in the deepdarkest
your flesh slips
and I’m alone
in the universe
taps the curtain
and I find you again
across your face
and I reach for you
and catch you
and hold you
I’m good with puzzles
but I can’t decipher the
rules of the playground
I’m good with numbers
but I just can’t count the times
I’ve sat by myself
I can spell long words
but the faces that stare back
are books I can’t read
They call me ‘gifted’
but I can’t untie the bow
that keeps me wrapped tight.
I’m hiding in the cupboard
I tremble and I cower
A maelstrom surrounds me
I’ve been here for an hour
I hear shouts and curses
The fear builds within me
I’m sure that if I show my face
The savages will skin me
They clamour and they jostle
Their eyes are filled with evil
It’s gruesome and it’s frightful
It’s totally primeval
I guess I must acknowledge
That this is just a feature
Of what I have to tolerate
As a supply teacher
Today I ran a rare workshop for adults. My grandma was one of the workshop participants, and I'm pleased to say she produced the first poem that she remembers writing. This was also on the day she got her Covid vaccination, so a good day all round. Here is my grandma's poem; I think it is very moving.
Yellow is the colour
of sunshine and hope.
It reminds me of my Welsh origins
and St David’s Day celebrations.
It is the colour of children playing,
It reminds me of my favourite dress
and the occasions I wore it.
Yellow is how
I would like people to feel
when they think of me.
Yellow is joy.
by Miranda Kitchener
WHO ARE WE? A poem for Chaucer Junior School
We are respect
Like the shiny cover of a new book
Standing proudly on the shelf
We are tolerance
Like letters sitting side by side
Making meaning with their union
We are cooperation
Like books banding together
To build a bank of wisdom
We are aspiration
Like sentences strung sublimely
As they stretch towards the sun
We are kindness
Like a solid spine gently holding
Many different pages
We are appreciation
Like a wide-eyed reader
As they gaze upon a galaxy
We hold the world
Between our covers
We are Chaucer Juniors.
In my bounteous munifence, I also recorded the following video of myself reading the poem. Hopefully it will cause everyone at Chaucer Juniors to spontaneously combust with excitement!
I have been paying regular visits to Fleetville Infant School since 2014, when I became their Patron of Reading. I wasn't able to visit this term, so we agreed that I would help judge a poetry competition. The task was for the children to write a poem based on my piece Play Time, which you can read on my website here. I am really happy to be able to share some of their fantastic poems. The ultimate winner was a group effort, produced by Bluebell Class (Reception). I was especially delighted to read this poem, as Bluebell is also the name of my cat! Here, then, are the poems. Enjoy!
by Joel and Luke
We both have brown eyes
We both love learning history
We’ve both lost our first tooth
Can you tell us apart?
It’s a mystery!
We’re both a little bit cheeky
We like to jump and spin
Life is so fun
When you’re a twin
I like to play with Christopher
We could play all day long
And when we are together we have
We like to play in the garden
And we like to play in the sun
And when we are together we have
We like to play in the park
With our Daddy called Mark the Shark in the sun
so let’s all have
The Things I Love by Florian
I’ve got a Captain Underpants book
And fast racing cars too
I’ve got fierce dino pyjamas
And I love them because they’re blue!
I’ve got a lot of lego
And a friendly toy giraffe
I’ve got strong action men
And I love playing with them in the bath!
JUMP TIME by Sienna
I'VE GOT A LITTLE DOGGY AND A PAIR OF SHINY BOOTS I’VE GOT A FOGGY WINDOW AND A RED AND YELLOW SUIT.
I’VE GOT A BRAND NEW BICYCLE AND MY BROTHERS OLD PUMP
SO EVERYBODY JOIN ME LETS HOP SKIP AND JUMP
I’VE GOT A CLIMBING FRAME AND A PAIR OF LEOPARD GLOVES
I’VE GOT A FANCY OUTFIT THAT I WEAR TO RESTAURANTS
I’VE GOT A PAIR ICE SKATES AND NOW I CAN STUMP
SO EVERYBODY JOIN ME LETS HOP SKIP AND JUMP!
‘Rhyming Fun’ with love from the Bluebells (Reception Class)
In reception we like to rhyme, it’s been a fun way to pass the time.
Here’s what we came up with, we hope that you like it.
Mr Josh, we hope it’s a hit
I asked my class what rhymes do you know
and can you write them down so to Mr Seigal I can show.
The dog got stuck in the bog.
That same dog then saw a frog.
On his way along the road he saw a toad.
And a pig in a wig.
And a goat in a cosy coat.
You’d never believe what he then saw, are you ready for me to tell you more?
He had fun in the sun this wondering dog.
And was happy that there wasn’t any fog.
So he could see;
A goat that could float on a boat around the moat.
He saw it it’s true, crazy things these animals do.
A spoon jumped over the moon and on its way saw a birthday balloon.
A cat in a hat was laying on a mat and there was a school in a pool!
Over all he had the best day and he said during his play
“I have fun, fun, fun with my Mum, Mum, Mum.”
He then hopped until he flopped, what a silly billy.
So that is our poem from the Bluebells to you.
Thank you for making our learning so fun to do.
I sharpen up my knife and fork
I give a belch and pop a cork
I wibble-wobble while I walk
I am a HUNGRY TORY!
I swallow hope and dine on dreams
My pants are bursting at the seams
I salivate at kiddie’s screams
I am a HUNGRY TORY!
I palm off scraps on needy proles
I use the rest to the fill the hole
That I possess in lieu of soul
I am a HUNGRY TORY!
I mainline money in my veins
My hamper’s bulging with my gains
I give my cronies what remains
(And piss a torrent down the drain)
I am a HUNGRY TORY!
Max got in touch with me recently to share a fantastic poems he has written. He informs me that it is about his grandmother's dementia. Here is Max's wonderful poem.
Grandma by Max (age 16)
It hurts to see the dramatic decline
of a person once so conscious and fine
Now left to dine on forgotten memories.
To drown in a sea of nonsensical ideas;
to lose touch with life, everyone of us fears.
Concepts literal in one world
are foreign in another
emigrating back and forth,
in and out of reality.
Like a rhythm out of tune,
a field of the most beautiful flowers
now unable to bloom.
A crop colourless, seasonless,
Memories burning on an endless fire,
as though the mind is now the body's pyre.
A spontaneous combustion
of a system so perfect and true,
now a ruined ecosystem
a permanently distorted view.
When I read Max's poem, I was reminded of one of my favourite poems, 'Visiting Grandad in the Home' bu Ian McMillan (Macmillan 2002). Here it is:
One of my favourite things as a professional poet is displaying students' work on this blog! I am hoping to do lots of this during lockdown, so teachers and parents - take note! Below are some fantastic poems by Mim, age 9. Mim's mum got in touch with me to share four poems Mim has produced, two kennings and two cinquains. One of the poems mentions the name 'Shallot', and Mim's mum Debs informs me that Shallot is a little girl in Uganda whom Mim has struck up a friendship with. I hope you all enjoy Mim's fantastic poetry as much as I did!
BEHIND EVERY NUMBER
Behind every number, a flame that has perished
Behind every number, a voice that lies still
Behind every number, a life that was cherished
Behind every number, a bone-shrinking chill
Behind every number, a pain unrelenting
Behind every number, a lost work of art
Behind every number, a daughter lamenting
Behind every number, a son torn apart
Behind every number, a family muted
Behind every number, an echo of grief
Behind every number, an essence diluted
Behind every number, a life-leaching thief
Behind every number, a world-beating failure
Behind every number, the quickest of bucks
Behind every number, a dithering jailer
Behind every number, the lamest of ducks
GAVIN WILLIAMSON'S EXAM RESULTS
Come along and meet my girlfriend.
She’s amazing. She’s the best.
With a wide and varied insight
into life she has been blessed.
She knows every single answer
to the questions that I ask.
She has all the right solutions.
She completes each tricky task.
You will marvel at the power
of her quick and clever mind.
Put quite simply, my new lady
is the smartest you could find.
So come along and meet my partner.
She makes quips to great acclaim.
She is quite the virtuoso
and Alexa is her name.
I was delighted when Ms. Baker, the Year 6 teacher st St Dunstan's Primary School in Birmingham, got in touch with me recently to share some poems that her year 6 class had written. The poems were based on my piece 'Just A Book?', which is published in I Don't Like Poetry (Bloomsbury) and which can be viewed online here. One thing that really impressed me about the poems was the rhyming. A tight, coherent rhyme scheme can be difficult to achieve, so I can tell that Ms. Baker's class worked hard on their poems. Here, then, is a selection of fantastic poem from year 6:
He said he didn’t want it
when I offered it last week.
He claimed it was too evil
and he said I was a freak.
He called it ‘vile’ and ‘ghastly’
and he said it made him sick.
I tried to do a bargain
but it wouldn’t do the trick.
He said he wouldn’t touch it
with an elongated pole.
In spite of my persuasion
Satan wouldn’t buy my soul.