National Poetry Day – Refuge

National Poetry Day took place on Thursday 5 October 2023, and this year’s theme was Refuge. The Heartlines Writers marked the day with a collection of poems exploring various approaches to the theme of refuge.

Refuge can mean many things. Refuge can be found in a relationship, in books, in a church or in a religion, or in a foreign country escaping from war and terror. There are many types of refugees but all are seeking  help, solace and safety.

The Refuge collection was displayed at the Heart Centre, Headingly, Leeds and can be viewed at National Poetry Day 2023 – Refuge

Posted in General, Poetry | Leave a comment


To walk that road again –
a lane? Passed stubbled fields.
Kildarra up to Nolan’s farm.
Pick purple blackberries on the way.
A small child’s handful.
Turn left at milk churns waiting
by wild fushias live with bees.
We squeeze their scarlet flowers –
lick sweet nectar off our sun kissed skin.
Norah’s there, Helena’s ma,
to mash our berries in a cup,
with sugar and churn top milk
so fresh it’s warm.
We cross the yard.
Open a splintery stable door
a crack, our mouths like rosebuds.
Banbhs run squealing between our legs,
drunk like us, with freedom.
And Norah watches, laughing from the kitchen door,
wipes hands on her cotton apron
and stirs the pig mash.

Cate Anderson

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment


Someday I will go on a journey
to the mythical isle of Ithaca,
across Homer’s wine-dark sea.
I will be seduced by the singing
of the Sirens, sailing close
to the rocks and finding the key

to the realm of the unruly gods
who sport on Mount Olympus.
I shall follow the path of Odysseus,
visit the island of the Lotus-eaters
and succumb to the charms and perils
of the ancient Aegean’s allure.

Yes, someday I will sail to Ithaca
and there I will find, perhaps,
a latter-day Penelope whose arms
will comfort me with love.
I can only dream …. but still
I seem to hear those Siren voices
faintly calling, calling, calling.

Bill Fitzsimons

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment


…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

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Undercliffe Cemetery – a prose poem

By David Spencer, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The monumental gates are broad. The pillared span admits respectable citizens, the high and the low, captains of industry and the foot soldiers; the wealth makers of money and markets, the wealth creators born to necessity and toil. The gradations of the community of the living, from privileged prosperity to servile dependency, are displayed plainly here in the domain of the dead. Treelined avenues, bordered by the splendour of Egyptian mausoleums, gothic tombs and spired vaults reaching to heaven, house the relics of Bradford family dynasties.

These give way through narrow side paths to a stratified social landscape, the lieutenants of the masters, the servants of the great, police and policed, overseers and overseen. Further, in overgrown corners and inaccessible plots lie the remains, the names time-erased from modest head stones and from history, of the legions who fuelled the machine of Victorian progress, the labouring bodies of the children, women, men, that were fed into the mills, or confined in the dark damp basements or airless attics of the airy mansions, the great halls and grandiloquent grounds that cossetted and encompassed enchanted lives.

And here, in an unremarked plot, on the perimeter, the Quaker burial ground maps a vision of a different world. Uniform grey gravestones laid flat where “no man is above another”, where all are equal in life and death. But, in truth, the only leveller is death.

By John Yeadon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Terry Wassall

Posted in Prose poetry | Leave a comment

Heartline Writers – Phenomenal Woman

Poetry, stories and singing for International Women’s Day

Richard Wilcocks writes: “In Headingley’s Heart Centre, the Shire Oak Hall was full. A Powerpoint display was beginning on the large screen, ready to inform those present of the names of poets and their poems, and the now-traditional table of home-made cakes was in position at the back of the audience. This event is well-established, an essential part of the local calendar. Liz McPherson introduced the proceedings”.

Read the full report at

A selection of the poems and prose presented can be read on the Heartlines Writers’ website The International Women’s Day 2023 collection.

Posted in General, News | Leave a comment


it will not stay as it was left,
the boogie-woogie of books –
jazzing up the room –
will fall like a ton of fiction

there will be no tambourines,
no clinking of love triangles,
the muse will not slip into bed
and sleep until lunchtime

it will not stay as it was left,
the haughty new housekeeper
will burn the toast,
throw marmalade at the ceiling,

she will arm herself with butter,
blast out a battle-cry,
call up her cavalry of cutlery,
storm the entrance hall,

while the bell keeps ringing,
ringing and ringing,
ringing and ringing,
she has changed the locks.

Linda Marshall
(from Cloud Cuckoo Café)

Back to the International Women’s Day 2023 collection

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment


It was grey flannel, plain and droopy,
with drawstrings and a large untidy hood,
not some zany creation
sporting pistachio pockets and baroque buttons,
but an everywoman’s coat
that somehow caught the attention of young
who screamed like high hell from passing cars
that set off police sirens,
and made old men utter profanities
under their breath,
even yesterday it attracted a stray bystander
in the art gallery’s tearoom,
who asked if he could take a photograph.
“It’s the coat, not you,” he added,
and as she looked at the digital image,
she wished people were interested in her,
and not this ordinary garment
with the invisible wow factor,
but then why wish yourself even more trouble?

Linda Marshall
(From Half-Moon Glasses)

Back to the International Women’s Day 2023 collection

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Blue Electra

Out of the blue, she came with her silver wings,
slicing through the unspun drifts of cloud,
to rise higher than any bird was made to fly
defying men, defying women’s place, defying gravity
she flies, alone, across the wild Atlantic sea.

Out here above the earth she gazes down
at the insignificant checkerboard of the ground
and the tiny pieces moving, spinning round as
she rises higher than any bird was made to fly as
high and wild, she flies alone across the sky

Out of nothing came the plan to span the earth
They gave her a Lockheed Electra for the flight
and she very nearly almost might have been……
waves whisper unknown stories of her plight
They knew the date that mattered the 2nd of July 1937
the brightest of diamonds sometimes shatters
and the glinting shards reflect in shadows
courage, daring grace, a woman’s face.

Out of the blue she came with her silver wings.
the notes rise skywards. she flies on alone.
the music soars. she lives again. the drum beat roars.
she rises higher than any bird was made to fly
Amelia Earhart flies on in Blue Electra.

Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer who also wrote extensively including poetry. She
was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She was lost over the Pacific trying to
circumnavigate the world…mystery surrounds her death. Recently a violin concerto, Blue
Electra has been written based on parts of her life.

Eileen Neil

Back to the International Women’s Day 2023 collection

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

The Call

I saw her again today,
out there,
scanning the horizon,
her wild song calling them in.
She was Kali, Ishtar, Isis and Athena,
She was Gaia, Venus, the snake goddess, Minerva
she knew why caged birds sang
and now she rises.*
they are coming
black, yellow, white, red, brown
the rainbow generations,
the ancestors
the living ones,
the ones to come,
walk together,
hand in hand
gathered in answer
to her call
each one
birthing the future
from wombs of fire
their name is

*both this and the preceding line refer to works by Maya Angelou who wrote the poem
“Phenomenal Woman”

Eileen Neil

Back to the International Women’s Day 2023 collection

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment