Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sunday Review

Getting out and about at poetry readings, I am well aware that there really isn't any subject that a poet somewhere won't tackle. It's good to know this.
After the shocking events in Norway, it was a brave Martin A. Bartels who took up the gauntlet to write about it. And his 'Epitaph' was a fitting poem, zooming in on a map from the broad sweep of global tragedies right into our own homes, where: The coffee mugs are always clean. / The muddled bedroom is empty.
Another brave poem was 'Of Somalia' by 'Anna' which powerfully denounces regimes that allow their people to starve for the sake of religious differences or political point-scoring. It reminds us of the importance of humanity amidst tragedy. The same is true of Charlene Langfur's 'Baghdad Morning in America' - the subtle rhythms and repetitions reminding us of the still-growing list of the dead: And the names are read quietly. Paced. A number. Another.

Also this week, we had some nifty wordplay from David Francis Barker in 'Debit' and further welcome 'relief' from new contributer David Bateman who took a 'wee' pop at the police in 'We Are Sorry (But...)'. We finished the week with Philip Challinor's Soldiers of Fortune which took a cynical look at politicians wanting old soldiers to 'spend a penny' too!
When choosing which poems to publish, we try where possible to get a variety of subjects and styles, light and dark - tricky sometimes when we have such a fast turnover! We want poems on the subjects everyone is talking about, and those little stories most people won't have heard of that capture the imagination.
We'd be interested to know what you think about the mix on Poetry24. Do we get the balance right?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Soldiers of Fortune

Come join us, for we love you; you are many.
No other party offers rates like this.
Come join us; let us help you spend a penny.
You have our word we will not take the piss.

We are no longer Halliburton's poodles;
We're not the ones who sent you to Iraq.
Come join us in your regiments and oodles -
We need your help to get our numbers back.

Come join us, for the Tories do not love you.
They're not your friends as they have oft been billed.
Come join us; we're your equals, not above you.
We want your wisdom, if you've not been killed.

© Philip Challinor

Labour party to offer military veterans membership for 1p
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.

Friday, 29 July 2011

We Are Sorry (But...)

“Police chiefs fear the lack of loo breaks is
behind complaints from members of the public
of ‘incivility, impoliteness and intolerance’.”

We are sorry Mail Online, 20th July 2011

We are sorry about the incivility
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about the impoliteness
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about the intolerance
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about the baton charge
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about going a bit mad
in that beanfield in Wiltshire that time
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about Jean Charles de Menezes
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about Sharpeville
but we were dying to go to the toilet.

We are sorry about Dachau
but we were all really, really
dying to go to the toilet.

© David Bateman

Riot police demand toilet breaks 'to stop them from wetting themselves'
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, 28 July 2011

Of Somalia

What kind of zealot
By oppression and denial
Would further starve
The very bodies, minds and souls
Of his brothers, sisters
Who through famine
Linger, emaciated
As death waits
Expectedly, hungrily
In the shadows?

What kind of zealot
Would refuse
Western, Christian aid
As his people
Who long to live
Sweep up innocent tiny
Scraps of life,
(Who suckle hungrily
At arid breasts)
And trudge wearily
On perilous journeys
For weeks, days
To escape
The ever expanding
Famine zone?

What kind of zealot
Believes his God
Will allow him
Entry to Heaven as
He watches, weeping,
As mankind, His creation
Spews evil in His name?

What kind of zealot
Truly believes that
Allah by His judgement
Will allow him entry
To Heaven by His mercy
And not cast him
Into Hell by His justice?

© 'Anna'

Somalia's Hungry Need Urgent Help
I am passionate about my world and write my feelings in both poetry and prose. I live in the UK and for personal reason prefer to remain just 'Anna'.
Anna says: "I realise that the reasons for the famine are complex, global politics have played a part and interest in providing aid by some governments is driven by Somalia’s oil production – but nevertheless for Al-Shabaab to deny a problem and deny aid horrifies me."

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


The last time I looked,
there was no I in debt.
Default isn't anyone's fault.
The I of irony is much more telling:
Where democracy was first wrought
in ancient Athens' crucible,
there's now a furnace for the Euro.
The meltdown that makes Merkel
wish for the Deutschmark,
makes Sarkozy cosy up
to the Franc of his dreams.
But who dares pull the ace
from this temple of cards?
And should America say 'no dice',
then whose turn is it to throw?
It would be to our credit
to put the I back into debt.

© David Francis Barker

Eurozone leaders warned over seriousness of Greek debt
David Francis Barker: 'I try to paint, write poetry, prose, sometimes music - I guess that makes me an artist.'

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


We are stilled by such tragedies
as we cannot comprehend. Those
children in Russia, Virginia,
Norway, Colorado. So many.

Nature, too, inflicts inertia.
Tsunamis, hurricanes, and fires
deconstruct the careful longing,
our sure pretense of relevance,

leaving inadequate options:
to take comfort in words in which
there can be no comfort, to paint
our religions, coax them to life.

Mapmakers today understand
the world is made entirely
of layers: air patterns, land and
watersheds, forest and roadways,

urban densities, also known
as towns and the people within.
Remove these layers and the earth
becomes almost invisible,

surely as it must have been when
God laid the framework for first sin.
Are we to take heart knowing that
even He started over once?

It is easy to view the stars
as souls, and if the stars then birds,
some rivers. And if rivers we
might be baptized in each other.

The coffee mugs are always clean.
The muddled bedroom is empty.
God, after this grief, every
I love you feels like goodbye.

© Martin A. Bartels

Norway gunman 'has accomplices'
Martin 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. His poetry can be found HERE.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Baghdad Morning in America

I listen to the names and try to imagine the faces.
In the desert three soldiers died today.
The news on TV is 24 hours a day.
The weatherman's in the desert . Checking for rain. Rain's coming. No one
expects it. Baghdad is hot.
Rain is rare, a gift.
And the names are read quietly. Paced. A number. Another.

Inside the house with the AC on and the TV on,
how easy here to forget what living in the hot sun is like.
In the desert. A sweet taste of water under the sun. The gift of shade.
A palm in the middle of danger.

And the bombs in the sun in this season of reading the names.
A child sits on the curb in the sun in a new pair of sneakers.
He is completely afraid in Baghdad.
The palm is the desert, oranges on the tiny toy truck
in front of him.
The soldiers names are read each day.
All of this, what sounds beautiful in a single day, soldier's names,
a boy, palms, going home, a small finely made truck, a toy really.
No talk of this on the TV. Only talk of time lines, troop numbers,
poll numbers, numbers of days engaged, how only a few troops are needed
to do this job.
Danger in the middle of a continent of so much desert.
The plan for the war is to get on with the plan. Forward and not backwards.

But all I know today is about the rhythm of the speech, how it comes
back again and again. Talk of rain. Oranges. Palms swaying.
Things that stay.
And how the buildings all look the same if they are bombed. The landscape,
the window frame where the lavender grew like crazy hours before,
lavender to ward off harm.
A house in Mosel gone. A report of spectacular attacks.

This morning the sky is cloudless and blue again. Today they will read the names.

© Charlene Langfur

Iraq Veteran Returns To Baghdad As A Tourist
Charlene is an organic gardener and a graduate of the S.U. graduate writing program.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sunday Review

It was always one of the main aims of Poetry24 to publish material drawn from international news. This week, we not only achieved that, but also enjoyed a poem with its roots in News International, or at least the Murdoch's appearance before a committee of MPs. Anthony Baverstock's We didn't start the pie fight, charts the art of pie-throwing, as a means of public protest.

On Monday, Joshua Baumgarten's We will all meet as one, when the word can eventually overpower the gun, offered a fine tribute to the recently assassinated Argentine folk singer, Facundo Cabral, while prize-winning poet, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, considered the nightmarish legacy of the Japanese earthquake, with Fukushima for two.

Chris Lawrence highlighted events in Syria, where public protests against the Assad regime continue to be met with brute force. His Damascus reflects the turning of a 'blind eye' by the west. Lynne Stanford exploited some clever wordplay in a debut poem, Hacked, and Martin A. Bartels, another newcomer to Poetry24, touched down quite beautifully with Landing.

Three new names have been added to our list of featured poets since last week. Word is getting around, it seems. Lynne Stanford told us, "I was directed to your site by the current issue of Mslexia.  I had been worried that political poetry wasn't getting heard, but the standard of your site is excellent."

Whichever route you take to Poetry24, be sure to bring your poems with you.

Have a good week.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

We didn’t start the pie fight

1 – 9 – 7 – 0h,
over forty years ago,
Thomas Forcade threw a pie,
walloped Otto, porno guy.

Shortly after, Aron Kay
splattered Bryant, anti-gay,
Andy Warhol,
Captain Kirk –
pieing in the sky.

‘Save the planet’ Keith was smacked,
‘Stuff the planet’ Clarkson, whacked;
pies are flying left and right,
off the planet, David Icke.

Charlie Colson, Watergate;
Calvin Klein, but by mistake;
Carl XVI, the Swedish king;
Jeffrey Skilling (meant for him).

    We didn’t start the pie fight,
       but you’ll know you’re busted

      when you taste the custard.
    We didn’t start the pie fight –
      Well, perhaps we mighta,
      just to spite you blighter.

Bernard-Henri Lévy thought
thinking men should not be caught;
Horowitz was not amused,
similarly disabused.

David Shayler, British spy,
custard in his prying eye;
Movie-maker Godard laughed,
pie’s arrest defused.

Milton Friedman paid the price;
Emma Thompson: “Very nice.”
Rambo took it like a man;
Mocha pie for Moynihan.

One Canuck against G.M.
pied the P.M., Chrétien;
William Henry Gates the Third,
facial-creamed in Belgium.

    Whee! Did you see the pie fly?
      Don’t behave too snobby,
      or become too cocky.
    Whee! When you see the pie fly,
      better grin and bear it,
      cos you’re gonna wear it.

Guru Maharaj Ji’s god –
Why not stop the flying glob?
Was it written in the stars?
Ditto Father Léonard’s.

Parizeau and Péladeau,
Pettigrew and Duchesneau
Yankee’s fielder Swisher twice,
thrice is on the cards.

Widdecombe and Mandelson;
Messianic Vorilhon;
Comic artist Tommy Yune;
Politician Pim Fortuyn.

Clair Short. Allan Rock.
Willie Brown. Murdoch.
World Bank Wolfenson.
Still the list goes on and on . . .

    Who’s gonna stop the pie fight?
      Everybody in it’s
      clearly out to win it.
    Who doesn’t love a pie fight,
      a bit of hue and cry
      and seeing custard fly and fly and fly . . . ?

© Anthony Baverstock

Phone hacking: Man charged over Murdoch pie protest
Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.

Friday, 22 July 2011


In the room adjacent you are undressing
and I imagine the wall between us is more
transparent than my heart. I trace the

shadow that marks the differences between
us (postpone for a moment the need to determine
who is light and who is darkness--both states are

preferable to the nothing in between). In this house
I wonder at the walls, how they could have been
built so much thinner than my own. At night,

deep at night, I lay awake imagining I am
on the roof mystified by starlight, lost in the
lack of self, the dark matter and the dark

energy, the dark at all, where I become the
shadow. This starlight itself is our distant past,
the place where we began. I am helpless against

the onslaught of memories. Between you and
between I there was the catalyst of love, the
spark that traveled one hundred thousand

light years to become us today. We were astronauts
training for space travel, hitching a ride on a
shuttle bound to skim Earth’s fragile atmosphere.

We catapulted fiercely upward in the poignant
attempt to grasp those altitudes previously
imagined only by poets and smitten nerds;

the moon, the stars, Jupiter's satellites, mere space.
We methodically composed a future without end
and now, stalled on this eternal landing strip, are left

embarrassingly unprepared for the inevitable
anticlimax. After all of it... after the one step, the giant
leap, the missions and the thrust, after the spectacular

and the tragic, after the epiphanies of hearts left
momentarily unbound by gravity of thought or
promise or debt, after we soared beyond all

expectations, we confront the persistent disability
that we are tethered here, after all, by our most
mundane realities. There is no app for reinvention.

© Martin A Bartels

The Shuttle Ends Its Final Voyage and an Era in Space
Martin 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. His poetry can be found HERE.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


I’ve had my heart hacked
by a man I can’t stand.

Initially he was fishing for information:
my likes/dislikes, birthday. My dress size.

Then he’d crash into me (with supposed serendipity) saying
things like ‘Great shoes’ and ‘Your hands are so cute.’

But as he surfed my software, his hardware got involved.
He began editing: messing with my heart strings.

He exported the pain of loved ones I lost
and recycled the fires of my anxieties.

He cut my gut feelings, my sneaking suspicions
about his tall tales and crawly taloned fingernails.

He also downloaded ... created this romance
of idealistic dates. And sex. Kisses.

He deleted my boyfriend - made me love him instead.
Now all that I have is what he saved.

So I’m starting afresh with a brand new heart,
and I’ve installed a firewall. This time I’m guarded.


© Lynne Stanford

Phone-hacking spotlight falls on Met PR man, Dick Fedorcio
Lynne Stanford was born in Perth, Scotland, and her first words were 'Hong Kong'.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Assad has a nation
that has joined the Arab
people gather and protest
unarmed and fearless,
yet face paramilitary police,
he is afraid,
fear a key to his power,
and will not yield,
by shooting his people,
their deaths caught
on shaky mobile phone
a social history
of atrocity,
is it unnoticed,
no western intervention,
history has woven a
political web,
and no one is willing
to be the fly.

© Chris Lawrence

32 killed in Syria protests, Damascus moves: activists
Chris Lawrence lives with his muse in West Kirby and writes, having been published in many journals internationally and can be found on twitter @clawfish.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Fukushima for two

a pink sunset has been observed after
Fukushima tears in my cheeks
I am not sure about this landscape
other color ranges
from violet and gray
I miss the game of the shapes of clouds
this twilight contains the highest level of millisieverts
since the recall
800 mSv per hour
a scan of my abdomen and pelvis
an x-ray of my spine
lies on the terrace table
reads: 15 millisieverts of radiation
Melba made grimaces
and laughs at my concern
there is an echo of iodine, strontium and cesium
if I ever get a hamster I'll name him Strontium
she move the shoulders to look flirty
I smile because for me she looks absolutely beautiful
Even thou this is worse than Chernobyl
even thou I notice a new blister on her neck
we hug and suddenly
I want to know if she is an atheist
I try to pronounce the sentence
nothing comes out of my mouth
amazing sunsets around the world
breath taking sunsets in other parts of the planet
a pink sunset
here in Fukushima
a cry sunset

© Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Thyroid radiation found in 45% of children in Japanese province
Radioactive meat circulating on Japanese market
Yolanda is the author of the novel Caparazones (2010) and has won prizes including National Institute of Puerto Rican Literature Prize in 2008. She is a Director of the Puerto Rican Word Festival.

Monday, 18 July 2011

We will all meet as one, when the word can eventually overpower the gun

Why is it that I only hear
About the great men amongst us
upon the day
of their slaughter.

Beings who actually
Seemed to understand what it meant
To be
God damned human.

To talk about them
In the past tense
Is pain enough
I don’t need metaphor.

I am angry today
Because murder has stolen
From our mist another
Diamond soul.

Our world seems to spin
On an axis of pain

Some, try to see further
Than the circumference
beyond the difference
of our scattered ways

why are they repeatedly stolen from the world

add another name to list

Facundo Cabral
Juliano Mer Khamis
John Lennon
Martin Luther King

A list that seems to stretch back
to the beginning
of time
a list that reaches out towards tomorrow
As if death needs the angels for his own arsenal

The streets of Argentina tear
For the troubadour who
Sang for the soul
and is now
abruptly still.

The tongue can be silenced
But the song can not
Be murdered.

Today I also feel as if
I’m not from here of there
Or from anywhere.

© Joshua Baumgarten

Final farewell for Argentine folk singer Cabral
Joshua Baumgarten is an ex-pat New Yorker living in Holland. He organises the Irrational Library evenings - nights of poetry, rock n roll and casual chaos, and performs as a Standup Spoken Word artist.
He says: "Sometimes it is hard to get ones head around the large scale and it is only when it is broken down to the one, the individual do we or at least I feel pulsed. So was it when I heard about the murder of Facundo Cabral. Someone I had never heard of before, but after researching the life of the man and listening the songs and the laughter and cheer from the audience, I realized once again the world has devoured another..."saintly" soul. With no religious overtones."

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunday Review

In the week that News of the World sank in Britain in the mud of allegations of phone-hacking and bribery - as 'exposed' in Chris Lawrence's End Of yesterday - Poetry 24 has been covering our usual range of genuine news from around the world.

Earlier in the week John O'Malley's Bulawayo reminded us that Murdoch's brand of 'evil' is comparatively benign when compared to the likes of Mugabe.

Afghanistan has proved an enduring topic in these pages, and this week's offering was Shashanna - an accomplished sestina by 18-year-old Rosemary J. Collins where the repeated words hammer home the preoccupations of ordinary people living in fear.

Meanwhile, Maureen Daly's Bastille Day reminded us - with a beautiful economy of words - that there are still inequalities, even in the land of 'liberty, equality and fraternity', and David Francis Barker's A Tale of Two Countries was a good-natured poke at a disagreement rather closer to home.

But even Poetry24 succumbed to a bit of celebrity gossip, with Fran Hill's A Beckham by any normal name would smell as suspicious … - we couldn't resist any poem that mentions Piddle-on-the-Hill (although it wouldn't be appropriate in most poems, so don't try this at home!)

Now that News International is on its knees, someone else must pick up the pieces: let's see what poetic scoops, sermons and scandals you can titillate us with in the coming week...

Have a good one


Saturday, 16 July 2011

End Of

It is a media necrosis
no real news
supporting the ailing
bulky mass,
vessels cauterised,
head and mind
last issue been and
they support nothing,
all that was,
was their creation
they gave us a need
for celebrity and sex,
gullible we drank it up,
wanting more
stories garish even perverse
to feed our addiction,
they spread the word,
viral parasitic forms
collated stories,
by any means,
with powers and no
probable cause,
a dictatorship would be
they monitored and probed
delving deeper
than the taxman,
now as we become shocked,
as if dawning to our
we bay for blood
and call for this
ailing media to be
assisted in it's

© Chris Lawrence

Phone hacking: spreading scandal, mounting questions
Chris Lawrence lives with his muse in West Kirby and writes, having been published in many journals internationally and can be found on twitter @clawfish.
Editor's note: News of the World might be no more, but our usual Sunday Review (full of celebrity gossip, violence and voyeursim!) will be here as usual tomorrow

Friday, 15 July 2011

Bastille Day 2011

In the sunlight

on Place de la Bastille

fallen, like a statue

you lie

one full leg

one half stumped

in streeted combats

stretched out

one boot,

an anorak,

unkempt face

asleep in the unexpected

a butterfly cleaves

to your reclining body.

© Maureen Daly

French more anti-capitalist than the Chinese - poll
Maureen's work has appeared in Anthologies and in a publication of the White house poets. She has also been published in a Ledwidge competition.
Editor's note: It was Bastille Day yesterday in France. Maureen says: The dreams of liberty, equality and fraternity have yet to be realised for the majority of the world's population.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Months spent weaving the same rug,
Threads thickening between Shasanna and her mother,
Like twigs in a nest, which her grandmother’s rolling white eye
Never stops watching. Days spent bent over, soak her bones in pain,
Dissolved by the magic smoke.
The dust jumps as the guns

March closer, boom boom boom. The guns
Are coming to steal the rug
That they have so nearly completed! “Or the smoke
That I need more than food,” says Mother.
Shasannah’s calloused ten-year-old hands have started trembling with pain
Without it. It puts the gleam in Grandmother’s blind eye.

Dust swirls around the room and clings to Shasanna’s eye.
She fears being blind when the guns
Smash down the door, spitting shouts and red pain,
Tearing and trampling the brown rug
Generations wove on the gnarled loom. Mother and daughter. Daughter and mother,
Hoping to sell it to buy a spoonful of medicine, not smoke.

Shasanna gulps down a pipeful of sugary poppy-smoke.
Too much in one gasp stings her eyes
And she shrieks. “Ssshhh, your father,” warns her mother.
“Where is your father? We will hunt him down!” bluster the guns.
Shasanna’s lashes flutter like birds’ wings, blurring the rug.

Rather than healing, this sharpens the pain.

Scars from yesterday stretch their claws of pain,
“Shasanna, don’t waste the smoke”
Says her grandmother. After weaving her bones into sixty rugs,
The smoke does not let the light through her left eye,
Or seal her ears from the thunder of guns,
Or give back her name that is buried with her mother.

“Give her the pipe, girl,” snaps Mother,
Envying Shasanna, who is yet to know real pain.
She snatches it, watched by the barrel of the gun
Strapped to the wall, guarding their supply of smoke
From the poor and pain-racked with bony eyes.
It is more important than a loom in weaving a rug.

When the guns breathe smoke on their doorstep,
Grandmother, mother, and daughter will clutch their pain,
And hide their eyes behind the rug’s thick weave.

© Rosemary J. Collins

Sharp rise in Afghan drug addicts, UN report says
Rosemary is 18 and currently waiting for her A-level results, which will, hopefully, allow her to study English at university. Her dream is to have a book published.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Beckham by any normal name would smell as suspicious …

The first one they called Brooklyn.
That’s where they were on vacation when he was conceived, see?
Great idea for others to emulate
As long as they’re not having sex in Upper Langton Matravers or Piddle-on-the-Hill.

The second one they called Romeo
That’s culture, innit, and makes you look well good?
What’s more, it guarantees him a great future
And a series of angry fathers who don’t want him to marry their daughters. Oops.

The third one they called Cruz.
Okay, it’s Spanish, but they’re not Really Madrid people.
And it’s a girl’s name anyway. (Slap in the face for the third boy, eh?)
And only about seventy million trillion others have the same name.

Now they’ve dubbed/daubed their little girl Harper Seven
As you do, as you do, when you’ve lost your book of Baby Names for the Normal.
And little Harper S, with Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz,
Will call their dolls and teddies Jane and Martin and Julie and Bill
And start a club in the shed called 'How to Get Revenge on Your Parents'.

© Fran Hill

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

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


I come across an old dusty tattered
Newspaper heading reads "Nkomo
Burial To Day"

Contemplate the Chronicle
"Father of the Nation "
words fail me ....

eight years on
Ndebele and Shona
starve for want of a reasonable

Leader -instead they are unable
to get rid of crazy Mugabe
no better news since

Josiah passed on
Beautiful land described as
"Bread Basket of Africa"

Zimbabwe your wonderful climate
put under the tyrant's heel
Best white farmers expelled-

Ignorance ,blood lust,tribal domination
Mad Evil anti democratic-Election Rigger
president rules on a whim.....

© John O'Malley

The Last Days of Robert Mugabe
John was born in Limerick. Some years ago, he co-founded Bayside Writers, has contributed to several anthologies and magazines. Last year, Lapwing produced his 'Order of the Wild'.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Tale of Two Countries

He shouts the name of Bannockburn
whereas I go on about Flodden

He praises that film about Wallace
(the one which I thought was rotten).

And while I tell tales of King Harold
he drinks for the Bonnie Prince

We were both losers, I assured him –
though he's not so easy to convince

© David Francis Barker

Nearly half of English oppose Scottish independence - poll
David says, 'I try to paint, write poetry, prose, sometimes music - I guess that makes me an artist.'

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday Editorial

You could have been forgiven for thinking you'd arrived at the wrong blog if you paid us a visit on Monday, as you came face to face with Our Little Plastic Friend, the eponymous character in a short, thought-provoking film by David Green. It was only the second clip we've used, since Poetry24 was launched in February, although we'd love to see more. Clare and I openly welcome YouTube submissions (see guidelines) so don't be shy, send them in.

Sonnet Mondal's sobering Last Wish Declined tackled the controversial issue of the ultimate sanction, capital punishment, while Philip Challinor pointed a finger at the phone hacking scandal, with Inconceivably Innocent.

The mounting horrors faced by those in the drought-stricken horn of Africa, prompted David Francis Barker to pick up his pen. The Picture raises some uncomfortable questions about perspectives in so-called developed countries.

Katherine Lockton was also in full flight with her powerful Lamentations 4, Iraq after its fall, an examination of the legacy of military intervention by the west.

Stafford Ray rounded out the week with one of his snappy limericks, Tantrums in the Cradle of Democracy.

Another week, and another fine mix of poems inspired by stories and events in the news. We've now featured the work of 55 poets. Some previously published, and some newcomers to the medium. Why not claim the spot for number 56?


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tantrums in the Cradle of Democracy

Germans are making the loans
and bankers are hot on their phones.
The message they’re sending
Is ‘Bankruptcies pending
and ‘ware of mad Greeks bearing stones!’

© Stafford Ray

In pictures: Greece votes amid riots
Writer of musical plays and reading resources for schools. Wannbe novelist, one completed, two more on the way. Poetry happens when moved, limericks when amused (interchangeable).

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Picture

A TV picture shows there's not a leaf on the tree,
with only tears falling as drops on the land.
This merciless world is the giver and the taker,
above all life, but do we ever understand?

Each day is a struggle, whoever we are;
to find a job, sometimes to park your car!
But it all pales to nothing if the rains don't come.
The trivial is essential under the searing sun.

The girl's sunken eyes reach us deep inside,
the deepest language we all comprehend;
where the rivers of belief dry up like the soil,
to wither the cause of conflict – to make war end.

© David Francis Barker

Somalia Islamists lift aid ban to help drought victims
David says, 'I try to paint, write poetry, prose, sometimes music - I guess that makes me an artist.'

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Inconceivably Innocent

"Go, hack a phone!" I never said it,
And to conceive me with such guilt
May cause a nasty bit of wilt
In credulous employees' credit.

The right-hand path: I'll always tread it.
The red-tops' red-top stunna, me!
The Murdochs' holy company:
I'll lead it as I've always led it.

You see, I was just there to edit.
The Guardian may lead the fools on -
I'm innocent as Andy Coulson!
News of the World? I hardly read it.

© Philip Challinor

Rebekah Brooks: 'It's inconceivable I knew of Milly Dowler phone hacking'
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.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Last Wish Declined

Trials after trials; my begging lips started to give up
and then spoke the reticent judge-
“Hang till death”
Similar footsteps were heavy that day
marching onto my thin nerves where
memories have set up a light nest;
I was wrong; my thoughts of it to be undying
were crushed. The nest was thrown off and
the eggs about to burst open were carried
away by ravenous vultures.

A month was the time,
in which I was allowed to be a man
fit to be hung in the square of law;
a man who can feel pain rather than
one of whom pain is ashamed of.
A book, I still call nameless was all I took
as medicine; pages after pages the holiness
of it cured my sores red in deliberations
of the world outside the prison and future.

The clock in the central hall that used to sound
as the devil’s treads, now seem to be useful
hours that smile with the era of truth
approaching me with its unlikelihood.

One more day to go and the last page
of the book had, “seven ways to go to heaven”.
I had restored my greed of learning till the last day
to grasp the ideas just before falling free
into the ocean of kismet.

Strong arms pulled me out and the walls
wailed, feeling my nonexistence.
My last wish was torn to pieces without any grounds
known to me or perhaps to the ones who did it.
Now, I am walking with obscurity holding onto
some pages which said,
“Truth prevails on death. Neither before nor after.”

© Sonnet Mondal

Dhananjoy Chatterjee Hanged In Kolkata Jail

After Ahmned, Hangman Crunch
Sonnet Mondal, author of six poetry books, pioneered the 21 line fusion sonnet form. He has received a number of awards, including the Azsacra International Poetry award in 2011.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Our Little Plastic Friend

© David Green

Nearly 1 in 10 fish sampled contain plastic debris
David Green is a Graphic Designer and 3D Animator who, through some of his work, reveals the poet within. See more of David's work at his website.
Editor's note: Clare and I would love to receive your YouTube uploads, of topical or news-related poetry. So, if you have a video or audio clip, that fits within our criteria, do send us the link.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunday editorial

After all the fun and games with nursery rhymes last week, this week has been more sobering here at Poetry 24.

From long-distant tragedies like Helena Nolan's deep (in all senses!) and evocative Shipwreck Grave which left us with a lingering threat, to the more immediate personal traumas of Rachel North's haunting When she went missing and Michael Holloway's much angrier Mother of a Soldier.

Poetry often works best when it focusses on the detail, makes the big issues personal and hints at their full breadth by showing how they affect the individual.

So hats off to Jess Green whose voice is powerful enough to take on the threat of sweeping changes threatened in arts and education: in Close the libraries she crafts an anthem for all those who oppose them. David Francis Barker, too, took on the futility of every military campaign that has marched into Afghanistan in Lesson One - Afghanistan.

I was horrified at the story behind Hamish Mack's simple-but-effective Man Trouble - about the NZ union boss who 'uncluttered by thought' believes women to be 'less productive' than men.

Although, to be fair, I have been less productive than Martin this week in my general editorial duties, due to internet connection problems. Thanks Martin!

And thank you all for your support, comments and poems - do please keep them coming!


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mother of Soldier

Mother who sweeps the floor each morning alone
Who crotchets together her failing mind that keeps her
Sleepless each night, and Mother who actually cannot believe
Any more in a God who killed her son
Wrapped up in camouflage and black boots put on his feet
By the hands of his dead comrades;

Mother of soldier, who died here too,
In a war of opinion that sacrifices you,
Mother your son is dead, taken away fighting,
Killing and real bullets tearing a hole in the heart of Mother;

Mother who weeps with a cancerous moan
Distracted by war and the governing bodies,
Killed and tortured by the bloody hands of your owners,
Who treat you like a dog, Mother, like a dog
And now, less photogenic sunsets with his face,
Lifeless in a casket now burning in the crematorium of

Your motionless son; unable to love or to care,
Mother, your country has killed him,
Fearless frightened burning with fury,
While your peers decide what to wear;

Mother hates the army, hatred of difference and death,
Hatred of feeling of loss and hate,
Hatred of disgusting vulgar green and black,
Hatred of Jack and his loyalty,
Hatred of country and honour,
Hatred of mother and son in crowds and crowds of soldiers.

© Michael Holloway

Soldier Gareth Bellingham's grieving mother 'hates army'
Michael Holloway was born in Liverpool in 1985. He studied English Literature and Creative Writing at UCLan and is currently studying a Masters in Writing at LJMU.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Close the libraries

stop the stories being told
take away their pages
and let them read Kindles.
But Jeremy Hunt quakes in the knowledge
that so much art is born out of a recession.
so many garrets warmed by the friction
of lead on paper
and acrylic on wood.
so many frustrated hands
don’t hold 9k fees
but belong to minds
that burn with inspiration.
Even if they’re not at your job centres
filling in your forms
there’s just not enough time
when even the cost of pen ink is soaring
and the theatre on the corner just lost its funding
and the pub that runs the open mic night just ran dry.
Every school’s classed as independent.
someone’s got to fill the void
when Michael Gove’s rewriting the National Curriculum,
swapping Drama classes for Classical Greek
and Art for Health and Social Care.
Smuggle scripts through underground caves
sell Shakespeare on the black market
override the airways
with Billy Bragg and Bob Dylan
just don’t let Cameron’s kids turn to stone.

© Jess Green

Gove takes control of the curriculum

Jess Green is a 22 year old poet facing full time unemployment but performing on every stage possible, held back only by bus fare.