Caleb’s Canal Poetry Month (CaCaPoMo)


Our route from North to West

For the next month, we are on the move aboard Reenie again headed back towards Bristol…Where I am starting a new job and an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.

So I thought I would set myself a writing task: CaCaPoMo. Yes, my own NaPoWriMo. But just me, about this journey. I will do my best to post something for each day.

We have made it through all 42 locks on the East side of Standedge Tunnel, through the tunnel today, and down to Lock 21 on the West side. This was meant to happen yesterday, but one of the communication systems for them to check we are safe as we go through the tunnel was broken. (We offered some yoghurt pots and string, but they weren’t interested.)

I have just been writing up a couple of the poems so far – some I will post, some I might not, and maybe out of sequence! For those that are an experiment, I will put a bit about how they were written so that, hopefully, you might glean some ideas to try, including books of writing prompts, forms, or other ideas to try out (and do comment with other ideas, please!).

NaPoWriMo 2.30: try


lizard fish bird mammal shrimp brain innit


Here’s something for the last day which – (YES I CHEATED but I had nothin’ left for April, ya hear!) – was written on Saturday at a workshop. So there. I’m gifting it to April.

But, as it’s my response to a prompt ‘When I Write…’, it seemed apt to finish on. And being completist, I had to have that 2.30 title up there to finish.

So, finish it will – with NaPoWriMo 2014’s final…




to keep up with

the pen

pen with the hand

hand pulled along

on a lead by the mind


pushing and pulling

inside against

dawn chorus of

lizard bird fish mammal shrimp

impulses pen

attempting to keep

up with


jump in

around words

sit on the branch of ‘t’

in the corner

of this field

at Dedham Primary


everything else

slips away except

everything though

you can hop on

the word


ride it until

this wave


NaPoWriMo 2.29: Conviction


Twisty Tim Burton Trees…


Yes, I know I’m nearly a week late – but I really haven’t had the chance up to know to be a Completist and put the last couple of NaPoWriMo efforts up.

Here’s my 20-line poem in which I’ve done most of the things the prompt demanded…And was having a very flat day, as demonstrated by the rather bleak imagery.

It being the end of the month last week, I was running low on inspiration and so outsourced some of it to Facebook, as well as to the rather fun Brainstormer iPhone app, which randomly combines elements to give you some ideas…Worth a look – I like the animal creator a great deal.




Today will be an oil tanker named Conviction,

covered in twisted  Tim Burton trees.

Come and sit with me here, on the sixth

branch of this charred pine. You’ll see

for centimetres as the air-freshener

fumes soak into your skin, wash

beneath your tongue, rapping slicks

of black silk around the spectacle

of your mind’s eye.  We’ll suck all the

plankton from the sea  with a novelty

moustache straw, so they can’t complain about

whales anymore. Sing in Bulgarian:

“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.”

Flick the Furry Dice of Failure so far they’ll become

two new moons. We will make this orchard

a home where only Yesterdays

are grown, in compost that whispers:

Aqui no es el problema. Today

still has shards of champagne

lodged around its name.


2.28: Big Deal


The Sloth: A Big Deal (for real)

Here’s my news story-based poem (using pretty much just words from the article itself).

The story was from the BBC Science & Environment site and you can read it here and concerns new discoveries about the energy-saving anatomy of sloths.

So I felt any sloth poem demanded to be quite short and minimal. And noticed the scientists had used the phrase ‘Big Deal’ twice. Which, for an animal so energy-conscious – many things must be…


Big Deal


There is not much left

in the tank. 7 to 13 %

is a big deal.


For energy saving experts

anchoring organs

is a big deal.


Their stomach, liver, kidneys

and even bowels:

a big deal.


Nothing they do is normal.

They are ‘off the wall’.

An extremely slow

and low

big deal.

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 2.24: Skag-Afforder

"Egg raining aloe vera"

“Egg raining aloe vera”

I loved doing the homophonic translation last year – which produced this vulgar thing from a Danish poem.

As I seemed to do well with Nordic languages I don’t know, this year I ventured to Iceland and vandalised this poem into English.

It is, of course, utterly ridiculous and – like last year – quite vulgar. This probably says something about the juvenile translation words, lurking in my subconscious, but I’m OK with that.

No, I don’t think it has much artistic merit, but it does conjure some amusing and slightly disgusting images – so I hope you enjoy it:




Egg raining aloe vera:

a lewd leg vile, born in

so poo-herding, unleaded mitt –

beggar bar and lemur.

Miley coke, your oaf and I, grasséd.

Ah, Aluminium Minion.

Log Fairy met Joke Diddum,

Fingered UK RyanAir.

Pass Jeff, or dingo-mule of grey.


Sam, that egg, ever owes.

Peek your paw after

a hymn, nesting hosier, licked, tinny:


all taps screw-loose, pooing, my eyes of Cheddar burning.


NaPoWriMo 2.23: Mary, Mary

I’ve been at a poetry course tonight (with the marvellous Rommi Smith) and we’ve been talking about syllables. So we wrote a cinquain, a form which goes 2/4/6/8/2 syllables in each line, 22 in total…

Mine was written from a postcard illustrating a well known nursery rhyme:

Mary, Mary

It grows
From neon beds:
These luminescent suns
Rising in your contrary eyes
So dark.

NaPoWriMo 2.22: Barb

“Her name is Barb. She’s never shut. The one-sided sign on the door reads: OPEN.”

So a ‘children’s poem’ very much in the vein of Roald Dahl or Tim Burton’s Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy (OK, maybe that’s not even for children).

My partner noticed a handwritten sign yesterday (in the small town we’re presently based), advertising ‘Hairdresser’s chair for hire’ (in my head, it then said, ‘by the hour’). It was directly above a butcher’s shop. And so, with Demon Barbers in mind, transposed to Mirfield…

It’s a work in progress and as such, the story is not yet complete. It’ll either get longer, or shorter…




In a blank little town

with a flat grey river

that curves across it like a frown

is a sight that’ll make you shiver.


Her name is Barb. She’s never shut.

The one-sided sign on the door reads: OPEN.

And she’ll give you the worst haircut

you’d never even imagined.


That Barb’s a beast, a crow with scissors.

Don’t go to Barb for a careful trim:

You’ll get yourself caught in a Barbara-blizzard –

a snow-dome not only of hair, but of skin!


‘Butcher Barb!’ that’s what they call her.

‘The Demon ‘Dresser’, the children say.

So what’s the explanation all the

parents look the other way?


“Oh hel-LO Mrs Trent, do come in!”

As shuddering Taylor gets shoved through the door:

“Would you like to try my savoury tiffin?

It’s a recipe I haven’t tried before…”


‘Cos Barb’s got all the parents hooked

on the troublesome treats she bakes.

That Sinister Scissorer! Guess what she’s cooked?

It’s not just the smile that she fakes…


To Be Continued…?


NaPoWriMo 2.21: Low Angle – a ‘New York’ poem…?

ImageThe ‘New York’ poem certainly made a long list of demands. To the extent that my poem came out something of a lewd scrap-book of overheard things or conversation snippets, with only a vague thread connecting them, that I could glean.

Maybe that’s how New York would want it: rude and random. I’m not sure – but here it is, anyway:


Low Angle


Monday 21st April, 17.59.

‘The moon is waning gibbous.

There is no interesting historical fact for today.’

Your Suzuki engine is stuck in slow reverse

while you systematically, starting at A,

one-way sext your contacts.


Jonny Cash rumbles on, dead: ‘I hung my head,

I hung my head, I hurt myself’. A one track mind

one minute, ‘We’ll meet again’  the next. Fuck you,

Japan, I trusted you and your consumer

electronics. A shipwreck sinks through

your window.


The rain migraines rhythmically

on that sensitive skin. ‘To be a cosmic tree,

you’re going to have to put down roots first.’

You’re thinking up the worst slap-you-in-the-face lines

you can: ‘Would you like to stick your finger

in my Whoopie Pie?’ Every cosmic green

of spring has a corresponding fag-butt

autumn brown, built-in.


You’d need at least a terabyte hard drive to store

those low-angle selfies. ‘He took me to Nando’s

and made me pay, then said he’d missed the last train.’

You walk home, tip-toe-ing over snails, those land-mines

with a shell full of slop. Weave through their slimy

ideas, until your third eye wanders and you hear

just one underfoot go POP.