“The Forbidden Birthplace” … and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

City of San Mateo, Japanese Tea Garden courtesy of Daderot and generously released into the Public Domain

“In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or love or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship — around participation in public life.” Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Today we have a wonderful collection of poems submitted in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, From the Churches and the Houses, August 28, which suggested poets write about their city.  The result is a virtual tour from cities in India and Pakistan to ones in England and the United States.

This virtual tour is gifted to us by a Wednesday Writing Prompt newcomer, Olive Branch, whom we warmly welcome, and by Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do, Irene Emanuel, Sheila Jacob, Urmila Mahajan, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Pali Raj, and Clarissa Simmens.

Enjoy! and do join us for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt, which will post tomorrow morning.

The Two

This was her tale of two cities,
nothing revolutionary, only
wide-eyed comparisons,
each bearing its own
pronounced individuality
as she struggled to find
a niche in one and then
the other.

One was born of strong
politics and toughness and
every winter a new coat and
shoes. The other grew out
of Quaker thought and old money
and neighborhoods bearing
the stamps of Ireland and Italy.

Both she would long to leave as
finding a niche was
an ache that always plagued.
She finally gave up her story,
believing she could go
anywhere and find home,
only to realize the wrongness in her bones
has made her battle weary
(and longing again for
a place).

© 2019, Olive Branch

OLIVE BRANCH (Cornelia Trent) I live in a small city in the U.S. Northeast and writing poetry has, at times, proven to have been a catharsis for me in my adult life.  I’ve only been published a few times in print and in recent years normally I write poetry under the pen name of “Olive Branch.”  I’ve been writing a blog on WordPress under the name of Cornelia Trent that tends to feature other poets’ poems, pieces about fiction & nonfiction writers and also songs and sometimes photography.  I work as a Librarian currently for a suburban township library.


My Friend’s City

When I visit your page,it is as if I am visiting your place in a famous city
a city of japanese gardens, a kaleidoscope of bright flowers,of music in the air
reaching out it turns into a dream and I wish I was actually there-

when I visit your page I feel the warmth of your hospitality, an aroma of a hot cup
of coffee served with chocolate muffins and strawberries, bright sun
shines through the window as

your soft furry cat eyes me jealously and springs and slips around me finally landing
onthe sofa, while you smile patiently, and I wish I had a
cat if not anyone else around-

when I visit your page I hear the cars and trucks on the road down below,
an occasional siren or two, your city is so well planned and seems a lot
in order so, unlike many others

when I visit your page I find your city full of books and magazines, inhabited by talented
gifted authors and poets,it gives me great joy to find
a reading public lives nearby

My visit to your page guides me through my thoughts, I compose words on paper
and leave for you to see, and hope and pray that I may come again and again
to leave all affection there and take love away

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

Rawalpindi City Pakistan

Ah Old Harley Street, If Only You could Speak
Where art thou? With All Thy Grace and Treat
Where evening cool breeze would gently sweep
And the open spaces would be free and neat;
Where I learned to ride the bicycle and Greet
My friends who came out to meet-
Ah Harley Street! where art thou?
With memories sweet-
This same road where bell tingling horse driven tongas
With strong horses and shining leather reins
Would lift the learning loads and stay on the beat-
At that time, this same road was all for residents
No sounds, not even an innocent lambs bleat.
Ah Harley Street! where art thou?
So defiant in dilapidated defeat!-
YOU seem to be there still serving in retreat-
Though gone is the tar rubble crush and concrete;
Ah Harley Street . All is not lost.
Courage never to submit or yield-
YOU have the BEST on YOU
YOU are replete with –Institutes of Education
Tuition Guidance and Dedication-
But AH there’s the rub-
The cuts craters humps and dilapidation-
OH Lord, what are WE learning and teaching
in this precarious condition? That is the question-
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
the slings and jumps of outrageous travel
The heart aches and
thousand natural shocks that the flesh is heir to-
Or to take arms against oceans of ditchy trouble..err. rubble-
And by appealing begging imploring
“Please Sir , may we have some more” Ah No!
Or by opposing clean sweep them….?
Who would bear the whips and scorns of time immemorial
The laws delay, the repairs astray, the rains decay ; AH SILENCE!
Do we continue to grunt and sweat under a weary life?
Or has conscience made cowards of us all?
AH Harley Street! If only you could speak’

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

The Forbidden Birthplace

Walking for more than half a day,she sat on a large stone by the deserted road
thought how far now, the place of birth, just once she wished to set eyes on

‘all roads lead to unknown places, never go anywhere,stay where they are laid.
Oh a passerby! please stop a while and tell me, have you seen the heaven here?

‘the heaven on earth, the land of fruit and flower gardens, and a lake full of boats
yes,there is a place,where weather stays cool and fresh, vegetables grow in plenty

No the passerby replied, ‘heaven can not be on earth,you are mistaken, this road
leads to nothing but death and destruction, killing,shooting, and occupation by enemy

Oh No,heaven is beautiful peaceful,green and glorious, with no killing or any pain
where peace eternally prevails,contentment reigns,quietude rests as mountains protect.

No, sorry’ the passerby walked away shaking his head.’Oh a horse rider’ trotting along
Oh Rider please stop a while and tell me,have you seen the heaven here, quite near?

‘Hmm No, I don’t think heaven can be here. It used to be long ago,I heard people say so,
but my horse and I are tired, in vain looking for grass and clean water,but nothing for miles

O Farmer with your cow,please stop and tell me have you seen heaven here,nearby?
O Sister Dear, go back go back, there is not a barn or a haystack, all broken and burnt

the wooden huts with slanting roofs, lawns with pine and chinar trees, pansies and roses
in flower beds, no more no more, you will find,nothing in air is clean and kind,all are blind’

Oh No, what do these people say and why, how can a heaven on earth be so destroyed
lush green hills be dry, lake devoid of lovely shikara boats,rows of graceful poplar trees

that lined the road, seen no more, shops closed, windows and doors barred- smoky air
the road is here,but no traveler travels, barbed wires cordon streets, all empty,unfair-

O dear, the journey in vain, the quest remains, how places by enemies are overtaken
birthplaces vanish in gunfire and teargas,bomb blasts, fires, stone and brick fights-

Tis a pity how humans hate, cannot tolerate or follow advice,spread love and peace
and grant the deserving rights, bless and comfort,fulfill each others basic needs –

Alas, heart is heavy the spirit laden,no return ever to a birthplace called heaven
majestic mountains pure air, sunny days filled with apples red,starry nights,gone

All that remains are stories, heard, the house was wooden but shone like gold
a home is no home,it has to be left or abandoned,’ a dream in life is all, to hold’

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

My Pine Scented Home Town,

The last five miles are
winding winding ways,
As the bus turns the corners,
I remember the winter days,
Home, home on the range
Reflecting autumnal grace,
Before you know, its
Behold ! the town itself, reveals,
At its own, the evergreen stature,
The Spiritual Presence of Nature

Majestic melodious mountains,
Blow the Highlanders March,
of The Hundred Pipers.
As early as cool February
As fresh as is the month of May
When Spring awakes
and apple blossoms call,
Soft snowflakes greet you,
Sinking and vanishing, as they fall;

Serenity intense, beauteous nature
crisp and pure
White and sure;
Oh! Let me feast my eyes
On the beauty of my town,
Breathe in the sweet smell of pine,
Oh! Let me live the truthful moments
While they are there
And let the freshness creep into my soul

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Ji’s sites are:

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar

Salt of the City
They were mostly tall, thin, and dark skinned like the softest black velvet. Their clothes hung on them. Their feet in flip-flops covered with dust. Yet their voices were strong, offering their wares in accented English – mini Eiffel towers, larger Eiffel towers, ones that light up as if it were covered with fireflies, ones that were staid. Their bodies seemed strong, carrying large sacks of these trinkets to different parts of the park. The odor of their sweat was strong, evidence of their hard work in the heat.
They stood out among the tourists – they were their working, laboring under the sun – while we were there for fun, our choice to stand in lines under the sun.
Maybe they arrived in this city with a degree or some other skills; definitely they arrived with hope. Yet their labor in the City of Lights seemed to diminish the light in their own eyes.
Summer’s salty sweat
Seasons the immigrant’s work
Hope masks bitterness

© 2019, Irma Do

Irma’s site is: I Do Run, And I do a few other things too . . .

The Dancer

Static in the traffic,
Sparks Road on a cool mundane morning.
Selfishly sorting my day into easy
slices of work and food,
I blank-watch the robot.
I disregard the news vendors so that
I won’t note the latest crime statistic.
I dismiss the sad eyes and life-weary palms
aimed at my car window.
I am in my motor-home,
I am not seeing visitors today.
Ahead is the corner vacant lot,
charred by open fires and human detritus.
Transient dwellers stirring their raggedness
into their bleak empty day.
Slow smoke-wisps swirl softly over
the scandalous scene.
As my eyes seek a prettier place,
the cars inch forward and I see him;
jumping through the smoke,
a joyous spinning dancer,
oblivious to his shocking surroundings.
Raising his smiling arms to the grey sky,
shouting his pleasure at being alive.
Suddenly the lot is etched in gold
and I am filled with gratitude for my good fortune.
The green light beckons me onward as
the dancer completes his pagan pirouette.

© 2019, Irene Emanuel


You’ve changed, of course, since I saw
you last, whispered Tarra a bit, Brum.
You boast a glitzy New Street Station
and the Reference Library’s a chapter
in your history of bulldozed buildings.

But I’ll recognise you after eight years.
I’ll soon connect with your bustling hub,
find my feet the moment my toes touch
your pavements and I hear the ker-swish
of bus doors and hum of passing shoppers.

Don’t forget how many times I circled
your heart. Bloodlines will pulse me down
Corporation Street, over the traffic lights
and into Priory Queensway, opposite Argos.
I’ll wait at the 14 bus stand, check the fare.

It’s the old route home through Nechells
where Dad was born, the back-to-backs
long gone except as names for the new estate.
Rupert Street. Cromwell Street.
Do you hear them echo in your bowels?

Do you meet the friendly shade of Bridget,
Dad’s Mom, on her knees and soaping
her doorstep, greeting a neighbour across
the yard? Or Ernie, his Dad, in a white muffler,
striding to the millwrights at the edge of town?

I’ll reach Saltley Gate then window-gaze
through Alum Rock, where Mum grew up.
Once, on my way to see her, a young couple
caught the bus at the Gate and asked the driver
if he could stop near Parkfield Road.

Don’t know it, he said, and I called out:
I’ll tell you when to ring the bell.
I know where Parkfield Road is.
I was born there,
in my Granny Kate’s house.

© 2019, Sheila Jacob

Down The Old End

Some of them survived
until the mid-60’s,
waited to be demolished
like rows of smoke-stained teeth.

Birmingham’s back-to-backs,
three walls out of four
joined to the next dwelling
and, through covered alleyways,
courtyards with communal privies,
a streetlamp and clothes lines.

This is where my Grandmother came
as a young bride, took the key
to 2/228, Cromwell Street, Nechells,
and called it home.

This was where she bloomed,
thrived in a community
of silversmiths, button makers
and biscuit-factory workers.
She reared four children,
worshipped with them
at the local Catholic church,
kept her kettle on the boil
for tea and gossip
and bustled each day
to the corner shop that sold
bootlaces, tobacco and cough drops.

She liked her spacious house
in a leafy suburb,
enjoyed a hot bath
filled by water from the tap
but still hankered
after “the old end”,
told how neighbours
drew comfort from one another
and the shared red brick
that weathered births, deaths
and two world wars.

© 2019, Sheila Jacob

To purchase Sheila’s little gem of a volume, Through My Father’s Eyes (review, interview, and a sampling of poems HERE), contact Sheila directly at she1jac@yahoo.com

Bangalore through the window
Like dairy-free chocolate the square
tiled yard sweats sultriness livened
by sparks of music from the living
room piano. Past the iron gate
autos trundle as insistent as bikes
that thunder in the lane where
a listless dog drags a woman swinging
her pointless cane past the vendor
with sharp samosas in his voice
smearing yesterday’s oil in today’s
newspaper. Money plants struggle
in verandas crammed with city
life too preoccupied to care
for other things besides.
Pot-bellied and backpacked
even pressured fore and aft
an old man hangs in the balance
(much like our existence) with
eyes that rake the sky. It’s long
overdue and not the way
when he was young
when it was greener.
He tracks the points of no
return as dominoes topple.
Away from these musings
a schoolgirl masticates to
appease shooting hunger
focused on a short-lived
bargain from a kirana store.
Keys ripple as a
koel pleads in the soupy
mirage for rain.

© 2019, Urmila Mahajan

Urmila’s site is: Drops of Dew

.the little city.

little place
we did not live there really
only in heart in memory
power house
god of clattering birds
hills and history
a place to look at cows
look at
clean houses
coffee small cakes
pot jam
trusted patrons
we need to concentrate on detail
to describe things properly
need to
go there each year a while
to retain to remain in memory
need to
care for little things
st david
may be a myth a memory
he carved it so
said it was the centre of the universe
for some it is
st david’s
the city is in Wales

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher


come gently with birth
come gently with life
grow with the place
until we grew beyond how it was
beyond the culture and crowding
becoming unsettled
retaining memory


cycling the promenade hoping
some one will love us some day
baking down dunes
walking down tracks
barefoot hoping for less paving in town

2. humbling for a home
walking looking in windows
will some one want us
house us?

3. finding the two above
settling for the place where folk
come to holiday beautiful
while we work the bones of it
the grit beneath
bournemouth beautiful
the reason beneath the move away
is beyond any words i have just
where folk
come to holiday beautiful

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher

.then there was manchester.

maybe in the fifth visit i met him
in the city in the thrift shop
from nine maybe till six or five thirty
several buttons and an open face
adorned with patterns
he opened easily
recognised we are not robots
despite the badges
it is colourful in the city
she mentioned it in suprise
immediately apologised
notice i talk more about people than
the archtiecture though that was appreciated
and wrote of it especially
do you know i watched the pigeon paddle
the parakeets flying
over the road carefully minding the trams
the tram lines
tripping gently forward
we found ouy way together
in manchester the fifth time

© 2919, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja’s sites are:

A city lover….
I’ve a home is my city and you gotta tell me
what’s the city’s name?
where a boy is insane and you couldn’t help
but smile back.
I cry out for God sake
Tell me, where do you wish to be framed
would you stay in a hotel ….yeah,
From the churches, and the houses, a poem is out to the prayer.
wish you all the best:
Tell me what’s the city’s name?

© 2019, Pali Raj

Beastly Beauty

Big city late night smogging
Human volcano awaiting
Final intolerance of life
Neighborhood via drugs degrading

Nominally safe inside row home
Dangling a keychain of pepperspray
Alone while sons at work today
Overactive imagination spirals away

Back home in humid Florida
Gators move prehistorically
Searching for mates in yards and swamps
Devoid of any sensuality

Here in my old hometown Philly
Human hoards do the same
Cruising in cars, buses and subways
Any-cost sex, biological imperative aim

Inside I strum guitar and read
While some sad soul screams outside
Teetering between two realities
Alone on a great divide

Where is the truth
Worthy to compare?
Or is beauty hidden

© 2019, Clarissa Simmens

Find Clarissa on her Amazon’s Author Page, on her blog, and on Facebook HERE; Clarissa’s books include: Chording the Cards & Other Poems, Plastic Lawn Flamingos & Other Poems, and Blogetressa, Shambolic Poetry.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton