Welcome to Poetry (Please)
At the ACW Writers’ Day held on Zoom in March 2021 I was privileged to be one of the readers of original poetry. Where poetic form is concerned I am still very much a learner. There are online opportunities for learning to write poetry. WordPress has an introductory course to poetry, which I followed in 2016. There are also bloggers, who issue prompts for writing poetry; most of these are open to everyone, but always read the guidelines.
Linda Kruschke has a weekly paint chip poetry prompt, which this year is looking to a poetry dictionary for the form to use or an idea to incorporate. I am sometimes inspired by nature to write a poem, but prompts help me to write more regularly. The paint chip prompts with words or phrases to incorporate into a poem are a challenge to my puzzle-solving skills!
Other prompts I am aware of, but have not used:
- Cee Neuner has lists of challenges, which include poetry.
- Ronovan has two challenges a week and a list of other challenges.
- dverse is an online poetry community.
A word of warning: there are many poetry competitions, but the rule that poems must not have been published online or in print is usual. Many publications, whether in print or online, also have the same rule. Of course, poets wishing to self-publish their work may use poems they have previously published online.
The poems on this page were all written by ACW members attending the Poetry Please Writers’ Day in March 2021. The copyright for all works below remains with the authors.
Apple Jelly by Ruth Leigh
I remember that day so well. September, apples rosy on the trees.
Leaves just starting to turn. The smell of woodsmoke in the air.
I popped round for coffee, as I so often did then.
And there you were, making apple jelly.
The sharp smell of fruit in the air, the sound of bubbling from the stove.
Quick cutting with your sharp knife, pips and stalks and leaves intact.
You flung open the cupboard door to reveal treasure within.
Jar after jar of clear gleaming apple jelly, chilli-jewelled and glowing.
“It’s easy. You should try it,” you said, smiling as I held the muslin bag for you,
Apple pulp dripping luxuriously into the waiting silver bowl.
“No peeling or coring, just cut them up and chuck them in. Boil vigorously.”
We both laughed, liking the idea of a really good vigorous boil.
You had less than three autumns left. Neither of us knew that day.
If we had, my tears would have dropped into the apples and ruined the set.
My sobs would have drowned out the sound of laughter, the scent of coffee.
You were still well, your years uncounted and no end date in sight.
Like that sharp knife quartering the fruit, your days were numbered.
Like the sugar boiling with the fruit, our memories were sweet.
Like the glorious autumn colours, it was all over too soon.
Since then, every year I harvest the apples and forage for fruit.
I line up the chutneys and jams and fruit jellies.
I gaze into the bubbling, fragrant, vigorous boiling and see you as you were.
Smiling in your kitchen, generous, kind, loving till the last.
(c) Ruth Leigh
The Writer’s Psalm by Elaine Langford
The Lord is my agent, I shall not want.
He makes me feed my imagination,
he leads me in paths of inspiration,
he restores my self-confidence.
He guides me from procrastinating
for my well-being’s sake
Even though I walk through
a valley of rejection slips,
I will not fear failure
for you are with me.
Your discipline and encouragement comfort me.
You prepare a feast of opportunities before me
in the presence of my doubts.
You anoint my blank pages with purpose
and my creativity overflows.
Surely your grace and mercy
will follow me all my life
and I will be a writer with the blessing of God for ever.
(c) E Langford August 2020
Heavenly Language by Sophia Anyanwu
The language of Heaven blesses my being and soul.
As I open the window –
To the world,
The trees are speaking;
Sometimes in whispers,
Sometimes in laughter.
They are tickled by the wind.
In silent whispers,
They speak secretly about me –
Another creature of God.
Or is it their worship time
To their creator?
They elicit divine adoration
From me watching to our Maker:
Thank You, Abba, for a new day –
For the gift to see and hear the trees.
I look up to the silent canvass –
A dull light greyish white.
My eyes open to the glory of Heaven.
My eyes blessed with frolicking leaves.
My ears with their heavenly language
Grace my soul
With praises to our Creator.
(c) Sophia Anyanwu
Three Sharp Points by David Grieve
The man who stood at the gate said to me,
give me her light. I shall take it on further.
I said, No, I shall keep it as long as I can.
That was then, he said.
You were together.
Now, for now, you stay
until your light, in time,
comes with me.
Thank God for her.
She died in Christ.
We often say that the ending
is a new beginning but
that happened years before.
We know it’s metaphor.
Of course she’s dead.
She is actually gone.
Metaphor doesn’t make it untrue
nor the pain less real.
We see with language
and speak in images and
they too are metaphor.
All we know
is that we do not know, really.
But it translates as mystery,
is understood as mercy
and is spoken as hope.
The finality is brutal.
She’s gone and that’s it,
apart from our final duties
and all the ambushes of grief.
But a line has been drawn
which we can cross just once
and then never to return.
The door signed No Entry
has been slammed so utterly
that it no longer is visible.
This pleases God but perplexes us
here on the near side.
The paradox is that Hope is the reason
and Hope is the barrier.
It refuses all concessionary requests.
There are no visiting hours.
Yet our once-dead Hope is risen and
we do our living in Him.
In this poem, she can be understood as he and vice versa
(c) David Grieve
Open My Eyes by Christiana Olomolaiye
As today, I arise
Lord, Open my eyes
To accord with my size
If I be tiny,
Open my eyes to see the tiny details
If I be BIG,
Open my eyes to see the BIG PICTURE
If I be in between neither big nor small
Open my eyes to see what is in-between
If the road be narrow or the road be rough
Though the times be tough
Open my eyes to see
The tiny details of comfort hidden along the road
The stepping stones in-between the rocky road
Leading to The BIG PICTURE at the end of the road
As we travel along this road, though rough and tough
Open my eyes to see your serene beauty
As you walk us safely through the rocky road
Open my eyes Lord to enjoy the BIG PICTURE.
As picturesque as it can be
Open my eyes Lord.
(c) Christiana Olomolaiye
Spring 2020 by Janet Hancock
Buds no more than span of apple seed
pushing, urging, forcing through dessicated trunk
of winter’s fastness,
not to be denied.
New life, stem, twig, green,
demanding spring’s sun-warmth;
birth, jumping, lambs’ tails,
nestlings, colour, rejoicing,
creation’s design fulfilled.
Mid-day peace, stillness,
air allowed to breathe.
But mankind groans, afflicted, grieving,
is there bread today?
Outside a cuckoo sings
and our Creator weeps at Love denied.
(c) Janet Hancock 2020
Nature and Grace by Pam Ferguson
When iron-forged hate
which hammered nails
into the Maker’s hands and feet
still mocks the courage and agony
of lambs led to the slaughter –
when the moon’s shadow hides the sun
and mountains shake with grief
as truth that is holy,
the seed of glory,
is buried on the earth –
I come to the garden early
where flowers shed their tears
and the Gardener speaks
and the earth is alive
as he crafts his work of grace :
My body, pierced for the sins of the world,
my blood poured out like wine,
my Spirit an ever-flowing spring,
the life that I share, the vine;
I’m the light you will find in the darkest place,
in the wilderness, your path,
the door, the hope of heaven and earth,
the love that conquers death.
(c) Pamela Ferguson, author of From Shore to Shore, Reflections in Poetry and Prose, Wipf&Stock 2020
Watermelon by Amy Scott Robinson
If watermelon were a fruit
the Spirit gives the soul,
Too heavy it would be for joy,
Too big for self-control
Not delicate enough for love,
too full of pips for peace
(and patience, too, would not ring true
while trying to cut a piece)
Not faithfulness: the red inside’s
too much of a surprise;
too cannonball for gentleness,
no subtlety in size
But kindness, in the summer heat,
it opens to the knife
and pours out goodness, brimming sweet,
the water that gives life.
(c) Amy Scott Robinson
The Turning of the Seasons by Fiona Lloyd
From escalating darkness, I escaped,
And took the road that wove through sculpted vales;
Where hamlets carved from honeyed Yorkshire stone
Gave way to lofty crags and soaring fells.
Fragmented rays of amber kissed the fields:
A verdant quilt – criss-crossed with dry-stone walls –
Whose supple folds ran rippling down the slopes
And flanked the bustling Wharfe within its course.
Late summer’s lavish reign was evident
In softly shimmering streams and hedgerows bright
With berries; while above a shaded copse,
A kestrel hovered, etched against the sky.
Yet here and there the stately sycamores
Wore freshly-furnished cloaks of red and gold.
They bowed and swayed before the stiffening breeze,
As autumn waited, watchful, in the wood.
The turning of the seasons cruelly stirred
A closely-guarded anguish in my soul.
The looming threat of winter’s icy grasp
Wrought deepening despair as grief unfurled.
I journeyed on, down tightly twisting lanes,
And found a rank of pine-trees, proud and tall.
Their stern façade concealed a sprawling house
Set close against the contours of the hill.
And so, I came at last to Scargill’s door,
And hesitantly followed on behind
The band of cheerful pilgrims on the stairs,
Ascending to the chapel overhead.
We entered to a space infused with light:
It seemed a thousand votives flamed and shone.
Celestial music tumbled all about,
As reverent flutes joined sweeping strings in song.
I heard no voice, yet whisperings of grace
Spoke solace there, amidst the glimmering;
And hope – that had lain crushed in sorrow’s grip –
Afforded me a glimpse of endless spring.
(c) Fiona Lloyd
Seaside observations by Susan Sanderson
A beach walk always reminds me of the creator’s power
Making all I can see from grains of sand to high cliffs that tower.
The cliff’s edge is changing with each winter storm – falling down
In piles of sand and stone, while suspended sand makes the sea look brown.
The sand on the beach changes each day as the tide moves it.
Pools and streams form. There may be whelks, and barnacles on a limpet.
Sometimes the sand’s surface is wet, deeply ripple-patterned.
Other times it is blown Sahara-dry along the surface, flattened.
At midnight when the silvery moon is full the sea shines,
And lights of fishing boats can be seen – they use nets not rods and lines.
Fishermen bring their catches to fill many a freezer.
I now know that, ‘Work out your salvation’ is not a brain teaser.
© Susan Sanderson
Previously published on https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/paint-chip-poetry/
The theme for this poem was ‘A country faith’. Rhyming couplets were suggested. Paint chip words and phrases are in italics.
Why There Are No Dinosaurs Now by Rosemary Johnson
Den and Dinah, dinosaurs both,
Loved to play and romp
Splash, slosh and slurp, spray and squelch in
The wet and watery swamp.
There came to stay Aunt Tyra May
(A Tyrannosaurus Rex)
She scoffed and burped, she snored and roared
Fierce, but one of the best.
“Den and Dinah, dears,” she said,
“I’ve bought you some nice shoes.
Big boy trainers, big girl trainers.
These you must not lose.”
Blue for Dinah, and red for Den
And just like Ham next door’s
“Thank you, Auntie. Thanks so much.”
“Take care of them, my ‘saurs.
“To the swamp, wet, watery
You must no longer go.
No more splash, slosh, slurp or squelch
If you do, I’ll know.”
When Auntie left, it rained and rained.
Said Mum, “You’ll both need wellies.”
Den and Dinah, in Auntie’s shoes,
Stayed in and watched the telly.
The rain still came. Dinah and Den
Rowed about their viewing.
“Go out and play. You like the wet,”
Said Mum. “Out you’re goo-ing.”
Why There Are No Dinosaurs now (continued)
“Mum, we can’t. We told our aunt
We wouldn’t spoil our shoes.
It’s wet and watery outside
And Auntie’s well fierce too.”
Then Mrs Noah, from next door,
Knocked and asked, “How’re you?
We’re building an ark, and taking in
Animals two by two.”
“Would Den and Dinah like to come?
With their good friend, Ham?
We need two dinosaurs, you see.”
“Good idea” says Mum.
“Across the swamp and up the plank.
Go on, my little pets.”
“No, no. It’s wet and watery.”
Watery and wet.”
“Oh, hurry up,” said Mrs Noah.
“We’ve no time to lose.
Noah, he wants to sail tonight.
Never mind your shoes.”
Den and Dinah eyed the swamp.
They knew it wasn’t to be.
No longer splash, splosh, slurp or squelch.
Now they watch TV.
Have you ever wondered why
Or asked yourself how?
It’s because of Dinah and Den
No dinosaurs live now.