Gilbert White

 

Gilbert White

poems and stories 


   scroll down to read poems and stories in our

Summer  Special

 growing rapidly from July to September 2020

 

meet the poets and writers


Gilbert White

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Bell is a noted poet whose work has been featured on BBC Radio 4, TV adverts, carved into lock beams and widely published. She has been poet in residence at Glastonbury Festival and on the UK Canals. Her two books on poetry writing, 52: Write a Poem a Week and How to Be a Poet (with Jane Commane) are bestsellers. 

Jo Bell – A nightingale for Gilbert White

 

 

A nightingale for Gilbert White

April 5th, 1768

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buds and shadows fatten, but the garden’s lean.

A London smoke crawls west, and cucumbers

are tortoising across the sweat-sweet dung.

 

A nuthatch jars and clatters in the oak;

rooks get cocky in the Selborne copse. At last

the air is quick with bee-flies, kites and larks

 

and April falls across the parish like stained glass,

like rest for the broken-backed. The diarist

dashes off one word to stand for spring – Luscinia!

 

Colour blurs from every quickened hedge

into the woodsmoke hours. The nightingale

loops speechless syllables on every thorn.

Attention, after all, is prayer. Nothing goes unseen.

 

 

Jo Bell

 

First published in Kith.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn Bevis is Hampshire Poet Laureate and founder of The Writing School in Winchester (www.thewritingschool.co.uk).  In 2019 she won the Poets and Players and Against the Grain competitions, and was also shortlisted for the Nine Arches Primers scheme. She is working towards her first collection.

 

Kathryn Bevis – A Vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forest is alive today

and quick with wild devotion.

Bees hum, drunk on puffs

of pollen, censer-swung

from meadowsweet

and Queen Anne’s lace.

 

Ferns stir themselves

to nod and bow; they sail

a summer breeze. Open-handed

to the sun, each pair of leaves

is a single prayer in a reef

of fractal-patterned green.

 

Damselflies flash and dart,

a fever of electric grace.

In the shade a foal gazes,

still as any seer;

her flanks are polished silver,

her tail an aspergillum.    

 

The body of a world

at worship cries out

to be seen. The beech leaves

whisper in a psalm

to everything that flickers,

foams and gleams.

 

 

 

Kathryn Bevis

 

Kathryn Bevis, Hampshire Poet 2020, was commissioned by Winchester Poetry Festival and Hampshire Cultural Trust to write this poem in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Gilbert White’s birth.

 

Devil Day by Kathryn Bevis

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Kelly’s first collection, A Map Towards Fluency, was published by Carcanet in 2019. Her poems have appeared in Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press) and Carcanet’s New Poetries VII. Her pamphlets are Philip Levine’s Good Ear (Stonewood Press) and Bloodhound (Hearing Eye). Her pamphlet, ‘from The IKEA Back Catalogue‘ is forthcoming from New Walk Editions in 2021.

 

Lisa Kelly – Late Blooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My neighbour’s hanging basket, why

does it horrify me, yet

each time I pass, I must look

 

and check for signs of withering.

Is it mismatch of purple

and yellow, which reminds me

 

of childhood lollies – not Drumsticks

which smelt of raspberry cream –

but those cheap dual-toned blobs of

 

saliva-d chalk on a stick you

only bought because they would

outlast greed for liquorice,

 

stamen dabbed in sherbet pollen,  

or vanilla sap sucked from

inside ridged chocolate cones

 

or even bland stuck-together   

petals of pastel coloured

rice paper that dissolved on

 

the tongue – as close as I got to  

a communion wafer –            

to give an otherworldly

 

fizz. No, I can’t remember

their name, and for a long time

I thought my neighbour’s flowers

 

artificial as the lolly’s            

ingredients, the way they

managed to outlast weather,

 

until I noticed under the            

basket, from a pavement crack

a purple and yellow bloom.             

 

Lisa Kelly

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chrissie Gittins’ third poetry collection Sharp Hills was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019. She appeared with her fifth children’s poetry collection Adder, Bluebell, Lobster (Otter-Barry Books) on BBC Countryfile. Her second short story collection Between Here and Knitwear (Unthank Books) was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards. She is a National Poetry Day Ambassador, and she features on the Poetry Archive and in the British Council Writers Directory. 

 

Chrissie Gittins – You Mistake Yourself for an Allotment

 

 

 

You Mistake Yourself for an Allotment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My plum and cherry blossom are profound,

I will try to manage more than one single cherry this year.

As for those moths which get inside your plums –

you can get some sort of pheromone trap. They’re green.

You’ve left the lemon yellow flowers on last year’s

black kale for long enough.

 

The cardoon which used to flourish from

underneath the corner of the shed has barely sprouted.

Remember last year you planted purple beans

too soon – they shivered to a shrivel.

I like the way you leave the aquilegias

wherever they may grow.

 

There’s hope of purple broad beans,

maroon tomatoes, custard yellow courgettes,

an orange squash streaked with green –

which should be very sweet.

You could try again with aubergines.

This is the only future you can grow.

 

 

Chrissie Gittins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Young is a semi-retired teacher living in Kent. Her poetry has been published in webzines including Nitrogen House, Nine Muses Poetry and Ekphrastic Review. She particularly enjoys responding to Ekphrastic challenges as she also loves Art and painting. Kate is presently working on her pamphlet ‘Turning Stones Over’.

Find her on Twitter: @Kateyoung12poet

 

Kate Young – Shades of Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer feels intense today,

vivid thumbs of sprawling lawn

clutch at daisies, the unwanted,

and so many happy memories-

children’s footfall chasing birds

or bubble-wands round roses,

a spillage of palette on bed.

 

In the corner by the kitchen door

the hydrangea smiles slowly,

each bloom coated in gloss of

indigo-blue, your favourite shade.

For this is your hydrangea

potted from your terracotta tub,

before you became a snapshot,

before we could grow old.

 

 

Kate Young

 

 

No Ordinary Apothecary by Kate Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juliet Fossey is a poet who likes being outside, sketching, scribbling and walking. When not out in the great outdoors, she enjoys working on interdisciplinary projects that include music and art as well as poetry. Her writing process often involves cobbling bits of work together that may start with string or old bird nests which are gradually crafted into poems. You might find her lost on the Cumbria fell side staring at moss. 

 

Juliet Fossey – Climate migrant

 

 

 

 

                A Humming-bird Hawk Moth has drifted

too far North and found

                                                            our back lane of flowers

with existential levitation it thrums            feeding on valerian

darting       plume                    to                  plume                                

a day dancer                        a furry headed nectar mouse         

     in one beat             of stillness                 with proboscis inserted

       it exacts sweetness

                                                      from each red glove of scent.

 

 

Juliet Fossey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician and designer. He was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 and has been published in numerous print and online magazines. His first pamphlet Mutter/Land was recently brought out by Oystercatcher Press, from whose site it may be ordered http://www.oystercatcherpress.com
 

 

 

Steve Xerri – Hoverfly Observing

 

 

Hoverfly Observing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly there, as though

materialising in mid-air,

she settles on the damp shirt 

I’m pegging to the line,

zips off to the landing-pad

of a yellow-dusted fennel

umbel and then, the touch

of her wire legs barely felt

by my human skin, alights

to turn a moment or two

on my outstretched

hand.

          Benign banded

mock-wasp, air-dancer,

brief passer-through,

provoker of a little pulse

of fondness, I greet you,

feeling myself rooted

and measured by your

observing presence.

 

Steve Xerri

 

On Slicing a Quince by Steve Xerri

Feather and Shell by Steve Xerri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is the author of two full-length books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019), and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in American Writers ReviewThe Main Street Rag, The Public Poetry 2020 Anthology, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and River Heron Review, among others. 

 

Lisa Creech Bledsoe – Not Yet

 

 

 

 

 

the waning summer gleams with fat

apricots and onions

walnuts waiting to blacken

 

the crows accept where I walk —

their nestlings

never learned fear of me

 

the south wind and

sharpening stars tied

to the branches of bedtime

remind me

to watch

for the last hummingbird to pack

 

it’s not yet time

not yet

 

the jewelweed hasn’t

tilted out

her fat bumbles

I never found the owl

and

don’t want to close down

the hives

just yet

 

I’m not ready

not ready

 

one more story

one more glass of wine

on the porch

 

and possibly

a quilt

 

Lisa Creech Bledsoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick B. Osada  is an editor and also writes reviews of poetry for magazines. He recently retired after ten years on SOUTH Poetry Magazine’s management team and as the magazine’s reviews editor. 

His first collection, Close to the Edge was published in 1996 & won the prestigious Rosemary Arthur Award. He has published six collections, How The Light Gets In was launched in June 2018.

 

Patrick’s work has been broadcast on national and local radio and widely published in magazines, anthologies and on the internet.. 

 

For more information about his work and a selection of his poetry, visit :

 www.poetry-patrickosada.co.uk

 

Patrick B. Osada – Still Life with Feathers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One bracing day, we watched them go :

leaving the nest box in strong winds.

Unable to fly in such a gale,

from off the ground I rescued one

and placed him in a nearby tree,

knowing that soon he would be found

by anxious, watching, parent birds.

Next day we saw that four bird brood

perched in the apple tree in line,

fluttering wings, demanding food.

 

Weeks later, from my laddered perch,

I freed the birdbox, took it down,

ready to empty, clean and paint.

The final stubborn screw unscrewed,

carefully I removed the roof

allowing daylight to flood in

to this dark space – the bluetit’s home.

A filigree of spider’s web

obscured the nest, catching the sun,

masking the contents from my sight.

 

Perched on a bed of moss and fur

with face inclined towards the hole

through which he’d last heard parents’ call

and watched his siblings take to flight,

he seemed complete. Perfect and whole –

as if somehow he’d been preserved,

saved by God’s taxidermist’s art –

waiting for tiny wings to grow

enough to take him to the light

and join his brood – if life could start.

 

 

Patrick B. Osada

 

From my collection : How The Light Gets In (Dempsey & Windle Publishers)

 

 

Owlswood Park by Patrick B. Osada

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Robinson grew up off-grid on an isolated smallholding in Warwickshire. Her first collection is The Art of Gardening (Flambard 2010).  She won the Mirehouse/Words by the Water Poetry Prize in 2013 and the Second Light Poetry Prize (short poem category) in 2017.  Her work includes two pamphlets, Uist Waulking Song and Out of Time, the latter to accompany a poetry/photography collaboration with Horatio Lawson, exhibited at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick in 2015.

Her poems have appeared in several magazines.  Her most recent publications are Alphabet Poems (Mariscat Press 2019) and Trace (Oversteps Books 2020).  She lives on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales.  Her blog is: Wild About Poetry.

http://maryrobinsonpoetry.blogspot.com

 

And for more information visit:

 www.poetrypf.co.uk/maryrobinsonpage.shtml

 

Mary Robinson – Cinnabar Moth

 

 

 

Dropped ear-ring,

red and black

enamelled jewel

in the grass

 

(no skulking in twilight

shadows, no bashful

introvert masquerading

as dead leaf).

 

Cinnabar moth –

a brazen daylight flyer

for whom camouflage

is not the point.  Don’t

 

even try, it signals.

Too ostentatious to trust –

Tyria jacobaeae

is a shameless

 

collaborator.  The name’s

a giveaway –

it sleeps

with old man ragwort.

 

 

Mary Robinson

 

First published in The Art of Gardening by Mary Robinson(Flambard Press 2010)

 

 

Recollecting Water by Mary Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Huckson is a semi-retired gardener, living in Cumbria. A lifetime of being in the countryside and working close with the land informs and colours everything he does and results in his never trying to be other than a part of nature. Also an amateur poet, recent poems of his have been published in magazines including; The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Poetry Space Showcase and the Dempsey & Windle anthology Alternative Truths.

 

Ian Hickson – Binary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Streaked grey-green hindwing veins,
underwing mottled-green 
camouflage dressed;
Orange Tip (female) at rest,
hiding from oppressive rain.

The Small; upperwings black veined,
forewings edged mid-grey,
The Large; a wider darker edge,
undersides a shared cream-ivory.
Pests, say the mean-spirited.

Marbled, Wood and Cryptic Wood,
rare migrants Black-veined and Bath;
yet some see a singular White
or worse still, just a guilty Cabbage.
I could’ve at a younger age…
set on a different path. 

 

Ian Huckson

 

Seeking Renewal by Ian Huckson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pratibha Castle’s prize-winning poetry pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers is being published later in 2020 by Hedgehog Press. Her poetry appears in various journals, anthologies and online magazines, including Indigo Press publications Sarasvati and Reach. Pratibha, born in Dun Laoghaire, now resident in W. Sussex, began writing poetry on her mother’s death in 2007. She graduated from Chichester University with a first class honours degree aged 61 and continued to explore writing on their Creative Writing MA. She is currently working on her second poetry pamphlet.

 

Pratibha Castle – South Downs

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf sense idles me

into a random field 

where sheep 

take a brief break 

from munching grass 

to glance my way. 

A black face dam fixes me

with Satan gaze, transmits a cipher 

I likely misconstrue, watches

as I mount the stile, swing my leg across 

as if the worn wood is the saddle 

of an imaginary mare set 

to canter me off 

into a fae mist

distance. 

 

Beyond the field 

a path through the woods 

petals open into a copse, incense 

of wild thyme, garlic 

blooming beneath

my feet. 

 

Wild clematis 

tosses into a breeze 

wafting the fantasy 

of a cuckoo. 

 

Dryads lean in, anoint 

me with whispered 

prayers. 

I drift in wonder at a tail feather 

amongst the leaves 

from the red kite

keening in the blue, flash  

above the brook

of turquoise, shadow 

splash of a heron. 

 

Pratibha Castle

 

 

Pumpkin Blues by Pratibha Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Howdle is a retired teacher and educational consultant. He lives in Leeds, England. He studied literature at the Universities of Manchester and York. Poems have appeared in Ekphrastic ReviewImpossible ArchetypeSingapore UnboundNine Muses, and Lovejets (2019), an anthology of poems paying tribute to Walt Whitman. His poem, ‘A Letter from York’, which won the 2018 Singapore Unbound  poetry competition, was nominated for the Hawker Prize.  

 

Andrew Howdle – Echoes

 

 

 

 

The bridge’s vast arch is usually

A fermata hanging over silence —

 

Not a concert hall, as today, where two

Youths make its span echo profanities.

 

As I stand and strain to hear a blackbird

Pluck music from a distant sycamore,

 

An image of the virtuous White comes

Into view: head down, counting every

 

Charitable worm and hopeful emmet

As he ambles through Selborne’s Creation.

 

Keeping faith with all that he sees and hears,

He enters a mossed and echoing vale

 

Where a lively “polyglot” nymph listens

And dutifully imitates his words.

 

Rapt, he cocks his ear and calculates how

A jubilant dactyl echoes better

 

Than a heartsore spondee. He had a fine

Ear that served Nature and God equally.

 

As he makes haste slowly and progresses

From the mind’s eye, I too resume my walk

 

And leave lapwing quiff and hooded crow to

Capture a laughing, self-praising selfie.

 

Andrew Howdle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Atkin’s new collection is How Time is in Fields (IDP, May 2019).  Her poetry has featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ with Claire Balding, and recent work appears in The Rialto, Magma, The Moth, Lighthouse and Agenda.  In 2019 she was Troubadour of the Hills for Ledbury Poetry Festival, and BBC National Poetry Day Poet for Shropshire.

 www.jeanatkin.com 

 

Jean Atkin – 19 Paths Through Rectory Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.      What’s not natural grows here: chimaera trees

each a grafted ring of years on rootstock.

While from the ground, what’s common rises.

 

2.      Crow passes close & overhead,

wingtips ragging lime leaves.

We see it stretch out its claws, & back its wings

land in the shine

black shine of elderberries.

 

3.      You move through this place as through a 

painting, planting a future in

oaks. But how far ahead can we imagine?

 

4.      Green alkanet flowers lapis blue in May and on

through soft October – commonplace,

unnoticed, underhand. 

 

5.      Yews older than iron, older than churches, old

like the tumuli under the churches, the round

stones under the stones.

 

6.      In woods we forget things.

At the wood edge we tell stories.

Our eyes are adapted

to canopy & vista.

 

7.      We hold a knopper gall, learn him

crouched like an homunculus, riding

the shoulder of this green acorn.

Inside him the grub of the cynipid wasp

& inside the grub, a gall wasp egg.

The grub within the grub within the nut.

 

8.      Magpie dip & flash. Witch cackle.                                 
                                                                                                              

9.      Lost in the woods this bristling lime is where

the path runs out in aerial thickets.

Here foxes earth in mid-air.

 

10.     Or a path we might miss, a walk inside a lime,

a local rite, a passage climbed

by children, aunts & dogs.

 

11.     We’re here to hear water, its tumble, its all-night

gutter-beck-bubble –

Town Brook’s many-centuried voice.

 

12.     Beech compensates its lean, throws out

long branches,

counterweights slowly into wind.

 

13.     Box-straggle marks a once-clipped gateway.

A garden in a wood.

 

14.    We raise the garden’s ghost, scare up old paths

like thinning bones through trees.

 

15.    We shush our footsteps out again through leaves.

 

16.    A passage of yews drink darkly from Town Brook.

 

17.    Water runs down over rock, the sounds arranged –

High notes conjured from tumbles of small stones.

Bass resonates from slab.

 

18.    A gravity of seven yews around a pool.

 

19.    Still water by a Green Chapel.

Time’s shuffle.  A way home.

 

 

Jean Atkin

 

(This poem was previously published in ‘How Time is in Fields’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2019)).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Lovell is an award-winning poet whose work focuses on our relationship with the planet and its wildlife. Her latest collection is This Tilting Earth (Seren). Jane also writes for Dark Mountain and Elementum Journal. She is Writer-in-Residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Her new collection ‘The God of Lost Ways‘ is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Press.

 

Jane Lovell – Starlings 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We use folders of bamboo and deerbone

to construct you: slinted claw

and oilbead plumage, its gloss-speckle and lustre

 

crisp-folded on the cusp of winter.

Tweezers pin your reedy legs

and thorny beaks, wings blown

 

from mountain folds and pleats,

their feather-strata paper-cut-sharp

and glorious as angels’.

 

Evenings, we line you up in trees to roost,

wind you up to hear your clockwork grobbling

and deep space radio whirrs.

 

Each dawn, exhilarated by the light,

you sing in clicks and shrills, wolfwhistles

and bright cellophane twists,

 

then fly your squadron down to land

and dandle determinedly across the grass

to yesterday’s pecked apples.

 

Fieldfares descend in reverse folds.

Unfazed you dance defence,

flyweight boxers on your thinstalk legs.

 

In dreams, we gather you in, gently open out

and press flat your mulberry squares,

their iridescent foil,

 

store you in a drawer, loose-wrapped

in leaves of tissue, for emergencies:

secret trapdoors to another life,

 

fast and dark and beautiful.

 

Jane Lovell

‘Starlings’ is from Jane’s forthcoming collection The God of Lost Ways (Indigo Dreams Publishing).

 

   

 

Biophilia by Jane Lovell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Burge is a freelance creative writing and film studies tutor based in North Norfolk.  Her poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.  Sue’s first collection In the Kingdom of Shadows (Live Canon) was published in November 2018 alongside her debut pamphlet Lumiere (Hedgehog Poetry Press).  Sue’s new pamphlet, The Saltwater Diaries, is forthcoming, also with Hedgehog Poetry Press, in September 2020. More information at www.sueburge.com

 

Sue Burge – Thirteen Ways of Looking at Stone 

 

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking At Stone 

 

after Wallace Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i

rest your cheek in its lee

where the night cannot find you

 

ii

carve your face in the soft mountainside

watch your nose crumble

your eyes & mouth become dust

 

iii

the art of skimming

unachievable as an equation

the pebble lies on my palm

 

iv

I left a trail of pebbles long ago –

did you collect them

build the tallest cairn?

 

v

outline my body where it falls

lay me under a blanket of shale

 

vi

how did you carry those tablets of stone

down the steep, treacherous path?

Did you pause, unwrap food

from linen folds, take a sinful bite?

 

vii

the road to hell is paved with gravel –

it will find its way

into the most tightly laced shoe

 

viii

I wake from a dream

of blood and chanting

the taste of standing stone

 

ix

I weigh my poems down

with a hagstone –

a life lived slant

 

x

in a cabinet

a piece of moon

jagged & dark

one day I will steal it

inhale its pale heart

 

xi

sometimes I lift a mirror to you

afraid of your Gorgon stare

 

xii

is stone still warm without my touch?

does it erode

only when my back is turned?

 

xiii

torn from the earth’s belly

newborn

 

 

Sue Burge

 

  

 

 

Zone by Sue Burge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daphne Astor is an American-born British conservationist and farmer working with literary and visual arts organisations in the UK since 1977. In 2016 she founded and curated Poetry in Aldeburgh, she is currently chairperson of C4RD and was a long-term trustee of the Poetry School. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and magazines including Magma, Finished Creatures and Coast to Coast to Coast. She recently became publisher and editor of Hazel Press.

 

Daphne Astor – Flitting Days 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every April a pair of swans arrive on North

Park lake then after about a week they move on.

Dab chicks, pink foot geese, duck of all kinds

frog spawn and the meter-long garden snake

soon appear on schedule, just before a couple of

early pied wagtails and a vanguard swallow.

All are silently welcomed, observed as if an ordinary

 

processional, a seasonal litany of the miraculous

that bring ants into the downstairs of houses

rats to the hen run, swarming honey bees

orange tip butterflies, bats, great crested newts.

Companionable beauty unfurls: aconites

with snowdrops, cowslips with bluebells,

lilac with laburnum, first lettuce with rain.

 

It is the annual arrival of the inconspicuous

5 ¾ inch spotted fly-catcher that we most

anticipate, herald with respect, feel possessive

about and are elated to greet. Muscicapa striata

striata whose proper name was bestowed by

Pallas in the 18thc. With a thin voice like a wheelbarrow

on a rusty wheel these birds are barely noticeable, yet divine.

 

Daphne Astor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines including Agenda, Envoi, Magma, The Rialto and Stand, and have won competitions. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

 

Mark Totterdell – Siren

 

 

Siren 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I never employed him

to soundtrack my dreams,

this morning’s early blackbird

is back on his woodwind,

those expert glissandos,

the rises, the trills and chirrs.

 

And  now he’s off on his

police siren impression,

not the modern wails and yelps and phasers

you might think he’d go for,

but the proper old-time two-note

‘nee-naw nee-naw nee-naw’,

as if he’s been watching those cop shows

full of corruptions and easy deaths

from decades before he was even an egg.

 

 

Mark Totterdell

 

 

         

Frogs by Mark Totterdell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew James Friday has had poems published in numerous international magazines and journals, including, recently: The Brasilia Review (Brazil), Dawntreader (UK), New Contrast (South Africa) and Poetry Salzburg (Austria). A mini-chapbook titled  All the Ways to Love was published by the Origami Poems Project (USA).

     http://matthewfriday.weebly.com/

 

Matthew James Friday –  The Frog 

 

 

 

 

With Venus winking

at the pastelling sun,

the mountains smudging,

trees talking in shadows,

 

a frog sings

down by the communal swimming pool

recently cleaned of winter’s

green scumming by a robot.

 

A frog sings

while children clatter in the distance,

dragging dusk down an alley.

A dog barking at the arriving

 

night. Still

the frog sings

the same frog

that sang for Basho

now sings for me.

 

The frog invisible

singing by the swimming pool.

I know what luck is.

 

Matthew James Friday

 

 

The Mandarin Duck by Matthew James Friday

I Miss Making Maps by Matthew James Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Burrows is a librarian in the North West of England. His poems have appeared most recently in Marble Poetry, Northwords Now, Dream Catcher and Coast to Coast to Coast. His poem ‘Tracey Lithgow’ was shortlisted for the inaugural Hedgehog Press 2019 Cupid’s Arrow Poetry Prize and appeared in the Cupid’s Arrow Love Poem Anthology.  

@Peter_Burrows74 

peterburrowspoetry.wordpress.com

 

 

Peter Burrows – Map

 

 

Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoothing flat a large sheet we plan to trace

your world, annotating and illustrating,

scrunching up, fraying edges, and ageing

in stewed tea before sanding the surface to scratch

a lost map of treasures. Beginning with home

we plot outwards, realising your domain:

 

the sweet shop, park, Brownies, friends’ houses, as far  

as the eye – school nudging the paper’s edge.

A life contained. Here we rolled you to sleep

beside walls you’d soon be held on calling out to lambs;

here you first triked, biked, sledged, tumbled and fell.

Your cries echoing across this range. That now,    

 

you populate with trees in leaf, daisies, snowdrops,

blackberries, lambs, and dogs off lead: your days

all seasons in one. Where we follow paths lain

continuously, each walking our own.

Criss-crossing dashed lines, other days, other lives,

past molehills, grass-flattened trails. Above us,

 

swifts swerve by where high winds and summer scents

cross this hand-poised space, each leaving some impression,

however fleeting, as when you’re here, but not.

The distant playtimes carrying over fields

to where we’d stand unseen, upwind, awhile,

watching the deer return home, your hand in mine,

 

the bats flying knowingly about our heads.

Bounding forward, you make your way, out of frame

chasing something, only you will find.

Leaving me trailing – until I catch

you, waiting, expertly tightrope walking –

arms out – balancing on the cattle-grid.

 

 

Peter Burrows

 

Map was originally published in Reach 2020 

 

One for the Road by Peter Burrows

The Wood by Peter Burrows

Sweeping the Sands by Peter Burrows

Spring by Peter Burrows

Three Poems by Peter Burrows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Johnstone is a poet, writer and performer whose work has appeared throughout the UK, in the Americas, Australasia and Europe. His poems have been translated into over a dozen languages and are included in the UK Poetry Archive website. He has published seven collections, most recently the pamphlet Juke Box Jeopardy (Red Squirrel Press, 2018), shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award 2019, and the full collection Dry Stone Work (Arc Publications, 2014). His memoir Double Exposurewas published by Saraband in 2017. He is a founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival.

 http://brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk/

 

Brian Johnstone –  Wintering 

 

 

Wintering

 

 

House-swallows have some strong attachment to water…and, though they may not retire into that element, yet they may conceal themselves in the banks of pools and rivers during the uncomfortable months of winter.

Gilbert White, The Natural History of Selborne

 

 

 

 

 

At summer’s close, a level branch would see them

    all in line, perched in readiness for what

         no-one was sure. They quit

 

their favoured places – eaves and chimney stacks –

    all of a piece, so swiftly none could swear

         they’d seen them take to wing.

 

The limbs that saw them gather in their scores,

    spread out by rivers, ponds and meres,

            gave some a clue. The soft soil

 

of the banks might offer habitation, make a place

    to see the winter out. But others, not at all

         convinced of this, and noting

 

how they skimmed the water’s surface after flies,

    theorised they found a refuge in the deep

         there to sojourn safely

 

throughout the coldest months. And knowing

    none of this, the swallows made

         for Africa, instinctively.

 

The moon, the depths of ponds, their very banks,

     each in plain sight. Who knew of Africa,

         if it was anywhere at all?

 

 

Brian Johnstone

 

 

Click on the the books for more information and to purchase signed copies directly from Brian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Stephenson grew up in Cambridge and studied modern languages. He has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies  (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and interviews poets at:  paulstep.com 

 

 

Paul Stephenson –  The Village Show 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father was good at auctioning off marrows,

handsome shallots and prize-winning carrots.

 

He’d a knack for standing on a chair in the Hall

packed with toddlers and pensioners with sticks

 

who, at half past four, crossed the green for tea

and a slice of sponge to see about the judging.

 

He sold cars for a living but could also shift potatoes,

mixed bunches of summer flowers, fragrant roses.

 

From behind his beard he could bellow the bid

for a posey of sweet peas clasped in silver foil.

 

 

 

Paul Stephenson

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheila Lockhart is a retired social worker and lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands with her partner and two Icelandic horses, tending her garden and writing poetry. She has been published in Northwords Now, Nine Muses Poetry, Twelve Rivers (Suffolk Poetry Society), the StAnza Poetry Map of Scotland, The Writers’ Cafe and the Ekphrastic Review.

 

Sheila Lockhart –  four hares 

 

 

four hares 

Carn Glas, Earth Day 2020

 

 

 

 

sapphire bright meteors

spill from the sky  

pierce screwed eyes

 

beside the shieling

ravens flap and creak

over a dead sheep

 

held to this ancient circle

by gravity of stones

I contemplate funeral rites

 

an east wind blows

ashes scattered  

over waves of stubble

 

              *

 

then I spot them

black dots on periscopic ears

spines like bronze helmets

 

dip and rise unkiltered

through the furrows

four hares in delirium

 

the heart leaps

to the parabolic sweep

and speed of their chase

 

the sudden pause

to parry and punch

the dash of defeat

 

two seek refuge

in a stone dyke wall

the scent of fresh grass

 

while the bonded pair

flatten in a furrow

of warmed earth

 

 

Sheila Lockhart

Hampshire Poets

Gilbert White’s investigations into the natural world were focused around his home in Selborne, Hampshire. The poems below are by Hampshire poets inspired by Gilbert White.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Hugh Greasley is a poet and painter who uses landscapes as a means of exploring landscapes, people and memory. Explorations can be about such things as sunlight falling into a shed or the experience of visiting a wreck on a Cornish beach at night in the teeth of a gale. Hugh also works as a visual artist, painting in oils and has had a scientific education. He has published seven collections of poetry. 

Hugh Greasley –  Gills 

 

 

Gills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gills

 

When I was a fish

in the middle time

I had gills and a tail.

The other fishes became fish and even birds

but I became myself.

The first gill became my mouth, my lips, my jaw,

my cheek and my ears

and now when I talk and listen

I use my gills.

 

 

Hugh Greasley

 

‘Gills’ is part of Hugh Greasley’s Lunar Walk anthology. Lunar Walk was a collaborative project with Performance Artist Helena Eflerová, based on a night walk during full moon, down the river Itchen to the sea.

 

Tide Clock by Hugh Greasley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Davies, a prize winning poet, lives in Catisfield, Fareham. Her first collection of poetry Blue Water Cafepublished by Oversteps Books is available by contacting  smhdavies@hotmail.co.uk.  She has now completed her second collection of poems to be published in 2021.

 

Sue Davies –  Flight of the Enchanter 

 

 

 

Flight of the Enchanter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was there we returned breath to air,

snagged by gorse, pricked with yellow welts.

In the beguiling mouth of the wind, a spangle

of grasshoppers, the button-eyes of birds,

a bronzed brook silking through columns

of lace and white linen flowers braced along

the sea-green flanks. She held my hand

tight which stopped my blood, and I was drugged

by her power, the perfume of pine and grass

just able to lift my feet, knees freshly scabbed,

rickety-thin from city streets. We pounded

a path dead, grey baked clay where nothing grew –

even hissy dandelions stopped short without

a chance to root. But the light cut our eyes

like diamonds – ferns and nettles glowed

white gold, birch leaves darted like fish

where the path narrowed and slothed off

into the murk.

                       Deeper still, thin saplings

leaned over the fading path, their crowns

puffs of insipid clouds among oaks cracking

their dry roots below the earth. I felt my

dappled skin graft to hers, like the underwing

of the silver-washed fritillary. We took

the hardest path she said, to teach me

the ways of the forest.

 

 

Sue Davies

 

Blue Water Cafe is available to purchase directly from Sue by emailing  smhdavies@hotmail.co.uk 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan McGavin featured in a Peterloo Poets anthology and has poetry books from Oversteps Books: Flannelgraphs (2011) and Passing Arcadia Close (2017). A Hawthornden Fellow in 2012, she was Hampshire Poet 2014, and for thirteen years taught Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. A trustee of the Winchester Poetry Festival, she curated an anthology, Hogwords, for them in 2014. She is currently working on a third collection as part of a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Southampton University.

 

Joan McGavin –  Daphnoid 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I’m tired

with shopping, the tree

catches my eye. 

I can’t help smiling

at my dramatic daphnoid memory:

how, near the top, stretching

for an elusive twiggy bit, while pruning,

I once fell, spreadeagle, onto it

 

and was upheld, branch-buoyed,

as if velcroed to vitality,

clasping the bay’s dense green

globe, needing no rescue.

All I needed to do

was step back onto the ladder,

feeling my way first with toes

of one slow gyrating foot.

 

Call me what you will

in Freudian terms.

I know it may never happen again

with any other tree.

I can’t help loving my old bay.

It still has me where it wants me:

heart-smitten, each time I see it,

over and again.

 

 

Joan McGavin

 

   

 

Rain Started High by Joan McGavin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Mumbai and sailed the world on oil tankers before settling down in the UK. She is an associate lecturer at Winchester University and leads the SO:Write Young Writers workshops in Southampton. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian), was published in 2015.  Her short stories, essays and poems have been widely published and also broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She won the Winchester Writers Festival Memoir prize in 2016. She lives in Winchester with her family.

Twitter: @Susmitatweets

http://susmita-bhattacharya.blogspot.co.uk

 

Susmita Bhattacharya – By Churchgate Station, 22 August 1997, Mumbai 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This night is the wing of a crow. Black with the slick of

wet feather and skin. One beady eye following the surge of the

flood water towards Marine Drive, rushing to

meet the sea.

 

This night is a birthday cake. The lamp posts swaying, fizzing

singing with the whistling wind. Whipping and lashing raindrops

as big and round as cherries on top.

 

The revolving rooftop restaurant glows like a beacon. A lighthouse

blinking obstinately while dark clouds consume it

with unsatiated hunger.

 

The street is a ruby necklace – strings of taillights

disappearing into the storm-wrung horizon. Steamy breath

rising from its engorged gutters.

 

All sounds are muted by the pounding rain

except my beating heart,

 

that throbs in my ears, as I clutch my beloved’s hand.

This should have been a celebration. But we are shivering in a bus shelter.

The night finally breaks into a quiet dawn,

 

who knows nothing of the tantrums he threw earlier.

 

We gather our things and jump on a lone bus – sailing along this swampy road.

The sunlight seeps into our damp crevices.

We huddle together for warmth,

 

watch cars floating by like ducks in a muddy bath. 

 

 

Susmita Bhattacharya

 

 

  

 

In the Lap of the Gods by Susmita Bhattacharya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Boyce is a prize-winning poet and co-founder of Winchester Poetry Festival. He is the author of three poetry collections, The Blue Tree (Indigo Dreams 2019), The Sisyphus Dog (Worple 2014), and Desire Lines (Arrowhead 2010). He has also published three pamphlet collections. Stephen lives in north Dorset. www.stephenboycepoetry.com

 

Stephen Boyce –  A Prospect of Beech Trees 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a tree becomes a stoup, a font

at the threshold of winter, its gnarled joints

offering the blessing of damp beechmast,

leaf and twig and husk.

                                                And lingering there

the sweet musk of decades of mulch trampled

by the feet of drovers, huggers, lovers

and some who found respite in shade,

took shelter from a squall.

                                                                                                                     

                                                *

 

Sometimes a tree stretches its limbs skywards

with the taut musculature of a dancer

celebrating light, the architecture

of exuberance.

                                    Even leafless it’s in motion

leaning into the wind, drawing shapes

in the air, elegant tableaux lit by fits

of pale sun, the sap slowing in its veins.                                                 

 

                                                *

 

Sometimes a tree, swollen by pollarding,

embraces the metal barbs that mark its bounds,

quietly enfolds the possibility of pain

within the tightness of its bark.

                                                              Bludgeoned

by axe, lightning-struck, taxed with too much weight,

the tree endures, defies from season to season

what we think we know of stamina, of strength,

of tolerance.

                                   

                                                *

 

Sometimes in rough weather a tree issues

a silent prayer from its fissures and splits,

where the scar of a lost branch makes a lip

out of absence.

                                    And absence evokes its own

meditation on beauty, each healed welt,

each blemish a mark of something lost, 

a badge of something turned to gain.

 

                                                *

 

And sometimes a choir of trees teaches us

how to hope, what it is to dream, their roots

in concert extending into the next field

ageless beneath the mould and turf.

                                                                     Each pulse,

every quiver of hidden fibre connects

with the next copse or spinney, listens,

receives, sends back life’s vibrant chord.

 

 

Stephen Boyce

 

   

 

Caged by Stephen Boyce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Ward is co-owner of Butterfly Cottage Garden Plants. Previously she worked for the NHS. She is a qualified Psychodynamic Counsellor. Angela has been writing poetry for thirty years. Until recently, her poems languished in a cardboard box in her spare room!

 

Angela Ward –  Two Metres Away 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dawn chorus was loud and beautiful

‘though nesting time was almost finished.

 

And later…

 

Four newly emerged Small Tortoiseshells settled

on stony ground, to dry their pristine wings,

while Skippers jostled a fat Bumble Bee

to sip sweet nectar from Centranthus ruber.

 

And self-seeded garden escapes mingled

with wildflowers in sun-cracked crevices:

Verbascums, daisies, corn cockles and poppies,

in colour wheels to steal a breath away.

 

Beside the compost bin, bedecked with twining

open cups of pure white convolvulus,

a multitude of stinging nettles writhed

with yellow and black striped caterpillars.

 

And twenty tiny, bright green grasshoppers

leapfrogged one another in a small patch,

accompanied by a chorus of crickets

able to compete with Greek cicadas

 

Nestled beneath terracotta pots, frogs

startled croak, grumpy at being disturbed

by one Humming-Bird-Hawk moth, proboscis

deep within magenta Erodiums.

 

And Bronze Fennel, copper colours ablaze,

promised umbels of Aniseed to store

along with scented herbs spread out to dry:

lavender, rosemary, lemon balm and sage.

 

Then cumulus clouds bubbled up and Red Kites

began a circling descent, their high-pitched cries

replaced by dualling thrushes singing

out sunset songs as the church clock chimed ten.

 

And in the darkness, refreshing rain fell on

parched soil and scorched leaves, lifting the bowed heads

of stargazers  – lost in thoughts of night sky

myths and legends- who began to wonder whether

 

the dawn chorus had been loud and beautiful

and might the world wake up and listen?

 

 

 

Angela Ward

 

‘Two Metres Away’ was written while Angela walked around her gorgeous nursery early one morning at Butterfly Cottage Garden Plants. It’s a walk that you can share by watching the slide show below whilst listening to the dawn chorus.

 

Leaf Spirit by Angela Ward

It’s a Flower on Chalk by Angela Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isabel Rogers’ first poetry collection, Don’t Ask, came out in 2017 with Eyewear Publishing. Her work has appeared in various magazines including PoetryPoetry WalesUnder the Radar and Mslexia, and has been widely anthologised. She won the 2014 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, and was Hampshire Poet Laureate in 2016. She is currently writing the Stockwell Park Orchestra series of comic novels published with Farrago (Life, Death and Cellos; Bold as Brass; with the third book, Continental Riff, due out in January 2021).

 

Isabel Rogers – H2O

 

 

 

 

 

I would be a bad scientist, forever diving

like a spaniel into question-choked verges.

The three-atom triptych slakes a manifold thirst.

I would be a bad molecule. I love too fiercely,

 

hold grudges. I would drift in vapour until we gathered,

feeling the thrill as we mass, drawn by forces

we cant name (articulation not a burden

we are obliged to carry) then, after the shocking intimacy

 

of simultaneous condensing, we would fall

not mourning our wings but diving gleefully

to the solid endstop below. We are no match for it.

We are liquid and cannot be relied upon.

 

If in that explosion we catch half-stories

of seas ruling land

xylem hidden in hardwood

the surge under a storm

stiff ice nosing toward salt

 

we know our chemistry is fungible.

Any one of us could kill you. We forget which

so feel no guilt. All this as we rip apart; we wonder

if we should mark the loss of friends, label it love or ennui

 

or relief, but the question slips and we feel an old tug:

involuntary lightening, and we fly again.

Science measures rainfall. I would be a bad scientist,

leaning into mutability like a worm on a shroud.

 

Isabel Rogers

 

 

   

Flying South by Isabel Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the transition from Psychologist to poet has been Jenny McRobert’s most pleasurable journey.  Despite the disadvantage of being taught it at school, poetry has been her lifelong passion.  She has always known it, though her career demanded writing of a different sort (Psychology textbooks and articles). Her poems have appeared in Dream Catcher Magazine, and online Journals: Ink Sweat & Tears, Picaroon Poetry, The High Window and Words for the Wild. Her first collection will be published by The High Window Press in 2021.  She lives in a house on The Watercress Way with her husband Bob.

 

Jenny McRobert –  Touched 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crunch-cold,

the unravelling path frays

a spindling yarn

 

swirling violet and green,

in rain pools like dreams

that tinge a restless night.

 

Mud sucks at slow boots,

sliding down,

pushing up brambles

 

hollow faced,

hostile homes

like burnt-out city slums.

 

Travel sick with the inward journey,

I look up, 

and they are there,

where they have always been,

 

shocks of thick green hair 

in the brown baldness of winter;

Yew trees

 

huddled in on each other as if for warmth.

Soft-veined old arms of time,

beckon me to their counsel.

 

I touch the ancient,

the slow seeping memory of pagan

the warp and weft  

 

of tangled roots;

that sing of the time when earth

once lost its battle with sky.

 

Time stutters and stalls,

as I pad-out thoughts

in small steps,         

 

author of my own mystery play

where the broken mind is

born again. 

 

 

Jenny McRobert

 

First published in Picaroon Poetry Issue #12

 

Sea shanty for a ship in a bottle by Jenny McRobert

Dragonfly by Jenny McRobert

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynda O’Neill was born and brought up in Portsmouth, where many of her poems are based. She started writing when she went to a creative writing class at a local arts centre twenty years ago and began to be published and placed in competitions two years later. Lynda writes mostly about childhood, school, war and package holidays, mixing pathos with humour whenever possible. Writing has given Lynda self expression – and many friends.

 

Lynda O’Neill –  Notebook 

 

 

Notebook 

 

 

 

‘Very rural here’ we often say

as our Fiesta hurls itself round

the twist of country lanes

in Northington, or skirts the Test

in our quest for a sandwich in a pub

that can’t be called gastro.

 

Sometimes we can’t see the sun

in sunken lanes for the overhang of trees,

revel in short-lived coolness.

Roadside daffs or far-off bluebells

quiet me for a moment.

 

I read the hamlet and village names,

curious for their origins – The Candovers,

Sombornes, Worthys.  I envy the residents

their thatched cottages, trim lawns,

though not their bus service.

 

In a pub garden over a pricey sandwich

and the second large glass of wine you

disapprove of, I wonder what the shrubs are,

examine closely the fragile blue plant

artfully planted by a garden designer.

Perhaps Gilbert saw it all those years ago

one sunny Hampshire morning,

recorded it in a small notebook.

 

 

Lynda O’Neill

 

 

Urban Spring by Lynda O’Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn Bevis is Hampshire Poet Laureate and founder of The Writing School in Winchester.

In 2019 she won the Poets and Players and Against the Grain competitions, and was also shortlisted for the Nine Arches Primers scheme. She is working towards her first collection.

 

Kathryn Bevis –  A Wedding 

 

 

 

That day, the thrushes finally fledged.

For weeks, I’d heard his whistled songs to her at dawn:

 

now-now, now-now, did-he-do-it, did-he-do-it,

then watched her plunge into the hedge, bringing grass,

 

roots and moss to purl with a busy beak.  She stamped

the floor with tiny feet, fed the cup with mud and spit,

 

pressed her speckled belly to the curve

until it grew the contours of a bird.

 

As we sent out invitations to the feast,

she laid a clutch of brilliant turquoise eggs.

 

Day after day, she sat and hatched her bulge-eyed brood.

It was a wide-beaked time that wore her sad and thin.

 

I’d see them both, smashing snails against an anvil,

bearing wet meat to their young. Then June came.

 

As I stepped into my dress, mother fastened

silk-covered buttons with her crochet hook

 

and I watched the last chick totter at the nest’s lip,

held my breath while it fluttered, stretched, and flew.

 

I brought the lice-infested nest indoors to see

a tangle of your hair strung gold against the brown. 

 

We have it still: her parting gift. It stinks—of food,

of flesh—this living mess, this coracle of scraps.

 

 

Kathryn Bevis

 

‘A Wedding’ was highly commended by Jacqueline Saphra in the Ver Poets’ competition and will be included in their anthology of winning poems.

   

A Vision by Kathryn Bevis

Devil Day by Kathryn Bevis

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIchard Stillman is an English teacher whose poetry has appeared on the Poetry Society blog and has been published in anthologies and online. He is represented by Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, although as he has not yet written a published novel, he is unsure why. A trustee of the Winchester Poetry Festival, he is interested in promoting local poetry and literature.

 

Richard Stillman –  Volume 5 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum would put a bit by every week:

the life insurance, the Christmas Club,

and, for my sake, the encyclopaedias,

ten volumes bound in faux-red leather.

 

Volume 5: the Natural World – Insects.

Acetate sheets took me further, further

as I turned them, turned into the structure

of a bee revealing its essential trinity.

 

The colours brimmed, the words raptured.

Some I knew: antennae, sting, and abdomen,

but others were new: thorax and glossa –

the ganglia of nerves that stood in for a brain.

 

I should have stayed at this wonder

but I impressed myself alone with detail;

knowledge of the polysyllabic intricate

provides a species of adolescent mastery,

 

but not being with. Now, I can anatomise,

delineate the power structures of the hive,

but my daughter, wiggling, feels like them,

thanks them, one-by-one, for their honey.

 

 

Richard Stillman

 

 

83 Shirley, Hampshire by Richard Stillman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesley Cooke was born and bred on the Isle of Wight but has lived nearly all of her adult life in Dorset. She has written poetry since her early teens but found that a career based on writing factual pieces tended to dim her poetic energy.  Since retiring she has been able to devote more time to writing poetry. 

 

Lesley Cooke –  Brockenhurst – Out Into Space 

 

 

It was a story in yellow.  Drops had fallen from the sun and spattered the low-bitten grass: a hailstorm of flowers everywhere, a milky way of shining petals.  Here a solar system, there a galaxy.  Streaming away into the distance, a space storm of buttercups.  And here a comet’s tail of tormentil and birds-foot trefoil.

Agrimony was the lemony star in the east, pointing the way to wild hypericum, a golden Corona Borealis.  Ragwort bold stood guard in Canis Major.

In hidden cracks, pink and mauve heather blushed unseen, unbrave, as did the tiny water forget-me-not.  But self-heal, flaunting its royal purple, cried, “Resist.  Resist the yellow tide!”

 

 

Lesley Cooke

 

The Flight of Time by Lesley Cooke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Scholey’s early fascination with rocks, preferably with shiny bits in them, led him into close encounters with trolls in Sweden and with leopards, landmines and AK47s in Zimbabwe.  Having discarded his geological hammer in favour of a pen, Steve has featured in various publications and competitions and is currently working on his second and third collections simultaneously. Steve may or may not be an un-disorganiser of the Winchester poetry fringe.

 

Steve Scholey –  Gatherings 

 

 

Gatherings

 

 

 

 

 

 

i.       Hyacinthoides non-separatam

Blue congregations
curtsy just as prettily,
still chime a melancholy
of wood-bound bells,
no eye to apprehend their beauty
nor ear to grasp their knells.

 

ii.       Narcissus pseudo-poeticus

A golden host at
Spring’s first trumpet-march,
April ages ivoried heads –
chastening, from stiff green necks,
the desiccated December droop
of tarnished coronets.

 

iii.      Wisteria wuhanensis

Purple, prolific,
pendulous on twisting vines,
rinsed over nineteen
numbered days
to serried racks of clouded coughs
in shades of mildewed greys.

 

 

Steve Scholey

 

Onnellisuus on aika hiihdellä koirasi sivulla luonnossa by Steve Scholey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Spiers is British Mensa’s SIG Sec for Poetry and her first collection is called Jiggle Sac. Her poems have appeared in Acumen, Dream Catcher, South Bank Poetry, among others, and on-line at www.inksweatandtears.co.uk and www.thelakepoetry.co.uk. Her work has been included in the Bloodaxe anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women and in Paper Swans Press anthology Best of British.

 

Sue Spiers –  Sparrow Haiku 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thin smooth sparrows

dance on twigs and shrubs

mock big fluffy cats

 

big fluffy cats

trespass our grass to watch birds

leap at empty air

 

six sparrows feeding

following the scattered seed

make room for seventh

 

sparrow hops to spear

green sword leaves quiver his weight

berryless ambush

 

the fence that fell down

through hurricanes, now love-perch

sparrow on sparrow

 

breeze ruffles feathers

each quill resumes its smoothness

how neat is plumage

 

where are wild back yards?

attention to straight green stripes

as the sparrow flies

 

sparrow’s decibel

proclaim leaves: my nest

gutter: my perch

 

sparrows paired-up songs

still flirt close to roof lines

gutter nest boxes

 

sparrow lovemaking

she: making herself ready

him: hop on, hop off

 

sparrows perch or flap

brush wings, sit to hatch, nestle

handless – do not touch

 

 

Sue Spiers

 

From Plague – A Season of Senryu.

To purchase directly from Sue, DM via Twitter @SpiroPoetry.

 

Droplets by Sue Spiers

November 1987 by Sue Spiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robyn Bolam has published four poetry collections with Bloodaxe. New Wings was a PBS Recommendation and Hyem, which includes eco-poems with settings from the New Forest to New Zealand, appeared in October 2017. Widely anthologised, her work is included in Land of Three Rivers (Bloodaxe, 2017) and other publications include Eliza’s Babes: four centuries of women’s poetry in English. She was Hampshire Poet 2018 and, in 2016-17, led the combined-arts Ferry Tales project on the Solent.

 

Robyn Bolam –  A Letter to Gilbert White 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Revd. White, though long deceased, you live

through all that you achieved. Your studies were

to detail life, not peer at specimens

behind glass. You grew your own, sowed and reaped

fruit, vegetables and a curious mind,

recording climate, species, songs and flights

in your clear, upright hand for our delight.

Your observations still inspire us:

how bats sip from the surface of a pool

while on the wing; how swallows meet winter;

when swans turn white; which birds sing as they fly,

or in the night. You watched wrens eat spiders,

saw trees perspire, and knew that not all owls

hoot in B flat. You brought us the boy who

ate bees – and chronicled the woodpecker’s

loud laugh. You tell where my sparrows have gone

(to fruit trees now the house eaves are too warm).

Following you, we trust we will not miss

wonders that should be seen. So, I, in thanks,  

sign this – with both a blessing and a x

 

 

Robyn Bolam

 

    

Unsettled by Robyn Bolam

Starving after long rain, the barn owl hunts again by Robyn Bolam

Gilbert White Poetry Event