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Rising Brook Writers

2010 Poetry Collection 1


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DISCLAIMER: To the best of our knowledge and belief all the material included in this publication is in the public domain or has been reproduced with permission and/or source acknowledgement. We have researched the rights where possible. RBW is a community organisation, whose aims are purely educational, and is entirely non-profit making. If using material from this collection for educational purposes please be so kind as to acknowledge RBW as the source. Contributors retain the copyright to their own work. Names, characters, places and incidents are imaginary or are used in a fictitious way. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead is entirely coincidental.

SPECIAL THANKS: SCC’s Your Library Team at Rising Brook Branch Stafford District Arts Council for grant aid

PUBLISHED BY: Rising Brook Writers RBW is a voluntary charitable trust. RCN: 1117227 © Rising Brook Writers 2010 The right of Rising Brook Writers to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 & 78 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 This collection is dedicated to the inspiring poet and playwright, Anne Picken.

Second Edition ISBN 978-0-9557086-6-4

www.risingbrookwriters.org.uk www.myspace.com/risingbrookwriters and on FACEBOOK

£5-00 Donation Appreciated

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Message from our patron, Ian McMillan. RISING BROOK INTRO Step into these pages and take a look At the talent that‘s assembled in Rising Brook! You won‘t be disappointed so come and get stuck Into the poems and the verses from Rising Brook! This is a box of delights, this marvellous book Put together by the poets from Rising Brook! It should sell by the bucketload, you should have to fill a truck With the copies of this volume from Rising Brook! So let me take this opportunity to say Good Luck To the amazing writers of Rising Brook!

Photo credit Adrian Mealing

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Contributing Poets Mel Booker Sue Cantrill Countryman (Fred Waterfall) Judy Davies Phil Emery Isabel Gillard Beti Hand Stephen Harvey Martin Haywood Edith Holland Martin Hulme Elizabeth Leaper Yasmin Lewis John Price Lin Priest Anne Picken Audrey Rainbow Peter Shilston Stephanie Spiers Barbara Stockham Sally Sullivan Joy Tilley Pauline Walden John Weaver Liz Whitehouse Gill Whitehurst

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Mel Booker There‘s no one to rescue No knight on fine steed There‘s no one to turn to, Or warnings to Heed. No one has The answers to Make it ok. The world is my Captive, And here I must stay. When my eyes They do close And my dreams become Real, In this world I am safe I can really feel. I can reach out And touch The dawn of the day, Embrace and enjoy In every way. In the land of the Living When I land once again, I pray for more sunshine to banish the rain. 5


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Mel Booker

Staring at the pictures Of days and times gone by Lost in maze of memories, My heart is pounding Why? Time has no concept No constraints It just keeps moving on Taking with it all I am And all I may become

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Mel Booker Untitled My mind is an abyss Of brimstone and fire My life is contorted by Need and desire. From depths below hidden I enter the zone The silent watcher He says, Your mind It is known. You can have no secret I see and know All From depths below hidden Your mask reveals All. There is no escape From the thoughts in Your mind, Suppress and repress But the ego will Find. Denial, distortion Masked well It is true But the watcher he Sees

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Countryman Our Family Tree A family tree we‘re working on, to see from where we came, Of people who we never knew, we all have the same name, We all remember our own grandma and grandpa as well, But they remember their old folk, a tale of old to tell. Big families of eight or nine, and some they lost quite young, Some they stayed as spinsters or bachelors unsung, Working on estates and farms, in houses cold and damp Some on their own farms on land their mark to stamp. Looking back on old grave stones, name chiselled bold and clear, Got to look where they‘re christened who their parents were, Who they met and married, the families joined and spread, The kids that came along so quick, along same paths we tread.

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We scour along old census records from many years gone by, See the age of head of household, and all who lived and why, Some left home at early age, for to find some work, Spread around the villages, none of them to shirk. Need a bigger sheet of paper, as the families spread and grow, William, Thomas, Charles and John, reoccur in all the lines we know. Now we‘re back to where were found, back to 1753 we tow, Following all the records of, the church and census as we go. Our turn will come soon enough, as time it flashes by, Never know when that will be, it‘s better laugh than cry, Name of date of birth and death, chiselled into stone, A patch of good old England, ‗neath turf that‘s our last home. (Countryman — Fred Waterfall) 9


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Countryman

Numbers Galore Phone numbers and the mobile, bank sort codes n‘ accounts, Credit card that can be skimmed, all ya savings trounce, Car numbers and engine numbers and chassis numbers too, Model numbers part numbers, colour codes pursue. House numbers street numbers, area post codes an all, All across the country, codes for counties large and small, Field numbers, map numbers, parish number long, Acres turned to hectares, if ya know where they belong.

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Gallons turned to litres, pounds and ounces gone to grams, Miles turned to kilometres, and foot to millimetre crammed Therms have turned to MJs, power in hp turned to watts, Heat is B.t.u. to lbs, is now into joules per kilogram it jots. The money‘s gone to euros, bank rate measures that, Information all in plastic, and it‘s in your wallet sat Converted into bar codes, so computers read the lot, Nothing ever private now, they know all of what you‘ve got.

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Sue Cantrill A Young Girl’s Thoughts

The safest place in the world to be Is curled up tight on my Dad‘s knee Dreaming dreams and thinking things In fantasy lands with kings and queens Where a handsome prince, a gallant knight Will win your honour in a fight Dragons fly, shy unicorns roam To find a place they can call home Here am I, a tiny ball With the bravest knight of all

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Sue Cantrill Invisibility I have perfected the art of being invisible Within a crowded room Sitting or standing it‘s always the same The talking goes on around me My corner is my own How is your job, wife, kids, car The neighbour‘s cat is very strange The words reach me, go round and through me Then disappear into the ether, never to return How to interact without rejection What to do, what to say Panic rises, breath quickens If someone looks my way I have perfected the art of being invisible Within a crowded room The problem is no one else‘s The problem is my own

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Sue Cantrill Hugs A hug can say so much More than words alone I‘m there for you I care for you Please do not despair A simple touch A soft caress Can meet our deepest need A worry shared Though nothing said or spoken We were not created islands Standing on our own But Side by side Arm in arm Hand in hand Going forward together So do something special today Help someone now Give them a hug - PLEASE

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Judy Davies Edge of The Blues Gulls hover Soprano wails over thrumming downbeats Semaphore wings Soaring sentinels shadowing flotsam prey. Scattered pebbles Bedded down in sandy slumber Rubbed and teased Tickled by ocean‘s lingering fingers. Seaweed clusters Flung forward in primeval unison Strummed then plucked Nomadic fronds sucked in by salty pulse. Proud white horses Relentless beat with front line crescendo Furled flanks Strut out prodigious riff in deep sea blues.

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Judy Davies Love Trap Ma name‘s Slick Rick I‘m a private dick An‘ I wanna trappa slapper make ‗er turn ma trick She kiss me quick Do me fantastic Build me brick by brick ‗Til she givvin‘ me a rise, make me twice ma size She hypnotise, we synchronise We make like clickety clickety click, Slick Rick But when I chillin‘ wi‘ da guys Then she wrigglin‘ ‗er thighs ‗N‘ she givvin out ‗er prize to any man who tries When I look inta ‗er eyes See I just get wise She lead me on wivver tricky dicky lies She denies, tries to harmonize Rolls ‗er eyes and sighs But I give ‗er little lickin‘ wi‘ ma hanky, panky, spanky stick She hysteric, she beat it quick She give a lotta grief ‗n she lie, cry me ―Why?‖ wanta die, Say ―Goodbye!‖ 16


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So my girl Lin Now she livin‘ in sin She think she gonna win She scratch ‗n rub ‗er itch wivva bitch called Min But I callin‘ favours in Isay y‘all walk my way, then we make ‗er pretty pay She pray to stay ‗n pay me, not betray me, beg to lay me I turn ‗er round in ‗er track, tricky nack, Ricky back...

cuttin' slack, gotta knack, back on track...

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Judy Davies Jet White Say what mischief dallies here Lurks then squats on swaying haunch To mind the wheel where guile spins The vivid palette of my days. Tell me who rubs sticky fingers, Now draws out the short white threads Has swiftly banished vibrant colours To merge in sycophantic praise. What his measured tread conspires Short inconsequential lies Draining hues from life‘s bold pattern To dazzle in a mourning blaze.

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Phil Emery OXLOW The shaper streams and I follow - join crawlclaw, squeeze, s t r e t c h, scrawl and lever, gaspawkward, parody of flow, splaying shafts of sight through Giant's Hole and Ghost's Rift, a mythic anatomy of petrified time, ferociously vast and unyielding to the palm. Only the shaper has the rushing boneless patience to sculpt here.

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Isabel Gillard Grey ‗Grey as a badger – Phyllis – when she died.‘ I thought of Phyllis in the general view, Hair bristly as a shaving brush, Teeth bared in welcome or derision – Who could tell! And held in mind the badger Newly dead On the blue tarmac‘s verge, Dwarfed now in isolation By the traffic‘s surge, Naked as a baby and as small. His grey, like wisps of seaweed in the tide Of brushwood softening the further view Of an amazing world Or fog between the seeker and the truth, Had done its service and no longer hid The mortal corpse of a night visitor; The inheld life, The small, keen hopes, The tender, luminous pink Unseen beneath the grey.

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Isabel Gillard

Ageing He hadn‘t shaved, explaining That his skin felt tender Like a baby‘s and He‘d burned his mouth forgetting That the soup was hot.

For this and other reasons he preferred To pass the main course by, Existing, like a butterfly, On sugared drinks; Horlicks with added calories, Tea with two spoonfuls, And the whisky glass. It is too late now to compile The family history that we‘re making still Simply by being. He does not remember. Parting is painful as I dissemble, Leaning to kiss the withered cheek, Skirting the drool that he seems unaware of, The eyes, boggy with unshed tears. Suddenly, from his ‗stick‘ hand he produces, Like Prospero, a present for my child, A basket painted with butterflies. The wings, not baby-blue or pink or yellow, Have taken colour from the whisky glass. A tender amber, fragile at the edge Deepens to red, to crimson at the heart As they spread, fluttering, Flying up. 21


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Isabel Gillard Gazebo Poet Snailed in my wedge-shaped box, I muse. No jet-propulsion this more of a gentle urging from behind, where wooden walls close in. No possible retreat, but no road either. Full-frontal visibility, but not yet nude. What will exposure do? The whole world five whole worlds of this sphere lie straight ahead. Carpenter in my wooden world, what should I make of it? Circled by ocean I could make an ark and sail through rain and rowans to the nearby thatch or fly on pen-and-paper wings to perch peering in windows at those other worlds. But even rain must end sometime and then I‘ll fashion wooden wellingtons for walking through the shoe-high grass, scaring the grass-hoppers, sending the raindrops flying. 22


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Beti Hand That’s not me Am I the steelwork in concrete, Which reveals itself in reddish stains And when all else fails, The building‘s skeleton remains? Remember when the morning Dawned, and airplanes turned To smash those money beehives, And the steelwork burned? Where is the truth of you, or I, If it can flow, like white hot metal, And take another shape and role, Like Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.

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Stephen Harvey

The Pen The pen caressed the paper It was calling for the lost A lifetime fraught with anguish In a story thought forgot Those childhood tales of sorrow Pour freely from its nib With memories much too painful That time will not forgive It whispered things unspoken From voices in the dusk That wake the sleeping siblings When maternal eyes are shut They cry out loud in darkness With screams securely bound A tourniquet of silence Where only hate is found.

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Stephen Harvey

Poets Ordinary People Hidden from scene Never been heard With fabulous dreams

Charlie Mary Jane tells lies Don't believe what she said Her fantasies are fake They belong in her head

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Stephen Harvey My heart just died

I don‘t believe it I never will Why must you tell lies? What‘s in this for you? It could never have happened You could be mistaken You must be confused My heart is still breaking Please think again I am sure that you‘re wrong Forget that you said it We can go back in time Can we try to forget? Those childhood memories Is it too late? for my heart to die of regret.

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Martin Haywood Pain I lie down and know it‘s on its way It is strange how it seems to pick this time of day No light only dark it‘s the middle of the night And once again I am going to have to fight. The pain starts on the left of my spine A couple of minutes ago I was feeling fine I grab my tablets with a curse Sometimes I think I may need a hearse. I have the water waiting by my bed I take the tablets and nothing more is said My mouth goes dry and I begin to feel high I lie on my back with a great big sigh. I float around the room and wonder why I always feel like this when I am high I look down on my body with a great big sigh And wonder if I can really fly. The pain is at last receding and I am feeling good But it will come back that is understood But when will the pain go forever I can only lie and hope and wonder.

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Edith Holland Slipping Away

When you came and took my hand I said, Stay awhile Your eyes are full of tears Your voice is soft and gentle. Stay awhile and tell me again of our nearness And the love we have shared. Make no promises, just stay awhile. No words now, just the pressure of your hand And your smile, Stay awhile as I slip away.

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Edith Holland View From The Flyover Held up again in their glass and metal boxes Each face viewed in a windscreen frame, Isolated travellers each one has a story Anxious to know or not know what lies ahead. Little Lucy put to bed and no goodnight kiss, There‘s a broken date and a disappointed lover, What a good excuse for missing the in-laws Dinner will be ruined and binned instead. There‘s a touch of humour children pulling faces, There‘s a sour face and fingers drumming on the wheel He‘ll be late for keep fit class and 2012 is looming, What about new daddy missing the first wail. They may never know them, those upended bodies Cared for in death by the yellow jacket aid, Helicopters hovering, the rise and fall of sirens. Let in the clutch, there‘s a journey to be made.

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Edith Holland From My Window Between the houses I saw the giant skip Slowly filled with the lives of two people They‘ll not see this final act They have moved on Decisions now made by others. I watched as their lives were unwound. Books, the luxury of reading lost and laid by. The vandalism of breaking glass and china Softened a little by old rugs and eiderdowns. No longer fashionable chairs and sofa Split cushions oozing stuffing like a wound, covered quickly with a tartan rug... more books. I felt the tears, so looked away. It is their memories gone, not mine... not mine, But it will happen again and again. ULTIMA THULE

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Martin Hulme (Reg's suicide note) Hold out your hand, Oh giver of light Peace too! My life uphold. Shine, Reveal these men of steel, who point their finger Go fight! (pause) Ten Million lost souls, Silenced screams cast aside to roam no mans land without fear. Only now can tears of joy stream, And with your light sparkle from the dead man‘s eye. Healed hearts, arms outstretched, With patience, through the thin veil Of light they gaze Oh giver of light Kind Be a friend (kisses photo of mum) No longer shall you wait. I dare my thoughts, I quiver at the knee to take a peep and smell the void beyond the parapet I dare my thoughts, my heart can‘t take the lies that wait ahead hard men, brave, cowards not again will gather to haunt their sons Millions will join me………………………

(Extract from a play about the Great War) 31


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Elizabeth Leaper Creature of the Night All along the fence she‘s prowling, Feline creature of the night. Listen to her softly growling. All along the fence she‘s prowling, The volume now increased to yowling, Putting trespassers to flight. All along the fence she‘s prowling – Feline. Creature of the night!

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Elizabeth Leaper The Wind Through the Trees The leaves on the trees Are dying, dying, Now the summer suns are gone. The wind through the trees Is sighing, sighing, Plucking them gently, one by one. The wind through the trees Blows stronger, stronger. The leaves on the trees flutter and fall. Each gust of the wind Sends them dancing, dancing. Until at last it has gathered them all. The wind through the trees Blows colder, colder. No more the leaves are fluttering there. The wind as it blows Whispers ―winter, winter‖, And all the branches now are bare.

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Elizabeth Leaper

On The Hill Stark, wind-angled, on the hill the tree stands desolate. Outcast mutant from a nether world. Gnarled clawing roots grasp and clutch forbidden footholds, resist the ravages of primeval power. Nightmare creature, bereft of flesh, bare bones bleached by burning suns, petrified torso etched by scouring storms. Skeletal fingers scrabble at the air, pleading with implacable gods – unheeded; all mercy denied.

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Yasmin Lewis

Chain Letters E-Mail chain letters, very scary So pleases do be very wary, Of sending me another tonight Promising me yet another fright. The last person to break the chain Died, and was never seen again That‘s what it said when I scrolled across Said my family would feel the loss. Debbie‘s mail promised to make me rich Said it would all happen without a hitch Just twenty minutes to pass it round Or Death would come creeping, without a sound. Marsha‘s mail, sent out to entice New house, new car, all very nice Tempting, but I‘ll risk getting sick And push the delete button extra quick.

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Yasmin Lewis The Dark Years Puberty entered like a slithering snake There from birth, but years did it take To turn this child, this wonderful soul Into a tormented demon, with a heart as black as coal. Hating her life, you, me, or any other No longer in need of a father or mother Hormones raging, taking away all control Burrowing furiously, like an unwanted mole. It seems unfair that when her friends come round Music and laughter from her bedroom abound Caught off guard, you suddenly see Snatches of the child that used to be. This is one ride we didn‘t bargain for And just as you feel you can take no more Remember. She will grow up; there is an end in sight A young woman will emerge encompassed in light.

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Yasmin Lewis My Mother’s Hands Much younger once my hands unlined Much older now what do I find? I have my mother‘s hands. I reach for an apple tears sting my eyes. Once smooth hands now aged, I realise. I have my mother‘s hands. No longer around to see me growing old. Wherever she sits now, I hope she‘s been told. I have my mother‘s hands.

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Lin Priest SONNET Untitled Farewell to you, I whisper fond goodbye, Through cloying mist you stride away from me. Watery sun fails to light a darkening sky, Soft breeze sighs through branches of each tree. Marching forth, with hope now in your heart, No backward glance to witness tear stained face, Each step means freedom, hail a brand new start, Leave nothing, let there be no single trace. Yet those bonds you thought easily untied Grasp with firmness to halt your wayward flight. Those special times, refuse to be denied, Turn around to see the blinding light. No-one can compare with that summer‘s day Nor will that lady let you walk away!

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John Price WHY MULLIGRUBS? (on hearing this rediscovered lost word means a depression of spirits) One question‘s asked in our gardening clubs; They say it‘s why members pay their yearly subs. Over this puzzle each gardener his head rubs: What on earth is the point of mulligrubs? Mulligrubs are fat and green and rarely seen grubs; They can be big or small but never tall grubs. No good in races but they‘ve faces like cherubs. Some say grubs are here to make more grubs. Others say they‘re just one part of nature‘s hubs. I saw them once behind some strawberry tubs and can confirm what I‘ve oft heard in pubs. Mulligrubs are greedy but never weedy grubs, they eat and eat but are rarely replete grubs. In passing mulligrubs turn branches to stubs. So gardeners lying in your bathtubs, sipping fine wine amid occasional scrubs and asking yourselves, ‗Why, oh why mulligrubs?‘ Think on this and you‘ll see the real nub‘s because of them your shrubs aren‘t trees but shrubs.

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John Price ‘Twas the night before Christmas 2009 (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore) ‗Twas the night before Christmas, when through the Chamber No creature was stirring, no single Member. All Westminster‘s rooms were now empty and bare, Festive holly and ivy were no longer there. The Members were nestled all snug in their beds, With crystal chandeliers hanging over their heads And oriental rugs all strewn on the floor, From the John Lewis catalogue, page forty-four. Their plasma TVs were now all quiet as well. Every luxury kitchen and antique doorbell, Every moat and duck house and marble bidet That were claimed on expenses now in silence lay. Then down from the night sky with the soft falling snow There came a jingling sound that every child would know. In seconds the sleigh and eight reindeer appeared The driver sporting scarlet coat and long white beard. 40


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The team flew round a mansion of classic grandeur, Over gardens treated with five grand of manure. Up on the roof-top the reindeer then halted. With a leap from his seat the old driver vaulted. All the reindeer stood quietly now they‘d landed But the sleigh it was bare, they‘d come emptyhanded. And the driver climbing over the dormer? Not St Nick but Sir Chris, expenses reformer. In silence the old man just got on with his work, Determined that night he would remove every perk. So armchairs and hi-fis, loo seats and fridges, He hauled from the mansion all over the ridges. In no time at all Sir Chris was back on his sleigh. With more Members to see he was off on his way. But he smiled to himself as he flew out of sight, ‗Happy Christmas to you all, you know that it‘s right.‘

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John Price Boyhood Heroes Stanley Matthews, Stoke City and England wizard Played seven hundred games and never a yellow card With his trickery he left defenders all undone. His dad, Hanley‘s Fighting Barber, had boxed my granddad and won. One day Stan left for Blackpool and cup final glory, Returning to take us up, a football fairy story. I watched in admiration his deeds of skill and courage with dreams of being just like him when I had come of age. Len Hutton, Yorkshire County‘s cricketing legend, Learned to bat again, one arm by injury shortened. Forever to be a pillar of cricket‘s folklore With three hundred and sixty-four runs a record test match score. As he handed me the school certificate I‘d won The great man shook my hand and smiling broadly said, ‗Well done‘. I watched in admiration his deeds of skill and courage with dreams of being just like him when I had come of age. 42


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Dennis Wilshaw, Wolves and England number ten was my maths teacher when I was about eleven. One morning the headmaster told us in assembly Dennis scored four goals in the England-Scotland match at Wembley As if it was something that every day ensued. He was a fifties Ronaldo – without the attitude. I watched in admiration his deeds of skill and courage with dreams of being just like him when I had come of age. Tom Price, businessman, speaker, singer and dad. Even now when I go back, I‘m still Tom Price‘s lad. He preached in chapels near and far with wit and wisdom, His tenor voice ringing out a favourite hymn or anthem. From day to day his words he always turned to action Mentor, leader, friend to customers and congregation. I watched in admiration his deeds of skill and courage and dream that I‘ve been a bit like him now I‘ve come of age — but without the singing. 43


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Anne Picken For Rebecca The legendary unicorn could not be captured directly, but, if impressed by a lovely maiden, it would come and lay its head in her lap. When you‘re grown up, rejoicing in a high-powered job perhaps – designer frocks, the pent-house flat, the low-slung car – will you still have this little figure with its elegant hoof poised over crimson roses? Will you look at it and remember the day when you, aged six, face pale pinched alabaster, battled the wind in a Stafford street, desperate to spend your helping-granny wages? And when, at last, we reached the Oxfam shop, how Lizzie grabbed that purple dog, bewitched by its bright cocked head, its red mouth wide with joy? She cuddled it to her cheek, shrugged off her quilted hood, no longer cold.

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I‘ll buy it for her,‘ you said. Then you were at the till, counting out your 5p for setting the table, your 50 for brushing the stairs. ‗You‘ll have nothing left,‘ I said. ‗Let me instead.‘ You shook your head. ‗I want to.‘ Then, going home, we found the strangest shop, spattered with crystals, stars and fairies, and, in the middle of it all, a unicorn. ‗Look,‘ you said, ‗he‘s smiling at me. He‘s giving me a flower.‘

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Anne Picken A Room of One’s Own This room‘s organic, grown from earth that grows me. That rocker, blackened by a century, once stood by hefty saucepans on a fire, sent joyful rootlets down through nursing babies, snug in shawl and bonnet, rocked vibrant seed leaves – May queens, cricket captains – rocked grief‘s despair at ancient marriage smashed, as true leaves formed. The bed-chair‘s gnawed by tiny terrier teeth – Paddy. He watched my pram by the white scrubbed step in a street where children skipped, and fragile side shoots ventured. The trousseau lace edging the tablecloth, was worked with desperate hope, as hell screamed over the Somme. The aunt who crocheted it fed me her lonely love, took me to theatres, bought poetry books, made fascination bud.

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The picture‘s Langdale, bog and gold bracken, wind in grey stone, primrose in straggling grass. We sat on a jetty, four boots dangling, ate buns with butter. My student daughter bought the Cava bottle, bubbles to launch my business, the desk was my friend‘s, sleek VDU my husband‘s birthday present, and my children, holding babies, glow on the wall like tender fruit that nourishes yet.

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Audrey Rainbow Spring The dawn kissed the sky with apricot lips And the dew sparkled as diamonds on the bracken covered heath A ray of sunlight held a spider magically in midair As the web cast a honeycombed shadow on the rocks beneath. Mesmerised by the scene she held her breath As from the undergrowth emerged a saffron sheen An early morning fox silently returning to the safety of his lair Unaware he was sharing this enchanted hour. Then the moment was gone, the magic released By the splash of an iridescent arrow as a kingfisher dived And hidden above a cuckoo sang out To herald the Spring and its welcome return.

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Peter Shilston Dog He has nosed around And now he proposes To lie in the sun and do nothing Until dinner. There is a lot to think about. Puppies have been ignoring his advice His career as a watchdog is threatened by new technology, in the form of a burglar alarm The spaniel next door has got a much better basket than him And should he show solidarity with persecuted pit-bulls, Threatened with racial discrimination? Meanwhile in the Far East, it is said, dogs are still being killed and eaten Surely some action should be taken? But none of these things concern him at all As he lies in the sun doing nothing Which is why, whereas we are human, He is only a dog.

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Peter Shilston The Last Morning: July 1st 1916 And now the thunder ends. The eager sun Strikes diamonds in the glistening July fields. Larks rise into the blue. The very soil is glad. The waiting-time is almost at an end. It was for this We gathered, left behind the wretched life Of comfortable homes and mindless games Endured exhaustion, and the curses, and the pain, Drenched by the storms upon the open heath, Blistered our feet along the cobbled roads Of France, bearing enormous loads; But we were fiercely glad. It was for this. The rolling hills rise eastwards to the sun; There we shall go today. Now all is tense We stand anticipating the release The waiting time is almost at an end‌ At last the whistles blow, the moment‘s come And morning light is playing on the Somme.

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My Grandmother’s Clock

Peter Shilston

It sits on my mantelpiece My grandmother‘s clock And I should very much like To ask the clock to tell me Of everything that it knows Of my grandmother and her time. But we all know it is a mere Affectation of literature To ask a clock what it sees For the face of the clock is eyeless The hands of the clock do not feel It tells the hours unknowing And it speaks, but says nothing but ―tick‖ And although it stopped when she died (At a great age, in her own home) The fact in itself is without Any metaphysical cause – There was no-one to wind it up. So it sits on my mantelpiece My grandmother‘s clock And a hundred years from now It will sit on someone else‘s And its eyeless face will look on A world I shall never see And its unfeeling hands will point to Hours I shall never know And still it says nothing but ―tick‖. 51


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Peter Shilston

The Mask of Agamemnon Pale gold, thin as card, shaped to a face Heavy-lidded eyes like cowries, and a smile. Not the faint ironic smile of a skull, But a grin of power, satiated; Having laid conscience to rest. This face, not Helen‘s, launched the thousand ships, Murdered Iphigenia, burned Troy, To avenge an insult to the family, To not lose face. Then fixed in eternal gold, Sent out of sight of man to darkness, Unrotted in the grave; for endless years Only the gods could see. To them it showed its grin And the message: ―This face was not lost: through heroic genocide, and towns laid waste, this face was saved.‖

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And now is saved indeed Since Schliemann dug it from the earth. Placed now behind bullet-proof glass Stronger than stone walls and Lion Gates Under fluorescence far brighter Than any sun of Hellas: Agamemnon, great king Of mighty Mycenae Once more in state Triumphant over death as over morality Immortalised in story as in gold Still grinning. We repeat: this face was saved Though nothing else was. Troy was lost and soon after Mycenae also was lost, but this face was not lost. What more could any king desire?

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Stephanie Spiers

A Drum: A Big Drum! When my time is come I want‌ No old frauds wailing in embroidered sashes, No medieval mumbo-jumbo, No part-time taxi drivers picking their noses, No gritty-fingered sand boxes, No trolling out of superstitious belief systems Which have been long superseded As irrelevant. No I want a drum! A big drum, Banging loud To shout This unbearable suffering is over. Then leave me quiet With the good earth above and below And squirrels, field mice and rabbits for company.

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Stephanie Spiers

‘It Must Be Spring’ On cherry-buds the brambling and the blue tit feast, and fight, giving no quarter and taking not the least. Sentinel on the holly bush stands the robin alone and solitary. His loud throaty sobbing threatens the interloping chaffinch: ‗Do you fancy your chances in a clinch?‘ puffs out his scarlet ready to give combat. Tiny warrior! Who‘s been known to take on the cat. Two blackbirds soar in mock battle from a rustic peak: ‗Catch me, catch me,‘ calls a caustic-yellow beak. In the icy pond reeds frogs are gathering, Bulbous beady eyes missing nothing. All a scurry in the green-house The bevy of the black-nosed mouse Smelling, with their wash bewhiskered snouts, The great outdoors as it beckons and shouts, ‗It must be Spring!‘

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Stephanie Spiers

gr fiti af

Empty halls: factory walls: railway lines heavy fines . . . Sprayed on tags: scribbled on flags: no permission!!! Cash commission? Art or crime? Destructive grime! Frustrated talent? Criminal . . . bent . . .

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Sub-life ART: sub-class heart! Magistrate laws! Prison bar jaws . . . Childlike drivel: no laugh, no giggle: Urban blight: blot out the light . . . Toxic sludge: urban fudge: septic fringe? Indulgent binge . . . Aerosol doors: falls and floors: Tag-men spray and run away . . .

Love it? Hate it? It‘s hard to ignore. 57


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Barbara Stockham

Weather The Storm Laugh at the storm as the thunder roars Laugh at the rain as it spatters the doors Laugh at your failures without a care Laugh at the ―NO‖ when you dare Laugh at your sadness turn it around Look under a stone and life will be found

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Untitled

Barbara Stockham

tick tock, tick tock time marches on, before you know it twenty years have gone tick tock, tick tock no time to sit and think tick tock, tick tock I‘m already in the pink tick tock, tick tock my illness now is cured tick tock, tick tock my future seems secured tick tock, tick tock I came down from that shelf tick tock, tick tock I looked in the mirror and saw my real self tick tock, tick tock my life at last begins tick tock, tick tock no roundabouts and swings tick tock, tick tock life no longer a raging storm tick tock, tick tock I don‘t have to conform 59


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Sally Sullivan

Free To Be Me That was me yesterday But not today, For I am changed, Life‘s time exchanged, And there will be Another me Tomorrow.

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Joy Tilley

Where Can She Be? Where can she be, my daughter? She isn‘t making a noise or a mess, Or speaking with voice of argument to her brother, Nor yet ‗helping‘ in the garden. Then, I remember where she went this morning. Now, she has flown away on swan‘s wings, She has gone through the secret door, Through the wardrobe, through the looking glass. Those two white wings have taken her beyond calling. A new library book the only passport she needs To travel limitlessly. Where is she now? Where has she been?

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Joy Tilley

December From horse chestnut trees The last leaves hang, dispirited As dishcloths over students‘ kitchen taps; Leafless roadside hedges fruit plastic bottles, Which in summer Nature mercifully covered; But some lower hawthorn buds Swell, to burst their scales As do late December slimmers.

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Pauline Walden

Untitled Today I walked amongst the dunes Alone, but for the memories Whispering through the marram grass, And more alone because of them. The magic‘s here but set apart, No quickening throb to move the heart. Oh! To recapture the fragile joy The slender hope that‘s long since gone, Its passing a gentle, kindly stealth As if to shield from sudden loss, Foreknowledge of a heavy cost.

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Pauline Walden

Untitled Little grey town, Grey in the sunlight, Grey. Clock tower awaiting Restoration. Waiting. Everything here seems grey and waiting But for the cave of ethnic delights; In here can be seen some amazing sights, Colourful, trendy, making a stand In this grey and sombre land. But even here the colours turn grey And surprisingly rapidly wash away. But glory is glory however brief And offers a little light relief In this little grey town.

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Pauline Walden A PARODY — Or — THE DEVIL I KNOW How does one love? How count the ways? How often just the length and breadth Of make-believe? The tattered lining of a cloak that swiftly turns To show a glittering façade, So choose to love With wide eyes. No self delusion No illusion No surprise No pretence of sudden revelation When the cloak turns inside out awhile. Just turn aside. What is love but choice of a priority? In choice there‘s freedom, Perhaps to love, or not to love When weary of the game? When the façade loses its glitter, Its fascination, Then choose again. Most likely choose the same And love the length and breadth and height Of make believe. 65


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Pauline Walden

Untitled The magic isn‘t here anymore; Is it just the fence? The notice stating ‗Private Property‘ On land that once was open, Free for all to roam, Enjoy the thunder of the falls, The rock strewn paths Between the banks of gorse, The tiny sheltered beach From where we skittered stones Across the hurrying flood? Or is it none of these But something that eludes a mind Not willing yet to see The magic that has gone Has gone from me?

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John Weaver The Tyne at Bardon Mill My love I have seen the Tyne with its round rubble ripples teasing the water between its banks into a fair laughing stream, winding and swaying, yet one way going And the scattered blue of the heavens, dimpled with chaste clouds, overflowing our sweet valley to soar on and on forever, carrying our gaze further than we can see. And between, the patchwork fields, bestooked and golden, green and live mottled, heralding Autumn, yet cheerfully clinging to the last days of Summer. The friendly stone-grey farms, islands of life now, yet fortresses of warmth and hope in Winter, gathering in their strong grey arms Nature‘s hard earned gifts. But you my love must leave this soulful haven, where new life, not death, hangs over each night‘s rest, and brother — sweetheart‘s love warms heart and mind of you my dearest. 28.8.43

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John Weaver Being Poor in 004

We have no money because we spend it If something breaks we do not mend it. I never worry what I‘ve bought The plastic beats the paper sort. I buy the more expensive food Because I think it does us good, The sell-by date is most important We never eat it if we oughtn‘t, The germs and things that might be in it Mean I always have to bin it. The car of course must be the best Because it goes with much more zest, The school kids trips from door to door Are all in mummy‘s 4x4 To walk would be an awful bore The kids would have to wear their macs And mum would have to wear her slacks It wouldn‘t do for decent ladies To be without their own Mercedes

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When times are hard I have to think What cheaper wine we ought to drink A brandy now and then of course My shouting makes me somewhat hoarse The kids‘ demands will never cease And now they‘re getting quite obese. Whatever will become of me ‗cause I must have my friends to tea And give them snacks in fancy dishes And tell them all about Mauritius. Where is the money coming from ? And I am such a thrifty mum!

Peel me a grape Peel me a grape The coating on the epiderm May be of grease or dirt or germ Some fruit I eat with water sloshed But I prefer the grape unwashed.

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April The First

John Weaver

April the first is here And friend and kin are joined in kinship By the marriage rite. The poet can describe But I can not The beauties and the feelings of this day The soft warm air of Spring The yellow daffodils, The lark a-wing; A work-a-day Yet far and wide is peace And all the countryside lisps ―cease‖ To frozen thoughts, machines and schemes And bends an ear unto the wedding march And smiles. The earth, the trees, the sky conspire With understanding piety To join these two as one: The toasts are drunk And halting speeches made, The shy, new met, Are turned to laugh outright across the board And kindness, like a star, lights every eye. The songs ring out And then - the guests depart And all recall The beauty of the bride The handsome groom The feast well spread The song well sung 70


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Liz Whitehouse Sweet Mother Sweet mother hold my hand lead me back to my childhood land When days were long and trouble free and only fun was planned Sweet mother smile at me and reassure my mind Why do you not reach out for me? I know you are very kind Sweet mother draw me close I need to feel your warmth You did not tell me yesterday I was loved and free from harm Sweet mother comfort me and wipe away my tears A woman I today may be, but I have such dreadful fears Sweet mother cradle me and hold me to your breast Hold me until I sleep, free at last in peaceful rest

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Liz Whitehouse Moving On It‘s raining, lashing against the window the water wanders down the pane The glass is cold, as is his heart that was all mine before he changed Changing as if with the seasons he became my lost love a love all encompassing It was now gone, lost in the depths of sorrow, of tears, of longing and searching I searched for the reason of his wretched departure, how could he leave me so Why had he fallen into the reaches of a darkened path? A path winding nowhere Thunderous thrashings of the storm now cooled my heart, reaching out for the event It dragged my feelings into the depths, pushing the last drops of him away I have to move on into a new purpose of existence away from the storm into the sun

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Liz Whitehouse White Lies White lies are part of our modern day life What do you say when asked by the wife? She looks appealing in that little black dress Not when she says does my bum look big in this? White lies make the world a much better place Adds comfort to living a trouble free life A child‘s picture created with colour and mess What do we say, ―My darling that‘s the best.‖ White lies keep true friendships happy and great Especially when asked, ―Can you tell I‘ve lost weight?‖ The look in their eyes when saying, ―Of course‖ Then holding your breath at the white lie remorse. True love is the perpetrator of the most white lies When age shows its presence with wrinkled lines He looks in your eyes and says wrinkles don‘t matter Just go on a diet don‘t get any fatter.

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Liz Whitehouse The Recession The credit crunch seems to have passed us by What I mean is we have no savings or investments So the closing of banks does not affect us The prices in the shops have all been reduced More bottles of wine are filling the car boot My husband has always enjoyed turning off the lights And religiously turns down the heating on cold winter nights However his biggest joy yet is my buying less clothes Well actually I said thinking about it, when I do it heaven knows We are fortunate our circumstance sallow these joys Perhaps the credit crunch will now stop the politician‘s noise.

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Gill Whitehurst Song of the Siren Keep calm and carry on Because there is no other option Leave the empty shells behind Just come to me. I am the sea, I am the sky, I am the heavens I am the trees, I am the song, I am the treasure Keep calm and carry on Fail and fall, lost in deception Win and leap, all false invention, Come to me I am the sea, I am the sky, I am the heavens I am the trees, I am the song, I am the treasure Keep calm and carry on Fight or flight, just don‘t get frozen Use your last strength to crawl, And come to me I am the sea, I am the sky, I am the heavens I am the trees, I am the song, I am the treasure Keep calm and carry on Through fire and heartbreak, torrent and laughter Tread the path before you And come to me I am the storm

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Gill Whitehurst Ode to a man I saw from a distance in a pub (it‘s a rap) You got me burning up I think I used a thousand calories I‘m thinking of your body and a giant jar of mayonnaise You‘re hot in way that defies mortal description so I‘m struggling just a little for the words to this inscription Boy you rock in way that makes me shake like a maraca Just the one, not two Lost the other, it was knackered Ooh you move like god All powerful and mighty You make me realise too late I need a sexy flannel nightie You‘re sizzling like a burger that‘s just short of burning on a barbie or a griddle… man you sure need turning

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Ow! You‘re stepping over my way You‘re taking up my highway I‘m trying not to tremble In a wimpy loser shy way I‘m sweating like a fat girl Well, I‘m not ashamed of that You‘d bring shame to the brain Of an unaltered tom cat Is it me that you‘re after? Is it me you‘re looking for? Oh… you just need the toilet and I‘m stood in front of the door. April 2009

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Gill Whitehurst

Light Light is the absence of dark… No that‘s not right… So dark must be the absence of light. Dark is the hole left when light is removed Light is the first robe in which force is clothed And where there‘s a spark… there is no dark. Light, Sound, Elemental and Matter And there‘s us… with our endless dramas and chatter But how many stories are there really to tell? Just one… the one about the way we fell From light to matter From grace to dis I wonder what the ending is? Dark is the absence of light, And we? Maybe we are lanterns… sometimes 14/08/08

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Acknowledgements: COVER: Artist, Kate Finlay, Newcastle upon Tyne Other Graphics: Raindrops on glass GPD wikipedia

Where possible RBW uses GPD copyright free graphics unless a license to use has been requested, or the source permits not-for-profit educational use. Should anyone‘s copyright be accidentally infringed please let us know and we will willingly acknowledge the source in any reprint or remove the image. Printed by Bookbinding Direct, Keele ST5 5BG Paper used does not contain chlorine bleach.

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Welcome to Rising Brook Writers‘ 2010 Poetry Collection Twenty-six poets have contributed to

INSIDE OUT These varied voices take part in Rising Brook Writers‘ weekly Online and Library Workshops www.risingbrookwriters.org.uk

£5-00 ISBN 978-0-9557086-6-4

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Donation Appreciated


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