Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

NaPoWriMo #14

The theme of this exercise was one’s poetic inspiration.  Instead of the suggested ideas to do with specific poets, I chose themes.  The piece that follows has the same number of lines as my debut collection, Throwing Mother In The Skip, has poems.  If you want to see the poems that express the themes, you will have to buy the collection.  It is available directly from me, or from http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk/

The Reasons Why: Volume 1

Generational conflict. Tits.
Generational conflict. Self-preservation.
Generational conflict. Frustration.
Generational conflict. Self-preservation.
Nostalgia. Contemplation.

Generational conflict. Grudging admiration.
Nostalgia. Generational conflict.
Mental illness. Relationship break-up.
Mental illness. Self-preservation.
Relationship break-up. Self-preservation.
Gaia Holmes. Imagination.
The Leeds Library. Generational conflict.
Michael Stewart. Generational conflict.
Bereavement. Generational conflict.
Generational conflict, twice.
Bereavement. Mental illness.


Frustration. Relationship break-up.

Nostalgia. Self-realisation.
Claire Jones. Parenthood.
Leeds. Nostalgia.

Joan Jobe Smith via Gaia Holmes. Relationship break-up.
Frustration. Relationship break-up.
Loneliness. Roman numerals.
Silvia Pio. Italy.
Relationship break-up, twice.

Valerie Anderson Gaskill. Love.
Valerie Anderson Gaskill, twice.

Filial affection. Lesbianism.

NaPoWriMo #12

This is a triolet.  I don’t usually write according to standard forms.

To My Late Father

You moaned about the miners, but you had
an index-linked civil service pension.
Our endless fighting drove us bloody mad.
You moaned about the miners, but you had
so many things they’ve taken from us, Dad.
Politics always caused us so much tension.
You moaned about the miners, but you had
an index-linked civil service pension.


NaPoWriMo #10



cathedral spire

highest in Yorkshire.



infant mortality

declining every year.



disaffected pensioners

very cheap prices.



mountain jungle

flag not rectangular.



poetry scene

two rugby teams.



drinks vodka

horseback postal service.



arrogant posturing,

but worth visiting.



holiday observation:

they grow sunflowers.



Tetley Bitter

no longer indigenous.



while swimming

must wear cap.



Kemnal Road

home to criminals.



My favourite

Bob Marley track.

NaPoWriMo #9

I am lagging behind, but I am doing better at this point than I expected.

What follows is a piece of “concrete poetry”.  That means, a poem whose layout on the page is intended to represent something to do with the subject of the poem.



NaPoWriMo #7

Poor Kid

You poor kid.  
You didn’t ask for any of this, did you?
Not the candle-lit vigil outside Alder Hey.
Not the police presence, nor the statement
by the Chief Inspector after
protesters blocked the road and tried to storm
the entrance.
You didn’t ask for a hearing
before Mr Justice Hayden at the High Court
in Liverpool, then the Court of Appeal, then
the Supreme Court, then the European Court of Human
Rights, then back to the High Court to endorse the
End of Life plan.
You didn’t ask for Italian citizenship, or a
message of support from the Pope, broadcast on Twitter
to 17.6 million followers.  Hashtag AlfiesArmy
You didn’t ask Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of
the Christian Legal Centre, to point out that you
have survived without ventilator support for hours longer
than doctors expected.  She also described Mr Evans
and Ms James as, ‘devoted parents’. 
They are certainly devoted to something.
After all, why stick with just being a bereaved parent,
when fate hands you publicity on a plate?


NaPoWriMo #6

NaPoWriMo #3

The pub of the mind
The cellar man has two PhDs:
one in fermentation science,
the other in how to clean pipework.
There is an atmosphere of tension, but
no actual fights.  Each pint
of Taylor’s Landlord comes with a free whisky,
or gin.  There is a turntable on which you can play
any record you like, as long as you put it on.
One of the rooms is not only quiet, but soundproof.
The toilets smell of otto of roses, and the taps
don’t just work, but one of them runs hot.
A sniper with laser a sight is ready to shoot anyone who
starts whistling.  Photocopies of the crosswords from
all the broadsheet papers are available, without the papers,
themselves.  There are no leather suitcases, no
suspended bicycles or canoes, no Readers Digest condensed books:
the décor is tastefully-arranged human suffering. 
The seats were installed by people with chronic lower back pain.
Lesbian paramedics will carry you to your room, if you
pass out.  Even if you have spent the whole day in the Railway Tavern in Halifax, you won’t be refused service.

NaPoWriMo #2

The Man With No Name

I was issued with a bucket and a pair of
steel toe-capped Wellington boots.
I learned that a drum containing dichloromethane is
much heavier than one containing industrial methylated spirit.

I also learnt that when the hydrochloric acid dispenser
was cracked and pissing everywhere
you should not go near it, even before
the T&G steward has said not to.

We had two outhouses, overlooking Poole harbour:
One was called the Solvent Store, and the other
The Petrol Store. We only kept petrol
in the Solvent Store.

The tarmac floor was pitted and grazed,
much more than we were.
I had such shoulders as I had never had,
scrummaging trolleys full of chemicals across it.

My degree meant nothing.
I learnt how to do bucket chemistry.
I learnt that if you are doing that job, for that amount of money,
no-one complains to your face, if you don’t shave, every day.

NaPoWriMo #1

I don’t know how long I am going to be able to keep this up, but, inspired by my writing friend, Gaia Holmes, I have decided to attempt National Poem Writing Month. If I am keeping up with this, I need to post the next poem before the next prompt appears, tomorrow.


I sharpen my Sheffield steel
regularly, and only
in a sedate frame of mind.

I cut each onion in half, put
the other half well out of the way, for now
and slice, for most dishes, as
thinly as possible, but not
all the way through.

I then turn it through ninety degrees
and bring the edge of the blade down
again, while holding what remains together
to prevent splaying.

I only chop as much as I can use at one time.
I live in harmony with onions, which
never make me cry.

Chopping onions is
one of the few things that
has not changed for the worse.

I wear second hand shirts,
and I don’t get holiday or sick pay,
but my onions are chopped
to same precision you would find
at The Savoy.

The Reverend Richard Coles

Most people I know understand your state of bereavement. I think it is absolutely terrible that you have lost your civil partner, in effect, your husband. I feel very sorry for your loss. You seem like a very empathetic person, to whom an emotional loss would seem worse, because of the sensitivity.

I am not going to comment on people who have criticised you, since David’s death.

The people on the side of righteousness believe in love.