NaPoWriMo Day Fifteen

Mirror View

The woman looking back at me blinks differently.

I don’t recognise the shape of her eyes,

or the blemish left side of her nose.

Her lips don’t move the same way mine do,

her smile doesn’t seem quite as genuine.

I watch her, watching me and wonder,

is this the version others see?

A really short piece for day fifteen of NaPoWriMo.

NaPoWriMo – Day Thirteen

I don’t think I have ever actually had a fortune cookie… It may sound strange, but when you grow up in the middle of the countryside where nowhere delivers and the nearest takeaway requires the same length of car journey as the nearest supermarket, takeaways become something of a rarity.

Anyway, enough about me weird, rural childhood.

The prompt for today’s poem was to write a poem inspired by the idea of fortune.

A year or so ago a friend bought me a book called ‘The Encyclopaedia of Superstitions’ by Christina Hole. Part of me wants to ‘pah-poohey’ the whole idea of superstitions, but it’s the sort of book that makes you very aware of everything you do day to day that might signify bad luck. In short it can be something of a stressful read.

However, for today I decided to crack it open and see if there was an entry for fortune cookies.

There wasn’t.

Instead I found this:

Fox’s Wedding

When sudden spatters of raindrops fall while the sun is shining, country people say that somewhere a fox is being married. Why this event should cause showers is not clear, but the tradition seems to exist in many parts of the world, although the animal concerned is not always the same. In Japan and Palestine, it is the fox which celebrates then, as in England, but in souther India it is the jackal, and in Canada poultry or monkeys. Occasionally English children speak of a monkey’s birthday instead of a fox’s weeding, but this may be due to some relative who had lived in countries where monkeys are better known than foxes, rather than to native belief.

A correspondent in The Times of 19 August 1953 said that when he was a child in the West Indies, he was told that these sudden showers meant that the Devil was beating his wife.


Mythology and local traditional beliefs are fascinating things. All through my childhood I was handed down various titbits of information like ‘red sky at night shepherds’ delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning’ and ‘a woman whistling and a crowing hen will bring the devil calling’. My mother and grandmother simply cannot let two knives cross and my great grandmother was  font of random superstitions, most of which I have since forgotten.

My point is, fortune and superstition are woven into life so tightly that you almost forget it’s there and even those of us determined to deny it a hold find ourselves following little rituals despite our own sensibilities.

So for today’s NaPoWriMo I have written the following:

The Black Cat On Newark Street

The black cat on Newark Street

supposedly born in May,

was only ever there

at exactly six minutes to six

on the sixth day

of each month

when the sun sort of

got stuck behind a cloud.

It would lurk around

until about seven minutes past

and then vanish

like a puff of smoke…

or a very fast black blur

down a dark alleyway.

Sometimes it would chase the magpies

in the church yard

beneath the yews.

It would prowl the graves

and when it came to the path,

was careful not to put a paw

on any of the cracks.


a strange old woman,

with birch in her button hole

did not chase the birds,

but saluted the magpies

and asked after their wives.

She collected moonwort on the heath

and kept in her pocket just in case

she ever should forget her keys,

and heaven forbid

she should ever stir the teapot

because lord knows

there was enough bickering in this family

without adding that into the mix.

She kept a rowan tree in the garden,

watched the cycles of the moon

and bought Irish stone to pave the patio.

She hated lilac,

wouldn’t allow it into the house

and when the robin arrived each winter

she left fat balls filled with seeds out

and stood guard over his nest.

‘Your Grandma is a odd one,’

my mother used to tell me.

‘She just has her funny little ways.’


NaPoWriMo Day Twelve


adoption of cover names 63, 82

cover professions and stories 17, 65, 163, 538

disclosure of names xi-xii

documentation on xiv-xv, 189

fabrication of intelligence 185, 186, 187, 188, 190-191, 194, 220, 740

personality traits and frailties 29, 63-4, 163, 415, 463, 494, 57, 570, 594

problems in recruiting in peace time 662-3

salaries and payments 16, 19, 20, 29, 35, 90, 180, 193, 249, 275-6, 429-30, 455, 460, 650, 652, 662-3, 77ini

SIS granted sole control of overseas agents 48-9, 729

training for agents 537-8, 543, 589, 625-6

‘MI6 The History of the Secret intelligence Service 1909-1949’ by Keith Jefferey


Stamped out in capitals,

like half squashed bugs on a page,

real names are a low level hum

somewhere in the background.

Snow, Biscuit, Garbo…

You stop seeing the people,

the faces behind the codes.

Their twisted up personalities

become something to pick apart.

Who was he?

What drove him?

Why did he do it?

Did anyone know the real him?

The shock and horror,

or the old boy’s betrayal.

Did they not see it coming?

Did he not see it coming?



NaPoWriMo Day Eleven

In The Kitchen

The window steams,

until droplets

run fat and thick

in wandering lines

to the peeling paint

on the windowsill.

Their slow bodies slurping

into one another’s paths,

growing, conjoining,

until the puddle is there.


The tulips now old,

have lost their colour

and hang limply,

heads bowed

and wilting,

in the vase tainted green

by the water inside,

and slimed over with something

I don’t care to name.


Sunlight fragments

through the glass.

I’m still waiting for dawn.

Make sure you check out the first of our poetic guest posts for the month by Muthri Raja! 

Until the 30th April, Writing and Works is playing host to poets from across WordPress, all here to explain why they think poetry is amazing and important. Want to join in? Email me at

NaPoWriMo Day Ten

Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo was to write a book spine poem. This means taking the titles of books of your shelves and using them to write a poem. Since I own over six hundred books, I haven’t used all of them in this poem. Instead I kept it to less than thirty. I’m not sure it makes much sense so I’d love to hear your thoughts.  The title is taken from Kate Innes’ first novel.

The Errant Hours

The horse and the boy,

the man who knew infinity,

under these northern lights

watching a dance of chaos,

and the madness underneath.

A great a terrible beauty,

a poison garden.


Among thieves,


at the ocean at the end of the lane.

A place called Neverwhere,

amongst returners

of the darkest mercy.

He dreams of a dark warrior.


His huntress

with an assassin’s blade,

a storm glass

in the centre of a city of bones.

The gathering of the lost,

mothers, mystics and merrymakers,

here lies his inheritance.



and rebel angels.

The colour of magic

for burial rights

only dead until dark.


Amongst smoke and mirrors,

he searches for good omens.