For your safety and security

your reaction to these poems will be monitored.


Each page is reader sensitive

using state of the art technology.


The words will flash red

if they cause your blood pressure to rise

to a dangerous level.

Amber if they detect you need an eye test.

Blue if they spot ADD.

Green if for any reason you are pining and need professional help.

Purple if you light a cigarette

or drink a second cup of coffee.

Black if they leave you feeling suicidal.

Grey if you’ve got bad breath.


If yellow, please tear out the page

and take it to your doctor.

She/he will know what to do.


Other colours are explained in footnotes

to particular high-risk poems.


If you fall asleep

the poems will bleep

but only to remind you to lie down properly

if you want to avoid a cricked neck.


If you shout or weep

a pop-up questionnaire

will check if it is anything to do with the text

and provide contact details for local counsellors.


We are required by law to inform you

that our central computer

keeps a record of all such activity.

You can be assured that confidentiality will be strictly maintained.

We will use the information only for statistical purposes

once we’ve worked out what they are.


These poems also come with a health warning.

If you are reading these poems

indeed if you read any poetry at all

you are a member of a dying breed.



First published in Snakeskin 235, December 2016