2019 Day 4 – In Dreams

In dreams she’s warm and loved and fed.
The day’s too long to stay awake.
She spends it all on dreams instead.

Night comes. A doorway for a bed.
Reads by a streetlight. Fingers ache.
In dreams she’s warm and loved and fed.

The cash she’s got might buy some bread.
She hasn’t got enough for cake.
She spent it all on dreams instead.

She has a dream she leaves unsaid
Of love she doesn’t have to fake.
In dreams she’s warm and loved and fed.

She chewed her fingers till they bled.
The world is just so hard to take.
She spends her all on dreams instead.

Another morning lies ahead,
Day follows day, but she won’t break.
She spends them all in dreams instead.
In dreams she’s warm and loved and fed.


Notes: The prompt was ‘Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sad poem, but one that …. achieves sadness through simplicity.’

2019 Day 3 – Letter

She chews her pen. The paper, blank.
Her mind, too. Words are hard.
A card won’t do for this.
Magpies outside the window. Three.
Salutation, spider-scrawled
In purple ink, then hesitation.
Diversion. Put the page aside,
Just for tonight.
                          .A fortnight later,
A paragraph of gossip, every word
Tasted and crafted to seem effortless –
Found wanting.
.                           Start again.
Rain splashes on the window. Breathe.
Chewed pen, fresh paper. Words
Splash on the page. Enough.
Rough edged and raw.
.                                      Remains untouched for weeks.
Outside the window, trees are blossoming.

She signs it, adds (an afterthought) a kiss.

Notes: The prompt was “Today, I’d like to challenge you to … write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. ”


2019 Day 2 (b) – Do You See…?

Do you see the shadow-path?
Walk there,
Each step treacherous,
Sucking swamp waiting
For the unwary, innocent, foolhardy.
Do you hear the whispers?
Something in the trees knows your name.
Do not answer.
Look straight ahead.
Watch out for the butterflies;
They will suck the tears
From your wind-stung eyes.
Pull your coat tighter.
This wind tastes of iron
And broken promises.
Whose face do you see when you close your eyes?


Notes: The prompt: “write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.”

2019 Day 1 – How to Fool Them

Do not wear your own face.
Wear a mask
Which exactly resembles your face
Tell them it is a mask.
Let them speculate
What beauty or horror it conceals.

Do not give your own heart.
Make a piñata
In the precise shape of your heart.
Tell them it is fragile.
Let them break it
And watch their own lost dreams spill out.

Do not speak in your own voice.
Echo your mother
Or an old lover or a woman in Tesco.
Tell them nothing.
Let them wonder
Whose voice whispers danger in the dark.


Notes: The prompt was to write a ‘How To’. This got dark quickly…

2018 Day 30 – Trivial Musings

Horses have feathers
But they still aren’t birds.
An ostrich has never
Run the Grand National.

Toilets, they say,
Flush in E flat.
Imagine a porcelain orchestra
Playing Beethoven’s Third.

The lobster aspires
To aristocracy.
At dinner parties he boasts
Of his blue blood.

The world’s oldest known spider
Died an unnatural death
At forty three.
Too soon, my eight legged friend.

French kissing uses 25 muscles.
English kissing is more sedate
And less strenuous,
Burns fewer calories.

Telephones ring in 5-time.
Delphic hymns used 5-time too,
I know which I’d prefer to hear
In the small hours.

The platypus has poisonous feet
But only
(And this comes as no surprise)
The male of the species.


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. I asked my Facebook friends for the weirdest facts they knew, and used all their suggestions.

2018 Day 29 – Other

They are always other,
The snake tongued, sideways glancing
Always, even when they come wearing
A heart on a blood-stained sleeve.
Ask yourself
Whose heart? Whose blood?
Even when they kneel in confession
To your priest-robed soul
To the smug, secret smile
And withhold absolution.
They are always other,
The bold, the self-contained ones
Even when they come wearing
Your face like a mask,
Their breath echoing your pulse.
Ask yourself
Why your pulse quickens.
They are always other
Even in mirrors.
Especially in mirrors.


Notes: The prompt was  to “write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way. ” I chose “The Other.” I hope Sylvia will forgive me…

2018 Day 28 – Blank Postcard, Never Sent

This postcard comes from a place where I have never been. I have never been here, but I needed to send this postcard. I needed, specifically, to send it to you. You would like it here, I think. You want to know about the weather, the weather which is not touching me, you want me to tell you of the towers I have not climbed, to echo the unheard accents in the unwalked streets. You want me to describe the way the sun sets over an unvisited lake. There will be further postcards. Be patient. I wish you could have shared my non-existent journey here, through phantom seas lively with mermaids and sea-serpents, over ghosts of mountains my feet never touched. It took longer than you would dream. It took longer than I could dream. It took my dreams and turned them upside down. Take my upside down dreams and travel with me. I wish you were here. I wish I were here, too.


Notes: Today’s prompt was to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately written a prose poem before, so be kind to me!


2018 Day 27 – Two of Swords

Beneath a waxing moon
She keeps the balance
Between blade and blade.
She cannot see how moonlight touches
Sharp edges of decision.
Behind her, the sea breaks
On treacherous rocks.
Muscles on fire, her arms tremble.
She cannot avoid the choice forever
But tonight, arms crossed,
She protects her heart.


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem inspired by a Tarot card. I’ve used the major arcana in poems before, so I thought I’d pick randomly from the minor arcana, and got this.

2018 Day 26 – Evening, With Curry

Sizzling oil,
Spice seeds exploding.

Loud doorbell chime,
Soft voice.

White plate,
Sauce turmeric yellow.

Tangle of curls,
Brown eyes.

Hot metal,
Hint of burning.

Air dried linen,
Bergamot, patchouli.

Coriander, cumin,
Garlic and onion.

Trace of mouthwash,
Salty flesh.

Chili hotness,
Contrasting cool yoghurt.

Demanding tongue probing
Yielding mouth.


Notes: The prompt was to write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses. I was  inspired by the vague memory of a poem (by Adrian Mitchell?) which ended with the line ‘Two curried lovers on a white-hot sheet’. The form is chained hay(na)ku, alternating normal and reverse.