On the sixth day of Christmas…Jeff Phelps and Seth Crook




Round Robin.


(delete as appropriate)



Dear: Uncle/ Cousin/ Nephew/ distant friend ,

How are you?  Where’s this year gone?  Already at its end

and Christmas upon us.  Please excuse the lateness of this note

I’ve had a bad: shock/ memory/ dream/ bank balance/ throat.

Doesn’t time fly?  Next year I promise I’ll write

and arrange to meet up.  How about: Wetherspoon’s/ Tesco’s/ The Isle of Wight ?

Jason/ Kevin/ Tara/ Kate did the GCSE’s this summer,

got: twelve/ six/ none/ other.  Well done to him/ her! / What a bummer!

Family hols. were in: Tenerife/ Tenby/ the Transit/ Korea.

We: swam/ golfed/ argued , got: lucky/ arrested/ lost/ diarrhoea.

Peter/ Alice/ Richard/ Jill says she/he loved/despised it there

so we’re: suing the company/ emigrating/ buying timeshare.

Mother is still: living/ grumbling/ snoring in her: chair/ attic/ retirement gîte,

but I suppose none of us are getting any: younger/ older/ nookie/ vegetables/ meat.

That’s all from me here at home.  I’m ready to send

from your loving: nephew/ niece/ cousin/ uncle/ auntie/ friend

wishes for a Christmas that’s: joyous/ fantastic/ festive/ neat,

and stuffed with seasonal: love/ love/ love  (no need to delete)





Jeff Phelps has recently co-edited The Poetry of Shropshire for Offa’s Press .  His novels, Painter Man and Box of Tricks, are published by Tindal Street Press.  His poems and stories are widely published.  He lives in Bridgnorth.  This is his website.




Compulsive of December

He tries to stop, never succeeds.
Always red, with a white trim.
Relations reason with him, friends hint

huge expense,
all his free air miles used up,
but every year he does it,
same day, same suit.

Even when the kids are grown
he’ll be flying through the night,
stumbling on the roofs, breaking tiles

getting caught in chimneys,
still asking “If not me, then who?”
Won’t even consider wearing blue.



Seth Crook taught philosophy at various universities before moving to the Hebrides. He does not like cod philosophy in poetry. But he does like cod, poetry and philosophy.


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