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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Funhouse

Welcome to the funhouse!
Here is our first exhibit:
two lists of names of almost
identical length. We call this
a Decisive Referendum Victory.

In here, please; you will see
a scatter of green benches, a few
elderly persons sleeping. This is
the place where all our laws are scrutinised;
the Upper Chamber of Parliament.

We won’t show you the Lower Chamber;
you can hear from outside
that the noise is far too bestial,
the level of language too primitive -
it’s Prime Minister’s Question Time.

These gleaming towers along the river
are the homes of bankers, a race
or people who love to steal your money
but cannot be prevented because
they are so rich and well-protected.

Here there are knives and blood
and people crying out in pain and despair,
some in beds, some in uniforms -
no no, it is not a torture chamber,
it is the National Health Service.

See that jolly policeman? Oh dear,
he has knocked a boy down by accident
and the boy has turned quite black
with regret at all the trouble
he is causing. Please don’t stare.

Please please: don’t  stare.


© David Punter

Theresa May offers MPs Brexit delay vote


David is a poet and critic, and has published many poems before in, for example, PN Review, Encounter, The Rialto and elsewhere. I have also published six poetry pamphlets. My blog is davidpunter.wordpress.com

Brexitum ad infinitum

Oh, will it neverendum

This son of referendum

Unfurling discontentum

‘Cross Party Conservatorium

-  So lacking in disciplinarian

And good old-fashioned decorum?

Can’t someone please just send ‘em

To the EU’s viginti Septem

To get an agreed addendum,

Expunge each corrigendum

And make a new tenendum,

Not to mention definiendum,

To end this irksome conundrum

That’s caused such great opprobrium

And large intakes of (inter alia) opium,

And create a new agendum

That all can fain credendum,

And bring a pleasing endum

To this Brexit pandaemonium?


© David Ellis

Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU

What The Hell Is Going On With Brexit? A Bluffer's Guide To This Week In Parliament

David is a retired English language lecturer and writer of short stories and poems, living precariously close to the fast-receding sand dunes of Merseyside.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

jihadi bride

















because it was war
and she a child perplexed 
by the suffocations of home
groomed betrothed and taken up
as a bride of the prophet
to be the advance reward 
of the martyr’s promise
for martyrdom for sacrifice
for men made from boys
because it was war

because it was holy
and she a blessing in disguise
she bore witness to horror 
and bore children
from death into death
because it was holy

because of faith
in the face of infidelity
and the profanity of unbelievers
for faith denied and faith abandoned
retribution plunged its blade
munitions exploded
blood was let
because of faith

because the blade
that cuts one heart
cuts all hearts
the child soldier and his doxy bride
all the collateral flesh and bone
every by-stander and every innocent
cut down in crossfires
enemies in name only
beheaded into waste-bins
summarily executed
blood on the sand
sand in the blood
water tears and weeping 
witness made blind
because the blade

because she regrets
a child with child corpses
to remember for her sins
she remembers home but home
forgets the child she was
will not even prosecute 
her juvenile delinquency
death to the infidel
she is dispossessed
because she regrets

© Brian Hill

Shamima Begum says she regrets publicising desire to return to UK

Brian has been 50 years a poet. One-time designer and film-maker; long ago, the rhyme-slinger, cartoon cowboy, and planetarium poet; now feverishly stringing words together in the hope of making sense.

To the rescue






To the rescue

We often hear of fat cats
but rarely of chubby rats.
Yesterday one of these
who was quite obese
while out on a stroll
got stuck in a manhole.
After hearing him shout
helpers pulled him out.

© Luigi Pagano

Weighed in the Balance

I am expected to hate you, Shamima,
though in truth, I don’t.
Only four letters
but it’s a big word:
HATE.
Keyboard warriors shout it in capital letters,
tapping out one-fingered rants of detestation,
sticking it to the populist dissidents
who dare to rebel against the social-media throng.
Self-opinionated, seething condemnation,
spewed with passion that threatens and warns:
there is no room for disagreement here.

It’s all her own fault, of course.
She made her bed now she can lie in it.
She knew what she was doing.
Age is no excuse
(because 15 year-old girls always make sensible decisions!).
She’s a terrorist without remorse.
She’s a danger,
she’s evil
she deserves everything she gets.
Her brown eyes and brown skin betray her:
she’s a Muslim,
never really British (only like it or not, she was!).

She was legally a child,
radicalised, incited to hatred
must we match hate for hate?
She cradles a new-born in her arms
(the sins of the mother are borne in the son?).
She’s a politicians distraction from Brexit obsession.
Whatever happened to due-process?
To fair, balanced, judgements?
Do we no longer listen to testimony,
weigh evidence in the scales of Lady Justice
then pronounce sentence,
match punishment to the crime?

Maybe it is us that is on trial now,
our standards,
our values,
our British-ness, even,
hanging in the balance?
We don’t judge and convict in the pages of the Daily Mail
(except, sometimes we do!)
Rehabilitation, redemption, compassion,
truth, justice . . . hate.
What weigh will the scales tip?
Perhaps we have more to lose than to gain
in this game of blame and shame?


© Gifford Savage

Shamima Begum citizenship decision sets a dangerous precedent

Gifford is from BangorNorthern Ireland, has had work published with Lagan Online, was short-listed for the Bangor Poetry Competition 2018 and has read at events throughout Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The kiss, VJ Day

It’s black and white. It’s anything but.
First I just see her, motion arrested,
back foot poised in a delicate tap
as he swarms over her.
So far everything’s conventional
but then I see the jut 
of his elbow at her neck, 
the unnatural
twist back of his wrist -
*he’s locking her in*

we think he’s kissing her lips, 
the angle’s deceptive,
surely she’s twisting away?
He’s over her like Nosferatu,
he’s almost drinking from her neck
he’s so insistent.
Sure he looks cool with his brow,
his quiff, his stiff sailor’s hat, 
a hint of jimmy dean yet to come,
what a guy,
but he’s too big on her screen,
the ultra close-up she’s not ready for,
staggers back from.

Sure it’s a bit of fun. Why make
heavy weather? He’s just trying it on,
and what red-blooded man wouldn’t,
on this day? The atomic bomb of his joy
has to go off somewhere, why not here
in this controlled detonation?
She’s the prize he deserves,
his fruits of victory,
just like it’s been in every war
from Troy to today.
Every war ends
with men taking women,
claiming the prize she.

It’s everything that’s right,
it’s everything that’s wrong.
The guys are laughing, 
inwardly applauding.
Wish we’d had the guts.
It’s just a captured minute,
out of so many.
Nothing to see here, move along.

© Adrian Salmon

Sailor Who Kissed Woman in Iconic Times Square V-J Day Photo Dies at 95

V-J Day in Times Square

Adrian Salmon lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire. His poetry has appeared on Algebra of Owls, i am not a silent poet, and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

In the confessional






In the confessional

Forgive me Father
for I have sinned.
Sexual predators
think the solution
to their problem
is a confession;
if they unburden
themselves of sin
to their confessor
they'll get absolution
and know very well
he will never tell.


Especially since
news has emerged
that makes us wince:
some clergymen too
have been known
to transgress
though they believe
there isn't any need
for them to confess.

© Luigi Pagano

Monday, 25 February 2019

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - The Little Brown Rat

The Little Brown Rat

It is about time we all had a good chat
About what happened to the little brown rat.
Some people blamed the European cat
For the disappearance of the little brown rat,
But it was not the European cat
That did for the little brown rat.
It was climate change that did begat 
The extinction of the little brown rat.
So politician and technocrat
Remember please the little brown rat.
As you stare at the rising thermostat 
Seas rise like they did for the little brown rat.
Climate change is a fact.
Please remember the little brown rat.

© Phil Knight

Bramble Cay melomys: Climate change-ravaged rodent listed as extinct

Phil is poet from Neath in South Wales. His poetry collection 'You Are Welcome To Wales"was published in 2015 by The Red Poets.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - Desert

Desert

rats desert a desert planet
desert creeps into the grasslands
creeps up to the doors of cliff high houses
up river beds backpackers wander new trails
river lips crack like crazed fields
lips craving drooling streams and water falling
craving around shrinking parch-towns
around desert island city wind roads
desert rats even desert a drying planet

S. O. Fasrus


Trump administration to create panel to deny climate change facts almost all scientists agree on

S.O. Fasrus is a Social Justice Campaigner & Social Research Interviewer. Her verse and poems; some comic; satirical; and serious; can be found online. Recent poems are in New Verse News, Culture Matters, and Poems for Grenfell Tower.

POEMS OR THE PLANET - The Last Word in Recycling 2030

The Last Word in Recycling 2030

Why rot expensively, be a burden?
My beloved—he’d really thought it through.
Made it the focus of his end of life.
Why not give his family cause to party?
Celebrate the manner of his passing
on the anniversary of his death.
His last voyage a page in family history.

No euphemisms here. Do as the ancients
have before.
The Zarathrustrans with their Dakhmas
those poles with wicker baskets on the top
vultures wheeling.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes
on Ilkley Moor they gave the worms a feast

We've always done it.
We’ve all seen the films.
Heartrending shots of famished polar bears. Walrus struggling
to find a patch of ice to safely plant their pups.

These days they run convoys
a last drink here, roast cod or king crab there.
The ultimate in altruism.
Wrap up warm. It’s cold up here—so far north.
But no Kevlar please or man-made fleece,
Just good, old-fashioned wool. And alcohol.

His living will in black and white.
No God's Waiting Room for him
No hushed voices as he breathes his last.

And now of course, the story’s old, and
no one these days thinks it odd
to book their trip when their time is near
go to Svalbard with their near and dear,
be eaten by a starving polar bear.


© Rosie Barrett

Polar bear ‘invasion’: how climate change is making human-wildlife conflicts worse

Rosie Barrett has lived in South Devon for over 30 years and cherishes family and watery views.  She’s been published in anthologies and magazines. She’s working on her first collection.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - What can I do? (One and a half degrees)

What can I do? (One and a half degrees)

Throwing away a plastic carton
On a train, not taking it home to wash
And recycle;
It's grubby and will get over my bag,
Like the paper coffee cup
I took home once and decided
That was not a good idea.

When I click the order button
On the online clothing forum
I try not to think of the person who made it;
In a factory in China
Where workers sleep on the premises
Or in India, where factory effluent
Seeps into the rivers,
After seeing the gallons of water
Used to make cotton
I don't want to buy it-do I check all my labels.

I can't as a rule, afford organic;
I've discovered the market
For seasonal veg-
Who needs strawberries in January?
We aren't driving, anymore
Our flying footprint is very low
Is it enough?

Making steps forwards and backwards,
Perhaps better than just backwards-
Big, guzzling consumers devouring the planet;
Climate change deniers
During the big freeze Trump asked for global warming-
He has it now, for the next ten years;
Warmer temps shifting up the
Thermometer pole
To be aware
Is not much to ask.

© Amanda Derry

Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office

Amanda joined a Creative Writing class, following a breakdown, which played a significant role in her recovery. She now embeds literacy skills into classes that she teaches.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - Eschaton
















Eschaton

The truth of it: 
these are the end of days 
unbiblical and profane.

Blind fools have taken 
too much of everything
and bled an entire world dry.

No-one cries ‘Stop!’, 
no-one can agree when or how;
dominion over the earth:
a fat lot of good.

Power but no shred of respect:
air, land or sea, whatever was in them
ours, anything, we held, possible,
because of who we were.

Time, though infinite, 
is still running out, no longer a technicality 
contained in the mainsprings of old-world clocks
nor the digital drip of it, slow and steady,
on our heads like ancient water torture.

We’re fucked, if no-one has the courage
to read the signals beaming at us across this bead of rock 
as it spins around the sun, on its ravaged way, nowhere special, 
as insignificant as every other smudge of dust.

We are squabbling brutes of bone and meat
who swagger and huff; huddled masses with arrant lunatics 
who lord it over us, who eye the marks they make on history, 
never see the scars, whose hearts are set on glory 
never on how the weary world turns and we are squealing vermin, 
their glorious red carpet, dyed with our bloodstains and sorrow.

So, I said, suit yourself, dress up in fine clothes, look smart, 
parade and prosper, limo yourselves away to condominiums,
to compounds where your illusions are still as safe as money; 
trap us with your conspiracy politics, your sham of freedom.

And still I stand up and say, conjugate the verb ‘to fuck’,
it’s past participle, it’s metaphorical sense; 
to hell with literal, too late for that: 
I am, you are, he, she or it, (oh, shit) is, 
we are, you are, they are, 
fucked…

© Brian Hill


Brian has been 50 years a poet. One-time designer and film-maker; long ago, the rhyme-slinger, cartoon cowboy, and planetarium poet; now feverishly stringing words together in the hope of making sense.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - Environment (An acrostic poem)

Environment (An acrostic poem)

Environment to us is very important.
Now that pollution is more rampant
Vegetation is harmed by acid rain,
Icebergs melt and flood the plain,
Roots of trees weaken and decline.
Ozone depletion is not at all benign
Nor is the increase of carbon dioxide.
Mountains and islands may subside
Every time a seaquake fractures
Nuclear power stations’ structures.
Too many though don’t get the picture.

© Luigi Pagano

Luigi has published three collections of poems: ‘Idle Thoughts’, ’Reflections’ and ‘Poetry On Tap’. His work has been featured in ABCTales’ magazines, UKAuthors’ anthologies, Poetry24 and several other publications.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - Changing Places

Changing Places

“A change is 
as good as a rest”
they say-
a one click ticket to paradise
“ohhhh sooo verrry nice”-
a change of scene
a break 
with the routine-

a dreams DO come true trip
going for a snip
of the price-
“a slice of real life”
five star
or four,
forget the wolf
at the door
for one week 
or two
until there are none-

no wolves
no bears
no foxes
no hares
but
meanwhile in paradise
who really cares?

© Bex Tate


The story of César, an imperial eagle released back into Madrid’s skies

Bex, frustrated with the data driven education system, left her teaching job behind and is still wondering what to do next. Writing poetry helps her to try and make sense of the world, as well as giving her the chance to rant a bit!

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - The Children of Sirius

The Children of Sirius

Our world is warming,
Weeping glaciers, 
Into burning seas. 

Witnesses to our Genesis: 
Our brethren whales, flee,
Charting colder waters.

Our origins of creation in whale-songs,
Beginning with volcanoes, 
We shall be Navigators again. 

Our golden myths and legends,
Sink in rising warning tides,
Under the light of Sirius.

© James Schwartz


James is a poet, slam performer, writer and author of four poetry collections including "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" and most recently "Punatic" (Writing Knights Press).

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - Project Fear

Project Fear

A day filled with Friday life 
a February blue sky 
counting seventeen degrees of sun 
absurdly sitting outside,
shining shoes reflecting rays 
birds singing happily confused. 

I fear the shrubs will bud 
and be lost in next week’s frost. 
I fear this may Be It, 
an early Spring lends to Summer, 
March will bring a heatwave,
April May a drought. 

By August we’ll have wilted 
unable to brush off flies, 
the lawn withered and died. 
The sea will be upon us, 
lapping at the fields 
all of Brussels flooded
waste tangled in the trees. 

There will be no streets
for the young to march upon 
The rich will move back up the hills,
the poor fighting for a home
thirsty and destroyed.

And we will remember 
our discomforting pleasure 
on this warm winter day 
shining shoes outside.


Emma is a social activist and poet living in the Belgian countryside with her family and many animals.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - HOPEless

HOPEless

I’ve lost what little hope I had
in the entire human race,
and see a desperate future
writ large upon its face.
We’ve reached a certain point
upon the arc of evolution,
where progress made along the way
is enveloped in pollution.
We’ve done the damage,
like as not,
and our inner urge
to improve our lot 
is balanced by 
the innate rot
that spreads through every nation.

My oldest child 
of fourteen years
sums up my
unintended fears,
asking why
he sees and hears
the nightly news reports.

I find it hard 
to answer him,
to answer why
the picture’s grim
and hopes of rescue
seem so slim,
as my vision so distorts.

The earth will carry on and turn,
and continue on its course,
species still will rise and fall
and we will just endorse
the selfishness of 
modern man,
doing what the hell we want,
believing that we can.
We started out
with cold stone tools,
and because we are
such stone-cold fools
we’ll end up 
where the savage rules,
right where we began.

Andrew Goodison is a single father of two, full time carer and full time poet, living in the West of Ireland.

POEMS FOR THE PLANET - ‘Our little brown rat’

‘Our little brown rat’

Ever heard of Melomys rubicola,
late of Bramble Cay? Ever heard, even, 
of Bramble Cay?
Look it up. 

Pretty name, don’t you think? 
for a death-trap. This tiny scrap of sand
held together by grass 
has hit the headlines
because
Melomys rubicola, a tiny rat
which lived only there
is now formally listed as 
the first mammal to die out
through anthropogenic
climate change. 

We did this.

Or rather, we did nothing.
Oh, there was a plan – there’s been a plan
for a decade now, to save
the Bramble Cay melomys – 
but 
the island is very small
the animal is very small 
          (and a rat, anyway)
and the wave that washed the last one 
out to sea, possibly before 2014, 
just an ordinary wave
          far too small for surfing.

So no-one bothered. 

Bramble Cay will probably be gone, too,
before long. A few years, and it will swoon
into the warm arms of the rising Pacific
with hardly a sigh.

How long before
we are all being drowned by inaction?

© Mandy Macdonald

Bramble Cay melomys: Climate change-ravaged rodent listed as extinct


Mandy's latest published poems are about vegetables (Vaster than Empires, Grey Hen Press), sex (The Ramingo's Porch  #4), and – most important of all – climate change (Multiverse, Shoreline of Infinity).

Sunday, 24 February 2019

No Place for Such A Preface

Addressing the Editor
of a newspaper as Sir
has caused offence
and created a stir
among some readers
who, with certitude,
have said the tradition
shows a sexist attitude;
that it is ridiculous
and also offensive.
The beleaguered man
didn't become defensive;
he wrote that although
he was not a feminist
from this hated practice
he would now desist.
He added other papers
had been educated
and agreed this anomaly
should be eradicated.
I don't want to comment
so I sit on the fence
and therefore I cannot
cause any offence.
I don't know about you
but we could employ
a simple address
by shouting: “Oi!”

© Luigi Pagano


Luigi has published three collections of poems: ‘Idle Thoughts’, ’Reflections’ and ‘Poetry On Tap’. His work has been featured in ABCTales’ magazines, UKAuthors’ anthologies, Poetry24 and several other publications.

Asma al-Assad






Asma al-Assad

she's graceful and appealing
who knows what Asma's feeling
who knows what Asma's thinking
who knows what Asma knows

restrained, correct, alluring
who knows what she's enduring
who knows why Asma's staying
who knows what Asma knows

© S.O. Fasrus


The treatment of Shamima Begum and Asma Al-Assad reveals Britain’s double standards

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Anna Wintour's Wig?






















Photo by S.O. Fasrus: London Fashion Week, after party, 19/02/2019

please do not stare or glare at Anna's hair
which doesn't change a bit from day to day
her big dark glasses such an assuring sight

high priestesses of fashion, know what's right
and Vogue's not Vogue without her, so they say
so do not stare or glare at Anna's hair

like Andy Warhol, wigs have served her right
though classic brunette, never bleached or grey
her big dark glasses such an assuring sight

our fashion leaders dare not look a fright
the head of Vogue, her image must not stray
so do not stare or glare at Anna's hair

stern-faced, there's Anna, Dame and leading light
at London Fashion Week, two seats away
her big dark glasses such an assuring sight

the Editor of Vogue just knows what's right
so turn a blind eye, seem to look away -
her big dark glasses such an assuring sight -
and please don't glare or stare at Anna's hair


© S.O. Fasrus


Harper Beckham and Anna Wintour had matching hair at London Fashion Week during Victoria's show

S.O. Fasrus is a Social Justice Campaigner & Social Research Interviewer. Her verse and poems; some comic; satirical; and serious; can be found online. Recent poems are in New Verse News, Culture Matters, and Poems for Grenfell Tower.