Friday, 14 January 2011


[ode to a scribbling machine]

Scribbling \Scrib"bling\, n. [See 1st Scribble.]
   The act or process of carding coarsely.

   Scribbling machine, the machine used for the first carding
      of wool or other fiber; -- called also scribbler.

You tell tales with hand cards, drawing
Freudian pictures, pulling the wool over our eyes.
Your truths are indecipherable black leather
leaves, apocryphal manuscripts, emerging mothy
from between the iron teeth of your lying mouth;
we face erasure by the hooves of your illiterate steed,
your scribbling horse; and when tangled by your riddles,
you throw us to the jabbering whim of the bumbler,
where it splits us to our syllables, and censors us forever.

originally published at I Love West Leeds Arts Festival


  1. Adam,

    I have a passion for poetry that is nearly a weakness. Thank God,I never write it. I love the deep satire in 'Jabberwock.' The profound concept is quite thought provoking. My former profession in mental health guides me to intrigue when Freud casually enters into any work or definition.
    I love it!

    Thanks for sharing.
    Sammy Sutton
    King Solomon's Journey
    The Dominguez Adventures

  2. Thanks, Sammy. Glad you liked it.

    There are a few themes in 'Jabberwock' that I think I was trying to process at the time of writing. The scribbling machine looks like this huge big monster, but of course, scribbling is also a confusion of language. The Jabberwocky is a monster that represents nonsense in language, so it seemed appropriate.

    But the poem is also about erasure (scribbling something out), because the scribbling machines could be lethal to the children working them in Victorian mills at the time, and about the unspeakable. The Freudian and unconscious represent things we might struggle to put into words; things which might also harm us if we can't verbalise them.

    So I guess the poem is about what happens when we can't articulate, when we lose our voices--it is about the violence censorship inflicts upon us.