The Allotment

Orchestrated from the shed, It is nature conducted, curated And gently manipulated into Home grown runner beans That are kept for making chutney.

A patch of this earth, manicured Into a place of meditative labour. Weeded and seeded, On hands and knees we keep It free of the tiny foot soldiers.

The brambles, growing in arcs Artillery shells shot from Hedgerows. It’s green thorny Tips, like toes, feeling for ground To root and colonise.

Allotments Nestled in rows, strips of land Littered with old tyres, black sheeting Laying across soil like peelable oil. There is toil and time to keep it in readiness for Inspection from neighbours.

When tomato’s are picked, Cold dark nights close in and It everything sleeps. The kettle is Cold and unvisited, apart from The odd visit to make sure Everything is fine.

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The Sea

I have started writing poetry on Instagram. There is a large community who follow Instapoets so I am trying my hand at this. There is a lot of poetry on IG, not all of it is, um, good.

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Why I stopped writing poetry (and why I’ve started again)

In 2006 I attended my first open mic. I was, at the time, a budding poet who, on the back of inspiration found in the likes of Matt Harvey, Liv Torc and a few other famous names, I found a poetic voice that never knew I had.

My first poem was called The BO Revolution. It was about people discarding deodorants and leading an olfactious revolt against the social expectation of smelling pleasant. I don’t know where it came from, it was something that made me laugh as I wrote it.

I found that my brand of humorous poetry got claps at open mics, and performing it was great fun. I made friends (who I am still in contact today) and I made a bit of a name for myself.

It was a small name, but it got bigger when I added more letters to it. I took on the moniker of Solomon Doornails, a pen name that conveyed my whimsical tone, something that said ‘hey, look at this guy, he writes poems about sticks and foreskins’

As time went on, I found it hard to reconcile the need to, write serious observational poetry, and the other side of me that wanted to write about absurdist garbage. The fact that I couldn’t reconcile these two sides made me step away from poetry altogether.

I performed at ‘Ways With Words’, a prestigious literary festival at Dartington Hall in 2016. I was invited to read a small set of poems, and I did but I realised afterwards that my ego, and my internal security about my own poetry (not helped when over half the audience got up and left) was something that I could not wrestle with easily.

Looking back on it, the reason why half the audience left was because I was following the great Irving Finkel, a curator at The British Museum. As it was I had a lovely conversation with him after his talk, he was captivating to listen to and very nice to talk to.

So I decided to end things on a high note after I headlined at the Artisan Gallery soon after this.

And then after that I decided not to bother again. I would write the occasional haiku, and note down the odd thing that came into my head, but apart from that my brain was a deserted poetic wasteland.

But then after a conversation with myself a few weeks ago, I decided to have another go.

The last three years, have been, personally and professionally, the hardest of my life. With lockdown and grief and anxiety and everything else that I have had to contend with – I had mostly forgotten that at one point I was writing poetry and realised that I had lots of things to say.

I am wrestling with the idea of a pen name as well. I am much more focused towards privacy these days, and I am uncomfortable with ‘me’ being put out again in such a way as it was. But choosing one is hard, as is even the idea of choosing one. Should I? Should I not? Who knows.

For the minute I am trying not to lose sight about why I am writing again. It is important to remind myself that I am writing because I actually enjoy it. Not for performing or for any real reason beyond the artistic expression, using words and stuff.

And I am becoming more comfortable with the idea that as a poet, you can write any sort of poetry that you like. Pigeon-holing yourself to be a funny poet, or a serious poet is in itself restrictive, especially if you are comfortable writing both serious and humourous poetry.

Setting goals is good. And at some point I will publish a collection. Either myself or by a publisher. This is my goal.

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Tonight: Headlining Stanza Extravaganza at the Artisan Gallery in Torquay

Stanza Extravaganza Poster

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Up and coming dates…

Putting my poetry hat on, I will be making a few appearances in the next month.

24th June – Pucker Poets in Plymouth.  One of the contenders in their poetry slam!

16th July – Word Circus, Ways With Words Festival in Dartington.  Honoured to be able to perform at this prestigious festival.

20th July – Taking The Mic, Exeter. Exeter’s premier Open Mic night.|


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Pete, where’s the remote control?

There were too many tanks.  Too many fire breathing goats bleating
For the blood of the president.  Too many missiles pointing
to a blood red sky.

The autonaut counted the beans,
Floating through the vacuum of the dustbin.

There were too many beans,
Floating through the carrot holes in the skins.

Circuits broke, pulses ripped through the
Oxygen lines. There was no stopping the

Endless cataclysm that faced the
International Space Station
All because someone wanted

To eat more pulses.

The idiots screamed at the monitors
As morons broke through foil skin causing mass

Decompression of the chamber.  There was no sound

Because the vacuum ate the autonauts as they were ripped through the
Side of the spacecraft through a hole the size

Of a carrot.

There were too many monkeys.  There were too many
Tamborines playing in the ears of the clergy.

There were too many tanks.  Too many fire breathing goats bleating
For the blood of the president.  Too many missiles pointing
to a blood red sky.

The blood red sky
Wretched through the stigma of the silent washing machine.

There was no sky. It was just an illusion created by
Industrial Light and Magic one evening whilst bored of working on Star Wars movies.

Endless corpuscles, reigning down on commuters, the size
of melons.  Two men were killed when a one smashed through the
Windscreen of their motorised aubergine.

And now they itch.  Everywhere they itch like
They are wearing giant itchy woollen jumpers. 
Every hair on the body of every ant
That has ever existed is now itching your
Calf muscle.

But its OK because Bill Clinton and is magic Y-fronts has just
Walked through the front doors of your local Ikea to the theme music of
Fun House, because its a whole lot of fun and there are prizes to be won.

Don’t get stuck. Don’t get lost in the ball pit. It is the gate to fluorescent hell. It will
Devour your soul.

There were too many tanks.  Too many fire breathing goats bleating
For the blood of the president.  Too many missiles pointing
to a blood red sky.

I ordered a massive steak at a vegetarian restaurant.  The chef
Curled up in a ball and served himself. 

He shouted profanities at me
As I tried to eat his shoes, but he got up and
threw me out of the restaurant.

I went to Burger King.  I hate Burgers.

You’ll love me when you smell the grease between my toes.
I smile when you do that, I smile when you don’t.


Don’t regret your whole life, it is only the end of time.

There is much to do here is there? Its a bit boring. 
I like that man over there, he has no hair.  Like my antithesis. Hairy opposite.

Zebra Zebra Zebra. The end.

There were too many tanks.  Too many fire breathing goats bleating
For the blood of the president.  Too many missiles pointing
to a blood red sky.

Snapping open a can of Coke,
I woke from a dream.  

I remember the goats. That is all.

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The Nile Crocodile & The Snickers Bar

Alfie had wondered what the commotion was about
When the tapeworm returned home.

There wasn’t any food left, they’d run out of money months ago,
But still the tapeworm demanded to be fed with melon boats.

“There is no point having a tantrum” Alfie pointed out.
The tapeworm sulked for days.

Things had been bad between him and the Tapeworm since Alfie
Lost his job as a Pizza Topping.

After much soul searching, Alfie left the shoebox and returned
To the hotel in Ipswich where he had been born.

His mother, a half eaten bowl of porridge, thought he was a failure and
Would use every opportunity to mention this.  Alfie hated her.

His father however was more accepting of his lifestyle.  There wasn’t
Much he could do to upset his father, he was placid, stable and calm.

Tension in the hotel grew when the tumbled artichoke pinned itself to
The venison steaks and Alfie’s Mother used this as a perfect excuse

To blame him for everything that had gone wrong during his stay.
In some strange way he missed the Tapeworm. At least he wasn’t rude.

An argument ensued and Alfie stormed out of the hotel, his mother
Waving her dirty spoon at him has he left with his bags.  

He knew no-one. So he went back to the Tapeworm and fed him melon boats
That he stole from Argos. At no point did the Tapeworm notice they were

Actually catalogues cut in to the shape of melon segments.

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Times New Roman

This is the reply to this letter.

Dear Times New Roman,

The dust settles on your,
suited shoulders.
Years of dandruff and carcasses
of small dead insects fall from
your dusty, miserable ceiling.

When I first met you, your
grace and charm was like a
regal procession through the
streets of a regency Spa town
Within that Spa town reside residents who
Give their children
names like, Tarquin
and Esmeralda and Priscilla, watched
your stiff and uniform, movements
as you grandly made us all realise
you were in fact,

Every Friday your ‘boil-in-the-bag’ cod,
Every Tuesday you watch re-runs of
Yes, Minister
with a small tin of
Boiled sweets on the right hand
and a mug of Horlicks on the left.

Every single book in your house has
been catalogued and dusted every Wednesday
as you work through the letters of the alphabet
giving new meanings to words
that have already been discovered,
just because the original meanings
might not necessarily be exacting
to the modern world of today.

But you’re not modern. You’re old.
And not in that cool way that
Space Hoppers and chopper bikes are cool.
You’re. Not. Cool.

You try to be,
Oh you tried.
You reinvented yourself as
Trebuchet.  Positioning yourself
Miles away.
Your former self.

The sad thing is that your
Plastic surgery addiction hasn’t helped
You just look like some sort of demented elf.

You need help.
So please.
Stop ringing me,
Stop writing me.
Please piss off and stop
Telling Word to default to you
When it doesn’t know what else
To use.  He’s older than you
And losing his marbles,
Stop taking advantage of
Such an old program.

And please,
Don’t try to start that whole
‘It was so much better in Word 97’
Line because it is not 1997 anymore.

Its 2016. You need to stop living
On the ground and
get with the in-cloud.

I’ve written a letter to my solicitor.
Guess what font I’m using?

Kind Regards,
Comic Sans

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Bagging Are’ya OR A silly poem about the complexities of Self Services Machines

Please put your item  in the bagging area,
If you don’t the assistant
might stare at ya’
And if they are pissed off,
he might even glare at ‘ya
Because you’ve not put your item in the
bagging area.

The unexpected item in the bagging area,
Fills shoppers with that dread,
Like being bitten by a terrier,
On the derrier,

Its enough to make a grown man cry
And even scarier,
You might get an assistant that is even
than the other one.

“Excuse me…Sorry…Hi, can I just…excu…Hi…”

The assistant asks ‘ya
Why haven’t you put your item in the bagging area??

“Well you see I did, but this stupid machine
Has just taken a disliking to me…
Oh thank you, sorry, I never have much luck with these machines”

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This space is hallowed.
There are rules to be followed.

The air is loud with smells that interrupt.
No voices, just a quiet
grunt of acknowledgement.
You can only hear the shuffle of feet,
the clink of a belt buckle.
Outside the rumble of the buildings
mutter to themselves, traffic
and life pass by,
ignoring the Toilets.

In the cubicles
Where there is never enough space
Cubicle Hoppers check each one
For the cleanest seat before committing to it.
The Tissue Landers line their seat, regardless.
A lone courtesy hook on the
back of each door offering

Some wish to be forgotten here,
From the day.
From the world.
Not just evacuating bowels
But evacuating themselves
from the chaos.

Chat but rarely make
Eye contact.
Awkwardly making conversation,
But only at the sinks.

And then there is
The cleaner. Who just pops
Through and tops up the
Loo rolls.

They have seen everything,
Men at their most vulnerable,
Found things, beyond imagination,
Too terrible to utter.

The vow of silence each cleaner takes
Gives them distance between themselves
And the inhabitants of this room.

When the cakes are cut,
When the loo rolls are topped up,
The sinks shine in song,
In tune to the spontaneous
Chorus of the urinals.

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Exeter Poetry Slam 2015

Another write-up of the Exeter Poetry Slam…


The sixth annual Exeter Poetry Festival Slam took place in The Bike Shed Theatre on Sunday 4 October. Fourteen contestants gathered together to perform their poems for a chance to secure first prize and the title of slam champion.

Photo Credit: Christy Ku Photo Credit: Christy Ku

It was a mixed crowd, as people across the city and surrounding areas came to the intimate space of the theatre to hear an array of poetry, from humorous to confessional to just bizarre. Most of the performers and audience knew each other as the group of local poets are closely knit. They laughed and joked with each other, setting up a lovely atmosphere with only an edge of nervousness.

The slam was judged by three talented poets; Mantie Lister (Bard of Exeter), Alasdair Paterson (published poet and host of The Uncut Poets), and Robert Garnham (2012 Exeter Slam Winner). The judging worked like this: the poets…

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So here is the poem that I performed at this year’s Exeter Poetry Slam.


Let us take a proper gander,
At the propaganda
and perpetuating
across the
digital horizon.

The flood of subjectivity is
fuelling the proclivity to
view statistics
thrown around
by clickbait,
to inflame and
fuel race hate,

the mantra of the clickers
seems to be to twist their knickers
over things that have no
academic rigour or
even a footnote.

Immigrants are coming,
The immigrants are coming,
Quick, get out your

And it takes a social media petition,

To get the
to address them as

“They want to come,
To our hallowed shores
Because the pavements are
Covered in gold,”
That explanation is now so old,
Because some of us have stopped
believing what we are told.

The news ignores the human part
Because survival seems like such an art
And mostly about luck.
But it doesn’t matter
As the politicians do not give a fuck.

But wait, but wait
Isn’t this the fact
that only stories that inspire hate
will make the best clickbait?

Clicks means cash,
And it doesn’t matter

if in this
The truth turns to mash.

Our Facebook feeds,
are full of weeds

And the one thing that we all need
Is a top-up on our information literacy

We have to see through the lies,
Question the source
Look at the stats,
Examine the dates,
Filter out shit,
and all the race hate
Make up our minds,

free from a screen
And hold on to belief,

form an opinion
Avoid becoming,
Another brainwashed minion.

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The Slam! 2015 Review 04/10

…Solomon Doornails then criticised ‘brainwashed minions’ and people using their ‘xenophones’ to preach hate.

Exeter Poetry Festival

It is impossible to sum up this years poetry slam generally as the poets were all so diverse, the fact that each poem had a time limit of three minutes meant that there wouldn’t be much time waiting for a poem you liked. The event was a complete sell out with 53 audience members, 14 poets, 3 judges and 2 mediators.

I think a good place to start is by stating that the event was held at the Bike Shed Theatre. Now, if you haven’t been there before it’s an underground theatre and bar with old, unique arm chairs as decor. To continue the unique and interesting setting for the Slam! even the tickets were old Trivia question cards – mine mentioned the Soviet Union. This was the perfect setting to watch poets perform and a great introduction to poetry slams.

The mediators were Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King who…

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Dr Doornails completing in Exeter Poetry Slam 2015

Solomon Doornails performing at the 2011 Exeter Poetry SlamNow and again, I am let out of the small hole that I spend my life kept in.  The doors of the vast archive is opened and I managed to break free to a poetry event or two.  Recently they have been locked tight, but I have been able to open them for these evening as I take part in what is colloquially known as a Poetry Slam.

12 of Exeter’s finest poets will be pitted against themselves as they try to slam doors very very hard.  The winner is the one who can slam the door so hard that it falls off its hinges.

If you feel like joining me tonight in a Poetry Slam, be at The Bike Shed Theatre (I hear they have some wonderfully satisfyingly nice doors for slamming down there) at 7:30pm tonight.

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Lord Stanley Turner-Spongeman

Had you been a resident of Brooke Street in the 1950’s, you would have most probably come across one of Exeter’s foremost eccentrics.  Lord Stanley Turner-Spongeman resided at number 12, a life long bachelor and advocate of radio controlled insect repellent, he was not a resident of Exeter for that long until he came to an untimely end as a direct result of his addiction.

He was neither a lord, nor was he called Stanley.  In fact this strange character who could often be seen walking the streets of St Thomas and Exwick wearing his trademark blue suit, bearskin overcoat and a long staff, was not aristocracy in any sense.

Born to Mr and Mrs Harold Spongeman, residents of Wolverhampton in 1872, he was christened William and he had been born in to a family of bakers.

Mr Harold Spongeman was the first baker in the UK to offer an official service baking phallic cakes to the upper classes of Birmingham.  So successful and sordid were his delicious offerings, he was able to relocate his young family from the darkness of the industrial Midlands to the gentrified and rural county of Dorset, where he opened a similar operation in the town of Wimborne.

Unfortunately, Harold Spongeman’s phallic concept cakes were a little too progressive for the residents of this sleepy gentle Dorset market town, and he was driven out in a mob fuelled riot, his wares being thrown from the tower of Wimborne Minster in what has locally been called the Night Of The Edible Phallis.  Unfortunately for Harold Spongeman and his young family, this meant destitution and ultimately employment as a man-servant to a local wealthy family.

The young William Spongeman became disillusioned with baking, cakes and other confections.  After his father’s mob-fuelled exit from Wimborne, he became interested in the delicate work of Snoot Gathering, a little known Dorset trade that has long since died out.
After moving to Bournemouth, he became apprenticed to Stephen Corrit, Master Snoot Gatherer.  In documentation obtained from the Dorset County Records office, we can see that William Spongeman started his apprenticeship in May 1892, at the tender age of 20.

Very little else happened to William Spongeman until 1939 when the outbreak of war put an end to Snoot Gathering in the UK altogether.  Snoots were needed for the war effort, and the prices that the government were willing to pay per tonne of Snoot was far less than pre-war years.  This led to many of the greatest Snoot Houses closing down, many of their finest gatherers shipped off to fight in distant lands.  The Corrit-Spongeman Snoot House was considered to be the finest and most prestigious in the whole of East Dorset, and the sudden and dramatic need for Snoot, meant that William Spongeman was quickly out of a trade and a job after the government seized the business.

The post war world was definitely not Snoot friendly.  After it was revealed that Hitler was an avid Snoot enthusiast; this put an end to any hopes that the trade would be rekindled.  After the government had seized his business, he moved to Exeter to take up laceweaving.

His last years were spent in Brooke Street under the assumed name of Lord Stanley Turner-Spongeman.  The years of Snoot Gathering had taken their toll, and his mind was left warped and delusional.  We can see through accounts of his erratic behaviour, it is clear that Spongeman was suffering from advanced Snoot Madness, a condition the great Snoot Gatherers would suffer from in their later years.  This occupational hazard left him half blind and unable to say the words ‘No’ and ‘Affluent’.

He became addicted to chasing blue cars made by Austin, and it was this addiction that killed him when he chased after a car down Cowick Street, flapping his arms around and shrieking as he would
“The Nazi vultures are in my hair, its raining cheese, its raining cheese…Nazi vultures”.
Unfortunately the car sped away from him, but the car behind him didn’t see him and he was injured beyond help.

The limited poetry that was left by Lord Stanley Turner-Spongeman was nearly all written in Exeter, and in varying stages of the illness.  The poem that clasped his fame was the following.

The Cheese Of My Mind

Bang: The cheese it falls.
Its dented. Ruined on the
floor that is covered in soil.

Bang: The cheese it falls.
It stains the floor where it falls
floor that is covered in sand.

Bang: The cheese it falls,
It has melted. The carpet will never
Be the same.  Covered in cat hair

Bang: The cheese it falls,
Why must the cheese fall?
It ruins, covered in gravel.
I am covered in gravel.
So much.

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