Poetry – Home and Away

Hey all,

Just a quick update.

A few weeks ago, when my Year 8 class was studying a picture book called Home and Away, by John Marsden and Matt Ottley (found here if you’re interested in reading it), I asked them to write a poem. That poem had to be either inspired by the events or the feelings found in the book. When they had finished that, I asked them to choose their favorite line from their poem, and thirteen of them came to write their lines randomly on the board.

That’s where the fun starts.

Every year I have Year 8, I challenge myself to construct a “found poem” live, in front of the class, while they watch, from lines that were written in 10 to 15 different poems. It’s a challenge, but entirely doable, even with thirty sets of eyes watching as you do it. The kids sit there staring, first in disbelief, not sure their random lines could every make coherent sense, then as I reorder and punctuate them, they are dumbfounded as the poem emerges and – quite often – is very moving.

One of my first posts ever was about this activity (you can find that post from 2016 here), and I have done it every year I have had Year 8 since. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the poem from 2017 (silly past-Richard), and I didn’t have Year 8 in 2018, but you can read the most recent two below.

I am proud of myself for being able to construct (rather than “write”) these poems, but I am also proud of them for trusting me every year and pouring their heart and soul into a silly activity.

I am a very lucky teacher.

I love my job.

Happy reading 🙂


Home and Away (2019)

Originally a happy family in our home,
I could NEVER understand why it had to be this way.
A false sense of security:
The war destroyed us all…

Days go by – love changes, best friends become
told me that crying made me weak.

On the rocking dinghy, we washed ashore,
they died, their bodies resting in a river or red
From the garden, chaos and laughter now turned malicious,
Until it was all wisps of smoke.

They’re all gone now. I miss them.
We never know just one day,
Could make the difference between home and away.

Home and Away (2020)

First comes, first goes
It was his time, they say.
Will I be able to keep going?
Because you are an amazing memory
And we hope, for what else can we do.

Shriveling out in the scorching sun
It was cold
From a fight of endless pain.
Lifeless bodies strewn across the deck,
the lucky ones still had a beating heart.

But you don’t, and you aren’t,
and if you really listen you can hear silenced voices:
We are now the people who needed saving.

It’s been a while…

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted any of my work.

If I’m honest, I’ve been dealing with life and its unexpected struggles, my career (which just seems to be consuming more and more of my time), and my own mental health, which I suppose is not that great at the best of times. But I’m planning on coming back to writing again now.

Having said that, I have decided to change things up a bit.

Recently, I’ve been writing more prose than poetry, and while I do love poetry, I think it is important for me to have a sounding-board for my prose as well. So over the next few weeks I will upload some of my writing from the last year. It’s stuff that I may have submitted to competitions and so on, but didn’t really get anywhere.

As is the case with everyone, all the time, I am still learning.

I haven’t done not much (and it’s not good) but I would rather not just let it sit on my hard drive, gathering digital dust. I have also been spending a good chunk of my time working on a novel, but I think I’ll get to that later on.

While I will be uploading some prose, I am going to come back to something I wrote in November last year – a sappy love poem for my now fiance`.

Just like in the past, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.



A mote of light


Do you remember
the first night
we looked to the skies,
and on our eyes a sparkle
bounced between us – entered
our mind,
and twinkled in a way that
only ancient light can?


Do you remember
the first night that light bounced out,
a silent shout to the
distant dark?


After time we forget
the nights that passed
the fights that last
but those lights that
passed though our hearts
and bounced back out are
soon to be the only remnants
of a distant past.


That light moved fast –
so fast that the smiling
man with a cheesy grin
only saw our photons
pass for a second.


By the time six minutes
passed a beautiful goddess
saw light shoot by; or
maybe a smooth blue orb
slid by on its own path, the light
joining an ancient highway
moving in all directions.


We look away, and to
each other, and talk
and laugh and cry,
while all the time that
light still moves towards
a distant darkness far


Once a day has passed,
and our love has grown,
that light has moved
beyond anything that we
have known.


That first light that came
from a distant star
and passed without a scar
and bounced out again
in the space between our
beating hearts has pushed
its way into the sky
and will forever be
our memory.


And six years on that
light still flies but instead
of past our local
ties it flies
though darkness, forever
from our eyes from
that moment we looked
at distant skies.


And once we’re gone
and memory has faded;
when no one knows our
voices, names, or faces –
that distant light from
you and I
will carry on
past distant lights and
unseen sights.


And while it’s just
one tiny thing –
a mote of light
from our first sight,
a look in to a distant night –
it will just remember

Poems of the Past – The Stiletto

Below is a poem that I wrote a long time ago, back in 2013. It is in a number of parts and was for an assignment for my teaching degree. We had to submit something personal and creative, and I’m honestly still surprised that I got away with writing something like this. From memory, I got a decent mark as well!

I found it recently when cleaning out my older documents, and in the absence of a new poem to share with you all, thought I’d throw it up here. It’s not perfect, and I think I’ve gotten better since then, but sometimes it’s nice (or horrible) to look back on the beasts we once knew.



The Stiletto


Light’s illusions,
Shadows in a crowded room.
Is there more to it than meets the eye?
Are they ever still?
Only when darkness falls
Do they come together –
Silhouettes caught in a loving
Nowhere and everywhere;
All consuming.

A trick of the eye:
We see nothing
But them, but
Nothing is all
We see.

Illusions, lights; a
Crowded room of shadows.
Somewhere between perception and
They are condemned to stay.



Assassin: sleek, surreptitious,
Sneaking soundlessly. Surity
Exudes her soulful steps
As she smoothly
Slides her sharp silver stiletto.



Dangerous – heaving chest and
Sweating palms. He looks
Dead but for the movement of his eyes.
Silent steps destroy his
Waking dreams as a hot,
Takes his world away.


Hold it close,
The thought of better times.
They will come, when all that is left
Comes to close.








holding all

Thoughts hostage.

A breath – too much;
A whimper,
Head held high





It is unthinkable, the notion of a mind unchained;
At a time like this
It is held far                                                                              beyond reach.

All we can hope for is
From the emptiness.










Not a sound.






In. Out.
Breath, death, passion.
All the same when the darkness comes.



Nothing, not a sound.
The darkness that falls holds us hostage,
An untainted thought cannot be found.

Like a new killer, waiting for their first to be crowned
(The scalp a necessity of any assassins salvage),
Nothing, not a sound.

A consequence: the first kill will always resound.
A permanent image;
An untainted thought cannot be found.

No racing thoughts, no doubts abound –
Slowly sneaking down the passage,
Nothing, not a sound.

When she reaches his room, she looks around:
No one but the victim, unaware of the coming carnage,
An untainted thought cannot be found.

Finally, as she draws the knife her heart again starts to pound.
A quick plunge, a twist to dodge the rib-cage:
Nothing, not a sound.
An untainted thought cannot be found.



In the morning we can pretend
It was all a dream.



“Treat every kill like it’s your first”,
That’s what she was always told,
“It’s the only way to quench an unquenchable thirst.”

But as she held the stiletto above her head once more, she imagines the roles in reverse,
She paused too long, forgot the saying of old:
“Treat every kill like it’s your first.”

An iron grip on her wrist, this is not as she rehearsed.

Not everything goes to plan.

As the darkness overcomes her she
Begins to understand,
You cannot quench the unquenchable thirst.