Tuesday, 23 December 2014

And Still We Live

And still we live…
Despite the years, despite the days,
Wars, famine and the like
We never rest
We always strive
If we’re not busy dying,
We’re busy being alive
And now it’s Christmas
Which always tells a tale
of the year gone by:
No one remains static
It’s a time to cheer or cry
as we measure our status in numbers:
The number of cards (received and sent)
The number of presents (received and sent)
Of invitations to visit (received and sent)
The number at Christmas dinner:
Is it more or is it less?

Thomas Martin


THOMAS MARTIN lives in Dublin. His writing has been featured in Piranha, Figments, The Weary Blues and Shot Glass Journal

Monday, 22 December 2014

Echoes of Grief

Pockmarked walls,
residues of revenge
that massacred hope,
wailing in echoes of grief. 
Rooms-full of innocence
slaughtered, burned, buried
in a rubble of books, pens
and examination paper.
Corridors explode in eerie silences,
pools of blood map desolate floors
and litanies of heartbreak ricochet
from the courtyard, where
the hundred once laughed;
their dreams still alive
under brimming backpacks
and ochred clothing.
Somewhere, a lone shoe
seeks a lost foot.

An inhuman act etches
itself on the frenzied face
of the weeping mother
and the reeling nation.
Somewhere, a reporter  
cries at a candle-lit vigil  
and I lament in lines
of unreconciled verse,
as the sky lies wounded
on the school steps. 
© Usha Kishroe, 17th December 2014.

 Indian born Usha Kishore is a British poet, writer and translator, resident on the Isle of Man, where she teaches English at Queen Elizabeth II High School.  Usha is internationally published and anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press (all UK) and Harper Collins India.   Her poetry has won prizes in UK Poetry competitions, has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School syllabus. The winner of an Arts Council Award and a Culture Vannin Award, Usha’s debut collection On Manannan’s Isle has been published in January 2014 bydpdotcom, UK.  Forthcoming are a book of translations from the Sanskrit, Translations of the Divine Woman  from Rasala Books India and a second collection of poetry, Night Sky Between the Stars from Cyberwit India.  Usha is now working on her first novel. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sunday Review

Julian Dobson's "Lighten our Darkness" began the week with a look at the "enhanced interrogation" report on the activities of the US CIA. The report is not pleasant reading and undermines the perception of the US as honest players in the international game. The results of the programme are not at all clear but as this well crafted poem explains, ironically
We only seek the truth. The light.
Tuesday's poem was "I Can't Breathe" by Lois Bassen which is a short poem that says a lot. I like the way that the birds are used as a counterpoint to people marching and the last line is perfectly weighted and chilling in it's implications.
slips around Her neck like a noose.
Stefanie Bennett contributed Wednesday's poem "Midnight Gardener"   about the hostage taking in Sydney. It is a lovely poem that tells of how Stepanie copes with an increasingly incomprehensible world. waiting for the time:

When this mother-land of ours will again

Clothe herself in the language
Of petal and leaf 
 Gary Smillie contributed Thursday's poem "The Morning After ii" about the Scottish referendum which is a good poem looking at the aftermath of this momentous event. There is a melancholic air about the poem which contrast with the triumphalism of the victims.
In Glasgow, midnight oil and dad’s best scotch
Burned rather sorely in the throat, but though
Acid reflux almost made the odd man spew
Most kept their cool and drifted sadly home
Luigi Pagano made a welcome return to Poetry24 with his poem "Deutsch Für Alle"on Friday There is some nice word play in the poem which shows up the rather ridiculous side of the situation.
Conversations can be serious

or can be sardonic

as long as they are
entirely Teutonic
Have a good week, all. It was extremely good news to hear that Martin Hodges will be returning as editor. Poetry 24 could not be in better hands

Friday, 19 December 2014

Deutsch für alle

You may think it’s the U.K.I.P.
who are saying “By jingo!”
immigrants may stay here
but must speak the lingo.

No matter if they are Asian
or come from Bulgaria
they’ll have to talk German
over there in Bavaria.

Conversations can be serious
or can be sardonic
as long as they are
entirely Teutonic.

The Christian Social Union
say there should be a debate
and make legislation
at the earliest date.

But was it specified
in the Treaty of Rome
that  the ‘Deutsch’ idiom
should be spoken at home?

© Luigi Pagano 2014

'Speak German at home' row as conservatives target migrants

Luigi’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He has published three poetry collections: “Idle Thoughts”, “Reflections” and “Poetry On Tap”. He contributes to UKAuthors, ABCtales.com and Poetry24.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Morning After (ii)… Britain, 19th September, 2014.

Nothing changed a bit, no hordes awoke,
The claymore wasn’t reached for, after all
The highlands still were cloudy and rain soaked
The city’s traffic at its standard crawl

The tartan slippers felt the same about
The feet of forty million sleepy souls
Who, trundling downstairs, flicked on the box
To check on what they knew, and last night’s goals.

In Glasgow, midnight oil and dad’s best scotch
Burned rather sorely in the throat, but though
Acid reflux almost made the odd man spew
Most kept their cool and drifted sadly home

Dunbarton shook its head and got its way
An exercise in risk aversion felt
Incongruous for clans men in face paint
But fitted, so it seems, more sober celts.

And oilmen in their Aberdeen hotels
Ordered English breakfasts and agreed
Their stocks looked better in the new old light
Then stirred an extra sugar in their teas

In Bullingdon and Eton, only nods,
For greeting something proper needs no fuss
And though there’s not so many in ‘the club’
They’re pleased to call Wee Jocky “one of us”.

The promises on promises went on
Safe in the reassuring, morning after glow
That nothing needed signing or sealing so
Just where’s the harm in tossing off some hope?

And though the web of mutual interest shook
It held so that the spiders could regroup
To spin their many lines, to feed the press
That fill the column inches for the troop

Of ‘Britons’ at their papers, library quiet
Who read with coy relief, we were still whole
Then set to work churning the milk
For the cats at their creamy supper bowl.

(C) Gary Smillie

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

MIDNIGHT GARDENER for Martin Place 16/12/14

 It’s alright when the world’s sleeping.

Stars sit in the yew tree.

The moon is anyone’s heritage.

The cane-toad turns into an oracle.

The night-bat forgets she’s shy.

The cricket sings with renewed strength.

I plant phlox and azalea in my midnight

Garden patch – and make

Plans for a changed tomorrow

When this mother-land of ours will again

Clothe herself in the language

Of petal and leaf – and the mild

Aroma of musk and all things pleasing.

In the hours being struck

By dawn’s grey fingers, I take

One solitary olive branch and offer

Up my reckoning

To the invisible bearer of us all:

Let there be more elemental magic

As the axis bends.

Let there always be

Fine imagery... and a pattern

To record it.
©Stefanie Bennett


(2 hostages and the gunman have been shot

dead – and 4 injured. The gunman was a

self-styled Iranian Cleric.

‘Martin Place Siege, Sydney Australia’

Stefanie Bennett has published eighteen books of poetry. Of mixed ancestry [Irish/
Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia in 1945.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

I Can't Breathe

Better, take breath away
at the sight of multitudes,
birds winging above skyscrapers
in blue sky, winter sun so
bright, eyes tear; at the sound
of voices in cold winter cities
demanding that Justice re-fasten
Her blindfold that too often
slips around Her neck like a noose.

Lois Bassen

http://lsbassen.com/ Fiction Editor for http://www. prickof thespindle.com/ and 2011 Flannery O’Connor Award Finalist. In 2014, a novel & ss collection: http://typhoon-media.com/summer-of-the-long-knives/ and http://www.texturepress.org/livesofcrime.html.
http://lsbassen.com/ Poetry reviews for http://therumpus.net/ & others.


Hamish and I are delighted to be able to tell you that the future of Poetry24 is safe. We have recently heard from Martin Hodges, one of the founders and original editors of the journal, that he is willing to resume as editor. We really could not be more pleased and we know that our readers and contributors will be similarly delighted. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Lighten our darkness

There are ways of shedding light
in dingy corners. Music can help.
The louder the better. The white,
white noise. When you lose count
of hours, something dawns.

There are ways of shedding light 
with water. When the head
goes under, spluttering 
sparks flashes of illumination.
Watch their eyes.

There are ways of shedding light
without a drop of blood.
The stress position, breaking 
of the feet, the revved up drill.
We only seek the truth. The light.

©Julian Dobson

Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield and is currently blogging at 52poemsinayear.wordpress.com and livingwithrats.blogspot.co.uk

This poem was prompted by revelations of the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation techniques': http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11723189

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Announcement about the closing of Poetry 24

Dear Poetry24 readers, this is to let you know that Abi and I will not be editing the site next year. We have been doing it for 2 years and we both feel that it is time to move on. It has been a great pleasure and a great privilege to be the editors here but we want to do other things. If you would like to take on the editorship please get in touch. If no one takes over from us the last Poetry24 will be on Wednesday 31 of December.
Abi and Hamish

Sunday Review

We began this week with a light touch from Kevin N. Jelf whose Tell Me A Secret is a response to the recent announcement of both the title and caste of the new James Bond film. As someone who would rather stick pins in her eyes than watch another such movie, I had better not say too much about this story. I am sure it will be shiny and slick and rank with the smell of dirty money. I suspect, anyway, that La Bassey herself, these days, would be above such a thing. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt and so on.

Tuesday's poem was THE MAN WITH THE CAP by Thomas Martin which marks the passing of the famously cap-wearing former deputy and political campaigner, Jackie Healey Rae.I cannot pretend to know much about the life or work of Mr Healey Rae but I do like a man who sticks to his principles. Similarly, I like a chap who, even under pressure from media luvvies, is prepared to stand by his cap.

Wednesday brought us to Essex, 1820, a clever and powerful piece by Scott Starbuck which draws on the fate of the crew of the Essex, a whaler out of Nantucket, to make some disturbing points about out own attitudes to climate change. With wonderfully appropriate irony the Essex, because of the profitability of her voyages, acquired a reputation for being 'lucky'. It makes you think, me 'earties, doesn't it? Make sure the last stitch goes through the nose.

the ostentatious breast-feeder by Steve Pottinger was our poem on Thursday. Such has been the coverage in both the mainstream and social media that this one needs no explaining. Well done, Mr Pottinger. Thank you for speaking out.

The Demise of HIV by E. R. Olsen was our final poem of the week. Remember HIV? I know, darlings. This year it's Ebola. HIV so very last year. This well-crafted poem  reminded me again of the way big 'human drama' stories fall out of our headlines with depressing predictability once their 'news value' has passed it's sell by date. Perhaps those with the money and the power to do so don't want so much to solve these problems as to use them to distract us and to keep us bound and gagged by fear?

Well, that's all for this week except to say there will be an important announcement tomorrow. Have a happy and stress-free week. Abigail Wyatt

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Demise of HIV

Word is, the demise of HIV                                         
May come sooner than believed                             

Its knack to disguise and adapt                 
The undoing, its fatal crack                                         

This would have come someday                              
So they say, I guess time flies                                    

Not for those who die of course                              
But for the larger pie                                     

To be clear and not lie, I thought                              
It was gone for all we hear                                          

Till last Mass it came time to pass                             
The basket to a visiting priest                    

Who to my surprise preached HIV                           
Was fully alive and seemed well                               

He runs a clinic and he tries                                        
But needs help so he brought a guy                       

Who was thankful, even despite                             
Having gotten the disease,                                         

That people care, God’s aware                 
And please, please keep it coming                          

Father must have spies and know                           
It’s evolved, no need to cry                                        

Less deadly as time goes by                                       
So just wait, tempt fate                                               

Too late HIV, you missed us                                       
We’re gone, we have moved on                                              

But why if Father’s so wise                                         
Doesn’t he recognize                                    

It’s almost done, nearly won                     
Just keep me apprised

HIV's ability to cause AIDS is weakening over time, study finds

E R Olsen writes poetry and practices law in Nevada, where he and his wife raised their four children. His poems have appeared in several U.S. journals and magazines, including the Naugatuck River Review.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

the ostentatious breast-feeder

Drinking in my local
last dullday afternoon
soft drizzle outside
nothing much happening
usual 21st c. sense of ennui

when the door burst open
and a woman danced in
spinning wheeling pirouetting 
across the floor 
up on to a table
scattering drinkers before her

eyes flashing devilment and untamed fire
the shimmer of her dress was scarlet, 
silver, purple, maybe green -
when we talked about it later 
none of us agreed -
and as the trumpets kicked in
with something latin 
I paused, mouth open
pint in hand.
Since when had we had a brass section
in the toilets?
What did this mean?

Then I saw the infant at her breast
and I understood
this was what Nigel 
had been rambling on about
the old soak.

Ostentatious? By god, he wasn’t joking.

As the music swelled to a crescendo
she sprang onto the bar
stamping her heels the length of it,
one arm held aloft, defiant
head thrown back in a piercing banshee scream
a howling wail that lifted the hair on my neck
and as the child suckled, contented,
and fireworks burst along the line of optics
and confetti cannon spewed
a blizzard of paper
into the room

I was on my feet 
with all the others
whooping cheering punching the air
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! HELL YEAH!!

That night 
I dreamed of gurgling babies
fat as Buddhas
and woke smiling.

Steve Pottinger

biog: Steve has gigged the length and breadth of the UK, in pubs and clubs, at poetry nights and festivals. But that doesn't really tell you anything. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Essex, 1820

“An ice sheet in West Antarctica is hemorrhaging a volume of ice equivalent to Mount Everest every two years, a rate much faster than scientists previously thought [ . . . ]” Zoë Schlanger at Newsweek 12/5/14

What were they thinking,
men who drew lots
and chose cannibalism,
after a giant sperm whale
defending his mate,
rammed their now sunken ship?

Did they sing to lift spirits,
and did this remind them
of grief-stricken whales
whose mates they killed,
echoing thousands of undersea miles
under champagned celebrations?

The men’s predator spirits
with too many victories
to recall or count
suddenly turned prey
in a tiny lifeboat inside
the horror instead of outside it.

Like proud men of the USA
facing climate destruction
they and their fathers,
without any foresight,
brought on themselves
and their children.

And like that day on the lifeboat,
an Indian legend says
our money will be worth nothing
while the once-wealthy
scavenge for food
beside the poor.

An ice sheet in West Antarctica is hemorrhaging a volume of ice equivalent to Mount Everest every two years

© Scott Starbuck

Scott Starbuck was a 2014 Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the "Speak Truth to Power" FOR Seabeck Conference. His "Manifesto from Poet on a Dying Planet" is at splitrockreview.org/news

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


There was a chap who wore a cap
It was on his head all day
I wonder if he took it off
When he knelt down to pray?

He wore it in the Summer
When the sun was beating down
He wore it on the farm
And he wore it in the town

And when appearing on TV
Campaigning for farmer’s rights
It still was sitting there
Despite the studio lights

And when he went to bed at night
Was it still atop his head?
And is it still sitting there
Now he’s in his coffin – dead?

Or will it be preserved
In memory of this chap
Who all throughout his adult life
Was rarely seen – without his cap?

-In Memoriam. Jackie Healy-Rae 1931-2014


© Thomas Martin

THOMAS MARTIN lives in Dublin. His writing has been featured in Piranha, Figments, The Weary Blues and Shot Glass Journal

Monday, 8 December 2014

Tell Me a Secret

Tell me a secret or sing me a song
With Miss Bassey you can't go wrong
Mr Goldfinger wants you dead
But won't just put a gun to your head

No self respecting villain would stoop so low
Preferring, instead, to make it painful and slow
There must be a thousand ways for a spy to die
But you live on with your secrets and lies

Near misses? you've had more than a few
But no one woman will ever tame you
Girls and gambling at the Casino Royale
It's only queen and country to whom you're loyal

Gadgets and guns seem to give you a thrill
Not shaken but stirred with a view to a kill

Kevin N. Jelf

Kevin N Jelf is a 50 year old graphic artist who has lived and worked all his life in Birmingham. For Kevin, writing poetry is something of a compulsion. His subject matter ranges from the personal to the topical. He has previously been published in The Cannon's Mouth Quarterly and Here Comes Everyone. His work has also been seen on The Open Mouse and The Recusant

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday Review

Monday's poem was Heads in the Sand" by Harvey  Molloy  a look at the current lack of action by the New Zealand government about climate change. This culminated in a mass "Heads in the Sand" demonstration on some NZ beaches today. There's some good imagery in this poem too.
And you

What do you see when you see the ocean?

How can you hear the breakers with your head stuck in the sand?
On Tuesday it was nice to see David Subacchi back at Poetry24 with his poem "Why Would You?"  It is a poem about someone who I had never heard of but found very interesting and I looked her up in Wikipedia after I had read the poem. I was particularly impressed by:
Reported 'The Lady'
Holder of the right
To ride a horse
Into Seville Cathedral.
Abi's poem on Wednesday "The Outcome" needs no comment from me as it searingly explains a situation that I cannot imagine. Thank you Abi. It is time for a change in society.
Now, a whole long lifetime on, I weep
to see how little things have changed:
murder is not murder and rape is not rape;
the power play goes on
and the outcome is the same.

Thursday's poem by Pete AK" RIOT IS AN ART FORM" is a look at how the ruling elites around the world are not bothering to hide their greediness and offers hope of an uprising to defeat them. It can't happen to soon in my opinion.
Let art grow into rebellion; come people, loot the shelves,
there are abundant words and wisdom for us to gorge ourselves.

On Friday we published "The Ugly Man" by Thomas Martin which talks of Van Morrison and his work. You either love Van or hate him and he doesn't seem to care but the lyrics and the music are still there. I do like the references to his music in the poem.
Yet his music flowed like honey
As he always soared to reach the Astral Planes

Have a good week, all and keep sending in your poems. 

UPDATE: I put the wrong title onto PeteAK's Poem. It has been changed and I apologise to Pete for the error. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Ugly Man

He waddled on stage
A crooked creature of the night
Short and squat
As awkward as a frog
The ugly man with the  lovely song

He sang of love, and romance too
Of Madame George on Cypress Avenue
Of Californian nights and Mississippi blues
The ugly man with the lovely song

Rude and crude, in figure and in speech
Yet his music flowed like honey
As he always soared to reach the Astral Planes
Of longing and of love
The ugly man with the lovely song

Now he shares the stage
With the glitterati of the literati
Seeking his acceptance
In the pantheon of poetic greats
Does his belong there?
Only time will tell
For the ugly man with the lovely song.


THOMAS MARTIN lives in Dublin. His writing has been featured in Piranha, Figments, The Weary Blues and Shot Glass Journal.

Thursday, 4 December 2014


The freedom to discover truth is integral to anarchy.
The right to revolt, deeply sourced in history.
Who knows if revolution can establish a democracy?
At least let us be rid of the slime of this bureaucracy.

Lock and load buddy, fire words straight and true
against the artifice of a society in which reward stays overdue.
Let art grow into rebellion; come people, loot the shelves,
there are abundant words and wisdom for us to gorge ourselves.
Our ministers of parliament, smart of dress and white of smile,
expenses claimed in government keep them in a style
to which they're now accustomed.
Champagne deceptions, shirking parties, Cabernet meetings;
that's them leading by example,
homes and bodies more than ample
as they parade the finest shambles
of privilege and ownership
while working families raise their kids
to respect a queen and her House of Lords
and watch them dine on caviare, we plebs just can't afford.
When government becomes criminal,
condemns the weak, ignores the poor,
it's an invitation for every man to
raise yourself above the law.
It's 'they' that plant the seeds of rebellion,
'they' breed the mistrust around everything,
'they' feed the seed propaganda and repression,
so this enraged poet will sing
anthems that will nourish vagabonds and rebels,
promise to light stars for revolutionary devils,
whose riot is an art-form for men not heard.
We don't vote politicians into power,
we elect them to serve.

David Cameron wants 2014 to be year that Britain rises.

© Pete Ak.  Caerleon, S.Wales. UK.

Former Asst Director, Univ of Wales.
From a  student of Psychiatric Nursing to Sports Psychologist and University lecturer. Thence to music, rock'n roll, poetry and a broadening of psychologically based work to 'Performance Psychology'.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Outcome

When I was a child a man took my body 
and used it to gratify his own.
He knew I was a child but it did not matter
when it came to attributing blame.
The guilt was his, the pleasure was his;
mine was the guilt and the lasting shame,
mine were the marks of the scars he left
where he hurt me in ways I could not name.
Now, a whole long lifetime on, I weep
to see how little things have changed:
murder is not murder and rape is not rape;
the power play goes on 

and the outcome is the same.

Abigail Wyatt


Tuesday, 2 December 2014


After 88 sparkling years
Tonight your light 
Is extinguished
And you fought so hard
To hold back time
With needle and scalpel
Until it was pointless
Then you didn't care
Why would you

Duchess of Alba

Spanish royalty
With a strong claim 
 To Scotland's throne
But you never had time
For any of that
You didn't care
Why would you 

Flamboyant, eccentric

A penchant
For plastic surgery
Reported 'The Lady' 
Holder of the right
To ride a horse
Into Seville Cathedral
You never gave it up
Why would you

When you last married

To humble Alfonso
25 years your junior
The family squabbled
Worried about money
You took no notice
Why would you

To the end you continued

Doing things your way
Grandee of Spain
The Most Excellent
£2.8 billion fortune
"I have a lot of artworks"
You reportedly said
"But I can't eat them, can I?"

Sleep peacefully

Sad eyed lady
Of the magazines
You have done all
That was expected
Of one in your position
You never wanted more
Why would you. 

 Duchess of Alba Dead.

© David Subacchi.2014

David Subacchi was born in Wales of Italian roots. He is a well known poet especially in Wales and the North West of England and is increasingly published internationally. His English language collections ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014) have both been published by Cestrian Press.