A collection of poems and other writings...

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Only A Game

It is the duty of the poet to tell the truth as they know it... isn't it?  Sad to say this is a true story - but I feel confident that Jessica has forgiven us...

John and I
dug Jess a grave
in the garden.

Dad had been doing some digging
and we asked if we could.

He did not know
why we were digging,
but we dug a trench
then mounded
up the soil
as if we had buried Jess there.

Then we made a cross
out of two bamboo poles
and made a paper sign
written on it.

When we told Mum
she thought we were mean.
So did Jess.

The Russells
were coming for tea
and she said
don’t let Ann Russell
see our grave
she might get upset
and cry.

Ann was seven
it was only a game.

So John and me
we went and
jumped up and down

on Jess’s grave.

Buy Egg Yolk & Blue Biro here

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

vis-à-vis love

Please allow me to list
some features of yours
deserving of a mention:
your lips, your eyes
your shapely thighs.
Do you follow my gist?
(There are others I’ve missed.)

Allow me to note
some personal flaws
I should bring to your attention:
my increasing size,
a predilection for lies,
though they stick in my throat .

I could catalogue
what I love about you
in the hope of redemption:
your smile, your charms
your money, my arms.
(Oh, I am such a dog!)

I would briefly relate
why you should
my shining good looks,
my library of books.
(But have I left it too late?)

Wait! –

Before you walk away
please allow me to say
that between
you and me,
vis-à-vis love,
there could be
a passionate courting,
a wooing, resorting
to flowers,
chocolate, showers
of kisses,
an assault of the senses,
your crumbling defences,
champagne in the park,
fumbling after dark.

These are the ways I would love you:
gamely, madly.

Should you leave
I would grieve.
How would I beat my retreat?

Lamely, sadly.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Trouble's Brewin'

My mother told me that I was the result of a row subsequent to an incident similar to the one outlined below.  She got me and a new washing machine.  But they weren't Sheffield folk and so this is purely imagined...

Fatther, Fatther,
What’s that on tha collar?

Muther, Muther
What does tha mean?

Fatther, Fatther,
What’s that mark on tha collar?

Muther, Muther
What has tha seen?

Tha knows what Ahve seen!
Ah knows what tha’ve been doin'.
Tha knows trouble’s brewing
‘cause Ah knows where tha’ve been!

Ah’ve just been downt road
t sup down a jar
like alluz Ah do
on a Saterdy neet.

Come on then out wi’ it
who was’t behind bar?
and don’t think o’ lying
‘cause you’re in th’ hotseat!

Ah never would lie,
oh my duckie, my cherub,
tha knows that a never could lie to you.
It were Malcolm and Raymond
and old Missis Flynn
and me an’ old Fred just had one jar - well, two.

Then how did tha get bright red stain
on tha collar?
And how come yer stinkin’ of Lavender Blue?
And how come yer breath smells of Woodbines and whisky
Tha said tha’d give them up if Ah did!

That’s true… Forgive me, me dahlin’,
forgive me, me sweetheart
forgive yer ol’ fella – tha knows that A’m weak
And as for the stain, I helped Joan with her shopping
and she give me one little peck on the cheek!

Nah don’t give me that!  Ah can tell when yer lyin’
It’s as plain as th’ nose right in front of me face.
Tha’ve been out gallivantin’ – no, Ah aven’t been spying
Th’ evidence is plain, it’s an open shut case!

Ah sweetheart, Ah’m sorry – tha knows it means nothin’
Tha knows Ah would never do owt to hurt you.
Ah’m a fool an’ Ah know it.
Ah don’t mean to blow it.
So please let’s get through it,
tell me, what shall Ah do?

What shall tha do?  There’s not much tha can!
My Muther was reet I should never have stooped.
Marry in haste and yer life goes to waste!
That’s what she said, ay, Ah think Ah’ve been duped!
So tha wants me forgiveness - tha wants to make up,
well there’s only one thing that will set things in order.
So fust thing tomorrer tha grabs tha cheque book

Get thisen down to Cole’s and buy me that front loader!

Friday, 21 November 2014


Twitter offers lots of opportunities for working your creative muscle in small ways.  Various tweeters have established prompts and hashtags to inspire short micropoems and microstories.  On twitter search for hashtags #LossLit #HeartSoup #wordchimes #MSpoetry and plenty more for a rich compendium of tasty little poetic titbits.

These are some of mine:


Stood in a trance
at a busstop
I realised
my vacant gaze
had fallen
on a young woman
who was slowly
exposing her midriff



We shared the sunlit
joy of days
but unaccustomed
to its rays
you left
& have become
the Gothic author
of my sleepless



Climb into me she said 
but the ladder 
I had made 
from flowers 
& words 
& feathers 
was far too fragile 
and crumbled beneath me  


Stone-eyed children
 wander these dark streets
to sleep on 
granite pillows 
soaked by tears and rain.


It’s only as I’m
drowning here
eyes and nose
full of sudden wet sorrow
that I can hear
the mermaids sing


With sharpie
she listed my patent faults
a post-it on the fridge.
I grated my fingernails
down the black
on the door -

There’s another,
she said.


You seem to follow
the snapdragon path
cleared by your
acerbic mother:
you, the bud
she, the wilting flower.


don’t love me like petals:
they unfurl,
they curl,
they drop.
Love me like
pine needles –
fresh, scintillating,


How will you love me?
What colour, your sigh?
You’ll be my what
that will never die?
Of all of yours
this is
my favourite lie.

#Dusted cocoa

Dusted cocoa,
Demerara sugar,
I’ll meet you in the middle.
me -

so we did the kitchen
dusted cocoa

but as Ben said
paint would have been cheaper

...and then dredge
with dusted cocoa
for that final decadent flourish.

Now lick.

#black satin

To thumping Clubland rhythms,
you dance out your pain
black satin and lace,
all hips and face,
you're beautiful,

#sudden glow

there was no
sudden glow
just an
dragging me into
this pool

of wine

Top Cats

Holly and Willow the cats,
Have found a wormhole in the slats.
They creep through and hide
Till the turn of the tide
And come home sporting boaters and spats.


You want to what?
Kiss me?
Ok... Whatevs,
fill yer boots.

No tongues!

Grandma kept geese;
took goosedown and thread
to a quilling bee.
Wasn't it just a typo?
Now she keeps her pinions to herself.

#Universal Process

Un-likely as it may seem
I’ve never
r-eally doubted
Sal-ly was a
pro-fessional prin-

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Just for fun, a few thoughts on writing pomes!

Do not send me poems written in mist!
Remove the words I cannot understand                                             
just leave the ones you need (take out "the clouds")
then fix them down with ink or blood or fist.

Clench the meaning, don’t ever let it slip.
And don’t add extra words to fill the line.
Find a different way of making sense
so what you say comes tripping off your lip.

You shouldn’t need to fiddle about with rhymes
I never really like them anyway
I find that rhyme can just get in the way
and make you say things you don’t want to say

And please don’t bring “your heart” into the verse
or tell me that your soul is “yearning still”
or make out that the night is “full of pain”
God!  Suddenly this headache’s getting worse.

If you’ve got something to tell me, tell me straight!
Don’t faff about with spongy epithets;
no symbols, similes or metaphors
just good old English – get it on the plate!

No more than forty lines, too, if you would,
and set them out in Times New Roman Twelve.
Double spaced!  Please – I need some space to write
these helpful little comments for your good.

So are we straight now?  Do you get my drift?
Clarity and truth is everything.
A storyline, some characters, a plot,

now that would really give my day a lift!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

To an Early Blackbird

Another homework exercise - we've been looking at e e cummings...

we hear you,
atop the stillhouetted tree
spillthrill the dreek with your persuasive song -
slice the ice air cleanly through and
clear the night from out of these dark webs.

source: http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/venus-conjunctions.htm

you raise breath, bones and bill towards
the drinkling sky
and shiver soundclouds slooping
round the terraced walls,
while we, two dumbly sleeping pillow stalkers,
flail for five few minutes more
in the trying embers of this turgid night.

we who have loved and loved and loved
cocooned and canopied
hear-hear your counter-pointing carolling
while the startclimbing, starblinding Sun pours
cream and custard rays
behind the guarding gate.

you break the fast-held night in two –

we two, in night, hold fast the break. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

What did you do at school today?

-What did you do at school today, Christopher?  Did anything exciting happen?
- We did papier mache.
- Did you?  What did you make?
- We had to cover a bowl with paper and glue till the glue dried and then take it off and have a paper bowl.  We have to paint it tomorrow.
- Oh, lovely – a paper bowl, how lovely!  Was it fun?
- Mrs White got cross with me.
- Did she, why?
- She told me off because she got gluey paper all over her fingers when she was helping me and she made me pick it off her fingers even though I didn’t put it there she did so I don’t know why she got cross with me.
- Oh dear.  Well, was playtime fun?
- Well…
- Well what?
- Well, a boy’s nose fell on a fist.
- What?
- A boy’s nose fell on a fist in the playground.
- Oh dear, was he all right?
- Well, it did bleed. But he went in to see the Nurse and she stopped it.
- Which boy was it?
- Kevin.
- Kevin?  Your friend, Kevin?
- Yes.  But, …
- But what?
- Well I’m not sure that he is my friend any more.
- Oh dear.  Why not?
- Because of the falling.
- What?
- Because of falling on the fist.
- Oh?  Why would he stop being friends with you, though?
- Don’t know.  He just did.
- What?
- When he came back from the Nurse after dinner he wouldn’t talk to me.
- Why not?
- He said it was my fault.
- Why?  Did you push him or something?
- No!
- What then?
- It was my fist.
- What?
- It was my fist he fell on.
- Do you mean you hit him?
- No!  He fell, but I had my fist up and he … he fell on it.  My fist.  And it did bleed a lot and he was really upset.
- Oh dear.  Well, …. maybe you could take him something tomorrow to make him feel better?
- What?  Medicine?
- No, I mean a little present or something…
- Like what?
- Well, I don’t know.  What do you like when you feel upset?
- I like dinkies.
- Hm?
- I like playing with my dinkies.
- Oh yes!  Well maybe you could take him one of your dinkies to play with.  Just to make friends again.
- I could take him my Mini but he can’t have my James Bond car.
- Yes, all right.  Why don’t you take him your Mini dinky?

- All right.  I’ll take him my Mini… … … to borrow.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Universal Ups and Downs

It appears
that twelve
has been
for me
a two penny day.


I thought for a moment 
it was to be a seven penny day
but, as I bent to pick it up,
it turned out
what I thought was a 5p
was in fact
a 1 eurocent

how deflating…

Rosie and Phil
on a trip to Comet,
split up
over 67p
(it was to have been
but Rosetta missed a crucial date
and they had to
change their expectations.)

could probably have done with that sort of dosh
a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014



in something of an attempt
to increase his acceptance
amongst the other boys in his class,
one lunch time
allowed himself
to be taken by the hand
to the small enclosure
that housed the kitchen refuse bins.

There, Della,
a female student in the year below
who had been attracted to Marcel
from her first days at the school –

his honey-coloured skin
and long eyelashes –

deftly unzipped his fly
withdrew his flaccid penis,
placed it between her lips
and began to suck.

quickly succumbed
to the unfamiliar arousal he felt,
from the gentle
and unexpected manipulation
of  his organ 
by another person,
but hurriedly withdrew his penis
from her mouth,
ejaculating onto the tarmac.

despite this seemingly
appreciative response,
the incident in fact
reaffirmed in Marcel’s mind
that he was,
without any doubt,
provoking in him 
similar to those he had experienced
on eating 
the piece of undercooked liver
that had resulted in his choosing


Monday, 10 November 2014

An Unassuming Death

Imagined but based on fragments of truth...

One early Autumn evening
in 1935,
eleven days before she died,
my great grandmother, Maria Clara,
called from her bed
for the nurse 
who had been engaged 
to attend to her
during those final weeks.

The nurse responded to the call
with quiet efficiency
and entered the patient’s sick room.

This room was
a small parlour at the back of the house
in which the family had been living
since arriving in England from Alsace
in the early years of the century.

But Maria Clara was no longer
able to climb the staircase
and arrangements had been made
for her installation in the downstairs parlour.

On entering, the nurse was asked
to fetch the sick woman a pencil.

This, she did.

Her assistance was then sought
to support the old woman
out of bed and across the room.

On achieving the far side,
Maria opened the dark wooden cabinet
that stood there,
filled with glassware,
dusty and unused,
and in a shaking hand
she inscribed the words
“Diese Schränk ist für Elsie”
on the inside of the left hand door.

Elsie - 
Paula Elizabeth - 
had, some two years previously,
become my mother’s mother.

Maria Clara placed the pencil
on the polished mahogany top.

Having satisfied herself that it would not roll off,
she returned to her bed
and slept
while the small coal fire dwindled
in the grate.

Over the course
of the next few days
other simple acts of endowment
were performed
to friends and family members
who visited the dying woman;
or, in their absence, through the writing of careful notes
on scraps of paper, which were then
carefully placed within the pages of her missal;

small tokens – jewels, ornaments, trinkets –
passing from one, who considered her life
to be of no real consequence
and of little drama,
to those she cared for
and who now cared for her.

And on the tenth day
after the initial act,
having completed her short catalogue
of bequests,
she died
an unassuming death.

After she had closed the dead woman's eyes,
the Nurse took pains to comb
her silver hair.
She arranged her black lace mantilla
across her face,
and contrived
that her lifeless hands,
holding the missal,
be loosely bound together
by her rosary
in a final act of prayer:
the silver and ebony cross
lying lightly across 
her interwoven fingers.

The family
were then allowed into the room
to pay their
final respects.

Chris reads An Unassuming Death

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fire Power

Remembering November's Dead
and fireworks fleece the night again;
dazzling jewels of light to soothe some pagan fear.

Dark - 
the dread misdeeds of Nature’s god,
Spark - 
the glistering, crystalline golden rain.

Refiguring the skies of bloody war
these fireworks fall,
while poppies strew the ground,
and thunderous claps
and booming cannonades
refrain the fearful rhetoric of sound.

Airball, Banger, Bee or Bengal flare,
Turbillions, and Catherine wheels alight;
but Exocet, Sidewinder, Little Joe,
Polaris, Popeye, Patriot, in guided flight;

Gadfly, Grumble, Gremlin, Gecko, Grail –
prepare to bounce or breach or flame: to kill.
Rockets, Roman candles, Tadpole Tail –
innocent phosphorous lights reflecting breath: to thrill.

We, upward crane our necks,
our flashing eyes,
and we anticipate
the glorious sight,
but elsewhere
others suffer consequence
of fearful lies
and must deal with
great destruction
on this night.

Can we fight for peace, or can we not?
Shall we not take up arms?
Is peace forgot?