The Lactose Paradigm

I am out of milk. The last carton sits discarded by the bin, accusing. The shedding of fleecy skin and three sets of traffic lights beseech tomorrow. But threat lines my stomach: a whole day dragged through wretched necessity without that vital bitter lifeblood. Even my motivation needs motivation. This procrastination has to stop, or I’ll never leave this fuzzy haze, Stockholm syndrome of a dressing gown. It takes me twenty minutes to stand and partly undress, to persuade myself they’ll think my hair is deliberately a mess. Swathes of material puff up my thighs like pregnancy pillows. Jeans jammed over jammies. I suppose I am ready.

Prompt: Write a ten sentence prose poem about doing something mundane.


Bundled into an oversized coat,
thick-fingered gloves and a matching hat.
We tiptoed up slippery pavements,
lights dancing across wet tarmac;
feverish prickle of electric
on the way to the frosty fair.

I was first in line for the giant slide,
a crest above the tide. The ocean
slopped more darkness on the shore,
and the booming beat of the bass rocked the floor.
On a coarse coir rug I plummeted.

Together we jumped in the bumper cars
with their bright designs, metal hooks
flashing blue bolts as we bashed into each other
with the cold of winter nights in our laughter,
and after I’d beg for a cloud of candy floss,
warm like burnt sugar. Or hot popcorn,
a sweetly salted caramel on the tongue.
But all too soon it would be time;
You’re supposed to be in bed by nine.

I’d count the nights ’til we returned,
but when we did, a barricade of breeze blocks
and steel fences barred our way.
Inaccessible, unrecognisable in its array of
monochrome machines and wretched dreams.
They’d drained the colour. Killed the lights.
There’s no delight in rusting girders, splintered
shells of shacks, fluttering tarpaulin. Sawdust and salt
grit the corners of my mouth, turned down in despair.
It’s just not fair.


Atop that friendless hill
sits the monarch of the trees.
The crumbling crown of a castle
wrought with misery.

In disregarded splendour,
that once fearful keep
becomes a blemish on the skyline;
a loss no mortal weeps.

His walls provided hope
to the soldiers of despair.
But once their plight concluded
they stripped and left him bare.

No longer his might is worshipped,
No more do they fall to their knees.
The only servant who bows to him now
is the wind in the boughs of the trees.


“Wat r u wearing?” He typed as he sat.
“Not much,” she replied in the MSN chat.
But the problem with dating
an internet acquaintance
is they really don’t know you’re a cat.

If Only

But what if?
If only.
Only once more…
More often than not.
Not a chance.
Chances are…
Are you certain?
Certainly not.
Nothing makes sense.
Sense doesn’t matter.
Matters are out of control.
Control is hard to keep under.
Underneath it all I’m not okay.
Okay? The answer is yes.
Yes is a lie.
Lies get us nowhere.
Nowhere? I want to be somewhere.
Somewhere with you, but I can’t.
Can’t do it. It’s impossible.
Impossible… but…
But what if?
If only.

First Rifle of the Outback

As part of my dissertation I interviewed friends and acquaintances on objects of sentimental value to them. One of my interviewees, upon discussing a bullet shell from his time in Australia, was particularly difficult to get information out of. So I created an awkward poetic form to express this; a Villanelle crossed with a Haiku. A Vaiku if you will.

I shot the gun;
first rifle of the outback.
The dingo was done.

I picked up that one –
the brass shell on the dirt track.
I shot the gun.

Dingoes kill for fun.
We kill before they attack.
The dingo was done.

Under burning sun
the dingo bled, body slack.
I shot the gun.

Not a chance to run.
He had no time to react;
the dingo was done.

The day had been won.
The dingo’s lifeblood dried black.
I shot the gun,
the dingo was done.

My Fair Duchess

I didn’t realise it was NaPoWriMo!! Strangely enough it wasn’t mentioned on my Creative Writing course…

Well, here’s a poem I wrote for Coursework last year, as a response to Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess, where we had to keep the rhyming words at the end of the lines the same as the original poem. Not as easy as it looks!


There’s my fair duchess captured on the wall,

As beautiful here as in life – I recall

The piano whites tickled by her elegant hands.

She finishes playing and then she stands.

“Miss, will’t please you play once more?” I said.

She obliged and attended me while I read.


And each day upon seeing her glowing countenance,

I longed more for the passion of her emerald glance.

Though lovely as that smile had been, by

law the property of my brother. And I

Admired from afar, speaking when I durst

and choosing the path of betrayal, but at first

she declined my affections, said it was not

a safe topic, or an appropriate spot

to talk – afraid of my brother perhaps?

The duke who sits in luxury’s lap –

Who throws away money, saying, “paint

my dear duchess ere her beauty grows faint.”

The man who owns such fanciful stuff –

which I’m afraid is never enough:

for the greatest jewel he already had.

Suffice to say my heart was glad

when she agreed to my proposal with, “whate’er

the consequence, I’d follow you anywhere.”

Sir, how happy was I! My favour at her breast.

I waited ’til the sun set in the West

before riding out on my servant’s mule –

“To town I go,” I managed to fool

my brother. I rode with her – each

moment falling for her more. Her eloquent speech

beguiled me. For the bough of cherries she thanked

profusely – such a small gift had ranked

higher than my brother’s marriage; the gift of our name.

It had been forced on her, so who could blame

her lack of love and marital skill

when marriage was against her will?


My brother knew we met like this –

The small details went not amiss.

He pieced it together, then let

us meet under false pretences he had set.

I tried to deny, make some excuse

but in the end he made me choose.

I smiled at him. I had no doubt

of my decision. “Her I cannot live without.”


“This presumption must be tested.” He gives commands

and by the hanging rope she solemnly stands.

She smiles at me and say, “I hope we shall meet

again. Know I am happy not to repeat

the same shallow pretence

of love and false munificence.”

I was pained to watch, but disallowed

to leave. I watched my love die and I avowed

to avenge her. But ere I go,

I stand before her painting. And though

the unveiling of her face is a rarity,

those concealed eyes still show love for me.