Monthly Archives: April 2022

Three shorts – poems

Credit: Mammiya via PIxabay

I discovered Pome only a couple of months ago and am enjoying the poems very much: an interesting range and they are short, even very short. As I understand it, Matthew (Matt) Ogle originally posted the poems some years ago and the project has restarted via Tiny Letter.

Here is an Issa haiku, translated by Robert Hass. Since I am a paid-up member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to House Dust, it speaks to me …

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house

Monostich – a poem or epigram of one single line. The title is important and may be long, longer even than the poem. My recent example from a course I’m doing:

While it rained, we went out and put the poster on trees and lamp posts in the neighbourhood

It needs heart and courage (lebh in Hebrew) to wear a pochet with conviction.

Here is a short poem by Carl Tomlinson from his Changing Places. It has a haiku-like quality. Carl is the May guest poet. I look forward to sharing more of his poems with you then.


All along the bridleway
some kind of rain
is trying to shake off the wind.
The land feels thinned.

Perfectly eggspressed: Easter brunch

A great many thanks to my fellow poets who responded splendidly on Facebook to the George Perec ‘e’ challenge. It’s a feast. I hope you enjoy the selection. I send them and you warm Easter greetings.

Steve Smythe:
Send me every gem she ever kept.
Steve Smythe:
Beef, beer, weed: perfect.
Helen Kay:
Helen expects eleven eggs every week. 
Sarah L Dixon:
Every beret fells seven men even when they tend seeds, mend fences, then recede. End.
Steve Smythe:
Best strengthen the steel sheep  pen
Hannah Mackay:
Chew seven spelt seeds. Renew every few weeks.
Steve Smythe:
Feel the breeze; expect red cheeks.
Hilary Robinson:
Send me the new bed, fresh sheet-bedecked.
Janet Sutherland:
She expects her energy ends here.
Barry Fentiman-Hall:
When Ben went there Jen went red.
Sarah J Bryson:
He knew every beech tree grew free, the breeze renewed, endlessly.
Katy Evans-Bush:
She’d never pre-empt these seven, then exempt.
Angi Holden:
Envy the clever shepherd – the twelve speckled sheep he secretly keeps chew where the endless greenery stretches between cherry tree edged beech crescents.
Sue Kindon:
The Beer Fest swells the seventh tent; breezy revellers emerge, three sheets teetered.
Oz Hardwick:
The elect erected dressy needles, yet clerks scythe empty chests.
Pam Thompson:
We’re held, spent – thresh sleep/speech event, feel stress.
Rachel Davies:
When we’re elderly trekkers the knees need rest
Sarah Mnatzaganian:
Eyes drench every element when they weep.
Stephen Payne:
He prefers terser sentences.
Vanessa Lampert:
Yes the egg never left me, yes the elf then wept, even better, he grew mettle greener, severed the tree then tweeted the red hedge news.
Sally Evans:
she emerges even when she expects endless reverses.

By way of bonus, here is poet Rod Whitworth’s contribution – using only ‘i’ and ‘y’.


I mind (with liking) this child
imbibing milk.
Lit with infinity,
it insists it is big.
Bit by bit — spiting
my might, my right —
it fights my will.

I find sticks in bins
igniting nightly,
kindling my
illicit still.
Timing it by twilight
I skip by drinking
whisky, singing
in high winds, rhyming,
rhythmic. By limp light
I’m writing mythic signs
my child might find
inspiring. I sigh.

Revelation – poem

It is an enormous pleasure to introduce this month’s guest poet Hilary Robinson. We met many years ago on writing workshops in Manchester.

Hilary Robinson

Hilary Robinson has lived in Saddleworth for over 40 years. Publications include The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Strix, The Morning Star, Riggwelter, Atrium and Poetry Birmingham and several anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018), A New Manchester Alphabet (Manchester Writing School 2015), Noble Dissent (Beautiful Dragons Press 2017), Bloody Amazing! (Yaffle/Beautiful Dragons Press 2020) and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. In 2018 twelve of her poems were published in the first joint DragonSpawn book, Some Mothers Do . . . alongside Dr Rachel Davies and the late Tonia Bevins. Her poem, ‘Second Childhood’ was shortlisted in the 2016 Yorkmix Poetry Competition.

Hilary has collaborated with composition students from the Royal Northern College of Music as part of the Rosamond Prize and was involved in the 2016 Leeds Lieder Festival. She is currently collaborating with composer, Joseph Shaw, on an opera to be performed at the Royal Northern College of Music.

In June 2021, Hilary’s debut pamphlet, Revelation, was published by 4Word Press. Hilary has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. The central section of Revelation is a series of poems which explore the aftermath of betrayal in a marriage. From this section I have selected four poems. Nikolai Duffy says that these poems ‘sing with a lyrical precision that is as authentic as it is unflinching.’


And I beheld the last seven years open up before me
and they gave up their secrets.

And I beheld my beloved’s face concealed by a fine beard
and his feet that were turned to sand.

And I beheld seven office chairs, unoccupied except
for two, on which sat my beloved and his shame.

And surrounding my beloved and his shame were all the places
they had been while I had slept on in our bed.

And all the places they had been were also all the places
he had taken me. And I wept that this was true.

And I beheld his eyes turn to streams as his remorse descended
from him. And lo — his arms reached out for mine.

And I tightened my golden belt around my waist, knelt down
by his side and said that I forgave him.

That September

Every time he went to the window
he saw them. Gangs hired to find us,
gangs armed with torches burning
even though it was early September
and still light. Gangs getting closer.

He’d let everyone down, his partners,
clients, staff, his family. Most of all
he’d let me down in ways I’d never imagined.
Now they were at the end of our drive. Now
he’d found a way to stop the fire he’d caused.

It took four of us to prize his fingers
from the Swiss Army Knife’s twin
blades. I never knew what happened
to that knife. I wiped blood from his hand,
found the doctor’s home number.

The rest is a history of ashes, scorched
earth of a marriage that somehow
bore new life after hospital, after
ECT, after many hours of therapy.
This house still stands.


In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent, and there is no place to hide a dark heart.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

To become glass, learn to make yourself
fluid as egg-timer sand.

Hone yourself to brittleness with just a little
give to accommodate rough winds.

Research your ancestry — try to enter
the mindset of silica.

Practise the occasional sharp look,
the cutting remark — hide in the shadows.

To become glass, give in — become transparent;
melt into the view from this bedroom.

Trying to Take my Husband to the Antica Carbonera

There is no chance I’ll find the Calle Bembo
with its kinks, its turns, its lamps
hanging above shops of antique Murano beads,
its shiny cobbles and those buskers
trotting out Vivaldi through the season.
No chance I’ll find what translates

where Cath and I ate wild mushrooms
cooked four ways and spent so much
they brought us Limoncello on the house.

Yet here we are. This is the first Venetian street
our feet touch on the way to the Al Codega.
The food is perfectly seasoned. Tonight
we’re on the roof. I have another angle on this street.

Georges Perec and the ‘e’

I discovered a book programme on Dutch TV. It’s called Brommeropzee (mopedonsea) after a Dutch short story. There are two presenters. Based on my brief observation, I would say: she is E for Empathy, he is E for Ego.

One item was an interview with Guido van de Wiel. He has previously translated Perec’s 1969 novel La Disparation (A Void) into Dutch – see the cover. Like the original, the text does not include a single vowel ‘e’.

In 1972 Perec published a companion piece Les Revenentes (The Exeter Text). In the interview Guido showed long lists of words containing only the vowel ‘e’. He has worked on this translation on-and-off for 12 years. The translation follows the original in form (lipogram) and content.

Brommeropzee issued a challenge to viewers: compose a coherent sentence of at least 10 and at most 30 words, using any consonant, but only the vowel ‘e’. Here is my sentence: De beleefde kreeft heeft even geleden en elders negeert de kwelder de heen-en-weer regen.

Translated: The polite lobster has suffered briefly and elsewhere the salt marsh ignores the to-and-fro rain. There are no rhyming sounds as in my Dutch original, but you get the flavour.

If you like a challenge, compose a (decent) sentence of words using only the vowel ‘e’ and send them to me via the Contact page. I’ll publish a selection in a few weeks.