Day 29 – silence (& smiles)

29 cancerous_by_psion005_dc2hbl.jpg

Worked on a poem about the multiple Goldilocks zones that our world occupies, a long conceived concept, but it’s more complicated than anticipated, so this is a Plan B pome.



Spent several hours sitting
next to a subdued stranger
often in stilted silence

Trying not to talk about
the hot topic of the day
even though it’s all
that occupies us

Trying extremely hard
not to compare contexts:
lives alone, never married
only an aged mother
in rapid decline
also living alone nearby
father mercifully taken
down swiftly by two
strokes in succession

Trying not to project
forward into my
unfriendly future

& failing miserable



BONUS POEM: April 29, 2018

A quiet moment of cross-cultural communication.




many things
have thrilled me
this past month
but perhaps
nothing so much
as this breakfast
when I pointed
at the apricot jam
& said in my best
Australian German
sehr gut”

the “ja” & brief
blossom of a smile
to the otherwise
surly waiter’s face
was like a bee
abseiling my spine

29b german jam.jpg

Day 22 – thrones (& fame)

22 game-of-thrones NED.jpg

Working on a poem that I knew wouldn’t be finished till very close to midnight when I realised I hadn’t watched episode 2 of GOT yet!!! So abandoned other poem for now & played a quick found poem with GOT episode titles. Several versions made.

Of course, I had to make it harder by choosing only one title per season AND keeping them in the order they aired. This is the best of the bunch. It almost makes sense. No extra words added. Made by trying to choose the most memorable phrase from each season’s options.


Game of Poems, iv

Winter Is Coming
What Is Dead May Never Die
And Now His Watch Is Ended
First of His Name
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Blood of My Blood
Beyond the Wall

BONUS POEM: April 22, 2018

The past isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
NOTE: edits made in 2019 to tighten a few phrases & tweak enjambment.


Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London: another anticlimax

Bunyan gets a sepulchre, Defoe an obelisk.
yet your single flaking stone
isn’t even tickled by lush
London grass but choked
by drab pavers. not even here
the engraving says, your remains lie nearby.

the long imagined session
of cross-century communion
one bucolic spring afternoon
in a quaint ancient graveyard
turns out to be a rain splattered
overcoat complete with two hobos
drinking cheap wine   & spitting.

why keep gazing back to these
inconsequential prisons over
looked by tawdry two bedroom
apartments & cheap office blocks;
containing IT startups
here yesterday, gone later today;
surrounded by tiny tidy lives
daily gazing dispassionately
over a non-eternal resting place;

neither caring, nor knowing,
the wonderful Will you were 

22b blake grass.jpg

Day 16 – fire (& stone)


Spent a large chunk of my writing time today trying to craft a pome comparing & contrasting the fire at Notre Dame with the fire in our climate. While many parts worked, a few did not & I realised longer would be needed to resolve the kinks.

However, while researching the idea I came across another, far less known story, which led to this …


holy houses

in less widely covered news, the revered
al-asqa mosque in east jerusalem
was also struck by (a far less dramatic)
blaze at the same time as notre dame’s
inferno in france — damaging solomon’s
stables beneath a corner of temple mount

here’s a thought:
perhaps god is trying to tell us something



BONUS POEM: April 16, 2018

The theme persists.



stone is worn
moss softens
lichen gathers
chiselled lines
it rains hard
the sun shines
& pretty soon
is forgotten

14b cornish grave

Day 12 – hares (& old stones)

12 hares in snow lino prints

Been playing round with some hare-inspired poems. This is my reconstruction of a West Country legend of a witch who takes the form of a white hare.


white hare

while hunting : in the afterbones : of night : her siren warning : sways over the valley : a white hare warms me : goldeneyes gleaming light : look away look away : must not stare : into her eyes : or my soul : she’ll steal : a swift shadow approaches : white haired woman : wooing me : face of ashen grey : begging me to stay : look away look away : white belly : dancing bare : on the heather : from dusk till dawn : hounds bray

look away look away



BONUS POEM: April 12, 2018

Part of the holiday experience is visiting places my ancestors left a century or more ago. This is one of them.  EDIT: formatted lines the way I wanted them to look last year, but couldn’t owing to facebook.


wandering round the churchyard at St Winnow

good Cornish stone sprouting
among green dandelions
                                        & wild cowslips
long ago some single
still yet-to-be great
  great    great     great    grandparents
left what they thought a harsh life
for one with more
in the far off dust
                              of Australia

a short prayer away the Fowey
flows south
                    like silver slate

I walk over lusciousness
wanting to make amends
for a hiccup of snow amongst
stones so weatherworn
 & lichenloved
                        they’re illegible
we vow we’ll remember
when a generation
or two is the most
                              most of us get

so though I might be
                                treading on
ancient ancestors
given the perfection
of their forgetting
I don’t believe
                         they’ll mind

12b St Winnow

Day 29 – poem about mines

cornish_mining_heritage___st_agnes CROP

Good one gareth, mining the same old topics. Sheesh! Maybe next year’s NaPoWriMo you could try something different …

emotion mining

sometimes the people who enter our lives are of our own choosing
while others are introduced by loved ones who should know better

i’ve spent the past 2 months with several
of my mother’s dearest most beloved friends
who have suckered me into their whirlwind
unconventional romance, their aching love,
heartbreak, their failed business ventures,
smuggling, revolution, trials, jealously, the death
of their firstborn & the wild beauty of life
on an old coast, & a few days ago, Francis
drowning alone in a dark place

only moments have passed since Ross began
the affair he’s been threatening for years. now
it’s been so brutally consummated i cannot
contain my shock & as a consequence Demelza
has determined to go unattended to a ball
where who knows what calamity will befall.
i’m too afraid to turn, begin the next chapter
of course i will, after zapping this cold coffee

but the greatest betrayal of all is my mother’s
for she knew these calamities occur, yet still
blithely offered me the first in the series leaving
me to experience the emotional rollercoaster



Day 25 – poem about peace


Today is always a day of conflicting emotions for me. Been trying to resolve my attitude towards it for 25 years. This is one of the pomes that came out after percolating about it all day. I’m happy enough with it. Hope my googleTranslate French is accurate.

Voix parmi les vaches

All I’ve heard for a long time now
is French farmers calling their cows.
It’s a musical enough language
& everything sounds more beautiful;
but I do miss the Aussie drawl
And the sky over this western front
Is no where near as big as
the west where I was once from.

The sun has gone down.
All my comrades have grown
old, gone beyond. Joined me,
in their way. So let us sleep.
We are grateful for your thoughts
but our graves no longer want
or need your remembrances.
You offer us a minute of silence.

Let’s try it for a century,
see if we can let it all just, settle.


NB Very hitech technicalised tech issues meant I was unable to post yesterday’s NaPoWriMo post as intended. About quarter to twelve with the image chosen, the bulk of the text typed into this blog & most of the miscellaneous tags & faff taken care of, I was suddenly unable to type anymore: turns out the rechargeable batteries in my wireless keyboard had gone flat & being the organised soul I am, I had neglected to backup charge any for, oh some weeks…


Day 25 – The Year of One Day

Today is a controversial day for many. But it’s been good to me. The past 2 years now, I’ve got good poems out of it. Today I re-read Alan Seymour’s “classic Aussie play” The One Day of the Year, about the changing face of Anzac Day in the 60’s. I haven’t read it since uni, & ironically while it has dated, many of the issues it explores are still ones that people argue about today.

I began with its last line (Last Line, Gone) & continued from there…

the last post


love its haunting frail warbly wobbly squeaky somehow off-key, off-kilter
voice trying to be courageous to death’s face but never quite succeeding
forlorn melancholy brassy vulnerability half-farting battlefield bravado
but most of all the strange perception that no matter how well played
it always sounds like there’s a note wrong in there — somewhere


yes, it’s time to turn off the taps we’ve had our last warning
your duty is done your time is over your rest deserves peace

last postCROP

The last line of The One Day of the Year is: “i’m a bloody Australian & i’ll always …

Day 22 – And now for something completely different …

This began as a draft in January. I have redrafted, edited  & posted it today for obvious reasons. It is the first poem this month not generated via Word Games.

grieving kangaroos

we live in a world, where, when a beloved famousity
dies, social media bloodbaths into a whirlpool : wailing
wallowing, teethgnashing, pedastooling, & deifying —
alongside attacks, assassinations & ruthless debunking.

since we have capacity to celebrate celebrity demises
en masse, it has become de rigueur to do so : vehemently
& publicly with status updates & changed profile pics
alerting the indifferent world of your immense loss.

trolls rumble from caves, dragging into the light
their democratic right to demonise — reminding us :
fame isn’t bestowed solely on saints & that as much
darkness lurks under the skins of those we idolise.

meanwhile, the day-to-day tragedies go ever on, untweeted
— as do the friends, daughters, grandsons of those left …


Day 16 – Gossip with a Graphic Twist

Today’s poem began as a game of Gossip (except, instead of taking phrases, I only took one word, occasionally two) based around one of a friend’s favourite childhood books. The resulting pome however, contains messages young chillin’ perhaps shouldn’t read haha. There is also another game going on which I hope you’ll pick up on too.

the gall of my dagger †

this list is not intended to be:

a complete & comprehensive
compendium of my addictions
i don’t live in a liquor aquarium

though i do enjoy a tot o’rum
sometimes before, but usually
after my daily dose of laudanum

there’s no panacea for unhygienic bacteria
other than drown them with spirits
get myself well & truly blotto

i’m content if i get a fix of cacophony
before the cirrhosis coffin encases me
though my gall or liver may not be

“live fast die young” is my motto
i will not be one of those ancient geriatrics
to whom every breath is an impediment

my vital statistics will be perfect & fully automatic
as i soar from the cliff’s edge in my stolen
ferrari  — of this i am quite dogmatic

for while i opt out via automotive hari kari
as i’m shifting into fifth over the Styx
i know i’ll be remembered with an *

note: another name for dagger is obelisk

*crop copy

Day 10 – Celestial Motions

Today was always going to be about this topic, given it is 4 months since one of my best mates died. I’ve tried half a dozen times to write about this loss (as well as other recent & ongoing ones) without much success. This comes closest so far …


& so . in a way . we all die young .
younger than we’d like . even if
we live to a hundred and twenty .
younger than our loved ones want
too . too long lost . in that aching
chasm . that distance between
stars that is all that’s left . when
there is nothing of you . left . except
a wisp . a tear . an echo of laughter .
a hair . a sigh . a gasp . a stifled
sob . an aimless wandering from
room to room . trying to remember
where you are . where you went . & why

cone CROP

NOTE: cover is from Tracy K. Smith’s lovely collection, Life on Mars. It is imaginatively titled: ‘Cone Nebula Close Up’ (I think in part because it is a Close Up of the Cone Nebula).

NOTE 2: I know ‘technically’ this poem may not really Ekphrastic in the strictest sense of the word, but is definitely an emotional response to the image.