In Shock, Cycling to Roke Farm Nr Odiham Village

Rogan Whitenails

A deluge of cur, domestic and stray,

Having breached the Lidl on Dogflud Way,

Is pouring and pawing through Farnham’s centre,

Defying the model by failing to enter

Those turns that orthodox floods would ingress –

Borelli Yard, which leads to the cress

Of the low-lying Gostrey Meadow,

Or the upper ends of the oxbow,

Which, on either side of The Borough,

Lead down to Union Road's non-thorough

Description of a concave line.

After pouring past roads which incline

Downwards, this flood of caprice –

Compelled by fondling wisps of anise,

Or a parasite in its brain –

Turns sharply up Crondall Lane.

Inundation, sceptical of declivities,

Repudiating proclivities

That unpretending floods exhibit,

Raises its microchipped crest to fit

Through Dippenhall Street’s narrow north end;

And the poet who did not intend

For his last poem as a young man

To be about shock, enters the span

Of shock’s bardo.


Dear Patron of these unedifying

Couplets – my wife is lying

In the recovery position!

Won't you condescend, please, to commission

This poem as found,

As if the references to phizog-bound

Flants are as per your brief;

As if you requested the “shock” motif

And the Crundhal Hundred setting?


This morning, whilst my wife was getting

Ready for work, she slumped on the bed.

I pulled my jeans on over my red

Pyjama bottoms, and I could see

She had had a stroke, and so, gently,

I pushed her onto her side;

And went, dear Patron, on a cycle ride.


Let this be the verse/your invoice;

From a mid terraced cottage near the Rolls Royce

And Bentley showroom, commencing.

The pollen, perhaps wilfully unsensing

Of direction, is included as agreed,

So too are the chaplain, his singular mead

And the hopelessly spookable horses of Odiham,

Their flehmen and vocodium,

Their alien-sounding call of alarm.


In shock, I am cycling to Roke Farm,

Ingesting and inhaling flying

Ants; my wife left lying

In the recovery position;

We are fast in this intermission

Between the life we shared before

And the next, as carer and cared for.


Odiham’s three-abreasting equestrians –

As egocentric as Farnham’s pedestrians

(Farnham’s pedestrians – never trust ‘em,

For jaywalking there is the custom,

A blinkeredness, unabated;

And the bright follies of the designated

Points for crossing are ignored).

Anyway, as I am cycling toward

Some self-centred riders, three abreast,

Almightily they are dispossessed

Of their skittish, broncoing hosses.


Wendy Carlos and alpine schlosses

Set on mountain podiums:

These are the disparate things that Odiham’s

Horses evoke with their calling;

A brief spell of eternally galling

Vocoderous yodeling,

Evoking incongruous bedfellodeling


A rain shadow wind that flows

Down leeward slopes and ELO's

Delightful "Mr. Blue..." 

Are spatchcocked with contumely into

My wallowing shock,

Wadding up my Being, like burdock

Wads up a horse’s mane with its seeds.


Alas! for Odiham's weak-kneed breeds

Of horse – prodigiously skittish,

Waylaid by the merest “pfft”, un-British!

Alas for those wazzock savants – aloof

And blasphemously un-bombproof,

And yet, by some untenable quirk,

Shunned by “The Sanctuary for Frankly Berserk

And Freaked Out Horses” in Ewshot,

The village that has a Rorschach inkblot

Limned on the sign that welcomes you in:

Effroyable papillon felphplurbin –

A butterfly or two rearing horses?!


The chaplain attached to the Royal Air Force's

Helicopter base near Odiham

Drinks windsock mellibrodium,

A lachrymose mead, best drunk alone,

Made with the pollen that collects in the cone

Of a windsock; and he does appear –

Emerging as he is from a gap that deer

Have made in the roadside hedge – to be

Considerably mithered and liminoidly

Lost to the billowing mead he quaffed.

The rays of the level sun – so soft

And sloomily rendered – are blinding;

And the poor chaplain, instead of finding

A mercifully remedial promenade,

Or temperate path, which one might regard

As not too much to ask for,

Staggers, and then staggers some more,

Into the way of the shying horses.

Slovenly pollen, extracted from sources

Of conspicuous direction –

Not to have made a slight correction

To its host's passage was remiss,

Making a mockery of the osmosis

That primed it to orient smartly.


The flants disperse as the chaplain, partly

Because of the pollen's inaction,

Collides with the breeds of un-British extraction;

But instead of screaming, he has the look –

Three fingers pressing on his elbow crook –

Of a mellow charades-playing guest,

Or of someone after a blood test, 

Holding a cotton wool ball in place

On his antecubital space.

Pantomime or phlebotomy;

Forlorn fingers – the very three

He tends to press on the pulpit's rim

To steady himself – are giving him

No support, not here.


Shock is an angel, but insincere;

Stark but quite at home with lies;

It don’t philosophise – 

It don’t even floss its teeth;

Shock is an angel, a soaring sheath

Of deliverance and deception,

Gingivitis and the perception

That time is slowed, each moment as long

As God's ever-voweling diphthong. 


Syllabic fingers in the crook of his arm;

In shock, I am cycling to Roke Farm,

Ingesting and inhaling flying

Ants; my wife left lying

In the recovery position.

Sans denouement, verse in transition:

Fysigunkus shock, phizog-bound flants,

A flood that favours a road that slants

Upwards, the chaplain's futile resort –

Three fingers that vouchsafe no support;

And shock is an angel, a sheath, a bearer

Away from the life of cared for and carer.

Main Location:

Farnham, Surrey, UK