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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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Heating Oil, by Bob Spencer

This poem, by long-standing Kent & Sussex Poetry Society member Bob Spencer, was selected for publication in our 2019 Folio #73, having won joint third place in our annual members’ competition. Bob rears sheep at his farm in East Sussex – following one of the traditions our founder Vita Sackville West celebrated in her poetry.

Heating Oil

There are words
that say something
if you listen carefully
and inhale beneath
the surface

There are other words
that make no sense
however long you pretend
to listen

We’re nearly out

There are other words
and many of them
that say too much
even when
you’re not listening

All other words
are poems
or deserve to be

So I’ve just ordered some

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Inheritance, by Clive Eastwood

Clive Eastwood was for many years chairman of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, and remains a member despite having moved to Suffolk. His poems have been published in numerous poetry magazines, and a full collection Fly in Red Wine was published by the National Poetry Foundation in 2000.  This poem was selected and published in the Society’s Folio #73, in 2019.


On the opened envelope are written
“share of prize” and a date in ’68,
inside are three half-crowns. The envelope
has not been hidden, it’s under your nose
when you open the pantry door.

To win a prize and not spend it
seems oddly profligate; not to pass on
someone else’s share wrong; that no-one
remembers after all this time the coins
being here is understandable; to stash them
away whilst the rest use theirs
is another parable of the talents; to put
three half-crowns on a shelf for a rainy day
takes no account of the dailyness
of rain nor of dilution by inflation;
to not invest in next week’s draw confuses
the shrewdness of nothing to spare
with the caution of something now to lose; two
are George the sixth, the other Elizabeth.

Seven and six in ’68 would have bought
a game at Ewood Park including bus fare.
Today it tots up to a sense of lowness.

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Scandal Point, by John Arnold

John Arnold is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, now living in Suffolk. His poems have been widely published in various magazines. His previous booklet collections of poetry are: The Amber Cup (Outposts, 1975), Ninepin (The Evelyn Press, 1989), and Zarathustra Flies East (The Evelyn Press, 1995). This poem appeared in the Society’s Folio #72, published in 2018.

Scandal Point

Start here
where the Ridge Road meets the Mall:
scene of a lovers’ tryst – some say –
where a womanising maharaja
eloped with the Viceroy’s daughter, no less.

For now, a Sunday stroll
on this wide hill-top promenade
for Shimla’s well-to-do,
to see and be seen,
an outing complete with donkey rides
and helium balloons for the kids.

If it happened, nothing came of it:
both families forbade the marriage
(if ever it had been proposed) –
just a frisson of gossip,
an object of moral censure or silent envy
for the bored grass widows of the Raj.

Look out into a pale blue distance
of layered foothills,
overlaid with a slender dark calligraphy –
the outstretched limbs of cedars,
their pattern as simple and compelling
as youthful desire.
From this vantage point
one can only wonder:
why the desperation to leave such a place?

The myth might be punctured
by tiresome facts,
for on that fateful night in 1892
the maharaja was barely one year old –
but myths we need.

The sunlight reddens, fades,
the breathless air now chill.
A balloon escapes, up, seems molten
in a flawless twilight sky.
And out there, afloat in that haze,
the high Himalaya, the merest whisper
of snow-capped peaks.

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A Pilgrim's Way, By Marjory Caine

This poem by society member Marjory Caine was published in our Folio #72 in 2018.

A Pilgrim’s Way

Dawn is distant in time
with footsteps on sand
uncovered by receding tide

and the horizon sounds without light:
unseen greylags gather
waiting for flight.

Morning rays
suffuse the dunes of Holy Isle
along the cross marked way

as siren seals call over sands
and lines become defined
between land and sky –

where St Cuthbert listens
to the lace of dunlins’ wings
as solitude expands into distance.



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