All My Christmases

Today on my front doorstep a bundle,

tied in coloured string, wrapped in cellophane,

5 New Yorkers, a Paris Review and

two School Magazines with my poems in,

the Covid backlog I thought would never come.

It felt like all my Xmases had come at once,

enough binge reading to last me till the Big Day.

Gate-Crashing

Every now and then

piqued with curiosity

I like to visit blogs I used to visit regularly

to see what they are up to,

how well they’re doing:

it’s like gate-crashing a party:

everyone knows everyone else and it’s the same people

there the last few times you checked;

the mood buoyant,

rowdy, rambunctious,

the repartee rapid,

no awkward silences;

you are well out of the loop;

you’re not dressed right anyway

& you barely speak the same language.

Do you dip your toes in, make a comment?

Perhaps not.

Your own blog is doing well enough,

and may be just as intimidating to others

as these are to you.

Thief: for Terveen

I am a thief

a thief of words.

Watch out for me.

I am never at rest.

My tools

are my ears, my eyes,

my prey

the streets of my city.

I scan for the unwary face,

the frown or smile

that betrays.

I listen into conversations,

arguments.

Priest-like

I elicit confessions.

I watch for

the unguarded sentence,

the revealing phrase.

I am the one with the notebook

opposite you on the bus;

the one with the slightly intent look

at your side.

Watch out for me.

I am the purloiner of language.

I snatch words

and use them as my own.

I am the poet, the novelist,

the thief of words

* from my second book, 1990. Longman Cheshire

Parties in my Head

I’ve been having parties

in the top right hand corner of my head

where the music throbs incessantly

and civility is dead





have another drink , one says

I don’t mind if I do

and the hunchback pounds on the old piano

till well past half two





a bulky fist hammers the door

Joe sent for me, he yells

& a smokey eyeball peers out

is this heaven or is this hell?





I wouldn’t mind so much

take less of a dim view

if due courtesies were observed

& I were invited too

Just Another Evening in Paradise

The Kings of Leon could still use somebody, Caleb sings in his Kurt Cobain voice

& the Kurdish Freedom Fighter comes on too strong to Lynne, wanting to whisk her away with his Hindu Kush eyes

& the woman with the Mastiff shoulders walks past in her low cut dress

& sniggering sneer

& Des starts knock knock  knocking on Heaven’s Door again because he knows we’re all here and I tell him to get back in his box coz you’re in the undiscovered country from whose bourne .. well, you know the rest

while Ruth limps off to the Ladies and Ted calls after her, that’s the best part of you gone,

and Sirocco knocks over his second glass of red on the white table cloth and Jarrod frowns and Gerry rushes over

and Max is cuddling Peter in the corner and the mulberry mutt mourns for its owner outside the window

& I’m talking much too loud but I’m in my cups And I tell the funny story about the pony walking into a bar again and I won’t be put down like a mad dog

& an officer from the penitentiary phones and says, no, Ades cannot be let out because it’s a Friday night

& we’re going round and round like skid marks on tarmac

& it’s just another Friday night in Paradise

On the Nose

You don’t see many poems celebrating the sense of smell.

Sight rules the roost, cock-a-doodles its pre-eminence

on every page; the nose rarely gets a look-in.

An anthology of ‘Smell’ poems would be very thin indeed

and would be ‘on the nose’ for most readers.

I haven’t had a whiff of a good smell poem for years.





  • I can’t think of a single poem celebrating the sense of smell, can you?
  • have you written a short poem, perhaps a funny one, on smells you could put in the comments column for the delight of readers?
  • have you a vivid memory of a particular smell?

Days of Indolence and Roses

I’m really looking forward to today.

Today’s the day I don’t exercise.

Oh, I may lift a finger to pen a poem

or two,

stretch a limb to reach for the remote

or break into a walk to put out the bins

but that’s it.

Today the body gets its chance

to plonk itself down in the armchair of life

and not feel guilty.

Have a glass or two. Eat some chocolates.

Read ‘The New Yorker’.

A day of indolence and roses.

the Blue Bucket

It’s not the blue bucket

of Hope

nor the one set aside

for my Bucket List

nor the metaphorical one

we kick when we die

but a simple supermarket bucket

I put beside my bed

each New Years’ Eve

after a big night

just in case

The Cookie Man


[in honour of National Cookie Day in the U.S]

I used to give my Sydney Morning Heralds

To the Cookie Man

for his customers to read;

they’d devour the weekend papers with their cookies and cappuccinos

and dream

of the Harbor City they’d visit one day;

and I’d go away feeling

I had spread some wealth:

the Saturday supplements:

Food, Fashion, Film, Fun —

The Land of Plenty

& the Cookie Man would give me

the thumbs up;

Then one day

He was gone,

The whole edifice had crumbled

Like a cookie.

Now my Sydney Morning Heralds are looking

for a new home

& I miss the cookie man

Your Face, My Friend, is a Poem

Jojo Al-waealy

Your face, my friend, is a poem.

An ode to youth,

masculinity,

not the toxic kind

but the Howard Keel kind

of Seven Brides & Seven Brothers

cocky, confident, wholesome.

I bet you have a brawny baritone too,

can hold a song

in any amateur musical;

I bet there’s a bit of the buffoon about you

as well

that swaggery moustache

that raucous smile;

it’s not a bad dial

to go through life with

  • the poetry is pretty good too. Visit JOJO by googling JOJO AL-WAEALY and his blog comes up