Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dead set

If you haven't realised from reading this, the Poetry School prompt 
was to use the same word at the end of every line.  I dived straight 
into this and hacked away at it ...


Where I live it’s not considered polite to talk about the dead
in a way that disparages them or mention that they weren’t dead
good at being neighbourly. When the battery is dead
on your phone you do talk about it, that awful dead
silence means you lose any communication, rather like the dead
of night when you seem to be the only one awake, you are in the dead
centre of a vacuum and there’s nothing you are dead
sure about except...

Later on in the poem I mention a collection I've recently been re-reading, shown in the photo above, published by Cinnamon Press.  I like all the poems in Talking with the Dead  (one review here) but my two favourites have to be Ghandi visits Cafe Nero, Boar Lane, Leeds - one I wish I could have written - and Angel, an ekphrastic poem on the very noticeable and fantastic metal sculpture 'The Angel of the North', by Antony Gormley, in the North East of England. I love his work, including the Angel, but also 'Another Place' at Crosby Beach near Liverpool.  I have not yet managed to actually visit this but, inspired by it, I have written a poem, Digging and Diving, which won a competition back in December 2015. Details here on my blog.

Monday, 24 April 2017


Richard II watches Wat Tyler's death and
addresses the peasants in the background:
taken from the Gruuthuse manuscript
of Froissart's Chroniques (c. 1475).
Wat Tyler was the leader of
the English Peasants revolt, 1381.
A surprise ending is today's prompt from the Poetry School. This doesn't really conform to a surprise, more that it draws up the threads of what has gone before, on the last line.

I suppose it might be called a sonnet as it has 14 lines.  The first five are shown below.


Then we learnt about processing photos, and
leaving fear behind, from the women at Grunwick.
How our bodies were not our own
before the 1967 Act. What was black
and white from twenty-seven years ...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Garden sounds

I couldn't faithfully follow the Poetry School prompt today, to go for a walk and compose something in your head. I wasn't up to going beyond the garden and my short term memory wouldn't allow much in my head. 
So this is the start of the garden poem:

Of course the great and blue tits
teacher and bicycle wheel beyond,
seeking a squeeze in the trees.

Jesse, Jesse, come here, the dog
walker gets desperate below
the railway footbridge under ...

Saturday, 22 April 2017

This coyness lady were no crime

Aubretia from
the garden
Day 22 and the Poetry School
prompt: take a line from a poem
by another poet.  Used each of the
words to end each of your lines.
So I set myself a tricky task here
but couldn't resist a line from
Marvell's To His Coy Mistress,
which I studied at school,
really liked the words and rhythm,
and never forgot.

Here is the start:

The edges of the neat grass in this
geologic garden checked the coyness
of aubretia the mustard of ladies ...

Friday, 21 April 2017

Pigeons, nuthatches and drunkards

Wood pigeon
With apologies to anyone expecting
me to post a poem today. I have written a pantun, which was explained here on April 15th 2013. Later I may decide to submit it somewhere so I'm keeping it out of public sight for the moment. It's about pigeons, and nuthatches, and drunkards, amongst other things.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The angels are going to surrender

You might have noticed that I have not posted a poem from Day 19 because a Poetry school prompt I followed was to write a bad poem. Which I duly did. But you surely don't expect me to post that publicly?!

Prompted today by Snapdragon journal’s theme this month of Surrender, the Poetry School prompt today of writing a poem in one sentence, and a prompt to write a poem where the first line is the same as the last line (but I've forgotten where I saw it!).

The angels are going to surrender

The angels are going to surrender, they shout, but
they are not always right, those who shout
and shout, and anyway just putting up
a banner with this slogan doesn’t make it
happen unless they happen to own all
the banners in the world, take control
of the whole sky ...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The glorious future I might have had

Bar-headed goose,
Golden Acre Park, north Leeds
From a fragment I had written in a class some while back, and then I built on it.
So this is Day 18 of NaPoWriMo. I didn't follow a prompt given for today.

The glorious future I might have had

Above the Himalayas I pilot a slanting glider.
At Seville I visit the lacy curves of the Alhambra.
Floating along the Venice canals
I watch the gondolier as she
propels golden twins of pleasure and adventure.

I easily recognise a congregation
of skylarks by their wild hymns.
All the bee sounds and bird calls are named.
Trains’ rush and clatter is packed up
into ears and sold for the price of gold.

Silk-patterned stones lie louche ...

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Storm

Day 17.
My late older brother, in his younger
days, with his beloved Riley car
Aphorisms is the Poetry School
prompt, which I thought I'd ignore
until I went back to some poetry notes
from my Hebden Bridge class and
found the Hurakami one we'd been
given by our tutor and poet, Sally Baker.

Here is the first stanza:


“When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

While his chest is becoming railway maps of love
I collect booklets of knowledge and information
adding to what I already know and keep
re-arranging what I know.  He knows
what is coming.  We all know about bones
and flesh, and the time they take...

The Riley shown in the picture has a vivid memory for me.  He drove me from Yorkshire down to Brighton, where he was then living.  It took eight hours, the weather wasn't very warm and there was no heating in this car.  But we were young, and it was fun!
The poem, however, does not relate to this episode, but to the time when he was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma, a cancer brought on by asbestos exposure.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The spark of Genius

Astrantia. My mum continued
to tend her garden into her late 80s.

My family seem to be sneaking into my
NaPoWriMo poems a lot.
A Guardian article provoked me
into a rant of a poem, which is a
tribute to my mum's experience,
and other women of her generation
who lived through the 1950s and
beyond, when a wife's unpaid
work would not be considered a
'contribution' to a marriage when
divorce and division of the spoils
came up.

The Spark of Genius

She wipes away the baby shit,
wraps him in freshly laundered nappy.
Feeds him, gives her chance to sit.
He’ll look a perfect picture for his daddy.
            Her husband has the spark of genius.

Four hourly feeds right through the night.
Up at six when baby wakes.
Shiver till the fire’s alight.
Cook the breakfast. Bake some cake.
           Her husband has the spark of genius ...

Saturday, 15 April 2017


A sonnet on the theme of technology today.


You’ve now used up all your data.
If you need to get in touch please call.
We will send a reminder later.
How would you rate us overall? 
To track your delivery use this link ...

And it goes on to bemoan this kind of language.