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Sunday 26 December 2021


are very close

but there are some things

I can never tell her.

This poem is one of those things.

I can’t tell her about this poem

because that would lead

to more questions.

The answers to these questions

would burrow deep under the surface

until we’re both staring

at an open wound

with the roiling magma below.

No — the best thing

is to keep this safe, somewhere

my wife will never find it. Saved

on this laptop, perhaps;

the laptop I know we share.

Wednesday 22 December 2021


new coat new shoes

new risk new ruse

new bag new books

new mask new looks

new shirt new tie

new trick new lie 

new pens new paper

new dance new caper

new words new style 

new face new smile

new wish new plea

new school… new me.

Sunday 19 December 2021


I’m sitting here in my conservatory

watching the late afternoon sunlight.

The apples are gleaming in their bowl,

the bubbles rising in the glass of sparkling water

by my side. Somewhere outside birds are calling

in the trees and a light breeze picks up a leaf,

sweeping it across the periphery of my vision.

So I sit here and think to myself: I bet

I can write a poem just like Billy Collins.

I bet I can describe things just like him,

extract the unseen reality from behind this facade

that masquerades as mundanity. My pencil

point is poised to capture the very essence

of humanity in this undulating world.

Suddenly the light turns to dark, the apples

rot in their bowl. (The bowl is glass, by the way.)

I could never write a poem just like Billy Collins.

That’s what the birds were trying to say.

Saturday 18 December 2021

The voices in my head

that hector me are haughty men

with doctorates. They often

have grey hair and/or owlish glasses

and have frequently written scientific books

of some considerable consequence.

And yes, they are always men.

The voices in my head

that harbour me are women:

they are calming and compassionate

but don’t have too much heft behind them.

They haven’t written books.

They are flighty, ephemeral

and don’t feel safe to run to,

as though doing so

will leave me washed away

on dark and viscous tides.

So which is it:

mean but strong, or kind but weak?

I think about this as I decide

which of these words

to chuck, which to change, which to keep.

Friday 17 December 2021


I’m really rather popular.

My gifts are piled high.

My vast approval rating’s

not a thing one can deny.

I got a Lambourghini 

and a new computer too,

as well as several smartphones

and a solid gold canoe.

I got a champagne bottle

weighing eighty kilograms. 

I got a pair of oxen

and a clutch of newborn lambs, 

and if you think that’s crazy 

I can tell you something more:

I got a diamond necklace

and a trip to Singapore. 

I got an ostrich feather coat 

plus ninety pairs of shoes. 

It seems my pupils love me

so they came to pay their dues.

I got some fancy Christmas gifts.

It made me feel smug.

The greatest gift, however

was the ‘World’s Best Teacher’ mug.

Thursday 16 December 2021


I think I’ll eat a biscuit.

There’s not much else to do. 

Perhaps I’ll grab a hobnob

or a ginger nut or two. 

I think I’ll eat a biscuit. 

I’ll have it with me tea.

I’ll scoff a jammy dodger

or custard cream or three.

I think I’ll eat a biscuit,

with chocolate on the top.

I’ll dunk it in my beverage

and hope it doesn’t drop. 

I think I’ll eat a biscuit,

to get me in the zone.

I’ll sit and have a biccy

in the staff room on my own.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

My Mum's First Poem

My mum got in touch recently to say that, at the age of 59, she has written her first ever poem. It is with her permission that I share it on my blog. Here are a few things about my mum, which may or may not be relevant as you read the poem: she has three brothers all of whom went to university; my mum didn't go to university; she had three kids by the time she was 28; she was a full-time mum when we were growing up; she is now a psychotherapist; she doesn't believe she is clever (she is); she was inspired to write the poem after listening to the Gathering Gold podcast by Jungian counselor Sheryl Paul. I am really proud of her. 


Write a poem

A poem


I would love to do that

To discover that I can think

After all

That I hold within my own mind a richness of words ready to be used.

To choose what to say is

Even how to say

Try to express my internal confusion

My Eternal confusion

And sometimes the blankness

The thinking stops here-ness

The loneliness

The depths

The fear

Always the fear

by Tracey Seigal

Thursday 9 December 2021


I am terribly sorry

if this gives the impression

of being a poem.

It may have the word ‘poem’ in the title,

and I know that 

some of the lines are longer

than others;

it does indeed also appear

to be broken up into stanzas

thus creating the impression

of being a poem,

but really it’s nothing of the kind.

If you are looking for a poem

you’re in the wrong place.

And I can assure you

that even if, perchance,

this is a poem,

I sure as hell didn’t write it.

Wednesday 8 December 2021


Angels We Have Heard While High

I Saw Hancock Kissing Santa Claus

Do They Know It’s Lockdown Time?

Mistletoe and Crime

Conniving Home For Christmas

Gaslight My Fire  

Baby There’s Proles Outside 

Confess, Ye Scary Gentlemen 

Legal Clause is Coming to Town

Randox The Brown-Nosed Profiteer

Tuesday 7 December 2021


I was lucky enough to pay a virtual visit to Varna Primary School, Manchester, in November 2020. I love it when teachers keep in touch, and was especially gratified the other day when their Year 5 teacher, Miss Isherwood, contacted me to share some poems her class had written, on the theme of 'Friendship'. They were lovely poems, and I'm delighted to share a small sample of them here on my blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 

Saturday 4 December 2021

WAITING (poem for Hermes)

It may be that your artefact is somewhere on the moon

It may be in the jungle being mauled by a baboon

It may be in a manger being blessed by three wise men

I guarantee that Hermes parcel won’t be seen again. 

It could be on a hillock being sullied by a yak

It could be in Gibraltar in a disused cul-de-sac

It could be in a farmyard in a mountain of manure

A parcel that’s from Hermes won’t be coming through your door. 

Perhaps it’s on a rocket being fired up to Mars

It could be on a spaceship that is circling the stars 

You can holler up to heaven, you can genuflect and pray

The parcel that you’ve ordered will not see the light of day.

It may be in a cavern in the bowels of the earth

It may be at a therapist because of low self-worth

It may be in a forest in the centre of a clearing

I promise you that Hermes parcel will not be appearing.

It could be up the rectum of a big Alaskan moose

Or else in a bordello and exposed to grave misuse

It could be being borne aloft as part of a procession

The fact is Hermes parcels don’t come into one’s possession. 

But hark! Is that the doorbell, though it’s in the dead of night?

You whoop with pure elation and you bellow in delight!

So out of bed you clamber and then down the stairs you go

You open up the door… is it the Hermes parcel?


Thursday 2 December 2021


Sometimes they’re too big

and they crowd your mouth

so your lips can’t close.

Sometimes they crack apart

like crockery and turn to paste

as you try to talk.

Sometimes there’s just one huge one

projecting from your face

like a narwhal’s tusk,

and sometimes they disappear

and spontaneously regenerate

as your mum refuses

to call the dentist.