Fire and Ice

This was last year’s attempt at a Christmas poem, and it didn’t exactly come out very jinglebellsy – although it does use the word “Christmas”! With this in mind, I’m keeping it well away from Christmas and posting it in May. Enjoy!


The angel stood on the patio,

his feathers buttered and heavy.

He was not the angel we’d had in mind.

He was winter with a blown halo.


He was the sum of our moods – hot and popping,

spitting in fire like pigskin.

He was white ash and burnt marshmallow,

crick-cracking. His smile was an ice-flow.


He turned once. He kept turning.

He was a Christmas fairground.

We threw roasting-nuts. We won nothing –

just the sizzle-spin of his eyebrow.


Round and round, wings greasy,

muscles strained, steaming and sallow,

he yelled like a Mexican wrestler

until the hail came. Hallelujah. 


Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

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Autumn in a Call Centre


Just an everyday workplace tale…

Autumn in a Call Centre


When the boss gave out autumn in home-made envelopes,

sour yellow and sellotaped,

the Success Team withered.

“But we stuck to the script,” they choked.


The boss said nothing, but stood

scratching her back against the photocopier,

her breath a hot slug of paprika.

HR looked up a policy, then shrugged.


When they opened the envelopes, November knifed them 

with its stiff north-easterlies,

red maple leaves spreading from their chests.

They dropped to the floor, rotting.


The boss stepped over them in her wide-fit stilettos,

her face waxy, like a butternut squash.

“The shoes,” she hissed. “You all wore the wrong shoes,”

and she walked out into the April sky, wheezing. 



An earlier version of this poem (then called “Autumn in an Envelope”) was published by Snakeskin Poetry.

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It’s nowhere near Halloween, so time for a creepy rhyme…


The light is like the sound of something breaking;
he waits inside the upturns of the waves.
Don’t touch the switch. The click will find him waking.

The kitchen has the scent of someone aching
to live. Reflections hold the things he craves.
Their light is like the sound of something breaking.

If light consoles you, watch its edges shaking
in bedroom corners, cringing at his gaze.
Don’t touch the switch. The click will find him waking.

I wonder, have you sensed a brightness taking
your vision? Have you felt in recent days
that light is like the sound of something breaking?

You may be free. You may be quite mistaken.
I guess you must believe, for now, you’re saved.
Don’t touch the switch. The click will find him waking.

So come to terms with darkness now. Start making
new routes, believe your senses, and be brave.
When light is like the sound of something breaking,
don’t touch the switch. The click will find him waking.


First published by Snakeskin Poetry – www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk

Geek notes: This is written in villanelle form, which has a very specific pattern of rhymes and repeating lines. You may have noticed there are only two rhyme sounds (although I’ve been a bit loose with waves – craves – gaze – days – saved – brave!) You might recognise this form from this slightly famous poem by Dylan Thomas. 😉


Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

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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.

The Lockdown Lament

This one needs no introduction…

The Lockdown Lament

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

Have you ever tried video-calling New York
to talk about trends in a businessy way
while your kids disembowel the cat with a fork
and your husband walks by with his goods on display?

Have you ever tried tempting the kids from their screens
to do papier-mâché or make lemonade
or have ‘fun with a workout’ (whatever THAT means)
while they pelt you with attitude, grunts or grenades?

Have you ever tried teaching a nine-year-old maths
and a five-year-old spelling whilst muffling a scream
as you realise you’re living with sociopaths?
‘Is this it?’ you enquire. ‘Am I living the dream?’

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.



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Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

The Time Eaters

For some reason I find writing poems like this quite fun… no it’s not normal.

Warning: not for the faint hearted…

The Time Eaters

Snip! And your ear-bones are scraped of their meat
by the scurry-tap-tap of their friable feet,
as you cringe at the swivel of each cold obsidian eye.
The terrible dust of what-never-more-can
trails deep in their wake, and the shortening span
before them is crushed by a clamouring echo of “why…”

Their home is the night
of forever, and there
they will stay, half-hobbled and blind,
if you just keep them out of your treacherous mind…

Drip! And your fear forms a cauldron of bile
as they march on, their mindlessness masking their guile,
devouring the past and the present, consuming the possible.
They are the nothing, the shadows that scuttle,
their abdomens pulsing with malice and muscle,
their skeletal legs scraping paths to the pure diabolical.

Their goal is the triumph
of never, and there
we will end, neither living nor dead,
if you can’t keep them out of your treacherous head…

Slip! Your mind trips as they break through the lies
that help you to sleep. Oh those eyes! Those….


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Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash


And now, a slightly dark and gooey poem for hypochondriacs…


I heard the squelch of death again –
or was it just a neutron firing
deep within my boggy brain,

or possibly a cell expiring
down amongst a mucus mess?
It could have been my heart perspiring

(that may be a thing I guess)
or, deep down in the adipose,
the squealing of a fat-lump pressed

to serve as fuel, and I suppose
it might have been a small mutation –
“Pop!” (we get a lot of those),

a bronchiole’s sharp inhalation,
“Hiss!” a membrane’s gooey breath,
a bile-duct’s bitter salivation…

Probably, it wasn’t death.


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Photo by Pierre Acobas on Unsplash