“Birmingham, 1931” . . . and other poetic responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

“For the city, his city, stood unchanging on the edge of time: the same burning dry city of his nocturnal terrors and the solitary pleasures of puberty, where flowers rusted and salt corroded, where nothing had happened for four centuries except a slow aging among withered laurels and putrefying swamps. In winter sudden devastating downpours flooded the latrines and turned the streets into sickening bogs. In summer an invisible dust as harsh as red-hot chalk was blown into even the best-protected corners of the imagination by mad winds that took the roofs off the houses and carried away children through the air.” Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Cities certainly do stir the emotions as you’ll see from the passionate responses to the last prompt, Ciao Bella, Beloved, July 11, which was to write about the city in which you grew up or one that you grew to love.

Thanks and a warm welcome to newcomer Lexi Villa and thanks to stalwart regulars: Paul Brookes, Isabela DeLa Vega, Sheila Jacob, Frank McMahon, and Sonja Benskin Mesher.

Special acknowledgement to debasis mukhopadhyay, between ink & inkblot: Debasis’ latest collection is “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context(2017, Finishing Line Press ). I am unable to include his poem today due to some technical issues, but I hope to bring you more from this acute and prescient poet soon. Meanwhile visit his site and …

… enjoy these offerings below.

Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome no matter the status of career: novice, emerging or pro. Responses to tomorrow’s prompt will be published here on Tuesday as is tradition and this week’s responses will also be considered for inclusion in the September issue of The BeZine, which is themed social justice.

Devastation to My Happy Place

I remember running across the street to the little old lady’s tiendita.
After a long day of exploring canals and giving in to vendors (who definitely overcharged me because of my pale skin), I was hungry.
Can you hear the rain tapping against my window?
Can you hear that old lady’s silence from across the street?
Can you hear my stomach growling?
It was cloudy & dark, but I wanted to continue my adventure.
I only had that interaction, or rather transaction, with the old lady.
But as I lay here in my home, I think about that sandwich I bought from her.
Ham, cheese, & jalapeños. No condiments.
I’m laying here now, where the worst I’ve experienced is 125 degree weather.
What happened to that city the day the earthquake hit?
What happened to the businesses run along the canals?
But above all, what happened to that little old lady?

© 2018, Lexi Villa

LEXI VILLA: “Hey! I’m Lexi, just turned eighteen and decided to participate. I only really dabble in poetry, I am not a professional. However, something I entered in a competition did get picked up for publishing. So I guess I must have a knack for it to catch the eyes of publishers right? I look forward to participating :)”

Even More Invisible Town

A paragraph/stanza difficult to read, then urge/ntly to know widens eyes, detail foregrounds, colour sharpens, shadows acute

No electric/gas light. Wood fires flicker at street ends, in single rooms shadow on walls, glorious stars and robbers abound

Every street must be a wasteland: broken bottles, discarded rubbish, rusty nails, decaying carpet. Belonging is discouraged.

Amount and weight not quality of jewellery you wear is sign of wealth/prestige. Piercings/tattoos admired/flaunted.

Violence is always acceptable. Non violence is cowardice, defeat admitted. Only big, strong survive. Bullying praised.

Freezing cold is welcomed. All animals slaughtered, every part used to build shelter, skins warmth, bone tools, percussion.

All surfaces are child friendly soft. All houses have slides, all workplaces ball pools. Play is work. Riotous creativity

dark corners are encouraged. It is an architectural trend to see how many can be made in one building. Cleaners despair.

where a buildings decay is encouraged as a haven for wildlife. People born/live/die in hides, record wildlife as heirlooms.

Nobody puts things back correctly. Compensation is unknown. Goods on wrong shelves. Kids to wrong houses. Fiction in non


© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

A City In His Pocket

Searched his donkey jacket,
business suit and blazer.

Nowhere. In his dreams hand
in pocket it felt smooth like wet cobbles

his hobnail boots slipped on and faltered,
clattered and echoed in a cave of streets,

crammed with bread on the bake,
spicy curry and sweet dark chocolate,

or the top of a Christmas dome
you upturned to see snow fall

on gothic spires and picket fences,
or hand in pocket spiky and harsh

like police speed traps or his wife’s voice.
Pick pocketed now empty pocket.

Gust blew across the abandoned threads.
Aha! He’d put it in his hi viz jacket.

Previously appeared in The Coffeelicious

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

More Impressions of Wombwell

Backyard, eye swag silver, two joy, pica pica purplish-blue iridescent sheen wing feather green gloss tail

on train squeal chatter, vivid, green, blue, beavers, cubs, scouts, ventures: anarchy in uniform

unshaven bald man, open green raincoat, brown leather shoes, hauls local paper packed lime green trolley

old folk bench gab, mothers stroll babies down funeral paths eye gambolling squirrels, cemetery a parkland

bright cemetery leaves behind dark, Bakers window 6 loaves, 1 burnt, nurse boards bus, ‘I was miles away’

sunstruck leaf bunch drips bright molten green glass, other leaves luminescent silver stars in green matter, shade cut

patient silver hubcap rests under stone cemetery wall behind blue bus stop halo, full moon fall: day waits

Shadows pass over bus as if it is stop motion animated. I get on the animation. Hand held camera glare work journey

Town a small canvas tent unzipped tied back crowcall, fragrant grass, earth close, sun blue. Is on holiday

light quality early noon than morning, 3 patient full brown potato bags by grocers, cloud dispersal pends

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

Invisible Town on the Cards

At bus stop 6 playing cards played 3 of Diamonds, Queen of Diamonds face up. Empty coke can: a bus on the cards

Bus stop other side from morning Ace of Hearts 7 of Diamonds 5 of Spades 6 9 of Diamonds face up. Afternoons hand

Hill top Mrs Wood, grocers, coming down street cemeteries avenue hill bottom where pit used to be a lush forest.

In siling down bus is a big kid in wellies a splash laugh in every pothole puddle, hurriedly shops import goods

Slanted rain rolls down slanted roof slanted street each angle geometric downpour wet arithmetic blatant flashes

Estate Agents white box A4 copier paper door stop charity shop rush takes green leather sofa armchair out of rain

‘value’ ‘bonus’ ‘Low, Low Prices’ big on bright blue next to ‘On Offer’ ‘To Let” boarded, flagged market forces

Pale blue sweatered woman bent at right angles pushes her brown tartan square four wheel shopping trolley up hill

Greenery now over spoilheap less work less danger canal no longer used all leisure, industry moved into headsets

Young man in flak jacket grey snapback struggles to attach long fishing rod rest and shopping to bikes handlebars

Bright cool blue sky cafe puts out green plastic chairs stacked like plastic cups bakers window 4 loaves 2 burnt

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A tree grows in concrete

As such, a sight to see

I hadn’t given much thought

To how lonely it might be

One tree, weatherworn, twiggy bark

Hardly standing, day in and day out

Alone, trying to be burly strong

In need of care, no one did

City life, concrete at its’ feet

Rain, sleet and snow

No breaks, nothing but woe

Yet, there it stands for all to see

© 2018, Isadora DeLaVega (Inside the Mind of Isadora)

Birmingham 1931

I’ve come at this a bit slantwise. I see the city through my father’s eyes.

From the terraced
where he was born.
The poor end of town,
near Saltley gasworks
and sluggish canal
under the railway bridge.

Pigeon-roost on slate
roofs, sheen of starlings
in rain-puddles, hoot
and hiss of steam trains
spiralling smoke and grit,
roar of Saturday’s home
crowd at Villa Park.

Trams and buses trace
the city’s inner circle,
drop workers off
at Ansell’s Brewery,
Lucas’s,HP Sauce, streets
humming as he meanders
to school with his mates.

They’ll be fourteen, soon,
time for first suits
and steady jobs, they dream
football but know their
future’s in a car factory
needing ambitious lads
eager to learn a trade.

© 2018, Sheila Jacobs


Paris, Venice, Udaipur: noise, rainbow
glitter, sensory orgasmatrons yet
nothing called serenity or the bliss
of a child carefree on a swing.

Here is my city, patient work of seeds
and seasons, pink campion, knapweed
and hawkbit’s yellow, filling the meadows’
edge around the solitary ash. High

ridge on a clear day, chalk or clay
underfoot, silent, watch the hawk’s lift
and stoop to the clustered oaks, sheen
on clear spring water bubbling. Cross

an open field where the breeze lifts away
the dreck and bric-a-brac of cares and toils,
open and be filled with birdsong,
float in moments endless ethereal.

Here is my city.

© 2018, Frank McMahan

harrogate in the rain.

cheap umbrella broke,

a delightful shade of pink,


abandoned the street

for the parlour, the crown.

mourned my shoes, wet

and ripping.


white nubuck.

watched the trees,

falling leaves.

good coffee


the pumproom.


© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher


. oswald’s tree .

never fails to excite .with all the talk of leaves

here, falling, i am interested to see another breed

of folk that love and gather.

remind me of roseberry road, the younger days.


sat in the upper room, read a letter to his mum,

about the trenches, the first world war,  wished

to drown his sorrow in  that bloodied mud. the floor

tilted, a scrap lay crumpled.


each room has a different door.

we left, fell the last few steps.

© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher


# Oxford

lost in the ashmolean, lost
in antiquity.

i may have paid the price.

the museum is free.


as i spoke,
i could not help
but cry.

we do not often talk of it.


© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher



Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

“Beware” … and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Here is our collection from last week’s writing prompt, into the great yawning, November 8: what should we do, what should we ask for, when we know that vision has died and lunacy is on the rampage?  It garnered such an interesting, pointed and passionate response.

The great joy of themes and prompts is that there are always surprises.You just never know where people are going to take an idea. It’s always a jumping off point to something that’s been nagging – perhaps even raging – from each writer’s unique perspective.

I never hold people strictly to the theme or the prompt, which I recognize is an irritation to some … or, at least, that’s what I’ve been told recently. The thing is: art comes from sacred space. That has to be honored. So if the piece is linked by a thin silken thread or was written before the prompt went up and the poet/writer is inclined to share, so be it. Amen, I say.  This is, after all, an informal exercise meant to inspire, work the writing muscle, offer a venue for worthy ideas and writers, and to provide a chance to get to know others who share our passions. Enjoy!

… and thanks to Colin Blundell, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Paul Brookes and Juli. Bravo! Your ideals are real.

The next Wednesday Writing Prompt will post tomorrow. All are welcome to join in no matter the status of career: beginning, emerging or pro.


the Abstraction Monster
roughing its way
through pompous discourse
whose wifflers maybe don’t realise
quite how they destroy
all purchase on the sticks & stones
of things – real apples ripening
towards August drainage systems
against water on the brain…
George Washington’s Birthday
done by Charles Ives
complete with jaw harp
dissolving into glorious dancing

freedom justice beauty
our country (usually wrong) money –
Abstraction Monster friends
death-dealing to the tip
of the iceberg thought

real thinking dwells in all the open doorways
and river basins of the wide wide world

© 2017, Colin Blundell  (Colin Blundell, All and Everything)

This comes from my 2016 ‘101 apolitical poems’ (ironical!) in which the poem (posted here not necessarily as a contribution, just for amusement), headed by a quotation from my favourite long-dead politician, is: “No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.” Aneurin Bevan (1948)

lower than vermin

therefore not really vermin at all –
not worms (Latin vermis = worm) or snakes
or miscellaneous bugs
not reptiles not fleas or flying ants
not wild animals not insects of any kind
difficult to control in large numbers

but maybe ghouls that go bang
in some dark pit at dead of night
at the centre of an impenetrable forest
whose trees are constructed
out of piled up old rancid dustbins
that haven’t been emptied for months
where not even rats will go
for a Sunday afternoon promenade
for fear of the calculated potholes

I wonder if ghouls that go bang
in the night really are lower than vermin –
there may be something even lower

ridiculous demons if they weren’t
so terrifyingly malevolent

© 2017, Colin Blundell  (Colin Blundell, All and Everything)

a vision requested.

early while driving.                     omen repeating

sometimes the sun comes lower after the crest

one moment

imagine them marching,           slow & white.

will you name them?

in the wake all things come clear.

slow & white.

later below the peaks i tell him. he said it is

the dark crystal.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

Don’t Get (From A World Where 2)

involved. Distance yourself.
Else you’ll be wound in,

A fish on a line, handed
responsibilities you can’t handle.

Care for those you help will absorb
all the time you can spend with yourself.

Stay sane. Hold folk at arms length.
Others who can afford it will fill the absence

You make with your lack of response
When a person falls, injures themselves.

Be assured their are professionals our society
employs who can deal with it better than you.

© 2017, Paul Brookes  (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

Our Insanity (From A World Where 2)

is healthy. Hurt others,
hurt yourself. Hospitals

widen wounds. Firemen
are firestarters. Doctors

avidly spread disease.
Dementia is encouraged.

Helpfulness and reasoned action
is criminal. Thought for others

will get you referred to a psychiatrist.
Multiple personality is encouraged.

Not knowing who you are is wellbeing.
Celebrate murder, envy, greed, selfishness.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

The Offering

of your place for theirs.
A seat for those who cannot stand.

An arm for those who need support.
An empathetic word for those who grieve.

Warmth for those cold as marble.
A smile for those downcast.

Small acts of give amongst the take.
Your strength amongst the enfeebled.

© 2017, Paul Brookes  (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

The Exponential Demise of our Well-Being

You know that sudden speeding montage of thoughts and images you get when a torrent of information flashes through your mind and your consciousness grasps their thematic connections and creates a glimpse of the bigger picture? It only lasts seconds but it’s revelatory and dramatic and, when it produces a physical resonance, can be said to reveal truth – be it the individual’s recognition of a personal truth or of an external reality. You shiver, feel sick, overwhelmed perhaps, or optimistic, even excited if the epiphanous moment is positive. It’s the kind of high frequency, moment of clarity that sparks creativity, spurs innovation and signposts direction – and of course, it can also incite utter panic. The fact that it’s not an everyday occurrence – besides probably making such events all the more meaningful – is likely a good thing: there is such a thing as ‘too much’ and systems, mechanical or biological, do not really appreciate being overloaded.

But what about the low frequency hum of the mundane? The unnecessary, interminable tension imposed by the government and its agents, who intervene for our own good like stereotypical missionaries: they’re enough to drive the sanest people to distraction. For a party which professes ‘small state’ governance, they’ve made spectacular inroads into nearly all levels our daily lives, with their micro-management and moral prescriptions. They’re like all-enveloping smog, systematically choking the goodwill, the patience and the hope out of an entire nation.

This bass resonance features large in our everyday domestic arrangements too. Life is a journey of relationships, private, public and overwhelmingly political in nature. Government is in your face; so is media hype. But maybe, so are your neighbours, members of your family, your friends, your boss, your ‘clients’… we are all someone intruding in another’s space. As the infrasound increases pitch and pierces the surface, the customary dynamics dance under intensifying friction with random acts of ‘true colours’ and out-of-character behaviour.

People are living precariously under perpetual and pernicious stress. (Sorry for the ‘Ps’) You don’t need me to tell you about the growing surveillant, authoritarian management-style; the stark poverty living side by side with gluttony; religious oppression and paranoia; conflict and invasion; economic malfeasance – the list is almost as endless as it is global – and the cost of such dis-ease, as we all know, is far more than monetary. We are being worn down by failure and blame and uncertainty. People can’t help but project their hopes and fears into the future, but how much can you channel or manage them when you are the puppet of puppets?

I see the low frequency as starting to have the same impact as the high. We are overwhelmed and panicked and most people are either fighting it off, drowning under it or veering between the two. This is a fight or flight lifestyle and it is unsustainable: you can’t operate indefinitely on adrenaline, can you? Not without serious repercussions to your physical, mental and emotional health. That would be like perpetual war…

Mental health is a spectrum. We’re all on it. We travel its width in both directions for the length of our lives and, if we avoid the pain at its extremes, it is surely by some merciful grace? But this does not mean that the rest of us are healthy individuals, communities or nations. Not when we live in a state of constant dis-ease.

For as long as they can, people cope as well as they can, with whatever resources they can muster and with varying degrees of success. It might be instinctive but it’s exhausting and dispiriting to exist rather than to live, so it doesn’t take any genius to understand why some will chose denial rather than face reality or the unknown; that many of those who cannot unsee and unknow, will seek intoxication as respite; and that recklessness will become attractive to some while others will withdraw and become frozen.

And people snap. Everyone has a breaking point – though I must confess: it’s somewhat reassuring in the UK, to know you are at least unlikely to be shot at. But, facetiousness aside – I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to discover where my snapping point is – I can’t help but imagine we will see and hear of many implosions, both in our personal spheres and in the News at large. There’s an ever increasing number of people who live every day at the threshold of a breakdown: people who are grateful if they merely find themselves no worse off at the end of their day than at its start. Every day. With no seeming end.

Lives of such fragility are surely unsustainable: they are certainly an obscene mark on a modern world. I fear that, in a climate of continual manipulation and confusion, gifted by the accelerating machinations of a powerful few, the exponential demise of our well-being is almost certain. But, just as pain and anger can be warning signals that something is wrong, so too is the hum and it is screaming at us to make the madness stop: to pay attention to real meaning and create meaningful solutions

© 2017, Juli [Juxtaposed] (Subject to Change)

A frozen spring

The behaviour of our world leaders is extraordinary. These creatures trot out one ridiculous line after another about whatever and whoever, seemingly oblivious to the irony of their expedient relativism, all the while projecting as if theirs was the light and the way. They make policies based on any outlying prediction of convenience that their hypothetical histrionics can fashion and these become as the self-fulfilling prophesies of their tragic little imaginations. I’d say you couldn’t make it up but I reckon they do.

The scope for all manner of catastrophe by their obnoxious, cynical hands is horrifying. And we keep being told that there’s no alternative; that it’s competence or chaos; mainstream or radical fringe; with us or against us; deserving or undeserving; ally or monster; either-or. Always either-or… To do this they oversimplify each issue and circumstance, scapegoating or sexing up, until it is reduced to a catchy, polarizing meme and then they feign consternation over all the threats and distress they’ve conjured. Or do they conjure up a load of threats and distress and then simplify them to polarize everyone…?

How are we continuing to tolerate such an industrialised scale of hypocrisy and hubris? How on earth are we still bearing their cold indifference to cause and consequence; the expedience of their cruel, misguided pragmatism? How do we stomach the interminable provocations and funnelled paranoia? I don’t believe our modern species is so readily predisposed to such superficial extremes. I think we’re far too full of contradictions and nuance once you get underneath the first couple of layers. Why are these creatures still being allowed to get away with their obscene behaviour? At what point will we admit we are complicit and have learned to love our chains? For, if we are not; have not: where are our blazing pitchforks?

And Mainstream News’ content and delivery? It mostly seems to collude to serve the Powerful. We get fed shallow headlines followed by even shallower analyses; celebrity big-up or tear-down; something about someone, who apparently should know better, not toeing the latest line; a report about a report on something so appalling that people cannot understand how it could ever have happened at all, must ‘never again’ but probably will; a few temporary and meaningless economic numbers, followed by even more meaningless analysis; another story of hair-raising incompetence or fraud, quickly justified or deflected; another populist policy to tempt, punish or placate, framed as anything but the tinkering that it is; merit given to sheer electioneering mischief… And on and on. Every day more surreal and yet so sterile.

There are moments, some days and some whole days when it’s as though my outrage and numbness have been whisked into a solid fusion. It’s like I’m flung, for a period, into suspended animation. The passion of impotent protest, crowding in and freezing my whole being. I know it’s a fleeting overwhelm of emotion and thought but, well, it’s visiting more often and staying longer. Sometimes I think I’m only saved from losing ‘it’ due to lashings of healthy irreverence, an eye for the wry and a great deal of there but for the grace of… And I wonder at the leadership which creates and depends on a world of fight or flight for its profit; at all those around the world for whom this designed overwhelm is an imposed, perpetual constant. How are there not more people running around, demented, with wild eyes, pulling their hair out? Or curling up in a corner and rocking? I think we are, though, in our souls. Is it just me being temporarily consumed by the fanned extremes of my own angst or am I tripping into the angst of collective consciousness?

For the global atmosphere is a heavy fog of fear and denial, so widespread, so deep, so prevalent that, whether consciously or subconsciously, it must overshadow and infiltrate every individual to some degree. Even if you’re paying only a little attention to national and international affairs and conditions, you surely cannot fail to be at least uneasy about the interminable, mind-blowing ineptitude that has put our world in such a state – however you measure yourself by pressing ideological instruments. And they are pressing, aren’t they? In this reckoning coming – for reckoning is our current trajectory – there will be teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing for everyone.

And yet…

I have hope. It’s in that inextinguishable light contained in Humanity’s heart and mind and an enduring faith in our capacity for enlightenment and generosity of spirit. And I tell my shadow self that this grotesque age, too, shall pass. That the People will rise. That these monsters of narrow, selfish ideology will surely be slain lest our doom be sealed because, simply, it’s the grotesque or the rest of us. And I tell myself that, whether I’ll still be sane (please smile at that) or even still around for our healing, it matters little. Others will be. However long it takes. And that those generations will conduct themselves a bit better, perhaps for longer, next time around.

© 2017, Juli [Juxtaposed] (Subject to Change)

‘especially in times of dark‘

but especially in times of dark,
encroaching space,
my hope alights and leans
on an enduring faith
in the human spirit
and the myriad illumined pockets
of kindness and enlightened thought.
They are as the stars in a night sky:
escape the density of beamed artifice
and they are constant; visible.
For the heart sees what it looks for
as much as does the mind’s lensed eye.

© 2017, Juli [Juxtaposed] (Subject to Change)


“A Siren Wailing for No Reason” … and other poetic responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

The last Wednesday Writing Prompt July 12, 2017– The cold war: there was so much revealed by the singularity of that time. What crazy quirks do you remember or have you heard about from those you know who lived through it?

Here are responses from poets: Renee Espriu, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Paul Brookes and poet and writer, Dan Roberson.  Bravo! 🙂

A Siren Wailing for No Reason

The sun had risen high in the blue sky
over rolling hills of farm country
causing a dry heat much as the roiling
heat of the home of her childhood
produced in waves upon asphalt streets

she knew the howl of a siren near by in
the close distance as she sat visiting
with her son her terrier mix at her feet
and he saw her puzzled look asking why
to glean the meaning of that sound now

for she recalled a time years past
in the elementary school days now gone
the drills that came, of getting down
upon the floor to hide beneath her desk
with her hands upon her head to wait

but as the memory flashed upon her face
her son smiled to say the neighbor
who lives not far likes to hear the siren
wailing as it does for not a reason
but he hears it every afternoon of a day

so she smiles with him to recall those
drills of her youth and hoping as she did
that her desk might shield her from harm
for it might come with her eyes shut tight
the all clear was given & she breathed a sigh

© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight and Haibun, ART & Haiku)

More Than a Cold War

It was easy to see a war
In someone else’s back yard,
But the cold war brought ideas
Of destruction to my street
And to places where my feet
Touched the ground.
I thought often about homes
Made of concrete buried deep,
So how could I sleep?
My thoughts were of the aftermath
Of a crazy war with nuclear blasts
Bringing a nuclear winter.
Safe in a shelter but outside nothing alive.
The fifties were a time when our land
Was divided by race
Separate but equal
As long as the white equal was more.
I remember small things,
A prize I won at age twelve
For having an answer to
Name the governor who blocked the door
Against black people who wanted more.
They wanted equality.
I saw street signs that said no blacks
After 6 p.m. in several towns.
The cold war was not somewhere else
But also a civil war within our own country.
I saw the war never ending
As long as we continued bending
Defining people by culture, language, or color
Or whatever differences are around.
We built shelters far underground,
And never to be found.
But someday we will want to breathe
The same air, feel the sun, hear music
And then the walls might come down,
Ending the cold war, ending the barriers,
Becoming the planet of the wise
Without a disguise.
Working and living together.
No cold wars, no hot wars, not even rumors of wars.
That’s my dream.

© 2017, Dan Roberson (My Blog)

The Cold War was a time of Self-Destruction

The cold war was not your usual war. World War II was over and soldiers were home straightening out their finances, their lives, and learning to laugh again. It was a time of flexing military muscle, USA vs. USSR. It was a time of threatened security and talks about spies. It was an era of hidden ICBM missiles, tucked away in secret places, a time of country pride. The fifties was stifling, no laughter in the hallways, no mini skirts, no flowers in the fields. After several years of exuberant laughter, the world prepared for war, prepared to hide everything under its wings, and everything good seemed suspect. The Soviet Union displayed its might in parades. The USA pointed fingers at suspected communist sympathizers and tapped phone lines. But the worst effects of the cold war were the squashed dreams and ugly suspicions, the kind of things that tore families apart and ruined friendships.

The fifties were nightmares waiting to happen. I remember a camping trip into the wilds. A friend and I drove hours looking for a deserted campground. We drove until dark, put out cots and listened to crickets and other insects singing. Just after three a.m. the ground began shaking and we leaped off our cots and prepared to fight.

We stood there for a few minutes waiting for a German tank to come crashing through the brush. It never came. We were duped by our own fears and nightmares. The Cold War created a false reality. My friend had seen tanks in action and they became part of his dreams. I dreamed of the future where families would have to fight their way out of nightmares and fears. The Cold War was filled with tension and waiting, a time that people talked about eating their own young to save them from the wars to end all wars.

© 2017, Dan Roberson (My Blog)

::cold war::


it will be today, and the plants are growing.

so they found a russian


with codes and dvds

and while on holiday

fought and sat in trees.

while all is changing round us,

all is changing.

listen ,someone upstairs,

ready for tea

and appropriate bun,

and never mind the hour,

and the rain.

a thin mist,

damp coating

of the air,

and a snail in the garden.

we must not mind how it is,

we must make the best of things.

politics make not an ounce

of difference here, we are black and white,

and back before.
** (notes and cuttings)

with the new scissors………………

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)

..cooler morning..

she said it was a cold war, an iron curtain.

it seemed warm to me that summer, we listened

to the radio.

a lot.

we had patterened curtains, she did not like nets.

drawn if it was raining, drawn against the sun.

i could not imagine them metal.

i rarely draw my curtains here.

i live in the country.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)

. fox hole.

colder in russia, that picture

shows soldiers froze

to death.

after the end

of that war.

second world war

there was that #coldwar.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)

That M. A. D.

I recall CND.
Their sign that seemed
To a ten year old
three legs of the Isle Of Man
cut off at the ankles.

Cold war was parents divorcing.
Mutual agreement to keep the balance.

A wall is thought to help not hinder
with barbed wire, gun emplacements
watchtowers and divided lovers.

Berlin is always black and white,
divided into zones and checkpoints,
negotiating passages for spies,

and dark electronica where musicians,
poets and novelists
work out their nightmares.

Divorce is mutually assured destruction.
And Donna Summer sings “I will survive”.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

The Dominoes

will fall into the evil empire.
Able Archer practices
War. How to tell it’s only

make believe? These black
doors with white dots
are an iron curtain

between supermarkets
bloated with items unobtainable
except through a black market

on streets steeped in austerity.
Act as if more material goods
improve life while other folk

say “We appreciated life more
when we were poor.” Keep

dominos from fall. Keep all upright
and correct and buying.

Material goods are freedom
from the tyranny of enforced poverty.

Rarity brings value and hope.
The fall of the wall of dominoes.

This was not imaginary.
Pieces of the wall are bought and sold.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

Keep Off (A World Where 2)


All must be unequal.
Walk one leg shorter
than the other. One eye

bigger, one ear lower.
A work/life imbalance brings harmony.
Male different from female.

Unsteady, ever keenly aware
ground uneven underfoot,
Steps up and steps down.
Heights varied keep you focussed.

A balanced life is unreal.
Accept un and imbalance
as necessary and needed

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

Note: Apologies to Renee, Dan, Sonja and Paul for the late posting.  It was just that kind of day.


“Goose Summer” … and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

The last Wednesday Writing Prompt (June 5, 2017) was about autumn and its promises. “How does the wind and the promise of rain and crunchy leaves underfoot make you feel?” Here are poems in response to the prompt. Read on and enjoy …

Goose Summer

When a plump late November goose
down day, warm and dry,

becomes over years
a filmy substance

a ballooned thread,
fly fish cast into a void,

a winter veil
nets your face

in the garden
or down the lane,

dew bling breath
in stubbled glazed fields,

a warm murmured spell of spiders
among the ice.

A strange movement
of language from

goose summer
to gossamer,

as if it has lost weight,
a cloud into contrail,

under plumage,
thinned with the years,

into one word,

to soft filaments,
blown on a breeze,

the decomposed dead,
spider thread.

© 2017, Paul Brookes, (The Wombwell Rainbow)

My Regreened Trees

Leaves on a tree wear a green mask.
Autumn as they die the mask falls
And we see their true self
Red, yellow or orange

Without sunlight
a tree can no longer mask a leaf.
When it is too cold leaves turn brown.
When a leaf dies we see it’s true self.

The tree takes water from the graves
Replenishes tree
Replenishes with memory in water
The tree is the dead
Regreened leaves applaud life

The regreened leaf is a hand
Reattached to a limb
Tree feeds the hands of its canopy
Hears their clapping

I hear the special hand clap
of my late mother in the canopy
Of the applauding trees
And my hands want to clap too.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

An Abundance

brought for the winter
down from Summer’s high warmth.
Abundance stored as welcome wealth
rests ready for the darkening.

Brought from hedgerows,
woods an abundance of wild damsons,
sloes, rosehips, elderberries,
blackberries, hawthorn berries.
Fruit is the seed carrier.

What is this ghost of a leaf?
Where is the pattern it makes?
How does the pattern of a leaf
become a ghost of its tree?

It is the season of the open door.
It is the reason of half day of light.
It is the reason of half day of dark .

We stand between days, colder,
on that eve of halves
when we go disguised
from old ghosts, new ghosts
cold door to warm door
in hope of gifts and a smile.

The Bearded Nut In A Hat

Soon the wise bearded ones with hats
and saw-toothed hands will fall
for us to collect their wisdom
in woven baskets.

Filbert or cobnut,
crack the hard exterior,
strip the paper thin skin,
nosh on the rich, sweet
nutmeat of wisdom,
that is head, heart
and baby inside the womb.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

:: falling days ::

songs come via friends,
the books we read,
the place we breathe,
songs of the fading,of life
the words hit our hearts,
and sink in to stay, to pledge
another stage set,
small life
driving the land, the songs,
carry us along, to our place,
the constant places,
we think don’t change,

the song of love, spinning,
dizzying, head and mind,
words of the books,
black and white
so the falling days,
end today, winter waits,
and the songs, and words,
tunes are all to warm us,
and hold us safe

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)

::sweet oak::

irregular, you came, your best clothes


never mind. the first tune hit the mind,

patterns and mathematics.

the kindness that is, mixes

with dampened autumn air, and your woodsmoke.

sweet oak.

all that there is. here.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonjia Benskin Mesher, RCA)

Leafy Boughs of Finery

When the air turns crisp and
harbors promises of cold nights
requiring the layering of clothes
to provide warmth the chill of
autumn dresses for the season
with leafy boughs that become
a finery of golds, yellows, reds
lining the street a fall runway
they bend ever so slightly to see
through the glass eyes of homes
where pumpkin pies are baking
and hot cider is brewing

© 2017, Renee Espiru (Renee Just Turtle Flight)

And here to cloase is a belated response to the prompt fro Wednesday Writing Prompt June 28, “tell us about your morning coffee …. or tea.”  

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK (as shared over coffee)

I was late for work on Tuesday
And I took off in a flash,
Unfortunately my coffee cup tipped over
And drenched me with a splash,
My white shirt caught every brown drop.
Front and center of the shirt were splattered
I should have found the time to stop.
Those coffee spots looked like politicians twisted in a spiral,
How was I supposed to know that psychiatrists
Were waiting for the picture to go viral?
I was already marked as a careless man.
Women avoided me, I didn’t understand.
As a result I didn’t notice the hot dog vendor
Who was counting out his cash,
I’ve been told the noise of the impact,
Drew first responders and lawyers quickly to the crash.
The ketchup from the hot dogs added color, just a dash.
It was the brown shirt that made people turn and look at me,
All the attention, the crowds, even the President came to see.
I’m not saying that I’m famous because of my brown speckled shirt,
Neither did I gain some fame when I didn’t show for work.
It could have been those dirt splotches and the things people saw,
Or it could have been my imagination when I fell and hurt my jaw.
But I opened a coffee shop over on Fifth and Main,
And every day from dawn to dusk cars are there sure as rain.
I’m happy that I’m helping others, or maybe it’s just fate,
It seems If I’m kind to others, it won’t matter if I’m late.
The geese are flying south again, coffee prices are on the rise,
Meet me for a special exotic blend called MY CLUMSY SUNRISE.
It’s the one that got me started, and I don’t know if it will end,
Come and join our poetry group, the ones we call our friends.
Write about anything until you squeeze the last words out.
We encourage all who share, and those with fears and doubts,
Drink my coffee and let the words splash straight from your heart,
The end result is less important than the journey we all make,
We strive to improve the world, one coffee, or a story,
It’s a step we all take.

© 2017, Dan Roberson (My Blog)