Featured Poets, October 2019                     home page
 

Anna Avebury       Carla Scarano D’Antonio       Daphne Gloag       Elaine Briggs       Hylda Sims       Janet Lees       Joolz Sparkes       June Webster       (Maggie Butt)       Marilyn Longstaff       Moira Andrew       Patricia Helen Wooldridge       (Shirley Bell)       Stevie Krayer      

You may also wish to listen to poem recordings that have been added to our (small but growing!) digital archive. We have poems there by:
 
Nadine Brummer, Daphne Gloag, Gill Horitz, Mimi Khalvati, Lottie Kramer, Gill Learner, Gill McEvoy (read by Anne Stewart), Maggie Norton, Jennie Osborne, Elizabeth Soule, Jill Townsend, Marion Tracy, Fiona Ritchie Walker, Sarah Westcott and Lynne Wycherley.
 
Select and listen here               Poets of the Month (other dates)  

Anna Avebury

Originally from Bradford, Anna Avebury now lives in St Albans where she is also a member of the local poetry group, Ver Poets. She writes poems on a variety of themes but the natural world is a frequent subject.

Ash Wednesday, 2022
     For Kharkiv

What will remain when the dust settles
on the rubble, graveyard of truth,
and wailing sirens yowl their peace?
Where will they find themselves,
emerging from underground shelters,
shaken, sleep-starved, hungry.
 
The world they knew, the familiar sights
incinerated, in a flash of missile strike,
cluster bomb tirade. Uneasy silence.
 
Is it safe?
 
They carry their heavy hearts in bruised
caskets, stumble over boulders and stones,
lintels and ceilings draped over the road.
 
A shoe lies abandoned. The pages of a book
flutter in the wind. Ragged cries fill the air.
 

Anna Avebury

Publications:
Dress Rehearsal, self-published, £2.50 (proceeds to Open Door – local charity)
Ver Poets anniversary anthologies; Locked Down, Poetry Space, Oct 2020

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Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Carla Scarano D’Antonio is an Italian teacher, poet, short story writer and painter. She contributes reviews to London Grip, Write Out Loud, South, the High Window, Woking Writers Circle website, Tears in the Fence, Pulsar and other magazines.

Words are Good

     ‘Words dry and riderless’
          Sylvia Plath, Words
 
The echo of the inexpressible
appears among lines
carving what I don’t know yet
configuration of signs.
 
Are words good enough?
We feel to use them literally.
What’s my pleasure in using words?
I encounter them on a journey
 
of recovery,
reimagining the past
in a memoir of self-discovery
turning at last
to the bottom of the pool.
 

Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Poem published in Acumen, 102

Publications:
Negotiating Caponata, Dempsey & Windle, July 2020

A Winding Road, Chiaroscuro, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9569264-1-8 (self-published)

Carla Scarano D’Antonio website
 
Carla Scarano D’Antonio blog
 
e-mail Carla Scarano D’Antonio

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Daphne Gloag

Daphne Gloag lives near London. Many poems have appeared in magazines etc, especially since she retired from medical publishing. A third book, Beginnings, is due in 2013. The end of the title poem won a Second Light competition first prize.

Dark Matter *

That Volvo must be doing 70, I said
as we drove home from the museum. Words
as bridges, the road smooth as thought, sun low,
its brightness undone. Not so much traffic now.
Words as cushions. The engine’s so quiet, you said.
 
It was a kind of peace.
What did you like best today? I asked you. –
Well, the wise men – their huge star – on that ivory…
oh look at that,
I knew that car would pull out.
My silent agreement merged with the quiet.
 
Long as memory it seemed, the road:
it could have gone on for ever, knowing nothing
of the souls it carried.
Today, I said, won’t last for ever
but our poems will remember it.

 
Clarity of being, bright surfaces
plain to see. Nothing to explain, except the comfort
of the banality of breath, except the ease
of words and silence
smooth as our speed,
 
except the way
two beings were held together by their hidden life,
just as in the galaxies
what cannot be seen
holds together the luminous stars.
 

Daphne Gloag

*Invisible matter – dark matter – is generally thought to be the main reason for the gravity holding the galaxies together.
 

Poem published in earlier version in Ambit and, as part of the long poem sequence Beginnings, in the collection Beginnings and Other Poems.

Publications:
collection, Beginnings and Other Poems, 2013, Cinnamon Press, £8.99
collection, A Compression of Distances, 2009, Cinnamon Press, £7.99
collection, Diversities of Silence, 1995, Brentham Press, £4.50

Address:
12 Ludlow Road
London
W5 1NY
 
Daphne Gloag at poetry p f
 
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Elaine Briggs

Elaine Briggs lives and works in France as a translator. Poems have received prizes in Segora and Hungry Hill competitions. A collection has been long-listed by Cinnamon.

The Translator and His Harp Sing the Iliad

A harp is a made thing,
the heartwood of Homer, an ode.
 
It’s a flightless wing
with speech in its keys
 
and strings taut and resonant
open for winds to frisk at sea.
 
It’s the prow of a boat
where Orpheus turned helmsman
 
set a rhythm
for oars to dip and rise
 
and the water that streamed from their blade
outsang the Sirens’ wolfish howl.
 
You stand alone, your frame
spindly as the African lyre you cradle.
 
Then, in Afghan headgear worn for a crown,
you swell – wind and breath
 
sing to me the Muse’s song
and the rage of Achilles is re-made.

Elaine Briggs

Address:
Tours, France
   
e-mail Elaine Briggs

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Hylda Sims (1932-2020)

Poet, song-writer, novelist and co-founder and organiser of the popular Fourth Friday music and poetry event at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, Hylda has published a narrative poetry sequence, a novel and one poetry collection, Sayling the Babel.

Hylda served on the Second Light Network committee (see more... link below).

Down Choumert Road

there’s daffs, a quid three bunches
new season’s spuds, thirty pence a pound
six limes fifty pence. fresh crimson chillies
capers, cardamoms, cumin, puzzles of ginger
eddoes, mangoes, melons, ackie, chow chow
pale dimpled breadfruit, manioc rough as bark
 
fans of skate on marble, shark fin, turbot
huss, bass, goat-fish, ink-fish in a bucket,
Goes well with custard, want some parsley with it ?
His rubbers slub a nifty riff, Here George,
he scuds a mullet; rhythm’s pummelling on
from Blue Beat City – Rap and Ragga, Reggae
Hip-Hop, Ska; Not like the old days
is it, Mrs Lady?
He winks, you won’t remember,
cabbage, cod on Friday, forever Crosby
crooning Easter Bonnet on the wireless
.

Hylda Sims

Poem published:
Reaching Peckham (pamphlet and CD), 1996. Set to music and performed at Dulwich Festival;
in anthology What Poets Eat, ed. Judi Benson, Foolscap, 1994;
performed on BBC’s The Food Programme

Publications:
Sayling the Babel, poetry collection, Hearing Eye, 2007;
Inspecting the School, novel, LibEd, 2000, avail from Seven Ply Yarns, c/o 148 Crystal Palace Road, London SE22 9EP. 9.00 incl p&p;
Reaching Peckham, 1996

Hylda at poetry p f
 
enquiry via Second Light

more...

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Janet Lees

Janet Lees is a poet and artist. She had two collections published in 2019 and her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world. Her poetry films have been selected for a wide range of international festivals and screenings.

Mapping Hi-Zex Island

On the first day
we viewed the island from above:
a lightning flower flung across the skin of the sea
under the burning eye of the sun.
 
On the second day, we approached it from the water,
observing aspects of permanence –
three years and four months an island now,
its shape shifting between evening and morning.
 
On the third day we walked it, measured its synthetic
drumlins, its rope beaches, its tightly woven coves,
weighed the miles of clouded water beneath our feet.
Earth of a kind. Sea of a kind.
 
On the fourth day we went down to meet
this land mass in its own twilight. Ghost nets reached out
to finger our hair, calling us to the mausoleum
of the island’s rusted underbelly.
 
On the fifth day, we saw the ocean swarm –
angelfish and rainbow runners twisting through drifts
of polymer confetti that playact as food,
feeding the very body of our island.
 
The sixth day we spent logging life.
A shore crab. Clams. An albatross in flight
off the western peninsular. We collected old eel traps,
scraps like pastel coloured sharks’ teeth
 
with which to make a necklace for the children.
We bowed our heads under the weight of that night’s stars.
And when the seventh dawn came,
we saw our work was done.

Janet Lees

Third prize winner, Bristol International Poetry Prize 2016
 
Note: Discovered by Captain Charles Moore, Hi-Zex Island is made up of fishing gear, nets and buoys believed to have come from the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

Publications:
House of Water, Culture Vannin/Lily Publications, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-911177-54-8, £12.50
A bag of sky, Frosted Fire, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-9574129-4-1, £6.50

Tel: 07624 470941
 

Janet Lees website
 
e-mail Janet Lees

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Joolz Sparkes

Joolz Sparkes is co-author of London Undercurrents, with poet Hilaire, published by Holland Park Press, which uncovers London’s unsung heroines north & south of the river. Her poems and short stories are published in magazines and anthologies.

We live here

I am doing the walk you do when you’re in Soho –
the walk that says I’m a Londoner see?
Not a tourist. Don’t mess with me.

 
I do the walk past Soho Square at 9pm
on my way to late night jazz,
it’s been raining and the pavement
is something I don’t want to see
but the filth, oh how the filth, it beckons to me.
 
                – There!
See how quick it went?
What was it; a mouse?
Nah, the thickness of that slubbery tail, says
eugh [shivers] a baby rat’s in the house.
 
       – There it is
hunkering next to the railings
gnawing that scrap of a thing
… it’s, it’s looking back at me
little black eyes all lit up like bling.
 
A dirty evil smudge
the shape of infestation,
nasty filthy claws like the clattering
of lies told down the police station.
Rat, rat. Definitely rat.
It’s doing the walk you do when you’re in Soho.
 

Joolz Sparkes

Poem first published in South Bank Poetry Magazine, Issue 15;
published in Some Kind’a Soho by David Russell and Daniel Saunders published by Central Books 2021

Publications:
London Undercurrents, Holland Park Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-9073208-2-8, £10.00

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June Webster

June Webster is a poet and short story writer. Her poems have been published in South Bank Poetry, DulwichOnView, Morley Poets A First Anthology, Lighten Up Online, SecondLightLive, Dreich Magazine & Haiku Journal. She was short-listed for the Plumstead Poet Laureate.

Cradle to Crib

It’s colic, they said,
it’ll pass, first three months
it’s normal, some do, others don’t.

Each time I held you close.
tiny legs curled tight to belly,
your screaming pain mine.
I soothed the spasms
until the meds took over
when cries hushed.
I placed you in your cradle.
 
It’s her age, they said,
it’ll pass, teens, always a worry.
You stayed out late,
danced till dawn, run wild
on the heath, gave me cheek
then hugs to allay my fears.
The day you celebrated adulthood,
you came home drunk and sick,
while the meds worked
I placed you in your bed.
 
It’s an auto-immune disease,
it will pass, just a few years
,
but it stayed, held on tight,
took a piece of you little by little.
Every twinge of your torment,
mine as I sat by you.
holding on, squirming
until the meds took over,
and irrevocable peace
placed you in your final crib.
 

June Webster

Publications:
Morley Poets: A First Anthology, 2018, Morley College, £6.99

e-mail June Webster

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Marilyn Longstaff

Marilyn Longstaff lives in Darlington and is a member of Vane Women. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines, anthologies and on the web. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and has had published 5 books of poetry.

Alioth Al-Jawn

The black horse John
 
Always beware the quiet ones my mother said
muttering something about hidden depths,
still waters and dark horses.
 
Unlike an Arab stallion, according to my dad,
John had no rump; needed a belt
to hold his trousers up.
 
I couldn’t say he raced into my life in 1968,
 
maybe trotted quietly, tossing his faintly curling mane –
long, with auburn lights; blinkered, myopic,
Mona Lisa smile.
 
My parents should have listened to their own advice.
While they were fantasising Christian weddings
with fiery Geoff or beaming Dave or sober Stuart,
 
the black horse, John, remained invisible,
galloped below their radar, nuzzled his dark way
into my affections.  
 
 
note: Alioth Al-Jawn – Arabic, ‘black horse’; can also be translated as a star name.

Marilyn Longstaff

Poem published in Articles of War (see below)

Publications:
The Museum of Spare Parts, 2018, Mudfog, £5
Articles of War, 2017, Smokestack Books, ISBN 978-0-9934547-6-9, £7.99
Raiment, 2010, Smokestack Books, ISBN 978-0-9564175-4-1, £7.95
Sitting Among The Hoppers, 2004, ISBN 978-1-9048520-5-6, £7.50
Puritan Games, 2001 , Vane Women Press, ISBN 0-9522349-9-8, £4

Vane Women website
 
e-mail Marilyn Longstaff

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Moira Andrew

Moira Andrew lives in Somerset. She has six poetry collections in publication: latest, A Box of Sky. Her new collection Breakfast with Swallows is due out late 2017. She has written poetry for children and a number of books for primary teachers.

My mistake

A warm hand on the small of my back –
such a broad sexy hand, a scattering of fine hairs
above the knuckles – signalled his return.
        That and the smell of his skin.
 
I daren’t turn round. He stood behind me, breath
fluttering against my left ear. ‘It’s me,’ he said –
as if I didn’t know. And I was happy, relief
        gushing through my body.
 
How could I have doubted him? Of course
he wasn’t dead – I’d been kidding myself
all this time, what with the funeral, winding
        up his affairs, binning his clothes.
 
My mistake. Except that it wasn’t. I woke up
alone, just me and the cat, to an even bigger mistake.
It was hard to get up and face the day, his voice
        begging me to believe him.

Moira Andrew

Publications:
Imagine a Kiss, 2020, Dempsey & Windle, ISBN 978-1-9133202-0-4. price £10
Looking Through Water, 2020, Poetry Space, ISBN 978-1-9094044-4-1. price £5
Breakfast with Swallows, 2017, Austin Macauley, ISBN 978-1-7871039-8-6. price £5.99
A Box of Sky, 2017, Integral & CLP (Bucharest), ISBN 978-6-0687826-0-7. price £5
Grandad’s Party, 2016, Poetry Space Ltd, ISBN 978-1-909404-34-2. price £2.50

Moira’s website
 
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Patricia Helen Wooldridge

Patricia Helen Wooldridge composes much of her poetry while walking in Hampshire. She has a D.Phil in creative writing from Sussex University and her poems have been published in many poetry journals.

Obituary

     I’m nobody! Who are you?
     Are you nobody, too?    (Emily Dickinson)
 
With herring-gull grey
knitted in to her jumper,
she spent her last years
living by the sea.
 
She could be seen standing
on the shoreline staring out,
even though there was nothing there,
there could be.
 
Hardly anyone noticed,
for she liked to be up at first light
fuelled by the crying gulls,
which never made her think of death
 
but only about being alive.
 

Patricia Helen Wooldridge

Poem published in ARTEMISpoetry, May 2016

Patricia Helen Wooldridge on poetry p f
 
e-mail Patricia Helen Wooldridge

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Stevie Krayer

Stevie Krayer gave up university administration to have more time for writing and, since moving from London to Wales in 1993, has published six books, including three poetry collections, and an anthology of Quaker poets (co-edited with R V Bailey).

from “Mass for the Oort Cloud”
Agnus Dei

Thar she blows!
telltale trace
on the horizon. No
leviathan – behold
the speck of god-dust
that takes away
the weight
of that mighty
unaccounted for
dark mass
(well, maybe). Load
it up with all
your unanswered
questions, scientists!
If only
it could take
away our own
darkness – but
even if we
conscientiously put out
our garbage, there’s
no celestial dustcart
to call; and
where
could it be taken?
Out in that desert
no benign
kites and gulls
wait.

Stevie Krayer

Poem published in New Monkey, 2014

Publications:
New Monkey, 2014, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093574-7-1
A Speaking Silence (anthology, co-edited with R V Bailey), 2013, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093573-0-3
Questioning the Comet, 2004, Gomer, ISBN 1-843233-46-0
Voices from a Burning Boat, 1997, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0132-8
The Book of Hours by R M Rilke (translation), 1994, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0432-7

e-mail Stevie Krayer

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