napowrimo #24-28


An old man in a suit
gathers wild fennel from the verge.
A wryneck calling.

Fried Beauty

Glory be to cod for battered things,
for chips as golden-glisten as a suntanned thigh;
for fresh-made doughnuts, croutons, chicken wings.
All things that saute, sizzle, fry,
praise them.

A poem

Her breath is vine leaves, crushed in the hand,
and her sweat is green olives.

Under the plane tree three old men
watch the shadows creep across the square.

His hair is the wing of a swallow
his mouth a pebble wet from the stream.

Sitting in doorways headscarved women
slowly and precisely stitch.

In all the village the only sound
is the rustle of lizards.

Aphorism, shamelessly made into a poem via the addition of line breaks

A poem should be true;
not like an axiom,
but like a bell.

napowrimo 24: no title

Looking down into the valley
and seeing them fly one after another
across the olive groves
like flakes of gold,
or sparks, or dandelion petals,
or some kind of elemental spirit,
eight golden orioles;
I find myself thinking
I do not deserve this.

napowrimo 23: Just theory

The ball is round, the game lasts 90 minutes; everything else is just theory. Sepp Herberger.

Except that the ball is oval.
The bar has spent a lot of money
on a widescreen telly
and isn’t going to waste it.

Passes from end to end
are noticeably quicker
that the ones from side to side,
and when a player bends over
to rearrange his socks,
his head is warped disturbingly
from short and wide
to long and thin.

Football never seems right, anyway,
without the sound on.
It’s like some kind of solemn ritual theatre;
with Giggs as the Three Muses
and Rooney symbolising Discord.

They take their turns to mime
frustration, anger, outraged innocence
a stylised repertoire of gesture
before a silent crowd.

napowrimo #21-22: Greek snippets


The waiter asks “How was the food?
Was everything OK?”
But I don’t know the Greek for
“The cumin cured pork was so salty
that my tongue is puckered.”
So I said “yes.”


As the waves break high
against the rocks,
a small boy throws the town into the sea
one rock at a time.

napowrimo #something: not just yet

I have actually written a poem of a sort, but this internet connection is in a travel agent, and even by the low standards of ambience typical of internet cafes, it’s just not terribly thrilling.

And possibly more to the point, all I’d had to eat all day is a cheese pie. I came in here to fill time before going to get some food, but I might just have to go and eat. So toodles.

napowrimo #20 – shameless filler poem

Down in the benthic darkness
among the ghosts and mud
hagfish gnaw at the bones of a whale
as death rains from above.

I think I’ve recycled not just the first line from yesterday’s poem, but the last line from some previous poem a while ago. But it’ll have to do.

napowrimo #19: Down in the benthic darkness

Down in the benthic darkness
where curious creatures dwell
is a species of hermit crab so big
it uses a boat for a shell.

The hatchlings start in a bathtub or fridge
and when that gets too snug,
first they move to a dinghy or sloop
and then to a sampan or tug.

Nobody knows how big they can grow
but don’t be surprised if one day
the wreck of Titanic lifts on its toes
and silently scuttles away.

I know it’s not actually Thursday any more, but this is yesterday’s poem for napowrimo so I guess it can be my poem for Poetry Thursday as well :)

napowrimo 17: The Death of Maradona

I’m in a Greek bar, watching football;
Giggs, Rooney and Ronaldo on the break
so fast and effortless
it almost seems like cheating.

Then at half time,
among the trailers for upcoming matches
in the Bundesliga and the NBA,
a slow-mo montage of Diego Maradona.

Mainly the fat Maradona;
waving to an screaming crowd,
singing with some chisel-cheekboned pop star,
waddling out onto a football pitch
in a tent-like no. 10 shirt,
his mouth and eyes reduced to creases in his face.

Does this mean he’s dead?
Or dying?
Perhaps they just think that it can’t be long now,
and want to advertise the wallowing
in grief, nostalgia
and self-righteous pity
as an upcoming attraction
for the fans.

napowrimo #15 & 16: ‘Gatwick, 5am’ and a haiku.

Poems for the last two days; I haven’t written today’s yet.

Gatwick, 5am

Were Dante writing the Commedia today
he’d surely model one infernal circle
on 5am at Gatwick airport.

Well, maybe not. Even piped music,
sulry staff, strip lighting
and the vacant stares
of travellers only awake enough
to slowly masticate
a sandwich
are not as bad as being made
to swim in boiling pitch.

In fact, he’d probably admire
the palatial scale of it,
the cleanliness and stretches of sheet glass,
the light, the WH Smith stacked high
with printed books,
the clocks on sale
small enough to wear as jewellery.

To think the inconveniences of modern life-
the pharma-spam, the traffic,
the people using mobiles on the train-
are uniquely dreadful
is as egotistical as thinking
you are the pinnacle of human culture,
the culmination of a thousand years
or progress.

We may not have Dante or Botticelli;
we don’t have the Black Death either.


Started out kind of jokey, ended up worryingly portentous. Oh well, that napowrimo for you.

#16 is a haiku-type thing:

Preparing for take-off;


I’m off to Crete tomorrow, and with all the packing and procrastinating I didn’t write a poem. And I have to get up in about 4 hours time [yipes] so no poem today. I’ll try to write two tomorrow— I have a longish flight to fill time on.

Posting may be sporadic in the next couple of weeks while I’m on holiday, although I expect I’ll pop into an internet cafe most days. I’m travelling on my own, so I’ll have the spare time. And I will try to keep up napowrimo, though obviously I may not be able to post all of them while they’re fresh.


napowrimo 14: Μπορίς να φας τον καρπό;

Please use a new blade.
Shave it all off!
I need an adaptor plug.
Can I see it?
Do I need to pay upfront?
I have a doctor’s certificate for this medication.
I regretted it (lit: It came out of my nose.)
Where can we hire an uncrewed boat?
Please give me a slice.
I’ll recommend it to my friends.
I’m not happy with these photos.
I’d like to see the labyrinth.
Can I go in wearing these clothes?
I need a sick bag.
I’d like to introduce you to … (a woman).
I (don’t) like… billiards.
I’m a little sad.
Is this a protected species?
I’m high.
You look like someone I know. (to a woman)
Can I dance with you? sit here? take you home?
Do you want a massage?
Touch me here.
Don’t worry, I’ll do it myself.
It helps to have a sense of humour.
my baby, my darling, my doll, my hunk, my soul, my treasure, sweetheart
You’re just using me for sex.
I’ll keep in touch.
I (don’t) believe in… fate.
I’d rather not join in.
What’s in the collection?
Is it an original or a copy?
I can’t.
I have an injury.
Is there a women-only session?
Where are the good spots?
Can I rent a hat and boots?
I need my racket restrung.
Are there any rockfalls?
Where’s the nudist beach?
I’d like it hot please.
I’d like (a/the)… meal fit for a king.
I don’t want it… boiled, broiled, deep-fried, fried, grilled, mashed, reheated, steamed.
a shot of gin, rum, whisky, tequila, vodka.
The same again, please.
I feel fantastic!
I feel ill.
I’m lost.
Is that a UN zone?
Where’s the demarcation line?
I didn’t do it.
I’m sorry.
Can I have a lawyer (who speaks English)?
I need a doctor (who speaks English).
I’ve run out of my medication.
I have my own syringe.
My … is swollen.
It hurts when you touch it.


A found poem; although actually ‘poem’ might be a bit optimistic for this one. All lines nicked from the Lonely Planet Greek phrasebook.

napowrimo 13: shoe limerick

An old woman who lived in a shoe
said “what is a person to do?
There’s a hole in the roof
and to tell you the truth
it reeks of old feet in here, too.”


Not in the mood for real poetry.

napowrimo 12: Poetry Thursday exercise

In ancient art, birds always seem to carry
a hint of the unworldly;
their fragile bodies just the physical expression
of some god
intruding on our world.

Flight and song; the essence of occult.
We praise them in bowls of water
left as mirrors
for them to bathe in,
and with propitiatory offerings of seed.


At Poetry Thursday this week they invited people to post a line from one of their own poems, and then use a line posted by someone else in their own poem. If that’s clear. Anyway, the line ‘we praise them in bowls of water’ is from a poem by Poet With A Day Job.

napowrimo 11: Making Pizza

some pizza I made

Start with Tipo 00 flour.
So fine and white, it makes your usual flour
seem hard and vulgar,
and makes a dough as silky and elastic as
(supply your own lascivious image here).

For two, use half a pound of flour
with a quarter-pint of water.
Add olive oil, salt and yeast,
knead until smooth and springy
and leave an hour or two;
split into portions, knead again.
Oil the rounds of dough,
drape clingfilm on them lightly,
and leave to swell again.

Only the fussiest stickler would insist
that the tomatoes must be grown
in the volcanic soils of Napoli.
It is enough they are Italian plum tomatoes
—tinned, not fresh—
broken up slightly in the saucepan.
A potato masher is ideal for this.
Then simmer slowly,
for an hour or so,
to thicken, darken and enrich.
Some salt is vital;
they must be savoury as well as sweet.

It is acceptable to add a little something;
a dribble of West Indian pepper sauce
or half a chopped chipotle.
Or crush a clove of garlic,
add it to hot olive oil,
and immediately mix the simmering oil
with your tomato.

Cow’s milk mozzarella is fine, if bland,
but does not have the farmyard sourness
of buffalo.
A variation is a different cheese;
perhaps a little feta or a chèvre.
Roquefort, and other affectations,
should be avoided.

Toppings must be sparing.
Gild the lily lightly.
Perhaps some finely sliced shallot,
a little Jámon Iberico or saucisson,
some kalamata olives.
And don’t forget a pinch of oregano;
get the good stuff at your local Turkish grocer.

Your enemy is moisture.
You must be quick, like a boy scout;
be prepared.
A newly-rolled pizza base, left to sit,
will sweat and stick
like a hot thigh on a leather chair.

Cooking must be hot and quick;
as hot as possible.
Bake the bases for two minutes
with nothing on them.
Then quickly add the toppings
and bake until the crust is golden
and the mozzarella has a hint of colour.

napowrimo 10: Hollow

I aspire to be meringue—
sweet airiness
just scorched enough for flavour—
but recently I seem to be
a rock cake.
Or on a good day,
a doorstep sandwich.

napowrimo 9: Heraclitean Fire

Beneath us rock stretches and folds like toffee.
A bracken frond unfurls. A tadpole hides
beneath a lilypad. Within the window
of an aeroplane a film of condensation
glitters. A glacier scrapes across a rock.
In someone’s ear the wobbles of a magnet
turn electricity to funk. A krait
splits its own skin. A girl stroking a cat
sparks static. Kimchee softens and sours.
Salt forms on a drying swimmer’s back.



napowrimo 8: salmon

Salmon throw themselves upriver
hurrying to die.
The cones upon the pine trees shiver
at the spirit thrusting by.


another short one, I’m afraid.

napowrimo 7: golf limerick

There was a young golfer from Troon
Who wanted to play on the moon
To his horror he found
When he started his round
That he kept hooking his drives.


I was kind of tired yesterday. So this is late and silly.

napowrimo 6: blackbird triolet

The blackbird on the rooftop sings
ancient songs of sex and death.
The woman in the garden thinks
the blackbird on the rooftop sings
a a joyful welcome to the Spring.
But with each lascivious breath
the blackbird on the rooftop sings
ancient songs of sex and death.

napowrimo 5: nightlife

Half-deaf in a silent street,
bereft of bass;
as he inhales, his cigarette
lights up his face.

A fox slips through a broken fence
and hurries on.

Two tramps in an empty warehouse
roast a stolen swan.

A man peers past his sleeping wife
to check the time.

Snails cross-hatch a patio
in trails of slime.

napowrimo 3: Spring

The treetops echo with the throaty hoot
of woodpigeons, nuthatch whistles
and the resonating thrum
of woodpeckers. All colours glow:
the orange of the blackbird’s bill,
the new green leaves,
milky wood anemones and golden celandines;
through the dapples stray
the first few butterflies.

Soon the swallows
will wake from hibernation
and squirm free from the mud;
from every pond
in ones and twos, then flocks,
like huge blue mayflies
pulling themselves free
of surface tension
and basking to dry their feathers in the sun
before a first flickering flight of spring
to gorge on midges.


I quite like the idea here, but the language is a bit earthbound at the moment. hohum.