#NaPoWriMo Day Seventeen

No prompt for me today. Sometimes you just have to write what’s in your head and this has been swirling around in mine for the past month.

It’s the sober account of a very surreal moment just after my shoulder operation where I came round and then went into mild shock because the nerve block they gave me didn’t work properly. I also became hypothermic and I remember a scary moment where I was surrounded by people talking hurriedly and repeatedly calling my name. At the time I was quite delirious but now when I think back I realise how scary it all was!


This was
just a simple op,
But my temperature dropped,
Slammed two shots
of morphine
and it felt like a dream,
Anaesthetist mocks about
failed nerve blocks,
But all is not
what it seems,
Grim Reaper,
dressed in green,
perched like
a creeper
at the foot of my bed,
Whispering that I ought to be dead,
And I cannot shake that thought
from my head,
And instead I shake in pain,
Draining the dregs
of the drugs in my veins,
Feeling like I’m going insane,
Too close for comfort;
this brush,
And I sense as much
as the nurses rush
for the blanket
to warm me back up,
Cold fingers
of afterlife
through my blood
like a knife,
Like ice,
But I fight
because I…
I am not ready to die…
to give it all up,
So I hold on tight
until the shivering stops,
Until the nurses
flock to the guy
who lies beside me
and the reaper says goodbye,
Because for a moment
it felt like
they all forgot
that my time was not yet up,
And that
this was,
supposed to be
just a simple op.


One and One

#NaPoWriMo Day Eleven

Today’s challenge was to write a poem of origin. About where we are from and where we are now. I chose to write about parents caring for children who in turn care for their parents. There are parallels with my own experience too, of course.

One and One

It started
with a meeting
of minds

one was tender
and one was wise

how to harmonise
a fusion of spice
how to blend, seamlessly,
two different sides

one to protect
and one to provide

It started
hard times
with bloodshot eyes
from sleepless nights
and overtime
nose to the grind
yet scraping by
belts were tight
but the children
never knew
their plight
they had
they needed
as they grew
(and a lot of what they wanted too)

one made do
and one went without

but that was never once
complained about
and there was never once
an empty mouth
as love spilled out
and filled
their house

But life was cruel
and fate played tricks and

one got sick
and one grew weak

but still they
turned the other cheek

they knew
what they’d sown
they’d soon both reap
for now was the children’s
time to

one will comfort
one will care
and one will always be right there

it starts
with a meeting of minds
this time
siblings stand aligned
as a living
their parents
unsung feats
they give back
what they received

one now grieves
and one now lives on in memory.

Blue Umbrella

#NaPoWriMo Day Ten

Today’s challenge was to write a poem using regional slang for weather. I chose “the heavens opened”, meaning “it started raining”, and turned it into a haiku about love (or at least lust!) at first sight.

Blue Umbrella

The heavens opened,
There with a blue umbrella
stood young Zeus himself.


#NaPoWriMo Day Nine

The challenge yesterday (I’m late again!) was to write poem that included a list of things. I don’t really like list poems, but managed to incorporate a small list – of ingredients – in this poem, which is about being a dual-heritage girl growing up in a traditional African family, and why I am reluctant, even now, to try my hand at cooking traditional dishes, even though I LOVE eating them!


I have
in front of me
all the things I need
to make jollof:

  • tomato
  • onions
  • rice
  • garlic
  • peppers
  • spice

and all the seasoning
to give it flavour,
Yet without reasoning I waver,
belaboured by thoughts of things I lack;

(mainly melanin)

-Oh how I curse my washed out skin,
Fight the sting of onion tears
as I remember all the years
it didn’t quite fit in,
Devil on my shoulder whispering,

“You’re not as good as them
you’re not even really black,
Stop trying to pass;
those freckles
and that pancake arse
don’t fool your family,
my friend.
Let’s not pretend you’ll


be as good as them.”

So yet again,
I turn the burner off.

My jollof



#NaPoWriMo Day Eight

Today’s prompt was to write a poem that uses jargon from a particular profession to shape a metaphor. I chose chasing a fugitive and police jargon for a handheld battering ram (big red key) to shape a metaphor about letting someone capture your heart.


Like a
I hide
brick walls
set back
from the roadside
bide my time
but you will not leave
my drive
toeing the fault line
of my design
weighing my crimes
trying to decide
whether to use
the big red key
to get to me
and secretly
I want to be caught
to submit
to the bounds
I’ve so long fought
and I ought
to want to be free
but so much more
I implore you
to capture

I am ready.


#NaPoWriMo Day Six

Today’s prompt was to write a poem of possibility. Filled with coulds and shoulds and woulds. I chose to write a poem about a split second fantasy, about a possible outcome of a relationship sparked by a chance meeting.


calls out my name
and at the same
her eyes meet mine
she reaches an arm
like a slender vine
and our fingers
meet and
tenderly intertwine
causing catalytic rush
as i take the cup
but linger in
her touch a second too long
i know it’s wrong
but time stands still
a thousand pictures
like and old fashioned reel
spin through my mind
play out a future
hers and mine
a future fatted with love
she is enough
i am enough
and we
so effortlessly
that we know why life exists
this is it
are the way
are the truth
are the life
it just feels
and i know
that she too
feels this truth
necessary chemistry
this prophetic possibility
as she
hands me
my coffee
we are both moved
but though that may well be true
maybe too
we both knew
it would be too much
her guarded smile
now tells me such
as she breaks our touch
and bids me good day
and the man
who stands behind me
takes my place
as i walk


#NaPoWriMo Day Five

Today’s prompt was to write a villanelle. It’s a poetic style that is completely new to me and involves repeating two lines in specific places in the poem. As you can see I am late with this one as I had to think on it for the entire day. I hope I have it right!


The quiet when the first bird sings
– the first sign of an early spring –
makes my heart sail on the whispered wind,

And memories are glistening
like dew-soaked grass they’re mirroring
the quiet when the first bird sings,

I taste your scent as I breathe in,
And the traces of you, lingering,
make my heart sail on the whispered wind,

The blue-black shimmer of your skin
was all it took to fell me in
the quiet when the first bird sings,

The playful smile that drew me in,
– and the pleasure in remembering –
makes my heart sail on the whispered wind,

But sounds have started shallowing,
And memories are mellowing,
The quiet when the first bird sings
makes my heart sail on the whispered wind.


#NaPoWriMo Day Four

Today’s prompt was to write a sad poem that uses simple language to convey strong emotion. The example poem used (sort of) iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets, so I too have incorporated those styles (sort of!) Also the topic I chose for today’s poem, knife crime, is close to my heart for a number of reasons.


He grazed his knee when he was two,
A plaster later; good as new,
He stood up and he looked at me,
And all at once forgot his knee.

But now he’s far away from two,
And scarcely like the boy I knew,
At fifteen years, his shoulders cold,
He’s closed the windows to his soul,
And this time when he looks at me
I see regret and not relief,
Again a graze has made him cry,
Not knee but heart, not ground but knife.

And this one can’t be kissed away,
A plaster will not work today.


#NaPoWrimo Day Three

Today’s prompt was to write a poem that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. I decided to take the prompt literally and write about an unfolding (unravelling) marriage. I love thinking about the fabric of time being a tangible thing, I have written several poems around this, and today I intertwined (see what I did there!) time, relationship breakdown, and knitting.


If this isn’t when it ended
as unclear as the twirling ‘M’
I pen
as I sign the name that I shan’t use again,
I can’t see when,

But even then,
If time were to unwind,
Could I even find
the errant stitch that,
stood out of line,
unravelled slowly our design?
Disentangled his from mine?

At what point did it all unfurl?
Did stitches switch
from knit
to purl?

Back six years, when boy met girl,
we had the world,
Brightly coloured skeins,
Needles sharp,
And hearts as keen,
Together started weaving schemes,

Year one ideals like shapes
had formed,
Like drapes they
kept our bubble warm,
So we dreamed,
Then dared to dream some more,

Years two, and three,
and even four,
We hit some snags
but though we fought,
We fought
to patch each hole that formed,

Year five we started dropping stitches
faster than our love could fix it,
He pulled one end,
I, the other,
We’d fix a hole then, there, another!
And holes we’d sewn
were now untwining,
fraying from our silver lining,

Year six

– blindsided –

Though my heart
can scarce abide it
we find
ourselves right here, divided,
Each with half a pile of yarn
and nothing left
in us
to bind it.

Poetry by Serena Malcolm ©2018 All Rights Reserved

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