#WorldPoetryDay 2021 21st March is today. What is the best unpublished/published poem you have written, and why? Here are some posted to me earlier. Please send your responses to me via DM, or message me via my WordPress blog. All will be posted this Sunday. “Honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence of poetry between other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.” Quoted from image below.

World Poetry Day 2021

Welcome Home
(For Tom Rowlands)

Me and Tom, we have come far
As we stand together, at the bar,

A conglomeracy, A total sum,
A fusion, of forty years gone,

Forty years worth of Apples pinched

Lessons dodged
Girls chased
Sweets scoffed
Tyres punctured
Stones thrown
Snails squashed
Toys broken
Pants pissed
Lies invented
Jeans ripped
Our offs told

Yes, a conglomeracy, A total sum
A fusion, of forty years gone,

He skins rabbits, overjoyed,
And I’m a poet, unemployed.

-Jared Marriott Pegler

Upon returning to Anglesey after finishing my degree (in my mid twenties by now), I took up with some old friends I knew from as far back as the village primary school – Tom Rowlands being one of them. He had just graduated as a gamekeeper, and was also looking for employment at the time. Luckily he had motorbikes and home-brew… so we were never bored, or in a hurry to work.
This poem was a look back at our lives together, and the fact that we were back hanging out together as friends, but now as young adults. I remember Tom’s girlfriend of the time burst into tears when I showed it to her. It summed up everything at the time – and of course, came to me while we were out having yet another night out in a local pub!
Looking back at it again now, it is still one of my favourite poems. It sealed our friendship – it is a celebration, a timestamp on those times.

Ghostlight
————-

I murmur in my wife’s ears,
“Taylor and Brown gave us Positive Illusions.
That was nineteen eighty-eight.
Deceive our hearts. Use it, dear. Keep us lucid.”

And still, the ghost casts
a peripatetic disk of light as if the sun has
caught some dome shaped crystal
of the wristwatch belonging to one deceased.

Our daughter chases the light.
“Take her for a mosey.” Says my wife.

The street has emptied its truths to no end.
The crows settle for a dozen murders
on the railings of the pavements.
We walk, and still, the ghostlight strolls by our side.
“Tomorrow is better than the past.”
I tell our daughter. The light shines like slant laughter.

-Kushal Poddar

My best poem shall always be the one I am writing; perhaps, because I am anchored to its emotion, logged in to its truths. I am into that poem, into the moment. I can feel the moment. I know why I am writing it. I am writing as a continuous report of the feelings, happenings and the news I am either receiving or interpreting.

The Five Petals of Elderflower

With the odd number five strange nature’s laws
Plays many freaks nor once mistakes the cause.
John Clare

I
Enter through its centre of five petals
past the crown of stamens like matches
slide down the green stem, landing with legs
either side of the junction between stalks.
Now you are surrounded by flowers.
Soak up the hum – you are at one with lace.
Sleep now, as in fresh sheets, soothed
by the sun, head in blossom, a perfumed lullaby,
leaves far below to catch you if you fall.
But you will not fall: the petioles enmesh.
Your cheek is on your mother’s breast,
the flowers are sweet milk. Rock-a-bye.

II
This tree is elder. It’s safe. With the blossoms
we can make elderflower champagne
with the berries, elderberry wine.
Put your nose into it. Yes, it’s a good scent.
If it smells like cat’s pee, so will your champagne.
So we don’t pick those. This tree is fine.
Hold this bag open while I cut some.
We don’t want to drop any –
see how easily each flower head can come away.
There’s lots of stories about this tree. Some say
it’s Faerie, but your mum knows more about that.
I say it’s very good to use. But we mustn’t
take all the blooms from one tree or there’ll be
no berries, neither for us nor birds.

III
The smell is buzzing in my head, as we walk
down the night lane, away from the heated air
of the pub where friends spilled onto the car park.
We whisper as we pass sleeping cottages –
can’t even see the elder, just smell it, as the lane
becomes a funnel of scents and fuzzy leaves.
I’m giddy, stumbling; now there is no-one to see
you take my hand. We cannot even see each other.
The flowers smell of sex, of lust, foreign tongues to us.
Too soon the lane opens out into streetlights,
pavements, cars. You drop my hand. The scent
is left behind, pollened on memory.

IV
Elderflowers sing jazz, each petalled phrase
plays another variation on the last.
Its saxophone voice rises above twanged strings
of cello and double bass, holding the melody
as it flies high. Notes dance round our feet:
we wade in sound. It’s a five bar blues,
scrolls of baroque, rising like smoke, tasting champagne.
White is not white, is green and cream and ivory.
And it sings the blues.

V

By its five textures: the rough underside of leaves
and the smooth front, the strong stem, thinner wands
of stalks, and cobbly lace of blossom like slubbed silk.
By its green taste, its umbrella canopy,
by the cushion of blooms each with five petals.
By these things, I swear to remember you.

-Angela Topping

It was the title poem of my last collection, and I still have a few copies left for sale.
It’s a female version of the five ages of man. It pushed me out of my comfort zone writing it, and it won me a first prize in Buzzwords competition.

Song for the Song of the Common Starling

For Don McKay

thoughts
around a wild idea
they condense, all squealing
their hoarse electronica,
their barely contained epilepsy

clot the top of an elm

then the insane skull-tapping,
the emphysemic wheezing,
the saucy cor blimey
pipsqueaking whistles,

as if the tree has burst into
a half-cocked song

or is it a conversation –
impossible to know what’s going on
in that fevered bird-brain

and suddenly they’re gone,
the branches still rebounding,
the air beaten and stirred in their wake.

-Hugh Dunkerley

It is a favourite of mine because I struggled for ages to capture something of the starlings’ demented chatter, then this poem came quickly. It felt almost dictated by the starlings. I write a lot about birds. Their otherness fascinates me.

AS IF JAMES DEAN

As if James Dean drove through treacle,
we make slow progress on this dull strip.
Over and over the sun taunts us
as it plunges at the precipice.

As if Batman took the bus to Gotham City,
we are never there while the heels are hot
and fidget awkwardly in clueless rooms,
adjusting masks.

As if Love was drawn roughly
on a breath steamed window,
we are left constantly in cold buffets
to sugar harsh coffee with endless spoons

-Tony Noon

I think it’s partly the brevity , but also it conjures a kind of film noire landscape , particularly the Batman references. I’ve always seen him as a dark character hiding behind his mask. Having to catch a bus adds an extra layer of dysfunctionality…

Ricochet

I’ve always loved the bones of it
My sediment of youth
Floating in the eighteen years
Of rain and sea and teardrops
I never meant to leave for long
Just long enough to take a breath
From the land that grew yet bruised me
Bruised us all as it turns out
Shared molecules of trauma
From the ricochets and blasts
Atomic shrapnel in our cells
Have embedded over time and distance too
A day and sea away
Still the pull of heart is strong
To sail touch down on solid ground
Though still shaky from the past
And there to stockpile arnica
For the healing of the soul.

-Joy Fleming

When writing this, I hadn’t realised how much this revealed to me and of me. And I am very glad this happened. It has been healing and liberating in many ways.

Forgive

Oh to a world forgotten
Of grey tinted cloud
Smothered in bleak conditions
Forgotten memories within a crowd

Wild nettles grow fiercely
Dampened mornings succulent dew
A stench of smoke rotten ash
Following the sky so gloom

Less are the peoples movements
As the chains weight ore
Thoughts of promises soon forgotten
Like a midst dissolving floor

Cry’s ring out from a far
As dusk settles a tune
Daylight seems like no more
And ones heart bellows cocoon

Grievance of pain from within
Carried through marshy thoughts
Night sky darkened once more
With speckles of stars that haunt

Where does the world unfold
From gloomy fortress kidnap
What does one’s future hold
With harrowing caves of shipwreck

Suddenly daylight creeps in
Another day wanting for more
Looking at the world uncloaked
A shivering feeling afloat

A suspended thought I skirmish
For today I’m wanting to live
To live without isolation or desire
I choose in my heart to forgive

-©️Tracy Connolly
I wrote this poem about the world we live in today where it is now unused and looks dull. Our memories are fading and our governments promises are broken time and time again. Where is our freedom. Who have we become. What’s happening behind closed doors. Children crying and distressed. Marriages breaking down. Have we all become kidnapped with no voice to air. What does the future hold. A day unfolds again and we have nothing unless we forgive.

Ps Today is my birthday!

-Jacqueline Belle

My favourite poem of mine is When I Walk Upon the Earth because it was the first poem I ever wrote and it is just me. I have lived and travelled throughout the world for most of my life and I feel that I leave pieces of myself wherever I go. This poem explores the idea of leaving traces of yourself with the people you meet and the lands you visit.  

Meet Me

In ten years from now
Come meet me at the movies
Searching for our seats
We will voice our certain doubts
That the film will skew the facts
Favouring romance
Sweeping music will distract
From real history
With our popcorn and soda
We will finally sit down
Ready for disappointment
No way will they get this right
Not how we lived it
The theater gets dark
2020 reads the screen
As we nearly roll our eyes
But as the big numbers fade
Together we are startled
By our brimming tears
Because we are holding hands

-Alice Curley

I think my best poetry is about the pandemic because I wrote it to capture a moment in time we have never experienced before, help put words to it, and offer what hope I could. I think my best poem is “Meet Me” because I have so often felt like we were living in a movie, and I missed going to the movies terribly. I wrote it in the early days of the pandemic. Envisioning going to see a movie about the pandemic 10 years from now gave me a new perspective and reminder that this will not last forever. It also connected me with a great site called Inspiration in Isolation dedicated to sharing creative writing about the pandemic.

Here is a link to the poem:
https://www.inspirationinisolation.co.uk/post/meet-me

Querying

A querying I will go, a querying I will go
Emailed my submission, a querying I will go
It started off real slow, first page was years ago
It’s finally in completion and polished with a glow

Pages I had to type, editing was the hype
My book is finally complete, my writing skills are ripe
Some lines I had to wipe, I complained without a gripe
A rejection letter to delete and an agent I will swipe

Proposal written well, a story I have to tell
I’ll spread awareness, with words I often yell
Querying can be hell, making fingers swell
Guidelines are for fairness, an Agents calling bell

Proofread once again, spacing lines too thin
Hoping for a book show, a best seller for the win
Attach files in trash bin, no writing with a pen
A querying I will go, until an Agent says I’m in!

-Catherine Mellen

This is the first poem I wrote with a singing volume to it. It is called Querying and is written for Literary Agents and the writers who query one. I had a lot of fun writing this one.

Where Grace Is

In the gold case.
Behind drapes and gilded gates.
Under feathers and flames.
In the orange-jumpsuit-clad trapped in cages or inside broken minds.
In the swell of milk-drop on a mother’s breast.
In ash and grease and sweat.
In the rise of sun and compassion.
In cafés sipping coffee over dreams.
In the abandon of trust and deceit.
In the brush of whiskered breath or jet engines.
In cloudy film on corneas and lakes.
In the wasting of potential and organic things.
Where technology without faith makes light.
Where metal blades extract or access what is vital.
In music from a string, vibrating, or the night.
In the reach of men in palaces and underhulls of ships.
In soldiers armed with swords or righteousness.
In children, rocked in sleep or naked bottoms squatted over gutters in the street,
In the reflections of you and me as chance and morning traffic pass us by.
In the string of drool or thought from midday nap or hunger.
In the fury of infirmity or flight.
In the fathomless black of pupiled-eyes, the opaque liquid of their cup reflecting.
In the curl of smoke from thurible or cigarette.
In fingers twitching on triggers or lover’s flesh.
In unlit littered alleys and satin-sheeted beds.
In the passion of arms outstretched in lust or rigor mortis.
In the innocence of skin unblemished or shrapnel-shredded.
In temples, framed by hands in prayer or wielding whips, made of matter
Shaped with reverence and built or broken with a purpose.
Where mobs and lonely teem within a space, trapped and held in place
Like tea leaves in a bowl, cupped close and agitated.
In oil thick with musky scent or color painted on a canvas or a newborn baby’s head.
In fields of concrete boxes under stones,
In all we do and do not reap from what is sown.
Where prayer is necessary or forbidden.
Where grain transforms to flesh when fed to beasts
Who seek salvation or to live another day.
In the hammering of rain and sacrifice.
In the too-sweet press of lilies opened and forgiveness.
In the blue of noon and in acceptance.
In tumors or wombs where cells attach and multiply.
In the struggle of first breath and surrender.
In mercy and irreverence.
In words that weave into belief
Nothing.
In denial of randomness.
In the throats of those who thirst for that extracted of what’s fallen
But still blessed, sanctified and pressed to life again.
In the twisted limbs and minds and roots of men.
In kingdoms lit with fires long ago burned out.
In Hope
When we gaze up at this glow,
The place that fills the space of all the things we do not know
But seek.
-Carrie Danaher Hoyt (first published in the Amethyst Review @AmethystReview)

This is one of the first poems I published, but remains a favorite because it says (or comes closest to saying) what I feel about grace & God & Faith…

Spectrum

My daughter wears my DNA like a casualty,
drifts through conversations with melodic logic.

When she speaks in the language of my ancestors
I know she’s caught something with her mind¬–

a dinosaur or the swamp root of a poem.
Her centre is her own. I can’t see it anymore.

She grows deep, a creature of thrum and ashes,
knows she is different from others.

When she’s clumsy she giggles, like any kid,
but the clay of her mind is a nerve ball.

Her school day comes violently, spinning too bright,
the forcing of norms does not fit the build of her mind.

She closes her eyes and rocks, tick tock, to find
a kind face, a good space. Returns home bent with hurt.

In the evening she wraps herself tight
in an old breeze, wanders the playground

to feast on leftover laughter, blown kisses
fallen to the ground. I find her shivering

under a tree, her courage discarded on a rock.
I drink her tears, wrap her under my skin.

Life after life, she sobs. Too much.
I nod and we walk away.

Alone, we watch the orange dawn
of a butterfly, speak of mammal species

and why the Congo changed its name.
For on the days she can inhabit

the wholeness of her verse,
she soars melodic over Earth.

I don’t label myself an autism warrior.
I carry guilt made of covert creatures,

wet wings stuck to their bodies. At dawn
I let them out. They unfurl their wings and flee.

At night they return, watch me,
cold planets in my throat.

But I will sing to my daughter as long as I live:
My love,
You don’t have to smile for me
You can rock your body to peace
You don’t have to leave to cry
You can flap your hands when you need

You don’t need to say hi
to respond
to do anything
but be.

You are the world where I live.

-Lisa Alletson (First published by the League of Canadian Poets @canadianpoet)

For a long time, I’d write short, surreal poems about a fantastical character. Last year I put the poems together into one long poem and realized I was writing about my daughter, who has autism. I had not realized how her unique perspective on the world influences my life and my writing. Spectrum is my favorite of my poems because it poured out so naturally, and represents the bond between us. My daughter loves it too. I did very few edits. When others read it, they tell me it changes their perspective and deepens their understanding of autism. 

Silence

Silence stands in the hallway all night
says she doesn’t need to sleep.
In the morning she is in the chair
waiting.
Sometimes she smiles
and I think she gave me the dream
about meeting Dolly Parton for the soundcheck.
Sometimes she is so aloof
I imagine she sent me the handless mob
lumbering towards me,
bloodied boxing gloves
where fingers should have been.
She has birdsong in her;
sends the call of a bittern
to make me laugh
after she has taken me to the darkest silence.
Once she tapped me on the shoulder
at 3am, handed me the car keys
got in the car with me
and directed me to a forest.
She took me over a stile
to the darkened path
where we could not see our feet
and the bumps and gnarls of roots
sat under the mud.
Before my eyes adjusted
she stopped me
stood with me
to hear the last owl
and the first blackbird.
Once she wrote me a note
folded it and put my name on it
so she could watch me open it
and read.
I am your shadow, it said
in a spidery hand.
Her drawings tattooed the page –
a tarnished axe,
a holly bush, all its leaves on the ground,
and a coffin.

-Sue Finch

I am sending ‘Silence’ as it was the first poem of mine to be published after I finished my first collection thus proving that I had more poetry in me. It was kindly homed by https://1handclapping.online after I wrote it during an Arvon Course in 2020 tutored by Caroline Bird and Richard Scott. I like the fact that it could possibly be the first poem in a second collection hence sending it out today as my favourite.

Love Britain

Yeah

I love Britain
I love its sun, wind, snow and rain
I love its jam-packed motorways
And sweaty overcrowded commuter trains
Friday fish and chips
Sunday roast dinners
The self-deprecating way it’s uncomfortable with sporting winners
While clinging tightly to former glories
Yeah
I love Britain
And I’m proud to feature in its story

I love its wide welcoming smile
I love its huge variety
From pizza and egg fried rice to tapas and curry
Jerk chicken, falafel
Pad Thai, bagels and a Tex-Mex meal
The cool complexion of so many British places
The rainbow colours of so many British faces
North-south divide
Scottish, Welsh, Irish, English rivalry
Clean, green countryside
Choking but still coping cities
I’m delighted it’s a destination so many tourists come to
I’m happy it’s a haven that the downtrodden run to
Yeah
I love Britain

I rejoice that it’s free
And even extremists can express opinions to the contrary
Like they don’t want to live in a multicultural nation
Want to stop legal immigration
Prefer splendid isolation
But yeah
I love Britain
So I’ll even fight for the right for those to voice that kind of criticism
Although they fail to see
That ‘the enemy’ is probably made from the same stuff as you and me
There is no purity
Only ever-growing diversity

Saxon, Viking, Roman
French blood too
Irish, Black, Asian, Gypsy
Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew
And so much more blended into a unique British stew
We eat many types of cuisine from planet humankind
When we holiday, buy homes abroad or emigrate we don’t mind
While enjoying music, art, fashions from all over the globe
Not embracing them’s a backward step down a dangerous dark road
How can we be selective?
That would make our special ‘British gene’ defective

Yeah
I love Britain
I’m smitten
With the cornucopia of all it has to offer
This crazy hotchpotch is the capital and collateral in its coffers
The important stuff on which we should concentrate
Instead of viewing difference with mockery, suspicion and hate
‘Cause aren’t the things that some despise
The actual things that make GREAT Britain great?
Yeah
I love Britain
What about you, mate?

-Neal Zetter

Something I feel extremely strongly about so written with passion.

Reality TV

Her carcass is splayed across
three Silent Witness tables –
and our widescreen television,
amidst repeat reports of the Iraqi war. An alien queen
whom an excited marine scientist prepares
to dissect and weigh and measure
as if he could learn her very essence,
since she met her skin’s disintegration,
net-tangled beyond her depths in Ross’s ice-choked sea.
He is cautious. Alive, he states, she was a predator,
the biggest, most fearsome known to science.
While plucking broken beaks from sperm whales’ bellies,
in colour-blind dreams he swims around a tank with her,
alive, intact, his mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.*
Now he calls her ‘colossal’ to convey her size and
(speculated) aggressiveness. Meanwhile, back to Baghdad –
seven Iraqi women and children have been shot at a check-point,
killed in their vehicle for failing to stop as instructed.
Witnesses state no warning shots were fired.

* colossal squid
-Spangle McQueen

Because it was nominated towards Best of the Net! Which was amazing to me. But from my own perspective because I managed to juxtapose two real news items at the time which made me angry about male violence.

IMAGIST 

Climate change.
Not yet irreversible.

From inter-glacial to hothouse-warm.
Primal forest to palm-oil monoculture.

Natural Eden to high-rise hell.
The earth and us, no longer well.

Green lung to emphysema.
“I remember lad, the good old days of asthma.”

Carbon sink to landfill stink.
Green-washing every megalomaniac venture.

Biodiversity shrinks; global eco-policy stinks.
This enables mass species extinction.

Despite fabulous wealth, our species still
experiences starvation.

The Gulf stream now barely stirs.
Polar ice caps melt, drowning bears.

We’re planting corpses
instead of planting trees.

Global warming, it’s on repeat: this is a warning –
Embrace renewables, stop fossil fuel burning.

Murdering the earth is simply self-harm.
The least smart thing human beings can do.

It’s not our dumpit site, our infinite farm.
It’s a living, breathing, being like you.
I’m a politician. We lie.
Let’s divert the public’s attention.

Blame someone for causing global contagion.
Tranquilize the truth with drugs and beers.

Destroy communities with subtle poison.
Exaggerate mistrust, inflate those fears.

The recipe –

Control the population.
Stir in misinformation.

Agitate with xenophobic press.
Draw out to elitist conclusion.

Fuck the environment
We are egotist short-term profiteers.

That’s today
but what of the future ?

Is this poem
Imagist enough for ya ?

-John Wolf

It’s the best because it succinctly tackles the key issues without moralising, and it tells the truth. I write quite a few environmental poems usually about individual species so this is a bit different,

“One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer; that is enough for me.”

Louis Pasteur

Refugee

I had no choice. What else could I have done?

Death falling without warning from the skies;

a life in fear of cannon, bomb and gun,

the night-times fractured by our children’s cries.

Death falling without warning from the skies;

our eldest saw her playmates killed and maimed;

the night-times fractured by our children’s cries;

our home destroyed; young women raped and shamed.

Our eldest saw her playmates killed and maimed.

We can no longer live where we belong,

our home destroyed; young women raped and shamed.

Can seeking peace and safety be so wrong?

We can no longer live where we belong.

No-one foresaw a crisis on this scale.

Can seeking peace and safety be so wrong?

You may not like my face, my faith, my veil.

No-one foresaw a crisis on this scale.

We fled in fear from cannon, bomb and gun.

You may not like my face, my faith, my veil.

I ask again. What else could I have done?

-Jenni Wyn Hyatt

Cos it’s a pantoum but also because when I read it out in an informal church meeting it made some of the other old ladies cry and I felt I’d achieved something.

The Lockdown’s End

Suddenly a door opened
And the light flooded along the hall
It lit up all the photographs
and pictures on the wall

But these pictures were of the future
The photos of what’s to come
They foretold better, brighter days ahead
That hadn’t yet begun

These scenes were filled with hope and fun
With family and friends
They promised that by the summer
We’d all be free again

With luggage at arrival gates
On a beach, at a resort
In the pub with all our closest mates
No pandemic to report

Face coverings no longer needed
Grandparents can babysit
Dinners out with partners
Back to gyms and getting fit

The swimming pool, the cinema
To simply stop and talk
No longer covering faces
When you go out for a walk

Shaking hands and hugging
Sitting side by side
When having conversation
To not feel the need to hide

To actually go to work, and mingle
Grab lunch with other staff
On Friday afternoon
Go for a drink and have a laugh

Children’s parties, and kids discos
A comedy night…or just to bloody dance
Cross the Euro Tunnel
Stop off in Italy, Spain or France

Festival tickets to Glastonbury
Take a train, a plane or bus
on a cruise or take a ferry
Watch a show without fear or fuss

Life shines from these future corridors
From these pictures down the hall
Our dark evenings will get brighter
It’s just a few months away…that’s all.

So hang in there fellow human
This is the last leg of the run
The ‘end of tunnel’ light is now switched-on
The lockdown’s end has just begun

– Dean Jones The Bard Of Buckingham

David Wright Kyrie for the gut

-David Wright 

I loved making the poem after I’d initially encountered the form through Jamaal May’s “I Do Have a Seam” https://youtu.be/uMKYdu9_g-A

(and then reading many other contrapuntals/double exposures). The sheer technical challenge of it, needing to unfold two poems that could then be folded into one, was a thrill to attempt. It took a long time.

But also I still love the existential and emotional core of the poem, how it slings back and forth between the belly and the head, the guttering of the throat and the refining of a song. When I read it aloud, it sometimes still surprises me and feels like more than just a show-off poem, though it is also satisfyingly that, too.

Stoic

-Emma Neale

When I said in my Tweet that it spoke to a specific political moment, I wrote it around the time National, a right wing party, had won a majority in the NZ parliament again…and the environment and housing issues looked dire. I guess unfortunately in a lot of ways, the piece hasn’t actually dated….

Some other links that might be useful are copied in below. 

https://www.otago.ac.nz/press/books/otago710449.html

https://www.anzliterature.com/member/emma-neale/

Thank you for a chance to wave a flag around!

Rye Harbour Egret

When I said in my Tweet that it spoke to a specific political moment, I wrote it around the time National, a right wing party, had won a majority in the NZ parliament again…and the environment and housing issues looked dire. I guess unfortunately in a lot of ways, the piece hasn’t actually dated….
Some other links that might be useful are copied in below.

https://www.otago.ac.nz/press/books/otago710449.html

https://www.anzliterature.com/member/emma-neale/
Thank you for a chance to wave a flag around!

The season turning
On a reluctant day for worms
The tide creeps up the edges of pools
Ripples of water dance like rain
As she moves
Slow-quiet
On the ladders of her legs
Fish-searching
Pale shadow on the pool’s surface
The lull of the afternoon
Broken only by a scrabble of linnets
A butterfly’s plaited flight

-Bronwen Griffiths
This poem was written in the autumn of 2019 at the Rye Poetry Workshop. This is one of my favourite unpublished poems as it captures both the beauty and quietness of the place and the egret itself.

A soap bubble…

…was blown
so long ago,
the wide-eyed, Wonderland-oblivious,
toddler of humanity blew
clumsily through the loop gripped
in one chubby fist

—billions of people will die—

and the soap film hesitantly bulged out
powered by bronze,
steel, the horse collar, crop rotation.
Sailing ships and steam engines
smoothed into the fragile sphere,
as were pickaxes, dynamite, production-lines…
industrial farming, the Haber Process,
internal combustion engines and the fractional distillation
of crude oil… Fast-breeder reactors…
embedded in the almost imaginary skin
of this bubble we blew,
this quintessentially breakable world
we knew through all our lives,
and implicitly assumed was real

—and billions will start to die—

when it turns out it is not. We built
a civilisation on stuff we borrowed. We assumed
that fossil fuel in the ground
was a permanent state:
a natural condition forever. We thought
fertile topsoil was a given,
and clean water another gift, temperate climate,
fish-filled oceans, the very air…

—billions of people are starting to die—

as our assumptions start to crack along fine lines
and this is a bubble in the purest economic sense
because it actually worked through all the time
during which it seemed to work,
until one day, suddenly, boom!
It’s always been a lie.

If this island earth were a spaceship:
power failing, the food limited,
life support pumping dodgy air;
we’d get all of engineering there
and have a meeting to decide
who can be stuffed in lifeboats,
who can be stuffed in freezers, and who
—because engineers are nothing if not completely realistic—
won’t reach their destination.
You can try to get that one
before the United Nations, good luck with that!
And not to be a bore, but…

—billions of people will die—

and I don’t trust that lot to do much about it.
Although, also, I, with my slightly less than human head on,
—because I have one of those—I say: OK,
billions will die, it is hard to overestimate the size
of disaster facing us, but it’s not the end of the world,
it’s just the end of the world as we know it
and as long as we don’t completely blow it…
and as long as we weather the change
ride the tsunami
take what life remains us, as and where we find it
and not go end-of-days-fucking-crazy
with a Mad Max style weapons stash
and supercharger
on everybody’s Christmas list, then…

—for the billions who by chance do not die—

there will be some loss of privileges.
We won’t be eating meat;
we won’t be mining bitcoin; may not be driving personal cars
but we can hope still to be here
in some form.
We haven’t been attempting the impossible
it’s not that a planet cannot support an apical species
with a silly headcount.
It’s just that we didn’t do our homework.
We don’t have all the required tech,
have not closed the carbon curve,
balanced the energy budget, or worked out
what happens when ageing plastics want to retire…

…not produced a society that can keep its calm
on pressure-cooker starship Earth…

…but it can be done. Still, not a comfortable thought,
and it’s going to take some time

—during which billions of people will die.

It’s not the end of the world,
it’s just a soap bubble,
it’s the end of the world as we know it:
pop.

Hallam London – Soap Bubble [Official Video]

-Ian Badcoe

This is currently my best because, firstly I am trying to save the World (but then I am always doing that), and secondly it seems to be my poem which most inspires others, see for example what Hallam London has done with it`

https://www.google.com/amp/s/icefloepress.net/2020/06/29/nine-poems-by-rose-knapp-with-an-art-work-by-robert-frede-kenter/amp/?client=safari

Metamodernist Gnostic Verses

=Rose Knapp

I really enjoy the mixture of neo-Dadaist glossolalia and mythological subjects. It exemplifies the style and a large part of my poetry.

Cancer Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please flood her nerves with sedatives
and keep her strong enough to crack a smile
so disbelieving friends and relatives
can temporarily sustain denial.

Please smite that intern in oncology
who craves approval from department heads.

Please ease her urge to vomit; let there be
kind but flirtatious men in nearby beds.

Given her hair, consider amnesty
for sins of vanity; make mirrors vanish.

Surround her with forgiving family
and nurses not too numb to cry. Please banish
trite consolations; take her in one swift
and gentle motion as your final gift.

-A.M. Juster

I don’t feel that I am a particularly good judge of my own work, but this poem is clearly the one that has most connected with the public–I get more requests to read and anthologize this sonnet than any of my other poems, and it is the one that most often causes an audience member to come up and talk to me. I think it gets that reaction because it deals with a common and awful experience rarely addressed in poetry–how do you think about that awful time when a loved one is suffering and nearing death?

A doctor friend of mine has told me that he had a dying patient who kept this poem in her wallet, and I know it was used for a time at a teaching hospital in the training of oncology nurses.

I think that the sonnet form gives this poem concision and momentum that makes the final wish that much more dramatic. I have read it in public several dozen times, but I still tend to choke up a little at the end.

I have always wanted to hear a better reader of poetry read it.

World poetry day census

I filled in the census form today
In the form of poetry
I answered all the questions well
In part with a villanelle
What religion are you?
Answered in haiku
What’s your birthday?
Replied quite rhymy
Your vehicular answer?
Iambic pentameter
My job descript?
Put down with acrostic
What do you do?
I wrote down as a clerihew
To identify my gender
I put as a sestina
Is your house quite diverse?
Respinded in free verse
How do I identify as ethnically?
Just gave them it limerickally
It didn’t take long to do
So I added a senryu
-Simon Zec

Of all the poems I have written, this is my most rhymy and frivolous.
It isn’t political it was like a jigsaw that I needed to construct.

For me, this is the most effort I have put into a poem for a long time.

It combines the two significant things happening today.

I’m not sure it’s my best, but it certainly is my most light-hearted and topical!

Rollins (1974, London)
Sonny takes his sax
for a stroll down Dean Street
inhaling the Soho sleeze,
past the bars with open
invitations
the private dancers, no rhythm
no style, no touching,
half-asleep in their undress.
Their patrons, sweat glistening in
the spotlight, slipping their hands
down,
for the sliver of a thrill.
Sonny trips on,
sliding by, pitch and tone
caught in the chord of
this Soho solo, sinking down,
d flat, low and slow,
Compton Street, Frith Street
in smart time. Tapping out a gap toothed smile
he segues into Ronnie Scott’s,
hits the stand, causes
a pause,
until he hits the spot, sends
the sound soaring, a
crescendo that takes
the cymbals by
surprise
as the bass drum
kicks in. Street talk.
The sound
seeps out of sweat stained walls.
His solo,
straight, no chaser
strains
against the reed, slips the leash
and splits.
The tenor of the night,
a timbre of rhyme;
emotion in flight
or held in check this time.

He stays
inside the note,
inverts the tone
with a breath
until he
unleashes the rhythm, sets
it free and
loose,
a leaf
snatched up on a zephyr,
circumscribing
impossible geometric
shapes
until settled back down into the musical motif
of a standard seeking solace.
Sonny takes his sax for a stroll…

-Sean Smith (A version of this was published in Skylight 47)

This is one poem I’m particularly proud of – I was trying to capture Sonny Rollins free-wheeling style of saxophone playing and I think I got somewhat close!

What They Imply by Depicting a Vulture

…because in this race of creatures there is no male.
Hieroglyphics of Horapollo

In the beginning, all was female. Bird begat bird
begat bird, each impregnated by the wind, which

was also female. In the beginning, vulture was
goddess. For 120 days she was pregnant & for

120 days she cared for her young & for 120 days
she cared for herself, preparing to ride the wind

for the five remaining days of her year. Imagine
being cradled by the breath of the world, levitating

through lovemaking, oh imagine! In the beginning
we were worshipped & in the beginning we could fly

& in the beginning we were loved by the air itself.
In the beginning we created & in the beginning

Sky bowed to us & in the beginning Earth reached
for us & oh, in the beginning we were holy, we were

holy in the beginning & can you imagine that,
in the beginning, we were holy, we were whole?

— Paula J. Lambert

Link to Heartwood Literary Magazine: http://www.heartwoodlitmag.com/heartwood-broadside-series-winner-2019

I often feel the poem I’ve just finished is the best I’ve written. That little flush of euphoria is an important trait for those investing so much time and energy on work that’s often unread, unappreciated, ignored. It keeps us going when not much else does. And it’s difficult, really, to point to a single poem as “best”—as opposed to, say, “favorite”—but the one I want to share in answer to your question is this one: “What They Imply by Depicting a Vulture.” It was published by Heartwood Literary Magazine as winner of their 2019 contest and beautifully printed as a letterpress broadside. Winning a prize doesn’t really prove anything best, though it does stroke the ego and offer something shiny to add to a c.v. To be sure, I was thrilled this was taken by the journal I thought it was perfect for, but I’m proud of this poem because it was so carefully crafted; because it spoke to the value of women at a time when we were living, in the U.S., under an administration that did not value us at all; and because I’m passionately in love with vultures, a misunderstood and vastly undervalued bird, so important to ecosystems of all kinds. Vultures, like women, are subjected to fear and superstition; they’re maligned for not being beautiful enough; enormous numbers of them have been hunted, tortured, killed. They, and we, deserve a place of honor in both human history and our relationship to the planet.

I Dream of a Place of Peace

But dreams are in vain
Time and again there is pain;
I was brought to a Promised Land
Created with killing, insane;
Where remnants of blood
Traces of flood,
Sensations of fear remain;

I dream of a place secure
Clean colorful and pure
But I am not sure
As I see
the flying roof of a bus
As I hear
the terrifying sound of a blast
OH how long is it going to last?
As I fear
One moment in time
May be so fast , before we know
And thus we are……no where, no more;

I dream
of a moment of hope,
Of a land where I may be
And I may for eternity, stay;

But now I say
at the end of the day
I don’t dream any more
I am at peace for sure,
My childhood was happy
Truer than any dream
and I
With good grace and gratitude
try to obey not to betray but to pray
to the Almighty The Gracious, and The Supreme.

Born in a period of mass killings large scale displacement, at the time of the great Indian partition I saw just a short period of a happy childhood. Growing up with fear and insecurity, sounds of bomb blasts and threats of enemy occupation I felt I had to raise my voice for Peace not only for my people but also for the people of the world. My words were published and read . I hope that the message of peace is carried far.

-Anjum Wasim Dar

The Miner

He used to take the boy for walks
along rutted lanes;
aside thick-grassed fields.
On baked mud tracks
dappled with life and colour
yet close to the grey
man-made towers
and black hills where,
in his daily work,
he would ride the cage
into the darkest hell.
Birds identified
by their song and shape;
He knew the ground
on which we walked
and below which he toiled.
He smiles, in his head the
words and music of Handel.
His hands, holding the boy,
skilled on the trombone,
tending his greenhouse plants,
conducting the choir,
working the coal.

In giving lives and bodies
to the cause – the nation’s energy
was safe in the miners’ hands
yet they were so much more.
Fathers, brothers, sons, granddads –
Poets, singers, artists, craftsmen;
Hands and hearts
held in perfect time.

-Tim Fellows

My best poem – I’m a hopeless judge of my own work, so this is Ian Parks’ choice from the pamphlet. I’ve probably written good, or maybe better, ones since, but they are still “bedding in”. This one merges my personal, political and cultural background perfectly. I started writing it in a workshop but it took months to find a decent ending.

Paris Valentine

-Samantha Terrell

author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press) is a widely published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in or is forthcoming from publications such as:  Anti-Heroin Chic, Dissident Voice, Dove Tales, Fevers of the Mind, In Parentheses, Ink Pantry, Lucky Jefferson, Misfit Magazine, Open Journal of Arts & Letters, Poetry Quarterly and many others. Find her online at: http://SamanthaTerrell.com

-Anjum Wasir Dar

Born in Srinagar (Indian Occupied )Kashmir, Migrant Pakistani. Educated at St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi. MA in English MA in History ( Ancient Indo-Pak Elective) CPE Cert. of Proficiency in English Cambridge UK. -Dip. TEFL AIOU Open Uni. Islamabad Pakistan. Writing poems articles and stories since 1980.Published Poet. Awarded Poet of Merit Bronze Medal 2000 USA .Worked as Creative Writer Teacher Trainer. Educational Consultant by Profession. Published http://Poet.Author of 3 Adventure Novels (Series) 7 Times Winner NANOWRIMO 2011- 2019.

-Tim Fellows

is a poet and writer from Chesterfield whose poetry is heavily influenced by his background in the Derbyshire coalfields – family, mining, politics, and that mix of industry and countryside that so many mining areas had. People can email me at timothyjfellows@gmail.com for a copy of the pamphlet or visit http://timfellows13.blogspot.com for recent poems

-Paula J Lambert (Awaiting)

-Sean Smith (Awaiting)

-Simon Zec (Awaiting)
-A.M. Juster

(@amjuster on Twitter) tenth book of original poetry is Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry Books 2020). His work has appeared in Poetry, The Hudson Review and The Paris Review, and he is the only three-time winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.

-Rose Knapp

(she/they) is a poet and electronic producer. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Fence Books, Obsidian, Gargoyle, and others. She has poetry collections published with Hesterglock Press and Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Minneapolis. Find her at roseknapp.net and on Twitter @Rose_Siyaniye

-Ian Badcoe

lives in Sheffield and stands at the intersection between poetry, science, engineering, gardening, gaming and speculative fiction. Sometimes he wonders why there’s nobody else there. https://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

-Bronwen Griffiths
writes flash fiction, poetry and novels. Her work has been published in print and online. She tweets poems and politics at @bronwengwriter

-Emma Neale

is a New Zealand born writer and editor.

-David Wright

teaches creative writing and American literature at Monmouth College in Central Illinois. His most recent poetry collection is Local Talent (Chicago: Purple Flag/Virtual Artists Collective, 2019). His poems and essays appear in 32 Poems, Ecotone, Anon, Image, Barren Magazine, The Academy of American Poets, and Spoon River Poetry Review, among many others. He can be found on Twitter @sweatervestboy and at http://sweatervestboy.tumblr.com/localtalent

David Wright

sweatervestboy.tumblr.com/localtalent

-Dean Jones (Awaiting)

-John Wolf

Poet and story writer, and creative writing tutor.

Former civil servant and conservationist, currently working as a gardener and in earth education with RSPB.

John’s interests are history and the environment. He writes about the wonder of nature, the spirit:earth connections; about people and their ways, with a view to encouraging them to care for the planet and to put wrongs right, such as rampant capitalism’s impact upon human health and well-being. 

His first poetry collection entitled Heroes has the green light as soon as Covid-suppression alleviates. His first novel, Wildwood, A dark age actioneer-romance is the slowest moving juggernaut in the history of publishing.

John has been a member of the Read To Write fraternity of writer-poets for the past four years and delights in contributing to its varied and fascinating workshops.

His hobbies are walking, reading and cinema, particularly historical fiction, dark age fantasy and shambling zombies, many of whom he collaborated with in their management roles throughout an illustrious career.

-Spangle McQueen 

is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield, UK. She enjoys being a small part of the twitter poetry community. Spangle is proud to have work published online and/or in print by Three Drops Press; Picaroon; Lonesome October Lit; Bonnie’s Crew; Burning House Press; Foxglove Journal; Strix; Awkward Mermaid; Sad Girl Review; I am not a Silent Poet; Icefloe Press; and The Writers’ Cafe. dancingtosyllables.blogspot.com thewombwellrainbow.com/2018/12/18/wom

-Sue Finch

lives with her wife in North Wales. Her first published poem appeared in A New Manchester Alphabet in 2015 whilst studying for her MA with Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has also appeared in a number of online magazines including: The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Dear Reader, One Hand Clapping and IceFloe Press. Her debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in October 2020 with Black Eyes Publishing UK.

Twitter link: @soopoftheday

-Kellasandra Ferrara

is a former restaurateur who’s been jotting down recipes, lyrics & musings forever but finally decided to subject herself onto an unwilling audience.  The current offerings of Poetry are mostly Heartbreak and Lost Love and the Novel / Story is a Crime Thriller. She says  “I actually crack myself up though, I’m a pretty happy person..”

Links below:

My website:

https://lyricallypoetic.com/

Instagram:  lyricallypoetic_kellasandra

https://www.instagram.com/lyricallypoetic_kellasandra/

Twitter:  @kellasandra1

Soundcloud:

Lisa Alletson

was born in South Africa and grew up in the UK and Canada, where she now lives. She weaves the geographic, cultural and historic features of these three lands through her imagery. Her writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, three anthologies, and literary journals including Silver Birch Press, Osmosis Press, The Bangalore Review, Dreamers, Blank Spaces, Fresh Voices, and Dodging the Rain. Several poems have been published by the League of Canadian Poets as Poem-of-the-Day.

Carrie Danaher Hoyt

is a poet/lawyer/mother/wife living outside of Boston. She has poems in several online journals, one spectacular blog (themirroruptonature.blogspot.com), & in three printed anthologies. Carrie’s poems have received Pushcart Prize & Best of Net nominations. Find her & her daily verses on Twitter @CDanaherH 

-Catherine Mellen (Awaiting)

-Alice M. Curley

is a poet living in Boston, MA. She studied playwriting and theatre at Boston University, and now works at Harvard University for the Division of Continuing Education. She found herself driven to write about the experience of living during the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Jacqueline Belle

is a poet, award winning author, creator and voice artist. Her work can be found on YouTube, Spotify and Amazon. https://JBellePoems.carrd.co

-Tracy Connolly (Awaiting)

-Joy Fleming

Born in County Down, Joy has studied, mothered and worked in Scotland since 1980. Brief excursions to follow her heart, back to NI mid-1990’s and England for first round Covid-lockdown ’19, Joy is currently back living in Glasgow. Joy’s first poem was accepted as part of the C. S. Lewis themed Poetry Jukebox curation A Deeper Country in Belfast in 2019. This poem, Ricochet was published in The Poets’ Republic Issue 8 Autumn 2020. A love of reading poetry is now accompanied by sporadic writing of poetic lines which spill out as an apparent by-product of processing dark and sorrowful days.   

-Tony Noon

lives in Mexborough. Poems have appeared in magazines, local and national newspapers and in anthologies since 1990. Won a Bridport Prize in 1996 . Runner up in a competition for Earlyworks Press last year , but had the honour of having the prize anthology named using a line from my poem ( This Rome Drowns Slowly). Lots of recent stuff on the AllPoetry website

-Hugh Dunkerley

has published two collections with Cinnamon Press, Hare (2010) and Kin (2019). He is particularly interested in how we relate to the ‘more-than-human’ world we are only a small part of. He also writes on literature and environment. His piece ‘Some Thoughts on Poetry and Fracking’ can be found here. https://www.littletoller.co.uk/the-clearing/thoughts-poetry-fracking-hugh-dunkerley/

-Angela Topping

is the author of eight poetry collections and four chapbooks. She is a former Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library. Poems have appeared in over 100 anthologies and journals including Poetry Review, The North, Stand, The Interpreter’s House, and many more. 

She blogs at https://angelatopping.wordpress.com

and she can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/gladstones-library/angela-topping-poetry-and-mental-health

-Jared Marriott Pegler

grew up in rural Anglesey with aspirations of becoming an artist, filmaker, musician or a writer – he did flirt with all of these (as do many artists), and after completing a BTEC Nat Dip in art & design in Bangor, went on to study graphic design at the University of Central Lancs in Preston.
After completing his degree, he returned home to Anglesey and started on the quest for work as a graphic designer. Many of his old friends were still around the area and he resumed friendships with some of these again. he picked up his first jobs in graphic design, printing & lecturing – with music, art and exploring the local area still in his heart.
After a few moves to different jobs (and a wife, a house and the beginnings of a family), Jared made the break and became self employed as a graphic designer, and then formed a partnership with a client producing local directories all across North Wales.
He still works self employed runs the the directory business with his business partner in Conwy. Music and art are still a major part of his life, as is the local area. The children are now all leading lives of their own, and he & his wife now have grandchildren & dogs.

2 thoughts on “#WorldPoetryDay 2021 21st March is today. What is the best unpublished/published poem you have written, and why? Here are some posted to me earlier. Please send your responses to me via DM, or message me via my WordPress blog. All will be posted this Sunday. “Honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence of poetry between other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.” Quoted from image below.

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