The Sky Dropped In

Seven hours after the Pulse

As stated in my introductory posts about the 2022 24 Hour Poetry Marathon June 25-26 I won’t be posting all of every poem on my website. I’ll post the best few lines or perhaps, 2 to 3 lines that make the most sense out of context. Consider them: pseudohaiku.


(Hour 01) 10.30-11.30pm. IMAGE PROMPT: spiky sculpture in snow

& we’re away. One down (though technically two). The Marathon now offers two official prompts every hour, one text-based & one visual. Being a sucker for punishment & it being early days, this hour (& perhaps this hour only) I’ve written one for each. The visual one was as the title of this post suggests. Here’s the snippet.


being close to a mystery : & not knowing is agony : even if that knowledge : has the express purpose : of obliterating : us


(Hour 02) 11.30-12.30am. VISUAL PROMPT, Man looking round white edge

Managed two again this hour. Again choosing the visual prompt largely because it’s from the other characters POV & I want to mix it up.

L-plate hitch-hiker

not sure what
Ryan thinks he’ll do
now he’s clinging —
to the edge of
one of those things —


(Hour 03) 12.30-01.30am. VISUAL PROMPT, red tree in pink field

The poems keep coming, but I’m already feeling tired. This is too early for this to be happening.

Agent Orange

all this red dust in the sky : gets in your eyes : doesn’t irritate or itch : but plays tricks : on what you know is there: but feels like it isn’t : or can’t be 


(Hour 04) 01.30-02.30am. BOTH PROMPTS combined: 100 years from now & old piano in the forest

A bit cheeky but I’ve combined both prompts in this one poem. I’m okay with it, cos it gives me a longer break & the two prompts do work together well. Having said that, I know I haven’t quite set the poem 100 years from now, only in Stella’s imagination, but the intention is there.

old pianos

i came across an old piano
in the forest flaking veneer 
like the shoulders of a sunburnt child


(Hour 05) 02.30-03.30am. TEXT PROMPT: write a poem using 5 of the 10 words

I’m glad my story has hallucinogenic drugs in it. Means I can whip off a quick poem, claim the character ingested Dust again & go rest. NB I used all 10 words


so i half-dream : of sunflowers : knitting cheddar : cheese satchels : for their favourite gardeners : to keep seeds in


(Hour 06) 03.30-04.30am. TEXT PROMPT, letter from someone no longer in your life

Bit uninspired by the photo, & I struggled to adapt the text prompt to the verse novel … but I kind of have by using personal stories & pretending they happened to Ryan (there’s always a letter poem in these kind of things NaPoWriMo & Marathon & I’m bit over them TBH).


spending endless hours trying to teach “I love you”
in Russian: Ya lyublyu tebya without success
if only I’d tried Yellow blue tibia I might’ve succeeded


(Hour 07) 04.30-05.30am. VISUAL PROMPT, old couple on bench in silhouette 

5am here and very tired. This needs a lot of post-marathon tweaking.


& for the first time — I realise — how quiet
No insects, very few almost hesitant birdcalls
(no song) & no sign of movement on any roads


(Hour 08) 05.30-06.30am. VISUAL PROMPT: Mancala game

wrote poem. needed nap. nap raged long


in tonight’s house : the boy finds : a Mancala set : the rules : are so simple : as I watch : the boy & girl : play : she is rapidly : collecting : all the stones 

i try not : to see : the symbolism


(Hour 09) 06.30-07.30am. TEXT PROMPT: kitchen cupboard memory

Take elements of truth. Tweak. Create new truth.

tinned soup

tonight straight from the tin
cold & without buttered toast

— i’m struggling to recall its appeal


(Hour 10) 07.30-08.30am. VISUAL PROMPT: looking up at a couple touching foreheads from below

After initially being singularly stonkered & utterly unimpressed by both prompts, this cute, perhaps clever, & definitely quirky tale presents another side to Ryan’s character … along with providing some much needed humour

chins +

so while we are : essentially : all looking skywards : anxious of AI pods : & drones : & god knows what : other death-dealing : monstrosities : he’s doing that too : plus with chins : & pimples : & boofheads : & meaningless arguments : about Disney : blocking much of the view 


(Hour 11) 08.30-09.30am. TEXT PROMPT: laughter poem without using laugh words

It’s “funny” how a prompt which initially made me groan, can produce a poem (& a part of the narrative) I would never have conceived of without the initial impetus. So pleased with how things are tracking.

not funny

all five of us
holding it in
as best we can

they’re so close
we hear their
near silent hum


(Hour 12) 09.30-10.30am. BOTH PROMPTS: a gathering + photo of several drums

This is a bit too long & a bit too narrativey, but given I didn’t quite know where it was going I’m glad it got where it did in the timeframe I had. As they say in the film biz: I’ll fix it in post hahaha.

drumming circle 

soon we had : a wild rhythm : going : including wild roars : hollers : screams : & yelps : as well as a canine chorus : from Milky : delighted he could join in : the chaos 


(Hour 13) 10.30-11.30am. TEXT PROMPT: something bad that went right

A short poem’s a good poem, I always say. Especially if it says all it needs to say & fulfils the prompt.


need to find a way to say
that even though it took
the world almost (& maybe still)


(Hour 14) 11.30am-12.30pm. 1.5 PROMPTS: photo of mushrooms by boots + kinda a folk tale with a twist

No setup in this poem (lack of time) but it might actually work depending on the poems around it.



time is more
than standing still
it’s lying on its back
staring at the stars


(Hour 15) 12.30pm-13.30pm. BOTH PROMPTS: lust + delicate leaves

Sometimes everything falls into place with such simplicity: the prompts both word & visual; the idea, the image, the moment in the narrative, the structure, the actual words themselves — that’s when writing truly is …


& i feel as see-through
& light

as the skeletal filaments
of a leaf left too long on the tree


(Hour 16) 12.30pm-13.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: last line question, title the answer

Two pretty uninspiring prompts this & photo of bland sunset mean I’ve taken the last hour easy to recharge for the final run home.

Nobody knows

How the bloody hell
did they just obliterate
7 billion people
& countless billion
animals, birds, insects
in a millisecond?


(Hour 17) 14.30pm-15.30pm. PROMPT: mythical monster & silhouetted image 3 figures against blue slit 

This one remains a WIP. Too much research too many unknowns, not enough about that section of narrative is locked in. Something to work on …

dam & blast

ahead : a narrow strait : dripping water : darkness : pale blue light : beyond : as if under neath : an endless ocean : forcing down : desiring only : to drown : anyone near : the wall whispers : of : all that water behind


(Hour 18) 15.30pm-16.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: moment of joy

A nice little poem about one character’s moment of joy, made more interesting as seen through another’s eyes.

glad day

still : watching Stella : arms to the sun : dancing : is a breath stopping : sight : that bubbles : laughter : in even my : grumpy breast


(Hour 19) 16.30pm-17.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: poem for a city, real or imagined

Sometimes prompts are just perfectly fitted for poems in your head. Yesterday while preparing & planning & re-reading current poems to find where there’s gaps that need filling, an arrival into the big smoke was one of those on the agenda. So tick.

just do it

most disturbing
are the piles of clothing
jeans & shirts & dresses
blown into doorways
handbags & backpacks
dumped on footpaths


(Hour 20) 17.30pm-18.30pm. VISUAL PROMPT: a mattress bed in a flower bed

I’ve said nothing which is enough said.

mattress bed in a flower bed

in my dream : i dream : of trying to sleep : lying on this : oddly placed : day lounge : but i can’t : knowing as i do : that 7 & 1/2 : earth minutes ago : the sun somehow : blinked entirely : out of existence : as if an enormous : intergalactic child : picked it up : like a marble : & popped it in : her pocket : before jumping on Einstein’s : beam of light : & riding away : stopping all the clocks : behind her


(Hour 21) 18.30pm-19.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: less than 50 words: must contain umbrella or almond

No more than 50 words. Perfect timing. (Though I did add a little game of my own into the mix)


no way
not for me
you don’t get it  
i don’t need an umbrella
want blessed rainfall on my skin
always keeping me clean, safe from harm
away from whatever’s in that alien Agent Orange
eviscerating everything good real & warm into soulless dust 


(Hour 22) 19.30pm-20.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: tenderness

Another synergy moment. I need this moment. Tenderness was the perfect framing moment.


I just do. Trust me. I know without knowing
How I gotta approach them like they’re
Skittish colts. Cos they really are.


(Hour 23) 20.30pm-21.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: title of a book(s)

This penultimate poem is not related to the verse novel. It was originally going to be, but I got carried away playing games. 🤣

42 Bookers 2015-21

it might only be
a little life
but it is my life
& i am unwilling
to exit west
to lose everything
under the overstory.
i am a satin island
in a sea of fishermen
born in the year
of the runaways
next to a spool
of blue thread.
sucked hot milk from
the autumn milkman
am all that man is.
am girl, woman, other.
do not say we have
nothing. for we are
his bloody project
a history of wolves.
and i would rather
spend 10 minutes
38 seconds in this
strange world
in this mournable body
in the new wilderness
of a real life
than be burnt sugar
for the shadow king
& that is the promise.
for no one is talking
about this bewilderment
and the fortune men
lose in the sellout
to a passage north
to the great circle
of ducks, newburyport.
the long take
of the testaments
reminds us 4321
of lincoln in the bardo
& a brief history
of seven killings:
eileen, elmet, shuggie bain,
washington black, quichotte
as well as an orchestra of
minorities in the mars room.


(Hour 24) 21.30pm-22.30pm. TEXT PROMPT: poem that starts & end with same word (5 options given or choose your own)  

Also not from the YA novel. Just want it all to stop hahahahahaha.

5 one-line pomes about: hope, stardust, cheese, sleep, & shoes

hope sleeps in cheese shoes

shoes hop over sleeping stardust

sleep cheesy hope in your stardust shoes

cheese stardust slopes hopewards

stardust chews sleep and shows hope

OMG Orange Dust overload

It is the season of dust

Okay since I posted this morning’s very early/late update (depending on your perspective), I have been quietly blown away. Get this.

It turns out I did the exact same task in 2020! And I had completely forgotten it. 24 poems all on the same theme. All part of the verse novel. All unread for the past two years. Granted, there were 1 or 2 other minor distractions going on during that mildly challenging year — BUT TO FORGET EVERY POEM. RIDICULOUS!!

*BTW I just read them all & am really really pleased with them. All are written in response to the official Marathon prompt given every hour. Which possibly makes them a little quirkier than the 40 odd poems written over the preceding half dozen years … but which I think all are richer for it. I’m actually pretty pleased by the whole affair … because it means 1) I already have 24 more poems in the sequence than I thought I did & 2) the process clearly works. Bring it on.

A whole lotta 2s : Tackling the 2022 24 Hour Poetry Marathon, June 25-26

Imagine they’re all writing poems as they run.

This time tomorrow I’ll be 3 hours into my 6th 24 Hour Poetry Marathon (it begins 9am ET in the USA & about 500 people from all over the world participate).

A Poetry Marathon is exactly what it says on the box. Once an hour for 24 hours I’ll be attempting to churn out a poem (possibly using assigned prompts; maybe just using my own ideas) while attempting to stay focused, stay awake, stay sane, & occasionally, if a poem is completed relatively swiftly, grab a few moments kip here & there…

My goal is to finish (or at least progress) a Young Adult verse novel I’ve been playing with on & off for too many years. About 40 poems in the sequence have been created so far. There are multiple gaps in the narrative. My goal is to plug some of those gaps and hopefully incite a sense of momentum & motivation to spur me on to completing a first draft of a complete manuscript.

In previous years I’ve posted my 24 hour poems on this page (one of the requirements of the competition is a poem must be published every hour; ie you can’t write 4 in an hour, then sod off for 3 hours to play hockey). This year I won’t be publishing them here. This is because one day I would like said verse novel to be published. Having a large swathe of poems already online; albeit on a relatively innocuous little poetry page; could potentially be detrimental to said publication’s chances. So no go. I’ll still be posting on the group’s blog — but given that is closed to the public it doesn’t have the same issues.

That said, I still intend to post hourly snippets of poems, just 2-4 lines perhaps, the best bits as it were, taste tests, teasers, treats from each new poem. But in the interest of sanity, I intend to simplify things & post every teaser on one page, simply updating the same page every hour. Who knows, they might form their own meta-poem by the end of the day. (Or they might be a dog’s breakfast. We don’t yet know. But we will be 10pm Sunday. So hope you pop back occasionally & check it out.)

Half way there.

Just finished the 12th poem. In the first 15 minutes. Which equals a glorious 45 minutes off. Perhaps I’ll nap.

A quick read over the night’s offerings reveals the verdict:

2 which are excellent & i’m very pleased with

4, that are better than

5, that are solid

& 1 that was always only ever intended as a joke

So all in all, i’m reasonably happy. How they’ll read after I’ve wiped off this sleep debt is anyone’s guess, but only my business.

Restward ho!

(Hour 08) 05.30-06.30am. PROMPT, form: “pantoum”


The task was write a Pantoum (a poem with a set rhyming pattern, as you will see). In a way I kind of cheated because some of us Marathoners were chatting in our facebook group about what snacks we had laid in for the next X hours & I mentioned I’d just opened some Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs. On overseas poet didn’t know what they were, so I described them thus: “caramel & nut coated popcorn made by blissed out angels on permanent sugar highs 😂 ” … 10 minutes later we received the prompt – write a pantoum … & so gobble was born.


love my lolly gobble bliss bombs
nut & caramel coated popcorn
made by choirs of tripped out angels
singing love songs to sugar highs

nut & caramel coated popcorn
makes my brain oh so slightly dizzy
singing love songs to sugar highs
with my fingers all licky sticky

yes my brain oh so slightly dizzy
loves my lolly gobble bliss bombs
with fingers all licky sticky
tongued by choirs of trippy angels

It has begun …

Well, the first poem of (hopefully) 24 has been posted. I have 5 minutes before I need to start the next one.

Last year I had a theme & I posted every poem both here on my blog & again on the official Poetry Marathon page.

This year I am going to respond to the official poetry prompts & see where that takes me. I’m also not going to post every poem here for two reasons.

  1. It takes up too much time, something which gets pretty precious towards the end of the 24 hours.
  2. Some of the poems turned out okay, and even publishing them on a private blog can prevent them from being entered into some comps/submitted to certain journals, so I’d like to keep my options open.

I might occasionally during the mara, if I think any poem has sufficient charm, post a few here to share. But I need to stop waffling the next prompt is due any second & Poem 2 needs to get started …

Marathon Man 2

A little over 12 months ago, Adelaide Poet & real life marathoner, Mike Hopkins posted a link on facebook about this thing run out of the States — the “24 Hour Poetry Marathon”.

Last year I was very organised, tidied my desk up, bought plenty of food, precooked some meals, shaved, napped during the day, & was, as prepared as I could be (or so I thought) to try writing 24 poems in 24 hours.

Well in around 11 hours I’ll be trying it all again. Except this time, the desk’s a mess, no food is prepared (or even really in the house), I’m about to go out to a potentially boozy bbq, followed by a game of football for a team I don’t really barrack for & I have no plan & NFI.

I wonder which year will prove the most successful 🙂


“Eyes down” — we’re off.

Okay we’ve gone to bed at the unholy hour of 8pm & woken again at 10.30pm, feeling surprisingly refreshed. We’ve showered & shaved & slipped into our freshly laundered tracky daks & dressing gown (well we considered shaving & decided against it, again). We’ve broken our fast. We’ve got coffee on the go. Workspace is clearest it’s been in years. & we’re … waiting for wifi to kick in …

& we’re off.

2015-06-13 20.02.43

clean poetry creation station

the contents of the hat

the contents of the hat

“Eyes closed” – 12 hours till it begins


Some years again while researching rhyming slang, I stumbled across a couple of pages of bingo calls. No doubt you’d recognise some of ’em if you heard ’em (#11 — legs eleven, #22 — two ducks swimming, #88 — two fat ladies, et cetera).

Although I have never played bingo, nor it must be said, had any great desire to ever play bingo, I was fascinated by the language used. Right then & then I felt this could be an interesting area for poetic exploration; & like so many of my ‘wonderful’ ideas, there it remained. Though it did get a title and a folder on my desktop, as well as saving a few PDF’s of calls as I came across them, essentially it sat there, sad, lonely & unloved. (Who says ideas take after their poets.)

Until I read about the 24 hour write one poem-per-hour marathon!

At last I thought, a chance to see if BINGOLINGO had any chance of growing into a chapbook, or at the very least, a winning 5 poem suite of bingo!

To this end, in preparation over the past week, I have collated all the calls I have found into an excel document & printed them, cut them into little pieces, folded them & placed them in my Slash/Circus Ringmaster’s Hat-cum-Bingo Cage. (NB I have used the Australian/British system of 90 numbers, rather than the American 75, not because I want the extra numbers, but simply cos I want the chance to get the politically incorrect #88. 75 would be so much better because i) there’s less & b) at the end of the day I’d have written poems for at least a third of the calls! But art isn’t always about what is neatest…)

Web articles tell me bingo houses in Oz are phasing out cliches such as “two fat ladies” and “#69 dinner for two” to try to modernise the game and attract new players.  “Our current day bingo players only want the next number to be called, not a whole lot of fuss with terms and sayings” which I think is sad (let me reiterate, I don’t play the game, & have no desire to play the game, so my grief on this matter is pretty moot). None-the-less, cue gareth to the rescue.

The rules/guidelines for my personal 24 poems in 24 hours madness are as follows:

I will draw out one number at the top of each hour. That will be my poem’s “subject matter” for that hour. With it I can do one of the following…

1. Rhyme.
Write a poem with a formal rhyming style (owing to the rhyming slang nature of so many of the calls) – limericks I think might be featured heavily in this category.

2. Suitcase.
Taking one of the calls & “unpacking it” (I hate that phrase — originally I used bomb/blowing the poem up imagery, but that just wasn’t quite right), i.e., say I draw #11 “legs eleven”, I write a poem about a character with eleven legs, or in which eleven legs are featured. Make sense? I might also research the call, see if I can find out why say, #30 is known as a Burlington Bertie (turns out it’s a music hall song composed by Harry B. Norris in 1900 and sung by Vesta Tilley. Parodied in the now-much-better-known “Burlington Bertie from Bow” [1915] ). Any of which might become Gedichtfodder (as the Germans call it) — though for the life of me I can’t quite see how. Seriously, what the hell am I getting into?

3. Stream.
A much more “stream-of-consciousness”/word association style of poem. In these poems, it is my aim/intention to include as many of the calls as possible (i.e., I have found 8 different calls for the #8. In a stream poem, I’d aim to include all 8 somehow); or, perhaps even more fun, take some of the crazy calls & see where they lead — to see how I can fit “cock & hen”, “uncle Ben” & “Prime Minister’s Den” into one poem. I’m hoping this may even in turn lead to my very own new, invented calls.

Bonus Play.

4. Picturebook.
As many of the higher numbers have limited calls available to them [& often rather bland ones at that, big numbers that end in 7 often relate — somewhat weirdly, to heaven, haven’t figured out why — or those starting with 7 become lucky one, lucky two, etc (‘lucky’ being a call for #7 itself) ] anyhow, be that all as it may, if I find myself truly truly stuck on a big one (or just find myself at 4am staring at a blank screen desert) I’m going to allow myself an out. (This is meant to be creative exercise after all, not a self-inflicted torture sesh.) That ‘out’ is one I often use to find inspiration for writing — that of going to one of my favourite artist websites (like deviantart) & type in that hour’s number or its call & see if there are any artworks which come up/use it as a title/theme, which I can then draw from. Ergo, any resultant poem might only have tangential or surreal connections to its originating call.


I’m going to allow myself three wild balls (numbers), wherein if I am really struggling to complete a poem of sufficient quality (& I use the term loosely given the time constraints of this competition 🙂 ) I can, once 30 minutes has elapsed, draw a replacement ball (number) & try to complete a poem based on this new ball (number) in the final half an hour. At the end of the hour, I shall choose whichever ball (number) generated the best poem & post that.

Clear as mud?

I think I understand what I’m gonna do, at least, which is probably the most important thing.

Also, part of me is hoping that some of these poems will be fun & ‘kid friendly’ – obviously not one’s with slightly more, built-in nuendo, but I believe, some of the funny rhyming phrases have the potential to appeal to young poetry connoisseurs.

& finally finally, if it turns out this whole idea is nothing more than a ridiculous exercise in futility/pretension/stupidity, I am going to all myself the freedom to abandon BINGOLINGO altogether & just aim to write a poem an hour on ANY topic for the remaining hours rather than give up on the marathon altogether.

& so, the countdown has begun. Don’t bother calling me for the next 8-10 hours, cos I’m going back to bed so I’m rested up for my 24 hours of NumberCalling, PoemCrunching, JackpotHitting, SeniorCitizenImpersonating MarathonMadness.

NB – folks are welcome to call me at 10.55 just to make sure I’m awake 😀
NB2 – guests welcome to visit on the hour to draw the next number, but then you have to sod off while I write (unless you bring food)…


0-empty hall

(Hour 03) 12.30-01.30am. PROMPT, title: “before darkness”

I’m not too unhappy with this one, but likewise, I doubt it will have a life elsewhere (unless greatly tweaked), so it seems a solid one to share. As the heading suggests, the prompt was simply to use the title “before darkness”. The actual poem didn’t take long to arrive, but I had to think a long while (‘long’ being a relative term in this construct, ie about 35 minutes) about the best way to approach it, cos I found the prompt a little uninspiring TBH.

before darkness

before darkness : the rush & bustle : the sirens : the tunnel vision : the tap tap tap of 10 million keyboards : the conferring media : spin cycles : PR exercises : racing rodents : the tabloid’s blood : the dog & pony show : the argy : the bargy : the win/lose polarity : the butting of heads : the calling of names : the inciting : the absence of morality  : heat : sweat : steam

after darkness : sweet stillness : time for going deep : the slumber of shadows : the road of milk : the road of wonder : so many roads : spreading in all directions : the slowly descending silence : the chance to discover : catching thought : gossamer strings : self being mirrored unto itself : the beginnings of awareness : of everything : of which : you are unaware : cool breath

instead of fearing darkness : so much : we really should : question light