Poetry Anthology

Autumnal Haikus

Golden leaves scattered
Trees have shed their memories
Upon the cold ground

Smoke and mist mingle
Your cheeks glow red as candles
The night is still young

Deepest midnight ink
Paints the sky in darkest hues
The stars are hiding.


(By Rachel Norris)



West Coast

I paced the beach a lot as a teenager,
supposing it was a way of being lost,
going lost, finding my lostness
in the sound of the waves, seagulls
in the eaves of a sky cast black
by fire and onyx.

There were shells stuck in my skin,
bits of them sharp and ridged as glass. Adolescence.
Bottles of Bacardi and Glens
in remnants of lovelorn summers—
each one dug deeper as I walked
and I felt the call of the sea
like a summons. Come back to me

—the waves were strange consolation.
I loved
the loneliness of the sea, its sense of otherness,
of distant worlds, blue and green.

Salt spray
in the faces of children;
sand dunes
where we gathered for drinking and smoking,
wasting time
in the dry ice of shared menthols.

You dig your heels deep
by the shoreline, where your feet sink soft
through the mulch of watery sand,
sinking as if to drift down,
to ease yourself out of matter.

I paced the beach a lot on weekday evenings,
while cars passed behind me, while
normal people went home.
I learned to love
the gulls that croaked on the rocks,
crying cormorants, gannets
and black-feathered auks—
I always longed to spot an albatross,
imagining its body swooping
out of the sea fog
like an omen.

I thought I had forgotten these shores,
the way it felt to know nothing
of what would come; great drawings
dissolved in the tidal pull—come with us.
I thought this world was lost;
I thought
I had lost it all.


(by Maria S.)




Opposite sides of the road, waiting for the little green man.

An old lady mutters near me, impatient, laden with plastic bags.

I can’t wait to pass you in the middle,

I know that the beeping and the grumbling engines will fall silent,

As I catch your gaze.

But today is one of those days –

Headphones firmly in and beanie hat pulled down tight,

Your eyes never lift from the tarmac

That glisters with frost in this cold month.

You’re like an animal that hibernates, so tentative in every winter breath.

When it was warm you used to catch my gaze. In the summer

When I wore jeans and a belly top,

And not this school skirt, with the wool socks,

And broken plimsolls,

Around cold wet toes.

I wonder if we will cross paths again in the summer when I’m seventeen,

And I wonder–

“Eh, love – the light’s just gone green.”


(by Rachel Norris)




The trees are knotted
in the spot where the bluebells grow
in June.

Gnarling, their roots twist
into strange, exotic shapes—
Spirals and triangles, spikes
like barbed wire.

We used to sit here
as children. We knew the notch,
the dark hard eye,
the tender part which you cut
to get the sap out.

Everything here is a cycle;
there is no flow of time,
no regress or

In summer the frost fades
to forget-me-nots;
through the canopy, long
into the evening, light lingers
in splinters and sparkles.

So I return;
the trees seem to whistle.
You hear their singing, its softness
like pining. Walk with me.

The greenness changes with the seasons.
Now I look upon it,
these tufts of grass, these oak leaves
glow with yellow fire—
chocolate, chestnut, cinnabar.

I look upon the colour, my fingers
scratching the eye. Its hardness
comes apart like ice.

I stare into that black spot,
the cavernous passage laden with frost,
the eye like a moon.

In the copper of twilight I see you again:
grass in your hair,
bluebells in June.

by Maria S.


Doomed Affection

You press your hand against mine and my grip
is limp, lacking the conviction you desire.
I cannot, I can’t, be that thing that you need.

Your eyes are on me, and I can feel their weight
like kidney stones pushing hard against a nerve.
Because I cannot, I can’t, look at you like that.

I turn my gaze away, let the music play, and speak
the words I never will. My conscience is too ill,
to say the lines, so I miss my cue.

It’s like a dress rehearsal for a cancelled play,
this doomed affection.


(by Rachel Norris)





The Mirror

We sit together, face to face
Alone in quite, empty space
Alone, unconscious, still I dread,
Alone these thoughts jump in this head.

If I could trace around these eyes
those formless shapes, of which, comprise
the depth our memories echo through,
I would not feel alone with you.

And, somewhere, am I still here.
And knowing not if far or near,
And knowing not who moves this hand,
Not knowing if I understand.

A world lies behind the glass,
reflected, filtered through this mask.
And, thus, I often fail see,
what’s truly real. Image or me?


(by O.N.)



A Man

A man is a man is a man is not a man is a pussy is a jerk is a victim is a rapist is a murderer is a hero a man is a boy is a child is a grandpa is a dad is a friend is SIMPLE is straight is superior is a dick is a prick is a pig is a gentleman is COMPLICATED – AMEN

By Stefan Ma.


The Crow Rr’karva


A crow sat high on the wall
Cawing so loud, all heard his call
People looked up from field and road,
Wondering what terrors he foretold
Times and change and times of woe
Lips parted, expressing pure sorrow
But as they listened to his echowing caw
They realised he was not calling to them at all.


Gengen’vor (language in development):


Karva mea’di sha kakata rr’ethr
Korvok’ni kat’val ranna mesh’di lelne efat
Enepis pepe’di volk komp sharat e megmali
Ava’ni ven tandes lel vanashika’di
Garshais me’draka e garshais me’falhi
Banies govo’di lelami’ni finita falhi
Ta’a as lelnn bane’ni ot lelne korvok
Lelnn pafi’di lel gm’di nen efat’ni ot lelnn nen ranna.


(by Ailsa Williamson)



With the final piece of sunlight the day disappears

The full moon stretches his lunar fingers extensively

Clouds fade in the wake of the million stars to shine

The night becomes king over all and he watches

Witness to the dark and to the doom that settles

The quiet moans of the wolves of this metropolis

Ever watchful this guardian keeps a careful eye

But he is silent

Forever silent

Uttering nothing of the atrocities he sees


(by Ailsa Williamson)



The Distant One

I remember so little   of the many lives that I have lived.

The sea-wide echoes   stray in distance,

And return to the shore,   telling stories I have forgotten.

Were those my tales   that thrummed over the waves,

And reached the edges   of the otherworld?

Those plundered dreams,   like pebbles in the surf,

Have a smoother face   when seen anew,

And seem no longer   such a load to bear.

If in another land   a lone figure walks with purpose,

Let it be her   to whom the whispers speak,

For she is in the newer life,   and should I forget all,

The distant one will live,   and I will die gladly.


(by Rachel Norris)



The Man on the Shore

When the tide draws breath on a misty morning,
he sits on the shore and draws breath also,
hair pulled into the sky by soft wind groaning
through aching trees that defiantly grow,
hunched into the shifting sand, bare of leaves,
back bent like his is, the man in the shade,
his bones creaking as he sits and he grieves,
weeps for the daughter whose death he repaid,
screams for the son whose bones crumble like shells,
chokes on the fog that seeps from the sea,
hears distant murmurs as the water swells,
shouts his prayers at the horizon, a plea,
that is swallowed by a returning wave,
who crashes upon him and does not save.


(by L. M.)



Bliss Human grass bending swaying with bodies together in a field of

Moisture mixing sweat tears mingling saliva glinting on the teeth of

Adult foetuses growing shaping screaming from the pain of

Living madness dreaming chaos illness life loss hiding in the heart of



(by Rachel Norris)


cherry melancholia


rain on the lawn; the greenness
dark and deep. a handful of shells
clotted in the mud with the blossoms,
the pink ones
from the cherry tree.

she walks out slowly,
snow petals swirling round her,

in the garden she will lie
where the grass is softest. she will lie
staring at the glass sky,
a sleepful of memory.

just love, the garden will say,
just love.
she forgot the place where he kissed her once—
it wasn’t here

but she returns anyway,
the grass feels sweet underneath her,
the air tastes golden, the first taste
of crab apples in autumn. love
set her going in spring, a silk cut
from a willow tree.

smoke rises in the distance
to the smell of cherry pie.
once he kissed her eyes, her cheeks;
he told her she was cinnamon.

in the garden now she is older,
older as the trees are, ring after ring
in each year, each reel of string
that she unwinds.

they come to bind
the sweet peas with twine.
bitter berries,
summer wine.

she is older
and the pie in her mouth now
is cloying; she is older
and the leaves are dying,
falling with the raindrops, the poor branches.

The garden speaks
now she is older, the rings round her eyes—
old pools of light, cherry pie,
of melancholia.


(by Maria Sledmere)





she strived to find
the good inside
the good beyond
and the ‘other’ foretold
she closed her eyes
and imagined within
a world of ‘other’
that was only a murmur
to tell a girl
‘do not eat
from that tree
of knowldege sweet’
the girl will then
start to wonder
what sort of knowledge
lies beyond now
what sort of ‘other’
is waiting thence
human passion
human desire
will spark a riot
spark a hunger
spark a hunger to succumb to
the serpent’s wiles
the serpent’s eyes
and the hunger will grow
until the bite is made
bait and all
the fish is caught
and all because
a hint was whispered
‘don’t eat from the tree
of knowledge sweet’


(by Ailsa Williamson)



A rendez-vous


We walk together hand in hand
a soft breeze blowing
on this summer strand
and for ever we’ll keep going
this is my dream

And it’s perfect – she says softly
slides one arm around my waist
and each moment is so costly
that it cannot be replaced
this is my dream

You will see my love is true
she has sworn it many a time
and she’ll return and swear’t anew
all the needs is a bit more time
I know for it was in my dream

so now we sit here you and I
waiting for her, so you can see her too
I promise she’s the sweetest melody
and she’ll swear her vows anew
I know for it was in my dream

So now we sit here you and I
and sit and wait and sit and sit
Don’t grow impatient now, for my
love will be here, where we sit
it was in my dream

It was a dream and she’s not coming
no beach or sun
no soft embrace
a dream, a dream
a cloud         of air      that left        my
to disappear
it was a dream


(by Stefan Ma)





I waited for you
Under that tree
Waiting through the thunder
Waiting through the storm
Waiting whilst the ages past
Whilst the tempestbeasts soared
Living on the edge of the clouds
Waiting whilst the great marine beast swam
As he climbed onto shore
As his scales sprinkled to dust
Merging into soft feather
Then there was the fur-man
I waited
As uncertain as the world
As it spun slow
As the legends became myths
As truth became whispers
Speaking of
Things long forgotten
But still wait for you my lover
Under this tree
Lost in time


(by Ailsa Williamson)



Johnny Blues

Semáforo en verde, cruza, sonríe, ‘buenos días’, ‘buenas’, ‘hey’
servilletas, cubiertos, menús, vasos,
rumores, comandas, sopa y pescado del día,
café y cigarro, brisa, caja y cierre
otra vez.

Qué será de mí ahí fuera sin ti mi amor?
Qué será de mí sin el sol? Sin sur en la brújula
el vaso vacío y la puerta fría,

La sopa del día son lentejas
y el pescado lenguado.


Green light, cross, smile, good mornings, you all rights, heys,
napkins, cutlery, menus, glasses,
gossips, orders, soup & catch of the day,
coffee and cigarrette, breeze, cash and close
and again.

What will be there without you my lover?
What will be there without sun? With no south on this compass
the empty glass and the cold door,
tell me…

The soup is ham and lentil
and the catch is haddock.


(by Abel Rios)



Honey and Frost


At night I listen to the voices: some
are soft like honey
poured in your ears; others
grasp and grate at you, the raw frosty ones –
full of knowledge beyond you.

The honey ones speak of things I like:
love and music and life.
Oh, she’s married now to that man in the film —
What a cracker of a —
Here’s the latest track from a band called —
You never get the ending because
you’re always listening for the next part.

I love it in the dark, 
the sounds at night;
they are what keeps me awake—
I don’t like to sleep or to dream.
I dream of the cold fingers, coming
out of the darkness all creamy and hungering,
covering the bedclothes with their prints.
They are like frost on my skin
and sometimes in the morning I think I can see their prints
though most likely they have melted.

The raspy voices know all about my dreams of fingers,
but they never let on. They talk about news
and politics to pass the time;
Their words fill the walls like rime.
You can scrape the white crusts off the walls,
feel the cold in the nerves of your fingers.
I had never heard voices like these before;
it was like my dreams had morphed
the voices on the radio.

I have an old purple radio: my Mum
calls it a retro one. It’s purple like a nightshade.
The aerial glints silver
and if you wave it around, the sound will change.
I can warp the voices, stop the words
before they make sense. Make them noise.

All day the songs from the nighttime fill my head.
They are mixed up with the honey voices,
sweetly swaying like my body
tossing around the bed. I write down
what I hear and the notes don’t make sense.
They are nothing but black pinpricks
which escape like moths, taking flight
from the white sheet of my page.

You could not play the same song again that way;
not like you can on the radio.

I think one day I will stop dreaming altogether;
a day without toast and tea, a day without weather.

There will be moths in my room,
caught up, stickily, in the frost. I will pick them out
like dead flowers. They will crush
to dust in my fingers.
The nighttime will come
in silence.


(by Maria Sledmere)



Behind the Glass


there’s something there
just behind the glass
primping and preening
laughing and grinning
alight with mischief
a gleam in its eye
it beckons you forward
you take a step back
not today, not ever
you say every time
but again and again
it beckons you in
and it dances and laughs
blurry and distant
but every day it gets clearer
and one day you know
it’ll beckon you forward
and you


(by Maura Kenny)





The cloth lies gathered in endless folds
Wrapped around the form,
Still, serene.

A draft through the church doors
Flutters the ripples of linen
And your hair.


(by Rachel Norris)



After the Day of the Dead


Trampled roses litter the streets, confetti
of the funeral of last nights festivities.
The dawn trickles soupy through the fog and glimmers
Against shattered glass.

I wake in a daze, on my back, on the tarmac
pavement washed with colour and litter, wet leaves.
I see a girl standing
sideways till the vertical horizon tips as I raise my head:

I recognise the girl, face paint almost sweated all away,
white dress crumpled and stained,
jewels scattered,
raven hair caught in a briar tangle.

We chased each other all the night and never caught up.
Now she pulls my hand, raises me up to stand
a head shorter than her and her curls.
Morning sweeps the mystery away.


(by Rachel Norris)



Rowan Berry


That moment was young love and cocaine.
On the sofa the afternoon was stirring around us
And you were passing over in glazed irises
Through which I saw the other world.
School took us from 9 till 2 but still we knew
That time had frozen.

The sofa where we lay is full of moth holes.
You used to come over and pull them apart,
Like you were searching for something:
Your fingers flaking the flaps of fabric;
You tugged till your nails bled.
We lay there, day after day
On the sofa in my daddy’s shed.

There was your smile and your cigarette burns.
I thought my mother would kill me
When she saw the scorches on my neck. Instead
She said you were a bastard, that I
Was forbidden to see you.

She didn’t know about the shed and the sofa,
Our afternoons with the dust motes
And the steady clunk of the lawnmower. The rowan tree
Whose branches poked through the broken glass.
You climbed in the window and it was cold – autumn
Almost. The blanket barely covered the whiteness of our legs.

By winter my freedom was still forbidden.
I loved the frost on the lawn, even when you stopped calling.
My mother wrote letters to the school
That were never answered
And I helped her cook supper while she read the Ten Commandments.
Your burns left a tiny scar on my neck.

One day in December I went
Down to the shed again, looking for something
Though not sure what. Just slightly, I thought I could smell you;
The skin of you masked in the musk of the sofa,
That smell of mothballs in the attic.
I plunged my fingers deep into the fabric
And pulled out a tiny object, hard as the stone of a peach.

In the candlelight I saw it was a rowan berry,
Its swollenness complete.
Here it is: this memory. In pain
I thought of you again, holding the rowan berry:
Plucked from nothing, raw red, rolled on my palm,
Coating itself in a snow of cocaine.


(by Maria Sledmere)



The Grene Man


Quha douttis thair ane twa een;

Forenicht I had wanderit in ane midow grene

And thair I meit ane unco littill man,

Quho was dancin as he can.

Me thocht him the king of farye

And he sade “Come with me.”

I haid herd of riches littill men kepe

So I followit him to tha forest depe

Me thocht sevin year the journay tuke.

Quod he “A gift to ye I’ll give but ye maun no luik”;

Me thocht he micht gif me a jasp

So I held oot my haun to clasp.

Bot than I herd a laff fra the littill man in grene,

And quhen I darit to luik, he pluck’d oot baith my ene.


(by H.R.)