Saturday, 30 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 30/30

Ta-dah! 30/30. In Your. Face.  April. I'm really pleased to have taken part and posted each day. It's been a stimulating challenge and I'm pleased with the work that has come out of it. Well done to all those who made it through. Even though it's over, keep writin' and recitin'. ;)) Mark x


It’s quiet here.
Time to think and
time to write and
time to breathe.

Only nature to talk to
and it would seem churlish
not to converse
when she has so much to say.

She’s animated now;
booming tones and
loud colours shout
the story of Spring.

Life in all its palette
screams for your attention
singing electric and neon and yet,
it’s quiet here.

Friday, 29 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 29/30 My apologies...

Nearly at the end so well done everyone. However,an apology: I'm sorry. I really didn't plan to write anything about the royal wedding. I've done a lot of that for the Mayor of Milton Keynes as I helped run her competition and for local radio. But a small detail of commentary from the radio caught my attention. This was written as the wedding took place.


Two simple chairs
in a side chapel
among the dead,
set aside for William and Harry.
A moment’s pause;
a comma in the long day’s sentence
as the world watched.

This was wise counsel.
I remember those moments
of stolen solitude from our day.
This allowed the occasion to
seep into the dermis,
a marinade
to season us for life.

There are discordant voices.
Those who don’t care or resent
the taxpayer’s pound spent
on such opulence.
My two pence?
I’d always rather fund weddings
than war.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 28/30

Sixteen Lines

It is too easy
in days of rough torn waking
to lose yourself in
tumbled dreaming;
feel yourself slipping
to invisibilty
or a place of
tangled forests.

Never worry
or be afraid.
This I promise,
I will always find you.
I will bear your weight when weary,
cool your brow when fever strikes
Call to me in the darkness
and I will be candlelight.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 27/30

Per aspera ad astra

Her hand in his
felt like silver sand in a timer
ever slipping away
the firmer he grasped.

She said he clutched words
as if they were happiness
to his chest while she drowned
 in liquid silence.

With only nature for a soundtrack
they melted together by the river
until frosted moonlight
took bites from their flesh.

She placed a kiss in his palm
for later as she always did
before pointing her
conflicted feet home.

He laid back, trying to be one with the world.
Too late he found his words
and spoke away all his happiness
to the stars.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 26/30

Some men

Some men can’t help fighting.

Who would notice them
if all was peace?
So arguments that are settled
ferment in their souls,
imagined injustices
are fanned into flame
until they strike
when their opponent least expect it.
This is cowardice and can be found
anywhere, most days.
But sometimes,
the targets are so soft and the
cowardice so asinine
you can’t help but notice.
Bombs delivered to football managers
and prominent fans is the latest.
I don’t suppose bomb-makers read poetry
so this is probably howling in the wind
but if your argument
needs cowardice on this scale,
your argument is lost.
Some men can’t help fighting.
Without it,
they don’t exist.

Monday, 25 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 25/30

Descent from Brunate

We were as gods
looking down on Como
as if we could decide its fate.

Pasta served as ambrosia
on that clearest and cleanest
of frizzante days.

One last look at the
snow-capped giants guarding
mirrored waters

before the fall
of the funicular
joins us to Icharus,

another who flew
too close to the sun
then met the earth

with popping ears
and fresh memories
of heightened love.

It is too soon to say
whether compliment
or insult is meant

if you
call me

Sunday, 24 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 24/30

Simon and Garfunkel were right

I can’t tell how
or when
it happened.

It has sneaked up
ninja quiet
with feathers for shoes.

There was something in
the heaviness of the clouds
that spoke of this day.

Threes lines scratched in the sky
could have been a sign
from a Mayan spirit

or ancient wisdom
from different gods
hidden in plain sight.

In a time when voices
deafen the world, words
cross the planet in an instant

I have finally
made friends
with silence.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 23/30

Dog eat Dog

The morning is fresh.

A raw bite to the day’s breeze
greets my skin
like a drunk auntie
underneath Christmas mistletoe.

A morning haze
promises heat
to warm me
in an afternoon park.

These days
of refracted light
and hopefulness
hint at happiness
the only natural predator
of the poet.

Friday, 22 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 22/30

Kew Gardens, Good Friday 2011

Today, I have overdosed on green.

From the palest tinges
that could pass for
cousins of gold in candlelight
to bold, verdant shades
that would give Robin Hood
sleepless nights.

It has also been a day of lilac and
magnolia petals strewn like
yesterday’s confetti;
explosions of azalea colour
that steals breath from
unsuspecting lungs,
but mostly green;

shades and tones that
speak of life and
preach sermons;
the quiet lullaby of nature
sung in the storm
of a city.
Colour that stills the soul,
revives hope and
dares to hint of optimism.

When it is my time,
I shall return,
hide in the boughs
of a friendly oak at closing time
and gift myself back to nature
knowing I’m already one step
closer to tranquillity,
dreaming in myriad hues of one colour:

Thursday, 21 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 21/30

But I know what I like

I’m sorry I ignored you.
Day after day since winter
I have cut you twice dead:
leaving and arriving home.

You kept
a dignified silence
even as the snows
crowned you with whispers.

In the warmer weather
I have shed my layers
just as you have started
to re-clothe.

And now you stand
commanding my attention;
solid and handsome,
sassy and proud.

I watched your leaves unfurl
like open palms
ready to applaud the sky
and demand an encore.

You took chartreuse and
rusted mahogany, let
each pollinate the other
the way artists never would.

Critics would not rate you
or debate you
but you are
objet d’art
to me.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 20/30

The end of Lonely Street

I am the keeper of Heartbreak Hotel.
Hope just checked out so we have a room.
You’ll be next door to desperation and
down the corridor from depair.
Confidence stayed here once but
jealousy and malice beat him up
after an all-nighter at the bar.
Pride and self-respect
daren’t show their faces here
since anger and disgust
drank them under the table.
You’ll soon settle in.
My name? Fear
I’ll be looking after you
for the foreseeable future.

NaPoWriMo 19/30

Day 19 and still keeping pace :))  Well done if you are too. The Easter weekend will present challenges as I will be away for part of it and having come so far, I do want to stay the course.


Night Talk

The moon and I talked last night.

I could tell by the way
it politely hovered
and listened but didn’t listen
to our conversation.
I dropped you off and drove home.
Still the moon kept polite counsel
as I stole quizzical glances.

I turned the key to kill
lights and ignition,
listening to pinks and tinks
of the cooling engine
knowing it was etiquette
for the moon to speak first.
It was worth the waiting.

I wish I could tell you
all the moon said
but I am sworn to secrecy.
I am at liberty to say this:
in our lifetime we only have
three chances
to speak with the moon.
Remember to look up
on cloudless nights,
dress warm and
be prepared for truth.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Day 18/30 NaPoWriMo 3x3 Poems

Introducing 3 x 3 Poems

I don’t know if this is an original concept or not but, I don’t recall seeing them anywhere else. Today I have written what I am calling “three by three poems”. Three stanzas of three lines; each line is three words long.

Here are my first couple of attempts and feel free to experiment with your own. Best wishes and keep going, You are now sixty per cent of the way there for NaPoWriMo!



Play for love
of the game
not the outcome.

Write to taste
words not wine
at literary launches.

Live to add
your voice to
the world’s chorus.

For Jude

Peace, light, comfort:
I wish them
all for you.

If time could
be rewound as
easily as watches,

I would walk
you back where
you feel safest.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

17/30 NaPoWriMo Worcester

I had the pleasure of running a Workshop in Worcester for some very lovely and talented people today. I drove because it was impossible to get a train there on a Sunday in time for the start of the workshop. It was a beautiful day to drive through some lovely countryside. The Radio Four news however reminded me that the world still has it's problems. I put Worcester in the title as a tribute and reminder of the workshop. Thank you all who came and thanks for having me.

Worcester Welcomes Careful Drivers

This is the season of hopefulness;
of new life, powder blue skies
and new broom breezes.

A Sunday for driving to scenes
that Whistler and Turner
would duel to the death to paint.

This is middle England
dressed in Matins best
when Grandma comes to visit.

In the car, charcoal,
two shades darker than it needs to be
sketches the world’s portrait.

Slavery, corruption, murder,
rape as warfare and
disaster victims hitch a lift.

I will mix Paynes Grey
into my vocabulary;
clip optimism’s wings.

I shall relearn my mother tongue
two shades darker
than it needs to be.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

16/30 NaPoWriMo No Apologies

No apologies for this one. They can't all be profound or beautiful and issue based. This was inspired by a gentlemen at the gym who was wearing shorts from the seventies and there's no excuse for it.

Short Shorts

His shorts are too short
They don’t really fit him.
His shorts are too short
To wear down the gym.
And shortly his shorts
Run the risk of ripping
And his too short shorts
Will reveal too much skin.

His shorts are too short
They’re far too revealin’
His shorts are too short
For the rowing machine
His shorts are too short
And he’s headed for the weights
Damn, too late!

His shorts are too short
Now we can see half his back
And in short, his shorts
Are revealing his crack
You appeared foolish before
Now you look so moronic
And as if you’re prepared
To receive a colonic.

His shorts are too short
No one can relax
He could go down the market
Or to T K Maxx
And his too short shorts
Could be resolved at the shops
Where they could also introduce him
To the concept of Tops.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Halfway House 15/30 NapoWriMo

Halfway through NaPoWriMo. Today's poem is inspired by a saddish story. "Gay men removed from Soho Pub for kissing". See for full details. Just when you think we're making progress in becoming a fully enlightened society...

Fortunately I've had an uplifting experience this evening as I've  in performed and co-hosted a wonderful charity concert of talented people raising money for the Japan Tsunamis Fund run by the Red Cross.

House Rules

"I’m ain’t bigoted but…
please either stop or leave.
You’re upsetting the customers
I don’t care what you believe...

Yeah in theory you have equal rights
but not in this Soho street pub.
We don’t find it acceptable;
this ain’t Heaven or a similar nightclub.

What you call love, we call obscene
it’s disgusting and fills us with fear
‘cos being gay might be contagious
so sling both your hooks out of here".

If it had been boy and girl, no-one would blink
though you say you’d have thrown them out too.
But I can detect the ghost of a wink
as your spokesman gives the company view.

But what if, it was two girls that kissed?
Watch the change in males' attitude.
"Look at the girls, film their boobs; put it up on Youtube,
That's a floorshow we can spare latitude".

Twisted vistas of sexuality
driven by ignorance and fear of all things pink.
They’re here, they’re queer, that’s the reality
I know which camp I’d rather buy a drink.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Day 14/30 NaPoWriMo

The world looks better from a blanket

Perhaps the stars aligned
or magnetic fields
whispered to northern lights
that now was the time to shine.

It seems the sky is too perfect,
too photogenically sharp
for an England spring evening
given recent years.

Could a conspiracy of ley lines
have recruited radio waves
to make blossom explode
spectacular on the bough.

Lying here, as I last did
in childhood summers
I am faced with the enormity
of simple truths.

I celebrate
another circuit round the sun
as nature, left to itself
once more leaves me stunned.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

13/30 NaPoWriMo

Insalata Mista

The smell of a just-struck match
in a Tuscan piazza
brings back electric green
memories of a half dreamt girl.

A slender silhouette
spun of silk,
turns a moonlit corner,
in a dress that moves like smoke.

I follow the scent of
jasmine and abandon
down nameless streets
that hide secrets.

A smile of promise
and forgotten summers
melts into mist
as I make the jump back.

“And for main course sir”? asks the waiter.
I don’t know but I will answer
with more certainty than when you ask me
“What were you thinking”?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

12/30 NaPoWriMo

Once upon a time in Suburbia

Now is the time of smaller things;
of side-stepping big questions
and giving parents
answers they don’t want to hear.

This is a season of listening
to unspoken truths
that only nature and
a rested soul can divulge.

A sojourn to self
where mirrors are covered
to tame lightning
and lullabies are softly sung.

So fold me away for quieter times.
Wrap me in fresh brown paper,
or cover me in straw and
lay me down with the tortoise.

We will meet again at Awakening,
drunk again with the beauty of life.
There will be a jubilee
and you shall be crowned its Queen.

Monday, 11 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 11/30

Just a quick hello from me in my lunch hour to post the latest poem. Havea great day, then a great week and keep writing and posting.

Mark x

Easy Lover.

I woke this morning
to find once more
you had left in the night.

An emptiness of
bedraggled bedclothes
spell out this
week’s episode
of heartbreak and

a note or word of apology
but you’ll breeze back
in a few days
all nonchalance and
“Never look back babe”.

I should store up this
pit churned exasperation
for the next time,
unload both barrels of bile
in your happy-go-lucky face
I know I’ll just crumble,
to see you again.

I’ll forgive you,
make plans and embrace
even though
you will leave again
and our relationship
can never be permanent.

Love asks such
sacrifice and compromise sometimes
and perhaps you too
die a little
when we’re apart.

I love you
and feel myself reviving as
I count down with the clock.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Day 10/30 NaPoWriMo

So this means we are a third of the way through the challenge and I'm really enjoying it. I hope fellow poets are too and the readers. I have a potential sticky patch ahead this week as I have to go into hospital for a minor surgical procedure on Tuesday as a day patient but I hope to work round that. The Doc seems confident I'll be back at work in a couple of days so I hope that is indeed the case. You never know but sedation and drugs might put me in a trippy place which might help me!

Have a good week and keep spinning words into webs of wonder.


Mens sana in corpore sano

Fitness and writing
are my current twin obsessions.
The gym is still a foreign county to me.
I don’t yet understand the
customs and language
but I try to be friendly.
I am learning it is not
how fast you run or lift or cycle.
True fitness is measured by
your speed of recovery.
I am slowly reading gym's moods.
Once, a gazelle wandered in
to our land of sweating heffalumps.
I have never before felt such
latent animosity.
Unspoken hive mind hatred
swelled; warm air turned frigid
in a heartbeat.
I haven’t seen her since.
Will improved physical fitness
help my writing
as I run after inspiration and
stretch metaphors?
Perhaps the true test of a poem is not
how quickly you write it, but
how long it takes you
to recover.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Busy, busy

I'm just sneaking in before midnight as a result of a very busy day which included doing a Improvised Comedy show tonight.I should be more in control tomorrow.


“A ticket to anywhere”,
said the man at the front of the queue.
The ticket clerk
looked up in brittle bemusement.
No training role play had
covered this situation.
“Sorry sir”?
“A ticket to any town of your choice,
don’t tell me where,
just tell me which platform”.
The queue quivered with curiosity.
After a second’s hesitation
“The customer’s always right”
instinct kicked in
and she selected his destiny.

As he walked away
a tsunami of psychic respect
followed him
as we wished we could be as brave.
I made my mind up
if I got the same clerk
I would say “same as him please”
I have a fifty/fifty chance
and don’t know which
fifty I’m rooting for.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Day 8/30 NaPoWriMo

So I've got through the first working week and I'm really enjoying the sense of community and challenge. I have no idea where this one came from but I'm very pleased with it.

Keep writing


Quercus Alba
It was a simple grave,
garlanded with two lengths
of splintered oak
we hoped would speak of England.

This Tommy, actually called Tommy
would joke no more
when scared witless and shitless
by another whistle of airborne death.

“You’re the one they’re firing at”
we said to keep him sane.
Well now they’d got him,
perhaps we could all pack our bloody bags.

Covered in foreign soil, tears and sweat
we couldn’t bring ourselves to pray,
and the King
could save himself today.

We split his rations,
found the letters we promised to post
that would bittersweet Christmas
and those to come.

We drew straws for his hipflask
then all took a nip.
We didn’t mourn his passing but
the life he’d never have.

We pledged to see his Mother
and speak well of him;
it seemed a fitting penance
for getting out alive.

It was just me in the end.
Tea in the best china
one Sunday in
that saddest Spring.

I wept
and couldn’t find the words to tell her
it was because her table
was made of oak.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 7/30 Addict!

Here's the latest poem in the Poem a Day challenge.


It was the rough boys at college that got me into it.
I walked into the toilets and as I
did the soft shoe shuffle of the interloper,
they danced the busted tango.
“It’s only a hit of……Maya Angelou”.
“Poetry? Are you mad?”
They tried to get me to do a line with them.
I declined but they rolled a haiku for me to try later.
It stayed in my jacket for weeks
until I tried it one midnight
to impress a girl.
It was a gateway poem and I was hooked.
I tried quatrains, limericks;
sonnets, villanelles and sestinas followed.
And just when I thought I’d explored the limits of form…
That led me on to the hard stuff:
Auden, Eliot, Bukowski.
So here I am
hopelessly, hopelessly hooked
and like all addicts
living my life by fractions.
Some junkies live for the next eighth,
I just want to score
my next thirtieth.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 6/30

It is that time. Two weeks after the shift
of light, something from childhood ambushes.
Last year, it was the smell of earth, the sun’s
diluted ember falling dappled through
leaves that snared; pulled me through a wormhole to
my second favourite den by the woods and
within earshot of water. It always
seems to be Thursday, almost suppertime
marked by the mist-soft shimmer of streetlights
sparking to life. Each year I edge closer
home. One day, I will have the courage to
crack open the kitchen door and see Mum
again, vital and cheerful and all she
ever was to me. She will ask me what
I’ve done all day. I will answer “nothing”
and mean it. I will quietly take her
hand and this time I shall not forget. I
will whisper “I still miss you” and mean it.

Day 5 NaPoWriMo

Ok, so we're at day five. Do you feel yourself settling into a rhythm or making up rules you have to stick by? Weird eh! This one is sentimental in nature. No apologies, deal with it!

Keep going fellow poem fans!

Mark x

PS. The rug behind my main picture is the rug in question. Sorry you can't see the pink and scarlet.

Threads and Motifs

Pink has always been your colour;
a colour northern males
view with unsettled suspicion.
It took me thirty-two years to wear it
and feel comfortable
while you expanded your palette
chameleon-like and thrived.

When Spain disappointed
with rain that one May week
(we should have listened to Henry Higgins),
we took a trip to Nijar,
famed for its handicrafts;
an activity northern males
view with unsettled suspicion.

The haystack of rugs,
textile and tactile became
overblown page-turner novel,
plot written in warp and weft.
We searched for our Cinderella,
to take home and promote
from floor to wall hanging.

When we saw the strip of
hot pink above a scarlet stripe,
we both felt the slipper fit.
I paid, (another activity northern males
view with unsettled suspicion)
feeling a shiver of synchronicity;
some things are meant to be.

I’m grateful you are
the hot pink stripe
to my cool calico ways;
a sparkling rosé blush
bringing colour,
effervescence and tang
to my plain vanilla days.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Day 4 NaPoWriMo

Day 4 of 30 in the NaPoWriMo Challenge and I promise that not every poem from here on in will be inspired by the news! However, the basic sentiment here is one I genuinely hold. Another “star” does something spectacularly dumb that will probably attract derision when they actually need help. There is still a fellow human being at the centre of the carnage.

Rage against the MaSheen

Most of the time
I avoid
“celeb” stories
pretending to be news.
They are wolves
wearing Grandma’s bed shawl
hoping to devour
intellect and integrity.

But big time public
unravellings of the psyche,
where actions become
estranged from
common sense
move me:

Britney Spears
shaving her hair;
George Michael
driving into Snappy Snaps;
that sort of thing.

The latest is Charlie Sheen
finding out (the hard way)
a blue collar audience
can distinguish between
real talent and a freak show
in just fifteen minutes.
Turns out they DO know
shit from shinola.

I want to take their hand,
lead them from the world
of artifice and cheap sparkledust
to a calm English tea room
where Earl Grey and oak panels
can talk sense into them.

Let them eat cake laced with
love, understanding,
St John's wort
and home spun wisdom
until their inner compass
finds magnetic north again.

If that didn’t work,
I’d leave George and Charlie
to get on each other’s nerves
and argue over the bill.

Britney, I would take aside
hoping she’s the kind of girl
that seeks solace
in Father figures.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Weekends are easy, the real challenge starts tomorrow.

3/30 of the NaPoWriMo Challenge.  Ok, it's going to get tough now because of the Day Job! They do insist in me working 8.30 to 5 in exchnage for my salary. So apologies if I end up posting towards the end of the day. I don't know if I should try and stock pile ideas if I get them or be prepared to raid my notebooks. Is this against the spirit of the challenge? I'd like to think that I can write something each day freshly minted and captured but we'll see. Here is today's poem.


I woke up this morning

My radio shares news
in many hues
of one colour:

“Wage war to stop war”.
“Kill to halt the killing”.
“Bomb to prevent bombing”.
“Casualties are the price of freedom”.

I lose count
of the casualties reported
in the time it takes
to make toast.

A myriad faces and voices
defend choices
saying “fight fire with fire”

A philosophy
no sensible fire-fighting service
has ever adopted.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Day 2, Poem 2

OK Second day and I had to write this early as I'm off to Peterborough to perform and judge at the final of the Poetry Rivals competition from 3pm to 9pm.

A big shout out to my fellow poets taking the NaPoWriMo challenge!

Let's do it!

Mark ;))


She doesn’t walk, she flows.
Each step is like an ocean swell,
each turn a wheat field
Swept by the wind.
She was born to be in
perpetual motion,
grace and precision
found harmony
in her frame.
Every movement measured,
from hair that falls like ribbons
gift-wrapping her face
To the perfect point of each toe.
her eyes


Friday, 1 April 2011

And we're off!

First Poem 1/30 in the NaPoWriMo

Don't know where this one came from but there's no rule says they have to be uplifting is there?


Daily Grind or Grinding Day?

Wake. Rise. Wash. Dress.
Coffee. Juice. Breakfast

Coat. Bag. Travel. Work.
Phones. PC. Clients. (Jerks).

Boredom. Stress. Banter. Jokes.
Gossip. Bitch. Girls. Blokes.

Memo. Email. Letters. Calls.
Teamwork! Dream! Achieve! (Balls!)

Sandwich. Walk. Bank. Afternoon.
Lunch. Over. Too Soon.

Meet. Consult. Ignore. Write
Corporate. Buzzwords. All. Shite.

Leave. Gym. Change. Sweat.
Home. Shower. Kitchenette.

Eat. Drink. Go. Out.
Pose. Preen. Strut. Pout

Pull. Home. Bed. Sex.
Never. Know. What’s. Next.

Feel. Nothing. Empty. Sorrow.
Repeat. Actions. Again. Tomorrow.

It’s surprising suicide isn’t more popular.