The Cold Tap Sings

the p-word

Tag: Univocalism



I have 3 new poems on Zeno Press, including ‘A Univocalic Biography of Vaslav Nijinsky’. Another contains a sinkhole.



The strangeness of univocalist poems is at its most striking when you hear them performed. I suppose in essence they’re tongue-twisters. Here’s a recording of my suite of A-E-I-O-U poems about birds.

Earlier drafts of the individual sections of ‘Oiseaux’ can be found here. Listen to my other recordings on SoundCloud here.


ben eine u

After completing the O section of my suite of univocalist poems I was worried that the U section would be the hardest. And I was right. No pronouns or articles this time.* Ouch! Well, here goes…



Plump gulls must sup.
Suck up luxury hummus.
Chuck up burgundy mucus.
Lungfuls. Such tumult!
Dumbstruck ducks cuss.
sunk thru cumulus
Cumulus turns succubus.


And there we have it. Read the other poems in the suite here. And stay tuned for an audio recording of ‘Oiseaux’.

*well, technically I could use ‘us’, but I didn’t.


ben eine o

Here’s the penultimate section of my suite of univocalist poems about birds. I found this one difficult to write because I couldn’t use any pronouns (I, you, we, us, they) or articles (a, an, the), but got around it by writing about a character, Crow, the mythological creature created by Ted Hughes.


Crow’s Books

after Ted Hughes

Crow confronts Wordsworth’s works.
Frowns. Throws books off rooftop.
Loots London’s bookshops
to look for old school scrolls
on cosmology, cosmogony,
crowology. Howls. Twofold.
Stomps on rows of snowdrops.
Drops soot on Stockport.
Owls sport scowls.
Crow downs oloroso.


I can’t imagine Crow liking Wordsworth, so I thought it a faithful homage. Read the other poems in my univocalist suite here.

Now for U, which I have a feeling will be harder still…


ben eine i

Poem three in my univocalist suite … it’s called ‘Twitching’.



First light.
Chill mist.
Nihilistic swifts
in whirligigs
kiss wingtips;
lit with indistinct light
writing is instinct.
Writing is instinct
imprinting infinity.


You can read the other poems in the univocalist suite, as well as a potted history of the form, here.