Autumn Showcase – September 2016

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Guest editor: Andrew ScotsonAndy Scotson


Poems by Colin Bancroft, James Laurie, Nick Cooke, Cihan Serce, Lizzie Ballagher, Moira Andrew and Gill Lambert

Photographs by Chris Sims.

• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases


Editor’s overview

I very much enjoyed reading the large and varied selection of poems submitted for this showcase, and the many topics chosen. I also loved the many different styles and forms. My one criticism is that some poems were simply too long. Sometimes less is more and poets need to get an image across whilst keeping the reader’s interest.

Please scroll beyond the poems for my feedback.



Wheatfield with Crows


That summer, in Auvers-Sur-Oise, he watched the wheat fields change,

Catching the shift of light in his paintings, as though in some strange

Way they represented him, his life. He arrived in the village subdued

By storms. He craved to be rid of Saint Remy, hoping for a solitude

Expressed in the letters he sent home. He took a room at the Auberge Ravoux,

Bed, dressing table, cupboard, and from the window he admired the view

Of the thatched cottages and the railway bridge. Each day he walked

Out into the countryside, stumbling perchance upon a field stalked

With wheat, capturing its beauty underneath a thundering sky

And each day he would return there to paint the field, by and by

The thunder lifted from his mind, to be replaced by clouds, clearing.

All the time the harvest of his wheat was nearing;

And no one will ever know why that morning he chose

To fire the gun and set to flight the blackened shroud of crows.


Colin Bancroft


‘All day it has rained’


The garden licks cracked dry lips – at

the first teasing drop, it lies limp, open-limbed

in glorious surrender.


In tubs and pots, flowers shudder with

pent-up desire, eyes closed, as they gulp down

every last warm drop.


Colours spiral out of control, for gold

read grey, for yellow, gunmetal – green multiplies,

deepens to almost-black.


Unremembered sounds – a whisper in the grass,

a shushing of high-hat brushes, the surge and spit

of overwhelmed drains.


In forgotten colours, in stripes and dots,

flushed umbrellas bloom, monstrous mushrooms

thrusting into liquid air.


Tongue slack, lips swollen, the garden relaxes

under a watery sun, in the heady aftermath

of wanton indulgence.


Moira Andrew


Lemon Light                                                                      


Day comes up full of willow buds

Yellow as yellowhammers

And dusts the grass with daffodils,

With flaring saffron crocuses.


Between long cirrus clouds, citrus light shakes out

The splash & flash of goldfinch wings.


An early brimstone butterfly ascends

Creamy yellow on skeins of invisible updraft:

Away, it lifts away, drifts away

Over banks brimming with primroses.


And now on the morning of the springing clocks,

Here in this first week of a northern spring,


The flame has turned,

Sun’s fire has burned

From winter’s crimson plum

To spring’s bright lemon light.


Lizzie Ballagher








How I Want To Be Remembered

Sometimes my dad would get drunk, red wine usually, sometimes rum and coke. A habit he

said he picked up from a folk festival he once went to in Portugal. I remember he just said he

had this vision of Dulcimer stuck in his mind. Dulcimer in a bikini. Dulcimer in a bikini,

crashed out on a sunlounger.

Dulcimer in a bikini, crashed out on a sunlounger,

with a

bottle of Captain Morgans by her side. That’s my dad he

always had ‘a thing’ for fiddle


And when he did drink, the stiffness and awkwardness would disappear and, in those

moments, he would open up and shine. I remember that night he showed me his records

and we enthused over the vinyl and the picture discs, the album sleeves and the artwork and

the little brush he taught me how to use to clean the dust off the old LA Guns album before

crashing guitars filled the room from grooves of the black spinning disc. I would never have

dreamed of the magic of that little black brush, how something so small and innocuous could

sweep away the years of dust and wipe the slate clean, releasing the sounds and the

memories from another era. His era.

And from there who knew what might unfold? Ticket stubs, photos, autographs, picture

discs, stories, poems and poetry books would come pouring out. We’d talk about art and

music, read poems and stories until, at some undefined point, the spark would just go out.

Without warning. That was it. And I always waited and I always wished it would return


James Laurie




I walked past you yesterday

I saw something in your eyes that I hadn’t seen for some time

It looked as though you were hungry

Maybe you were

Your clothes were ragged

and you needed a shave

There was a faint smell of ale emancipating from you

No, it wasn’t faint, just familiar

Were you my father?

Did you have a father?

Or just a mother?

You never answer me

I still don’t understand just who you are

Or why my eyes are drawn to you

each time we cross paths


Cihan Serce




Behind every door


From the top-deck, windows wink –

no wonder, they’re the keepers of secrets,

only they know what goes on behind

closed doors.


Think of the small day-to-day secrets –

where the tea-bags are kept, the box

with spare string in, the half-bottle of Gordons’,

spoons, screwdrivers.


Sometimes it’s more embarrassing,

the stash of condoms, lacy black bras

and knickers lurking in the bottom drawer –

just in case.


The cloned semi looks so innocent,

geraniums burning in their baskets

by the door, a teddy bear sitting on

an upstairs sill.


Like unwilling observers, windows

bide their time, keeping up appearances  

as they brood over broken promises,

cracked hearts.


When the going gets tough, they

drop blinds like eyelids, pretending

not to notice lost tempers, flying fists,

tempestuous tears.


If they find a guy hanging from

the loft-space, neighbours shake their

heads in disbelief, kept himself to

himself, they say.


With not so much as a second glance,

we pass these rows of houses, blue doors,

red doors, an abandoned bike, windows

shining in the sun.


Moira Andrew



The boys from school are building houses.

One’s on the roof, the other’s putting

windows in. Mates now, though back

in class they hardly spoke. Banter

falls and rises through the floors; seeps

into damp plaster on the walls.

Ninety degrees and rising on the tiles, he wipes

the sweat away and smiles as she walks past –


he’d know that wiggle anywhere, though

it’s years and years since he was there.

She’s not yet past her best and well aware

that she’s still turning heads.

Looking up, she sees him, familiar

through the grey and lines of middle age.

It comes back to her – a sweet, brief fling

at seventeen. Dropping her gaze,


she catches another face, framed

in a brand new window.

The earth tilts, her heart rate hits

its apex, a million secrets pass

between them in one look.

Touch and taste and smell in equal

measures. She walks away, her world

back on its axis, their lives in parallel.


Gill Lambert






On meeting a celebrated author


All day, his star quality has been

Quietly apparent: the trim, lean figure,

The glove-like suit, that famous creased grin

So querying of himself and of the world

That every word is a shrug, a raised eyebrow.

By his side, others, equally fêted,

Seem to slouch, look their age, not to have heard

Of a single type of ambiguity.


And this is why they’ve seated him

In the exact centre of the room, although

In terms of the greatest prize he should give way

To someone more peripherally placed.

As I rise to make my speech, his eyes

Are first sympathetic, then steely,

And when I seek to evade them I find

He is my Big Brother. Afterwards,


Despite my sense he’s now avoiding me,

I insist on shaking his hand. Nice speech

Comes from the grinning lips. And in the forty

Or fifty seconds he grants me I can tell

Everything I might want to know – the bemused

Nature of his grip on the mantle,

And the lack of fire within: both the source

Of his elegant strength, and the very cause


Of the skilfully concealed stagnation

I’ll bet he self-acknowledges every night,

Slowly unknotting his tie… The critics

May not agree with him, but have they grasped

The limits of his ambition? I felt

I did. Meanwhile, the crumpled rival

Had long since taken flight: no doubt to seethe

Himself to sleep, and awake in flames.


Nick Cooke

Last day of summer

Week 45 - Chris Sims

Summer stretches into the distance,

lizard-greens unfold

on the trees.


We have hope … sit in the sun,

share the first sweet fun-sized



We watch swallows abseil

the skies, bluebells unfurl, pinks flaunt

frilly knickers.


We watch poppies fire up

their brief lives, flirt scarlet skirts,

lipstick smiles.


Next up, June sunshine scorches

the grass, days leaking past in

a haze of heat.


Begonias and geraniums march

into a fierce July, spelling mid-summer

in capital letters.


We see rudbeckias unwind, sunflowers glow,

their serious eyes blinking

against the light.


Summer seems forever ….  until August ambles

round the corner, the rains come …

forget to stop.


Exhausted flowers lap it up, sucking, gulping like

hungry babies … heads drooping

to sleep it off.


Now, on this last day, the sun remembers

its manners, teasing, burnishing pale petals,

lack-lustre leaves.


Losing hope, we snatch at late sun … watch the farmer

make hay … dry yellow grasses spewing

from a red tractor.

Moira Andrew


Conversation North of Home


North of home we left our shoes

At the end of the broken boardwalk

And stepped onto the sand as onto holy ground:

Barefoot beside that ageless water


Of time, of change, of passion—

Barefoot and silent by the fast gathering ocean,

The steely Atlantic looming north

And the sun shooting point-blank in our eyes.


Blinded by that sun your eyes framed

Only the brilliant gloss,

The gritty softness under sinking feet:

Impossible to see ahead to future shores.


But I, so dazzled yet by you, could see

Not sand, not sky:

Only hear birds pattering

In mocking emptiness behind.


Turning east again we wondered

At the crazed grey footmarks on the sand

And I said, Are those the steps of the sane?

And you said, No indeed:


And stretching over the dune

To pick one last purple flower, you said,

Don’t let me go, now,

And I said, I never will.


Lizzie Ballagher







Editor’s notes

Wheatfield with crows

I enjoyed the story telling style and the atmosphere created in this piece. It has an ominous feel; you can almost smell the corn and see the clouds gathering. The last line reminds me of the Don McLean song and I’m sure this was intended.

 ‘All day it has rained’

In the current heatwave, the whole piece has us becoming the garden, feeling the thirst, the growth, seeing the colours and the vitality.

Lemon Light

I particularly like the repetition and the quick fire rhymes given to us, “splash and flash of goldfinch wings” draws the exact image in your brain. Each flower and plant become crystal clear.

How I want to be remembered

I love nostalgic poems and stories about old records so combining the two was a winner with me. It reminded me of my own father and times listening to scratchy dusty old records. A simple story, very much enjoyed.


A chance meeting with a stranger. the smell of alcohol, eyes following the person on the street. Lovely, albeit sad portrait.

Behind Every Door

A story of a journey and of observation. The casual, almost comic style and the precise description “small secrets” behind the blinds leads me to imagine the million things hidden by “blind like eyelids”. This is a great read.


A different view of the building site scene, we see him and her and get an image of the emotions connecting the two.

On meeting a celebrated author

This piece paints a very realistic picture of this meeting and draws us into the situation. You can visualise the room and imagine the conversation.

Last day of summer

A tale of seasons. We see the progression precisely and beautifully described in very few words. I like the verse about the poppies in particular.

Conversation North of Home

 This poem is a blend of sight and feeling, the sand, the sun, the reflections and the light.   My personal favourite from the selection I found it atmospheric and it made me want to read more work by this poet.  I did not fully understand the whole piece yet loved the overall feeling it evoked.                                                               


Andrew Scotson is 54. He lives in Daventry and is married to Jeanette. He has a degree from Leicester Polytechnic and lived in Leicester for 40 years. He loves nature and hill walking in particular.He has climbed 72 Scottish munros and all of the big lake district mountains. He enjoys reading and history. He writes a lot of poetry, some of which has been in anthology collections and on line magazines. He works as a transport planner for a major supermarket. He previously worked in independent record shops for many years. He has just had his first pamphlet collection published by Poetry Space.

Come As You Are cover