Day 17. My annual National Poetry Month 2021 ekphrastic challenge is a collaboration between artists John Law, Kerfe Roig, Jane Cornwell, and writers Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Redcat, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Simon Williams, Susan Richardson, Tim Fellows, Anjum Wasim Dar, Tony Walker, Merril D Smith, and me. April 17th

Day 17


-Jane Cornwell



-Kerfe Roig

JL17 Back from shopping

Back from shopping

-John Law


There’s a new-moon-eye they give you
when you tell them. In the nictate
something changes, a new kind of veil
drawn between a thing that has died
and returned and a thing that fears
the threshold. The bravest emerge
through the dark tunnel of the pupil, looking
for some kind of light to carry themselves.
What did you see? How do I tell you
this isn’t a poem, that every face
you’ve seen since reflects the shine
of a planet that’s gone. What’s in front of you
is an outline drawn in dust, his mouth
open wide, streaming burning story he stole
from the terror of the cave. Every blink
remaining, making it up.

-Ankh Spice

In The Badger Setts

Grandma Badger came to greet me
Most dashing in her dinner frock
Invited me to midnight tea

All the little cubs came to gawk
They hadn’t seen a witchling before
Down and down we went, quite a walk

At length we came to a carved door
Come into the library dear
Where we our ancient knowledge store

In here you can meet our seer
She’ll teach you whatever you need
To from the witch hunters stay clear

Decipher the signs you must heed
Help you light the white ardent flame
That must any vision quest lead

It’s time to your inborn strength claim
That’s what will set your spirit free
I see it in your fire brick mane

First we’ll have fortifying tea
Then we’ll see what signs you can see


Back from Shopping

This ‘ill gets steeper every year!
Ya not wrong, Joan!

A pause to catch their breath, then

Ooh, guess who’s died!
Well, I’m asking you!
Well, we don’t know. You tell us!
Ooh, ya no fun these days, Maureen.
All right, that old bloke with the dog. Who sits outside the shops.

A pregnant pause.

We’ve just seen ‘im, Maureen. You said hello!
Ooh, so I did. I’m losin’ mi marbles, like mi mam did.
You two are ‘opeless. Let’s get goin’, I’ve got to get our Charlotte ‘ome
Tell ’em about that thing, nan! In the garden.
Ooh, yes. You’ll never guess what worrin ar garden last neet.
Dunno – a Peepin’ Tom?

All three ladies laugh.

What’s a peepintom, nan?
Never you mind, luv. No, it worra badger. A big ‘un.
Ooh, I don’t like them. Big things. Don’t like ’em being killed, though.

They stop for breath and Joan lights a fag.

Joan, who was it?
Who was what?
Who died?

Another pause and exhale of smoke.

Dunno, can’t remember now.

-Tim Fellows

Inspired by John Law, “Back from Shopping” and Kerfe Roig, “Badger”

Beneath the Surface

Sturdy women coated and scarved,
against the cold, damp English day. Tight-clad legs step
clop clop on water-pooled streets. The little one’s hand grasped—
everywhere unseen dangers lurk.

There will be no jumping now. Come along, her mother says,
and goes on talking about Bess’s too-soon baby, Tom’s gout,
and Will who lost his job—again.

Beneath the surface of their words, stories swim,
fish waiting to be caught,
the meanings elusive, not quite hooked.

The woolen hats and packages move with the women, yellow, red, and green
contrasts with the grey all around.
In the fine drizzle of the fretting sea,
the shops are nearly invisible,
like the badger in their garden, a fog-creature of the night.

The girl wonders if he lives beneath
the surface of the puddles. She jumps, despite her mother’s hand,

and laughs. Then a laugh bursts from her mother’s surprised O mouth.
They continue walking. It’s almost time for tea.

She will save some scraps for the badger. See if he surfaces, like love.

-Merril D Smith

(Inspired by John Law’s 17th Painting – Back From Shopping)

Three portly aunts limp, dawdle and chat
about the hush they hear everywhere these days,
unlike their yesteryears when they knew everyone,
and everyone began with ‘Mornin’, have you heard about the …’,
and it compensated the stiff market,
always a few doughs steep, and it shall be so –
yesterday and today and the day the green girl
holding her youngest aunt’s plump hand
follows the odd feline leaping into the neighbor’s
backyard hugger-mugger will drag along her own daughter
while returning from the market and counting the cost of living.
I observe them until I cannot see them any longer,
albeit I do, I shall continue to do so.

-Kushal Poddar

(inspired by JC17)

Sadness fills every corner of the room,
smudges the world into black and white.
I watch the colour drain from the walls
as lives crumble and happiness seems
a distant memory,
trapped in shadows.

I contemplate happiness so often,
what it must feel like to hold it in my hand,
to take it in
savour it
eyes closed in rapture.

I live at arms-length from my words,
no sense of self
no joy.
And yet, I know I am lucky
just to be alive.

-Susan Richardson

Badger light
Inspired by Kerfe Roig’s Badger

In the grey of badger light
That smells of earthy, rooted things,
The dark is fox and barn owl flight.
In the grey of badger light,
You rollock through the scented night.
On sharp-clawed pads, no need for wings,
You skim the grey of badger light,
That smells of earthy, rooted things.

-Jane Dougherty

out shopping
dressed sensibly
for the weather
sturdy shoes
the daily routine
you and she and
a younger mother
still in flashy shoes
but otherwise practical, methodical
like the rest
oh and her little daughter
kitted out sensibly
for the weather

walking home from the market
sturdy bags filled
with the day’s purchases
greens on top, peeking out
same old list, same streets
same gait, methodical tread
as you walk home
this moment as good as
a vacation, a small vacancy
in your routine

gossip about the weather
commiserate about the neighbours
something to say about the news, the
husbands – but careful, little jugs have
big ears
or, just silence all the way back
to that noisy neighbourhood
just silence, sturdy shoes, methodical stroll
no thinking, it means worry
no talking, it means judging
the best part of friendship, the
best part of the day, walking
back from shopping

-Jayaprakash Satyamurphy

A Badger

in ventilator mask and steroids.
I keep to the dark. I see poorly.
I don’t know who made me ill and annoyed.
Back from shop with nannan and mam, dourly

wrapped in macs, veg peeps out their bags, green gleams
amongst blackened lungs of austerity.
Helpless, short of breath, grateful for these dreams,
Emerge from my sett, nose and ears lively

in the forest of the hospital room,
I listen to wildlife, owl hoot, trolley
squeak, inaudible conversation’s bloom
as hear downstairs mam and nannan gobby

on owt and nowt putting shop away tidy.
Held bedside vigil for both in my day.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

-John Law

“Am 68. Live in Mexborough. Retired teacher. Artist; musician; poet. Recently included in ‘Viral Verses’ poetry volume. Married. 2 kids; 3 grandkids.”

-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.

Her website is:

-Kerfe Roig

A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new.  Her poetry and art have been featured online by Right Hand Pointing, Silver Birch Press, Yellow Chair Review, The song is…, Pure Haiku, Visual Verse, The Light Ekphrastic, Scribe Base, The Zen Space, and The Wild Word, and published in Ella@100, Incandescent Mind, Pea River Journal, Fiction International: Fool, Noctua Review, The Raw Art Review, and several Nature Inspired anthologies. Follow her explorations on her blogs,  (which she does with her friend Nina), and, and see more of her work on her website

-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 for a copy of the pamphlet or visit for recent poems

-Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

is a writer based in Bangalore, India. His books include the novella Strength Of Water (2019) and the poetry collection Broken Cup (2020). He used to write horror, but now it’s anyone’s guess. 

-Anjum Wasim 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.

-Jane Dougherty

writes novels, short stories and lots of poems. Among her publications is her first chapbook of poetry, thicker than water. She is also a regular contributor to Visual Verse and the Ekphrastic Review. You can find her on twitter @MJDougherty33 and on her blog


RedCat’s love for music and dance sings clearly in The Poet’s Symphony (Raw Earth Ink, 2020). Passion for rhythms and rhymes, syllabic feets and metres. All born out of childhood and adolescence spent reading, singing, dancing and acting.

Her writing spans love, life, mythology, environment, depression and surviving trauma.

Originally from the deep woods, this fiery redhead now makes home in Stockholm, Sweden, where you might normally run into her dancing the night away in one of the city’s techno clubs.


-Merril D Smith

is a historian and poet. She lives in southern New Jersey, where she is inspired by her walks along the Delaware River. She’s the author of several books on history, gender, and sexuality. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies, including Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Fevers of the Mind.

-Tony Walker

By day Tony climbs the greasy pole of clinical hierarchy. Not yet at the top but high enough to feel the pole sway and have his grip challenged by the envious wind of achievement. Looking down on the pates and gazes of his own history, at times he feels dizzy with lonely pride. By night he takes solace, swapping scalpel for scripts and begins his training and climbing again, in the creative world of writing. His writing is an attempt to unify the twenty-four hours. @surgicalscribe seeks to connect the clinical and creative arts of surgery, science and writing. Hoping to do for medicine and surgery through creative writing what Prof Cox has done for physics with television.

So, he practices his art.

-Ankh Spice

 is a sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa. His work has been widely published internationally, in print and online, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He’s a co-editor at Ice Floe Press and a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine. You’ll find him and a lot of sea photography on Twitter @SeaGoatScreams or on Facebook @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetry.

-Simon Williams

lives and works in Edinburgh, where running clears his head and creates space for ideas. He publishes short stories and poems on

Paul Brookes

Paul is a shop assistant, who lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His first play was performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull.  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. Had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb and videos of his Self Isolation sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions and his family history articles have appeared in The Liverpool Family History magazine.

3 thoughts on “Day 17. My annual National Poetry Month 2021 ekphrastic challenge is a collaboration between artists John Law, Kerfe Roig, Jane Cornwell, and writers Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Redcat, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Simon Williams, Susan Richardson, Tim Fellows, Anjum Wasim Dar, Tony Walker, Merril D Smith, and me. April 17th

  1. Pingback: Beneath the Surface: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 17 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

  2. Pingback: April poetry challenge day 17 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  3. Pingback: In The Badger Sett – April Ekphrastic Challenge – The world according to RedCat

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