Summer Showcase – June 2015

Monday, 1 June 2015

Mandy Pannett pic

Mandy Pannett










• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases


Guest Editor – Mandy Pannett

Poems by  Julie Sampson, Nick Cooke,Pauline Harrowell, Juan Arabia, Stephen Bone, Ottilie Mackintosh, Alwyn Marriage, Nathan Evans, Lizzie Ballagher and Daniel F. Davis

Photographs by Chris Sims

Editor’s Notes

I received a fine group of poems for the summer selection in a range of styles that covered a fascinating variety of themes. The main ones were memories, nostalgia, nature (in all its guises), literature and writing, travel and home, people, places, buildings and occupations, war, science, families, sickness, depression, love and loss.

It was hard to choose just ten poems and my list of possibles kept changing. There were at least five more poems I would like to have included had space allowed. I hope my final choices will be interesting and thought provoking.

‘Return to Cheldon’ is a lyrical and imagist poem, beautifully crafted in sound and structure. This was on my list of choices from the beginning as was ‘Rotherham’ where the poet has cleverly used the metaphor of insects trapped in a web as a vehicle for political and social comment. I particularly enjoyed the idea of ‘cuter specimens’ contrasted with those of ‘darker and dimmer hues’. ‘Dinard Airport’ struck me with its poignancy and evocation of loneliness . The woman who has ‘just walked out’ leaves only empty bottles, deflated car tires and a ‘light veil of mould’ on past mistakes. I needed to read ‘The Man with the Wind Soles’ several times, each time with increasing enjoyment of its originality.  An intriguing, enigmatic poem.  ‘A Study in Sepia’ narrates the journey of a life of someone (never named  and told through faded photos ) that began with ‘a bag of apples, a rural drawl’ and ended with him ‘laid out: full regalia, medal glint’. This is a poem rich in images. I love the cadences of ‘Plane’ with its clever layout of short lines and longer passages, its repetitions and the whole tone of it which is both conversational and lyrical. ‘high humidity’ is a wonderful poem where evening mist is described through images of a friendly dog who welcomes ‘us’ home. Who could resist the description of it bounding ‘towards us with its lolling tongue/slavering our faces.’ I couldn’t. ‘The Chervil on my Windowsill’ caught me with its first and last stanzas in particular and its contemporary setting and tone. I chose ‘No Bluebells’ for the skilful use of repetitions, alliteration and assonance throughout. This, I think, is a poet with a strong ‘voice’. Last , but not least,  is ‘Weekday entertaining’ which is simply written and understated but I found very poignant with its description of musicians or roadies going from gig to gig with no time to say ‘hello and goodbye’.

It was a pleasure to read these poems and all the others. Many thanks for the privilege.


Mandy Pannett   May 2015


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


 Return to Cheldonbells


Empty air.

Our steps hollow on embossed stones.

The Dunns’ pew; silver threads

sparse on the appliquéd hassock;

no sound of his eerie tenor line

over hallowed Evening Prayer.

Still some villagers and incumbent professors

accept the sacrament once a month

igniting sacred air with electricity.

The new harmonium plugs in too.


You have no memories here;

mine are of shrouding window-sills

with feather moss,

weaving in the first rose, primrose,

adoring the warm perfume of daffodils,

of walking the aisle

in white, blissful senses

undetecting the innocent ceremony

was rooted in blood.


We step into the open.

I breath.

From a field across the road

a sharp scent of meadow-sweet

culls memories

but the cemetery gate

swings on one hinge;

its post,

supporting a clump of forget-me-nots.

I fasten the bolt.


Julie Sampson




Into a range of webs fall insects

from the cuter specimens like the ladybird

and tiger moth and the most brilliant green dragonfly

to ones that won’t be much missed

except by the most devout of bug-spotters.


Of course the party line will remain

that all have equal value in official eyes

but you only need glance at a photo

of a spectacularly angelic child

up against ones you wouldn’t want your kid around


to see that gnats and millipedes and daddy-long-legs

and flying beetles of the darker and dimmer hues

command less priority in the real world

and will writhe and kick to their last breath

in traps that are known of, but still live on unheeded.


Nick Cooke



Dinard Airportwalk out


The roof leaks;

no bucket to catch the drips.

Blue paint flakes from the shutters.

Bakery bag, stained cup, empty bottle

are all that remains of her last meal.


Her ear still deaf to the language,

defeated by difference,

debts and doubts crowded in.

One day she just walked out

leaving the dust of dreams to settle.


She left her car at the airport.

Weeds sprout; the tarmac wells up

around deflated tyres.

On the car a light veil of mould

grows over past mistakes.


Pauline Harrowell





The Man with the Wind Soles


«If we are absolutely modern—and we are—it’s because Rimbaud commanded us to be».
—No, that’s a lie.
Rimbe never said you could talk on his behalf
From your 5-star Hotel Lautréamont, 
From the self-complacency of university
And Utah hamburgers.
—No, No… Gentlemen!
first thing first:

I’ll dream tonight

That your eyes are Rimbe’s eyes

Like the goodness of a woman who lies

And of whom I only request a lie.



Well, we unloaded the cart:

Just a few bottles of wine and Rimbaud’s poppies.

We grew up without realizing so, and now we wait on the road.

At least we were close to people and their land,

Even though all of our habits were corrupted.


In the beginning, the town was light-blue,

The sun woke us up and left us giddy after noon.

We were the shiny grapes of summer,

With our peel we stripped the wind bare.

It’s not hard to understand

That the eternal needs to spill blood.

They are only surprised of what they daren’t do:

And I find the sea, I see my face

In the lizard mirror…

And though the night is cold

I won’t die for being here.

Although they postpone the communion,

I can kill God, writing “He’s dead”

On a chair.


 Juan Arabia


A Study In Sepiasepia


Ten years before,

perhaps he walked

mud caked miles

to take the shilling,


nothing on him

but fourteen years,

a bag of apples, a rural drawl.

But here


in this sepia noon

he’s made his mark astride

his plaited mare; twirled

topiary of moustache


bayonet sharp, stare

square faced to the lens appraising

a world he’ll put to rights

with cut and thrust. Then


to lord it in Jaipur

a fanned and rickshawed wife;

sons of the Empire born in the foothills

away from heat and dust;


later still dank Aldershot,

marrow growing, pale ale,

rain forest and savanna baring

incisors on the Sunday parlour floor,


where hair frosted with age

he’s laid out: full regalia, medal glint,

ceremonial sword, a sentry in his box,

upholder of the peace.


Stephen Bone




My friends are all getting on planes.

My friends are all getting on planes and going away to faraway places.

My friends are laughing on trains that travel the sands of strange lands, holding hands with this thing called happiness, and I am anxious that I am missing the ride, that happiness, if it exists, is more likely to reside on the banksides of the Ganges than in the coffee shops of Surrey,

I see it winking at me, at tops of mountains and bottoms of seas, down there with the coral reefs, at ends of rainbows, in places the sun goes, in firelight twilight and starry nights, outside of the things that we know, going slow, and breathing deep

I keep wondering

About thundering monsoon skies

And warm waters at high tide

And horizons burst wide,

And my instagram feed is fed full with quotes that important people wrote about how you won’t find contentment by staying at home,

How life is short and time is fast and you’ve got to live each day as if it were your last, and do things that are frightening because you’ll be old like lightening and these cause me to feel a tightening in my chest and I bet my friends are having so much fun, out there in the sun, I mean they’ve only just begun, there’ll be loads more photos to endure of them on a dessert tour with braided hair and tans, increasing their life spans, and oh there’s one of me, in that bar that smells like wee on the crossroads in Hackney,

But you see,

I like it here.

And all this fear is not of their clear skies and opened eyes,

but of missing out on being satisfied, alive, we are all terrified of that, the worry that we will be sorry, as we die, that we didn’t see Dubai or Shanghai,

but I like it here. I like beer gardens and blossom even if I have never seen a possum, I like the train ride to Waterloo and the skyscraper views, I like dusty breathing when the tube comes squealing, I love this city’s pretty smile, her low-key style, her pastel orange skies above the river, our sliver of that bigger ocean where I will be floating in good time but for now I’m fine with this smaller kind of happy held in my hand while my friends are in other lands.

Because happiness, for me, comes at the bottom of a mug of tea, when I stop to breathe, and see the luckiness of me, and know that I could go in search of sun and fun and still not find the beauty  I see in the dapple of the apple tree on the corner of my street.


 Ottilie Mackintosh





high humidity


wet and white, mist wraps around

an all but disappearing world


insinuates itself between

the needles of the pine


spreads darker shadows on the lawn

leaves smears along the path


and pokes its interfering nose in crevices

where insects try to warm themselves on stone


then bounds towards us with its lolling tongue

slavering our faces, welcoming us home.


Alwyn Marriage


The Chervil On My Windowsillcooking


You were three for a tenner

in the market under the flyover:

I picked you out with a couple of others

and handed the money over.


The man placed you carefully in a carrier,

I brought you home, gave you water,

left you outside the window there

and hoped for decent weather.


The sun shone:

you felt its rays on your fronds

and responded with aplomb,

green fingers exploring new environs.


With no thought but the present,

you seized your moment.


And in what seemed no time at all

you were big, you were beautiful

(and tasted good too

in a salad or a soup).


But then something changed:

I came home one day to find,

like nacred parasites in a clam,

little white buds nestled in a palm.


And each day more –

little white flowers

thrusting further

into your future.


So preoccupied were you

with florid thoughts of tomorrow

that you forgot your viridescent mantle

and it withered and it yellowed.



A jaundiced skeleton,

this morning I cut you down,

almost to the ground:

your flowers I binned,


your leaves I picked over,

then served on some pasta,

which I sit by the window and savour

as you sit and glower.


Perhaps you’ll shoot again,

and so the cycle will begin,

but no flowers for you next time,

the scissors are to hand.


In future we stay present.


Nathan Evans



No Bluebellsfields


On a May Eve bluebell walk,

Beneath the opening canopy

Of shrill green beech leaves singing

The breeze song, the first spring birdsong,

Were there bluebells?


No bluebells:


Closed for late snow and cambric skies

Cast over with the quilted clouds;

Low, close to the ground,

Wrapped still in glossy green,

Not blue. So, bluebells?


No bluebells, but


Furrows sown with soft spring wheat;

Fields blown, blurred with rain,

And birches bent back, silver

As snow in the warming breath

Where buds should break and burst:


No bluebells, yet…


The cool, clarinet blue

Of cuckoos, cuckoos calling,

Breasting clouds and the valley’s cleft:

Cuckoos belling, blue,

True bells; May Day benedictions.


Lizzie Ballagher



Weekday entertainingbar


Six pm, you pick me up,

I carry wine, hidden in blank container,

this way we can relax across town.


It’s raining, so we must run the gear in quickly,

a grand greeting from our hosts,

the guy at the desk is a gent we’re told,

later he grunts and reads a book while we play.


I look out from the tubes,

silhouetted, swaying heads,

baggy and slim fitted jumpers,

belie conventions, for today and maybe tomorrow.


Disbelief is a-tuned to the back of the room,

exit makers, while the whines expand without solid control.

This is fine, but different with two bottles of wine.


Once they were all standing with fingers in ears,

I wondered why they stayed,

but a muted drone was the order of the day.

Exit stage left, we left.


Stood, smoked too much,

reloaded our instrumentals,

couldn’t find the others,

will say hello and goodbye, next time.


Daniel F. Davis



Mandy Pannett works freelance in the UK as a creative writing tutor. She has won prizes and been placed in international competitions and has judged several others. She is the author of a novella The Onion Stone and of five poetry collections: Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books), Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing), All the Invisibles (SPM Publications) and Jongleur in the Courtyard (Indigo Dreams Publishing). She is the poetry editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly and is also editing the forthcoming anthology ‘Poems for a Liminal Age’ (SPM Publications) in aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres.