My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Ali Jones and myself. April 7th


Forest Fire

When the sun burns too brightly and everything is rinsed dry,
The sparks spreads like gossip around an urban school gate.
Trees have lost their speech, stand silent witnesses to all.
Everything is going out, not in a two by two procession,
But in a rip of tooth and claw, flashing beneath a flame’s roar.
Everything is dwindled to ash, and rising isn’t a promise.
We do not always come back to the places we need to be,
The wheat grows thinner and the salmon do not leap.
Pain rises gently with the dawn, inviting, before it blinds, again.

– Ali Jones

Ever Upward

“As the deer pants for the water, so pants my soul for You, O God.” –Ps. 42:1

Remember when running with the deer
Was sufficient?
When carefree
Was not frowned upon?
When fleeing a fire to safety

Seemed a success?
Now, it’s not enough.
Once the world caught fire, it became
Inadequate to simply run.
Neither is it,
To stay

Staring helplessly
Into its flames, watching
Our global future go up in smoke,
Filling the air and our lungs With all-consuming dread.
But the spirit, too, is a flame,
an ever-changing,
constantly-lapping, bespoke

Force, striving upward
Against gravity.
Away from fear, yes.
But towards?
Towards also:
Towards health;
Towards clarity;
Towards restoration;
Towards the well-spring of life itself.


A Salamander’s Wool

Asbestos lobs my dad in the fire
to see him survive the scientific method.

Flames burn up all his oxygen,
fat slips off him. There is no rotted

log for him to escape consequences,
a miraculous lizard scarper from hollow and heat,

a life born from flicker and burn,
misconstrued into myth and legend.

Salamander’s Wool inside his lungs
left in his ashes a whiter remains.

-Paul Brookes


I always thought that burning
would be the worst way to die,
scorched and consumed
by mother nature’s rageful side.
In my dreams, rage is spattered in red
and monsters are made of flames,
throats of fire that swallow heartbeats
and pull the skin from trees
with voracious tongues.

Some nights I wake up screaming,
flames engulfing the stars and blossoms
that decorate my wrists.
Some nights I survive the fire,
marvel in the new breath of flowers
that rise from the ashen earth,
wake up feeling resurrected,
weightless and laughing.
Some nights, I don’t sleep at all.

-Susan Richardson


The antelopes are parched and pines are scorched;
The mother Zebra cries and canines howl,
tiny insects are dead and homes are burnt.
but all they want to know, who started the fire.

-Jay Gandhi

Bios and links

-Jane Cornwell

likes drawing and painting children, animals, landscapes and food. She specialises in watercolour, mixed media, coloured pencil, lino cut and print, textile design. Jane can help you out with adobe indesign for your layout needs, photoshop and adobe illustrator. She graduated with a ba(hons) design from Glasgow School of art, age 20.

She has exhibited with the rsw at the national gallery of scotland, SSA, Knock Castle Gallery, Glasgow Group, Paisley Art Institute, MacMillan Exhibition at Bonhams, Edinburgh, The House For An Art Lover, Pittenweem Arts Festival, Compass Gallery, The Revive Show, East Linton Art Exhibition and Strathkelvin Annual Art Exhibition.

-Susan Richardson

is an award winning, internationally published poet. She is the author of “Things My Mother Left Behind”, coming from Potter’s Grove Press in 2020, and also writes the blog, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. You can find her on Twitter @floweringink, listen to her on YouTube, and read more of her work on her website.

Here is my updated 2018 interview of her:

-Ali Jones

is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature, and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom.

Here is my 2019 interview of her:

-Jay Gandhi

is a Software Engineer by qualification, an accountant by profession, a budding Guitarist & a Yoga Sadhak at heart and a poet by his soul. Poetry intrigues him because it’s an art in which a simple yet profound skill of placing words next to each other can create something so touching and literally sweep him of the floor. He is 32-year-old Indian and stays in Mumbai. His works have appeared in the following places:
An ebook named “Pav-bhaji @ Achija” available in the Kindle format at The poem “Salsa; a self discovery” published in an anthology motivated by Late Sir APJ Abdul Kalam. The poem “High Caloried love” selected for an upcoming book “Once upon a meal” The poem “Strawberry Lip Balm” selected in the anthology “Talking to the poets” Four poems published in a bilingual anthology “Persian Sugar in English Tea” Vol.1 Two poems published in the anthology “Poets on the Run” compiled by RC James.

His poems have made it to the PoeTree blog and front pages of & In free time, he likes to walk for long distances.

Here is my 2018 interview with him:

-Samantha Terrell

is an American poet whose work emphasizes emotional integrity and social justice. She is the author of several eBooks including, Learning from Pompeii, Coffee for Neanderthals, Disgracing Lady Justice and others, available on and its affiliates.Chapbook: Ebola (West Chester University Poetry Center, 2014)

Twitter: @honestypoetry

Here is my 2020 interview of her:

-Paul Brookes

is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), Please Take Change (, 2018), Stubborn Sod, with Marcel Herms (artist) (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). Forthcoming Khoshhali with Hiva Moazed (artist), Our Ghost’s Holiday (Final book of threesome “A Pagan’s Year”) . He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.

YouTube; Poetry Is A Bag For Life

Twitter: @PaulDragonwolf1


Facebook: Paul Brookes – Writer and Photographer



8 thoughts on “My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Ali Jones and myself. April 7th

  1. Sorry I’ve not been as active as usual. I love these challenges. This year has been so busy I’m struggling to keep up! Thanks for kindly running these, taking the time to put them together, and thanks artists for providing the pictures.

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