28 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo posts - 2014

Well that's it for NaHaiWriMo 2014. I hope you liked my poems and commentary. Here's a list of the prompts in case you want to see any again.

My personal favourites are 'black,' 'box - part two' and 'beehive'
  1. banjo
  2. brother
  3. band aid
  4. black
  5. bump
  6. battery
  7. box and
    box part two
  8. bounce
  9. belief
  10. bean
  11. biscuit
  12. break and
    break part two
  13. book
  14. betrayal
  15. busker
  16. bicycle
  17. bagel
  18. burrito
  19. baby
  20. bling
  21. brussels sprouts
  22. barn
  23. beehive
  24. boat
  25. braid
  26. brew
  27. button
  28. bridge

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bridge

humpback bridge
I leave their stomachs
where Dad left mine

Well that's the last prompt of the month and one that I struggled with initially. Luckily my kids are mild thrill-seekers.

26 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: button

bright eyes
sewing buttons to her jumper
the new grandma

I don't know if "jumper" translates into American English. If not, it means "sweater."

This one's for my Mum, no longer with us, who did this for my brother's twins when they were babies.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: brew

tea bags
the compost

Hmmm, not happy with this, to be honest, but was the best of a bad bunch.

23 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: boat

the shifting shingle
tankers anchored to the horizon

shoreline smokehouses
we read the names
of the beached fleet

today's catch
chalked on the board
the boat that caught it

through the boat's windows
the rising sun
rust on the winch

I recently spent a long weekend on the coast at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, UK. See my pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pnoom/sets/72157636326517256/

recent notes NOT a sequence

passing showers
the sun really knows
how to come out

in the middle a "hey!"
spelt with a j

finally a goal
as spectacular
as his misses

shifting light
the cloudy
not-cloudy sky

22 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: beehive

home sweet home
in the brick pile

A few years ago, we had an extension built on the back of our house. At the front we had a large pile of bricks and granite cobble stones dumped. They stayed there for a long time while we found a buyer for the granite.

I that time a few bees started turning up in our front room, which was a mystery as we hardly ever opened the window in there.

While investigating the air bricks in the wall, I discovered a bees nest in the pile. It seemed ironic that our discarded building materials made the perfect home for them.


I have a haiku in each of the following anthologies, both available now to buy online:

Funny that one has music in the title and the other dancing.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: barn

the old barn wall
with every missing brick
a swallows nest

Just a 15 minute walk away from my house is a lane which leads down into a small valley. It's quite sparsely populated and you wouldn't know the bustle of a large market town was so close to hand.

About halfway down the lane is an old farm which would've been quite a proud building in its heyday. Attached to the farm is a barn. Walking down this lane during nesting season is quite something as the swallows twist and dip in and out of the barn wall.

21 February 2014

Definitely NOT a NaHaiWriMo prompt: blitzkrieg

the city's sodium glow
ten miles distant -
Mum's old blitz stories

"Hey ho! Let's go!"
complaints about the volume
as we near school

These are written in response to a joke I cracked on the NaHaiWriMo Facebook page the other day.

When my mother was a little girl she had scarlet fever and was very poorly. Presumably this wasn't helped by my grandparents thinking she had to be kept warm and lighting an open fire in her bedroom every night. At the same time the Second World War was in full swing and Sheffield ten miles to the north was being blitzed heavily.

The image of my fever ridden mum, watching the night sky to the north glowing and pulsing with flame as Sheffield burnt has always made a great impression on me.

During the 1980s, I had the same bedroom and the sky glowed and pulsed again from the 24 hour flame burning at the coking plant (now gone) that dominated my skyline. Driving home from work across the moors of Derbyshire, I can see Sheffield in the distance and I always think of my mum's story as the city's streetlights colour the undersides of the clouds.

"Hey ho! Let's go!" is from the Ramones classic 'Blitzkrieg Bop,' of course. I try and condition my kids' taste in music on the school run, but so far I've failed to draw them away from One Direction.

Having said that 'Rockaway Beach' was a favourite for a few days after featuring on Scooby Doo. Blitzkrieg Bop is always reserved for the first day of term - it seems fitting.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: Brussels sprouts

allotment committee
all their neat rows
of traditional veg

Christmas dinner
again I end up
with all the sprouts

I struggled with this prompt, hence the poor quality of the haiku. Apologies!

The first one stems from the fact that I have an allotment plot. I have it to keep me active, to be honest and it gets me out in the fresh air. It's also behind my house, so it's very handy.

Almost everyone else on the allotment is of retirement age, and they seem to get through a lot of turnips and cabbage, and sprouts too. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it seems rather boring to me. This year I have a greenhouse, so I'll be experimenting with peppers and aubergines.

Normally I specialise in dandelions and nettles, of course.

I do like sprouts, though, Christmas dinner is annually the point where everyone else decides they no longer like them.

20 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bling

larger than life
even in death
the plumes on the horses

I used to live and work in Hackney in the East End of London. On a couple of occasions I have seen the roads closed for big funerals. Funerals that involved hearses drawn by two black horses.

When I saw these I imagined that the deceased might be some Mr Big from the local criminal underworld. Fittingly, one of these corteges was travelling along Kingsland Road not very far from an old railway bridge that used to have "Reg Kray is innocent" painted along it.

While this literally doesn't translate from "bling," I can imagine a fair bit of bling in the wills.

It could also fit the prompts "black" and "box" of course

19 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: baby

her dough rising
wherever life takes her
she's always my baby

days old
my friend's baby boy
already the spit

my nude pics
the kids laughing
at my baby album

Being a dad, I write a lot of dad-ku. A chapbook of dad-ku is currently in the planning stages in honour of my eldest's tenth year.

Having said that, I initially struggled with this prompt. I had Salt 'n' Pepa's Push It going through my head half the evening, "b-baby baybee," which didn't help.

'Days old' was written almost straight away. 'My nude pics' came to me before my bedtime and 'her dough rising' was a middle of the night tap-it-into-my-phone job, so I wouldn't forget it when I fell asleep again. "You'll always be my baby" is a phrase my daughters are probably tired of hearing.

18 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: burrito

playing air tambourine
my daughter's nativity
sings an old favourite

The old favourite being the infant nativity staple "Little Donkey" of course - the literal translation of burrito.

My guess is this was posted after a cartoon referring to 2012's infamous nachos prompt drew a reply that "burrito" was still possible.

This one was a late one for me. I thought about being wrapped up like a burrito and there are several attempts in my notebook along the lines of how similarly my daughters sleep, rolled up in their duvets, despite having vastly different personalities.

Another one came to me from an experience in early 90s Manchester, meeting a space cadet coming back from a rave:

acid house
he asks if my colours
are on the inside

diagnosed with depression she sinks into her role

(a former flatmate, not anyone I'm currently in contact with)

17 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bagel

night bus
all the morass of city life
then 24 hour bagels

I used to live in Hackney, east London, in the late 90s. Coming back from a night out you only really had the night bus in terms of public transport and even that dropped you off a mile or two from your doorstep.

On a Saturday night, I might go out in the West End or Camden for a gig or to get drunk with my mates and unable to afford the taxi fare, would plump for a nice long sit down on the bottom deck of a double-decker as it crawled through the city streets. Each bus stop would mean a wait of a few minutes while the human detritus of a night out would surge or stumble aboard mumbling destinations and fumbling for change, staggering backwards as they did so. The more sober flashing their Travelcards before scooting up the staircase.

It would take an age for the bus to find its direction on the city streets, an age where I could ponder  my direction in life, or more soberingly, how long I was going to put up with city life.

After getting off in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood I would endure little hassle for the rest of my journey, until I would be drawn to the warmth of the Ridley Road Bagel Bakery, just round the corner from where I lived.

Minutes later I would struggle with my door keys. A piping hot bagel, its bag greased with molten cream cheese ooze, nicely warming the other hand.

16 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bicycle

first time
without stabilisers
if only all
letting go
could be so joyous

...then because it's NaHaiWriMo and not NaTanWriMo...

mine then hers
no stabilisers

That moment when she realises I'm no longer holding the back of her bike and she's cycling under her own steam.

It's a few years ago now and I can't quite remember what happened next. My daughter and I were in a busy park one sunny summer day on an expanse of grass. I think she got as far as she could, still talking to me, then when she looked round to see me some distance behind her, fell off her bike. No matter though, there may have been bruises but she never looked back.

It's one of those key moments in life, learning to ride a bike. I remember seeing my brother at the other end of the lawn when he should have been holding my saddle (how dare he let go!). I kept it together enough to pedal back to him. The overall feeling, though, was of the new found freedom and of having achieved something monumental.

15 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: busker

poor old 'One-Note'
too late I learn
my favourite busker's nickname

One-Note Willy was an old guy I used to see around town for years. In many ways he fitted a northern stereotype with his jacket and flat cap. You could imagine him in a pigeon loft or an allotment shed. Or patiently stopping on a park path with a whippet tearing about him in circles.

Not our guy though. He would sit out his retirement in his regular spot outside one of the department stores on the market where he'd sit and play harmonica, glancing sidelong at passers by.

He had a unique style: animatedly playing the top end of the scale and so quietly you'd wonder at how, in a town full of ex-miners, out of breath he might be in real life. You really had to get up close to hear him.

With the odd note squeaking out he would bat the other end of his instrument, jews-harp style, to produce wobbles and inflections in his work. But it must've paid well because he kept doing it.

I used to live in London with it's professional street entertainers. And while you could marvel at how un-blinkingly still the human statues were and be amazed at how they would burst into life at the drop of a coin. Or you could laugh at the one-liners belted out by the unicycling machete jugglers. I don't miss them one bit. Not like I do One-Note.

Those guys I can see in any big tourist-trap city in the developed world. One Note Willy was one of a kind. A true eccentric with the depth of character to play for a few coins to buy a pint of mild in a backstreet pub or a bet at the bookies.

His absence is the town's loss and I hope his end was a peaceful painless one.

13 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: betrayal

home safe and sound
after the near-miss...
"Daddy said the F word!"

If you ask my kids, they'll tell you I'm always grumbling about the habits of other road users. There's a notorious rat run round the corner from where we live and I think I can thank my (ahem!) lightning reactions that my car is still in one piece.

mixed emotions
the changing moods
of her mood ring

NaHaiWriMo prompt: break (part two)

morse code
vapour trails unravel
and dissolve

see break (part one) for details

12 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: book

library closure
all the empty shelves
stacked neatly

There's a silver lining to this, I suppose, as the library in question is the local studies one attached to the building I work in. The silver lining is that the library has been merged with the county's refurbished record office, residing in a swanky new building. As far as I know, there have been no job losses.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: break

custody battle
dog pictures missing
from my colleague's desk

I recently made the mistake of saying "at least there's no children involved" to be met by a hard stare.

"Yeah, but there's still the dogs to consider"

It was a lovely afternoon here yesterday. It had snowed earlier in the day but it hadn't settled.

The afternoon brought a clear blue sky and the usual air traffic travelling trans-continental far up through the stratosphere, unravelling their vapour trails as they went.

While contemplating one member of this airborne convoy, I noticed how its vapour trails had dissolved sporadically, leaving a morse code across the sky. "Perfect for the break prompt" I thought, but so far nothing's come of it.

11 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: biscuit

bakery trip
the time it takes to choose
her usual treat

Another one which came to me this morning. I usually take my youngest to the bakery after her gymnastics class at the weekend and, after much deliberation, she always chooses a gingerbread minion biscuit.

All night I had been grappling with ideas reflecting that I've recently re-discovered malted milk biscuits (the ones with the cows embossed on them). They have become my favourites simply because they instantly take me back to being a four year old.

There is much scribbling out in my notebook with the following as perhaps the latest version:

a secret portal
to my pre-school -
malted milks

10 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bean

frosty morning
the steam rising from roofs
and my African coffee

I normally have the bones of the poem nailed before the end of the day, but I found this one tough. I grow vegetables on an allotment, so I was pondering the possibilities there last night. I even asked my youngest daughter (6) what she thought of when I said "bean."

"Mr Bean" came the reply, but couldn't work one out here without writing a desk haiku.

Luckily it was a clear cold night last night and the final pieces fell into place on my way into work

NaHaiWriMo prompt: belief

Santa's faked entry
this year my eldest
helps with the set-up

8 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: bounce

again the tourist
star jumps for her photo
- kangaroo park

(as seen near Adelaide last year. It was a Japanese tourist and she was jumping in a "Yay!" kind of manner. Each time she jumped, I think the photographer was a little late with the shutter release, meaning she had to do it again in the middle of a gang* of kangaroos)

*not sure of the collective noun

7 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: box (part two)

equalities lecture
the speaker ticking
all the boxes

I tick one or two boxes myself, by the way. I work for a large local authority and every few years you get sent on the odd training course revolving around equalities. I don't mind as it gets me away from my desk for a day and I get to meet people in other departments. I'm also a bit of a leftie, so these courses are like preaching to the converted when it comes to me. The last time I went on equalities training, the facilitator was a black lesbian with a walking stick. She was very good - she obviously spoke from experience and she made what can sometimes be a dry subject very interesting.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: box

behind glass
museum box brownies
out of focus

(what's the betting that tomorrow's prompt will be "brownie"?)

photo taken at the National Media Museum, Bradford in 2013.

6 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: battery

the cheapest eggs
no blemish, no dirt
...no blood

other avenues explored included jump leads and Martello Towers.

When I see the uniform pristine white of battery eggs, I often equate them to the photoshopped models you see on the magazine shelves. Things ain't always what they seem. Give me an egg with blood and crap all over it any day.

4 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo prompt: Bump (or black)

power cut
how carefully
we bump about

I arrived at this one while considering the prompt for 4th Feb: "black" and I was about to post it on the NaHaiWriMo wall when the prompt for the 5th was posted: "bump."

I'm kinda glad because I always struggle more with the broader prompts, so I've cheated bought more time for the black prompt.

Of course, I could write another bump piece.

NaHaiWriMo prompt: Band Aid

my self portrait
photoshopped -
the scars I didn't touch

3 February 2014

NaHaiWriMo 2014

Oh heck, I said I'd give this a try again this year. The haiku bit of my brain needs exercising. Hopefully it won't burn out - I may not last the course.

All the prompts this year appear to start with the letter B. I'm playing catch-up a bit, but here's my first two:

Prompt: banjo

back from the pub
we acapella
duelling banjos

Prompt: brother

years later
my big brother's kids
led astray by mine

(I hate the banjo one)

2 February 2014

a new moon
and all the planets
to Saturn
how neatly your shoulders
fit into my arm

I wish I wrote tanka more often. I always enjoy the experience.

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