Poems on a Beermat

A few weeks ago my poem Rock Plain Boxing Club was shortlisted in the Poems on a Beermat competition, part of the Bradford on Avon Arts Festival. There were over 400 entries, so I was as pleased as punch and very proud. My prize of twenty five beermats featuring my poem was the cherry on the cake. What a fantastic idea for a competition.

Rock Plain Boxing Club

I dream about the Rock Plain Boxing Club.
Wake up anguished
by its non existence.
I cry for the respected founder
who will never channel the town’s young men.
The august officials
who will never holler seconds out.
The local lightweight hero
who will never box me to life.

You can read the ten winning poems here:


The report of the competition judge, Martin Malone, is here:



Toying with Affection

Hello there. I apologise for my absence. Here is a new poem, written in honour of a little gang which I hold in very high esteem.

Toying with Affection

In a corner of my bedroom,
in a little ragged row,
stand a frightened tribe of creatures
who are scared I’ll let them go.

They’ve heard my recent careless talk
of giving them away,
and are hoping I will change my mind,
relent and let them stay.

Paddington, in his welly boots,
duffle coat and hat,
is looking disappointed at my
lack of grace and tact.

Fatima the Ratima, named
for purely rhyming reasons,
cannot believe my heartlessness
and thinks me close to treason.

The surviving two koalas from
a once immense collection
are distraught that after years of love
they’re heading for rejection.

Elmer and the rag dolls
try to comfort one another,
each are products of the labours
of my grandma and my mother.

I wrote this poem to document
them all for one last time,
before giving them to charity,
which is surely no great crime.

But in doing so I’ve triggered lots of
happy thoughts and feelings.
And before the toys are even bagged
I think I’ve started grieving.

These scruffy little lumps have stuck
with me through wind and rain,
and one day, maybe soon, I might
just need their help again.

So this poem can be a tribute,
(instead of a rebuff)
to their service to companionship
and unconditional love.

Food to suit your Mood

Here is a bit of nonsense on the theme of food and its consumption. With thanks to Facebook friends who helped me with food-related words, and for my tree surgeon cousin who demanded that addition of a cheese related verse. Free verse with a rogue dabble in rhyme. I might adapt some of this for the Waitrose ‘Year of Poetry’ (link below), if they allow things already published on blogs.


My mum loves licking lids
It makes her feel primeval
(or as primeval as one can feel
without a long journey
or a second human being)

My dad eats slowly, meticulously
separating dishes into forkfuls
of individual component parts
He never leaves a morsel
Never clatters his knife and fork

My cousin likes his food well rounded
Whole cakes
and truckles of cheese
They remind him of the sturdy logs
he creates by cutting down trees

I eat, mostly, whilst alone
with my dinner on my lap
staring blankly at fruit-based gadgets,
and spend too much time
chewing over stew and stewing

Link to Waitrose Year of Poetry

North Lodge Cottage

I was given a writing exercise based on compass points and ended up with a list-poem in which I imagine I live in North Lodge Cottage, a little house up my favourite local lane.

I think the ending is a bit weak. Any comments or suggestions?

North Lodge Cottage

If I lived in North Lodge Cottage,
up on the brow of the hill, I would

walk every morning in the fields beyond High Wood and Whinney Fell
with a frisky dog by my side, damp with dew.

I would spend hours and hours in the garden, lying on the grass,
reading The Goldfinch from end to end to a backdrop of birdsong.

I would have the milkman deliver two pints a day, make my own milk
jelly and cardamon custard and develop a dairy-fed complexion.

I would paint the doors and the window frames in Mouse’s Back
and watch Mum’s face crinkle in recognition when she comes to visit.

I would put a sign up over the low hallway door, reading ‘duck or grouse’,
just in-case Dad ventures out of the shed to join her.

I would line the living room walls with shelves and fill them
with the books of the finest Scottish poets

I would live in North Lodge Cottage, doing all these things and more
with you.

Cave of Snails

Our writers’ group guru was poorly sick today so she stayed at home, along with her prompts from the BBC sound effects archives. Luckily she had let on yesterday that one of the clips was a recording of lots of snails crawling over the walls of a cave. So I spent a little bit of time working from that. This little oddity is where I got to.

There are things you do
as a child.
Unthinking, automatic things with
heartbreaking, shameful results
that will haunt you hollow, always.

When I need to forget
my own crimes,
I return to this
dank, hidden place.
Wait until I hear it again.

Sometimes it takes an age.
Sometimes even longer.
But it always comes,
Furred, impossible noise
of the snails, tracing my absolution.

That said, the worst atrocity I can remember from my childhood is the time I failed to give my little brother any sympathy or comfort after he belly-flopped off the highest diving board at our local swimming pool. I didn’t really have a clue how painful that would be. I still feel guilty about it.

A small stone for today:

As the fledgling mandolin player stands on the stage, the audience beat their wings. Offer final grubs. Invitations to fly.


Below is an erasure poem that emerged in a writing workshop led by Kirsten Luckins earlier in the week:

Walnut front, indubitably.
Silver back, haunting.
Where are eighteen bath towels, decades later?

I love erasure poems. A great way to come up with some surreal nonsense. Nothing to do with Andy Bell. They are basically collections of words and phrases you like, extracted from a page of other people’s writing. A sort of robbery come cut-and-shut job really. Often presented as pages of text with lots of black marker across it. Have a look on google images.

Today’s small stone:

We all live two lives side by side. One life to share and one to hide.

Kirsten (of the workshop) has a blog: http://kirstenluckins.wordpress.com

In other news, I have entered a flash fiction (250 word story) for the Bridport prize. Might as well start audaciously, after all. I might add a poem tomorrow.