Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Day 30 of 30. Another April full of new poems completed, but there is a sombre edge to this achievement, as it has been announced today that Bob Hoskins died yesterday. Today's poem is a small tribute to his work 

Best wishes


Bob ‘Oskins.
The working man’s actor.
he played the rock hard,
many a crook
unforgettably, even
sidekick to Captain Hook, Smee
in, which out of respect should now be renamed

He was the Long, Good Friday,
tart with a heart’s body guard in Mona Lisa
for which he very nearly became Oscar ‘Oskins
He was Edgar J Hoover and Benito Mussolini.
It seemed to play the big bad men,
you called the big little man,
the grouchy, gravel-voiced, gruff
diamond in the rough and he shone.

And now he’s gone,
missed and mourned
always handcuffed to one role,
as he was Roger Rabbit
Jessica telling him, in that voice 
she was just drawn that way.
Goodbye ‘Oskins.
Forever (Eddie) Valiant.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


A late post for this poem as it has been a busy day  but I have come to this version of the poem in three sittings and I am really pleased with it. That may all change when I look at it in the morning.

One more day to go!
Take centre stage songbird.
From its soft and warming sleep,
sing the sun into the sky.
In glorious reds and golds, sweep
the night away. Puff the chest
and warm the throat,
set music free in  
mellifluous notes
to fly as you do,
like Charlie Parker bebop;
airy, circling  riffs combined with
complex melodic lines that don’t stop
until the song is sung and the day
settled into its favourite chair.
You’d swear notes still hang like sparklers
traced in the memory of childhood air.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Scrunchy Lunch: A poem for children

A children's poem today has come to mind, so I've written it! Imagine a rhythmic "crunch, crunch" underscoring the words.

Best wishes


Scrunchy Lunch
Squashed banana and cornflake sandwich
Homemade for my lunch

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.

Banana for energy and vitamins
Cornflakes for the crunch.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.

It’s a very scrunchy sandwich
As loud as thunder when you munch.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
If you try one, you'll love it
Trust me, I have a hunch!

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Squashed banana and cornflake sandwich
For my lovely lunch.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Gulp. Ahhhh!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Lead in the Clouds (27 of 30)

Lead in the clouds
Somewhere, from a classroom,
in the north-east of England
last millennium, (God, I feel old!)
fifteen pounds per square inch
surfaces through the sea of
long-forgotten-remembered-forgotten facts.
Today that atmosphere tall column of air
feels three-fold the force,
leaden skies owning their name.
Bones struggle with a denser gravity,
muscles murmur complaints
a bruised brain puts on hold.
These thankfully infrequent days,
naked lunches triggered by news headlines,
raw reality leaching beneath protective seal.
How to call some men human,
not collapse under the weight of sharing
pace, oxygen and species.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Mother Nature,
you old Mistress of the palette,
of tones and shade, tinges and hues.
Colours that are enemies you
convince to cosy up and blend,
to lay down their arms and
exploit the best of themselves for
new neighbour’s benefit and both shine.
How much we can learn.
In the crowd scenes, your genius is autographed.
A rabble of colours, ready for riot and
desperate for attention, petals exploding
as if live grenades on every sightline.
A hundred distinct voices shout “Green”
in their own accents from the background.
Oscar-winning primary colours give their best
yet afterwards you can’t name them,
every blade and branch, stem, leaf and display counted.
I get lost in the looking sometimes.
See painters for the thieves and
plagiarists they are. Limit my vocabulary
to three words:
wonder, glory and awe.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Day 25 of 30 Perfection Strikes When Least Expected

Perfection strikes when least expected.

He knows this is the to-the-nanosecond
instant he falls, but can’t be sure if it is because:

1 The angle her head is inclined
   as she looks up from the desk.

2 The way she undrapes her tumbling
   curtain of hair in one unthinking, fluid sweep.

3 The opalescence of her baby blues
   or the fact that for now, all she’s looking at, is him.

4 The baby pink tinge catching fire in her cheeks
   illuminating her face like a Russian icon.

5 The intake of breath he imagines sounds exactly
   like an angel’s wing folding.

6 The fact he’ll never tell her because
   sharing will spoilt it.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

This be MY verse. Day 24 of 30

So, a late night thought turned into this overnight.

This be my verse.

From nowhere, the smell of sharpened pencils,
him in the waiting room workshop,
Kenneth Williams in full flow on Just a Minute.
Now and again, indecisive light
reflects the likeness of him shaving.

How different and too like
each other we were
becomes misted in the memory of pre shave lotion,
ever-reliable present for Christmas and birthdays.

That phone call.
An undercut silence,
pregnant with love and judgment

conjoined twins no surgeon could separate,
the vocabulary of both Portia and Shylock
danced tangos on your tongue,
even you uncertain which would spill out first,
like a clattering of red wine,
ready to indelibly soak into our spirits.

I was the last son still to believe
you had thought.

Finally a direct question and I would not lie to you.
The phone lines hung lower that day,

two hundred miles of disappointment
sang the long journey south,
the politest word you knew for betrayal. 
No pride in me, except for my service.

Your truth like revenge, served cold,
grated raw, vinegar for dressing.
You never were a talker.
The one way phone calls would fox GCHC,

thinking your half of the transcript missing.
Only now do I see and understand
this was our entire life and yet,
and yet and yet,
knowing all this;
still, love.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Birthday Poem for Will Shakespeare

Today we celebrate the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. Here is a little celebration of some of his quotes and thoughts.

Also Happy St George's Day!

Where there’s a Will
To celebrate the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare
If you’re looking for a leader
If you’re feeling lost
Follow Bill is my advice
You won’t find Love’s Labour Lost
There’s no need to be tongue-tied
If in a pickle or a pinch
Just make a virtue out of necessity
And refuse to budge an inch
Don’t act more in sorrow than anger
Just recall your salad days
Make yourself a tower of strength
Even if you suspect foul play
If you think it’s about high time
The game is up and truth will out
Remember All’s Well That Ends Well
Ignore those traitors known as doubts
If you’re more sinned against than sinning
And our hopes have vanished into thin air
Don’t suffer from green-eyed jealousy
Insist on play that’s fair
Enjoy The Comedy of Errors
We choose to know as life
Don’t make Much Ado About Nothing
We all live in a fool’s paradise
They say a sad tale’s best for winter
But tis better to bear the ills
This message may not be As You Like it
But be the beacon of the wise. Just follow Bill

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sonnet for Sanity

I don't often write sonnets, so here is a rarity.

Mark x
Sonnet for Sanity
Is it my turn for the remote control?
To pause the world to catch up, figure out
what is going on or at least patrol
the tumbling avalanche of white out
we call news these days. That data rich haze
of background static that leaches, preaches
in strident tones, the clothes to wear, the plays
to see, crowds the mind but never teaches.
Let’s unplug for a day, a month, a year.
Find a place of tranquillity and heat,
where running out of books is all we fear.
No clocks or calendars, just earth’s heartbeat
to regulate the hours, live in a blaze
of Monet sunsets, in our dying days.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Poem 21 of 30 Birdsong

If heard on the radio,
you’d think the sound effects department
had overdone it, setting the scene of a country park.
Yet somehow in the open air,
it seems perfectly balanced;
treble, bass, rhythm and counter-rhythm
underscoring the walk.
Cacophonous but distinct voices
blend in harmonious chaos
weaving dissonant melodies
into a tapestry of sound.
I sit on the bench, eyes closed
oblivious to everything
but nature’s song, trying to learn
the vocabulary of birds.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Up In Smoke

Wow, so two thirds through NaPoWriMo already. Day 20 of 30. Hope you had a good Easter.
Up In Smoke
He takes the table nearest the sunrise
at least an hour before the café opens,
waiting for caffeine or inspiration,
not caring which comes first. 
He hopes there is something in the rays
to mend frayed edges,
stop his mind unravelling,
a tapestry picked at too many times.
Perhaps he’s read too many mysteries but
considers missing his flight home,
creating a new identity that
properly fits his holiday clothes.
He used to understand what home means.
These days he doesn’t feel rooted,
a patchwork of an existence,
week by week, a different rainbow theme.
He exhales, imagining his breath as
the burnt hydrocarbons of bad dreams.
The coffee arrives first, which he figures
is as good a reason to stay as any.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Walk: a series of triplet poems

Today, is a  short series of triplet poems. A triplet is three verses of three lines of three words each. Here they are linked to create a narrative.

The Walk
1)    Man
The clouded sky
makes liars again
of weather forecasters.
He shivers without
his favourite fleece
circumnavigating the lake.
Further proof of
the price paid
for misplaced trust.
2)    Dog
Walk and wag.
Bounce and sniff.
Stop and pee.
Growl and bark.
Fetch and drop.
Run and Greet.
My one honest
relationship he thinks:
Man’s best friend.

3)    Woman
Their dogs meet,
sense an alliance,
run and hide.
She; time rich,
money poor, content,
not really looking.
Apologies and chat,
giving hounds chase.
Anything might happen.
4)    Café
It’s his routine,
stopping halfway for
caffeine and regrets.
Sleeping dogs lie
as if they’d
booked a table.
He suggests coffee.
Anything might happen.
They let it.

Friday, 18 April 2014

No More Mr Nice Guy Poem

No More Mister Nice Guy

“The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.” Leo Durocher
This is the original quote that when contracted became “Nice guys finish last”.
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a sod
I’m going to shout “knickers”
At Bishops and Vicars
Then argue about the existence of God
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a cad
I’ll learn all your regrets
Embarrassments and secrets
Then spill them to your Mum and Dad
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a rotter
When friends, racked with worry
Ask for a very mild curry
I’ll make it at least twenty degrees hotter
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a rogue
I’ll seduce daughter and mother
Not tell one about the other
But kiss and tell for a fortune in Vogue
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a swine
I’m going to eat Brussels Sprouts.
And when farts pop out
Swear blind they’re yours and not mine

From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a heel
I’ll house sit when you’re away
Sell all your stuff on ebay
And not give a stuff how you feel
From now on I’m going to be a bastard
From now on I’m going to be a hound
I’ll let others pay
As I drink scotch all day
Then hide in the loos when it’s my round
But I’m not really cut out to be a bastard
Being a bastard just isn’t me.  
Sometimes I dream of scenes
Being magnificent and mean
That’s the last time I watch reality TV!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

17 of 30 Poem: All Too Short A Date

This poem was inspired this view.

All Too Short A Date
These blossomed boughs
hung heavy with the promise of
future harvests,
shedding tears of pearl and silk.
The Japanese would picnic
in your draped petticoats,
celebrating your spirit
with sake and merriment.
Feet and wheels trace meanders
through scattered confetti,
all too brief a season of
elegant decoration.
The occasional traveller
stops, considers before shaking a branch,
showers in the symbolism then
walks on with a smile.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Poem 16 of 30: Case Study

This poem is a little thank you note to the many charities out there such as the Samaritans and the Red Cross who give people someone to talk to when they most need it. 

Case Study
Too often bedded
by guys she simply despised.
Constantly asking
when she can drop the disguise.
Fog never lifting,
obscuring clear line of sight.
Not far from crazy,
infrequent glimpses of light.
Yet just another
day she has yet to survive.
Mind turning violent.
Is it worth staying alive?
Bad thoughts,
The absence of choices
with no one to understand.

Easier walking
when someone’s holding your hand.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Poem: Sun Dance

Day 15 and half way on the poem a day challenge that is National Poetry Writing Month

Today's poem inspired by the sun and the fact it seems to be turning up more reliably now we're heading into a proper Spring.

Sun Dance 

Sun tapped on her bedroom window
but as she still wasn’t talking to him,
stretched and yawed like a waking cat,
moving to a cooler patch of pillow.
Sun tapped again, this time managing to edge
fingers of light through the curtain’s skirts
projecting clean, bright flashes of optimism on the wall.
Come on, he said, time to forgive me.
I can forgive, but I can’t forget she snapped.
I waited for you all day and you never showed.
Do you know how embarrassed I was?
You gave your word and you broke it!
But you know how unreliable I am in Winter babe,
the sun sang in soft warm tones.
I always come for you in the Spring.
That was weeks ago.  I’ve here now. Come and play.
The last three words were whispered, accompanied
by a particularly warming beam that kissed her smooth shoulder.
“Mmm, that’s nice” she said and peeled back the duvet.
The sun, needing no encouragement,
flooded her open upper body,
nibbled at her neck, shots of Vitamin D
started to kick like caffeine, playfully and suggestively
picked where the nightshirt guarded her breasts.
I’ve seen you naked before he said, come and play.
She relented, kicked off the bedclothes and
tumbled into the shower for decency’s sake
before layering scents and perfumes by routine
then shucking into her best denim shorts,
favourite strappy top, which although like all the others,
somehow made her feel sexier.  
It was only five minutes from first tap to being ready
on the doorstep, no plan but with car keys and credit card standing by.
A chilled breeze instantly brought goose-bumps to her skin.
Drops of rain splashed in mocking sing-song rhythm.
The sun was nowhere to be seen.
“Bastard” she spat and went back to bed.


Monday, 14 April 2014

14 of 30 Poem "Another Bad Match" A response to true life events.

Sadly, this is my response to the story of 3 people killed in Kansas for answering truthfully the question "Are you Jewish"?

The story is here

Another Bad Match
This if the fifth first line I’ve written.
When a writer starts running out words,
you know things are serious.
They call it drilling down.
Clicking from headline to summary
to the heart of the story.
In this case, the broken heart of the story.
Three dead in Kansas and the deeper you drill
the darker things seem. 
Three Jews killed, simply for being Jews.
As a gentile, you like to assume
that beast was slain 70 years ago,
tears shed, shame owned, lessons learned
yet here it is again.
On the eve of Passover, no less
a village called Shalom, no less
a conspiracy of coincidence
or premeditated, bitter, ironic twist?
Where do people get the energy to hate,  
so motivated by other people’s heritage and
blind to the shame they bring to their own.?
In candlelight and respectful silence
I will send my thoughts of love;
home-made prayers for the lost and grieving.
Standing with you in brother and sisterhood,
Shylock’s speech about pinpricks, bleeding and
hurt with the same weapons
sadly as true as ever.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Poem 13 of 30 So Not Hollywood

For the first time in a long time, we went to the cinema yesterday. Watching the trailers and adverts on a huge scale, amplified the so perfect appearance of the actors and got me to thinking. This poem is the result.

So Not Hollywood
Escape from reality, go to the movies.
That’s the theory.
I find it grinds my face into the dirt of true life
with all the grace and finesse of
Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting.
It’s the “so-unlike-me-ness” of people on screen.
The languid elegance of romantic leads,
the sassy smart snappiness of their dialogue,
apart from the ripped torsos and
teeth that cause snow blindness.
How could I ever fit into their world?
But I settle in, letting those questions
float away on the sea of suspended disbelief,
punctuated by the holding of hands and
changes of position as we find new ways to snuggle.
Later, the counter argument knocks on my door.
Anyone can be on their game for a hundred minutes
that took three months to film,
a writer five years to draft, sculpt and
re-write and re-write and re-write.
We devise our scenes daily
making tragic and comic gold
and the story is still worth telling.  
Our love is so not Hollywood
but it should be. 


Poem for Day 12, Slightly late Song of the Land-Locked Lover

Apologies for the late post. I will be back on track by tonight. This poem is in a much older style with a strict rhyming scheme. Sometimes the urge overtakes me to write in the style of a romantic poet from 200 years ago and NaPoWriMo is the perfect excuse.
Song of the Land-Locked Lover

Sing to me of the gentle sea,
of waves that breathe at night,
of ancient ships that deftly slip,
sails set towards the light.
For I long for a mermaid’s song
borne on the wind like lace,
that reaches ears and soothes the fears
etched deep on moonlit face.
Let wind and rain cleanse me again
to start a life anew.
Cross an ocean, set in motion
sketches of bolder hue.
Scrub my mind, until memory blind
Of love the heart regrets
Of risking all, only to fall
Pray to a foolish bet.
So, sing to me of the gentle sea,
of waves that breathe at night,
of ancient ships that deftly slip,
As I whisper “Goodnight”.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Love in the time of Coalition poem. Day 11 of 30

Oh dear! A "Got out of the wrong side of the bed" poem. Apologies for the grumpiness but sometimes only a moan will do!

Love in the time of Coalition
Another pale grey sky
as if Hollywood will green screen it in later
in time for the big premiere.
Underneath, life goes on in unsubtle hues;
people green with envy, feeling blue or
painting the town red.
Cut to a Waitrose car park
where a perkily attractive young mother
dressed in the smuggest of pinks,
tight enough to show she’s got her figure back
after months of Pilates with Miguel
decants her offspring from a white steed of a 4x4.
You somehow just know sun-dried tomatoes
will be a key component of her shopping list
alongside feta cheese and organic alfalfa sprouts.
I am annoyed with myself for being annoyed.
I was never bothered before but four years
of coalition government now showing their true colours,
polarising rich and poor,
penalising the helpless,
padding the pockets of party political contributors
has eroded my neutrality.
The enamel is worn and the root is exposed.
Government by the people for the people
rings hollow as the millionaire cabinet,
insulated from high street reality
claims to share the hurt. Bollocks!
Sulken 32 second apologies,
triumphs of arrogance over responsibility,
the feeling they have a right to rule,
screams ancient feudal rights
as poverty (and that is its proper name)
creeps and stalks and encroaches.

Meanwhile, champagne consumption at Westminster
has increased by 72% over three years ago.
Draw your own conclusion!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 10. Two for one special!

Two poems, though one is a four-liner that I wrote today for a reading at Wenlock (ahead of the lovely Wenlock Poetry Festival at the end of the month).

Between the river and the mountains
Between the earth and sky
Between sleep and wakefulness
Between the how and why
Between the roar and thunder
Between the wind and rain
Between dusk and dawn
Between peace and pain
Between beach and breaking wave
Between sense and shame
Between thought and reason
My soul always bears your name
Tartan Twin
Should Scotland win independence
On more twin towns, they’re rather keen.
If Wenlock changed to Wedlock,
Much Wedlock could twin with Gretna Green.