Autumn Showcase – September 2014

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Archive of all Poetry Space showcases

Guest Editor – Thelma Laycock

Thelma Laycock/Courtesy of Indigo Dreams Publishing

Poems by  Claire Coleman, Joe Jordan, Lizzie Ballagher, Ann Wuehler, Michael Docker, Jo Waterworth, Ndaba Sibanda, Roger Elkin, Gerda Mayer and Carolyn O’Connell

Photographs by Chris Sims, Steve Aukett and Roger Elkin

It was a great delight to sift through so many varied poems.  The chosen poems are those with clear imagery, making the poem visual as in ‘On Leaving Maryland’ by Ann Wuehler.  Her accumulation of images passes on her emotions and dislike.  Other poems have the same clarity but also comment on social injustice as in Michael Docker’s ‘Shirtless in Prague 1995’ and ‘A Soul in Solitude’ by Ndaba Sibanda.  In ‘Turbulence’ by Carolyn O’Connell, ‘Leaving’ by Jo Waterworth and ‘October’ by Claire Coleman, the poets contemplate the unsolved problems of sleep and death.  Coleman’s poem makes the month of October into a metaphor for an ageing person, ending in a memorable Larkinesque last line.  Gerda Meyer presents the reader with three snapshots of Regents Park in Autumn as does Joe Jordan with the filmic ‘Passing Deer’.  ‘White Phlox’ by Roger Elkin gives beautiful images so that the reader can see their pastel-lavender and sense their ‘cool distancing’.  ‘Woods in Tapestry’ by Lizzie Ballagher is an outstanding poem, celebrating Autumn with both imagery and rhapsodic language.  Most appropriate for an Autumn showcase.

Copyright of all poems and photographs remains with the poets and photographers. Please do not reproduce without permission.


Chris Sims


You are still full of beauty. Though not so full of yourself

you are not half empty, so you can suddenly turn to me

and say “what a lovely invention of God’s; flowers”

looking at those I’ve brought from my garden


and you’ve asked me, and asked me and asked me

again to name them for you. This is our point in time.

The stones on the beach age infinitesimally.

The clouds melt and meld moment by moment.


Everything changes, leaving only love.


Claire Coleman



A Soul In Solitude


That old ragged man lives alone in a homestead devoid of human voices

Only his occasional coughing and sneezing give the passers –by

An inkling of the presence of   a soul in that secluded home



They wonder what he eats in that state of seclusion or isolation

They also fail to attribute his lack of contact with people to something

For it may stem from bad relationships or loss of loved ones or deliberate choice


Does he enjoy his loneliness? Why does he live away from everyone else? From

Human interaction? They ask themselves many questions as they throw cursory glances at him

He looks at them as if reminding them that solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely.


Ndaba Sibanda

Chris Sims



Chris Sims


Windows open heat seeps in
stretchy trying to sleep
deep within darkness
far off guns boom

who are they when will
they come? The chill
of battle fills my soul

shall I stay, can I go
but this is not war
but the peace of night

what I hear is an aircraft’s flight?
Far away the last plane’s gone
to land in China but noise goes on

as the city sleeps repairs repeat
cleaners sweep, stranded carp,
twenty miles away I weep

waiting sleep.

Carolyn O’Connell


Roger Elkin

 White Phlox


Not Persil-white, but

the kind of white that at petal edge

slides to violet or pastel-lavender

as though holding its own shadow

in their five-petalled fulness of face.


Like bridesmaids gathering in huddles

under full sunlight

it’s their quietness that hurts:

that, and the stately catch-glance of their gaze

or when they bow – oh so slightly –

as if admitting an only moment of inclusion

and giving you permission to look.


Otherwise, it’s that cold-shouldering

of specialness gone to their heads,

that cool distancing

borrowed from whiteness

and that sticky sweet-sickness smell

that cannot stop them from

giving their presence away.


Roger Elkin


Three Autumns in Regents Park


The footballers
dance in the mist
it muffles their shouts;
in muted colours
they rise
through the mist
through the trees.

And once again
the high stem of my heel
roots in the damp
leaf-mould for conkers –
too late.

Can’t you remember –
your father threw sticks for them
and you carried them all off –
years ago…

Under a tree
St Francis
in an old mac
preaches sermons                                                 Gerda Mayer
to the birds
from a crumpled brown
paper bag

Steve Aukett















You could try the stealth method –

guilty first-time mother at the nursery doors.

Hope no-one notices until it’s too late.

Leave others to deal with the distress –

hope it won’t take long, or ruin lives.


You can delay it. Talk about it.

Try to prepare each other for the known unknown.

You can not mention it, this tacit elephant

swept under the rug where forbidden things lie.

It’s the scariest monster.


You can look forward to it,

the next big adventure – release

from drudgery and pain.

Wait, longingly, for that moment

when it doesn’t matter anymore – you’re gone.


You can dread departure, cling on

by fingernails, anything, anything.

You can dance with it, sing to it,

make a joke of it,

become obsessed, imagine it daily.


You can make it a drama in five acts

or leave with no fuss at all.

Whatever you do, the odds are

you will have little choice in the matter,

and you can only do it once.


Jo Waterworth


Chris Sims

 Shirtlesss in Prague 1995


An old man takes off his shirt in a street in Prague,

Tourists in a chic café watch and smile;

It is always like this with the poor and rich:


Nothing much passes between them but smiles.

What else to expect this velvet summer when

An old man takes off his shirt in a street in Prague.


But the streets know better, they have a music

Their own. The old man plays it, though he knows

It is always like this with the poor and rich


He has violin dreams, communist memories –

A Prague Spring day in Wenceslas Square.

An old man takes off his shirt in a street in Prague


Who was young when the tourists were Nazis, who aged

While the world recited from East to West

‘It is always like this with the poor and rich’.


He plays for the tourists. At their thin coin he smiles.

An old man takes off his shirt in a street in Prague.

It is always like this with the poor and rich.


Michael Docker


Chris Sims



On leaving Maryland

Oct 24, 01


This landscape of density–

bays, capes,  chunky rivers with salt currents,

Chesapeake, St. Mary’s, Magothy, Elk, Patapsco.

Those highways, byways, freeways, cloverleafs, turnpikes;

no road going where it should, no direction sane or logical;

towns designed by blind, malicious children

with better things to do that day.

Summer in Annapolis– a creamily green jungle of humidity,

oppressive like a moist fevered hand against the face.

Not like the sagebrush-smeared lands at all.

Where everything is seen,

where everything is measured in miles,

not the time to get there.

Too many trees in Anne Arundel County, boles

dark and fulsome with mold and mildew;

the iron of my wind chimes turns red overnight.

I can’t remember how to think here…

The fan’s little motor hissing beside my bed

and my skin riddled with sweat and pores and odd hairs.

And the winter before, the heat did not come on.

They have gas here, pilot lights and little blue flames.

Always out, unlit, hidden beneath, out of reach of my short arms.

The drawbridge going up and down for sailboats,

the neighbor man offering to show me and my friend

his one testicle, the other he’d lost in Vietnam.

Someone placed the ocean here.

But even that blue beast has to endure weekend sailors.

Ann Wuehler


Chris Sims

Passing Deer


Driving through Richmond Park today,
We stopped to watch the deer pass.
They took their time,
Pausing to sniff the wind,
Making as if to cross, then stopping to crop the grass.
A stag sauntered on to the road,
Then stood to look our way,
Not at us, for in our little shells
We were as rocks, or mounds, mere shapes,
Insignificant bumps in the landscape.
No, in all his antlered pomp,
He looked above us, over us,
Into the grassy, tree-thronged distance,
And, having surveyed his demesne,
He walked slowly to the other side
To crop fresh grass,
And the beautiful, submissive does
Followed where he led.
Meanwhile, we sat meekly, humbly, the common herd,
Waiting for this royal progress to pass.

Joe Jordan


Woods in Tapestry


You taste the burning of sienna oaks,

The searing smoke of red-hot sumac leaves,

The sweet-and-sour, sharp-tongued chestnuts;

Saffron sycamores,

Turmeric trees

All spiced and smudging into autumn.

Today you taste the full earth dwindling down.


You hear the ringing of a million coins,

Shaking and spendthrift on a silver tree,

And the low weep of yellow-livered willows;

The march of mosses,

The slow seep of water through the stones

All soft and sifting into autumn.

Today you hear the rich earth dropping down.


You see the mass of layering cloud wads,

The turreting flock and fleece of them,

And the banked up brass of fearsome marigolds;

At the back-hand slap,

The black-edged snap of frost

All cruel and cutting into autumn,

Today you see the bright earth darkening down.


Lizzie Ballagher

Chris Sims

Thelma Laycock lives in Leeds.  She published her own poetry magazine, ‘Gabriel’, for eight years.  She has had three pamphlets and one full collection published and a second collection will be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this year.  Her work appears in various magazines and anthologies.  Some poems have been translated into Hebrew, Italian and Romanian.