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 9th



It has been noted in the village,
that she only ever goes to church,
when nobody else is there.

It has been said that she does not
require a congregation, prefers
to air her petitions to stone in secret.

We have watched her sliding by
on that old fashioned bicycle,
chain purring like an elderly cat.

She smiles, but does not stop,
not for anyone. Once I caught
her coming out of the church,

manoeuvring the great North door,
that rides beneath the constellations,
as love spins the universe round.

She did not leave immediately,
but processed from yew to yew,
wishing them well, enquiring their health.

At the time I thought it strange,
but now I understand – nature moves
on what priests hold in their hands.

-Ali Jones

Religious Figures

Shadows of figures
Move in and out
Around the churchyard
At ease,
Carrying only their burdens,
Or their joys,
Taking for granted
The vastness of the space,
Regardless of its
Actual dimensions.
Its openness reveals the
True weight that ails
Mortals comes from within,
Not without.
The sun that shines, or rain
That falls, appears to be brought,
Not bought,
Nor borne of environment.
Sometimes the churchyard
Is more freeing
Than the church.


Our Unicorn Spire

rises from the head
of a wild, untameable animal
with frozen strength and agility.

As a schoolboy I placed
paper over a stone in the walls
built to hold this force,

asked to rub with coloured pencils,
or chalk to get the complex
lines and changes I was more

distracted open mouthed at the horn spire.
We entered the beast at Easter,
Harvest and Christmas.

Sometimes its insides were full
of flowers and fruits, or holly
and candles. Mam said “Unicorns

don’t exist'”, and showed me pictures
of Narwhal and Rhinoceros. The village
church was more magical than those.

My unicorn was frozen
into stone and villagers hollowed
it out to make a church.

I still remember the teacher
asking me why I hadn’t finished
my stone rubbing. I stayed stum,

afraid of being called “silly”
or “he’s in his own world, again”.
It was wonderful having my school

next to a petrified creature.
When we studied fossils,
I wanted to point to the church.

I wanted to rub my hands over its flanks,
Imagined it breathing, knew graveyard walls
could not imprison it forever.

-Paul Brookes

No Rolling Credits

Beneath these massive marvels,
the bodies of those masons
are buried— without coffins.

The architects took the cake.
Queens plundered the fame.
From the woman

who placed first brick
to the man who applied

final stroke of brush:
all are dusted. Names

have been forgotten.

we never memorised
in first place

-Jay Gandhi


Vapid shadows of strangers
glide past her as if she is a ghost,
a relic fallen into mist,
but those who are quiet hold
the darkest secrets.
She sits in the eye of the sun,
stone bleached mouth
ready to unburden memories
from her fading façade.
She has comforted sinners,
pulled blood into her chalky marrow,
cajoled pennies from the arthritic fingers
of old women and men.
She has been a shelter and a jail,
inviting in the weary to steal their resolve,
locking doors and hiding keys.
She is the bitter crone that lives
in the pocket of a mother’s frock,
the lion hiding under a kind tongue.
Do not be fooled by the worn skin of her teeth.

-Susan Richardson

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


3 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 9th

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