The Morning You Left

My brother and his family live in Canada.  I miss them.


The grass has turned yellow

In the footprint where your tent was

A crow pecks a worm

It must have surfaced with your heat

Like the worm I’m unprotected

In the face of relocation

Like the crow I’m in an empty field

Staring at my feet



©tamingtheoctopus 2021

Death In All Its Fullness

I don’t believe that death is the end.  But life is intense and I have to confess that sometimes the thought of eternal nothingness is really appealing. 


Stop fighting life and sleep
Like a knight
Cool and quiet
Stoned in a church
Lying on your back
Hands clasped in prayer
Having your head massaged for all eternity


©tamingtheoctopus 2021

Defeat the concrete

Guest poem by my son Jonah who spotted this flower growing out of the pavement near Smyths Toys Superstore.   


Defeat the concrete

Pushing through

Conquering humanity

That’s what plants do


©jonahwalsh 2021


In the metal box there is a living thing
Still breathing but not for long

Does your box provide you with security?
Privacy? Safe transit from A to B?
Or does it separate you from your natural habitat and the flock
Who in a better world, could fly beside you

You’ve got comfortable in it
You like the colour and its bigger than the others
You keep it shiny
But to make it and move it injures you and everything you love

Our cars have put us where we are
We take them for granted but its not what we wanted

©tamingtheoctopus 2021

photo credit: lovely brother and sister in law who sacrificed our last facetime and a baking tray for the sake of my poetry (the bird was already dead)

I like your bike

freedom for free
no tax, no insurance
no MOT
powered by your breakfast
and your dinner
and your tea
I like your bike

no sitting in traffic
great exercise
no emissions, no asthma
longer lives
cheaper than the gym
watch nature as you spin
I like your bike

no rage
no roadkill
no speeding fines
free and easy parking
no double yellow lines
hire, buy or share it
simple to repair it
adapt it for ability
baggage or mobility
I like your bike

©tamingtheoctopus 2021

Refuse to Ignore

Our rubbish is on the street in clear bags
In front of this tight row of terraces
The waste of inside experiences
Out in the sunlight for all to see

Sometimes we stumble on snippets of shouts and sirens
Gossip and guesses, indications, signs and symptoms

Take this away
The bottles and cans, the snack packets
Our wrappers

I remove my trainers and tread softly past in my socks
I call this praying


©tamingtheoctopus 2021

Two by two

This one is available for weddings, civil partnerships, anniversaries, blessings etc.  Anyone?

It only scans properly if I read it, so send me an invite …unless you’re planning on fruitcake.  


May your fins be fast enough to swim against the tide
May your cave be cosy when you need to rest or hide

May your spikes be retractable but may your hide be tough
May you share when food is scarce and always have enough

May you hold onto what matters though you shed a thousand skins
May you drink from pleasant watering holes and not be fed from tins

May you move with all the seasons and not fight against the change
May you bear each others burdens through the moulting and the mange

May you feel the herd surround you if you fall under attack
Have no fear of different species, venture off the beaten track

If you ever lock your antlers may it be a fair fight
Migrate together through green pastures to the warmth, towards the light

©tamingtheoctopus 2021

Dumping Santa

This is a work in progress but I wanted to post it in time for Christmas. You’re welcome.  Bah Humbug. 

(This poem doesn’t mention capitalism so it’s legal to read it in a school. *)

So I said to Santa ‘Get out of my house!
You’ve got the sack, now leave.’
I can see right through your little outfit
Let’s just say I no longer believe

You turn up here once a year
Uninvited, with at least six deer
Creep around then disappear
I’m starting to question your choice of career

You’re all over us in October
Raising our expectations
But you’re not man enough for when January’s tough
With the debts and the desperation

You promised things we can’t afford
By Boxing Day the kids are bored
You’ve no idea when you’re not around
What it’s like to live here on the ground

You groom my kids with your adverts
Get them to sit on your knee
And while they’re enthralled in the shopping mall
You implant your philosophy

‘What you want is more stuff
No such thing as enough,
Good children are loaded
It’s the same thing as love’

Well those are not our values
I’ll tell you that for free 
Give me truth and kindness, sleep and sunlight
Peace and equality

The gifts you give don’t even last
Just drop them straight in the landfill as you’re flying past.
It’s all such a waste, throwing so much away
Trashing our planet for the sake of one day

So, No! I don’t want your plastic tat,
I won’t decorate another dying tree
You can keep your grotty grotto
But I’ve set your reindeer free!
And I know who does all the work backstage
Pay those elves restocking shelves a real living wage!

‘Lets calm down’ said Santa ‘and focus on you
Have a chocolate coin or two.
So, individual morality, are you good or bad this year let’s see
You’d have to be brave to get your kids to behave without any help from me’

I’m trying hard to give my children roots and wings
And skills and resilience for whatever life brings
Warmth and encouragement, trips to the swings
I don’t need you to tell me how to give good things

If we’ve got enough to pay the rent,
Some for food and fun, we could be content
We’ve got friends and neighbours, good community support
We need more trees and bees, fresh air, clean seas – things that can’t be bought

Your gut tells me that constant consumption’s not healthy
Your greed is going to cost the earth to benefit the wealthy
In Nature you don’t get unlimited growth
Except when it’s cancer, and it’s killing its host

I want to discuss what’s right and wrong
And how this system can’t last for long
Stop shaking the snow globe! We need something new
But you stop us seeing clearly what we have to do

It’s not in your interest to make us aware,
But I know there are fairer solutions out there
Basic income, Project Drawdown, Donut Economics and Mothers of invention
Citizen’s assemblies with real power, Climate Emergency Bill Legislation

Solutions, creations and innovations,
Restoration beyond that zero carbon goal
You’re no use here if your best idea is
Give every bad kid a lump of coal

Then Santa shows his true colours
His face changes to match his suit.
Filled with rage his fake laughter fades
He raises his voice and puts in the boot

‘I represent the 1%
And they won’t tolerate dissent
Shareholders don’t want sharing, caring and swapping

It’s too late Santagate you’ve been exposed
Get out of here, unless you want to match that deer with a bloody nose.
We were conned by your fluffy white collar crime
You fleeced us all – you should be doing time. 

You are out of control
Go on home to the pole
You’ve lost your moral compass
Take a good look in your soul

Be on your way, get on your sleigh
You’re going to wake the neighbours with your Christmas display
But before you go and silhouette yourself against the dawn
You’d better clean that deer poo off my lawn.


©tamingtheoctopus 2020

* ‘Teaching material calling for end of capitalism banned from schools as ministers brand it ‘extreme’’


All the best poems come with a page of references:

Donut Economics by Kate Raworth  –  Donut Economics Ted Talk

Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill  –

Project Drawdown –

Universal Basic Income – Rutger Bregman Universal Basic Income TED Talk

Mothers of Invention podcast –

Citizens Assemblies –

I’ve always pictured this poem as an animation, on primetime TV,  in between the Christmas adverts.  So if you know anyone who wants to make my Christmas wish come true, get in touch via the contact page …  

Pick your own

There are too many possible titles for this poem and my indecision was preventing me posting it, so please choose for yourself: 

Tooth Fairy
Mental Hygienist
Excuse me, you’ve got something in your teeth

(model uses bamboo dental floss; available from all good zero waste shops)

I walk around looking up
when something hits me
it’s hard to write it down
to ground it
to grind it
to make it digestible
you have to dilute it a bit

I had a dream I had floss in my teeth
I held one end and wound round and round
fishing out something from my gut further down
I didn’t want to lose that thread
to snap and not get to the bottom of it

It was hard work
satisfying and slightly disgusting
the kind of thing you only do in the bathroom
not for public consumption
Pieces of me
that need to come out
for my benefit

A poem is made from all the bits that stay
after the filling’s taken away
other memories yellow and start to decay

At the end of the day it’s
the stuff you really got your teeth into
those things you achieved by the skin of your teeth
It’s what you lied through your teeth about and
who you’d give your eye teeth to see

Extracting poems is like pulling teeth
Except somewonderfultimes
you just put them under your pillow and there’s treasure in the morning

©tamingtheoctopus 2020


Some poems are safety valves for letting off steam, to help relieve the pressure on a working machine.  I’ve now got enough distance from the baby stage to share these archived tales which helped to dissipate my rage.


Missing Peace

My mind’s a murderous maelstrom, and I’m hoovering

Then a rattle brings me back from the abyss

Something big got lost inside this vacuum

I’m hoping it’s not anything I’ll miss


I’m contemplating arson at the playgroup

There really is no need to be alarmed

Give me the peace of an evacuated building

And only trains with faces will be harmed


I’m thinking of absconding from the school run

I don’t want anyone to make a fuss

Procedures will take care of both the children

While I drift off to somewhere silent on the bus



When the children were young, a classic feminist novel was mysteriously delivered to our house…


The postwoman hands you a parcel

You can open it and look at the big picture, share your gift with the woman next door or you can continue to recite your stories..

How you were just on a work call while changing a nappy and the soup boiled over and nobody is dressed yet and there’s a full potty on the doormat

Sort through your day of caring and domestic duties until you recall a point where too many demands came at once.  Save these stories for the telling and call them funny.  It’s all about the juggling and laughing while you’re struggling

There’s a knock on the door while you’re feeding the baby.  As you get up you are simultaneously aware of your piles and your stitches.  Your toddler rushes around you shouting ‘Daddy, Daddy Daddy’.  Not for another three hours will that be a reality

As you reach the door, the baby’s head turns and 100ml, or 60 calories, or 30 minutes of breast milk is coughed up onto your work shoes

The postwoman hands you a parcel.  You can tell your story, or you can open it


©tamingtheoctopus 2020