Light Shines Through

Mole Valley Poets Anthology 2009

Mole Valley Poets meet monthly to celebrate, discuss and share poetry in all its many forms and expressions.

The diversity of their work is represented in the pages of this anthology. We hope you agree that light does indeed shine through.

If you would like more information about Mole Valley Poets, visit our website

Copyright for the poems in this anthology resides with authors.

Winter Solstice Sequence Diana Webb
Taxidermy Diana Webb
Turner's Goal Diana Webb
Salve Festa Dies Diana Webb
Thoughts on 11th September 2001 Hugh Timothy
Aldwych Hugh Timothy
Reflections of Gaea Hugh Timothy
the sun & the grass: a landscape of impressions A A Marcoff
dream A A Marcoff
the river A A Marcoff
Unwilling Traveller Michael Lane
Sussex Forge Michael Lane
A Small White Tablet Michael Lane
Fern Helen Overell
Decisions Helen Overell
Skipping Helen Overell
Filton 1977 Helen Overell
The Narrator Charles Measures
Show Me The Skid-marks Charles Measures
Three Lunches Marilyn Hammick
Picture This Marilyn Hammick
The social force of a Chinese birdwatcher Marilyn Hammick
At Quinta Mimosa Marilyn Hammick
And I will bake you bread John Whiting
This is my Kitchen John Whiting
An Uneventful Journey John Whiting
Small Poems John Whiting
Stunned Rosemary Wagner
Not Dover Beach Rosemary Wagner
Double, double, toil and trouble Rosemary Wagner
The continuous present of craft Rosemary Wagner
Fethiye, Evening Prayer Sue Beckwith
The Beach Sue Beckwith
Florence Sue Beckwith
Night Shots - Paciano Sue Beckwith
Crowd Control Sue Beckwith
Star Quality Sue Beckwith
Music Tony Earnshaw
Wood Pigeons Tony Earnshaw
Food Tony Earnshaw
Jury Service Tony Earnshaw
Lakeland haiku Tony Earnshaw
Aftermath Sylvia Herbert
In Bruges Sylvia Herbert
A Dog Barking Sylvia Herbert
Evening in Iona Sylvia Herbert
Contributors Mole Valley Poets

Winter Solstice Sequence

midwinter bus ride-
deer leaps
in parallel

ancient hearth-
the dance
of this one flame

just visible
as light fades on the fence
a robin

Christmas Eve-
the empty allotment sheds
echo with crows

Diana Webb
published in Blithe Spirit March 2009


In a dark recess of the local museum, stuffed birds; bittern,
heron, in dusty glass cases reminiscent of exhibits in the
museum of my childhood, the big house in Broomfield Park
through which Miss B, who once darted from a sum-filled
blackboard to point out the first swift, would lead us on our
weekly nature walks. A stone's throw from the road where
Stevie Smith lived and wrote of it 'How sweet the birds of

my found feather
a breath

Diana Webb
Haibun published in Haibun Today
Haiku published in The Heron's Nest 2008

Turner's Goal

A sunken blob of paint marks the centre of the football pitch,
almost spot on where Turner created a watercolour of the old
church tower, west-facing on the brow of the hill, beyond trees
in full leaf now as then, their varying shades, five black and
white cows caught where the goal posts stand today, between
here and the new hedge, obscuring the view he brushed in of
the river's flow...

to the chalky curve
a dragonfly

A pair of maintenance lads in green wheel out a new layer from
a plastic container; turning the corner, a chemical smell, some
kind of weedkiller they say, burning it in.

coated grass bladesre-
ruling them
the wind

Diana Webb
published in Presence 2008

Salve Festa Dies (Ralph Vaughan Williams - 1872-1958)

baton gone missing
our great composer's statue-
traffic roaring by

Go past the concert hall his efforts helped provide, a little
further down the High Street to the White Horse Hotel, where
on Wednesday afternoons during World War Two, he
introduced 'An Informal Hour of Music.'

urban bench-
humming away to himself
a local drunk

Cross the road and walk through the precinct to St Martin's
Church, its Victorian spire visible for miles, where he conducted
many choirs, and listen with an audience of all ages to a
concert celebrating one who felt that music is in everyone and
those who do not sing are not alive. Chorus of alleluias as the
stained glass shines through crimson, turquoise gold.

left on a pew
the crumpled white trumpet
of a bindweed flower

Diana Webb
published in Moonset Spring 2009

Thoughts on 11th September 2001


Hate is hunger
So feed them hate
To make the mighty maw
ache to be filled
Till they are only hunger and
its pain
Then offer them revenge
Hell's nectar to die for.


The mad dogs bit
The towering legs of power
Sanity crumbled.


We feel the death of one;
How should we bear
Our need
To mourn
For thousands?
Does not each deserve
The same as one.


How do you punish
The dead
Sent by shadows?

How do you curb
The maddened man
Who worships death?

How do you stop
The puppeteers
In their deadly cabaret?


Behold the carousel of hatred
Gaining speed.
See the vivid painted cars
Filled with souls who shout in
Each car has its name
Honour, Humanity, and Justice
But look how each is overpainted
With the single name Revenge.
Watch it as it spins still faster
Reason blurs.
Will we let it spin us to oblivion?

Hugh Timothy
Written the next day 12th September 2001


Grey as the channelling walls
denser than smog
it washes over me
a seamless sludge of bass
with timpani of bus & lorry
of taxi rattle
an irritation of horns.
The turbulent flow of people
an incoherence of voices.

I listen and long for the peace of green
the sound of leaves
the jubilance of birds
and the silence of clouds.

Hugh Timothy

Reflections of Gaea

At the centre, where all paths met
I came upon a tree.
Its shape true:
the filigree of branches,
its leafy mantle
but all in alabaster white,
each leaf and vein
the guise of stone.
Yet it moved,
whispering with the wind

And as I gazed
I saw it flower with blooms of black
the petals rich in darkness,
reflecting nothing,
like voids in space,
through which they fed
this strange sepulchral tree
with stolen energies.

Beneath the tree stood Three,
one covered head to foot in red
and one in living green
and one in gold.
They slowly turned to me.
I looked upon their faces.
Each was born of glass,
yet fluid and transparent as a stream.

The songs they sang,
though silent in the air,
resounded in my head
each different
yet totally in harmony;
the many sounds of glass.

Each leant against the tree
to face a path.
I stood before the Green
who sang a pastorale
that with sadness faded
as her song grew faint,
to bleed into her path.

The Red then sung a pulsing song
like blood through veins
till her total essence ran up the tree,
red streams in the white
turning the blooms to scarlet.

Solitary, the Gold began,
a splendid song
that grew in power and volume
till I shook in sympathy
Then with its towering grand finale
exploded in a shower of golden shards
that settled upon ever leaf.

And I knew I'd reached my autumn.

Hugh Timothy
Awarded 2nd prize in Mole Valley Arts Alive 2007 Festival International Poetry Competition

the sun & the grass: a landscape of impressions

Softly the breath in this light & beautiful world, dusky voice that
penetrates silences, words that emanate from wonder & breath
& moment ...

There is a scattering of snow & a silence greater than the hills
fills the land as far as eyes can see. Sparrows cluster in a
breeze, grass broken here & there, like memories. A cormorant
perches in the silence of the water, a millpond where the sun
catches the feathers of the birds in white illumination &
surprise. Leaves cover the railway embankment & I can hear
the sounds of morning accumulate as seabirds rise as one
from the waters & scatter into the sky like a script, cawing,
cawing, cawing with the sound of the sea. They form
hieroglyphics of a deepening light, a tracery that gathers & then
fades quite suddenly. Further along the road, one single
seabird wheels through its own white curve.

This whole landscape seems declamatory & wild.

A deer runs, bounding, through open fields, running in wonder
& joy at its own lovely freedom. There is lightning deep in my
mind. A wilderness of light & space, this winter, gathered into a
hard sky, now bright, & cold. We walk into that panorama of
distant trees, the land sparse & harsh as we go. Crows collect
in fields. Light stirs & bends into morning. Could these views
summarise nature, the level & beauty of land? Light ascends
into the joy of my thoughts. High above, those seabirds swirl
through haze, their wings catching what light there is. This
glow, or dispensation, of winter.

I can hear songbirds near the bulrushes & three seabirds circle
once more overhead. In as much as we are walking, we are
alive to the core, & understand something unspoken on this
wild, mysterious way. The waters nearby are still as stone. So
many small birds flit back & forth among the reeds & the air
seems thronged & exciting. This moment is a distillation of

I remember how that tree looked in autumn—draped in fire,

The woods are quiet, ghostly now, with wisps of growth upon
the ground. The river flows on into the sun, light frayed,
glowing. What could be more invoking than this view of clouds
drifting in brief shapes that ever change with winter winds?
The sky is alive with bird & sun, the seed of the sun sown &
piled up high with light, until slowly this hour begins to fade &
day comes to an end, the servants of Death upon the hill,
waiting like trees ...

we are walking
hand in hand
into the colours
of memory:
you showed me a rainbow

A A Marcoff



A A Marcoff

the river

the river rises
into spring
the green
mosaic of sunrise

it is
a rocky white
& flows
out of its own enchantment:
it shines
implicit sky
the hills
the white distances

the waters
their own fusion -
a broken blaze & incantation:
the kingfisher
is the light of the river -
a fleeting blue intensity:
it appears
to the eye
as the force-fisherman of time
& makes a jewel of itself -
brief definition
of wing

A A Marcoff

Unwilling Traveller

Before he died he tried to reconstruct
a saga that had never left his mind:
his first world war.

First Flanders, then unchosen odyssey:
troopship across a stormy central sea
to furthest Greece

Marching, countermarching, mules for baggage,
while diplomats in London, Paris, Athens,
Sofia, manoeuvred -

who must stay neutral, who must stand with us.
And muddy rivers rolled through hostile mountains.
But there was time

for long nights camped below Mount Olympus,
only stars and distant shepherd-bells.
And nothing happened.

The pilgrimage moved on to Palenstine:
impressions recollected: desert, battles,
thirst, Lewis guns.

Jerusalem by Christmas, choreographed
parade of armies; a general entered
ostentatiously on foot.

Someone in London threw the dice again.
His caravan turned around—ships, cattle-trucks.
That long straight track,

the spine of Italy. Back to an old war.
it seems, luckily, they arrived too late
Peace came.

I read these notebooks, in that neat dead hand;
He knew, when we were young, his war talk bored us.
(Besides, we had our own war).

He carried all these thoughts from year to year,
The memory becoming more insistent,
I understand that now.

Michael Lane

Sussex Forge

Emotion dulled by images
Of the world's daily injuries,
Can it be right to grieve
For a fallen apple tree?

Long grown hollow,
Heart-wood rotted,
Trunk a fragile tube,
This summer could no longer bear
The weight of leaf and blossom
Spring had forced upon it.
In its last flowering it lies
Broken and collapsed.

Last survivor
Of a long-gone miller's orchard:
Newton Wonder, Golden Russet
And this a Sussex Forge -
Local to these parts, small
Unconsidered apple, pale pink flesh,
Strong sweet perfume. No place
For this on supermarket shelf

These thirty years of my brief tenancy
I cherished it, but saw it slowly dying;
Its span beyond a hundred years.
Longer-lived than I, its time has come at last.
No need to point the moral.

Michael Lane

A Small White Tablet


I grasped his hand–more than a private gesture.
He was still young, though not, I dare say
As young as I. I can't remember what I said:
Something encouraging, no doubt,
But not (I hope) too glib.
He was now fit to go back to his village, though
Who could say how they would treat him there.

The others sat in rows–one side women,
The other, men, on long worn mats
Across the concrete floor, and nursed
Their rotted toes and fingers. For them
There was no going home. They sang
(I suppose) some well-known hymn
In celebration or farewell, while outside
Hot March winds rattled the dry leaves
Round this small refuge, discreetly out of town
From which so few went home.

Yet change had now arrived–he was the proof.
Too late for some, hope was a small white tablet
To save at least the coming generation.

Years later, we would see the neat brick huts lie empty:
Old plague dismissed at last by chemistry.

Michael Lane


The tired old fern by the back door
knuckles deep into the earth,
half-hidden by skeletal fronds
wintered to tattered bronze;

neat shepherds' crooks push up - straw-bound
spirals balanced on green stems -
reach lanterned light from daffodils
tugged, twirled, spun to nimble

bleat-loud sheep, tangled wool tousled
by wind, rain, sky to corkscrew
curls on felted fleece, heads down, grass
cropped by day, stars by night.

Helen Overell
published in Acumen May 2008


Trebor Chews glue your teeth together,
Black Jacks leave you with a purple tongue,
Fruit Salads dwindle to thin pale strips
that linger on.

Gob Stoppers bulge, pull your eyelids down,
Spangles' middles disappear, sharp edged,
Barley Twists taste smooth, honey-coloured,
all the way through.

Refreshers do not undo your thirst,
Love Hearts never ever tell you true,
Peppermints burn with slow fire, freeze you
with each in-breath.

Helen Overell
published in The Interpreter's House July 2008


The ropes lay dormant half the year,
each hank an elongated eight

wound thumb to elbow, shoe-horned free,
the knots at either end tucked in.

Some signal woke them - tag, two-ball,
counting out, vanished overnight -

the playground filled with twirling arcs
that hissed the air to stand-still blurs -

caged spaces, curved, in rope-turn glass,
bruised by the slap of gray asphalt.

Footwork was everything - each skip,
rope-clear, defeated gravity,

kept the chanted rhymes in step, held
the whirling pleated world at bay.

Helen Overell
published in Magma June 2007

Filton 1977

Windswept - more sky than ground,
the elbowed concrete posts on guard
along the road, the chain-link fence
anchored by couch-grass, the airfield
stunned by hook-nosed takeoffs one third
the speed of sound, flight at Mach 2,
delta-winged, the Earth seen as curved.

The bus-stop's partner stands aloof
across the way, flanked by brick-built
houses all alike - the school bell
clamours out of sight, my classroom
waits. My desk holds chalk, pencils, pens,
the pale beige rough-edged register
with names as cargo, a washed out

ketchup bottle filled with murky
water For you Miss my puzzled
smile lets loose a flock of winged words
A puddle full of rainbows Miss
the rain scooped up, the thin oil film
that splintered light dispersed, bright
swirls lost; my task to tell them this.

Helen Overell
published in Other Poetry July 2006 and Inscapes and Horizons, St Albert's Press November 2008

The Narrator

A week-end festival of arts and entertainment,
with late night theatre
drawing Friday to a close.
I should have seen dance and drama,
but all I saw was you.

Was it the role you were playing,
or the gift of your personality,
portrayed in your character
that made me stare,
beyond the crinolines of your costume
into the heart of your performance,
that never left my eyes?

Notes and flowers were left, at back stage doors,
with sympathetic doormen, as we missed each other
a day or two apart
from the same venue, on separate tours.

During an escalating summer
of concert halls and studios,
each performance gathered its own momentum,
as I collected programmes and headlines
for future memories,
in the secret hope of children.

Spring snow captured
time and hearts, long enough
to settle two futures
and place my ring upon your finger

One afternoon, whilst swimming,
the water receded
down the long stream of your hair,
across the lower reaches of your back,
to discover the black outline of
your swimsuit.

If time ever stood still,
or heaven caught its breath,
it was then
when I saw you,
climbing out of the water:
the brush stokes of infinite symmetry
the deep sigh of unspoken words,
across the pallet of graceful
and confident fulfillment:
the glaze of pronounced beauty,
caressed into flesh.

As when,
Adam first saw Eve
and melted in disbelief
to still feel her breath upon his face
and know he was not dreaming.

The assurance of her being, within
time and word, conceived
the hint of an everlasting
truth, a permanent
desire to bless.

The mysteries of silence
within a whispered

Charles Measures

Show Me The Skid-marks

Should I check for skid-marks,
in the driver's seat?
You haven't been there,

revving between the ratios of your low polar
moments of inertia.

Your published word protests,
"I was really going quite fast, actually,
in my solitary game of chicken, through the vacant darkness
along the better county roads."

Haute cuisine phrases to titillate
the palette of those who could not stomach
visions of a hound from Hell,
hot upon the trail,
but would indulge a Chihuahua
from Cruft's,
scampering at the heel:

a house trained little devil
to release
for polite applause and a walkie
on the wild side,
with the writers circle, after biscuits
and a decaf.

Keep it real.
It takes balls, or some front to put out
the lights and invoke
the soundtrack of the night to sleep,
with one eye open,

or both,
should you remove your top
and set up the local boys for a late night
take away of sweet and sour, spiced up
with the aroma of shredded

Are you hot
wired for speed-dating,
as you gun the gas,
in your pimped up ride, to fuse
in with the slipstream
and backdrop of the shadows?

Then morph at midnight
to thunder drumming in the monolithic
movement of a monster,
favoured by the Chechnyn rebels:
one Godzilla of a mother
truck, with 'Terra' tyres fitted
to crush lampers
and fell pylons across acres
of the national grid.

is the only feature not going spare,
on the custom list of options
you are rapidly running out of
on the street,
where your grip is paper thin.

Terms and conditions apply,
to lower my suspension of disbelief,
when you put your foot down
and claim the flowers I will leave,
against the roadside cross.

Charles Measures

Three Lunches

Today I walked in the Spanish mountains
- there were six of us. We had lunch in Sella
with local wine: cold, sweet stuff.
The Irishman had seen a dead dog
last time he took the same path. No-one
passed us going the other way.

August 2006: I went to Andorra for lunch
- there were four of us, no Irishman.
We held Rioja in our warm hands,
walked a street of tax-free goods.
Spanish women sprayed perfume
on each other. There was no dead dog.

1996: I walked the Derry Way
- there were two of us, we carried lunch
on our backs. There was no wine.
We passed an Irishman who said
There's a dead sheep back there, if
you can smell it, you won't get lost.

Marilyn Hammick

Picture This

In a Vancouver Gallery
that says it displays
the work of Emily Carr, mostly
its wall to wall other artists.

Betsy Goodwin captured three gossips
bench bound on a grey day.
Two black hats, one head and neck
wrapped in white net.

Two face each other, one
leans in to listen. All
pinched feet, knitted fingers,
invisible ears, sharp noses.

Mothballed conversation
in the space of a nineteen
by nine, charcoal conté
and ink on paper.

Marilyn Hammick

The social force of a Chinese birdwatcher

Chen Shiuhue searches for a crested tern,
presumed extinct; the last twenty one
consigned to a museum
by an old-school ornithologist.

He travels from island to island
seeking the diagnostic black tip
on an orange beak. He records
the whereabouts of fifty surviving pairs.

Typhoons sweep chicks from rocks,
no-one sees a black tip for two years
A fisherman finds four breeding pairs,
directs their eggs to restaurant plates.

Mr Chen pleads protection
for the world’s rarest living bird.
The authorities reply we are proud
of our birds, wetlands, wilderness.

Each morning Mr Chen waves
to a rickety patrol boat that hugs
the Shandong coast. Each evening
he touches the blessing on his door.

Marilyn Hammick

At Quinta Mimosa

At Quinta Mimosa ripe figs hang
ready for my knife and spoon.
Sliced into half dishes
slightly gritty, pink, fragrant
soft flesh that slides down my throat
two minutes away from the branch.

Near the fig tree purple jacarandas sway
dropping faded jewels into the pool.
Collected into floats of debris
that dance back and forth, now in
now out of the shadows, they wait
for the sweep of the gardener’s net.

And all the time dogs bark behind
ornamental gates, cars lift dust from
the road edge and swallows draw
parabolas overhead. I listen
for the corncrake
for its rasping saw of sound.

Marilyn Hammick

And I will bake you bread

On days when the moon comes up
before the sun I will rise early
while you slumber, mix yeast

with water, fold and knead dough
pushing my whole body
through the palms of my hands then

permit it to rise in a matrix of
elastic air. I will fix seeds of
sunflower and sesame beneath

a glaze of milk. Whilst the magic
occurs and crusts harden I will brew
you tea, wakening you to the warm

smell of morning. And later
when the sun has risen and
the moon merged into the sky

we will break bread together
smothering it with butter and honey
and give shape to a new day.

John Whiting

This is my Kitchen

from The Observer Magazine, July 2009

This is my kitchen, says Shifa, shyly in English.
A piece of broken board is propped on two drums
to function as a table.
Clever kitchens designed around you.

The force of the explosion that destroyed Shifa's house
folded floor into floor as easily as pastry.
Main Meals 2 for little ones tearing around...
Your kind of food. Your kind of place.

Six months after Israel's war against Gaza,
Shifa sleeps with her family
behind the fallen house.
Enjoy the tennis with a Pimm's and lemonade.

Because of the missiles, this neighbourhood of farms
and little factories was treated to a scorched earth policy.
Escape with an action-packed movie
on the new W995 Walkman phone.

The family were sleeping in the ruins to shelter from the rain,
surrounded by the stinking bodies of their sheep,
killed during the assault.

After going through Hell food deserves Hellmann's.

John Whiting

An Uneventful Journey

A crossing between Sumbawa and Lombok, east of Java

The waters here are deep. Between these islands
submarines pass unseen from the Indian
to the Pacific Ocean. Soon after leaving harbour
the ferryboat adopted an uncertain,
juddering rhythm. Both wind and waves in the
wrong direction for a direct crossing. The wind
anxious to drive us hundreds of miles up
through the meagrely populated Java Sea.
It got dark with tropical haste. To our left,
further round to the south west, the lights
of a coastal town could be made out,
the shelter where we should be heading.
I could feel the captain hesitate, delaying
the difficult turn we needed to make across
the eye of the wind and take the waves
hard on the starboard side.

Helpless on the open deck I held course with him,
watching the sea and the other passengers.
A toilet door slammed with every roll. Each moment
we pulled our way through the water, making the turn
became more difficult, yet more necessary. Eventually
he made the decision, the point of no return.
Fail and we would flounder, waves pound one side,
pour over and send us down so quickly.
No time to release the lifeboat from its jammed,
rusty cable. No time to react to the empty
timber containers marked lifebelts.
Some brief, pathetic thrashing and eternity.
Perhaps a small reference in western newspapers.

I held my breath, the boat rose and fell steeply, at times
the prop spinning clear of the water. It seemed forever,
we went about like a sail boat, imaginary sails
shuddered furiously then took the wind from
the other side - we had made it. We were heading
for the coast and the lights. Another hour,
maybe less, and we would be safe.
Was I the only passenger to be relieved?

Back in Jakarta I discussed the crossing -
an almost nonchalant reply - yes, boats did go missing
in that part of the world,
nothing was ever found.

John Whiting

Small Poems

Look up, look down,
staying still
the world comes to you.

The absence of mountain between mountains
some call valley,
water feels its shape.

Natural hieroglyphics abound
with fractal filigree,
poised between infinities.

John Whiting


After the play of squirrels,
silence in the hide
and on the perches;
someone stifles a sneeze.

Then - at last - a flash, a flit
of bird to the nut-feeder -
we strain our eyes
against the summer light,

a tit? Great-tit? Coal-tit? Phut!
A shock of black, a shadow-blur
of night blots out
the fluttering speck,

scoops it,
with easy shudder
of unheard wings,
straight to the tree-crowns:

high in the cage of its talons
the crumpled songbird hangs,

all our heart-beats
snatched for a second
by the sparrow-hawk.

Rosemary Wagner

Not Dover Beach

I eat my sandwiches by the light of the moon,
remembering Arnold:
watching those same but different waves
roll in, suck back and roar.

And what have we learned since, I wonder,
cupping the cold oval of a pebble
in my palm,
despite the glitter of technology?

How to distract our minds
from the hard matter in hand
with virtual abstractions,
I decide in the end,

stroking the crushed sea creatures
in my blue stone.

Rosemary Wagner

Double, double, toil and trouble

That crow over there, on the fence-post
in the vineyard, is learning his lines.
I see him nearly every day on my morning walk,
still and baleful as a midnight hag.
You can hear him cackling and chucking
to himself. He's rehearsing for Macbeth,
I'm sure of it. Having hoped for the King's
part, he had to make do with one of the witches.
There he goes again: 'Eye of newt and toe of frog,
wool of...wool of...' Rather well cast, don't you think?

Rosemary Wagner

The continuous present of craft

crafted from egoless hours
of skilled fingerwork
and breathing of strands of her life
into the evenness of stitches,
absorbing her scratches and tears,
calming her runaway mind
while deflecting her fears,
as she picks it up again
to work seamlessly on
through the luminous days
and crepuscular hours,
not knowing who will use it later
or wear it for years,
proud of the message
of its hand-craft,
no money having changed hands,
she having gifted it on
without signature or imprint
and down
to whomsoever felt drawn
to the pattern and weave
of another's life

Rosemary Wagner

Fethiye, Evening Prayer

There is an anguish,
such longing, strange to call
to mind in the insistence
of the evening call to prayer,
minaret to sunset minaret,
the thrill of the exotic

Hasten to the prayer, Hasten to the prayer
-- Hayya la-s-saleah - Hayya la-s-saleah

Sue Beckwith

The Beach

Blurred print and blinding white
of sticky-fingered pages
encrusted with sand.
Red hot, pulsating light
behind squinting eyelids.
Melting smells of suntan oil,
salt-dried hair and tender skin.

Waves of laughter, the glee
of holiday families, new-found
friends, scatter on the breeze.
Thrills of crystal clear, ice-cold
intakes of breath, as the sea creeps up,
lapping at bikini flowers;
a lover’s caress.

Sue Beckwith


Think "bell"
long echoes of bell
peal upon peal
bell over bell
reverberates, repeats

Sue Beckwith

Night Shots - Paciano

Creep down the path aglow
with firefly trails fading
away into the distant
deep drum and trill of frogs

Lower yourself quietly, quietly,
not to disturb the dark, still water
which smoothes your shoulders
in a warm oiled sheath

Cup the soft folds in your hands
and pour yourself back out
to the intensity of stars,
lavender and cool grass

Watch the deep red rim
of the hills herald
a crescent moon, sliding
to nestle in the crook of the forest

Slow shutter, an eternity

Sue Beckwith

Crowd Control

Words to support, words to uplift,
words that sing of pride of place.

Words to rally, words to rouse,
a chant to unify the crowd.

Words to rant, words to hurt,
words that amplify in hate.

Sue Beckwith

Star Quality

This was no pretty Damselfly
no excuse me wallflower
hugging the water's edge
ignored by the water boatmen
strutting their same old stuff

But a Dragonfly dazzling
sawing through the rushes
sultry attention grabber
more than a match
for the lazy basking carp

Sue Beckwith


Take a violin
Bow, bridge and strings
Layered veneer, crafted wood
Caressed with love, as it should,
what joy it brings
Take a violin

Take a simple drum
Skin treated, held taut
Ready for assault by stick
Gives the rhythm, slow or quick
Leads the players, as it ought
Take a simple drum

Take a saxophone
Keypads, springs and keys
Powered by the single reed
Love and passion, want and need
Days of work and days of ease
Take a saxophone

Take the human voice
Tone, expression, range and pitch
Gateway to the human soul
And as you listen, you’re made whole,
see the stars and not the ditch
Take the human voice

Take the soul’s breath, the heart’s pulse,
the blood coursing, the spirit racing,
the love emerging, the truth dawning, the hope raising
the tears salting, the blood stirring, the laughter leaping,
the life kindling,
the flame keeping

Take the soul’s breath


Tony Earnshaw

Wood Pigeons

Wood pigeons would cause havoc making love
in any confined space
the perpetuation of the race demanding
much beating of wings
much chasing, swooping and diving
much competing for the prime position
much batting of wings against foliage
so the trees shake
and the branches sway
and the race survives another day

Tony Earnshaw


In the dust bowl
of central Africa
there is none

In the salad bowl
of southern England

Tony Earnshaw

Jury Service

Red chairs with inadequate cushions
Jurors with a surfeit of time
Ushers like border collies
snapping at the heels of crime

Tony Earnshaw

Lakeland haiku

snow on the ridge
obscures the view

mementoes of Kuala Lumpur
Lakeland peaks

glaciers formed these valleys
shaped me

visiting the ashes
long since washed away

water tumbles over rocks
a presence

snow on turf
announce spring

tea in the snow
rock cakes
on the hill side

oboe, cello, flute
weave around the theme
he turns the set off

little to say
much to be said

Tony Earnshaw


Grief is a place apart;
Reality and unreality converge,
Senses are dulled,
Heart and mind shut down,
There's no normality.

As the snail withdraws into its shell,
The hedgehog coils into oblivion
When trouble strikes,
So the afflicted spirit
Freezes and is numbed
Into a stupor

Until the streaming tears
And teeming memories
Release the wrenching pain
Of loss, of loneliness.
And knowing what it is to be alive.

Sylvia Herbert

In Bruges

Bewildered by beauty, I return to the swans,
Lace on a black background, stitched to the dark canal
Leading to Notre Dame, where Michaelangelo's
Sculptured white Madonna, enfolding the Christ Child
Gleams palely in her niche, silent, serene as they
Whose pure reflection heralds coifs, In the Beguinage,
Of nuns in quiet prayer. And in the shops the swans
Have flocked to handkerchiefs, settled on starched tray cloths,
Sweetened smooth chocolate shapes.

Maximilian decreed that swans live in peace
Forever in this town, in memory of his friend.
Since Fourteen Eighty-Eight, beneath the willows' shade
And on the grassy bank near where the horses stand
To rest their feet and drink, they spend their tranquil days
Recalling history, true to their heritage.

Sylvia Herbert

A Dog Barking

A dog barking in the night
Pours energy into silence.
It ricochets off whitewashed walls
Up to the windless trees, into the air
Which slips through open windows.
Lights go on and voices murmur
"What was that?"
A crying child is comforted by kindness.
The question stays unanswered.
The dream-startled dog resumes his slumbering,
As soundlessly the darkness closes in.

Sylvia Herbert

Evening in Iona

Yellow flags which shelter corncrakes' nests
Incline their heads to summer's breeze;
Fuchsias weep their tears of blood
On drystone walls.

We watch the growing black-faced lambs
Graze the daisy fields,
And nearby buttercups insist on being noticed,
Spilling their easy gold about our feet.

I never heard the blackbird sing so loud,
Nor thrush at evening's end appear so sweet,
Carolling a welcome to the fishers' boat
That creeps along the sound.

Silver sea laps over quiet sand
And darkness never seems to fall,
But sleep comes gently
On a prayer of light.

Sylvia Herbert


Sue Beckwith works in software sales & marketing translating the technical into everyday language and continually searches and strives for writing that transforms the everyday into poetry.

Tony Earnshaw is a Dorking based poet and playwright, interested in different forms of writing and a believer in the benefit of feedback in the creative process.

Marilyn Hammick writes (and reads) poetry while travelling and at home in France; seeking words and form that translate the ordinary into wider meanings.

Sylvia Herbert is a retired Modern Languages teacher who has lived in Surrey since 1970. She is a founder member of Mole Valley Poets and writes poetry for pleasure.

Michael Lane has published a number of poems in "The Betjemanian" and "The Countryman" and has won poetry competitions. He finds his inspiration in the local countryside.

A A Marcoff gets much inspiration for his poetry from walking by the River Mole. He does some work in Mental Health.

Charles Measures' approach to poetry is akin to that of Anglo-American relations: the Milky Bar Kid teaming up with Billy the Kid.

Helen Overell works part-time in education. Her first collection "Inscapes & Horizons" is published by St Albert's Press.

Hugh Timothy - Poet, Playwright, Scriptwriter and Film Maker

Rosemary Wagner studied modern languages and literature, and has worked in education, administration and translation. She has written poems all her life.

Diana Webb's main poetic interest is haiku and related writing. She enjoys organising haiku events and sharing the joy of haiku with as many people as possible.

John Whiting is an engineer with a lifelong interest in water, rivers and dams and is teetering on retirement. He has been writing for the past 15 years. He lives in Cheam.