Don’t you know? Don’t you know?
It means nothing, nothing
Without a cup of tea.

Without a cup of tea?
Well. Don’t you know.

The lift is broken. The lift. Broken.
We’ll have to use the stairs. The stairs.
The tea could spill.

People could be injured. Injured.
By the tea. The tea that spilled.
How could you.

The downstairs kitchen? It’s very… small.
One kettle. One kettle?!
We simply cannot talk about the downstairs kitchen.

Have the tea… upstairs?
That might work. Could that work?
We shall have to form a subcommittee.

Aha. Aha. The queues. The queues.
The queues for tea. The flow will slow.
We’ll be backed up.

It can’t be done. Can’t be done.
No I think not at all. At all.
We can’t serve cups of tea, you see.

And without the tea? Without the tea??
It means nothing. Don’t you understand.
Nothing at all.

Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps,
We’re getting a little off-track.

Sailor Tobe

The sea was a churning fall of scree
Slate amongst the sonorous greys
The sailor Tobe was bound for Spain,
A Charmoise sheep his second mate
(The first, a fox, had flown away
But will, once wed, return again)
He pulled a line which lit the stove
The steady sea a tabletop
On which to have his sarnie of
Scrumtrulescent lemon drops.
The sun appeared, Tobe wailed atop
The towering mast of feathertop
‘We’ll never make the port Jaén!”
The ship said ‘Or return again!”
“T’en fait tout un fromage” – the mate, and then
The writer let the rhyme scheme… fail.
“Cheers drive!” said a stowaway,
The valued titmouse cabinboy,
“At least we’ve seen the jewelleried fish
And smelled the steaming seaweed soup,
At least we’ve felt the roughwood boards
Beneath our wetsock footsteps caught,
At least we’ve tasted lemon drops.”


Here are bright lights,
Pools of reflections on the floor,
Handholds just out of reach.

Here is art you can’t see,
A form without face
And a step without destination.

Here are shadows without shade,
A gaze without presence
And the expectation of air-conditioned rain.


Lights in the city are hung from chains
The quiet bound with voices.
We step between the shadowed parks
Blind spots in a panopticon where
Uncaught by luminescent breath
We flee.

There is a bridge across the night
But it is garlanded with stars
To rob us of our twilight eyes.
Glittered reminiscence,
The sound of singing flows below

The rearing land is lined with trees
An all-embracing veil of black.
One lamp remains, the city’s hand,
A toll booth guarding nowhere,
We leave the past behind unpaid
And free.

2023 Introduction

This will be my third year participating in the Poetry Marathon, and it will be an odd year for me. Not many people from my personal life have read my poetry, but one person who kept up with my marathonning every year and read every poem in 2021 and 2022 was my Nan. She passed away almost exactly a year ago. I don’t yet know what will come out of my keyboard this year, which is part of the magic of this challenge, but I know they will all be a little dedicated to her. Life has not always been easy recently, and I had thought for a while that I had lost some of my writing spark, but two years ago the Poetry Marathon really helped me rediscover it. My Nan was an artist, a healer, an amazing magical person, and she always told me to keep writing, and I intend to. Thank you all of you for your part in me rediscovering some inspiration, and thank you Nanny, and Grandpa, if you’re reading. I love you both endlessly.

For now I’m writing from Bristol in the UK, but increasingly my mind is half-occupied up in Scotland, where my wonderful partner and I hope to move to soon. There’s a better-than-not chance that my poems will find themselves in folklore and fairytales, autumnal fields, liminal wetlands and interstellar wanderings. I love stories, I’m fascinated by the tales that don’t quite get told in traditional narratives, and whilst I’m always drawn by writing with a bit of an edge I really like happy poetry too. If I write autobiographically, it will usually be of joyful moments. And I’m afraid I’m not that well-versed (hah!) in poetical forms, so my writing can get a bit structurally feral. It is what it is.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been looking forward to this all year. Good good luck to everyone! May your snacks be plentiful, your naps restful and your words flow easily from your writing implement of choice.


and honeycomb,
sunlight syrup pouring from a tap,
the little step on which I stood to turn the bin,
the burr of spinning frames, the whole scent of summer was
slicked along a spool of thread, the burr of blades through paper piles,
the chair I bought to help my back; the whole scent of summer is
sunlight pouring through tall windows,
book glue, and

The King of the Copper Mountains

Once, I travelled very far.
I thought I might find the place
Where to earth there fall the stars.
Crossing wood and rising moor,
There I happened on a door.

Grand and old, with gold engraving,
Furred with moss and snail-jewelled,
At first I thought my eyes were failing.
I weary knocked upon the frame,
Which softly asked me for my name.

I replied in great surprise
And from within the door unbolted;
There before my very eyes
A hare stood cautious, trembling.
And in I wandered, stumbling.

A gentle passage, sloping down
Silk and silver on the walls,
I followed that hare underground
And at the levelling below
My footsteps, helpless, had to slow.

Great bronze arches overhead
As trees, with emeralds set for leaves
And over all the mountain red;
Silken banners trailing through
Like waterfalls of sapphire blue.

Cosy rugs beneath my boots,
The patterns bright with valiant tales,
The weave as thick as ancient roots
And across this vibrant floor
Lay every beast of land and shore.

Above them all, a kindly face,
Eyes so old and sparkling
And suddenly I knew the place.
I settled near the old king’s knee
And told my story wandrously.

That night I’ve never slept so well;
In rooms upon the mountain peak,
Horizons over every fell
For me to follow in my sleep
And stars above his mighty keep.

Title and theme taken from ‘The King of the Copper Mountains’ by Paul Biegel


The sunlight is warm again
And there is colour in the world,
A welcome and a welcome back,
We see the same strange earth anew.
The sky is curling, crystal blue,
The almond trees in bloom
And I will paint again,
Small hope,
For you, for you, for you.

The Woman in the Top Hat

I saw her spin in the crowd,
A wraith in tailcoat and top hat
Drifting, smiling in the smoke,
Her arms lifted in praise,
In grace.
Her silver-topped cane a sweep
Of starlight
And in her silence,
In the way she turned
Like a turn of the wind,
Like heartache,
I heard music.