The Watchers - Susan Jones

I drive out with Mama Rosa
in the Nissan Micra,
on a June afternoon.
Rivers of road glisten:
tarmacadam flows
through country to sea.

We make sail for familiar parts
as if they were unknown.

The West Coast - beckons.
Summer seas becalmed,
bright sun - a yellow chrysanthemum,
wind blows through open windows.
Our car accelerates along the straight.

Mama Rosa frail and small boned,
sinks into her passenger seat -
quiet enjoyment cloaks her age.
While I drive,
hands at ten to two on the steering wheel;
eye on speedometer - reads the legal limit.

This is our life. In tandem,
within boundaries.
Silent acceptance of
where we are going
where we have been
where we will end.

Susan Jones

The Breaking Waves - Marianna Pliakou

The waves came crashing in again.
We knew they were coming.
And so we tried to build an arc.

But we had eaten all the animals and burned all the trees.
And only a few of us were left, our homeʼs Spartan defenders.

We locked up and filled the gaps in the walls.
But the hungry fishes smashed the doors and shattered the windows.
Burst into our living room, sat on the table and ate our books.

Salt filled our mouths, our tongues went numb.
No words were spoken, our voices lost in the water.

Only our bodies embraced one another, like infinite, doomed lovers,
in their harmonious majesty before the last blow.

The waves came crashing in again.
We knew they were coming.
And so we embraced each other.

At last, in the end, till the end.

Marianna Pliakou

Boxer - John E Blaise

In the clearing stands a boxer
Big and strong and brave,
He is panting really fast
As though every breath will be his last.
Battle scarred but not marred
Punch drunk , no hunch, still straight
He will stand and wait.
A veteran of many scraps
Ducking and diving avoiding the traps
But time has caught him up
He will soon have to stop
Will this be his last fight?
To win this one is his given right

But I have to cross the clearing

I am a coward, I am very weak
I have a giant yellow streak
So we make eye contact, shuffle around a bit
I am going to need just one big hit
I have to save face, save the day
Then he snarls and growls then barks
So I turn and run away!

John E. Blaise

My Little Bird - Diane Scantlebury

I thought my little bird had gone
To discover the world
And a life of her own,
But she returned
‘Cause she thought she knew best,
And brought chaos and havoc
Back to my nest,

For like her
I had grown,
My circumstances had changed
I had moved on,
New activities had filled
My empty nest days,
But she’d brought back
Her bad old ways,

I’d forgotten that only herself
She could see,
And how everything was
Just ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’!
How in her heart
She was still only a child,
And I was mum
And had to put up and smile,

Being a mother
There’s no rest,
When times are hard
They’ll fledge back to the nest,
Expecting you to welcome them
Come what may,
And be the same as before
They’d gone away,

I thought my little bird had flown,
But she’s back to disrupt
My happy, quiet home.

Diane Scantlebury

Orchestra of Rain - Fred Williamson

Rainfall, between the trees
Running, dripping, from the leaves
Dancing raindrops on my caravan
Believe it, if you can.

Orchestra of rain
Playing again and again
A different tone, the raindrops play
A different tune, every day.

Playing loud and clear
It is music to my ear
The hour passes, rainfalls, hard and fast
How long will raindrops last?

The Orchestra of rain begins to slow
Gently now, a steady flow
The Orchestra is playing 'the raindrops bop'
One last flourish, and the raindrops stop.

Fred Williamson

Face-It - Lester Queripel

My face will eventually let me down
It will wear a permanent frown
It will tell the story of my life
The stress and all the strife
My face is showing the times
I have wrinkles, and I have lines
I try to put on a happy face
So I put on the mask
I do not want you to see through me
So I do not even ask
My face is false and it shows
The scars, the knocks, the blows
I did not choose it, will never lose it
I cannot change it, but I could rearrange it
Because although my face is mature, there is a cure
I could have plastic surgery
But that will coat me money
So plastic surgery is not for me
I will have to face it, embrace it
That is the way it is meant to be

Lester Queripel

Times A-Changing (Ode to Bob Dylan) - Ian Duquemin

Come gather 'round children I've something to tell
And some of you grown ups are welcome as well
As one that will listen... Is one more to hear
Let's not criticise all that are ageing
Because some of them heard what a prophet once said
That the times they are a-changing

Now throughout the years and throughout the land
Things they do happen we can't understand
The powers above us they do as they please
Leaving us who are constantly raging
If we all stood together united as one
Then the times maybe a-changing

The rich they get richer the poor they just die
Did you ever take note of the reasons and why
A life is worth nothing to he who needs more
As its money he thinks is worth saving
When profit is all that a man can achieve
Then this world it needs a-changing

Our leaders and cheaters that rule with a fist
They read out the lies that are down on their list
And think we're so stupid their lies we don't see
They deceive with a smile when campaigning
As all that they promise is not what they mean
Its their words they are a-changing

Throughout the world there are millions the same
The rest they do nothing yet we are to blame
And as they get bigger the smaller we feel
But we just need a little arranging
If we join hands together the bigger we are
So the world could be a-changing

Now listen my brothers and sisters alike
To get your voice heard you don't need a mic
You just need to shout so the others will hear
We're not going away but remaining
And if we stand tall so the rulers will fall
Then the times will be a-changing

So lay down your bullets and lay down your gun
The weapon of choice is within everyone
So say what you will so that others may learn
It's your voice that you should be engaging
As freedom of speech is all that we need
And our world would be a-changing

Ian Duquemin

Dread Squabble, Reed Warble, Creed Scrawled - Chris Hudson

Crucifixes watched over in threshold experiential, tracing every motion before
Like a quivering muscle that neurons refuse to fire, yet expanding delight
Earth wanderers and reed-weed squanderers, tumbled into town
These needed seeds nighted in splendiferous oblivion
Delighted by time’s inversion learned anew every day
Trammels thought in delimited channels
Brain train hacked occluded declaration, neurologistically deconstructing daydreams
Absurd ideologies fall like overblown fruit, seeds transplanted, uprooted and broadcast,
Finite images of the image makers, poking phallus fun at springtime orgies
Flower-bedecked and dew-spangled, erotic interchange of entwined intertextuality
Barely making sense, incensed and incense, under the wheel and oiled and spieled
Neutered newspeak in pallid, rendered refraction
Oiled dealing wheels, bought another’s head, state died in transitory moment of people’s faith,
Between world and art, moving grooving shimmer flesh swaying
In dances of flesh in melatrope miasmed slaughtering blues, knives flashing in rows
On spinning mechanisms exempt from tests loosened and chosen, blue light caromed
From tin can reflect justice done and scripture revealed, explored depths of mystery
Returned to report back, for all those out on the byways and tracks
Who aren’t building a state of derision from the sweat of other people’s backs
Water milky with human kindness, browned with blood, blackened with impossible age.
See! The light of day, beyond the Caucasus, futurologists mimed
Haloed with dreams, flaying the broken edges of reality in distortion field
Friends’ mouths agape, beat through the thoroughfare, transition from feeble to hopeful
Green again, at last relax! Introspection, interjected and rejected on primal grounds
In rational board games, traverse expand from ego-nest-egg of decimated perceptions
Black and white on the greedy grasping rapacious, sickened continuum, blackened and charred,
Into a whisper spiral shell of thought regaled by sad drama of unfolding episode
Panegyric, lyrical wax and wane, weapons of war stored carefully away, time bomb future
Letters and truth from the all-seeing cries of possession, lend me time and release me with letters
Gatherings, emotion of life, futuristic explanation, escapades of love, enraptured with bliss
Pre-rational soul scape, immutable and whole, growth from the heart
Lands not splintered and cracked by nuclear attack.
Dwelling, noble mind, etchings and craft, gently looped structure with chinks of light
Filled in with mosses and rocks, underground hideaway, warm cosy den,
Lime light rebounds and surrounds, in head room I am loose, I choose, sacred space
Unbuttoned, chilled out, unbounded in the breeze of time, contemplating unrealised things
Silent stage of body space, trained in mime, no cracked egg shells to dispel
Spring of consciousness revealed, ideals, crouched to the centre, flimsy transparent shield
Of other’s confusion, envelope of sound reflects and rebounds, mildly in tension
Reverberate well oiled drum, living skin, not dumb.
Cannot undo what has been done, instant glimmer and flitter, sparrow’s song
Lunched on the pogrom of incantatory psalm, turn innocence outward into love projection
Momentary stasis blockading incredulity, we are alive!
Not nonplussed by our beauty, we wear it with pride
Transcended template into our space.

Chris Hudson

Granny - Ros Willard

My gran is not like other people’s grans
who sleep through days as if already dead,
dreaming of the past with no future plans,
rehearsing for the endless night ahead.
Her hours are not spent watching TV soaps
in a rocking chair, knitting coloured squares.
She does not dwell on long-extinguished hopes
or offer up a string of fearful prayers.
She has not let her dark hair fade to grey
or worry dim the brilliance of her smile.
She has not yet forgotten how to play
or lost her sense of elegance and style.
She is the person I’ll aspire to be
in sixty years, when I am ninety-three!

Ros Willard

Beach Braves at Port Soif - Jean Jorgensen

True, they have their camp fires,
Their war cries and tribal chants.
But these are not proud warriors
Defending ancient lands and rights.

These are shameful polluters
Who defile our ancient shores and seas,
Their weapons the daggered shards of glass
And ruptured twists of metal
That pierce and lacerate tender paws and feet.

Then, unlike scavenging rodents
That creep silently at dusk from stony lairs
To forage deep-shadowed sands,
So these other creatures, these beach desecrators -
With vandals’ mindset sated -
Scuttle in raucous retreat into the darkness,
Their toxic dross abandoned to the night.

Jean Jorgensen
Written in outrage in 2009)

St Peter Port Promenade - Joan Willard

Let us stroll
on a winter’s night,
holding hands.

Above the town
a gold-streaked sky
the naked trees.
On the front
bright festive strands
warm the frosty
ice-spiked breeze.
Lapping waters
shimmer and dance
as the lighted
ferry leaves.
Far away a choir sings.

Let us stroll
on a winter’s night,
holding hands.

Joan Willard

Bad fruit in Eden - Susan Jones

It's not safe
in my garden;
in the garden of England
Eden Valley, Maidstone,
Tonbridge Wells,
home to cricket,
hop houses,
and my house;
where my dog
the backyard,
boxed in by Laurel,
privet, roses
and apple trees.

But they came.
To threaten
and terrorize;
a modern scourge.
late at night ;
a crime
no one dare speak
but I dare now:
everywhere -
Bad fruit in the garden -
may you wither on the limb
and rot in Eden.

Susan Jones

Nostalgia Is Not Always To Be Trusted - Marianna Pliakou

I know, Nostalgia lives in the past.

She owns the knot,
that holds it all together.
Faces and smells and sounds,
wearing Her perfume,
they walk on stretching threads of clocks.
Strings from quondam days, tangled up to now,
laying claim.

I think of her as friend,
often I fear sheʼs not.
For whilst our compass faces North,
Her voice keeps pointing South.
And so she comes, in all her majesty,
a lustful Siren whom we, sometimes, must ignore.

Marianna Pliakou

I Was A Rasta - Chris Hudson

I was a Rasta, a Taoist, Zen, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan
Homeless, poor, yet wealthy and landed
My forebears knew Christ, yet the horned god
And the void were more to my taste
Experiences received, lived and believed
Dogma unearthed, I came, I saw yet was unheard
And unsung, senses burned
And clung to one word
Unfolded karmic ritual of soul
The astral path my one and only goal
Once imprisoned in electric cell of force-field
In a static hell smothered in If-words of doubt
My entire being vibrating to the call of the crystal
My universe within forced out
Seed of all life, put my enemies to route
At last to fall, and break my path
Between gates of logic, ether-breeze
Bust open all doors, for I reached into the womb of earth
Where I beheld all fruits of wisdom and worth
The ancient shrine stood yet undefiled
A sight all too glad for longing eyes!
Blistered by such radiant smiles
Eyes flutter, hearts pound, hands that
Are likened as to butterflies
From what befalls of time and the
Nexus of an aggregate of chance and twisted fate
This hand that stayed to reach the sky
From these clouds heaven’s bolt alighted
Carried from the hole cold blasted and blighted
Airy hail which pounded in the place
Where wealth is not measured by weight or rod
Where sun shines on rich and poor alike
I was touched by the hand of God
He showed me, in a dream
He left his mark, told me I was to be a poet
(Please do not kick this poor sod,
For I do try not to show it.)
Hark! Cracks at the gates of dawn!
Has the Golden Horn yet sounded?

Chris Hudson

The Writer in Me - Ian Duquemin

I write what I want Not what I think you might like!
So if I wrote that I saw a cow riding a bike
It doesn't mean I've seen it or that my writings were real
It's simply because I just write what I feel
If I talk about dying, or clowns that are crying
That I've ridden a star and watched a unicorn flying
It's just that my mind is a strange wondrous land
A place even I sometimes don't understand

Ian Duquemin

You Are A Rock - John E Blaise

You are a rock
The key to the lock
The hen to the cock
The shoe to the sock
The stew to the stock
The hind to the buck
The ship to the dock
The ham to the hock
The sheep to the flock
The door to the knock
The hem to the frock
The food to the wok
The hand to the clock
The tick to the tock
You should be in shock
Because you are a rock

John E Blaise

Thursdays - Ros Willard

Thursday was always my shopping day.
Each week I would collect my pension
from the Post Office.
Standing in the queue
I would chat to Betty and Joan and Deidre
about our dead husbands,
our grandchildren,
the weather.
I don’t anymore –
the Post Office closed last year.

Afterwards I used to queue
in the butchers, the greengrocers, the bakery,
exchanging recipes, suggestions, advice.
I don’t anymore.....

Now on Thursdays
I go to a town
ten miles from my village.
Surrounded by strangers,
speaking to no-one,
I stand in a supermarket
and watch my fruit and vegetables,
bread and meat,
process in cling-filmed silence
along the conveyor belt.

I don’t know what I shall do
when they stop the bus service next year.

Ros Willard

Lament - Jean Jorgensen

In his own Universe he is the Sun
And we, the hobbies, job and family
Are as the planets, ever-circling,
Absorbing whatever warmth and interest we can find
In proportion to the value of ourselves.

But just for once I would like to be the Sun
In someone’s Universe;
To know that I am all-important to that Life.
To give my warmth and comfort
And in return receive the knowledge that I too exist.

Jean Jorgensen

Anger Revolves The Heart T’entrap - Chris Hudson

Anger revolves the heart t’entrap
Tethers the mind by ties of time
White tides flow out and in
And vain pride fumbles, pries and tries
Peace resolves, sets you on the track
The path you follow complies
With sublime will and origin
Need to question, wonder why
Push, pull, forwards and back
Clock hands revolve, time lies
Sense allows no rest, begin again
A shallow course to ply
Karma will again reply
To your dharmic questioning
Sense cannot descry nor reason ponder why
Intense circles describe the sunny sky
Let thought on raven’s wing fly
Go afar! Go afar! And circle around
Spread the message of knowledge new found
And purge the enemy, anger from thy heart
Let peace and love grow, sow seeds
In thy heart, sprout peace and love
In this, thy hallowed ground, make a new start.

Chris Hudson

“I’m Coco” - Joan Willard

Big Top

Excited children fill the gaudy tent
that smells of grease-paint, horses, sawdust, sweat.
Bright strident music ushers to the ring
in coloured, spangled tights,
cossacks, tumblers,
arial acts.
I’m there as well, with high-arched brows,
huge whitened eyes,
inverted horseshoe mouth,
red hair that points north, south, east and west.
I’m famous for the way I dress – white gloves,
old baggy pants, shapeless tartan coat,
large ribboned medals pinned across my chest.
I clown, fall, bow and make the audience laugh.
I’m Coco.

Cat Walk

The chairs have gilded feet, the champagne flows
in this salon,
where well-heeled vendees watch a spotlight beam
on reed-slim models,
who glide and pose to show
this season’s dresses, suits and casual wear.
The audience is entranced.
And when the show is done, I enter, dressed
in stunning black, gilt chains, faux pearls,
white gloves,
enveloped in a veil of ‘Numero Cinq’.
I hear applause. Bravo! I bow, I smile,
they love me for my flair, my chic, my style.
I’m Coco.

Joan Willard

The Swan, The Bluebottle And The Flying Horse - Susan Jones

White of wing
Black of eye
The swan crash dives
On to the surface of the pond.

A rogue blue bottle
Bops in the February sun
Too early to live and fly
She falls victim to the Swans appetite

Beneath the nearby sea shore
The flying horse darts between the kelp
He’s getting rarer to find –
To survive he will need some help

The swan, the bluebottle and the flying horse
Do not seem the sorts
To be friends on this winter day
But when its sunny, they all like to play.

So gather round and learn to speak
To the swan with the yellow beck
The bluebottle with his noisy buzz
And the flying horse who dreams of love.

Susan Jones

I Was - Ros Willard

I was a baby boy during the reign of King Herod
I was a Polish Jew in 1943
I was an eleven year old girl in Hiroshima
I was on the 84th floor of the World Trade Centre
I was a prostitute working the murky streets of Whitechapel
I was on the maiden voyage of an unsinkable ship
I was just eighteen when I fought at Passchendaele
I was Queen of England but I ruled for only nine days
I was born at the end of the fifties, with no arms or legs
I was in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004
I was at Kings Cross the day fire broke out
I was an aristocrat during the French Revolution
I was one of Stalin’s “enemies of the people”
I was in Herculaneum in AD 79
I was kidnapped, shackled and sold to a plantation owner
I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ros Willard

Black Suede Dreams - Jean Jorgensen

Dignified and standing straight,
Shoe-tree’d and neat,
Waiting in a quiet place
For work-weary feet.
The pretend glass slippers of that dreary northern street.

Did the mother have her dreams?
As did the child in later years.
The child, with eager, careful touch,
Grasping the wooden-handled brush,
Its wiry bristles smoothing
Soft black suede,
Creating shadows light and dark
That played their game and changed and moved,
Never staying the same.

Nor did the dreams.
The mother’s changed by toil and care,
The child’s yet to be found there
In that world of softest suede that she had longed to clean.
And so discovered her dream.

Jean Jorgensen

When God Drops His Crumbs - Chris Hudson

When God drops his crumbs
Into our muddling pool of reality
They tumble to earth
Will they breed new humans sprouting from that ancient turf?
Will the millennium spell the end to poetry
That man no longer requires to be free;
Life’s summary written, “Oh!”, “Agh!”;
Will our dates ever be the same again;
Will a meteor smash into the biosphere;
Or a squaddie press the wrong button
Causing tidal wave, earthquake famine, death and fear;
Will there be scientific innovation
At last to feed every nation?

Chris Hudson

A Caution - Diane Scantlebury

Abusers are bullies
In a clever disguise,
They smother you with kisses
Then drown you with lies,
Imprisoned in a fairytale
Of thin tissue and crap,
You’re bound fast without rope
In a mind twisted trap,

Abusers are manipulative
Will transform you to mush,
They’re expert in grooming
Know what buttons to push,
It couldn’t happen to me
I’m bright and intelligent,
But under your vulnerable radar
They’ll slip with ease and eloquence,

Abusers are masters
Of elegance and grace,
But will mercilessly crush victims
The thrill’s in the chase,
They have no conscience
Will fake sincerity,
Concoct outrageous fabrications
And insist on its verity,

From someone who’s been snared
Take this advice,
Too good to be true?
Be cautious, think twice!

Diane Scantlebury

Unmistakably Quink - Susan Jones

An Angel sat in a sunset,
and wrote in cerise pink ink:
there’s more love, tenderness
and compassion in the world,
than whatever you may think.

The phonetic shorthand flowed,
in a frantic fluttering line:
there’s more laughter,
fun and kindness in the world-
had from friendships merry kind.

The raspberry ripple stripe
inscribed, decipherable and distinct:
there’s more gentleness.
trust and softness to be found
if you could just adjust,

reply to a stranger’s smile
a would be friend’s handclasp

it takes an open mind,
to establish a connection
solid and steadfast.

Beneath lowering clouds
of whipped egg white
colours leached from the dusk night sky

the Angel’s quill stuttered still
as the delicate link of hot pink quink
dissolved with the day’s demise

I was supremely privileged
to see such beauty,
hear words to appraise, and transcribe

there’s more spiritual richness
more opportunities
for a jaded spirit to revive,

than in one precarious lifetime I could ever chance by.

Susan Jones

New Day (For Uncle Peter With Love. R.I.P) - Ian Duquemin

On the day he died it was a normal day
Nothing unusual, no clouds of grey
The sun did shine in a bright blue sky
Birds on the thermals were lifted up high
Flowers swayed gently in the delicate breeze
Dancing to songs of the visiting bees
Waves applauded loudly as they rolled to the sand
Saluting a lifetime so perfectly planned
A day of beauty... A day so bright
A day filled with sunshine and heavenly light
A day that was chosen by the god in his heart
A day not of ending... But a new day to start

Ian Duquemin

Mr. Peter Bale - 16.04.14

Evidently Donkey Town - Chris Hudson

The bloney traffic’s bloney slow
Everywhere you bloney go
The bloney Social’s bloney tight
The thugs in pubs all love to fight

The bloney Government is run
By bloney crooks who read the Sun
The bloney kids drop bloney trash
Everywhere they spend their cash

The bloney banks are bloney broke
The bloney sponsor’s had a stroke
It make the Bailiff bloney frown
Evidently Donkey Town!

The bloney Kev’s drive fancy cars
In your face stub out cigars
The bloney poor are bloney thieves
It bloney beggars bloney belief

The bloney Queen’s our bloney Crown
It bloney gets you bloney down
The bloney preists are bloney gay
It bloney rains day after day

The red tape’s bloney cracking down
All over bloney Donkey Town!

There’s nothing to bloney do
My bloney mobile’s screaming blue
Everything’s bloney status quo
The internet is bloney slow

The local stars are bloney creeps
The hymns they sing are bloney cheap
The local cop’s a bloney clown
This is bloney Donkey Town!

The politicians bloney whine
They haven’t got the bloney time
The bloney Doctor’s making out
He’s bloney dubbed-up some poor lout

There’s bloney alkies on the street
They’re bloney spitting at your feet
The bloney tip is bloney full
The bloney youth are on the pull

The bloney right to bloney choose?!
Which way you turn you bloney lose
The Teach can’t tell a verb from noun

Chris Hudson

Bright Star - Diane Scantlebury

I watched Amy
And I cried,
Such a beautiful bright star
Should never have died,
A tragic, troubled life
In public unfurled,
A talent eclipsed
Now lost to the world,

It made me think
Of my own precious one,
And of all of us
Who have daughters or sons,
For their future happiness
Our hopes we raise,
Encourage their dreams
Give them praise,
Extend loving arms
When they feel all is lost,
To be there for them
Without counting cost,

I watched Amy
And I cried,
A beautiful talent gone
A bright star has died.

Diane Scantlebury

Clouds of Time - Susan Jones

Wiltshire grew me
in its landlocked beauty.
Clay coloured hair,
chalk white skin,
meadow green eyes;
while flint from the hills
veined my character -
These abundant assets, nurtured
amidst a comfortable vale,
I took with me, as I stepped into adulthood.

Exiled to a quiet gem
seascapes surround me now.
Wrack covered beaches,
line the shore,
pretty bays overwhelmed then desolate
as tides rise and recede
with regular monotony.
Proved in this temperate isle,
I rose in my skin,
from young adult to old woman.

Clouds of time motor on.
Made whole, I reflect on work, pleasure,
illness and long fought for health -
my memory whirls.
Tears and laughter
direct the elaborate
weathervane of my life
but accommodated and accepted,
I settle into my fate
and find what I consider home.

Susan Jones

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