Monthly Archives: December 2020

Falafel, by Susan Wicks

This poem by Susan Wicks was commended in our members’ competition in 2020, and published in Folio #74.


Slowly today our two paths are converging –
you with your rucksack on a Turkish bus
towards Antalya, while from our terraced house
I zigzag to our daughter’s, then to school and back
to where our grandson scoots his circuits of the grass
and backwards-climbs the slide, zip-wiring out
towards the place beyond the heavy trees
where you are getting nearer – waiting in a line
then shuffling to your seat and flying into sunset, dusk,
the dark of Sussex lanes criss-crossed by headlights –
home, and never anywhere to park. A quiet cough,
a click, a footstep on the stairs; through sleep
I’ll feel the silence change, your weight
Tipping the mattress sideways like a lurching boat.
I’ll taste the salt and smell falafel, dream
I’m in a country where we read and swim and laugh
and could be happy if our journeys were to meet.

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Midnight Mass at Orford Church, by John Wright

This seasonal poem by our member John Wright was selected for and published in Folio #74 earlier this year.

Midnight Mass at Orford Church

By candlelight
in Orford Church
you tucked
into my Barbour
in a sling
breathing in time to
Hark the Herald
Angels Sing
shuddering a wee
and snuggling closer
to my chest
The Reverend
gave blessings
even to the
heathens and
touched you
on the head.
Then home we
went to mince pies, Scotch,
and a five foot,
cold feet bed.

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Turbulence, by Marian Christie

This poem by Marian Christie won third place and was published in Folio #74


Upstream in pools where the water barely flowed but for a gentle kissing
of the rocks, a tremor in the mirrored clouds – water transparent as air, sprung
from the mountain’s flank, too cold for bilharzia-bearing snails –
we found a duiker
its hide beginning to flake, its eyes glazed,
its legs stiff. We tensed too, my brothers and I,
in the cold shock of our discovery. I had not known
death before. Not this close. This unexplained.

The sun’s heat bounced off the rocks, drew out the fragrance of the grass. Death
did not belong here. Take its legs.
Our feet slipping on riverbed pebbles, we dragged the duiker through the pools
to where the stream began to quicken, to leap over hidden rocks,
swirl in eddies against the banks. Near the precipice
the river’s tug became too strong and we released the carcass to the current.
It floated haphazardly, tiny hooves bumping alternately
against the wavelets and the sky. We ran along the bank
to where the river abandoned all containment and hurled
down a vastness of rock. The duiker disappeared
in that foaming plunge towards the mist-green Honde valley. Above us,
white-necked ravens rode rollercoasters of air.

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Fairness, by Peppy Scott

This poem by our member Peppy Scott was placed second in the 2020 Folio competition, and published in Folio #74.


She pondered on the mystery that made
two sisters so distinct, one from the other,
though raised in the same home, by the same mother,
to one strict set of rules. They often played
together, but their dissociated eyes
saw territory they were meant to share,
aware of being bundled as a pair,
begrudging the involuntary ties.
Wondering at this, she understood
that loving equally meant she must feed
each child according to her single need,
filtering the milk of motherhood.
Appropriately, she dispensed her care.
Each sensed discrimination, cried: ‘Unfair!’

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Orizuru, by John Arnold

This poem by John Arnold was published in #Folio 73 in 2019

 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 Hundreds of them,
 maybe a thousand or more –
 perhaps as many as those rainbows
 of folder paper cranes
 trapped behind glass:

 schoolkids – eight years old or less,
 with clipboards, quizzing foreigners
 on their attitudes to war and peace.

 And my daughter and I –
 seemingly the only western faces –
 are at once surrounded.

 Hello, how are you? (stiff bows)
 What do you think about war?
         Oh, it’s bad, very bad.
 Do you think there’ll be another war?
         I hope not.
 What do you think about nuclear bombs?
         Bad, very bad.
Still the children come,
yet still a tiny fraction of those
who vanished in a moment
of total light that August dawn.

And still they ask the same again, again.

I want those origami birds
to fly away, to flock and circle
the skeletal remains of that dome.

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The Girl in the Swimming Pool, by Phil Vernon

This poem, by our member Phil Vernon, was selected for Folio #73 in 2019

The girl in the swimming pool

It’s magical to watch a girl begin to drown,
suspended with her face towards the rain,
then lift and place her gently on the ground
and coax her lungs to believe and breathe again.

Your dad had raced the tide, and fought his way
through surf, on jagged granite, years before,
to reach and rescue you from panicked spray
and the pull of the sea, and swim you back to shore.

You fancy higher powers had bid him save
you, so you’d later rescue in her turn
this girl half-floating on her enchanting wave
who sank, and rose, and sank; a stricken bird –

but when you lean out from the parapet
above the shadowed gorge, where far below
those blue and sightless swollen dolls forget,
forget, forget, in time with the river, you know

one life saved means no more nor less – beside
whole families who cowered in stands of cane
and, hopeless, queued in quiet lines to die –
than one life saved: unlinked in any chain.

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December with Malika Booker

Malika Booker, by Adrian Pope
Photo credit Adrian Pope

On December 15th. we are delighted to have Malika coming to read to us. The meeting starts at 8.00 pm and will begin with Open Mic, as usual. It should prove an inviting chance to spend time together this midwinter, celebrating poetry, even if the screen divides us.

Malika Booker is is an international writer whose work is steeped in anthropological research methodology and is rooted in storytelling.  She co-founded Malika’s Poetry Kitchen in 2001 to create a nourishing and encouraging community of writers dedicated to the development of their writing craft. Now a firmly established writers’ collective based in London, it offers bi-weekly writers’ surgeries and has supported writers including Inua Ellams, Warsan Shire and Aoife Mannix, with guest tutors including Kwame Dawes, Fred D’Aguiar and Bernardine Evaristo.

Malika won the Forward prize this year for the best single Poem for  “The Little Miracles”, and last year received a Cholmondley Award for her outstanding contribution to poetry. Her first collection, Pepper Seed, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. She is a Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds.

It’ll be special, so don’t miss it!

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