Skylab Stories

Poetry, Performance, Participation, Possibility. Huddersfield, UK. I write and perform poetry, and run workshops to get people writing poetry together.

NaPoWriMo 2.24: Skag-Afforder April 24, 2014

"Egg raining aloe vera"

“Egg raining aloe vera”

I loved doing the homophonic translation last year – which produced this vulgar thing from a Danish poem.

As I seemed to do well with Nordic languages I don’t know, this year I ventured to Iceland and vandalised this poem into English.

It is, of course, utterly ridiculous and – like last year - quite vulgar. This probably says something about the juvenile translation words, lurking in my subconscious, but I’m OK with that.

No, I don’t think it has much artistic merit, but it does conjure some amusing and slightly disgusting images – so I hope you enjoy it:




Egg raining aloe vera:

a lewd leg vile, born in

so poo-herding, unleaded mitt -

beggar bar and lemur.

Miley coke, your oaf and I, grasséd.

Ah, Aluminium Minion.

Log Fairy met Joke Diddum,

Fingered UK RyanAir.

Pass Jeff, or dingo-mule of grey.


Sam, that egg, ever owes.

Peek your paw after

a hymn, nesting hosier, licked, tinny:


all taps screw-loose, pooing, my eyes of Cheddar burning.



NaPoWriMo 2.23: Mary, Mary April 23, 2014

I’ve been at a poetry course tonight (with the marvellous Rommi Smith) and we’ve been talking about syllables. So we wrote a cinquain, a form which goes 2/4/6/8/2 syllables in each line, 22 in total…

Mine was written from a postcard illustrating a well known nursery rhyme:

Mary, Mary

It grows
From neon beds:
These luminescent suns
Rising in your contrary eyes
So dark.


NaPoWriMo 2.22: Barb

“Her name is Barb. She’s never shut. The one-sided sign on the door reads: OPEN.”

So a ‘children’s poem’ very much in the vein of Roald Dahl or Tim Burton’s Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy (OK, maybe that’s not even for children).

My partner noticed a handwritten sign yesterday (in the small town we’re presently based), advertising ‘Hairdresser’s chair for hire’ (in my head, it then said, ‘by the hour’). It was directly above a butcher’s shop. And so, with Demon Barbers in mind, transposed to Mirfield…

It’s a work in progress and as such, the story is not yet complete. It’ll either get longer, or shorter…




In a blank little town

with a flat grey river

that curves across it like a frown

is a sight that’ll make you shiver.


Her name is Barb. She’s never shut.

The one-sided sign on the door reads: OPEN.

And she’ll give you the worst haircut

you’d never even imagined.


That Barb’s a beast, a crow with scissors.

Don’t go to Barb for a careful trim:

You’ll get yourself caught in a Barbara-blizzard -

a snow-dome not only of hair, but of skin!


‘Butcher Barb!’ that’s what they call her.

‘The Demon ‘Dresser’, the children say.

So what’s the explanation all the

parents look the other way?


“Oh hel-LO Mrs Trent, do come in!”

As shuddering Taylor gets shoved through the door:

“Would you like to try my savoury tiffin?

It’s a recipe I haven’t tried before…”


‘Cos Barb’s got all the parents hooked

on the troublesome treats she bakes.

That Sinister Scissorer! Guess what she’s cooked?

It’s not just the smile that she fakes…


To Be Continued…?



NaPoWriMo 2.21: Low Angle – a ‘New York’ poem…?

ImageThe ‘New York’ poem certainly made a long list of demands. To the extent that my poem came out something of a lewd scrap-book of overheard things or conversation snippets, with only a vague thread connecting them, that I could glean.

Maybe that’s how New York would want it: rude and random. I’m not sure – but here it is, anyway:


Low Angle


Monday 21st April, 17.59.

‘The moon is waning gibbous.

There is no interesting historical fact for today.’

Your Suzuki engine is stuck in slow reverse

while you systematically, starting at A,

one-way sext your contacts.


Jonny Cash rumbles on, dead: ‘I hung my head,

I hung my head, I hurt myself’. A one track mind

one minute, ‘We’ll meet again’  the next. Fuck you,

Japan, I trusted you and your consumer

electronics. A shipwreck sinks through

your window.


The rain migraines rhythmically

on that sensitive skin. ‘To be a cosmic tree,

you’re going to have to put down roots first.’

You’re thinking up the worst slap-you-in-the-face lines

you can: ‘Would you like to stick your finger

in my Whoopie Pie?’ Every cosmic green

of spring has a corresponding fag-butt

autumn brown, built-in.


You’d need at least a terabyte hard drive to store

those low-angle selfies. ‘He took me to Nando’s

and made me pay, then said he’d missed the last train.’

You walk home, tip-toe-ing over snails, those land-mines

with a shell full of slop. Weave through their slimy

ideas, until your third eye wanders and you hear

just one underfoot go POP.




NaPoWriMo 2.20: Sparse April 20, 2014


Caught up! Here’s my take on the shell name, ‘The Sparse Dove’…This one was rather fun to write.




I realise there’s a lot riding

on these delicate feathers,

but what few of you get

 - well, those few that are left -

is how hard it is to remain

this pure, white and pristine

during a global apocalypse.


It’s quite a few furlongs

across the flotsam and jetsam

of what you fondly thought of

as civilisation. (That’s not to mention

those without arks, without wings

this untainted, who floated

a surprising distance.)


There it is, the biggest bit of the buoyant

detritus of sin. No idea where to begin

their journey without destination.

And I’m meant to saunter over

on these tattered scroll wings

to deposit what feels to me

like a while bloody tree.

Just so that you know

you’ve got somewhere to go?


Well it’s that, or my nest.

And that’s close. So close.

Just a light breeze away

in one of the groves.

And they’re quiet. Quite silent,

but for the coo-ing of neighbours,

an occasional flurry of lambs.


No people here. No bickering.

No predators, or preying.

Just us prey. It’d be very easy

to stay. Avoid that murky water.


It’s a very long way over there.

A very long way. 


NaPoWriMo 2.19: Stopping Above Huddersfield on a Sunny Afternoon


The view from Castle Hill above Huddersfield

Here’s my rubaiyat (though I think I lost the rhyme scheme in the last two stanzas – gah!), inspired by how sound carries on a bright day, above an urban setting…The title is a nod, of course, to the Robert Frost poem mentioned on the NaPoWriMo site.

Stopping Above Huddersfield on a Sunny Afternoon

From the great lawn below, sounds shine up:
each dandelion instant, each buttercup
that dots the afternoon, this warm air’s stave
with symphonic gulps from each pint’s sup.

On her cracking patio, she’s trying to save
the barbecue from doom. Despite the grave
warnings on the sausage’s pack: Defrost
five hours. She gives her guests a half-baked wave.

He’s tracing each bubble, counting hours lost
last night. How many did he accost
in the primal lights of Lloyds No 1?
Yet no new contact, just lines crossed.

On the bus, they’re avoiding each other’s eyes,
holding singles tightly. Craving KFC fries,
a giant Pepsi. Alone, with the sun.
From the driver’ seat, a blackbird harmonises.


NaPoWriMo 2.18: Good Friday 2009


a tall empty form...

Something that started as a sort of ‘mock poem’ but I thought I’d turn it into a slightly less mock-poem…Based on a little moment five years ago:

Good Friday, 2009

I’ll straighten my tie, press
the shaking red icon to hang
up, glide a straight line
towards the light
coming through
the door.

It will knock
twice only -
slowly, precisely.

A back-lit cut-out,
a tall empty form:
“Do you want any
fish?” he’ll enquire.

“I’m sorry,” I’ll reply,
“this is not my



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