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Tuesday 30 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 30 - Le Hibou et la Chatte

Well, today is the last day!  When I started this challenge, I never for a moment imagined that I would finish it.  But I've had great fun along the way - not least because of all the support and encouragement I've had from those of you, here and on Facebook, who've taken the time and trouble to make this journey with me.  To all of you I say: Thank you all so very much. I think we've all earned a very large drink!

And I now have thirty more poems than I had a month ago.  Well, twenty-nine, actually, as this final one is a poem which I wrote this time last year, when I did NaPo "unofficially" and just posted my random scribblings in a dedicated Facebook group.  But it seemed to fit in rather well with yesterday's prompt, which was to write a poem which contained "at least five words" in a foreign language.  Well, I think I might have achieved that, by the skin of my teeth.

My first day's poem was on the front of the fridge.  My last day's poem is completely off the wall...


(dédié à Édouard Lear, à qui je présente mes sincères condoléances)*

Dans un beau bâteau vert, ils s’en vont à la mer,
la grande chatte et le petit hibou.
Afin qu’ils ne manquent, dans un billet de banque
ils ont pris du miel et des sous.
Le hibou prit sa mandoline
et chanta vers le ciel:
“Ah! Ma chatte!  Ma bien-aimée,
ma chatte, que tu es belle!”

Dit la chatte au hibou: “Mon petit chou-chou,
tu chantes d’un façon si beau.
Ce serait très doux de te prendre comme époux,
mais qu’est-ce qui’il faut faire pour l’anneau?”
Le bâteau voyage et se trouve à la plage
de la belle île de l’arbre bongué,
où ils rencontrent au bois un grand cochon noir
qui portait un anneau au nez.

“Monsieur le Cochon, désirez-vous ven-
dre votr’ anneau?”  Le cochon dit “Ouai”.
Ils s’épousent lendemain, conjugés par la main
du grand dinde qui habitait les prés.
Ils mangent d’la viande, et des morceaux d’amandes,
se servant d’une cuillière roncibelle,
et puis ils dansaient sur la plage dorée
comme la lune brillait forte au ciel.

(* dedicated to Edward Lear, to whom profuse apologies are offered by the writer)

The original work on which this travesty is based can be found here.

Monday 29 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 29 - Phobophobia

Yesterday's official prompt was to write a colour-based poem, whilst Jo Bell's prompt was to write about what you fear.  The two ideas combined to form a fearful haiku.


I’m brightest yellow.  
I’m the ultimate coward: 
I’m afraid of fear.

Sunday 28 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 28 - Star Attraction

Yesterday's prompt was to take a proverb, enter the first three words into Google, see what results came up, then go from there.  I chose a proverb which I remember from my childhood: If each before his own door swept, the village would be clean.  Perhaps not so well-known as some other proverbs, but still valid on any number of levels. 

One intriguing suggestion (which didn't even get as far as the third word!) was “If each zodiac sign was a drug...” 

Which led, eventually, to this.  I took the liberty of correcting the subjunctive.  (Yes, that's how sad I am.)


If each zodiac sign were a medicine:
Aries would stop you feeling sheepish,
Taurus would stop you talking bullshit,
Gemini would cure a split personality,
Cancer would stop you feeling crabby,
Leo would cure pride,
Virgo would purify,
Libra would restore your sense of balance,
Scorpio would cure stinginess,
Sagittarius would improve your aim,
Capricorn would improve your appetite,
Aquarius would cure fluid retention,
and Pisces would finish all your problems.
(This extra line is here because I didn’t want to write a thirteen-line poem.)

Saturday 27 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 27 - The Pleasure-Dome Deflated

Yesterday's prompt was an exercise in erasure: take an existing poem, erase some of it, and see what remains.

I chose Coleridge's Kubla Khan, which is generally believed to be the result of what the poet could remember of an opium-induced dream.  The trouble is, once you take away the drug-fuelled ramblings, there isn't a tremendous amount left!  



Stately, sacred, measureless,
sunless, ancient, deep,
savage, holy, enchanted,


Wailing, seething, breathing,
rebounding, dancing, meandering,


Ocean voices, mingled with caves of ice,
and music, loud and long…

Beware! Beware!

Close your eyes…

…and dread the milk of Paradise. 

Friday 26 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 26 - The Balladeuse's Lament

This one, I hope, is self-explanatory.


There once was a wannabe poet
whose verses were dire, sad to say.
Then one April, she found NaPoWriMo:
thirty days of a poem a day.

‘Twas the twenty-fifth day of the challenge:
“Write a ballad” the task on the site,
but by bedtime she’d still written nothing
and her muse had shut down for the night.

Then she woke up at three in the morning,
but, alas, had no pen by her bed,
so in place of her great inspiration
she scribbled this drivel instead.

And if this sad tale has a moral,
it is this: always be on your guard,
for if you let go of the moment
you’ll never succeed as a bard.

Thursday 25 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 25 - A Weird Unwariness

Yesterday's prompt was to put one's name into an anagram generator and "try writing a self-portrait poem using words that are generated".  I had great fun with this.  The end result is yet another attempt at a tanka.  I think the title probably sums me up rather well.


A bawdy naiad,
drawn asunder, runs seawards,
unwinds an army,
nurses wannabe druids
and minds ruined bananas.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 24 - What You Will

Yesterday's prompt was to write a triolet - eight lines of iambic tetrameter with a very strict rhyme pattern (ABaAabAB).  Yesterday was also Shakespeare's birthday.  The temptation to combine the two was irresistible.


Today's the day of Shakespeare's birth
and I will honour him in rhyme,
the finest bard to walk the earth.
Today's the day of Shakespeare's birth:
the king of tragedy and mirth,
the greatest writer of all time.
Today's the day of Shakespeare's birth
and I will honour him in rhyme.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 23 - The Greatest Show on Earth

For this I combined two prompts.  Yesterday was Earth Day, so the "official" prompt was to write something connected with the natural world.  The lovely Jo Bell is also offering her own prompts on her Facebook page, and yesterday's was to make a list of all the things you want to achieve, then write about one of the things you haven't yet done.

I've always wanted to see a total solar eclipse.  The closest I've come to it was in August 1999, when I managed 85%.  This tanka is based on a combination of official reports and my own memoires of the event::


The shadows lengthen;
a disc shrinks to a crescent;
the birds fall silent.
Air cools. Constellations gleam
in the twilight of wonder.


Monday 22 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 22 - Half-Baked

Yesterday's prompt was to re-write Frank O'Hara's Lines for the Fortune Cookies.  This started out as a list of homespun ramblings, but as I was writing them down another idea started to take shape, and it seemed too good not to use.  So today, you lucky people, you've got two offerings:


You will travel far.  You might even come back.
Avoid tall dark strangers.  Short ones with green heads are much more interesting.
Normality is for wimps.
Early to bed and early to rise makes Jack a dull boy.
If you’re tempted to fall on your sword, don’t.  You might miss.
The grass is greener where it is watered - except in the places where dogs have cocked their legs up.
Think of your age in dog years, and you’ll probably still be in single figures.
Keep an open mind, but carry an umbrella.
The next thing you read will change your life...


Is true wisdom found 
on a fragment of paper 
inside a biscuit?

Sunday 21 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 21 - Key Words

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem incorporating at least five words from a given list.  I love playing about with random words so I had great fun with this, though I must admit I had a bit of help with it (see here).  I used all the words.  The end result is not so much poetry as visual art.


Saturday 20 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 20 - Susan, Desperately Seeking...

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem in the form of a personal ad.  Genuine responses only, please.


Creative and thoughtful type
seeks similarly-minded soulmate
for meaningful and rewarding partnership. 
Must be able to accept and respect,
not reject and deject. 
Please reply in box below,
marking your response

Friday 19 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 19 - Inversely Proportional

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem which begins and ends with the same word.  This started me thinking about palindromes, and made me wonder if it's possible to produce a poem in that form.  

The construction time was wholly out of proportion to the end result.  Hence the title:


Palindromic, is it?
Backwards and forwards constructed,
and read reversed?
Read and constructed
forwards and backwards?
Perhaps it is palindromic.

Thursday 18 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 18 - Ave Primavera

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem of welcome.  So here's a seasonal cinquain.  It didn't start out as a rant.  Honestly.


to English Spring.
Rain and wind, mist and fog.
Thunder and lightning, ice and snow.
All Hail!

Wednesday 17 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 17 - £10 Million Well Spent?

This is a “found poem”, based on what can be found here.  It could also be thought of as a topical rant.


On the Seventeenth of April, my taxes bought for me:

16,949,152 pints of milk,
177,777 Jobseekers' Allowance claims,
25,773 households' annual water bills, 
7,042 households' electricity and gas bills,
1,199 students' annual tuition fees,
322 nurses for a year,
320 fire officers for a year,
272 secondary school teachers for a year,
269 paramedics for a year,
152 MPs' basic salaries,
49 days of British forces in the Falklands,
44 libraries,
Two years of UK foreign aid to Iraq,
Four months' worth of the state's contribution to the Monarchy,
Two weeks of the BBC World Service,
Ten days of arts spending...


Tuesday 16 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 16 - Jaundiced Outlook

I didn’t manage to do anything with yesterday’s official prompt – partly because the example on the NaPoWriMo website didn’t seem to fit its own rules.  (Though, to be fair, the site did have the grace to apologise afterwards!)  So today’s offering is a combination of the prompts for Day 4 (Iain M Banks’ spaceships) and Day 7 (a list of statements followed by a question).  And – surprise surprise – it’s turned into yet another rant.


A Non-Executive Director is paid a full month’s salary in return for a single day’s work.
A Taxman is paid to help himself to people’s hard-earned money.
A Merchant Banker is paid a handsome bonus even if he fails in his job.
A Financial Adviser is paid to introduce people to Merchant Bankers.
An Insurance Company is paid as much as it wants to charge, but delivers as little as it cares to provide.
A Full-Time Mother is paid nothing at all for doing the most important job on the planet.
Why has society got its values so hopelessly wrong?

Monday 15 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 15 - Davros

Yesterday's prompt was to write a persona poem, in the voice of a superhero or a supervillain.  This is another attempt at a tanka (5-7-5-7-7):  


I can never be
exterminated.  Ever.
The Doctor needs me
to keep the story going
ready for the next series...

Sunday 14 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 14 - Tissington Trail

Yesterday's prompt was to go for a walk and incorporate our observations into a poem. This was the result of a bracing walk along a disused railway line.


The path climbs
at a gentle gradient
through the Derbyshire peaks. 
Where it passes along the high embankments,
the spring wind
blows away
but also
the spiders
who made them. 

In the cuttings,
shaded from the sunlight,
the remnants of last month’s snowdrifts
still stand,
up to two feet thick. 
Blue-tits and chaffinches
flutter in the scrubby trees,
whilst the spring lambs frolic
in the fields alongside. 

Half a century ago
this track was a busy railway line. 
Today its passengers
are walkers, cyclists and riders. 

Yet the ghosts of the old trains
have not left us. 

Beeching’s legacy
is still remembered.

Saturday 13 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 13 - Ventilation

Yesterday's prompt was "write a poem consisting entirely of things you'd like to say, but never would".  Sounds like another excuse for a good rant.

Maybe I'm getting bolder in my old age, but I wouldn't hesitate to say any of these things, given half a chance.  


Something I would love to say to George W Bush:
- Is English your first language?

Something I would love to say to anyone who is thinking of becoming a politician:
- What makes you think you can make a difference?

Something I would love to say to the UK Treasury:
- If Inheritance Tax really is fair, then why doesn't the monarch have to pay it?

Something I would love to say to the dedicatee of Wishful Thinking:
- How can you sleep at night?

Something I would love to say to the father of the dedicatee of Wishful Thinking:
- If only you’d worn a condom…

Something I would love to say to anyone who drives a Chelsea Tractor:
- Did you trade in your brain when you bought that?

Something I would love to say to the person who designed the car park at my local Tesco:
- The charitable explanation is that you don’t actually drive.

Something I would love to say to the person who redesigned the local branch of my bank:
- Come and try it sometime, when you have several hours to spare.

Something I would love to say to the CEO of BT:
- Why aren’t your call centres located in Britain? (BRITISH Telecom – the clue is in the name...)

Something I would love to say to the guys at Apple:
- Why is your hardware so cool whilst your software is so crap?

Something I would love to say to the publisher of FSOG:
- Why was this published, when much better work has been turned down?

Something I would love to say to a cold-caller:
- Two words, the second of which is “off”.

Something I would never say to anyone:
- Because I say so.

Friday 12 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 12 - A Measure of Truth

Yesterday's prompt was to write a tanka, which is a five-line poem with the syllable pattern 5-7-5-7-7.  A bit like an extended version of a haiku, I suppose.  The last two lines are supposed to deliver a surprise.  I wouldn't say this is really a surprise, but all the same, I hope it delivers.


A few days ago
I heard a piece of advice:
Measure twice, cut once.
It’s a good rule.  It applies
on all manner of levels.

Thursday 11 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 11 - Wishful Thinking

Yesterday's prompt was to write an un-love poem (the opposite of a love poem but not a hate poem). I must confess that I had a specific person in mind when I wrote this, but I'm sure most of us know someone who would tick most of the boxes. More's the pity... 


If you did not exist
many people would be much happier.
If you did not exist
many people would be much healthier.
If you did not exist
many people would be much wealthier.
If you did not exist
neither would this poem.
In all cases
the world would be a much better place 

if you did not exist.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 10 - Dead Reckoning

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem inspired by Film Noir.  Thanks to IMDB, this one consists almost entirely of Film Noir titles.  See how many you can spot!


While the city sleeps,
the stranger turns the dark corner
and slinks along the twisted road
to the house by the river. 

He’s on dangerous ground in a lonely place.  

A stray dog yelps
as he slides the letter
through the narrow margin
beneath the door.

the woman in the window,
his kind of woman,
the woman he adores with every vestige of human desire,
has no suspicion of the secret beyond the door. 
But he knows now that he’s the wrong man for her. 
The glass key of his heart
is shattered.

Out of the past,
one deception,
one act of violence,
one single touch of evil,
has caught him. 

Sudden fear impacts the desperate hours.

The lady from Shanghai delivers the killer’s kiss.

"Farewell, my lovely," he gasps,
as Sunset Boulevard
turns into Nightmare Alley.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 9 - The Muse's Day Off

Yesterday’s prompt is still on the back burner, waiting for me to turn on the gas.  The best I can come up with today is an emergency haiku: 


Inspiration fail.
Today is not going well.
I can’t think of a …

Monday 8 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 8 - Rust In Peace

This uses yesterday's prompt (a poem in which every line is a statement except for the last which is a question) and today's headline news.


Margaret Hilda Thatcher died today.
She was known as The Iron Lady.
She was known as a lady who was not for turning.
She was known as TINA (which stood for There Is No Alternative).
She was the UK’s first (and so far only) female prime minister.
She was also one of the most unpopular politicians of the twentieth century.
Comments on Facebook suggest that even after her death, her unpopularity has not diminished.
Will she turn in her grave?

Sunday 7 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 7 - R.I.P. Rover

Yesterday's prompt was to write a valedictory poem.  The Good Lord alone knows where this one came from.


Can it be seven years since you left us,
dear Rover, my joy and my pride?
We travelled so often together,
but I'm glad we were home when you died.

You were always a faithful companion.
Then your body began to decay,
but I still shed a tear when recalling
the tow-truck which bore you away.

Saturday 6 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 6 - Early April Evening

Yesterday's prompt was to write a cinquain (a five-line poem with the syllable pattern 2-4-6-8-2).

This one, I hope, speaks for itself.


in the beech tree.
Exquisite melodies
serenading the arrival
of spring.

Friday 5 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 5 - Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill

Yesterday's prompt was to write a poem whose title is the name of one of Iain M Banks' fictitious spaceships.  There were lots to choose from - and I may well keep some in reserve for future efforts.  But for the moment, I will settle for this one:


Mount Everest isn’t the tallest mountain in the world.
Rickshaws and fortune cookies weren’t invented by the Chinese.
Baseball wasn’t invented by the Americans.
Chicken Tikka Masala wasn’t invented in India.
You can’t see the Great Wall of China from the Moon.
Marie-Antoinette didn’t say “Let them eat cake”.
Coffee is not made from beans.
Strawberries are not berries.
Horatio Nelson never wore an eye-patch.
Moths are not attracted to flames.
Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand.
The “thumbs-up” sign didn’t indicate mercy for a defeated gladiator.
The original marathon runner didn’t run 26 miles.
The Canary Islands aren’t named after birds.
Bugs Bunny and Brer Rabbit aren’t rabbits.
Burke and Hare were not grave-robbers.
Violin strings are not made of catgut.
And Mozart’s middle name wasn’t Amadeus.

But then, why let boring hard facts get in the way of a good theory?

(with grateful thanks to The QI Book of General Ignorance

Thursday 4 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 4 - Song of the Square Mile

Day 4.  Yesterday's prompt was to write a sea-shanty. 

This isn't so much a sea shanty as a City shanty.  Like yesterday's poem, this very rapidly turned into an excuse for a good rant.  Perhaps I should call it a ranty.


What shall we do with the merchant banker?
What shall we do with the merchant banker?
What shall we do with the merchant banker?
Make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

Take away his dirt-cheap mortgage,
Take away his dirt-cheap mortgage,
Take away his dirt-cheap mortgage,
And make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

Make him work in his own call centre,
Make him work in his own call centre,
Make him work in his own call centre,
And make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

Pay him no interest on his savings,
Pay him no interest on his savings,
Pay him no interest on his savings,
And make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

Sting him for obscene high charges,
Sting him for obscene high charges,
Sting him for obscene high charges,
And make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

Take away his guaranteed pension,
Take away his guaranteed pension,
Take away his guaranteed pension,
And make him earn his bonus!

Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Show him life in the real world,
Make him earn his bonus!

When he's learned the value of money,
When he's learned the value of money,
When he's learned the value of money,
Then he's earned his bonus!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 3 - Cum Kilo Salis

Day 3.  This uses the prompt for Day 2 (a poem which tells a lie).


I love getting up in the dark in the depths of winter.
I love watching reality TV.
I love ironing.
I love flying economy class.
I love giving the taxman my hard-earned money.
I love getting rejections for my writing.
I love phoning so-called “Helplines” and listening to canned Frank Sinatra for hours on end, whilst a recorded voice reminds me every thirty seconds that my call is “important”.
I love getting through (eventually) to someone whose accent is so thick that I could spread it on my toast.
I love the fact that the company I am phoning has contributed to the unemployment problem at home by outsourcing work to a call centre overseas.
I love Trick or Treat (which translates into English as “Give us something or we’ll vandalise your property”).
I love Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken (which once kept me awake all night when the people next door had a party).
I love Auld Lang Syne (which looks as ridiculous as it sounds).
I love the fat cat which regards my garden as its own personal toilet.
I love people who do not clean up after their dogs.
I love people who blow smoke in my face.
I love people who try to sell me things on my own doorstep.
I love people who ignore the fact that my phone number is on a national Do Not Call list.
I love people who think that they are too important to wait in a queue.
I love people who think that being old entitles them to be rude.
I love people who take other people for granted.
I love people who use the phrase “non-working mother”.
I hate having a good rant.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 2

Day 2

I've had to take this post down temporarily.  I will put it back as soon as possible.

Monday 1 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - Day 1 - A series of random words stuck to the front of a refrigerator

OK, here we go.  The first one, as befits April Fools' Day, is highly irreverent.  I had a lot of fun messing about with magnetic words on the front of my fridge.  The end result makes about as much sense as some of the stuff I had to endure for A-Level English.

If there's anyone out there who understands it, do feel free to explain it!