Category Archives: Poetry

Two poems in Palewell Press Anthology

I’m delighted to tell you that I have two poems in ‘Can you hear the people sing?‘ a new anthology from Palewell Press:

Can you Hear the people sing?

My poems are Front Doors and Night’s Midpoint

Palewell Press’s second anthology of poetry and prose brings together a global set of writers, sharing their experiences of Covid-19, lockdown, the pandemic, losing track of time, a reprieve for nature, and their hopes for the future.

This anthology shares worldwide responses to the pandemic, from Yan Li’s testament to suffering in China; through Joseph Kafala of Sierra Leone’s Center for Memory and Reparations; Iranian-born Sholeh Wolpé in California; María Cristina Azcona, President of the International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace in Latin America; Simon Lichman in Jerusalem, working for peace between Israeli and Palestinian communities; many UK-based human rights advocates: Dima Mekdad, Hasan Kahya, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Nasrin Parvaz, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Taffy Nyawanza, Meltem Arikan, Shanta Acharya; and me!

Thank you to Camilla Reeve for accepting my poems.

Wilma


I sit on the stairs
of another woman’s house
one I love deeply
my mother was the star to her
rockfast grace and kindness
but stars burn out and die

Wilma still shines
her back may be bent but
her eyes glow
this house was sanctuary
and freedom to me
the love she and hers gave me
gentle and calm

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Wilma, my Mums best friend for 70 years. I love her as a mother and was overwhelmed when her daughters called me sister recently.

Friday Poem: The Secret Life of Books

They have their stratagems too, though they can’t move.
They know their parts.
Like invalids long reconciled
To stillness, they do their work through others.
They have turned the world
To their own account by the twisting of hearts.

What do they have to say and how do they say it?
In the library
At night, or the sun room with its one
Curled thriller by the window, something
Is going on,
You may suspect, that you don’t know of. Yet they

Need you. The time comes when you pick one up,
You who scoff
At determinism, the selfish gene.
Why this one? Look, already the blurb
Is drawing in
Some further text. The second paragraph

Calls for an atlas or a gazetteer;
That poem, spare
As a dead leaf’s skeleton, coaxes
Your lexicon. Through you they speak
As through the sexes
A script is passed that lovers never hear.

​They have you. In the end they have written you,
By the intrusion
Of their account of the world, so when
You come to think, to tell, to do,
You’re caught between
Quotation marks, your heart’s beat an allusion.

by Stephen Edgar

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner……alright you’ve twisted my arm…

This isn’t poetry, just me being indulgent on a Sunday night….repeatedly.

I was born in London, went to university in London and still love my home town, even though I will never live there again.

This song is completely brilliant. Listen to the lyrics –“They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs and too many right wing meetings” . Wormwood Scrubs is a prison in West London.

Friday Poem: The Falcon Growing Old

​The falcon wears its erudition lightly
As it angles down towards its master’s glove.
Student of thermals written by the desert,
It scarcely moves a muscle as it rides
A silent avalanche back to the wrist
Where it will stand in wait like a hooded hostage.

A lifetime’s learning renders youthful effort
Less necessary, which is fortunate.
The chase and first-strike kill it once could wing
Have grown beyond it, so some morning soon
This bird will have its neck wrung without warning
And one of its progeny will take its place.

Thinking these things, the ageing writer makes
Sketches for poems, notes for paragraphs.
Bound for the darkness, does he see himself
Balanced and forceful like the poised assassin
Whose mere trajectory attracts all eyes
Except the victim’s? Habit can die hard,

But still the chance remains he simply likes it,
Catching the shifting air the way a falcon
Spreads on a secret wave, the outpaced earth
Left looking powerless. This sentence here,
Weighed down by literal meaning as it is,
Might only need that loose clause to take off,

Air-launched from a position in the sky
For a long glide with just its wing-tip feathers
Correcting for the wobble in the lisp
Of sliding nothingness, the whispering road
That leads you to a dead-heat with your shadow
At the orange-blossom trellis in the oasis.

by Clive James

Old Lady

We need more poems about getting old. Here is a wonderful one from Glenys:

lifecameos

Old lady blood problems
old lady pills.
Tiny toes dangle
from huge balloon feet.

Stretch marks cross my shin bones,
feet and ankles vanish.
Old lady giant ankles
more old lady pills.

Old people clipboard forms,
old people ‘flu jabs.
All line the waiting room
old people recovery time.

Old lady walks to town
fit as fit can be.
Old lady taxi home
after two hours’ shopping.

In my mind
I am middle aged
but my body keeps doing
old lady deeds.

Previously posted April 2016.

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Another day in Paradise

A room of muted turquoise and fresh painted walls
furled with loved objects, stray cushions


Dripping washing looks out to the wet decking
through rain on glass


Books are everywhere, while a scatter
of small paintings have taken the shelves


My telescope parked in the corner
reflects the metallic squawk of a hen about to lay


I survey abandoned mail, mugs of cooled tea
and a restless husband watching re-runs


Then he gets up and goes.

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond