That Virus - Kathy Figueroa

Once I lay on
A hospital bed
Coughing and hacking
And feeling half dead

I'd gone to the ward
Called "Emergency"
But had to wait and wait
Though ill as could be

My body was wracked
With thunderous sneezes
Gasps, gurgles, and
Scary wheezes

I was choking, gasping
…Struggling for air
And wondered, if I died
If they’d notice or care

In the distance, a machine
Kept going "beep, beep"
The ceiling fan hummed
I couldn’t fall asleep

The doctor finally saw me
But just said "Come back if it gets worse"
I figured that, by then,
I’d be travelling by hearse

Somehow, in spite of them
I managed to survive
And it feels darn good
To still be alive

That bronchial virus
Was an awful thing
And a cruddy way
To welcome Spring

Kathy Figueroa

That Virus was first published in The Bancroft Times newspaper on August 20, 2015.

All Change - Diane Scantlebury

In Central the uniform is ominous, dark,
The faces are pale and grim,
There’s no colour, no sparkle, no sound,
No regard for age or infirmity,
No concession to summer,
Deep from the black mole depths
And squash of Victoria
The train emerges into bright light,
Emptying gradually as it heads west,
Just past Earl’s Court a new breed alights
Smiling, chattering, colourful aliens,
Inquisitive, noisy children,
We must be in the suburbs,
The coil of tension is still wound,
But somehow seems to be slowly unravelling
As we approach the more relaxed end of the line,
“All change”
And as if by magic, we do.

Diane Scantlebury

A Seagull's Prayer - Fred Brown

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in August 2012

Footsteps fade on the sand runway
Through moon flight control and the tidal phase

Feathers shed from wayward courses
To new heights on the back of white horses

Spiralling round on thermals to heaven
Shores below left for dusk to redden

Crying laughter at the top of my voice
Till the oceans whisper without choice

Sail through me till my soul sings
With sunbeam wind-chimes under my wings

Breathe fluency into each wing flap
Till I soar with you over each mishap

Above dead suns, pink ice-sheets melting
Beyond bloated mountains, rainclouds pelting

To leave no trail of where I have flown
To let parted clouds be re-sewn

To lose trodden seashells to the tide
To live the rest of my life wide-eyed

Footsteps fade on the sand runway
Clear for landing on a brand new day

Fred Brown

Unfinished Sympathy - Lyndon Queripel

Underlined in your mind lies unconfessed
Dressed with a cold shoulder interest
Quick change artist behind painted eyes
Daughter of the water coloured skies

Your saving grace on an empty face
Where emotions have no hiding place
Darkness will find you all alone
Lock the door and ignore the phone

Far beyond any reasonable doubt
The heartache's been all cried out
Turn a chapter of tears to overlook
The last page missing in the book.

Lyndon Queripel

Heirlooms - Bryony de Lat

Mother was born, between wars, to a wealthy family
her Dutch businessman father died suddenly, she was eight
he'd left his Guernsey wife and 3 children unsupported
St. Margaret's Lodge soon gathered cobwebs, and rust on the gates.

My Mother was evacuated, but joined the WAAF's
when World War Two started, amid devastation and strife
her widowed Mother down-graded, still an ample town-house
keeping all the trappings, along with memories, of a much-better life.

Years later, my Mother still kept all the posh stuff
wrapped up in boxes, under her bed
she'd open it up sometimes, to check it was there
it was much too valuable to use, she said.

I think she was saving it, for when the 'good times' came back
or perhaps we were too common to use it
she probably felt it still belonged to her Mother
and she couldn't allow anyone else to abuse it.

And the lounge suite always had DOUBLE loose covers
a mahogany dresser hid some treasures, but she hid the key
an ivory-panel Chinese fire-screen, covered in hardboard
and original childrens' toys, that we never did see.

In a tea-chest, in brown paper, the Chinese Famille Rose
silver serviette rings, with engraved family crest
and Waterford crystal knife-rests, we'd used it all, when small
at Grandmother's for dinner, in our Sunday best.

Sunday Dinner, like a Dickens novel, or mini Downton Abbey
children, seen and not heard, it was torturous
except if asking to 'leave table', and saying Grace again
so we could go and pick fruit in the orchards.

We children were grown up, when our poor Mother died
all that priceless stuff, with which she couldn't part
was still in the loft, and under her bed
she'd preserved it, and amongst it, . . was her broken heart.

Bryony de Lat

A Theory of Life... and Ending - Ian Duquemin

Once, there was a planet so ancient and old
In line with the others it slowly revolved
Here lived the giants who ruled many year
These beasts of great size were the creatures to fear
They fought constantly and ruined the land
Destroyed all the good Mother Nature had planned
So without any warning and showing her rage
All of a sudden she stopped

It was only a moment just minutes in time
But enough to put end to the dinosaurs' crime
They fell from the planet and vanished for good
And the planet repaired while she could

Many years later the humans would walk
They stood on two feet and they learnt how to talk
During their time they did everything bad
Not seeing the beauty and treasure they had
They fought constantly and ruined the land
Destroyed all the good Mother Nature had planned
So without any warning and showing her rage
All of a sudden she stopped......................................

Ian Duquemin

Showboating - Tony Bradley

Aboard your fine vessel,
don't waste your days
overloading with useless
compliments and praise.

It's not a race, there's some in your wake
don't capsize them, without thinking
all our voyages will seem too short
all our paper boats are sinking.

Tony Bradley

Simple Pleasures (inspired by Rocquaine Regatta) - Diane Scantlebury

Simple as the grains
Sifting through the fingers of tiny hands,
Building castles in the sand,
Simple as the parched grass
Prickling against goose pimpled legs bare,
And the smell of seaweed and burgers
That taints the air,
Simple as listening to music,
Eating mackerel from foil, sipping cider and wine,
Simple the pleasures of Regatta time,
The grunt and sweat
As the crowds with passion roar,
To encourage the contestants in the tug of war,
Then, when homemade rafts have sailed
And wellies have been flung,
When all the rosettes and medals have been won,
The long trudge back once the day is done,
Simple are the pleasures of family fun.

Diane Scantlebury

Unsafe Crossing - Donald Keyman

it is only a short journey across the water,
where there are great rewards and
riches awaiting the boatmen,
who know that when they reach the foreign shore
they will be paid handsomely for their load

the passengers, the ferryman's human cargo
are deposited in an unwelcoming place, where
regardless of age, they endure a steep climb and are
corralled like animals, before stumbling inland
to search for sanctuary, food and water

in the town, the visitors find
that the inhabitants have melted away in the rain
and instead they are mocked
by the unseeing eyes of barred shop windows

starving and disillusioned, they retrace their steps
and on their way, they find
that they are again faced
with the unsafest crossing of all

Donald Keyman

R.I.P. - Lyndon Queripel

It was raining, I remember that much
Tears from Heaven,a final touch
Leaves were swept as willows wept
An afternoon of bitter grey
Wet grass and puddles to pass
With a ruddy muddy spray
The weather failed to forecast
At best, at rest, at last
The lay preacher waiting to pray
Flowered wreaths, a soggy sight
Drooping in the fading light
Impatient children started to fight
Against straining adult control
An inner circle above a six foot hole
He was never on time, ever
Not once in his life
He made it a habit with his wit
Just joking with us all
To indicate he'd even be late
For his own funeral
It was raining, I remember that much.

Lyndon Queripel

A Different Kind Of Coup - Trudie Shannon

We are experiencing a subliminal coup
Here in the countryside.
It’s been building these last few months, weeks even
And now the tipping point has come
And already, almost in an overnight, it’s practically complete.
We are dispossessed and invaded in one breath
Field after field after field
Dominated by great coiled foot soldiers
Who have fallen where they must
In dumb obedience to masterful machines.
Stubble, short seemingly dead
Left in the after light
While the rumble and the throbbing
Of the beasts who have culled are still culling
Tempers the air with the flight of dust clouds.
The golden fields that have dallied
While the wind has danced amidst them,
Are no more, are reduced to emptiness,
A barren swathe across the countryside
Guarded bleakly by those great coiled foot soldiers
Who have fallen where they must
In dumb obedience to masterful machines.

A harvest mouse clambers up the only wheat stalk, left standing.

Trudie Shannon

Diets - Julie Gallienne

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in August 2012

Is it a sin
or a guilty pleasure
to cheat on a diet you seem to have been on forever?
Deprived of the foods
we believe we deserve
is it any wonder
we head for defeat?
Intentions declared
with enthusiasm
we head
the well followed path
that many tread.
Some have succeded
where many have failed
held up as examples
they have willpower nailed.
A beautiful body
is the prize to be won
but the race we are running
can never be fun.

Julie Gallienne

Outlaw (My take on the song Highwayman) - Ian Duquemin

I was an outlaw
I spent a life time on the run
A leather holster held my gun
Many a poster showed my face hung on a wall
Many a hero had in times then had to fall
Until one day I too fell crashing to the ground
This outlaw had been downed

I was a doctor
When only tonics were a cure
I'd served a long hard civil war
Many a man had called me to relieve their pain
Many a man would never walk or see again
One day a cannon ball came flying through the air
And I was helping there

I was a miner
I spent my years deep underground
Removing all the coal I found
One day the pit caved in and buried me down there
Deep in the darkness no one heard my final prayer
I left my wife and child to struggle on alone
My whereabouts unknown

I was a saviour
I called on many men to come
To follow their god's only son
But I was captured and a scapegoat I would be
A cross upon a hill was waiting there for me
And with my final breath the rains fell from the sky
I was born to die!

I was the future
A human race had needed me
As I was meant to set them free
But no one listened when I warned them of their fate
If they continued with their fighting and their hate
One day an outlaw who had been their only friend
Brought about their end

Ian Duquemin

Suddenly Old - Tony Bradley

It feels like it crept up sneakily
and it happened almost overnight
but, thinking back, you saw the signs
you often felt, not quite right.

Relatives and friends have died around you,
your hair's thin on top now, and grows out your ears,
remember the school years?.....didn't they drag
but where the hell's the rest of the years?

You knock yourself on something and you're bruised for weeks,
you're feeling drained , you need a tonic
and every twinge, or the slightest lump
you're so afraid must be something chronic.

You hate going to funerals of friends who died
although your visits seem to please the minister,
and each gloomy service you can't help thinking,
your next one could well be even more sinister.

You wake some nights, in a cold fright,
yet you used to be such a good sleeper
you don't buy green bananas, or plan too far ahead
you're just dodging the old grim reaper.

Tony Bradley

Breakfast Orders - Diane Scantlebury

Across the small hotel table they sit
An invisible barrier of quietness between them,
Not even an upward glance or look
Or civil word as the day awakens,
Silence only broken as their breakfast orders are taken,

How they grumble to themselves
As they wait, but not to each other,
Nor any contact do they make,
Their bodies leaning perilously like trees being felled
While they wonder how long their eggs and bacon will take,

Long years together have dulled their intimate life,
He has a smile for the pretty, young waitress
But none for his wife,
Who pretends not to notice as she twists the gold band
On the gnarled third finger of her sun wrinkled left hand,

Irritation with each other heightens
With every rustle and turn of his newspaper page,
Their breakfast order seems to be taking an interminable age,
Too long in each other’s company to be tethered
Too tenuous the bonds of the vows that bind them forever.

Diane Scantlebury

Pink Flowers - Kathy Figueroa

Pink flowers by the window
Look so lovely in the sun
It’s a marvel they’re not in tatters
After the summer storm is done

Downpours and strong winds
That could devastate and shred
Only serve to make the flowers
Bloom more beautifully, instead

Kathy Figueroa
Pink Flowers was first published in The Bancroft Times newspaper on August 13, 2015.

Promises - Lyndon Queripel

Don't make promises you can't keep
You've been talking in your sleep
In midnight dreams of hide and seek
With secret words you'd never speak
The backdoor swings as floorboards creak
Your tears streak a security leak
So don't make promises you can't keep
You've been walking in your sleep.

Lyndon Queripel

As One Day Ends - D.B. Morst

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in August 2012

Day’s end and a simmering sun
Almost spent, hangs close to the horizon
Warm and weary and ready to slip
Into the respite of the salty salve
Whose fluid body
Rises and falls in alluring rhythm.
Breathing, sighing
Lying flat then arching up
White crests reaching like outstretched fingers
Seeking out the pulsing heat
Ebbing, flowing
Each wave growing ever closer with the beat
Swelling, churning
Sun still burning
Raging hard with yearning
Inching fast towards the edge
Water heaving
Climbing, pleading
‘Till Laws of Nature triumph
And solar embers pierce the silky skin
Plunging, sinking deep within
An almost audible hiss
An emerald roller collapses – shattering!
Scattering diamonds across the golden bed.

The light quickly fades
With the sea now full of the molten sun
A backdrop of stars is lowered quietly
And a cool breeze blows through your hair.
As the throbbing waves calm into gentle ripples
And we drift together on the turning tide
My heart is full with thoughts of sunrise.

D.B. Morst

Double Dutch Marvels - Bryony de Lat

One morning, on our lawn, after two stormy days
two pigeons were staggering, in a bit of a daze
we thought it best if they rested, in the shed
and made sure they were safe, warm and fed.

We saw from their rings they were racers from Holland
so we'd let them go when they were stronger
We phoned a pigeon fancier, that we knew
he said keep them overnight, or longer.

Because he had more suitable facilities
we drove them 3 miles to him, covered up in a crate
The next morning, we were staggered to see them
back on our lawn, by the gate.

We rang our friend, he wasn't surprised
he said, when he set them free at dawn, /
he thought they'd retrace their flight back home
but, without Sat-Nav, how did they make it back to our lawn?

Bryony de Lat

The Unicorn - Tony Gardner

On May Day morning I ascended
Wooded slopes to catch the thrill
Of the sunrise in its glory
From the top of Chancton hill

At the top I wandered slowly
To the Ring and sensed a shade
Then I heard the muffled hoofbeats
Still felt easy, unafraid

In the eastern sky the wonder
Of a beltane rising sun
Lit the legendary story
As the unicorn came on

Enchanted then I watched the vision
Trot up there before my eyes
Saw the sweaty grey coat gleaming
Felt that I was recognised

Snorting though his silken nostrils
Bright his single gold horn shone
Flashing cold, blue eyes upon me
Tossed his head and galloped on

Was I dreaming, was I weary,
Was the sight unconscious will ?
I believe I saw the legend
Last May Morn on Chancton Hill.

Tony Gardner

Together - Tony Bradley

Together, for the first time in cold December
Christmas carols, decorations and snowy weather
like children again, a magical time
because we were together.

Together, the precious years we spent
it seemed they'd go on for ever
the joys, the hard times, the laughter and tears
we were so strong together.

But now, for me, it's all grey and empty
it's meaningless now, forever
nothing's important, nothing is real,
nothing now can be together.

Tony Bradley

The Other Side of Peace - Ian Duquemin

Let us not forget...
You cannot "fight" for peace
Hate. Fascism. Gods and guns
Are the things that have to cease
The Third Reich and the Germans
Are two... and far apart
The evil with no thought for man
And soldiers with a heart
Those young men forced to hold a gun
Are not the men to blame
As usual it's authority
Who hid within their shame
So Germany... The Fatherland
Enjoy a peaceful day
And bow your heads to children lost
Who wore the colour grey
And do not fear for orders past
That you too had to follow
Today we celebrate OUR dead
And the end of war and sorrow
So may you too find peace to pray
For ancestors that fell
"I hope that peace has found its way...
To fill your hearts as well"

Ian Duquemin

Aqua Fit Ladies - Diane Scantlebury

Splish, splash in the pool of the Beau Sejour
Like dancing swans the aqua fit ladies,
Flick their legs, with arms held high,
A curious assortment of water babies,

In an atmosphere tinged with eau de chlorine
Music pumps to encourage them to break into sweat,
Their heads nod as they struggle to keep foam dumbbells under,
Or avoid the ducking that’d get their hair wet,

Swish, splosh in the pool of the Beau Sejour
Sway the hips of the aqua fit ladies,
As they wriggle and giggle in time to music,
They’re a happy assortment of water babies.

Diane Scantlebury

Re - Phrases - Lyndon Queripel

If he who hesitates is lost
How much does a look before you leap cost

If absence makes the heart grow fonder
Why does a fond heart often wander

If the pen is mightier than the sword
Why does an action speak louder than a word

If all the World is a stage
Has the time come to act my age?

Lyndon Queripel

Nature's Rhythm - Julian Clarke

You grabbed me by the heart
Oh please take me by the hand.
To run through the meadow to
The sound of the babbling brook.

Love making to Nature's rhythm
In the shade of the fruiting trees.
Our scented love mingling with
Sweet perfume of wild flowers.

Nature’s rhythm’s been kind
As we sit in our worn chairs,
Time drifts like shifting sands
Reminiscing – holding hands.

Julian Clarke

As We Travel Through Life - Julie Gallienne

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in August 2012

God and Spirit
angels too
please listen when
we pray to you.
Bless our children
form above
bestow on them
all your love.
Sprinkle angel dust
in their eyes
to help them see the truth
not lies.
Show them the path
to follow
so their lives are fulfilled
not hollow.
Guardian angels
stay by their side
be there when needed
to rescue and guide.
As their lives progress
let choices unfold
a journey of adventure
a story to be told.
S o from the moment of birth
till the passing to spirit
live life to the full
don't waste a minute.

Julie Gallienne

The Hidden Traveller - Richard Fleming

I remember
the over-furnished room, cold as a cave,
where they had laid him
between the aspidistra and a spotted mirror;
the sunbeams, slanting by the window, shoaled with dust;
the silent street beyond, devoid of passers-by.
Immaculate in laundered shirt and
suit so rarely worn in life; in death he looked
more like a character from a story than himself.

I remember
myself dressed in a suit that day;
the parlour’s silence broken only
by the ticking of a clock;
the sense of unreality, of ritual without feeling;
an odour of chrysanthemums.

I remember him
alive and huge and I so small,
watching geese fly
high over wetlands blurred with morning mist,
our upturned faces wet with perfect joy;
the swing he built me in the secret clearing
in the green-wood;
his hearty laughter booming in the treetops.

I remember
the warm, familiar smell of him;
his callused, gentle fists
thrusting the timber swing-seat
higher, ever higher.

I remember still,
though years have crowded in between then and now,
the reckless humour ever-dancing in his eyes,
blue as songbirds' eggs;
the sweetness of the lulling tune he hummed at ending day
as, sleepily, I rode his shoulders home to bed.

Each passing generation
prints its image on the next: an echo of the parent
in each gesture of the child.
So his essential being rides my adult shoulders now,
as I transport his spirit towards another century.

We dress ourselves unknowingly
in garments of departed love, in remnants
of lost voices or half-remembered smiles.
The length of stride, a turn of phrase
betrays the other, hidden traveller in our skin.

Preserve in me
the things that once I loved in him.

Richard Fleming

Don't Scatter My Ashes in Guernsey - Ian Duquemin

Don't scatter my ashes in Guernsey
Don't leave me to roam on this land
I ask that you take me... far, far away
Before I am blown from your hand
A place where I can find peace in
Somewhere that might welcome me
Don't scatter my ashes in Guernsey...
Or I fear I shall never be free

Ian Duquemin

It Dawned On Me - Tony Bradley

Like ribbons of soft silk flowing, the gulls gracefully glide
a loving artist's strokes, of black, grey and white
and the little waves sweep quietly over the night's dry sand
with the gulls and the tide, another precious morning light.

The sun rises above the water, sprinkling silvery jewels
a thousand necklaces rising, falling, in wavy trails
and beyond, silver beams shine through lavender mist
capturing silhouettes on the horizon, of dark, distant sails.

Tony Bradley

Wind Runner - Trudie Shannon

Skylark after skylark rising above the fields
Making use of the eternal updraft
As earth attempts unity with the heavens.
I lust for adjectives, much as a sailor
At sea for months, lusts after a woman’s company.
I desire evocative imagery, sensual interpretation,
Sensitive pursuit.
I stand beside the hedgerow and gaze upward
Toward the blue on blue ballroom above my head.
The small speck, as dust in my eye,
Dances with the invisible breeze,
Welcomes small eddies beneath each tiny fibril
On each tiny feather, on each wonderful wing.
Rises exuding ecstasy out into the ether,
Couples with cloud wisps whispering,
Rises to its zenith, heart song singing,
Then falls earthward as if thrown from the heavens like Hephaestus,
Falls, dropping heart notes on the way.
I stand beside the hedgerow and follow,
My eyes feasting on the journey.
The skylark drifts the final metres,
The rhythm of its voice matching the wind
Coiled in the welcoming grass.

The skylark is a small brown bird.

Trudie Shannon

Castle Cornet Night - Diane Scantlebury

Lydia’s bathed in gold,
As the sun tumbles down
On a Castle Cornet night,
Her face upturned
To receive applause,
And the dying rosy embers
Of its illuminating light,

Overhead a lone seagull soars,
Lydia’s voice rises high
As if to call down angels,
And beautiful tones
Upon our ears to pour,
While the light fades
Into the harbour’s horizon,

Out through the gates
Towards town we sweep,
Engulfed in the twilight’s chill
Humming and singing,
With music of the Castle Cornet night
And half remembered lyrics,
In our heads still ringing.

Diane Scantlebury

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