Showing posts from April, 2018



Now you see it / now you don’t. As if energised by the rain, the ground shifts in numerous places
simultaneously: now in front, now behind. Now beneath the pond, now around the bank, now beyond. Now under my knuckles. Now under my knees.
Too close for comfort. I start back, away from it. Then I can take it all in - its undulating movements animating the foundation. The ground churning. Now and then (or now and now – and now! And now! And now!) its skin can be seen, glinting silver. And it’s enormous: a monster. I’m reminded suddenly, incongruously, of the encyclopaedias I’d kneel and learn of heraldry in: a serpent, argent. A snake, rampant. An adder, courant. In the reflection of the heavens, the clouds have gained negative height,
turned to inverse nimbus. Around it, the Nāga turns and turns up and down, in and out between the liminals of the elements… nimble as lightning through the muck! Until, eventually, I notice it’s forming into an unbroken ring.

For #NaPoWriMo2018 I set myself the task …


From a mile away, it might be mud. Move closer, it becomes a mirror. The basin almost empty, its ‘lake’ more of a mere. From there, my face looks back at me. In the same way, I remember myself marking you; and your merging with the air at the moment I emerged from the meadow.
Beyond my head, the murmuration of cumuli meanders in misty sympathy with my own motion. I am here for a reason. I shake the stick, and at the same time, circles grow from pinpricks in the water. At the same time,
I feel them, coolly blessing my cranium. At the same time, something makes a movement in the murk; animating the mire.
What’s there?
Under air, water. Under water, earth. Under earth,

I am writing a poem for each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet for #NaPoWriMo2018. The poems are a sequence and you can read the first dozen as follows:


The letter 'M' is derived from an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph denoting water.


It’s lovely. A leather handle at the heal, a long hazel shank, and glinting silver ferrule completed at my shoulder with a curl of golden antler. I’ll walk a long while with this cleek.
Meanwhile, looking along the landscape, I feel something is lacking: If this is my crook, what will my livestock be?
(Elephants? Cattle? Llamas? Leopards? Lemurs? Leverets? Lemmings?) The fields are empty – full of nothing likely.
Initially directionless, I still feel a silent calling,
and I let my legs yield to it. There’s a flicker in the sky as I go, small clouds blocking and unblocking the solar glare
– their shadows follow my shadow through fields splendid with purple flowers; lilac and lavender, tulip and lily, violet and viola.
It’s getting late by the time I realise at last, until I hold the staff aloft and swirl the sky with it, the little fluffy clouds fleeing left and right, orbiting the invisible line. They’ll be my flock.
I close my eyes (that kaleidoscope again) and level the walking stick with the lie o…


If you think you could be dreaming you can try a handcheck: look at your hand’s open palm and flick back and forth between that and the back.
You’ll know if you’re awake. Your knuckles will just be your knuckles, your little finger just a pinky. If not, there are all kinds of freaky possibilities – your fingers could be tied in knots, or covered in dark lipstick kiss marks, or made of lank kale…
I check. It looks like normal… I think. Only, when did I get ink? What’s normal? I blink… and in that quick movement there's a sparkling kaleidoscope of black and shocking pink. I don’t know I’m awake, but something’s out of kilter, and I reckon if I take a breath, I can make things happen here. I close my eyes again. Take my time. Hold my palm out flat. What will I make? A knife? A key? With a whack, it lands from the sky. I sneak a look: a shepherd’s crook.

I'm writing a poem for each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet for #NaPoWriMo2018. The letter 'K' is derived from an Egy…


I grew a tail. J’ai fait pousser une queue.


I am writing a poem for each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet, for #NaPoWriMo2018. The poems are a sequence and you can read each of the preceding letters on these links:


'J' is a junior member of our alphabet, having been until a few hundred years ago the same letter as 'I'. Its distinction from its manxome* progenitor is attributable to an individual, Gian Giorgio Trissino (a man with 5 letter 'i's and 3 'j' sounds in his name, but no 'j's), as in this article - it was over a hundred years later, after the publication of the King James bible, that the letters became distinct in English. Until then 'J' or 'j' were just different ways of writing 'I' or 'i'.

Thanks to Dylann Knight for helping me not screw up the line in French here, especially since that's half the poem.

*I wrote this on the assumption that it was generally …


I'm writing a poem for every letter of the alphabet this #NaPoWriMo, and I've reached the letter 'I'.
You can read the poems for the first eight letters here: ABCDEFGH
'I' is conjectured to have been derived from a Phoenician symbol for an arm. This reminds me of a mysterious line from Twin Peaks - "I am the arm". The letter was also the Roman numeral for '1' and closely resembles the equivalent arabic numeral.
When I began writing this this morning, strange inversions occurred such as the trackpad on my laptop suddenly scrolling up and down in the opposite direction to normal - and the 'I' of the title turned red when I replaced yesterday's 'H' with it. I've decided to keep the red.


Leaving the old house and its charred garden behind, you decide - what else? To follow the hare over the stile.
However, you have to hesitate when holding on to the topmost bar, you can’t help but notice: the front of your fingers ha…


I am writing a poem for every letter of the English (or, if you prefer, international standard Latin) alphabet, this NaPoWriMo.

You can find the poems so far under the following links: ABCDEFG
On Monday I stumbled across this beautiful diagram of the letters' histories by UsefulCharts  - have a look.

'H' is derived from a symbol for a fence! Now I think it's a stile.
Here is a hare. He hears your heart.
“Hello”, puts forth the fair-haired hare, “have to rush… horribly behind
for a hugely himportant happointment”.

(That’s how you think you heard it in your human head. What he said
was holy - hard to echo here).
“…have to rush… Heavens! Hades!”

he hops, hurriedly,
under a hurdle in the hawthorn hedgerow.


Day 9 of #NaPoWriMo.
I am writing a poem a day (more or less) for each letter of the English alphabet. You can read the first six here:
'G' is derived from the same throwing stick symbol as 'C'
You go down to the ground again to get a closer look – to have a gander at this gift.  In fact the club is not just iron: its edges and corners are gilt. They glint gold against the green. Then again, there are gaps through which
you glimpse bare wood – and you gradually recognise –
it’s the same stick you flung over the house! Brought back armour-clad,
metallurgically guarded and graced. You gather it up. God, it feels good. It hums in your grip. and for the first time you can hear its song ringing clear in your thoughts. It comes through in a perfect chord: “I’ve got to go back to guard the garden. I am the guardian”
So you give it back to where it came from,
and it glides in a glorious arc
and it lands in the grass.


Day 8 of #NaPoWriMo and I'm only on the 6th letter of the alphabet. Maybe I'll try to do more than one a day for a couple of days to catch up.
You can read the first poems in the series here: ABCDE
'F' is descended from the Semitic letter 'waw' (the letter's 'f' and 'w' are surprisingly closely related - to find out why, make a 'w' sound and draw your bottom lip back towards your top teeth so it becomes a 'v' - and keep going...) - its hieroglyphic ancestor probably stood for a club or a mace.

The frequency fades
and you follow his frantic gaze floorwards, where, freakishly, you find ’e’s sinking in to the ground! First his feet, followed fast
by his fit legs, and the rest of his frame….
his femurs, fibula, fat gut, false teeth - all the way - to that furrowed forehead and the follicles of his fine coiffure. Even then his arms remain aloft. In five seconds flat, he’s in up to his funny bones, and only now that he’s nothin…


Day 5 or 6 of #NaPoWriMo.
This month, I am writing a poem every day (give or take a few) dedicated to a different letter of the alphabet.
You can see the first four letters here: ABCD
The letter 'E' is thought to be descended from an Egyptian hieroglyph which depicted a man with arms held aloft in jubilant worship. 

“EeEeE”- an entity emerges from the sunrise, at first indistinguishable from the enveloping light, then in abstract blobs of emerald and eggplant, eventually res
embling an elk or an
eland or any horned earth creature
- except those
extensions ar
en’t horns, th
ey’re arms, h
eld aloft as if
embracing th
e morning sky. He exits the engulfing energy, then eclipses it - exclaiming an endless ecstas
y! Expressing an eternal excitement… Exhibiting an energetic exaltation. He do esn't ev en acknowl edg e your pr es enc e, whil
e his not
e, his
e not
e, echo
es ev er
ywh er e. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…


Day 4 of #NaPoWriMo for me; 5 for the rest of the world (I blame deadlines at work)
I am writing a poem for each letter of the alphabet. They are a sequence. You can read the first three parts here - AB and C

The letter 'D' is thought to have been derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph for a door or a fish(!)

There is a connection to the appropriate day at least - setting off to work yesterday, pondering the curious fact that the ancient glyph for a door appeared to be wider than it was tall, I passed these horizontal, antique doors:



Deciding to descend to the house, you did so; duly going down in the direction of the derelict dwelling.
Everything about the house was past. Passed. The doorways empty and dark. You didn’t enter; distracted by a duo of white wooden boards, down to your right; doubtless the dismantled doors. Attached to the the middle of the nearest one with black-and-white
hazard tape; a sheet of paper, duck-egg blue, displayed the following message:



Day 3 of #NaPoWriMo.

I am writing a poem for each letter of the alphabet. They are a sequence. You can read the first two here - A and B

The letter 'C' is thought to have possibly been derived from an ancient symbol for a throwing stick.


Of course, the clock and our conscience will not allow us simply to ‘be’, eternally. Crickets chirp. Crows caw. The celestial ceiling clouds over, then clears again, to uncover a crescent moon
so crisp you can see the curves of the craters. The carbonated soil is changed twice over by the light it casts.
What can you make out, down there? Everywhere in the black ground, certain things, once concealed, catch the beams. Collapsing to your hands and knees to dig, you can feel them – crab's claws. Continue. Champagne corks. Carry on. Copper coins… Cease!
Curling into your fingers as if it was conceived and crafted for no other purpose, is a… a… what is it? A cane? A cudgel? A club?
You come to your feet again. Savour the weight of it in your …


Day 2 of #napowrimo. I am aiming to write something for each letter of the alphabet. You can read 'A' here.
The letter B is derived from the runic letter 'beorc' - which also meant birch tree.


Beyond the bull, you reach an ancient building. A ruined house. Before the house, on burnt ground, stands a birch.
Beneath its branches: butterflies.
Between its boughs: birds.
Behind its bark: beetles.
Below, bright against the blackened soil, beds of borage and buddleia bushes burgeon. Bumblebees bother its buds as it bends in the breeze, basking in blue skies, that bless its white trunk, its green leaves.

You brought a box of questions for the tree,
but it will give but one word back. Just, 'be'.


April is #napowrimo ('National' poetry writing month), an annual challenge to write a poem a day, and post each one to your blog. The dedicated website also offers optional daily prompts. I've been thinking for some time of writing a series focussed on the 26 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet, and April having 30 days seems to fit quite well with doing this (and leaving myself room to skip some days, as I will inevitably end up doing. In fact if I only skip four I'll be doing far better than I normally do at these things, but I fancy my chances of getting to 'B', at least).
In relation to this first step on the journey, I also recommend reading Malcolm McNeill's article 'A' is for Girl. Aside from those associations, this gate where we begin is guarded by a bull. 'A' is thought to be derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph of an ox's head. So - grabbing the bull by the horns:
A crack in the cave wall – an aperture to
a view …