How to wake up by Pat Edwards

Always set an alarm, although you may not need it. Becoming fully awake is more a process than an event. My recommendations are as follows:

Accept that the sound made by your alarm is real, not imagined.
Accept also that it heralds the prospect of a day that requires your attention.
You would not have set an alarm if there was no imperative to get up and out.
Avoid thinking it is safe to close your eyes and drift a little.
We both know that you will fall into a deep sleep,
which will either precipitate lateness or a headache.
Acknowledge the presence of any other humans or animals sharing your bed.
Rushed or even luxurious hanky-panky is not recommended,
as this only makes getting up more complicated and/or upsets the pets caught up in the commotion. You could, if deemed thoughtful and/or encouraging, voice the fact that you did think about it, then move swiftly on.
Get some clothes on pronto, to discourage aforementioned prospect of a physical encounter,
and to preserve your dignity for Christ’s sake.
Do not try to make the bed immediately if persons or pets remain within its confines.
If they too have vacated, feel free to carry on.

That’s about it really.
It’s safe to assume that you are, in fact, up.
The awake bit may depend on caffeine, shower and other sundry paraphernalia but, essentially, you’re good to go.

Repeat ad infinitum as the alternative is, for the most part, singularly unappealing.

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer living in Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in publications such as Obsessed with Pipework, Amaryllis, The Fat Damsel, Picaroon, The Rat’s Ass and Ink Pantry. Pat runs Verbatim poetry open mics and is curating the 2017 Welshpool Poetry Festival.


A quick message, and a poem from Robert Garnham


Just to let you know that I’m working through the submissions. I’ve been inundated! It’s great reading all the poems, quite inspirational in fact. If you haven’t heard from me yet, then don’t worry, you will.
Anyway, here’s one from me, just to demonstrate the sort of things I do. 

They’re all called ‘Poem’, by the way. I come up with the titles first, and then the poems just see, to write themselves.

You’ll like the countryside, she said,

There’s lots of scenery,

There’s lots of greenery.

There’s fields and trees and they’re all green,

Especially the evergreens,

The greenest evergreens you’ll ever see,

And there’s moss and dappled sun and rhododendrons,

And there’s villages and villages greens

And the village greens are green

And everyone eats their greens

And also some of the tractors are green.

But I like the city and there’s green here too.

The Starbucks logo is mostly green

And so is the fungus in the bus station.

And my friend Pete’s car is green

And so is the tie i was wearing yesterday,

And the traffic lights are occasionally green

And salt and vinegar crisp packets,

Again, green,

And the District Line is green

And it passes through Turnham Green

And even though the neon signs are multicoloured

You could probably turn em green

And in any case

People here are too busy eating donuts and hummus.

We frowned across the plastic

Bus station cafe table.

Her coat was green

And so was her luggage.

Tenderly, I asked,

Would you like some broccoli,

Just for the journey?

No thanks, she replied,

I’ve got an orange.

Robert Garnham is a spoken word artist originally from Surrey. He has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last three years, and at various festivals and performance poetry nights including Bang Said the Gun, Hammer and Tongue, Evidently and Jawdance. His first collection ‘Nice’ was published by Burning Eye Books and he was longlisted as Saboteur Awards Spoken Word Artist of the Year in 2016 and 2017. He recently headlined at The Duplex in New York.


Letter from the Editor

Hello! My name is Robert Garnham, and I am the new editor of Spilling Cocoa.

I have spent the last few years performing whimsical poetry and spoken word around the UK at some of the top spoken word nights, such as Bang Said The Gun in London and Manchester, Hammer and Tongue in Bristol and Brighton, and I’ve taken shows to the Edinburgh Fringe. Oh, and last year I headlined at The Duplex in New York.

I’m really looking forward to reading submissions and publishing the best humorous poetry. Basically the editorial policy is, anything that makes me laugh, or that I might think will make you laugh! I’m looking to continue the good work of Jonathan and to maintain Spilling Cocoa as the online journal of choice for the discerning reader.

The email address is unchanged, at


Performing a poem in a non-poetry space by Mark Blayney

Hello, my name is Cough. I’d like to share my what the hell’s this? with you
and also to welcome bar till ping.
It’s lovely to see excuse me love here and also
so many of you who are mower starts outside window.

SO I’LL SPEAK a little louder to cover the Is this not Cuban salsa?
and hopefully we can move to the first well they told me it was in here
and then we’ll enjoy a reading from a new book by
oh you’re right it’s Thursday.

It’s good to see so many new faces FART
and I hope not all of our first-time performers will be nervous.

So don’t listen to him it’s all indoctrination,
put your bible away you wan- kingdom of the polar bear,
a set of poems about Greenland and the
ice sheet – me, let’s put something on the jukebox!

And please welcome to the stage, reading from her new book
‘Poems spoken in a whisper’
the very wonderful Police siren! Bar till! Where are the toilets?

Good evening. My first poem is called, ‘The long silence’.




Let’s go, Doris. We’re missing Casualty.

Mark Blayney won the Somerset Maugham Prize for ‘Two Kinds of Silence’. His third book ‘Doppelgangers’ is available from Parthian and his first poetry collection ‘Loud music makes you drive faster’ will be published in October.



mad girls love art by Laura McKee

I thought to write a villanelle
like Sylvia and Elizabeth
I didn’t like it and it smells

It really didn’t go as well
as Sylvia’s or Elizabeth’s
I thought to write a villanelle

It’s hell it’s hell it’s hell it’s hell
I’d rather try some crystal meth
I didn’t like it and it smells

I used to have an auntie Nell
I used to have a flatmate Seth
I thought to write a villanelle

I’m crawling back inside my shell
I’m changing all my names to Jeff
I didn’t like it and it smells

For travel sickness take a Kwell
I like to sing Sunshine on Leith
I thought to write a villanelle
I didn’t like it and it smells

Laura McKee writes poems by mistake. Last year she had a poem on a bus for the Guernsey International Poetry Competition, was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and nominated for the Forward Prize Best Single Poem.


A Failed Poet’s Reflections on Writing Poetry – Part 1 by Jose Varghese

I struggled hard to create unique phrases,
got stuck with clichéd metaphors,
tried to freeze the magic of life
in extreme close-ups and wide angle shots
and ended with a senseless collage,
wrote of ‘chirping birds and twittering sparrows’,
watched thoughts ‘pirouette’, kept dreams ‘etched
in memory’, and failed miserably. Poetry
did not arrive in search of me. Perhaps
I lack experience, ‘real’ experience, mind it,
or I am insensitive to life and language,
or it’s my tpying, full og typpos, you see,
or it’s my blind faith in free verse and its
irreverent choices of




or it’s just my attitude, my faltering faith
in the ways of the world of creativity.
I know there is something wrong for sure.
I have even started to wonder
whether the problem is with my readers.

(To be continued)

Jose Varghese is a writer/translator/editor from India who is currently  teaching English in the Middle East. ‘Silver-Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ (2008) and ‘Silent Woman and Other Stories’ (forthcoming) are his books. He is the founder and chief editor of Lakeview International Journal Of Literature and Arts.



Stylist by Carole Bromley

My hairdresser doesn’t really get poetry;
he’s into Thai boxing, but he does ask about it.
We have these weird conversations
while we pretend there’s a point
in even talking about a new style.
He tells me about his broken nose,
how the A&E consultant lost patience
when he went straight out and got it broken again
and I tell him about stuff that’s alien
like doing readings to ten people
and spending more on a course
than I earn in a a year. He’s given up
trying to understand why I write
and I’ve given up trying to understand
the appeal of getting the shit kicked out of you.
I suggest the two activities are not so different;
he suggests a little layering at the sides.

(first published in Well Versed and in The Stonegate Devil)

Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries. Winner of a number of first prizes including the Bridport. Two collections with Smith/Doorstop, the most recent being The Stonegate Devil, October 2015.



Poetry Lesson by Carole Bromley

Choose any animal, the teacher said,
maybe one you don’t like
and listen to his point of view.

Mary chose a rat, Fred a spider,
Jack a duck-billed platypus
but I thought of the rudest word I knew

and picked a dung beetle
not because I don’t like them
but so I could say poo.

Miss wasn’t amused and sent me
to stand outside the door
where there was nothing to do

so I pulled faces at the others
when her back was turned.
Jack laughed. She threw him out too.

We listed animals we didn’t like:
crocodiles, bulls, woodlice, sharks,
wasps, rhinos, the kangaroo.

I said ‘What about seagulls
when they snatch your chips?’
and Jack said ‘What about you?’

So I said he was an ape anyway
like the king of the swingers.
He belonged in a zoo.

But just then the head walked by,
looked in at the class writing poems,
said ‘What have you been up to?’

So Jack looked a litle bit sheepish
and I said ‘We’ve been acting daft.’
And he said ‘So what should you do?’

And I said ‘Say sorry to miss, Sir’
and Jack said ‘Not do it again’
and he said ‘Gentlemen, after you,’

and opened the door to the classroom
where Jack managed two lines about seagulls
and I did a dead good haiku.

Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries. Winner of a number of first prizes including the Bridport. Two collections with Smith/Doorstop, the most recent being The Stonegate Devil, October 2015.