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




Notes on the Pedal Post-Mortem


This poem’s been rattling around my head for a while, so I made myself get on with it for a bike zine (on the theme of ‘wheels’) which is being produced tomorrow for the Juliana’s Bike Festival – hosted by the great Culture Vulture blog.

A month or so ago, I took my bike in to the Pedallar’s Arms (an amazing place always staffed by wonderful volunteers) as the pedal (appropriately) was making an alarming screeching noise. Several hours later, with a functioning pedal, realised how complex and surgical the process of fixing a pedal is…And that’s what inspired this (perhaps a bit e e cummings-like) poem…(It may or may not end up in the zine! Depends on space and time, as does everything…)

Notes on the Pedal Post-Mortem

or, The Wheels are the Feet


the wheels are the feet

are the pedals are the feet

are the wheels are the


ache in my treads screech

each orbit when feet meet

rubber of skin / tarmac of air


joints of the race break

red-pink fractured link

mechanical ankle / bone machine


the hands are the grip

are the brakes are the grip

are the hands are


the workshop crank of surgery

momentum from metallurgy

tweezered bearings / threaded limbs


ring-road of recovery

stitched white line a cut between

cycling the city / the city in me


the wheels are the feet

are the pedals are the feet

are the wheels are

NaPoWriMo 11: Double-Duvet Mecca

A pair of washers at a washeteria

Day 11’s prompt was to write a Tanka (five-line stanzas with 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) – so I’ve used the form to bring an autobiographical poem into being.

I had this idea a little while ago: as my partner and I live on a narrowboat, we don’t have a full-size washing machine and either use a little twin-tub (which can be labour-intensive) – or visit a laundrette. On our travels up here to Leeds from Bristol via the inland waterways (see Inland Odyssey posts!), we used various laundrettes  (including my favourite, the ‘Washeteria’ (a delightfully old-school term), which was still pleasingly 1950s/1960s in its layout and appliances, but worked perfectly).

Laundrettes, or Washeterias, can be a really pleasant experience I think – the urban equivalent of gathering at the water’s edge to wash clothes in the river: there’s something connective about it – human, cleansing.

So this poem is about the laundrette (the place and the person) we use in Leeds – and about connecting across difference, in this ‘urban riverside’.


Double-Duvet Mecca

or, Paired Socks


We fold its cover

together: a courtly dance.

I go to give thanks,

but behind his warm machines

the laundrette prays to Mecca.


A service wash bought:

I call you ‘the other one’,

dodging a term. But

he smiles, his warmth bestowing

a Universe of paired socks.