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Sneaky Arsenic

Domestic caterpillar of the community

Slides 2-8 are Pics by Dave Warren of the Wordrobe


Domestic caterpillar of the community,

You'll invite her in

Share a pot of piping tea

Chit chat about the weather

And she'll nibble away innocuously -

Right before you notice

Her one gurning eyeball -

Your head's on a paper doily platter

Your face a lattice for worms

Sneaky Arsenic

Sneaky Arsenic -
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No longer in knots

No longer slave to the neck

Long lost tongue is found


Serpent Sea, Seething Bay, Lake of Sorrow, Lake of Joy, Bay of Rainbows... are all places on the moon.


Moon-Brain is a poem based on names of places on the moon, the landscape of our emotional states. The image of neurones, turned by encircling, into a moon, was the inspiration for the poem. (From the film "A being Objective" made with Laurence Campbell.)


(Note: contains flashing images).

"I get a real buzz from writing poems......

But equally enjoy encouraging people to play with words themselves, often through bringing art and poetry together".

The Wordrobe

A naked wardrobe lands in a Library.

Together we transformed it into a Wordrobe

- a Narnia of masks and tie-snakes, a home for poems and speaking clothes, tie-pots, a tie-tyger, and a kingdom for a budgie. The Wordrobe (click here to see it), really captured imaginations, bringing together discarded clothes, scores of new poems, people of all ages and their abundance of creativity. 

             The Singing Sock

So sang the Singing Sock of Spon End

Spin me a yarn or something pretend

A tale of an ogre or hot blooded toad

The tail of a mouth that runs under the road

Made as an example for a poetry workshop in a primary school. Christopher Sidwell brought it (with additional verses) unexpectedly to life in song. The Singing Sock has since sung on BBC radio!

Children's Poems on the Pavement

30 poems by children from Spon Gate Primary about their area, were chalked on the pavement by Sustrans for the Spon Spun Festival.


I mean how can you tiptoe round that one

introduce it slyly, shyly into conversation

Oh by the way whilst I think of it

would you mind


waiting whilst we tiptoe round his bed full of

efficiency keeping his blood pressure primed

to the level that his vital organs remain vital

would you mind


awfully thinking of someone else at this time

perhaps several who are tiptoeing round death

who could benefit from the end of this suspense

would you mind


awfully donating the organs of your loved one

whose stem has just died or should I say your

loved one who is tiptoeing between death and life

would you mind

I wrote this recollecting memories of working in Intensive Care as a nurse, looking after patients awaiting brain stem death testing.

I was Born. Story of the Birth of Triplets 90 years ago

This family heirloom is the true story of the birth of the McMahon triplets in the West of Ireland, over 90 years ago. Told to me by my Aunty Mary, the eldest triplet (here in the middle of this photograph). The story was told to her by her mother, and like all good stories, has been passed on. 

I was born, as told by Mary Reidy, Nee McMahon 

I was born the 6th of June 1923, in the heart of Clouncuneen.

And my mother gave birth to triplets, two boys and a girl.

Me and Pat were born this evening at 4 o'clock

and my other brother was born the following day, at 4 o' clock.


And Dr Hickey that delivered us at the birth said,

“Well Mrs McMahon”, he said, “I'll be down tomorrow at 4 o' clock

and the third child will be born”.

And my father was out in the road, and he see'd the car coming down the heighth.


And my mother says to him, “Well doctor, she says. “A miracle,

she says to him, that I should have triplets, three babies”.

“Well, Mrs McMahon, he said, God's will is no miracle.


”And when we were born, my grandmother was there in the house,

my mother's mother. And there was two or three women

in the kitchen waiting for the good news, that everything was alright.


And she brought me and Pat out in her two hands - and showed us

to the women in the kitchen and she said, “O' thiarna tŕocaire. God keep us”.

And Dr Hickey put the three afterbirths up on the table and they examined them.


And we were very hard to manage, we were so tiny.

We had to be wrapped in baize, each one of us, for three months.

We couldn't be dressed. And we had a cradle. And the three of us was in the one cradle.


And I was in the middle and the two boys were one side of me.

And my mother cut up a sheet, a flannelette sheet, and made squares of it.

And she'd hem 'em and put them under our arses.


There was no powder to be got that time, no baby powder.

She'd put a saucer of flour down on the griddle and brown it.

Keep turning it. And she'd take it up, bring it to a box. Leave it cool.


And my mother had a set of triplets

and she had two sets of twins

and she had seven children in four years and a half

and she had four singles after that.






I was Born as told by Mary Reidy -
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                The Story of 800

Out of the blankness of nothing came four zeros.

Eyes in flying saucers of bewilderment.

And they looked 'round, but couldn't see, until two

became spectacled and two monocled.


And they adjusted their view. But after a while

became accustomed and no longer saw anything new.

And so zeros became telescopes. And the sun

and the moon and shooting stars enveloped them.


And as the far drew near they became accustomed

and no longer saw anything new.

So they turned then to eyes of a microscope

and the near changed; into a most curious stranger.


And they saw cells and the nucleus of cells and all

the circles we are made of. With eyes refreshed, zeros

were everywhere. In straggles of hair and sticks of chalk.

In transverse section, bronchioles, for air to talk.


In rolls of papyrus, neurones and old bones. 

In oak trees, battered coins, bath-pipes and tins of peas.

And the zeros glimpsed their arc of possibility.

And two tried seeing themselves new.

One balanced on top

of the other, to become an infinity.


A figure of eight.

The dance of perpetual quest.

And the other two grew,

in the knowledge of infinite possibility.

And this is how the story of 800 began.

              Feeling Trapped (A True Story)

Jonathan Trappe had a dream, sitting in his office swivel chair,
gazing vacantly out of the window. He imagined taking to the air.
Just taking off; buying fifty-five huge helium balloons;
a fantasia of reds, whites, greens, yellows and blues.
And he saw himself in slow motion frames, inflating each one,
tying each with string, hefting a huge clod of a stone to put on
the swivel seat, so that the balloons wouldn’t lift it away,
not yet, at any rate; not until all fifty-five were tied in place.
A cacophony on the arms of his chair, a bored filing cabinet grey.


And then he imagined easing the stone off, right down to the date.
He could see it now. Raleigh, North Carolina, June 7th, 2008.
Early morning, commute time to work, half past eight.
And that was it. He decided this dream could not be late.
And so he left for a coffee break and walked at brisk pace
to a shop in the town centre, staring at his reflection facing
him in the window, beyond to the bright glare of party games;
striding in, he picked fifty-five huge helium balloons; matter of factly
paying for them, with no fuss, like it was an everyday activity.
The next day, he left work , and took to the air, in his office chair.

Commended in the National Poetry Competition

The UK's largest poetry competition 

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