To Whomever

I catch glimpses of it here and there;
The sea plays peek-a-boo between the hills.
When I climb a brow, full blueness sets in,
So wide, its curved surface seems
Straight as a taut string.
From afar, the sea is silent,
Weaving light, sparkling with half-second stars;
Reaching for the land’s embrace,
Sculpting chalk cliffs in nature’s hand.
My eyes could not have their fill of the blue,
But could never take all in.
The waves undulate like muscles under skin;
The seawater, full of life unseen,
Dense as a poem
Down to the seabed, where only light
And dead sailors sleep.

On the beach, cobalt waves in perpetual motion;
They lap when you sleep,
Just as they waved before life,
And shall long after;
Where anemones coil
For all time within rock.
The tide plays, rolling translucent shells,
Sweeping black seaweed
In irregular beats of time;
So soft a voice for one so immense;
White foam making wishes at my feet,
Washing away my prints,
So I feel myself disappear.
And you come into my thoughts,
When it’s you I’ve tried to forget.
The sea clashes,
It snaps out my wishes.

The sun goes down;
The stretch turns grey
As stone in rain.
The moon takes hold, the tide retires,
And I remember how
A sea cuts me off from you.

Howard Benn

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Just Another Night

Just another night in the sleepless city.
The call came in around midnight –
cheap hotel, Lower East Side, dead female.

The uniforms kept the other residents at bay,
as me and my partner, Detective Gennaro,
looked at the body on the stained floor.

White, late teens, maybe pretty; hard to tell
with her brains spilling over her face,
blood clotting on her hair and neck.

Bad scene, but I’d seen worse –
the triple execution in Central Park,
for instance – and it was getting late.

Time to get the medics in, get the body
shifted. As I turned to go, however, Gennaro
nudged me, pointed at the victim’s shoes.

They were two-tone – black and white – and
pristine, as if straight from the box.
They looked incongruous in the seedy room.

Incongruous…and strangely innocent,
a teenage daughter’s birthday shoes.
A touch of humanity in the face of death.

My point? No point, no moral, no meaning.
A pair of beautiful shoes, a young dead female
and another night in the cold hard city.

Bill Fitzsimons

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Chaos

Complete disorder; confusion ; anarchy; randomness; formless matter before
creation of universe; greek god Chaos- the first created being giving birth to
primeval gods. The idea is that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Argentina could cause a tornado in Texas three weeks later. (Modern chaos theory) “the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold”
(Aristotle OTH, 271b8).

Primordial chaos existed before the creation of the universe
so why am I surprised at the way things are?

Maybe there was something so neat around that separation of night and day
of earth and water, of planets and stars

I expected order to continue. An intelligent neatness to prevail
As the gaping void of chaos birthed its human avatar

“But the smallest deviation
from the truth can multiply
itself a thousand times or more
Like Aristotle, or fruit flies”

“So a butterfly flaps its fragile wings
in Argentina and produces, not Torrontes say,
but a tornado in Texas three weeks later predictable to the day”

Primeval gods, like Gaia and Erebus, Eros and Nyx
emerged from chaos at the dawn of time beyond the morning stars

Does any of this explain the mess
that still persists upon my desk?
If I tidied more, and created less,
would the rules of chaos finally be transgressed?

Eileen Neil

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I have never loved

I have never loved.
I missed the early childhood class
That should have shown the ropes
Of losing myself in another.

No caresses or kisses
No loving warm words
Just the icy indifference
Of parental duty.

I do not cry at funerals
Not even for my parents
Marriage is a convenience
As is divorce.

I didn’t choose my relatives
Just a few useful friends
No anchors, no attachments
Just transactions and deals.

I am a free spirit
The epitome of independence
I have it all worked out.
So why am I so lonely?

Terry Wassall

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By the Ganges

The priest sits on the edge of the water
His saffron robe wrapped around him against the chill of dawn.
He waits for the sunrise to wash the sky with orange.
He murmurs his mantra, his amber eyes fixed on the flag,
Kesari, white and green,
Wafting gently across the river.
Worshipers soon come, worshipers soon go,
Briskly completing their faithful ablutions
In the grey water of the Ganges.

Sunrise saffron songs
Washed into the grey water
Until sunset comes

A Haibun by Marie Sheard

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Ode To Winter

There
Was time
When we would
Look in the sky
Breath into the air
Take in smells from the ground
Look up see, tree branches spread
And Feel freshness from the skyline
Accept the coolness of wind, the snow
Now all we do is stay indoors keep warm
Snuggle with the television,the video
Far too cold to open the door
Do not wait for the springtime
Let the breeze in the room
Come on put on coats
Go out and breath
The chill tarries
Free air
Chilled

Jim Mallin

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Small Pleasures At Dawn

I like to wake up at dawn,
watch as the lilac skies fade
and the blackbirds feed on the lawn.

With curtains widely drawn,
smelling the air fresh with silent dew,
I like to wake up at dawn.

I may well stifle a yawn
as the sky turns blue and gold,
and the blackbirds feed on the lawn.

The cool stone windowsill I lean on
feels like a caress of silk on my palms.
I like to wake up at dawn.

As the sun rises on the horizon,
gratitude for life fills my heart,
and the blackbirds feed on the lawn.

The East now bright with vermillion,
I savour this small pleasure. That’s why
I like to wake up at dawn,
And watch the blackbirds feed on the lawn.

Marie Sheard 

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BLUE

A haibun – two poems, a prose poem and haiku. The haiku supporting the prose poem.

I pass through the hawthorn hedge, from darkness into light – dazzled by the summer sun.
Stand ankle deep in grasses as damselflies flick across the water washed pebbles,
iridescent wings sunshot, their lapis bodies flashing, clashing with the reflected sky – blue
on blue. Like the pebbles I am immersed in summer – the menacing darkness forgotten as
the damselflies re-settle weightless on curved stalks. A pair form a heart shaped wheel.
The female clasped by the neck, her body arched round to meet his. I see my reality
reflected in that coupling. Reminded of the brooding threat the other side of the hawthorn
hedge I feel the weather turn.

Water over stones
reflects the blue summer sky.
Death in shadow waits.

Cate Anderson

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AUBADE

As the curtains pale
with the light of dawn,
I turn to you but you are gone.
The crisp cotton pillow undisturbed,
no watch on the bedside table.
This is the first day
of the rest of my life,
my life without you, without us.
There will be many more I fear.

With the curtains wide
I salute the sun, grateful for the warmth,
yet resentful of the lack of compassion,
for the dark blue of my heart,
the celestial palette at odds
with the pulse in my veins.

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Sole Man

I am 45,
ride a pushbike,
wear a gabardine raincoat,
belonged to my Dad,
never washed.
I live with my mum over the fish and chip shop.
Like the batter on the haddock
my mother’s love clings to me,
dripping with excess.
I am floppy under its power.
Filleted.

I tried to escape.
Had a job, briefly.
Three hours a day in the University library,
shelving books.
Parked my bike outside,
hung my coat in a little room.

Surrounded by books I thought they would speak to me,
help me with my novel.
The books, mutely, kept their secrets,
but the others whispered, “He smells of fish”.
Alluring, sensuous, siren-like as you pass the chippie,
but, not a popular scent on a man.

Walked out one day
when I shelved a book in the Sociology section, entitled
‘Potatoes: Their Place in Marxist Peasant Ideology’.

Did I mention I have greasy hair?

How could I escape?

Nell, from across the road, came for her usual
‘Don’t-forget-the-scraps’ Friday supper.
She found my mum on the floor

Battered.

Malcolm Henshall  [Revised September 2020]

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