Guest Poems

We love to read your poetry and, even though we receive over 1,000 poems per month, we always take time to read every single one.

A few of the poems we especially enjoyed and which were selected for publication in our Journal are reprinted below.

For more information, please see our Submissions page.

Guest Poems

Elizabeth Barton

Elizabeth Barton

Polishing his Shoes

My father visits me from deep
in the cupboard of my memory.
He sits in the kitchen, Sunday’s papers

spread out on the floor before him.
There’s a waft of turpentine as he pops
the lid off the tin, dips bristles in wax

and I hear the reassuring sweep
of his horsehair brush on leather.
It’s a ritual, ingrained as Sunday Mass,

drilled into him since army days
in the barracks of Kettering,
where he learnt to spit-shine boots

until he glimpsed his face in them.
His outsized feet are his secret agony,
his Oxford shoes, his penance –

nailed, stitched, pinching bunions,
blistering soles and yet he treats them
with the loving attention he gave us.

Some wounds are beyond repair
but he lingers on scuffed edges,
damaged heels, shows me how to hide

the scars of a lifetime’s buffeting
with a little paste and a rag, torn
from his old check shirt to burnish.

Roger Harvey

Roger Harvey

Questions on a Hill

 I climbed Cat Bells
on the first day of winter:
mist above and below me,
sleet in the air.

The view of lakes and islands,
green and brown and silver-grey,
was wonderful.
No-one could tell it true.

I want you to wonder
why it is that men climb high
to feel like gods.
Are we star-children
reaching pitifully home,
or merely runners from our cares below?

Far away,
in sullen towns I could not see,
men were living who had done these things:
felt the thrusting mountains at their feet,
the cold wind on their eyes.
How many kept their memories fresh?
How many heard the wind?


More Guest Poems

Belinda Cooke

Love Songs When we banter on the phone, there’s much left to uncover, and how many love songs have I left in me yet? When you humour me, I’m better than myself, how many love songs are hovering in the air? When we pull it together and get lost in our rooms, how many...

Myra Schneider

An Elephant has taken up residence on my doormat, no ordinary elephant. When the hall dims how his body, patterned in gold, shines. I whisper to myself he’s a moonchild. A flower stems from his uncurling trunk, another blooms from the leaflike lobe of his ear. His...

Robert Stein

Robert Schumann, Resident for a Year at Endenich Asylum, is Under the Supervision of Dr. Franz Richarz Last Tuesday they rolled both pianos down the hill. In the pile at the bottom, near the farm, Are sheet music, newspapers, four notebooks, The upended instruments...

Lori Drummond-Mundal

Lori Drummond-Mundal Photo 1964 November birthdays are dark in the North, untouched by the light of four thin candles on a snow-white cake. Her harsh words hit as if honed through generations, your face ironed flat by the scolding’s scarlet slap. You stare into the...

Mandy Haggith

Discontent Blue sky, fast-moving cloud, all the trees with sun-silvered branches, gleaming rushes bent eastwards, backs to the wind we all know is coming, like we turn our backs on the politicians whose untruths sting our eyes if we face them, turn our backs on the...

Janet Laugharne

Context Means All Ysgol can be ladder and school in my country’s other language. No surprise, is it, that Wales has exported all those teachers (maybe still does, in disguised, social media forms). Practical word building in the German Handschuh for glove, Frau and...

James Fountain

Under the Microscope A scientist scrutinises a drop of liquid showcased on the slide through his thousand times magnified lens, with steady eyes wide to its vitality, globules imitating the curve of the world, global scope of this vaccine enough to rattle the...

Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Words are good ‘Words dry and riderless’, Sylvia Plath, ‘Words’ The echo of the inexpressible appears among lines carving what I don’t know yet configuration of signs. Are words good enough? We feel to use them literally. What’s my pleasure in using words? I encounter...

Jennie E. Owen

Staycation No bright. No mullock moon. No day, no night. No texture left, no crack of ice nor ridge of dirt so hard it jars the knees, instead just rain. Muck, sucks and sighs the breath of fog; where mushrooms, mildew, lichen creep like ghosts to polka dot the trees...

Patricia Gao

The Swim I am tired of people not knowing everything about how we loved each other. Car doors locked from inside, left hand on the wheel so the right can dangle imprecisely whereyouwere, whenyouwerehere. Even I don’t know everything about how. I am tired of forgetting...

Clifford Liles

Greenfire As frost smothers fire at the fulcrum of dawn, you are there, hands burrowed in your fleece, ambling round our garden, past Silurian ferns. Wood-smoke drifts from November’s stoves. Leaves curl and crisp. The greenfire burns down. It will take all year, as...

David Gilbert

Be The Vines Take me with you so I won’t have to write from such distance again or resort to sing-song across the tumultuous blue then be hedged by silence when you leave me in your trails, those dissolving beads and curlicues of sky. Let’s more often twine our...

Chrissie Gittins

Live Like A Winter Flowering Cherry In the summer I’m unremarkable, biding my time, satisfied to let peonies and poppies take centre stage. In autumn I begin to come into my own – layering your lawn with a daily tapestry of rust, orange, yellow. When you’ve done...

Martin Johns

Blackthorn Edgy, always at the edge but can tip a winter into a pre-spring look of something beautiful. Bonny in blossom, a beguiling frothy white. The humble Blackthorn, its knurly built-in rebuke. Dark thorns, purple, something venomous like being bitten or strung....

Shirley Wright

Ha-ha! * The trouble with your average wall is visibility. Dezallier d’Argenville had the right idea. He understood the power of illusion, the artifice of panoramic views unbroken to the far horizon and no invading cattle to destroy the lawn or nosey neighbours...