NaPoWriMo 4.9: Drag Queen Bingo


Well then: I’ve written something based on Drag Queen Bingo on Saturday night.

But I’ve decided it’s probably too offensive to put on here (such is the joy of Drag humour).

The poem takes the form of a Bingo Card, of course – with some very interesting rhymes (some adapted from the calls, some entirely new). I might spruce it up to submit it, should the right publication arise…

The numbers on the card were as follows – so I set you the challenge of coming up with your own risque rhyming number-call for each:

Number Three



NaPoWriMo 4.6: Model


Yup, this is me after my haircut. (NB – OBVIOUSLY IT’S NOT, from my ‘hair model’ Google, it’s apparently the alarmingly-pristine and very-possibly-computer-generated Jerome Kutscher…)

I went for ’round two’ of a ‘model’ haircut this afternoon.

This does not mean that I was then going to be taken photos of (as in the above illustration), but that I was just a human head, with hair on it (and quite a lot, thanks, at 32), meaning you get a cheap haircut from a (very pleasant) trainee.

While I’d love to claim this stems from a desire to nurture the next generation of Vidal Sassoon’s (or whoever the key coiffeurs of our times is/are) – it’s largely for a cheaper, yet rather better, haircut. (And it is a really good haircut, the details of which were slavishly attended to, for nearly two hours…)

When I say it was ’round two’, that’s because the last time I went in, they said my previous barber’s haircut was so poor, that they did some trimming, said to go away for a few weeks, then come back…Like a potter deciding to splat their clay back onto the river bank for a bit, before even attempting to make another vase. Or something.

It’s all very far from the Chloe Sevigny experience of ‘mo-delling’ (I’m trying to master the ‘Concerned Councellor’ and ‘Scratch’ poses for when I’m next there though…)

So then: a poem about the experience of being a ‘model’, in this fairly unglamorous way…


In the porcelain brace, I try to pretend
my neck usually bends this way, to be
a model model. Teacher and student
stand either side, each with a dryer
in my ear, like being dropped
from great height somewhere tropical. 
Tilting my head (‘funny-shaped’)
I’m rotated 360 degrees, like Mr Potato 
finally meeting the microwave. They stand 
mirrored above either shoulder, neither
angel nor devil to glassless me. 

The shibboleths begin: of blending and wedging 
and not-wedging and un-wedging (and I’m
back through a baggy centre-parted curtain
to the Nineties); of overdirecting my hair 
(like some B-Movie star); of scooping 
with the clippers (like my occipital ridge 
is raspberry ripple); of my hyperactive crown 
which must be a compliment (I am 
Errant Prince Van der Graaf!).

While she snips and clips and scoops and tries and trips
it’s as though she is a carpenter, as though I am being made:
a clothes horse, whose ears have suddenly grown
fur – and a hammer, an anvil, a stirrup.

NaPoWriMo 2.25: Leisure

Your orders…

Friday’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write something using anaphora, a way of repeating the same phrase in a poem to explore and expand the different ways it might be read – and of course adding a pleasing repetition and musicality to a piece. There was an excellent article from the Poetry Foundation, which you can read here.

One way of using anaphora in a technological way is Google Search Suggestion poetry, which I did a bit of last year – in this post.

This time I employed some popular phrases from online shopping and had a play with those, as the phrase for each stanza (‘Because you bought…’, ‘Your account’, ‘Sell an item’ and ‘Your orders’):




Because you bought the very latest heavily-branded carbon-fibre


Because you bought the memory of the juddering of someone

else’s skiing holiday.

Because you bought a new set of plusfour pores through which the second prototype

of the old you can breathe.

Because you bought into the blimp, you’re going to need

to hold on.


Your account will never be suspended or disturbed, it will grow

verdant and ancient.

Your account is embossed onto the roof

of your mouth.

Your account could become diamond, platinum

or coal.


Sell an item of light to the nearest

available star.

Sell an item before it takes insurance

out on you.


Your orders expand with each nanosecond, in the faltering sirens.

Your orders are to the primary addressee on your account.

Your orders are straightforward.

Your orders remain.

NaPoWriMo 2.17: 310

Our bus across the Yorkshire countryside was not like the Wensleydale Omnibus, alas.‎

Final poem of the day…

Taking the number prompt from Jo Bell’s 52 today – and thinking about a moment on a bus journey that a friend and I took yesterday, when on our way to Holmfirth.




In the top second row,

we float through Netherthong,

raise an eyebrow and a titter.

Two young ‘professionals’

in a dialogue of loud future tense:

our shopping list of desires

for our less than 60 years.


In the coveted front row –

(the seats which feel

like an out-of-body experience)

in a rustling nest from Wilko:

a girl, perhaps under ten,

her grandma, 60-or-so.


The bus slows, “What’s going on

Gran?” There are dark suits,

post-ceremony loitering, flat

black-hatted faces and time

held captive in the clock tower.


It’s bright outside. Dark cars twinkle

from every double-yellow line: including this

sharp bend, edging around the graveyard.

“It’s illegal,” says the elder, “parking there,

in the way, on a corner like that.”


We see them, peering down, with all


of our combined years. Watch them now,

watching closely, as two grey bumpers

edge nearer and nearer




NaPoWriMo 15: Bloodshot Moons

A blood(shot) moon.


Further poetry catch-up. Here’s my terza rima from Tuesday…From which I learned that terza rima is HARD to make sense and execute elegantly. I’ve done my best!

As you may be able to surmise from the title, it’s about the current tetrad of blood moons – although not in an apocalyptic way – and about eyes.

(If you’re reading this and also wear contact lenses, perhaps the odd experience of looking into your eye and wiggling the plastic retina back and forth (like a little eclipse) to make it more comfortable, may resonate…)


Bloodshot Moons


These hours, when shining faces become slurred

the centre of my eyes are inverse moons:

their two gasping auroras speak the word


water. For midnight here is scorched high-noon,

when plastic sight eclipses. Space is blurred

and my dry lens is a dish for the spoon


of tomorrow morning’s lost ellipses.


Waterstone’s and Rats

On Tuesday, I’ll be reading alongside other LS13 Anthology writers at Waterstone’s in Leeds city centre, from 7pm. It would be lovely to see you there!

And in publication news: one of my Vermin poems – Vermin the Fifth: An Exact Science – is part of an anthology of work on the theme of ‘Otherworldly Mammals’.

You can read it at the following link:

More news soon…

Love The Words on ELFM

I went along to ELFM Towers yesterday for a chat with the ever-gracious Peter Spafford on his monthly extravaganza of all things wordy, Love The Words.

You can hear our conversation and my poems (on topics ranging from red kites to exam invigilating and pirate-spiders) by clicking on this link. I hope you enjoy it, or some of it, or even just click on it to find out…

You can also hear an interview on the same programme with excellent Leeds writer Rommi Smith about her residency at the NHS, which is well worth a listen.



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.

Snails, or Cycling in Shropshire

An uphill snail…

A brief post, as – after NaPoWriMo – I’ve had a bit of breathing space…But feel like the fallow time is done and the ideas they are a-flowing again.

Having just returned from a week in lovely Shropshire (which really is stunningly beautiful), I had a couple of rustic animal-related ideas (I do enjoy writing about animals). It’s a wonderful county and made me appreciate anew how many diverse landscapes we’re lucky enough to have on Our Curious Little Rock in the Atlantic (or, Britain, as it’s known).

Here’s one of the animal poems, about cycling in a hilly terrain while in otherworldly holiday-time:



or, Cycling in Shropshire


We trail the treads

of our tyre-tracks.


all Earth’s gravity,

all of time:

a week of our life,

all we can see,


over our backs.