2016 Day 27 – If

If I speak louder than a whisper will you hear me or ignore me?
If you speak softer than a murmur, I will listen like a lover.
Will you keep my words like midnight secrets, locked within a hidden room?
I will keep your words like flowers pressed and perfect, like a book my heart.
If I stand on a cliff edge trembling, will you help me spread my feathers?
I will take flight in the sunlight, I will bear you aloft with kisses.


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem with very long lines (17 syllables or thereabouts). I found that quite difficult, though interesting. One voice or two? I’m not sure…

2016 Day 26 – Witness

This country’s a mess and I just feel like crying
About all the waste and the cruelty and lying
And the youngsters brought down when they ought to stand tall.
Can I get a witness?
I’ve witnessed it all.

If you’re unemployed and you have to sign on,
One mistake and you’re sanctioned, your money is gone,
And if you can’t walk, they’ll expect you to crawl.
Can I get a witness?
I’ve witnessed it all.

We turn away children at border control,
Watch boats that capsize drowning hundreds of souls,
And plug up our ears against their dying calls.
Can I get a witness?
I’ve witnessed it all.

Our National Health Service is falling apart,
Doctors stressed, patients waiting for treatment to start,
Auxillaries waiting for the next axe to fall.
Can I get a witness?
I’ve witnessed it all.

The rich getting richer, the poor getting worse,
And they won’t be content till you leave in a hearse.
The homeless guy huddling by the car park wall.
Can I get a witness?
I’ve witnessed it all.

Notes: The prompt was to write a ‘call and response’ poem.

2016 Day 25 – Hoarded

With eager dragon eyes,
A gleam of opal in a darkened cave,
She watched the night.
She kept her treasure safe:
Hearts’s love, soul’s desire,
Fire-forged dreams softly shining,
Safe, deep,


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it. I’ve used a line from ‘In the Wilderness’ by Robert Graves (and was so distracted by re-reading some of my favourite Graves poems that my own poem is very short!)

2016 Day 24 – Transcendent

She creates a world
With discarded fag-butts and torn carrier bags,
With toe-nail clippings and traffic cones.
She oversees transmutation
Of spit and chewing-gum
Into iridescent spheres.
Chicken nuggets and Pepsi
Become the ineffable, snot-nosed beauty
Of a maker of worlds.


Notes: The prompt was to “write a ‘mix-and-match’ poem in which you mingle fancy vocabulary with distinctly un-fancy words”. (For non-British readers, ‘fag’ = ‘cigarette’.)

2016 Day 23 – Seven of Cups

Our judgement blurred by lack of temperance
We scorned the devil and the fallen star.
Our coin was kisses and our speech a dance.
Our dreams of power outgrew our strength by far.
We looked like emperors upon the world,
Laughed at the fool who said that it would end,
Ignored the hermit’s word, the snake that coiled
Around the wine cup proferred by a friend.
The blind magician told us death was hard;
We rode the sun until our chariot burned.
The priestess smiled and dealt another card –
The Seven of Swords. The wheel of fortune turned.
The moon looks sadly in the midnight hour
Upon two lovers in a ruined tower.


Notes: The prompt was to write a sonnet. In metre and rhyme scheme this is a Shakespearean sonnet, but doesn’t really have the question and resolution typical of a sonnet. Seven of Cups indicates fantasy and wishful thinking, Seven of Swords betrayal and deception.


2016 Day 22 -Earth’s changelings

“Mother Earth carry me.
A child I will always be”

Earth’s changelings,
Goblin children,
Mouths crammed with sweetmeats
But never satisfied,
Foulers of our own nests,
We shred and destroy
For the joy of destruction,
Torment our gentler siblings
Because we can.
The sound of the river
Is swamped by our voices
Crying “Me! Me! Mine!”
Mother Earth
Has carried us too long.
She will not forgive forever.


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem for Earth Day. The first two lines are taken from the song “The River It Is Flowing”, which has been going through my head all day.

2016 Day 21 – Rambling Bramble

Excuse me if I ramble
But I’m just a simple bramble.
I’ve been hanging round this palace
For a hundred years and more
And it’s really rather boring
When they’re all asleep and snoring
Instead of all the parties
And the fun they had before.
In fact, it started with a party:
The wine was strong, the food was hearty,
The princess was getting christened.
All the kingdom was invited –
All the kingdom save one fairy
And that’s when things got quite hairy.
The band had just struck up a waltz
When Malificent was sighted.
I was just a little twig then,
Wished I was fierce and big then
To protect me from the fury
Of a fairy with a grudge
When she went and put the boot in
I wished I could pull my root in
Away from her size sevens –
I tried, it wouldn’t budge.
For the princess it was worse;
The fairy threw a curse,
Something about a spindle,
Whatever that might mean.
Then she flew off in a huff
While I tried to look quite tough
And things stayed more or less OK
Till the princess turned sixteen.
(Meanwhile I’d done some growing,
My protective thorns were showing
And my leaves were multiplying,
Lush and green and all of that.)
Next thing I know, they’re sleeping
And a magic spell is keeping
Them all preserved and peaceful,
Down to the kitchen cat,
Though I wasn’t affected.
I grew and grew, neglected,
All around the palace
Like a spiked protective wall.
But now this prince is stood there,
He’s up to no good there,
He’s got a sharp sword in his hand
And I don’t like that at all…


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem in the voice of a minor character from a fairy tale or myth.


2016 Day 19 – How to write safe poetry

Mention nothing of nature.
Nature is raw and dangerous,
Lacks straight edges
Unadulterated lines.
For God’s sake, don’t talk about emotions
Or God, for that matter –
That’s asking for trouble.
Abandon ambiguity:
That leads to chaos –
Worse, to laughter
Or tears.
As a guideline
Read each line aloud.
If you shiver, smile or weep
Strike it out.
Keep well away from the fantastic,
The imaginative,
From dreams and magic and other childishness.
Humour is inappropriate,
Whether clean or otherwise,
And especially if satirical.
Avoid politics.
Talking of injustice may provoke anger
Or shame. Both are undesirable.
It is permissible to touch on love
In a lukewarm manner
But never passion
Or sex. Sex is messy,
All juices and elbows and tumbled sheets.
You don’t want that sort of thing in poetry.
You don’t really, if truth be told,
Want poetry. Far too risky.
Better stick to prose.


Notes: The prompt was to write a didactic poem which focuses on a practical skill. Poetry is practical, yes? I’d written the first few lines of this a couple of months ago, and the prompt inspired me to develop them.