The Orangutan by Joan Saxby

One for the children


I know an orangutan
Who has arms longer than any man
He swings from trees with great agility
But can't read a book 'cos he's got no ability.

He swings from branch to branch with great ease
As he leaps to and fro between trees
He'll chatter to me as fast as he can
But of course I can't speak orangutan!

Joan Saxby

THE SINGER by Barrie Purnell


She sang her songs, she made her mark
But lived her life inside the dark,
No moon to shed its silvery light
To help her through the black and lonely night.
She was going down, was in freefall
To a river of treasons beyond recall,
Wanted to be who she was before,
A guilt free, visionary troubadour. 

Then Vodka’s voice whispered in her ear,  
‘You know that I can kill your fear,
Without the comfort that I bring
Could you ever write, would you ever sing?’
She knew well that voice’s liquid charms
Surrendering into its arms,
It held her heart, she could write again,
A half way happy, with an edge of pain.

She wrote to lose herself in rhyme
There was a scar in every line,
Writing of love she’d never see
Dreaming of the girl she used to be.
Escaping from the depths of her regret
The words she wrote were darker yet.
The hurt was all that she could sing,
Her reality was an ugly thing.

She tried to escape the misery,
Taking back what she’d given free.
Skeletons of lovers killed by her art
Hung from the gallows of her heart.
Her life ran too close to the fire
Over broken glass and razor wire.
She sank to an ultimate defeat,
Back to Black on infinite repeat.

[Back to Black by Amy Winehouse video - click.]



There’s been some sort of epidemic
So say all-knowing academics,	
A kind of dread Chinese infection
Designed to avoid early detection,
Resulting in oxygen deprivation
For which there was no known protection.
The government and the NHS
Said, what to do we can only guess
But until we can make up our minds
You must avoid contact of any kind,
Wash your hands 10 times a day
Put your going out clothes away,
And for restrictions we’ll atone 
By paying you to stay at home.
Said if lockdown we don’t apply
Half a million would surely die,
But something they didn’t say
Was all of us would have to pay,
All the costs of shutting down
To the tune of 300 billion pound.
I have to think they’ve lost their mind
Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine.

On the news the professor reported
We’d all go mad before it was sorted,
But when I had the time to reflect
Saw on me it would have little effect.
I was allowed to form a bubble
With neighbour who said, it was no trouble
To do a supermarket shop for me
Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea,
And I booked an on-line delivery
Which hitherto had been a mystery.
My hour long visits to numerous clinics
Were now phone calls over in minutes,
And no waiting in a doctors surgery
With ill people sitting next to me,
Covering me in their coughs and sneezes
Spreading their as yet unknown diseases,
And oh what joy when they disclosed
All the dentists would be closed.
No visits from that demanding relation
Requiring clean sheets on each occasion.
My expenditure had been decreased,
From hugging I had been released,
No longer was I considered rude
When I indulged my love of solitude.
I don’t spend weekends in hotels
Or holiday in the Seychelles,
I have nobody to look after
I have no fear of the hereafter.
I thought now I will have the time
To watch programmes on Amazon Prime,
Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV
Opportunities spread out endlessly.
The prospect of gardening reared its head
Or I could do DIY instead.
Then there were all those books to read
Which would increase my reading speed,
And when these became less exciting
I could always try to do some writing.

But as months ran into longer time
I missed the freedom once was mine,
I missed the human interaction
Leading to increasing dissatisfaction.
I wondered if this imposed ban
Affected this old solitary man,
Someone long past his prime
Already living on borrowed time,
How much harder would it have been
If I had been just seventeen?
And here I had to face the truth,
We chose to sacrifice our youth,
They lost out on jobs and education,
On teenage fun and socialization.
My few remaining years protected
By youth, who even if they were infected,
Would avoid serious complication
And wouldn’t require hospitalisation,
But who’d be paying back for many years
The billions spent to keep our conscience clear.
So we mortgaged millions of young lives
To try and help the old survive.
Was this right, we don’t know yet
Or something the country will regret?
Maybe result would have been the same
If they’d just locked up the old and lame,
And supplied any help they needed
Until search for vaccine had succeeded.
Having lived through rationing and the blitz.
The old could surely have survived this?

Each year 600000 deaths are seen
From causes other than COVID 19,
For every 1 that from COVID died
Cancer and heart disease killed 5.
Now on the news a man of 99
Is said to have died before his time!!
What’s new is that now each day, 
Presented in graphical display,
Death is there for all of us to see
We’re confronted by our own mortality.
Everyday more of the same
Until we look for someone to blame
For the extra deaths of an aged few,
As if death was something new,
When we have been able to ignore
The millions who have died before.
Only when that eulogy is read
Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead,
Do we realise death is always with us
Even if it’s something we don’t discuss.
As mortals why do we believe
From death we alone could be reprieved?
Heart attack, cancer or suicide, 
Broken heart or homicide,
Immortality is our minds biggest lie
COVID ………just another way to die. 

Winter Is Coming by Limi Jones

A sonnet.
Using Shakespearean Limi Jones has attempted the abab, cdcd, efef, gg rhyming and 10 syllables per line scheme.

Winter is coming

Autumn colours gone for the trees are bare
And the land is cold where nothing will grow.
There’s nowhere to hide for the mad march hare
As rain turns to sleet and the sleet turns to snow.

Up in the heavens and clear crystal skies
Dark ravens land on a frost fingered tree.
Forlorn echoes of their fae shrouded cries.
Ink blots once more as the glide away free

Thick snow covers land like frosting on cake
Sprinkled with gemstones which glimmer and shine,
moonstone hard water on a cold still lake
Where the sun can’t enter their dark shoreline.

The old winters Gods have come for their keep
Embracing the land enchanted in sleep.

JUST ANOTHER POEM by Barrie Purnell


I am a walking, talking portrait of my past
With each line I write I send myself a message,
I am known only for the coherence of my failures,
Each completed work, for me a rite of passage.

Living alone in the emptiness of no man’s land
I’ve been masquerading as someone who cares,
Wearing a poet’s disguise and Trojan horse smile,
Clothes woven from lies and unanswered prayers.

A prism of pragmatism in a trial and error world,
Hiding here in the deep shadow of all my mistakes,
With secrets I’m not prepared to either share or keep
Held tight in the arms of eccentricity’s embrace.

An outsider wanting to be back on the inside,
On the other side of love wearing tomorrow’s smile,
I am playing my part so well that no one can tell,
Too late for me to change and too old to stand trial.

I travel with a suitcase full of empty dreams
With my memories all being eaten up by rust,
I lent on their promises but dreams came undone,
This world is full of such examples of broken trust.

I’m waiting for an apology from the dream dealers
Who promised to build me an endless paradise,
But confession never comes easily to guilty men,
We only find the truth when it’s too late to be wise.

I look into the mirror it’s not telling me any lies,
I see the reflection of a man I should have known,
I’m looking at the ghost of the man I used to be
Holding a medal you gave me for the courage I’ve shown.

Just another poem that no one but you will ever hear
From a tired pen that’s forgotten how it all began,
Shining a fading light into unowned, unknown spaces,
Illuminating only the quiet workings of a broken man.

MOVING BOXES, by Angela O’Connor


Still they sit in the shed. Empty. Cold. Lifeless
Never looked at, she wonders why she keeps them.
Just hang onto them.
They may be of use. Or do they represent something else?

Her. Love for her. Annoyance of her. They are from her address.
Stickers of a home no longer visited.
They must not be tossed out. Spiders can weave their fine homes.
But never thrown. Never thrown. Always at my home.

Roger Butler

Pilgrims of the Sky by Limi Jones

Pilgrims of the sky
The swallows swoop and sweep across the sky
Acrobatics ready for their long-haul flight.
Back to the land where the spice trail starts.
The smell of sweet, syrupy, sticky treats
Where vendors peddle their exotic goods
To dark skinned women, with laughter eyes and warm smiles.
Cotton clothes that are caressed by the blistering desert breeze
Move in, rebellious, riots of rich shades.

Laughter, call of sellers, squeals of children at play
Ceaseless, chatters, conversations echo through the ancient streets.
Voiceless whispers of stories, imprinted like ghosts
On once grand, now crumbling fortress walls.
Calling their feathered companions their yearly guests
The flying devotees, pilgrims of the heavens and skies.
The dessert sands once again raise their arms to embrace
The swallows to their native homelands.

Mr Verity by Andrew Bell

Mr Verity

A friendly stranger has taken over
the top floor in my head.

A man of culture and refinement,
he wears smart shoes,
with polish well rubbed in;
keeps his best thoughts
in his wardrobe on the shelf
above his suits and ties
and his aspirations,
in other fine pieces,
some suitably distressed.

You will never hear him grumble
about errant thoughts leaking
through distressed tap washers,
embarrassing moments, or missed opportunities.
But, I suspect he has come to teach me,
hold a mirror to my foibles
or, because he never seems to rest,
reset my synapses as I sleep.

More often though, I will find him
playfully disrupting my self-absorption,
like when he sings melodious refrains
through the floorboards above my bed.

At weekends, I may accompany him
in duets,
and sometimes, when I miss a beat,
I can see by his look,
that I’m somewhere else,
reliving those Sunday afternoons,
with the lady I met in the flat below,
the one who keeps my dreams
with her rings in a box.

And when the world is having fits
about this or that,
or when I get caught up
with the problems of mortality
or the properties of dark matter, or eternity,
or I’m wondering whether writing a poem
is a symptom of insecurity,
he answers my questions
with thoughtfulness and grace.

Then my attic voice
begins to change its tone.
I’ll feed on benign spaces
between the words,
put the issues back in their chest,
slip quietly into those silent attic spaces,
and make a cup of tea.


‘Life on Earth’ by Andrew Bell

We love you,
Mother Earth
as much
as we love our kin,

even as we bear witness
to your defilement;

even as we disable
your natural rhythms
lay waste your lands,
poison your air and soil.

For we came to see you,
long ago, as separate,
as a lifeless mechanical force,

Continue Reading