Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jim Bennett

Charity Shops

today we tour the charity shops of Heswall
wander from Aged to Oxfam
from Roy Castle to Heart foundation
(of course I do not go into Bernardos
I have never forgiven them)
this trip is for books     for the discarded
tree pap bought for other peoples lives
but which were read    or more often not
and then discarded    sent as a donation
we pass the clothes rails  
and here in help the aged
three shelves which could be an art work 
bric-a-brack     the still rapped bathroom gifts
the broken   the unwanted    the unused
the inconsequential      
a small brown pot   a shell encased box
a broken ornament of a fairy child
a desk tidy with parts missing
a frame with places for pictures of family
and friends all spaces blank
with a note saying “your picture here”
things  that mark out
map   style and comfort life
but when they end up here as junk
mean nothing to anyone else
unless of course you happen to be
looking for an art work

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

S. K. Iyer

Failing words
bright impressions are swallowed by shadows
of lumpy patches of words; rhythm jerks
forward in a world where everything
is strangely familiar like this evening
which paints its own portrait on the horizon
everyday - a new face, new concepts, in new hues
and the poet fails as usual; yet he tries
to pick up scattered pieces of truth
from the bank of memory, blot the ripples
in the dust of silence and look for words
in the black sky touching the other side of the lake -
the words, which can change colours everyday, like evenings

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hilda Sheehan

Henry and Susie are Missing


Susie. This is the bed speaking, a wanted moon blew broken kiss words mostly blink-spelt.

Soon an open window throws cold on the speaking bed: brake last night spoke who is missing? Manic-squashed sheets fly east and miss-speak.

Groan the spring and sponge down the on and ins of falling. Henry! Not your bed, not your duvet spill and dry the change back. Susie is coming, she is coming and nearly, nearly came.

Tuesday the bed is a yellow duck fed from Henry's childhood. It gulps hate shut, all feet sink south. Wednesday cannot happen until Thursday gives overview messages. Thursday, Thursday come in: you are all words and covers of Sunday Observer.

Henry and Susie are missing. Love shakes the sheets for evidence of guilt, kiss, embrace, lust and disappointed crumpled doing crumpled searches finds a shoe. Blow shoe, seek shoe, Henry and Susie are missing!

When found darlings cope better. A cluster bomb drops sheet mess and sweet nothing surprises them asleep. Henry and Susie like aliens on a hill look bright ships away. Their mothers call in soup to throw the home made kitchen guilt. Did Susie? Did Henry?

Unmarried guilt fuck. What for tea is scovel and fruit to be like. Not pip in the tunnel who knows the deepness of crawling back in naked spokens. All customers meet the counter: hello the door in, the door shut for next week to cook a missing couple on gas.

The missing mess is nothing. Compare a price tag lip sulk. The missing mess tidies up tights and weeps a chronicle letter that love is about: weddings loom a shirt tale, a great big dress of white nasty.

Henry, Susie did you know the word found you under here? Describe for me the hidden danger of clean worktops and Hoover smooth coping. What did your love go missing? Did your love find out in a word?


Henry: I want to take you missing in that dress. I want your slippers last night.

Susie: My slippers have no voice, never want the voiceless, here the bed speaks moon kiss. Want the bed!

Henry: I want to be missing longer.

Susie: Do not go missing too long: guilt, kiss, embrace, lust and disappointed throw true love on the sheets.

Henry: Quietly, we have been missing, the neighbours think a postman murdered our mail for ink and rain junk.

Susie: My voiceless missing envelope stuffed through a next door hole. Glass bit the postman. All flesh is glass. Feel my see-through self, the rain on me, the junk on me smells a paper coming in.

Henry: Afterwards then, on Thursday, Thursday come in.

Susie: Wednesday is now. The sheets are missing us disgusted. We are home done out in pink-blue.


After the missing: the paper hole got bigger words on it. Michelle listened to the not said each night in case Henry and Susie escaped. She invited tea and cakes more often, she such a friend told the neighbours a safe thing or two about missing lovers. The such listened to the often. The often said more.

Everyone looked. Windows wide open a glare of don't dare. No one went missing. The cat guarded the door flap for humans coming home. The dog guarded the door flap for humans getting out.

Everyone was cooked overdone for safe living. Chickens never bled on plates loved their own juice cooked more this way. Henry missed being missing. Susie lost her voice. She hid her slippers from Henry and shushed her feet say nothing.

Feet blurted the whereabouts. Susie cried voiceless screams that only machines registered. This is an unfair world where men walk first, I must step out in my own fur naked animal vest, I must be missing and damp and scream a human loud.

Henry was here all day. The chair sat him straight. No Henry. No Henry. Not that football result. Wait, think how the voiceless feel. Tight shut your man!

How found was what? Love was in the biscuit tin. Kiss was in a kitchen cupboard. Guilt was under something under something else. Embrace was nowhere. Embrace they thought was dead behind the fridge but nothing looked straight. Lust laid out its whole body on a rug and waited for more. Henry definitely found disappointed.

Susie sneaked out missing. The cat was worst after letting her back in to unmiss the night she left behind. What if I came back really, never to be missing? My slippers shout a heart burst in a vanish. Who is Susie? Did you know a more missing story?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Jim Bennett

in the cafe at John Lewis

(December 2010)


I settle for a scone and a tea

you have a coffee and toast


from a seat by the window

we look out on Liverpool One


the bright neon painted shops

and an atlas of restaurants


beyond that spires steeples towers

the roofs of the old city


clocks crosses wind vanes

shaped like merchant sailing ships


domes windows in attic rooms

shedding light on secret lives


from here we see history mapped

in sandstone and roof tiles


while below the pavements

tunnels dug and lined by unknown hands


the pool the first docks

all buried underfoot


as sunlight sparkles on the Mersey

we talk about the shops


and what we have to do outside

Liverpool writes another day


Monday, November 01, 2010

Robert Bagg


I’m five or six. A boisterous party pulls
me half-way down the stairs, to sit peering
under the banister at Mom and Rick Larkin
face to face, arms reaching––not dancing
not talking, just floating closer––till I
catch Mother’s roving eye … she lets go,
deflecting handsome, handlebarred Rick’s
attention up at me … who takes her wet
gin kiss back up to bed, too young to know
why everything feels, suddenly, out of place.

This memory has jagged edges. Like those
clay ostrakoi Athenians attached
to unwanted newborns left out to die,
so if rescued and brought up by strangers
they might, fate willing, chance on whoever
holds the other broken half, make the match,
discover who their parents really were.

It’s six years later. Rick loses his job
(selling Iron Lungs that cures for polio
would soon make obsolete). He and I spend
rainy afternoons playing pouncing chess.
“I am an opportunist,” Rick liked to say
when he reached for my queen, not grasping
that capturing her would lose him the game.
I could see four or five chess moves ahead,
but grownups playing life were beyond me.
I didn't know what opportunist meant,
not then, till adolescence broke out
in a rash of hormonal entendres.

I’m rerunning Rick’s verbal jousts, to feel
now, each of his galloping shots to my ribs.
He once spoke up for household nudity.
“We Larkins are too pretty to be prudes,
we love walking naked around our house.”
Wow! Red-haired Ginny, his elegant wife?
Tomboy Katie? My mind slipped off their clothes,
gingerly fixed on flaming pubic hair.

Once striding from his bathroom Rick
startled a houseguest. She was shocked.
“So I said to her: ‘Do I frighten you?’”

I couldn't figure why he’d scare anyone
––such a happy-go-lucky bon vivant––
not yet seeing the stark fact he’d left out
of his account … And now, freed-up erotic
noises and images come into play…
Mother, husky-voiced at bedtime, calling Dad
to turn off the news and come up to her.

Once she pulled her nightgown over her head
so I could see for myself how different
women are from men. When at nineteen I sailed
for Europe, she kissed me goodbye, saying
“Now don’t be afraid to come home a man.”

Not till my late thirties did she confide
Susan and I had a half-sister, born
when Mom and the father were seventeen.
No one in her own family was willing
to take on Mom’s burden. Perfect strangers
had to step in. She knew the girl’s life
thereafter, only by photos and clippings.
She did her best to help me see: It’s so
hard for us––meaning girls––to say no.
Having heard a ton more nos than yeses
all through a stuttering adolescence
I was incredulous––where were those girls?
The only stunner who ever hissed yeses
my way, was Molly Bloom in Ulysses.

The morning Mother died, Dad walked me
through her roses: “It’s so unfair … Mom dying
at sixty-two.” (She wrote the book on low-
salt cooking, which kept his blood pressure down.
Dad thrived, remarried, lived to eighty-nine.)
“I was never unfaithful to your mother.
Maybe I should have been …” said a minute
later, out of the blue. I wondered why
ever would he want to be unfaithful?

I knew she’d seen psychiatrists early
in their marriage. Dad never said why.
What therapy is it that cures desire?

As a child, I knew how selfish she could be.
But she never hit or belittled me.
Except, if she thought I was being stupid
or lazy, well, that got her ire up.
More than once she told me she’d tried
to be a good mother. I told her: she was.

The day my first serious girl dropped by––
both of us home from college at the time––
all at once Mom left the house, leaving us
astonished, ourselves alone, to take as much
advantage of the moment as we dared.
If we don’t dare, we start to die: Prufrock’s
white trousers sit in judgment on us all,
whether we roll them up or take them off.

Mom did her best to raise a by-the-book
Christian gentleman. And did. But I knew
no book for the passion in her—not till
away at college, I found it in Greek myth:
Aphrodite, Helen, Phaidra––Furies
poets envision giving birth to murder,
war, tragedy … a sex still unforgiven.

Mom’s sexual dramas got no one killed.
Yet cast in one I felt it gripping me.
I was fourteen, out dripping from the shower.
She’d brought me a towel. “You’re such
a good looking boy,” she said, “it scares me.”
The potshard pieces come together. Mom
stares at me. My shivering nakedness
covers itself up. Hers lights up with a flash
so blinding all I see is the darkness.





(originally published The Yale Review)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Catherine Graham

Making Marmalade with Marc Bolan


Riding a white swan

cannot compare with the joy of

making marmalade with Marc Bolan.

His hands, so skilful

he could peel an orange in his back pocket.

Peeling oranges

as if undressing a princess,

a diva, a whore,

before bringing the fruit gently to the boil:


like a secret; biting her tongue



Delicious, irresistible: spread generously

at breakfast, like glittering gold leaf.




Sunday, June 06, 2010

Norbert Hirschhorn




For my brick comes from clay and returns to dust.

For it was an instrument of empires: Babylon, Rome.

For it enslaved Hebrews building Pithom and Ramses.

For my brick wills itself to be an arch.

For my brick is of the guild of builders.

For it builds bookshelves to hold Hesse and Gibran.

For it is a breaker of windows by anarchists’ arms.

For it makes a pendulum attached to plain string.

For it plumbs the depth of wells.

For my brick scrapes dogshit off the soles of my shoes.

For it saves water when flushing a toilet.

For it serves as hammer when no hammer’s to hand.

For it stops a screen door swingeing on its hinge.

For when stamped by name it proclaims suzerainty.

For it stops up the badger’s hole.

For it props up the gimp-leg table.

For when heated it warms my feet in winter.

For it retards my car when I change tyres.

For it holds down this poem in a stiff breeze.

For it leads Dorothy unto the Land of Oz.

For when so commanded my brick will drown kittens.

For it is a term of endearment.



Friday, June 04, 2010

Tina Cole



are poisonous, not many but

some are and who knows

which? I found these beneath

the oak tree spongy between

old roots like fallen clouds.

lost in a dark place but now

mashed along with weeds and

twigs and a small dead frog who had

never been kissed or caught up in

hallucinogenic spells. All

murdered by the Qualcast blades.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jennifer Compton

The Pines


I remember you driving the corniche past The Pines from Island Bay to Lyall Bay.

I was visiting from Australia, you had invited me to a party, it was dull. In spite of

the people toking in an upstairs room. I stood to dance and you hissed - Sit down!

The tattooed men who were arriving took a woman dancing on her own as an open

invitation. I sat down and whined that I wanted to go home.


As you ground the gears I became aware you had been upstairs and the green was

messing with your mind. The car was rocketing, lurching, hurtling. I glanced down

at Breaker Bay and in the extremity of my fear spoke as your older sister - I know

you THINK!!! you are driving slowly but you are actually driving very very fast.

You rolled a disbelieving eye, but slowed, above the cliff.


The party got out of hand and men were fighting in the street, swinging bike chains.

The Armed Offenders Squad took up positions in yards on the hills above, locked it

down. But we had got home with a final lurch and left the car parked askew, ajangle.

But that is all by the by, it had been in my mind. As if it was my only memory of you.

Today you fly in from Australia for a funeral at The Pines.


The son of your best friend was driving around in cars and came to grief as so many

of the young boy racers do. Our father and our mother would go to the cabaret there,

there at The Pines. The men secreted liquor in the women's beaded evening bags or

under their fur wraps. I remember one of the outfits our mother put together. A long

black pleated skirt and a 'broidered weskit in red and gold.


I think of you at the funeral at The Pines, a mother now, someone who has survived.

I would have gone with you, it would have been fitting, and apt, but through a friend

of a friend a private viewing of local artworks had been set up at almost the same time.

And I chose that. Because those local artworks are what have always saved me. From the dying fall.




Friday, February 12, 2010

Graham Buchan

Marta’s bike


Marta’s bike arrived folded up in a solid wooden crate

(the kind used for purposeful journeys)

and was unloaded at a dismal terminal on the cold wide Thames

with her books and dreams and leather coat.


Marta’s bike, which had been snapped up

by her excited dad

on one of the rare days

when there was stock in the sports store.


Marta’s bike didn’t take to England:

the valves were a different diameter,

the man in the shop was offhand

also ater a few outings,

Marta’s bike lay down disconsolate in its big canvas bag,

remembering its teenage adventures,

and resigned itself never again to pedal the route to school,

the housing estate, the woods.


Marta’s bike would annoy me.

It took up room in the garage,

once it fell on the car.

It got dirtier and dustier

and seemed stubborn in its refusal - twenty years we’re talking -

to spruce itself up and zip along generous council byways.

The tyres flat, disinterested, as if bereft of self-esteem,

the little leather straps perished with sadness,

the mirror cracked in its longing for home.


I was shocked, the other day, when Marta said

she had thrown her bike out.

‘What, you gave it to the bin men?’

Image of its little metal limbs snapped and broken and devoured by huge

.........undiscriminating jaws. Chicken bones, peelings, packaging, polystyrene.

She gave it to the bin men.

‘What, you gave it to the bin men?’

She gave it to the bin men.

Was there a last anguished gasp of those that die in exile?


Marta brought her bike to England

but it didn’t take to

our hard-surfaced roads.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

W. Terry Fox


When I heard you, new mother of a seven-year-old child,

Knotting for him the rustic threads of old folk tales

Together with your own, more-gentle, inventions,

Suddenly, my mind was whisked away over the years

To a day of thin sunlight in a Sussex seaside town

When I was just a child of your child’s age

And bleary-eyed, denied all sleep by a storm

That had gripped me in a terrified wakefulness

Throughout the long dark hours of a roaring night,

That had beaten its knucklebones on our cottage windows

And sizzled and raved and rattled the rafters of the world

And sent the fishing boats fleeing from the grasp of the sea.

A wisp of thunder hung over the tousled heights of the town

As I stood, among the cluster and clutter of tall, tarred sheds,

Watching a trawler man and his family mending their nets.

The legs of their wooden chairs dug deep in the sand and shale

As they plied needle and twine, restoring warp and weft,

Tying loose ends with sure fingers, patient and resolute.

Then back to you, new mother, you, in your wooden chair

In the haven of your kitchen, and the smile your words had woven

On the lips, half-lost to sleep, of the boy you cradled in your arms.

© W. Terry Fox 2009 - Cheshire Poet Laureate

A poem written to commemorate National Adoption Week 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Elaine Walker

Davey sings

Davey sings of love and family, strumming the guitar his dad
gave him. Under the harsh spotlight masquerading
as atmosphere, the cracked veneer hums as he closes his eyes and
lifts his chin to let the knots in his chest unravel and
slither free between his vocal chords. His fingers ring the
harmonics of moments on the resonating strings as he forgets
the restless crowd, good-humoured but rowdy,
waiting for the rock band to come on.

Davey sings for himself and his cautious steps forwards, bold
yet scared, fending off the past with a plectrum and the scrappy
card he’s supposed to hand in at the clinic, but he’s written a song
on the back so he’ll just say he’s lost it and maybe
he doesn’t need to go there again anyway.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dee Rivaz

Lesson for the day

Be constant like bees
learn a new flower each day by heart.
This practical alchemy
will see you through loveless winters.

Learn rabbit, jackdaw, sheep,
wisdom from chickens,
smiling from dogs.

Through field and forest
learn green.

Learn relaxation of a living kind
a way of walking lightly;
how to keep a soft hold on the pulse of life,
not to make war.

Learn to do sums that work out
fairer than life, and how to
multiply small fishes and crumbs
to feed us all, everyone.

Learn where it is exactly that
mind meets wayward body.
Each day make the point
a little finer, half by half.

Learn without caution,
learn without pride,
reason, rhyme or hope
of gain, accept everything
with abandon.

Dee Rivaz
July 2009


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mandy Pannett


Wish you could see me now at Pushkar Fair –
like a bug in the straw in the midst of a crowd –
Can you imagine the smell? Hot spices,
sweat, wet cattle dung ...Have you stood close
to a camel? They’re massive with gentle, soft
eyes. Last night I sat on the shores of the lake

where people were bathing in ritual dips. This lake
is well known – as famous itself as the Pushkar Fair –
for its sunsets of saffron and red. Reflections are soft
in the lake. I was glad to escape from the crowds,
those tourists, shoving to get themselves close
to the stalls with their trinkets and spices

like scarlet-bright chillies – the fiercest of spices –
and baskets of fresh coriander green as the lake.
It is sacred, that lake, sacred to Brahma, close
to a sense of creation away from the fair
with its picturesque beggars and crowds
with their greedy, small eyes. Voices are soft

by these waters, there’s a harmony here, soft
as a sitar, although like harsh spices
that clash on the palate, other gods crowding
in with their force may save or destroy a green lake.
One may give battle for all that is fair
while another brings worlds to a close.

Do I sound like an expert on India now, close
to its wisdom – a tourist become a soft
guru who chants Now open your eyes to the fair
and the good ...? Truth is more varied than spices
in Pushkar, that beautiful, sanctified lake
is degraded, poisoned by crowds

and by centuries of garbage – I don’t mean that crowds
throw their rubbish bits in – those who are close
to the spirit of Brahma cherish the ethos, the lake
and its temples, but we are too careless, it’s us who are soft.
Enough. I am here on a tour, to barter for spices,
take photos of camels, experience Pushkar Fair.

Here are snapshots of our crowd, blurred and soft
at close of day, spices packed away in boxes,
Shiva’s moon upon the lake, upon the dwindling fair.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lesley Burt


I experience no premonition as we fly into JFK
from Boston for a first visit to New York.
We dump cases on the counterpane and check
the en suite bathroom, where we are greeted by
a huge cockroach. The maid soothes us and disposes
of it. We already hate the hotel room, so hurry out.

The open top of a Gray Line bus will orientate
us before trips to Liberty Island, galleries and Macy’s.
After commentaries at Harlem and Central Park,
passengers enjoy a view of the ‘largest cathedral in
the world’, then - to escape lightning and rain –
hasten en masse to the lower deck. Roof seams leak.

Water cascades downstairs. One of the crowd yells
‘Titanic!’ The crushed throng laughs. We transfer
to the downtown tour and look out for streets Ella
sings about in ‘Manhattan’. We stop. Our guide tells
us a few World Trade Center statistics. We crane
our necks to try and see the Twin Towers. ‘They

tried to blow it up in 1993,’ he continues, ‘but hey,
it was just too well designed and built.’ Then -
with no thoughts of his tempting Providence, or
omens borne by thunderstorms - we dine, while
flies circle the dingy trattoria, anticipating a full
and exciting day touring the Big Apple tomorrow.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Geoff Stevens


The Public Library today
is an attempt to prevent you travelling through inner space
and landing on the truth
is a Van Halen Belt
an asteroid obstacle course
intent on the discouragement of lone exploration.
It hurls propaganda at you
from notice boards and on leaflets
deposited by the little grey men of Planet Government
and pinned up by the android library staff
that monitor and record your intake
from the shelves of approved information
from the censored internet provision.
It is an insurmountable obstacle
and thus all claims of landing on the truth
are false
no manned journey has been made
no touchdown even on the surface is possible
and all the evidence you see to the contrary
was made in the studio
with actors in the leading roles.
The library is dangerous to your sanity.
Stay away!

Geoff Stevens is the recipient of the 2009 Ted Slade Award

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Les Murray

The Meaning of Existence

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.

Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.

Poems the Size of Photographs, 2002, (published by Carcanet,

Les will be reading at
University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH UK

Friday 30th May 2008
Free by ticket only
starts 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jim Bennett

changed in subtle ways

the land changed in subtle ways
as unfolding green stalks
bristle the hillside and reflect
in the bookshop window
the book titles craze
in rainwater lenses

on the road outside
the Orange Tree Café
the cars and busses
bustle through the junction
taking turns at traffic lights
sending waves of
stranded rainwater
across the pavement

the land changed in subtle ways
as the ghosts of hills
undulate across
Tesco’s car park
and grass squeezes through
a pavement crack
remembering a meadow

Friday, February 22, 2008

James Bell

at random

at random he sits on a section of wall
beside the large boat usually seen from a distance

he ignores it and sits to write
feels the heat of sun on his back

something sensual after days of storm -
ducks and gulls make diva noises
for good weather -
tell him not only humanity
like to have pleasure

then he turns and sees how moss has woven
into the strands of a boat mooring

that here at low tide still lays stretched on the bank
in a rictus of times when strained
on the metal pulley held in concrete beside him

only sun has allowed him to notice
suggested to him it was fine to sit
suggested too this sheltered spot at the river bend

from the same smart wind that has howled the estuary
for enough days to make him question randomness
and the strength of the mooring for this boat
at this bend in the river
for some kind of forever


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jim Bennett

(from a series of 56)

the Mothers Union
and nitpicks
black hills
golden fields
and questions
“Is he your son?”
“is this the one you adopted?.”
but she
clung to her membership
like a badge
and often whispered
“you are so special
because we picked you.”

so they went
mother and son on
sandcastle afternoons
train trips to New Brighton
in summers that went
on and on and on

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Joolz Denby


The Bride stands at the latticed
window gazing out into the ineffable
dusk of her last maiden day,
the stepping silhouettes of the distant hills
shade on shade of tender dissolving blue,
the smoky rose and violet of sunset ashing
into the coming night.

A thread of incense smoke unwind
sits sweet sandalwood embroidery into the
warm air as she dreams,
her smooth young face hieratic and distant,
her eyes dark as holy pools,
her shining hair a tasselled braid
dropping to her knees uncut,
scented with jasmine and amber.

Tomorrow her almond-pale body
will be burnished, hennaed and
perfumed, then wrapped in her wedding sari,
the archaic weight of fabric more than simple cloth,
being freighted with symbolism
and heavy with women's magic.
The sari, a serpentine length
of pigeon's blood scarlet, brocaded, precious,
the core of its incantatory pattern a filament
of pure yellow gold, the metal drawn fine as gossamer,
woven into the very garment she will wear,
her future secured by its unchanging value
and as just as her mother did,
when the fine silk dulls and frays,
she will feed it to the fire which will
consume the silk leaving in the dross
the unchanging and eternal purity
of the sun's sister, Gold.

There in the hot cinders it will glitter,
the indissoluble reminder of herself,
the knowledge that whatever she appears,
however the World sees her
what she is in essence remains
unchanging, faithful, pure.

This is her talisman,
like the old spiral wedding pendant
even her grandmother has forgotten the age of,
that shows the turning path of her life
trace from birth to death and back again
and will see her daughter's journey
and will lie on the breast of her grandchild
when this same sun warms
her knotted hands and the veils
between life and death are worn transparent.

Her daughter, yet unborn,
will one day show her her dowry cloths,
just as she showed her own grandmother
the priceless saris, months in the making,
stamped and foiled in the same gold
that winds its threads through her wedding garment,
and watched the old woman sigh
and touch the bright designs gently, gently,
half-immersed in the past,
her heart a storehouse of mystery and wisdom,
understanding that like the fire that
burns the worn and discoloured silk
from the golden core,
pain tempers the spirit, and a woman,
like a spear-head or a good sword,
carries her strength in the beauty of not harming
where she might, in protecting that which needs her
and in turning the fierce edge of pride to creation,
not destruction.

The mother, having given birth,
also tends the dying;
Gold, blessing the Bride,
honours the Dead.

All that seems simple -
a shining yellow metal,
a young woman dreaming at dusk -
is complexity past imagination:
all that seems soft, weak, helpless -
a trembling Bride engulfed in her vestments,
a little ornament catching the light -
is enduring and unbowed beyond Time and Fortune.

Here is Gold. Here is The Bride.

Here is the mystic union.

Here is Gold.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A. F. Harrold

Keep On Keeping On

Pass through the portal, the passage, the doorway,
the alley, the wormhole, the window, the chink,
the keyhole, the skylight, the gateway, the tunnel,
the pinhole that's forced in the butterfly's back,
the crack in the rock-face, the cave-mouth, the well-mouth,
the trapdoor, the hatchway, the fanlight, the frame,
the eye of the needle, eye of the hurricane,
the hole in the ear where an earring's just been.

But remember Orpheus, remember Eurydice,
remember Lot and remember Lot's wife,
keep an eye on the light at the end of the dark
and just keep keeping on and it might be alright.

Slip through the eyelet, the loop of the shoelace,
the hole in the Polo, the witch-stone, the ring,
the paper-chain circlet, the ring of red roses,
the thumb and fore-finger of a diver's 'okay',
the hole in the pocket, the wallet, the handbag,
the hole in the bucket, the doughnut's one eye,
dart down the mouse-hole, the plughole, the pipeline,
through porthole or portico, triumphal archway.

But remember Orpheus, remember Eurydice,
remember Lot and remember Lot's wife,
keep an eye on the light at the end of the dark
and just keep keeping on and it might be alright.
Loop-the-loop smoke ring blown from a mouth-hole
and dive through the hoop (avoiding the flames),
go on through the silence that lives between words,
go on through the dark that's the gap between days,
live through the blink that cuts this from that moment,
and live through the adverts that break up the shows.
Pass through all intervals, set changes, quick changes,
house moves, bereavements and chapters of books.

But remember Orpheus, remember Eurydice,
remember Lot and remember Lot's wife,
keep an eye on the light at the end of all tunnels
and just keep keeping on and it might be alright. and

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adam Taylor


... by a pointillist
so it consists
entirely of dots
and a minimalist
so only three ...

... not so much nice,
as delightfully concise,
a triptych,
basic maybe,
yet epic, rhetorical ...

... fearlessly bare,
microcosmic ...

... eyes and a nose,
ears and a mouth?
the blind mice?
the musketeers? ...

... a lot to the eye
but joining them
isn't advised ...

... something I
could've done
but didn't ...

... a synopsis
of four?...

...(an ellipsis)
or more?...

dot dot dot


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jim Bennett

a trip up the tower

at the top of The Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool
3rd May 2007

when you are on the street
everything in Liverpool
is busy with people
cars and busses
but today my children
brought me up here
above the noise and rush
climbing stairs
to the highest point
in the city

from here
when I look down
I see trees

trees in gardens
and streets
trees growing in areas
and on old chimneys
trees small and large
their green canopies
marking their presence
almost unnoticed by
passers by

you see on the ground
Liverpool is tarmac
and brick
but from here
it is a forest
breathing with the wind


Monday, May 28, 2007

Clare Kirwan

Her Things

twenty woollen cardigans
bone china tea set porcupine
quill box containing pencils
Readers Digest book of birds
out of date prescription drugs
BT phone bill low user tariff
tubes of antisan and germolene
gift sets lavender geranium
china toothbrush holder a pair
of sheepskin gloves good winter
coat vinegar Bovril butter beans
jars of dust marked cinnamon
rosemary thyme four carrier bags
full of carrier bags chamois leathers
margarine tub containing buttons
butterfly in Caithness glass
china rose a souvenir of Madeira
Mantovani's greatest hits LP
napkins doilies net curtains
two candy-striped flanellette sheets
and single duvet (slightly soiled)
ten pairs support briefs flesh-coloured
tights small bag of frozen sprouts
box of blank Christmas cards
Pifco hairstyler seventies cigarette box
carpet sweeper slide projector
golfing trophies walking stick


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stuart Nunn

African landscape with figures

You see them first down the long perspective
of motorways, men dwarfed by distance.
Flashing past, no details impinge, but a sense
of want that’s driven them out here where
no goal or departure point is evident.

Soon you expect them, walking where you drive,
walking – where to? Where from?
Sometimes two or four, not together,
spaced as though to make some point
in a language you don’t understand.

Later you find a destination or point
of origin in the hillsides of plastic sheeting,
plywood or corrugated tin leaving you
to imagine all the life that’s buried there,
marked off with high walls and safety barriers

stopping this other world colliding
with your safe white rush from beauty spot
to national park. Later still, you see them
everywhere, these walking, waiting Africans,
driven to the edges of our perceptions.

They walk through a landscape theirs
by law and ancient practice, but which
they didn’t make. Not strangers, not foreign,
but curious, unreadable, and, like the landscape,
strangely eloquent.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Seascape With Sun and Eagle

than most birds
an eagle flies up
over San Francisco
freer than most places
soars high up
floats and glides high up
in the still
open spaces

flown from the mountains
floated down
far over ocean
where the sunset has begun
a mirror of itself

He sails high over
turning and turning
where seaplanes might turn
where warplanes might burn

He wheels about burning
in the red sun
climbs and glides
and doubles back upon himself
now over ocean
now over land
high over pinwheels suck in sand
where a rollercoaster used to stand

soaring eagle setting sun
All that is left of our wilderness


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Joy Leftow


My mother is an artist
She designs embroidery
- a dying art - and creates
any design she desires
her hands instruments
of a higher force

She explains to me
how this one is a fleur-de-lis
and how in the region
where we come from
it is made differently
from someplace else

With only one eye
the other is glass
she sees more than I do
She is dying
my heart is unsteady
I am powerless
a witness to her fate

My mother’s hands create
embroidery with many
names and meanings
She patiently explains
the subtle meanings
behind each motifI

listened in awe
while she explained
all of this to me
I had nothing to say

Now there is even
less to say as
Each day brings her
closer to her end
I drown in helplessness

She tells us she is sick, not stupid
she knows her death is near
If only I could relieve her suffering
I would do so until the end

She alternates between begging for death
then apologizes for doing this
She is my mother, she worries
about me, my mental health
how I will handle her death instead

I think about her hands flying quickly
the needle moving as tho she has 3 eyes
The pattern suddenly emerging
Then the design is near complete
like the course of my mother’s life

Friday, January 12, 2007

Louie Crew


There are at least four good ways
to kill a queer.

*Classic* is to tie her to a stake
surrounded by male faggots
doused in kerosene
and throw a match.

*Traditional* is to brand them
with pink triangles
and let them season
a few baked Jews.

*Down-Home* is to take
a crowbar or an ax
or just any steel projectile,
preferably one with prongs,
cut off a private part,
and let the queer bleed slowly
in some dark place.

*Contemporary* is to place them
anywhere in the U.S.A.
and spank their first breath.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Waiata Dawn Davies

Singing at Sunrise

When he had driven the midwife home
my father hoed potatoes
in his back garden
'Kia Ora' he called to our neighbour
'We had another daughter last night."
our neighbour slapped his knee, and laughed,
"I thought I heard a little waiata in the night"

Later Dad took me, red faced and squawling,
to the fence.
"Well, hello, Waiata Dawn,'
our neighbour said.
And so I was named
by an old man with blue lips
and tattooed cheeks

'Waiata' means song in Maori. The neighbour was one Bob Rori, komatua of Ngati Raukawa.
(first published in Singing at Sunrise, Sviatko Associates, 1992.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rupert M Loydell


Tombstones and signposts,
terrible things that happened.

Owing death to the world,
he wasted time going native,

a slow life slowed down
to promote the unutterable,

embracing a religion
of resentment and denial.

Compulsive nomads, we still
traverse the desert of time.

© Rupert M Loydell

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Helên Thomas

the culinary
puffer fish as metaphor
for my cutting words

The Japanese word
‘sushi’ means ‘it is sour’
sometimes it’s lethal

blowfish or puffer
by another name fugu
often is fatal

prepare for repast
take out prandial peril

deadly delicious
clean cuts render edible
go gall bladder, guts

bile free and spineless
sound bites edited; souped up
vitriol punctured

unsayable truths
filleted for consumption
in palatable portions

raw cyanide, sliced,
diced, redesigned, redefined
‘that’s nice’, served with rice

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