Spiders on Skis….

It’s a bit tricky typing this week as my hands are sore from a weekend working in the garden. My sensitive writers hands have, of late, become unaccustomed to a bit of graft. We’ve had a few months off from working on stuff in the garden, but this weekend we decided to just get on with it, so now we have a border down the side of the lawn that’s been sewn with wildflowers. I look forward to seeing the dividends of the digging and planting next spring.

We also met our new Arachnid overlord while doing some tidying up

The spider spent most of the time just telling us to stop mucking about and just get on with it. And she— I think it’s a she—was absolutely correct. We’ve been putting these jobs off for a while, waiting for the right moment, etc and lo and behold that moment never came, or something else got in the way, but now the jobs are done and we can move on.

The same thing happened this week with a poem. I have actually written one and finished it for the first time since August. It’s not actually that long, but it’s felt like forever. However, amazingly, if you sit down and stop prevaricating, it’s weird, but the work gets done. I can’t say for definite the poem is my best yet, but it does feel like it’s a progression of some kind. If nothing else, I think the first draft started from a stronger place than some of the final drafts of older work. I will take that. And so, now the work begins on the next one.

National Poetry Day came and went again this week. As ever, I applaud the intentions of it. I’m never sure if it leads to much, but anything that makes some noise about poetry can’t be a bad thing. I note, for instance, there was nothing about it at my daughter’s school this week.

My concessions to it were the aforementioned poem being worked on. I don’t think the celebration was for that though. I also made vague allusions to the classics in an email for work where I referenced “Project Persephone”. This was a potential project name, but it was discarded as we a) felt there was a better option and b) felt that the referencing the borders between life and death was a bit much for a brand tracking project.

Now, I will need you to bear with me for a moment.

Earlier in the week, my friends and I were discussing over grown hedges on Twitter. I replied, at some point about a Half Man Half Biscuit album that mentioned hedges. We somehow got on to user names and asking if there was a song for that.

At the time I didn’t have an answer, but later that day I was reading the latest issue of The Fenland Poetry Journal where I came across this poem by the always excellent Paul Stephenson. It’s not quite what I was looking for, but it’s close enough.

Not Matthew – Paul Stephenson, Fenland Poetry Journal, Issue 5 Autumn 2021

I can only say that it’s not Matthew.
It’s somebody, someone, or some ones.

Yes, there’s a suitable individual in mind
but more likely than not it’s not Matthew.

Nothing secret. Nope. There’s no secrecy
involved. But I am told it isn’t Matthew.

I have it confirmed from a trusted source—
you know who— that it won’t be Matthew.

He’s off the list—not sure he was ever
really on it: Matthew is not in the running.

Said person is close to said someone, has
it seems, had the approach. Matthew it isn’t.

It’s all under wraps until we know more
so meanwhile forget all about Matthew.

You’ll see in time, we’ll be fine. Let’s move one,
and please, quash all thoughts of Matthew.

Apologies to the good folks at FPJ, I will remove this if so required, but I would also urge anyone to take heed of the last line and the third line from the end. These are not the Matthews you’re looking for. Please go and subscribe so you can read all of the other wonderful work contained within.

There was much discussion online this week about the Bad Art Friend story, but I’ve not read it and I can’t see how my life will be enhanced by doing so, and so we’ll move forward to what I think was a far better story this week. The one below about 1300 year old skis. I’d like to think this will find it’s way into a poem at some point, but you never know. The ski(e)s the limit, etc….

After a bit of a fallow period on the reviewing front, I’m pleased to have had two published by Nell over at Sphinx. I’ve added them to the Reviews page, but they are Gboyega Odubanjo’s Aunty Uncle Poems and Joe Williams’ The Taking Part. Two more to write and then I’m up to date. Best turn up and get that done next week.

Finally, I’d urge you to read this personal essay by Rory Waterman over at The Friday Poem. It’s about his excellent poem, Like Father. He reminded me this week that he read it aloud for the first time at our last Rogue Strands evening. Dear god, that’s over two years ago. I hope we can put another one on soon.


1 wedding anniversary (Ours, 14 years)
10K in the last week. Slow week there, but I think I needed the rest
1 days in the office
At least one mild hangover after drinking non-alcholic beer.
0 x acceptances
0 rejections:
1 poem worked on: What was called Walt Disnae, but is now called I Thought Dewars Was A Whisky Until I Tried Cryogenics
0 new submissions:
32 poems currently out for submission.
68 Published poems*: Was 69, but one was not used in the end, having been accepted.
43 Poems* finished by unpublished
26 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 Reviews:
2 review to write (I’ve read the books)
4 days without cigarettes…
0 Days since drinking
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!

The Skies, The Linnet
Arachnid Overlord
Croatian Jetlag (another one from emails this week)


Fenland Poetry Journal #5
Carcanet New Poetries VIII

Explosions In The Sky: Big Bend OST (about 4 times)
Delays: Faded Seaside Glamour, Hideaway, Star Tiger, Star Ariel, You See Colours, Everything’s The Rush
The Sea And Cake: Car Alarm, Elephant, Nassau
Tara Clerkin Trio: In Spring
Sonic Youth: Goo
Throwing Muses: Hunkpapa, Real Ramona, Red Heaven
Kingsbury Manx: ST
(British) Sea Power: Valhalla Dancehall, Valhalla VIP,
The Album Leaf: Between Waves
Clinic: Wheeltappers and Shunters
The Pearlfishers: Love & Other Hopeless Things
Letters To Cleo: Wholesale Meats and Fish
Free Kitten: Inherit
Kim Gordon: No Record Home
Caspian: Live At The Larcom, The Four Trees, Dust & Disquiet
Brandi Carlisle: ST
Unwed Sailor: Truth pf Consequences
Bonny Light Horseman: ST
Mt Misery: Once home, No Longer
William Bassinski: The Disintegration Loops
Stars: The Five Ghosts
Low: Trust

The Wire S4
Ted Lasso S2
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Poetry Planet – Helen Ivory edition

Jack Underwood: A Year In The New Life

Lorraine Mariner: Furniture
Jack Underwood: A Year In The New Life


I can’t do Not Matthew, but Not California is close enough.

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