Hebden Bridge Lock by Tony Burrows

Special from one of our ‘Virtual’ Members – cannot make the meetings:

                         Hebden Bridge Lock by Tony Burrows

I stood for a moment to ponder
When did you land in the valley
Was it after the bridge spanned the Calder
And they built the first mill
Or a little later still
With the sprawl of the town and mine
Black Pit Lock number nine
With coal held tales behind
Your spread winged white gloved arms
Cradling watery forces within
The granite blocked locked lichen clad bay
Where a dusting of remembering leaves lay
On the jagged jawed tip toe path
To Pack Horse Bridge number seventeen
Reclining under relinquishing trees that beam
Coloured quince and painted plum
Alight in motion mild canal quiet sun
Deflected dappled down dark and lie
On gradient governed waters that wait
Where only time is unlocked
And just me passing by

Stubbing Lower Lock, Rochdale Canal


It happens regularly by Angela O’Connor

It happens regularly

It’s always the same, usually on a pay night.
The lime coloured van carefully enters the driveway.
Never any damage done to the bougainvillea.

I steal a look from behind the nylon curtains.
Gauge my performance for the next few hours.
Deliberate steps hold the banister too tight.

Fumbling keys and unrelenting locks accompanied with
familiar sworn statements, confirm my expectation.
Be good, sit quiet, say hello and act like normal-the drill.

He’s drunk, very very drunk, it’s Thursday night drunk.
The aroma of Marlboro and beer hits me hard.
Before his lop-sided smile tries to harness his shadow.

Dinner eaten in silence, interrupted only by his bodily functions.
I pray to myself – who else will listen; ‘please have a bath, please
have a bath’. Hoping the hot waters may assuage any fight within.

I lay awake to hear his cleansed but heavy footsteps carry him
away to his version of dreamland.
And now I go to mine, thankful and yet anxious of the next time.

JENNA THE ELEPHANT part 2 – AND LIONS by Michael Healy

Michael’s Grandchildren wanted to know what next happened to Jenna


Jenna the elephant had by now, learned to carry the family royal,
He had learned to cope with the weight of a full Howdah,
As well as used to waiting, while his passengers did their business.
Majub was his master, and they had become friends.
Though Jenna knew Majub was boss.

Jenna’s father, Arjuna, was a massive elephant, but now retired.
He spent his days relaxing, wandering around and helping as required.
His lifetime had been spent mainly as transport for the royal family.
He had had a good life, and his son, Jenna, had now taken on his routines,
And he was pleased at the success his son was making of his duties.

As the day started, he saw Jenna being prepared for a trip with the family Royal
Arjuna agreed that he looked very smart, with coloured fabrics in a coil
He watched as they all climbed aboard and sat in their places,
Jenna moved off very slowly and stately, he was not at the races.
He set off down the track to town, but suddenly he stopped.

In front, lying on the track in the sun, was a pride of lions,
Although pretending to be asleep, they were not.
Jenna mustered all the courage he had got,
He had to move them to get by
Looking at his handler, Majub, he could almost cry.

He let lose the best trumpet bellow he could do
Not that it moved the lions.  Even Majub was stuck to.
Suddenly, from behind, came an ear-splitting, extended, bellow.
The Lions fell over each other as they dashed for the bush.

Jenna recognised that bellow and was so pleased.
Arjuna was just behind. He looked at Jenna and teased.
‘We elephants stick together, you know.
If you need me just send a trunk call.’
Majub smiled ‘Old jokes still the best’ he muttered.



I met her in the long hot summer of sixty three
On a surfing beach in south-western France
I wanted to grab her attention with my poetry
I just hoped it would give me a chance

The words I needed were there in my head
But were cryptically concealed in my mind
They were words that I’d heard or words I’d read
But those damn words were so hard to find

I needed to write some lines to give to Nicole
That would tell her I wasn’t a naive hanger on
Words to pick the lock letting me into her soul
I needed to strike before the moment was gone

Words those lyrical poets seemed always to find
Words to tempt her away from the glitz
To persuade her my love was worth leaving behind
Her hedonist friends on the beach at Biarritz

Why is it when you try to write what you’re feeling
The words are never what you want and you know it
It was never an ace that I seemed to be dealing
But the joker mocking a wannabee poet

Like drunks my words staggered and fell off of the line
Forming a jumbled lexicon piled at my feet
My pen itself appeared to be hostile and malign
Leaving me staring at a pristine white sheet

Too late I found the words that I wanted to say
Another troubadour had enraptured her heart
My love turned to malice when I heard her say
That I was not in the race from the start

So in place of verses that were full of love and desire
The words were those of resentment and spite
I ignored her contrition and appeal for a ceasefire
Because I was totally absorbed in the fight

I dealt out my words like sharp stainless blades
Each syllable became a barbed arrow of pain
Each sentence simply one more heartbreak repaid
For that love lost down in Aquitaine

It was so much easier to find words for my malice
Fired like bullets from a gun onto the page
My jealousy proving a willing accomplice
For my humiliation, frustration and rage

Too late I realized some of the words that you write
Can fatally wound without leaving a trace
Each word is forever and lies there in plain sight
You cannot recall them or have them replaced

I wish I hadn’t wasted my words on anger
But then what is life without any regret
For a poet each word they write is a failure
There are so many failures I need to forget

This poet sees life as a glass that’s half empty
I don’t look for the silver linings on clouds
Life’s disappointments and tears I find aplenty
You’ll find me hiding at the edge of the crowd

So if you are trying to win yourself a new lover
Don’t try ensnaring her with eloquence and rhyme
When you find her just tell her simply that you love her
Using poetry will be just a waste of your time

Jenna the elephant was so proud by Michael Healy

Jenna the elephant was so proud.


Jenna was an elephant, who came with Royal blood.

His father was so stately, the massive Arjuna was so good.

Jenna was quite shy but knew he had his duties.

Arjuna for many years had been the Royal transport,

Now the time had come for Jenna to take over.

Arjuna’s saddle was huge, decorated with jewels and gold.

Jenna had been fitted for his.  It was now built, but nothing like as bold

He had yet to earn his status, by carrying the Family Royal.

His rider was Majub, a wiry little chap.  He would show him how to toil.

The day came, at least for a practice.  He was to take the Royal boys to town.


Soon he was dressed in all his finery with his saddle fitted along.

He was feeling quite wobbly as the boys climbed on.

His tummy was rumbling and there was little he could do

Suddenly from the back came a tremendous rumble and ‘phew!!’.

Fortunately the boys thought it funny and held their noses tight.

Majub was not at all pleased and said, ‘good job not their father, right’


They set off for town walking slowly down the track

He must note the way so he could lead them back

The further he went the better he felt.  He held his head high with pride.

Majub also looked very smart, indeed he now felt proud

But seeing Jenna act the same, he said we should not yet be proud.

‘There is still much for you to learn’, he said out very loud.


Jenna realised Majub was right and they must be a team.

As they passed along this road with trees on either side

Something stirred within the bushes and Jenna watched his ride

Alarmingly, there was a family of lions that frolicked back and forth.

Majub turned to Jenna and held his rein most tight.


‘Just keep walking on’, he said.  ‘That really is a pride!!’

‘Yes, a pride of lions’, thought Jenna.

He was proud of his bravery.

Dr Michael Healy

The ploughed field by Joe Lyons

The ploughed field by Joe Lyons

A furrow dug deep turning earth from below

Revealing bones and metal from long ago

The bones still encrusted with soil and clay

Before the rain comes to wash the earth away


Remembering bygone days where valour stood the test

The strongest and wiliest would survive the best

The weaker unskilled fighters they would quickly fall

In time victors survey the vanquished, while standing tall


Months have passed now bones bleached by the sun

The field left fallow this season no work to be done

At night the bones turn into skeletons to fight once more

With no flesh to bleed bones fall back to the floor


At night these unknown warriors come to fight another battle

By the time the fighting’s over all you can hear is the bones rattle

Come morning they lay fallen to be warmed by the morning sun

In the full moon refreshed, once more the fight’s begun


Until these remains are collected and put under lock and key

A battle forever wages on each moonlit night if you could see

When the darkness of each night falls it pass as time before

Until collected and preserved the skeletons will fight no more

SPRING by Barrie Purnell

SPRING by Barrie Purnell

The pale light diffuses through the clouded window

Signaling the start of yet another new day,

Not just an ordinary day,

But the first day of spring.

The mornings’ irritations fade when I look out to see

The world shining fresh and new after the rain.

New life is returning

After winter’s vandalism.

Pussy Willow catkins show like tiny fingers;

A few carmine red shoots are already visible

On the pruned rose stems,

Prompting a memory of

The breathtaking blooms of last summer’s roses;

Leading actors in nature’s endless resurrection,

But now the stems stand stark

Against the dark damp earth.


The rising sun throws dancing shadows of leaves

Across the ivy clad railway sleeper wall.

The broader shadows of

Clouds glide across the path.

A pale, lemon yellow, primrose pushes through

Its’ winter ravaged, worn out rosette of leaves,

And lifts its’ pretty head

Towards the tepid sun.

Raindrops, like a shower of pearls, hang from branches

Under which scattered troupes of febrile insects dance.

An insolent noisy robin

Challenges every intruder,

While a tiny, ever mistrusting, Wren retreats

Into the safety of its hidden priest hole home.

Somewhere in the windless

Morning a Blackbird sings.


The vibrant saffron yellow cups of crocuses

Are painted onto the the lawn’s bright green canvas.

Moss has occupied spaces

Between the sandstone slabs.

The fresh green shoots of the Iris give little

Indication of their future azure blue beauty;

The exclamation marks

Of the flower world.

I love the spring, when everything looks brand new,

But I feel sadness too that it is so ephemeral.

So are our lives

Within eternity.

We can’t hold on to beauty, it is bound to fade.

We should enjoy our springtime while it lasts,

All too soon it’s over, and

Autumn leaves cover the ground.


I am reaping the harvest of all the deeds I’ve sown;

Both kind and hurtful have had their consequence.

Unlike the flowers that fade,

Returning good as new each year,

There is no rebirth for this creature I have grown.

My finality assured by inescapable decay.

I envy the innocence

Of the reborn flowers.

The springtime of my years is now long since gone.

I give little thought to all those dog-eared yesterdays.

I remember little of

The spring except its beauty.

I am living through the winter of my life.

No flowers will grieve for me when I am gone,

They will bloom again

To please a strangers eyes.