Day 29. 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 29th

Day 29

JL29 Waxwings


-John Law


-Jane Cornwell

KR29_concentrate on hearing voices_wombwell

Concentrate on hearing voices

-Kerfe Roig


(Inspired by John Law’s 29th Painting – Waxwings)

“Do you see those passerines?”
The man in battered trench coat repeats again,
“Do you see those, those waxwings?”

“Beneath those swinging cherries of this mid-spring?”
The girl in Prussian blue counterquestions.
The fading man reiterates his query in the beginning.

I see those two from my bench, and although I see no
waxwing in the quarantined park,
they can sit in a nook where my eyes cannot traverse.
I see the grandfather and his tiny companion.

Both keep repeating themselves – one’s memory
circles in a slippery cotton-mouth tarn,
and the other’s runs in circle for the fun.
They have split the spring between them,
releasing the birds and the berries from the deepest crevice of time.

-Kushal Poddar

Fire That Burns Away All Fears – A Sonnet

When the world outside is quiet and calm
The choir of voices singing in my head
Fills my being with the singing of psalms
The echo sounds of dreams I long thought dead

Passions stubborn spirit refuse to shed
Visions burning clear in my thirds eye’s sight
My core even though abuse has me bled
My walls can no longer contain the light

The choice becomes, slowly die or shine bright
Trust there’s life time left for another choice
Spread my battered wings and let dreams take flight
Believe there’s stories to tell with my voice

Let truth be my shield and my words my spear
My pen the fire that burns away all fears


Coeliac bird god

She jokes that I’m some kind of deity
to sparrows. Every morning, manna
flows from the back door to the feeder
via this two-legged conduit. I don’t tell her
that a self-made god does this kind of thing
at least a little selfishly. To fend off a life-
long struggle with purpose. The certainty
I breathe for any reason in particular
has escaped me, and this body is not godly
in any way that matters, struggling too
in its ridiculous ways – simple bread
an indigestable substance, even a crumb
slow poison to it. Forever hungry
and jealous and clearly no transubstantiation
will happen in this temple. And yet,
barely awake, I find my hands again full
of stale risk and crusts of purpose, a heel
of godhood, dangerous only to me.
Take a step back. Another. The door
is barely shut and pale flames alight
to consume the feeder in a flickering miracle
of birdy fire. Offering accepted, gone,
and in the glow of it I wonder
who’s really blessing whom. I can’t blame
anything exotic for the warmth inside,
we’re too far south for mythic wicks
of waxwings, far too damp
for a phoenix. Sparrow paradise must be noisy
and strangely polite, the way they queue
for their chance at the bounty.
I hope a bird god doesn’t need to eat. I hope
a bird god has no purpose at all
except to carry bread. I hope for morning,
at times like this when my hands clench
completely empty in the dark. She sighs
in her sleep, the tail of exhale
a whistle, a chirp. Tomorrow I hope
to feed something until it’s full.
God, or not.

-Ankh Spice


Listen to the pulse of the world,
beating with bird wings,
the heart of friends so soon gone.

Nothing lingers.
Time hangs by the slenderest of threads,
gossamer, moonlight, the touch of a hand,

listen to the soft whispering
of leaves falling.

Listen to the wisdom in tongues
we cannot speak, listen
to the language of eyes
and the dance of feathers.

Nothing is wasted, nothing frivolous,
no coloured crest, no striped, spotted,
dappled coat,
no gaudy flash of scales or feathers.

Beauty in its infinite variety
is at the heart,
listen to it speak.

-Jane Dougherty


after Cavafy

He fashioned wings with only wax
and the largest feathers he could find.
Their course to safety mapped with care.
His son, a dreamer, felt the rush
of clear breezes through his hair.
Spiraled, swerved and glided
ever closer to the sun.
Looking back, the craftsman wept
as Ikaros fell helpless to the sea.
The wax had gone, the feathers
floating free and cast upon the wind.
Don’t fly too high, don’t dream.
Just let the wax stiffen
and cripple your wings.

-Tim Fellows

Concentrate on hearing voices

Swift, fatal messengers in the sky
They must only fly for the elect
Or this year would have seen
Day at night, such starred light

They must only fly for the elect
For the fortunate few, giants that fall
And know a forest falls with them
The heavens have never been for us

Or this year would have seen
Inconsolable rains, downspouts of tears
Tears from stars and garlands from space
The heavens have never been for us

Day at night, such starred light
The heavens will never show us
Conquerors are the ones who listen the sky
We groundlings only try to hear each other.

-Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Inspired by KR28

Listen for the Song

in the wine-dark night
for sailing ships, diamond bright,
they carry cargoes of mother-dreams,
the birth of when and then and why,
and all the new-born cries
of star-kissed light—

but all the comets, streaking bright,
no portents cry, no signs of will or won’t–
no constancy—just light.

Yet concentrate on the soulful sound,
of shimmering stars, and all around
hear the ringing ding dong ding
as bird-winged they twinkle-sing—

now watch as the comet phoenix-flies,
and listen as its call from ashes rises
not fate, fortunes, nothing symbolized–

simply light and song—
what you wanted all along.

-Merril D Smith


I stood in a room full of emptiness
my eyes closed
a breeze or a breath
touched my face
I heard voices

-Simon Williams

(inspired by JC29)

She is the sunlight
penetrating my sorrow,
her appetite for love
She always finds me
when I am sad,
kisses my tears away,
reminds me
what it is to feel joy.

-Susan Richardson

A Museum

of Waxwings, Silktails, Chatterers, earful
of bells trill from berried branches, some drunk
on fermented juice, perhaps a jugful.
Concentrate on hearing voices, those sunk

into your head. Blake tells us the flea told
him ghosts of fleas are souls of bloodthirsty
folk, so behind flea in powdered gold
paints comet falling majestically.

The fallen star of a dog is hugged, licks
face of care, as if it is kissing warmth.
Soon it will leave earth to be a cold nick
of light in a night sky, and care will mourn.

Voices of those we have lost can be heard,
preserved as a much treasured phrase or word.

-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 29. 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 29th

  1. Pingback: April poetry challenge day 29 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Pingback: Listen for the Song: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 29 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

  3. Pingback: Fire That Burns Away All Fears – A Sonnet – The world according to RedCat

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