that anyone would want to make a film about conlangers. I mean, Derek Jarman made a 2 hour film of blue paint drying (or something) and, even with no soundtrack, that would be more interesting than a film about conlangers.

Believe me on this point. I am a conlanger. I have a good understanding of my capacity to bore.

But then something comes along and I think that maybe I really am living in an alternate reality. For instance, somebody really has gone and made a film about conlangers. It's called Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water. I can do no more than quote the synopsis from the film's website:

On August 1, 2003, 33 people met at a Philadelphia hotel to celebrate and speak a language from Outer Space. The comical documentary, Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water, captures the life, passions and quirks of the members of the Klingon Language Institute. Interviews of KLI members (Linguists, Psychologists, Star Trek fans and steadfast individualists), reveal the intellectual, fraternal, liberating and no-nonsense, direct qualities they enjoy within the constructed-from-pop-culture Klingon language. From Louise Witty, who becomes fascinated with the language from her interest in Star Trek boots (and then fabricates and sells them) to a Paintball King who shouts strategic, military movements in the Klingon tongue, Earthlings examines the interplay between culture and language, communication and emotion, and the rather delicate line between reality and fiction.

Produced within a visually interesting and texture-filled, Sci-Fi style setting, Earthlings might be categorized as a Picture Show, a highly-stylized subjective documentary that emphasizes specific narrative strands and takes liberty with the tone, pacing and composition for comic effect. This is not a Trekkies (1994) imitator, but instead an entertaining view of an intellectual (and not-so-intellectual) endeavor to sort out and to explore humans and language, and the definitions of success and failure.

I can see the queues forming already.

But don't let my cynicism get in the way of anybody going to see the movie. Instead, lets hear from some people who (claim to) have already seen it. Mr Cranky gives the movie 2 bombs. He concludes his review by saying:

"You'd think there'd be ample opportunity to mock this curious assemblage, but director Alexandre O. Philippe passes up this opportunity and instead focuses on two things:

- Linguistics and social dynamics and how studying a "constructed language" like Klingon can provide insights into our own and... zzzzzzz....

- Lamps. Given that the KLI's interplanetary gala seems to have been held in a motel off the interstate somewhere, Philippe takes the only visual prop available to him -- lamps -- and uses them the frame the film in otherworldly ways. Which helps explain why I spent so much time feeling like I was lost in space."

And, erm, that's it! Nobody else seems to have been able to bring themselves to review the film. I'm tempted to go and watch it - it's on a limited release in London's Prince Charles Cinema this week - but I've got to strip wallpaper off the hall walls and the tropical fish tanks need a good scrubbing and I promised my Significant Other I'd sort out the laundry that's been piled in the back bedroom for the last 6 weeks so maybe I'll just wait until it comes out on DVD.

I hope the DVD comes with its own brown paper bag. There's some things I'd prefer the neighbours not to find out about ...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Rewriting a messy poem

I've decided that last poem posted on the blog is messy. The redraft is not too pretty either - several attempts at a the closing fifth strophe have turned into glyph-vomits. So I've decided to cut it completely. I'm not sure the fourth strophe offers up enough of a close, but I'm tired: I can always rework the poem again if it doesn't cut the horseradish.

First night

It was your eyes that sobered me: ice
at the end of the world, the ghost of a fox
staring down his hare across the tundra,

a chilled air vaulting through the sweat
of men as they drank, posed, assessed. That glance
of shivered blue left me feral. I was in the bar

and then I was in the bar with you. When
you passed me lager I spied iceflakes glint
on your dew claw. We danced, I think

we danced, or possibly you stalked my tracks
through the snows of our private ecology;
new ground frozen from the polar seas.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Night

Not sure about this one - a touch post-modernish. But it was something to do during my lunch hour:

First night

It was your eyes that sobered me: arctic
like the ice at the end of the world, a fox
staring down his hare across the tundra

of the crowded bar; tight shirts and shots
of cheap whisky mixed with slanders and lusts.
I don't think I smiled. I was in the bar

and then I was in the bar with you. Did we
dance, or chat? When you handed me lager I spied
iceflakes glint on your dew claw. I was

bounding through tundra, a London suburb
draped in white water, pack-ice in the streets.
Did we meet in the road? You goaded me

here, your arctic eyes reflecting curtains
of ghost-light, a god's disco crackling static
before our next dance, before we kiss.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Eating Out

I'm on a roll: another iffy first draft love poem to add to the bubbling pot ...

Eating Out

When he laughs his tongue splits
his lips, his eye-sides fold
like the accordion serenading
the hall; the veins across his nose
map out his joy of fine malts.

Her joy is steady, beige hands
around the linen where she hides
her smile, beige eyes fixed
on his; I can see her heel
stroking the curve of his calf.

I curve designs on the tablecloth
with the heel of my knife, quiet
amid the clatter. As I wait for your
late arrival I refuel on house white
and the sight of the waiter's groin.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Another dirty love poem

Having a title for the "chapbook" isn't enough. I'm still a few poems short of the ideal length for the project. Warning: this draft is not for the prim'n'proper!


Beyond the veil, darkness:
a wrist-free hand contacts
the unseen skin, stroking
my vestless chest. Someone
exhales, his breath seeks out
my stubbled nape. Kisses
of palm to arse echo
through stairwells, vault manshapes
who seek the spilt saltlicks -
I sit on boots, open
my mouth and wait. Presents
come cheap beneath London's
relentless streets: weakness
is mine to devour.

Needs a bit of work, I think, and perhaps a touch more research ...

"Chapbook" title

I haven't yet finished writing and editing the set of love poems I'll be releasing into the world (sometime in the next few months, fingers crossed), but I've already got a working title for the collection:

"Poems to quote to your lover (before and after you fuck)"

Classy, huh? Just thought I'd lodge the title here in case I get distracted and forget it ...

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Well, I missed out in Miss Snark's Crapometer Lottery (my entry was #276), but I'm sure there will be lots of fun watching the "successful" entries get eviscerated over the next couple of days. It also gives me more hope for today's lottery, as I've only got a small store of luck to go around.

Purely for fun, here's what I sent in. 750 words on the nose!

Dear Miss Snark.

Thank you for your wise and witty blog, and may K-Y's chew-bones be forever filled with marrow.

Delaem, daughter of the Governor of Burramesh, is going to court. She has a contract for a marriage to a handsome courtier and a will to explore the world beyond the walls of her provincial city.

But when her mother arranges one last gift for her daughter, Delaem's certainties begin to fray. Her lessons in the "easing" of men are learned too well. When all her attention should be focussed on her betrothed, Delaem can only dream of Shapeis, the head-horned servant employed to teach her.

Shapeis has problems of his own. The servants in the city are finding themselves a new religion - her name is the Sosunda, the child who speaks to God, and God has a message for his chosen people: freedom. Between his lessons with the Governor's daughter, Shapeis learns about the history of his people, the genetic wrongness of his creation - and the increasing desire he has for his aristocratic pupil.

Beyond their knowledge, the world is changing. Life has never been easy on this planet: a new plague has evolved in the southern ports, and the Empire will destroy cities to halt its progress. Fearful that illegal servant movements are threatening his city, the Governor orders their termination.

Escaping the city, Shapeis discovers an alien world where survival depends on knowledge and cooperation. For Delaem, too, survival has become more than deciding which dress to wear for breakfast. Both have to grasp new strengths and skills.

Yet no skill can stand firm before the plague. It stalks the city's unwashed streets, killing all in its path. Despite the Governor's every effort to contain the disease, the news of its presence within the city walls travels fast beyond them.

The Empire must act - the disease must die, as must the city and all within it. If the surviving servants are to fulfil their dreams, they must reach the safety of the mountains before the the soldiers arrive.

One man will not listen to prophecy. One woman will not accept defeat. Only when these two people learn to work together and respect each other will any life - master or servant - be rescued from the fires and fevers of death.

"The Sosunda" (working title), my first full novel, is a 90,000 word work-in-progress for which I hope to find representation in due course. My previous writing experience has ranged from drafting government propaganda to writing and publishing my own poetry. I hope you find my first serious foray into writing interesting enough to ask for a further 750 words.

As stipulated in your post, the opening paragraphs of the first chapter follow.

And many thanks for taking the time to read my submission.


Rik Roots

The Sosunda: Chapter One

"Is it true he is handsome, this contract of yours?"

Arbelle was combing her sister's hair: long, slow, steady strokes bringing the night tangles to the surface where she could tease them free. Her sister already wore her morning dress and was putting together her face before breakfast. It was a good morning ritual, the brushing of the hair; a time for sibling gossip before facing the rest of the family, and the world that insisted on invading their home.

"I have a picture of him in my safe-room," said Delaem. She put her hand on the brush to stop her sister's work, turned round and smiled. "He appears reasonably handsome."

They both giggled, no care for decorum. "Pictures can be doctored, you know," said Arbelle. "Mother whispered to me one night that Father's picture was at least ten years out of date when she came to compare it to the flesh!"

"No!" Delaem was grinning still. "Mother never told you that! She never discusses such things - I would know. I am the eldest, I've watched her four years more than you!"

"Three years."

"Four, until your birthday next month. Now tell me the truth, or I shall set the brother on you!"

Arbelle grimaced. The thought of having to deal with a sticky child did not appeal to her this morning, and Delaem had the right to pass on his care to her if she had more important things to attend to. Important to Delaem, that was.

Instead of answering, she leaned over her sister's shoulder, reaching towards the pots of powders and greasepaints forming a semicircle around her elbows ...

Question: if you were a literary agent, would this sucker you in to asking for a partial, or even the full manuscript?

Friday, September 01, 2006

I can't resist ...

Originally uploaded by adleyrik.
... posting the latest oilified snap of one of my kitties. This is Mr Dolly learning that carnation leaves are not as tasty as they look.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

E-zine dreams

That there Julie's been asking questions again. This time she's picking people's brains to find out what tempts you to submit poetry?

Disclaimer: I don't. Not any more, anyway. So what follows is purely hypothetical.

Number one has to be the website design. It must be:
- easy to access and navigate around
- quick to load up (so no megabyte pdf docs or jpg images)
- pretty, in a sophisticated way

If it passes those tests, we get onto the tough tests:
- good poems that work well both individually and as a group
- good reviews, articles, essays, artwork, etc
- did I mention that they had to be very good?
- as in not reading 3 stinker poems in the space of 3 clicks?
- oh, yeah, defining good - mindblowingly, entertainingly good

So, now I'm itching. Maybe there's a couple of draft poems I could tighten up which would look good in this e-zine. Which brings us to the tiebreaker test:
- simple, easy to understand submission process
- which means an online submission process
- with clear information provided on things like copyright, turnround time, simsubs, payments (heh!), etc
- having a way to check on how the submitted poems are progressing would be a bonus!

So basically, if the e-zine passes tests 1, 2 and 3 I might just decide to inflict my poems on them.

But that's just the basics. Is it enough for an e-zine to offer a space on a website for some poems the editor happens to like? What more could e-zines be doing?

Well, I like the idea of an e-zine that I'd want to visit regularly - say 2 or 3 times a month, just to check up on what's going on. So there would need to be some new content to draw me in each time. That rules out this 2, 3 or 4 issues a year nonsense. Jacket Magazine, for instance, posts accepted content onto the website as soon as it's accepted, and then gathers the accumulated content into "editions" once a quarter. No Tell Motel features a series of poems by a different poet each week, posting a new poem each day; there's also a printed annual anthology involved. Jacket uses a traditional web format, while NTM goes for the flavour-of-the-moment blog apprach. Both get repeat visitors, I'm sure.

Blogs are novel, because blogs have RSS feeds. And you don't need a browser to see what's new on the blog. But why stick at the written word? Why not podcast the latest poems and articles like here or here or here or even here? Why not have video poems via those very nice people at YouTube?

And it doesn't have to be all heading-for-the-future technology. Why not have space for print-on-demand hardcopies of each issue of the e-zine? I mean, if I can publish a book through then better people than me should have no problem with a quarterly magazine - and it needn't cost the buyer much either.

Here's an idea. Visitors to the e-zine website could build their own little chapbook from the selected poems. With a little bit of wizardry behind the scenes the selected poems could be bundled together into a pdf, sent off to a compliant POD printer, printed and shipped. If the costing scheme was done something along the lines of printing cost + $0.20 per poem then it might not be too expensive. And that 20c could go straight into the pocket of the poet who wrote the poem! I thinks this is one of those idea-too-far ideas at the moment (the technology's not there yet, and no POD printer is - as far as I'm aware - offering single book print-runs in such a way) but who knows how the technology might develop in the next 5 years!

Poetry calendars are definitely here, though. I'm willing to strip for art, but is anyone willing to take the photos?

So, there's some thoughts on what I'd like to see in the next generation of e-zines. I wonder if anyone's got the vision to try it ...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

I finally succumbed to temptation and started advertising The RikVerse on this blog. "Why hide it?" I thought. It's not as if I'm ashamed of it or something. I've also added in direct links to the 2 pdf chapbooks which make up a substantial portion of the publication - just for the cheapskates.

Which got me thinking about future projects. Given my recent arterial flow of productivity I wondered if there was a possibility of a new pdf production. Well, there is and there isn't. After reviewing what's on the stocks, it seems like I'm actually working on 6 (six) separate poetry projects, two of which are around 70% done, a third that's pretty much half-way there, the dratted long poem due to finish sometime before 2010 and a couple of others that are just out of the starting blocks.

The two that are sprinting away are currently listed in my head under the name of "Lovers" and "Others". Alongside two of the less developed projects (inventively titled "Politic" and "Olympic") they could eventually end up as part of a new book. I'll have to come up with better names for the project and the book, of course, but it never hurts to dream a little, does it.

Does it?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Knife

A poem to take two birds with the one hand. Rob's been challenging people to write a sonnet in less than 15 minutes, while Eloise suggested in the Best of the Net thread below that I should write a self-harm poem. So here goes nothing ...

The Knife

"She's messed me up, again: my shiny blade
a tarnished map of haemoglobins. Look
at how she spoilt my spine, my bolster glued
with fingerprints! She's crying now, as if
the cuts are my responsibility -
like I should care; she hasn't sharpened me
in days, not since she last kissed me, my scales
and tang held fast between her breasts. I know
she can't love me - I'm just the tool. But still
there must be something there, a hint of care
in choosing me repeatedly to mark
her skin with messages, her runes of loss
and hurt and farewell notes, the secret pains
she takes to wrap me safe in swaddling cloth."

No, it doesn't rhyme, and thus cannot be considered a proper sonnet. But it's got 14 lines of IP, which is enough to claim modern sonnethood.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Guardian's Poetry Workshop

Just a quick note to thank Vicki Feaver and those nice people at Guardian Unlimited for including my poem "Coots" in their latest poetry workshop.

Given that the poem was not workshopped anywhere outside this blog, I'm surprised the review the poem got was so positive. My Inner Critics are currently having a little celebration in the back of my head; I'll let them enjoy themselves for a couple more hours before shackling them back to their desks.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mmmm - parasites!

Harry's quite the linkophile - I'll often pop over to his blog to see what he's ferreted out. Today I struck gold when Harry linked to Carl Zimmer's blog - Carl wrote one of the best books I've ever read about parasites, and his views on the biology of parasitism is proving to be very influential on my conbiology activities. Definitely a link for the sidebar.

Thanks, Harry!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Best of the Net?

Sometimes you find yourself browsing through bits of the online poetry scene you don't often bother with and you stumble across an idea which looks rather good on first glance. Such was my reaction when I heard about Sundress Publication's proposed annual anthology Best of the Net. Excellent, thinks I, someone promoting and celebrating online poetry in a good way.

Then I read the submission guidelines:

Participant Qualifications
- Submissions must come from the editor of the journal

Killed by the first bullet point!

So no place in a publication provocatively entitled "Best of the Net" for people who choose not to publish their poetry via a third party, but prefer to offer it to the reader direct and unpasteurised.

Even with all the new technology at their disposal, people still insist on worshipping the old gods. Surprisingly, it doesn't surprise me anymore. Oh, well ...


Apparently, a poet should be able to write blank verse without breaking a sweat, preferably for pages and pages. This one's freshly minted (and thus, by definition, dog-rough).


It takes a glance to catch him: turn a head
and he'll be gone back through the wall - the one
with counties catalogued by colour. Quick!

He's there. He stares around the room, a man
who's lost his century, bemused by desks
and phones, dividing screens, fluorescent light

that makes his inky fingers glow. He wears
a frown beneath his wig, a blot of mud
still wet around his calf. Why is he here?

His shoulders slope in chalk cascades, his arms
solidify round parchments, briefs and notes
with ribbons wound about them. When I turn

my head, he turns, returns the stare. I smile:
'see us', my eyebrows arch, 'both lost inside
this treasury, too poor to seek escape'

Needs a bit of work, I think. And given the content, it probably needs approval from some committee or other. Oh, well ...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Redraft: Trafalgar Week

Don't blame me for the lack of posts: I've always been crap at keeping a diary. I keep on looking at the blog, and it keeps on staring back at me, an accusing stare within its typeface - you don't write me anymore; you don't like me anymore - yadda yadda, heard it all before. Tough. And the guilt grows within me until I find myself revising a poem not because I want to revise the poem but rather because I don't know what else to bloody post.

This one's a major rewrite:

Trafalgar Week

Dancers on the stage built beside
his plinth: his hair is a weave
of pigeon wings. They watch
the crowd below - billowy flags
tied across burnt shoulders. Today
our stage is glitter, our page
a crease across the usual trade
this place attracts. My hand
wraps yours and when the band
sings Abba, man to man, we kiss.

A singer on the stage beneath
a screen that somersaults
into the sky, its fringe a rump
of pigeons. Announcements ruffle
through the crowds of patriots -
each one crossed in red, and white,
and blue as dark as airless blood.
Some ghosts in Asia tally votes
and mouth a word: London! London!
Bodies scream and dance and kiss.

Children on the stage. They play
oblivious to sirens screaming
through the square. The crowds
today are pigeons; rats with wings
that peck at bread abandoned round
his plinth. He sees the bowl of London
from his perch, the whirls of smoke
that mark the city's wounds, the litter
of a busted bus to Hackney - trees
decked in death before October's kiss.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Foucault's Pendulum

Every now and then someone on the ZBB will come along with a bright idea, say a translation exercise. "I can do that", I think, and off I go.

This time someone suggested translating the first four paragraphs of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Bastards. It's taken me the best part of 4 days, but here are the first four paragraphs in Gevey:

Yuu citwhaj gluefathe ta'skesnisuulhs telaa te.

Laebuu kuun oucizhuu li seduu citwanti blodrateh ska'suatismuuksim zhek suusyuu jaevmizhuu daebouwg les seduu boisendou cozheh stieshtuu daesovizhuu les seduu shaamanti ta'kuubz.

Sekate naslateh koiy te - ulgaarh galshone klov waplate koiy, yuu kon draav ghep yuu kon giejohb vae'hizhuu les seduu butsanti. Sekate te evd nonhuu onizhuu ghep traviejuu daebwuun al sievwuu khmeden yuu kon acituuwhk les seduu ristanti. Sievwuu tuzaa zhek as suu tsiethanti cisa'zdan'hales apuu as suu bliedronti cisa'zdanfoeddhes - yuu traviej al yuu trafoedadh laes frouconuunesh as shuu moufrhanti kuu. Sliezmizmuu askrhanizhuu yuu traviejizhuu skesk cat yo brants acituuwhk rhuut laeb les seduu noisoghtuumanti di'jetohpuuks ta'jetohpuugz vih'taelhgohpuuksesh antsskesaevduush: onistrhuu noezd boiseefuu; drasistrhuu noest taelhgohpuum togrhuun; besistrhuu noezd beecuu onizhuu sievwuun khmeden; vilistrhatsiethuu noest nonhuu onizhuu; sievwistrhuu savaevduu noest froucono.

Pits sekate te evd batuu uhn snondomuu gwoizizhuu yuush kuun agizehr cisyuu togrhebesuu les seduu primanti kosh cuu righisem suusyuu gripent polate al sosh tsiethate ta'righismuubz gles'laebuus, broisuu yuu giejohp les suu shmigrhonti. Batuu telaa yuu citwhajuun zgakfyeets na seduu liscanti, rhuutapuu yuu kuun akhnafehr se seduu friethonti; mikas baluu shonaa iscuu jarhizhuu cofehrh les suu boisendou modo'daebwuuks taelhgohpmarhizhuu zheks nana seg suu pruestanti al zhekteh yuu erodrisem al yuu abrol nana suu stiganti brois skas'sedhuu giejendou laes dezde'skesuulhs kuu.

Transliteration of the Gevey:
I saw the pendulum at that moment.

Its heavy ball swung to-and-fro in equal moments of time, hung from a long wire that the ceiling of the temple hugged tight to itself.

I knew it immediately - although anyone could have sensed it, its magic built from its uncomplicated motion. I knew the square root of the length of the wire and the number pi governed its period. That number which hides from the idiot but performs for an intelligent person - it binds the circumference and diameter of all possibe circles. An arcane conspiracy determined the timelength for each swing of the sphere from stillness to stillness between the most timeless of measures: the one-ness of the point of suspension; the two-ness of the dimension's measurements; the three-ness of pi's first digit; the hidden four-ness of the square root; the unnumbered perfection of the circle.

I also knew that a magnetic driver centred under the floor directed a cylinder hidden in the heart of the sphere, thus assuring continual motion. This engine did not frustrate the laws of the Pendulum, but rather permitted its manifestation; for any object hanging from a weightless and unstretchable wire inside a great space will oscillate for all time.

Original (English) text:
That was when I saw the Pendulum.

The sphere, hanging from a long wire set into the ceiling of the choir, swayed back and forth with isochronal majesty.

I knew - but anyone could have sensed it in the magic of that serene breathing - that the period was governed by the square root of the length of the wire and by pi, that number which, however irrational to sublunar minds, through a higher rationality binds the circumference and diameter of all possible circles. The time it took the sphere to swing from end to end was determined by an arcane conspiracy between the most timeless of measures: the singularity of the point of suspension, the duality of the plane's dimensions, the triadic beginning of pi, the secret quadratic nature of the root and the unnumbered perfection of the circle itself.

I also knew that a magnetic device centred in the floor beneath issued its command to a cylinder hidden in the heart of the sphere, thus assuring continual motion. This device, far from interfering with the law of the Pendulum, in fact permitted its manifestation, for in a vacuum any object hanging from a weightless and unstretchable wire free of air resistance and friction will oscillate for eternity.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Office Dream

Last night I dreamed about The Office again.

Now, I've been dreaming about The Office for decades. Of course, when I was a kiddie I called it The School - only as time went on did it change into The College, The Factory, The Office. The name changes, but its basic structure remains the same.

The Office is tall, a towering construction of grey slabs, confusing corridors, rooms that do not connect logically. Staircases - often spiralling - are accessed by climbing out of windows; lifts (elevators) are big, clanking mechanical machines that are relentless in their desire to move up rather than down, and often lacking safety doors on the higher floors - jumping on and off the rising platform is especially scary. Those spiralling staircases get very shaky and semi detached the higher I climb. Lower rooms are familiar, but the higher ones drafty, bare, skeletal, alien affairs.

So basically an archetypal dream investigating my fears of development, change, aging and death. I get to visit it when I'm feeling particularly vulnerable about the world and its expectations for me. Fun, huh?

This morning I found my way to the canteen, in search of beef goulash and rice. And bread. People are taking all the bread while I'm still searching for a plate for my goulash. After a few repetitions of this scenario I got bored and decided to change the dream (a useful technique if you find yourself doing the searching for pizza in the supermarket while naked dream - just intervene and steal a pair of shorts from someone else's shopping trolley). The food was tipped into a shoulder bag I imagined into existence and I got to grab a couple of rolls out of the breadbasket. Mission accomplished, The Office disappeared and scenes of an erotic nature (which I shall not detail) ensued.

Slowly, me and my subconscious, we're edging towards a Big Decision about work. Big, life-changing decisions about attempting a writing career.

In fact I'm pretty much there on the decision-making front; the only thing holding me back is the money fears. Yet with reorganisation and downsizing issues on the horizon at my real office, a reasonable redundancy package is all I need to push me onto the highest, spindliest spiral staircase of them all.

And as a sideline I could go round hippy markets offering to interpret dreams. Anyone interested?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Time to rearrange the deckchairs

Over the past 18 years I've written a grand total of 132 poems. 35 of those poems (just over a quarter of them) have been drafted and/or completed over the past 6 months. Of course, one of the drafts is my work-in-progress Snowdrop, which in itself includes 68ish poems (depending on how I count them, and that's only a third of the work completed).

Anyways, given this spurt of creativity I decided it was time to refresh my Poetry Showcase. I've reduced the number of poems down from 17 to 10, retaining four (Death, Judgement, Roadkill and The Production Line) and adding in 4 newly minted poems (Acolyte, Mad Mary, Transaction and When the Battle Ends) and 2 golden oldies - Candle (the one the teenagers seem to enjoy plagiarising, the bastards) and Drafting.

Which just goes to prove that NaPo can yield diamonds as well as bucketloads of shit.


Monday, July 10, 2006

NaPo redraft: Rogues

Not that this one needed much revision - just cut out the middle and sew the ends together:


A grift of sunshine teases bulbs to bloom
through snow, whose cold wheeze huffs
through a jemmied window; men with badges
paint the frame, looking for clues. Who
dumped the fridge across the driveway,
let its vapours heist ozones from the sky?
Breeze-blocks hold up a car where kids
play out their game of cops and fathers -
they'll harvest the world for a laugh.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Weestruum Gvekizhuum (Week 2)

The week 2 results make good reading for the Harbour folk of Pidome: Aruasuu win their fourth game in a row by scoring a single goal in their home game with defending champions Tuusrhesh. They're joined at the top of the table by the Simakere River team Merundeme, who only just beat relegation last year, and Ceves Isles' very own Gadite. The islander's 2:1 victory over Fanstrate was particularly impressive in a match that saw them fall behind early on, only to claw their way back into the game with two excellently taken goals in the second half. At the other end of the table the luckless Emadiase college team Krasistesh conceded 8 goals away to Elfane's boaters Osemevrhesh, making it 14 goals in 2 games. It's been 25 orbits since the students last brought the championship back to Emadiase; on this form it's going to be a few more orbits before they manage to do it again.

The first, and so far only, score draw of the season came from the Journeyman League, and typically involved Emadiase's Krhovlestosh who have drawn four of their last six games. It was enough to secure them second place in the league tables, and gave Tratoune, Elfane's ever underperfoming blues, their first point of the season. Merundeme's fellow Simakere River team Elpikem are the only other team not to have yet lost a game, recording a 7:3 home win against Vopshe.

Panoste Strate, relegated from the Journeyman League last year, celebrated a second win to retain their 100% record in the Apprentice League, beating Mintose 1:3 away.

Monday, July 03, 2006

South Park Rik

Thanks to those nice people at South Park Studio ...

... and to Julie, of course, who's always guilty of diverting me away from serious work, like formalising how ditransitive verbs operate in Gevey.

Talking of Julie, verselovers are strongly advised to scoot over to her Lulu-shop to invest in her new book of poems. Sonneteers of her high calibre are as rare as a very rare thing indeed!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

London calling

Everything seems to happen at the same time around this time of year. Last year saw Live8 and London Pride and Olympic celebrations (and a terrorist outrage) in the space of a few days. This year we get to host Europride and everyone else will be off to the pubs to watch England battle Portugal for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

What am I doing? I'm getting ready to witness a friend become Deaconated at St Paul's Cathedral. Maybe after me and the SO will manage some Europride partying - if we can dodge the clutches of the GodSquad.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Another draft of another poem. I can't be arsed to offer up crits of other people's poems at the moment, so this one - formerly Love Poem #11 - isn't being workshopped anywhere. Instead, I'm relying on my Inner Critters to tell me the poem's pretty much roasted to perfection:


It's strange how our fingers
interweave when we cross roads,
shop for carrots, newspapers,
cartons of milk. Sometimes

I'll fold my palm around
your knuckles to keep them
warm while we wait for the bus,
or walk to town. Sometimes

you knuckle my hand away: decisions
are shared in this space, we both
must agree to risk the spits
of strangers, haters, sometimes.

But please do feel free to let me know if you disagree with my ICs. They're not always as reliable as they like to make out ...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Weestruum Gvekizhuum (Week 1)

Spring Equinox in the Land of Cantage not only marks the start of the new orbit; it's also the start of the new gvekuu season!

The week 1 results are now in. In the Weestruu Cauvizhuu, four teams celebrate with away wins, and the Pidome team Aruasuu find themselves leading the table after putting 6 goals past a weak Krasistesh side. But the week's big scorers are reigning champions Tuusrhesh, with the Dogs of Emadiase putting 8 goals past newly promoted Krasovjarhuu. Next week's matches could offer an early pointer to whether the Dogs are on course to retain their title when they travel to the Pidome to test the mettle of the early leaders. Some are already predicting an early bath for the Harbour Crew!

Newly promoted Kalla Bante showed they meant business in the Weestruu Pozizhuu by defeating Journeyman League stalwarts Urtalke away from home. The other five matches resulted in home wins. Daesovuu, the Templars from Pidome, failed to match the winning start of their fellow promotees, losing 4-0 at home to Emadiase's Krovlestosh.

There were no great surprises in the Weestruu Pozalhetizhuu, with all six home teams winning. Krube head the table after putting 6 goals past luckless Obalbe

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nothing much - the final cut

'Tis done. I have taken advice, cogitated and revised accordingly. I hereby declare this poem finished!

Nothing much

Look how quiet the room is: a cat
whiskers behind sunlit curtains
for spiders; noses cold rice
from a plate in search of meat.

Shadows shoal the tank, each a life
behind the green scum growing
on the glass. Tide rings in the mug
mark a consumption of coffee.

You activate me remotely, the song
of the phone triggering animation,
audio smiles and shrugs as we chat
for a while about nothing much at all.

(and if anyone thinks it could do with a bit of tweaking - I Ain't Listening!)

Sunday, June 18, 2006


This blogsite attracts (on average) 7 visitors a day.

I don't know whether I ought to be depressed because I want to be blogfamous, or elated because I continue to dodge celebrityhood by flying beneath the blogradar - Samizdat Rik!

I suppose if I want fame'n'fortune I could always post some buttshots of me - with and without the tight shorts. Or alternatively I could post more poems and conlang stuff and aimless rambles - the googlebot likes regularly updated pages and is always happy to add a couple dozen hits to the counter at no extra charge.

Sunday evenings: depression weekly.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Workshopping: Stanley in Moonlight

I'm currently workshopping this one over at pffa. For the exercise I changed the title to "Sydney in Moonlight", but I think overall I prefer the name "Stanley". Strange things, titles.

Stanley in Moonlight

He lopes slow-motioned, each footstride
matched by the seesaw dance of shoulders
humping over his nape. He keeps his ears

pert: black tips scanning tufts and twig-tumbles
for scuffles, volesqueak. The morsels whistle
warnings ahead of his thoughtless trek -

then silence. Odour sources tangle colour
through his greytone bush-scapes. He sits,
sniffs his tailpit tag glands, tongues clean

his fur-pursed wolfhood: still the gift-disk shines.
When he howls, his bones recall the loss, the pain
of change, complexity; the moult of flesh.

Feel free to de-lurk and comment ...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sevenling (there are no rules)

Those good folks over at The Gazebo are inviting people to write sevenlings (see the thread in Karen's Pub).

I'll be honest: the form looks too artificial to me, and the examples I've seen to date barely function as wholesome, belly-full satisfying poems. But then again I write haiku despite despising the form, so what the heck ...

Sevenling (there are no rules)

There are no rules for those who wait.
she swallows the starling whole:
as it beats, the heart grates her chest.

Rules are made for breaking the hearts
of the little people. Watch the swallow:
a feathered boomerang curves across the sky.

When the angels called, she was not at home.

I'm sure future generations in search of my posterity will have fun close-reading that little gem!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What I did on my holidays

I bet you're all gagging to know!

The brave ones among you can read all about it (with photos) at the holiday gallery on my website. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nothing Much

I ought to be marking my return to active blogging with reports about the wonderful holiday I've just had: Kos, Nissyros, Patmos, ancient towns, mediaeval castles, monastries, salt lakes, flowers and butterflies, beaches and food, the luxuries of time beyond work and the web.

Instead I'll commence with a redraft of a poem. This one used to go under the grand title of "Love Poem No 9":

Nothing Much

Look how quiet the room is: cats
whisker behind sunlit curtains
for spiders; knock a fork from a plate
as they nose through rice for meat.

I sit and watch fish - each shadow
a life behind the green scum
growing on the glass. I sip coffee,
wipe the cold drug from my chin.

Phone tones switch me on: your voice
triggers muscles to tango lips and tongue,
stretch me beyond my teeth as we chat
for a while about nothing much at all.

It's good to be home!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


photo of kos

Back soon ...

(Photo courtesy of this website)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Surviving Kalieda

Perusing the ZBB forums this evening, I came across this question posed by "Turtlehead": Whats the biology and chemistry like in your conworld? Do you have strange new elements and compounds? What is the main element used for the biology of your conworld?

How can I resist such a question! This is the response I posted ...

Kalieda is mostly like Earth, except for a few crucial differences. For instance the bulk of the protein-forming amino acids in Kaliedan lifeforms are D form whereas terrestrial amino acids are mostly L form (Aidan convinced me that this is a stupid idea a couple of years ago, but I'm still emotionally attached to it). There are 23 mainstream Kaliedan amino acids, compared to the 20 mainstream terrestrial ones, but only 16 are common to both. There's also some small but critical differences in DNA structures.

The reason I chose to incorporate these anomalies in my conworld was to give me a plausible reason why the human (terrestrial) inhabitants found it so difficult to establish viable settlements on the planet. They may find themselves in the midst of an ecological paradise, but they can't survive by eating it. They need to establish and maintain "plantations" - in effect oases of terrestrial ecologies - to provide them with the food they need to survive.

Competition between the native and alien (terrestrial) ecologies provides the second strand of my conworld's narrative. Over the course of 6,000 years the two ecologies have been busily adapting themselves to feed off each other, evolving proteins capable of breaking down and converting the "wrong" types of amino acids into forms they are able to make use of. This competition is mostly taking place at the bacterial level, but has impacts on the human population - for instance in the form of novel diseases that every so often crop up and wipe out 80-90% of the population (I used to call them "assimilation plagues", but then Star Trek nicked the word "assimilation" for their Borg and I haven't got round to choosing another name for them yet).

People use these adaptions for their own purposes. Have you heard of kombucha tea? Vile stuff, believe me. The Kaliedan humans have something similar - a pancake concoction of bacteria and yeasts that they can place on top of a vat of "native broth" (for a better phrase) which converts the broth into something they can survive on. Terrestrial ruminants have internalised something similar into their guts, which explains why the goat is percieved by many cultures as the epitome of resourcefulness, determination and luck. Goats survive in vast numbers across all continents of the planet, happily eating terrestrial crops and native vegetation.

Interesting place to live, Kalieda: gorgeous, yet deadly.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I suppose I ought to work on the alleged "love" poems before I revise the NaPo stuff. This one used to go under the name of Love Poem #7, but not anymore ...


Such a stupid hat.
Not you, the way it falls
across your eyes, the brim
sieving dust mites;
a swatch of orange
without feathers
- felt, maybe,
or shoddy.

So many rags and snags
rolled tight to fit
in this cupboard.

Dress up for me.
Let fall your hat, your shirt -
wear me, tonight, my supple
leather laced tight
to you, your fingers
my wicker crown.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's all Julie's fault ...

... for derailing my thoughts - which should be on things like writing up notes of meetings with various people, etc, etc. Instead Julie posted a short note about the wierd concept of publishing for prosterity. Which got me thinking.

I mean, I can understand people's desire to publish their poems. While it's not a desire I share with them, I can understand that there is a poetry community out there, and that publishing poems is somehow related to a person's standing or worth in the eyes of that community. Because poetry is, first and formost, a social construct and wherever you get social constructs you get hierarchies, and most people have a genetically driven need to climb as high as they possibly can within the hierarchies they associate with.

It's what I call The Great Game, and you're right in thinking I'm more of an audience than a competitor when it comes to playing.

But what's this "posterity" thingy that some people think is a good reason for poets to publish their work?

What is "posterity"? is succinct on the definition. Posterity is "Future generations: 'Everything he writes is consigned to posterity' (Joyce Carol Oates). No arguing with that definition.

But that means that I'm part of the posterity for all those poets who were publishing their poems down the centuries. I'm Shakespeare's posterity, Owen's posterity. Coleridge and Wordsworth wrote and published their poems for me. Whoever wrote down Beowulf and Gawain and Homer's Iliad did it for my benefit.

And what did I do to thank these wonderful people for their gift?

Well, at school I was made to sit down and dissect their poems. I cut open their strophes and rhymes and looked for the magic that (I was told) made them the best poems ever written. Some poems I was forced to memorise, some poems I was compelled to psychoanalyse by teachers who knew scarcely more about psychoanalysis than I did. Over the course of 12 years of formal schooling I spent perhaps a month at most in the company of these gifts.

Not once was I told to go away and read these poems for the pleasure they could give me. At no time was it suggested to me that my time with these poems served any purpose apart from furthering my education and contributing to a scorecard at the end of the term, the year.

These poems left to me were products to be processed, assessed and discarded. That's posterity for you.

Fuck posterity!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NaPo revision: Coots

And so the real work starts ...


Look at you, sloven shortwings, your nests
a dereliction of twigs poked in sludge
beyond the gardened soils of the pond.

Tourists gather to watch you fornicate,
his grub-chain toes scouring oil from plumes
as her head dives to avoid the bloodeye leer.

Last year I watched you hatch four cuties,
bundles of floating chirrups, watched you peck
each to death in turn when you tired of them.

Still you flirt your jaundiced legs, squabble
as you wave your saddle-white heads like liars
while scrumping breadcrumbs from the geese.

If you get the idea that I'm not keen on coots, you may be right. I went to watch them again today in the park, and they really are the epitome of passive-agressive bullies. I've tried to add in a bit more close observation stuff - like their headshields reminding me of a horse's saddle. Describing their feet is really hard: they're not webbed, but rather they have semicircular flaps in a row down the side of each toe (one side on two toes and both sides on the third) - the closest image that came to mind was those insects that look like offwhite birdscat, flat and clinging to the twigs they feed off (mealybugs?), but in the end I went with "grub-chain toes" which seems close enough for my purposes.

I'm not going to waste my limited capacity for critting other's poems by workshopping this one online. Instead I'll just revise it on the website and stick it in the archives.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Like tell me something I don't know

You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.

And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.

Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...

Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Website meltdown

Due to the utter fucking incompetence of my website hosts - the WebFusion-123Reg-Pipex multinational piracy conglomerate - looks like its gone tits-up and currently appears un-rescue-able.

For those lucky few who do need to email me, is working, as is

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kalieda with clouds

Originally uploaded by adleyrik.
This is my first attempt at rendering the planet with some clouds. I decided to hand-draw the clouds rather than use some gizmo within Blender to generate them for me. The hurricane to the far right is a bit pants, but then I didn't expect to get this right on the first attempt!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kalieda's ice cap

Originally uploaded by adleyrik.
My Blender skills are beginning to develop - this is a piccie of the planet showing the northern continent of Cheidrah and its attendant icecap.

Still lots to do and learn though. Clouds, for instance. More natural sunlight. Animation.

I think I'm supposed to be writing a poem ...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Kalieda from space

One of the reasons for learning how to play with Blender is to wrap my Kalieda maps onto a globe. I display my first (poor) attempts below to give people an idea about the look of the planet and the placement of the 3 main continents.

This is Falah, in the southern hemisphere ...

[edit: image deleted]

... and this is Cheidrah - on the same side of the planet as Falah, but a lot further north ...

[edit: image deleted]

... and this is Ewlah, home to the Gevey speaking peoples (alongside 18 other distinct languages, including the still developing Wakat language) which sits on the other side of the globe to the other continents:

[edit: image deleted]

Eventually, I want to get a little movie of the spinning globe (or a flypast of the planet) to use on the introduction page of the website.

And I make no excuse for playing with Blender rather than writing my NaPo poems for Saturday and Sunday. Quite frankly, Blender offered me more fun. And tomorrow is another day. And anyways I work for the Government, where deadlines are relative and if the Minister promises to publish something in the Spring but it doesn't get published until mid-August, then as far as the Civil Service is concerned mid-August is Spring, so less of this nonsense talk about missed deadlines!

Hot poetry at

So for Easter, I thought I'd do a quick check on how The RikVerse is doing. very kindly ranks books and other products according to how well they're selling. My book currently ranks at #9,536, nestling amid other poetry books like Daisies by Nancy B Mann - "A collection of poems and short stories about loss, grief, and hope. This collection recounts my experiences and feelings after the deaths of my father, maternal grandparents, my cousin, and my mother. I hope others who are grieving may find some comfort in knowing there are others who share their pain and understand the process they are going through"; Words To Dream And Wonder In Pictures by Phillip Allen - "This Sampler contains twenty-one poems set on some wonderful backgrounds. Great for restaurants or special events"; and True Poetry by Michael King - "This is a collection of poems that i have written over the past 5 or 6 years. It has a meaning to it, it teaches and people have told me that my poetry has touched there heart and that it has inspires them. I hope it does for you".

I'm not going to denigrate these people (even after reading Nancy's sampler): they've at least had the guts to pull their fingers out of their arses, do some work and get their poems into print. Each of them has sold as many copies of their books as I have mine. They're investigating the possibilities and living the dream, just like me. Go visit their Lulu pages and check out their product - I mean what's it going to cost you? A couple of minutes of time and a remote chance of spraining your clicking finger?

For those people who like rankings, the top five ranked poetry books on this week are:

1. Wildness in a Small Place by Randy Minnich - "A journal of the author's observations of the passage of a year in an urban nature area, supplemented with poems and drawings."

2. The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel edited by Molly Arden and Reb Livingston - "These poems will do ANYTHING. Edited by Reb Livingston and Molly Arden from No Tell Motel (, this anthology includes seductive poems by over 80 of today's most discreet poets including Aaron Anstett, Bruce Covey, Catherine Daly, Denise Duhamel, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Amy Gerstler, Noah Eli Gordon, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Cynthia Huntington, Kirsten Kaschock, Amy King, Shin Yu Pai, Lance Phillips, P.F. Potvin, Standard Schaefer, Ravi Shankar, Heidi Lynn Staples, Allyssa Wolf and others."

3. Let a New Woman Rise by Barbara Haskins - "This is the long-awaited, Definitive Collection of poems from revolutionary poetess, BARBARA HASKINS!"

4. Teardrop Diary by Erin McSparron - "This unique book combines original works of poetry, Bible verses, and space to journal thoughts and feelings. It is ideal for anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or stillbirth. The poems will walk a grieving person through the many stages of grief, overwhelming feelings, and frustrations associated with their loss. Whether for yourself or for a gift, this book will support, encourage, and help heal hearts after a pregnancy loss."

5. The Healing Conscious by Kifle Bantayehu - "The "Healing Conscious" tells the story of an Ethiopian immigrant boy on his fascinating journey to America and adulthood. The author, a second-generation Ethiopian immigrant, recounts this poignant tale in poetic format. His inspirational collection of poems reflects the final words and thoughts of a dying man who traveled across the world, raised a family and became successful. Finally fulfilling the American dream. Part of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to 46664, Africare, the African AIDS Initiative and other organizations working to promote HIV awareness and helping those affected in Sub-Saharan and East Africa."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blender 3D

Earlier this week - just for a bit of fun - I downloaded the Blender 3D modelling software.

The software has been developed in the open source manner, and I've been having a great time learning not to be frightened by the overly fiendish user interface.

I've been using the Wikibooks Blender 3D: Noob to Pro tutorial-cum-reference book to help me learn how to drive the software. Like Blender itself, the Wikibook is a collaborative effort from people giving their time freely to produce something useful. Like Blender, the wikibook is freely distributed.

And yet the wierdest thing is that if I honed my 3D modelling skills well enough I could go away and get a proper job which paid me lots of money for my new skills and I wouldn't be obliged to pay the software developers or Wikibook authors a penny in conmpensation.

Though something tells me that the chances of me getting a graphics modelling job anytime before retirement are remote.

So, Rik. What's all this got to do with poetry?

Well, dear readers (and I hope you're both sitting comfortably), when I first decided to learn to write poetry I went to a real life poetry workshop, and paid a lot of money (relative to my income at the time) for the education I received. I also bought poetry how-to books. If I had wanted detailed critique I could have sent a selection of poems off to an editor or professional critic for their - renumerated - opinion on my work. If I wanted to enter my poems into a competition I'd have to pay an entrance fee. If I wanted to submit my work to a poetry magazine it was commonly expected that I would take out a subscription to the magazine (though a fat lot of good that attempt at bribery achieved). Creative writing courses were rare beasts in those days, but weekend workshops and short courses taught by "professional" poets were available - if you had the money.

The internet changed all that.

Today I can go to one venue to workshop my poetry for free - all that's expected of me is to offer critiques on other people's poems in return. I can go to other venues to just post poems and trade creative insults with trolls and lesser scum. I can submit my work to online magazines, and read online magazines, without the need to fork out wads of cash for the privelige. I can get an education for free from any number of poetry resources available - for free - on the web. I can showcase my poems in the way that I want them presented to the world. I can publish my poems in hardback. I can play poetry-related games with people in North and South America, Europe and Asia, Africa, Australia and even people living north of Watford! I can tape myself so people can hear me - even see me - reading my own poems.

All for free.

Internet poetry is not the same as traditional poetry. The reach of the internet is magnitudes larger than real-life poetry. The interactivity of the internet is changing the writer-publisher-reader relationship out of all recognition. It's not enough for an internet poet to understand, write and perform poetry: they need to understand about communications and information theory, web practicalities and PR opportunities. Poets are changing; audiences are changing; opportunities for the development of poetry itself are changing.

I like this Brave New World. Every day is a Brand New Adventure!

Pretty flames and fireworks in Blogland

So, there's this man called Craig Teicher who writes an article on poetry and the internet for some outfit called which manages to reference Ron Silliman and Josh Corey and some online poetry magazines and in the process upsets people like Reb Livingston and many others which all then develops into a slapfest about site meters and who's got the biggest hitcounter.


Anyways, getting back to the article, my complaint with it seem to be chiming closely with Tony Tost's reservations - namely that the article misses the point by trying to view online poetry as some sort of complement or imitation of "real-world" poetry: the publishers, the critics, the magazines, the MFAs, etc, etc, etc.

For instance:

"The Web is allowing poets and publishers of poetry—both the big houses and the many independent, nonprofit and university presses—direct access to their readers."

So much for poets doing it for themselves. In this statement the author assumes that the internet is a tool of the real world poetry business.

No, Craig, it is not. The internet is a release from the old po-biz paradigms. And if you don't agree, then I suggest that you haven't been looking hard enough at what's really going on beyond the self-erected walls of the blogosphere.

"These magazines are publishing a wide range of poets, from Pulitzer Prize winners to up-and-coming poets still in M.F.A. programs."

Oh, fabulous! In this statement the author assumes the only people qualified to write poetry are those with MFA qualifications.

Oops. Looks like you've fucked up there, Roots!

I suppose it is nice to have people writing about internet poetry for a wider audience. But to be honest I don't think the cause - if there is one, and personally I prefer to think of internet poetry as a force of nature which the world needs to deal with rather than as a new frontier waiting to be conquered - I don't think the "cause" is served by such a narrowly focussed article parading itself as an introduction to the internet poetry phenomenon.

I actually fantasised about what a book on the history of internet publishing could look like - the range of issues and stories to cover, etc - last September on this here very blog. Poetry blogs didn't get a mention until the penultimate chapter.

Strange, that.