Apr '12 16
So we are on day #16: starting the second half of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

I wrote this poem outside my local post office; that's the way it happens sometimes, they just arrive at the strangest moments and expect you to have a pen and paper ready to oblige. And I did.

Like all my daily poems it stands quivering, awaiting your judgement.

Poem for nothing

In the story
of the here and now
here is now
and now is here;
in now and again,
is now
as is again;
in the here and there
is there,
and here
is there too;
in the story
of all or nothing
is all
and nothing
and all or nothing;
in the here and now
is all
is nothing
just a story.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 15
Day 15 and we're half-way through National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

Today's poem is a short Sunday musing.

As always, it has just been born so it is still raw, unedited and shivering.


We peck and squabble
too close for comfort,
our sensibilities, caged;
fear imprisons us.
Give our thoughts free range:
cross that road.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 14
This morning I was listening to a poetry podcast as I drove to a writing group meeting in the city. One of the presenters said something about imagining your house in a balloon (I can't remember the exact context now).

As soon as I came home I scribbled this poem. It could probably be extended, but this is it in its raw first draft.


A sugar pink balloon cocooned my house.
We took off at sunrise,
Dog looked up in surprise
for a moment from his bone,
wagged a question with his tail
as the ground beneath his paws and my feet
rocked gently;
I drank my tea
watched from my perch
on the yellow love seat
by the large bay window
as we floated over a waking city
drifted towards burnished hills;
bewildered swallows and seagulls
and a puzzled pelican flew by;
the earth receding
as higher and higher we soared
through silky clouds
into lilac heavens
coasting on unmarked currents
wafting through uncharted spaces.
I sipped my tea, grown colder in thinning air.
Other candy-colour-cocooned houses
bobbed into view,
we glided around each other
describing a complex dance
of polka-dots in space.
Then Dog licked my face, and I got up to let him out.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 13
Day 13 of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and it's time for another poem.

Friday the thirteenth

I do not believe today carries
the particular stench of bad luck.
Today, I wasn't expecting disasters to happen.
I'm not concerned about walking under ladders
or about black cats crossing my path.
I haven't lost sleep over that mirror I broke.
My good fortunes are not thanks to four-leaf clovers or horseshoes
although I never did find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If I believed in these beliefs I would be giving them the kiss of life.
So my food poisoning this morning was pure chance.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 12
Look at that: we're up to day 12 of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

Please remember that these daily poems require plenty of editing - some more than others. I still grit my teeth when uploading them because of how rough and newborn they are.

Earlier today I skim-read a newsletter article about the importance of water coolers in the workplace for generating ideas. Today's poem just took complete control and I let it off.

What do you think?

Water cooler culture

Our need for water
draws us together,
reminiscent of tribal gatherings
at the river bank
or lake's edge.

We size up the new employee,
share weekend stories.
We discuss
the latest movies,
the best vintage clothes shops
the least expensive holidays
the tastiest recipes.
Fellowship develops.
We promise to do coffee, lunch, dinner,
we worry about health issues and the best hangover cure.
Ideas are shared.
We complain about bills,
the cost of child minding,
healthy food.

The water cooler
unfurls grapevine tendrils,
nourishes its gossipy stems;
we open up.

We grumble at how impossible it is to keep track of young ones nowadays
how difficult it is to find decent nursing homes for our elderly parents;
doesn’t your woman look like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth
and I bet he hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years;
we hear about someone’s new baby: sleepless nights, ha ha.
We gasp at rumours of sackings,
snipe at promotions,
moan about yet another restructure
and confide that we’d leave home in a heartbeat
for George or Angelina or Hugh or Miranda.
Sometimes we notice knowing looks
and discover someone thought we were having an affair.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 11
Day 11: I don't know why, but I really like the number 11. I see it everywhere; I like its symmetry, its simplicity, its binaryness (I can invent words if I like).

So here's a si11y poem in honour of the number 11.

And yes, there are 11 syllables in its title and each of its 11 lines.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments box.

A simple celebration of eleven

Eleven a.m. is time enough to wake
on Saturdays, cosy in bed, luxury:
no work, in perfect time for elevenses,
coffee, croissants, and other delicacies
ease me into the light, the day, the weekend;
you can keep your cricket first eleven team,
your eleven swans a-swimming at Christmas.
So what if ten plus one equals eleven
or if November is the eleventh month?
Big yahoo, eleven is a prime number.
Eleven a.m. wake-up call: now that's bliss.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 10
It's day 10 of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

I was somewhat ambitious today. I wanted to write an acrostic poem (one where the first letter of every line spells out a word or phrase). Then I was thinking about Oscar's Law (the campaign to abolish puppy factories) and how greedy some dog breeders are.

Suddenly the poem became an ode for Oscar, with a rhyming scheme of ABABCDCDE.

Of course if I had more time I would rework it thoroughly, but this is a poem-a-day exercise so you get to see my poem in all its early-draft glory.

Oscar's Law advocates: feel free to use this in your campaigns if it suits (with attribution, is all I ask).

Let me know what you think in the comments box. I'd love to hear from you.

Oscar's ode

Oh puppy factory bitches please know how
Sorry I am for what you’re going through
Churning out those puppies; (take a bow
All you greedy breeders, would that you
Rot in filthy cages, like your prey;)
Sad and outraged I am, how I wish
Lovely ones like you weren’t locked away
Awaiting certain death, a bitter dish:
(We humans have a lot to answer for.)

Older than we know, our lives entwined
Since ancient times dogs lived and worked with man
Co-existing, hunting, wits combined
And probably helped prehistoric clan
Ride out extinction threats; today’s dog stands
Socially perceptive, by our side
Loyal and true, obeying our commands
And we should be true masters, dignified
Without the need to exploit our best friend.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 9
Today my inner geek came out to play.

I decided to experiment with numerical structures and write a poem based on the mathematical Fibonacci series after I'd read about other writers doing this in the excellent book The Writing Experiment by Hazel Smith.

Each number in the Fibonacci series is the sum of the previous two, so it goes like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55... and so on.

I decided to apply the Fibonacci series to the number of syllables in each line. The first and second lines have one syllable, the third line has two, the fourth line has three and so on up to the seventh line, which has 13 syllables. Then I decreased it, so the eighth line has eight, the ninth line has five, etc.

And how numerically pleasing that the middle line of a 13-line piece has 13 syllables! You have to love the beautiful symmetry of maths (sometimes)!

Number and number

you think
you've over-
come your searing grief
life bares its livid tongue, pounds you
down, you slump by its twisted feet, crumpled, defeated,
you hope no-one heard the thump, you
curl inwards, fragile,
hope someone
throws you

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 8
It's day eight of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

I never know where a poem is going to go. Today's one was kick-started by the lovely idea of cloud reading from this post at Seedlings in Stone.

Feel free to comment - don't be shy!

Cloud watching

They both lie hand in hand on shelled ground,
trying to distinguish
dragons feeding on ice-cream cones
a dog and a bird, flying together,
white cotton wheels rolling across their childhood blue.
no blue here.
gazing up through hazy dust
through dim building shapes
through street lights, long extinguished,
through a heavy film of history
at a sky racing towards them;
sounds of planes
grow louder again
whine of alarms
begins again
as their light folds to dark
and clouds implode
into a single point.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 7
Here's today's poem.



As you welcome me home each evening
always in a happy mood,
as you stretch, full belly, yawning
after gulping down your food,
as you listen, or ignore me,
as you lick my salty skin,
as I slip a collar round your neck:
remember who's top dog.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 6
Today I've experimented with writing/constructing a concrete poem for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

In a concrete poem, the way the words are arranged is as important as the message of the poem itself.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 5
Today's raw National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) poem is modelled on Robert Frost's 'Stopping by woods on a snowy evening', which ends with the enigmatic lines '...And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep.'

I've used the same rhyming scheme and the same number of verses.

Let me know what you think in the comments box.

Stopping in a Garden on a Thursday evening

This Garden, oh Gethsemane,
My Father knows I want to flee
But faith this paltry life transcends:
My duty to help mankind see.

I spent the evening with my friends
Broke bread, shared wine, now evening ends
My Father's wish I can't delay
On me his winning plan depends.

But Judas, you will me betray.
And Peter, by the breaking day
You'll shake your head three times, deny,
Then cock will crow, to your dismay.

And even yet, I wonder why...
My friends, I bid you warm goodbye
Not long to go before I die
Not long to go before I die.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 4
My day four National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) poem is a haiku inspired by an ABC article about locusts.


Tired locusts on red earth,
hold breath to rest,
prepare to swarm.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 3
Today's 'naked' National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) poem was inspired by this lovely quote from a certain M C Richards: Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance.

I hope you like it. Let me know what you think in the comments box.

Allowing the ordinary

I woke up at 5.30 this morning,
made myself a black coffee
in my favourite blue-and-yellow mug;
threw open the window
smelled the new-mown grass
regarded yesterday's towels on the clothes line
noticed the faint outlines
of our three bicycles leaning against the fence
and the jumble of dog toys on the lawn;
I inhaled the fresh air
heard the doves call to each other
as elegant eucalyptus branches moved gently;
I saw a Tuesday morning blink its sleep-filled eyes,
watched an April sky pull back its curtains,
open its windows.

And later
as I considered ideas for today's poem
my first thought was
that this morning
had been one like every other,
nothing special.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 2
Here's my day two poem offering.


Yesterday was Palm Sunday.
I remembered only towards day's end.

I remember well
in the Holy Weeks of my childhood
the smell
of fresh-cut pine tree branches,
sacramentals in the box at the church entrance.

We'd choose a blessèd stem
symbol of adulation
of imminent betrayal,
reminder of how we blow with the wind:
cry 'Hosanna!' one day
cry 'Crucify Him!' the next.

Yesterday was also April Fool’s day.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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