Friday 26 May 2023


 At the moment I've been working on a number of poems. This first one was prompted by a visit to some friends who have foxes living in their garden. They live in London. As I was leaving the phrase the fox garden came into my head and I spent the next seven days ruminating on it. When I sat down to write I got the bare bones down but it took another two weeks to get this serviceable draft right. By the way all I took from the conversation was the title, the words are mine alone.

The Fox Garden

we were letting the garden rewild

it was the thing to do

make a dignified withdrawal

hand it back to nature

besides we had grown lazy

lived lives inside four walls

it was inevitable they would annex the space

the foxes saw opportunity brassy bold

we gave up going out the back

consumed as we were by the digital

look out through the kitchen window

they hide in plain sight

every day a little closer

Some poems write themselves, the occasional one arrives fully formed and some like this one are a challenge. I have moved sections of the poem around like a cut up. Watch this space, I am sure it isn't complete yet.

so like I’m relaxed

still of body and face calm unwrinkled

and then there’s this voice

and my how it carries round the room

today is not negotiable- right!

you wake up now and you just do it!

he carries in with his urgent hectoring words

like my mother crossed with a surrealist

I look around the dream command centre

realise the controller is pushing the button and


I am awake

Conversely this second poem turned up complete, all it required was a polish. It is a simple poem that does the business. 

I leave you with a recent live clip of Annabelle Chvostek and the Echo Choir. It looked like a really good concert. Perhaps soon she will make it back to the UK for some gigs. We can only hope.

Until next time.  

Friday 19 May 2023


I'm back from London now and enjoying the seaside. Here's a couple of poems I'm working on. The first just wrote itself from the memory.

well it’s as far away now as it will ever be

my mother said this every Christmas Day 

once she’d fed the family

and my dad was asleep in his chair

I have only adopted one of these two behaviours

deciding after much exploration

that life is best lived in the moment

Christmas will take care of itself

Most Christmas afternoons I think of my mother's words, though as I write, I do see the world in a different light. That said I also like to sleep in the chair as well!

The second poem is based on something I saw driving back to Torquay. By the side of the road was a convoy of two long vehicles each transporting half of a house. You know those wooden structures that look like they've been sawn in half by a giant. This is the resulting poem.

on the run off the motorway

the half house blew a tyre

watch the walls sway

and the hard shoulder bulge

as both halves stop

awaiting the tyre fitter

I’m five hours on the road

heading home from the smoke

as their drama unfolds

I flash by 

Obviously I could not stop and write as I wanted to get home, so the first line kept whizzing round my head for the rest of the journey. Both poems are mere sketches but I thought they are worthy of sharing.

Here's The Move. I think they were an excellent singles band in the 60s. Although Roy Wood's tabard is rather dodgy looking these days.

Until next time.

Friday 12 May 2023


I've been cat sitting for my daughter in London and his has enabled me to take in the culture. I've been travelling by bus more than I usually do and was prompted to write this week's poem about my travels. When I was a child I used to always try and sit on the top deck of the bus at the front, over the driver, so as to see what they see and to imagine I was driving the bus. 

When I get a bus ticket I always look at the ticket number to see if they total 21, if they do then it's a lucky day! When I showed this poem to the Secret Poets they had never heard of this superstition. I searched on line for references and could only come up with one. Apparently Matt Wharmby, reminded the blogger of the practice of adding up the numbers at the top of the ticket, (this was unique to each ticket), thanks Matt.


heres to all the people who rush upstairs

to sit at the front of the bus

who want from on high

to see what the drivers sees

who drive the bus by proxy

there can only be one winner

for that seat of majesty

so here’s hoping the runner’s up tickets 

all add up to 21 in the ticket number lottery

that way their day

will be granted mystery

The poem is just a light slice of whimsy. May you all get a ticket that totals 21!

Here's a new band I heard about this week, Kingfishr.

Until next time.

Wednesday 10 May 2023


Here's an interview with Totnes's own poetry diva. If you haven't seen her, then you need to, you can watch some videos here. But enough from me, let's hear from the legend!

Tell us about the new collection

I haven’t put out a book. Instead, I’ve collected a few spoken-word’n’beats’n’rhymes together in either an extended EP or a short album and called it Funkinism.

It covers a lot of ground: from comedy cannibalism to nature-funk, from forgotten black women to people (like myself) who aren’t that good at dancing.

I’m releasing pieces one by one via my Bandcamp and sharing snippets on Facebook and Instagram too. My Patreon supporters got the whole thing as a free download for backing me

Music, poetry or film? Which speaks the most to you?

Well, it’s definitely in that order. I was a player of instruments and then a singer long before I started writing songs and poems. Without music my life would crumble to nothingness!

Poetry came to the fore for me around 2008, when I fell into hosting the spoken word night Forked! In Plymouth’s B-Bar. I had a ringside seat watching top wordsmiths entertain and dazzle and poetry began to eclipse music for me, but now the pendulum’s swung back towards the centre: I’m enjoying the marriage of the two (especially in the hands of Langston Hughes and Kae Tempest).

Films? I prefer ones with spaceships in them, but I guess I watch a film about every 2 or 3 months. I just can’t fit cinema into my packed life! And I’m likely to drop off in a warm, dark room, not gonna lie.

What do you want your poetry to do?/what do you want to evoke in the reader/listener?

Well I like it funny. I tend to write humorous stuff – even if it’s about serious matter, because I think messages can get delivered via laughter.

That said, I also feel an urge to edify and educate. I come from a background as a local newspaper reporter, so telling people interesting, useful stuff is in my make-up.

Every day’s a school day with a Mama Tokus set!

What’s the typical career path of a poet?

You tell me!

I think Pam Ayres had a good run at it…

How has the poetry business/scene changed over your life time?

I think the arrival of the spoken word/performance poetry scene has given a big boost and a youth-injection to poetry, which is great. Actually, before that in the 1970s, the rap scene began with street poets battling it out verbally. Rap is poetry and hip hop is massive. So I guess I’ve witnessed rhyming words becoming super-popular and travelling right around the world.

In the 21st century, social/digital media invites poets to reach audiences they might not have (although we find ourselves shouting into the void unless we spend some advertising dollars). It also invites us to spend a lot of time learning how to use these digital tools. Time that could have been spent doing your do. I’ve definitely succumbed to too much tech, not enough artistry, which is why I wrote this piece, called Watchin’ It or Doing It.

I’ve seen festivals increasingly offering poetry tents (which are packed): a brilliant antidote to atomised creatives performing snippets of their work to a camera screen, only for that worked to be watched.

If you could become a character in fiction, or film who would you be and why?

Black Panther so that I could be at the apex of the acceptance by the mainstream of Afrofuturism. Wakanda!

Given the state of society at this point in time what is the role of the poet?

To have and share ideas, encourage community, to kick against the pricks – whilst bringing audiences with them on the ride.

How has your work changed over time?

I think it’s got more urgent and strident, actually. I started off being silly and absurdist and while I love that vibe, I feel a need to educate and get stuff across to people. I want to radicalise people!

How far does real life creep into your work?

Well, that’s where the funny is!

I said before that I was a local newspaper reporter in the past, and so I’ve got a lot of experience in picking out the jewels from daily life. Also I want to comment on today’s events and ideas.

Having said that, I think my work could also benefit from having some fantasy life creeping into it…!

Name something you love and why?

Birds. I’ve fallen in love with birds. They are the messengers of the gods, those little feathered friends. They sing, they fly, they do battle and they look outstanding in their liveries.

They need our love. What with prolific cats, cars, pollution, habitat loss, rising temperatures, industrial agriculture, ruined rivers and suchlike, they need love.

My musician pal Marcus Vergette recently wrote a piece about the horror of a world without birdsong, which only stoked up my bird-love further.

What would be your dream project?

Writing a highly-remunerated suite of works over several weeks and months about how brilliant birds are with a divorced George Clooney at his Lake Como holiday home.

How do you navigate the poetry world?

I don’t much at the moment. I haven’t been to any poetry gigs for ages, because I feel like writing – when I’m in that mood, I feel like I need to concentrate on what’s coming out of me, as opposed to receiving someone else’s stuff.

If you were not a poet what would you be?

A musician. Oh. I am.

Have you ever doubted your talent?

Good goddess, yes! Regularly! Not enough to stop writing though…

What next?

I’m working on performing my words’n’beats fluently via my Loopstation – it’s where I can make beats and sounds that back up my words. I’m a musician first, a poet after, so I’m interested in being able to play my ‘instrument’ in order to support the words. I’ve found that it’s quite tricky to, er, play an instrument…

Thanks Mama. If you like to buy Mama a cup of coffee you can here.

Until next time.

Friday 5 May 2023


When I started this blog over eleven years ago I had a life time's backlog of poems, I've worked through those in the intervening years and these days I tend to post work in in progress.  Here's a poem I've been revising. You can read the original here


today’s marker is a frozen computer

that denies us access stalls the lecture

locks us out of the digital cornucopia

such reminders are placed strategically

scattered across our lived experiences

but we have to want to read the signs

and mostly we choose not to

a tuesday afternoon can be long enough

who wants to think in planet time

let alone attempt to imagine entropy

say the last night in the life of the earth

just before all the atoms are scattered

out across the expanding universe

let’s celebrate instead

the fleeting eternity we live every day

we are here now that’s enough

The layout has changed and hopefully I've clarified the opening. The Secret Poets thought the start was unclear. What do you think?

Here's an unexpected joy. I did not expect any other videos of Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant and Billy Bragg to emerge [the one of them singing Hello In There is superb], but one has. Enjoy.

Until next time.