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Monday, 26 July 2021

A poem for my grandparents' sixtieth wedding anniversary

One of the occupational hazards of being a poet is that I often get called upon to produce a piece of work to celebrate family occasions. If I am lucky I can have a look through my back catalogue and find something that fits the bill, but I thought that my grandparents' sixtieth wedding anniversary was an event that truly warranted a new creation. I can't really even imagine being alive for sixty years, let alone married for that length of time. I believe love is the greatest achievement of which humans are capable, and to sustain love for this long is a feat every bit as magnificent as a Van Gogh painting or a Shakespeare play. Probably more so. Here is my poem, followed by the picture that inspired it. 

A Photo of My Grandparents’ Wedding

There he is: tall, handsome, smartly-dressed

and although he doesn’t know it yet

he’s embarking on a journey

he’ll still be on sixty years later. 

And next to him, petite and poised

his new wife is about to cut the cake,

her knife set to slash the ribbon

and commence the adventure.

How could they know

through this monochrome gauze

between them and their future

just what it is that they will encounter?

How could they comprehend

the abundance that will fill their lives

like parcels stacked in pyramids

under a wide-armed tree?

This duo will soon become three, 

then four, then gradually more, each new life

twisting tendrils round their trunk

and clasping them together.

This couple will go on to build,

brick on brick, an edifice held forever

with the cement of the shared memories

they couldn’t have fathomed then.

Yet, as I place their picture in front of me,

it’s almost as though I can sense

sixty years’ worth of love in their sepia smiles. 

And as I look up at them now

I can still see them as they were back then:

joining hands, linking hearts

and looking forward

to unknown wonders ahead.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Oh, come let us abhor him!


Silent night! Covid night!

All is screwed, all is shite

Round yon Boris venal and vile!

Knew of Delta all of the while!

Let this lunacy cease!

Let this lunacy cease!

Violent night! Covid night!

Shielders they quake at the sight!

Virus streams from near and far

Boozy louts five-deep at the bar

This manchild was warned!

This manchild was warned!

Silent night! Covid night!

His soul is dark but his hair is light

Ineptitude beams from his lowly face 

He’s the scourge of the human race 

Wiffle and piffle and mirth!

Give this git a wide berth!

[July 19th - 'Freedom Day' - marks the end of all Covid restrictions in England]

Wednesday, 14 July 2021


Walking in from the lab

he finds a note on the table.

His wife is leaving him.

Flesh-machine tries

to compute the loss.

Monday, 12 July 2021

Poem for Year 6 Leavers at Penn Wood Primary School

Later this week I am due to give a short poetry performance, for parents and pupils, at a Year 6 leavers' assembly at Penn Wood School, Slough. I have written them a special poem, which I am delighted to share on my blog. If any Year 6 teachers are reading this, please feel free to share the poem with your class!

LEAVERS’ POEM by Joshua Seigal


The times you laughed, the times you cried

The times you fell and skinned your knee

The times you shared, and cared, and tried

Unlocked your mind and found the key

The times you hugged, the times you fought

The times you filed in lines outside

The times your churned with nascent thoughts

And yearned and burned with sparks of pride

The times you learned, the times you strayed

The times you turned to see anew

The times you toiled, the times you played

And hold them close...

They’re part of you.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021


I’d buy a giant teddy

and a box of slimy slugs;

I’d buy a massive warehouse

full of Tottenham Hotspur mugs; 

I’d buy a plastic lemon

and alpacas by the tonne

but I’d never, no I’d never,

no I’d never buy The Sun.

I’d buy some double glazing

and a fag pack from the Sixties; 

I’d buy some little ornamental

fairies, elves and pixies; 

I’d buy a truck of compost

and a gone-off currant bun

but I’d ever, no I’d never,

no I’d never buy The Sun.

I’d buy an old guitar case

owned by some bloke out of Travis,

I’d buy a snip of dreadlock

from the head of Lenny Kravitz,

I’d buy a jumbo lolly

that’s been licked by everyone

but I’d never, no I’d never,

no I’d never buy The Sun.

I’d buy a skip of junk and tat

and random bric-a-brac,

I’d hand over some money

then I’d stuff it in my sack,

I’d buy a lot of pointless stuff

but when all’s said and done

I would never, no I’d never,

no I’d never buy The Sun

Sunday, 27 June 2021

One Breaktime I Got Married

One breaktime I got married.

The class all gathered round.

The eagerness was palpable,

the gaiety profound.

I gave my bride a flower.

We then exchanged an oath.

The priest proclaimed us wedded

and then sanctified us both.

Alas it wasn’t meant to last.

Things didn’t go to plan.

She took away my conkers

then she ran away with Dan.

The course of love is bumpy.

At least that is my hunch.

One break time I got married

and we got divorced by lunch.

Thursday, 24 June 2021


Jumped off a fifteen story

building yesterday. And as I lie

here with nothing to show for it

but a pair of broken legs and

an exacerbated terror of heights,

at least I can say I'm brave.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

a poem for every person who has ever been told "you can't"


I sit on the Orange Table.

Not the Red or Blue or Green.

This is where Miss has put me

and I think I know what it means.

It means my writing’s not too good.

It means I cannot spell.

I don’t know if they know I know

but I only know too well. 

I sit on the Orange Table.

It’s where I’ve sat all year.

I can’t do Maths or Science 

they say, and so they put me here.

I’m not so hot at school work,

which means I’m not too smart

so I sit on the Orange Table

so I can be kept apart. 

I sit on the Orange Table.

They say that this is best.

But they can’t see the orange fire

that burns inside my chest.

Thursday, 17 June 2021


I’ve heard

there’s a place teachers go

where they learn to be teachers.

I wonder:

who teaches the teachers?

Do they have teachers

that teach teachers

how to be teachers?


if they do

how does someone get to be

a teacher teacher?


there’s a special place

where teacher teachers go

where they learn to

teach teachers.

When I grow up I want to be

the teacher that teaches

teacher teachers

how to teach teachers.


I want to be

a teacher teacher teacher.

If only someone

could teach me...

Friday, 11 June 2021


One of the main points of sadness in my life is that I lack any proper musical ability. This makes me sorrowful because there is nonetheless a deep sense in which I am a musician: I carry songs around within me in my head wherever I go. These 'songs' are original compositions, it's just that I lack the ability to play a musical instrument or sing sufficiently well to enable most of these tunes to have an existence in the real world, outside of my head. I also never learnt to read music, and the music lessons I had at school, based as they were on classical music and a pedagogy that erred on the side of the highly traditional, left me feeling that music wasn't for me, that I was musically thick. I did learn to play the bass guitar as a teenager, and to strum a few chords on the guitar too, and actually ended up writing probably about twenty songs for a punk band I was in at the time, which you can listen to here. I also wrote a few solo songs and did a few covers under the name Yabyelle, which you can check out here. (Don't ask where the name came from; it is a secret I can never reveal.) But still: I have so much more music in me than is conveyed there, but which I am unable to release. Partly this is because I can't sing very well. Anyway, I wrote a song earlier this week. I started with the lyrics, and then decided to put them to a tune. After having done this, I decided to record myself performing the song. The inspiration I had in mind was Ewan MacColl, who was famous for his acapella recordings of old folk songs. Here is my effort:

I hope I haven't embarrassed myself too much by sharing this video. If by some chance you do enjoy the video, it would mean the world if you could click 'Like'. Here are the lyrics:


So the sky is enshrouded with ripples of doubt

and this sink has a blockage I cannot get out

and there’s rain in the day yet in evenings there’s drought

I will only love you more.

So the words they come easy but suddenly stop

and the ceiling is creaking and threatens to drop

and that wardrobe of costumes is merely a prop

I will only love you more

Through the pain and the strain

and the ache of the heart

Through the thoughts that get caught

as our fort falls apart

Through the churning that yearns

for the finish to start

I will only love you more

So the tea on the table’s abandoned and cold

and there’s cat hair and rats where there used to be gold

and the devil once jailed has now been paroled

I will only love you more

So the shadows that creep, they seep in through the cracks

and the money we earned’s now demanded for tax

I just know that this snowstorm will not hold us back

I will only love you more

Through the heat and the sleet

and beat of the drums

Though the ending seems pending

I’m mending the slums

and I’ll go with the flow

for I know you’re the one

and I’ll only love you more

Yes I’ll only love you more

Thursday, 10 June 2021



My feet got blisters.

I kept tripping over

and ended up snapping

one of the heels.

My big sister shouted at me.

That’s the last time

I try to walk

in someone else’s shoes.

....In all seriousness, Empahy Day is a wonderful initiative from the Empathy Lab. It happens every year in June, and is well worth checking out. And please, despite the difficulty, do continue trying to walk in someone else's shoes.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021


The vase is on the floor again.

The bed is in a state.

The cushions have been torn apart.

The chaos won’t abate. 

The television’s on its side,

its wires all askew.

The radiator’s leaking

and there’s nothing I can do. 

The picture frames are cracked and bust.

The rug has been demolished.

The living room is upside down;

all calm has been abolished.

My books are torn. I feel forlorn.

My mood is rather flat.

I didn’t know all this would happen

when I got a cat.

Saturday, 29 May 2021


Mother, Father, please sit down;

I’ve got some news for you.

It’s quite the revelation

and I wish it were not true.

I’ve done some introspection

and I’ve analysed my mind.

I’ve fought my inclinations

but I have to be resigned 

to be the person I must be 

in order to fulfill

the destiny bestowed on me

by fate’s unbending quill. 

I know that it will cause you pain

but please try not to show it.

Mum and Dad: when I grow up

I want to be a poet.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


Some of you play football

and some others act or sing,

but if you want to moonlight

then we know of just the thing

to gain more recognition

and a bit of extra quid:

It’s really rather obvious

just write a book for kids. 

It doesn’t really matter 

if you cannot hold a pen,

nor if the typing of a word

is quite beyond your ken.

Just spew out some ideas

and we’ll come and jot them down;

we’ll stick you on the cover 

and you’ll be the toast of town.

Nor does it make a difference

if the plot is rather slight.

We’ll make the letters bigger

and put pictures left and right.

We’ll print your name in sparkles

and you’ll wear a golden crown

as kiddies crowd around your pap

and gobble it right down.

Yes we know you’re very famous 

and already have it made.

There may be better writers

and they may be poorly paid.

We pray for these unfortunates;

our thoughts, meanwhile, are thus:

we’ll make you lots of money

and you’ll make some more for us.