‘Thoughts from a Small Town Bar’ by Barrie Purnell

Sitting in a bar the other day
I was asked what I had to say
About state of the railway station
And what was wrong with United Nations.
I said problem with station is trains are late,
And the UN angered the United States.
Anyhow it’s no good asking me
I’m just about as dumb as you can be,
Ask a professor under a dreaming spire
Of that university in Oxfordshire.
I am sure that he will be able
To furnish you with graphs and tables,
To explain any problem big or small
Without using any facts at all.
As for me my limited education
Provided very little information
Useful for answering general questions
About world affairs or railway stations.

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‘The Plague’ by Barrie Purnell

How Futile is the fight with ignorance on both sides.

The enemy was invisible our defenses outsmarted
Behind anonymous masks fights had already started,
They recruited from the orphanage and prison as well
And from girls that mean business in the seedy hotel,
Those who never knew innocence those with no name
All headed up to the front just to keep in the game.

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Prompt for the week

We can’t get away from them these days, so this week’s prompt is:


Now, apart from the obvious current use to keep infection at bay, there seems to be a vast array of masks as well as reasons to wear them. There is, of course, masked balls (never been to one, have you?), those fancy Venetian masks, gas masks, the masks bank robbers wear, or disguises, masks of famous people… well, I could go on, but I’m sure you’ll be able to think of other examples for yourselves. Don’t forget, you can write in any format: fiction; poetry; creative non-fiction; or even a script (haven’t seen any of those for a while.. give it a go!). Have fun with it! We look forward to reading your work.

‘Solitude of Longing’ by Barrie Purnell

Long lost photographs
Exhumed from dusty albums
Form a fistful of lost faces
Which stare out accusingly
Against their long isolation.
I let the memories slip in
Through the gateway of my eyes,
A small stream of the remembered
Flowing across a wilderness
Of the forgotten. Among them
I see her unforgotten face,
My brain turning ventriloquist
To remind me of her voice.

Oh the solitude of longing
And the solitude of loss,
The loss of our belonging
The longing for those lost.

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‘No More After Me’ by Barrie Purnell

I am the last of the line
There will be no more after me,
I have no sons or brothers to carry my name
When I die we will just cease to be.

I am the last of the line
When young I never gave it a thought,
Now I am older I think it’s a loss to the world
Then again ……. maybe it’s not.

I am the last of the line
As a result of inadequate conception,
I produced no progeny of either sex
But extinction was not my intention.

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Prompt for this week

I hope you are all still keeping well, and coping ok with the continuing lockdown. Many of us now are dreaming of returning to some semblance of normality, wondering what the new world will look like post lockdown.

So this week we are giving a nod to that concept and we’re asking you to write something using the prompt:


Of course, it doesn’t have to relate to the current situation at all, it could be about after you’ve eaten (or drunk) too much; after a losing (or winning) game; after the party; or with VE day remembrance in mind… after the war. As usual, these are just some suggestions to get you going… let your imagination loose and write in any form you like: poetry; fiction; creative non-fiction; prose poetry….. well, you get the gist… any old way that gets your pen or your fingers on the keyboard moving. Have fun.

‘The Book Keeper’ by Barrie Purnell

Barrie wrote this wonderful and imaginative piece in response to last week’s picture prompt. Please do share yours with us too.

I’ve travelled across an ocean of unused words,
Climbed over the high walls of my pride,
Pushed through a forest of rejections
Only to find her on the other side.

She was the custodian of every written word
Who looked upon all writers with disdain,
Working with her soulless keeper of books
It’s metal hand recording each author’s name.

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Picture Prompt

Ah Ha! Another picture prompt for you. Now, what do you make of this one? Is he a robot seeking knowledge…? Well, that was my first thought, but then.. perhaps he’s a toy lost in a library; perhaps we all feel like robots sometimes and he’s a reflection of a current mood; perhaps your batteries are running low, particularly at this time of turmoil; maybe the book is relevant… is it your favourite book (why do you love this book?); a gardening book; a book about learning to fly; a cookery book; an encyclopedia? Why is it so dark? What happens next? Deadly serious or rib-ticklingly funny?

One of the first things I learnt when trying out picture prompts is to look for the five ‘W’s:

Who – Who is the picture about?
What – What happened?
Where – Where did the event occur?
When – When did the event occur?
Why – Why did it happen?
(some also add an ‘H’ – How did it happen?)

It’s a useful place to start whether you are writing prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction. Remember, this is just a prompt… the picture doesn’t have to feature at all, it’s just to get you on the runway.

Go on…let go of the strings of your imagination and let your pen (or keyboard!) fly!

‘Signals’ by Barrie Purnell

I really enjoyed this original poem that Barrie has written in response to our last prompt ‘Green’.

She stood apart from all the others
Between the music and the wine,
The road behind littered with those
Who had misinterpreted her signs.
Oh yes you were the pretty one
You were every young man’s dream.
They were waiting patiently in line
For your signal to turn green.

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