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.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

To Michael Lyons

People like yourself, who cannot kill,
because their conscience tells them it is wrong
are much braver than those so-called heroes
immortalised in verse and song,
who follow orders, whatever they may be.
They are the sons of Horace, and as Owen said
adhere to that old lie: “Pro patria mori”
“and close the wall up with our English dead!”
And other dead who never read the bard
or even Tennyson, but battled onward,
“into the valley of death” all learn the lie
their governments pass on, as they lay to die.
It’s different now, with countless miles of no-fly zones
and remote bombing from our unmanned drones.
You didn’t need to make the stance you did
but I’m glad you did, I’m glad you did, so glad you did.
You’re  in good company, Lawrence Binyon,
was a medic too, and apparently the son
of a Quaker family opposed to war as a salvation
who gave us thoughts on war for every nation:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

© John Goss

Navy Afghan war objector Michael Lyons detained 
You can explore John's talents at SOUNDCLOUD

Friday, 21 October 2011

Until That Moment

A moment’s inattention was all it took.
The mother, engaged in conversation,
at the market stall.

The small child, seeing the world beyond
through the open door,
ventured out on still-ungainly legs,
smiling and trusting.

Until that moment she knew only love;
her every need met.
Now, she wandered from safety, and became
just another obstacle on a busy road.

A moment’s inattention was all it took.
The driver, engaged in conversation,
on his mobile phone.

The small child, seeing the heavy truck
on the market street,
toddled forward with still-innocent trust,
laughing and pointing.

Until that moment she knew only happiness;
her every question answered.
Now, she lay crushed and broken, and became
just another pile of rubbish on a busy road.

A moment’s attention was all that was needed.
People engaged in conversation,
as they looked away.

The small child smashed by a second truck
the motorcyclist
circled round the bloody mess,
uncaring and unfeeling.

Until that moment they had emotions;
their every human instinct was to care.
Now they witnessed callous indifference and became
just casual observers on a street of shame.

A moment’s attention was all that was needed.
A rubbish collector, diverted from her task,
tried to make sense of what she saw.

Until this moment she was a shadow;
her every movement unnoticed.
Now, she moved the damaged child from harm’s way and became
a ray of hope in a shameful world.

© Marilyn Brindley

Chinese toddler run over twice after being left on street
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, 20 October 2011

The Protection Racket

You cannot simply trust in Nanny State
To find your children when they go astray.
We can't just leave our tax cuts to their fate:
Let business help, while we get out the way.

So you have lost your child? Get on your bike.
This culture of dependency must stop.
If you think you can profit by a tyke,
Pick up a new one at your local shop.

© Philip Challinor

Charities accuse ministers of breaking pledges on missing children
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.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Zoo Game

(To the tune of The Teddy Bear's Picnic)

If you go down to the woods today
In Zanesville, there's a surprise.
If you go down in the woods today,
You'd better go with supplies!

For every bear and wolf and big cat
Is hiding there, and leaving their scat.
Today's the day the Sheriff is going to shoot them.

Shooting time in Ohio,
They didn't set the laws preventing disasters of this kind.
Now they have to track them down,
To try and catch those cats and wolves they find.
See the panic in their eyes,
They wish they had been wise
And stopped this before the scare!
The keeper's dead, the cages are empty
Of every animal,
And now they're hunting in open air!

If you go out in the woods today,
Watch out for the predators;
It's chilly out in the woods today,
But these guys are dressed in furs.
For every bear and wolf and big cat,
Will stalk you for a meal, not a chat.
Today's the day the Sheriff will have to shoot them.

Every tiger and lion that's loose
Is sure to be nabbed today.
Lots of rifles and  bullets are packed,
So nobody gets away.

The schools are closed, the doors have been locked;
There will be blood, so don't you be shocked.
Today's the day the Sheriff is going to shoot them.

Shooting time in Ohio,
They didn't set the laws preventing disasters of this kind.
Now they have to track them down,
To try and catch those cats and wolves they find.
See the panic in their eyes,
They wish they had been wise,
And stopped this before the scare!
The keeper's dead, the cages are empty
Of every animal,
And now they're hunting in open air!

© Kat Mortensen

Three Animals Still Running Free in Zanesville, Ohio: Town Under Lockdown
Read Kat Mortensen at Kat Mortensen Poetry

Kentucky Square

Imagine Kentucky moving to Yemen
the chicken fixing to fit into a square
filled with cascading bullets, flying feathers,
burkhas bandaged over body holes, where

frightened men write names on their chests
remembering birds banded before flight, finders
to call across seas for a voice, un-handcuffed
unburied in a fresh mound of desert sand.

Mothers, cousins, uncles identify a teen
who yesterday ran on two legs before
soldiers struck from a roof above the square,
where chickens were once sold on sticks

with onions, a bed of rice, bloodless, spicy,
crispy, square chunks. But now kids, men
and women absorb bullets, their bones splinter,
call phones ring, the air crackles, bodies do not answer.

© Lavinia Kumar

Massacre in 'Kentucky Square'
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, 18 October 2011

Lines Composed in Journal after Occupy Kalamazoo Protest

Michigan marches.
Passersby multiply,
Children of the resolution.
Second class.
Uninstall the Wall.
Wail. Rail.
Stand. Demand.
Mill. Fill.
Venerate. Demonstrate.
Bob Dylan in the wind.
Poets here and now.
The revolution is live.
I am the 99%
In solidarity.
In American autumn.

© James Schwartz

Occupy Kalamazoo draws large, peaceful crowd in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

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.

Editor's note: Pictured above is the poet, James Schwartz taking part in the protest - the first time we've had a pic of the poet in the action... maybe this will start something!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Respectable receptacle

I was a bin.  Yes, just a bin,
ignored by all who passed,
but one man – Oliver Letwin –
has brought me fame at last.

My picture has been taken
and I’m in the national news.
No longer am I just a bin
For packets and dog poos.

For Oliver, he shared with me,
His letters day by day.
Now the letters aren’t the only
things which he has thrown away.

‘Cause he thinks he’s kept his dignity
and people still respect him.
While I, though just a humble bin,

© Fran Hill

Oliver Letwin apologises for dumping papers in park bin
Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday Review

Poetry24 has been publishing news-related poems for exactly 8 months, today. During this time, we have hardly missed a day thanks to the 78 poets, from around the globe, who have featured here at some point or other.

In recent weeks, the news stories have been relentless. Political scandals, financial crises, climatic catastrophes, and social upheaval. However, our steady flow of submissions has dried to a level that has prompted Clare and me to consider the future of the blog. It's a fun project that we both believe in and we will remain committed to it for as long as we are receiving quality submissions for publication.

We have decided to continue for the time being, in the hope that more material will come in, not in one gigantic flood, but on the back of news stories as they break. The poetry should, ideally, keep pace with what's happening in the world around us.

Poetry24 is included in web-listings with Duotrope and Mslexia. Writers News ran a piece about us in July, and we have received favourable reviews online. And this month, we are flagged up as 'one to watch' in The Gloss magazine, supplement of the Irish Times.

We have gained some ground in a relatively short space of time, and we could go much further, developing into a recognised showcase for poets out 'there', who have something to say about what is happening in the world, to the world.

I leave you with Anthony Baverstock's Bugle Call, hoping it's heard far and wide.

The Bugle Call

Have you read the news today?
The poetry has gone away,
disappearing Thursday morn
around about the crack of dawn.

When it wasn't back at lunch,
I got a quite disturbing hunch . . .
Maybe it had up and died?
I felt a twinge of loss inside.

Surely, though, we still have time;
to let it die would be a crime.
Is there nothing we can do
to help the ailing patient through?

"Yes!" I cry. "The weekend's here,
and plain as day our mission's clear:
time to heed the bugle call
and write a poem, one and all!"

Yes, the veins will course again
with ink from ev'ry poet's pen;
whence the world will look and see
the heart of our community!

© Anthony Baverstock

Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Farewell then, Doctor Fox

Farewell then, Doctor Fox! That cunning name
No more shall grace the roster of Dave's Boys
He and his other chubby, cuddly toys
Will doubtless find their lives not quite the same;
For now in Cabinet they'll no more see
That face, that purple rubber pride and prize,
Those jowls a-dangle under piss-hole eyes
Which charmed and held the heart of Werrity.

And yet, this resignation makes you free
To fantasise of flogging feral yobs
And blather of war-games that are not Brit;
I wonder how poor Dave concealed his glee
At hearing your fool friends shoot off their gobs,
And losing such a bumbling little twit.

© Philip Challinor

Liam Fox resigns
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.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Babies Understand Fairness

Babies just over a year old are capable of basic altruism,
or trying to help others even at their own expense.
Fairness and altruism are linked.

Being able to sense that a situation is unequal
made babies more willing to share their favourite toys.
A researcher unevenly distributed food between two people,
followed by food shared equally.

Babies pay greater attention
when something surprises them.
They spent more time looking at the screen
if one recipient had been given more food than the other.

The infants expected an equal and fair distribution of food,
and were surprised to see one person
given more crackers or milk than the other.

Babies were given two toys.
Two thirds of the infants offered to share.

Those who offered up their preferred toy
had spent more time looking at the unfair distribution of food,
those who shared their least preferred toy
had paid more attention when food was divided fairly.

The altruistic sharers had been sensitive
to the unfairness of the food video,
while the selfish sharers
showed almost the opposite effect.

© Antonia Hart

Babies understand fairness by 15 months
Editor's note: This is a found poem. To read more about the form, click HERE
Antonia Hart is a freelance journalist. She blogs at and at The Anti-Room. She lives in Dublin.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Planning Retrospect

I find it hard to understand
Why England’s green and pleasant land,
Once preserved in its wondrous splendour
Until the bill that came to end the
Protection against urban sprawl,
Was passed with the
“Presumption for development,”
Under the assumption
That we the public
Would not fight it at all.

And most of us didn’t.

Our land is now one huge grey city
Full of grey people in grey boxes
Side by side, back to back
Front to front.  The pride
Once held for our green haven
Has now turned to pity,
Pity for the death of countryside.

© 'Anna'

Bill Bryson warns the Coalition against turning England into a suburban nation 
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, 10 October 2011

Breaking News!

Good News! Tackling
the Broken Society and moral collapse
is now top of David Cameron’s agenda.
He has declared war on the gangs
he says are ‘responsible for the recent riots’,
gangs that Kenneth Baker claims
to be run by a feral criminal underclass.

Expect them soon to make another declaration:
war on the feral criminal overclass
who kicked off the whole demolition process:
crippling the economy, decimating public services,
breaking the rules of probity and decency,
sending oodles of unearned moolah to offshore havens,
well before the underclasses took to the streets.

Any day now there will be dawn police raids
on merchant bankers, MPs,
the Murdoch clan and a rash of tax evaders,
followed by their extraordinary rendition
to Iraq, where they will be questioned
by the Security Forces, secure in the promise
they will not be subjected to torture of any kind.

So the rest of us may sleep easy in our beds, knowing
our society is being mended from the top down
in a decent sort of way by those
who are already a hairsbreadth from winning
the other wars they have less recently declared:
on corruption; on drugs; on terrorism.
Good news indeed!

© Colin Watts

Top Tories go on the attack against rioters
Colin Watts is author of four collections of poems. He works in Adult Learning and is not a millionaire.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sunday Review

Anyone who says poetry isn't a matter of life and death hasn't been reading Poetry24!
We highlighted National Poetry Day here in the UK with Jim Bennett's 'the protester' - which reminded us that poets living in repressive regimes (in this case Ayat al-Ghormezi in Bahrain) are in danger of their lives. Hopefully another new contributer, Zimbabwean Ross Cooper, need fear no such persecution 'In the Big City' in his new home.
And while the Human Rights Act was discussed in Britain in terms of a pet cat - see Philip Challinor's 'Party Colours' limerick - mounting tensions in the West Bank were disturbingly captured in Lavinia Kumar's 'New Women' fighting for the right to live their lives and keep their land and homes in Palestine.
Sometimes the simplest of scenes - in this case Katherine Lockton's 'The Grave Digger' hide visceral truths. This evocative poem links to a harrowing tale of the nameless, faceless dead in Kashmir.
But it was the death of a man with a familiar face and name that brought us the week's most uplifting poem: Helena Nolan's 'Instructions for Use' beautifully captures the essence of Steve Jobs' inspirational Stanford address (watch it on YouTube here). I'm sure you'll join Martin and I in congratulating Helena on being the winner of this year's prestigious Patrick Kavanagh Award.
Please keep sending your poems - on the 'terrible inconsistencies' Jobs spoke about perhaps? or whatever else strikes you in the news wherever you live.
Have a good week

Friday, 7 October 2011

Instructions for use

im Steve Jobs and inspired by his Stanford address on life and death

Fall in love with the world

Love it as one you are about to leave

Love all the terrible inconsistencies

Forgive the inconstancy

We are born naked

So much of life is

The clothing we put on

Nothing stays with us

Embrace change, the seasons are

The days saying goodbye to us

Time is farewell

Acknowledge it

There is still room to live

In the wide air

Near the clear water

On the waiting earth

Rise today as your own dawn

Be your own light

Never try to be normal

It will rob you of the right to be


©  Helena Nolan

Steve Jobs Apple 'visionary' dies aged 56
Editor's note: View the 2005 Stanford Commencement Address here
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.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

the protester

whenever there is a protest

he will be there with a placard

it doesn’t matter what the protest is about

the words are always red on a white background

a picture of a quill

it started out years ago saying things like

“ban the bomb – legalise poetry”

“equality for women workers – legalise poetry”

“end apartheid – legalise poetry”

a little while ago it was

“say no to war – legalise poetry”

and recently in London

“free education – legalise poetry”

he argued that poetry was sort of illegal

people got very upset at

aiding and abetting distorted syntax

GBH on grammar

and they talk about things like

prose cut up into short lines

punctuation crimes against humanity

he wanted to know what they were frightened of

was it poetry that could be read and understood

by everyone

and maybe people having fun with it?

when he started out protesting

it was to have been “legalise pot”

but because he felt himself to be

a subversive

he added a few letters

and liked it so much he kept at

his one man campaign

he thought he might try taking it

to Bahrain

see how it went down there

he even started to prepare a placard

“free Ayat al-Ghormezi - legalise poetry”

for the first time

it seemed appropriate

© Jim Bennett

BBC World Service interview with Ayat al Ghormezi
Ayat al-Ghormezi blogs HERE.
Author of 67 books and proprietor of Poetry Kit. Jim tours throughout the year giving reading and performances of his poetry and songs.

Editor's note: Today is National Poetry Day in the UK

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Party Colours

Our Cat Lady, dear Tessie May
Has made a most charming display:
Our old Nasty thing
Has been in since the spring,
And now Stupid has come out to play!

© Philip Challinor

Clarke and May clash over Human Rights Act story
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, 4 October 2011

New Women

In a city named Friend by two peoples,
she crawls under barbed wire held up
by one soldier, two of the four men carrying
long guns in their hands, one with a finger
on the trigger.  She is wearing yellow capri
pants and a white T-shirt, on the way to buy
sugar just down the street from her home,
and about half way to her grandmother. 
She carries no bag on this sunny day,
her money in her pocket.

In the hills three women stand by a road,
one with a baby in a carriage, another with
a preschooler.  They shoot with high-powered
rifles and pistols. They wear sandals and capris
as they practice killing fellow men and women,
families who live in the village, and watch
as soldiers fire teargas and bullets.  Goats, sheep,
olive trees, people have lived on these hills
for hundreds of years, but fire is coming,
and bullets come in many sizes.

Death in capris – yellow, khaki, certainly red –
toes still in sandals.  Weeds will grow.

© Lavinia Kumar

While the diplomats haggle, deadly tensions are mounting in the nascent Palestine
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, 3 October 2011

A Big City

I came to London to see the world.
And what did I see?
I saw the me!
Running about like a bug;
No time for a mug.
Eat my crisps in pain;
I don't know why I'm trying again!
Let me lean on this wall, because, damn, I'm very tall!
My back is so sore, maybe because I'm poor.
Spent a fortune on a house, makes me feel a mere mouse!

Since then.
I've time for two mugs,
No longer feel like a bug!
Can eat my crisps without pain;
No need to try again!
Poverty is no more;
Cause I can go to the store.
Do not need a wall; I've come to the mall,
By car, no fuss, don't need the bus!

© Dr Ross Cooper

Zimbabwean fronts Middlesbrough 'city' bid
Ross grew up in Zimbabwe until 2001 before moving to the UK, to work as a senior lecturer. Ross likes writing books and poetry, and reading African literature.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sunday Review

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before. 
Audre Lorde

Of course, you can find a quote to suit most perspectives, but this one resonated with me as I reflected on what we've published this week at Poetry24. Stafford Ray's Yes We Can got us underway, urging a purposeful dialogue between Palestine and Israel, and we were pleased to welcome Natalie Moores debut poem, Glass, a head-spinning illustration of how female entrepreneurship continues to be stifled in the world of business. The theme of women attaining more prominence in the running of things was also picked up by Lavinia Kumar. Women, Libya considers the prospects for those women who have played their part in the conflict and, now have hopes for key roles in the rebuilding of their country.

Still in Libya, Philip Challinor's pithy Why We Fight notes the UK foot in the door, as bids are put forward for the contracts necessary to repair the damage done.

Then, back in the UK, Heather Wastie offered us Rising to the Challenge, after reading about a man who occupied a 100 year old beech tree in an effort to save it from being felled.

And, only on an October day when the temperature rose to 29.4C (84.9F), could we publish Anthony Baverstock's A Capitalist Christmas Song. So, if you'll all put your ice-creams down for a second and raise your voices...

Hail! The Annual bourgeois  spendfest!
-ching-a-ching-a-ching, the cash tills ring-...

Have great week, and a Happy Chr... Oops, got a bit carried away there!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A Capitalist Christmas Song

Author's note: Sung, of course, to the tune of ‘Deck the Halls . . .’

Hail! The annual bourgeois spendfest!
– ching-a-ching-a-ching, the cash tills ring –
Time to bloat your children’s toy chest!
– ching-a-ching-a-ching, the cash tills sing –

Hark! You’ll hear now
Christmas ditties;
– jing-a-ling, have a sing, while you shop –
In the mood for
yuletide pretties?
– jing-a-ling-a-ling, so buy the lot –

Hit the mall and grab a trolley!
– ching-a-ching-a-ching, you’re welcome in –
Tis the time to spend your lolly!
– ching-a-ching-a-ching, see Santa grin –

A.T.M. won’t
give more cash out?
– boo-hoo-hoo! What to do? Tell you what . . . –
Punch your pin and
max your card out!
– ching-a-ching-a-ching, we’ll take the lot –

Hear the Sally Army playing.
– boom-de-rum-te-bum, de-dum-crash-tum! –
“Pennies for the poor,” they’re saying.
– boom-a-bang-a-thrum, de-too-tle-tum! –

Salve your conscience
with some copper
– rat-a-tat, look at that, fifty p! –
But spend your pounds in here, dear shopper!
Thank God we’re free!

© Anthony Baverstock

Holidays Arrive Early With The "Christmas ...
Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.