Wednesday, 31 August 2011

fasting starvation

in his mother's arms the boy said ta-ta
to starvation, now lays on the mud floor
his dead eyes blindfolded with a coloured cloth
ready to be buried alongside a crowd
of small mounds of clay where dead children lie

she keeps her son's death a secret so as
not to loose his portion of ration too
to enable feeding his twin sisters, whose
scared eyes witness the life's ghastly drama
unaware of what is in store for them

© SK Iyer

I hid my dead baby so that I could keep food for his twin
Editor's note: This isn't the first poem we've published, associated with this particular story, but such is the gravity of the situation in the Horn of Africa, we make no apologies.
SK Iyer is a commerce graduate, leading a retired but busy life in Pune, India. His poems have been published. He is a member of PK Poetry List, UK.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Night Out

I left them on the doorstep for a good while.
That’d show them what it was like to live slow.
Then I let them in.  Didn’t offer them tea.

‘Haven’t played tag since primary school’
didn’t go down well with the burly one.
Worth a try.  Miserable gits, both.

I stuck my leg up on the coffee table.
Had borrowed a pair of Dad’s old flares.
Looked a right knob.  But needs must.

‘Must’ve been a nasty injury, that,’
said the thin one, tapping the bandage.
I winced a bit.  Always liked Drama.

He unzipped a rucksack, full of tags
for lads not going out tonight.
Lads with both legs.  Ha ha ha.

‘Tag's not too tight, is it?’ said Fat Bloke.
I nearly lost it then, I’m telling you.
‘Can’t feel a thing.’  It was the truth.

‘That’ll keep you out of trouble,’ they said.
I watched them walk down the road.
That’d be Kane, then.  At number 33.

I left the leg in a corner, home alone,
And practised with my crutches in the alley.
Been a while.  Lump in the throat.

No one at the pub had a better story.
Still came home without a girl
but, hey.  As days go, fair enough.

© Fran Hill

G4S sacks pair who tagged offender's false leg
Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Thanks Irene

Irene you stole the thunder of our grand entrance
And made sure the spotlight was on you
For the first dance
Thanks Irene,
Because of you there will be no Motzi from Uncle Murray
No toast from the best man who was finally going to admit
to my mother, that he is to blame
for the “wrong” turn my life took
Oh so many phases ago.

Thanks Irene,
Because of you there is three quarters of a wedding cake
Sitting on my mothers kitchen counter
Headed for the garbage bin.
My father hording a salvaged platter of chilled shrimp, crab legs and crudite’
For himself, with a plastic cocktail fork keeping us all at bay.

Thanks to you Irene,
There will be no vodka bar, slice meat station, regional wine tasting
Or cheese’s from diverse European nations nibbled upon.
No pigs in blankets, hamburger sliders,
fried calamari in tempura batter or
caprese salad on a skewer.
No cocktail hour small talk
No family secrets whispered over high end whiskey
No past grudges quietly toasted and forgotten.

Thanks Irene,
You imposing blustery bitch,
Because of you the Hora will not be danced
And the ice cream bar will not be scooped.

Thanks Irene,
For not only raining on our wedding day
But for flooding the neighborhood
Causing the bridges and tunnels to be closed
And twisting the power lines into Bavarian pretzels.

Thanks Irene,
The ultimate uninvited guest
Not only did you crash my wedding day
You could have at least given us a gift.

© Joshua Baumgarten

New York recovers as Irene passes
Editor's note: Joshua writes from New York, "Here with my wife to celebrate our marriage with the American side of my family.  Due to Irene it never happened.  The big party was cancelled due to the storm.  Which luckily for us, the hype was worse then her bite."
Joshua is an ex-pat New Yorker living in Holland. He organises the Irrational Library evenings - nights of poetry, rock n roll and casual chaos, and performs as a Standup Spoken Word artist.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sunday Review

It's easy to say: 'How can one person make a difference?' and in saying it, to not be the person who does. This week we've had poems about individuals who have made a difference - whether intentionally or inadvertently - and some who are trying to.

We started with Nedjo Rogers' powerful 'Renewal Scourge' which looked at two agents provocateur: Tunisian fruitseller Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation provoked the Arab Spring and the killing of Mark Duggan which sparked off rather less altruistic riots in Tottenham. On Wednesday Lavinia Kumar's 'Spinning Wheel' on Indian corruption being highlighted by campaigner Anna Hazare. With it's references to sandals, home spun cloth and cups of salt, there were clear echoes of Gandhi.

So what difference can poets make and how best to expose an issue? Well, you can pack a punch with very few words - as Karen Neuberg did with 'By-stander' and Stafford Ray with his 'Shorts'. Or you can home in on the intensely personal like Katherine Lockton on love 'n' marriage with 'September the 3rd' and Martin Hodges with his devastating 'No longer' on the appalling situation in Tripoli hospital.

Submissions have been a bit thin on the ground of late and I'm going off on holiday now, so do please keep sending your poems to Martin.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

No Longer

No longer crying for attention,
meeting mother's eyes
as I form the first words.

No longer shaking my laughter free,
gasping in wonder
as the gift of life is unwrapped.

No longer pleading for mercy,
whispering a prayer
as the darkness descends.

No longer a name,
echoing off the walls
as days ricochet about me.

© Martin Hodges

Horror scenes at Tripoli hospital
Martin is a writer, and former columnist. He has twice been editor of Viewpoint (a forum for INDEPENDENT internal comment within the University of Southampton), and is co-founder of Poetry24.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Stafford's Shorts

The sins of the father…

President Barak Obama
Was handed the whole Panorama.
Recessions and wars,
Huge debt, all because
Of Dubya’s unfortunate karma!

Better off with Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama?


No Ghadaffi
People free?
We shall see.

Rebels appeal for Gaddafi capture

© Stafford Ray
Writer of musical plays and reading resources for schools. Wannbe novelist, one completed, two more on the way. Poetry happens when moved, limericks when amused (interchangeable).

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Spinning Wheel

Long robes, chappals on their feet, simple men
spinners of threads, of intricate webs – fabric
made of white cotton, but woven to hide pockets
where there are cups of salt taken from the sea,

goods from ships laden with steel, oil, coal.
And the many hands turn and spin to rot
knots in the web, till holes open wide wider
and money falls through where no one can see

but it is caught by tentacles of plastic gods
their arms around births, deaths, weddings,
businesses – pockets open before lighted paths,
gates for the gods that spin for champion of greed.

© Lavinia Kumar

India corruption: Hazare heaps pressure on government
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


At the very least:
junk floating

in our oceans.

While it is still possible
to choose to not look

it is impossible to continue
to not see

© Karen Neuberg

Marine Pollution - Centuries of Abuse Have Taken a Heavy Toll
Karen lives in Brooklyn NY. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. She has always lived near the ocean.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Renewal Scourge

Drunk with despair, he sets himself ablaze,
a man no longer able to pretend
his princes merited their loud self-praise.
Better the phoenix death, the fiery end.
The street explodes, first with kinfolk and friend
and soon with multitudes—the poor who bring
only their lives, only what faith will lend
against the guns. Abroad, the magpies sing
in fulsome praise of cleansing sparks, this Arab spring.

Stopped in a cab—a siren's wail, a blaze
of bullets and his chest explodes. Pretend
who will that such be justice—no false praise
of right will quell the anguish of this end,
restore his touch to family or friend.
Raw anger long suppressed bursts out to bring
thousands to arms with what the street can lend:
a stone, a brick, a voice. The magpies sing
now with disdain—from what base class such insults spring.

© Nedjo Rogers

Mohamed Bouazizi: memories of a Tunisian martyr

London riots: Dozens injured after Tottenham violence
Editor's note : The two news-links, although separated by several months, illustrate how the death of an individual can be a catalyst for social disorder, even a national uprising.
Nedjo Rogers has worked with anti-poverty and environmental organizations, has travelled and lived in Latin America, writes folk songs, and is parent to two artistic young adults. He writes open source software.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Review

Fran Hill got this week off to a witty start. Inspired by the digital antics at Grazia, the fashion mag, she penned The royal split. Poor Kate, appearing to be a lesser woman, due to that tweaked waistline.

Karen Neuberg turned her thoughts to Perpetuity, a poem that illustrates the deadly and long lasting effects of radiation, following the earthquake damage to nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

Brent Calderwood's first poem for Poetry24 flagged up Sarah Palin's struggle with American history, with Sarah Palin's Ride, and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro's sobering account of how famine forces mothers to choose which of their children will live or die, Water over head, is a heart-breaking piece by this prize-winning poet. Meanwhile, Palestinians praying in the Gaza buffer zone, and protesting against land confiscation, set the scene for Lavinia Kumar's Land is an Old Friend.

Philip Challinor rounded out a fairly reflective week of poetry with his, Not Our Sort of People.

To continue that reflective mood, Poetry24 passed the six month mark on 16th August (cue virtual applause), and Clare has come up with a few stats.

In our first six months:

  • 4 out of 5 poems were accepted
  • 3 out of 4 poets have had something accepted
  • 161 poems have been published in 185 days
  • 77 different poets - 35 men, 42 women
  • 40 Britain, 15 America, 9 Ireland, 4 Australia, 2 Canadia, 2 New Zealand, 1 Puerto Rico, 1 India, 1 Serbia, 1 Netherlands, 1 unknown
  • 40+ different news sources
  • The strangest keyword search that led someone to the blog was, "custard pie fight porn movies" 
In light of that last one, never let it be said, stats are boring.

Now for the audience participation bit, where we make requests and canvas
opinion. We would like to know your feelings about the positioning of the news-link that accompanies each poem. It has been suggested that people might like to see it before the poem, rather than after. Let us know if you have strong feelings about this.

But don't let us take up all of your valuable thinking time. Leave some for composing those all important poems.

Have a good week.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Not Our Sort of People

They lie at every level, and persist
Even when caught. Their style abrades
With harsh attacks and verbal ambuscades.
They're not your smooth US diplomatist.

Defiance is their thing, and this has meant
Much nastiness and some non-sequitur.
They fail to understand that we prefer
Our lying, thieving brutes subservient.

© Philip Challinor

Why the WikiLeaks cable about Syrian regime is spot on
Philip blogs at 'The Curmudgeon' - He insists, "You'll come for the curses. You'll stay for the mudgeonry." Philip is the author of a number of books.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Land is an Old Friend

Under the dew of the morning, soil rustles
as worms make their way down, larvae stretch
before re-curling in earth, and your fingers dig
around the tomatoes while droplets fall on the back
of your hands and marigolds reflect the early sun.

At night worms come up to air, band together
in pairs, ring to ring, while the moon hides its face
behind haze, a woman behind a veil, the air star-cold
on her cheeks as she looks away from animal ecstasy
in the wet open field of un-mown grass.

Now guns point at you as you pray on your land:
standing soldiers steal the earth, your children’s roll
down these hills, your women’s picking of oranges
and berries, even your sons’ watch over grazing
sheep - sons who would have taught their own sons.

You taste the grass as you bend to the east, the soil
under your knees, your feet, your hands, the ants
and beetles crawling as they have for centuries
on the rocks that you had jumped from as a boy,
and had once seemed solid as the earth.

© Lavinia Kumar

In Israel, Time for Peace Offer May Run Out
Editor's note : This article was published back in April, although the issue is very much an ongoing one. The original piece was revised and 'corrected', with regard to granting statehood to Palestinians on Israeli-controlled land.
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her family includes a variety of cultures and immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, and more.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Water over head

I look at others passing me
purple mothers
yellow mothers
boys and girls been dragged by the arms
one mother pull a hand
pressed all fingers
light-skin colored
the girl’s name is Aishia
the mama called her
several times last night
fearing her death
we all fear it
but no one say a thing
the child was playing
with tree leaves
also eating them

today all mothers walk with their babies
with their heirs
successors of the hopes of a nation
obligated to keep on foot
obligated by belly ache
some are tall
big eyes
hungry eyes
hungry mouths
famished chests
and mamas
blue mothers
pale mothers
violet mothers
obscure ones
and their skirts
rainbow skirts
they all are so weak
can barely hold them
on the back
on the arms

I hardly can stand myself
looking for clouds
praying for rain
the head of my second one
so weak
he is just about to speak
but fell over the Dadaab land
I ask for help
which god will help us now?

my other kid
the first one
is awake
closed eyes
flies over the skull
moscas sobre el cráneo
the sky answers my prayer
water over the heads
water sprinkling the eyelids
water inside the lips
my first open eyes
put out the tongue
my second was silent
she make
an emphatic
no reaction

© Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Famine forces mothers to decide which child lives and which dies
Yolanda is the author of the novel Caparazones (2010) and has won prizes including National Institute of Puerto Rican Literature Prize in 2008. She is a Director of the Puerto Rican Word Festival. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sarah Palin’s Ride

(after H.W. Longfellow and Dr. Seuss)

Listen my children and you shall hear
The sound of the ocean in Palin’s ear.
On the third day of June, 2011,
Sarah’s fresh hell entered blogosphere heaven.
She’d stopped in a shop in the Olde Town of Boston,
Surely a detail that cannot be lost on
Anyone—anyone, even a kid—
For everyone knows what Paul Revere did.

We all studied English, and history too,
From sunny L.A. to Kalamazoo,
We all read that poem, we all know that quote,
That romanticized fantasy Longfellow wrote.
“The British are coming!” That’s what he said.
But Sarah’s apparently touched in the head.
Poor thing, she’s a moron, our almost-V.P.,
A Madonna-like media whore on T.V.

A lesson in Longfellow’s long overdue,
A fellow could help—hubby Todd? Levi too?
They’d line up to teach her, the whole GOP,
They’d drop all their golf clubs, they’d spill all their tea.
They’re fine with the fact that despite all her looks,
Our Sarah just frets when she gets grown-up books:
“Where are the pictures, the bunnies to pat,
Where is that moon or that cat in that hat?”

She’s got fabulous suits, she’s got nice shiny hair
But her poor head is hollow, there’s nothing in there.
O Sarah, you should have prepared for your trip!
Next time bring buttons to button your lip—
One if by plane, two if by tour bus.
’Til then you’re our favorite clown in the circus.

© Brent Calderwood

Sarah Palin claims Paul Revere warned the British
Brent Calderwood, a Lit Editor for A&U Magazine and Associate Editor at Lambda Literary, currently divides his time between San Francisco and Atlanta, and between poetry and writing that pays the bills.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


water pours
for the next 100 years

swollen with radiation.
The fish have not been told.
Nor birds warned.

Clouds lift mist & vapor,
rain it back down
10,000  & more miles away.

The children are swaying
in our arms. They cannot drink
the milk. Mothers help them

put on their masks. Fathers
weep. Whoever remains
will hear the stories

that will grow like cancers.
Whatever remains
will glow in the dark

bone by bone.

© Karen Neuberg

Japan Held Nuclear Data, Leaving Evacuees in Peril
Karen lives in Brooklyn NY. Her  poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. She has always lived near the ocean.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The royal split

I was at my Mac
finishing off the front cover.
I thought it was one of my best.
The boss leaned over my shoulder.
'The Prince. Take him out.'

I said, 'Isn't that treason?
Remember the Tower of London.'
But he was reapplying his nicotine patch
And didn't hear me.
He's not one for jokes these days.

'Lose him,' he said,
sitting on the edge of my desk
so I could smell his stress.
'I don't know what she saw in him anyway.
Bald as a newborn's arse or what?'

I said, 'I can't erase the future monarch
from his wedding photo.
It would kill my mother.
She's bought plates and everything
and watches the DVD every Sunday.'

He was checking his watch.
'11.30,' he said. 'Time for my lunch.
Just do her a new arm
where he used to be.
And tidy up the waistline a bit.'

At the door he turned.
'Ah, second thoughts?' I said.
'Thinking of your knighthood?'

'You cock up that lace,' he said,
'and you can start ringing Mr Sainsbury.'

© Fran Hill

Grazia admits digitally slimming Kate Middleton photo
Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sunday Review

This week got off to a bang with Jane James's 'Harvest Time' - a rapid response to events in London... and an even bigger bang with David Bateman's irresistible 'A New Universe In The Basement'- which sparked neatly off a small item of news about a chap who's been splitting atoms in his kitchen.

We were surprised not to receive a deluge of riot-related pieces after all the coverage in the UK, but Lavinia Kumar's 'The Dalai Lama' was a fitting reminder of peace, wisdom and the 'sluggish river of sadness' ...and also echoed a more local sense of unsettled youth itching for a fight.

In the end I wrote a riot poem myself: 'The morning after' which attempted to show the feelings of futility and, like much of the exhaustive coverage, left you with more questions than answers. Yesterday we brought together Smash and Grab - a compilation of reponses to the riots including a haiku from David Caruso, a few lines from one of our Twitter followers and links to poems by previous contributors - Chris Lawrence's measured anger and Ana's more visceral polemic.

Jinksy's 'Aftermath' - five months after the Japanese Tsunami widened the perspective: it is well to remember that other people are in worse situations - and not self-inflicted! "Yet they survive another day..."

As, I hope, we all survive another week - have a good one, and keep those poems coming!


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Smash and Grab

Some responses to this week's riots in England:

fire in London
can’t put it out
with Potomac water

© David Caruso

Trouble erupts in English cities
David began writing haiku and tanka after taking a course in Buddhist poetry of Japan under the late Professor William LaFleur. He invites you to browse on over to


And here's a couple we 'looted' from amongst our followers:

Chris Lawrence lives with his muse in West Kirby and writes, having been published in many journals internationally and can be found on twitter @clawfish.


And, for a different flavour, Anna's poem was already on her blog, and longer than our maximum so we couldn't accept it, but here's an excerpt:
How easy
They succumb to stereotype,
The looters, the arsonists,
The bigot's fodder;
The bigots dream gifted,
Gifted by the very underclass
They wish to further
Read the whole poem here: What is this?


And this from Twitterer Arron Shilling

"Time is short now
the hoods are glowing white
dark moods blind the rats
and glass coppers shield the streets."


Related posts
See also: Harvest Time and Dudley Road by Jane James and The morning after by Clare Kirwan

Friday, 12 August 2011


Money is a tinpot god, it rules the lives of many,
and yet the world is full of those who really haven't any.
The Japanese tsunami left chaos in its wake.
Now homeless, jobless people have hearts near fit to break;
many still owe mortgages on houses that are gone.
How will they buy another? What is to be done?
It's money rules, not common sense
when people have to live in tents
and know their old life's washed away...
Yet they survive another day...

© Jinksy

Tsunami aftermath in Japan
Jinksy blogs as Napple Notes and Alias Jinksy

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The morning after

Copy writers test fancy names
for the unrest: ‘recreational rioting’?
Newspapers plump for ‘scum’;
PR officers of politicians,
police forces, earnest agencies
spin webs to make point-scoring capital.

The uninsured Asian shopkeeper's
still shell-shocked in the shell of his shop;
the hoody has new trainers but his mum’s
too scared to ask him where he got them;
a dad catches sight of his pride and joy
on cctv and has to make a choice.

Chain store fatcats offset the damages
with more staff cuts, and won’t lose any sleep;
Police officers who held back after all
the complaints, now vilified for holding back,
not holding back the mob; some stoic Sikhs
take up cricket bats ready to defend

families above shops, nerves tuned
for smash of glass or curl of smoke;
insurers calculate the costs to spread
to everyone: the flat-dwellers who fled
with nothing but their lives; the family firm
a smouldering crime scene.

Sharing camera footage of him
and his mates and what they did,
damning, laughed over; Twitter alive
with the chirpings of disturbed birds
in their silver cages and their nests of rags;
police drafted in and dying for a tussle;

the brush and bucket brigade
blitz the streets in brittle war spirit,
and the same questions bubble up
at office water coolers, in government
departments, supermarkets, on phones
and forums and behind closed doors:

What happened? And why?
Are you alright? Were you insured?
Where can we go? How can we protect?
What should we do? Who did this? When
and where will they strike again?
Where were you last night?

© Clare Kirwan

Liverpool and Wirral riots see 50 people arrested


Clare Kirwan occasionally wears a hooded top but has never broken any windows she didn't own. She performs poetry around Merseyside and blogs as Broken Biro.

Clare says: There are so many articles on this, but I chose one local to me - I wonder how many more disturbances there have been away from city centres and not reported nationally?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Dalai Lama

They say that sadness is a sluggish river
of patience, or it’s a road to shape new time,
so he came over mountains, a night climb
through passes, as he prayed to the moon's silver --
a wheel of wisdom for a land now gone.
Years are gone too, but never gentle hope,
his people behind walls, quiet on slopes
of snow winds cold at their backs each dawn.

Yes, the karmapa and the young wait for him
to die, they yearn to travel up the river to fight --
claim right to fly prayer flags like kites in the sun,
their Buddhism streaked across the sky. A new leader,
rebirth of a holy sea, is ready to storm from under a banyan tree.

© Lavinia Kumar

A Young Tibetan Lama Prepares for a Greater Role
Lavinia lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in Waterways, Thatchwork (Delaware Valley Poets), Orbis, US1 Worksheets, Caper, Pemmican, Ascent Aspirations, New Verse News, and the US1 newspaper.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A New Universe In The Basement

“It looks like it would probably work. It’s actually
safe to create a universe in your basement.”
– Alan Guth, physicist

As long as the weekly washing is done,
they never wonder for even a moment
about my secret science...
so upstairs the washing machine rumbles
and the television talks to itself
of ordinary Saturday lunchtime worlds
while down here, I do bigger things.
Amongst the clutter of basement apparatus
I make tiny adjustments,
stare deep into the heart of a small glass jar,
then flick the final, vital switch.

A small flash flashes, leaves a single dark spot
in the centre of my vision –
and then otherwise, all is as it was before.

Not quite.

For the fleetingest of moments, I have pulled the huge forces
from beyond our own small universe
into my little jar – a crashing together of things
from the eleventh dimension, never more
than a millimetre away – created
a new universe: tiny in the instant of its making,
but growing at the speed of light,
flipping out of our own universe in that same instant
to become itself.

What galaxies, stars and planets may grow there?
What worlds and lands and creatures?
Will they worry about work and school on Monday?
Will custard-shaped somethings
fall in love and live forever?

I write my careful notes,
then return upstairs to the washing machine.
Somewhere another universe makes its new beginning.
In this one, I check that the clothes are clean.

© David Bateman

Swedish man arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen
David was Liverpool Poetry Slam Champion 2007, and still hasn’t got over it. His one proper book is Curse Of The Killer Hedge (Iron 1996). He also writes stories and teaches some creative writing.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Harvest Time

Seeds rashly
Latent anger potent germinates

Sudden shoots
Watered by
Familial tears
Sweep through startled streets

Rage grows
Acrid-scented choking smoke

We dread this
Deadly flowering
We sow
And reap
And reap and still we sow

© Jane James

Tottenham in flames as riot follows protest
Jane works in Arts & Heritage in the West Midlands, spends too much time
on Twitter and is constantly surrounded by fish.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday Review

In what has been a turbulent week, with mayhem in the markets and the news that America has lost its AAA credit rating, Anthony Baverstock's The Tragedy of Obama and Boehner set an ominous tone. While economic analysts were wringing their hands over the 'dead cat bounce', Chris Lawrence's thoughts turned to the deaths of 140 people in Hama, at the hands of the Syrian Army. His poem, Men In T-Shirts, reflects the chilling dilemmas faced by ordinary citizens in pursuit of democracy.

On Wednesday we published Charlene Langfur's, Gift of a Particular Miracle, just two days after Gabby Giffords made a surprise return to Congress, to cast her vote in favour of the debt package. Seven months previously, she had received near fatal head wounds, during a shooting that left six others dead.

And, as one politician continues along the road to fitness, Hosni Mubarak arrived in court on a hospital bed to face charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters. Kim Rooney neatly captured the moment in the Cairo courtroom.

Poetry can make the greatest impact when it's kept short and focused. Fran Hill's Progress was perfectly summed up in a comment which read, "All that pathos and irony generated by just a one-word title and eight short lines - a sharp slap to reevaluate priorities. Very efficient and effective." We couldn't agree more.

Heather Wastie offered us The Velvet Glove for Saturday, a quirky tale of spilt shiraz. And on that note, here's a toast to you all. Keep those poems coming!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Velvet Glove

Sparky's handiwork
dripped from the prongs
of a forklift truck

When they opened up the container
the murder scene
smelled phenomenal

Brett McCarthur gasped -
462 cases
in one fell swoop

When Sparky got the call
he was gut-wrenched
at having to kiss goodbye

to months of hard work,
over a million dollars
and his Velvet Glove

finest shiraz
dropped from a great height
never making the ship

Thankfully he wasn't a man
to operate
without insurance

© Heather Wastie

Australia: Forklift mishap destroys $1m of shiraz wine
Heather Wastie is a British poet, musician, performer & facilitator, born in the Black Country, now living in Worcestershire.

Friday, 5 August 2011


She turns to her children
who lie silent-curled beside her,
their bodies bloated with
someone else’s shame.

‘My little ones,’ she says,
her lips as dry as crusts.
‘The clever people have
found water on Mars.’

© Fran Hill

Mars: Nasa images show signs of flowing water
Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cairo courtroom

The judge's eyes
stream LIVE
from Cairo courtroom
toward the Nile

Mubarak lies
stretchered, caged, docked
flanked by sons
they too, deny

For this
there is no shock
in Egypt, where long dynasties die.

© Kim Rooney

Mubarak trial: Egypt's ex-president denies all charges
Kim (aka wordturner) is a writer, editor, and poet. A former BBC online journalist she has an MA in Life Writing from the University of East Anglia.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Gift of a Particular Miracle

Some of them happen to all of us.
Like this one. Or that one.
With unexpected recoveries,

returns to life that leave us breathless.
Today I believe the same,
look after
what continues. Night become morning,
look after thin slow-moving lines of darkness
turning to light.
I get up out of bed,

trace light's flow. Look to see who made it home,
soldiers home from Iraq,
Made it back uninjured,

saved men and women beating out
the crush of chance.
Inexplicably they are on another day alive
among us

a woman recovers from a gunshot to the head.
The undoing of the worst.
Like flower making it through
a long hot summer.
All of us relieved on such a day.

Is it so? All we can do for one
another exceeds all else? Healing.
Salience. All we know.
Again, tomorrow maybe.

The woman with the injury comes back.
Readying herself to go.

anything is possible.

For Rep. Gabby Giffords January 2011

© Charlene Langfur

Six Months After Tucson Shooting, White House Readies Gun Control Stance
Charlene is an organic gardener and a graduate of the S.U. graduate writing program.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Men In T-Shirts

smoke encroaches the sky
men gather
by the barricades
gunfire rattles
a chattering fear,
they move in groups
seem aimless powerless
what to do
to call , to chant
to pray,
to unify,
and hope together
will survive
tank wheels
closer now,
fear a sharpened
swordswinging ever closer
do you hide
or call and shout

© Chris Lawrence

Syrian Army Extends Hama Assault as 140 Die
Chris Lawrence lives with his muse in West Kirby and writes, having been published in many journals internationally and can be found on twitter @clawfish.

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Tragedy of Obama and Boehner

Barack and bill
Went up the Hill
To try to save the dollar;
Talks broke down
Between the clowns
And markets tumbled after.

© Anthony Baverstock

US debt crisis: Republican budget proposal passed in House of Representatives
Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.