Our 2020 Visions

Michael W. Thomas

A House to be shut up

The time of my quickness is gone.
Now my pace is that of a child
on a midnight stair. So bear with me, please,
if I drape too long a shadow on your day
as I lean to your table
and turn over this or that trinket.
Soon enough though slow we’ll straighten up
and let the light at you again. I’ll walk away
while my shadow bestows itself on casual elsewheres
like a sheet in a house to be shut up for the summer,
floating down fully spread,
knowing before it makes first touch
the breadth of peace its furnishing will need.

Meg Cox

BANG! as I step 
through the front door
four feet from me
on the path 
the bird missed its prey
hits the the ground
our hearts stop
our eyes lock
for one long second
before he is sucked
into the sky.  Gone.
The stare of him…

Jayne Arnott


I remember my mother’s eyes
searching for clues,
for the familiar

her worn black purse
from which she was sure
there was money missing,

the water glass that once
held her evening whisky,

the handkerchief embroidered
with white roses, tucked
into her cardigan sleeve,

her fingers constantly on the move
twitching and plucking

as she grappled
with her world.

Reaching out I took her hand
to still it
long enough for her to feel
the warmth of the love

I was glad she could not see
blurring my vision.

Alison Falls

Interview with the Old Cosmonaut
Over eighty now
a white-haired teddy bear
with stars in his eyes
offers me tea in the kitchen.
His wife’s out shopping.
Sturdy of limb, only a little bent
he fills the kettle
shuts the tap firmly
inserts the electric plug.  Check.
Depresses the switch.  Check.
I ask him: Were you afraid
when the rocket was launched
out there in Kazakhstan?
Were you afraid
crushed by the G-force?
He’s heard this one before.
He smiles.  No, not afraid because
I was too excited and too busy
taking note of procedure
hearing the engines ignite.
It was a thrill, yes,
the grumbling roar of the fire
forcing us upwards, fighting
the pull of the Earth.
But textbook stuff.
Do you take sugar?
He opens a canister
in the darkening kitchen
dips a finger to taste
in case it’s the salt.  Check.
He’s an expert: pilot, engineer,
interpreter of space photography.
He’s a model: son of the working class,
first German in space
Hero of the Soviet Union.
He pours the tea,
stirs in sugar,
sniffs at the fragrant steam,
and offers me a cup.
We drink.
I ask him the big one:
How does it look,
the Earth from space?
The interpreter of photography
is silent.
Through the window, he contemplates
his little garden
struggling in springtime,
then says: One petal of a hyacinth,
I think.  Drifting.
Returning to his desk, he pats
the pile of letters. Fan mail.
I answer every one,
he says, I tell them.
And his eyes glisten.  

Giles Dawnay


Let the light go
for it shall return.
Trust in its gift
of a dark world
with time to stop,
consider and rest.

Let the light go
surrender the day.
Endless growth
is a falsehood
peddled by those
who fear the dark.

Let the light go
and be thankful,
another moment
lived and survived.
We must all die
so we can live again.

Sara-Jane Arbury

Eye For An Eye
There were two Sara(h)s in my class,
Me and Sarah B.
I was Sara A.
Spelt differently.
No ‘h’.
Made differently.
No eye.
You see, I have a one-sided view of life.
Marked from the very start
A put me top of the register
Above Sarah B.
A ‘Grade A’ pupil with a gold star future
Ahead of Sarah B.
But my undotted eye meant that close behind
Was always Sarah B
Catching me out
By sneaking up from the right
Like Dr Who with a Dalek
So I’d never see the left hook
Until it was too late
And I’d lie on the ground
With my ‘bad’ eye
Like a mashed apple
And I’d count those gold stars
Shining, shining
Sarah B saw things I could never see
Like the way I crossed my eyes
As well as my T’s
And looked in two different directions
At the same time.
But however hard she tried
Her corrective surgery
Never succeeded in curing me
Of the ability to see what she failed to see –
The extra in the ordinary
You might say
I learnt to turn a blind eye to everything the hard way,
I say
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to anything
If you’ve got one

Peter Sutton


I see at first a foursquare granite base
as hard and smooth as when the block was found,
and yet the sculptor seems to trace
the outline of Prometheus unbound.

She sees a head and shoulders and a face,
a prodigy emerging from the ground,
stretching, moving, occupying space,
the granite changing shape, elliptic, round.

I close my eyes and soon I also see
a breaking wave within the solid block,
a wriggling something struggling to be free,
to break out from the gravid, deep-veined rock,
the shape of change, renewal, fragile earth,
the shape of love, of life, the shape of birth.

Lesley Ingram

What the Poetry Pharmacist Could See
                  (26th June 2019)
We talk of ghosts and dust, allegiance,
a constancy with the old times, the methods
of always
We talk of families and staff and buyouts,
a century-old flip in ownership with conditions
to home
We talk of a place’s role in the mould of a town,
its part in its pattern, a meshing
of lives.

And as we talk the walls lean in to listen,
and we, sensing their thrill, turn round
to look
to see - how time weaves a skew weft
in the spaces of this place, how the walls
know this
and offer themselves: we give you our past,
use us wisely, we'll still be here after
you're gone
We begin to translate
the till's hieroglyphs,
Yorkshire Flux,
the brass buttons studding the counter's skin.
And those black handles in banister's shadows,
empty of hands that placed them there
but holding on
to their fingerprints and palmprints,
cherishing the old grab and tug,
eager, oh so eager, to help now.
Every speck of dust is a day
in the life of a place
every shifting shadow
is a person passed through.
And there is a bell keen
to ring
            you will find so much
                         in nothing