Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday Review

The week started with the eternal search for 'self' from Vala Hafstad with Lost and Found - an entertaining take on the tourist in Iceland who ended up in a search party looking for herself! Also lost and found was the subject of the first of two cracking sestinas we published this week: Jan Harris's Letter to Lyuba - a compassionate missive to the recently unearthed Russian mammoth they may be close to cloning.

There was discussion, too, on semantics. Abigail Wyatt's Of Patriarchs and Plebs and Others Such compared words which have been endlessly analysed in the British press this week from MP Andrew Mitchell and footballer John Terry. Meanwhile Irish poet Michael Ray's Slippery slopes and thin ends of wedges offered a spiffing examination of how 'Britishisms' are infecting American speech.

Moving on to the religious material, in Rites and wrongs Afric McGlinchey made a blistering attack on the Catholic church. Germany's controversial tax on believers applies to Protestants and Jews too, but the Catholics, already mired in child abuse scandals Not to mention the mass / lining of a million burrowed pockets, have been in the spotlight with threats to excommunicate those who don't pay up.  And we finished with Caroline Hurley's The God Particle which I am neither scientifically or religiously equipped to comment on, but is nevertheless a fine sestina. The divine ordinary in all / is near as breath; now it shows, now hides.

Finally, there's an interview with me about Poetry24 at  Lancashire Writing Hub this week - so if you want to know more about what we're doing here, how we work and what we are - and aren't - looking for, click on the link.

... and keep them coming!

Clare (and Martin)

And finally... a Sunday 'Short' by Vicky Ellis.

The Burglar’s Oath

I swear by Almighty Mars
That the Property I take
Is not the Person
in corpore
And nowt like the Muppet
Lest I get shot

© Vicky Ellis

Burglary is offence against person as well as property, says senior judge

Vicky is a prize-winning poet, storyteller, singer-songwriter and editor.  Her mission is to decipher the world around her from a feminist perspective. Read more about her, HERE.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The God Particle

Far below the Swiss-French border hides
Cern’s Large Hadron Collider, its one
aim to unveil  the bases of all
things by crashing beams to strike a spark
from high-speed energies: the sly God
particle too chaste for eyes to see.

Those bits, as far as Plato could see,
comprise the universe where life hides
in matter; the Pleroma of God
imperfectly copied from the One
who lights the darkness with the spark
that animates the chaos of it all.

Science tries to retro-model how all
came to be, filching concepts to see
systems of phenomena, shy spark
aside that with religion hides
beside truth and reason, leading one
to wonder about scientists without God.

The map is not what is, or what God
made, the beautifully-dressed earth, all
planted, watered planet, th’only one
to sustain growth and creatures who see
with conscious presence. This witness hides.
Behind the manifold dwells the Spark.

Sages down the ages claimed the spark;
its myriad images called God,
even as it runs away and hides
to stay free for ready hire by all.
Undemanding innocents can see
In a grain infinity in one.

Contemplatives say they feel as one
in states at rest accessing the spark.
They tell of sublime visions they can see
and of direct messages from God.
The divine ordinary in all
is near as breath; now it shows, now hides.

In Lila the one I love to see
spins off and hides with the stolen spark
from my heart all splayed when I hark God.

© Caroline Hurley

God or the God Particle: Are Science and Faith really in Conflict?
Caroline's poems have been published in e-magazine, The Electric Acorn. She recently returned to post-graduate psychology studies and has also written a novel, short stories, and both a stage and screenplay.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Slippery slopes and thin ends of wedges.

Looks like
it isn’t going
to go missing after all,
as across the pond, linguists
have started raging at our infestation
into their cool and far-out reinventions.

the president’s
been chuffed to bits,
their chattering classes
have become mightily miffed
as more and more Anglo-Saxon
jetsam is washed up on their shore.

It seems
we’re still
wearing the trousers
and their drip drip drip
into our culture could be slowly
drying up. We clearly haven’t reached
our sell by date quite yet. Soon they’ll be
doing the washing up, maybe moving house,
as we insidiously creep back into their conversations.

© Michael Ray

Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English

Michael Ray  is a glass artist living in West Cork Ireland. In 2011 he won the RTE John Murray National Poetry Competition. His work has appeared in The Moth, Asylum, The Independent and Cyphers  

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Rites and wrongs

Now’s the time for wooing,
but instead they choose to use the boot.
Those men in black might find, however,
that they’ve kicked a landmine
which blows up in their face.
The congregation knows all about
the cover-ups and secrets
that lurk behind so many cassocks.
Not to mention the mass
lining of a million burrowed pockets,
while the Catholic empire is strewn
with AIDS orphans, the homeless and the starving.
It’s a new approach, adding insult to injury,
one I’m betting will create a  further exodus,
as every thinking Catholic  rises up
from kneeling, walks back down the aisle,
shaking holy water from their fingers.
This betrayal is more a hiss
than a kiss. Time to burn some incense,
rid us of this stench
of demon.

© Afric McGlinchey

German Catholics lose church rights for unpaid tax

Afric McGlinchey won the prestigious Hennessy Poetry Award (2011). Her début collection,
The lucky star of hidden things, was published in 2012 by Salmon Poetry

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Letter to Lyuba

Were you tired Lyuba, in need of rest,
the smallest of the mammoth herd, eyes set
on summer pastures far across the steppe?
Did you slide in the river mud and call
in panic for your mother’s help the day
you died? Was she desperate to free you?

Siberia’s short summer released you
from four hundred millenniums of rest.
Yuri Khudi discovered you that day
but feared the scent of underworld and set
a southern course. Left you behind, to call
a friend about the mammoth from the steppe.

While he was away Lyuba the steppe
gave you to another, who carried you
to Novyy Port to sell.  You won’t recall
your long wait by the store. No peaceful rest
for a baby snapped by cell phones and set
upon by dogs who chewed your ear that day.

Khudi saved you again that very day.
He sent your frozen carcass from the steppe,
to expert hands at Salekhard and set
the science world alight with news of you.
They stole your secrets, did they steal your rest
with their studies? I hope you don’t recall.

You are famous now Lyuba.  They called
you after Yuri Khudi’s wife.  These days
a multitude of people see you rest
in your showcase.  They crane their necks and step
on toes to marvel at one glimpse of you.
The past is here but is the future set?

Will mammoth live again? The scene is set
to make it so. Science can now recall
three quarters of your DNA. Will you
rise to your feet again one future day
to amble through the grasses of the steppe
or be forever sealed in time to rest?

And, set at large one momentous day,
would some instinctive recall of the steppe
cause you to mourn the silence of your rest?

© Jan Harris

Russian mammoth remains give glimmer of hope for cloning

Jan Harris lives in Nottinghamshire and writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories.  Her work has appeared in 14 Magazine, nth Position, Popshot, Mslexia and other places.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Of Patriarchs and Plebs and Others Such

If a man denies that he spoke a word
and, on that day, at that hour,
there was no camera crew or microphone 
to assist in determining the truth;
and if there is only a bit of a notebook
that might, one day, be produced in evidence,
or might, on the other hand, be sadly mislaid
or burned to a crisp in a blaze;
and if there is only a chit of a girl
whose word can be called into question,
then the chances are the fuss will die down
and the business won't matter much at all.

But, if a man denies that he spoke another word
and he isn't a government minister;
let us say, for example, that he plays in defence
and falls foul of the blood-hungry press;
and if, say, the case is so far from being clear
that the lawyers and the experts are at loggerheads
then the chances are that such a man
will find himself both demonised and charged.

And it may well be that neither of these men
provide us with the noblest of examples;
and it may be, also, that some words cut so deep
that they will never lose their power to offend;
but the fact remains that, while one man is tried twice,
the other is most shamelessly protected:
where is the honour and the justice here
where plutocracy rules? OK?

© Abigail Wyatt

Andrew Mitchell's comments 'beyond unacceptable', says Lib Dem president

Terry ready to test FA's rules in Ferdinand race case

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.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lost and Found

We search for so much in our lives:
For love and for husbands and wives,
For meaning, compassion and hope,
Or someone with whom to elope.

For deals on Italian wine,
Or gifts with a purchase online,
For diets that do not depress,
And jobs without worry or stress.

We look for a room with a view,
For passions we want to pursue,
Or hobbies that make us feel free,
And things brought ashore by the sea.

And often our mind will not rest,
For we can be truly distressed
If we cannot find what is lost–
A search for oneself can exhaust.

This happened to someone I know:
To Iceland, alone, did she go.
She walked off her bus dressed in black,
But wore something red coming back.

In red, no one knew who she was.
Apparently, it was because
In red, she looked young and so fair.
Besides, she had tied back her hair.

But where was the woman in black?
She left and she never came back.
They searched by the canyon and stream.
My friend, dressed in red, joined the team.

She crossed over glacier and ice
And covered some areas twice.
Exhausted, she came to a creek.
The water was clear–how unique!

Her face was reflected right there
And, suddenly, she was aware
The woman she thought might have drowned,
Was she–yes, herself–she was found!

© Vala Hafstad

Woman Takes Part In Search For Herself
Vala lives in Minnesota.  She enjoys writing humorous poems.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday Review and Royal Supplement - with boobs!

  • Review
  • Crikey, It's Keyhole Kate Giving Cheer by Philip Johnson
  • Keeping Abreast of the Royals by Peter Goulding
We started and ended this week with excavations - from the welcome return of Marilyn Brindley with These Bones on the possible unearthing of Richard III's remains under a Leicester car park (with plenty of snippets of the bard buried in the poem!) to L.S.Bassen's Excavation at Clitor which capered nimbly in a lady's chamber on the release of a new biography of the vagina reviewed in the NYT.

Jim Bennett gave us a moment's silence with his simple, moving reading the report as the truth finally comes to light of multiple cover-ups and injustices in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Also this week, Phillip Challinor took time off from acerbic observations of dodgy politicians to wax lyrical about Edward Lear in his bicentenary year - Seriously Pleasant. Anthony Baverstock's unsettling After the typhoon haiku was strong words, softly spoken - and a visual treat and Vala Hafstad had us window-shopping for men in a Paris boutique in The Selection. As she describes it the process is similar to how we receive your poems: We look at them all, one by one. / It gives us such pleasure and fun.

We round off the week below with two poems regarding 'those' pictures of Kate Middleton - a subject some of our male contributors couldn't wait to get their hands on and have a titter over.

Have a good week

Clare (& Martin)

Crikey, It's Keyhole Kate Giving Cheer

ATOS continue to tip the disabled out of their wheelchairs
post Olympics, they are the new cash cow

capable of some work, it is said.

And compensation for unfair dismissal is to be cut
too many guilty consciences in the coalition

too many TUC members raring to dance on Thatcher's grave,

more-like?  While one pair o' tits make so many shameful Acts
of Parliament making mock of honest toil

another pair are practically blooming for Britain all over Europe

(0)(0)                                           (.)(.)                                           (o)(o)
                          (-)(-)                                            (+)(+)

                                           (*)(*)              (")(")
© Philip Johnson

Keeping abreast of the Royals

Personally I don’t understand what all the kerfuffle and the clamour is
To line up to vilify and to scourge the photographer who snapped (and the magazine that published)   pictures  of the royal mammaries.
It seems that issues like social injustice, homelessness and poor education standards stir up far fewer ripples
than publication of blue-blooded nipples.
And it appears that when Sharon Stone or Kerry Katona or Princess Whatever of Monaco are photographed topless, the great British public don’t give a sea-
Turtle’s left nadger for the principles of personal privacy,
But become apoplectic when the displayed boobies
are adorned by House of Windsor diamonds and rubies.
(Though I suspect that most young men and even older ones, sons, husbands and dads
Would not be seriously offended if she got her tits out a bit more often for the lads.)
I am somewhat surprised also that the special advisor to the royal chest,
(Who should know best)
Did not advise the future queen that wearing a bra instead of going topless
Will make them flop less
Though, judging by the pictures in the Irish Daily Star that I accidentally leafed through the other day
while in my local shop,
There’s not a whole lot there to flop
And, although I hold my hand up and admit I’m not really one to snigger
At someone else’s figure,
I think Will’s are bigger.
Suffice to say, I go along with Spike Milligan’s dictum that people who live in glass houses
Should pull the curtains before removing their trousers.

© Peter Goulding

Irish Daily Star Editor Michael O'Kane suspended over Kate Middleton photos 

Peter Goulding rails at life from the comfort of his armchair on the outskirts of Dublin. He would love to find a lot of money in a hedge

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Excavation at Clitor

This easy one is Apollo’s sunflower,
the most recent in the story’s retelling                
by men. By then, her longing is rejected,
and all she can do is worship the sun.
Remember the woman who lay with Poseidon
to mother ten kings who on Callliste later
passed judgments after catching the bulls?
Farther back, you find Kleite,
a Corinthian princess
whom Artemis made strong.
Earlier, Kleite is Queen of Amazons,
personification of the clitoris,
just as Priapus is penis.
‘Kleitoris’ means goddess-like.
The city of Clitor was sacred
to Artemis at the headwaters --
headwaters! --
of the Styx, that river between.
Here, her priestesses found ecstasy
which suggests that the sacred center
was instead of the navel the clitoris.

© L.S. Bassen

Upstairs, Downstairs

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. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

reading the report

for years I had been told
fans had broken turnstiles
that they were drunk
stole from dead fans

I had been told
they didn’t have tickets
that they smelt of alcohol
that everyone was dead by 3.15

I had been told
that the police and coroner
only dealt with facts
and always told the truth

yesterday I found out
everything I had been told
was a lie       everything

©  Jim Bennett

Hillsborough report: 41 of the 96 dead 'had potential to survive'

Author of 67 books and proprietor of Poetry Kit, Jim tours throughout the year giving reading and performances of his poetry and songs. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Seriously Pleasant

How pleasant to know Mr Lear,
Who has got an Ashmolean show!
He's just turned two hundred this year;
Not many remembered it, though.

That child is unlucky and rare
Who none of his nonsense absorbs;
But adults have wonder to spare
For his ornithological daubs.

Though he failed at the Spanish vernacular,
At all the globe's corners he drew;
His landscapes, it seems, are spectacular,
And (possibly) runcible, too.

Though sadly their fame is belated,
How fortunate that they are here!
In ways that are yet under-rated,
How pleasant to know Mr Lear!

© Philip Challinor

It's not all nonsense: exhibition shows the artistic side of Lear

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

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Selection

We look at them all, one by one.
It gives us such pleasure and fun.
We’re women who know what we need,
And now it is time to proceed.

He’s colorful, humorous, smart,
And seems to appreciate art,
So strikingly handsome and strong,
But what do you think of the thong?

The next one is sensitive, frail,
Amazingly skinny and pale;
A poet who published this year-
Romantic, without a career.

Right next to him, someone well dressed,
Who seems a bit nervous and stressed.
An architect out of a job,
Who might be a bit of a snob.

And here is one holding a bat.
What could be the meaning of that?
Who knows what he’s planning to hit?
I know I don’t want to be it.

And this one is playing the blues.
His arms have outrageous tattoos.
He holds an expensive guitar
And looks like he might be a star.

But that one is charming as well-
Apparently went to Cornell.
His eyes are intelligent, blue.
Forgive me for liking the view.

This store, I must say, is first class.
We look at the goods through a glass.
The carts are enormous in size.
They must be:  we’re shopping for guys.

© Vala Hafstad

Shopping for Mr Right in Paris at the 'adopt-a-guy' boutique - BBC

Vala lives in Minnesota.  She enjoys writing humorous poems.

Monday, 17 September 2012

These Bones

These bones have mouldered many years,
laid to rest with none to mourn,
nor mark my time on earth,
save the tolling of the Greyfriars bell,
and the holy brothers’ funeral dirge.

I lost my life on Bosworth field,
mired in mud and treason.
A sword cleaved my crown,
an arrow pierced my misshaped spine,
and sent me, grim-visaged, to the next world.

And now this garden yields a harvest rich,
these bones, cheated of feature,
are hung up for monument.
The ground is rudely stamped,
and there are merry meetings.

I foresee the winter of their discontent,
and wranglings twixt the learned few,
who wish to prove a villain of these bones,
but first must ascertain that this was
Richard’s tomb indeed.

Yet I remain, unfinished, scarce half made-up,
brought before my time
into this breathing world.
How long before these bones
will know their rest?

© Marilyn Brindley

Richard III dig: 'Strong evidence' bones are lost king

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.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday Supplement + 2 poems

Fran Hill started the week steering us Towards The Exit with its chilling 'the library will close in five minutes'. With library closures being in many areas the 'leaflet on cuts' struck a chord with me as I work in a library and we've been handing them out too. Vala Hafstad lightened the mood as ever with her Dark Advice - but if being kept in the dark really makes you lose weight, wouldn't we all be a lot slimmer?

Dowry Fires from new contributor Usha Kishore took on a heady, visceral journey through the sights, sounds and smells of India from fragrant, bangle-tinkling wedding to horrific dowry fires which kill one young woman every hour. Disturbing echoes of abuse pervade Caroline Hurley's Grey Shades, Thin Lines too - running the gamut from wife-beater to Pygmalion, to sub and dom and beyond.

But there's Nothing Nouveau says Noel Loftus, taking a well-deserved pop at modern art. And nothing wrong with the traditional -Wendy Nicholson's Moon Landing had the feel of a song from earlier times and it's rhythms took us nicely from a small speck to a giant leap in a final tribute to Neil Armstrong.

I just want to finish by mentioning a topical poem we didn't bag for Poetry24, but is exactly the sort of thing we're all about: Have a look at UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy's poem for the Liverpool Echo on the Hillsborough Report findings announced this week - a topical poem that struck a chord with many people.

We have two new short poems below - one a reverent remembrance from Douglas Polk, the other... erm... less so... a final word from Philip Challinor.

Have a great week and keep writing!

Clare (and Martin)

Two poems

In Remembrance

the towers gone,
Bin Laden dead,
the dreams now,
and unrecognizable,
the world,
a different and dangerous place,
but the reality,
the world changed,
only inside our heads,
death always lurked,
only before,
out of view,
the date,
a reminder,
the towers gone,
Bin Laden dead.

© Douglas Polk

Douglas Polk is a writer of poetry, from central Nebraska. Feeling persecuted most of his life he has published three books of poetry; In My Defense, The Defense Rests, and On Appeal. He lives with his wife and two boys and two dogs on the plains of Nebraska.

And finally....

An Inappropriate Tribute 

I am outraged! I cannot dismiss
So dreadful a scandal as this!
Dance on Maggie's grave,
After all that she gave?
Don't they know? Don't they care? Can't they piss?

© Philip Challinor

Anger at Thatcher death T-shirts on sale at TUC

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


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Moon Landing

There’s a tiny speck of moondust in a window that I know
and it’s gazed at by the people who can see it from below,
it was given by an astronaut, a hero of our day
and now he’s gone to see the stars and ride the milky way.

Neil Armstrong was an astronaut, a hero of our time
and we celebrate his story now in poetry and rhyme,
yet he was such a modest man and shunned publicity
who would have thought that he’d secure immortality.

It was in nineteen sixty nine when three men flew in space
their mission to land on the moon - an international race.
a victory for technology, the Earth left far behind,
and everyone considered it a triumph for mankind.

Armstrong piloted the craft, the lunar module stood
upon a dusty, rocky ground, he saw that it looked good.
And so he walked upon the moon the first small step for man
successfully fulfilling the aim of NASA’s plan.

Now he soars up to the heavens where eagles dare not go,
he rides a pathway to the stars far from the earth we know,
and as the world keeps turning it’s easy to forget
but he will be remembered for mankind owes him a debt.

For on the steps of giants outstanding deeds are won,
Armstrong is remembered now by mostly everyone,
though many are forgotten he carried out a plan
and no lunar wind will blow away his one small step for Man.

©  Wendy Nicholson

Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial

Wendy is an ecologist studying animals and plants but likes painting, and writing all kinds of poetry.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Grey Shades, Thin Lines

Shhh! He’s coming! She tenses, acutely attuned to his mood as a gauge of what’s next.
“Bitch! Where’s my beer?” He shouts, head in the fridge. Not good.
Thwack! Right hook to her ear fells her to the floor.
Krrunch! The boot to the ribs, twice, drives home.
Gasp! She stays put, the fight in her dying by the day.
Splat! He’s lying on her, pawing. “Me darling girl!”
Vroom! One hand gags her mouth, the other loosens their clothes.
Bang! He’s in, animal, crushing her bones, her snuffable neck snapped back in his macho headlock.

On a gentleman’s charitable whim, a flight of gallant largesse, he funds her make-over.
He massages her urge to survive hard knocks
and arranges an experiment in social behaviour.
The hypothesis states: with temptation she’ll buckle
and develop a taste for the finer things in life.
Primed, groomed, escorted and taught elocution,
she obliges and ditches her rags and plain talk on cue.
Her noble patron puffs up with chauvinistic pride in his coup of a distinctive statistic.

Being of sound mind and body, Sub agrees to sign Dom’s meticulous, clinical contract,
to serve full-time for a spell as his literal slave;
to respect and obey, wearing his collar and baring her tail;
to grant and procure, as he wants, sexual contacts;
to relinquish society’s frills outside just for him;
to sit at his right foot, devout, with it all hanging out;
to count, while he canes, flogs or rends her, his strokes,
and to thank him for accepting her in his almighty system of disciplinary ciphers.

Precious blood-gems scintillate, mounted on gold; the marital ring signifies standards upheld
by institutional networks she buys into, for better or worse.
She and her husband try not to burn out or stray
from their domestic node where they may reproduce
unrestrained, rewarded for their contribution
to the bloodstock and brains for public production,
to extend and defend the national interests:
individuals churned out in numbers to neuter the personal place and force the race on. 

The relative risks run by separate sex-pairing memes accrete to expunge one another,
when he who takes on all-comers with daredevil mettle
shivers and melts in her grace, craving her benediction
as if every woman is Kali, Tantrically-enlightened,
entitled to all he can muster, to his last breath,
in winning her devouring clench, her cascading devotion
 unto death, even, proving her love everlasting.
With biases ceded in swelling communion, a kind, cosmic presence minds hearts that beat true.

© Caroline Hurley

50 Shades of Grey? Just an old-fashioned love story, says EL James

Caroline's poems have been published in e-magazine, The Electric Acorn. She recently returned to post-graduate psychology studies and has also written a novel, short stories, and both a stage and screenplay.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Nothing Nouveau

Now every photo’s long since framed
Every song is sung
All love poems with lust inflamed
Every canvas hung
Now all great architects are dead
But some find subjects new
Half a calf! Bejeweled head!
A talent known to few

Arrange some debris in a heap
Hail it far and wide
Modern art’s a butchered sheep
In formaldehyde
Celebrity’s the newest grail
Talent incidental
Tone-deaf children whine and wail
Their hubris monumental

Now every great work has been famed
Every note is played
So cows and songs are gladly maimed
Entrails then displayed

© Noel Loftus

Damien Hirst is a national disgrace

Noel Loftus is a fellow member of ward9writers from Mayo in the west of Ireland. In his forties, he is married, with two children, and currently works as a buyer for a safety supplies company. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dowry Fires

How can this nation that burns its brides sleep in peace?

She rises from history, Sati[1], goddess, chaste woman
immolating herself on the pyre of her wedded lord,
a deity invoked in stone, to be worshipped in fire.

Seven steps around the altar of fire[2], hand in hand,
espoused for seven births,  nuptial vows pledged
on blue gods, fragrant dreams dancing like flames.

With relentless rituals drawn in radiant rainbow patterns,
dowry demands pour in like rice flakes over the sacred fire.
Glorious gold and crisp bank notes touch the looming sky.

Oblivious shehnai[3] notes dominate in double reed as sacred
mantras perfume the air:  I shall be the sky, you the earth,
may the heavens open for us and let us pledge an eternity.

Asha, Savita, Jayanti, Rajni, Svara - Eternal brides of the sky,
Where are you now?  Clad in red and gold, hair braided in
silk tassels of silvered follies, smiles of jewelled gemstone,

bangles tinkling the end of laughter, hands laden with gifts, 
the inheritance of loss. Fragrant flowers veil the asymmetries
of life as a relieved family bids farewell to a tearful daughter.

A woman is another’s wealth, to cherish or to renounce.
She is the pride and the shame, the shadow of the earth.
She is the deified and the damned, the womb of the world.

Dowsed in the stench of callousness, heartless kitchen fires
flicker on kerosene stoves. Sari tip ablaze, she is now wedded
to fire. Her shrieks of fear echo across an uncaring sky, fringed

by silent trees that weep for a womanhood burning in dowry
fire.  Household gods disappear behind the veil of smoke
that shrouds the immolating goddess, hair ablaze, red eyes

glaring, her mouth, a furnace, with lolling tongues of fire.
Her deafening roars fill the sky with black terror as she
revolves in a circle of flames like Kali[4] devouring time.

Dark and formless, she crumbles and dissolves in a stifling
flood.  Draped in the odours of burnt flesh, her resplendent
bridal form, now spectre like, haunts the wailing air.

Beautiful hennaed[5] hands, shredded to blisters, her comely
face charred by flames, she remains a splinter in mother’s
heart, a sigh on father’s lips,  a tear on every cheek, an indelible

mark on the wrinkled forehead of a degenerate world.
How many more will burn in the sacrilege of dowry fires,
before this lackadaisical, sleeping nation wakes up? 

Let every fire become a woman and every woman, a fire!

© Usha Kishore

[1] Sati – a self-immolating Hindu goddess. Sati is also an abolished funeral practice, in which widows used to burn themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands.
[2] Altar of fire - Hindu marital vows are made around an altar of fire.
[3] Shehnai  -  a musical wind instrument, made of reed, played during Indian marriages
[4] Kali- Hindu Goddess of destruction
[5] Hennaed  hands – as in Henna designs on hands

Author's note: Bride burning, also known as dowry death, is a form of domestic violence in India, where young brides are burnt to death in kitchen fires by their in-laws, when their families fail to meet dowry demands.  Statistics show that one Indian woman, between the age of 15 and 34, is burned to death every hour.

Dowry deaths are the hidden curse of the big fat Indian wedding
Protesters demand speedy probe in dowry death

Indian born Usha Kishore is an internationally published poet, resident on the Isle of Man. Her work has won prizes in UK competitions and recently shorlisted for the Erbacce Prize 2012 .

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dark Advice

You don’t need to go to the gym
Or diet to stay very slim,
But what you must do
Is easy for you:
The lights in the house you must dim.

The experts say people eat less
When lighting is not in excess.
Just turn off the light
Completely tonight.
Your weight you will quickly address.

In darkness you can’t over-eat.
A diet like this you can’t beat:
You won’t find your fork,
Potato or pork,
Your pudding, your pickle or meat.

Just hibernate – that is the thing!
Imagine what darkness can bring.
Just act like a bear,
Curl up in your lair,
And wake up quite slim in the spring.

© Vala Hafstad

Mellow setting puts fast food consumers in a mood to ... eat less

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

Monday, 10 September 2012

Towards the exit

I find a book on Shakespeare’s life, misplaced
in the Cookery section.  No worries.
Here’s a blue corner chair, a vase
of optimistic daffodils on a windowsill,
and an hour to laze through glossed pages.

A woman with a stick and a wheeze tugs
herself up the ramp to Fiction.  She smiles
to find new romance in ‘Recently Returned’
and leans against a pillar for the first pages
in which Marion flies to Morocco with a sad heart.

A young man, tall, unshaven, taps
his dreams into an online form. He bends
towards the screen as if in prayer
to a fickle deity, scrolling up and
down for errors, for slips, for what’s missing.

A child in denim dungarees, perches
on the chair opposite me.  The mother
browses the shelves while his fat fingers
trace a dragon’s tail across the page
and he points out green and blue to us all.

Two men, both in sturdy boots, shed
mud in ‘Crime’ while swapping views on
Rankin -

- The library will close in five minutes -

Clutching Shakespeare and Marion
in Morocco and dreams and dragons
and a Rebus mystery (and a leaflet on cuts
from a table near the door)
we all sigh towards the exit.

© Fran Hill

Laureate issues library challenge to Culture Secretary

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, 9 September 2012

Sunday Review

We've been a bit light on content this week, but Abigail Wyatt advised us to keep an Ear to the Ground, after a 'day of action' against Atos, the private health firm responsible for  back-to-work testing, and Paralympic sponsor.

Stuart Nunn brought our attention to the background stories of some Paralympic competitors with his list poem, simply entitled, Paralympics. A sobering reminder of life-changing moments that started a chain reaction of challenges most of us can only try to imagine.

Still on the them of sport, it was a gaelic football match that inspired Noel Loftus to write 19 16, and highlight the banality of sports punditry and commentary.

We had nothing to publish on Thursday, then Philip Johnson's lonesome held the fort for Friday and Saturday.

Do keep sending us your poems. It's not the same without them.

Have a good week.

Martin, and Clare.

Friday, 7 September 2012


since the house become a hollow
the days grown long

the tick of the clock BOOMS

and I find my body no longer cares
to co-ordinate


drink is my demand
drink is demanding me

the hours and the isolation are lamentable

ah, yes
la, laa la, laa

the drink and I tumble
into the night

ni night

© Philip Johnson

Minimum alcohol price 'would save 50,000 pensioners'

Philip's words have appeared in: The Ugly Tree; Poetry Scotland, Emergency Verse, Write Away, Caught In The Net, Red Pencil, Writer's Hood, Transparent Words;  he works in elder care. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sell By 19 16

A lush called Hennessy who owns a pistol
Once told me discreetly
That if you piss hard enough through your ears
You will die.
Defecating through the teeth, though gag-inducing,
Brings no such balm.

The pundits predicted the outcome,
Their brass balls shone, epaulets stiff,
Upper lips bared, diverse accents amplified,
Each gorged with opinion, each perfectly,
Perfectly wrong.
Every time.

Barely five seconds into the post-battle commentary
The presenter evacuated
A terminal platitude. Or laxative.
Aah! Good old 19 16 exposed again.
Know how to win/battle of the hill/blanket defense.
Two point game/of two halves/died a death/hunting in packs.

A lush called Hennessy who owns a pistol,
Seeking unlicensed repeaters,
Will probe the door of your darkened room where
He will peacefully invite you join with
Your panels’ carcass in

© Noel Loftus

Author's note: The context here is that Mayo beat Dublin 19 16 on Sunday and one commentator could not resist the dodgy connection ... Easter Rising etc. All newspapers/commentators got it wrong and backed Dublin.

This is a comment on how platitudes have saturated sports punditry and commentary, panels are old and tired, and I hereby invite one particular Irish GAA panel, to a party with a difference.

Tribal passion rocks the stands as Mayo set up All-Ireland final clash with Donegal

Noel Loftus is a fellow member of ward9writers from Mayo in the west of Ireland. In his forties, he is married, with two children, and currently works as a buyer for a safety supplies company. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Lane 1
            Bali Nightclub bombing
                        12 October 2002
Lane 2
            Iran/Iraq War
Lane 3
            Northern Ireland punishment beating
                        23 June 1991
Lane 4
            Improvised Explosive Device, Sangin, Afghanistan
                        2 December 2003
Lane 5
            Oklahoma City bombing
                        19 April 1995
Lane 6
            Motorcycle crash, A5, Staffordshire
                        13 February 2005
Lane 7
            Second Chechen War
Lane 8
            Forgotten landmine, Vietnam
                        6 October 2001
“On your marks.”

© Stuart Nunn

Paralympics 2012: Richard Whitehead says T42 200m final 'went to plan'

Stuart Nunn is an athletics official and retired lecturer living in South Gloucestershire.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ear to the Ground

Listen, they are coming:
only pause a moment;
still the fury of your breathing
and lay your ear
close to the ground.

If you listen, you will hear it,
behind the applause
and the roar of the crowds,
and the music;
behind the speeches,
the TV hype, the band ,
and the flapping of flags.

Behind all the fuss,
there is something else,
something like the sound
of slow thunder,
something like the rumble
and chug of a train
that approaches
from far away.

Feel your heart pound,
feel the earth against your cheek,
as you grope in the shadows
of remembrance:
not the sound of thunder
not the rattle of a train
but a tramping, the march
of many boots.

© Abigail Wyatt

Atos protesters clash with police in 'day of action' against Paralympics sponsor

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.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday Review

There's been a lot of mooning about here at Poetry24 this week. It all began with two playful poems about a Prince's 'mooning' exploits in Sin City - Noel Loftus was Wild About Harry! in a biblical way, while Gwen Seabourne was in tabloid headline mode (more like The Sun?).

In the light of her 'waxing gibbous moon' Kay Weeks mused whether it was gods or the elements who caused the Shut Down: Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida  and new contributor Michael Ray's Ferrymen used the light of the moon to navigate Dhaka's terrifying Buriganga River.

Anthony Baverstock's Old English riddle You love me you say teased us with disturbing images. In fact it referred to a Spanish grandmother's botched attempts at restoring a fresco. Her moon-faced Christ is being widely spoofed around the internet.

In Fran Hill's  Yeats had the same opinion, council plans to encroach on Wilfred Owen's birthplace are seen in the same light as W.B. Yeats's dismissal of the poet. Did you know Yeats was a bit of an amateur astrologer? (You see - Poetry24 is very educational! Well - it certainly taught me a lesson!)

By the light of this week's blue moon - which spookily coincided with the funeral of the first man on the moon. We  finished by Three short poems on astronaut, Neil Armstrong from AiJ, Gwen Seabourne and Anthony Baverstock, all showed different aspects of the man and the mission.

Feedback on feedback
Last week we asked for some feedback about the site and our way of working. Some of you replied in the comments but many more did so by email. It was great to hear your ideas and niggles along with the many positive comments. And it was good to get to know more about many of you and your lives in the process - if one of us hasn't replied to you yet, we will do soon!

A big thank you to everyone who responded! We're still compiling the results but a very strong consensus is that we should stick to our guidelines, focus more on quality and keep letting you know when we are low on submissions, so...

We are low on submission. Keep them coming!

Have a great week

Clare & Martin

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Farewell Mr Spaceman

Belewe moon (The betrayer)

Is it false to visit twice in one month,
or be the first, once in a lifetime?
Footsteps and memories are all that seem to remain.

You stood there, flew by and back in humility.
Your old friend the moon will be blue today;
hoping that you're once more in tranquillity.

Now you’ve finally returned to where you belong.
Did it really happen all that long time ago?

RIP Neil Alden Armstrong.

© AiJ

Once in a Blue Moon: Second Full Moon of Month Is Friday

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.


in memoriam, Neil Armstrong

Hey diddle diddle,
The man on the Eagle
Apollo shot up at the Moon.
A half pizza-pie
In a star-spangled sky,
And a wink in the gathering gloom.

© Anthony Baverstock

Statement from the Family of Neil Armstrong

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


A conspiracy theorist comments on reports of the death of Neil Armstrong

No need to mourn the moon man, folks:
it's just another NASA hoax.

© Gwen Seabourne

Neil Armstrong obituary

Gwen Seabourne is an academic specialising in medieval legal history, who has also published poems and stories in magazines and books, and on the radio, and has read at events including the Bristol International Poetry Festival.