NaPoWriMo 2.4: A Lune


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a lune – a kind of English language haiku which goes, line by line: three words / five words / three words.

I enjoy the focus of a short verse form – the spaciousness of it. Just as when you cut a poem down, sometimes it gets bigger.

So I fitted an overheard quote I heard a couple of days ago the form, with a cheeky denotative title (with more words than the poem)…


1530 BST: Two School Mothers Conclude Their Retrieval and Investigations in Foggy Conditions


“That plane,” one

laughs. “It’s hiding.” The other:

“Hide and seek.”



NaPoWriMo 25: Picnic Ballad

Here is your hamper…

…have a lovely time

Sometimes, you’ve just got to let it all out. But, so a long-standing motto of mine goes: Make Your Pain Entertaining.

It’s not been a great day, so when the prompt of a Ballad came through, I wrote the following ‘picnic ballad’. Don’t worry, it won’t be anything as chintzy as you first imagine.

The idea came from working with a student today, on Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade‘, which features the lines ‘All in the valley of Death/ Rode the six hundred’.

And the student asked, ‘Why have I written there’s no hope of them coming back as a note underneath it?’ 

To which I responded, ‘Well, if I said I was going for a picnic in the Forest of Despair, would you think it was going to be a nice picnic?’

And so when I got in, I wrote this, about that very forest. It just sort of…popped out.

Probably best to read it either if you’ve had a really good day, or a really bad one.

I might get it set to music.


Picnic Ballad

or, As I Wrote This My Pencil Snapped and As I Typed It Up My Computer Shut Down



The city’s full of scorpions,

There’s locusts in the air:

We’re going for a picnic in

The Forest of Despair.


The wrought-iron gothic entrance gates

Say we should turn around;

But we have flesh and knives and plates

And Gingham for the ground.




Among the leaves, the birds do sing

Ballads of woe and fear;

But we shall thwart their whispering

With bread stuffed in our ears.




The squirrels bury in the ground

All hopes of picnics past

And six feet down, they can’t be found –

The tree-rats dig too fast.




Up in the balmy, cloudless sky

The Sun’s great furnace fumes.

His black baseball-cap upon high

Which reads: “I OWN YOUR DOOMS”.




We’ll leave there with our bellies full

Of Emptiness and Pain

And – gored by the resident bull –

Plan when we’ll come again.




Around these tangled roots of lines

The bindweed-mind writes QUIT:

Its gobby trumpets blare and whine

That life can be a chit*.






The city’s full of scorpions,

There’s locusts in the air:

So join us for a picnic in

The Forest of Despair.


*Be careful not to misread this rhyme as something rude: a ‘chit’ is, in fact, ‘a signed note for money owed for food, drink, etc.’ or ‘any receipt, voucher, or similar document, especially of an informal nature’. Thus, life is merely a receipt or short note – perhaps just a poem, like this one. Cheerful, eh?

(ADDENDUM: if you enjoyed this one, then why not try my other NaPoWriMo musical efforts: A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development and The Pies of Awareness – which feels like a sister piece to this one. Sometimes I write happily; sometimes I write grumpily; usually I write with energy. Such is life!)

NaPoWriMo 18: Me or Him, Even


A really quick one today, from both Jo Bell’s prompt (write about something you feel guilty for) and the NaPoWriMo prompt, to start with the same word as you finish with.

So I’ve done both – about a time at school which stays with me, when I pushed someone (after an embarrassing incident) who then fell off a table, on to a chair, tipped back and got concussion.

To this day, I still don’t know if I meant that to happen, or just to get them to shut up. Either way, the outcome was the same.

I was also thinking about third-person and about balancing one’s idea of self now and then, I guess. So here’s a poem of guilt (and/or embarrassment, and/or shame) about that incident – which starts and finishes with the word ‘Even’:


Me or Him, Even

or, Exchange Rate


Even now, he sees himself, in poet-first

third-person, pushing another

off a desk. Then the word

Concussion. The phrase

Get a teacher.


Did he mean it? He still doesn’t know.

Or where the memory should go.

There are several places –

guilt, embarrassment, shame –

three different addresses on the same

street: a whole neighbourhood

of doubt.


The victim sits on a table, pointing, laughing

at my basketball-bruised red face

(from his moments-ago powerful throw).

Then the shut-up-shove and there he goes,

dropping into a chair. It pivots – over-

balances, like teachers (like me) warn they will –

out-of-control, back, against the wall.

He was surely culpable, vengeful.


Then the changing rooms chants

when he was off school. Being named

Murderer.  He was surely shamed.


But what’s the difference

what box I put it in? Even now

I do not know what makes

intention and action,

me and him,