A list of Triads: Arvon Foundation poetry prompts #1

In Wales, lists come in threes: 3 unfortunate disclosures, 3 golden shoemakers, 3 adulterers’ horses .
So here are my triads.

3 questions about Persian heroes
• What made Tamineh blush?
• What colour were Sohrab’s lips?
• How many times did he and Rostam fight?

3 plants in my garden whose names I’ve forgotten
• The foxy one with thorns lurking at knee height
• The green one with leaves like an unshaven chin
• The one thrusting its white buds forward like a teenager at a rock concert

3 things I need to say to the people I love
• I love you
• You’re sad and it makes me sad
• Why don’t we talk?

3 emails I’ll probably send to people I don’t know very well instead
• Thank you
• Please pay me
• Yes I’ll be there

3 things I’ll take out of the car and 3 things I’ll put back tomorrow (not necessarily in the same order)
• A small wooden Chinese stool
• A coral furry monkey puppet
• A Nobo 24” overhead projector

3 things I heard while sleeping in my garden
• A bee’s hum
• A pigeon’s wing
• Grass bending under my head

3 things I heard outside my garden
• Car tyres on gravel
• Car tyres on tarmac
• Ambulance on the motorway

3 things I put in my orange shopping bag
• Beetroot
• Peaches
• Black bin liners

3 ways to get lost in a field of Welsh sheep
• Uphill
• Downhill
• Dreaming


Day 30: irrelevant facts

pebble beach


My great-aunt Bob had a dog called #metoo

Small and bad-tempered with a bite that came out of nowhere, and left small puncture marks on my lumpy cardigan.

I doubt that he was ever sexually assaulted.

Great-aunt Bob was married at the age of 23 to a man twice her age.  A bride for one year and a widow for 50. 

Her washing line stretched the length of the narrow garden, turning football into a dance with decapitation.

Once, in her front room, out of bounds to children, I was stung by a bee.  It served me right, apparently.

We stayed with her on summer holidays, where the highlights were crossing the road on our own to the sweet shop and collecting shells shaped like vaginas from the pebble beaches of Bognor Regis.

Also a day trip to Butlins to watch the ghostly legs of swimmers through the glass window of the basement café.

When the dog died, Aunt Bob retired to a contemplative convent in the Sussex Downs where she ended her days.

My own first experience of sexual harassment was a kiss that came out of nowhere from a shopkeeper twice my age in the basement of a boutique, out of bounds to children, on the King’s Road where I was trying on a cheesecloth skirt. 

These days I have a ferocious bite that deters would-be predators.

#metoo Aunt Bob





Day 28 Bradamante writes home


Well mother here I am by the sea blue as a shark’s eye, so
clear I can see my face reflected and behind me the shadow
of flying monsters armed with fearful weapons. The cottage
which nestles below the peaceful hills sheltered a clutch of
greasy-fingered robbers until I came. The hills are
picturesque their summits white, white with blanched
bones, mother, pale skeletons in tumuli on the abandoned
cliffs. I have bought myself, mother, at your suggestion,
a new set of clothes, the old ones being stained with my heart’s

Day 27 villanelle: Six Diamonds


Tears on the window: sunset shines through rain
diamonds of memory upon the pane
regrets and pleasures will not come again.

Solemn, you show the memory of pain
your finger, seeds of blood from tiny vein.
tears on the window: sunset shines through rain.

His pin traced story’s journey through the plain
each night: would morning bring him back again?
regrets and pleasures will not come again.

You fit into my hug, your arms a chain.
You run to play: the bonds of love remain
tears on the window: sunset shines through rain.

His clifftop triumph: ring on my finger flamed.
If he should fall, then who would bear the blame?
regrets and pleasures will not come again.

Sunlight through trees flickers, an emerald stain.
Winning the diamonds still my lifetime’s game.
Tears on the window: sunset shines through rain
regrets and pleasures will not come again.


Today’s prompt @Napowrimo to write a poem based on a tarot card.  I am stupidly superstitious about tarot, so I used a regular playing card for my future-predicting.

Day 26 A Walk in the Park


You gulp sunlight
a puppy sniffing the spring
your face inscribed heavy
with everything you have forgotten
it’s only the touch of a scarf fringe
only my hand in the crook of your arm
that anchor you to the ground
we walk brisk
your feet clattering on tarmac
you laugh pointing
clucking disapproval
at birdshit on parked cars
your words
are dreams in sunlight
your mind loops in
half obliterated knots
we circle the park
and clack
your feet draw us surely
back to your front door
where you sniff the sunlight
your face lined with forgotten knowledge
and you wonder
if it’s time for a walk.

Day 25: Warning

mermaid .3This room is full of stories.

Step inside
and you’ll find
giants sitting on your shoulders
ghosts will wrap themselves around your neck
and angry mice will nibble your shoelaces.

the windows speckled with
mermaid tears:
in the woodbox,
logs from a Grimm forest
and especially the plate of titbit
fables from the Mullah Nasreddin.

If you get out,
through the spider’s web,
you’ll leave
with noises inside your head:
the battle cries of heroes
and the whispers of dryads;
with a pocketful of discarded morals
and eyes that see angels
in every tree.