Sunday, early morning,
grey clouds obscuring the sky,
mug of tea,
working on a list
for the new week.

I hear her voice:
Making a list
is one thing,
she says,
Doing it
is another!

I am forced to smile.

I can cocoon myself
by making lists;
activity creating
the illusion of progress,
so ponder
what to do first.

Another mug of tea,
another cigarette,
sky becoming greyer,
I decide
I have made
a good list.


46 Responses to “Lists”

  1. christine Says:

    David, this poem is you all over, irt couldnt have been written by anyone else!

    Do you remember years ago whrn we used to talk about doing lists, you always stressed the importance of achievable ones. Well, thirteen years later I can still make unachievable lists and berate myself for not managing them What is it we say? We aim for progress rxather than perfection -smile-

    This is a really satisfying poem to read. I can picture you looking at your list and being plessed with it.

    • belfastdavid Says:


      It was my Aunty Penny’s voice I was hearing Christine. She was the one who taught me about lists and told me about achievable lists!!

      They still are an important part of my life


  2. Purple Paul Says:

    This is a nice one, David. Sometimes poems about thought processes can seem a little ethereal, but this one has some solidity and is structured well imho.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Paul,

      I have been writing lists for so long now that I guess there ought to be some solidity to it. šŸ™‚


      • Purple Paul Says:

        It’s rather like when you have to revise for exams as a teenager and you spend endless amounts of time putting together a revision timetable, methinks! šŸ˜‰

      • belfastdavid Says:

        Exactly so Paul šŸ™‚


  3. I disagree with Christine. . . this could have been written by almost anyone, at some time or other šŸ™‚

  4. seeker of truth Says:

    Smiling, because I do the same.. Loved getting to know you better!!! Have a GREAT day!!!

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Hah! Another one *Big Smile*

      We could take over the world Sandy if we ever got beyond the stage of writing lists about it.

      You have a GREAT day too


  5. christine Says:

    You may well laugh at me for this but I just had to ccome back on to say

    lots of love



    PS Was I just talking about perfection back there?!!!!

  6. Susan Bosler Says:

    Wonderful David. I’m a big believer in the power of lists…of making them…and looking at them. *S*

    Wonderful, Susan

  7. Hi David,

    I just love this piece. I can just picture you in your room with a cuppa and a cigarette making the list. It brings part of your world into ours. Such pure joy!

    Making lists are important. Research has shown that you are more likely to acheive by writing goals and tasks as a list than when you don’t. There is something of a commitment in putting pen to paper. I must admit, I garnered great joy in walking down to the local cafe with Tikarma, ordering coffees and sitting outside with cigarettes, pen and notebook and planning all the steps to getting my musical career up and running with Tikarma. All the tasks to complete and purchases to be made. And I am happy to say it, that I have crossed everything off of that list. It is the best way to start!

    Now I am thinking with the CD just around the corner….it must be coffee time!

    Beannachd leat my friend,


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Hi Jamie,

      I have been using lists ever since I got sober. There is great security in having a list – when my brain is refusing to work I can refer back to the list and just do the next thing on it. There is great satisfaction too in ticking off something, knowing that you have achieved it, even if it was only “clean the bathroom” šŸ™‚

      I will come away from this comment too with a new image of you and Tikarma sat outside that cafe – it is a nice warm image.

      I am looking forward to your CD.

      You enjoy your coffee

      Beannachd leat to you too my friend


  8. that’s one accomplishment! i gave up on lists, and now keep a table where i set paper work or reminders of something that needs doing. right now mine has an old cat collar and tag …. need to get to the pet store …. and doctor’s order for some tests … and my son’s wedding invitation.

    figure since i’m more visually – oriented, that making my “list” a form of still-art might work šŸ™‚

    • belfastdavid Says:

      You leave me smiling Eileen,

      What a wonderful thought – a still-art visual list. I am now playing in my head with what mine might look like šŸ™‚


  9. “activity creating
    the illusion of progress”

    I see and succomb every day. Luckily, my wife is the list maker and chief instigator of activity. Otherwise, I might get some writing done.

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Don’t we all Pat, get drawn into that one – then wonder why we have achieved nothing!

      Do you think your wife might be persuaded to include “Pat to do some writing” on the activity list šŸ™‚


  10. peta straatman Says:

    Years ago I worked for a very energetic guy called Roy, whose answer to most things was “Mek a list” (he came from Manchester). Like you with your Aunt Penny, it is Roy’s voice I hear.

    I understand your feeling of satisfaction on contemplating your completed list. Nowadays I find my lists tend to be self contained things that do not need to go any further – activity has been created, my brain has been cleared of all the loose bits and pieces floating around and for a while I have the illusion of being organised.

    A very warm hug to help the toothache along – Peta

    • belfastdavid Says:


      I remember Roy very well – one of those people I am grateful to for what he did for me.

      I love your phrase “illusion of being organised” – I can get that one as well – it is never as true as I would like it to be! šŸ™‚

      As to toothache – I had to go back to the dentist yesterday for him to lance my gum and apply a topical antibiotic. Dentists seem very reluctant these days to orescribe antibiotics!! However, havin sadi that, I woke up this morning with only a residue of pain – so I am hopeful

      Warm hugs always help too

  11. David,

    This is easily recognizable as a David Agnew poem–capture of place and mood is perfect.

    I am not a list maker anymore. I find it constraining now that I have more time and resources to enjoy doing whatever the moment gives me to do.

    Thank you for the email. It is good to know you are feeling better. Take care.


    • belfastdavid Says:


      I am smiling. When I took this poem to the Leeds Writers’ Circle they too said “This is easily recognisable as a David Agnew poem.”

      The balance is always between the list and the moment. And whilst I understand the theory of “Balance” its practical application often eludes me.

      I am feeling some better – Thank you


  12. I’ve found that lists in general don’t really motivate people…in fact, they can make by their sheer volume the situation seem overwhelming…better, I think, to concentrate on one task at a time…

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I ponder my life Michael without lists and am left with a feeling of impending doom šŸ™‚

      Although I do wholeheartedly agree about concentrating on one thing at a time


  13. This about says how start my day; LISTS. Funny how good intentions get put on tomorrow’s list. Well written work

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Clarice,

      I am smiling at “good intentions” Until they go on a list they just remain good intentions. Once they go on a list they have a chance of getting done. My friends know that if they want me to do something they need to tell me to write it on a list. šŸ™‚


  14. Hi David,

    I really like this poem! It left me smiling. I can very much see you cosy in your chair, slight concentration playing on your face writing down your list.

    This poem reminds me of two phases of myself. The one not so long ago that needed the security of lists of remind me I am not just exisiting but also living and doing.
    I used to have a list of things to do and an active list. Writing down everything I did do. Then I could watch the list grow (or not) through the day and then compare it to the “master list” . It helped me keep my perspective…a little cognitive like therapy.

    The second phase is now where I have one long master list to keep track of everytihng I need and want to do.

    There is a security in lists. They help frame our day and give substance to those etheral sparks of hope.
    Of course they can also be used a vehicles for procrastination. There is a fine line between wanting and dreaming and knowing now is the time to put the list dowm and start doing.
    That said I don’t think I could live my life without them.
    Thankyou for reminding me through your poem that lists are more than nags and sources of consternation they can also be friends and helpers.

    All my best to you for a lovely week.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Hi Tikarma,

      I love your thought that lists can be “friends and helpers”. I agree with that totally.

      I like too your description of how lists evolve over time to match where you are in life. I too used to write everything I did down in order that I could check on what I had done and on my progress – you are right it was a need for security which drove that particular necessity.

      Mine too have evolved since that stage. And I find I can laugh at myself when I am doing, as Christine suggested, impossibly long lists just so I can beat myself up when I do not achieve. Or, as the poem suggests, when I am making a list as a way of procrastination (Lovely word that – sonds so much better than being idle. šŸ™‚ )

      Lists work for me – As I said to Michael does not bear thinking about!!

      And, following on your remark in your own blog, if you are going to invest in a Paul Durcan book then the one to buy is “Life is a Dream”. I bought mine some long time ago and it hasn’t yet made it as far as my bookcase – it is still on my sofa so that I can dip into it as and when I need to. It is always a delight – no matter what page I open it at.

      Best wishes to you for a good week


      • Hi David,

        Thankyou for the recommendation of “Life is a Dream”. It’s helps to have a place to start.

        I like procrastination too. It rolls off the tounge nicely and it takes a little more time to say than idle giving me a little more time to make up my mind *cheeky grin*.

        I hope your feeling back to normal very soon.


      • belfastdavid Says:

        Thank you Tikarma,

        I am getting there. One of the unfortunate things about getting older is that recuperation appears to take longer – so I just have to accept that!!

        Alrhough I do have to wonder what “normal” is. šŸ™‚


  15. Vera Hazelgrove Says:

    This poem made me smile!
    Yes, the doing is the hard part but the satisfaction is really great when so many lines of the list are ticked off.
    Btw I learned to make a second list called “wish list” – it was initially an accident, doodling to pass the time, wishful thinking but I kept it and was amazed to find how often the “to do” list also ticked something off my “wish list”. Just an idea to try …
    In any case your poem is very much prompting to join you and check one’s list ….
    Best wishes for tooth to get all good again, and a good week,
    Vera & Karley

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Thank you Vera,

      I do have a “wish list” tucked away in the back of my head – perhaps a “hope for” list really. When I think about that the thought which comes to mind is often that old saying “If you want to make God smile, tell Him your plans” When I look back on the last 20 plus years the other phrase which comes to mind is “Beyond our wildest dreams” – So much of what has happened is things which I could not have dreamt, so I guess it’s all about doing what I have to do today and trusting the process to take care of the future.

      My mouth is on the mend, thank you

      My best wishes to you and Karley


  16. peta straatman Says:

    Hi David,

    As you know, I am not an expert in these things, and hope I will not be drummed out of polite poetic society for mentioning this, but …. I’ve just re-read your poem and some of the comments. I am wondering if, perhaps, your poems are “easily recognisable as a David Agnew poem” by the number of cups of tea and cigarettes that are included?

    Just a thought that wafted through my mind …. Peta

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Laughing out loud

      Thank you Peta for making me laugh, “Bloody great blocks of flats” turn up from time to time as well!!

      Take care


  17. Ah, lists! Yes, to-dos! Mm…nice to not-do as well. An enjoyable read (:

  18. Enjoyabel meander. Lists are endless…Nice to empty the mind & just be (:

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Good word, meander

      What I enjoy – meandering through the day, taking time to explore the lanes and smell the flowers


  19. Cheryl Darr Says:

    LOL I love it! I make a few of them too. I feel ya man.

  20. This made me smile – I’m constantly writing lists! it’s such a nice feeling to tick / cross something off – even if it is something as mundane as ‘put rubbish out’!! x

  21. “I can cocoon myself
    by making lists;
    activity creating
    the illusion of progress” , I feel like someone has written about me! šŸ™‚

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