Saturday, 30 June 2012

Fly Fishing

Modern-day spies
are breeding like flies,
droning and groaning
they blacken the skies.

A flotilla in flight,
they spy day and night,
a thoroughly shocking
and awesome sight.

We’ve got our spies,
if you fasten your flies
beware of reprisals
if anyone ties

mosquitoes or gnats
or any such twats,
they are all going to feel
the weight of our swats.

We’re not on our own
we’ll spray any drone
that’s thinking of entering
our no-fly zone.

© John Goss

US military surveillance future: Drones now come in swarms?

John Goss is decoding the poetry of George Ivanov, a Russian émigré poet of the Silver Age. His great prose-poem, Распад атома (1938), was allegorical and gave clues to how the Australian language works.

Friday, 29 June 2012

In the Zoo

Look, here to our right is the human,
A beast most aggressive and weird.
The male is called “man,” female “woman.”
They once were respected and feared.

They built all the towns and the cities,
With factories, houses and schools.
They sat on a bunch of committees
And worked with a number of tools.

They often showed signs of aggression
And constantly seemed to wage war.
They suffered from plague and depression,
From ignorance, greed and much more.

The planet they treated quite badly:
Polluted the earth and the sky,
Ignored all the evidence, sadly,
And kissed preservation good-bye.

And that’s when we monkeys decided
That surely enough was enough.
Those humans had been so misguided.
Now we must rebel and be tough.

We started with organized mugging,
And biting, and chasing them all,
By stealing, and teasing, and bugging.
The beast felt its confidence fall.

It didn’t take long to defeat it.
The creature fled into its house.
Our regiment utterly beat it.
The beast was entrapped as a mouse.

Then most of the humans expired.
They died from pollution and flu.
Our new constitution required
We keep a few scores in the zoo.

They serve as a sorry reminder
Of fools, who so horribly failed.
How fortunate that a much kinder,
Responsible creature prevailed.

© Vala Hafstad

Indians Feed the Monkeys, Which Bite the Hand

Vala Hafstad lives in Minnesota. She writes humorous poems for children and, occasionally, their parents.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fiddlers Three

Says Cameron: Gosh, we're reforming the Lords!
It won't take much doing, now will it?
We'll give it ten days as convenience affords,
And hopefully Labour will kill it.

Says Miliband: Labour believes in reform,
And will by convenience abide.
We're going to kick up a bit of a storm;
And then, if it suits, we'll subside.

Says Clegg: Labour's guarding its place in the sun;
Its foul machinations disgust me.
But - after all I and the Tories have done -
Well, dash it all, why don't you trust me?

© Philip Challinor

Cabinet endorses Lords reform bill with warning to potential rebels

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

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Higgs Moment

Not a thought nor an ought in my mind.
This is the moment Satan cannot find.
Blake’s prophetic admonition;
Faust’s wish for the moment to last.
Reading is telescope, microscope, looking glass.
I can see pointlessness waver and gain mass.
Words bind me to this space and past.
The future will erase us all,
replacing with unknown scrawl,
fill the vacuum Nature so detests
that we are forbidden,
though driven to our rests –
this moment, the glimpse of that prophecy,
welcoming embrace of that destiny.

© L S Bassen

New Data on Elusive Particle Shrouded in Secrecy

L.S. Bassen won the 2009 APP Drama Prize & a Mary Roberts Rinehart Fellowship; 2011; She is a Book Reviewer for, the, and press1, and has been a finalist for Flannery O’Connor Award.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

To the Weather Gods

Now I know in days gone by there were festivals of pop
Mainly one on th' Isle o Wight three days music non stop
Then Reading came, and followed by Leeds.
The point is you God's of precipitation, you knew
That a drop or two would not dampen our enthusiasm
Or stop our earthly din
Nor did you stop raining on our parade of  intense music
Or should that be in tents (lol)
But as we increased the number of our music fests
Leaving not one weekend really free from play
We did not expect you to do the same with rain.
You jest with our politicians too when they
Appoint a minister for drought or
Locally proclaim a hosepipe ban
Are you havin a larf!
Can we agree to reduce our festivals
Close Wimbledon, stop harvests,
And dare we say postpone Olympic feats.
I think not. We are at your mercy
You Cumulo, you Nimbus, Pack it in
Or we'll start burning that black stuff and then
You see how hot and acidic our anger burns!

© Mike Richardson

Rain causes gridlock at Isle of Wight festival

Mike lived in Pembrokeshire. After University in West Wales, he left for City Life. He still hankers after the country that has inspired his writing.

Monday, 25 June 2012

New/Old Egypt

Lady Justice holds the balance
of truth and fairness
Muslim to military

in blind hope the everyday
men and women
from Tahir Square

will not have new memories
of being shot raped
stoned to death

will not allow inexperience
of leadership
to end their quest

for a spring to democracy
an equal voice
a free breath

as new guns hit parlor TVs –
the constitution
gone, the last test.

© Lavinia Kumar

Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi declared Egypt president

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday Review

If you're looking for other great sites that cover poetry, fiction and the writing life, check out the Third Sunday Blog Carnival. They kindly gave us a mention last week and there's plenty of great recommendations of other sites to visit for your literary needs.

This week was quite esoteric for Poetry24. Perhaps it was the slow news week that had our contributors leaning toward the ephemeral?

Or maybe, like Lavinia Kumar in Two Thousand and Twelve, they felt gagged by the establishment? Australian Poet, Stafford Ray, mused in Scott’s Antarctic Expedition Learns from Nature about the behavioural rules the establishment imposes on the world, even to the point of being shocked by penguins with 'no morals'!

Or maybe we need some kind of message from 'above' - and we had a fine one from John Saunders. His angel Messenger is at the end of a mobile phone.

Or maybe it's just a funny time of year? David J Costello imagines a world turning like Clockwork, where the sun 'unclicked a Neolithic lock / Tripping its working' and the twin seasons 'dint and dunt against you / Like a wasp / At a window / Dancing with itself.'

Still on the subject of time, Abigail Wyatt cautions against turning the clocks back to the long gone O-levels and CSEs of the past. She's not alone in thinking it would be A Horrific Mistake. 

We rounded out the week with a poem by newcomer, AiJ. G v G recognises the parallels in financial, and footballing Euro crises between Greece and Germany.

I'll leave you with a short piece by Marcus Colquhoun.

Have a good week.

Martin (and Clare).

Julian Assange seeks asylum

I've just been searching wiki leaks
For news about the plight of Greece
Finding nothing at the time
I sought instead some clever rhyme or or stanza
About the plight of Abu Hamza
And if the government's still thwarted
Getting him to be deported
Sticking with asylum seekers
I hash tagged recent poems by tweeters
If there is any way to veto
Assange's plot to flee to Quito

© Marcus Colquhoun

Wikileaks' Julian Assange seeks asylum in Ecuador embassy

Marcus Colquhoun writes poetry, is a member of the Ward9Writers group (Co.Mayo, Ireland) and intends to become a regular contributor.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

G v G

A euro sensation,
with the possibility of a return
to a real dra(k)ma kicking off.

It’s all down to the work ethic
and maybe being, side lined,
thrown out, thrown in,
scored down, up.

They were never going
to give them an easy passage.
It might have only needed
the right political substitution.
The will of the people
could still carry it through,
to the final conclusion,
with penalties.

What a game.

© AiJ

Germany comfortably see off Greece in Gdansk

AiJ lives and writes in the beautiful Cheshire countyside. Having read at venues across the North West over the past two years, AiJ is now attempting to get work published

Friday, 22 June 2012

‘A Horrific Mistake’

I remember the days
of the old CSE
and classrooms with
not enough chairs.
Each class had a Jason,
a Kerry, a Kyle:
you could see
their crushed hopes
and inhale their despair.

I remember the hours
with Lennie and George,
and Curly and Candy and Slim.
The road to Salinas
was never so long,
nor the outcomes
so sure or so grim.

In static rows
with heads like sieves,
they would sit at our behest
while we sloshed
in the gravy, lumps and all;
and, frankly,
just hoped for the best.

 It’s true now and then
they’d grow restless;
when they’d lift up
their voices as one;
but, mostly, they did
what we told them to do.
You might say
that we loaded
the gun.

© Abigail Wyatt

Return Of O-levels As GCSEs 'Face Axe'

Abigail is one of the three founding members of the Red River Poets. The latter will be appearing at the Heartlands Project in Cornwall, 29th September, as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


You were expected.

At *Maeshowe in Midwinter
You unclicked a Neolithic lock
Tripping its workings

For six months the earth relaxed
Unwinding Winter into Spring
Slacking Spring into Summer

And now you’re back
Frantic for that lock
Your golden clock ticking
As you fumble for
The keyhole
That ancient fissure
In the rock face

But Orkney keeps its secrets safe
Only once a year
Will its aperture appear

Soon Winter will
Trap your twin
To dint and dunt against you
Like a wasp
At a window
Dancing with itself

© David J. Costello

* Maeshowe is an ancient burial chamber in Orkney. Only at the Winter Solstice, and only for a few minutes, the first rays of the sun illuminate the central chamber due to the alignment of the passageway leading to it. The chamber is believed to have been constructed around 2,800 BC.

Summer Solstice

David J. Costello lives in Wallasey, Merseyside, and is co-organiser of local poetry venues “Bards of New Brighton” and “Liver Bards” . David has been widely published and won the 2011 Welsh Poetry Competition.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I am cherubim, seraphim –
a heavenly chariot,
will answer your prayer.

I am art nouveau
in a gothic ensemble,
a concrete angel
with mobile phone.

Sometimes I am lonely
on my stone pedestal
amid a phalanx of statues,
am relieved when it rings;

press one for history,
two to learn about Christianity,
three to speak to God.

© John Saunders

A Dutch Angel’s Cellphone Number Is in Demand

John's first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. He is one of three featured poets in Measuring,  Emerging Writers, published by Dedalus Press in May 2012.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Scott’s Antarctic Expedition Learns from nature

In far away Antarctica
George Levick wrote in Greek
“Male penguins there are hooligans
No morals, so to speak”.

“They go around that frozen waste,
Those base bi-sexual lads,
And stick it into anything!
Alive or dead, the cads!”

And so Scott’s men decided they
Would stay until next season
To give them time to teach those penguins
Moral sense and reason.

Alas, a hundred years has passed
And none has been converted
In fact it seems, the men who stayed
Became themselves ‘perverted’.

For look around and you will see
Behaviour that they learned
Has now become so commonplace
It is no longer spurned.

Homosexuals walking free-
Being gay’s an institution,
And penguins of Antarctica
Are safe from retribution.

© Stafford Ray

Author's note: The story of Levick’s sensitivities seemed to fit the general theme of natural acts being judged by those who behave in ways that are different from theirs, but make it their business to punish those who are different.

Gay, straight or necrophiliac, a penguin isn't a human being

Stafford is the 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).

Monday, 18 June 2012

Two Thousand and Twelve

French letter

are over

in Michigan
and House

where vaginas
are in

women’s speech
blackened out

© Lavinia Kumar

As Punishment For Opposing Anti-Abortion Bill, Male Michigan House Leader Bans Two Female Reps From Speaking

Michigan Rep. Lisa Lyons calls Sen. Gretchen Whitmer 'a liar'

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sunday Review


Are you, like one contributor this week, worried our editorial process may delay publication?  It's true that sometimes a poem passes its sell-by date while it's in our 'possibles' pile, but in the last year we published:
  • 31 of your poems on the day you sent them
  • more than 90 the day after submission 
  • another 90 within two days of submission
We don't publish poems in the order they arrive, but aim to publish the best and most topical we have on the day.  Of course there are peaks and troughs in submissions, and some can wait when others can't.

Our advice is: send us your poems - sometimes we will publish straight away. We'd love to have the chance to consider your work - and if you feel the moment is slipping by, just let us know if you're going to publish them elsewhere!


Poetry was front page news in the UK recently. When the Minister for Education Michael Gove said children should start learning poetry at the age of five. Peter Flint waxes lyrical on the subject in Education Goves From Bard to Verse  which includes some very funny references to poems of old: You will repeat a Noddy, see!

So, keeping in the spirit:

If you can keep your head when those about ya
Are losing their place in the Euro Cup
And wake in Europe, the Morning After
Like Maurice Devitt, without giving up.
If you can wait and not cause too much bother
Before the camera that never lies,
Held in the spooky arms of Ghostly Mother
Helena Nolan shows us from two eyes.

If you meet Church and State like Abi Wyatt
And treat those Two Pillars mostly the same;
If, like Lavinia K, you can't keep quiet
On Squid who have the nerve to cause you pain.
If you can Flood the unforgiving rivers
Of Wales, like David Subacchi's done (sorta)
Yours is Poetry24, and everything that's in it,
 And - which is more - you'll be a Poet, my son (/daughter)!

Have a great week

Clare (& Martin)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Ghostmother

My mother is a carpet, my mother is a chair

My mother is a blanket, flowers cover up her hair

Her scent is all around me, her arms have disappeared

Her hands are hard - I’m frightened

What is happening to me?

 is happening to me? For a long time now I have been floating here

 is happening to me? In a room I do not know, light sifts in patterns,

 is happening to me? On the walls and on the floor,

 is happening to me? There is dimness, then a flash -

 is happening to me? The man says sssssh!

My mother does not feed me, my mother does not sing

Her breath is cold upon me, her lips are whispering

Her lap is like a statue, her smile has gone away

Who is the stranger, watching

Is this a game?

 is happening to me? For a long time now I have been smothering

 is happening to me?My face, my breasts, my thighs, all shrouded like a corpse

 is happening to me?He is making a new image 

 is happening to me?He only wants the child

 is happening to me?I know my place.

©  Helena Nolan

Old portraits of children with 'ghostmothers' in the background

Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. She is the 2011 winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Europe, the morning after

We wake
in the itchy clothing
of defeat,

the fitted suit
of success,

the easy smiles,
the seamless replay
of expectation.

we don
the cast-off clothes

of older siblings,
in the shadows

and scour
the pockets
for crumpled bank-notes.

© Maurice Devitt

Andrews praises Ireland fans but Roy Keane criticises the Irish mentality

Maurice is reading for an MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, and has recently been short-listed for the Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection Competition. He is working towards a first collection.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Education Goves From Bard to Verse

Belt up Bob the Builder
Pipe down Postman Pat
Thomas...a talking engine!
We've had quite enough of that
Time for you to realise
You're're're thick!
Each day you'll chant some poetry
That should do the trick...
Yellow car...hat with a bell
Won't break your plebian coma
You will repeat a Noddy, see!
The one that was penned by Homer
Can't tell a Verb from a Conjunction?
Despite the lessons which you sat in
You'll never get to Eton
If you don't know your Latin
Forget Three Bears or Jack and Jill
And every childish story
You must rehearse this noble verse...
'Dulce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori'
'The Charge of the Light Brigade'
British lads rode to death or glory
No limbs blown off or screams of pain
That would be just too gory
You are now're far too old
To be goggling at the telly
So sit up straight...repeat after Miss
As she recites from Keats and Shelley
Time to get your coats and trot off home
To your Daddy and your Mummy
But, as Larkin said, "They fuck you up..."
So you end up just a dummy
The Gove's Train just goes clattering on
As the Night Mail crossed the border
Issuing clouds of stale hot air
With every silly order
If, like that train, it brought ideas
Steaming from its funnel
Instead of gazing resolutely backwards
As it reverses up its own anal tunnel!

© Peter Flint

Schools poetry plan in national curriculum shake-up

Quiz: how much poetry do you know by heart?
Peter is 77, belongs to Rossington Writers' Group, Doncaster and writes short stories and poems for his grandkids. He taught for forty years...mainly English.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Two Pillars

The Church and State sat down to tea
to talk about the mess we’re in:
the State called for austerity;
the Church said, ‘There is too much sin.’
‘It has to stop,’ the Bishop frowned,’
‘let’s take our model from the Crown.’

The State said, ‘That’s a fine idea
but can the Royals help us here?’

The Bishop, startled, looked askance:
‘It’s true they’ve led us quite a dance;
but now they’ve settled down a lot,
and Will, perhaps, will stop the rot.’

The State said, ‘Let us have a shot.’

‘Leave things to you?’ the Bishop huffed.
‘It seems to us you’ve done enough.
Those ‘market forces’ you set free
have brought an inequality
the like of which we haven’t  known
since Albert Edward took the throne .’

‘Now wait a minute’, growled the State.
‘We’d like to get a few things straight.’

The Bishop, though, would not desist.
‘The danger’s real - and here’s the gist.
Our youth is fuelled by drugs and booze,
without a job, not much to lose.
The facts are these. (I must be clear.)
There’s scope for civil violence here.’

The State said,’ Ah, I take your point.
It’s true the times are out of joint.
But, really what are we to do?
Morality is down to you.’

‘Exactly so,’ the Church agreed,
‘but ours is not a feckless creed;
so, at this time of Jubilee,
let’s hear it for the Monarchy;
and let us live within our means
and not like bankers, kings and queens.

© Abigail Wyatt

Brits obsessed with sex and divorce - bishop

Abigail is one of the three founding members of the Red River Poets. The latter will be appearing at the Heartlands Project in Cornwall, 29th September, as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


It could be a shuttlecock
steering its way undersea
except there is no need
for a racquet, when an axon
will do for speed.

It took Huxley and Hodgkin
to have the nerve to steal
the long cord, the stringy thing,
for a wet experiment
sometime after tea.

They zapped that nerve with a charge
big enough to give it shocks
till the amp opened a gate
as it sailed through the lock
and ran on in glee.

The squid’s secret is now freed
and we all can read again
the action and its mystery.
So when a jellyfish bites
the pain will make you scream.

© Lavinia Kumar

The Squid and the Electric Current: Remembering the Work of a Brain Pioneer

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Monday, 11 June 2012


Leri, Ceulan,
Ystwyth, Rheidol
Names of rivers
From a Welsh youth
Always present
Flowing quietly
Under bridges
Beside the roads
Around villages
Watering fields
Until reaching
An unconcerned
But grumbling sea

Peaceful waters
Haunt of salmon
Trout and sewin
Crossed by bridges
Kept in check by
Damns and culverts
Almost ignored
Rarely taken
Until today
Provoked by rain
Crushed by high tide

High with anger
Patience snapping
Swollen torrents
Bursting barriers
Flooding places
Where no building
Should ever stand
Wreaking havoc
Against a tide
Of oppression
Rising as only
Welsh rivers can.

© David Subacchi

Wales flooding: Victims hoping for return to homes

David Subacchi’s first English language collection ‘First Cut’ was published by Cestrian Press last month. He is a regular contributor to ‘Poetry 24’. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunday Review

Poetry24 Review

After a particularly cold and wet jubilee weekend, we especially enjoyed Marcus Colquhoun's 'It's not much fun being Queen' with its inventive rhymes (silver platters/ regattas) and the way it morphed into a surreal list of what he'd do 'if I were queen' ...though it hasn't been the weather for nudity... and those poor corgis!

We spent much of the week asking, as Michigan poet D. Brian Craig did: How far have we come? in his poem 'The Transit of Venus'... you won't be able to write a topical poem about this until again the year 2117 so we were very glad that he did.

How far have we come? Not very, says Deidre Cartmill, bringing us back to earth with a bump with her  bleak reminder that children are still starving, 'gaunt eyed'. Not exactly 'The Ideal Preparation For Life'. Not very, agrees  Mike Peterson with  'Gun', with the trial of Anders Breivik focussing this week on how the killer enjoyed 'World of Warcraft'.

'The Antiquated Man?' was a fine poem by Cornish poet Jo Yeates, musing what author Ray Bradbury (who died last week) felt about seeing how close we are to seeing his nightmares realised. And talking of antiquated men, our final offering was about Leonard Cohen, who is still very much with us and has come back to gigging in 'The Poet Came Down From the Mountain' by Thomas Martin.

Once more, it's been great to welcome some new poets to the Poetry24. Do spread the word about the site to other poets and poetry-fanciers that you know... and follow us on Facebook or Twitter for news about our poets and poetry in general... Martin shares some fascinating poetry news there!

Finally I just wanted to mention Duotrope. Register free for this seachable database of markets for poetry and fiction and you can keep track of your submissions, save favourites and find out all you need to know about where to send your poems. We're on it of course!

And we'll be here all week!  Have a good one!

Clare (& Martin)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Poet Came Down From the Mountain

The poet came down from the mountain
And took to the road
He peddled his wares from town to town
Just like the bards of old

'I’m short of a few bob,' he said
'And must return to my work station
My nest egg has been raided
While I was deep in contemplation.'

He was deep in contemplation
When the call came from the bank:
'You should know, your funds are low
There’s no surplus in the tank.'

The one he charged with his affairs
Had gone and let him down
And now he must return
To the commercial side of town

And so he gathered round him
Friends that he had known
To provide such sweet music
As would enhance his work in poem

The gigs were organised
The settings chosen wise
The venues were selected
According to their size

The risks were great
The rewards unsure
But hope was strong
And the faith was pure

'We’ll start off small
Build as we go
If the fans don’t want us
They’ll let us know

They’ll let us know
By staying away
Times are getting tough
They may not want to pay.'

But they toured the world and found
People still the same
They knew his songs, they sang along
They helped to spread his fame

From far and wide they came
To hear the poet lay down beats
His vocals were hypnotic
And the music was a treat.

The poet came down from the mountain
And took to the road
He delighted all his fans
And had his wealth restored.

© Thomas Martin

Leonard Cohen to play one-off UK concert

THOMAS lives in Dublin. His prose works have been featured in Piranha, Figments, The Evening Press and The Weary Blues. He is currently working on his first verse collection.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Antiquated Man?

Your nihilistic vision of the future ,
a bitter contrast to the fantasy-happy
endings of quest-based  epics,
shaped my teenage years
creating a techno-fear
which stayed with me into the
next century.

Your future is now my reality;
I wonder how you felt at 91
Watching passersby plugged
into tiny escapist devices:
extras in a super-real movie.

Paper spontaneously combusts
at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
You fought the invasion of ebooks,
resisted the techno-takeover
of paper substitutes that
“smell like burnt fuel”.

I believe;
I have to believe, that
one day we will realise that this is
disconnection, not connection;
pyromania will take hold
and maybe
in the silicon ashes of the bonfire of techno-nightmare
an egg, black with the idea-ink of centuries
will slowly crack
releasing a silver-tongued,
platinum-tongued phoenix.

© Jo Yeates

Ray Bradbury dies aged 91

Jo teaches languages in Cornwall. She reads voraciously but has never written for public consumption before, unless you include school reports.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


How lethal is a gun?
Can you analyse its kill
Record in a bar-chart
Its accuracy and skill,
Present a clear percentage
Of fatalities and maims
Then write a rave revue
Don’t worry about the names?
How lethal is a gun?
I can give you a rough figure
The answer is zero -
It can’t pull its own trigger.

© Mike Peterson

‘World of Warcraft’ scrutinized at Breivik trial
Breivik trial: Survivors relive Norway massacre horrors

Mike Peterson has been writing for many years and has just self
published his first book "Echelons' Rest".

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Ideal Preparation For Life

To sleep away a childhood
thumb in mouth, gaunt eyed;                    

to learn to look without seeing
because to let the images close in

like flies around a dry mouth
who sense the coming death,             

is to push infected fingers
into a clean lesion

or to cry into the haemorrhaging gap
and meet your own voice coming back.

© Deirdre Cartmill

With food prices escalating, the G8 has to deliver on its plan for Africa

Deirdre Cartmill’s debut poetry collection Midnight Solo was published by Lagan Press in 2004 and her second collection The Return of the Buffalo will be published in 2012.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Transit of Venus

Picture: Jan Herold
bright beautiful Phosphorus

you rise before us
pass across the face
of the burning Sun

how far is the Sun?
Cook's question when he set sail
to Tahiti to glimpse your shift

in the thick breath of caustic cloud
too like the burnt coal drape
we immodestly too must cast off

beautiful Venus at arm's length
through the tiniest hole
we admire but in our vanity

marvel as we check the time
text friends on the other side
of the world measure the delay

with a tilt of our head
how far have we come?
how far have we left to go?

and as I settle into mortal slumber
I hope we're here when
you pass this way again

dim beautiful Hesperus

©  D. Brian Craig

The transit of science
Transit of Venus: 11.04pm on Tuesday, 5 June

D. Brian Craig is a native of Michigan, does research at Children's Hospital of Michigan, and is studying for his MFA in creative writing at Goddard College, Vermont.

Monday, 4 June 2012

It's not much fun being Queen

It’s not much fun to be a queen
Born to reign or simply breed
Unveiling plaques and naming ships
Attending really boring galas
Photos on the palace steps
With potentates and Dalai Lamas

It’s not much fun to be a queen
Living in a draughty palace
Minding all your P’s and Q’s
Keeping strictly off the booze
Learning how to play one’s part
and not to belch out loud or fart

It’s not much fun to be a queen
With butlers, maids and fawning footmen
Pipers waking you at dawn
(just because one’s ‘highly born’
they think you like the highland skirl
and porridge served on silver platters
Shooting grouse and stalking deer
Presenting prizes at regattas)

If I were queen I’d make life fun
By looking after number one
Throw all-night parties for the plebs
And execute the Sloanes and Debs
And put a tax on awful things
Like gastric bands and bingo wings
Declare that it’s a major crime
To download tunes by Jedward Grimes
I’d give up all the turgid stuff
Enjoy myself and make life tough
for hangers-on and boring farts
‘Sod off ’ to all of them I’d say
‘I want to stay at home today…….
And shop online …..
And eat junk food …..
Get smashed to bits .....
and run round nude ….
and skateboard in my Royal Parks….
Tell dirty jokes ….
and swear ….
and shout…
and kick the bloody corgis out…
I’d buy myself a motor bike
And go to bed just when I like
I’d make sure that my subjects knew
If I were queen just what I’d do.

© Marcus Colquhoun

The Queen's diamond jubilee parties and pageant in pictures

Marcus Colquhoun writes poetry and is a member of the Ward9Writers group (Co.Mayo, Ireland)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sunday Supplement... now with extra puppies!

This week:
  • Review
  • Earthlight by Jim Bennett - a Jubilee/ Olympic Torch special
  • Sky-diving granny by Anthony Baverstock - with video


We started the week with a rousing 'Vox Populi': Stuff the Olympics/ and screw the Jubilee!  said Abigail Wyatt and David Rowland.

With something as appalling as the massacre of so many children in Houla, it's so hard to get the tone right in a poetic response. We struggled with several submissions relating to this - some too graphic or too simple - and chose Spring in Syria by Wendy Nicholson for it's unsettling use of the child-like sing-song limerick form.

From the death of many children, to the unsolved murder of another - Kushal Poddar's haunting Thirty Years Vintage touches on the solving of a notorious 'cold case' in New York where memories celebrate with salt and wound. Other kinds of criminal activity in the Vatican inspired Lavinia Kumar's The Butler/Priest Did It

The Eurovision Song Contest was big 'news' this side of the Atlantic. It can be a nasty affair with acts being slated, political voting and cries of 'foul!' so we enjoyed David Subacchi's sweet, nostalgic tribute to British entry Engelbert Humperdinck: The Last Waltz. (I'm taking bets how many poems we'll get with that title when The Hump pops his clogs!)

After all this, we were glad of some Stress Relief from Vala Hafstad. I wanted to put a picture of a puppy at the top, but that would have given away the punchline! (Then again, I'd put a picture of a puppy on anything!)

Have a great - stress-free - week!

Clare (and Martin)


I stayed up late to see
Earthlight laminate the moon
create a ghost grey orb
with a silvered edge
it is something you seldom see
a bit like a Queens Jubilee
or the Olympic Torch passing
but unlike those
it was worth the effort

 © Jim Bennett

Moon's 'Dark Side' Visible Due To Earthshine
Wirral welcome for Olympic Flame

Jim Bennett lives near Liverpool in the UK and is the author of 67 books, he has won many awards for his writing and performance and is managing editor of

Skydive goes horribly wrong

An octogenarian granny,
With fortune quite simply uncanny,
Flew out of the blue
with a hullabaloo,
But still managed to fall on her f...eet!

© Anthony Baverstock

Gran's near-death skydiving video goes viral

Click below for the video - things start going wrong 2mins in

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Butler/Priest Did It

Black and white clothes, formal
careful, with the wine, appetizer
on a platter, served, thanks be
to God, without spilling on
the person’s clothes

nor revealing the boy behind
the stairs, the money basket
dropping into secret pockets,
the ring of rosaries circling
each cardinal. They are poisoned.

© Lavinia Kumar

Pope's butler charged over leaked Vatican letters

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Stress Relief

It’s time for you all to acknowledge
That stress is a problem in college,
And stress takes a terrible toll.
We must get it under control.

We feared that you students might lose it,
And hired a team to reduce it.
Today we present to the press
The experts who work against stress.

Available at any hour,
An expert will use all his power
To listen and soothe every mind.
This treatment is one of a kind.

A secret he keeps without trouble:
The seal on his lips remains double.
He may not give any advice –
His presence is sure to suffice.

He may not have much education.
His language will need no translation.
His background is humble indeed;
He’s never been taught how to read.

You may take him home if you’re lonely.
I promise you, he is the only
Professional you can check out.
It’s helpful, without any doubt.

With him at your side you’ll be happy.
Your life will no longer seem crappy.
Stay close to him just for a while.
His calmness will bring you a smile.

Our experts have duties so many,
But don’t earn as much as a penny.
They do not have emails or blogs.
They’re certified therapy dogs.

© Vala Hafstad

Pooches on campus: Colleges host dog visits, create pet-friendly dorms to ease student stress

Vala Hafstad lives in Minnesota. She writes humorous poems for children and, occasionally, their parents.