Month: April 2016


Photo: Lyn Doble


Am Sonntig isch min Geburtstag

Mami hasht du die unter dem Wasser Kuchen machen?

Min Oma und Opa khommen

Sie sind hier die ganze Woche


Wenn du weiter khom vom die Balet Schule

Khanst du der Kuchen machen, bittte?

Und weis muss in die unter dem Wasser

Mehr Fisch und Tiere haben – das isht alles


Wait I forgot something mummy


Am Sonntag bekomme mich geschenk!


It’s your last day of being four

And the final day of daily poems

I’m not a not-poet anymore

And you’re a proper schoolboy


I’ll be making you a special cake

We’ll enjoy it with Nana and Pop

Underwater theme once it’s baked

Couldn’t love you more my darling


And don’t worry, there will be presents.


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge: Because Napowrimo spent the month looking at poets in English translation, today I’d like you to try your hand at a translation of your own.

I was a bit sad not to write my “own” poem for the final day so I decided to ask my son to compose one in Schweizerdeutsch, for which I’ve provided a loose translation  🙂  

Thanks to everyone who’s read my poems throughout April (whether it was one, several or all 30!). I’ve so enjoyed this month of poetry and I’m pretty chuffed I managed to achieved this, but I’m also somewhat relieved to have finished so I can take a small break to do other things! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a cake to bake… 

Diving board

Photo: Markus Spiske

Photo: Markus Spiske


I remember jumping off the high diving board

Even climbing up there was kinda scary

The ladder smooth, shinysilver and solid yet somehow light and insubstantial like it was only a few degrees stronger than aluminium foil

Each step stippled with cheesegrater-style divots (not sharp)

The texture of the board: fine sandpaper, grainy, grippy, damp

The colour of the board: light blue

You knew what it looked like from below too – the simple framework of parallel lines, scalloped with rows of water drops

Climbing back down was not an option

Or rather, it was

But how clumsy you’d feel – an inversion of the natural order

Chest flooding with relief for one glorious moment before the tincture of stupid disappointment taints you, everyone can see it

But I was remembering jumping off!

Standing up there, the insubstantial board underneath you, nothing either side

An almost out-of-body sense of how small you looked. How small you actually were

I guess I was around nine or ten?

It’s quiet up there, although you can hear everything

The blue hum and splash of the municipal swim centre

Coaches below blow whistles over the lanes and call out “now six laps freestyle”

Above, on the high board, is your own little world

You’re a soloist; centre-stage

but no one’s watching, not really

OK – maybe that kid over there. No, he’s looked away.

You glance back to your brother, waiting his turn, shivering at the top of the ladder. “Go On!”

Warm flumes of chlorine fumes wafting around

A mysterious coldish breeze on your wet legs

So you jump and faaaallllll

The feeling of your body hurtling down through the air

It would pull your arms out unless you held them really firm by your sides or above your head

Airborne for only a few moments

Not especially graceful

Smacking into the water, feet first

Spa-effect of blue and white bubbles as you plunge down

No way would you hit the bottom

That diving pool was really deep

10 metres?

(The bottom of the pool angled steeply down from the lanes section

You could swim down and follow the slope – the water becoming deeper blue

I remember one time two guys in scuba gear sat on the bottom corner of the diving pool for a game of underwater chess

A stunt I guess. It was long before Youtube. But I digress…)

I did it, I jumped off that high board. And so did my brother James.

And now I see those same kids as us jumping of the high board at our local pool

They’re Swiss kids but it’s the same

One day my sons will want to do it too

They’ll know that fear-churned-with-excitement

And find out how it feels to climb the ladder and screw up your courage and walk out there and it seems so much higher than when you look up from pool level, oh-oh

How it feels to fall through the air and crack through that smooth palette of blue water

No way would they hit the bottom

And the sense of achievement: not maybe as amazing as you’d think, but you’ve done it

Perhaps one of them will ask me if I want jump too, or if I ever did? And I’ll say sure…

I remember


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. 

Drooping feathers


Stumbling at the final hurdle

Counting up all the burdens

Blessings float, unworthy of note

The youthful optimism of snails

Crushed underfoot by serious travails

Humour drowned, an anxious frown

Collections of words that fell like feathers

Perfect, clever, intricate, together

Raw skin, plucked painfully from within

No more quicksilver wins

headline: Tawdry End Breaks Promise Of Good Begin


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem that tells a story. But here’s the twist – the story should be told backwards. The first line should say what happened last, and work its way through the past until you get to the beginning. Not sure I got this one right. I’ve got too much on my plate at the moment and the poetry is suffering  😦

The long road to a short word

Soviet era abstinence poster (1954). Pic via



Could we maybe try this another time, I’m very busy right now

I would love to but I’ve double-booked and I did say yes to them first

I’m afraid I don’t think I can really manage to do it sorry

Isn’t there someone else who could help you? This comes at an awkward time

Sorry but we made other plans already, we’ll be at the next one

Maybe if I’d had a bit more notice but there’s nothing I can do

Superb idea but I don’t have that kind of cash lying around

How about if we postpone until we’ve both got more headspace OK?

Why would you assume I can just drop everything to help you out?

A thousand apologies I forgot and now something’s come up

Well, I’m not really qualified and what if something were to go wrong…

Trying to be healthy, taking a little break, grabbing some me-time

It’s not you it’s me but maybe we can work things out and try friendship?

There are more important things I’d frankly rather be doing, thank-you

You didn’t fucking ask me properly and now you dump this on me

Perhaps it would be better if I didn’t come, I’m not feeling great

Can’t, won’t, don’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, broken, awful, why me, fuckit



Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem with very long lines. This prompt was inspired the work of the Irish poet Ciaran Carson, who has stated that his lines are (partly) based on the seventeen syllables of the haiku, and that he strives to achieve the clarity of the haiku in each line. Because I’m a sucker for punishment, I’ve gone for 17 lines of 17 syllables each (plus the final one – what a relief!)

Stars and Stripes



The place where it all happens

Oh America, Oh

Or until it does, it doesn’t matter

Oh America, Oh

Home of the internet, land of the free*

Oh America, Oh 

(*offer, first month only)

Where a double-amputee becomes a mermaid and is “sexy”

Oh America, Oh

Where breasts are revered, but not for nursing

Oh America, Oh

And maternity leave leaves mothers cursing

D’oh America, d’oh

Your corporate culture spoiled two of our jobs

Oh America, Oh

Yet we still pander to the US mob

Oh America, Oh

(if I publish this after 6, I’ll get more hits!)

Good morning America, Oh

I grimace at your fears re: Trump

No America, please no

Coz Down Under we had our onion eater – first for once!

Oh Australia, Oh

Of course there’s so much good stuff too

Oh America, Oh

Hamburgers, ice cream – but not just food

Go America, go

A place I’ve been, can’t claim to know

Oh America, Oh

But New York was just how I hoped

Oh America, Oh

Manhattan fire escapes like a Friends set

Oh America, Oh

So many sights I’ll not forget

Oh America, Oh

Houses like Sweet Valley High, upstate NY

Oh America, Oh

And the way the girls said “a dime”

Oh America, Oh

A friend at Coachella saw Gunners live

Oh America, Oh

Of course I’ve also watched The Wire

Woah America, woah

So I’ve seen how it is on the dark side a’right?

Oh America, Oh

And the backdrop of American cities

Oh America, Oh

Buried in my mind, like false memories

Oh America, Oh

Awards for everything under the sky

Oh America, Oh

If you do something great, seems you’d really fly

Oh America, Oh

Then again, it also seems easier to die

Oh America, Oh

When the Twin Towers define our lives

Woe America, woe

And all those Wall Street crises

Oh America, Oh

Are the ambitions of America a lie?

Oh America, Oh

Where self-help’s a religion

Oh America, Oh

And Meg Ryan the patron saint of rom-com

Oh America, Oh, Ohh Ohhhh Ohh!

Selling us that love affair

Oh America, Oh

Sell, sell, sell everywhere

Oh America, Oh

The arrogance of all that arable land

Sow America, sow

Does something to you, I understand

Oh America, Oh

I’ve seen it in Australia, and Russia too

Хорошо, America, Хорошо

Seems no matter what y’all do

Oh America, Oh

Oh America, there’s no getting around you



Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem that incorporates a call and response.





I used to like the lion

King of the Jungle, he!

But then I saw – really saw – the tiger

So utterly wild is she

It was in her eyes and how she ranged –

restless but unfree.

So now I like the tiger best

she’s the one for me



I wrote a poem for today’s prompt but I’m not happy with it. Maybe I’m not happy at all today, for various reasons. ROAR! Might still publish the on-prompt one but, for now, you get this. Thanks to Jade M Wong’s lion poem for reminding me I had this one to write. 

Maudlin in the Morning



The horrendous overtopping greed

And craven doltishness

The shit we can’t get over

Why can’t we see

When pollies, pretty pollies,

And the uncomely ones

Act like

Kindergarten kids nicking each others’ sandwiches

Only to put a mellifluous spin on

The situation in the papers

Or is it that the journalists, who surely see

Preternatural beings

In their Mirrors, their Suns, shining sublime

Out of their own nether-regions

They pick their way daintily

Over the susurrating mess of a political landscape

Or the physical one

A bleached reef, an abandoned open-cut mine, a melting pole

All value and pulchritude

Sacrificed to their loquaciousness

One barely notices

A haze of sassafras

Creeping over the terrain

Like a persistent 9.15 train

Trying to make amends

While we hang our wet washing

And throw away old receipts

For plastic things bought, discarded already

Paramount in the moment

As those fucking politicians who

We merely moan over

On Facebook and

Pen poems to zero effect

And I think I need an egg this morning

Because it’s one perfect thing contained

Until it’s broken of course, fractured

In servitude to my greed


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a list of overly poetic words – words that you think just sound too high-flown to really be used by anyone in everyday speech. Then make a list of words that you might use or hear every day, but which seem too boring or quotidian to be in a poem. Now mix and match examples from both of your lists into a single poem.

I feel like I often blend the mundane with the maudlin and florid so this wasn’t a huge stretch for me, although I did enjoy slapping out the thesaurus (mental and physical) to use some ridiculously overblown language. 

Saturday Sonnet

Lausanne marina

Bumping the edge of creativity

A boat in a marina

Rocking, chocking ‘gainst the jetty

Heaving, scrapes my lame patina.

Raw below the watermark

Those bits that can’t be altered

Weak spots patched and caulked but dark

Fearing ‘not enough’, I falter.

Should I haul to higher masts

Or try to slip the tethers?

Open water makes more tasks

In work, in life, as ever.

So contain’d by shoreline-cage,

I sculpt water; think of tidal waves



Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a sonnet. A sonnet is quite a tricky form and I’m not sure I’ve really nailed it (note to self: write more sonnets). This was something I wanted to write about so I jammed it into this form. Then again, the prompt also talks about how the main point is to “keep your poem tight, not rangy, and to use the shorter confines of the form to fuel the poem’s energy. As Wordsworth put it, in a very formal sonnet indeed, “Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room.”” So maybe I’ve managed that, at least.

The Earth / His Purpleness

The earth is sad / Standing in the purple rain

Oceans are dying / I love you more than I did when you were mine

A bleached-white Barrier Reef / Colour me taken aback

Fracking for those last drops of oil / Let’s go crazy

Slaves mine phone components / It’s hard for me to say what’s right when all I wanna do is wrong

An island of plastic bags in the sea / Would you run to me if somebody hurt you, even if that somebody was me?

Burning fossil fuels to light our lives / Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999

Disappearing whales, gorillas, tigers, bees… / Believe it or not, I started to worry

Waters rising, refugees drowning / The times

And we fight about gay marriage / Can’t we just let love decide?

Global leaders do next to nothing  / I’d rather be the pope

We could drop the coal, the nuclear. Use wind and solar / Overcast days never turned me on

Things have got to change. Faster / You’ve got the horn so why don’t you blow it?

Maybe it’s too late / Maybe I’m just like my mother – she’s never satisfied

We’ve only got this one planet / Nothing compares 2 U


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem for Earth Day but I wanted to acknowledge the death of the great musician Prince, whose music has been around as long as I remember, and is an artist Himself and I really bonded over (among others). So I’ve done a cleave poem – a poem in two halves which can be read as two separate but totally different poems, while read together they form a third poem.

The Giant’s Harp

Jack and the Beanstalk illustration by Tony Oliver from Best Ever Treasury of Fairy Tales (Currey O'Neil, 1980)

Jack and the Beanstalk illustration by Tony Oliver from Best Ever Treasury of Fairy Tales (Currey O’Neil, 1980)


Every night my master played me

He always hit the note

Drowsing in our celestial chamber

My prow against his throat


The way his fingers moved

My body all a’strum

Then one day the small man came

Fee, Fi, Fo Fum


I cried out when he took me

Cruel, forcing me back to earth

This lout and his poor mother

Really don’t know what I’m worth


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth.