Autumn Showcase – September 2019

Friday, 6 September 2019

• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases

Photograph – Lizzie Ballagher


 Editor- Susan Jane Sims

I am a little late publishing this quarterly showcase as I have recently had a major operation and did not get a chance to select a guest editor. However I have enjoyed reading through all the wonderful entries and have made my selection.




 Do you now See, Etna, how seasons communicate? 


You, too, wait for me when fall arrives.

Winter, afterwards, is how you treat it:

it may numb your limbs to the bone,

same as it may be that uninvited guest,

who knocks on the door one snow stormy night,

and is seated by the hearth, where firewood is cracking,

while he starts pulling out oven-hot stories,

about true or made-up stuff,

leaving the curious kids dumbstruck.


Don’t wait for fall to come to your doorstep.

Seasons have their own events,

same as people do.

It may happen that it shows by surprise,

it may flash by your home,

while in a hurry to elsewhere.


It might have come forth from inside your being,

while you were busy watering the lilies,

white like the steamy breath in a winter day.


Do you now see, Etna, how seasons communicate?


Alisa Velaj

 Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi


Contrastive Duality


Birds they are,

even when visiting

from ice.


A broken love

amid ghosts of leaves

they are.


Alisa Velaj

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi



Questions of Life                                                                              


The love of a child, all-absorbing

catches you unawares.

You didn’t realise another being

so small, so mysterious

could have such power,

would transform your life.

There is no going back ­–

she cannot be repackaged, returned.


One day she will ask

How did I get here?

When was I born?

Did you expect me?

Was I a surprise?

as if you had a choice.


Sue Wallace-Shaddad





The unyielding strength of two p.m.    
September sun keeps my bones warm.
You now asleep inside the building
not more than four arm lengths away;
alone, this place would not be home.
I’m moving carefully here, all’s so still.

Under bare feet I feel the daisy-rich
lawn root through me. And the dark
green ivy, fast to the wall, seems to grip
all my hazy past and future tight with her
elegant tendrils. But allows the wren, hidden
beneath its trailing veil, to begin to sing.

Playing their own version of intimacy,
open gate’s shimmering shadow falls
upon the stones. Together they form an
unclosed path to the overgrown yard
where fuchsia drips, her moody flowers
aching to touch the shaded ground.

The worn, flagstone steps shine deeply
with unknown years of past generations’
clog/boot fall. Those gone, still speak
along with the birdsong, in a proud, strong
vocabulary that reminds and reassures me…


Ian Huckson



And the Company


And the company

Was brilliant people living

Their cracked lives

In spite of each other


With children like

Shards of light

Refracted through

The brittle glass of schools.


And the company had dreams

Once; like adulterers

Some tried them years ago

In cities far from here;


They don’t see them anymore.

Weeks slam into weeks

Against the year’s fag-end.

The city cracks; its streets,


Its words, its festivals

Like old pavement

Tip, spill, spoil,

And the company


Knows it’s no use

Among the old words

For festivals but

Hasn’t space – new words


Find places of their own,

Children will discover

Them in cities far from here.


Michael Docker


Tate Modern



mesmerised, kids

trail behind their parents.

But why? they ask,

eyeing the pink lobster

phone, faces out of kilter,

the urinal in a glass case.


They grumble, peer

at their mobiles, drag

their feet, hugely bored.

Upstairs, in a room filled

with giant chess pieces,

a girl, four or five years old,

sprawls at ease on the floor.


Pencil in hand, a box

of crayons open beside her,

she’s totally involved,

drawing her version

of the King, complete

with coloured crown.

I’m Tennessee, she confides.


She’s the only person

actually taking part in

what the Tate is all about.

Here, she says, for you,

and gives me her picture,

a hands-on reminder of

our Sunday visit to the

famous London gallery.


Moira Andrew



I Told My Son To Look For Helicopters In The Maple Seed


I did not hear the whirring sounds

when a helicopter crashed

the garden table and flipped over on to the patio,

it didn’t break the sturdy plastic furniture

pancakes still intact on plates


Landing skids snapped, fuel now sludge

engines in shreds. Its pale green rotor blades

like stag’s antlers with stumps,

a cockpit attached the Maple

the salvaged wreck now a Hornby model


Once carefully wrapped – Maple leaf

texture like birthday paper.

In a tray, little pot of glue, hopes of sticking together

navigated by birds, insects, human contact

dragging it up to a landing of soil, plants itself.


How grows sweet Maple; tapped for sugar, syrup, patio table.  


Johanna Boal



rosebay willow herb

too slender for a poem

far too tall for a




rosy pink flowers

with leaves in willow pattern

bend to the water




four-petal rosettes

fade, froth up with autumn’s fleece

push out long seed-pods




rosebay willow herbs



 Lizzie Ballagher






My heart fluttered; all was serene
The skies above an ocean blue and an emerald green
Small hands began to jab at my knees
Peering from behind my book of magic, and fantasy was the creature poking me
Spikey locks that resembled molasses and chocolate drop eyes
Crawling onto my lap I cradled him
His curious face against mine
Pink lips smeared with cookie crumbs
Tanned skin smooth and reflecting the sun
His smile was just like his father’s
Mischievous and silly with kindness underneath
And when I held my baby boy
I knew that our love would always be                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               as wide as the ocean and as deep as the sea.

Kirsten Monro




I was sick,

Sick for an idea I had built myself

Of course, it was a beautiful idea,

All glittering, lovely blues, decadent white and gold,

Rose and coral, amber and green like the earth

But underneath,

Oh, underneath it all was

Raw, hollow, and black

I can’t regret it though,

Because although it beat me blind,

Drawing on the walls with my red paint,

It also dug its nails into my face

And twisted my head so I could see

It made me look at that nightmare

Until I was no longer scared

Of who I was

Beautiful Again

The growing pains are fading faster than they came,

My words are sweet again, something like honey

And like the lapping of waves on the shore,

Life feels beautiful in an inexplicable certainty


Sophie Zhu


 Editor’s notes

 Do you now see, Etna, how seasons communicate? 

I am not sure I really understand this poem and yet it made a big impression on me for it’s beautiful imagery. I think it is about the rhythm of the seasons and how each has an impact on the next.

Contrastive Duality

A tiny poem with a haunting quality.

Questions of Life    

Yesterday, I met two young babies, the children of friends of my own children and the promise in their eyes has stayed with me so much so that when I made my selection this morning I knew this one had to go in. I love the ending: the imagined questions followed by the line ‘as if you had a choice’. 


This is an atmospheric poem with some beautiful lines. I particularly like: Those gone, still speak,/along with the birdsong,… The poem reminds us of comfort found in nature when we have experienced loss.

And the Company

This is an intriguing poem with the feel of science fiction. I love the idea of dreams tried out in another place, (or time) being like adultery.

Tate Modern

I love this art gallery and I love this poem about a young child making the experience of visiting, her very own. The concrete detail really makes this poem.

 I Told My Son To Look For Helicopters In The Maple Seed

Another intriguing poem about nature and how something can be something else.

rosebay willow herb

It seemed apt to follow a maple seed poem poem, with one about herbs. A beautifully simple yet evocative poem.


A beautiful moment between a mother and her baby boy, captured in this poem. This could do with a little editing but I chose it for the emotion behind it and the concrete detail.


I am not totally sure if this poem is about rehab from drugs or simply about transition, growing up, moving from childhood phase to adulthood. It is certainly about finding out who you are and learning to be at peace with that. I chose it for its powerful imagery.