August 20, 2007

When I was a baby I was born in a hospital.
I was laid in the arms of my mother,
gurgling and heaving and livid with air,
electric light, beating like a heart
from the bulb above my head. I was not laid
in an incubator. Not like my brother,
that windy day in Autumn.
I was born in May, with sun
and buds and flowers,
spilling from the table
on it’s casters,
at my mother’s waist.
My brother,
called dust-bin
when my father
murmered Lydia.
I was born in May.
I do not have a baby.
My brother is father to twins.


August 20, 2007

It’s a beach
and I can see the grain of the sand
through the paper,
and the sea is encroaching
onto the sand – lines of blue,
like the dune’s being framed
by solid slithers of water;
like an artist
has been thinking out loud on the sand,
like it’s paper.
I am thinking of turtles.
I am thinking of turtles
because my friend Tim,
was talking about turtles,
turtles being born on the beach
and crawling on fins to the blueness.
The sea in this picture
is a ribbon of blueness.
The sky is in circles
of blueness.
I wish I was a turtle.
I want to fly into it.

Canal Sounds

May 23, 2007

Like a plane taking off, or the
white water rushing crash
of open waves at sea.

Like standing on the
top deck of an open liner.

Like hearing the sound of silence
amplified – or the static on a TV.

This is what it sounds like-
but it is spelt differently…

It is spelt as a 3 stepped weir-
or a mini waterfall
in several regular parts-

gushing and humming and
singing to itself like a
washer woman-
scrubbing and rasping
at the surface of rocks.

This sound-
like a ship or a plane or a
poltegeist, dominates all others-
but there are others
stirring beneath it.

There is birdsong-
whistling and whooping and chiruping –
sounds swimming all together,
like birds going mad,
like birds against the world,
birds against the water – birds
fighting it out – and yet
there is still more-

there is the barely there breath
of the air, languid in summer
and only just heard by the
unstirred grass
and there are cars-

There are cars
roaring in the distance
and almost sounding like the water
with their loud crashing silence –
with their low down moan
that is almost the sound
of a hurricane- but these
are spelt differently.

Heard and not seen
these are just for once
far from here.

They are like turtles in the city-
turtles cannot fly
and cars cannot swim.

Here is Jo Swift’s take on that freestyling exercise…

Sparkplugs Exercise

May 18, 2007

Should you be interested, here are the intriguing results of this weeks final (until further notice) Sparkpugs Poetry Group. After many requests, we spent half the nearly final session (next week we’re ending ending with river walk) playing a consequences game. Click here

Essentially an exercise that is all about relationships, I found it interesting to see how the characters often talked with no reference to what each other had actually said before…;)

Remember Cardiff? I remember Cardiff
with its open fields of cows, cows
that were spread across their
open fields of grassy pasture
like the ordered buttons on a
tweed suit. I remember Cardiff.
Remember how you caught your death
that day in Cardiff? That day when
all of the order in world
spiraled out like so much
mottled cow disease,
yes, like so much
mad death cow disease.
You caught your death
standing in that open field of
endless rain in Cardiff.
There in front of all the cows.
I remember Cardiff. Cardiff
was very near
the death of you.

a spike heeled stiletto
at a window.
If it is a shatterproof window
follow through
with an axe.

all your clothing,
starting with the
smallest items first.
you will find in the bra.

each item to the last
If you have your
pocket sewing kit
you might like to
strengthen the fabric.

the end
with the most give
around the window frame-
watching out
for broken glass.

the line of clothes
like all the washing,
choosing, fretting
you will never
have to do again.

till nightfall-
and look both ways,
before you start
the long climb

Sparkplug Poetry

March 1, 2007

Well, after a short break, The BrightSparks Poets are back on track, rejigged, renamed and ready to blow. ‘Sparkplugs’ relaunched this Wednesday, at the super swanky RAC (Richard Attenborough Centre). Subsidised by the RAC (through the vastly kind donation of space) and facilitated by me, the first session went really well.

We LOVE the centre. The room is spacious, light and airy, packed with books and condusive for writing. The cafe downstairs does great snacks and is lovely to break in. The art throughout the centre is fabulous. We are very happy and we would like to stay please, so…Lydia must get writing that funding application so when our 10 week pilot runs out, we can do.

In our first session we read Non CV (or I am not who you think I am), a fantastic piece by Penelope Shuttle and one which had inspired me to write Not a Mathemetician a few weeks earlier. After discussing Penelope’s piece we kicked off with a writing and feedback exercise-which ended up taking the rest of our time. The group wrote following the same ‘negative’ theme, but using the prompt: ‘Things I have not brought with me’. This exercise is a kind of linguistic version of the drawing exercise, where you draw the spaces between objects rather than the objects themselves. In many ways it follows on nicely from Mark Goodwins earlier exercise in lying…sometimes, more can be revealed by reading between the lines…. Anyway, here’s my own take:

Things I Have Not Brought With Me

My Penelope Shuttle Mask
able to absorb light and shine
like a glowing bundle
of bright rock-
blinding you to
my limitations.

I left it behind the hat stand
in my mothers bedroom,
the one she lived in
before my birth,
I have no way
of reaching now.

My talking harp
that knows the letters
of all the alphabets,
the names of all the ghosts
in Leicestershire, Toronto
Yugoslavia. Also-

the cat,
that sleeps during the day
and sharpens its teeth
on the dead bones
of Pyrhanic monsters.
The cat-

that is fierce
and more terrifying
than a whip lashed sharp
across an upturned face.
It is not here.
I left it somewhere else.

….’Homework’ is to write the sister poem: ‘things I have brought with me’. Everyone seemed very keen to do it, so I guess I better have a go myself!

Sessions continue next Wednesday, 2-4pm at the RAC. If you’re in the area and would like to find out more, drop me an email ( In the meantime you can check out some of the other pieces created at our BrightSparks Blog.


January 25, 2007

My Mother had a chair like you:
dark, ruby skinned, light
pattenation like the
small brass rubbing of a
snake skin.

My mother had four
like you, round her
dolls house crib of a
dining room, but three of them
broke, leaving only one-

fragile, waiting, never sat in
for fear of breaking its
fine brittle bones of
creaking wood. My mother
had a chair like you.