Mole Valley Poets Anthology 2016

The poems in this anthology have all the swirling intensity of a murmuration with sudden switches of movement and mood, images and sentiment. Mole Valley Poets invite you into their "murmuration" of poetry. We hope you enjoy the display.

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

For more information about Mole Valley Poets, visit our website

We are also a Poetry Society Stanza Group

Starlings at sunset Keith Donachie
Cello (Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach at the Proms) A A Marcoff
Two for joy Helen Overell
Requiem for John Taverner Rosemary Wagner
Waiting for a kingfisher Sue Beckwith
A Year On Susan Thomas
tanka A A Marcoff
Desroches Denise Bundred
New Malden Helen Overell
NUNC DIMITTIS Sylvia Herbert
Like a Dove Elizabeth Barton
The girl with the flaxen hair Wendy Freeman
Neglect Helen Overell
Duck shooting Tony Earnshaw
Wedding Day at Troldhauen Rosemary Wagner
And She had a Heart Denise Bundred
Feather Elizabeth Barton
Writing in silence Sue Beckwith
Hiroshima survivor 2015 Rosemary Wagner
The Cave at Delphi Sue Beckwith
World War One A Deck of Cards Sharon Williams
Have I? Tony Earnshaw
Engaged Sylvia Herbert
Houdini at the multi storey Tony Earnshaw
Cassandra at the Auction Jane Freimiller
Taking Heart Denise Bundred
The Shell Wendy Freeman
The Ring Susan Thomas
Abdullah Tony Earnshaw
Climping Helen Overell
light A A Marcoff
Dreamtime Sue Beckwith
Cyanotic Child Denise Bundred
Coffee Shops Rosemary Wagner
A glimpse of Wimbledon Sylvia Herbert
Cowboys Susan Thomas
Bull Leaper Sue Beckwith
Birthday Candles Jane Freimiller
Day off Elizabeth Barton
BIRD ON A BRANCH Sylvia Herbert
Contributors & Dedication  

Copyright for the poems in this anthology resides with the authors.

Starlings at sunset

Over the leaden sea the sun is setting in a blaze of gold
Silently summoned, starlings gather in the sky
Black apostrophes circling in silhouette
Against the light
Swirled like leaves they hurry to join the dance
Switching direction suddenly to some command
Signalled by ancient rhythms within their genes
Drumbeat of their tribe
The sky is full now, the tempo of the dance increases
As they soar out to sea beyond the stiff legged pier
A million black specks switching direction
A blink of God's eye, blinding the sun
Joy in the certainty and grace of their flight
Held in harmony on lifting breezes in the fading light
Trusting their partner, wing to wing in exhilaration
As clouds darken to purple
Suddenly the winged whirlwind swarms and disappears
Sucked in beneath the sheltering pier hidden from sight
Awkward shuffling, claws on rusted lime dropped girders
Sharp eyes closing, heads nestled under folded wings
Still now but dreaming of the dance

Keith Donachie

Cello (Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach at the Proms)

after the silent
months, the light is tough,
the shell of time broken,
& gulls fly into the west in crimson:
the music follows its own path:
cello to moment, this sea darker by the echo,
as some indecipherable manuscript, or metal:
the chords seem struck as Zen brushstrokes
in this grey calligraphy of music –
Bach rising a thousand moons out of the grey:
these patterns of infinity are swept on to the sands
of the seashore, perpetually, 8, 16, 24,
in waves, like time,
like agony, the deep dark waves
of evening crashing upon stone,
a deep breeze, rocks broken,
sea surging upon cliff
in claw, & escalation,
the emptiness

of the sky – until night
breaks into stars,
infinite.... like music,
these chords at the core of the cosmic,
connected, grey & beautiful,
these moments
we recognise in ourselves,
at the end & at the beginning,
in star, bow,
& wave

A A Marcoff
Published in The Frogmore Papers, 2016

Two for joy

Both are perched on the branch of a hawthorn tree,
squinting into the long low light of morning.

He sees a field full of diamonds, he swoops down,
eyes the encrusted blades of grass,

pecks at fire, his thirst remains unquenched,
he is disheartened, disconsolate.

She tugs on a glint of silver, frees a thread fine
as angel hair, a tatter of last year's tinsel,

foil to the berries, dark as blood, the ragged leaves
in wearied green, the needles of shadow-spikes.

She flies to the nest – the ravelling trails
from her beak – tethers, tucks the strand

amongst bits of wire, sticks that make the dome
that shelters them, until a steady radiance,

as from a single star, lightens his heart, hers,
makes clear the sky, the path beneath.

Helen Overell
published in Thumbprints 2015, Oversteps Books

Requiem for John Taverner

Imagine his skeletal body
bone – crunched over the score –

filling last long days
in his Dorset cottage
weaving silence
from the threads
of moving song
made by sunlight
and thistle
outside his window:

transcribing for all
the quiet that hums
in our ears
when dusk falls.

Rosemary Wagner

Waiting for a kingfisher

Walk and wait
wait and walk
sit, stand
and wait
a leaf drifting a fish jumping look away
and catch
a glimpse

Sue Beckwith

A Year On

Waiting for the hollowness to bypass
the stomach, the chest and all the rest
to excrete this misery
dwelling now past it's squatters rights
it's totally moved in, inside.
It is unbelievable, the mind cannot digest
what the body feels, chewing it over nightly
spitting out feathers with each tossed pillow
rising heavy despite the sun, brushing on the smile
apply the new mask which fits quite well now a year on,
but don't touch the edges with your kind tongue
or they may crack and you will see underneath
it's really me that's gone.

Susan Thomas


just ahead of me –
the yellow butterfly

the old river
this cool autumn morning
teaching me how to move

are falling
into my dreams,
like dreams,
making mountains grey

flowers colour
the front of the church
the light of a violin
the sound
of a rainbow

a cormorant in the waters looking around looking around until it becomes its wings

dawn breaks
like a dream breaking –
the blaze
a horse's head

I have come
to a place
of no memory –
white butterflies,
pure breeze, light

hard to believe
that this has come
to be –
the sweet song
of a robin

rock garden...
the silence
of eternity...
the moonlight...
[Ryoanji Rock Garden, Kyoto]

yellow butterfly
in this floating world –
sunlight comes
the gift of honey

a luminous stone
a chain of light
I wear the moon
like a dream

for the snow
the white light
takes shape
with every flake

autumn mist
gives way
to the sun
from the deepest worlds

an egret
then a gull
then a butterfly –
these are the wings
of the river

as the outlines
of dawn begin
the old pond
with sky

there were pigeons
there is now
just rain
grey on the grey stones

the garden
gives rise
to a white butterfly
as the church bell strikes
a moment of wings

post today
the roses here
are beautiful

A A Marcoff
Various published in Blithe Spirit, Presence and Time Haiku


Rain appears as a curtain of mist
from the sea below bruised clouds.

It explodes in a scatter of sand;
settles to the rhythm of firecrackers

which percuss your corrugated-iron roof.
A crab hunkers down, sips

sweet water, hopes the flood
won't float him from his cave

to the wash and slip of ocean.
More suddenly than it arrives

the deluge clips to a gurgle; drips
from gutters, rhythm regular as your pulse

while you turn the chapter of a book
or doze to find tea cold in your cup.

Denise Bundred

New Malden

Suburban semis doze
in the mid-morning hush
that laps the railway lines,
floods fishbone avenues;

the horsechestnut – branches
bare, trunk multi-pollarded –
stands at the kerb, watches
with a thousand eyes;

camellias – tethered and
fenced – white violets in
an unmown lawn, join
the magnolia in prayer;

and a sudden blackbird
sings a psalm unseen.

Helen Overell
Published in Thumbprints 2015, Overstep Books


You hardly notice it in daylight hours,
A blackish smudge, set in the granite wall;

Pass by for Evensong at Candlemas –
The window glows with light against the dark
The old man sees the radiance of the Child.

The Temple Presentation is revealed
Through the beauty of stained glass.

Go closer to see Anna standing by,
And on the step the cage of votive doves;
Above them all the Christ, on Mary's lap,
Is bright with blessing.

So Simeon has seen his heart's desire
And will depart in peace.

You hardly notice it in daylight hours,
Except inside the church
When morning sun streams through
And Christ is our light again.

Sylvia Herbert

Like a Dove

It's a foul evening, but the chapel is ablaze
with light – seven priests and a bishop
in chasubles of red and gold, a bird of flame

hovering above them. My daughter waits
at the altar steps in a white dress, a red flower
in her hair – she's thirteen years old,

already wise to the suffering in our world
but young enough to hope she can ease it.
What name have you chosen? asks the bishop.

Teresa, she says, and it hits me, that a name
is so much more than words – Santa Teresa,
patron saint of the sick and those in need of grace.

My mind is emptied and all I can feel
is tears quivering in my eyes
and wing-beats in my heart; I wonder

how long I've been hiding from love
and out of the windblown dark, something
gentle lights on my soul, like a dove.

Elizabeth Barton
published in Agenda Supplement to 'Family Histories', 2015

The girl with the flaxen hair

Dainty and delicate as a melody,
the girl dances from the page like
the tune that bears her name.
All the brightness of a buttercup field
shines from her hair.

Like a treble clef
she circles and loops,
weaving us into her future.
How can we not join in with her Terpsichore?
We are powerless
to resist her rhythm,
bewitched by her flaxen hair.

Wendy Freeman


Tumbled walls, the drizzled sheen of scattered
hand-hewn stone, thistles as flame in the hearth,

troubled sky for a roof, the door that kept
outside from straying in, skim-thin imprint –

all those faces and footfalls, outstretched hands,
that ever passed through to bring news indoors,

handfuls of kindling, gleanings of oatmeal,
or else, caught fast in that threshold, sob-tight

under a flock of stars, bairns hugged and held,
rifle-butt stumbled out onto turf track.

Helen Overell
commended in Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2014

Duck shooting

A peaceful day, in the fall,
the boy sprawls by me, his hand on the gun.
All is well.
The boy shucks off his shoes,
lies barefoot on the planking,
dreaming, saying little, smiling.
I watch the skittering of the birds on the water,
listen to the silence
and am glad to be there.

He's a good shot, has the eye,
holds the gun like it's part of him,
becomes a machine,
focused, centred, lean.
I see his smile, hold his shoes,
Feel a little proud.

Heading for home we stop to eat.
Coke, a burger, fries.
The perfect day.
Until we reach home
and, twisting round to clean the gun,
he upsets the delicate mechanism of the trigger.

He hasn't unloaded.
His responsibility.

I lost that smile.
Still have the shoes.

Tony Earnshaw

Wedding Day at Troldhauen

The woman in evening dress is alone
in the house, procrastinating.
She peers at the piano, practising
the crumpled pages of Grieg, over and over.
Northern melancholy seeps
into her shoulders. An astigmatic march
of black dots dances in her eyes.
It is still only four o'clock.

What happens next?

The woman walks to the french windows
and stares out. Grey swathes
of suppressed rain slip eastward.
A ragtail cloud blooms pink,
counterpointing one luminous
patch of duck-egg blue.

A silver star rises from the jagged line
of coniferous hills, grows wings and abdomen,
cuts a steely curve across the sky
like a bejewelled scimitar
chasing the dark, its lights,
red and white, silently winking.

That is all.
But it is enough.

Rosemary Wagner

And She had a Heart

E. Simonet; oil on canvas 1890

Post mortem: female 20 years 3 months.
No scars or lacerations. No external
signs of trauma. Heart

enlarged. Weight 15 ounces. Marked
hypertrophy of left ventricle; membrane
obstructs the aortic valve.

Congested lungs, interstitial
oedema, clear pleural fluid.
Brain unremarkable.

Gravid, approximately 20 weeks.
Cause of death: Aortic stenosis.
Stone heart.

The doctor labels me 'stone heart'.
but he is wrong. I was not unfeeling.
I kept a constant rhythm

for more than twenty years, despite
the membrane spreading within me.
No one heard my murmur peak

at each contraction, dissolve
from a crescendo to the vibration
of taut wire. As he weighs me

suspended on the scale as old Egyptians did
truth lies in the balance of the heart
against a feather.

Denise Bundred
Published in The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2015. London: The Hippocrates Press.


I found it in a field –
a kestrel's feather, beaded

with dew and as I picked it up
it stirred a wildness deep within me.

I was struck by its bold design –
cream and chestnut barbs tigered

with brown, the way its shaft traced
the curve of my palm like a life line

and I thought: what I'd give for a taste
of the kestrel's short, fierce life.

I looked up and longed
for the sight of a falcon folding

the world in her fiery embrace,
head still, wings flickering,

her fantail tipped with light
and on my way home

the feather sang
like a hollow reed

summoning me
from this shadow life

to open sky,
a pen to write

Elizabeth Barton
Published in Agenda, 'New Generation Poets', 2016

Writing in silence

a silence that soothes
and comforts, quieter
than any river lapping
against the rush of reeds,
resonating slow rippled calm

searching between the stars
in the rich velvet
of a night with no moon,
the deep hush of snow,
the fluidity of sunlight
dappled through trees

a silence that seethes
louder than any ocean
sweeping up to tumble
pebbles, rumbling deep
its insistent beat

blinded by a lightning storm
far out on the hills
dazzling through thunder clouds,
the roll of rain in gutters,
the swell of starlings
crowding down to sunset

silence that splinters
a page into short, sharp slivers

Sue Beckwith

Hiroshima survivor 2015

She tells how the sky cracked open
into a light so white
it hurt – how the heat came next
then the rush of wind

before she fell into her night

how when she woke
she heard the silence
of infinity

and when she opened her eyes
there was nothing

blackness smouldering
shapes and steaming stones

all she had ever known
in her eight years
to a hearth of ash

she got to her feet
and wandered through the humps
and bones
till the voice of a ghost

rose like a curl of smoke
from the dead and whispered:
'water –
get me water'

somehow she found
a few drops of life
for the lips of the dying
I see them now

in her old woman's face
reflecting that wasted
heartland in her eyes

like two black cherries
shining with tears.

Rosemary Wagner

The Cave at Delphi

Way back where there's nothing to see
where shadow does not play
where there is a place to hide
through wisps of sifted words
prophecies are unravelled
worlds are woven
winners chosen
another truth
is now reality

Sue Beckwith

World War One A Deck of Cards


He left his heart behind,
yes the poet, the youth and the country squire
From the rural village, the mine, the industrial and country estates
Sometime in 1914 – 1918 was his date with fate
Kitchener called, pointed the finger at youth,
collectively called to war,
Singing Tipperary in a great woollen coat
with your heart on your sleeve, spade in your kit.
It's Amiens for you.
Hearts bleeding, broken and bruised
His mother, father and sweetheart too
Sending forget-me-not, sentiments sewn
on a valentines card


The deck of cards fell at the Maginot line
Young man, the poet, the youth, the country squire.
No differentiation this time digging the trenches
The underground tunnels
Bomb blasting bleeding shells
The spades descending in the trenches of hell
Shell shock trauma and mustard gas attack
Just get better as we are sending you back
Yes, to the bomb blast trenches where the aces fly high


The skies above the trenches of no-mans' land
The red baron triumphant
Flying in the name of war
Hearing the rumble of the wooden propeller
Artistically manoeuvred
Youthfully crafted in the sky
In the dark skies of war. The ACE up high
The hero at dawn
The fallen at dusk.


No trumps in this deck of cards; just a long war
Hearts left at the Somme where the birds failed to sing
Muck and shit was all of his spring
He lost his leg. He lost his sight. And he lost his wit.
The spades had dug in the trauma of winters despair
Where once the ACE flew high
A hundred years later remember the poet,
the youth and the country squire
The consequences of youth; awoke a hero to be fallen at night
A youth depersonalised: No trumps in this deck of cards.

Sharon Williams

Have I?

Have I ever woken to gunfire in the night?
Known that it was foolish to even try to fight?
Have I held my infant children as I tried to scale a fence
though the top was rimmed with barbed wire and the drop beyond

Have I paid all my life savings to a bunch of drunken thieves
who told me where to be when the next sailing leaves?
Have I thrown my empty stomach on the rolling, churning waves?
Have I fought and cried and struggled for the freedom we all crave?

Am I naked, weak and lonely, am I hungry, cold, bereft?
Am I victim of all horrors from violence to theft?
Have I struggled to jump on and hide behind some load?
Have I spent a thousand nights on the unforgiving road?

Have I any understanding of hunger, thirst or fright?
Am I comfy here in England? Can I really sleep at night?

Tony Earnshaw


Head down, they cross the concourse,
eyes mesmerised by a small screen;
although they stay on track
some look perplexed, others intent,
and others still, their faces bright with smiles,
delight in private fun.
We do not feature in their secret lives
so publicly displayed.

An upwards glance to check which line they want,
then down again, they're on their way,
their busy fingers texting family, friends,
maybe a lover, who can say?
Muffled voices, shrill ring tones,
welded to ear the precious mobile phone.

Sometimes two figures will collide like bumping cars,
robots whose remote control has failed;
a brief "I'm sorry", then again away
into their world of truth or fantasy

Sylvia Herbert

Houdini at the multi storey

Cold and drab, echoing, concrete
emptiness stolen by transport
and yet still there;
mothers wrestling with pushchairs,
children objecting;
business men patting wallets and squeezing their remotes.
But he's not there.

A visit was promised, a treat
for autumn shoppers and harried staff.
The CCTV was ready, the light sensors checked.
Waitrose closed for an hour and a half.
Marks and Spencers had special offers for those who escaped
the throng,
while Primark had handcuffs, going for a song.

The day passed in disappointment
destined to dominate the next day's conversations.
The tide of cars receded, sobbing children herded bedwards.
Shutters were closed at the jeweller's shop,
Cleaners appeared with bucket and mop.

Cold and drab, echoing, concrete emptiness;
No transport, not one car remains,
but in one corner, the evidence of his presence
– a key, a pair of handcuffs and a pile of chains.

Tony Earnshaw

Cassandra at the Auction

Good lot this – number 172 – A Chinese charger yellow with green
dragons. Start me at 20.

Cassandra cries: "Commissioned by an emperor, stolen by a
merchant, smuggled onto a tea clipper. It will sell to a banker
and break in twain in transit."

Lot 210 – A pair of Staffordshire dogs needing a good home. Aren't
they cute? What am I bid?

Cassandra cries: "They sat in hearths watching
generations ebb and flow. They saw women stitching, men
drinking, sons sent to war and daughters married off,
family prayers and servants' sorrows."

Who will start me at 50 for this oil on canvas portrait of a lady?
Good looking lady, fine looking frame. 50? Do I hear 30 then?

Cassandra cries: "She was painted for her lover who never
lived to see the portrait finished. She will sit in storage and be
part of a divorce settlement."

Quite a bit of interest in this: A set of five souvenir mugs from
Atlantic City decorated with local scenes. I can start the bidding at

Cassandra cries: "Waves crash, the boardwalk falls into the
sea. Gulls scream and betting palaces fill with seaweed."

Finally, what you've all been waiting for: Lot 399, a longcase clock;
American maple 18th century with brass fittings and phases of the
moon etched on the face. What will you give me?

From the balcony a faint cry: "Clocks run down, springs
collapse, cogs rust. These are the end days."

Jane Freimiller

Taking Heart

Clouds of blood sweep like starlings
in our child's chambers
swirls of sludge on the scan
tell of a circulation going nowhere
we flinch at each stumbled beat
as the unreliable green line crosses
and re-crosses the screen
we know the heart
is a remarkable machine
but it is just a pump
it cannot ache with exhausted possibilities
with nowhere to go
they call the surgeon
masked figures rattle trolleys
unwrap trays of instruments
the space transforms itself into a theatre
they open her chest
link her to a machine
which sings a full-throated murmur
with every beat
a starling thinks itself a thrush
this device performs the work hers fails to do
but metal can shatter cells they tell us
predispose to clot
pistons may clog
infection could take hold in foreign parts
in a room without windows
we swirl coffee dregs in mugs
settle for a transient reprieve

Denise Bundred
Published in The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2016. London: The Hippocrates Press.

The Shell

The children were dried and dressed
as the hot day gave way
to a warm evening.
I was about to dry myself,
ready to return to the hotel
when my daughter spotted
a shell,
in the swimming-pool by the sea.
"Mummy, look at that huge scallop!
Please dive in and get it for me, please!"
I was tired, and my costume almost dried
but I looked into the pool
and saw the shell,
white as a pearl and huge as a plate.
What mother can refuse when her child pleads?
Shock as my warm body broke the chilly water.
Vision obscured by my long hair,
my hand groped among seaweed and rock,
"oh,is it weed or fish,
or floating hair..."

Barnacles scraped my skin,
but I had to win that prize.
Surfacing, I held it like Excalibur,
and let my child take it from my hand
as I clambered back on land.
"Oh, it's smaller than I thought.
The water must have magnified it."
Crestfallen, she tucked it in
the pocket of her shorts
and turned away,
leaving me with the thought,
"I'm afraid life's like that,
full of disappointments."

Wendy Freeman

The Ring

When I was young
you could touch the stones

we pass by now line of
shimmering roofs rising up the hill

moving slowly, progress notched
by the odd wind bent tree

stretched fields of acid yellow
under fluttering hawks tempt the gaze

but all eyes are drawn right
as we parade by in our mini armoured tanks

to the colossal upended stones
the mighty and lonely ring

through glass, and thumping radio
it murmurs across

the wide open plain
of an ancient time

of barefoot skin-clad kin
who trampled over the shivering grass

wind whipped, leather lined
skull heavy, gashed with mud

and I wonder where
all the years have gone

since white socked and sandalled,
I touched the stones.

Susan Thomas


Omar is a fighter.
Arifa is a nurse
And Abdullah?
Abdullah is twelve

Omar is dangerous.
Arifa is a healer
And Abdullah?
Abdullah is twelve

Omar kills hostages.
Arifa tends the wounded
And Abdullah?
Abdullah is twelve

Omar's full of hatred.
Arifa, full of love
And Abdullah?
Abdullah is twelve

When the Tornado shed its load
Omar the fighter died
Proud and defiant.
Arifa the nurse died
One carer less.
And Abdullah.
Abdullah was twelve

Tony Earnshaw


for SMS

We sit on the silvered breakwater, watch
the September swallows loop through the air,
skim the waves; each breath you take is tallied,
the count is notched in fine lines on your bones.

We consider the smudged ink horizon,
the indigo boundary between sky
and sea, muffled blue and sage-green pastels,
the far-off edge where the unknown begins.

We walk, take one step at a time, you lean
on your stick, prod the pebbles, find white marks
laddered on black, five limbs draped in a star
on an urchin shaped stone – fossilised, whole.

Distances confound me, millennia
here in my hand, you by my side nibbled
by an ebb tide; above us the bright white
flight of a single gull tugs me onward.

Helen Overell
published in The Fenland Reed 2016


violet dawn –
her eyes
her speech
her touch:

A A Marcoff
published in Presence


for Sue

The Dreamtime is the beginning of knowledge
Australian Aboriginal mythology

In the last hour of sleep
everything is resolved
I have my clothes on
I am in the right room
window and door shut

No need to count
the purple plates
in the kitchen cupboard –
the one orange cup
no longer troubles me
I don't need to know
who put it there

There is no lake in the garden
my sofa is not floating away
no sudden snakes
rear from the hedge
no one is watching

Sue Beckwith

Cyanotic Child

Klee scatters hearts on paper, pink with wash.
Black lines walk a checkerboard across the page,
divide his hearts into rectangles and triangles.

I can name each chamber by its shape,
the position of valves, relationships
to spine and sternum, the twist of arteries.

Klee's crayon smudges cyanotic blue
on nursery pink, expels the oxygen,
drives to the pit of his creation.

My hearts hold the beauty of muscle
where systole follows diastole, as certain
as the progress of a pencil.

Klee's hearts remain fixed,
flat, functionless and flawed.
He hangs them on a wall.

If I could create a heart, I would sketch a scaffold
of lines and intersections to separate the chambers
sculpt muscle layer upon layer.

I have seen endocardium reflecting
theatre lights. I know what a heart can do,
how many ways it can fail.

Denise Bundred
Published in The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2014. London: The Hippocrates Press.

Coffee Shops

'We put our HEART and SOUL into every cup' Costa Coffee poster

And we swallow them, those HEARTS
and SOULS, ground into each dark
cup of excellence,
all up.

We consume them,
cappucino, latte, macchiato,
with our eyes open,
tossing espressos back
like oysters.

They foam in our mouths,
those HEARTS and SOULS,
and spark and dance
in our heads:

before we know it
we have put the world to rights,
driven evil in to a corner,
got rid of all wars.

Later in the cold and dark
of lonely places
we hold our headaches
in our hands, rock

our own HEARTS and SOULS
back and forth –
and find them wanting.

Rosemary Wagner

A glimpse of Wimbledon

Crow's nest view; the hoist
receives the famous courts
within its compass angle;
oblong centre – oval juxtaposed –
each clasping tight the tensions
packed within.
Geometry of straight white lines
criss-crossing grass extends outside
between green canvas walls.
Crowds circulate throughout the arteries
like life-blood gathering at the heart,
some pumping out on "Murray Mount"

Excitement mounts in jagged peaks
of hands and hats and flags held high,
youngsters' faces bear the painted names
of idols yet to win.
But the camera's impartial eye can catch
the coming clouds
before the players feel a single spot of rain.

Sylvia Herbert


The roofers belly laugh astride the ridge
staple guns pointing skyward,
on their backs a wanted
mobile number spans their hoodies
they chuck around slates like poker chips
chew on gum and tell jokes
close as round a campfire
bum cracks earnt like spurs for
riding roofs while whistling at passing mares.

But funnily I envy them
their coarseness and stubble
pasties in the van
long coffee breaks strung together
pre lunch, pre tea, pre ...pre
gawping at the daily paper
spread on the dash like eagle's wings
rolling tumbleweed to the next job
while I am all bonnet and crinoline
from inside my white picket fence, watching.

Susan Thomas

Bull Leaper

Just before the charge
there's no time for doubt or breath
the noise and crowd
fade away

focus now
on the bull
and that exact moment
to step forward

grasp the horns
flick back over
the furious toss of the head
tiptoe touch on its back

and down running
back to the noise and crowd

Sue Beckwith

Birthday Candles

When the cake is brought to you,
through the crowded dark,
stubby candles will be burning.
Look appreciative.
And, if you can muster it,
slightly embarrassed
that all this fuss is for you.

Don't overdo.
When the song finishes
don't worry –it's short
fill your lungs, puff your cheeks,
(not required but traditional),
the North Wind
in your grade school primer –
aim for that look.

When you blow out the flames–
(and it's not over until you've got them all)
people will ask what you wished for.
Smile and choose
among the following:

As the smoke curls
you are in the moment of danger.
You may recall
any or all of the following:

Keep smiling.
Accept the glass of champagne.
You've earned it.

Jane Freimiller


31 odd glasses instead of 48 flutes no problem
Not enough plates no problem
Silver forks tarnished no problem
Too much food too little food no problem
Avocadoes too hard no problem
No ice no problem
Person bringing the meringues not coming no problem
Sons stuck on computer no problem
Whole house to hoover no problem
Husband still in pyjamas no problem
Uninvited children arriving no problem
Puddings not defrosted no problem
In laws on guard no problem
Immigration no problem
Sticky fingers on wedding album no problem
Weight gained over 25 years no problem
People who've died and disappeared no problem
No Mum no problem
Susan Thomas's mind no problem
Husband's dislike of silver teapot no problem
Husband no problem
25 years no problem
Babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers no problem
Smoking no problem
Houses too small, too big, falling down, no problem
Issues stuffed under mattress no problem
Washing up for 25 no problem
More tea, more cake, more smiles for the camera
Next 25 no problem.

Susan Thomas
(with thanks to Diane Di Prima)

Day off

Switch off the gadgets
and allow yourself to indulge
in a little dreaming. Let the post litter the doormat
and the answerphone flash reproachfully

with unheard messages. Remember,
you are not mere driftwood, pitched on the whirling surge
of other people's demands, but a woman,
fit for life. Permit odd socks

to pile up in the airing cupboard and let the dirty laundry spill
liberally across the bathroom floor. Strive
to be highly inefficient and above all
don't multitask. Quit the dull fug of routine

and step outside into the prickling cold, where the air is alive
with birdsong and the last December leaves
smoulder with rich intensity. Walk
nowhere in particular, smiling at strangers as you go;

walk so far you feel the world rolling softly
beneath your feet, and when your heart is unburdened of all
busyness and in its place
is praise, you will have achieved

a perfect, useless day.

Elizabeth Barton
Published in Agenda Supplement to 'Scentings', 2014


Black bird, green palm;
Fringed arch of branch
Shaking in sunlight.

Black Scissor Bird,
They call them out here.

Forked tail, fine bill,
Ready to fly,
Thin as rice paper,

Like a cut-out
For a child's frieze
In nurseryland.

His like appears now

Shredding the sky
Into blue strips.
With curious call

Urgent and shrill,
They snip downward
To join the lone bird.

Birds on a branch,
Black silhouettes –
The frieze is complete.

Sylvia Herbert


Elizabeth Barton read English at Cambridge, after which she moved countries and had a family. She has worked as an English teacher and has had poems published in Agenda magazine.

Sue Beckwith works in marketing, striving to translate the technicalities of IT into everyday language, and with her writing looks to transform the everyday into poetry.

Denise Bundred trained as a paediatric cardiologist and completed an MA in Writing. In 2016 she won the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and has poems in Hippocrates Prize Anthologies 2012 – 2016.

Keith Donachie – originally from Yorkshire he and his wife Pat have spent much of their married life in Surrey. Both retired they now have six grandchildren who bring them much joy and keep them young at heart.

Tony Earnshaw is a poet and award winning playwright whose work has played to enthusiastic audiences in Edinburgh, London, New York. His double bill of one act plays, The Door and The Speech" is currently touring the UK.

Wendy Freeman has been reading, writing and enjoying poetry ever since she can remember. She joined Mole Valley Poets in 2015, having recently moved from Anglesey, where she was a member of a writers' club and a poetry group. She has had a poem and a short story published in two anthologies for Anglesey writers: Montage 1 and Montage 2.

Jane Freimiller lives in Dorking with her husband, Kevin. In addition to writing poetry, she works at a local auction house and volunteers with Dorking Community Orchard. She is the co-author of "A Year of Reading" published in October 2016.

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.

A A Marcoff – Tony Marcoff has lived in many parts of the world, but has settled in England and lives near the beautiful river Mole.

Helen Overell lives in the Mole Valley and has published widely in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection is Inscapes & Horizons (St Albert's Press, 2008) and her second is Thumbprints (Oversteps Books, 2015).

Susan Thomas works as a senior nurse in a Hospice. She won The Elmbridge Prize for poetry and now writes a blog, Topsy trundles.

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

Sharon Williams is a trainer, therapist and part time student with a keen interest in psychological trauma. Poetry has been a passion since school which seems a long time ago.

Dedicated to the memory of Stevie Jivani

Stevie was the daughter of one of the group's former members and 1 from every anthology sold will go to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), a charity which works at preventing young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research, and supporting affected families.

CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young)
Registered Charity Number: 1050845