28 February 2018

#28 - Heretic

After Her Kind by Anne Sexton

When I was born I came out upside-down,
head first into the chaos with a grin,
no knocking on the doors to let me in,
just breezing through existence like a clown.
Each person has the power to astound,
a glorious mélange of heart and skin,
so very different, yet so much a twin 
I love you, like you, still want you around.
For I have drunk the dark wine and the light,
swum naked before dawn in crystal pools,
crept quietly down corridors of night,
then foraged through the trash for shining jewels.
Hence I will laugh and sing and hold you tight,
and never, ever, submit to their rules.


27 February 2018

#27 I Step, It's Done

Inspired by Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'

I Step, It's Done

I'm ever this lost. Drowning in choices
like one way seems so right, the other, left.
Left out on the cliff edge, just dreams, bereft
lost breath, on tongue dead, beneath the voices.

Which way? I'm the adult now, so it counts.
Bathe in it, baby! Suck it in, sugar!
It's where the big boys live, where they linger
soft toys on a shelf, full of feathers, doubts.

Go the way the others do? In a box,
matched candles burnt out. A stub of a life
still showing, dripped past, going, like that knife
through that butter, that hen house and the fox.

Two paths take me home. Two paths. More than one.
I won't be back this way. I step. It's done.

26 February 2018

#26 - Breaking the Silence

After Gaddafi, Gaddafi, Gaddafi by Hannah Silva

The game is this: you must repeat aloud
the name of that which scares you most of all
coz silence leaves us in the devil’s thrall
and whispered words, with venom, are endowed.

The more I’m told to “shh!”, the more I shout
and chant your name until my voice is hoarse,
repeating till the words become divorced
from meaning and the fear has filtered out.

See, often times you’ll find the lines are blurred
between what others can and cannot bear;
to puncture power, we must speak the words
and say the things nobody wants to hear.

When secrecy is used to coax and threaten,
then words can wound - but only if we let them.


25 February 2018

#25 - Farewell! farewell! but this I tell

Ancient Mariner, yeah? Frankly, if I have to explain this one,
you're probably on the wrong website.


   “Have you been stopping wedding guests again?
Ah, Dave, ya knobber! Sorry mate, he’s pissed –
he does this sometimes. Every now and then 
he gets all strange and- well, you got the gist. 
What was it this time? Grizzled Sailor, yeah?
Some supernatural yarn of salty weirdness?
Mate, don’t be fooled – ignore the crazy stare,
and this is fake – he’s actually quite beardless.
   The smell, I’m sad to say, is all his own,
the suit, as you can see’s had better days.
The tie, the shoes, the cufflinks, they’re all mine.
   I think he misses Julie, truth be known:
it's weddings kinda make him act this way,
but odd enough, at funerals he’s fine.”


24 February 2018

#24 - Fucking for the Fictional

After The Fairy Is Bored with Her Garden by Caroline Bird

The Hobbit’ never has a lot to say
about the sex lives of its denizens –
no word on how they spend a sweaty day
entwined amongst some elvish courtesans.
The same is true of much of fantasy,
we rarely learn about what happens next
when pixies, sprites and goblins meet in threes –
those little ins and outs of fictive sex.
So I intend to write a catholic tome
on how imaginary creatures fornicate –
of what goes on behind closed doors at home,
the ways they tempt and charm and masturbate.
A comprehensive guide that’s packed chock full
with tips on fucking for the fictional.


23 February 2018

#23 Hymn



Him. Did it to himself, piecemeal plaintiff
bitten blue, starved by the marching. Big lungs.
Took a hatchet to hope, one swing, sure, swift
endless blue. A ladder breaks with the rungs.

Him. Perfect in that one memory. One
out of how many? Too many! They slide,
oh so very, very, many. Are done.
Church bell silent. Blue sky in which to hide.

Him. Fossil pattern, pictured art, one soul
high sat on hawks head, jungle red, to bed
a long list left behind, grapes in a bowl
pitted cheeks of power, grab, beg, long said

what was to be said. In high windows, him.
'In high windows' is all. Now they can sing.


22 February 2018

#22- The Path of Least Resistance

After The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a fish and held him by the hull
and looked into his wide and clouded eye.
No tautness in the line, no flailing pull;
it seemed no fight was left – no will to try.

I looked again, and that was when I saw
a row of hooks all hanging from his lip.
The rusted metal grown into his jaw;
one nylon line still trailing where it ripped.

I thought about his brown and ragged scales,
as petrol pooled in rainbows round the boat,
and that was when I knew that I had failed.
The fish was freed and swam away to gloat.

I tied my raft securely to the quay
and had a vegan ready meal for tea.

21 February 2018

#21 - Little Riots

After three stanzas of 'Beppo' by Lord Byron
(and I reckon it's fair to say HE was riffing off Cowper)

“Poesy! With all thy faults I love thee still!”
I said it at the Fringe whilst I was drunk;
I like a sculpted line that’s born with skill;
I like a witty rhyme that doesn’t clunk;
I like a seasoned poet, sharp and chill;
I like an open-miker, full of spunk;
I like when, shameless and majestic,
Iambic feet come out all anapaestic;

I like the rappers with their pristine hats;
I like the students with their odes to cats;
I like dead writers, perfect on the page;
I like the live ones, thrilling on the stage;
I like the freaks, the geeks, the swots, the nerds;
I like the kids who just have fun with words.


20 February 2018

#20 - Between oblivion and the sky

After And death shall have no dominion by Dylan Thomas

A Pushkin sonnet or Onegin stanza

"I never had a pot to piss in!"
the sailor cursed as he went down
"Goodbye to debt, goodbye to kissing,
goodbye to every girl in town!"

A silence settled on the water.

Beyond that phosphorescent border
between oblivion and the sky,
he whispered as the depths rose by:

"I know my spirit will continue
although this piece of flesh is done
yet madness withers in the sun.
Remember me, for I am with you,
a lodestar and a wheeling guide
whose bones are rattling through the tide."


19 February 2018

#19 Say If

Say If...

If trust and blame and waiting lies, could turn
our hate to good and make us wise, could turn
the master, make our thoughts his aim, then he
imposter, may just feel the same. Then he

disaster, never spoke the truth, the fool,
the knave, would see the dying youth. But fools
can't see our broken lives, worn out, torn out
by tools, for killing, not living. Torn out

on one turn of pitch and toss, beginnings
never breathe about their loss. Beginnings,
who will serve now you are gone? Your sinew
on classroom walls, screams, 'hold on!' Your sinew,

virtue, foes, friends and common touch, say if...
In an unforgiving minute, say if...

18 February 2018

#18 - Consequences

After Backwards by Warsan Shire

If I could change the past, I’d bring him back.
Tobacco scent still hanging in the air.
And this time, I would keep him from attack;
I’d stop the dreadful thud of skull on stairs.
I’d intervene and take my family back
I’d draw my mother close and stroke her hair.
The bruises on her face are almost black.

The bruises on her face are almost black.
I’d draw my mother close and stroke her hair;
I’d intervene and take my family back;
I’d stop the dreadful thud of skull on stairs.
And this time, I would keep him from attack –
Tobacco scent still hanging in the air.
If I could change the past, I’d bring him back.



17 February 2018

#17 - The Butterworth Opening

After Canto 3 of 'The Rape of the Lock' by Alexander Pope

With seven copper coins piled in his hand,
the noble Baron Thomas gives a smile.
What scheme is brewing? How will he expand
the three Estates that house his rank and file?

Perhaps he’ll march Militia to the field;
perhaps a Torturer to spread his curse?
A Moneylender’s usury to yield
more Gold and Silver for his endless purse?

No! Village, Smithy, Village, Smithy rise,
and Nobles, Nobles pour across the plain!
With little mercy – little less surprise –
a tide of action sweeps from his demesne...

Then sated, spent, and with an air of bonhomie,
Lord Thomas grins, and grabs himself a Colony.