NaPoWriMo 4.2: Anything You Do Say


“It said it was from IKEA…” (And this picture is from there).

Day two for NaPoWriMo, and something I started yesterday. I looked through some lists of prompts and decided to write a poem which tells a story, in 18 lines or fewer, and which mentions at least four proper nouns.

This was inspired by a detail I noticed, a couple of weeks ago – and wrote down in the back of my notebook (as part of an ongoing list of details), as advised by Natalie Goldberg in the exellent Writing Down the Bones. Here’s my day two poem (day three to follow):

Anything You Do Say

He couldn’t decide what to charge it for, but still
picked it up from the corner of Horse
fair and Union, pot
and all
(it said it was from IKEA). Just loitering there,
nobody paying it much heed,
but he could see

it might be up to something. Yet not knowing
what he should or could put on the paperwork,
whether it would fall under Solicitation
for Immoral Purposes (for who did it solicit
but the Sun?),
or Causing Affray (because
was it really in anyone’s way?). So h
e pressed
its head down as he
took it, strapped it in.

Nobody stopped to watch. Now it lies
in the corner
, (variegated leaves waving
suspiciously) reflecting
in the black
of his widescreen TV. He offers it water
once a day. He feeds it
with caution.
He wonders still what it’s in for.



Last Saturday, I went on a workshop with the Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, about whom you can read more here.

We spent some time talking about detail – using specific canal-furniture names (boats, bridges, places) in writing – and then moved on to ‘becoming’ various combinations of watery figures. Myself and another writer became a poet and a jogger – both of whom were horrible people. But hey – they’re often more fun to write as (maybe).

Another boat-related idea had been flitting around in my head, which I’ve just had another go at. Having not been sure how to approach the topic, I epiphed (all over the place) on the way home. 

It was some speed-writing (thanks Natalie Goldberg, for the encouragement – from a book nearly as old as me – ‘Writing Down the Bones’) generated an image – so I went with it…




My friend, like so many,

fears them intensely,

so when she asks me,

a glimmer of hope:

“Are you safe from them

on boats?” I’m obliged to say



For never before have I existed

so closely alongside them. Shipmates.

Brushing my teeth in the morning, in the

lower-right corner of the window,

in one swings with a toothless grin –

its rope dewed with the white

frothy grog that is splashed

from my chin.


Attracted by the dusky glint

of our black-gold chimneys,

they hoist ragged sails there which –

gaping in the trading winds –

display the body-parts of victims.


At night, they are not as sociable as

popular images would have us think.

Don’t gather together to eat or drink

their pillaged bounty; engage in a customary


they loiter under gunwhales,

bristle between the welds of steel,

biding their dark-clad time. (Though

on the vacant ship next-moor

they’ve moved in – squatting – on a riot

of their crystalline rigging.)


So my friend says, “Oh Gina G!

I had thought you might be safe at sea.”

But no, for ours is the realm of the

Pirate: their map and their maws;

their plots and their prey;

their own many-cutlassed laws.