Here are five examples of writing that has resulted from the exercises Feel free to use these fledgling poems as starting points for your own writing.


If you would like to share your own ekphrastic writing with the world. Send me a message; I'd be happy to publish it on this page.




Four views of a hostage situation



Chin up and pray.

The fate of the fellow

lying two yards behind you

is his alone. That blood

you can smell, inviting flies,

is not the same as the sweat

flowing from dirty cravat

to soak the trouser waistband.

While you perspire you are

alive and the light breeze

rustling the horses' tails

is neither hot nor cold.

Who needs a bible, gold

a pack of cards or house cat

in a woven bag, free wrists

or a drink for parched lips,

when sweat still trickles?



Crossed wrists tethered like horses

is the first thing. Three men wielding

guns and a spare ready in the dust

is the next. The last is a smear of

red blurring into dead black hair.


Every hostage throughout history

must have a similar story. Hostage

comes from the Latin: obses. How

not to obsess over the swaggering

young man in the foreground?



I am power. Mightier

than gold, than god, than good.

A third foot next to his boots

resolute in the dust, wearing

his dumb hand for a collar around

my burning barrel. I have killed

a man, made horses stagger,

caused a lady pale as the queen

to faint against the shoulder

of a fear-mad companion.

My brothers and I draw the eye.

You dare not look away.



So satisfying, those parallel lines.

Tricks of perspective made with

a parasol, a jaw bone, a rifle,

a hat brim, and a eucalypt branch.


This scene is moving.

Shadow-faced hero, hand on

hip, could turn and fire at any

of the lolling hostage scones.


It is not glamorising, to endow

him with a well-built figure, 

merely a faithful likeness. 

I cannot help he is handsome.




Ten questions about the sick woman


What is the first feature to be sketched in a face?


Who cares about a bow at the chin if she is dying?


Are those pillows stuffed with wool or feathers?


Is this malady physical or mental?


Three women or one?


Could it be the interior of a doctor’s dream?


Those eyeballs over her left shoulder and that smile over her right;

which is good and which evil?


Does she resemble your mother, sister or wife?


Is that discoloration hundred-and-sixty-year-old glue? 


In a way, she looks robust; should illness always make us weak?






I am reminded of the song

that goes and the waves

were coming in like Arabian


stallions. If these ponies

were a sea they would be

choppy and perilous


with a strong undertow.

Salt would whip your eyes

bloodshot like violent white


manes and tails until

you found a way of holding

the water and riding


its slimy, jittery, muscular

back to the safety of the shore.






Flash of bright fork

through smoked tears

Flooding acid eyes


Thick yellow air

sticks in the nose –

won’t fit in the lungs


Boiled sweat tastes

of salt and blood on the

cracked plate of your lips


A scolding voice (thunder)

and white noise (fire)

eat everything but


The hoof beat






A mouth full of possible feelings,

shaped like a smile and stiff as a corpse.


Eyes equally ambiguous (they can

shine for every reason). A day of stubble


blues his chin and the sort of loose

skin drapes bone that makes those


over middle age look vulnerable.

A sensible straw hat with black


ribbon protects what I suspect

is a balding head – grey hair


above the ears recently trimmed.

The dark coat and burgundy jersey


aren’t new but kept well. Perhaps

pressed the previous evening by


a wife. Was he travelling to the city?

No, for he exists in a smudged


ochre world that fades to blank

page. His body a wispy brushstroke.