A New Era for E17 by Susan Evans

But they’re a charity! This can’t be for real?

We need lots of signatures − we need to appeal!


Socialists are on board & there’s another meeting −

to find out who  can do what & who’s happy speaking?


We need to go to that & that & tell ‘em what’s what!

& we need to go to the press & tell ‘em the bloody lot!


We need posters in windows & we need to take to the streets.

We need to get on social media – petition on 38 Degrees!


We need another meeting − invite them that have `been there’

& maybe that bloke off the telly − if he’s still about & cares…?


Retired director & colleagues & guests from other professions;

we have legal & we’ll have surgeries; with one-to-one sessions.


We need to keep this up − we need to get on national news!

Practically everyone’s at work − who’s free for interviews?


We need another meeting − let’s have breakfast in the street.

Saturday, we’ll tell the passersby; as we talk & plan & eat.


We need to form an association & write a constitution −

we need more volunteers’, we need to march; we need a bloody revolution!


We need a fundraiser for court fees & we’ll need nerves of steel.

We need to support those about to jump; before pushed under the wheel.


We need to keep this going − It’s okay. It’s okay to cry.

The film crew are here now −get ready for standby.


We were due to be on the news tonight only Ronnie Corbett’s died.

It’s nothing personal; celebrity deaths are usually prioritised.


We need a silent vigil & we need to write another letter &

we need to appeal to agents, the bank & the bullies & make this better…


Local MP’s getting more involved − we’re all invited to parliament!

Let’s all hop on the bus & go & hope she makes a good argument!


We need them to step in & make an acceptable offer − help us mend & heal

& a complaint to the Charity Commission; about all that’s been revealed:


Charity sells out to private businessmen; without word – no negotiation.

Their former tenants’ homes auctioned off; while they’re still living in them!


`People Over Profit’ of all people they should know:

`tear heart out of working-class community’ was not the legacy bestowed.


Charity supports gentrification over social-housing; to maximise their incomes.

Locals are to be made homeless, while charity buys what? (with such large sums…)


Thank you Dolphin for responding to our letter & HUGE thanks to all who did their bit –

49 (of 63) families remain; looks like we largely did it!


Shame on you, Glasspool Trust– selling out was sorely misjudged −

as soon as we `discovered’ the deal, we said: `Butterfields Won’t Budge!’



This poem is designed to capture the journey, since January 2016 to date, of all involved in the campaign against the mass evictions of the residents of the Butterfields estate in Walthamstow E.17. The poem’s title is a nod to Hackney’s New Era Estate whom fought & won a similar battle against London’s `Social Cleansing’ & also helped to inspire Butterfields estate, in working-class Walthamstow, not to budge! Besides I am not a silent poet, more of Susan’s `protest poetry’ may be found online at: Dissident Voice & Proletarian Poetry, among other publications. Susan Evans is a Brighton-based Performance poet from Walthamstow E17. She was Shortlisted Best Spoken Word Performer in the Saboteur Awards, 2016. You can find her here:


Housing Demo 13 March 2016: Butterfields Won’t Budge


Trump Again by Ceinwen Elizabeth Cariad Haydon

Trumped by his own trumpery,
this ghastly gargoyle
who fronts ferocious fantasies,
decomposes dramatically
before our very eyes.
Beware triumphalism, sweet
relief or even boredom;
Trump came, obscene, but
not alone for all his grandiosity.
Watch the waters
for the hideous wave that breaks
and hurls
a new Satan to the shore
to haunt America’s
poor, her women and her people
of difference.
The new nuclear option
in this benighted, first-world

Ceinwen Elizabeth Cariad Haydon. Writing has always been important to Ceinwen as a private pursuit. Over the last few years she has started to write with a view to communicating with others. Her work is mainly short fiction and free verse poetry, although she is experimenting with different forms. She has had stories published on the Fiction on the Web and Literally Stories curated short story websites, and in Alliterati, Newcastle University’s literature and art magazine. Her Poems have been published in Poems to Survive In (Fat Damsel), Writers Against Prejudice (editor Marie Lightman) and In between Hangovers. Eventually, she hopes to facilitate creating writing projects with hard to reach groups. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

The recent history of Brazil in numbers. The characters of the coup. A poem by Adrian’dos Delima

1 judge of first instance that is incompliant with the law

2 presidents of the Supreme Court shitting to will of the people

1 slavocratic senator of agribusiness

X industrialists against employment laws

1 green senator who never speaks of the environment

1/3 of corrupts in 1 Congress

1 evangelical lobbyist kickback receiving congressman

1 homophobic apologist of torture congressman

55 senators shitting for the Constitution

1 new minister who had agreement to deliver the petroleum

Z American oil companies ready for invasion

Y global investors

1 illegitimate president unmasked by WikiLeaks

11 families who control the media

2 or 3 street movements financed by foreign moneybags

1 resentful high class

1 middle class that didn’t get rich

N black blocs that want to break anything

27 military polices spanking any contrary demonstrator

1 federal police investigating selectively

3 armed forces that have been omissive

M militaries spying on social movements

P hackers attacking on social networks

Q judges taking action at local level

Thanks to Gentil Saraiva Jr.



1 juez de primera instancia que imcumple la ley

2 presidentes del Tribunal Supremo cagando hacia la voluntad del pueblo

1 senador del agronegocio esclavista

X industriales en contra las leyes laborales

1 senador verde que nunca habla del medio ambiente

1/3 de corruptos en las Cortes Generales

1 diputado evangélico sobornero

1 diputado apologista de la tortura homófobo

55 senadores cagando a la Constitución

1 nuevo ministro que ha acordado entregar el petróleo

Z petroleras estadounidenses listas para la invasión

Y inversores eglobales

1 presidente ilegítimo desenmascarado por WikiLeaks

11 familias que controlan los media

2 o 3 movimientos callejeros financiados por extranjeros adinerados

1 clase alta resentida

1 clase media que no se ha enriquecido

N black blocs que quieren romper con cualquier cosa

27 policías militares que pegan a cualquier manifestante contrario

1 policía nacional que investiga selectivamente

3 fuerzas armadas que se han omitido

M militares espiando a los movimientos sociales

P hackers atacando en las redes sociales

Q jueces tomando medidas a nivel local



1 juiz de primeira instância que descumpre a lei

2 presidentes do Supremo cagando pra vontade do povo

1 senador escravocrata do agronegócio

X industriais contra as leis do trabalho

1 senador verde que nunca fala do meio ambiente

1/3 de corruptos em 1 congresso

1 deputado evangélico lobista propineiro

1 deputado aplogista da tortura homofóbico

55 senadores cagando para a Constituição

1 ministro novo que acordou entregar o petróleo

Z petroleiras americanas prontas para a invasão

Y investidores estrangeiros

1 presidente ilegítimo desmascarado pela WikiLeaks

11 famílias que controlam a mídia

2 ou 3 movimentos de rua financiados por ricaços estrangeiros

1 classe alta ressentida

1 classe média que não enriqueceu

N black blocs que querem quebrar qualquer coisa

27 polícias militares que batem em qualquer manifestante contrário

1 polícia federal que investiga seletivamente

3 forças armadas que se omitiram

M militares espionando movimentos sociais

P hackers atacando nas redes sociais

Q juízes tomando medidas a nível local

19 10 2016


For All the Sad Clowns by Antony Owen

The scariest clowns I ever saw
had faces of children in masks made by war
the rock-a-by-babies in cribs of a sea-shore.

The scariest clowns I ever heard
were men of parliament but not of their word
who vanished like magic tricks when truths became blurred.

Let me tell you of the saddest clown
they are pink balloons of flesh as children drown
who claimed the blue empire till it claimed them down.

The scariest clowns I ever saw
had faces of children in masks made of war
who sleep on restless sea beds as shells forevermore.

The saddest clown that ever chased us
hash-tagged and mourned as they faced us
we shared their deaths as their lives had displaced us.

The saddest audience I ever saw
wept for the clowns as they pour and they pour
trapezing from fourth worlds to the blue empires floor.

Focus by Dominic Albanese

when you
can go
to Vegas (or on line)
and get a bet down
on how
many kids today
are gonna get blown to bits
in Syria….Yemen….Iraq
or any other hell hole
in a never ending war for profit
easy as ya can on a *points spread*

ever notice how quiet the stands get
when one of the Gladiators goes down
Ima just have my coffee now
wonder where when n how
all this shit

Tipping – After Aberfan by Oonah V Joslin

They’d been making a joke it see,

was the worst. If you keep tipping

there boy, you’ll end up

in the Co-op! If you keep tipping

there boy, you’ll end up

in the Con Club. If you keep tipping

there boy, you’ll end up 

in Merthyr! If you keep tipping


But of course they kept tipping because

it was for coal, see. Because

it was for work, see. Because

people need coal and work

and people need money

and money makes the world go round



The natural spring that had been

for years welling up inside

shifted and the massive slick of dirt and slag

slid down its own flanks

malevolent as some black October trick.

No natural autumn leaves,

such a stain, such affliction


wrought by the National Coal Board

upon the innocent dead

being dug out to be buried.

Truth is that people need to survive to man and womanhood;

that we need to heed warning on past lips.

The joke’s on us

If we keep tipping

Beyond the chains of humanity by Dave Rendle

Chains of fear

from Gaza to Aleppo,

the borders of Mexico

to Calais where tears run dry,

people crying out for help

abandoned seeking dignity,

waiting for tomorrow to call

the imprints of fellow man

to release them from pain.


As the politicians daily calls

planting seeds of chaos,

with unblinking eyes

spreading darkness,

sadness falls and trust rushes by

hope keeps missing its targets ,

bitter taste is the daily harvest.


Far away tears of compassion flow

the winds of humanity blows,

trying to sprinkle some kindness

refusing to ignore or lose faith,

with freedoms banner speaks out

goodwill peaks out beyond the clouds,

delivering streams of conscience.

Emily by Maya Horton

21/11/1983 – 16/10/2006


I never knew you, not really, not in the way

that others did: that sharing-dark-thoughts

and communal experiences of CPNs, units,


tubes. But I admired you. You had something

I lacked: independence, courage. I craved your attention.

When you died, I cried. Played that Lou Reed song


over and over. How could I possibly do this

if you couldn’t? I absorbed the details, struggling,

feeling ever-more like the outsider, unwanted tourist.


One storm-night in Dunstaffnage I stared at gerberas

through smoke-warm windows: your favourite flower.

I read your poetry and was torn apart,


my own sink filled with roiling heartsblood.

One man saved my life with a single kind word.

Someone I trusted far more than she deserved


said, “not EVERY suicide goes to Hell.”

So I left my people. Just for you. And ten years

is such a long time to unpick all the strands


of abuse, trauma, body dysmorphia, body dysphoria;

acrid taste-sting over the toilet bowl. But I did it.

Bleeding and crying I claimed my body my own.


I wish you were here. There is no ending

to a story that’s ended. It hasn’t been an easy decade,

but I really wish you’d been here for it.

The Highway of Tears by Mary Franklin

I see her picture on a poster board

in a Prince George laundromat.  There’s

another on a hydro pole in Prince Rupert.


She’s seventeen, dark eyes, dark hair,

a wary smile.  M I S S I N G in large,

black letters above her head.  So many


girls and women have disappeared

or been found dead on this northern road.

Only one of these cases has been solved.


Beware young women who hitchhike

when they cannot afford a car or fare

on the daily Greyhound bus.  Beware.


Who is there to fear on the Highway of Tears?

A hunter, fisherman or salesman travelling

alone?  Someone local?  More than one?


What have these fir trees seen on Highway 16,

the startled deer bounding away, the eagle

soaring in the freezing air, the snowshoe hare


who pauses temporarily to sniff and stare.

Who is there to fear on the Highway of Tears?

Beware young women who hitchhike.  Beware.

Terminal City by Mary Franklin

I know I’m not supposed to be here

but where am I supposed to be?

he shouts.


Strobe lights flash.  Black-clad

robots of the Vancouver police,

their motto, Beyond the Call,

surround the young man.


I know I’m not supposed to be here

but where am I supposed to be?

he shouts.


Three in the morning –

the nadir of the soul.

Then darkness,

stillness, silence.


And the ears that didn’t listen

and the eyes that didn’t see

go back to sleep.



Mary Franklin has had poems published in various journals including Ink Sweat and Tears, Iota, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Open Mouse, The Stare’s Nest and Three Drops from a Cauldron, as well as several anthologies, most recently by Three Drops Press.  She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Poem In 10 Parts by Clara B. Jones

  1. Stay Informed & Up To Date


Law and Order® is his favorite show because the criminals are always white like in Appalachia not in Chicago where brothers want to be like 50 Cent® but don’t make the grade…he’s good but not the best in rap history because Trump dreams of a night out with Putin in Las Vegas…let’s help the women in our lives but Milania probably won’t donate to Planned Parenthood® if she has another son to keep Trump in New York…he’s a man with a plan & Marla said it was the best she ever had though Ivana said he was her first so she had no comparison…he has such good hands—goes out—does it—it works…hired a tech genius who bought Ram® trucks that put Trump in attack mode when he got involved in the mistakes that were made…Old Spice® started aesthetic revolutions but Trump forgot to send a thank you card to his professor for starting a complimentary subscription last Tuesday & buying Wendy’s® nuggets for an extra discount.



  1. Stay Away From Cyberbullies


Martin King knew Jay Z’s® father Reeves & they flew to a Dolly Parton concert in Nashville where she introduced Martin as her favorite evangelist before he introduced Reeves as his road manager—turning to Dolly’s band to give them a thumb’s up & the drummer Don Francisco waved a Cuban flag in Martin’s direction shouting Viva Fidel! before Dolly said Ignore him, he’s crazy but he’s a good drummer…Reeves asked Dolly if she knew Aretha & Dolly said they don’t run in the same circles though she once met Gladys Knight at a party…Dolly asked Martin to sing “Hard Candy Christmas” for poor kids in Appalachia & Martin said I’d be honored to Miss Dolly!…Reeves whispered Give her what she wants! since the law has to evolve with technology & it’s legal to maximize profits where media is the most important thing.



  1. Sorry, I Made A Mistake


Brooklyn is not that far away but don’t lose the profits I’ve already made…Castro is a relative who Trump hasn’t met so he’s flying to Cuba next week…what a deal—shop now—stay close to your phone though it won’t work down there…for five years I’ve trusted Trump but this won’t last forever…he is always looking for something but never finds it…X is a function of hedge funds & I regret that but Cheetos® are the best chips in New York…Queens is Trump’s home though he wants to try something else so lets set him up [What is he thinking? Does he like me? Take care of Trump—OK? I’m telling you he’s a good father!] I could operate the Tech Center & a company could fix Trump’s apps though Smart Phones are a substitute for sex & that’s a plus but all he cares about is Tic Tacs®…Trump has Imposter Syndrome but has no power in the Psych Unit & doesn’t want us to be friends if I can’t promise miracles since losing makes him sick & changes his daily routine…the monsterkeet is a flightless bird so the oil painting is Trump’s since the art is grotesque though his fortune cookie said Losing is better than winning…North Brooklyn is the murder capital of New York where all know the way though Trump suffers from a decentered self.



  1. Neanderthal


King’s movement had no impact after the 80s when Neo-liberals took over the cultural scene that might have been social experiments…the half-life of #BlackLivesMatter is shrinking—fractured by psyches changed by the rise of ancestry.com® so that I am no longer African-identified—knowing that of my many parts Africa isn’t the whole since the whole is greater than its parts…20% of my friend’s genome is hybrid & she is Neanderthal-identified—emigrating to Europe to live in the Motherland…my partner is Muslim-identified because she wears hijab since her parents in Nebraska cut her out of their will…my therapist is German-identified because she read Das Kapital—now basing her practice on Marx not Freud…I asked her whether Race is a social construct & she said No it is a personal narrative.



  1. Melania’s cat was stolen…


…though she is a native informant who switched from white to colored after her cat was stolen by Jamal who studies math at Phoenix U where his online teacher told him he can write his own ticket…Melania’s cat slept on her chest & purred unless he drank hemp milk after nine & lay on the couch licking the Barbie® doll wearing the dress Melania sewed from her black leggings that were always too tight after she washed them in hot water…the dress was easier to make than the lace shirt she sewed for Ken® before her cat bit his left leg off…Jamal bought Melania two slices of pizza & she ate them after dumping the cheese since she is a vegan who likes pepperoni more than any other topping though her cat likes extra anchovies…Melania was never good at math so she majored in Gender Studies but the only job she found was at the clinic where black girls go for free formula & to see their friends once a week…Jamal asked her to have his baby but she wants to wait until he graduates though she quit her job & learned to make soy cheese pizza that tastes better than no cheese at all…Melania still eats pepperoni since—as Jamal says—Everything in moderation.



  1. Ecosystems In Crisis


Breath is humid since everything depends on hydrogen & oxygen not on L=o=v=e—simple as the Linnaean system—brown Bothrops striking a leg waiting in the wet tropics while guerillas on Osa were riding bareback shooting endangered monkeys & a little girl in Ithaca picked white trilliums almost extinct in Tompkins County woodlands…when women make mistakes they are ostracized by Japanese law & today’s breakfast is poached eggs on seaweed with sea urchin sauce on the side or two croissants with Gruyère & arugala jam & as much green tea to please an addict—adding cream or soy milk—vegans putting dairies out of business…once a man had his way with me like my mother wanted to do me in all my private places & bat caves are dark & wet—guano on earth smelling of mold & dung…stagnant water mixing with flesh of dead carp & too much oxygen in the lake not too far from that café where you smiled at me—closing your laptop as I looked plaintively at Edmund who found you beautiful while I considered you moderately pleasing—a male cardinal subordinate to a macaw in flight above a population of epiphytes—mutualists of every legume in the forest.



  1. Habits Of Modern Billionaires


The new Acadia® has arrived¹ to shift gears from a chef’s inspired recipe for adults after a late night of drinking with a hedge fund trader living in Trump’s car under the Brooklyn Bridge with a stray cat named Sven…the simple fact is that Trump has power over the fabric designer who covered his chair in green chenille which his sister liked though he preferred Scottish plaid that reminded him of Brexit as he was flying to Stockholm where he treated a patient with social distress who needed Valium® to eat soy burgers without fear brought on by kitchen trauma caused by flat soufflés…food is medicine & cold tomato soup is sold in every Stockholm pharmacy except on Sundays when devout housewives order sour cream & quail eggs with squash or kale…Swedes have low cholesterol since fish is never fried in copper pans with lard so simple decisions save lives & technology proves that health is in the details if Trump shops at a pharmacy without calling first.


¹General Motors®



  1. Trump’s Utopia


Trump bought a pair of headphones so he could live in a bubble since people are annoying & noise makes him nervous…a girl at work won’t stop talking but he’s sure he’s not missing anything he needs to know—like how to fight rebels if the skinheads in Leister invade Asheville…everyone figures Trump is Irish-American but ancestry.com® showed his great-grandmother was Kenyan so now he is African-identified & moving to Nairobi but Ivanka said Dad you are crazy to think you’ll find work there without a British accent!…she is supportive but wants him to read Henry James to learn how expatriates adjust…Ivanka studied Counseling at NYU & told Trump he suffers from delusions of grandeur but she relaxed when he promised to talk to someone at the mental health clinic near Koobi Fora…he went to Kenya’s embassy to apply for a visa & the clerk asked him his race before he said I am a proud African-American returning to my Motherland—so she stamped his passport & said Welcome home Mr. Trump!



  1. Let’s Get A Drink Or Something


If negroes lose their benefits they won’t assimilate but like the rest of us the Atlantic Passage was a moment in History…if I had Trump’s speed the Kenmore® washer would make colors last & I could trace the origin of his calls because in the scheme of global warming how salient is Ferguson?…there’s a range of plans to choose from & nobody sells more than Trump since low-interest financing buys soy espresso…keep watching all day in order to trace those calls but Trump never gets back to me so it wasn’t my decision to make…all Trump is concerned about is not getting caught & in principle he is legally justified…there’s something going on if the scene is a power code & Trump loses his case in court because he shops at Walmart®…a basic oil change is 30% off & I need to deploy ten chances to win though Trump didn’t show up to deal because I didn’t call ahead…he has paprika-colored socks so brown rodents will arrive in twelve hours if the Property Manager keeps watch all day with sci-tech & the blurred distinction between life & art shows that perception disrupts the way Trump sees the world.



  1. The Unknown Notebooks¹


Basquiat wasn’t the only one distinctly different from his contemporaries because art-historical status made it into the galleries—Crash—Daze—Lady Pink—Futura 2000—muralists with all-over designs as major elements…Basquiat was however—as SAMO—artfully executed but nevertheless intended to convey poetry…eight of his notebooks display the Brooklyn Museum crowded with entries from 1980 to 1981 when Basquiat was writing & painting on walls—playing with his band Gray—making color-Xerox postcards which he announced to the art world…it was not entirely clear to him what painting was dated 1981-1984 1983 & 1985 from a year before his death at 27…in 1992 Rene Ricard wrote— artistic maturity would have manifested a poet… Basquiat was a poet…




…you can hear the Black Arts Movement & the stabbing rhythm from his writing on walls to his paintings before they are anything else…Fred Brathwaite—a.k.a. Fab 5 Freddy®—said You can hear Jean-Michel…




…the notebooks sound like fragments of scenarios of “routines” like William S. Burroughs—constantly sounding like Burroughs—the notebooks faithful artifacts of nothing as much as my own notebooks…

Basquiat was an avid autodidact—picking up music everywhere he went—sometimes immediately from girlfriends’ schoolbooks from packages from the streets & the skeleton of “Moby-Dick” that Basquiat makes his own…like a poet his notebooks consisted of a single tag so the words are sketched…

the letters are shapely on the page the addresses & phone numbers are scrawled…Basquiat was a poet by instinct…in Edo Bertoglio’s film “Downtown 81” he writes in the distance to form a powerful poetic image perfectly formed with its partners precisely in the wall…the poetry as it is would break down for the paintings replaced with words…these are for ambiguity to see words at play like signs on visual rhythm with verbal percussion…the words form a vast inventory & complex matters—as in 1983 from Africa to slave ship as a kind of riot addressed in rebus-like structures…his laboratory of overall gestalt from the same world of sound.


¹Found in T Magazine, 8 March 2015


Bio: Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, Clara writes about the “performance” of identity, alienation, and power and conducts research on experimental poetry. Her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues. Clara’s collection, Ferguson And Other Satirical Poems About Race, won the 2015 Bitchin’ Kitsch Chapbook Competition, and Autopsy, her chapbook of exploratory poems, was published in April 2016 by Gauss PDF.

Who Martyrs Who by Ananya S Guha

My soul searching
knee battering body
sways,as clods of earth
fall on the ground
thud, I hear there
is war coming
that is nothing new
rattling of  sabre guns
have always made
my head heavier
than I thought it was,
I wonder about others’
how heavy or light it is
thick skinned people
you know this rattling
will never never stop
in  these bare, austere
pieces of  the earth
you  know prayers will
not cease, praying with
one loving with the  other
love death in numbers
who  martyrs who?

Austerity Bites by Dave Rendle

There  is something in the air
and we breathe it everyday
a war of attrition
an ugly game of lies
as the politics of austerity
bites and pinches our lives.

Today, this country
is no gentle place
the sky full of tory toxitity
as they tear apart the welfare state
and so much more.

Easy to lose control
trying to feed hungry hearts
all we need is love they say
but on poverty’s line
it’s the only thing 
we have now for free.

It feels like 1979 again
but with more of a sting
as  politicians pickpocket
daily from our purse
and bankers bonuses still pile high.

Silence is not golden
time for them to hear us shout
beyond their false mirrors
no use just complaining
in the darkness we must sow light  
as they treat us with derision
time to drive these bastards out.

Oh to be in Africa, now the French are here by David Hensley

In the darkness

far from light

no longer frightened

of a fight

the boy crouched under dry ferns

listening for the rain that burns

and the murderous choppers

the vandal shoppers

the smiling traitors

the alligators


Easy blood to spill

is the blood you know

if another’s hand wields the blade

tis quiet now

a night away from the village that was

the friendly faces

now nailed to fence posts

the rooting corn untended

the rotting limbs uneaten

by the dead dogs


(lines originally written on the 1994 Rwandan tragedy, scenes sadly repeated across the continent in Congo, Sudan, and other places where the international community has failed to help the local communities)

The Scar From Her Past by David Hensley

She was young and beautiful

a postgraduate visitor

fresh from Nigeria

I was bold and political

a postmodern clerk

from Calderstones Park


We talked

philosophical shite

and laughed, late into the night


We held hands as if hands were going out of fashion,

at first furtively, later longingly

palming passionately


Towards morning

we lay


naked and breathless


I want you

so much

she murmured

I want you too


I’m sorry she said

I can’t

That’s OK

I lied


Touch me

she asked

my tender fingertips


towards her warm wet womanhood


But it wasn’t there

just a hard cruel scar


It was cutting, a childhood


she confessed

as if she had some responsibility

for her disfigurement

we cuddled

and cried until dawn

The Free Crows by David Hensley

A hard path, they said, the high path

to freedom, fortune and frankfurters.

A hard path it was, true, too hard for me.

You know, you saw me fall,

stumbling on the slippery stones

then rolling with them

into the ravine.


You knew not to search

for my broken body, too late it was

in the night, needing to cross

the border before dawn,

and too late for me.


How fitting I felt, as I fell

to die here, on this bed

of shattered rocks so like the broken bricks

of our village of hell.


There the first shells fell

into the schoolyard beside the mosque

scattering pieces of plaster

and of our wives and children.


In a better year, we would

have been there too, that day;

not away, foraging for food,

listening for the rustle of rabbits

but hearing only the blasts,

the crashes of collapsing masonry

sheltering the screams of our sisters.


So we did not really leave

our beloved land, it’s loveliness was lost,

taken from us

before we left, bereft.


Crossing the sea was frightening,

we grew so sick, but could not die

in her strange embrace: better

to die here, between familiar boulders,

carrion, for the free crows.

The Endless Repetition by Michael Peck

Even the preacher is bored
he reads the pages of the Bible
flipping them one by one
looking up to see
if anyone is listening
he hasn’t for years
neither have they
simply following the script
saying the words
singing the hymns
They have no light
in their eyes
they all come
for different reasons
fear, loss, nowhere else to go
Life goes on
they walk silently
from the churches
stone arched door
eyes not making contact
thinking about dinner
and the empty chairs
around the table
The TV’s distractions
about remaining young
late-night love
which has long been forgotten
while eyes tear
over one lonely plate

Lingua Anglica by Jacqui Rowe

European Day at Birmingham Literature Festival


You can time your journey

through this city by how long it takes

to hear a syllable of English. Twenty minutes

is the mean. Korean on the campus, Portuguese

on one end of a phone, laughing Spaniards

teach each other tic-kets on the bus.


Belarusian, Armenian, Hungarian, Bulgarian,

Gagauz, German, Greek, Polish, Moldovan,

Slovak, Yiddish, Russian, Rusyn, Krymchak

Crimean Tatar, Azerbaijani, Karaim, Romani, Romanian

are the languages of Ukraine. Writers war displaced

from Donetsk to Kiev use English to discuss

the role of conflict in their art.


You might fade from Europe. English won’t,

an Italian opines. Expunged of you and angst

and beauty it will morph into convenience.

Innocent of languages,  you won’t stop chasing

subtitles to Welsh and Scandi crime scenes.

Galicians, Poles, Germans, Turks, Swedes have

spoken English to you today. The end of hesitation

is where the poetry lies.