Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lesson One: Afghanistan

A faceless Buddha stares out into nothing
his features rubbed out by wiser men
He and this bare brown earth

bear witness to the vicissitudes of empires
which every now and then
bring in a hundred thousand men

led by swanky generals
full of ideas and strategies
who invariably leave clueless or dead

beaten by voices on the wind
that rages through ravines
and around strange shapes

in the looming terrain
a landscape which consumes them
absorbing something from the invader

before belching them out
to kick him along the silken road
full of substances –

yet empty of all substance
Just like the bodhisattva
sitting captive in Kabul museum

once a saviour
now unable to save himself.

© David Francis Barker 2011

Will UK troops follow US out of Afghanistan?

David Francis Barker: 'I try to paint, write poetry, prose, sometimes music - I guess that makes me an artist.'

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Man Trouble

You don't care care too much,
what others think or feel, it's clear.
The channels of your mind
are kept clean and
uncluttered with thought
of how society changes.
So that, to you, what was, is now
and ever thus will be.
Or similar dread
While the wannabe like you group,
will splutter about
"political correctness' and
"Only saying what everyone thinks".
Which ignores the fact that
anyone, who thinks,
doesn't think like you.
The problem is not the thinking
it's the lack of simple
human decency.

© Hamish Mack

Women less productive - EMA boss
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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Shipwreck Grave

They became unwilling sailors first and then, submariners,

These farmers and shopkeepers, their children, servants, wives,

All suddenly captives of the ocean, all lost in chains,

Buried beneath the sky, the sea, until the murky earth

Reclaimed them and grew fossils in a rib-shaped cage

Of rotting wood and iron and torn sails. They slept for centuries

Like fishermen decaying in too far-flung, careless nets,

Caught up by ankle or by throat, the salt upon them a preservative

So that today we find them, like the next page in a book-

-turned over in astonishment, a copperplate illusion

Of some smothered truth, mute heralds of the future

From a dim-lit past, such buried kisses, fuel for a candle flame

That flickers in the empty dark we rummage in for energy,

Like a faint light at the back of the deepest cave.

If they could speak, these souls might sing in unison:

Forget us at your peril, we are the last of the bravado

We are what remains, and if you hold a hand to us

We’ll surely burn you,


by one,

by name.

©  Helena Nolan

Ancient remains found in Dublin
Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. Last year she was runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Award.
Editor's note: Each day, we move about the land, but how often are we conscious of the layered history beneath our feet?

Monday, 27 June 2011

When she went missing

Time tracked strangely through those days, fear
shape-shifting seconds into years,
marking months with tallies of tears.

Clutching still, they held their hope tight
and sleepless through the dark, dragged nights
waited dumbly for each dawn’s light.

Those were the days they felt faith rock
and turned the locks against the knock
and listened to the ticking clock.

Still the dread slid under the door,
soaked their skin through every pore
and sweated at their very core.

Until at last the final knock
heralds the springing of their lock
On hope; their child’s gone. Stop the clock.

© Rachel North

Levi Bellfield found guilty of abducting and killing teenager
Rachel is a trainee poet and failed domestic goddess. The latter is entirely due to the fact that her favourite pastime is sitting in the sunshine reading a good book.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Editorial

What a week! Not only have we published the work of three poets new to Poetry24, but we've had a storming response to Clare's call for 'modern nursery rhymes' on Twitter. Social networking at its best.

At the top of the week, Greg Gibson drew inspiration from the bizarre actions of a TV actress, with 'The Extra', and Fran Hill placed Amy Winehouse under the microscope in 'A Serbian concert goer's nursery rhyme'. Although this was Fran's entry for our 'Saturday Challenge' we couldn't resist publishing it on Wednesday. And it's her blend of topicality and humour, that makes Fran the winner of our first challenge. Congratulations to her.

David Francis Barker contributed to Summer Solstice celebrations with his evocative 'English Blue', while 'A North African Cable' by Douglas Polk and Deirdre Cartmill's 'Hunger' gave us cause to turn our thoughts to more sobering issues, pointing out the shameful realities of human struggle against oppression, and the worsening food crisis in developing countries.

Finally, a big thank you to all those who have left comments. It makes such a difference when poetry becomes a two-way conversation. Keep them coming!

Have a great Sunday.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Last week we asked for your topical nursery rhymes, and waited with bated breath. Sing a song of £4.99? Three mice with visual impairments?
... and waited. Then I had a go...

little Jack Horner,
sat in a corner
eating his five a day
not like his sis
who was so obese
they filmed her for a Channel 5 documentary...

Then we got this cracker from Fran Hill, which was so topical we stole it and used it for Wednesday's post.

And so, our favourite entries:

The Riddle of the Outrider

I gallop, we gallop, "For freedom!" we cry,
a hundred-and-seventy horses and I.
We ride through the kingdom of sabres and palm,
just doing the shopping and spreading alarm,
defying the princes to toss us in jail,
we're bearing the standard and blazing a trail.
So jump in your saddle and spur on your steed,
we'll gallop together and start a stampede!

Who am I?

© Anthony Baverstock

If you didn't work out the answer came from another entry:

There was a young lady from Saudi
Who wanted to drive her own Audi,
She tooted her horn
And she was reborn.
And the rest of the world shouted 'How'dy!'

© Brenda Bryant/Rinkly Rimes

Then we put out the call on Twitter, and here's what we got in response... not bad in 140 characters or less...

Hey diddle diddle,
the chav's on the fiddle,
unemployment is over the moon


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children and they're all paid for by you.


Rockabye baby in the tree top,
I'd get us a house when the mortgage rates drop.


The Grand Old Duke of York,
He had 10,000 men,
He marched them out on the search for oil
and straight to Afghanistan.


The Grand Ol Duke of York.
He had 10,000 men.
But not enough equipment or supplies
to send up the hill with them.


Little Miss Muffet, in an apartment,
Shooting her meth in her veins,
She felt all these spiders,
crawling inside her
So she scratched her skin all away!


Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
his wife could eat no lean.
And so betwixt the two of them,
they made a Quorn tagine


Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a pie.
Then add some balsamic vinegar
and chopped thyme, whack it in the oven, Pukka!


Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
is your pastry Gluten Free?


Jack & Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.
YOU could help a child like Jack or Jill
by sponsoring 5p a day


Jack and Jill went up the hill,
but failed to carry out a comprehensive Health & Safety risk assessment


Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty was very safe
as health & safety stipulated
a harness & helmet be worn


Humpty Dumpty sprayed on a wall
used his iPhone to YouTube it all...


hey diddle diddle
the banks are on the fiddle


Hey Diddle diddle the cat played the fiddle
and Simon Cowell booked him there and then


Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
kissed the girls and made them sue ...
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie kissed them too.


Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie,
Crashed into snappy snaps when he was high


Polly put the kettle on,
Polly put the kettle on,
we'll all have tea.


Editor's note: The winner of our first 'Saturday Challenge' will be announced in our Sunday Editorial, tomorrow, 26th June.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Give me the TV remote
so I can flick from your sunken face,
so your eyes don’t accuse me
as you squat in the dirt

and wait for me to do something.

Let me burn your food
so I can drive my car.
Let me splash water over my lawn
as your lips crack and bleed

and still I do nothing.

And if hunger is an act of war,
let me raise my white flag high.
Let me be tarred and feathered
in the leftovers from my chicken dinner

and as I finally rise from apathy

let them parade me
through the streets,
and let my only worry be
the size of my naked belly.

© Deirdre Cartmill

Food: A hungry world
Deirdre Cartmill’s first collection Midnight Solo is published by Lagan Press and her second collection will be published later this year. She is based in Belfast.
Editor's note: Oxfam predicts a billion people will go undernourished, this year.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

English Blue

Walk with me
into the grey breaking dawn

where that sticking ridge of blue –
an English blue

rolls on into soft distances
and strange dancing names

Stand with me
by those set whispering stones

in a steadfast line –
a sore English line

of rasping pipes and howling socks
mouthing our memory

like a warning to tomorrow
a land forlorn to all but itself

Then help me to bury him
not on some crying strand –

in firm English land
where hallows' calls are grounded

our grief laid open
in the whitening bones of heroes

on this high scoured hill

© David Francis Barker 2011

Arrests at Stonehenge summer solstice celebration
David Francis Barker: 'I try to paint, write poetry, prose, sometimes music - I guess that makes me an artist.'
Editor's note: Those who witness the sun rise on the longest day, at Stonehenge, often experience an overwhelming sense of being connected to nature by ancient rite. Each year, it seems, more non-pagans are taking an interest in pagan beliefs.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Serbian concert goer's nursery rhyme

Ring a ring o’ roses
To Serbia Amy goeses
The drink is an issue
She all fall down

Now everybody knowses
That drink can spoil the showbiz
Oh Amy, we mish you
You all fall down

Can’t balance in her shoesies.
What’s doing it? The booze is.
Your band members kish you.
You still fall down.

You’re staggering in your boob tube.
We all saw it on Youtube.
We mish what you used to do
Before you fell down.

What everybody knows is
We saved up for your showsies
You’re pissed, you, you’re pissed, you
Our cash falls down.

We hope that Amy goeses
To rehab. All we knows is
We mish what she was before
She all fall down

© Fran Hill

Amy Winehouse cancels two dates of European tour

Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Editors' note: Don't forget, we're looking for YOUR modern nursery rhymes for our Saturday Challenge!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A North African Cable

North Africa like a cord,
or cable made of interwoven wires,
begins to unravel,

with each strand lost,
the stress increases,
as does the tension on the cable,

the first wires to unwind,
old and frayed,
Tunisia and Egypt unwound,
and the cable seemed intact,
the damage only hidden to the naked eye,

now as the strands continue to unravel,
the cable reacts violently to the strain,
soon the region in chaos,
as all that binds the region together,
becomes as unhinged as Gaddafi himself.

© Douglas Polk

Where the Arab spring will end is anyone's guess
Douglas is a poet from Nebraska. He has published three books of poetry; In My Defense, The Defense Rests, and On Appeal.
Editor's Note: Douglas equates the turmoil in the Middle East, with the unravelling of a cable. But is it all coming undone at the seams, or will these events ultimately have a unifying effect?

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Extra

You can step over a body
without much effort.
You can pretend not to see
lifeless eyes going through you.

It’s my job not to be seen,
to escape attention,
to merge into mise-en-scene
and be unremembered when I’m gone.

But I’m in the news today,
after bit parts in the back of soaps
and single lines in forgotten scenes,
my fifteen minutes have arrived.

I’d like to tell the judge
I forgot, didn’t notice, didn’t know,
but he won’t believe me –
I’m not that good an actress.

I’ll cry when I tell the tale
Mum got up in the middle of the night
and never made it to the door
and I couldn’t bear to look at her

deflated body on the floor.
So I acted like she wasn’t,
did the dishes, changed the sheets,
cashed her cheques and claimed her pension,

because to me she wasn’t...y’know.
Two hundred and eleven pounds
and thirty six pence – the only benefit
of keeping mum about Mother.

And I’m in the news today, gone national.
You’d’ve stopped me in the street,
said you remember my biggest role...
but there’s a price to being famous.

© Greg Gibson

Mother and daughter left dead granny unburied for six months while they pocketed her benefits
Greg Gibson is set to graduate from LJMU in July 2011. He appears sporadically on the Liverpool poetry scene and is continuing to study a Masters in writing.
Editor's Note: In the world of celebrity, some argue that bad publicity is better than no publicity. How do we feel when the likes of TV actress, Hazel Maddock, make the headlines for all the wrong reasons?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Editorial

All the poets this week have been new to Poetry24 and we hope you enjoyed them.

What better start to the week than Jess Green's Stop the Poetry. I've seen Jess perform this and when she says 'I will stand on the tables of cafes' and 'light the fuse of villanelles' she really isn't kidding!

Another feisty young poet, Rebecca Audra Smith took a well-aimed pop at Barbie this week with Metharme (the title, by the way, is from Greek Mythology - the name of the daughter of Pygmalion, who fell in love with a statue he carved. I looked that up so you don't have to!). And Thursday's poem was by another student, Simrita Iota, who hasn't written poetry before but managed to evoke a disjointed, disturbed, street-level view of the world in A Smile.

As a new generation of young poets takes on the big issues of the day - funding cuts, the ruthless quest for physical perfection, homelessness - again, Jess hits the nail on the head: 'you will not stop the pens moving'

But it isn't just the students who are up in arms - the appalling gendercide which is still going on in China provoked a blistering attack from Wynne Huddleston in Red, Red Rain. And Anthony Baverstock took a slightly different approach to give his views on the Arab Spring in Rising Tide yesterday, which inspired our first Saturday Challenge.

We were pleased to receive a poem from award-winning Irish poet Jaki McCarrick - The Ice House - a timely reminder that we're happy to include the occasional news item from your own locality too.
Keep them coming!


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday Challenge

Rising Tide

The bully built a castle, little castle made of sand,
And he built it on the seashore where the water laps the land.
How the children of the village cheer, a mighty awesome din,
As his castle walls are flattened by the tide a-rolling in.

© Anthony Baverstock

Where the Arab spring will end is anyone's guess

Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, home of Humpty-Dumpty, which might help explain his curiosity about nursery rhymes.
Anthony says: I've started to become interested in how nursery rhymes throughout history have been used to encode and convey news and opinion. It is in this 'tradition' that I wrote the rhyme below about the Arab Spring

Saturday Challenge

We'll be setting the occasional Saturday Challenge, and for this first one, we'd like you to send us a new nursery rhyme on a topical theme. Entries must be sent in (to the email addresses in the submission guide above) by noon (GMT) next Friday 24th June. We'll publish the best and the winner will receive a copy of 'Off the Wall Comic Verse Anthology'.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Ice House

i.m. Irene White

A well-known aromatherapist is washing up dishes,
her yellow Marigolds deep in sudsy water,
perhaps thinking of summer holidays in places
she might find quality Clary Sage or Lemon Yellow.
The killer has meanwhile already entered the house.
And with the separated mother-of-three humming
by the sink to the radio, he plunges the knife in her back
twenty-seven times. When the news hits the tabloids
it emerges that the gold-coloured Art Deco house
is worth a million, and that Eircom and the ESB
have made her and her husband ‘offers’. Five years
later the killer is still not caught though the town
has its suspicions. On occasion I pass the house
with its name at a slant in stone, its broken windows
and fly-about yellow duck-tape, its echoes of Ronan
Collins’ show-band hour, whiffs of Eucalyptus.

© Jaki McCarrick

'Cold case' team hunt for Irene White's killer
Jaki McCarrick has published poetry and short stories. Her play, Leopoldville, was a finalist in the 2010 Yale Drama Series Playwriting Competition and won the 2010 Papatango New Writing Award.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A Smile

Drenched clothes, damp grass, cold fingers, numb toes,
Birds screeching, cars beeping, clouds dark, Boasting,
The same blanket, the same bench, naked feet reach for the soft Earth.
Smart attire, silk and satin, white and grey and black,
One hand shoving a phone to an ear, brown leather briefcase in the right,
You see, their hands are tied.
A smile I send.

Leaflets. White and glossy. £3 per hour.
My hands reach out…
Not one pair of eyes gives a second glance.
A smile, I send.

Late night, city buzzing, sparkling dresses, heels clicking,
Loud chattering, glasses clinking, fine china clattering,
lukewarm, tasteless liquid,
slithers down my throat, as my nails dig into the foam cup,
a bronze coin,
droplets crash,
startled hands,
a puddle of tea bleeds into blanket,
fingers linger,
across the engraved crown,
on the cool topaz. And, a smile. I send.

Sun rising, subtle wind, my light, visible, shutters opening.
The white,
Flashes between my fingers,
‘Will work for food’,
Screams the cardboard, in the wrinkled hands,
Of a trembling man, from across the road,
As a silver Mercedes shines,
In the middle of us.
As my future flashes.
A smile. I want to send.

But I am tired. And the cream tube shapes,
Are growing violent, in my palm, calling me. Pleading.

And I am tired.

© Simrita Iota
Why homeless men die 22 years younger
Picture credit
Simrita Iota is a student from Hertfordshire who believes that homelessness and poverty is a severe issue that needs to be dealt with urgently. Simrita hasn't written poetry before.
Editor's comment:
We were very impressed with this evocative (and provocative!) piece from someone completely new to writing poetry. We love to support emerging talents and fresh voices here.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


There was a woman on the front page
of the free paper, page three style
She’d spent thousands shaping her body
To Barbie contours.

She’d found men to part her chiselled thighs
She, a statue, coming alive under the knife.
She has a daughter, age seven, given a token for her birthday
-I can’t wait to have big boobs like Mummy-

Given a voucher for plastic surgery
when your body exists through your bumpy knees,
your blunt elbows, clumsy, your skin a bag of bones and puppy fat
Pole dancing class: age six

She has the same name as my sister
This child, given crayons like scalpels,
drawing stick figures, big circles.

Barbie, permanently high heeled perches
On our shelves, watching as we grow older.

© Rebecca Audra Smith

‘Human Barbie’ buys 7 year old daughter a boob job
Rebecca Audra Smith will be studying Creative Writing: Poetry MA at Manchester Metropolitan this September. She co-runs Stirred, a night aimed at feminist performance poetry.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Red, Red Rain

Red, red, red—
government control, swords
upon babies’ heads, staining
mothers’ souls.

Infanticide, gendercide, suicide—
taken from the streets;
nowhere to hide
from the slaughter of daughters.

Red, red, red—
abortion, coercion, sterilization,
feminine damnation,
perpetration, denies God’s creation.

Rein, reign, rain—
drowning full term babies
females plucked
and crushed like weeds.

Rein, reign, rain—
taking living, breathing
human beings, throwing
them away.

© Wynne Huddleston

Congress Must Cut UNFPA Funds to Stop Forced Abortions
Wynne Huddleston’s poetry can be read in nearly 40 publications. She is the winner of the 2010 Lifepress Grandmother Earth Environmental Poetry Contest. Learn more about Wynne, HERE.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Stop the Poetry

You can spend our pensions
on dinner with the Beckhams
sack the police then ask them to work for free
to trick, lie and arrest teenagers
with shifty eyes and frustrated minds
make us pay to have babies and glue back our bones
pick the pockets of sixth formers
penalise the unmarried and patronise the women.
I will stand on the tables in cafes
on the grass of parks
give me a soap box
or just a flagstone on a street corner.
I’ll light the fuse of villanelles
look down the barrel of a sonnet
blow Blake in the air
choke the monarchy in metaphor.
My mother warned me about men like you;
lie and charm and cheat and slime your way inside
then rip out the life support.
Distract us with a Royal wedding
‘look what your life could have been
if you hadn’t lacked a little inspiration.’
You can crumble the foundations
on which we’ve built our lives
but you will not stop the pens moving.
You can’t stop me waking from dream filled sleep
collect the stained glass stories
from my leaking brain.
Take away our pens and paper
and we’ll just make the words move faster,
louder in the corners of pubs
I’ll prance along the bar until they listen
climb the walls of buildings;
because if we keep telling the tales of the war you’re raging
on the unrich, the unprivate, the unmiddleaged
they won’t forget.
Slap super injunctions on clause sixty
tell us to calm down
kettle us, keep us, beat us and berate us
but you won’t stop the poetry.

© Jess Green

Ministers 'misinterpreted' study to back EMA grant cut
Jess Green is a 22 year old poet facing full time unemployment but performing on every stage possible, held back only by bus fare.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sunday Editorial

This week we published material by two names that are probably becoming familiar to you - Rachel North and Philip Challinor. Rachel's 'Picture of an American Soldier' was a stark reminder of the ongoing human cost of war, and Philip had a jab at the coalition with 'What a Blinder'.

My own 'Mice and Men' split the works of two poets, new to Poetry24. Val Walsh examined the 'categorisation' of rape, in 'Good Weather, Bad Weather', and Ian Nenna's 'Average Family' shone a light on increasingly evident social and economic polarisation.

We've listed forty five featured poets here at Poetry24, to date. Each of them has had at least one poem showcased and, judging by the number of returning visitors we have each day, they are getting a healthy audience. A couple of things for poets to remember, though. Do try and respond to comments, when they are left. This encourages the kind of interaction, we'd like to see more of. And, there is no time gap between submissions. So if we publish your poem, and you have another waiting in the wings, don't hold back, send it in.

In her editorial, last week, Clare raised the subject of audience interaction. We've both been a little puzzled at how few people leave comments after reading a poem, and it's been suggested, by one reader, that this maybe due to "…shyness - or lack of confidence in opinion."

Both, Clare and I share a passion for making poetry more accessible, and believe that Poetry24 has a part to play in that aim. All around the world, people's lives are touched by news reports that can offer an ideal prompt for the poet’s voice in all of us. That means, your opinion counts, whether you are the author or the reader.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

Average Family

They speak of working families
those suits on the TV
advising their decisions
are for people just like me.
They talk of average earnings
we could never hope to get,
we're all in this together
that's what they say... and yet
I cannot fail to notice
as I look outside the door
their average nuclear family...

they don't live round here no more.

© Ian Nenna

Wage stagnation over decades as income gap widens


Ian Nenna is fairly new to writing poetry. He has strong connections to Birkenhead and performs around Merseyside. More of his work is on WriteOutLoud

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mice and Men

What will become of the broken-hearted?
What can we do to repair
Pumps that have been restarted
By medics, sworn to spare?

Fear of failure comes at a price,
It's damage limitation.
Hope rests with disenfranchised mice,
And defibrillation.

© Martin Hodges

Drug makes hearts repair themselves
Martin is a writer, and former columnist. He has twice been editor of Viewpoint (a forum for INDEPENDENT internal comment within the University of Southampton), and is co-founder of Poetry24.
Editor's note: When I first read this story, I thought, great! Then I started thinking about the mice, and that IS fatal.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Good Weather, Bad Weather

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

There are good days, fair days and
very bad days. Funny days, serious
days, and unexpected days. Problems,
not always of my own making. And others,
where it is clearly my own fault, I admit.

How shall I compare thee?

There are good rapes, okay rapes,
and very bad rapes. No funny rapes.
So I suppose that makes them all kind
of serious. At times unexpected.


I may give in, under pressure, as it is safer
that way. Less physical damage or injury.
This could be called ‘consent’ in court. So
not proper rape. Though it does not feel like
consent at the time. More defeat really, even
without a struggle. Or putting up a fight.

How shall I conjure your impact?

Like being overruled, overpowered.
Which of course is routine for women.
But violation in the guise of ‘seduction’
sounds sultry and ‘romantic’. More than
idle ‘banter’. And must be my fault
anyway. I obviously asked for it.

Take it as a compliment for heaven’s sake.

It means you are desirable.

You should be so lucky.

© Val Walsh

After Ken Clarke's rape comments we must defend the right to say no

Dominique Strauss-Kahn set for fiery trial


Passionately involved in feminist and intercultural arts, Val Walsh organises Liverpool's annual poetry event for International Women’s Day. Alongside her poetry, journalism and academic writing, she has co-edited three collections of feminist essays.


Editors' note: When I heard Val perform this poem at the Dead Good Poets, her distinctive voice - calm, clear, matter-of-fact - adding to the power of her words, I practically wrestled it off her there and then. Clare

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What a Blinder

What a blinder our Nicky has played!
What courage and vim he's displayed!
He's kept a cool head
And made us our bed -
If we just cuddle up we'll be made!

Our ratings have taken a dive,
While Nicky helps Davey to thrive!
What a coup! what a stroke
For our thrusting wee bloke!
If we're lucky we may just survive!

We may not have got our AV,
For Dave's not as cuddly as we;
But at least we can change
The boundaries' range
And get more constituency!

What's this? have we taken this beating
And tarnished our glory so fleeting,
For Nicky to pander
To Dave's gerrymander
And lose us a fourth of our seating?

Our finances look a bit frayed;
Our councillors all have been flayed.
From the tuition fees
To the child-prison freeze,
What a blinder our Nicky has played!

© Philip Challinor

Philip's Blog
Philip's Books

Monday, 6 June 2011

Picture of an American soldier

The photograph depicts a man at war.
You will have seen him many times before,
the still, stunned face of shock and awe,
his gaunt and gallowed gaze, full of dread,
replaying the howling horrors in his head.

His boneless body rests against the rocks,
the while his mind makes memories to mock
the dazzled, dream-filled boy, the cost
of whose survival has climbed so high
he thinks, one day of this despair he’ll die.

The photograph depicts the hell of war.
You will have seen it many times before
and gazed with eyes of shock and awe;
and wondered at the man who caught his look
and used his grief, to bring us all to book.

© Rachel North
Memorial Day tributes as US suffers its 1,500th casualty in Afghanistan
Rachel is a Nurse, who has a passion for writing creatively.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday Editorial

A curious aspect of Poetry24 is how quiet our readers on. We know you're out there - we check our stats! - but you rarely leave comments on the poems. Maybe the poems speak for themselves? But we'd love to know what you think of the poems, a favourite line or your views on the issues they cover. Please tell us why you don't comment in the comments box below!

Meanwhile, it's difficult to generalise about a week that has covered everything from mass murder to Martin Hodges' pleasingly-alliterative Chasing Cheese.

But the main theme was a sense of loss:- Patricia McMahon's harrowing Violation listed Ratko Mladic's appalling legacy in Srebrenica before felling the reader with its devasting closing line: '...we still live with, our hearts shaved raw'; and Rachel North's powerful sonnet His Father's Died voiced Tom Daley's rage against his own loss. If only, as Geoffrey Datson puts it in his thought-provoking 'Pet Rock's Lament': 'none of it is true.'

It was almost a relief to have an attack of killer vegetables (not a line I'd expected to write in a poetry editorial) in Juliet Wilson's Death and the Cucumber. But the week finished with a lingering sadness, in Stephen Smith's evocative An Irish Emigrant Returned, which tells the story of a generation and doesn't seem topical until a long-suppressed anger surfaces in its closing lines.

Finally, thanks to for this but don't be shy to comment here too!


Saturday, 4 June 2011

An Irish Emigrant returned

There we were again at the Watford Gap,
Spring air, weak tea and bacon sandwiches our lot,
Another motorway morning on the road
To London. Our tobacco tins were full,
Our packs of papers well-counted, for cigarettes
Measure out the day and pepper up slack time
in the ganger's hut when the rain would come.
Yes, we were fit and ready for the labouring!
Homes far behind us,
England's air pouring over us,
The strength rising in us,
The sadness falling from us,
For friends are travelling with us,
And the earth would rise before us
As we dug down the days in London's chalk
And clay, poured pillars of concrete, raised towers,
Buried pipes, laid the kerbs and paved the streets.
Ach warriors of the building site we were,
Who fought the work with shovel and pick and won.
And when the pubs were closed and the music gone,
In our whiskey armour, with our beery shields,
In the rooming-houses we fought the lonely man.
We put him down, but always he came again
Against us. We are old now and our bones ache.
The memories in our hands are pain,
When fingers cannot close over a pen,
Or any slender thing. In the pension book,
I scrawl my name and with a fool's quick smile,
Avoid the cashier's awkward look,
For there, parading on the T.V. Screen,
In Ireland more than us a thousand times
Made welcome, is the English Queen.

© Stephen Smith

Queen ‘deeply moved’ by reception on Cork visit


A recent immigrant from Ireland, Steve has had agitprop plays performed in Ireland and a documentary broadcast on RTE in 1998. He has written and staged 2 plays in Liverpool and reads at the city's Dead Good Poets. More...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Death and the Cucumber

I learned young not to trust cucumbers -
their going off so soon, their after-taste.

I only eat them fresh from the garden -
quality assured and as local as it gets.

While Spanish cucumbers feed Europe
in a crazy trade of vegetables

and part of me is not surprised
at the sickness that results.

© Juliet Wilson

E. coli cucumber scare: Cases 'likely to increase'
Juliet is a poet, adult education tutor and editor of Bolts of Silk

Thursday, 2 June 2011

His Father’s Died

Set fire to the earth, make molten rocks blaze,
bring forth the ravaging winds and torrents
Of rain, let the twisters lacerate, rend
the world in deadly destruction and raze
the buildings to the ground . Let all men gaze
upon this savage loss, make madness bend
their minds, claw their eyes and tear their hair, send
them to despair. This is the end of days.

The world should share the pain that’s made day night,
that’s lit a fire of grief that sears his soul
and blackens all the colours in his sight.
Let all the world beware, his father lied,
took oath, and made his spirit black as coal,
He said he’d live, but now his father’s died.

© Rachel North

Tom Daley's father Rob dies after five-year battle with cancer
Rachel is a Nurse, who has a passion for writing creatively. She is a featured poet at Poetry24.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Today is Dario and Malik’s birthday, my twin boys.
I visited their graves. At least I can do that, lay flowers.
Their father, Rahil, was never found. On his birthday
I visit their graves. A part of him lies there.
Had they lived, my boys would be thirty today.
I would have seen them grow into manhood,
Get jobs, meet girls, dance, sing, get married.
I would be a grandmother now, fussing over my grandchildren.
I would breathe in their baby-smell,
Watch them grow, go to the school Dario and Malik attended,
Have fun in a playground filled with other children.
There are fewer schools now, fewer children, a dearth of males.
Ratko Mladic and your cohorts, look what you’ve robbed us of.
When you decided to massacre in cold blood the men and boys
Of Srebrenica, you left us bereft of our bloodlines,
No male to seed our women, give them the gift of motherhood.
After your butchery, the only babies born
Were the offspring of rape, their crazed mothers
Still screaming in their nightmares.
I saw you once, Mladic, a swashbuckling khaki-clad army chief.
It was early summer 1995. By July of that year you had slain my men,
Exterminated the Muslim male population of Srebrenica and beyond.
Now I see your photo as they prepare to take you to The Hague
To be tried as a war-criminal. The swagger is gone. You look frail.
But you lived to be 69, a gift, a right, you denied my boys, my man.
You may be sentenced to prison but it will be a far cry
From the sentence you imposed on the women of Srebrenica
When you slaughtered our men and boys and raped our women,
A desecration so vile as to be incomprehensible,
A violation we still live with, our hearts shaved raw.

© Patricia Mahon

Serbia extradites Ratko Mladic to The Hague
Patricia has been published in Ireland and Spain. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from UCD. She is also a Healing Therapist practicing in Ireland and Spain.