Spring Showcase – March 2018

Monday, 26 February 2018

• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases

Guest  editor: David Norris-Kay

David Norris-Kay

David started writing poetry in 1968 and his work has appeared in many anthologies and poetry journals. He has won prizes in competitions including a £250 cash award for his poem ‘ Autumn’s Reflection’ . He writes in various poetic styles including Free Verse, syllabic, and traditional rhyme. His definitive collection ‘ From Time-Buried Years’  (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2009) is now into its second edition and third reprint. 

Bernard M Jackson, international review writer, poet and teacher, writes in his forward to the second edition: 
“Despite this modest poet’s assertions to the contrary, it is decidedly apparent that David is a versifier of extensive accomplishment, with noticeable leanings towards the traditional genre, as his fine included sonnets, villanelles and well-ordered quatrains readily reveal. The timeless quality of his work, brilliant in portrayal, and abounding in assonant and alliterative detail, is sensuously imbued with poignant memories of childhood days, and an openness of love for    those close to him who had ever been so vital to his day-to-day existence.” 

Editor’s overview


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to edit your Spring showcase. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the submissions, all of which are worthy of publication. Having to adhere to the rules and pick just ten poems, means having to disappoint the majority in favour of the minority. There were a few spelling mistakes, and punctuation was rather too sparse in a few of the poems, but that didn’t distract from the overall quality of the submissions, which impressed me. I was looking for originality, avoidance of cliches, good construction, and a fresh approach to the subjects written about. I found a plethora of these qualities in all the submitted poems, but especially in the ten I’ve chosen. The inclusion of two poems from two of your poets, points to the excellence of their writing, which covered all the qualities I was looking for.                

(Please scroll down below the poems for David’s comments on each selected poem.)

Please note the copyright for all poems and images remains with their creators.


Chris Sims


Found Objects


She had always been a lover of found objects:

No walk along a beach or through a wood

Could be complete without a small and precious haul.


Her rooms were filled with thoughtful scatterings

Stones sculpted by time, veined with quartz

Or coloured to a shade she had not seen before


Pieces of glass, smoothed and rounded by the sea

Blue, green, sometimes – enthrallingly – red

Broken bottles whose fragments of message she could read


Shells curled or curved in intricate geometries

Some shaped like tiny vessels as by a miniature

Potter’s hands, glazed with abstract flecks and stripes


Twists of branches, weathered, gnarled, lichen-stained

Driftwood washed up by the tide, remnants of rusted metal

Clinging on, the faded lettering of some trader’s name.


They’d come and go, her casual collections

Some returned to nature, moved into the garden,

Become curious presents for certain special friends.


But there was one among those relics of a careless world,

One she’d made her own, loved and kept close by:

Inexplicably, miraculously, me.


David Prior


The Gathering


clotting to a swarm,

bees cluster, hived, honeyed,

and the flood of flowers’ goldenness,

its goodness, curdles in waxen combs

then drips


drops of rain gather & pool

in the cool of luminous, birdsung mornings,

chill to crystalline til dawn:

to ferns, to frost-flowers’

silver, not gold, drooping


looping brambles roll out purple gouts of berries

among the arches, hoops of briars…

leaves pause—still—hang, turn colour,

cut themselves adrift,

float free, fall, yellow


swallows throng & flock on wires, on branches

where knotted hazelnuts fatten from green to brown,

where conkers tighten,

brighten to a gloss

and drop…


while in the tops of lime trees

or under all five bars of country gates,

spiders garner pearls, beads

of air & rain to string

on threads’ fine silk


as milky clouds thicken,

giggles of girls along the path clutch one another

with terrible tales,

and squabbles of boys taunt each other, lifting sticky fists

all the way to school until


spilled newly out at dark, stars polish whiteness in the sky,

streak, spark, strike out light

we have not seen in summer’s paler nights:

swarm like bees to ring the turn of this slow-burning

time of gathering


Lizzie Ballagher


After Shearing



she looks frail and undefended, 

older, barrel-bodied, stick-legged,


her lambs, half grown, rush her,

butt her belly, latch on, tug


dry teats, tails scribble empty air.

Pale as peeled wood, she stands


wide-legged, facing the wind, sunlight

haloes her shorn head, ears upright as blades.


She stares ahead, staggers as they root,

waits till they unlatch, then moves


downhill, stoops, crops the grass.

They run uphill and vanish out of sight.


An easy letting go, no teenage angst

parental confrontations, tears.


Jenna Plewes

From Jenna’s collection: Pull of the Earth (Indigo Dreams Publishing)


Ancient Ones


Under the standing stones,

Beech roots reach to lesser stones,

To slender bones. They know

The voices of the ancient ones

Who walked these hills—

Yet keep their counsels safe.


Pocked, pitted by wind, by water,

Sarsen stones without a sound

Absorb old mutterings

In the long-forgotten tongues

Of wandering ancestors:

Recording, reciting runes of…


The journey of bedraggled travellers

Who passed across the Kennet here.

The brush of auroch pelts against their sides.

The chip & hack of antler tools

At the raising up of ramparts for a chieftain. The swell

Of chalk & mud. The spill of blood.


Sleepless guardians, now, they are,

Greywethers for grass-grinding sheep,

For mumbling cattle (slow & sloe-eyed).

Witnesses they are to the distant calls of children,

To footfalls of unremembered families—

Clans long cloaked in greedy darkness…


But witnesses also

To the rustling return

Of brightness:

To gold leaves, green leaves

Hung on beeches, or on birch trees—

And to the blaze of summer days.


Piercing downland haze, heads above the mist,

Stones sing to hail the sun again

And with the semitones of hill & wind,

In languages of the ancient ones,

They thrum & murmur:

With scarce a sound they lift the crackling, lilting light.


Listen! These ancient ones,

These stones, will long outlive us all:

Our wanderings & our walkings.

Hush. Hush!  Under clouds

They are humming the songs

Of travellers over the land.


Lizzie Ballagher



Roses in a time of war.


There are three blooms left on the bush,

Pale, polluted, near the end of life,

Spring’s late contaminate of summer green;


All the rest have long since passed.

These deadheads bring transubstantiation,

Heading the new wood twigs with death.

What do the three blooms mean?


Like soldiers drawing breath

On our behalf, our pale, white nation,

They are polluted, might be gassed,

Might draw the death’s head through a life.

I might prune them, intervene.


All around there falls the hush

Of our complicit silence in this last

Of summers, endless with the bloom of life.

No pruning, no examination,

No axe laid at the Shibboleth –

What do the soldiers mean?


At home I garden, try to save the rose.

Too long neglected, it is wilful, resists my knife.

Then one, two, three, the blooms fall. Not worth salvation

They join the deadheads; the pruned wood gasps

Beneath the axe-head, welcomes the death

That comes as sudden as the rush

Of a military machine.


Michael Docker



A Child, Writing


I watch you find words and write

chew your pencil, frown

and listen to your thoughts,

net them like butterflies

to scatter down bright and

pattern-dashed on the page.


Your spelling is yours.

Following Shakespeare, the words

serve your voice not a dictionary.

When you read out-loud

your shy voice skims the air,

my ears strain to catch your story.


If your darker demons break water

do not fear their inky-splashes.

I will listen and sit by your side

until your monsters drain of power

and decompose. Washed in

fresh waves you will swim free.


Ceinwen Haydon




I set my foot upon the path

lay down the baggage of the years

accumulated dross

and cupboard skeletons

shed judgements preconceptions

questioning analysis


Do I seek a mystical experience

with each slow convoluted step

or respond simply to an invitation

to expect the unexpected

feeling the grass cool between

my bare earth connected toes


I bear my gratitude cautiously

unsteady but determined

to reach the centre

release my fears and tears

within the heart of prayer

that may be there


lightly I retrace my steps

unburdened in some sense

I cannot fathom

beguiled into believing

in miracles


Jo O’Farrell


Drawing a Pair of Hands


Low evening light

strips away flesh

outlines bones

the thin covering

pleated between fingers

knuckles pushing through skin

like a mountain range.


Hands that gripped

the ropes of childhood

swung to the sun and back 

pegged love’s fresh linen

in a dancing wind

lie still now, thumbprints

whorled with a maze of memories.


Jenna Plewes


I lost my name


I dreamt I lost something,

not a wallet or a passport,

not an identity or a dream,

just my name;

it fell off like a loose shawl.

lay on the ground ,

not needing me.


I will never know what happened next

dreams are like that

but there was nothing strange

about the next day

except maybe a spring in my steps.


I wore my name like a outer casing.

As I grew I sensed a cracking over my back.

My name was splitting

It opened out like a shell

and fell on to the ground behind me.

I was naked and nameless,

ready to develop a new name.


A new name ~ did that imply a new identity ?

Was my name the person everyone knew?

I touched my raw nakedness

I held my exposed limbs

I measured my overworking  brain

and counted the pulses of my heart

and knew at once the answer to that question.


The swirls of my footprints were familiar;

the soar of harmony bore the same imprint;

the pounding rythms said far more

than the letters of my name.

Those long-held letters, my tired coat,

my baby skin, that sound, so often called,

left me and I was still me;

I was perhaps even more me.


I could walk through the woods

race with the wind,

sing to the tree tops

grasp the passing days

feast on the minutes

and wonder which name to choose;

a name that spellt freedom

a name to put on like new shoes

closing my eyes with the pleasure

of the leather smell

a name that did not define my shape

but I could shed or reshape.

I could change my shoes and

make a new imprint in the mud

as my song rose to new heights

and told of new possibilities.


Judy Dinnen


It felt like flowers


High summer,

a tartan rug

strawberries bought

from a market stall

wine cooled

in the languid stream,

Thank God

for the invention

of screwtops,

he said, pouring

white wine

into plastic tumblers.


Picnic over

we sprawled

barely breathing

beneath leaf-heavy

trees, mapping

the sense

of one another

lingering over

this one final

precious hour.

I closed my eyes

to white-hot heat.


I wore a long cotton

skirt, rucked up

to my thighs,

he a shirt unbuttoned

to the waist.  We relived

our four nights

in one bed, shared

conversations to last

a lifetime

His fingers explored

my limbs, my hair,

my exhausted face.


It felt like flowers.


Moira Andrew


Editor’s comments


FOUND OBJECTS: This is a love poem: The love of collecting. The love of objects found, and  love for the poet. An unusual angle on the subject with the last stanza putting everything into perspective.

THE GATHERING: Expert use of language, with a surprise on every line. Like a magnifying glass held close to nature, and full of original phraseology. A great poem.

AFTER SHEARING: To the point. Superbly descriptive, with great imagery: ‘Tails scribble empty air’. ‘ears upright as blades’. A real fragment of farming life.

ANCIENT ONES: This poet hypnotises with fresh originality. There’s nothing wasted here. Every word counts, hits hard, and leaps from the page to delight the reader.

ROSES IN TIME OF WAR: An unsentimental poem, brutal, yet with contrasting peaceful moments. An accurate portrayal of war’s futility.

A CHILD WRITING: This appealed to me because of its understated beauty, and the adult’s gentle empathy for the child’s actions.

LABYRINTH: To me, this is life’s journey described in four stanzas. I love the lines:

‘feeling the grass cool between/my bare earth-connected toes’.

DRAWING A PAIR OF HANDS: The emotion generated in these two stanzas made me cry. A controlled poem, yet full of forceful pathos.

I LOST MY NAME: A breathtaking search for identity using a stream of consciousness technique that carries the reader on an ever-surprising journey. A captivating poem.

IT FELT LIKE FLOWERS: Superbly sensuous, with the first verse setting the scene; the second hinting at passion, and the third depicting gentle touching. The flower metaphor is very apt.

David Norris-Kay


Please note that David chose the poems anonymously. The order they appear in the showcase does not reflect any order of preference.