Poem a Day #16 – Interview 1


According to a not very reliable website I read today, humans are different from animals in 15 ways. These include crying (really?), farting (I know that’s not true because I’ve smelt dog farts and heard elephants fart), hiccoughs (maybe), blushing (likely), shaving (obviously), pins and needles,  risk taking and daydreaming (how would we know).

I started this poem as a list of those ‘weirdnesses’, and then turned it into the record of one side of an interview. I’ve given it the number 1 – the inquisition may continue.

Interview 1

How long since you last slept?

Have the hiccoughs always been this bad?

And when did the tears begin?

Have you measured their volume?

Do you usually blush this easily?

And this shade of red?

Why did you take the risk?

Now that you are here, do you think it was worth it?

How did the pins and needles start?

Why did you laugh so hard?

But nobody else did. Why do you think that was?

Do you usually kiss her on the mouth?

What about that particular morning?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?

When did your ‘personal’ problem surface?

Did it affect your relationship?

What about the deformity?

Why did you blink at that question?

What was your daydream about?

Was it in 3-D?

And colour?

Which side of your face do you usually shave first?

Wet or Electric?

How long since you last had sex?

Man or woman?

When did you realise you were the only survivor?

Are you glad?


© Mike Hopkins 2014

Poem a Day #15 – Lion

Banks of the Zambezi

Banks of the Zambezi


I wrote a poem some time ago about being stalked by lions when I lived in Zimbabwe in the early ’80s. You can read it here. The scene of the stalking, a remote area on the banks of the Zambezi, and some of those stalked, are shown above. It was undoubtedly the most frightening experience of my life – I’m pretty sure we all thought we were going to die that night.

I was reminded of the incident today when reading a poem called “Lion” by Jericho Brown, in which he addresses a lion.

I’ve taken that idea, and addressed one of the lions that stalked us:

Lion …

that night you stalked us,

circled us


sent us to ground

consumed with fear


what was it

that drove you?


An animal lust

to taste the other,


a ritual of bonding

with your mate


like a young buck

on a first date?


Was it bluster,

an alpha maleness?


Were you making a point

with teeth and talons


stamping your ground

with roar wildness


or playing a game

of hot pursuit


and why


just as faint hope

flickered, dimmed


and dawn bled light

onto the scene


did you pad away,

your hunger unsatisfied?



Poem a Day #14 – The Scarecrow



I am indebted to Alison Flett for this one. She introduced me to the Wallace Stevens poem “The Snow Man” on which I’ve modelled this poem.

The Scarecrow

(after Wallace Stevens)

You must have a mind of straw

a sylvan insensitivity

to pose in the crop clad field


to stand sun blazed for weeks

on parched earth

feet brushed by weeds


and let the late season rain

drown your thoughts

in rushing rivulets


washing your mind

of all meaning

leaving a void


where nothing, not the sharp perch bird

nor the wet snuffle fox

can sully your lucid emptiness


© Mike Hopkins 2014

Poem a Day #13 – Sous Les Pavés, La Plage

sous les paves


The slogan comes from the May 1968 civil unrest and general strike in France. I’ve used it to come up with a list poem. It’s Sunday evening, I’m short of ideas and tired after staying up to watch Fulham beat Norwich in the early hours of the morning. But the slogan is a powerful one, and could give rise to a better poem over the next few months.


Sous Les Pavés, La Plage

(under the cobblestones, the beach)

under the carpet, the bare wood

under the linoleum, the fateful headline

under the marble tiles, the sewerage pipes

under the desk, the discarded memo

under the truck, the bicycle

under the din, the lovers’ conversation

under the canopy, the groundcover

under the anger, the panic

under the blind faith, the doubt

under the bluster, the lies

under the politeness, the disgust

under the caress, the indifference

under the hopelessness, the resignation

under the altar, the woodworm

under the promise, the intent

under the trust, the worry

under the skin, the grief

under your feet, the answer


© Mike Hopkins 2014

Poem a Day #12 – The Universe is Buzzing

New Age Bull


This one came from a Facebook post this morning, about a “New Age Bullshit Generator” (here). You press a celestial button on the site and it generates a page of New Age bullshit – you know, rebirth, unicorns, the cosmos, chakras etc.

So I challenged fellow Poem A Day-er Tracey Korsten to a duel – write a poem out of the New Age bullshit.

So here’s mine:


“The Universe is Buzzing ….“

…with bio-electricity” she says.  “We exist as bio-feedback.”


-          I am reminded I haven’t paid my power bill.


“The solar system is calling to you via vibrations.” she says “Can you hear it?”


-          I cup my ear, but the vibrations are overwhelmed by bar chatter and the cash register


“We will be reborn at a crossroads of power and discontinuity” she says


-          I had a Robert Johnson record once, but I scratched it.


“Who are we? Where on the great mission will we be reborn?”


-          I hadn’t realised she was one of the Stolen Generation.


“We are in the midst of an event that will remove the barriers to the cosmos itself so that we will enter into infinite space-time”


-          I see myself as a young Captain Kirk, in an early episode of Star Trek


“Bondage is the antithesis of growth. Desire is born in the gap”


-          I think she’s trying to hit on me


“Reality has always been full of adventurers”


-          She IS trying to hit on me


“Imagine a maturing of what could be. It is time to take aspiration to the next level” she says


-          No, she thinks I’m too old


“Astrology may be the solution to what’s holding you back from an epic fount of potentiality. Confront the things that can exterminate” she says


-          Astrology instead of Viagra? Or maybe it’s Dr. Who.


“Our chakras are engulfed in the wonders of curiosity” she says


-          “I’m skint. I was wondering if you could buy me a pint?” I say.




© Mike Hopkins 2014

Poem a Day – No More Gaps

no more gaps

I spent most of today fixing up cracked walls, cornices and tiles in the house I used to live in. It was the family home. Soon it will be going up for sale and open for inspection. In Adelaide, most homes on the plains suffer from cracking, due to the expansion and contraction of our clay soils. Our cracks are not too bad, compared to many and can be fairly easily filled using a product called “No More Gaps”.


No More Gaps

Hunting down the imperfections

the spider vein fractures


the crack between

what is and what was


the lifting surface under foot

which rises again no matter

how hard you stamp it down


the mismatched touches

of gloss and flat


the worn facade

exposing the ageing frame


feeling with

split fingertips


putting in the fix

concealing the damage.


Laying open

for inspection.


© Mike Hopkins 2014


Street View


The wonders of the web. You can find almost any house, anywhere in the world, and inevitably you are tempted to look at houses you once lived in.


Street View

Googling a memory

I am drawn

to a house

10,000 miles away


Still visible is the notch

I gouged out of the gate post

with my car after

a night of drinking


An unfamiliar truck

sits in the driveway

as if a tradesman

is indoors


The lawn is more neatly clipped

than I used to keep it.

The top of the high front hedge

still eludes clippers


The steel framed windows

have been replaced with

plastic coated aluminium

neo-Georgian leadlight


A wave of vertiginous nostalgia

envelopes me. I click

on zoom - am launched

like a weightless peeping tom

towards a net curtained window


© Mike Hopkins 2014


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