National Poetry Writing Month 2014, Day Nine – Make-Down

The prompt for Day Nine was…

Today’s prompt was suggested by Bruce Niedt. Here’s Bruce’s explanation: take any random song play list (from your iPod, CD player, favorite radio station, Pandora or Spotify , etc.) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.”

I changed the prompt a little, and decided to write a poem inspired by the first song that came up on shuffle. The song that came up was Thin Line by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and in it there’s a lyric that sums up a thought I’ve had for a long time that goes…

The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled
Was convincing women that they looked
Better in their makeup


I have seen you made up and made down.
I have seen the hours spent
plucking this,
tucking that,

blushing this,
brushing that,

curling this,
twirling that,

patting this,
plaiting that,

applying this,
drying that,

and all it does is hide what I think is true beauty.
And make us late to everything.

National Poetry Writing Month 2014, Day Eight – Reset the Clocks

I’ve fallen a little behind preparing for two weddings. The prompt for Day Eight was…

“Today, let’s rewrite a famous poem, giving it our own spin. While any famous poem will do, if you haven’t already got one in mind, why not try your own version of Cesar Vallejo’s Black Stone Lying on a White Stone? If you’re not exactly sure how such a poem could be “re-written,” check out this recent poem by Stephen Burt, which riffs on Vallejo’s. Happy writing!”

I went for a wedding theme, turning W.H. Auden’s ‘Stop the Clocks’ from a funeral poem into a more celebratory marriage poem. Hope you like it.

Reset the Clocks

Reset the clocks, repeat the vows you’ve heard,
Prevent the kids from talking with a quiet word,
Silence the wedding march and with shuffled bum,
Bring out the couple, let the marriage come. 

Let aeroplanes circle sweeping overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message They Are Wed,
Let them throw confetti, let flowers fill the air,
Let the bride pick all the petals from her hair.

She is my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My talk, my song, my noon, my midnight;
I think this love will last for ever: prove me right.

The candles are wanted now: light up every one;
Bring out the moon and turn down the sun;
Dance away the night-time and sweep up the floor.
I don’t know if I could love you any more!

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Seven – Hansel and Gretel

I enjoyed writing the post from yesterday so much that I again ignored the prompt and did another children’s story! Enjoy…

Hansel and Gretel

The tale of Hansel and Gretel is blurred.
The truth isn’t like any story you’ve heard.
The two little kids are the cause of the trouble;
they ate half a house and reduced it to rubble!

They murdered a little old lady as well,
and yet parents think it’s a story to tell
to young ones at bed time for falling asleep
(whatever’s the problem with just counting sheep?).

Their Dad was a woodcutter – I guess that much is true –
and his second wife, Mandy, was fed up with his two
greedy young children who ate the house dry,
and she hatched a smart plan to get food-levels high.

She thought a few days with the kids out the way
would allow her to cook and feed her and Jose
(that’s the woodcutter’s name if you couldn’t have guessed).
His first wife was German and to her behest

she chose both the names of their two vile kids,
despite options of Rose or Juan (Jose’s two bids).
Alas, I get sidetracked. I’ve left you perplexed!
Let’s return to the story, and hear what happened next.

Mandy convinced Jose with persuasive talk;
they took both the children to the woods for a walk,
but Hansel was wise and he saw through the plan,
so he dropped some sweet wrappers and a trail began.

When they finally got kid-free and made their way back,
they heard Hansel and Gretel retracing their track
and upon reaching home, both the kids had caught up
expecting Mandy to make them some supper to sup.

Angry and tired, they waited until night
when Hansel and Gretel were asleep fairly tight,
and they carried both children to the depths of the wood;
a couple days’ forraging would do them some good.

When they woke the next day, at six in the morning,
picked sleep from their eyes, and finished their yawning,
they noticed the place that they’d just woken in;
they had bracken and heather stuck onto their skin.

They were lost in the forest; it all looked the same.
They shouted vile swear words I don’t want to name.
But then, through the thicket, they saw a surprise – 
what looked like a Sweet house in front of their eyes.

They made their way to it, rang the doorbell they saw
and an elderly lady came to answer the door.
“Hello there, dear Children. It’s lovely to meet
a couple of people who think my house sweet.

“I had kids of my own, but they left decades back.
They got fed up with beds that were made of flapjack,
and the sweetness of showers once powered by honey,
and the chocolate coins I gave as pocket money.”

The children said, rudely, “We don’t care about you.
We’ve just come for a nibble, and then bid you adieu.”
The lady was hurt by their nasty retort
and made off to the kitchen for a stiff glass of port.

The children were greedy and – as hours flew past – 
they munched through her aerial and radio mast.
By teatime they’d eaten the windows and doors,
and – a day after starting – ate the walls and the floors.

The old lady was livid. “YOU ATE THE WHOLE LOT!
And you know what the kids did? (It’s vile, mind you)
They killed the old lady and ate her up too.

Then Hansel remembered his phone in his pocket.
He keyed in the digits you need to unlock it.
In the palm of his hand was the key to survive;
he had all sorts of apps on his new iPhone 5.

He found Google Maps and stuck in his post code
and it guided them both to the end of their road.
While approaching the house, they saw Jose and Mandy
with a warm apple pie and a half each of Shandy.

The story ends gruesomely (I’ll just summarise it;
I can’t bare the ending, I simply despise it).
They burnt down their home with the parents inside,
and were heard by their cackles while both of them died.

They burnt down the forest as an insult to Dad
(and you thought that the Pigs from last poem were bad!)
They grew a new forest of long stinging nettle
(which I hate! Thanks a lot, evil Hansel and Gretel).

The last whereabouts of the two are unknown.
They evaded capture, and continue alone.
If you see two young teenagers, with one iPhone 5,
you’ll know now to run or you won’t stay alive.

And if you think that your children are awfully rude,
they talk with their mouths full, they play with their food,
take this tale as caution – be wise with deterrents
or you’ll suffer the fate of the two children’s parents.

National Poetry Writing Month 2014, Day Six – Three Little Pigs

I completely ignored the prompt today, and instead wanted to recreate a fairytale or nursery rhyme. Here’s my take on the Three Little Pigs.

Three Little Pigs

You may think a story of three little pigs,
all fleeing from Wolfy, cohabiting digs,
is noble and funny – a little bit charming –
but the truth is disgusting and slightly alarming.

This nice little tale was rewritten (and spoiled)
to end with the villain in hot water, boiled,
after sliding the chimney of Piggy’s abode.
Now it’s time for the truth – a truth we’re all owed.

And those who are thinking Roald Dahl had it right
are sadly mistaken, and face correction tonight.
In Dahling’s defence, he was truthful in parts,
and so this will be where our correct version starts.

The story begins with three pigs leaving sty,
standing and waving their Mother goodbye.
Their purses are full of a thick wad of notes,
and stored in the pockets inside of their coats.

At a fork in the road, they all go separate ways
after choosing to meet up in three busy days.
Pig One heads for farmland, Pig Two to the woods,
and Three to the City to pick up some goods.

Pig One met a farmer, with hay made in bales.
Pig whipped out a pistol (which so rarely fails)
and robbed the poor farmer of all that he had…
oh, I forgot to mention – these Piggies are bad.

I guess we should pause at our first misconception –
Pigs aren’t little cuties – they’re full of deception.
Those long curly tails distract us in youth –
Pigs are ruthless killers, and that is the truth.

So back to our story; Pig One got the hay
(and I’ll let you imagine the Farmer’s okay).
With the threat of his gun, and a background in crime,
Pig One’s house of hay was built in record time.

And here, pause again – it’s our next misconception –
Pig’s just aren’t the choice for a welcome reception,
but young Wolfy Jones was oblivious to this –
he approached Pig One’s house in an ignorant bliss.

He had simply popped by to welcome his neighbour,
and would soon be regretting his kind act of labour.
He reached for the doorbell, and – at the ding-dong –
Pig One opened up, thinking something was wrong.

The Wolf, bearing gifts, let his mouth form a grin
but Pig One was distracted with the long teeth within.
In fear, Piggy One slammed the door quickly shut
taking half of the skin off of poor Wolfy’s foot.

Wolf howled in pain, and – nursing his toes –
did that huff-and-puff breathing that everyone knows,
as if deep-breathing inward and outward again
is the nice simple way to relieve all the pain.

Meanwhile, in the woods, Piggy Two was engaged
with the lengthy procurement of timber, well aged.
Why lengthy, you ask? The same thing as Pig Un –
Pig Two had a forester in the sight of his gun.

After cleaning the mess of the forester’s guts,
Pig Two got to work on his neat row of huts.
With open-floor planning, and a woodwork-based mind,
it wasn’t too long ’til the huts were designed.

A half a week later, Wolf limps to the door –
his feet having healed a bit from before.
Again he approaches with a smile and a gift,
but Pig Two is a sceptic, and judgement is swift.

Having heard from Pig One, Piggy Two is prepared.
He had made bows and arrows with the wood he had spared.
Upon sight of the Wolf, Piggy Two caused him harm
firing arrows at Wolfy, and striking his arm.

Young Wolfy despairs – this is just not his week,
and he fled to the Doctors to sort his physique.
Meanwhile, Piggy Two rang his brother (Pig Three),
“You’ll never believe who just visited me!”

It’s time to catch up with Pig Three’s path so far;
he got to the city by stealing a car,
and when he arrived he had no trouble getting
a three-bed apartment a young lady was letting.

He had used a fake name on the contracts he signed,
and left references that nobody could find,
and then paid the deposit in counterfeit dosh
(What a dreadful young Piggy! Oh my good golly gosh!).

Some days and weeks later, with young Wolf on the mend
he thought he’d reach out to a final new friend.
This time in the city; what harm could lurk here?
Well I guess we’ll find out…Wolfy’s getting quite near.

He’s at the end of the street, he’s at the front door,
he’s climbing the stairs to Room 40; fourth floor.
He knocks and he waits, and he fumbles his hands,
and the door opens slowly on where young Wolfy stands.

He’s midway to smiling, when a brick grazes past.
Another just misses, a third follows fast.
The fourth and the fifth hit the Wolf in the face,
and the sixth hits the Wolf in a…delicate place.

The seventh and eighth hit the back of his head,
and before double-digits the Wolfy is dead.
Pig Three starts emerging; he checks the Wolf’s ‘beat,
Pig One and Two join him, and stand by his feet.

“Who wants his head?”, Three asks One and Two,
“He’s definitely dead, so thank you and you”.
“We think it’s for you; you killed him and all!
His head would look great on that back bedroom wall.”

And that is the truth of our Three Little Pigs,
they all joined the City in Piggy Three’s Digs.
They ate Wolfy’s liver, his brains and his heart,
his head is wall-mounted, they consider it ‘art’.

The three little pigs are not charming and sweet,
they killed innocent Wolfy and butchered his meat.
So next time you hear any cute fairytale,
think ‘is this the truth, or does lying prevail?’

National Poetry Writing Month 2014, Day Five – Oysters

Welcome to Day Five! The prompt for today said:

“Today’s prompt is a little complicated, which is why I saved it for a Saturday, in the hopes that you might have a little more time today than during a weekday. I think this is a very rewarding form, though, so I hope you’ll enjoy it! Today I challenge you to write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool. You can read Brooks’ poem by reading the last word of each line of Hayes’ poem! (In fact, you can do so twice, because Hayes, being ultra-ambitious, wrote a two-part golden shovel, repeating Brooks’ poem). Now, the golden shovel is a tricky form, but you can help keep it manageable by picking a short poem to shovel-ize.”

With all of that in mind, I started thinking of short poems that I love.

The one I settled on was one of my favourites by Robert Louis Stevenson that goes…

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Read the last word of each line and you should see it. Here goes!


your oyster“, she said optimistically, “so
potential and possibility. A
immeasurably beautiful things
are waiting for you. I’m
only one of those is that ‘you’ and ‘me’ can become ‘we’.”
She paused. “But I know you think oysters should
be left alone, pearl and all.
She continued, “So if not oysters, what could your world be?
What else could your world be as free and exciting as?”
I thought for a moment. “I just don’t need my world to be a mollusc to make me happy.
I’m sure there are many more suitable things my world can be as unrealised and intriguing as,
like an unopened gift, an unwritten letter, or a country’s unborn kings.

National Poetry Writing Month 2014, Day Two – Robin Hood’s Mother

The prompt for Day Two was as follows…

“There are many good poems based on myths. Lots of these use Greek or Roman myths. Consider Tennyson’s Ulysees or this more modern example by A.E. Stallings. But today I challenge you to write a poem based on a non-Greco-Roman myth. You could write a poem inspired by Norse mythology, or perhaps by one of these creatures from Japanese legend. Every time and place and culture has its myths and legends, so there’s plenty to choose from. Happy writing!”

Growing up, my favourite legend was always that of Robin Hood, particularly as Disney’s film was the best thing that’s ever happened.

I thought I’d put a different spin on it, and write my own ‘truth behind the legend’ by talking to Robin’s mum.

Robin Hood’s Mother

I once met the mother of young Robin Hood.
She told me she thought he was up to no good.
“He’s out using weapons, he’s not paying tax…
can’t fault his commitment; it’s direction he lacks.”

“At school, he stood out with his brains and his charm.
He was strong in the head, in the heart and the arm,
and at no Parents’ Evening did they lead me to think
he’d fall in with those lads who are merry with drink.”

“He was destined to work in the pharmacy biz,
but got hung up on Marian, whoever she is.
And of all of the people to wage a war on?
He had to pick royalty – our lovely King John.”

“He may over-tax us a little – it’s true –
but without it there’s no NHS there for you.
And I hardly think it is enough of a reason
to plot such a ghastly display of this treason.”

“No, Robin and I don’t speak too much these days.
I’m tired of all his intolerable ways.
If my thieving son’s reading, then know that I hature
for Robin by name, and Robbin’ by nature.”