Weds poetry prompt: ‘The Dawn of Spring’


This week’s prompt: Write a ‘spring’ poem.

Written while sitting outside in long-awaited sunshine! (After bitter cold and even some snow in the UK in recent weeks). Feeling ready to take on this year’s April PAD Challenge now…

The Dawn of Spring

Sunlight finally comes
After a long, tiring winter
Of grey, dreary uncertainty
And stark naked trees.
Now, they begin to bloom
As does the mind as well,
Dusting off frosty cobwebs,
Petals of inspiration begin to appear
Before they slowly fall to the ground,
Purpose returned without a sound.
This is the time to be born again
After our heavy and idle slumber,
Ready to venture to light again
And share a smile with another.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback –



Weds poetry prompt: ‘Refresh and Try Again’


This week’s prompt: Write a ‘refresh’ poem.

Refresh and Try Again

Tired eyes taint out minds
Into thinking all we write
Is a pitiful waste of time.
As the black cloud above drizzles,
Our head tells us it’s all drivel,
Ideas cruelly left to die
With one swift cross and strike
Of our suddenly critical pens,
Condemning all as rubbish and nonsense.
It takes a good hard slap
Or failing that, a cold watery splash
To the face, to finally convince us
To keep going, past the cloud of doubt,
And once weary writers are refreshed,
We stand up to the craft once again
Allowing timid ideas and themes to breathe
In a now cleared and open air
That wakes us from the fog of despair.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback –


Writing with the Black Dog on Your Back


As a writer, one of the worst things about depression hitting you is when it paralyses you creatively as well; so many evenings I have sat in front of my laptop, trying to will the words to come, only to either find myself numb and defeated, or berating myself in tears that I have no business calling myself a writer if I can’t even turn my inner pain into something creative. You could argue that perhaps I have set myself up for failure, after an entire day of being in the black dog’s grip, trying to convince myself that it will be all better in the evening once I’ve sat down with a cup of tea and do some writing – that will make everything better, of course it will! But no, either I end up going to bed after staring at a blank page for two hours, or else there are frenzied scribblings in my notebook, with portions angrily crossed out in frustration, starting again, barely getting five lines in before I decide that incarnation is utter rubbish as well. I curse myself as I think of all those other writers out there, who obviously strike gold first time and are completely flawless, and can immediately give birth to words that actually mean something, artfully arranged and dripping with effortless rhythm. I tell myself that I am a fraud – that I only claim to be a writer when in actuality I am a pretender, a liar – I’m merely someone who wishes they were a writer, and feels the poems within his own published collection sitting right there on the table beside him are actually utterly worthless tosh, and that no one would get or feel anything out of them. I convince myself this is the truth, that everything I’m doing (or not doing) is wrong, and that I may as well call it quits here and there.

As I look back over the crossings out in my notebook with a more stable frame of mind, I see the harshness of my own inner critic, many of the attempts reading exactly the same, but I have seemingly told myself each time that I need to start again, not even allowing myself the luxury of seeing where the words take me:

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the ‘surface’
Lies the darkness

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker purpose

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the darkness in the heart of man,
The deep, burning burden

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the darker and deeper words
All dripping with intent and purpose
And spoken with utmost precision,
Each breath

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker words
All dripping with intent and purpose
Each breathed with careful precision

Until, finally – the next day, I permit myself to just ‘go with the flow’, my mind’s fog lifted, things feeling a lot clearer – and allow myself to just write the damn thing:

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker words
All dripping with intent and purpose
And laced with sensual rhythm;
The smoky, sultry voice of the poet
Heard in secret spots such as these
For those bold enough to seek it.

The lower floor of the bar or lounge
Is the ideal poetical domain,
An alluring lyrical dungeon
Where touch is not used to entice,
They’ll seduce you with words instead,
Tongues twisting with tremouring rhyme,
Leaving an audience on its back, begging for more.

So, there you go! A vaguely suggestive poem about just what dark horses us literary types can be, rife for expansion and modification at a later date. The point is, I wrote something. It’s all too easy to put that pressure on yourself and expect a masterpiece to come flowing forth right from the first attempt, but of course it is not as simple as that. I would not suggest that you force yourself to write by any means, if you are really not in the right frame of mind, but it’s interesting to see how you can improve and adjust things once you come back to it with a more steady head and hand. I suppose it’s interesting as well that I found myself writing about ‘the darkness in the heart of man’ and ‘the darker and deeper words’, and everything being ‘deep below’ – what started as sounding dangerously close to something you’d expect to see in a disillusioned teenager’s diary morphed into a mildly humorous concept of the poet sharing their scintillating wares in a brothel-like environment (inspired by an actual movement which has now become a semi-regular event in my own town).

And at the end of the day, aren’t the constant crossings-out and startings-again the marks of a real writer? The marks that at the time I condemned myself so harshly for, are probably seen in the notebooks of any self-respecting writer, famous, published or otherwise. These will rarely be shared with the outside world of course; the rough first drafts, the experimentation, the half-finished or abandoned ideas – and of course we are not completely privy to their emotional state at the time of writing either, unless it somehow comes through in the words and themes. Even then, we are left to attempt to decipher this. The writer would not share themselves raw and naked to the world; they are wrapped in their words, where any of their emotions (good or bad) are presented in a carefully considered way, with a rhythm that is pleasing both aesthetically and audibly. This is what gives the words their power – a poet can still express their deepest emotional torment and weaknesses, but it is the way their pen or voice has expressed this that stirs and intrigues us so. The words are scars that, while still not healed, are absolved of their ugliness.

A poem that touches on the mysterious, often intangible relationship between author and reader is Charles Baudelaire’s ‘To the Reader’ (Au lecteur)*, and begins with a stirring description of these mental and physical scars (‘Folly and error, stinginess and sin / Possess our spirits and fatigue our flesh. / And like a pet we feed our tame remorse / As beggars take to nourishing their lice’.) It goes on to describe a creature/devil who ‘pulls all of our strings’, not unlike what we have come to know as the ‘black dog’. (‘A demon nation riots in our brains’ is a particularly delicious line, but also an all too apt and relatable description of just what depression can do to us). And indeed, as the poem ends, its name is declared – that familiar and numb non-feeling known as:

He is Ennui! – with tear-filled eye he dreams
Of scaffolds, as he puffs his water-pipe.
Reader, you know this dainty monster too;
-Hypocrite reader,-fellowman,-my twin!

I feel Baudelaire, in this poem, has done as I have previously described – turned his own anguish and turmoil into something rhythmic, something beautiful – proving that sometimes it can be worth the effort to express those feelings onto paper, even if it does end up needing some refinement later. I hope anyone who feels the black dog descending as they attempt to write finds some comfort and inspiration in this post – our pen is our sword, our weapon against the fearsome and dreaded beast – and writers should do everything in their power to fight back against it, and provide comforting and relatable words to those also fighting the same battle.

*’Baudelaire, Charles – ‘To the Reader’ from The Flowers of Evil (1857) – translated from the original French by James McGowan, Oxford World’s Classics edition


Read my previous posts around mental health, including my potential poetry chapbook themed around mental health, ‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (hopefully to see publication soon!)

‘A Letter to Those in Low Spirits’ (World Mental Health Day 2017)

‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (possible poetry compilation)

‘The Darkness Within Writing’

Weds Poetry Prompt: ‘Versus Yourself”

‘The Power of Music and Rain (A Moment of Reflection)’

2017 April Pad Challenge Day 8: ‘A Mind Under Attack’

2017 April PAD Challenge Day 9: ‘So What Now?’


Weds poetry prompt: ‘Please Hold’


This week’s prompt: Write an ‘annoyance’ poem.

As soon as I saw this prompt, my mind immediately went back to do a few days ago when I was wrestling with two different companies’ customer service lines in order to resolve an issue, and the frustrations experienced in doing this – as I’m sure many can sympathise with! Hope this serves as a humourous take on the joys of waiting to talk to a human being…

Please Hold

Waiting to be connected
While placid, inoffensive music
Does little to soothe
Your increasingly impatient mood,
As they likely intended
But have failed miserably
In their attempts at placation,
For this comes after a vexing maze
Of obtuse and confusing options
Where one tongue-slip or stutter
(Or simply an incompatible accent)
Can send you back to square one again.
Seething through gritted teeth,
You finally hear a human voice (hurrah!)
And launch into an angry explanation
Only to be answered in soft condescension
And swiftly transferred to another cog
In this maddening machine,
Your ears pierced while you wait,
The sad and haunting soundtrack
Of slowly losing the will to live.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback –


Soundtrack of my Life (Writing / ‘Feel Good’ Playlist (Vol. 4)


So if my previous post was about the songs I was listening to when just starting university and dealing with being away from home for the first time, the tracks I am detailing this time very much defined the end of my student days, and my transition to the ‘real world’ of working and responsibilities. (Oh, the horror!) An equally confusing and testing time, as I’m sure many can attest. I had finally accepted myself as being gay as I left university as well, so once again it was a period of major change and facing the unknown.

Continue reading

Weds poetry prompt: ‘Between Lives’


This week’s prompt: Write a ‘direction’ poem

(This one was somewhat inspired by the weather conditions we’ve been enjoying/enduring in the UK today!)

Between Lives

Walking home in bitter snow,
Feet firmly trudging through
In a predetermined direction
While my head is swimming
In another one altogether,
Wading back to warmer times
When body and mind still complied
For a common, simple goal
Before the years brought a flurry
Of confused desires and feelings;
So the blind now leads the blind
In a blizzard of confused purpose
Trying to desperately find
The focused child inside.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback –


‘Times of Wider Eyes’


(This was a poem that came to me after spending the day playing with my niece – envying the freedom and care-free days she is currently enjoying…)

Times of Wider Eyes

Sandy hands and sticky fingers,
Licking chocolate from a spoon,
(With utterly reckless abandon)
And Rice Krispies stuck to rosy cheeks
As we cheekily grinned in summer weeks;
These are the things I miss the most
From those precious, single-digit years,
With no pesky schedules to keep
Or sickening masks to wear
To please petty concerns and minds.

We did and looked as we liked-
Face-stains were simply tribal marks,
Odd socks were a bold, daring choice,
Making a mess was creating art,
Stories and tales all told in silly voice.
Cutting and sticking, just because,
It didn’t matter if the pieces fit –
Catalogue faces with shiny teeth
But with the bodies of stripy beasts,
Were common expressions of creativity.

We could colour outside the lines,
Break all the choking rules of design,
Squiggles could become star-ships
If we so wished, we’d make galaxies
From firmly-pressed felt tip pens,
And get lost in our little worlds
For days or weeks at a time .
These were the simple thrills and joys
Of innocent and aimless years,
Before we grew out of genuine smiles.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback –