A New Year Pirate Poem

Happy New Year to you. If you’ve just tuned in here, Poetry Tag is where Rebecca and I take turns challenging each other to include a set of words in a poem. Topic and form are the poet’s choice, but the set words must be included.

I have to admit, this is the first time since we started that I’m posting something I’m not best pleased with.  It’s my fourth attempt to use the words, and I’ve decided I just have to post something, to show that I tried, I really tried.  And to show that sometimes poems just will not behave.

The problem lies in one of the words Rebecca gave me ‘pirate’ – or, to be more accurate ‘the pirate’.  As soon as I saw that  word, I vowed that there would be no actual pirate in my poem. I would use  the pirate as a metaphor for something else. But my metaphor just would not behave, and each attempt was not only trite, but also didn’t flow as a poem.

This latest attempt presents the idea I wanted to get across – of doubt being a pirate trying to rob us of success or happiness or pleasure.  But I did want my final version to be cleverer and read less preachy. Still, time has tick-ticked by since Rebecca set the words, so I have decided to post this version, and then let it rest, in the hopes that my  subconscious treasure box will work away at what I was really trying to do once the pressure is off.

So, here’s my response to the words ‘the pirate’, ‘idle’ ‘eats’ and ‘will’. And watch out, Rebecca. You might have stumped me, but vengeance will be mine because now it’s my turn to set words for you!

New Year

A new year

Is a an uncharted sea

on which to set sail

aiming for lofty horizons.

Goals are the ship you board

hoping for treasure before year’s end.

Doubt is the pirate

that battles will

and eats



at courage

and determination

and hope

in idle moments.

Trust is the noble warrior

brandishing the cutlass

that forces the pirate

onto his own plank.

Belief is the sailor

who takes the wheel

and redirects the vessel.

Success is the ultimate goal

though it rarely looks

exactly as planned.

Sometimes the treasure is

different than imagined,

other times it lies in simply

looking back at the journey

and still others

it’s being alive to tell the tale at all.

(Copyright Sally Murphy 2018)




A Merry Magnet Poem

So, I have been a bit slack and it’s been over a month since Rebecca gave me the words YOU, TO, POISON, THAT and MERRY to put into a poem.  So, I thought to reward her patience (she hasn’t nagged me once!) I would do something different and see if I could do the whole poem using magnet words. I have lots and lots of magnets, and it’s been a while since I sat down to make a whole poem with them.

Anyway, I got out my magnets and got to work. The only problem was: I didn’t have all five of the words. I have hundreds and hundreds of magnets but not one of them has the word ‘merry’. I almost abandoned the quest but I’m hoping that Rebecca will forgive me if instead of merry I chose two other words very similar in meaning – joy and happy. And, for good measure, I popped merry into the title of this post.

So, here it is, my merry poem about poetry.

Merry Poem



Sally’s latest words for me were GO, FREAKY and TREE. I wrote this poem remembering a time when I was 12. I’d been to an after-school music class and waved at my friends as they all got into cars and headed off for dinner. And then I waited — for what seemed like forever (but was probably only 5 minutes) — for my Mum to come and pick me up …


It’s 6 o’clock.
On my own on the bench
I swing my legs,
I hum a bit
and start counting in my head.

When I get to 63
a car pulls into the car park.
At last!
I stand —
but it’s not our car.
I sit.

Behind me, a tree starts to whisper and rustle,
some freaky wind moves its branches.
Down here on the bench it’s as still as still.
I try to look — to the side, without turning my head,
is that something in the tree?

A car!
They’re here!
Let’s go!

© Rebecca Newman, 2015


It’s been almost a  month since Rebecca gave me the words form, age and fervent. I don’t know why it has taken me so long – I do know it was the mix of fervent and form which kept taking me down intriguing paths, then tripping me up.

Anyway, I ran into Rebecca at the Perth Writers Festival yesterday and she was very polite about my slackness, which of course made me feel guilty. Since I’m also doing a challenge this month to write a poem n a Post it Note everyday for February, she suggested I use the words for one of my postitnote poems.  And voilà, today I managed to write a poem that  meets both Poetry Tag and Postitnote Poetry requirements:



At age 5

I dreamt of the tooth fairy

to replace my tiny offerings

with silver coins.

Now I’m older

(and told such things aren’t real)

but I can’t stop

the fervent wish that forms

when I look round my house:

send me a cleaning fairy!

(© Sally Murphy, 2015)


And, just to prove that it does indeed fit on a postitnote, here it is again:

Embedded image permalink

Last Supper

When Rebecca gave me my latest batch of words – my, virtue and supper – I couldn’t stop thinking about the biblical Last Supper. I tried to write about something different, because I have not ever really written religious poetry and didn’t know where I would go with it. But this was the topic that I kept coming back to. Finally, it was the word ‘my’ which gave me a way in: who was there at the last supper who might want their story told? Finally, I decided it was a woman, and here is what I came up with.

Last Supper

At that last supper
the men ate and drank
and hung on your every word
Little knowing it would be
their last meal together –
even when you, my heart,
told them one would soon betray you,
one deny.
Centuries later,
artists recreated that moment
showing your quiet virtue
their various states of adoration,
What they forgot, those masters of the arts,
(or perhaps it was their priestly chiefs)
was that we women were there,
and children, too
not hangers-on
not underlings
but equals.

(Sally Murphy, 2015. All rights reserved)

Times Tables Champ

‘Basic’ was a hard word to weave into a poem — did anybody else out there have a go at it? I kept coming back to one memory from when I was 9. That memory still stings, so I wrote about that.

Times Tables Champ

Every Friday afternoon was our Times Tables competition,
we stood in twos up the front,
there was always a pause before the teacher called the sum.
I hoped for a basic one,
tens and elevens were best —
my mouth could shout the answer
before my head had heard the sum.
(Fives were good too, but I never liked eights much.)

One Friday I beat the reigning champ.
When I sat down
someone behind me muttered
“You’re not the true champ,
you’ve only won once.”

Rebecca Newman 2014


Both Rebecca and I took a little time to come up with poems to our last set of words. So I was determined when she set me new words to get straight onto it. Fortunately the idea for this one came quickly. I think the arrangement of the magnets made me immediately think of measuring lives, and the rest just came.

Walk Pic June 14


Some people measure their lives
by the achievements they’ve made
the people they’ve met
the money they’ve earned.
Some people worry
how they’ll be remembered
and who they’ll be remembered by.
But stop for a moment
and take note
of the breaths you take
the songs you sing
and the loves you love.
Treasure immeasurable.

(Sally Murphy, 2014)

Fond Farewell

Bye Mum!

We’re off!

I give her

The quickest of waves

Brushing past

Billy and Sam

As I race for the door.

I’m quick

But not quick enough.

Nothing can stop

a mother with a thirst

for embarrassing her offspring.

Wait, she orders.

You forgot something.


She plants a big kiss

on my  red cheek.

Billy and Sam snigger

As I wish

somebody would invent



Sally Murphy, 2014

At the ice-cream van

At the ice-cream van

Some grownups like to lick the top
around and around.
Too boring!

My dad likes to bite off big bits.
Too quick!
Flynn likes to watch it melt and run down his arms.
Too messy!
The right way to eat soft serve
is to crunch a hole in the bottom of the cone
and slurp up the ice-cream as it drips through.
copyright Rebecca Newman 2013

First Game

First Game


The words I’ve been dreading:

Batter up!

That’s me.

I’m in.

No idea what I’m supposed to do.

The pitcher winds his arm;

something white whizzes past my face

Strike one!

Oops. I guess I should have swung.

Come on, Max.

That was a sitter!

Easy for Sam to say,

he’s safe in the crowd.

Big brothers always think they’re better.

Maybe he should come see things from where I stand.

Strike two!

Oh. Didn’t even see that one coming.

Too busy worrying about Sam.

Maybe I should concentrate.

The pitcher winds his arm back.

I focus.

A white blurr whizzes towards me.

I close my eyes


And whack.

I hit it. I can’t believe I hit it!


Sam again.

My legs propel me

towards first base.

Throw it to first!

a fielder cries

but I’m there before the ball.

Safe on first!


The sweetest  word

I’ve ever heard.


copyright Sally Murphy 2013