There will now be a short intermission


A sudden increase in Life Generally and Day to Day Stuff means that I do not have time to write, and post, as frequently as I would like. I don’t want to put up pieces that are there as place fillers. Better not to write at all, than bore.

So I shall not be posting for an indeterminate, but hopefully short, period. I simply want to thank all those of you who have followed, and commented on, The Top Banana. Please keep me on your follow list, and I hope to be back again soon.

I shall, however, still scour the blogosphere for poetry and oddities, so I will not be entirely absent.

Not goodbye, just au revoir.

Thank you.

Winter morning


before daybreak.
The cold wind holds its breath.
The shadowed river hesitates.

in the darkness.
Like breath blown on embers
a cold morning glimmers with bright

Light leaks
into the air.
Trees coalesce and clouds
take substance from the twilight

Like smoke
the early mist
blurs the river bank,drapes
threadbare trees in folds of frosted

dangerous liaisons between the living and the dead


The last of three posts about metaphor. If you’ve missed the other two then you can find them here:

and here:

And here is the the summing up – the last word:


Opens the door to doubt,
pricks logic’s tight balloon,
lets light in, darkness out,
confuses silver pennies with the moon,
turns on lights in empty buildings
rips the covers from every bed,
offers dangerous liaisons
between the living and the dead,

treads the wires of contradiction,
turns lead to gold, makes truth of fiction.

If you have any comments on this three- stage post, then, as always, they are very welcome.

The compasses revealed…..


As I was saying….the compasses…you weren’t there ? You missed it ? Don’t worry….you can see it here.. I’ll wait till you come back.

There’s this young man, good looking, blazingly clever at everything, and he’s sent on a diplomatic mission to France. He doesn’t want to go, because it means leaving the girl he loves behind. It’s a wild, passionate affair conducted in secret because her father doesn’t approve. So he sends her a letter.
This is part of it:

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Don’t worry, he says, trying to comfort himself as well as her, our love is not torn apart. It’s like gold beaten out into gold leaf, still there, still shining, still whole.

How’s that for a wonderful metaphor ? Love- an abstract, an invisible, is compared with gold, a precious substance which is beaten out into something as near invisible as possible. The whole image hangs on that wonderful phrase- “aery thinness.”

And then the compasses. Notice they are stiff compasses, hard to pull apart ( as are the lovers). Her soul is the fixed point and his the sweeping hand which describes a circle. She leans towards him as he orbits around her, and then stands tall when he comes home. Her firmness ( point planted on the paper- and also loyalty) controls his wanderings. And his physical journey ends where it begun ( in London) as well as his spiritual journey, which ends with her.

She completes him.

The poet is, of course, John Donne and you can find out more about him here:

So- I hope you can see that metaphor is the poet’s most powerful tool. It can work miracles, turn two into three, the abstract into the concrete.It can start a chain reaction.

There will be one more post in this series of three. Look out for it.

Your most useful, multi-purpose writing tool is……


A computer ? A dictionary ? A pair of compasses ? No- they come later.

The most useful writing tool in the world is…….metaphor.

Believe it.

It might be a good idea to set the table first, before we begin the meal. This is what Wikipedia has to say:

“A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. Metaphor is a type of analogy.”

You compare A with B. They are very different, yet they have something in common. By comparing them you are saying something about A, something about B, and something about the collision which has just occurred. You’ve just made three things out of two. That’s poetic fission. And it’s just happened in your brain.

It doesn’t always work though. Some metaphors are dud from the start; others lose their punch and hang around at the end of sentences, like tramps looking for a handout. Politicians are particularly guilty in this regard, perhaps because they use second hand language. They assume that the electorate is stupid, and can’t be challenged. So they talk of ” level playing fields” when they mean equal opportunity; they promise that a new policy will be ” rolled out across the country” as though an idea is some kind of giant panjandrum which will rumble out of its hangar. And ” resilient” – I hate “resilient” almost as much as I hate “robust.” Both words have a muscular physicality about them which can’t be translated into the realm of abstract ideas. It doesn’t work, guys !

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

Meanwhile, back at my train of argument..the explosion, the poetic fission which has just happened in your head goes down on paper. If you’re a good writer, you leave it there for a few days. In the dark. To mature. And then you take it out again and taste it. Does it still leave a thrilling tingle on your tongue ? If it doesn’t, then it goes down the waste disposal. If it does, then it stays.

And then someone reads it…and it sets off another chain reaction in the reader’s head, which is the same as, and yet strangely different from the effect it had on you. And so it goes….

Human experience, the never-ending film that runs inside your head, is held together with…metaphor.

Enough for now. The compasses ? You’ll see their relevance in the next post.



I’m lucky enough to live in York, one of the oldest cities in the country. It was founded by the Romans in 61AD and the ground plan of the inner city is still based on the two main roads of a Roman fortress. There are buildings of every era – medieval, Elizabethan, 18th Century, Victorian and modern. It straddles the river Ouse and is a place of narrow alleyways and open squares.

I’ve been writing a few poems about the place where I live and this is the first. The building in the picture is a medieval church, and I just wondered why it had been bricked up a couple of hundred years later…


No door, ajar, like a smile
to offer welcome.
No sloping shoulders
to lean on.
Just an archway ghosted
into the stone wall, blocked
with thin brick.

Time was
time flowed
over the step
stranding babies, strangers,
lost dogs and lovers.
Corpses went out on the ebb
with bottles, musty clothes,
and broken benches.

Now it’s nothing.
A memory of itself.
No crack in the brick
for life to seep through.
The hinted arch
a fossil rib of some
creature, ancient, vaunted.