Assembling Dad – by Clare Marsh

Assembling Dad, by Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Clare Marsh, a writer of children’s fiction, short stories, flash fiction and poetry, was Commended in our 2019 Folio competition, and published in Folio #73. Clare graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent in 2018. She can be found on Facebook at claremarshwriter1

Assembling Dad

Dad sits at his bureau flap
under the ebony crucifix
and scrutiny of his Sacred Heart statue.
Settling with a tuneless whistle,
he rubs his hands, unpacks the Airfix kit,
twists grey pieces from the plastic frame –
frowns at the forty-six-step instruction sheet.
He cements the fuselage, wings, propellers
of a Supermarine Spitfire.
Pipe clenched between dentures,
wreathed in blue-smoke haze –
he’s the lone male in the house
bemused by girls’ toys,
‘Women’s Lib’, burgeoning hormones.

Blast! A vital part drops,
the cockpit landing on camouflage lino,
skitters across the floor.
Giggling, we three girls kneel to search,
while Mum prays to St Anthony,
patron saint of lost objects.
The piece retrieved, Dad prizes lids
off tiny tins of enamel paint
covers the model with deft brush strokes,
tells us (yet again) how he missed out
on an art career because of the war.
He soaks transfers in warm water,
floats off the backing, using tweezers
applies decals and serial numbers.
Later, he’ll attach a thread
to suspend the plane in mid-flight.

After his death we dismantle
improbable ceiling dog-fights
between the Spitfire and Concorde
while Dad, disassembled,
stands sentinel in his urn
on the bureau.

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Reed Bed – By Mark Russell

This poem by member Mark Russell was commended in the Society’s 2019 Folio competition, and published in Folio #73


Reed Bed

reed bed in the wetlands
churned like the skin of sea

as light fades
seen by no one

endless twilight
with no one

to face the silence
no one

to hear the rattle or sough

reed bed in the wetlands
rocked by breeze
and the wing of flurried bird

darting out… across… beyond
out of sight

here, at water edge
there’s no horizon
but thought of horizon
carried by the nearness of sea

or by the wing of finch

the horizon of thought
held tight
in a beak

to weave a solitary nest

and in place of horizon
the tops of reeds
like surging water
stirred by the air… the wing, the prayer

a prayer for eyes
to witness desolation

remote from profit or loss
from intention

reed bed in the wetlands
nearly outside time

but teaming with the secrets of bittern… otter
water vole… sedge warbler
leopard moth… rove beetle
spider… fly
and wasp

reed bed in the wetlands
rocked by breeze

and wing of flurried bird


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Il Lago – by Veronica Beedham

This poem by Society member Veronica Beedham was commended in the 2019 members’ competition, and published in the Society’s Folio #73. Veronica’s Overton Prize winning pamphlet A Sense of Place is available from Loughborough University

Il Lago

‘Che paesaggi che ci sono qui!’ Renzo Bertasi

Mist all week over the lake
spun from nothing               white as hoar-frost

so we took the boat eager for passage
from the ordinary world

into this other                     cold
untouchable                   the mountains hidden

and if there were an Ice Queen
she was far off sullen                   deep in snow

for the mist was like snow         like snow’s
soft oppression against a window                        the moon

rising above                                which was the sun
poised on a ribbon of silver

but we were just journeying         all we ever knew lost

keel cutting through the black mirror                         sibilance
of water                     waiting for the jetty

small judder of a boat making harbour

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Road Closed – by Steve Walter

A companion poem by Steve Walter to his A26 which appeared on the website last week. Both poems appeared in the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society’s Folio #73, published in 2019.

Road Closed

They’re rolling out a river of pitted night.
He knew this – the changing surfaces,
exactly how sun-rain-snow-ice, juggernauts,

cause an imperfect skin to split, fissure, crumble.
He specified bitumen, oil-blackened aggregate,
to lay low and level, thin like pastry,

judged to the millimetre, fractions of an inch.
In the morning, the heady scent of an antiseptic balm
binding grit, soothing injury, the road’s wounds,

an accumulated ledger of pain, a night time of layering.
River patterned precisely with white and yellow,
decorative icing, bonded gravel pressed

into the even dressing…ink draining from his hand.
You will not find a pothole now,
on London Road – the highway healed.


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Sasha Dugdale

Poet, playwright, and translator Sasha Dugdale was born in Sussex, England. She has worked as a consultant for theatre companies in addition to writing her own plays. From 1995 to 2000, she worked for the British Council in Russia. She is author of the poetry collections The Estate (2007), Notebook (2003), and Red House (2011) and has translated Russian poetry and drama, including Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.  Sasha Dugdale’s ‘Joy’ contains the title-piece of her fourth collection from Carcanet , which won the 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

On November 19 we will be welcoming Sasha Dugdale to the Vittle and Swig.  Please join us!  There will be an Open Mic before the main reading so come along for an 8 o’clock start with your poem for us all to hear.

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By Steve Walter

This is one of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society members’ poems published in the 2019 Folio (#73)


They’re resurfacing the road at midnight –

a young worker cleans his blackened


torso, naked from belly to neck in August heat,

nothing more alien to flesh than tar –


oil, slippery as a lover’s skin.



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Maura Dooley

Maura Dooley

Our special guest for October 2019 is the much-admired Maura Dooley.  She will be reading to us at the Vittle and Swig on October 15th.  The meeting starts at 8.00 pm with an Open Mic.

Maura  is a poet and freelance writer.  She was born in Truro, England, and is published by Bloodaxe Books.  She is Reader in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and lives in London.

Her poetry collections include Explaining Magnetism (1991), Kissing A Bone (1996), both Poetry Book Society recommendations, and Life Under Water (2008). Life Under Water and Kissing a Bone were shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She has also edited a number of poetry anthologies including The Honey Gatherers: An Anthology of Love Poems, published in 2003, and is editor of How Novelists Work (2000), a collection of essays by contemporary writers. Her poem ‘Cleaning Jim Dine’s Heart’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2015, and is included in her 2016 collection, The Silvering, also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Maura was a Centre Director at the Arvon Foundation and founded and directed the Literature programme at the Southbank Centre. She works in film and theatre and has recently helped develop educational films for Jim Henson Productions. Her work in the theatre includes running workshops for Performing Arts Labs, devising new plays for young people. In 2001 she was a judge for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the National Poetry Competition and the London Arts’ New London Writers Awards. She has also chaired the Poetry Book Society.


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