All Poems

Doll’s House

I see them all stare in the dolls’ house,
And marvel with eyes open wide.
Isn’t it clever? Oh, isn’t it cute?
Look at the man in his shiny black suit.
There’s tea on the table, with cups and a cake,
What a wonder, the miniature things they can make!
Now, move along children. We really can’t stop.
We’ve visitors coming and I need to shop.
There’s so much to do, and it’s looking like rain,
On Friday the traffic can be such a pain.
Yes, I see them all stare in the dolls’ house,
And imagine the world that’s outside.

Now me, I live here in the dolls’ house.
I stand with a cloth and a tray.
And if you should ask me, I’d tell you it true,
I’d rather be here than stuck outside like you.
Nobody hurries, or looks at the clock,
Nobody’s ruled by the tick and the tock.
No tailback of  traffic, no crowds and no crush.
There’s nothing to do and there’s no need to rush.
There’s nobody living, but nobody dies.
Nobody’s laughing, but nobody cries,
Nobody visits, but nobody leaves,
Nobody loves, but nobody grieves.
I just wait to serve tea in the dolls’ house,
For it’s tea time all night and all day.

I see them all stare in the dolls house,
And I wonder who’s fixed and who’s free.
They stand and they stare in the doll’s house,
And maybe they wish they were me.

Go See a Museum

Do you think of museums as fusty and dusty?
And beg not to go, on your knees?
Do they seem all the same, whatever the name,
Then you should check out some of these.

Take a trip on your broom to Boscastle in Cornwall,
Their museum is all about witches.
In London there’s one full of sewing machines,
The exhibits will have you in stitches.

At the chair museum in High Wycombe,
It’s standing room only, I’m told.
And the mining museum in Scotland,
Will take you out panning for gold.

There’s a mustard museum in Norwich,
If you’re keen, it’s a good place to go.
And Barometer World in Okehampton,
Is great if the forecast says ‘Snow’.

In Loughborough don’t miss the museum of bells,
I hear that it’s bound to appeal.
Near Walsall you’ll find a museum full of locks,
Where kids get in free. That’s a steal!

Museums full of pencils or carpets or clocks,
Or one for the fans of the bright red post box.
A museum full of shoes, or clocks with cuckoos,
In Japan a museum that’s devoted to loos.

And then, when you’ve seen all there is to be seen,
And your time and your energy’s spent.
Drop in for a cuppa, or maybe some supper,
At the teapot museum, in Kent.

A Villanelle for World Book Day

I have to write a poem for World Book Day,
My local school have asked me to recite,
But …
If it’s no good, they might all run away

I sit and think, all night and then all day,
I tell myself – those kids will be polite
I have to write a poem for World Book Day,

I drink a coffee in a street café,
I must get something written by tonight,
Yet …
If it’s no good, they might all run away

I hear the children coming out to play
I tell myself – they’re harmless – they won’t bite,
I have to write a poem for World Book Day.

A villanelle! That’s something different. Yay!
To show it isn’t just my name that’s bright.
If it’s no good, they might all run away

At last it’s finished. Sing: “Calooh-Callay!”
It’s nothing special, but, I guess, all right.
I have to write a poem for World Book Day,
And if it’s good – perhaps they’ll shout: “Hooray!”
I said: “If it’s good – perhaps they’ll shout: “Hooray!

Maxine the Vaccine

You’ve heard me tell of Cyrus
The virus who’s so cruel.
Who makes so many people sick
And stops you going to school.

Well I’ve got news for Cyrus,
For a valiant hero’s come,
To break his crown, to blunt his spikes,
To kick him in the bum.

Maxine the vaccine,
Her quest is to protect us,
Her lance is sharp, her aim is true,
She’s racing to inject us.

Her mystic, magic potion
Will create an army, teeming
With her antibody buddies
Like a suit of armour gleaming.

The battle will be loud and long,
Whamoozle! Bash! Kerpow!
So wash your hands, as you’ve been told,
Just like you’re doing now.

Then give a cheer for Maxine,
She’s our vaccine superkid.
She’ll dump Cyrus in the dustbin
And superglue the lid!

Cyrus the Virus

The virus.
He’s nasty and he’s mean.

The virus.
So small he can’t be seen.

He lurks on taps and toilet seats,
He really loves the loo!
On bannisters and handles,
Whatever can you do?

Wash your hands! Wash your hands!
Make him squirm and make him struggle.
Wash your hands! Wash your hands!
Send him glooping down the plughole.

He wants to make us cough and choke,
He’s really a disgrace.
If he gets onto your fingers,
He could end up on your face.

Wash your hands! Wash your hands!
It’s the thing he fears the most.
Wash your hands! Wash your hands!
And we’ll make this Cyrus toast!

We can thwart his evil plans
So remember – WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

Draw Me an Alien

Draw me an alien,
One you’d like to meet,
Or one to send you yelling,
Shrieking, howling down the street.

Draw me an alien,
A blob, a beast, a thing,
With talons, toes, or tentacles,
To grasp or clasp or cling.

Draw me an alien
From light-years far away,
From Earth, or Mars, or Venus,
Then slither off and play.

Granny Meets an Alien

An alien from Andromeda,
With seven pairs of flippers,
Grabbed Gran, by the gasometer,
We only found her slippers.

But then we got a letter,
Redirected via Saturn.
She’s knitting him a sweater –
Fourteen-sleeved! Please send a pattern.

Mr Fledermaus

Our teacher, Mr Fledermaus, seems frightened of the light.
He comes to school before the dawn, and goes home late at night.
His face is almost deathly pale; he wears a long black cloak.
And with those little pointy teeth he really looks a joke.

He ought to eat much more, he should put on a bit of weight,
But he left the garlic mushrooms in a pile upon his plate.
He often nips into the loo, to comb his sleek, black hair,
But they say that, in the mirror, no reflection greets him there!

The weirdest things upset him, like that time, the other day,
I was sharpening my pencil, and he winced, and looked away.
I think Miss Cartwright fancies him, and though she’s quite a wreck,
He does seem strangely taken with her long and shapely neck!

First published in ‘Top Secret Lives of Teachers’, edited by Brian Moses, published by Macmillan, 2002.

Don’t Put Out the Light!

Don’t put out the light!
For a crocodile might
Wander by in the night
And be tempted, despite
Knowing it’s impolite,
To partake of a bite.
Yes, you’re probably right
That the danger is slight,
But don’t put out the light!

Check under the bed!
For some beasts, I have read,
When they haven’t been fed,
Get it into their head
To try hunting instead.
And though it’s been said
That they may prefer bread
Thick with chocolate spread,
Please check under the bed!

Don’t put out the light!
No, I’m not in a fright,
I’m not getting uptight,
I am quite, quite all right.
But I half thought you might,
To be mean, out of spite,
So, just for tonight,
As you wish me goodnight
Please don’t put out the light!!!

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.