MICHAEL BARTHOLOMEW-BIGGS is a semi-retired mathematician and a fairly active poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip.  His most recent books are Poems in the Case (Shoestring Press) – which embeds a poetry collection in a murder mystery – and The Man Who Wasn’t Ever Here (Wayleave Press) which is a poetic biography of his Irish grandfather.




Poems by Michael Bartholomew-Biggs for morphrog23



Applying the Whitewash

Filling the Gap





He is editing the day

in pencil.

Five minutes more

to be allowed for coffee.


Outside the lake is nearly empty

and the swans are gone.

Across the street he knows there is

a ballerina in a bed-sit.

She poses with the curtains open.


His neighbour is a man

who has no family.  Was that

by choice or circumstance?

Can anyone exist

without a context?


Girls are whispering

behind him

He’ll later claim he knew

what they were saying

Are we sure

we are where we’re supposed to be?


A falling ashtray breaks

his train of thought.

What will be lost If it stays broken?


He’s running late already –

not his fault –

but it will fall to him

to get the meeting back

on schedule

I’ll have to cut my contribution


In the past

this has always saved the situation:

this time he’s convinced

it’s going to end in tears.


© Michael Bartholomew-Biggs




And the living creatures darted to and fro, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel…. and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Ezekiel 1:14-19


Magic mushrooms!  Unbelieving friends

suggest why Heaven  –  or perception’s doors –

flew open for Ezekiel  and left him,

shocked and awestruck, seeing things

like gyroscopes and helicopters

in advance of L da Vinci.


Ezekiel avoided diagrams,

preferring poetry to blueprints;

hence his engines – less mechanically

analysed than Leonardo’s –

have attracted so much extra

terrestrial conjecturing.


So fantasists, who fancy aliens

can navigate our planet via ley lines

(and believe art deco doodles

over cornfields cannot all be hoaxes),

claim that space-time travellers

allowed Ezekiel to see a future


three millennia away. Perhaps

he got a film-strip glimpse of locust-gunships

stuttering across Iraqi desert,

stop-start – like the freeze-frame hovering

of hummingbirds he’d never known –

and bringing down on Babylon

blunt attempts at causing shock and awe.


© Michael Bartholomew-Biggs



 Applying the whitewash

… they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. Prophets whitewash these deeds Ezekiel 22:27-28


The whitewash would be bad enough –

smeared across that tumbled wall

of crumbling mortar, mildewed stones

and sliding down in clotting dribbles

varicose as old men’s veins.


The whitewash would be bad enough

as camouflage – say nothing of

its counterfeit of making good –

like sugared icing that can’t smooth

the bitter edge of part-burned cake.


The whitewash would be bad enough

but the gap was worse – it was

a forecast of complete collapse

and put an end to all pretending

whiter whitewash might yet work.


© Michael Bartholomew-Biggs




Filling the gap

So I looked for a man who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap …  Ezekiel 22: 30


The gap was where a man should stand –

while it was narrow he could touch

both broken ends; and, like a gate,

admit the truth that justified

whatever reckoning was due.


The gap was where a man should stand

who knew the swerve and surge of tides

enough to make a barrier

and save a few dry, unspoiled goods

from being swamped  or swept away.


The gap was where a man should stand:

but when no local hero came

the greedy space demanded more

than human-sized repair.

It took

one feeding trough, two wooden beams.



© Michael Bartholomew-Biggs