Day 22 Imagined corners

What if the round world’s corners could be found
And I could creep into that place to hide
Among the crazy angles up and down
Where earth is made of air and ground is sky-ed.

Or a ravine scoured deep into the rocks
Where contintents’ torn edges touch and meet
below the dripping ferns, safe from the shocks
of love’s old earthquake I’d stand on my feet

I’d furnish that sharp space with rags of grief
and hunker down in tepid pools of tears
and memory, finding this much relief
knowing I would stay buried here for years.

But still the world curves mercilessly round
and every shelter’s bared on open ground.

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Today’s prompt was to write a response to the statement: ‘a circle can’t have corners’  

I admit to a little help from John Donne.



Day 21 Selfie reflection

selfie (2)

look at I
look at I
trapdoor mouth
hair that doesn’t
love itself
lines of sarcasm
liver spots in despair
look at I
hands pointing to
another world
on the story’s edge
gleaming with
the power of the
word not yet spoken
the look at me child
still refusing to
grow up
not listening to
not listening to
who do you
think you are?
who loves that
dinosaur face
but hearing echoes
as I
tell I
tell the story of
the storyteller who
tells the story of
the woman who rode out one day
to tell some truths and
in the mirror
of the old woman
who has never quite
worked out
how to
take selfies.

Day 20 Don’t mention Bradamante

She may be buried in my heart, a guilty love,

But no.
I’ll stay in the moment, staring
from the train window
at landmarks flashing out of sight, hidden
memories and monuments

I’ll chronicle the dull clang
as the carriage lurches
onto the slick London line,

I’ll note young grass insanely hopeful
sprouting between rusty tracks;
the cloud of my coffee dregs drowning
in the silent canal.

I’ll leave her behind as we pass
mock Tudor mansions, upholding British values
beside the silver Thames.

But how can I ignore her when she grins at me
in the smile of the Asian taxi driver who has never
let his boys run wild in the Botanic garden
from the lined face of the woman putting down her case
to rest on the escalator
or the headscarfed girl, summoning the courage to ask
directions in a language she doesn’t understand.

Hers is the rhythm of single-minded wheels,
hers the dappled forest where
battles are fought and sunlight
makes nonsense of certainties.

Bradamante’s riding, sword in hand,
and rules are made to be broken.


Day 18: severed head

ariostoa head of ebony, jewelled with pain

so struck with cruel steel and hand,

scoured by hate and loathing so

that faith’s become a steaming hornet’s nest

that brutish man believed her, and, in sign

each gesture holds a licence to rip and savage

which neither helm, nor mail, nor shield withstand,

none of my words can stop the path

of steel-core splatter bullets,

unthinking, and perhaps o’ercome by wine,

all logic shredded by amphetamines

her neck to that unthinking fighter’s brand;

the fallout from a world where murderers

deal loaded hands

she gladly did decline

but we can’t with such ease

wash out complicity.



I like to write about daisies, children and fairy tales.  So for this @NapoWriMo prompt I deliberately chose one of the more gory verses of Orlando Furioso, canto 29, as a model.  Tomorrow back to daisies, I promise.

The picture is of Ariosto reading about severed heads at the court of Ferrara

Day 17: Traffic accident

Our newly teenage selves too cool to gawp
our first time on a motorway

a family holiday, clothes squashed in plastic bags
like ragbag brains tied on the roof.

We didn’t hear the snapping string
that sent bags rolling everywhere.

Only my father in the rearview mirror
saw the cascade of cloth: my sister’s bag

burst – the corpses lying behind, flared trousers,
tie-dye T-shirts, a psychedelic battlefield,

her first bra, bought the week before,
snagged on a cats-eye, flapping in the wind.

Whenever my mother told the story, I saw
on my sister’s cheeks flags

of crimson, waving, exposed
as a bra on the motorway.


Today’s prompt @GlPoWriMo to retell a family anecdote.

Day 16: the New Eve: rules of play


Every morning you remake the world in play


‘Wake up, Chase,’ ‘I can’t wake up,’ says Chase.  ‘I’m too sleepy.’ He says he’s too sleepy but he’s not

 you lie in sunlight, the treasures of the day ahead revolving behind closed eyes.


They’ve found the treasure! ‘We have to wait for the police to come’ Here it is, all the beautiful treasure.

On the treasure map you draw, bed is written with a ‘p’.  ‘I don’t like b.  P is more fun to write.’


This is a sleeping bag for Zuma.  Oh no he doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit this end either.  Too lumpy.

You measure and arrange, a soft Procrustes, bears and puppies into beds


It’s a land called Pen Pen.  It’s near where you are.  There you are.  That’s where you live.

You put us safe in boxes


There are already people in the houses.  Deep inside the houses.  We’ll go in and close the door because when you don’t close the door a polar bear will see us.

The danger all around you keep at bay with coloured pencils


Polar bear comes to visit.  Would you like to come to my house?  I’ve got sausages.   He’s a friendly polar bear.

You tame the polar bears with gaudy blocks


I’m making you tea.  This is a luven.  This is a zigger.  This is your hot chocolate.

Fearless as Eve, you name the unknown things: every plant, herb, and stone is your inheritance