The bear in the bathroom is a messy bear,
Doesn’t wash his face or comb his hair
And his trousers are ripped but he doesn’t care.
The bear in the bathroom is a messy bear.
The giraffe in the study is a clever giraffe,
She can read a map and draw a graph
But that doesn’t stop her from having a laugh.
The giraffe in the study is a clever giraffe.
The cow in the kitchen is a friendly cow
She’s cooked us dinner, though I don’t know how,
And now she’s smiling and taking a bow.
The cow in the kitchen is a friendly cow.
The horse in the bedroom is a very strange horse,
He eats toasted teacakes as his main course
And covers them in tomato sauce.
The horse in the bedroom is a very strange horse.
The lizard in the lounge is a magical lizard,
With rainbow colours all over his gizzard
That were painted there by a laughing wizard.
The lizard in the lounge is a magical lizard.
I’m in the garden, the house is full up,
And I still need some room for a cat and a pup,
Some books, a telly, a plate and a cup –
So I’ll sit in the garden. The house is full up.
Note: the prompt was to write a poem for children.
Stoned and drunk in late July
We eat shish kebabs
From the Oxford Road chippie,
Giggle past the Refuge building.
Behind us, Jilly’s rocks.
(On the dance floor
Stefan’s hair was dangerous,
Whipped to a frenzy.)
I steal pickled chillies
From Derek and Kev
Distracting them with questions
About life and death
And Blue Öyster Cult.
Mouth missed, eye stabbed
And burning red.
“Fuck!” – an exclamation,
Not (this time) an invitation.
Note: the prompt was to to write a “New York School” poem using the recipe found here. But – who needs New York, when you can have 80s Manchester?
I am a mateless swan,
Fish without chips,
Pen with no ink,
A choir without music,
An unsolved puzzle.
I reach out
To the cold half
Of a too-big bed.
I am left without right,
Down with no up,
A single chopstick,
A lone turtle dove.
I keep going only
Because I have to
For you, my children.
Note: the prompt was to write a poem in the voice of a member of my family.
Drip crystal grief.
Heart on a chain
Rings vein pale fingers.
Bracelets wrap wrists
Note: the prompt was to write a poem inspired by one or more of the many strange names for seashells. The one that took my fancy was Lazarus Jewel Box.
The clutter builds up day by day.
It’s hard to hold the mess at bay.
How are we supposed to know
What we should keep, what throw away?
The layers pile up year on year.
We should get rid of them, but fear
That something precious may be lost.
Who knows what memories will disappear?
And yet there is a contrary desire
To lose each thing that time lets us acquire.
There is a peace when everything is gone,
There is a cleansing purity in fire.
Note: the prompt was to write a ruba’i, which is a four-line stanza, with a rhyme scheme of AABA, or a number of them to make a rubaiyat, as in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
I cannot describe it.
If I had to try
I would say
It tastes of green and springtime.
It tickles my skin
Like the echo of violins
On a distant mountain.
It smells of electricity
And the ninth wave of the ocean.
It sounds like an unexpected sunrise.
How does it look?
I don’t know.
I always keep my eyes closed.
Note: the prompt was to ‘write a poem in which you very specifically describe something in terms of at least three of the five senses.’ I deviated.
Everything I tell you is a lie
Except what I’ve just said – that’s gospel truth.
You should believe me, though I can produce no proof –
I cannot lie and look you in the eye.
You should trust me – I’ve an honest face.
I’d never fool you just to get my way.
If I should bend the facts, it’s all in play.
I never said those things in the first place.
If I should say so, you could walk through fire -
I’ll be offended if you call me liar.
Note: the prompt was to write a 10 line poem in which each line is a lie.This wasn’t written in my own voice – honestly!
Caught in bright sun, her face shows every line
Which kinder winter light would soften, hide.
Her cheeks are flushed with laughter or with wine.
You do not see the shining girl inside,
Lovely, immortal, and untouched by age,
The one whose brilliant dreams have never died.
You do not see that, prowling in the cage
Of flesh that sags and bones that ache at night,
The tigress is yet glorious in her rage.
Revere her beauty still, and fear her bite.
Note: the prompt was to write a poem in terza rima, a form which consists of three-line stanzas, with a “chained” rhyme scheme, and a final line (or pair of lines) which rhymes with the middle line of the preceding stanza.
Is this the dream I broke for you?
Whose is the voice that haunts my sleep?
Is yours the touch that wakes my pain?
And would you do it all again?
Would you be mine, and mine to keep?
Is this the dream? I broke for you.
Note 1 – the prompt was to write a poem in which all the sentences except the last were questions.
Note 2 – I seem to be going through a phase of writing very short poems.
Note: the prompt was to write a poem containing one or more kennings.