Ground Zero

The soil cracks into a city grid,
green skyscrapers twist and rise
and morph into spinnakers.
Minarets pop through the eyeline.
A heavy-bellied bee hovers low
like a news crew,
five-eyed in the summer sky,
while a beetle bulldozes a small neighbourhood
to find his prize.

In city hall they speak in hushed tones
of cats, rabbits, foxes,
and all the dangers they pose.
A mile away, or possibly a foot,
the mower drones.


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I thought I had better write a tribute to the only flowering plant that consistently survives my “gardening” – bruises, amputations and all.

A geranium in my garden


We understand each other,
me and this ballsy bloomer,
roots as deep as a cheap sandwich,
leaves all thick fists down the alley.

It thrives on my perennial neglect,
dies every day in a new ugly,
screaming ‘Cut off my head, you big nelly!
Pass me a pickled egg and slap me.’

Sneering down at reedy violas –
Bosh! It steals sunlight from the needy,
coming again and again like a prop forward
throwing up to make space for a bevvie.

Red-faced, white-faced, pink-faced,
fat cheeks every colour of pushy,
broken nose flourishing with hubris,
it mocks every nibbling beastie.

Oh, but it is beautiful,
bruising through each new lobotomy,
a rolling maul of carousal.
A lover. A fighter. A softie.


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Mother to Mother

It’s surprising how often one or two words can spark a whole poem. In a workshop, I was encouraged to think about or research some wonderful words to do with the shore. It was actually the words “chert and flint” which sparked this poem – and no, they’re not a pair of 1970s detectives, they’re the materials found in pebbles such as these in Seatown, Dorset.

The resulting poem, “Mother to Mother” is told in the voice of that great mother, the sea. She is speaking to a human mother, who may or may not be me. 😉

Beach at Seatown, Dorset

Mother to Mother 

At my shore, where you are drawn to grow lighter,
I load my spring currents with new stones to shine.
I grab steely chert,
pale flint with pleasing speckles,
nuggets of crumby sea-wall.
They are mine. They are mine.

As you lift your teary son from his waterlogged wellies,
you smile at how weighted his jacket now is
with stripey-lined feldspar
and palm-ready axe-heads:
soothing jewels to line his bed with.
They are his, they are his.

Some days, I admit, I take swipes of red cliff-mud,
with or without a caravan thrown in.
But I am a caretaker,
a guardian of mixed treasures.
I smooth jagged edges.
We are kin, we are kin. 

This poem was first published by Reach Poetry (Indigo Dreams Publishing).

The workshop that inspired this poem was run by the very inspiring Anna Saunders.

Photo by me, at Seatown in 2021. One day later, the cliff you can see behind the rocks collapsed in an enormous landslip, hence the “swipes of red cliff-mud”. The boy on the rocks belongs to me 😉




This poem was written for a “Geography” themed issue of the poetry journal Allegro Poetry. And so, living the dream, I was able to write about the profound sadness of a relationship break-up, whilst drawing metaphors from my GCSE Geography days. Awesome.


We meet by the river
on a Wednesday lunchtime,
to the disapproval of your dry wife.

Sandwiches are eaten
from square lunchboxes,
and we talk about the shapes we used to make –
but not all of them.

“Do you remember,” you say,
“how you used to come out with my words
before I’d even thought them?”

And I think about the river, and how,
when it curls round and finds only itself,
there is a reckoning.
A cutting of the slack.


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Ah, nettles. August walks wouldn’t be the same without these special friends would they? Grrr.

Stinging nettle


after the apocalypse,
you, with your pain suit and your stealth roots
will survive –
a zig-zag scrap of hope
(at least for the butterflies).
But, though I know you to be
a sleeping saviour,
unwavering in the face of eco-calamity,
I still loathe you.

There you stand, waist-high,
all shouty trousers,
the glad-swaggering big I,
your two-bit tendrils lunging brashly –
just an overgrown irritant
acting rashly.

And beside you,
the dreary dock leaves
paddle-faced and dead-eyed
clutch their scout badges tight and simper:
We’re really VERY sorry.
Come, crush our worthless bodies
to ease your blisters.


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Image by analogicus from Pixabay



This week I have been mostly… blowing up all the pretty flowers! Or rather, they  have been blowing themselves up in some sort of petal-strewn apocalypse. This poem featured on the lovely blog The Wombwell Rainbow this week, but I thought I’d share the fireworks here too.


A celandine went first,
and if we had ever looked, we would have known
it was a freeze-frame of a live firework,
we would have expected
the violence that sparked from the inside out,
the heat petalling sweetly,
each stamen springing a hellmouth.

A rose caught,
thorns spitting pop-pop-pop from the stem,
the leaves crisping, and as an afterthought,
the buds, like charged kisses,
lipped the flames to ragwort and vetch.
An oxeye daisy burst,
white-hot in its eagerness.

We dialled nine-nine-nine,
we called the press, but our words burned away,
and as day bloomed into evening time,
the honeysuckle, its lashes
glowing in the last light of the sun,
tipped a long wink to Venus
and blew like an H-bomb.


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Artwork by Thomas Suisse on Pixabay.

Araucaria Araucana

I recently visited the weirdest place with my family. Called Robin Hood’s Bower, it has literally nothing to do with Robin Hood – it’s a clearing in Longleat Forest, Wiltshire, where the late Lord Bath decided to randomly plant some monkey puzzle trees.

The clearing is the site of an ancient settlement, and has also been a gathering place for battles of all colours and flavours. But what is particularly eerie about this dark patch in the forest is the evidence of human rituals that take place there to this day. Anyone fancy a night hike?!

It was a place that most definitely needed a poem, and you can find it here at Green Ink Poetry:



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The Gathering

We’ve had some full-on weather over the past few days, and the night before last, the wind was really eerie. So I thought, why not freak everyone out a little bit more with a seriously creeeepy poem? You’re welcome.

The Gathering

The dusk hangs all jowly with menace and blood, the air
Shudders with creeping despair as the heave
Of the laden sky speaks of decline and disease
And the trees, glancing anxiously heavenwards
Whisper a prayer.

While a face at the glass
Tells the tale of a heart
That’s caressed by the fingers of fear
Deftly strumming
It’s coming
It’s coming
It’s coming
Can’t stop it
It’s coming
It’s coming
It’s coming

All at once the sky yields to the merciless press
As a death rattle rips though its chest, it relents
And the wind, too impatient for fanciful gusts
Simply ROARS. Timbers creak, while the curtain is thrust
In and out of the room with a suck like a labouring
Lung, and the carefully collated possessions we’ve gained
In our small, boxed-up years are snatched up with disdain
To be smashed on the walls of the dreams we were sold
Thinking we were the ones in control.

Then the rain comes in waves like the souls of the drowned
Streaking angrily back from the clouds, down and down
With revenge in their water-logged eyes. “HAVE A CARE!”
Scream the clattering bins and the torrents that pour
From the gutters, the walls that stand battered and sore
And the gardens that shiver as cold, laughing shadows
Wash light from their life-giving skies.

And the face at the glass
With its fevered eyes cast
To the roof of the world to which all life is clinging
Cries out, as it feels something visceral singing…
We’re coming
We’re coming
We’re coming
Can’t stop us
We’re coming
We’re coming
We’re coming


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

Mariner Girl


Mariner Girl

Take me away, said the mariner girl,
From the islands of ought-to which circle the sea,
Let me be lady and lord of my world,
And let all obligation sink gladly from me.

The valleys are flowing with nonsense and noise,
As the hills raise their heads to command and cajole,
The air is a millstone which crushes my joys,
I will sail from the land, or else forfeit my soul.

Send me a star, said the mariner girl,
To blaze through my darkness and show me a path
Through the waves, to a place where my mind can unfurl –
Just me, and the sea, and my brave little craft.

The currents are flowing with maybe and might,
And the swells are a surge of why-not and just-be,
The salty-skinned air gives a kiss of delight,
As I sail from the land and join hands with the sea.

Farewell to you, restless mariner girl,
For I’ve neither a boat, nor the courage to sail,
As the land keeps me bound, so the sea claims its pearl,
But your spirit shines on in this dream-spinner’s tale.


© Nina Parmenter 2018

Photo by Ahmed zayan on Unsplash

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I Wish I Was An Octopus

A poem about octupuses. Because octopuses are spectactularly weird. And, if recent press is to be believed, are in fact aliens. Brilliant.

I Wish I Was An Octopus

I wish I was an octopus,
Way down in the depths of the sea,
With suckers so comical, face diabolical,
Kooky as kooky can be!

Hurray! Hurray! I’d be jetting away!
As I flunged through the shimbly sea,
Confounding all others by changing my colours,
An octopus’ life for me!

A cephalopod who looks awfully odd,
A freak with a beak, tee hee!
I’d never more moan, “ooh, the pain in me bones!”
Cos I’d be an invertebrate, see!

Hurray! Hurray! I’d be wafting away!
As I flooped through wurgly sea,
Squeezing through cracks with a curious knack,
An octopus’ life for me!

If you crossed me, I think I would squirt you with ink,
How I’d laugh as you scarpered from me!
I’d be sly, I’d be smart, but I’d have a great heart,
No – better than that… I’d have three!

Hurray! Hurray! I’d be creeping away,
As I scrundled down deep in the sea,
I’d not hunger for much – for I’d taste all I touched!
An octopus’ life for me!

Us humans are gringey, our lives dull and dingy,
What cloddery beings we be!
I’d rather be flexible, waving my tentacles,
Flubbering curiously!

Hurray! Hurray! I’m dreaming away,
Of a life in the glorpical sea,
As a creature of splendour, a freak show contender,
An octopus’ life for me!


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Photo by Taylor Ann Wright on Unsplash