Saturday, 31 December 2011


A woman held a crucifix up
against a flaming sky
they said she was a nuisance
out to cause us harm
but they put her on the front page
the day they cleared Dale Farm

The bailiffs dressed in blue
police in yellow and black
with clubs and shields
they crossed the fields
the day they cleared Dale Farm

Then I saw a child in tears
at a home torn full of holes
and people chained
to scaffolding poles
the day they cleared Dale Farm

And I turned away in sorrow
with something burning inside
as power and force
took hope by the arm
the day they cleared Dale Farm

© David Subacchi

Best pictures of the year 2011– dramatic eviction at Dale Farm
David Subacchi is a civil servant who has been writing poetry seriously for just over a year. He hopes to publish his first English collection in 2012.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Above the law

What happened to the Magna Carta?
What happened to the rule of law?
While David Kelly is a martyr,
habeas corpus is no more.
Attorney Generals are the culprits
they flout United Nations’ law,
and from their House of Commons’ pulpits
take our country into war.

About the death of David Kelly,
What should anyone believe?
Not the “Commons” on the tele’
the Right Dishonourable Grieve,
who smugly told compliant Members
no inquest ever for our ears;
trusts that nobody remembers
in seventy unforgiving years.

Goldsmith shunned the resolution
turned to war, and, Holy Cow,
Grieve maintained the evolution,
the two are holier than Thou!
Attorney Generals are mighty,
and don’t you think the matter odd
pretending they are God Almighty,
when Gus O’Donnell’s known as God.

© John Goss

Decision not to hold David Kelly inquest was 'unlawful'

John Goss has a degree in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. He is a lyricist and playwright.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 2011, a Memory of August 1968 - For Vaclav Havel

They woke us from our tents
In the darkness before dawn
And gave us each a candle.
They had crouched over the radio all night
And guessed the worst.
We made our way to the water’s edge
A row of tiny lights on the dark shore.
To the mournful sound of a single flute
We stood, silent and bereft
Looking into the black night
While hundreds of miles away
Another kind of darkness rumbled forward
Over the frontier
Grinding the dreams of Spring
To dust.

We thought hope lost
And could only offer our sad tribute
To those who fought for freedom.

But hope and freedom are seeds that will not sleep
Small bright shoots split stone
Shatter concrete
Their progress more inexorable
Than any trundling tank.
The brave gardener whose fearless tending
Of improbable seedlings
Gave us back belief,
Now returns himself to the nurturing earth
And reminds us
That when the darkness seems most complete
Dawn is not so far away.

© Elizabeth Soule

Vaclav Havel funeral: World leaders pay respects


Elizabeth Soule is a retired Head Teacher and I belong to Poetry Aloud, in Bury St Edmunds: 'Poetry is how I process my reactions to the world.'

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Kim Jong-un is Any Son

Kim Jong-un was a child once,

looking to Jong-il as a son

looks to a father.

Kim Jong-un was a child once,

filled with the innocence of age.

All of the same form,

earth born and bound,

nothing more,

or less,


as any child.

© Mark William Jackson

'Great successor' visits body of Kim Jong-il
Mark William Jackson is a Sydney based poet whose work has appeared in various print and online journals including; Best Australian Poems 2011, Popshot (UK), Going Down Swinging, Cordite, Blue Crow and SpeedPoets.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Poetry24 Review of the Year 2011

Clare and I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped to establish Poetry24 as a place where poets can express their thoughts and feelings about what's happening in the world around them.

Since our launch, in February, we've been able to publish, pretty much, on a daily basis. This would have been impossible without the poets among you. Equally, the poet's work needs to be read, and that's why we appreciate you, our visitors, and your valuable comments.

We owe a further debt of gratitude to Anthony Baverstock, who took the time and trouble to create this video. So, please take a few minutes to enjoy Poetry24's Review of the Year 2011.

We aim to be publishing again on 28th December, so do keep the poems coming. In the meantime, have a very Happy Christmas!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Legacy of the 7th Commandment

The Catholic Church wrote vistas in the sky.
Naked cherubs with wings fly around clouds,
babies sit in laps of virgin mothers,
chaste white marble, alabaster, granite

beliefs are slung with arrows from priests’
mouths, till pants sag as a naked mole rat
burrows, does not pay the toll at each stop,
but chisels chips on tombstones of the youth,

who are not cremated – their bodies caught
on thorns. One spike, then another, pierce hard
as boys serve the wine, chew on bread wafers,
chew on graven stones, as they are impaled,

money thrown on the table as the plates
are passed, while chaste johns toil, disinfected
by white collars, white pages in large books
of words with gelt edges, under windows

that are stained, and have hard glass with leaden
frames – witness to turns and twists of young,
bodies whipped, stolen by ghosts in the clouds.
They are no longer virginal cherubs.

©  Lavinia Kumar

Dutch Catholic sex abuse revealed in report

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Review

As ever this week, we've dipped into: the cultural - Lavinia Kumar on the perils of allowing women to drive cars (whatever next?) in  MF-LGBT Car; the scientific -  with David Caruso's Earth-like planets; the military - with Then Conquer We Must by Philip Challinor; the trivial - with my own  Observations on televised reality; and the political (poetry political, that is) -with Gabrielle Brydon's Making a Stand

As Gabrielle says in her poem:
but making headlines - 
must be good
for poets and poetry

Let's hope headlines are good for making poetry too - so yes, blow whistles, blow as John Goss says in Blow for Bradley Manning on the American soldier at the centre of the WikiLeaks revelations.

We've something very special coming up this week, so keep visiting!

Have a great week

Saturday, 17 December 2011


Look, look through the bars
The specimens are dancing
They tango, can-can, rhumba
Every sequin the glistening tear
Of a D-list wannabe also-ran.

Look, look through the bars
The specimens scratch their arses
Nibble bugs and roll, dirt-caked,
Fake friendly til the third day
When God makes rice and beans again.

Look, look through the bars
The specimens are angry
They feel our eyes upon them, prowl
Shake their fists for freedom
To fornicate while we avert our eyes.

© Clare Kirwan

Edinburgh celebrities
Strictly meets I'm A Celebrity


Clare Kirwan, can't sing, can't dance, can write a little.
Blog: Broken Biro

Friday, 16 December 2011

Then Conquer We Must

Say, can you see by Thursday's lunchtime gleam
That flag come down upon the latest end
Of our crusaders' mission to extend
Their petrol-powered, cluster-bombing dream?
Say, can you see the cost in western lives,
In dollars and in sterling plain and dear?
The cost to lesser people is less clear:
Among sectarians, truth seldom thrives.

Say, can you see this brutal, honest truth?
We must not be afraid to face reality,
Or learn convenient lessons if we can.
These natives, so ungrateful and uncouth,
Iraq's weapons of mass ethereality,
Must not make us afraid to bomb Iran.

© Philip Challinor

US exit from Iraq: 'this is not a withdrawal, this is an act on a stage'
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


The new cars are shown off with lights, balloons,

and women, those models with tight curves, lines

match the cars, and men come time after time

to touch the chrome, the paint, they nearly swoon

while the women with soft voices lightly stroke

the doors, the seats, the wheel, and then the stick

until the men in high gear feel they must get in quick,

must fondle – they have tightness in their throat.

But in Saudi land, the car is a bold man

since pictures of burkhas can never be sleek.

Saudi girls may not hold a gear in their hands –

it's known they turn lesbian, or a loose freak.

When they drive their labia become untied

sending all the men into a collective cry.

© Lavinia Kumar

'End of virginity' if women drive, Saudi cleric warns
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Earth-like planets

earth-like planets
how she looks at me with her
water-covered surface

© David Caruso

Found: Earth-Like Planet That Might Be Right For Life
David began writing haiku and tanka after taking a course in Buddhist poetry of Japan under the late Professor William LaFleur. He invites you to browse on over to

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Blow for Bradley Manning

Praise to whistle-blowers,
we need good referees,
penalising dirty play,
more disclosures please.

Blow for Bradley Manning, blow your whistles blow.
That's the only way that we ever get to know.

Praise the whistle-blowers,
eyes as sharp as owls,
whistles at the ready
blowing up on fouls.

Blow for Bradley Manning, blow your whistles blow.
That's the only way that we ever get to know.

Blow for Julian Assange,
and Cathy Massiter
blow for Mr Murray
a true ambassador

Blow for Bradley Manning, blow your whistles blow.
That's the only way that we ever get to know.

Blow for Sarah Tisdall
and Doctor Kelly too
for all the whistle-blowers
who risk themselves for you.

Blow for Bradley Manning, blow your whistles blow.
That's the only way that we ever get to know.

© John Goss

Bradley Manning: MEPs' open letter to the US government

WikiLeaks accused Bradley Manning 'should never have been sent to Iraq'

Author's Note: Today (13 Dec) there will be a small vigil outside the US embassy in London at 2 p.m. On Friday a pre-trial hearing starts at Ford Meade in Maryland which is expected to last 5 days. After 18 months in prison his mental state is said to be 'fragile'.
John Goss has a degree in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. He is a lyricist and playwright.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Making a Stand

T.S. Eliot
Prize for Poetry
is supported
by a hedge fund –
that’s a bit prickly,
a bit pear shaped,
a bit suspect
for an anti-capitalist.

John Kinsella
makes a stand
on the pointy end
of capitalism.

I withdraw my nomination,
he shouts, then jumps
with a dramatic flourish.

It began with Alice Oswald  -
poetry should be questioning
not endorsing such institutions.

The Government
is pulling the funds,
left, right and centre.
What’s a poor
Poetry Book Society
to do?

Where do you find
that stream of purest money
to finance the arts?

No-one has an answer
but making headlines -
must be good
for poets and poetry;

another layer in the
proof of existence.

© Gabrielle Bryden

We shouldn't forget that TS Eliot was a banker
Gabrielle Bryden is an Australian poet published in a range of books, print and online journals and on ABC National radio. She blogs at and tweets as GabrielleBryden.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday Review

Philip Challinor almost topped and tailed a week that started out with Positive Notes before fading into a season of myths and fallow usefulness with Douglas Polk's An American Autumn.

Newcomer to Poetry24, Tim Waldron, debuted with Rage. Tim's poem deals with the plight of those who have risen up in the face of what seemed hopeless, while Lavinia Kumar's moving account of those living in New Jersey's 'Tent City', deals with the difficulties of the homeless.

Another poet, new to this blog, came to us with a question, "Whatever happened to the heroes?" Kieren King was responding to claims by some archaeologists that graffiti drawn on a wall by former Sex Pistols frontman, John Lydon, is comparable to Paleolithic cave art.

Philip Challinor explains the story behind Well Fair, with this response, "The original has been in my head for a while now, for no reason I can discern except possibly as a counter-earworm to Jingle Bells, so I thought I'd get thoroughly into the modern Christmas spirit by flogging the parody of a dead horse."

Well, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, so it seems appropriate to include this extra offering from Lavinia Kumar, as proof that Scrooge is alive and well, and living in the guise of Newt Gingrich.


Now this is the season of Grinch
When everyone’s feeling the pinch
So poor kids must clean up schools
They need to mop up after rich fools
Says Gingrich the maker of each GGRIINCH.

© Lavinia Kumar

Have a great week, and don't be shy about getting those poems to us.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

An American Autumn

the Arab Spring used to birth an American Autumn,
restless youth not yet overwhelmed with creating a life,
flow from the fringe to the center of the financial world,
voices raised without fear of dying,
the American youth,
less victims,
more comfortable in the role of tyrant,
demands made,
redistribution of wealth important,
wealth can not be created by just anyone.

© Douglas Polk

Arab Spring and American autumn
Douglas is a poet from Nebraska. He has published three books of poetry; In My Defense, The Defense Rests, and On Appeal.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Well Fair

There was an old man, who had his grey hair;
All along, down along, out along, he
Had worked forty years yet his cupboard was bare,
From big bankers, little wankers,
Hedge funders' little blunders,
And Margaret Thatcher and all,
And Margaret Thatcher and all.

I've worked and I've worked and my payments I've made,
All along, down along, out along, me;
So when shall I see all this money I've paid
For big firms, little worms,
RBS and its mess,
And Hong Kong and Shanghai and all,
And Hong Kong and Shanghai and all?

Alas, said the Chancellor, all of it's gone,
All along, down along, out along, see?
I'll give you no more, but you'll have to work on
For true blue values,
Police mutts, tax cuts,
And jolly old England and all,
And jolly old England and all.

And if, he went on, you want someone to blame
All along, down along, out along, free,
See our public sector at its nasty game:
Teachers, nurses, cut-purses,
Migrant brothers, single mothers,
And students and cripples and all,
And students and cripples and all.

And all of you pensioners with your grey hair;
All along, down along, out along, we
Will work you and freeze you because we must care
For David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg,
Michael Gove, Andrew Lansley, Vincent Cable,
And Ashcroft and Murdoch and all,
And Ashcroft and Murdoch and all.

© Philip Challinor

New NHS pension offer protects lower paid but puts burden on higher earners
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Whatever Happened To The Heroes?

In ‘77 The Stranglers asked

Whatever happened to the heroes?

The same year Robert Di Niro was asking

“You talkin’ to me”?

Then punk kicked off and its attitude reflected

The disaffected, the rejected, the disrespected

Who wanted the freedom to choose to do

What they want to do

When they want to do it

When that freedom of choice found its voice

You couldn’t ignore it

But then rebellion became a target market

Fast forward to today - Whatever happened to the heroes?

Johnny Rotten seems to have forgotten

He was once the clown prince of punk

And since he’s sunk in my estimation

Straight to the gutter

Nowt better to do than advertising butter

Nevermind the Bollocks!

Whatever happened to the heroes?

Well Joe Strummer’s dead, Tony Wilson’s dead

Joey Ramone’s dead, Kurt Vonnegut’s dead

So it goes

There’s no more heroes


A punk in attitude only standing lonely

Leonard Cohen’s still going

But who’ll replace him

That won’t sink but swim

For me the outlook’s looking grim

Now I’ve got my own mind

I don’t need anyone to follow

And I’d like a John Lydon

But I’m just stuck with Bono

© Kieren King

Twitter - @mankygitt

Preserving the Sex Pistols' graffiti is an archaeological swindle
Kieren King is a poet, a heathen & an anarchist and must be approached with caution at all times. Tickling him behind the ear has been proven to soothe him.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


The land is of grand sequoia trees, the free,

the river to the sea, rockets to the moon

and to Mars

and the tea parties flow with green money

but waiters are forbidden.  They have no

clean clothes.

since it is raining on tents in the woods,

the dark bark of trees screens scuttling people

hiding –

they run in night visits to public toilets,

or teeth brushing at spigots, like sparrows

flown away

thrust away, hidden where the night is day,

but for just one meal they’d sail the sea, sing

to the stars, or grow tea on the land.

© Lavinia Kumar

AMERICA TODAY: Heartbreaking Pictures From New Jersey's Homeless 'Tent City'
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Rage, rage in the city of Cairo,
betrayed by brothers and stalling their hope.
Heart against heart, voice against voice,
where bitter rubble carpets the street,
with nights lit by flashes, scarves on their faces,
hidden identities or protection from gasses.

Flags cover bodies, a democracy coat,
dirt trodden already and only months old.
Resistance and ballots arrive hand in hand,
now people have hold of a choice they can make.
A line in the sand is carefully drawn,
where people might see the beams of new dawn.

© Tim Waldron

Egyptian protesters condemn security forces' tactics
Tim is a 32 year old living in Liverpool. He's married and teaches English at a secondary school in Ormskirk, West Lancashire. He writes on various themes such as nature and sport.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Positive Notes

Hello! My name is Michael, girls and boys.
I play with schools as you with siblings' toys:
That is, I carp and criticize, and take
Whatever I'm denied the chance to break.
My promises and answers, when they come,
Rival in truth the ones you give your Mum;
But, boys and girls, please note my latest boast,
Which doubtless is reliable as most:
We're slimming down your schooling, it is true,
In aid of Ashcroft, Philip Green, and you;
But, subject to the weather and my brain,
I more or less think music will remain.
As someone said - the Bible? Mother Gove? -
Melodic stimulus is food of love.
That's why our fast-food chums provide Muzak,
Enhancing your affection for Big Mac.
Be useful, occupy your mouths and hands;
Don't take drugs when you form your little bands;
Work hard, keep out of jail and do not panic:
Play on, and mop the decks of our Titanic.

© Philip Challinor

Music in school: Michael Gove sounds optimistic note


Weblog: The Curmudgeon - You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry.
Books: Philip Challinor's Books

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Review

Every time it's starting to look like we've got slim pickings in the pot (I'm mixing my metaphors here) our contributors come up trumps!

This week James Schwarz: Of Bergholz Bondage gave us a cutting poem on the dark side of a particular Amish community and Philip Challinor was back with his customary wit and wordplay with a well-deserved swipe at James Murdoch in his poem about phone-hacking: This Just In.  Sadly, it isn't just Murdoch who wants "To keep the power and outsource the pain". 

We had poems from two new contributors: @ThePoetGeo's acerbic 'Go Compare' on the thin line between the so-called comical and the so-called criminal, and David Subacchi's thoughtful poem about the public sector Strike in the UK this week, which reminded us of the journey the British worker has been on.

Colin Watts was out on the streets, too, with his world-weary but uplifting A Sunday Outing - a poem about the new Occupy Liverpool protest set up under the disapproving  gaze of the ghost of Wellington.  Ghosts were on the menu on again when, in a change to his usual poems, John Goss brought us Ghost of a hungry Hobbit an affecting sonnet about a little cafe being forced to change it's name by the corporation that 'owns' Tolkein's characters. 

Warning:  Poetry24 could become Hobbit-forming!

Have a great week, and keep those poems coming


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Go Compare

Q. When is a joke not a joke?
A. When it's about smashing windows
in front of the press
and aimed at rioters
on a private Facebook group
and gets you four years.

Q. When is a joke a joke?
A. When it's about shooting parents
in front their children
and aimed at millions
on prime time national TV
and gets you a Prime Ministerial apology.

When does UK law show its true colors to become a sick joke?
When it only accepts the apology of the rich and powerful bloke.

© @ThePoetGeo

Facebook riot calls earn men four-year jail terms amid sentencing outcry

Jeremy Clarkson was only being silly, says David Cameron


@ThePoetGeo is a semi retired zeppelin builder with the new model army. His interests include; technology, poetry, liberty fomentation, injustice adjustment, direct democracy design and saving and enlightening dumb animals.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Ghost of a hungry Hobbit

The ghost of Bilbo Baggins prowls Hall Green,
Wake Green Road and even Moseley Bog,
local rumours claim his spirit has been seen
elsewhere; not unlikely since he was a dog.
All his life he answered to his Baggins name
and took it with him to his doggy grave.
Today his life would not have been the same,
since now there is a battle on to save
The Hungry Hobbit, a little sandwich-bar,
the cafe-sign of which proudly displays
our local heritage; since it’s not that far
from where Tolkien spent his boyhood days.
Any name-change is down to corporate greed
(if lawyers get their way from SZC)
but quietly ask the question who will feed
the hungry Hobbit, Baggins’ ghost, and me?

© John Goss

Hungry Hobbit cafe told to change name
John Goss has a degree in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. He is a lyricist and playwright. Here's the Facebook page to save the Hungry Hobbit .

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Our parents lived through wars
knew bloodshed, hardship
the meaning of work
and of no work
empty grates in cold houses

We were well fed
taught in schools
warmed in higher
education, protested
against colonialism,
unemployment, apartheid,
all kinds of discrimination
chose public service
to give something back

Even in good times we
made no fortunes
no flash cars or
holidays in Barbados
kids at local schools
we were governors
PTA members
community people

We put away those placards
lapel badges and clenched fists
with the ration books
and the old army pictures
thinking they belonged
to another age
another existence
never to return

But today we reached
back in time to smell fear
and  the enemy’s
cold breath
and we marched
once more
like soldiers
like students
like workers.

© David Subacchi

As it happened: National strike
David Subacchi is a civil servant who has been writing poetry seriously for just over a year. He hopes to publish his first English collection in 2012.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Of Bergholz Bondage

Sam Mullet and the Bergholz clan,
Of the Gaddafi sort you understand,
Snipping the symbols of the church rejected,
As the Old Order status quo disrespected.

The breaking of the Bergholz branch,
The Federal raiding of the renegade ranch,
Dictators unrepentant too proud in fact,
To inquire of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

© James Schwartz

Hate crime charges filed in Amish beard cutting
Poet and slam performer, James Schwartz strives for the simplicity of Cavafy mixed with modern gay wordplay. His book, The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America, was published by in Group Press in 2011.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

This Just In

Dear Hackgate-watchers, here's the latest news
About the price I've paid for your abuse.
I'm not a mafioso, heavens no:
You hurt my itsy-bitsy feelings so
That I have left the boards of Times and Sun,
In hopes that this will spike the smoking gun.
Meanwhile, as exec chairman I remain,
To keep the power and outsource the pain.
I'm sinless now as when I first was born -
Yours most sincerely, James the Murdoch spawn.

© Philip Challinor

James Murdoch resigns from Sun and Times boards
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Monday, 28 November 2011

A Sunday Outing

On finding that, yesterday,
Liverpool had at last been occupied,
I took a poem down for the young people
camped on a small, stone plateau
outside St Georges Hall
beside Wellington’s column, topped
by a statue of the Iron Duke,
so-called because he barred his windows
against angry crowds urging
the parliamentary reforms
he strongly opposed. Don’t expect
much support from his ghost then.

My poem was a black bin-liner,
containing three woolly hats
in various sizes and colours,
two pairs of gloves, a pair
of thick socks, a once-white sheet
for banner-making, some more
black bin liners for rubbish
and two toilet rolls.

Bless them, they are so young,
so full of hope and courage.

© Colin Watts

Occupy Liverpool set up camp
Colin Watts is author of four collections of poems. He works in Adult Learning and is not a millionaire.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Review

We started this week with a stinging piece from Philip Challinor. For Thine is the Corporation raised a question regarding eviction notices served on protesters outside St Paul's - moral dilemma, or just old fashioned religious hypocrisy?

No matter which way we turn in these troubled times, the upheaval in the Middle-East is never far away. Lavinia Kumar considered Syria's increasing isolation, with The Bloody Cobweb, while Rosemary Collins', The New Tyrant, reminded us that revolutions sometimes need to undergo secondary phases, before true regime change comes about.

In The Kuala Lumpa Games, John Goss reflected on the symbolic war crimes trial of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, taking place in the Malaysian capital. And, following the reopening of the investigation into the death of actress, Natalie Wood, Kat Mortensen asked, Would Natalie?

Yesterday we published True Britannia by newcomer to Poetry24, Dave Viney. His poem spotlights our relationship with customer services, here in the UK. Dave is appearing with Kieren King and Benny-Jo Zahl, at the Lowry Theatre, Manchester, in January, 2012.

Have a good week and, remember, it doesn't have to be a national or international headline story that prompts a poem. Keep an eye on your local newspaper, too.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

True Britannia

The queue for the Customer Disservice desk,
takes me by unsurprise:
“Would you mind completing a customer satisfaction survey,
while you wait to be dissatisfied?”

Silently practicing a complaints speech
so dynamic
it could make the shop assistant,
take a soul-searching sabbatical to Tibet –
Seven months training in Basic Human Interaction,
a further two months in Common Courtesy,
and one week in How to use a biro,
without getting ink all over your hands

This is the complaints speech to end all complaints speeches
A  ‘perfect pauses,
SHOUTS in all the right places,
righteous riot act’ of a speech.
A  ‘left to my own devices
and with the benefit of hindsight,
I might have had a dream’  kind of speech.

But then the hypnotic voice of British sensibilities kicks in:

“3, 2, 1 and you’re under...
As the queue diminishes, so will your resolve.
You will accept the shop assistant’s feeble excuses
and a voucher that does not represent
value for money, or time that you’ll never get back
and you will thank her for the privilege.
If you attempt to go against your ingrained,
 ‘mustn’t cause a fuss’  Britishness,
I will make you buy an onion from the Food Court
and eat it, thinking it’s an apple.

Now, leave quietly
and don’t forget to smile”

© Dave Viney

British comedy and terrible customer service, a match made in heaven
Dave Viney, Mancunian performance poet has performed for BBC Manchester, currently performing in Amateur Thematics / Lowry Theatre and can be contacted at ,
while his website is being shiny-fied.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The New Tyrant

Behind every revolution
stands the new tyrant.

The slogans shouted will one day
fall back into the same silence,
where anger is buried alive under fear.
The bright banners they wave
will shrink into more lying posters.

The hero riding the cheering people’s shoulders to the palace gates
will become a burden
when he drives past them in an armoured limousine,
and they stand to attention before the guards’ guns.

And the people?
The crowd swirling along the street,
more heads than pixels in a photograph,
will divide in half and half again,
until all the revolutionaries
could not fill a prison cell.

© Rosemary J. Collins

Egyptian protesters reject military's timetable for elections
Rosemary Collins is a gap year student whose dream is to be a writer. Her main interests are reading, writing and current affairs, especially human rights issues.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Would Natalie?

Would Natalie, who feared the water, dark and deep,
Foreshadowing, perhaps, the waves where she would sleep,
Not think, not worry, as she set foot on her boat
(So bundled up against the wind, in her down coat)
Enough to place her bony fingers on her glass,
And when refills were offered by the men, to say, "I'll pass"?

© Kat Mortensen

Natalie Wood witness says she heard 'Help me, I'm drowning'
Kat is a Canadian poet, and the author of 'Shadowstalking'. Currently, her poems can be read at Kat Mortensen Poetry

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Kuala Lumpa Games

Water-boarding champion, George W. Bush,
chooses not to defend his record in Kabul, Bagh-
dad, or even US-sponsored exhibitions, hush!
to an unknown Uzbekistani gulag.
His world record of extraordinary renditions, hush!
remains unsurpassed; and his survival
is resting on a torturous regime, hush!
that eliminates the chances of a rival.
And one such rival, enigmatic Tony Blair,
has run him close; nobody can begrudge
Blair’s charismatic efforts to compare himself
to Bush. As he says himself: “History will judge”.

© John Goss

Symbolic war crimes tribunal tries Bush, Blair
John Goss has a degree in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. He is a lyricist and playwright.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Bloody Cobweb

A spider trapped in his own web,
he feeds on the bodies of men,
his machine guns squeeze hot juice,
red, from children, and he eats

till with his tanks he makes more webs,
he handcuffs men by the neck,
his cannons splatter blood on roads,
dark red, and those not dead hang

on lampposts, or they run in videos
that he cannot find or break.
So we see his coliseum,
the red floor, his anger asurge,

his face long, longing for power.
But he has wounds from each bullet,
and his long legs, one after the other,
become red jello, sticky, and stuck.

© Lavinia Kumar

Syria: isolated and losing friends
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Monday, 21 November 2011

For Thine is the Corporation

Our Saviour, who held property in scorn,
Was fast corrected at the Church's dawn.
Although he kicked the money-changers out,
These days we find them useful hereabout;
And thus we are committed to maintain
St Paul's for peaceful profit, in the main.
We're all for talk and tea-cakes, it is true;
But if the goon squad comes, what can we do?
Wringing our hands, we let the worldly arm
Protect our takings from excessive harm,
And trust the Corporation will not shirk
The doing of Lord Jesus' dirty work.

© Philip Challinor

Occupy London: eviction notices attached to tents outside St Paul's
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday Review

We didn't do a Sunday Review last week, so this is a whistle stop tour through the last fortnight of poems.

Wanting to pay tribute to the civilian dead caught in the crossfire of armed conflicts, we forfeited our review on Remembrance Sunday in favour of Teaching the World to Sing - a well-timed poem by Colin Watts on the possible reintroduction of cluster bombs. 

Once again, the range of poems and styles has been extraordinary. Just in the last few days we've had Marylin Brindley's The Right Train crossing borders in a marvellous pastiche of Auden's The Night Train, and the bleak and spare 10 Seconds from Anna on the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

International news has reached us via the medium of poetry too -  Lavinia Kumar's The Bend in the River highlighted the worrying impact of a new Amazon dam, and Indian poet Vinita Agrawal celebrated veteran campaigner Anna Hazare in White Phosphorus.   Meanwhile, Libya was still in the news with Do They Really by John Goss exploring the possible fate of Saif Gaddafi and Hamish Mack gave us an ode to exploited youth in the run-up to New Zealand's elections with Factoring in the Youth.

And while we always welcome poems on the big news, we enjoy looking at lesser-known stories too - like Helena Nolan's Tears of the Devil and, from the left field, Breda Wall Ryan's whacky and wonderful Charango - our first and (probably) only poem about a vicious attack with a frozen Armadillo!

We have already published several poems about the Occupy protests around the world, but couldn't resist the angry and sobering Occupied by new contributor Angela T Carr and  Already Occupied by Colin Watts - who had the trustees of St Paul's squeezing a camel through the eye of Threadneedle Street.  James Schwartz gave us an update on the New York protests with his The Last Librarian too.

The challenge for us at Poetry24 is to keep a steady supply of quality poems - thanks to those who respond when we're running short... and please do keep them coming.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

10 Seconds

Strength in numbers,
base mentality,
oh brave men they,
sick to the core,
they surround the enemy,
marked by his black,
his youth, easy prey,
they pounce
(strength in numbers),
a punch, a kick,
that’s all it takes to snuff
a life.

He escapes,
runs for his life,
unaware that death
now lives within him,
He falls,
heart stopped,
life ceased.

Strength in numbers,
base mentality,
they watch him
flee and fall.
they leave,
as casually as they killed.

© 'Anna'

Stephen Lawrence 'killed in 10 seconds'
Anna is passionate about her world and writes about her feelings in both poetry and prose.  She lives in the UK and for personal reasons, prefers to remain just 'Anna.'

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Right Train

(With apologies to W.H. Auden’s ‘The Night Train’)

These are the passengers crossing the border,
Waiting to check that all is in order,
Passports from the rich, passports from the poor,
They queue round the corner and out of the door.
It’s a hell of a task, a mountain to climb:
Calling them forward one a time.
Then here comes one who’s somewhat bolder
To see for herself what Brodie told her,
Snorting sniffily as she passes,
The grumbling miles of weary masses,
They all turn their heads as she approaches,
And herds them into the waiting coaches.
It’s a pilot scheme and it’s set on course;
To bolster the local labour force
Whilst shortening the queues at the lowest cost,
For the minimum wage, all paperwork lost.

Theresa smiles. Her work is done.
Down towards Parliament she descends
Towards politicians at Question Time,
Towards journalists and assembled media
Waiting to hear her proclamation.
The United Kingdom waits for her:
Huddled round TV screens, computers, iPhones
Men long for news.

She’s made up her mind to close her ears,
To her loyal employee who’s served 40 years.
Denies all knowledge of collusion.
No, this is his own final solution.
He takes the hint with resignation,
Then states his case to the waiting nation.
But Theresa’s reputation’s intact,
And Brodies’s statement can’t detract,
From her kitten heels and perfect bob,
Come what May; He’ll lose his job.

And he will wake soon and long for letters,
And will not hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

© Marilyn Brindley

Ex-borders chief Brodie Clark: I didn't go rogue
Marilyn is a retired primary school head teacher, who now has the time to indulge in the writing she's always wanted to do and read the works of other creative individuals.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Last Librarian

As the riot gear garbed shadows,
Carted, uncaring, the People's Library away,
Did they spit on pages?
Did they perhaps break spines?

I'd like to think the shielded faces,
Contorted with ripping rage,
Knelt before a poet,
Paused over a poem.

© James Schwartz

Occupy Wall Street library books stored in a N.Y. garage
Poet and slam performer, James Schwartz strives for the simplicity of Cavafy mixed with modern gay wordplay. His book, The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America, was published by in Group Press in 2011.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


It was hot in the bar but the stranger wore his sombrero.
He sat near the door and signalled the patron for two copas
and grilled armadillo for two, served on its own shell.
When he finished he polished the carapace
with his bandana.
Oh, he was perfect, except for that.

The people stayed back in the smoke and left us by the puerta,
the skin of his face shone dark as the polished wood
of the case he snapped opened to show his charango diablo—
demon eyes in the headstock flashed firestone,
the whole bar yelled ¡Toca!
and Oh! it was almost perfect then.

His fingers closed on the neck of the little charango.
With one foot on his chair, he lifted her onto his lap,
her waist on his knee and her soundbox pressed to his chest
She was made from the hollowed-out shell of an armadillo.
Oh! how the tarsal-bone frets hurt the heart!
It would have been perfect, except for that.

I said his charango was made by a a scavenger—
surely the camel of the musical-instrument world.
He bought me a copita and put down ten bolivianos,
a bargain was sealed for one night as his shadow.
He played some off-key huyaño
Oh, it was far from perfect, without a flute.

The stranger challenged the patron to a game of stud poker.
I touched the charango’s strings with one gentle finger
and she sang in the midnight voice of the armadillo,
a melody high and thin as springtime snow,
the story she told was a tragedía
the music was perfect but Oh! the lyrics were sad.

The notes of this song hid themselves like shy Andinas.
I dreamed them on a bus going west through the Anteplano,
leaving forever the snowy peaks and the condors—
better the sparrow of gringos than a snail in La Paz
or the armadillo mestizo’s dumb wife-in-waiting—
whatever happens me now will be better than that.

Last night I slept with a man who had no hair,
the muscles down his back were ridged and hard as shell
and every room in his house rang with his laughter
except for one where he kept his armadillo wife
and his four armadillo daughters—
Oh, he was perfect, except for that.

© Breda Wall Ryan

Day of the Armadillo
Breda Wall Ryan has poems in several journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Mslexia Poetry Prize and Fish Poetry Prize 2010. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

White Phosphorous

(A poem dedicated to Anna Hazare)

He led a battalion of hearts
taught them to beat as one
like the rhythm of the feet
of a million soldiers marching

His smile was their shield
His hunger strike their ammunition
His patriotism their zeal
His thoughts their direction

Strange it was to see a white bird of peace
Yell blood curling calls of Vande Mataram! 1
a clarion call for every Indian to saddle up
and blow amphibian corruption to smithereens

He sowed seeds of rightful participation
that grew into trees the very next day
trees that spewed fire not shade, assault not glade
on the immoral, unethical enemy brigade

Every kilo he lost was a shrapnel
searching and destroying the foe
his bayonet of truth made injustice thin
a waning, weakening spurious din

He was a seismic intruder
who stopped time in its track
a moral gunner, a quiet runner
with only word-grenades for attack

Now he is in every schoolboy’s satchel
every old man’s dream
he is sacrifice personified
he is a lighthouse in our times grim

He is white phosphorous
to the fraudulent and corrupt
burning malpractices, scalding dishonesty
exposing a malady to its very bones.

1.       A Sanskrit phrase meaning I salute my motherland!

© Vinita Agrawal

Note : when white phosphorous hits the skin of any living creature it burns it and continues to burn it until it has burned through the body. Water will not extinguish it.

Anna Hazare slams Chavan, says fighting elections not enough
Vinita Agrawal is a freelance writer, researcher and poet from New Delhi, India and has been published many times in print and online journals.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Teaching the World to Sing

(Thousands of cluster bombs were dropped on Iraq
by American bombers during the first Gulf War

Look, children!
Shield your eyes and squint skywards,
see that steel stork, gliding, miles high,
trailing a white ribbon and quartering the sun.

Watch, as it drives the Shadow of the Cross,
shape-shifting, across our desert sands.

Hark, how silently it sheds its stache of pregnant pods,
dropping, ladder-like, down the wind,
bursting, sky-high, in flashes of gold,
like ripe dandelions hatching hundreds of hovering seeds.

            Tick, tock, what o'clock?
            Five past twelve and counting ....

Watch carefully, as they pendulum closer,
appearing, for all the world, like so many cans of Coke,
guided groundwards on parachutes of silk.

Keep well away!
At their first brush with our sweet earth,
they will burst into bloom
like flowers in the desert after spring rains,
flicker their butterfly lives and crumble into dust.

And beware!
They will latch like leaches
onto man and woman,
beast and child alike.

They will maim and blind
and scatter blood and brains
across the hungry sand.

And, mark my words!
The shadow of that stork is long,
never more may children dance across the fields,
Nor lovers stroll, hot hands entwined,
through groves of palms,
nor hurl themselves, tormented, under trees.

For, you must know,
there are some seeds that will not shoot,
but sleep for years, half-buried in the sand,
red apple-cores of death, deep-lodged in steel throats,
waving each its little parachute and screaming, neon-loud:

            DRINK ME!  I AM IT!

And waiting only for the kiss of one small hand
to spring it back to deadly life.

            We aim to teach
            the world to sing
            in perfect harmony.

© Colin Watts

Editor's note: Colin has also sent this poem to David Cameron and William Hague. It seems entirely appropriate on this, Remembrance Sunday, to consider those killed and injured by weapons that are, to a large degree, regarded intrinsically indiscriminate.

UK backs bid to overturn ban on cluster bombs
Colin Watts is author of four collections of poems. He works in Adult Learning and is not a millionaire.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Bend in the River

Rio Xingu, rushes, falls, timeless song,
it bends, stretches long to luscious end.
As water flows, red-tailed catfish throng,
and peacock bass strut a swim, their fins red –
so many giant fish to strain men’s rods,
a river to carry people and they’re eating
where they live, they sing, they look to their gods
and have never felt a need for weeping.
But now Bel Monte surges hard and high
to send fish and men to a certain death,
as trees will drown, and sun burn the sky,
men and their sons will have no space for breath.
As the night is night, the people belong
till the wheels of politics will kill their song.

© Lavinia Kumar

Brazil court approves building of Amazon dam
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Do they really?

Do they really want to try Saif,
son of Muammar, at the ICC
on a list of charges
of crimes against humanity?
They say they do but when you think
a proper trial would not bode well
for NATO or the NTC
whose rebel forces caused a Hell
that saw Saif’s father, nearly seventy,
fatally buggered with a blade.
Do they really want to expose
crimes against humanity they made?
No doubt the English-educated
Saif, with a price upon his head,
will in unknown circumstances
like his father, end up dead!

© John Goss

International criminal court confirms that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has made contact


John Goss has a degree in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. He is a lyricist and playwright.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


28th October 2011

White slab on the doormat, postmark,
a familiar china blue – the forfeit
of dignity in monthly increments -
and I’m sick to my stomach, again;
And on TV – Occupy Wall Street –
as though greed were a discovery,
injustice, a shiny toy or the new Black.

I’ve been in my foxhole for three years now,
dug in behind enemy lies - terraced walls, 
the polite exterior of war - wrestling
the slick of their machinery, bare hands ink
bloodied in daily skirmishes with quick-sand      
bureaucracy – and you, with the placard,
the ironic slogan, where the f**k were you?

© Angela T Carr

Occupy protesters plan 300-mile march from NYC to Washington
Angela has been published in an anthology and literary magazines, and Commended in this year’s Patrick Kavanagh Award. She is based at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Tears of the Devil (Are Tears Of Laughter)

The devil is in the detail

The devil is in the clouds

Hidden there for centuries

We find him grinning now.

When we least imagine him

We see his face for real

For when we stop believing

The devil reappears.

The sky fills with his laughter

Bitter to our ears

The rain is slowly turning

Into the devil’s tears.

©  Helena Nolan

Devil's face revealed in Giotto fresco in Italy
Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. She is this year's winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Factoring in the Youth

Step up brave youth,
The government will provide, a chance for self expression.
Proving their conservative compassion.
And you want to be paid for that?

This is a heaven sent chance,
for you to make a start.
Learning about life and working
While we pay for lunch and a bus!

This is not about the government
or any industrial friends.
This is about at-risk-youth
and getting them back to work.

We are in favour of the choices We want people to make.
It's not for factory fodder or dropping coins into a cup
This a brave and arresting,
government mandated hand up!

© Hamish Mack

National to extend youth starting out wage
Hamish is a 51 year old New Zealander, married with 2 children. He has been writing poems for about 3 years, and has had a some published. He also blogs, at Light of Passage.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Already Occupied

Had the protestors only known, they might
have gone straight to the St Paul’s Boardroom
to find the trustees in session:

Dame Helen Alexander, DBE, deputy chair
of the CBI, director of Centrica plc, senior advisor
to Bain Capital: neutral on the grounds of her wide interests.

Lord Blair of Boughton,
former Metropolitan Police Commissioner:
neutral on the grounds of having been a copper.

John Harvey, inventor, entrepreneur,
First Vice President of the St. George’s Society
of New York: neutral on the grounds of being American.

Joyce Hytner OBE, theatre director:
neutral on the grounds of enjoying the dramatic irony
of the whole glorious debacle.

Gavin Ralston leading international asset manager
at Schroder Investment Management: neutral
on the grounds of investing overseas.

Carol Sergeant CBE, ex-Chief Risk Director at Lloyds
and similar post at the FSA: neutral
on the grounds of health and safety.

John Spence OBE, Former Managing Director,
Business Banking, LloydsTSB: neutral
on the grounds of having been a banker.

Once in there, they might have overturned the tables
and driven out the money lenders, emulating
Jesus’ only recorded act of violence.

Later, the trustees might have been found,
drunk and weeping, trying to thrust a camel
through the eye of Threadneedle Street.

© Colin Watts

Let's name those who may have decided to move #occupylondon on from St Paul's
Colin Watts is author of four collections of poems. He works in Adult Learning and is not a millionaire.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday Review

We started the week with a real life Hallowe'en horror of child exorcisms in the Congo with Anthony Baverstock's chilling 'The Exorcism'.  Later in the week we had another dose of religion-related abuse in the powerful 'Dumbstruck' from newcomer to Poetry24 Breda Wall Ryan. As she says, as poets we howl of unspeakable deeds,/ peel the skin off our tongues, /burn new adjectives.

But meanwhile it was the children doing the abuse to poor old Mother Earth in Jeremiah Walton's 'A Mother's Children'. But it was time to kiss and make up for those who were game on Wednesday with 'Do Ken and Ryu Cuddle After Fights?' from another first-time contributor Dominic Berry.

On Friday David Bateman offered us the jolly green The Gone-Green Gangrene Obscene Bluey Green Blues but I'm not sure there's any cure - not on the NHS anyway according to Shaun Parrin with his 'Letter Home'.

There has been a welcome rush of contributions after our recent shout out - but of course we still want your poems!

Have a great week


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Letter Home

They promised the induced psychosis would pass
upon discharge but was only to be expected
like late-night night sweats
within the queuing bedlam 
tremors at that cold but very public loo
and mother-in-law bending yours.

Food is something else, as you can imagine.
At least there's no squabbling over the last morsel. 
You can pick at it and forget the diet.
Filmed I have been, a DVD to follow
£6.99 from you know who!
But I've no rights to something they call equity.
The bosses buns are rather tasty though!

I lay blame on that pin prick of a light
the "small sharp beam" onto the retina
you know, their tests.
Consenting restraint was used but to ill effect.
At least they've not lost some of their ancestry
and understand bared teeth.
Overhead lights only work half the time
what will my insurance have to say about that?

Will miss the bygone camaraderie
the austerity measure chats with the water cooler
because they've had to outsource
into a supply chain that can only deliver
tea and coffee every other thursday.
Above all, will miss the opportunity
not to sleep in solitude.  The logic of it.

Signing me out they are
next Thursday, the in between week.
I've been scenting the air of freedom
gets more defined with each days passing.
Looking forward to less of "it's all about my mother".
Will probably miss those articulate cable shows
as the laughter from some reveals
used to hurt you know down there. 
Not sure that cute doctor knows how to
tell the difference between colour let alone shape.

See you thursday... unless, of course, you see me first.

© Shaun Parrin

NHS reforms: Audit areas to be extended, Lansley says
Shaun is a non-professional award winning photographer and published writer.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Gone-Green Gangrene Obscene Bluey Green Blues

There once was a time when I didn’t care
That when I drove my car, it polluted the air
But now I’ve invested in an ethical share
I’m a catalytic convert & I’m eco-aware
I’ve got a sticker there
Stuck square on the screen
So that everybody knows
That I’ve gone green

I’ve got the gone-green gangrene obscene bluey green blues
      (Seen whose got those green blues)
So I can ditch my rich kid image whenever I choose
      (Been there, bought those, what’s news?)
& I put on my green make-up, & I put on my green shoes
      (Well, green wellies, actually)

You Save The Whale; I’ll go one better
Gonna campaign to Make The Rain Forest Wetter
Look, I already spent eighty quid on the sweater
& I write to my MP – Well, I sent one letter
I’m a real go-getter
You’ve seen I am
I’ve got badges on my badges
Saying just how green I am

I’ve got the gone-green gangrene obscene bluey green blues
      (Seen whose got those green blues)
I exude my eco-friendliness just like a gluey green ooze
      (Seen that green slime? That’s mine)
Emerald’s my birthstone, & crème de menthe’s my booze
      (I drink two pints
      Then I recycle it)

I’m an ozone clone full of greenhouse gas
& I can’t tell my belly from a bio-mass
But at least seeming green makes me seem less crass
As I drive to the corner to recycle my glass
I’m as green as the grass
I’ve heard the call
Ten green bottles
& I banked them all

I’ve got the gone-green gangrene obscene bluey green blues
      (Seen whose got those green blues)
So keen on green that I need to be seen in the news
      (I’m so sincere, I cry green tears)
Green forever’s my endeavour, till I find some other cuter line to use
      (Been there
      Bought shares
      Done that
      Sold out)

© David Bateman

George Osborne and the Treasury attacked for hostility to green policies
David was Liverpool Poetry Slam Champion 2007, and still hasn’t got over it. His one proper book is Curse Of The Killer Hedge (Iron 1996). He also writes stories and teaches some creative writing.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Even our languages fail us,
blasted into silence,
nouns gutted of meaning,
Lie twisted to Mental Reservation,
titles defiled: Father, Athair,
split open
the wormy antonym coiled in its core
blind eye turned
to the rot in its heart
Sanctuary violated
superlatives we counted on torn
from their roots
verbs hard-tempered in fire
spun to cloud by their mouths
We cry out for reformation
for pages of revelations nailed
to cathedral doors
in Dublin, Ferns, Cloyne
They answer with pleas
of innocence in pulpit voices
garbed like toreros in trajes de luces,
steel concealed
beneath silken embroideries.
Our strongest words fall defenceless
as Samson shorn of his hair:
we howl of unspeakable deeds,
peel the skin off our tongues,
burn new adjectives.

© Breda Wall Ryan

Church braced for wave of sex abuse allegations
Breda Wall Ryan has poems in several journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2010.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Do Ken and Ryu Cuddle After Fights?

for all who play ‘Street Fighter II’

Do Ken and Ryu cuddle after fights?
They must need comfort after all they face.
Believing this might get me through my nights.

Such pumped testosterone surely invites
the kind of hug some men think a disgrace.
Do Ken and Ryu cuddle after fights?

Do lovely snuggles make them high as kites?
It’s not just brawls, its nuzzles these two chase!
Believing this might get me through my nights.

Can love and anger, both felt at their heights,
give something more than guilt as heartbeats race?
Do Ken and Ryu cuddle after fights?

In my mind’s eye I see such tender sights.
Does Ryu spurt ‘HA...DOU...KEN!’ mid-embrace?
Believing this might get me through my nights.

When I’m alone, my playstation invites
me to a violent, thrilling, frightful place.
Do Ken and Ryu cuddle after fights?
Believing this might get me through my nights.

© Dominic Berry

Violent video games hold hidden benefits

Winner of Nuyorican Poetry Cafe Slam, author of 'Tomorrow, I Will Go Dancing', Dominic's Arts Council funded poetry show 'Wizard' will tour through 2012, commencing at Manchester's Contact in March.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Mother's Children

Lanterns hung where devil decorations strung
No source of heat but wool socks
For numb feet bright red
Power lines sag as lead white perches
Trees strike roads nature is lashing back
At its child back stabs its Mother
10000 burrows struck with the absence of light
All domestic flights cancelled
Passengers, burrow dwellers, frustrated
"Unpleasant conditions" nature's backlash
In a days time
Children back to stabbing her back

©  Jeremiah Walton

3 dead, over 2 million without power as snowstorm slams Northeast, Mid-Atlantic

Jeremiah Walton has written two poetry collections, available on his website  He is 16 years old and lives in New England and also writes short stories and movie scripts.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Exorcism

"Depart, impious foe! I spit upon your face.
Release this child of God, or taste the acid kiss.
The Lord Himself commands, so drink and stay your vice.
Why brazenly refuse, and gag and claw and toss?
Resist, and suffer more: – despair the nail's caress,
and tremble, demon, fear: – bewail the hammer's force.
For you the fire awaits, as through the skull I pierce.
I cast you out – begone!
                                     At last, the ravings cease."

And Pastor counts the cash while Hellish hosts rejoice.

© Anthony Baverstock

Child witches in the Congo

Author's note: As isolated cases these would be harrowing enough, but it is horrifying to think that they are simply instances of an increasingly prevalent phenomenon, and that while children in North America and Britain dress up as witches to play trick-or-treat, many in Africa are branded as such for real with dire consequences.
Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday Review

"In truth, I wasn't really consciously thinking of writing a poem, I was at the computer and suddenly opened a blank page and typed "Marco, you were beautiful" Then I stared at it for a very long time, and the other words started to come." - Jane James

Jane's response to a comment on her poem, The Rider of Fifty Eight, explains the way she was affected by the tragic news of Marco Simoncelli's death, and describes how she was moved to write a poetic tribute to a rising star in the world of motorcycle racing. So many conflicting emotions are triggered by the tragic loss of any life, and in the week when Vincent Tabak was found guilty of murdering Jo Yeates, Anna pressed us ask ourselves some searching questions On Voyeurism.

Vinita Agrawal's first poem for us, brought the Chinese occupation of Tibet into sharp focus with When I look at you, and Peter Goulding's Liberation raised a question mark over the prospects for real justice in Libya, post-Gadaffi.

On Friday we published Philip Challinor's God Helps Those…, as moral dilemmas appear to be as much a current fixture at St Paul's, as the anti-capitalist protesters the church originally showed support for. And what could be more fitting than pairing up Lavinia Kumar's Bologna with Philip's poem? Two works inspired by the 'Occupy' protests, occupying a single post, here at Poetry24.

Clare and I would like to extend an unequivocal invitation to all the poets among you - protesting or otherwise - to set up your virtual tents and voice your feelings about what's happening in the world. Remember how Jane began, with a single line on her screen.

The number of submissions has picked up since our rallying cry, a couple of weeks ago. Keep sending us your poems so that we can carry on the momentum.

Have a great week.


Friday, 28 October 2011


Two poems, inspired by 'Occupy' protests on both sides of the Atlantic.


From a melting pot comes bologna, mashed
spiced beef and pork in a can – favorite sandwich
meat in Liberty Plaza before the heady days
of Zuccotti, ego tripped on bushes and money,
and September 11th memories trampled.

But bologna is back again, symbol of the poor –
they eat it with rooibos tea, under tarps, a mix
of need and health, while orange nets fish
for them as they sit and drum, or shout out
for more from the exotic one percent.

But it is Bologna that sends their story
around the world, pepper sprayed on wings
of droplets borne from a pig, with a beef
finely honed.  And so there were girls
blinded, as millions saw clearly.

© Lavinia Kumar

Zuccotti Park neighbors furious at Occupy Wall St. protesters over 'noise and garbage'
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

God Helps Those...

(with apologies to Martin Niemöller)

First I went to the bank;
but I wasn't a banker, so they did nothing.
Then I went to the politicians;
but I wasn't a banker, so they did nothing.
Then I went to the Press;
but I wasn't a banker, so they did nothing.
Then I went to the Church;
but they had shares in HSBC, and called the riot squad in.

© Philip Challinor

Bishop of London offers debate with Occupy protesters if they disband
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


They said he was a murderous dictator
on whose command the desert sands ran red;
who would not tolerate the agitator
and many took their families and fled;
whose rule of thumb was not designed to cater
for those who craved democracy instead.
Manhandled by the frenzied agitator

~ liberation was a bullet in the head ~

admitted the new government commentator,
explaining how they’d severed his life’s thread.
And now they proclaim praise to the Creator
on seeing the body stretched out in a shed.
But to the international spectator,
the way this haggard tyrant wound up dead
does not bode well for hopes of justice later.

© Peter Goulding

Qaddafi’s Death Places Focus on Arab Spring’s ‘Hard Road’
Peter Goulding works in a warehouse in co. Kildare, Ireland and has bribed editors in four continents to accept his poetry. He has no practical talents whatsoever.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

When I look at you

 (The poem is dedicated to the braveheart hunger strikers of Tibet who went without food for 25 days in May 2011 and for seven days in October 2011 in protest against the Chinese illegitimate occupation of Tibet that was forcing young monks to self-immolate themselves. There have been 18 cases of monks setting themselves on fire and dying because the chinese rule does not allow them the freedom to practice their religion)

Photo: The poet along with two of the hunger strikers at the May hunger strike.

When I look at you
I see a mother weeping in a dark corner
a father squatting on a porch
a girl seeking the doorway
I see countless wounds bleeding again
I also see mountains trembling

When I look at you
I see men amongst people
heroes amongst men
saviours amongst heroes
I see brave hearts, I see hope
I see a dream coming back to life.

The Tsangpo is sweet by your promise
the mountains sturdy by your resolve
you are the coral of Tibet’s ruddy winds
the precious turquoise of its soil
the force of its snowy gales...
the balm on the lesions of torn people
You are doves of peace
bringing rest to a scattered million hearts
When I look at you - this is what I see.

© Vinita Agrawal

Self-immolation 'trend' at restive Tibetan monastery
Vinita Agrawal is a freelance writer, researcher and poet from New Delhi, India and has been published many times in print and online journals.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

On Voyeurism

Enough photos to fill an album
Enough words to write a book…

We can peek through her window
And take a general look
At her kitchen – why
It’s a bit like mine!
I have the same electric hob,
Same door in pine!
Have you seen her bedroom?
It’s like a shrine I guess…
Her place, her asylum
From the stress of modern life
Frozen in time
(Unlike like her death
As the media dissect
Her privacy
And voyeuristically
We join in the awful circus).

I suspect…
As her last breath
Was squeezed out of her
In those final moments of
Sheer and utter terror
She did not consider
That she would become
For the gutter press
And have pages
Dedicated to her
On Twitter.

© 'Anna'

'I didn't strangle her for sexual thrills' says killer Vincent Tabak
Anna is passionate about her world and writes about her feelings in both poetry and prose.  She lives in the UK and for personal reasons, prefers to remain just 'Anna.'

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Rider of Fifty Eight


you were beautiful, graced

the race track

with your slender, leathered

figure, the interviews with

your shy and smiling

face, your hair a scribbled


to tell the world you

wanted to

stand out and

so you did.

Outstanding for

the life in you, the

drive and verve and

energy as every

nerve and sinew relished

every single minute

of your

too short



I never met you, yet

I’ll miss you.

God bless you.

© Jane James

Marco Simoncelli dies after MotoGP crash in Sepang
Jane James lives in Wolverhampton, writes and performs randomly, talks to strangers and dances with fish.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sunday Review

Firstly, a massive thank you to all those poets who rallied to our plea for more poems last week - our 'IN' tray has never been so full, so apologies for slightly longer response times.

We started this week down in the dumps with Fran Hill's 'Respectable receptacle' in the voice of Oliver Letwin's bin before joining James Schwartz at the Wall Street 'occupy protest for 'Lines Composed in Journal after Occupy Kalamazoo Protest'.

Of course we had a poem involving a dead colonel - not Gaddafi but Colonel Sanders in Lavinia Kumar's 'Kentucky Square' wheres bullets not banners fly in a Yemen square named for the American food chain.
And we covered breaking news the same night when Kat Mortenson submitted 'Zoo Game' as the Zaneville animal massacre was still happening live in Ohio - you heard it here first!

Two poems at the end of the week raised worrying issues about the protection of children: Philip Challinor's 'The Protection Racket' highlighted UK government's broken pledge to find thousands of lost children and Marilyn Brindley's first poem for us 'Until that moment' which recounted the harrowing story of the Chinese toddler left to die in the street by 'casual observers on a street of shame'.

Yesterday first time contributer John Goss reminded us of the bravery of people who follow their own consciences in 'To Michael Lyons'. We're glad he did.

And just in case we can't fit all the current news stories in to next week's, here's a Sunday 'Prayer' from Martin Bartel that neatly ties in several current issues and our own collective culpability.

Have a good week

Prayer of the World

The lions, tigers, and chimps ran free,
let loose upon a modern world from which
there is no escape. So fearfully we took aim,
all of us, really, and shot them dead.

We grieve our fear and our loss of humanity.

To end the despot’s rule we picked up arms,
all of us, really, and brought him down with
vengeance as was due. “For all of us, it is a hard
road, because our battle is against ourselves.”*

We take over power that will inevitably dictate us.

There should be hope in this: That among the
uprisings one group lays down arms, says it will
no longer kill to fight, but not so fast: All of us, really,
for survival’s sake, remain skeptics of peace.

We lift up to some god our hopeless hearts.

It should be no surprise, then, as markets crumple
that we uncover the final irony: All of us, really, are
linked not by dollar, yen, euro or pound, but by the
common need to bear up under the weight of it all.

We are broken and impoverished. Mend us, heal us.

These may all be lessons that we’ve learned before.
All of us are prisoners of someone else’s war.
All of us are victims of someone else’s crime.
All of us are powerless, by our own design.

© Martin A. Bartels

Qaddafi’s death (*Ahmed Ounaies, as quoted in the NYT).
Ohio exotic animals escape
Spanish press doesn't buy ETA ceasefire
Martin A. Bartels is a poet, author, artist, and songwriter living in the Washington DC area. He is currently president & CEO of the humanitarian organization, Seed Programs International. Blog: Difficult River.