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Thursday 28 March 2024

Four Letters

The ultimate goal of life remains the spiritual growth of the individual, the solitary journey to peaks that can be climbed only alone – M. Scott Peck 

He had four letters tattooed

on his forearm – TSWF – and he went

to the grave without telling anyone

what they meant. He loved his wife,

their lives entwined as all good couples’ are,

but he never revealed to her

the secret code. His friends and family

likewise – he was open and honest

and right and true, but he never told anyone

what the letters stood for. He worked hard

at his job, and was roundly admired.

At first they asked him about the letters,

but they gave up eventually – it was clear

he would never reveal their meaning.

A good man, evidently. Loved by all. 

And at the summit, four letters in the snow.

Joshua Seigal 

Tuesday 26 March 2024

portraits of me, from Fleetville Infant School

Following on from my previous post about my visit to Fleetville Infant School, and my longstanding association with this wonderful place, I'm delighted to share some portraits (!!) that the children drew of me. One of the teachers presented me with a pack of them at the end of the day. You will see that my much-loved cat, Bluebell, makes a couple of appearances! 

Saturday 23 March 2024

Superhero Poem for Fleetville Infant School

I have been visiting the amazing Fleetville Infant School, Herts, as their Poetry in Residence, several times a year since 2014. Yesterday I had another one of my wonderful visits. Upon learning that Year 1 had been studying and writing about superheroes, I did what I often do and wrote a special, bespoke poem, just for them. Here it is. As you can see, it lends itself very well as a writing model. Why not have a go at writing your own version? 

If I Were a Superhero by Joshua Seigal

If I were a superhero

I would rescue all the lost cats

And keep them all as pets

If I were a superhero

I would make sure

That no one in the world is hungry

If I were a superhero

I would catch bad guys

With my pair of magic underwear

If I were a superhero 

I would make sure that every dog

Has a nice juicy bone

If I were a superhero 

I would take the news off the TV

And show nothing but cartoons

If I were a superhero

I would take all the broccoli in the supermarket

And send it to the moon…

If you were a superhero

What would you do?

For Fleetville Infant School

Thursday 21 March 2024

All Alone

You see the moon

but you are not the moon. 

You think your thoughts

but you are not your thoughts. 

You hold your wife in your arms

but you are not her

and she is not you. 

You are all alone.

And it’s beautiful.

Joshua Seigal

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Stunning poem from Year 5, Columbia Primary School

The other day, during a workshop with Year 5 at Columbia Primary School in Tower Hamlets, where I have had several lovely visits over the years, a pupil produced an amazing poem. I'm talking genuinely brilliant - the sort of poem I would expect to see published in an anthology written by adults. What makes it even better is that the poem was written in a mere ten minutes. After playing a warm-up game, I asked the students to think of a special person, and to describe that person using metaphors. Given the time available, I discouraged the use of rhyme, but the poet in question did it anyway. Here, then, is the poem I'm talking about: 

YOU by Rainbow 

You are my sun

keeping me warm

You are the birds

that wake me at dawn

You are the tree

that grows in my heart

Each leaf with a memory

right from the start

You are my clouds

all fluffy and soft

You are the treasures

that live in my loft

You are hot chocolate

on the coldest of nights 

You are the morning

full of new light 

You make the dinners

that fill up my tum 

You are my favourite – 

my amazing mum.

Sunday 17 March 2024


If you can imagine the sensation of your own mind

eating itself, it’s a bit like that. Your mind doubting

every part of itself, and finding a million reasons to

back up the doubt. Friends turn into enemies; love

twists and turns back in on itself until it becomes

Something else, starts to look like its very opposite. Help

becomes harm; harm becomes something necessary.

Your thoughts become arrows, assaulting your mind from

every direction. You start to suffocate under a mountain

of acronyms, diagnoses. The professors are out to get

you, turn you into a robot to suit their agenda for what

you should be. The world is turning against you.

The armies are sharpening their knives. 

But you are strong. Stronger than you give yourself

credit for. The only armies are the ones in your mind.

Your mind may be eating itself, but it is only nibbling

on its own tail. You can ignore the nibbling if you want.

You have that power. You have more power than you

know. You don’t need a PhD to know that you are brave.

An acronym is only a tiny portion of the alphabet that

delineates your own unique genius. The professors

know lots of things, but none of those things is you,

the real you, the you you experience from the inside

out. The world is a friend, if you can bear to let it in.

Joshua Seigal 

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Is There a Poet on Board the Plane?

It’s funny – you wait forever for a moment

like this, but you’re never quite sure what to

do when it arrives. Should you stand up and

make yourself known? Or should you lean

back in your seat, close your eyes and pretend

to be asleep? This is supposed to be a holiday

after all; why ruin it with work? Or perhaps,

in signing up for this job, you took an ethical

pledge to make your skills available whenever

needed, whatever the circumstances. You’re

only a Junior Poet, though – surely, among all

these people, there will be one or two who are

better qualified than you, for a situation like this?

But what if that’s not the case? A Junior Poet

must surely be better than no Poet at all. And what

if it’s a baby, in desperate need of a rhyme? Or

an elderly person who won’t be able to catch

their breath without a little cinquain? You twiddle

your ring as your licence thrums on its chain.

Yes, you think. Yes. Yes there is a Poet on board

this plane. Here I am. How can I be of service?

Joshua Seigal

Saturday 9 March 2024

Aeroplane Impression

I hate it when Dad

does his aeroplane impression.

I’ll be sitting there, feeling grumpy

about school or an argument with friends,

and Dad starts doing this flappy thing

with his lips – brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbr – 

I try to ignore him, but the noise

keeps going – brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbr – 

I tell him to stop, but the sound


and it keeps on going –  BRBRBBBBRBBRBRBRBRBRBRRRBBR!!! – 

and he starts running around the living room,

his lips buzzing like a crazy propeller,

his arms outstretched like dumb, stupid wings,

and maybe, just maybe, I’ll begin to laugh. 

Or at least smile. And then, if I’m feeling up to it,

if the mood somehow takes me,

if I can bear to leave my troubles behind,

I’ll clamber aboard Dad’s back.

He’ll hold me in place with those big safe hands

and maybe, just maybe,

we both might fly.

Joshua Seigal

Friday 1 March 2024

You Can't Take Away My Love

I wrote these as song lyrics. I do not have a particular melody in mind, and I've not set it to music. If any of my legions of readers wants to do so, then please feel free. 

You Can’t Take Away My Love

You can take away the hairs

From the top of my head

You can take away my butter

Along with my bread

You can make me sleep

On a prison bed

But you can’t take away my love 

You can fill my brain

With a tangle of doubt

You can toy with my mind

Til I want to shout

But I’ll tell you what it is

That I’m all about – 

You can’t take away my love

You can take the shirt

Right off my back

You can put my belongings

In your sack

Record all my failings

In an almanac

But you can’t take away my love

You can give me a zero

On your swanky test

You can plant a nail bomb

In my chest

But it doesn’t matter

See, I’ve been blessed

Cos you can’t take away my love

No you can’t take away my love