Newtown smells like limes

cocktails and

the soft dark night

smudge of bodies

we’re the old ones now

she says

we talk

gin and jogging, noticing

how I hold my friends

a physical thing

while their fingertips are laid

so gently in my head

like kisses, kindness

and life’s gentle wingbeats


I’m home. I’m home

Day 19 (sort of) – a poem written based on a paragraph that recounts a scene from everyday life


Psoriasis Narcissus

what happens when Narcissus shows
a face in ribbons
and red
that cannot reflect
aching bones and
corporal betrayal
the horrid looks
at monster flesh when
she once served haute cuisine
with a flourish
eyes smiled in her head
quick wit, gleaming bright
but her ravaged music slammed through
the walls at night
and remembering the scent and curled dust
of her psoriasis skin
makes me think
she must be gone
Ave El, Narcissus was unkind

Day 21 (I’m all out of sequence): try writing a poem that plays with the Narcissus myth in some way


The Swagman’s Rest by Pro Hart

Touch my hand

bones splinter in the dirt

think of the wind over the sea

and places bandicoots skitter in the eve

I was once a good man

with shining rope, glinting gun and a plan

although the map’s not one you can see

and my words came smooth, debonair, like lies


My final shouts rang true though

if anyone cared to hear them

and I washed myself in the sound

‘Oh Nell, my love, I wronged her.’

the drink has taken stronger men

and left better women stranded

but I broke her heart and stole her wine

the child we’d made, abandoned


When it came time for him to die

alone he was, in bracken

the river was so loud that night

she felt the baby quicken

perhaps he called aloud those words

Nell, she didn’t hear him

upon his head she put a curse

and found him in the morning


To free his twist in memory’s embrace

we left a blank and humble cross in place

lost now to all but she:

Sandy Dan the Swagman, we

tied ropes across his grave

of bleached bloodwood, as dead as he

and while mountains rise against the sun

no more a-roving will he see


Day 18. I enjoyed this prompt: First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

I used “The Swagman’s Rest” by Banjo Patterson. It ended up with an odd, off-kilter rhyme sequence but I like it

Cat food

Sugary childrens’ cereal

shaped like stars

the colour of Mars

(planet not the bars)

so different to

breakfasts of ours

back so many years

may as well have a nibble

OH NO it’s kibble

so embarrassing!

will never tell this thing


it has a funny ring

Ok, make it sing

wake up kids, do

Nana ate cat food!

Day 17: write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time.

Photo @Unsplash

Lord Garmadon’s lament

Interview with Lego Ninjago’s Lord Garmadon:

The demands of arch-villainry just get harder every day. Sure I’ve got four arms, eyes of fire and a heart black as a bin liner in landfill but I need to cut loose sometimes. My local stitch n bitch is the ideal place to unwind and let off steam. And, since I’m nominally Japanese with the ninja connection, I also compose Haiku:

They shout Garmadon!

but this needlepoint will not

embroider itself

Day 15 was to imagine a human side of a villain. (My kids love Lego Ninjago).

Photo: the poet as Lord Garmadon, Halloween 2017


Lush green foliage soaked with mature gold sunlight, hot as summer, but death curls frogs and insects like the promise of cold. The centre of our busy lives lit by mosquito smoke as we say, bone-deep and slow: I love you, it will be ok, oh how I miss you when I’m gone.

So briefly exchange

our most precious insights, to

hold love in the abyss

Day 12: Haibun. I have been curious about this form for a while. Not sure I got it right – a prose poem involving nature that ends with a haiku.

Light life

Bad dreams of loose teeth again

running in the afternoon

what time is sunset

and bad parenting (my own)

Unplug from one life socket

insert in another room

switch-glitches, kiss, time-tickses

moving on again soon

Old fears of careless Tom and Daisyness

measuring life in coffee spoons

it’s dark already

but no sleeping in til noon

Off-prompt, playing catchup again


Image result for arrietty the borrowers

draw the hook up

and catch the spinning load

of fluttering flotsam

drain-smelling of rotting things

peer closer though

it is the diminuative sink-sprite, Jetsamina!

her gossamer wings of silvery vagina-slime

and an evil dark-brown-black dress, mucky with hairballs

cat-breath of pilchard surprise

“I will grant you a single wish”

she gurgles in a voice of soap scum

her demesne: the smelly underworld of sewers and stormwater drains


I snap on clammy rubber gloves

make my request

a Borrower’s behest

make me like Arrietty (and Spiller)

tiny, special and deft

we’ll ride the effluent together

Damn the rest!

The Day 8 Glo-Napowrimo prompt was to write poems in which mysterious and magical things occur. I kinda like the idea of mixing the magical with the mundane, even disgusting. I get an odd satisfaction from gross jobs like cleaning the greasetraps in the drains… so I was struck by the idea of a local spirit who might live in there. And I adored Mary Norton’s Borrowers books as a child.

Pic: still from Studio Ghibli’s anime film “The Secret World of Arrietty” sourced from https://lesamantsreguliers.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/arietty-mon-amour-arietty-the-borrower/

Definitions of Power

Woman/ powerful

from: Girl/ vulnerable

White/ powerful (but guilty)

also: Australian/ troubled2nd-classBrit “oh your accent’s not that strong” and I rarely demur

and Gothic/ powerful but a “chosen minority” – remembered hatred from smallminded folk still stings but I enjoy(ed) the provocation

Middle class/ welcome if undeserved

Affluent/ lucky

Intelligent/ powerful because it’s in the accepted way. I’ve come to see there’s so many forms of unrecognised intelligence, it pisses me off this narrow view, I don’t actually think stupidity exists, but ignorance does

(And so very few goths are not white, middle class, intelligent – so)

Tall/ vulnerable but powerful

University educated/ never enough

Mother/ vulnerable – is it necessarily bad?

Londoner/ knowing something

White (again)/ easy

Sister/ love

Friend/ means almost everything

Lover/ undercover

Unworking/ vulnerable; the worst of all

Day 7 prompt: write out a list of all of your different layers of identity. Now divide all of those things into lists of what makes you feel powerful and what makes you feel vulnerable. And make a poem… (edited as I saw fit!)