Summer Showcase – June 2018

Thursday, 31 May 2018

• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases

Guest  editor: Morag Kiziewicz



Morag Kiziewicz has wanted to be a poet since she was given a Faber book of poems as a child.  Her poems have been published in anthologies and journals.

She writes a column for Tears in the Fence and is currently working with Rosie Jackson on a memoir. A member of Wells Fountain Poets, Bath Cafe Poets, Frome Stanza and David Caddy’s workshop groups, she is still aiming to write a really good poem.

Editor’s overview

Thank you to Sue Sims for giving me the opportunity to select poems for the Poetry Space Summer Showcase.  Thank you to all the poets who submitted their poems.  Submitting poems is a courageous thing to do in the first place, and something I struggle with myself.  To be given the gift of reading these poets work is a privilege and to cut my long list down to ten poems was a challenge. I hope you enjoy my selection.



We Were the Music Makers


Not all the lads in Sally Army bands went off

As Morris men or soldier boys. No.

Some made their name & fell in love with jazz:

Derek with his cornet & Roddy

With his brazen horn blaring out

Like the Last Trump, fit to wake

The drowsy Whitsun sleepers in their Sunday best.


But, for all those jazzy boys could do,

Albert & Arthur, Tommy & Jimmy, Jack & I

Could make no music with our fingers.

We were just the football boys

Following the melodies mile after mile:

From Marsden to Meltham, Mottram to Mossley

And over the glowering Saddleworth Moors.


Oh, how we loved the beat, the beat,

The syncopated heat & swing of it

Though we could no more strike up a tune

Than fly off Windgate Edge. Rather, our wind & brass

Were the frantic pant of lungs,

The haul & puff of breath; our drumbeat

The thud of muddy boot on leather ball.


My feet stayed firmly on the ground,

Stuck closely to my roots.

Instead it was the magic in my boots

That took me over Howden Moor to Sheffield—

Where every day was Wednesday

And we made music with our feet for crowds

All chanting, cheering, clapping in the Kop.


Lizzie Ballagher


Wolf Moon,

you draw close as if you are hungry to see

the effect you have on us

and it feels as if you care

or would comfort us for this cold.


You shine on our streets,

filling, more and more, with homeless souls,

shaming a society structured to take too little heed

to use and serve us all.


You open the door of our year on to this. Time and space seem pressing,

as if it is time to fan the flame of life, awakening the spirit of justice over all.

Our system has saved a man from pneumonia but put him back on the street,

marks of the hospital tubes fresh on his arms still.

Wolf Moon, clouds pass between us now.

Your reflection flows from you

and merges again and again.

Wolf Moon, what do you say?

M.Anne Alexander

It was my son who noticed how close the moon was that night. He had been distressed by the plight of the homeless, and how hard he had found it to help. So I imagined the moon drawing close to see and the moon reflecting on this.



George sits on a wooden chair.

The dog half sleeps at his feet.

People pass with trolleys,

eyes fixed on supper,

eyes green brown,rainbow,

crystallised on some dream.


George’s eyes are round,

blue as space,

hard as stone,

opaque as a cloud.

Lola looks keenly,

licks with greeting

and the story starts.


The Belfast accent opens the page,

intro over, narrative flows,

Ballyhackey, Newtownards,

blind centre moved away,

marriage over, life dissolving,

George sits on a wooden chair,

holds a talking sat nav,

long way from Belfast.


Judy Dinnen


The Workhouse Bell at Bath


It rang for getting up and breakfast

for starting work and finishing

for eating and for sleeping

for living and for dying.


“If you want the parish to support you

            you must come into our brave New Poor Law palace

be stripped, disinfected, washed, uniformed, found employment

not spend our taxes in the ale-house.”


That was the theory

the practice rather different

but people put aside their dignity

came in

men women children

sane and insane

sickly and well

from town and country.

United in poverty,

they came in desperation

and many stayed

learning to live humdrum, tedious, ordered lives

under supervision of the Master and his staff.


There were

little acts of kindness

no doubt

forgotten no doubt in the

monstrous obscene unfairness

of it all.


The workhouse bell rang out

for rising and for sleeping

for living and for dying

as Beckford set out – in his own good time –

for the daily trip up to his tower

as Irish peasants

starved at home

endured their emigration (or not)

made new lives in other lands

and trains arrived, departed at Brunel’s fine new

Bath Spa station.


John Payne


Unhappy Memories


My childhood was not a happy time

I had a horrible man for a father

Who had no time for me

Or my mother come to that.


I had few friends

So spent a lot of time alone

The few friends I did have

Never came to our house.


Father disapproved

And discouraged them from calling

My only form of escapism

Was my model railway.


On occasions he was known

To wreck my layout on purpose

As he said was in his way

Even though it was nowhere near him.


What went on behind closed doors

Was not for my knowing

But I often heard the fights

Through the walls.


When I turned eighteen

I was told to join the army

I didn`t want to but looking back

It was about the only good thing he ever did for me.


When my army days were over

I got a small flat in town

As he made it clear

I was not welcome in the old home.


On returning to civvy street

Every move I made was watched

By a network of his friends

Who reported back on everything I did.


If I so much as held a girls hand in public

The inquisition started so no privacy at all

Doing anything else would have been

Practically criminal as far as he was concerned.


I seldom visited or spoke

To my father although I saw

Mother frequently

She was down trodden and had a hard time as well.


Years later when he passed away

I didn`t even know

Until a few months later

As we hadn`t spoken for a number of years.


Do I miss him?

Not one bit

I wish it had been different

Then we might have got on together.


Chris Campbell



Deferred Gratification

‘One day, you,

you’ll make me kill you’

Her stale breath scalds my face.


We cross the road,

she grabs my hand tight in hers.

She’s angry again but smiles at strangers

whilst cursing me to hell, under her breath.

Her sharp nails cut my skin.

I wince, but refuse to cry.


At home, she chases me upstairs,

bamboo cane in hand.

She whacks my legs, my back.

The switch sings in the air.

The doorbell rings.

She says, ‘Stay there.’


On the landing, she looks in the mirror,

tidies her permed hair

and spits on her hankie to adjust her lippy.

Downstairs she puts on her best voice,

‘Hello, how can I help you?’

Her words smile.


I, her cuckoo child, lurk upstairs

until she returns to pick up

where she left off.

With manic glee

she smacks my face. Hard.

Her spite now magnified.        

Ceinwen Haydon


Thank Heavens for the Stars

it’s the third warm day
night has come on, gravy thickened 
stars glisten in the pot
they shine like new pins

I am a hollow
an inverse shape 

I should wear black 
to disappear 

under the plough 
my unused milk leaks 
the drops roll like sweat

my nightdress is a conjurer

milky stars and night 
produce stillness 
like a rabbit from a hat 

my arms remember 
how to rise
point out Ursa Major
the curve of the Bears back 

her little voice is frail 
from screaming

she could become old that way 

the stars remind her
she is just a baby  

Susannah Violette



 Dark Rainbow


Born to see the world in colour

Emotion is a life liberator

Easy to cave to pained feelings

Thoughts shadowed by mind dictator


Faceless like a doll, existing

Wishing away life in static years

Talk hits void and rebounds

Escape from dark with lonely tears


Stranded in a cold place

Staying still, no reaction, a dream

Stuck in a neutral mind

Heart organ plays a scream


Become a diagram of former self

Outlined and soulless

Anxious of sane normality

Glimpses of emotion leaves a mess


Ignoring same social attempts

Loneliness breeds isolation

Hands used as ear survivors

Constant noise brings irritation


External self on top of the world

Internal, settled, bottom of ocean

Constantly justify life’s position

In logical terms without emotion


One true feeling felt is fear

Taste, love, sight is it real?

To see life in black and white

Not the colours needed to heal.


C. Chant


She came


She came

tired and weary

she came

spring in her step

she came

and laid bare her feelings

laid out joys and sorrows

like shells cast upon the shore

different hues and sounds

shapes and sizes

some smooth and cool to the touch

some rough and warm

others full-throated with her songs

sometimes a tiny gem

held delicately out

in her slender palm

for you alone

or a precious swirl of pearl

drawing sighs of pleasure

sometimes complex and deep

like a poem or a dream

or delicate, fragile worn down

by rough tides and time

washed through with tears


All this precious hoard

bequeathed us

as when our eyes were turned

she slipped away

to another place.

I saw a painting once in a gallery

a madonna smiling wistfully

offering the observer

a scallop shell of faith

to share her pilgrimage


Jo O’Farrell

In memory of Liz Russell-Edwards





There are no boundaries here, nothing

to hold onto.

Along cracked, bleached paths pocked

with broken flints

we carry this sky that weighs nothing,

that spills over

an endless lake of young wheat,

above us cloud-hair

teased, blown every which-way

by a silent wind,

lark-song glitters overhead, sunlight

sharpens blades of wheat,

combs furrows that pour over

the edge of the world.

When we reach the oak scribble

cutting the skyline

we find fat green buds have opened,

a web of yellow blossom

blurs the blue of the sky.


Jenna Plewes

from Collection Pull of the Earth (IDP)


 ‘We were the music makers’ 

This poem captures the experience of a specific time and place. The rhythm and narrative take us from the sound of brass and jazz, with an effortless flow, into the sound of feet stamping in the Kop and describes the joy of the “magic in my boots”. 

The next three poets are all concerned with the increasing gulf between rich and poor.

 Wolf Moon 

This powerful poem takes us to the wolf moon’s perspective of the homeless on our streets. We are made aware of our own powerlessness through the moon’s powerlessness to effect change.


George sits on his chair with his dog, Lola, at his feet and his eyes “blue as space, hard as stone”.  We hear the Irish lilt in the voice as George speaks and we are brought home to his homelessness with the last line “a long way from Belfast”.

The Workhouse Bell at Bath

Compares the poverty of the workhouse inhabitants with the wealth and freedom of choice of Becket going to his privileged tower. We get a clear sense of the poet’s rage against the wealthy facade, emphasised with the closing reference to Brunel and Bath Spa station.

The next three poems confront painful and very personal realities. They reveal the power of poetry to authentically reclaim the poet’s individual power.

Unhappy Memories 

Is an honest and vivid account of the lifelong impact of a controlling, manipulative and cruel father,  “on occasions he was known to wreck my layout on purpose” brings a shiver. And the invasive nature of the abuse continuing even after the young man has left home “every move I made was watched” and “the inquisition started” is shocking in its clarity.

Deferred Gratification 

The remarkable ability of this “cuckoo child” to see through the (step?) mother’s hypocrisy and deceit is clear.  And the details, the lippy, the permed hair and the way she puts on her best voice show us the conscious nature of the abuse and the violence on her return is all the more visceral. 

Thank Heaven for the Stars 

This is a very moving poem. From the opening stanza where the “stars glisten in the pot” to our learning in the second stanza that the poet is “hollow, an inverse shape, concave” we know a great sense of loss. Each image is clear, compelling and beautifully drawn.  The understated and all saying “her little voice is frail from screaming” and the final line “she is just a baby” take us through the huge demands of maternity to our smallness in the light of stars.

The final three poems are about the redemptive power of nature.

Dark Rainbow

This poet “born to see the world in colour” has experience of “thoughts shadowed by mind dictator”. Powerful lines take us to the heart of the poem, “hands used as ear survivors” showing us the sense of isolation and the need to sometimes shut out the noise of the world.  The final stanza defiantly brings us back to the power of recovery, survival and the “colours needed to heal”

She Came

We are drawn to the shoreline in the poem and to strong images and tactile descriptions, “a precious swirl of pearl drawing signs of pleasure”. “Fragile worn down by tides and time” reveals that the woman is dying. The poet shows us the gifts the woman has bequeathed and celebrates her life. 


Is an evocative landscape poem that takes us on a walk “along cracked bleached paths/ pocked with broken flints” and through the wonderful line “we carry this sky that weighs nothing” the writer conjures for us the experience of the land and we too see “a web of yellow blossom/ blurs the blue of the sky”.


Morag Kiziewicz


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

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