Summer Showcase – June 2021

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

• Archive of all Poetry Space showcases

Editor: Susan Jane Sims

Photograph: Wessex Ridgeway – Chris Sims

For this edition I have chosen poems on love and loss, relationships  and poems inspired by nature and by literature.


Bed Linen


The bottom sheet never stays tucked in,

unruly, flopping over the side

like your long legs dangling,

thrown carelessly around in sleep.


This bed is host to many conversations,

some of them just in my head,

others spill out of the pillows, taking up

position on the duck down duvet.


We argue over the pattern of its cover.

I think you seek reassurance —

the black cat motif might bring you luck

in the bedroom department, but really


you just need to move with my body.

The sheet, once smooth, will crumple,

imprinted with the shadow of our love.

I don’t mind if it’s never tucked in.


Sue Wallace-Shaddad





I was shown how to fold up a clean sheet

in a garden near Nice. 


On days when the Mistral was blowing cold

all the green shutters were closed.


It was a summer of scents – lavender,

rose, the garrigue. I learnt to speak French.


I brought back a honey pot from Biot

stoppered with cork. Full of glass bubbles, 


it was crafted with the lightness of air

under the shade of umbrella trees.


Picasso lived in this village in a mas

for the last years of his passionate life.


I was young, just sketching mine out.


Sue Wallace-Shaddad


Mothers out there


Are there any other mothers out there,

who are waiting for the time to pass,

for the numb sadness to leave,

to grow fainter, to fade, with the passing years?

          If so you have my sympathy


Are there wives and mothers

who hold cracked hearts,

minds and bodies in a see through wrapping,

looking whole and normal to the world?

          If so, gather strength.


They same time heals; do you agree they’re wrong?

Will you show me your scars, the weeping sores of sadness,

rub your tears on my skin, in my mouth, over my eyes,

on the very place our footsteps tread?

          If so I walk with you.


Do you feel them like sticky blood, like life,

like choking death,

like the stain that won’t disappear with washing

or powders or special cleansing. Or time?

          If so, take my hand


Angie Butler



The friend who ate my words


We swap gifts

my friend and I,

made in the early hours of



Slipped into papers

of memory

and folded

into bowls of proving.


Served cold

in tragedy,

on broken plates

of sorrow.


Fed to each other,


sadness, grief,



With a knowing

and taste

for words,

food and love.


Angie Butler



A Dagger’s Right of Reply


To Juliet


Rash, hot-headed girl! I beg you: wait.

You say you long to die for love, for pity?


You call me ‘happy dagger’. Instead

I grieve, I keen for thee.

So lost are you in love, your liking,

so at sea in all your troubles

that you think to use me as your means

to leave this hapless life.

Yet why take the deep cut, the shortcut,

when you might still grow old in fair Verona?


So: let me rust in your breast, you say?

End your life now, you beg me?

Why, then, Romeo’s is forfeited already.

See—his beauteous body lies so still!


Think thoughts now cold as my steel blade:

blood spilt on city paving-stones 

never can return 

to veins or bleeding hearts.

Once rent apart by shaft or knife-edge, 

gentle bodies will not mend again.


Lizzie Ballagher



A Dagger’s Right of Reply


To Macbeth


‘Come, let me clutch thee!’ you cry.

Have done! I’m no mere stage-prop

here for grabbing,


Heartless I may be, steel forged of fire;

but I shall not willingly take part

in shedding Duncan’s blood—

in stopping the heart of Scotland’s lord.


I must away.


You lunge for me again,

conceal me in your cloak 

to fold me to your breast.

          But I twist my blade aside, 

repulsed by your fair skin:

so clean to look upon—

so full of lies, 

of treachery and wickedness. 


Now tightening your grasp on me? 

Then must I do a deed so foul, like you, 

O Thane of Glam’s, Thane of Cawdor…

                   perfidious king hereafter?


Lizzie Ballagher





Walking home


She was walking home,

minding her own business,

no doubt mulling over

the chat, confidences

she’d shared with friends,

thinking of a hot drink 

and bed, perhaps of 

tomorrow’s problems.


The tomorrow that

failed to come for Sarah,

jumped on, gagged perhaps,

raped  – we don’t know.

One thing’s for sure

she didn’t make it,

taking that familiar path,

just walking home – alone.


Moira Andrew, March 2021



What Remains


Buried in the earth,

It decays. A tree sprouts.

Leaves whisper secrets,

Guilt crowds the mind,

The past remains.


Immersed in the sea,

Waves lift it high,

The tide hurls it back,

Pain sprays the face,

The past remains.


Scattered to the wind,

It rises, it drops,

Curtains tear, drums beat,

Sorrow reverberates,

The past remains.


Cast to flames,

A flash, a flare,

It burns to ash,

The past dies,

Peace prevails,

The present remains.


Leela Gautam



Woods: for sale


Greened claws grip and 

a sinewed trunk lies

along the ground

to a knotted knee

of an old beech tree,

driven down by

long-since silenced winds


but its trunk curves still

and from its loins a tree rises 

straight and tall towards the sun

and a copse of cousins 

clings close around …perhaps

sprung from fallen seeds or, maybe,

from roots below the ground.


Another fallen beech lies

in a darker place.

Its trunks twist and intertwine

till they twirl and shoot

towards the sky…

though its roots appear

long since wrenched away.


Dark caverns underlie torn roots.

We can’t see where they lead,

nor what subterranean lives

sustain one another here. Nor

can we imagine what is to happen

to the wyrd web of life in this ancient wood,

about to endure the ruthless roar of a chainsaw.


M. Anne Alexander





Celebrate the magnificence of all you are

So what if you widdle in the bath

and fart in the car?

Though your hair may be white

and you have to get up three times a night

skin stage curtains from decalcified bones

to a show that sold a ticket 

to you, and you alone

you will always be a sparkling child of the universe


You may have been cruel, rageful, unjust

deceptive, deep-shamed by lust

please love yourself all the same

You incarnated to feel the grime

and the glitter

We all did

And we’ve all done it

or thought it

most definitely bought it

So allow yourself compassion

love yourself with a passion and 

celebrate the magnificence of all you are


There’ll be time enough for perfection 

when you’ve gone to the stars

so enjoy your time here

eat another chocolate

pour yourself another beer and 

celebrate the magnificence of all you are


Mark Maddrell


Editor’s Notes

Bed Linen – I love how the bed and its linen take centre stage and become a metaphor for a relationship.

Mougins – An evocative poem that captures location well and the sense of promise.

Mothers out there – Having lost my own son I was drawn to this poem from a mother with part of her life forever on ‘hold’.

The friend who ate my words – Loss poignantly shared. The short lines work well to draw out the grief but also the love.

A Dagger’s Right of Reply – To Juliet – An unusual poem written from the view point of the dagger that killed Juliet. It invites alternative possibilities for this young life and is as much about other needless deaths by suicide in this present day as it is about Juliet.

A Dagger’s Right of Reply – To Macbeth – Again a dagger speaks. This time one in the hands of Macbeth as he is about to stab Duncan. I love how the poet uses language in keeping with Shakespeare’s own. 

Walking Home – I received other poems on the death of this young woman, a story much in the news. This was the best. It’s tight, economical structure says it all.

What remains – A phisosophical poem addressing the treatment of a body after death. Different cultures have their own beliefs and cremation is the preferred way in hinduism. 

Woods for Sale – A sad and shocking tale of devastation within this haunting poem.

Human – An amusing poem about being human and living life in the present.