Acrostic Poem: Weiterbildung

Small amount of background: I wrote this on the tram early on a Saturday morning, disgruntled at being roused from bed at the weekend for the teacher training course I’m currently on in Germany.

When I wake up I turn the alarm off

Envious of my friends out late

I ingest a coffee,


Enter the bathroom

Rub my face with a towel

Bags packed the night before

Into the stairwell of my flat

Long strides to the

Door which I open, bleary-eyed

Under the statue of a girl on a horse

Nearing the test centre, I think to myself,

Getting up was a chore!


The Despot

A lonely despot sits

at a long, long table

looking at his hands

lined with age

and the lives that he’s taken.

The camera turns

and he fills the frame

his closest generals and advisors

a few metres away.

Delusions of empire

but what can be done?

He sits atop the ivory tower

of his own making

while others slept

or lined their pockets.

Now those advisors grumble quietly to their wives in the evening

as the bombs rain down

in a war without faces

or front lines:

designed to punish the innocent.



The gentle shudder of a street car

Pulling away,

Or of a woman

Rubbing sleep out of her face:

The promise of warm

In a rose-cream sky

As the sun

Pokes up its first rays.

Scraps of thought

Amongst a turning in my gut,

A pushing, pulling, churning,

Life-giving rawness.

Frida Kahlo

Her monobrowed sexual energy

Losing a tooth in a dream

What did that mean again?

The gaps between the towns are always fun:

The streetcar rattles along

Coiled up

I can only imagine the driver’s face

As she puts her foot down

Pedal to the floor

With an expression like cycling downhill.



A response to Dag T. Straumsv√•g’s ‘Endless Plains, Clouds,’ which you can read on Asymptote here.

Was the thought that someone,

a woman, of course

might vacuum up a Ming Dynasty vase

a moment of cold, clear irony

or an admission of ignorance?

A tacit confession to never having vacuumed

to not understanding how the heavy shards would destroy the machine

from within?

Like playing an offshoot of charades in theatre class

And one woman

from our circle of women

throws out a suggestion

to the one man

in our circle of women

“How about ironing?”

He looks up

and starts doing these strange hand movements

reminiscent of spreading pancake batter around a frying pan with the back

of a ladle.

“My wife does that.”

And me?

I don’t iron

and I don’t own an iron.

I’ve made sure this never becomes an inconvenience by also not owning

anything that needs to be ironed.

And I sweep my room.

Less can go wrong with a broom.


Straight Line

To sit and wait,

or to breathe in the day,

head bowed –

follow the white line

painted there

a humming, a thrumming, a click.


Freedom Day

Freedom Day!

Sweat at the club

against all the other

unvaccinated or semi-vaccinated youths,

but don’t go to France

unless you have ten days to spare afterwards,

because the Beta variant

that makes up three percent of cases

will get you

(including those islands

in the middle of the Indian Ocean

that we’d never even heard of

until last week).

Maybe we’d never even heard of them

because they’re not as troubled as Madagascar-

maybe they have roads

but no lemurs to film.

Maybe they’re not as rich as the Seychelles

or the Maldives

the island paradise(s)


full of tiki huts

and smiling locals

grateful for your money

oh, so grateful-

as they pile the debris

of your single-use plastic

water bottles and sun cream

onto an island in the middle of the sea

to burn

out of sight, out of mind.

No, the Beta variant is dangerous,

oh, so dangerous,

we say

with no hint of irony

that we gifted the world Alpha

incubated Delta

then unleashed it on Europe

harbingers of doom

from our rocky little isle.

Maybe nobody looked at those figures-

Reunion Island is an insignificant speck, after all.

A speck that nobody checked.

Are we still supposed to believe

that any one of them knows

or has ever known

what they were doing?

Doesn’t it all feel like politics to you?

Point-scoring like Eurovision,

dick-swinging like Brexit

with a touch of European Championship machismo:

“You’re high-risk”

“You’re higher-risk”

“No, YOU’RE higher risk”

UK-vaccinated passengers avoid quarantine.

Yes, you heard that right, UK-vaccinated

even though it’s the same stuff.

Our airports would be overwhelmed, they say,

we wouldn’t be able to cope

we’re actively working on a solution

but we expect that Brits can

go off to Benidorm and Kos

and cook themselves

a fetching shade of lobster pink

while we turn our nose up at

EU QR codes

and airlines are gasping

absolutely gasping

for footfall.



Take a step back,

a long, sticky summer on hold,

not much of a summer at all,

like a hot day

when it’s cloudy and 90% humidity

you feel cheated.

It’s the kind of sticky that

clings to your skin after a shower

back to square one

hit the reset button

like waiting for rain on the forecast,

that keeps getting pushed back,

ruining plans

but not clearing the sticky.