Heartlines: National Poetry Day 7th October

Heartlines Writers are running a drop-in event for National Poetry Day at HEART, Bennett Rd, Headingley, LS6 3HN between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday 7th October. The National Poetry Day theme this year is ‘Choice’.

A recording of poems on the theme will be playing in the marquee at HEART so you can enjoy the poetry alongside refreshments available to purchase from the café. Members of the group will be in the marquee to chat about all things poetic. You can also read the poems because they are on display around the centre.

Liz McPherson of the Heartlines Writers says “Our poems really make you think about how choice – and lack of choice – influences every aspect of our lives. We look forward to meeting you and sharing our poems”.

The Heartlines Writers have produced two previous anthologies, Unlocked and Sunglasses at Midnight. Both the anthologies can be viewed and  downloaded free from the links above or, if you prefer a printed copy, they will be on sale in the marquee and at reception in HEART.

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Last night, in the morning, I gandered down the wooden stairs,
ate jellied eels for breakfast with my pals, the grizzly bears.
Just a normal day so far but, as we slurped our dishes,
I heard a floosome noise outside – sploshy, splashy, splishy.

So I opened up the hatches to see what I could see
and, to my utter flabber, there’s an elephant up a tree.
‘I’m very sad,’ he wozzled, ‘And I’m in an awful muddle.’
He shed a tear and then another till they formed giant puddle.

‘I’ve lost my tusks,’ he told me with a tragivistal frown
and he recounted how they’d vanished as his circus came to town.
‘An elephant without his tusks is just a just a simple nelly,’
he sighed and cried another tear, his face dissolved like jelly.

I grabbed my hat and coat, my bag and shoogly purse
‘Wait here,’ I said because I couldn’t think of anything worse
to happen to an elephant than to lose his winsome finery
– his splendid white appendages made up of shiny ivory.

Down the local supermarket there was an oofly queue
and I wondered for a moment what in wetwang I should do
The nelly was performing in a show that very night –
he had to have some tusks for his moment in the spotlight.

Then luckily a singing squid danced past in purple pantaloons
and the queue fanoodled after her as she played her squidgy toons.
So I grockled through the sliding doors and shouted for some help
and such was my excitement, I let out a little belch.

‘Oh, lucky you,’ a colleague clucked and snapped her chicken beak,
‘Replacement tusks have gone on offer just this very week.’
‘Buy one get one free,’ I carpled with delight.
I’ll take a dozen of them – I imagine that will be alright.’

I crackled home in high calloo to tell the treesome creature
that I’d got the tusks he needed to restore his finest feature
but when I gurgled up the road the nelly wasn’t there –
I would have called his name but what it was, I’d no idea.

There were no footprints in the grass, no clues at all, no sign

–   just a giant muddy puddle to show he’d been at mine.
I nearly threw the BOGOF tusks into my wheelie bin
but, if you should see him, please invite him to call in.

You see I didn’t throw those tusks away – I’ve kept them just in case
and if he calls again then I might fling them in his face.

Liz McPherson

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She is gone.
No longer will her sleepy smile
greet me in the morning,
her warm arms embrace me.

She is gone,
yet her aura lingers
in the night breeze from
an open window;
a soft whisper
in my ear, just before sleep.

She is gone –
yet somehow she is still with me.

Bill Fitzsimons

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I look in the mirror and what do I see?
The image of an aging chimpanzee.
Black-button eyes and grizzled face,
a simian angel fallen from grace.
My body hair is fading fast
(how much longer can it last?)
My teeth are yellowing with age:
I hear that implants are all the rage.
All in all, I’m in a mess –
help, SOS, I’m in distress!

Bill Fitzsimons

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…or some other far-flung destination
is what my disillusioned spirit craves.
To escape the humdrum of the quotidian,
the stress of everyday monotony is, I believe,
the duty – nay, the imperative – of the questing
mind, the hungry imagination.

And India would serve that hunger well.
Not the sweltering slums of Calcutta
or the hopeless misery of impoverished millions;
the fly-blown carcasses of the fallen dead;
the complete despair in the eyes of small children:
such brute reality demands a different response.

No, the India I seek is another realm,
where moonlight gleams on temple ruins
and colourful birds delight the eye
each sun-washed day; an India
where Dr. Aziz still yearns to impress
Miss Quested in the echoing Malabar Caves.

Such an India may not exist outside
the pages of Forster’s novel; an India
of the pining heart, rather than
the reasoning mind, but the sorcery
lingers, the spell will not be broken –
my ship awaits and Miss Quested beckons.

Bill Fitzsimons

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Unlocked – video performance and download

As we emerge from the physical lockdown we’ve collectively endured in 2020–2021, we are celebrating poetically with the very timely theme of ‘unlocked’.

Heartlines Writers is now a well-established group with its own website; www.heartlines.uk. Four of the members run the very popular Soundbites open mic which happens on the second Monday of the month and group members have been published on a variety of platforms. This is our second pamphlet, a follow up to Sunglasses at Midnight.

The 26 poems explore multiple facets of the theme and reading the poems is like entering a hall of mirrors or gazing into a brightly cut jewel – you glimpse another view, another idea, another vision as you turn each page. Some poems are joyful, some thoughtful, some regretful, some fantastical, some playful, some touching, some sombre and each poet has their own unique voice.

You can also listen to the poems on our YouTube channel (see below) and download a pdf file of the anthology.

We are very grateful to The Arts Society Leeds for their generous support for Unlocked. It’s been my absolute pleasure to curate the pamphlet and we hope that you enjoy savouring the feelings and emotions that the poems conjure up.

Liz McPherson
On behalf of all the Heartlines Writers.

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Silence hammers at my door
‘Let me in.’
Let me in to make you
Silence ushers in
Forgotten joy and pain
The joy is fleeting
The pain lasting

Like a freefalling feather
Silence reaches the parts
Others cannot reach

Myrna Moore

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I park the car,
turn off the wipers,
stand in the rain a while to get my bearings,
then collect a trolley.
You look up and nod
your head half hidden in your parka’s sodden fur
as the automatic doors part –
my smile hidden by the mask.
Can you see it in my eyes?
Do you care?
I push on, brisk in my search
for life’s necessities – Brie, wine, washing up liquid.
Discomforted by your presence
till, by the salad veg,
I forget your soft brown eyes, prematurely weathered face.

I park the car,
turn off the heater
tuck the woollen scarf around my neck
before I get a trolley.
See you seated in the self same place
beside the automatic doors.
I’ve come prepared,
Drop my two pound coin into the paper cup.
Thanks, you say.
I briefly ponder homelessness
as I’m engulfed by Tesco’s,
The image – you inside your sleeping bag,
a bedraggled chrysalis,
stays with me till I reach the eggs.

I park the car,
close the windows.
Turn to fetch a trolley.
Any spare change? You, standing in the sun,
a full fledged adult moth.
I’m starving, you say.
I show both empty palms. No cash, I say.
But wait. I scrabble in the cars ash tray.
It’s all I’ve got, drop the single coin
into your outstretched hand.
But it’s not enough.
I’m at the toilet rolls still wondering
what that paltry pound could buy.

I find you in the trolley park
fixing a roll-up.
Present the ploughman’s sandwich,
prawn cocktail crisps
and buttered malt loaf – a ‘Meal Deal,’
Your thanks so hard it hurts.
Is this all there is?
Is respect, compassion, care,
reflected in a few coins here and there,
some food?

I park the car and get a trolley,
coins in hand.
Where you should be now stands
a rack of bedding plants.
I think of my own son. How, once,
I’d hoped a stranger would show kindness
were he in need, and move on.

Cate Anderson

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In the beginning

In the beginning, your worth was the weight of your muscle
Working the fields to be paid by the sack
On your narrow strip, picking beans alongside old Charlie, and Ollie
with her wide eyes squinting, and the rattle taggle children of the lanes
Soil ingrained into fingernails, skin like unpolished leather
Singing old songs to the dark furrows
Working for pennies and shillings and the grace of the sky

Under a beating sun and then came the copper, gold and silver
running through your human hands like liquid as you
uncovered Money, sticky like honey, faithless as a bee to its pollen
and you swallowed it whole, regurgitating your belief in profit margins
and growth rates as the fields were concreted over
Charlie and Ollie buried under brick and aluminium
Now everything in this city is for hire,
from women’s bodies to men’s bruised and blackened flesh
steeped in alcohol, weeping with waiting for
Commodities amenities convenience identities
Activities facilities obscenities and penalties
Fascination sublimation imitation inventories

Oh, the price of fish and the cost of things
Unbattered by the markets,
and the scales are falling
into their eyes.

Nowadays the beans are flown in from Kenya or Colombia
Where the raggle taggle children of the poor
are still singing old songs
to the dark furrows
working for pennies or shillings and the grace of the sky.
under a burning sun.

Eileen Neil

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Away with the mental acrobatics
of Modernism – post or otherwise –
and all such elitist dross.
Clarity is what I crave, along with
the beauty of the singing line.

I do not read poetry to be puzzled:
give me wonder and imagination,
the sorcery of the senses, the gossamer
frailty of angel’s wings. Obscurity
kills enjoyment, makes magic meaningless.

I shall leave Pound, Bunting, Eliot, et al,
to the dry deliberations of fusty professors
and academic bores. I will savour instead
elegies to the demise of rare dragonflies,
odes to the blaze of distant galaxies.

Bill Fitzsimons

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