Wrong Turn

Stepping out of his shining space-craft the space colonist surveys the horizon.

Barren rock under a metallic sky.

Not a sign of life.

Crashing to his knees in despair he shakes his fists at the clouds.

‘Damn it, damn it all to hell!

Not again.

I should have taken a left at Orion’s Belt!’


Image NASA: https://images.nasa.gov/details-PIA05108

Why I live eidetic


Lift-off here 

is very simple. 

I start my daze 

with coffin and frump on 

the beano in the mortal, and 

then either work on the beano talking 

to Pepper about the divorce courses, or take

a growler out and guide them through the cordon

bleu. In the everywhere the whole working company gathers to

play popery, have a simple dip, maybe of falderal or eidetic

placebo and watch the simulacrum at 6 p.m.– some things are the same all ovio!


(Oulipo poem based on Why I live in Egypt by Breffni O’Malley, The Irish Times Magazine, 23 August 2003)

Day Dreams

When I was young I played with brutality 

And was passionately devoted to reality, to reason

And my dresses were hurried to compliance. 

But then the bullets began singing

Arsenals began cracking the frost. 

And a winged sun came flying to the city.

I was already annihilated.

Although armchairs were not my profile, 

When my taunt was done,

When my tattoo was done,

I made tautology my stanza. 

A scholar’s strength cuts best in imagination.

And drinkers retire to their compound of plastic. 

And the glitter in the glass. 


(Oulipo poem based on an ancient Chinese poem: DAY DREAMS

By Tso Ssŭ)-

Collarbone Coast

In the motel they sent me to draw waves, 

But I didn’t find backwater.

My cracked hands were all shortages. 

So I walked the collarbone coast

Treading on bottles and bread. 

As I stopped to watch the daily punch-up

How black my heart was! 

And I went on sobbing and sobbing. 

In witness I have no great-cockfight left,

No sunhat, a thin coach jacket.

My handicrafts are all soundtrack. 

It is a pledge to be alive. 

But I had rather quickly leave the eating.


(Oulipo poem based on excerpt from a 1st century B.C Chinese poem: The Orphan)

Good morning heartache

It is October.

A dark night Manhattan sky,

orange moon full of autumn.

Sitting in a deep black leather chair in the bar, 

my name inscribed in bronze on the wall, 

mirrors reflecting midnight faces.

A dangerous woman is singing jazz. 

The mellow effect, dark smoke of her voice, 

soft leather at my back, 

cold glass in hand. 

Watching people listen. 

Good morning heartache here we go again. 


Writing Prompt: OULIPO Poem

Here is an unusual poetic form to try: OULIPO

OULIPO poetry is written using unique forms of mathematical and textual structural constraints.

It began in the 1960s with the work of French mathematician Francois de Lionnais and writer Raymond Queneau. OULIPO is an acronym of Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle(OULIPO), or Workshop of Potential Literature.

There are many forms but ‘[o]ne of the most popular OULIPO formulas is “N+7,” in which the writer takes a poem [or piece of prose if you want to vary it] already in existence and substitutes each of the poem’s substantive nouns with the noun appearing seven nouns away in the dictionary. Care is taken to ensure that the substitution is not just a compound derivative of the original, or shares a similar root, but a wholly different word. Results can vary widely depending on the version of the dictionary one uses.’ (Poets.org, 2004)

‘Another OULIPO exercise uses the “snowball” technique, where the first line is one word long, the second line has two words, and so on. A snowball poem can also be made up of lines comprised of progressively longer words, in which two lines might read:

     I am far from happy Mother reduced
     A no-fly zone using yellow ribbons.’ (Poets.org, 2004)

You can find out more about it here: https://poets.org/text/brief-guide-oulipo

And here: http://www.languageisavirus.com/creative-writing-techniques/oulipo.php#.YGcX4S1Q1QI

Guardian article on OULIPO: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/jul/12/oulipo-freeing-literature-tightening-rules

I recently tried it to good effect.

Good luck.



Today I am
Flickering in and out
Of emotional
Longing to be held
Solid and safe
In a vase, or jar.
A Bronze Age burial
Of sleeping bones
Curled up
In foetal position.


I love you, green Pringles

You slouch
On the couch,
You and your

green tube
Of Sour Cream & Onion

Do it,
Pop the plastic,
Peel the foil.

Yes. Smells sweet
Onion & Sour cream

First bite,
Crisp salty sharp
On your dead tongue

Then you can’t stop,
Just one more
Crunch, crunch, crunch,

Until you feel
Sick and


Only Messing

Harold longed to insult his boss. He really did. Tell preening Paul what he really thought of him. Use all his bad words. The ones mother wouldn’t allow.

But he couldn’t. Instead he hid inside his fleshy shell.

One day there’ll be a revolution, he thought, and people like me will rise. Then I’ll grab my boss by his hipster beard and throw him off the building. Or a cliff. Whichever is closer. 

Paul continued his endless tongue tirade. Laughing. In front of the the whole office. They laughed too. What else could they do?

‘Does your mammy still buy your clothes for you Harold?’


Harold lied.

He lied a lot.

‘Only messing Harold. You’re great fun you are.’ Paul said.

Harold sipped his tepid tea and returned to work.

Tea-break was over.

Sitting back to his desk he whispered a silent curse while the office continued to laugh.