Day 18. 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 18th.

Day 18

JL18 Barmston looking from Fraisethorpe by John Law

Barmston looking from Fraisethorpe

-John Law



-Kerfe Roig


-Jane Cornwell

On the sands of childhood

On the sands of childhood, wild and windy,
skylarks singing above the dunes,

and the rolling waves on the chilly shore,
deep green and pungent with bladderwrack,

where the sun was fitful, breeze poked fingers
through the holes in woollens. We

followed the rills of running water
through the deserts, pebble-dashed

with fiery gems and empty shells.
We never saw the whales and seals

but they were there, just watching, free;
I wish I could reel in those nets.

-Jane Dougherty

Cardiac theatre

written to JC18 and KR18

We spoke, once, candid
as an opened chest. There’s steam
when a tough membrane is pierced
and what emerges is ridiculous
with living. Who would dare doubt
any word floated in the presence
of that? Some days the surgery required
to get from one point
to another goes on so long
every conversation in the room
is the beat that’s held back, and
that day you marked quietly the rhythms
of a kid not-even-close to surgeon
at space camp, the certainty
of stars, sure things orbiting
toward her steady hands. Someone turned
the music down and we all waited patiently
as the tabled heart for the punch
line, silent sempahore
of eyebrows in that gap of expression
between cap and mask – we only recognise
each other outside this place
by looking someone deep in the dark tunnel
of the eyes. I’m sorry, there’s no satisfying end
to be found here, the rush
must resume when it does, the story
always trailing second. The patient woke up
and there it was
the sun humming again in the middle,
the black hole the bubble rides on
hidden for one more verse.

-Ankh Spice


Don’t react if they bully and tease.
Turn your other cheek and say please.
Don’t hit back!
No one likes a girl who attacks.
Don’t show you’re smarter than the boys.
It will them only annoy.
Don’t talk back to adults.
Even if they are wrong it’s an insult.
Don’t show you’re smarter than men.
You’ll just be a bother again.
Don’t speak up for anyone’s rights.
They’ll just think you’re picking a fight.
Don’t claim any self worth.
What? Do you think it comes with birth?
Don’t state your opinions.
You’ll just get shun.
Don’t stick out, it’ll break Jante’s law.
Remember you’re just another bah, haha!
Don’t pursue creative dreams.
You might as well chase moonbeams.
Don’t be a nuisance girl.
Do you think you’re a precious pearl?
Don’t be a disturbance.
No one wants to see your brilliance.

Do the opposite of all that!
Better be called a hellcat than live as a trampled doormat!


The Shield

(Inspired by Jane Cornwell’s 18th Painting)

As if I’ll weld one piece of pewter with another,
as if the street, house, market, hearts, hospital
and crematorium are all made of metals
and I can marry them in peace until
death drifts them apart again,
I wear my pestilence armor,
and yes, it does look like a metal-worker’s face shield.

I want to know if you need something from the shops as well.
I desire to know the zones I need to skirt and how to baffle
death by saying – my appointment with him befalls
somewhere else in the futurity.

I stare outside. Everything perceivable floats far and farther,
and death fuses all together.
“What do you desire from outside?”
I hear my voice rising to reach you. Why do you not answer?
Grasp on reality sweats and sinks in the salty sea
swelling up inside the suit supposed to protect me
from this sprawl of pandemic.

-Kushal Poddar

Isolation Tank
(inspired by JC18)

We are strangers,
carrying death notes in our teeth,
warding off the evils of a rampant virus.

Two metres and a galaxy apart,
be sure not to speak,
not to breathe too deeply,
not to cry.

Behind the mask

i am an isolation tank
a storm inside the shelter
silence in the wake of a bomb

he is an open hand
sunlight filling a cold room
laughter first thing in the morning

We are strangers,
choking on a new strain of fear
lodged like a peach pit in the throat.

Last night I held a friend’s hand,
remembered the splendour of touch,
light and sound,
woke up in darkness.

-Susan Richardson

Behind The Mask

The small, warm, bright flame on the candle flickers
the uncomfortable, inevitable breeze
bullying through cracks in the pane
of existence.
young and smooth, calloused from toil
family, friends and well-meaning strangers
shelter the stuttering point of light.
bursting with hope
overflow onto cheeks red and flush
with the absurdity of memory.

We knew this all along.

The wick is small,
burned down to an exhausted useless nub
in a pitiful puddle of self-extinguishing inadequate
evaporating wax.
For light there must be dark
heat only warms the cold
life must have death and
only having stood on earth can we soar to the heavens.

Soulful phoenix rising from life’s extinguished fire.

-Tony Walker


(inspired by all three works of art)

Distances keep breaking down
Everyday the distances break down
The numbers pile up

Somewhere someone is suiting up
To face the blast
Of the furnace, the ICU

Maybe they’re looking back at
Something in the mind’s eye
A day on some beach
Distances unimportant, swimsuits bright

The crematoriums are melting
Melting like colours into colours
In a painting that could mean anything
Could mean everything

Hanging there on the wall
Distracting the gaze, momentarily
Of someone somewhere suiting up

To face the blast.

-Jayaprakash Satyamurphy

Inspired by Kerfe Roig, “Distances” and John Law “Barmston Looking from Fraisethorpe”


How do we measure distance?

Between yesterday and tomorrow,
the light of long-dead stars echo

like a voice, a song, a laugh
lingering in memory, and dreams

that bridge the distance
between imaginary and real,

tumble over and over like waves–

but where does a wave go? And does it roll,
or unroll onto the shore as it picks up and deposits the sand,

each grain a part of something larger—
a rock, a meteor, a star—

the distance between before and now
a footprint on the beach, gone.

-Merril D Smith

She Breathes

deeply through the mask,
fixes her visor one more time;
another day, another thankless task
for unknown lives laid on the line
and in her hands.

She pulls
on another pair of soulless gloves
and closes eyes long drained of tears
for all the hurt and absent love
that will scar so many future years
and recalls the sands

as she awakes
on cliffs above the curving coast
and tastes the ocean in her mind
where ten thousand swirling ghosts
float with her, endlessly entwined
on a fine-spun strand

She returns
to flourescence, bustling noise,
as seascapes smear and snap the thread,
and vows to fight all that destroys
her memory of the gasping dead
of this blighted land.

-Tim Fellows


reshapes the coast of my thoughts, as I dress
for the wards. Long days check on patients health.
Every death prompts did I do less
than I could, or enough, relax myself.

From this promontory I observe all
the decay, distant tides undermine soft
sand, dislodge clay, design the next fall
of what am I achieving here, a death stopped.

For a time without proper PPE
we improvised protection against waves.
It is vocation for many, and me.
I smile at recovery of the brave.

My care for cases, focus on doing
gives job satisfaction, stops decaying.

-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.

4 thoughts on “Day 18. 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 18th.

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