Plump as plums, clustered among leaves,
they hang in a green shade.
Pick one. Peel back the husk and find
a shell there, pocked and wrinkled
like some distant world.

You’ll need a knife. Just press
your blade against the lateral line
then prise the halves apart
and there, in a nutshell
is a brain.

Packed tight into an inch wide skull
two waxy hemispheres
each ridged and swollen
into lobes and clefts
and each the image of the other.

Remove the nut and place it on your tongue.
Crisp at first bite, then soft.
It tastes of sap,
and garnered sunlight
and green thoughts.


The woman who invented the selfie



Spiders find it easy
stretch their strings of pearls from A to B,
create a warp and weave so wonderful
it dazzles passing flies, seducing them
to a sticky end.

Sharks find it easy
Sleek as burnished steel, they strip
the flesh from seals and dolphins,
pirouette away through water
smokey with their victims’ blood.

Why can’t I
head packed with words, pen poised
pick out a plump and juicy metaphor,
feed it fantasies until it bursts
into a poem ?

dangerous liaisons between the living and the dead


The last of three posts about metaphor. If you’ve missed the other two then you can find them here:

and here:


And here is the the summing up – the last word:


Opens the door to doubt,
pricks logic’s tight balloon,
lets light in, darkness out,
confuses silver pennies with the moon,
turns on lights in empty buildings
rips the covers from every bed,
offers dangerous liaisons
between the living and the dead,

treads the wires of contradiction,
turns lead to gold, makes truth of fiction.

If you have any comments on this three- stage post, then, as always, they are very welcome.

Your most useful, multi-purpose writing tool is……


A computer ? A dictionary ? A pair of compasses ? No- they come later.

The most useful writing tool in the world is…….metaphor.

Believe it.

It might be a good idea to set the table first, before we begin the meal. This is what Wikipedia has to say:

“A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. Metaphor is a type of analogy.”

You compare A with B. They are very different, yet they have something in common. By comparing them you are saying something about A, something about B, and something about the collision which has just occurred. You’ve just made three things out of two. That’s poetic fission. And it’s just happened in your brain.

It doesn’t always work though. Some metaphors are dud from the start; others lose their punch and hang around at the end of sentences, like tramps looking for a handout. Politicians are particularly guilty in this regard, perhaps because they use second hand language. They assume that the electorate is stupid, and can’t be challenged. So they talk of ” level playing fields” when they mean equal opportunity; they promise that a new policy will be ” rolled out across the country” as though an idea is some kind of giant panjandrum which will rumble out of its hangar. And ” resilient” – I hate “resilient” almost as much as I hate “robust.” Both words have a muscular physicality about them which can’t be translated into the realm of abstract ideas. It doesn’t work, guys !

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

Meanwhile, back at my train of argument..the explosion, the poetic fission which has just happened in your head goes down on paper. If you’re a good writer, you leave it there for a few days. In the dark. To mature. And then you take it out again and taste it. Does it still leave a thrilling tingle on your tongue ? If it doesn’t, then it goes down the waste disposal. If it does, then it stays.

And then someone reads it…and it sets off another chain reaction in the reader’s head, which is the same as, and yet strangely different from the effect it had on you. And so it goes….

Human experience, the never-ending film that runs inside your head, is held together with…metaphor.

Enough for now. The compasses ? You’ll see their relevance in the next post.



Down the dusty, data-blown back streets
of my computer’s hard drive lies
the dumping ground-
the place
where failed poems go to die,
and fragments too, which make me feel
embarrassed or ashamed-
lines leading nowhere, overgrown
with lush, excessive, choking adjectives;
a rusting heap of mis-matched metaphors;
a rhyme scheme spray-canned on a concrete wall.
And that’s not all
that festers here-
a ballad that would put a saint to sleep;
a cinquaine that’s correct, but deadly dull.

The place is full
of junk.

Yet often when I’m stuck
I wander here
to browse the trash
(it’s happened many a time.)
I pick up some soiled phrase and rub it
on my sleeve
and sometimes- you won’t believe this-
I can see a gleam of gold beneath the grime.