Robey Bison

Once upon a time, before I had a brother
To manipulate to my own ends
My two-year-old mind managed to find me
Three imaginary friends
Linny and Dobby were pale and forgettable
Generic little children, liked to chat on my toy phone
But Robey Bison is a giant woolly mammoth
And since his incarnation I have never been alone

Robey Bison, Robey Bison
I look to you for comfort and for things I need advice on
Robey Bison, Robey Bison
Skills like proper listening you can’t put a price on

I was the kind of kid who always brushed her teeth
‘It’s even more important if you’ve had a midnight feast’
Robey Bison is the one who was just more fun
There’s a joy and a lightness and a beauty to this beast

Candyfloss and somersaults on the top bunk
Monster Munch and icepops; fill this wholesome home with junk!
Snorting icing sugar and collapsing like we’re drunk
Downing Coca-Cola til he snarfed it out his trunk

Oh Robey Bison, your fur is so enticing
Your legs are like four chocolate logs, vast swathes of swirling icing
Robey Bison, Robey Bison
You make me chilli … and I’ll put the rice on

A friend for life in this world of ice
Shelter from the storm
Reassuring big brown eyes
The relief of being warm
See him skewer injustice on his tusks and roar away your pain
Hide inside his conker coloured matted, patted mane

Robey Bison, Robey Bison
Manoeuvre like a Hoover with the power of a Dyson
Robey Bison, Robey Bison
Retro like a Eubank and a heavyweight like Tyson

Ancient and magnificent
Other, significant
Him and me shared history
Not confined to our Plasticine times
We’re weathering together whatever life slings
I’ve got a woolly mammoth waiting in the wings

©tamingtheoctopus 2023

Commonly known as ChaCo

My parents moved into their Chapeltown Cohousing project and I wrote this for the celebrations.

You have found your common ground
Common sense removed the fence
Transformed common muck into a common house
With a communal garden and a communal mouse!
(Or is that mouse a source of tension? Is it still ok to mention?)
There’s a Prunus Commonalis (pear tree) on your common land
Where common chamomile rewilds and sunflowers stand

It’s not so commonplace, actually it’s rare
To jointly plan a space to live and share
There’s nothing common about your domiciles
It’s common knowledge that you’ve got beautiful tiles
A community dream with common cause
Gets built into reality
(13 years!)

Comment t’appelles tu?  ChaCo. You!
It’s ‘The rainbow street’, somebody tell Deliveroo
Because it’s time to eat and drink and cheer
Celebrate that you’re all here
Through your groundbreaking story we’ve been taught
That we’ve all got more in common than we thought



©tamingtheoctopus 2023

I’ve got a gig!

WORD! with Stephen James Smith and Anna Walsh

  • Thursday, April 27, 2023

  • Venue:Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 7HA
  • Time: 7:30pm
  • Cost: £4 / £7
  • Web Address:

  • Join us as we kick off a new spring season and present the acclaimed Stephen James Smith as part of his much anticipated UK tour.
    Stephen James Smith is a Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the Irish spoken word scene. His poetry videos have amassed over 4 million views online, including ‘My Ireland’, a poetry film commissioned by St. Patrick’s Festival.
    “Passionate, witty, just plain great; this man’s voice hops right off the page.” – Roddy Doyle
    “In the midst of the toughness of his work, he also knows where to find the tender spot.” – Gerard Smyth.
    Stephen will be supported by the wonderful, Anna Walsh, in her words…
    Anna has written poems for 2 weddings and 4 funerals; one for someone who has yet to die… Her bike poems on Leicester cycle lanes attracted a very small Facebook following.  She lives in Leicester near an underpass graffitied with the words ‘hope’ and ‘cake’ which she didn’t write herself, but finds very meaningful. She is the proud owner of the Word! Slam Champion trophy 2022. She’s not good at taking selfies.
    To perform as part of the open mic and/or workshop with Stephen, 4.30-6.30pm – email: Please do also let us know of any access needs.

Continue reading I’ve got a gig!


I’m in touch with reality

Very very lightly

An astronaut outside the ship

I have to grip tightly


Panoramic perspective, awe

Some astronomic trip

‘Come in Space Cadet’

Mind you don’t slip


My tendonous tether

Could sever forever easily

I’d lose myself in headspace

Over all the world’s gravity


From the womb of the universe

I see the earth receding

All there is is


and the sound of me breathing



©tamingtheoctopus 2022

Cricket Whites

I wrote this poem about ten years ago, after watching a programme called Empire of Cricket.  I was reminded of it recently when I read about the racism at Yorkshire Cricket Club.


Let’s invent a game, said the men

To play in the Indian sun

Have a bat and a bowl and maybe a stroll

But no one should have to run

We’ll get them to bring us a meal or two

Stop and rest if it ever rains

And let’s wear something light

Must preserve our whites right

Wives and natives will deal with the stains


©tamingtheoctopus 2021

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)