Monthly Archives: April 2014

The prompt today on the official blog was to write a rhyming charm, which got me thinking about traditional forms, or any forms at all really. My favourite of all the “restrictive” forms of poetry is definitely the sevenling, which I think may have been popularised by Roddy Lumsden. The rules are this: 

Seven lines. The first three express three ideas that are connected. The three ideas can either exist on each separate line or not, that doesn’t matter. The next three (next stanza), has to have three more ideas that are slightly moved away from the first three, but still connected to eachother, and the mood of the poem overall. Finally, the seventh line has to be the unexpected punchline that ties the whole thing together. So here is mine, and it’s called Letters to and from a murderer. 

I was high on speed, the kitchen raining.
Three weeks late, and he’d been gone a month
so I drank enough scotch to flush his memory out,

and write on walls to work out how I’m feeling, and
tell that to the doctor when he comes to check my
pulse. “My best friend’s cut off my supply” I tell him. 

A letter drops. Finally, a reply from my murderer. 



NB – This poem is not a rip off of Luke Kennard’s FANTASTIC “The Murderer”. I did actually once write to, and receive a letter from, a convicted murderer called Michael Alig, so that’s what this is about. 


This is my second, it’s a prose poem called Catherine. The prompt was mythology, so I’m writing to my daughter who does not yet exist and may never. 

Dear Catherine,

You have the bigger room, not because I love you more than I love your brother, but because you got born first and you’re called Catherine, which is my favourite name. I don’t want to paint it pink. Or blue. We’ve been having arguments about gender-neutral colours. We’re going for white. Your Dad joked about the race implications of this. You are one sixteenth Kashmiri. That’s why that’s funny. I’m sorry that you’re probably ill. I’m sorry that you probably are a bit more human than by human I mean maybe that your bones are more exposed than your friends’. And when I say friends I mean the people that die.

Across from our house there’s a bus stop advertising Tom Ford cologne for men and in the advert a woman’s legs are visibly hanging out of a car boot. Girls of 13 are handing out blow jobs to make friends, practicing on cucumbers and Fruit Pastille lollies. Don’t do that. Look hard at those that do, and then decide not to. And now the clock in your room is advertising bed time. And now your head on the pillow is promoting sleepiness. I’m not tired yet so I’m just going to sit here a bit longer and carry on writing this. 


We should get you a red, hooded cloak. You should watch the Wizard of Oz. I wish I was used to sleeping on my own already.

Oh god one day you’re going to call me from a nightclub at three in the morning, aren’t you. You’re going to be your mother’s daughter aren’t you. Well, perhaps not, because I don’t know your mother, you’re sort of on loan to me. The agency said I’d always have to be open about these things to you so you don’t throw it back at me any time. This whole process is a migraine. And the migraine is a bus stop advertising rape. And  a nightclub. And the fact you don’t have your father’s eyes, but someone else does now. What they call a real woman I guess.


I told you I was a bad writer, didn’t I Cathy? I’m resorting to writing a letter to you because I’m all out of ideas. Why did we move to London? This is not how I imagined this going. At the bus stop three young men and a young woman who is one of their girlfriends have arrived and they are smoking. They are participating in my migraine. They are unwelcome guests in my head and I am having to look after them. As well as you.


Become friends with people you don’t necessarily like because eventually you will come to love them more than you love anyone. In fact, fall in love with someone you fucking hate. It will be such a riot and you will love it. Live up to your name for God’s sake Catherine.

I dedicate this poem to Elliott Smith and I give  all of my artistic integrity to the night I got bad news whilst drunk, to the affairs I had, to the knives and men with wives and heroin. I dedicate this poem to a dark street at night when I’m pretending to use a phone because that might help me to not get raped.


It’s getting late, Cathy, and this poem is going absolutely nowhere. If you need me I will be in the next room and you can scratch at the wall and I will hear that orchestra of you needing me. That orchestra, next to this pitiful first draft of what was only going to be a piano piece. That’s a metaphor and a terrible one at that. Tomorrow we will go to the park. Or a patch of grass.  I don’t know, I’m not feeling great. But I want you to hear and see everything. Catch up. I wish I didn’t talk to you like this. I can’t afford therapy though.


I should have carried you for the requisite 9 months,
not filled out forms and smoked cigarettes for 7.
I should have listened to what the doctor said.
Ever since Dad left I’ve just been so, so tired. 

Hello old friends. I haven’t posted here in a really long time, because I’ve found it really difficult to write this past 9 months, as it’s been a time of recovery for me (you may remember that last Summer, I was completely insane). Because I have found it difficult to write, I am keeping up with Napowrimo again. This is my FOURTH year of participating so I’m going to really try this year.
This one doesn’t have a title, but it’s sort of taken from the prompt and it’s sort of personal to me but at the same time you may notice some sly references to old poems by famous writers. The poem is about killing, essentially. The killing of traditions, relationships, friendships, disease, and things that can kill you. 


“You are afraid of everyone. Your nickname is hermitcrab.

Come out of your shell, they say”
from Starfish by Leah Horlick. 

and then they gave me your hand
to hold my hand because it wasn’t
wearing a latex glove and I needed
the skin, even if it was your skin
familiar, I thought, but was foreign, 
clammy. The nurses come and go
and only you mention Michaelangelo
because you haven’t noticed the date
or remembered to move on. I remind
you, it’s 2014, and some of us have
moved on. “Yes” you said. “And now
it’s my turn”.

Outside in the hospital gardens we spot
anaemic daffodils; not golden, nor a 
host, I remind you, we are moving on.
I feel the bastard child of cancer kicking. 
I tell you I want to kill all of the doctors
and become a Greek god. The surgeons
have my tissue and I’m coming down 
from ether; what did I once say? When 
I saw you, with a robe pressed up against
your face thinking I hadn’t seen? I do
not have to kill you, Daddy, for when I was
deep under, I knew such wistful pictures.