Day 17 — Orpheus’s last song + Grandmother Fact #1

The poetry volume I read today had several Mirror Cinquains in it. This is a mix of a standard Cinquain & a Reverse Cinquain. So, using the usual syllable counting convention, a mirror cinquain = 2,4,6,8,2 blank line 2,8,6,4,2 syllables. I’m not usually a big fan of form poems, they feel too forced unless you’ve got a lot of time to tweak them (which you don’t get in a NaPoWriMo when you’re working). Nonetheless I thought I’d give it a bash. There are lines I wish I could alter (ignore the scansion) which might happen in a future version.

Orpheus’s last song

sad bobbing head
song sung sans vocal chords
always singing his beloved’s name

death could not prevent him from it
despite decapitation
sings as it floats
to sea

Day 17 – TIR my gran

It’s the anniversary of my gran’s birthday today. To remember her, I looked for some Facts About Grandmothers & found a variety of sites ranging from dry statistics “78% read the newspaper” type thing to wildly subjective. However the one I have chosen appeared on several pages & is without doubt, true. (I have not chosen the most obvious fact: No love is as special as grandmother’s: it truly is unconditional.)

Grandmother Fact #1: 
they cook the best food

christmas lunches
tuna mournays
corned beef swimming 
   in white sauce
thick pea & ham soup
egg sandwiches, taken 
   from the freezer, then toasted
even just Continental Hearty Beef soup 
   straight outta the packet tasted 
   ambrosial from her kitchen

what would this vego grandson give
for the chance of one more meal
with his gran

Day 16 — nightingale + a trilogy of flamingo fun facts

Just playing round with a passage from Book IV of Virgil’s The Georgics where he describes an incident surrounding the Big O following his failed attempt to restore Eurydice to life (he claims he that O lamented for seven whole months).


a nightingale nightly cries
amongst the shadowy poplars

lamenting the loss of her chicks
stolen as i saw by some hard-

hearted ploughman (what need 
has he of three featherless chicks

callously snatched from their nest).
the mourning songstress weeps 

her song throughout the night
all night, every night, repeating 

her miserable notes relentlessly
pierces all peace with her pain

wails all night, fills air all around 
with melancholy protestations.

unlike Orpheus, she has not forgotten 
how to sing

Day 16 – TIL a lot of flamingo related fun facts. (In point of fact I have lots & lots of bird facts, that I almost put a dozen of them into one megapoem, but this flamingo triptych seems to work quite well…)

flamingo triptych

there are more fake flamingos 
on Earth than real ones

flamingos pair for life
some stay mated
for 50 years or more

nice that flamingos
are 12.5x better at 
partnering than i am 

you probably know 
a crowd of crows is called 
   a murder

& an assembly of owls
  is a parliament 
  (or wisdom, or study)

but life gets really joyful
the day you discover a flock of flamingoes
   is a flamboyance

Day 15 — Day 2 of the Festival of Grief: dream + &

With Big O & Eurydice being the theme this year, it feels a little like every day/poem explores the issue of grief so at times I’m not sure whose writing what about whom or when. The only thing I am sure of is why.


always know when you dream 
of me — it’s why i never sleep.

abandon the rasping light of day 
to pretend you’re calling my name.

the hazy lamps murky blue 
dragging me from the road.

walk on without knowing the way
repeating thought eternally fast, faster.

tracing back black stone steps
down again into echoing caves.

the dog by the great gates 
barks three times, or once each.

the blood river creases & curdles
with endless ponderous energy.

always knowing i’ll never find you
— we exist in incompatible worlds.

Day 15 – NTBLAIL about more than a forgotten letter of the alphabet

In Celebration of &

the ampersand’s formed 
from the ligature 
of the letters ET — 
the Latin word for “and

… & the term “ampersand
is a corruption of
and (&) per se and
which literally means 
“(the character) & by itself 
(is the word) and”

… & this small odd looking
character was actually once 
(kind of) the 27th member 
of the English alphabet* 

… & when reciting the alphabet in the 1800s
long-suffering schoolchildren would 
sing-song-say, “X, Y, Z, and per se and” 
so the students were essentially chanting
X, Y, Z, and by itself and” 

… & being lazy children this was 
routinely slurred to the mondegreen
ampersand & thus entered common usage

… & there’s a graffiti & in Pompeii from 79 CE

… & when it appears as &c
where it means etc
(the ampersand time travels
back into its E & T bones)

… & in screenplays, an & 
denotes a writing team 
[the word and designates 
the writers wrote separately, 
read: someone rewrote, 
& if there’s more than three 
ands on a credit, it’s a good sign 
you should probably stay 
the hell away from that movie]

… & when creating new type
faces the & character 
allows designers to inject 
a little joie de vivre & artistic 
flair into proceedings

… not to mention some quite nice 
poets really love it & if that’s not
a cause for celebration — then there isn’t one

*the thorn and the wynn are also members of the Former Members Of The Alphabet Club
but sadly we don’t have time (in this pome) to learn what led to their demises

2 Bob’s worth: a bonus poem

i. Jerk Bob
that old bundle of chuckles 
the joy-killing chump
Robert Hartwell Fiske 
in his dreary, dull AND utterly unreadable 
Dictionary of Unendurable English: 
A Compendium of Mistakes in Grammar, 
Usage, and Spelling with Commentary 
on Lexicographers and Linguists 

believes ampersands should only exist 
in proper names, business names, 
book titles, and the like
never in place of the word and

he further opines:
aside from the hurried, the only 
people inclined to use & in place of and 
are those who have scant sense of self 
and scant sense of style, 
and believe using & 
somehow swells them both.

ii. Lovely Bob
Robert Nares in his far more charming
highly erudite & intellectual work
A Glossary; or, Collection of words, 
phrases, names, and allusions to customs, 
proverbs, etc., which have been thought 
to require illustration in the works 
of English authors, particularly Shakespeare 
and his contemporaries. Vol. I. A new ed., 
with considerable additions 
both of words and examples 

believes the ampersand’s calligraphic qualities 
make it a compelling design element 
that can add visual appeal & personality to any page.

So go suck on them eggs Mr Hartwell Fiske

Day 14 — double loss

For someone who loves this myth, I’m really struggling for quality content. Wondering if I should abandon it for something different for last half of the month. The Poetic Factoids, however, remain a treat to create.

lost with, out haven

since : losing, you twice : in, two worlds : one green, light : one shadow, mist : find myself : lost : always, wandering : looking for a, home : that, never approaches : heart : out, of land : out of, hope : out, of, tune : every moment : miss you : more, than human heart : should : or can : this side, madness

Day 14 – TIL how deeply brain & body are connected


when your “inner voice” 
whispers wisdom deep within
the wetness of your brain
tiny muscle motions 
trigger in your larynx

no wonder i suffer
so many sore throats
after my multiple personalities
have had their say on
every conceivable topic

the muscular cacophony 
leaves my chords, exhausted

Day 12 — geology & non-standard measuring system

Trying to capture the claustrophobia of going underground.


i don’t know how far i’ve come
no idea how far to go
only know
the path seems to be thinner
the path narrower
the way darker
the stones heavier above me

try not to think
of the weight
of all that earth 
& rock
& mud & shale & clay
& gravel & scree & boulder & slate
& soil, sod, clod, loam, silt, dirt, turf & dust


Day 12 – TIL about pandas & dairy

buttergrams & buttermetres

A newborn giant panda 
is about the size 
of a stick of        butter.

Since when did butter
become a socially approved
measurement unit?

In which case (for context):

I weighed 31.23 sticks of butter
& was 10.23 buttersticks long
at my birth!

Day 06 — Finnish Jar + tit for tat

Today’s prompt was to find a poem in a language you don’t know. I used the same one as the prompt, because, what the hey; a Finnish poem by Olli Heikkonen. Think about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they remind you of words in your own language. Use those correspondences as the basis for a new poem. The end result doesn’t yet make a 100% sense, but it’s fascinating how easy it was to find images that slotted into my theme.

Finnish Original

Kumarra pihla jaa. Sen alle kasvot ylöspäin
veljesi on haudattu. Maan povessa luut
mustuvat, yrtit versovat nikamiin.
Kumarra pihlajaa, sen ihonkaltaista kuorta, oksan hankaan
ripustettua helminauhaa. Kumarra latvan liekkiä.
Juuret lävistävät veljesi rinnan.
Juuret lävistävät veljesi otsan.
Pihlaja on ääniä täynnä, jotka keväällä
puhkeavat lehdiksi. 

“Literal” Transmogrification into English

Come here phial jar. Sense all cease wot loss of pain
we shall see on hide at you. Man possess lute
must you wait, your heart verse of what nick mine.
Come here phial jar, then I hone kill taster aorta, oxen hanker
Riposte statue helm in a you are. Come here little one like care.
Enduring love is the what we shall see running.
Enduring love is the what we all jetson.
phial jar on any tiny, jot car coverall 
per karat lee discus. Dixie

Extract from Finnish Jar

Come near, fill my jar. Sense my loss, ceaseless pain.
We shall see what hides you. As man possesses lute
So must you wait, your heart a verse that nicks mine.

Day 6 – TIL about tiny punctuation

tit for tat

the dot above
a lowercase 
“i” is a tittle

the fact the line 
beneath is not
called a tattle

makes my eyes 
shove water
— just a jot!

Day 5 – underground haiku + Bottom-of-the-Sack St

Read a (mostly mediocre) haiku collection today. Since I really enjoyed the reverse poem creation from a couple of days ago, I applied that technique on several haiku in the collection that kind of felt resonant to my themes. I wasn’t precious about the supposed 5-7-5 structure (some of my regular haiku writing friends say if you’re counting syllables you’re not writing haiku) … all I was interested in was generating content not “pure haiku”. I’ve posted 2 of the 4 verses.


beneath the white mist
an endless sigh of worms
thunder made by earth.

arrowheads of wind
bounce wildly between caverns
rumble away to night.

Day 5 – TIL about pluralising streets

Bottom-of-the-Sack St

the plural of cul-de-sac 
is culs-de-sac

a bit out of whack
& perhaps off track 

none the less 
that  (i thought) 

[prematurely perhaps]
ended that

but in the spirit of adequate research
i undertook a swift google search 

& let me say my mind did lurch
when i promptly also learnt 

the plural of cul-de-sac 
is also cul-de-sacs

mind blown to the max
so what’s lies & what facts?

i’m stressed & cannot relax 
till i know the correct syntax

— inventors of english 
you’re all maniacs 

Day 4 – Cave at Sunset + baby porcupine poem

Day 4’s challenge was to write a Triolet: rhyme scheme ABaAabAB (where capital letters represent lines repeated verbatim). Such formal structure poetry is always a challenge until you find the right line to serve as the spine. I’m not sure I quite have yet, but it’s a darn sight better than the original version.


Excerpt from Cave at Sunset

From dark within the cave breathes earth
And the wild fireflies all fail to shine
Leaving every heart bereft of mirth

Funfact Day 4 – a baby porcupine poem

baby porcupines are called 
quite rightly & quite cutely

{& nothing more of this poem was written
as the poet spent the reminder of his time
absolutely & overwhelmingly smitten
watching videos & googling porcupics online}

Day 3 – dirge + scary sea dogs

One of the NaPoWriMo sites Day 3 prompts was to take a short poem and rewrite it in opposites. Which I did. Then extended it a bit to make it work better for my purposes.


Excerpt from dirge

must i always & ever slouch 
with shuffle-steps & off-key heart
back into the never-quite night

it matters not how ardently i avouch
how much i love the light
the rising path i can never again start

Poetic Factoid #03 — scary sea dogs

as a species 
our fear of sharks
biting us from below
as we lounge in their swim rooms
is nearly universal

despite this 
our galeophobia 
is irrational

given it’s 10 times more 
probable for a New Yorker 
to be bitten by another person
than anyone in the world
by a shark

Day 2 – O onstage + Yoda Einstein

My housemate & I attended Vintage Vibes tonight. It was a somewhat serendipitous choice because we got to see the legend up close & steaming … & was relevant to songs of under earth. Despite the chilly air, Dave Le’aupepe was still able to generate some much needed mythic heat. 

Funfact Day 2 – is based on the idea that Yoda was partly modelled on a photo of Albert Einstein. My Poetic Factoid revolves round the device of me Yodafiying three Einstein quotes.


Excerpt from O onstage in 2023

he is sex : uncurling : on stage : foreplaying : with all of us : on & off the beat : always chanting about : always ranting about : love

Poetic Factoid #02 — Yoda Einstein

to the person who has the answers, don’t listen; 
who has the questions, to that person, listen

slowed down waves of sound & light we are
a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos

souls dressed up in garments biochemical & sacred, we are
instruments through which our souls their music play, our bodies are