Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday Review

The first of our four poems this  week was The Boris Bridge by Janine Booth, a deft,  brisk and scathing comment on Boris Johnson's plan for the construction of a so-called 'garden bridge' over the Thames where the public will have no right of way and 'No bikes, no rights, no access after dark'. Regular readers will know that Boris has not infrequently featured here at Poetry24  going back, for example, to 2012 and my own Holding Out For A Hero. Things haven't improved since then; in fact, taken overall, the situation seems much worse.

Tuesday brought us another, very different but similarly frequent visitor here. Rose Cook's poem, simply but engagingly entitled Russell Brand Talks About Revolution, is a response to a video in which Brand talks to Guardian columnist Owen Jones. Russell Brand begins the interview by talking about his early life in Grays in Essex. He describes the sense of despair and alienation that he experienced in that environment. Now, whatever else you may think about Brand - and regular readers will know that I like him - you can take it from me that he is a hundred percent right about Grays. I grew up in the village of Aveley where Grays was a short bus ride away. It was bleak and soulless. It did breed disaffection. I left in 1984 and, returning there quite recently, was shocked to feel the emptiness and see the consumerist squalour of the town,

The third poem of the week was the very powerful Culling Humans by Jacke Biggs which bore witness to some of the lives lost to welfare 'reform'. We at Poetry24 deplore the fact that such a poem should have to be written. On the other hand, since it clearly does need to be  written, we are proud to be the first to publish it.

Out final poem, A Story of Our Time, the work of regular contributor, Luigi Pagano, focuses on another shameful state of affairs, the fact that a report has now concluded that organised child sexual abuse is, after all, 'widespread' throughout the country. Some of us who are survivors of such abuse. whether 'organised' or not, have been trying to tell them that for decades. How is then so that, still, so many people turn their faces away?

Well, a bit of a bleak week here but important work has been done. The good news, though, is that this evening, Saturday, at The Melting Pot Cafe, Krowji, I will be attending the book launch for Wave Hub: New poetry from Cornwall. This is a new collection of the work of Cornish-based poets in which I am proud and grateful to be represented, The book has been edited by Cornwall'a own Dr Alan M, Kent, academic, poet, novelist and dramatist, and published by Francis Boutle. More details are here. Have a good week.

Abigail Wyatt

Friday, 28 November 2014

A Story of Our Time


Vulnerable girls
are roaming the streets
with older men
who give them treats.

They are taken by taxi
to so called parties
where Ecstasy pill
are supplied like Smarties.

What with the drugs
and strong alcohol,
the wretched waifs
are out of control.

They fall in love
with Tom, Harry or Dick
but they have succumbed
to a diabolical trick.

The chosen sweethearts
don’t really care;
all that they want
is that their mates share.

The girls are passed
from pillar to post
and very soon
their innocence is lost.

And when they realise
it is physical abuse,
it may be too late
to be of any use.

People are deaf
to their cry for help
and dismiss as fantasists  
the reckless whelps.

Now at long last
we all know the truth
and can render justice
to the wronged youth.

Some of the victims
do no longer feel failed
as their exploiters
have finally been jailed.

© Luigi Pagano 2014

Luigi’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He has published three poetry collections: “Idle Thoughts”, “Reflections” and “Poetry On Tap”.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Culling Humans

They are culling the people now,
the ones that, they say, don’t play a good part
in the wonderful ‘big society’.

They must be made to pay, they say,
the ones that are a ‘drain on the state’,
the ones that can live no other way.

Elaine Christian drowned under the strain
of the ‘work capability assessment’.
She was found dead in an English drain.

There are many more who have elected to die;
people like her, who see no other way
to live with this Government and its lie.

They cut her benefit and left her destitute.
She jumped with her son. They died under a car.

Richard Sanderson could not go on
after a letter from his council told him
that his housing benefit was now all gone.

Grandma Stephanie Bottrill couldn’t pay her bedroom tax,
she told her son to blame the Government
and walked in front of a lorry on the M6.

Martin Rust was ordered back to work.
He knew he could not go, and
the only answer he had was to go berserk

he hung himself when his HB was reassessed.

David Groves faced a medical ordeal;
he died of a heart attack
while he searched for a way to make an appeal.

Leanne Chambers jumped in the river.
They told her she’d have to work, and
there was no more money they could give her.

Stephen Hill died of a heart attack
after they said he was well enough to work,
and there was no reason he couldn’t go back.

Mark Scott was left completely penniless.
Declared fit for work, his benefits were stopped.
And like all the others, he died of hopelessness.

They are culling the people now,
the ones that, they say, don’t play a good part
in our wonderful ‘big society’.
We owe them a full roll call,

but we cannot know the names of them all.

Jackie Biggs


 
Jackie Biggs is  from west Wales. She has had poetry published on websites, in magazines and anthologies. Some of her poetry appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk
She performs her work at live literature events all over west Wales.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Russell Brand talks about Revolution

His mother must be proud after all,
fighting addiction isn't easy. Clean now, 
his intelligence, quick as fish, darts fast.

Her brave boy, thrown helter skelter bipolar,
finds ground.
Fear travels quickly, love a little slower.

Expressive, misunderstood,
the cynic's clown,
the people's narcissist

but bearing witness,
sharing truth.
Do you step up?

©Rose Cook



Rose Cook has had three books of poetry published. Her latest collection is Notes From a Bright Field published by Cultured Llama. She is also a photographer.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Boris Bridge

Roll up! Roll up! for BoJo's garden bridge
We hope financial footfall will be brisk
A tourist trap for paying patronage
No groups of more than eight - a 'protest risk'
Some sixty million pounds the public pay
He raised the cash by cutting transport staff
But don't expect a public right of way
Just troubled water and a Mayoral laugh
No bikes, no rights, no access after dark
Our public funds misused to privatise
It's no more than a plundered pleasure park
A Tory-governed London bridge of sighs
A private perk like Johnson's cable car
This really is a Boris bridge too far

Janine Booth


Janine Booth performs poetry as The Big J. She is a London resident, socialist-feminist, trade unionist, railworker and writer.www.janinebooth.com

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Review

Abi had the Monday poem this week with the very fine ‘The world’s going crazy… (nobody gives a damn anymore’ – from Brother by Ray Davies) which tells of the current state of things using the commemoration of World War One as an example. Abi sums it up with:
somewhere, another ‘hero’ falls;
as men fall dead are widows made;
yet still we love to dig a grave.
Cleveland Wall's poem "The Better Part of Valour" was Tuesday's poem about a convenience store robbery and the effect it had on people. I like the way that the incident occurs but not many are aware of it. 
Go home, you seekers of snack foods
and cigarettes, and think about what
has happened and what has not
.  

Gary S. Watkins had the Wednesday poem "Zombies" which has a bleak future view, but shows the value of being informed about what is happening.
Our lands and waters poisoned,
Homeless people die,
Soldiers fight in foreign lands,
The zombies shuffle by
.

On Thursday, Sue Norton in "The blind sculptor who thinks everyone should touch art"
illustrated some of the beauty that is around us that people can provide. There's some lovely imagery to enocurgae the reader to think about the sculptor and the sculpture. 
blown silks of stone rippling across a veiled
head turned aside to the right, arms trailing
swathed as if with weeds by flowing water 
 

Friday's poem "The Book of the Unclaimed Dead" by Alejandro Escudé  Looked at the practise of "unclaimed dead" and what it means. A very nice observational poem about a subject that society is not keen on thinking about. There is a lot of very good imagery and philosophy in this poem.
The books are kept in a church-like room,
But the bones in the boxes form only accidental crosses.
The body is simply wrapped in a white sheet
That will not survive the holy imprint of a face.

Have a good week everyone, keep submitting your poems and give some thought to being an editor at Poetry24 next year.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Book of the Unclaimed Dead

The bones are stacked in boxes to be ground up
And mixed with the rest of the body’s ashes.
The workers at the crematorium use long poles
To push the bodies into the furnace, and a book is kept.
What jolts one are the infants and the still-born:

Permit: Feb 17, 2011
Smith, Kimberly.
B/G [baby girl]

Their ashes are placed in paper bags then filed in a metal drawer,
Like a library card catalog, under fluorescent lighting.
A long, inharmonious squeak to open it.
Some relatives are only interested in the certificate.
One worker warns, from the shores of the Styx,
“Just keep in touch, you don’t have to forgive.”

The man who keeps the book says he feels it is a service,
Something akin to love. He’s past retirement but loves his job.
He says his son will claim his ashes.
That’s important, that word, to be claimed.

Sometimes the usual bookkeeper goes on vacation
And another person has to record the names.
At least six names to number and spell out every day.

The book starts in 1896. That book, the oldest one, is very thin.
As if death had later hit a boon, an industrial surge
In the heavens, calling more souls to the fill its stations.

The books are kept in a church-like room,
But the bones in the boxes form only accidental crosses.
The body is simply wrapped in a white sheet
That will not survive the holy imprint of a face.

Workers heave the white figures into the furnace.
The 2011’s are set to be buried in a mass grave.
All those tiny packages and boxes, three-lined addresses,
Bound up manuscripts, tracked but unclaimed.

Alejandro Escudé


Alejandro Escudé is the winner of the 2013 Sacramento Poetry Center Award. His first collection, "My Earthbound Eye," is now available on Amazon and at www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com .   

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The blind sculptor who thinks everyone should touch art


It was a masterpiece which remained
out of bounds Do not touch even
if blind, even if a sculptor yourself


so friends described it, measured it, modelled it
for the blind sculptor so that its form imprinted.
He’s able to carve his own re-creation.


Imagination enables him to hold in his mind
the memory of a form of beauty
the ridge and fold, the crease of it


blown silks of stone rippling across a veiled
head turned aside to the right, arms trailing
swathed as if with weeds by flowing water


feet pointing up, webbed with a fine gauze,
the swirl of drapery revealing only gradually
the secret of the recumbent figure


the instruments of torture
pliers, a discarded crown of crumpled thorns -
for this was a dead Christ. But touch this one:


it makes the blind see and unlocks revelation
even for the sighted, whose hesitant fingers begin
the work of translating an entirely foreign language.
© Sue Norton

The blind sculptor who thinks everyone should touch art 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Zombies

People out of work,
Hungry children cry,
The 1% get richer,
The zombies shuffle by.

Our lands and waters poisoned,
Homeless people die,
Soldiers fight in foreign lands,
The zombies shuffle by.

Activists petition,
Politicians lie,
No future for our families,
When zombies shuffle by.
Voter Turnout in Midterm Elections Hits 72-Year Low

©  Gary S. Watkins
Gary writes poems and short stories for fun (and occasional burrito money), Gary's a member of The Dragon's Rocketship writer's group. One day, he hopes to tackle a full length novel.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Better Part of Valor

“I am robbing you,” the robber softly said,
his note a cipher to the cashier, wisp
of an impulse sketched in soft pencil,
paper rumpled soft like flannel. Sh.
“I am robbing you,” he said, wavering
fuzzy on the closed circuit screen.
No sound. No overt threat.
The cashier might have slipped him
her own note: “No, you’re not.”
Instead, she handed over soft bills
and crisp. He went his way and after,
the manager said, “I’m sorry”
to the waiting customers.
“We must close now. We have
been robbed.” 


          Go gently. Sh.
Go home, you seekers of snack foods
and cigarettes, and think about what
has happened and what has not.
You, sir, on your night-shift break—
put down your sandwich and go.
There is no supper for you here.
Quiet has stolen into this place—
nothing further to retail tonight.
Robbery at Convenience Store

© Cleveland Wall

A co-worker of mine was actually in this shop at the time of the robbery and didn't know about it until after the robber had left!

Cleveland Wall lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, where she routinely refrains from robbery. She is a recent resident poet at Lehigh Valley Vanguard.

Monday, 17 November 2014

‘The world’s going crazy… (nobody gives a damn anymore’ – from Brother by Ray Davies)

The world’s gone mad, it seems to me.
We’ve lost our heads and cannot see
it makes no sense when those in need
must bear the blame for corporate greed;
and how can it be right that some,
a few, have much, the many none?
The world has truly lost the thread:
it honours those a century dead;
yet, even as that silence palls,
somewhere, another ‘hero’ falls;
as men fall dead are widows made;
yet still we love to dig a grave.

In this is not our madness clear?
Were it not so, then we would hear
the words of those who went before
and, fighting, spoke the truth of war;
and then, I think, we might despise
the adman’s specious, mawkish lies
and those hawk their souls for gain
by selling chocolate in the name
of all those men who shed their blood
for love and peace and not for goods;
and then, perhaps, we’d plainly see
the lie they call de-mock-krassy:
the world is now as it was then;
if we must fight, it’s us and them.

Abigail Wyatt


Abigail Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home near Redruth in Cornwall. After a lifetime of sticking her neck out, sometimes she grows weary of the fight. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Review

This week we began with At Our Work Place by E.E. Nobbs in which brevity belies power. I was particularly struck by the starkness of the final lines:

New words, now:  Learn what they mean. 
—Radicalized—Vigilance—Resilience— 

Marc Woodward's poem Poppies was similarly striking and drew much favourable feedback on our Facebook page for which we are most grateful. Please don't forget, though, if you have the time, to comment on the blog itself. It is so validating for the authors who have given generously of their work by submitting.

Wednesday's poem was Love Thy Neighbour by Samantha Bernstein who was commenting on a story that I found most disturbing, the threatened arrest of a ninety year old man for feeding the homeless.
Then, on Thursday, Jackie Biggs gave us the 8,000 hands which was both chilling and beautifully written. Thank you, Jackie, for tackling this most painful and daunting of subjects.

Our final poem of the week this week was The Poetry of Party Political Debate by Peter Raynard which, with a touch of light-heartedness, took us back the present laughable of British politics. Since all I have to say on that subject is 'Don't get me started' we had better leave it there. Have a good week and write lots.

Abigail Wyatt

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Poetry of Party Political Debate


The Tories are clear where they stand
With Sonnets and couplets to hand
They will rhyme like old Will, so to sugar the pill
Of more cuts that will blight this fair land

Labour prefers to go back
To Blair’s speeches on which they will tack
Some lines from a Poet, who’s far from heroic
And will do all he can for the craic.

The Lib Dems will use pretty prose
Whilst the people take hold of their nose
It used to be sick, to agree with ‘cool’ Nick
But now the whole land will say No.

The Green Party have one MP
Who says it’s the Haiku for me
In seventeen syllables, one can be very clinical
In saving some old trees and a bee.

UKIP are asleep at the back
After six pints in the Woolpack
They think poetry boring, hence all of the snoring
So dream ways to deal out more flak.

The gallery which is packed to the rafters
Now suddenly explodes into laughter
What they’ve heard has been jokes by the Westminster folks
So they’ll hack WikiLeaks for the answer.

©Peter Raynard
 


Peter Raynard’s poems have appeared in South Bank Poetry, New Left Project, Happenstance, and Verbatim Poetry. He edits the blog proletarianpoetry.com, featuring poems of working class lives from various poets. @proletarianpoet; @peter_raynard

Thursday, 13 November 2014

8,000 hands

Black shadows under trees,
the bodies lay by the road for days.
A team in white space suits
zip up the body bags, but
there is nowhere for them to go.

A dead man’s nine children gather
with others across the street,
a strip of mud between them and disease.
Thirty stand in the shade there, ‘to be safe’.
There is nowhere for them to go.

These children have touched the virus;
there are no foster families,
no reception centres, no welcoming arms,
there is nowhere for them to go.
Aid workers can only offer soap.

Asked if they have lost a parent to ebola,
each child puts both hands in the air
and stands in the silence, to stare.
4,000  will raise both hands today
to make black shadows across paths of mud.
No one will touch them.

There is nowhere for them to go.

On The Front Line in Sierra Leone
Ebola's orphans
© Jackie Biggs

Jackie Biggs, from west Wales, has had poetry published on websites, in magazines and anthologies. Some of her poetry appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk
She performs her work at live literature events all over west Wales.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Love Thy Neighbor

"Drop that plate," the cop said,
like the plate was a gun.
Grabbed the ninety-year-old pastor
(to ensure he didn't run),

hauled him to the cruiser
and gave him a fine
for the crime of allowing
homeless people to dine.

For twenty-three years
they have met on the beach,
when the reporter asked why,
the pastor had this to preach:

Here in Fort Lauderdale
it's the most beautiful view,
and these people deserve
to enjoy it too.

We feed gourmet food
to over two hundred souls,
and we're not going to do it
stashed in some hole.

These new ordinances
have a straightforward cause:
the rich people control
the ones making the laws.

When I come back tomorrow,
I expect they'll take me to jail,
I'm a bee in their bonnet,
though I'm old and frail.

And so we have this simple fable:
the protected beach, the empty tables,
those who horde the fruits of others' labor,
and those who survive on the love of their neighbor.



Ninety year old arrested for feeding homeless.

© Samantha Bernstein




Samantha Bernstein is a PhD student in Toronto. Her memoir *Here We Are Among
the Living* was published by Tightrope Books in 2012.



Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Poppies

If poppies grew uncontrolled
and choking not on wasteland
but on the walls, doors, machinery
of armaments factories;
not in a fake haemorrhage 
around historic buildings
but on the benches of parliaments;
if they crowded into disuse such places 
where wars are dreamt and manufactured,
then there would be no need
to stand up straight,
pin scarlet paper on our chests,
listen to politicians sermonise 
- then watch those 
same swift hypocrites forget.

Marc Woodward














I'm Marc Woodward, live in rural Devon and have been published in a number of magazines and websites including The Poetry Society website, The Guardian site, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Broadsheet, Forward Press, Otter etc. My blog:  http://marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.co.uk

Monday, 10 November 2014

At Our Workplace

We're in lockdown because of Highest 
Importance email updates
and Directives from National Headquarters;
because 1300 kilometers away (800 miles)
a reservist is shot while guarding
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 
and dies there. See his big 24-year-old smile:
photos of him with his dog. He has
          a young son.

A woman at the scene does what she can:
I kept saying close to his ear —
          'You are loved.' 

New words, now:  Learn what they mean. 

—Radicalized—Vigilance—Resilience— 


E.E. Nobbs

E.E. Nobbs won the 2013 Doire Press International Poetry Chapbook Competition. She's the author of The Invisible Girl which can be ordered from http://ellyfromearth.wordpress.com/  and lives in PEI, Canada.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Reveiw

Something went wrong with the posting mechanism on Monday so we did not have a poem that day. This meant that the first poem of the week was "Maybe the End of Days is Near" by James Lee Jobe. I think James gets the mood of the times very well here. These are too interesting times. The final two liones sum it all up very well.
How can we defile the earth and not expect
The earth to gather its final fury and expel us?

Wednesday's poem was "Squares" by Niall O'Connor which looked at the other side of the mood in that people are starting to get fed up and do something. This weekend 1500 people in New Zealand marched against the secret trade deal our government  are trying to negotiate with the US and others. They marched in Auckland's Aotea square, Niall because, as you put it so well :
we pulse with new found freedoms,
ubiquitous in our reach.

 Thursday's poem was "The Scar" by Lindsay Oliver which gives a very honest and clear account of the damage that child abuse does. It is a very well written poem which fully examains the devastation around this terrible and widespread crime.
This scar holds a secret in an outstretched hand,
sculpted of mud, branded by rain, and etched in sand.

This scar was lit by a slow burning fuse.
It will bend you, break you, force you to choose.
Sue Norton's poem "Written by Mrs. Bach" was Friday's poem which looked at some all-to-common sexism prompted by Andrew Lloyd Weber's dismissal of some of Bach's music being written by his wife. One has to ask how long these sorts of prehistoric attitudes will last. Really.
So say those arguing she helped author
some of her husband’s work. Madness. A woman?
Calm down, chaps; it’s unworthy of discussion. 
 I hope you have a good week and enjoy the poems, here. Remember that we need people to replace Abi and I for next year so please have a think about giving it a go. Full training will be given.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Written by Mrs Bach



Formally Anna Magdalena, an

accomplished singer, gifted musician,

manuscript copyist. His second wife.

Bore thirteen children, devoted her life

to their family, his genius. So

she composed some of his great works? We know

she had servants to help, sister-in-law

to share the daily household grind, the chore

of management. Scores surviving in her hand

show no heaviness, suggest the quick and

deft corrections of a true creator.

So say those arguing she helped author

some of her husband’s work.  Madness. A woman?

Calm down, chaps; it’s unworthy of discussion.

Andrew Lloyd Webber downplays Mrs. Bach



©Sue Norton