29 May 2019


"Jenny-O" is the pseudonym of a friendly blogger from Nova Scotia, Canada. Her blog is "Procrastinating Donkey". Most Mondays she promotes a poetry challenge. It is a challenge I have taken up several times. Usually you just get a title to run with.

I don't know why - maybe it's just that I am a contrary kind of fellow - but the line I take on these poetry challenges is to come up with something that is a bit out of the ordinary, perhaps defying the expectations of the task setters.

Let's take Monday of this week for example. The title we were given was "The Tool Shed". What would you produce if indeed you felt okay about creating a poem?

I thought about an allotment on the edge of a city in a river valley. I thought about an old shed where the allotment owner would not only store tools and pot plants but where he might shelter from the rain, eat sandwiches and wrestle with terrible urges. I imagined him as a middle-aged  adult still living with his mother, a loner, someone who could never fit in. Someone very quiet with disturbing fantasies. I imagined children playing around the brook, under the trees at the bottom of the allotments and Roger tempting them back to his tool shed. This is what I came up with:-


It was where he would take them
Roger I mean
He had an allotment
Down by the brook
Where he grew vegetables
And rhubarb
His mam made crumbles and pies
She loved those pink stalks
"Good lad Roger!" she'd smile
With pride in her eyes.
They say that there were five
But it could have been more
The youngest of them
Was just turned four.
The paper reported
That he hanged himself
But the rumour persists
It was somebody else.

Looking back through the annals of "Procrastinating Donkey", here's another poem I contributed - in July of last year. It's now resurrected. The challenge was "Music". I thought about birdsong and what mankind is doing to our wild creatures. The poem is set somewhere in the future - perhaps not too far away:-


Once there was music
Often the sources were unknown
Especially in jungle or forest
You would walk along
With accompaniment
From the green canopy above
From shady branches
Or from shrubs close by
Mellifluous and practised
Rising or falling
Woven patterns in the air
Or single note staccato
Sweet as honey
It was the soundtrack of our lives
All is quiet
So very


In May of last year, Jenny-O asked for "Rain" poems and I contributed one I had previously written which contains echoes of my East Yorkshire childhood:-


All through that night
And into the following day
It rained.
We tried to shelter
In the lee of trees
By the crossroads
Where we used to play -
Fine at first
The droplets grew,
Plothering from oak leaves
Under that leaden sky
Till sodden the verges
And the old road
Muttering rivulets
Flowed down Harrison's Hill
Gurgling to gutters
Replete with water
While wet as fish
We splashed home
In the endless rain,
The endless

I have been writing poetry since I was seven years old. The urge to create poems rises and falls but it never disappears. It's always there. Perhaps you could suggest a new title for me or an idea for a poem. I hope to be inspired by one (sensible) visitor suggestion and to publish that new poem here in "Yorkshire Pudding".


  1. In the Heat of the Day
    ...keeps running through my mind as a title. Perhaps because it will be 34c here today. Enjoying your poetry.

    1. Where are you Mary? Sitting in a sauna?

  2. As I've told you before, you truly have a gift with words in poetic form as well as otherwise, YP. I don't pretend to come close. I do like to make people smile and hope I do that at least some of the time.

    My suggestion for a new poem: kindness.

    You are clever to ask for suggestions. Even if you pick only one, you'll have a whole list to choose from the next time you feel like writing something.

    1. Thanks for playing ball Jenny-O. "Kindness"? Mmmmm... Nothing is stirring.

  3. I offer no ideas for titles but I have to tell you that the Roger poem was very, very good.

    1. I am glad you connected with it MM.

  4. You do have a dark side I see Mr P. Perhaps that would be a title... The Dark Side ?

    1. The "dark side" of The Isle of Man seemed to be the west.

  5. Plothering is a good word. And I liked "The old road, Be-puddled, Muttering rivulets." That first one certainly is DARK! My suggested topic is whatever you want to write about. :)

    1. Aw shucks Steve! You could have suggested SOMETHING!

  6. You have a true talent with words. The Tool Shed is a chilling piece and very well written. I love poetry and have written it since I was a child too. I rarely have the confidence to share what I write but I find that putting feelings into a poem can be healing.

    1. We share a passion. That's great. Being a poet can be lonesome. Have you got an idea or title for me Bonnie?

    2. A poem about your connection with nature on your walks would be lovely.

  7. I started to write one dedicated to you but I couldn't think of anything to rhyme with vicars.

    1. Fruit pickers? Bumper stickers? "Marathon" not "Snickers"!

  8. I really like the weight of all these poems. I think your next theme should be 'now and the future' as the ones here reflect on the past. Like you, I've written poetry from an early age.
    Simon Armitage is the poetry judge at our local Wells Lit Festival - you have time to enter!

    1. "Weight". That is a useful word to apply to poetry. As you have said it, I think I will have a look at the Wells Literature Festival.

  9. I wrote poetry as a young girl and teenager but I'd probably die of embarrassment to this day to reread any of it. I never could bear to let anyone read things I wrote (after about the age of 12, that is). I enjoy your poetry, Neil, and admire your willingness to "put yourself out there" so to speak. :)

    1. You make me sound like a male stripper Jennifer!
      Those poems you wrote as a child - they were just an apprenticeship. Try it now that you are a fully fledged adult. The results will be very different.

  10. Considering what our summers are like, a sauna is quite unnecessary. No, merely on western shores of the Chesapeake Bay during an ugly heat wave.

    1. Oh yeah, you told me before Mary. My brain is like a sieve.

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