For breakfast I eat up my vowels, my a e i o u, to which I add from consonants a fricative or two;
After that I move my bowels then write as poets do, and frequently am quite surprised to feel a trill come through.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Lover of Flowers

one man
between maidens
'tween maidens a lover
choosing flowers above ivy
one bride

A little bit of Turkish: çiçek (flower)
Bir çiçekle yaz gelmez.
A flower doesn't make a summer.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I count honeybees

I count honeybees
the curves of snails and seashells
pine cones and cacti
as numbers turn to spirals
I dervish dance the silence

First published in Simply Haiku, Winter 2011:

A little bit of Turkish: Derviş (Dervish)
Dervişin fikri neyse zikri de odur.
Whatever the dervish thinks, he mentions.
(fikir, -kri = thought, idea, opinion, mind; zikir, -kri = 1.mention; 2. devil worship ceremony).

An afternoon with Louis de Bernières

On Sunday May 1st @ Gunays Garden Kayaköy nr. Fethiye, at 3:30 p.m., Louise de Bernières will be giving readings from his book Birds Without Wings, there will be a workshop, discussion, book-signing and open buffet.

Tickets are 50TL (about £20 / $32). Net profits to go to FIG (Fethiye International Group) for the benefit of local children.

Tickets on sale at FITAV, FIG Shop, FIG Coffee Morning and Gunays Garden.
For more details contact Gill Erdogan on 0535 494 75 06.

Monday, 28 March 2011


When he called me, he called me his lover:
entrapped me in his cloak of Tyrean purple.

He dipped his bread and fed me,
"Is it me, Lord?” I asked.
He kissed me, and sighed, and said "Yes".

His breath was a whiff of burnt rubber
that hung round my head as a flaming tyre.

Now I hang by my heel on the pathway,
counting time between death and the lion:
hang here, accurs
éd, and smile.

First published in right hand pointing

Also in Serbian translation in ARS 4|'10
trans. Lena Rut Stefanović

A little bit of Turkish: Aslan (Lion) Yatmak (to lay down)
Aslan yattığı yerden belli olur.
You can tell a lion from where it lies.

C. S. Lewis wrote: "I found the name in the notes to Lane's Arabian Nights': it is the Turkish for Lion. I pronounce it Ass-lan myself. And of course I meant the Lion of Judah." Letters to Children p.29

Venus by the Sea

A little ditty inspired by the world of the English saucy seaside postcard by artists such as Donald McGill

She was Venus Urania,
He her blackpool rock.
Hers was frenzied mania,
His was helpless shock.

She was hot and ready,
He was cold with fear.
She wants hugs with 'teddy',
He wants another beer.

She was holiday pudding,
he her custard sauce;
She was passion flooding,
He one knackered horse.

A little bit of Turkish: Deniz (The Sea)
Denize düşen yılana sarılır.
Who falls in the sea will grab even a snake.
(Or as we may say in English : Any old port in a storm.)


Congratulations to David Mason whose narrative poem Ludlow is now available as a Kindle e-book. Good to see some great contemporary poetry beginning to appear in Kindle format.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Look Teacher

look teacher
here come your school
of fish
baited with promises
sold down river

A little bit of Turkish: 
Balık (Fish)
Balık ağa girdikten sonra aklı başına gelir.
A fish comes to its senses after its caught in the net.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Seven Essential Guidelines for Writing “Traditional Tanka in English” in the Ideal Form

1. Five lines. The form for English tanka (which is both singular and plural) is an untitled and unrhymed quintain.

2. Set syllable count. From 19 to 31 English syllables are permissible.

3. The syllabic length of lines is set, which creates the traditional rhythm.
A. A short/long/short/long/long syllabic pattern is ideal.
B. Syllable counts may vary from a maximum of 5/7/5/7/7 down to a minimum of 3/5/3/5/5, ideally; but some flexibility within the s/l/s/l/l pattern is acceptable, e.g., 4/6/3/5/6 or 3/5/4/5/7, etc.

4. Diction: Use natural English phrasing on each line with no (or very minimal) enjambment. Do not end a line with a or the; avoid ending a line with a preposition. Ideally, each line is one poetic utterance ending with a caesura; this is often referred to as “five phrases on five lines.”

5. Japanese tanka build and build. They do not fall away like some English poetic utterances. The 5th line of a traditional tanka is the most important and significant line. Therefore that 5th line should ideally be at least as long as the 2nd and/or 4th lines. Sometimes the 5th line can be syllabically a little shorter than line 2 or 4, providing it is a strong line in meaning and/or utterance, or continues in the reader’s mind, e.g., with an ellipsis (e.g., “so she waited …” might be okay, in the context of the rest of the tanka). A one or two syllable 5th line not permissible.

6. A certain amount of ambiguity/dreaming room/ma can be a desirable quality but complete obscurity is not desirable.

7. The content/theme/subject is wide-open, but tanka is lyric verse and should not be didactic. For example, a “polemic tanka” is self-contradictory.

This definition is Copyright © 2009 by Amelia Fielden (Australia), Denis M. Garrison (USA), and Robert D. Wilson (The Philippines). Reprinting and publication of this definition, with proper attribution, is expressly permitted by the copyright-holders. Further permission requests are not required.

Traditionally there is a minimal use of punctuation, with no use of full stops/periods and capitalization is only used for place/personal names and the word 'I'.

For some excellent contemporary examples take a look the tanka section of the online magazine Simply Haiku:

Available collections of Japanese tanka in english translation include:

A little bit of Turkish: Japonya (Japan) Konuşmak (To Speak)
Japonca konuşabiliyor musunuz?
Do you speak Japanese?

The Lion of Safed

scent of pine
ascending mountains
forest slopes
exhale the lion's
devoted prayers

The Ari, or Lion of Safed, is considered the founder of modern Jewish Kabbalah, see:

The Tree of Life: The Palace of Adam Kadmon - Chayyim Vital's Introduction to the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria

A little bit of Turkish: Dağ (Mountain)
Dağ dağa kavuşmaz,insan insana kavuşur.
Mountain will never meet mountain, but man may meet man (again).
(So be careful how you treat each other)

Monday, 21 March 2011


belly button grieve:
neither inny nor outy
had Adam or Eve
mother and father of all
cut here the mark of their fall

A little bit of Turkish: Göbek (Navel)
Also means center, hub, roundabout:
Ilk göbekten sola dön.
Turn left at the first belly-button roundabout.
Ilk - First; göbekten - roundabout from/at; sola - left; dön - turn

Now that is what I call a self-publishing success story!

Toyo Shibata's self-published anthology, Don't Lose Heart, sells 1.5m copies:

A little bit of Turkish: Aslan (Lion)
Her gönülde bir aslan yatar.
In every heart there lies a lion.

Baked beans made her bum go boom

Baked beans made her bum go boom
and everybody left the room
but even then the smell was bad
a stench so foul to drive you mad
so everybody left the house
mum and dad the cat a mouse
yet even still the stink was rank
and firemen came to find what stank
they feared a poison gas had leaked
and while they searched for what so reeked
evacuated all the street!

No more does she eat legume, since
baked beans made her bum go boom.

A little bit of Turkish: Koyun (Sheep)
Her koyun kendi bacagindan asilir.
Each sheep is hung by its own leg.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ant Nest

A little nest, my dictionary, full of small black signs:
back and forth the page they flow
marching in straight lines.

I am like the Aardvark, consuming old and young:
with joy I dine among them
and stick them on my tongue.

A little bit of Turkish: Köpek (Dog)
Havlayan köpek ısırmaz.
Barking dogs never bite.


Thread after thread 
The spider unreeling them
Constantly spins with them 
Spinning his web.

In eight-legged pyjamas
He spins and he stitches
Nice little nightgowns
For flies of fine thread.

Measures them, dresses them,

Tucks them to bed,
Then says thanksgiving 
For his daily bread,

And then... Ah, well then... 
That’s when he tucks into them! 
A spinner, a tailor,
Well busy, well fed.

A little bit of Turkish: Sinek (Fly - also, the suit of Clubs in a pack of playing cards)
Sinek küçüktur, ama mide bulandirir.
The fly is small, but it can upset the stomach.

Home Baked Medicine

To heal your scars 

a get well pie:

with silver stars 

on a purple sky
of sugar icing, 

a crescent moon 

and "get well soon"
in orange writing.

Learn a little bit of Turkish: Serçe (Sparrow)
Serçeden korkan darı ekmez
Who fears sparrows, sows no seeds.
(Nothing ventured, nothing gained).

Far Away & Missing You

My tasty
Melton Mobray;

my crusty
hot water
hand raised
        pork and
        ...  jelly.

Learn a little bit of Turkish: Karga (Crow)
Karga demiş: "Benim ak pak evladim".
Crow said: "My pure white son."
(Everyone thinks their child is beautiful)