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Thursday 22 December 2022

Direct Instruction

This is a poem about a tree. 

It’s about a tree in winter, 

with all its branches bereft of leaves. 

The tree represents the poet’s family

(family tree – clever, right?)

and the fact the leaves are gone

represents the fact the poet’s family 

has somehow disintegrated.

In the poem, the poet

is standing and looking at the tree

from a distance. That distance

represents the distance

the poet feels from his family. 

The sky overhead is dark

which represents the poet’s mood. 

But! A dove comes to perch

on one of the branches! The dove,

of course, represents peace. 

The poet is at peace.

Or the poet’s family.

(See how ambiguity is key!)

The poem doesn’t rhyme,

which of course represents

the disordered state of the poet’s mind.

Not like yours, one hopes.

You have thirty minutes.


Tuesday 20 December 2022

So I had that dream again,

the one where you’re not there.

You’ve called the wedding off, or perhaps

it was never on to start with. Either way

I’m staring at the ring on my finger

and choking on your absence.

I’m looking you up online and when

I find out you’ve got another partner

I want to puke. Or perhaps we’re at

a party or something, but all I can see

is the back of your head and the way

you’ve pinned your hair, the way

you know I love. Then I heave so hard

I wake myself up. Morning begins

to brush the room, and the heap beside me

is you. And please believe me what I say 

I’m thankful for it all – those whispers

in my ear telling me what I have,

what I hold, and what I stand to lose.

Saturday 17 December 2022


Tomorrow is the World Cup Final, Argentina v France. Here is a poem I've written especially for the occasion:


My horse is playing cricket

and my pig is playing chess.

My duck is on the ski slope

where she jumps with great finesse. 

My sheep runs round the tennis court,

her racket going swish

My ferret’s playing badminton

along with all my fish.

My goose is throwing basketballs.

My rabbit’s playing hockey. 

My llama’s on the golf course

and my camel is a jockey. 

These animals are talented

but one thing is of note – 

the creature best at football

is none other than my GOAT.

Two bits of slang: 'Farmers League' is a term used in the football community to refer to a league that is perceived to be of a low standard. I'm not sure why. 'GOAT' stands for 'Greatest of all Time'. It is commonly used to refer to Lionel Messi, who plays for Argentina. Basically, the poem is quite witty, yeah?

Above: Messi, the GOAT

Thursday 8 December 2022

Poem from Year 3 and 4, Sellincourt Primary, London

I am delighted to report that the fabulous children of Year 3 and 4 at Sellincourt Primary School in London, whom I had the privilege of visiting yesterday, have been working on pieces inspired by my poem 'Drawing My Grandma'. My poem is published in Yapping Away, and you can read it for free on my website here. The pupils took the structure of my poem, and adapted it using their own descriptions. Here are three fantastic examples of the work they produced. Everyone should feel very proud of themselves!

Drawing My Dog

Miss Rocha says

to draw a picture

of our families. 

I choose my dog. 

A soft pillow

is its hair. 

A thick candy cane – 

that’s her arms and legs. 

A strawberry 

is her glowing heart

and a leopard

is her running around.

Drawing My Cat

Miss Rocha says 

to draw a picture

of our families. 

I choose my cat. 

Soft fluffy snow

is her fur. 

Drawing My Great Grandma

Miss Rocha says

to draw a picture

of our families. 

I choose my great grandma. 

A fluffy cloud

is her white hair. 

A delicate blanket –

that’s her arms and legs. 

A beautiful diamond

is her smiling heart

and an upside-down rainbow

is her warm smile.

Monday 5 December 2022

When Other Poets Get There First

Something fairly annoying happened to me the other day. Not terribly important, just mildly frustrating. When I was a kid I used to think it would be highly amusing to have a cat named 'Dog' and a dog named 'Cat'. Remembering this, I decided to write a poem using it as a premise. What if (I thought) I had lots of different things, all with the wrong name? I worked really hard trying to think of a witty ending for the poem, and after a few hours' worth of editing I came up with the following:

Got a Handle

My cat is called Dog

and my dog is called Cat.

My rat is called Fish

whilst my fish is called Rat.

My brother’s named Sister.

My sister’s named Brother.

My mother is Father.

My father is Mother.

My boat is called Car

whilst my car is called Boat.

My goat is named Sheep

and my sheep is named Goat.

I think that I’m great

so I’m rather enjoying

the fact those who know me

all call me Annoying.

Now, I am often given to posting my work on social media. I find it to be a really useful way of gauging how popular a poem is, and whether or not it might thus be worthy of inclusion in a future book. The poem garnered a very positive response, and I got excited. The poem, I decided, would definitely find its way into my next collection. That was until the fabulous children's poet Kenn Nesbitt got in touch to say he had written something similar. You can read Kenn's wonderful poem here

The similarity between my poem and his was entirely unintentional. Indeed, the poems actually end up going in two quite different directions. However, I decided that the level of similarity was such that I could not, after all, include my new poem in my next book. It was just too close for comfort. This is not the first time I have written a poem that ended up bearing an inadvertent resemblance to another poet's work. One solution, I guess, would be to never read anyone else's poetry. A better solution would be simply to do lots of Googling before getting too excited about something I've written. Oh well - you live and learn!

(update: Kenn has now been in touch to say that he has no objection if I choose to publish my poem in my next book. So maybe I will. Let's wait and see!)

Monday 28 November 2022

After I’d finished

                                I left the poem

on a bench in a park. I waited until

no one was looking, then put it down,

got up nonchalantly and walked away.

At a safe distance I kept watch to see

if anyone would pick it up. No one did.

After a while I turned on my heel,

deciding that this particular child’s future

would be best left to my imagination.

I like to think a bereaved mother scooped

him up and put him on a mantelpiece,

or filed him away for safekeeping.

And I like to think he brought a smile,

or at the very least was used as a tissue

to wipe away a tear.

Saturday 26 November 2022


I’m catting around

Just catting around 

Might sleep through day

On a soft settee 

Have a stretch, have a yawn

Lick my bum, scratch a flea

Might stare at a bird 

Might lunge at a mouse

Might drink from the sink

As I slink round the house

Cos I’m catting around

Yeah catting around

I’ll climb on your head

When you’re trying to sleep 

I’ll lounge on your bed

In a furry heap

Might sit on your book

Get hair on the couch 

Might act like a clown

Might sulk like a grouch

Cos I’m catting around 

Just catting around

See I’m a good little kitty 

When I wanna be nice

But I have a few words

So I’ll be precise:

Might bat your face

Might sit on your chest –  

It’s my place now

So be a good guest

While I’m catting around

Yeah while I’m catting around

Sunday 20 November 2022

It's the end of the world

and I’m off to make some children

laugh. Maybe not laugh, but smile.

And maybe not the end of the world

right now, but soon enough.

The children won’t know it when

it gets here, so it’s my job to make sure

the last impression in their tiny

minds is a happy one. Everyone

has a different job: some are tasked

with analysing the end of the world,

others with trying to stop it, and

there may even be one or two lucky

souls to sift through the mess. But before

that, the children need laughter.

And it’s my job to don the flak jacket

and red-nose and give them what,

in this scheme of things, they don’t

even know they need. We need.

Joshua Seigal 

Wednesday 16 November 2022


I had the pleasure yesterday of working with the fantastic Year 5 children at Thomas Buxton Primary School, London. I am really delighted to share the following poem, which came out of one of the workshops. We focused on using personificiation to describe emotions. The thing that stood out to me about the following poem was the adept use of rhyme. During workshops I normally discourage rhyming, as it can get in the way of what pupils want to say; the poem below is a nice exception to this rule!

ANGER by Zafir, Year 5

I am the emotion of rude hitting

I am the feeling of grandma messing up her knitting 

I am the stench of expired milk 

I am the feeling of ruining expensive silk 

I am a lion in a cage

I am full of rage 

I am fire, smoke and lava

I am the disappointment of my father 

I am like prowling wolves and tigers 

I am like a pack of wild hyenas 

I am thunder and lightning 

I am very frightening


Wednesday 9 November 2022


Hancock’s in the jungle. 

The lions gather round.

They’ll soon be pouncing hungrily

and chaos will abound. 

Hancock’s in the jungle,

with maggots for his tea.

He’ll sleep in leaves and mud

and defecate beneath a tree. 

Hancock’s in the jungle.

It’s really getting wild.

With bats and bugs and centipedes

let’s prey he gets defiled.

Hancock’s in the jungle,

and things are getting grimy

but compared to Matty H

there’s nothing else that’s quite as slimy.   

Yes Hancock’s in the jungle,

with spiders on his skin. 

Let’s hope that he gets messed up

like the mess he left us in.

[Secretary of State for Covid Incompetence, Matt Hancock, Joins reality TV Show]

Tuesday 8 November 2022


Love is a leap,

always a leap – 

no cord, no net

and no knowing how

you’ll hit the ground.

Your bones protest

it’ll hurt like hell

but hell – 

the view from the ledge

looks inviting.

Sunday 6 November 2022


When he was alive he sold paint, so I guess

it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that paint

was what we found in the cupboards. Sure,

there was a broken clock, some dusty ornaments

and one or two old photos, but mainly there was paint.

Tins of old paint. Neither me nor my grandmother

knew what to do with them, or how long they had

been there. She said she’d give them to the decorator,

see if he could make use of them. I took them down

one by one, drawing a blank where a world used to be.

Thursday 3 November 2022


[unfunny man James Corden accused of joke plagiarism 02/11/22]

Sunday 30 October 2022


What is the matter with Leaky Sue?

Her sense is amiss, her morals askew

You give her a secret, it trickles straight through 

At running the country she hasn’t a clue

What is the matter with Leaky Sue?

The meanest of fiends she will strive to outdo 

You hand her a brief and a mess will ensue 

She hasn't the wit of a stick of bamboo

What is the matter with Leaky Sue?

There’s not been a less fit MP hitherto 

The fungus will grow and the rot will accrue

So let us endeavour to cook up a coup 

What is the matter with Leaky Sue?

She dreams of a flight to Rwanda or two 

She’s no good for me and she’s no good for you 

The size of her brain could be labelled ‘bijou’

What is the matter with Leaky Sue?

She babbles and blabbers to all of her crew

The end of this poem now hoves into view

But, just like Leaky Sue, it is rather unsatisfactory.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary as of 31/10/22, is known as 'Leaky Sue' because she spills classified documents on the regular. 

Thursday 20 October 2022


My hands are in pain

and my toes have gone numb.

My abdomen’s aching

along with my bum. 

I’m decked out in layers

of jumpers and shirts.

I’m wrapped up in scarves.

Every part of me hurts.

My head is an ice cube. 

My nose is red raw.

I’ve socks on my feet 

but they won’t seem to thaw.

Although my chin’s chilly

along with my cheeks,

the heating can wait

for another few weeks...

Thursday 13 October 2022

Let's Hear It

for all those men still sporting combovers.

Too long maligned as insecure tricksters

and follicular con-artists, let’s rectify

this grave injustice. See how those wisps flail

in the wind – let’s appreciate their determination

doggedly to cling. Hark at the hint of scalp

poking through –it threatens a coup but won’t

be given in to. And behold the man himself,

whether hunched heavily into his bones

or standing tall and proud, a veritable soldier

is he, gripping tenaciously to what a lesser man

might let slip by. So let’s hear it for him

and his humbly heroic hairdo: a steadfastly

singular signal that chucking in the barber’s towel

shall not be in his purview!