Thursday, 31 March 2011


Poke your art into my eyes, choke my senses, grasp my mind and shake it ‘til my soul vibrates and I perceive my strength 
and so, my frailty.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011


If I have a problem, need to think things through, 
I ask myself a question, I hope you’ll use it too. 
I say, 
“What Would Clint Eastwood Do?”


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Making Sense of Census Day

I think my dog has chewed it up. 
I don’t understand. 
I’m a Jedi. 
I can’t read. 
I don’t give a damn. 
We’ll only count the people who obey.


Monday, 28 March 2011

Being Human

I’m swimming through a sea of faces, laughing, smiling, scowling. Grinninghappyworriedfrowning. 
Trying, failing.
Everyone is

With acknowledgement to Roger McGough, the king of pushingwordstogether 


Sunday, 27 March 2011

The whirring of the lambs

The grass beneath my feet
is kept short and neat
by the lawnmower teeth of sheep. 
If you get your feet near sheep,
for health and safety’s sake
wear boots with toecaps,
for I fear their mouths
are swirling- bladed Qualcasts.


In my head is a secret space full of old settees. 
I creep between them, 
try to fend off rising panic 
with a faded scrap 
of tattered blanket.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

collecting cows

Anything cow-patterned, cow-shaped, cow-like, I want it, 
to add to my collection.  
This can cause a problem 
if they’re in a field, 
and real.


Friday, 25 March 2011

By ‘eck, its Guy

Messing about with a boat guy. Motorbiking guy. Pulse-racing guy. Scruffy hair and side-whiskers Gabriel-Oak-in-overalls, 
Wow! What a Guy. 


Thursday, 24 March 2011

What Hamlet might have said...

Me uncle killed me dad, now he’s sleepin’ with me mum. 
I might do meself in. Or not.
Or, I could do ‘is ‘ead in with some play actin’. 


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Royal Soap

I’m immersed in the drama; marriage, infidelity, 
love, whatever-that-means. 
Diana is dead. No! I shout
I want to know what happens next. 


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

On the Harbour Wall

She silently casts flowers to the waves. 
The spiteful sea rejects her sorrow, spits it back.
As she turns, I see it splashed across her face


Monday, 21 March 2011

Bathing with Roger

I’m taking a bath with Roger McGough. 
He’s much cleverer than I; funny, witty and dry. 
I haven’t said anything witty yet, 
I’m also very wet.


Sunday, 20 March 2011

the problems of a poet

Re: My Salmon

I read it to my other half.

"It's good", he said, "but you weren't using a waggler, I think it was a stick float". 

"I know", I said, "but it wouldn't scan".

I read it out again with 'stick float' instead of 'waggler'. "You see?" I said, "It's better my way. It's called poetic licence". 

He nodded but I don't think he agrees- he's a bit of a purist about such things.

Good morning all

To anyone who is new to the blog, I tweet a poem every day on Twitter, of exactly 140 characters including spaces, then post it on here to archive it. 
I am now at no. 54 (I think). 
There is a bonus poem every Sunday, and the odd random waffle inbetween, when the inclination towards digital communication overwhelms me.

Do you remember the days when digital communication meant a rude gesture?

Happy Sunday.

My Salmon

Thank you, Thank you, little Parr
for leaping on my maggot 
with the recklessness of youth,
in truth I was fishing for a grayling or a trout,
when I trotted out my waggler down the river.

When I hooked you I mistook you 
for a minnow.
Then I held you, said hello, 
returned you to the rushing flow-
Now, I shall name you SALMON.

Salmon’s what your parents were,
and Salmon you shall be
so when I chant the litany
of all the species I have caught,
ordered alphabetically,
after the golden red-finned Rudd
there you will be.

I have caught a Salmon.

I’ll hope that no-one ever asks
“How big was it?”
for that,
my little Parr,
will be our

The Art of Writing Poetry

Late Middle English Poesy, via Latin, poesis, 
from Greek, a variant of poiesis or, making. 
From Old French poesie, from poiein, ‘to create’.

This is a reworking of an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is, perhaps ironically, my first attempt at writing a 'found' poem.


Saturday, 19 March 2011


So passes the guitar man Mr. Harris, 
known by the unlikely name of Jet. 
We salute him. 
Although he’s gone he leaves behind a lasting Shadow.


Friday, 18 March 2011

'appy days

We saw a cloud of insects. There’s been an atch, he said, 
happily discarding an aitch. 
Sometimes, I wondered, might an atch precede an itch?


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Conversing with bees

First bee of spring, making love to flowers outside a florist’s shop. There are better ones inside, I said, but he couldn’t manage the door.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Step away from the computer

My eyes, rectangular and glazed. Feeling woolly headed, rather dazed. Been starin at th moniter two long. I wurid thut mi braynz r goin rong


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The view from above

Your round, high house has a narrow outlook. 
Two small windows, mirror-silvered, 
reflecting back at you the only views that count. 
Your own.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Stamp, Muammar, Stamp

The cockroaches crawl all around you, creep into your dreams. 
You stamp your feet. Still they come. 
They are your nightmare. 
You are theirs.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Sunday Bonus- about one particular Sunday

The Day Uncle Derek Died

The day Uncle Derek died
There was a knock on the door, but no-one there,
and his long-dead dog, much loved, was seen, for a moment, 
in the kitchen.
The family gathered with solemn face and downcast eye,
Half-shrugs, handshakes, hugs
Someone put the kettle on, and we drank some tea.

The day Uncle Derek died
There were balloons next door, and birthday banners,
a bouncy castle and the sound of children playing.
A car arrived and through the house a whispered echo spread
the doctor’s here...the doctor’s here...
Best put the kettle on and make some tea.

The day Uncle Derek died
We sat outside, and watched some flies,
and talked of who would have his pigeons, and two of the cats.
No-one wanted to be the one to phone the undertaker,
to say that he was gone
So we put the kettle on, and drank more tea.

The day Uncle Derek died
His sisters sat, and spoke of jokes,
of fun, and laughter, tricks he used to play.
I bought a lottery scratchcard, because that’s what Uncle Derek did
when he knew he was going to die. 
I didn’t win. Nor did he.
Back home, I put the kettle on, and made a cup of tea.

Things that go bump in the night

Getting into bed, I dropped my head, and it rolled away in the dark. Retrieving it from a dusty corner, I replaced it upside down. Confusing


Saturday, 12 March 2011


Everything we thought was solid shakes, the earth beneath us breaks and waves sweep all away. We grimly cling to what is left- our humanity.


Friday, 11 March 2011

One Day In Leeds

The air moves, refreshes, ruffles hair and feathers. The air moves, uproots trees, slams into vans, flings crashing death at a common street


Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Wisdom of Friends

It really makes life easier when you take the trouble to think, said Anne. Why didn’t she think of that before? She didn’t take the trouble


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Words

They fly at my head, pecking my brain, gain a clawhold in my soul. 
I vainly shield my ears, cower, powerless, 
attacked by a flock of words.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Spirited Away

Buildings hold memories, creating ghosts, they say. When a high rise falls do they hang in the air, or, as haunted rubble, get carried away?


Monday, 7 March 2011

It's not me it's you

Astounded by your arrogance, preening self regard, I doubt myself. Last night my timid ego tugged my sleeve and whispered “you were right”. 


Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Sunday Bonus...a true story


As I was listening to the whispering reeds
and pond’ring on the ripples bright
A dragonfly, alighting on my shoulder, bade me take flight
and join with him in coupledom
to skim the waters skin in loves entwine

I, too solid, cruelly anchored to the bank, stayed silent ‘til
perceiving that my stupor was refusal and accepting of his fate
my erstwhile suitor left to seek a lighter and more agile mate

A cry burst from my lips: No! Wait!
My love!
Please stay!
Oh Bronzed Adonis! Bide a while upon the water’s edge
and I will shed this flesh
In burnished armour clad,
And gladly barter forty years as humankind
against one day with thee
as clasp’d in fierce embrace
we’ll dance
To life, to death, and to eternity

quest fail

I woke mid-dream and, worried for my other self, tried returning to the quest. I failed and fated her to wander, in our dream-life, sockless


Saturday, 5 March 2011

It helps improve the service

Modern girl, business degree, plans her life meticulously, commanding every situation, lovers never leave without completing the evaluation.


Friday, 4 March 2011

Two Horses, One Race

I like to follow horse racing, and sometimes also like to have a little bet. Here’s a little tale about one little bet:
At this time of year, although the National Hunt season is moving towards a climax at Cheltenham and Aintree, there’s some excellent flat racing in Dubai. Every Thursday I like to see which British horses have been sent over; some of them will stay for the spectacular Dubai Carnival at the end of March. This week I was particularly excited about one horse, Wigmore Hall. He’s won with breathtaking ease in the past and what’s more he has a very pretty face! I’ve also been seeing regular and enthusiastic updates about his progress on Twitter, from his trainer, Michael Bell, and John Maxse, who regularly rides him in his work. I looked at the racecard- Wigmore Hall was in the last race at a quarter to seven. Oh no! Another horse I’m very fond of, and usually back, was in the same race. Presvis, trained by Luca Cumani, won this race (The Jebel Hatta Stakes) last year, and has already raced in Dubai this season. In fact I backed him, and watched open mouthed as he swept from last to first leaving the rest of the field looking like seaside donkeys in comparison. I couldn’t not back him, so I had to back them both, Presvis at 7/4  favourite, and Wigmore Hall a massive 12/1. It also made sense to have a reverse forecast- for the uninitiated that’s a bet that the two horses would finish the race first and second, either way round. All bets duly placed at lunchtime, I returned to work.
Unfortunately I wasn’t at home to watch the race live; after work I went to see three of my fellow poets performing at a local library for World Book Night. Not just any poets- the Birmingham Poet Laureate, Roy MacFarlane, engaging Polish performance poet Bohdan Piasecki and the inspirational and lovely Fatima Al Matar, from Kuwait via Scotland. A difficult choice, but I felt duty bound to support a local poetry event, especially with such a stellar line up.
A quarter to seven. The race was underway and I was just setting off to walk the mile or so home. I didn’t even look at the results when I got in, for some reason I waited. I got changed, I drank tea, I switched on the computer. Even then I didn’t look, I checked my emails first. Eventually, and strangely reluctantly, I clicked on the Sporting Life tab and went to ‘full results’. Clicked on Meydan, Dubai. Clicked on the first race, then worked my way slowly through the card, noting how other horses I was interested in had fared. ‘Prohibit’- 4th; ‘Bankable’- won; Dear old ‘Kasbah Bliss’- 4th; ‘Gitano Hernando’- 3rd. I had now crept up to the last race. 18:45. Click. Oh.
I moved the cursor to ‘watch full race’ to see for myself:
Presvis, dark blue colours with grey stars, gives the rest a head start, as usual. Wigmore Hall- pink and black silks- also towards the rear, just as one would expect. The race unfolds, final two furlongs and Presvis is making his run, once again scything through the field. Wigmore Hall, under Jamie Spencer, is taking an easier route down the outside but is still about three lengths down on Presvis. Other horses too are making their bid for victory, and a few yards out there’s almost a line of five abreast, but Presvis is prevailing and gets his head clearly in front. Here comes Wigmore Hall- almost flying! Spencer must feel so exhilarated to ride this horse! It must be close to sitting on Pegasus! At the post, Wigmore Hall has his head in front in a scintillating finish. But Presvis isn’t second. In the last stride of the race another horse, racing between the two of them, pushed his way into second place, splitting my forecast. Presvis was third. I was thrilled by the finish; my heart was bursting for Wigmore Hall, and everyone connected with him. Gosh he’s such a lovely creature, and they say he’ll come on for the run. And I did have a return on my single bet at 12/1. Presvis once again showed a stunning ‘turn of foot’ bettered only by the victor in his turbo-charged run through the field. But one other horse, racing just in front of these two and starting his run before them, had stolen second place. The horse? The one that turned what I thought was a clever and astute forecast into scrap paper, as I was leaving  a spoken word poetry event, over three thousand miles away? Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori, it was called Poet’s Voice.


The curator muses, on the history of the objects, the mystery of their origins. Deep down she yearns, she longs, that she was their creator.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

A little explanation

The poem Gerroff! might be puzzling to some readers, especially those not local to the Midlands of England. I live in Wolverhampton, in 'The Black Country' and the poem is written in the local dialect. I hope that if you read it out exactly as it is written it will give you some flavour of this wonderful, rich and entertaining way of speaking.

It refers to Brum, a slang term for Birmingham, and in this case means Birmingham City Football Club who seem to have picked up a little trophy last weekend. It's 48 years since they last had something to put in their cabinet. The reference to the Baggies (and yes, I have been naughty and changed it slightly from this morning's version) is about West Bromwich Albion, a football team from a town roughly between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. They may well be relegated to a lower league this season (they're going down) it would be a miracle if they stayed up. There is no reference in the poem to The Wolves (Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club), although I was tempted. There is some small rivalry between The Wolves and the Baggies, and The Blues (Birmingham City) and Aston Villa (another football team from the Birmingham area).
I must also point out that Wolverhampton is in no way a part of Birmingham, and indeed would dig itself up and haul itself further away if that were possible. Birmingham is also not a part of the Black Country.


Yow’m Jokin! Brum av won a cup? They dow win owt, yow’ve med tharrup, yow think ahm daft? oi ay that saft, what next, the Baggies stayin up?


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A Tricky Situation

“Cut up about the terrible pay, and allergic to rabbits anyway” the note said. The magician feared his lovely assistant had just disappeared


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Just Listen

We converse, and all sense smashes on your barricades, warped mind time-warp tangled trap. I fall silent, excommunicated by incomprehension.