My Poems

5-a-Side Mythical Beast Football

Centaur? You go up front. Striker.
Centaur-forward, you could say!
Just my joke.

Pegasus? Right wing.
No, you can use the left one too.
That’s your position. Right wing.
All that speed. Hefty kick. Brilliant!

Unicorn? Left wing.
And this time, don’t try to head it!
You’ve burst six balls already this season.

Minotaur? Man’s body, bull’s head.
You stay at the back.
But no rough stuff. Not like last week.
Should have told them not to wear red.

Dragon. In goal.
No, it’s not because you’re useless.
Just spread those wings. Can’t go wrong.
And if the ball’s going past you,
Burn it.

Now. Are you fit? Ready?
It’s a tough one this week.
Back Street Primary, Year 3.
Now they’re real beasts!

First published in ‘My Mum’s Put Me on the Transfer List’, edited by John Foster, published by Oxford University Press, 2002.

Want to be an Angel

Want to be an angel.
Don’t want to be a King.
Angels dress up all in white,
Angels get to sing.

Want to be an angel,
Kneeling on the straw.
Wings so big, I have to shuffle
Sideways through the door.

Melanie’s an angel,
Miss? That isn’t fair!
I’ve got angel sort of eyes
And angel sort of hair.

I should be an angel,
Miss. Instead of her.
… Oh, if I must, I’ll be a King!
Just don’t give me the myrrh!

Show and Tell

A week last Thursday Mrs Bell
Said, perhaps for Show and Tell,
We could bring along some pets,
An idea that she now regrets.

There were cats and rats and dogs,
Miriam had brought some frogs,
Then shy and quiet Ursula
Took out her pet tarantula.

Children shouted, children shrieked,
Some stood on their desks and squeaked.
All of which just served to wake
Brian’s favourite rattlesnake.

It shook its tail, as if to say
One shouldn’t treat a snake that way,
Terrifying mice and rats
And Cathy’s dozing vampire bats.

They rose as one into the air.
Amy leapt onto her chair,
Knocking over neighbour Grant’s
Box of giant soldier ants.

Pets were crawling, croaking, creeping.
Mrs Bell just sat there, weeping,
When we heard a fearsome roar
And a head popped round the door.

In the room came Susie Bland
With a leash grasped in her hand.
“Quiet boy! Now stay! Just wait!
It’s my T-Rex. Are we too late?”

First published in ‘Why Do We Have to Go to School?’, edited by John Foster, published by Oxford University Press, 2002.





Gorgon’s Bad Hair Day

Have you got wild, unmanageable coils?
Don’t dare look in the mirror?
Petrified someone will see you?

Try ‘Medusa’s Mixture’
And put the hiss back in your hair!

Steel Don’t Float!

So here I am
On this great big boat,
But it’s made of steel …!
And steel don’t float!

Call the captain!
Tell the mate!
Before it’s too late!

No doubt about it,
This boat’s going down,
‘Cause steel don’t float.
We’re all gonna drown!

Those engineers,
They just don’t think.
A boat of steel
Is bound to sink.

Does a cannonball float?
Or a 50 pence?
Metals always sink,
It’s only sense.

So here I am
On this great big boat,
And it’s made of steel …
… So how does it float?

An object will float if it is lighter than water or, more correctly, if its density is less than that of water. Although steel is much heavier than water a steel boat, because of its shape, also contains air so that the ‘density’ of the boat, as it pushes down on the water, is less than that of water, and the boat will float.

The Sub-Atomic Particle Zoo

Please don’t give buns to the Boson,
When you visit the particle zoo.
And avoid feeding figs
To the one known as Higgs,
For the keepers hate sweeping up poo.

Avoid having lunch with the Lepton,
You might be leapt on if you do.
But the Tau, for some hay,
Will point out the way,
While the Muon will just stand and chew.

The Quarks in the duck pond are dabbling,
Bottoms up and tops down, two by two.
And the grumpy-faced Gluon
Is giving his view on
What’s right, and what’s wrong, and what’s new.

When you pass by the hadrons and mesons,
If you’ve time and there isn’t a queue.
Can you ask them, with tact,
How they all interact,
‘Cause I honestly haven’t a clue.

Sub-atomic particles are particles which are smaller than atoms. The elementary sub-atomic particles currently known include six types of Quark (called Up, Down, Bottom, Top, Strange and Charm), six types of Lepton (including the Electron, Muon and Tau), twelve types of Boson, including eight Gluons, plus the famous Higgs Boson. The elementary particles can combine to form composite sub-atomic particles such as protons, neutrons, hadrons, baryons and mesons.


Dripping Tap Rap

In the kitchen there’s a tap that’s always drip, drip, dripping,
Ever glooping, ever blooping, ever blip-blop-blipping.
Gives a syncopating rhythm as you come in through the door
And you find your slippers skipping ‘cross that kitchen floor.

While your feet are pitter-pattering your hands begin to clap,
You’ve been bitten, you’ve been smitten by that dripping tap rap.
Brother Billy grabs a spoon and beats the bottom of a pan,
Making like a crazy drummer from a rock and roll band.

Then you’re tapping on the worktop with a knife-and-fork,
Soft and swinging, you can almost make that cutlery talk.
Cousin Katie shakes the Raisin Bran just like a tambourine,
The most regular of rhythms anyone has ever seen.

Uncle Boris take a bottle, blows it gently ‘cross the top,
That’s the bass, truly ace, for your dripping tap bop.
Add the beeping of the timer on the mi-cro-wave
And we’re twitchin’ in the kitchen in a dripping tap rave.

Everybody starts to boogie, someone’s singing out a song,
Could be starting up a party lasting all night long,
But …
In comes Mumma with a plumber, puts a washer in the tap,
And my friend,
That is the end,
Of our dripping

Sinister Symphony

Warlocks whisper,
Coffins creak,
Tombstones tumble,
Spirits speak.

Phantoms frolic,
Monsters moan,
Serpents slither,
Gremlins groan.

Crones cackle,
Demons dance.
Am I staying?
Not a chance!

First published in ‘Shorts’, edited by Paul Cookson, published by Macmillan, 2000.

You’re Not Going Out Like That!

You’re not going out?
Not looking like that?
You look just like something
Brought in by the cat.
People will laugh at you,
Neighbours will stare.
That outfit. Those colours.
And as for that hair …

You’re not going out
When you look such a mess?
After all that I’ve said
About sensible dress.
I’ll disown you; I promise.
I’m telling you flat:
You’re not going out, Dad,
Not looking like that!

First published in ‘Parents Keep Out!’, edited by Brian Moses, published by Macmillan, 2001

Eat Your Greens, Miranda

Eat your greens, Miranda,
Like a sensible young girl.
They’ll put colour in your cheeks
And make your hair begin to curl.
They’re good for your complexion,
They help you see at night.
Whatever’s wrong, I tell you
Eating greens will put it right.

For an end to global warming
Eat your greens – it just can’t fail.
You can mend the ozone layer,
You can help to save the whale.
There’ll be global peace and harmony
Before you reach your teens.
You can save the world, Miranda,
If you’ll only eat your greens!

First published in ‘Parents Keep Out!’, edited by Brian Moses, Published by Macmillan, 2001.