Explaining Snow, by Susan Wicks

Susan Wicks is one of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society’s most widely published poets, with collections from Faber &Faber and Bloodaxe. This poem won first prize in our Folio competition in 2018, and is collected in her forthcoming Dear Crane, due from Bloodaxe Books in June 2020.

Explaining Snow

Don’t cry, darling. It does that,
falling on a skylight flake by flake
until the topmost balcony is blotted out,
the ash tree all but gone. It falls like rain
but white, opaque – and bit by bit
the grey goes black, so when the sun comes up
it’s shining through a wad of white
that melts to tears and slowly
slithers down the slate. But what it also does
is fill the holes, the pavement underfoot,
cover the rot, the criss-cross footprints in the mud,
the shit, the chewing-gum, the polystyrene cup,
the weeds, the blackened flower-buds
and highlight each recessive twig.
Between this square eye and its lid,
look there’s a trapped leaf, and green in it.

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Open Competition

The competition has now closed. Thanks to all who entered. JA.

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Martin Hayes in February 2020

Martin Hayes was born in London in 1966 and has lived in the Edgware Road area all of his life. He played schoolboy football for Arsenal and Orient, and cricket for Middlesex Colts. Asked to leave school when he was 15, he has worked as a leaflet distributor, accounts clerk, courier, telephonist, recruitment manager and a control room supervisor. His other books are Letting Loose the Hounds (2001), When We Were Almost Like Men (2015) and The Things Our Hands Once Stood For (2018).

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Winter Gardens, by Phil Vernon

This poem by our Treasurer Phil Vernon  was placed in fourth place in our 2018 members’ competition, and published in Folio #72.   

Winter gardens

You see your gardens in the space between
the plants, raze every weed without a trace
lest it disturb the balance of your scheme,

deadhead each stem before its flower fades,
lift every labelled bulb to plant again,
and prune your trees and shrubs as each dictates.

I grow my plants so close they all complain
they’ve insufficient room to breathe, or sun
to drench their leaves, or share of summer rain,

let young weeds grow to be what they become,
and poppy stems and seed heads twist and dry –
then rot, when frost and winter rainfall come.

I watched you tend your silence constantly,
then found a careless way to nurture mine:
we’ve made our different landscapes home, and still

we touch each other’s quiet awkwardly.
But looking now, when winter’s worked its spell
of levelling, our gardens seem as one.

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Last Rite, By Mary Gurr

This poem, by Society member, local artist and writer Mary Gurr, was selected for the Society’s Folio #73 in 2019.

Last Rite

She was lying on her side today
when I arrived. She moved a little

when I held some lilac blossom,
dewy from the garden to her cheek,

again when I described the others
I had brought, beech, hawthorn, camellia,

picked that day and scented to engulf
the rising scent of dying –

I put them in a vase beside her bed
and sat a while, eighty-six years

and now she’s nearly there,
a silent remnant of herself

waiting. I was thinking of the time
when I was small she showed me

how to take a photograph. We
went into the garden, glorious

rhododendrons billowing
and she was beaming, eyes, smile

her perfect toothpaste teeth,
waiting for the click – Yes,

she shouted, as I brought the shutter
firmly down, Yes!

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Blades, by Chris Renshaw

Chris Renshaw, a retired teacher, is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society who organises our Open Poetry Competition. This poem won second prize in the 2018 Folio Competition, judged by Tamar Yoseloff.


Pinking shears
crunched her new white socks
made irregular lace
clipped the cat’s whiskers on one side only

sheared blonde waves into sweepings
struggled through the cast on a broken leg
drew a line of crimson beading

A scalpel
sliced through muscle and fat
to malignant organ

but the hole her lover carved inside her
grew bigger and bigger –
                he kept on, kept on cutting

and the breadknife she plunged
beneath his ribs
well, he had that coming.


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January 2020

We begin the decade on Tuesday January 21st. with readings by 3 of our own members, and this year we have 3 very different voices in Mark Chambers, Eileen Morrissey and Mims Sully. It is always delightful to discover what talent there is among our members, and this is always a popular and successful evening.

As usual, we will be holding our meeting in the Vittle and Swig on Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, starting at 8 o’clock. Come along and join us, to start the year with a strong turnout.

Remember to get your entries in for the Open Competition, as the closing date is coming up very soon – January 31st. Our judge this year is Carrie Etter.


See you soon!

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