Autumn Showcase – September 2023

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Archive of all previous showcases

Edited by Susan Jane Sims

Photograph by Chris Sims


We missed you


Lawn saturated, rippled. Magpies strut in the shallows.

Fences dark with wet seep into the soil.


A pump chutters where a stepping stone once was. 

A thick rope of silver gushes down a drain. The moon 

creeps over, prickling the stream, watching it run.


Last summer we would have sung for such a deluge.


We think of the zealous zookeeper and his ark.

Keeping peace and hope afloat. Praying

holes would not appear below the water line.


We are sinking now. 


Attenborough, politely accusing, 

voices the brink of it. Infusing each 

breathless pause with guilt.


But then, last week, amongst the politics and strikes, 

beavers graced our screens, their prints traced in

English mud and silt, turning back centuries,  

their thick glossy coats weaving through the water.


Marion Horton


Remembering Passchendaele


The black door

The long passage

The dark stairs

The single bulb on the landing

I look up,

No, don’t look up


Two closed doors,

Then a warm kitchen,

Nanny in a pinny,

Huge white sink with a tap

I cannot reach or turn

Mother’s Pride bread with luncheon meat.


I go eagerly to Nanny,

reaching up for a cuddle,

more gingerly to Grandad,

Wild white hair,

Wobbly words

And a slobbery kiss.


I sit across the table from Him,

Net curtains hide the outside,

And the dark fence.

Both chairs are back to the window,


Facing the brown tiled wall

Kettle on the gas


High backed armchair,


Beautiful eyes,

that pierce your soul.

His face is worn,

And folded wrong.


Nanny pours tea,

through a stainless- steel strainer,

from a big brown teapot.

The dregs are left behind.


Another closed door,

Another dark fence,

The table a chasm.

Me eating a fondant fancy

Him hearing bullets,

Awash in mud, 

Running from the gas he knows is coming.

Don’t look up.


Cathryn Spiller




The wave erupted, ascended, and appeared to pause at its apex before it fell.

A white deluge screaming the banshees as it broke

in shards of bitter pain upon the rocks


The storms continued to roll, sometimes a pounding, unforgiving torrent,

sometimes a continuous, cold soaking. 

Muddy and paltry, eating away at his spirit


Who knows which one took him in the end?

Life was cold.

The emptiness ached.

The not making it jibes

The not good enough looks

The one friend he had, coffined at thirty-two


Loss, lack-lustre, self- loathing, isolation.

The Cataclysm was hard to see:

But the waves crashed over his head just the same.

He could not outrun it.

They found him in the bath.


Cathryn Spiller


Sock Puppet


The only way you could go to school was to wear 

the sock puppet on your hand.

Grandma bought it at a fair,   white tube transformed

 into a monster.


Yarn-black eyes, huge red mouth, which opened 

and snapped shut fiercely 

with the motion of your child-hand.

         R-rrrrr! you could growl.     I’m going to eat you!

said the puppet’s fire-tongue.


You were four, in the forest, gnashing at your wild things.

You couldn’t speak ,  but the snarling puppet spoke for you. 

Snap! Snarl!

I’m going to eat you for my dinner!


The little boys in the room would look up, 

     a tiny bit impressed.

A girl might even cry.  You’d remain utterly silent,  closed-in 

     behind your cast-down eyes.      

No monster there.


     But the puppet advanced into the class.

Your other hand,  your shiny hair,   your curved lips,  revealed nothing –– to the others.  


There I come behind you, squeezing between miniature chairs

 in my bulky coat.  My hand sneaks a touch 

of your small, tight shoulder,  I don’t look down.


Oh for a deep draught of puppet-fire

a magic potion, for both of us.


Patricia Brody


The child collector


         The child collector viewed the scene

She was not a benevolent intruder

She was loved by all

They knew they had, what she had not

But what they didn’t know was its real impact

The raw longing

The sadness

The rage

The hopelessness

           The child collector had all these in turn

And worse

And worse

          It began to scar her life, take over her being,

her whole mind. 

but she was powerless; there was nothing she could do,

          But in her way, she collected them.

By having their pictures on her desk,

cute videos on her phone,

messages she would save and share with her friends,

she would show them,

She had children and grandchildren doing wonderful things, 

just like theirs.

                                                 Angie Butler



A bold sweep of grey for quiet rainy contemplative days-


The months fly by like large brush strokes across an autumn canvas.


A bold sweep of grey for quiet contemplative rainy days, 

yellow and blue, the sandy beach and sunny sky.

Green and purple are the rambling moors, studded now with richer, heather ways.

Dark charcoal cliffs, as autumn storms surge on these sparkling granite rocks, 

need splashes, turquoise and white for crashing waves on coloured blocks.


And time to search a finer brush to add the details of the life I see,

the circling choughs, the buzzing bees, 

the skeletons of time, the leaning windblown trees,

or slow bent walkers on the coastal path,

who make their way amidst the vibrant coconut gorse.


These big brush strokes, their placing on my canvas,

let me step back each day in admiration and due thanks 

with those who hold them in their hands,

for these exquisite pictures shared, of seaside banks,

and daily love on this my autumn canvas lands.


Angie Butler



My Circle


It’s there

the round womb of stones,

the hug of bush and herb,

sometimes herald of yellow,

perfume of chive and thrift,

this ancient refuge, pen place,

with carved slate, dragonfly


symbol, and curved walls,

round of whisper and wonder,

cell of prayer and mystique,

this neglected but not forgotten

go-to-place, where stories dwell,

poems reverberate, wisdom loves


and time knows no end.

find yourself there, step into

its welcome, address its offering 

and bide there, taste unbroken

promises, mark untravelled steps,

sometime unwritten alphabet,


hold its care

gently take its gifts,

as it spreads

its skirts

as it curtsies

and spills


its colour

into your life.


Judy Dinnen – The Hawthorns Circle




Closing the door on Number 5


When we closed the door on number 5

part of me died

and part of me felt relief that it was gone,


the house my mum felt

as a noose around her neck,

the crooked steps that Dad built

in our yard.


Up there I could gaze at stars

light years away,

dig in clay and think of my ancestors

in their wattle and daub houses.


At sun down I’d still be there

watching for Mr Edward’s pigeons to come home,

silver wings beating through cold night air,


and him in his vest and braces

and big yellow umbrella


waving them in.


Susan Jane Sims