Open submissions poetry

“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still”
Sylvia Plath

From 1st January 2022 until 28 February, we featured an open submissions window. Each poet could send us 1, 2, or 3 poems, on any subject, to be considered for online publication in wildfire words. Submission was free, and selected poems are published as text, and as an audio recording if one is submitted.


Our next submission window will be from on 1 August to 30 September.

Details of how to submit are on this page

Thank you to all who have submitted.

Poets selected for publication so far are: David Dixon, David Ralph Lewis, Frank Sharratt, Gail Webb, Helen Openshaw, Julie Didcock-Williams, Kelly Davis, Kitty Donnelly, Lucy Heuschen audio symbol 2 audio symbol 2, Matt Thomas, Neil Beardmore, Peter Wellby, Petra F. Bagnardi, Sam Bartle, Sharon Webster, Vron McIntyre, Zara Tagnac audio symbol 2 audio symbol 2 audio symbol 2

audio symbol 2 indicates one audio of a poem read by the poet.

Zara Tagnac

Zara is a Jamaican-American author of primarily slipstream and magical realism. Her prose has been published by Writer’s Retreat UK. Her poetry has been featured in three collections published by Paper Pens, & Poetry, and a zine created by Black Quantum Futurism. She can be contacted by email: ayanalovesprose@gmail.com and Instagram: @ztlovestoread.

Always

Remember when your heart
was still beating? When you
held my hand as you kissed
the boo boos away after I fell

off my purple bicycle? I do. The
next day we chased the ice
cream truck because it barely
came to our cul de sac. Waiting

for the faint rainbows for as long
as we could despite our mothers
hollering for us to stop playing
in the rain used to be one of

my favorite things. Lightening
bugs meant everything to me.
Hugs, and no homework were
all we’d need. Before the times

I begged you not to go. I knew it
wasn’t your fault, but all I could do
was pretend. I really hoped you
weren’t scared despite knowing

the truth. I still do. All I have left
is the little bird necklace you gave
me for my birthday. I still think of
us from time to time. I’m so sorry,

I miss you

Tethered

I lost my phone,

and with it went my superpowers.
I felt naked, and troubled by the extent

of my dependency. The pain
of withdrawal. But when one

grows accustomed to what was once
godslike, it’s hard to go back.

Especially without notice. Even
with it too. We’ve bonded with

impossible organs. Teeming
with electric rivers, much like

our own. Our mirror, our spy,
our extended eye. They are

us, we are them. I was it.
It was me. But without it,

I managed just fine. I
found peace in its absence

despite numerous times in
which I was reminded my

reaching for it became a reflex.
A phantom limb

for which I developed
proprioception. And with

it returned a calm that
was kept at bay until

I got my phone back

Rittenhouse

Burnt yellow leaves, crisp with decay, sail the sunlit breeze.
Acorn. Wool scarves. Cobblestone. Dia de los Muertos.
Dark and light eyes mouth suspicion from either side. Her wedding dress makes his walnut skin glow
bright.
He’s only in it for the papers! Making love on the morning of is bad luck… Who needs something azul
when I’ve got you?
I am her only friend. The lone bridesmaid. Someone she’s known for a year.
Cafeteria conversations between college classes. Just because the world won’t appreciate your beauty, doesn’t
mean it’s not real. Salt tears.
We step away from the rest to free ourselves from the crippling tension.
You alright? Seriously. Such a lovely day! I don’t know who I am anymore.
“You whores got a light?” says a disheveled man. I growl an indignant decline.
Foster care to homeless shelters. Stunted dreams. Why do they get a second chance, but not me?

“I’ll find a grave to bury you in.”

Petra F. Bagnardi

Petra is a TV screenwriter, a theatre playwright and actress, and a poet. She was short-listed in the Enfield Poets’ Twentieth Anniversary
Poetry Competition, and her work was featured in several literary journals including, Masque & Spectacle Literary Journal, Punk Noir Magazine, Poetica Review, Red Door Magazine, Drawn to the Light Press, Muddy River Poetry Review.

The whimsical reality

An alabaster Queen falls in love with a diamond King.
They live in a simple house by a loud pond.
They stroll down corridors lined with roses.
They swim in a lake of gentle murmurs.
The Queen makes love to her King – they create a spark of life.
But the flame perishes when it touches the light.
They consult magicians and physicians who cast complicated spells;
and use huge words like fetal infection and genetic disorder.
The King rides a crazy carousel of lawyers, papers and agencies;
while the Queen ambles to the lake to borrow its watercolors –
she paints a boat and lets it sail away.
She wishes every day.
At length, the merry-go-round ceases its mad spinning.
The King asks the Queen to rest her soul at home for a while –
just until the palace bells childishly chime.
The house doors open to a woman wearing whimsical shoes and a sensible smile.
She holds the tiny hand of an obsidian Princess, dressed with the tones of the earth.
The girl clutches a boat of blue and indigo paper to her chest.
The colors seep through her fingers and become a river.
Father, mother, and daughter trail the painted path and reach the lake.
They link hands and write their stories in the sand.
They beam like the perfect gemstones of a new realm. 

Julie Didcock-Williams

Julie Didcock-Williams has had haiku translated and included in an anthology by Goldsmiths College and Yamanshi Prefectural University of Japan and published in Blithe Spirit.

Her first novel The Cove was published in 2020.  She lives in rural East Sussex where the landscape inspires her work.

The Colour of Grief

When the colour of grief is yellow, it is her
jars of aji chilli paste tethering you to home
and when it is green, it is Wimbledon Park Cafe
where I sat with a coffee and held in my scream
and when it is red, it is that Birkin-like bag
restraining the one reason I never said
and when it is blue, it is the hard Andean sky
which cut through us, and you knew
and when it is black, it is infinity
which is how we were meant to be;
and when grief is all these colours mixed
into one, it is brown and brown is mud and
mud is fertile and alive and life is hope and
hope is the beginning.

This is where I am now

This is where I’ve landed.
Here, mist gathers in the Rother valley,
swamping the land in a cold, white shroud.
The past has fallen in on us
and its frozen face will not leave.

I walk around the silent pond
watching the changing winds
shift the slick of weed north or south:
this, at least, is solid and real.
Ghosts tear themselves from the surface
and gather at the feet of trees like a prayer.
The leaf litter rots and the air is thick
with the messengers of mould
disturbed by the deer twitching at the wood’s edge.

In the gloaming the air breathes bats
and somewhere off the church bell stills time.
All that matters is here and now.
Silent as a seraph the barn owl cracks open
the hinge between heaven and the field.
Its face is a way to reach the moon;
it is not a pathway back.
There is no fingerpost pointing there.

The sky is a glass dome, cold and sharp;
inside it we are shaken by treacherous hands.
I know there is no God: there is only Man.
His rotten actions dragging behind him,
ploughing the past into the present.
There was a time I believed in family –
but this is where I am now.

Washing Machine

When the open mouth
of the washing machine fell silent,
the absence of its sound
disturbed the equilibrium,

but when I ceased speaking,
no one noticed the absence of my words,
the silent hole that bored
its way through me once my audience had faded.

I spoke when I had to,
asserting my existence,
then disappeared into the abyss
that gaped between the family’s world and mine.

Outside in the morning,
I pegged out the washing,
staring silently as the clothes
hung limp and uninhabited in the wind.

Then you arrived
in a clatter of chatter and song
and the cold dark silence that had stretched
into my corners, shrunk back and skittered away.

The next time I watched
the washing drying,
it billowed upwards in huge fat curls,
cracking and laughing in the breeze.

Peter Wellby

Peter read English at Oxford and then taught for 40 years. He has been writing poetry seriously since he retired on a very wide range of themes, forms and tones. He now has so many poems that he needs to publish some to make more room for storage.

A labour of moles

(Moldewarp: : Anglo-Saxon: molde = earth;  weorpan = thrower)

The sow and boar
are both acutely sensitive to touch,
the slightest fluctuation.

Small wonder, when they meet by chance
in the dark underground
on a blind date
their passion is unbridled and ecstatic.

They’re picking up good vibrations, fibrillations,
such … ah … yes … such ravishing molestations!

Until, each March, the field behind our garden
is bivouacked with khaki bell-tents in their scores,
mountains of molehills,
camouflaged between nettles and thistles,
a siege army,
born in tunnels of love,
waiting on the skirts of the season
for the signal to advance:
the stuttering first mow of the green lawn.

Then swift, invisible, they come,
sallies of midnight velvet.
Barrows of brown earth heaved skyward
a minefield
no longer mine,
but claimed by moldewarp’s Maginot Line.

Pointillism

Skeins of steepling starlings
weave your pale face across the sky.
I strain to see light in your eyes
but they dissolve in grained pixels.
Rain dots sift your presence.

Bothered by glints of mica,
I pan for fragments of our history
in the stream of the sky.

Starlings pour through the wind;
they bank and swerve and hurl
like iron filings on a magic board,
settle in thousands on the skeletal diadem
of the gas storage tank, fidgeting,
churring flecked breasts to hush nightfall.

While stars prink and the moon sleeps,
the fletched multitude slip from their roost
on the Tower of Silence
hushed as owls.
All night they stipple your smile on the firmament
that the dull world might know
how you are loved.

Sam Bartle

Sam was born in Hull, England and grew up in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  He began writing poetry as a response to the pressures of pandemic life but enjoys writing on all aspects of life and the world around him.
www.twitter.com/bartle_sam

Everyone

Everywhere is a moment
Every time is a space
Everything has an order
Everyone has a place.

Every earth has a sun
Every species, a race
Every creature is connected
Everyone has a face.

Every life is a canvas
Every decision, a choice
Every story has a maker
Everyone has a voice.

A result for every act
A deed forever done
A rise for every fall
A place.  For everyone.

Gail Webb

Gail Webb had a long career in social work. On retiring, she was published in Boshemia, 2019, feminist journal, and subsequently in several anthologies. Gail is a member of writing and performance poets’ collectives, Nottingham. Debut pamphlet The Thrill of Jumping In, published in Big White Shed, 2021.

Buzzards

It is not what I expect to see,
glancing from bedroom windows,
birds wheeling in the sky, fringed wings
almost touching as they circle,
autumn leaves eddying, warm currents.
The birds float over suburban streets,
seconds passing, watching for victims, prey.
I praise them, worship through glass
long greyed with city grime, opening the casement
to peer up further, past Victorian chimney pots
wanting to catch their eye, to join them up there.
Three buzzards manoeuvre over rooftops,
effortless mastery of aerodynamics. I wonder
why they are so close to city borders, perhaps
there are no small creatures left to kill,
countryside divested of bounty. Only town mice
to hunt, only humans to harry and blame.

Neil Beardmore

Winner of the Richard Burton Poetry Prize in the nineties, Neil is a prolific writer and performer with poems published in Orbis, The French Literary Review, The Cannon’s Mouth and others. Painted Ghosts (three novellas) was published by Pneuma Springs in 2021. His website is at NeilBeardmore.com

Neanderthal dawn

It’s here already, when homo sapiens arrive,
hands on walls in graffiti — Neanderthal hands,
outlined in spit-breath for immortality,
hands that steer the being of life-force,

that image and symbolise an is-ness,
a recognition of time:
rock outlives us, but our hands
live on with the rock,

escape us into the unknown
oblivion of otherness we see
in the sands of stars
that shade us in the night.

Our hands are us,
living on, an importance recorded,
indelible for those behind,
handed on.


Uncle

He sits up, pillow-propped,
a faded grin holds up half his jowls,
the other, frozen by a stroke of bad luck.

In this ward curtains never shake
to the breeze that never comes.
It was Murphy’s not Guinness

he sold his soul for, the nephew joked,
said: ‘put it in his drip to keep the level up’
and it was sniggers all round

but the uncle did not know.
He had shares in the west side, they said,
cooked up all sorts of deals that persuaded police

and street punters to tow the party line.
He could not cock his hat now, let alone a gun,
half his brain being frozen

by a stroke of bad luck, the nephew joked
with bespoked men, colleagues from the show
who stood bowed now as if before a bishop.

They asked nephew if he would give up the degree,
follow in the footsteps of the frozen man,
and he was full of maybes, after his exams he said.

When they left the uncle kept his grin,
the nephew buttoned his coat
and the breeze that never comes
shook the curtains that never shake.

David Ralph Lewis

David Ralph Lewis is a poet based in Bristol who has been published in Marble Poetry Magazine, Flights Magazine and Neon Magazine. He has two pamphlets, Our Voices in the Chaos published by Selcouth Station and Refraction. He enjoys dancing badly at gigs and attempting to grow vegetables.

Infrared


Under ghost branches
about to be reborn,

I bask in purple light,
eyes closed for protection.

Two voices close but distant
guiding the angle of my head.

One. Two. Three. I open my eyes
see only outlined spectres,

dark shapes silhouetted
by the unnatural glow.

A ritual to expand our vision
see secrets written on skin.

Breach

The atmosphere is a small line,
a smudge against cosmic radiation.

I am trapped in this spaceship
separated from all the nothing
by a thin hull of skin.

On a park bench,
I rest as the airlock
breaks.

I weep.

Filling a vacuum, the world rushes
into all the empty spaces of my body,
all the forgotten corners and veins
flowing with star light. My shell
more porous than I thought.


Frank Sharratt

Frank has been shortlisted in the inaugural Soldier’s Arts Academy International Poetry Competition . He has achieved publication in Stepping to Eternity,  Ekstasis Magazine and will be published in Dreich Magazine, June 2022 collection. He began writing poetry in the Summer of 2021 and is looking to build a first collection.

The Beginning Road

I have traversed many a road but none,
Quite so beautiful and arduous as this,
It is here before it has been and gone,
It has touched my lips like some fading kiss,
This road I step boldly over and to,
Make new creations, tasks and keep spirit,
Ask for courage, yet I already knew,
It is within, this resilience lyric!
Marred, tarred: the beaten hammer of bashed blood,
Echoes of might and struggles in battle,
One rising to claim a crown for the good,
Footsteps make windows and towers rattle,
I start here because I must at someplace,
The Beginning Road, I will know its face!

Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis lives in Cumbria and works as a freelance editor. Her poetry has been anthologised and published in magazines such as Mslexia, Magma and Shooter. In 2021 she came second in the Borderlines Poetry Competition and she has twice been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. https://www.kellydavis.co.uk/

We tell ourselves stories in order to live

After Joan Didion

We tell stories to remind ourselves
that we exist in the world.
If we don’t tell stories
memories get blurred, distorted.

We look forward
to prepare for what lies ahead.
We look backwards
to learn from our mistakes.

But the hardest story to tell
is the story of where we are now,
holding this pen, tasting this coffee,
feeling this pain, this joy,
this fear, this love,
asking if it means anything at all.

Kitty Donnelly

Kitty Donnelly lives in West Yorkshire. Her passions are poetry & animals. Her first collection, The  Impact of Limited Time is available from Indigo Dreams.
Twitter: @KDonnelly79

Astronomical Dawn

Thoughts tail themselves to the edge of a cliff.
I’m all for private endurance:
how the cat vomits carefully out of sight,
how the doe survives in the limping wood,
one ankle trap-snapped.

In this liminal space, an unknown language
translates me: palm prints pressed
to frosted glass, shroud-imprinted features
like a half-remembered face
unremitting in its absence.

Sharon Webster

Sharon lives in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. She is a doctor by trade but in recent years has been able to indulge an earlier passion for writing, to date short fiction and poetry.

Oh dear

The cracks on the pavement,
they don’t trip you up.
It is not the ice,
the dampness of the leaves,
the small dog on a thin lead.
It is not the child,
the old lady in the crowd,
the step,
the sudden stop,
Nor the noise,
the boisterous boys,
the guy late for his bus,
the funny story overheard,
it is not us.
You just trip up,
and then we trip up.


The softness of grey

Sunrise,
the morning mist,
a honeyed haze,
before,
behind,
the storm weathered,
a deep impression
made
in mud,
brambles broken
in the frantic rush
of gloom.
And I am
slipping, sliding,
pooling, puddling,
with this softness
of grey,
along
shrouded valley paths
into the new.



Helen Openshaw

Helen is a Drama and English teacher, from Cumbria. She enjoys writing poetry and plays and inspiring her students to write. Helen has had a short monologue commissioned by Knock and Nash productions. Recently published and upcoming poetry work includes Secret Chords by Folklore publishing, Green Ink Poetry, Words and Whispers, The Madrigal, Fragmented Voices, Loft Books and The Dirigible Balloon.
Twitter – @Pocket_rhyme

Night Thoughts

The edges of the night –
Folded paper on a page I dread
To turn.

A choice of looking –
Either forward or back toward the lesson
I refuse to learn.

Light bleeds from the edges –
Hands reach but cannot touch
The silence I quietly crave.

Eyes wide shut –
The suitcase snaps. The decision
I will take to the grave.

The old man and the fox

He woke early one morning,
and thought he had forgotten something.
Only when he draws the curtains
And sees the fox asleep on the lawn
Does he remember the question.

Standing for a moment,
The thought comes to him,
As the fox slumbers on in contentment,
Its face a pool of light in the morning shadows.

His question pressing urgently
the fox awakens, slowly uncurls,
So he can take the moment offered to him now
And whisper “yes”.

The tree in the paddock

I am told that I lay in my pram as Gran
pegged the washing out to dry.
The sturdy oak tree held the line,
as the wind shook and stirred
the leaves above me.

As the years passed, we played games and it provided
an ideal hiding place for treasure.
We shared the sweets, fizzing memories on our tongues,
as we laughed and danced under the afternoon heaven,
splashed by the falling sunlight.

Now I sit under the dancing branches,
looking out across the patchwork hills.
I hear her whisper; it’s time to go,
but I will never forget –
my perfect tree, where I have grown.

David Dixon

Rock hoppers of Mars

Way out here on the ‘Red Range,’ you can kick up your heels in the merle,
While searching for witcheye black diamonds, sapphires, moonstone and pearls.
You could think yourself back in the ‘Outback,’ or some other vast desert on Earth,
If it weren’t for the cold and the silence, and the air in your tanks to conserve.
Look out to the Martian horizon, where the solar winds shimmer and play, 
We call’s em’ the ‘Blackpool luminations,’ to remind us of home faraway.

Preserved in the dust lies the ‘Moa,’ its bones pushing up through the ground,
There’s ‘Sabre Toothed Slothe’ and ‘Great Ares Snake,’ prehistoric remains in the sand.                                                                    Twisters spring up out of nowhere, while dust storms blow in from the dunes, 
We’ve dry quicksand lakes, sinkholes that wait, and geysers that spout acid plumes.
Exposed to this hostile Red Planet, is an occupation that most would avoid,
For if I was to puncture my spacesuit, my blood and my head would explode.

The dune buggy I ride I’ve dubbed ‘Bertie,’ we-ll, you can get sentimental out here,                  Three years from our friends and relations, and living in a complex of spheres. 
There ain’t much to do on your off time, cept watch old movies and eat,
While ‘some are building ships and boats,’ I practice my karaoke technique.
The company sent us a memo; which enquired our religious ethos, 
I replied “May the force be with you, I’m a ‘Jedi’ disciple of course.”

The cooks gone a little bananas, he’s shacked up with a drone chambermaid, 
He won’t let anyone near her, “I’m the warthog of love!” He’s proclaimed.
She’s dressed in a little black number, he beamed up from ‘Primark’s’ new range,  
Then he borrowed the 3D printer and proposed with a ring that he’d made.    
Laid down in the terms of employment, set out in bold! Is the phrase,
“Fraternisation is strictly forbidden, with the androids that clean up the place.”

Beneath the ground floor in the basement, we’ve constructed a still in the stores,
We’ve made up a mash from fruit juices and distilled a French brandy of sorts.
The word went round in a whisper, inviting those in the know to come try,
The third engineer got blotto, and then he went blind in one eye.
The maintenance man was legless, telling all “I’m as sloshed as a newt!”
Then he got a fit of the giggles, whilst performing a ‘Vulcan salute.’

Night skies on Mars are a marvel; shooting stars fall while Martian moons rise, 
Scholars named them ‘Phoebus and Deimos,’ but we call’s em ‘Morecombe and Wise.’            
Armed with my little rock hammer, I criss-cross these alien plains,
Prospecting for mineral deposits, where fortune favours the brave.
Bound by the terms of our contract, inured on this world that we share,
You may ask me why did we come here? We came because it was there!


Lucy Heuschen

London-born poet Lucy Heuschen is based in the Rheinland in Germany. Her pamphlet We Wear The Crown will be published by Hedgehog Press in 2022. Her poems have appeared in Sarasvati, Reach, Dawntreader, One Hand Clapping, Irisi, Black Bough, Dreich and Green Ink.

A weaving of stars

Uneasy suitcases totter
on the roof. Legs, as yet
unaware of their length,
vie for restricted space.

The ferry stinks, yes, but
it’s dead cheap. One of us
throws up on a plastic seat.
Our skin is vinyl-beaded.

The tape-deck is broken
and Dad’s a new driver,
swerving close. We cling
to our vertiginous sleep.

We pause for sandy churros,
drenching almond horchata.
Parents doze; we whisper
secrets to the viridian sea.

Under plane trees, a thrum
of guitarra; each bright note
bears witness to toiling life,
of attention to softer things.

We steal some sidra, sweet
apple magic. In its trance,
we wait for the cool dawn
among a weaving of stars.

Elegy for an Owl

i.m. Manuel Jato Macias, 1929 – 2016
Professor Emeritus, University of Portland, USA,
tea afficionado, world traveller and our dear friend.


He is a pink-striped, bespectacled owl-man: neat
as a preened wing. His smile though is expansive
as the waters of the Sound stretching at his back.

Manuel can see the story in anything.  He sends
airmail to the Señoritas of London Town: blue folds
carefully concealing a stowaway stash of stories.

There are packets, too: rainbow foils of polverón,
a Pilots t-shirt, a Great Blue Heron stamp, a book.
A sharing of the spoils from his latest adventure.

I visit in 1997. He brews Lapsang Souchong, but
when I ask for a splash of milk – Mi querida, please!
I drink it plain while we talk about impeachment.

Looking at his faded photo, I can hear a rustle
like paper unfolding, or a name of the softest vowels.
We are children again, taking turns to read aloud.

Matt Thomas

Years ago, Matt read in slams in Seattle cocktail bars, published poems on city buses and in long defunct zines. Now, he reads and writes in Plymouth. He runs Royal Adelaide Art & Yoga with Nic, a Yoga teacher and collagist. Facebook: @evanonrev

Love is slippery

The world, and by that
I mean my world, and by that
I mean this moment, is fraught
with inconsistencies, lumps, cracks.
The possibility of absence,
then absence,
the possibility of presence,
then presence.
I crave this condition,
I pursue what I know as if
it was unknown to me.
You’re there, next to me,
breathing quietly, I know that.
My grandfather was disappointed
in the God he loved, for creating
a world that failed to live up
to his expectations.
My grandmother loved unconditionally.
They gave me those gifts.
You gave me this moment.
Tomorrow after the rain,
I’ll walk out, find a place
to watch leaves travel
along the gutter toward
the corner where they’ll
gather and spill over
the street with the water
that carried them there.

Today Has No Need For Ghosts

Hours ride the breeze that
whips up under the bridge,
through gaps between pylons
stretched like teeth across
the mouth of the river
whose real mouth is further
downstream and mixed up
with other waters
from the mouths
of other rivers
and the sea.

Today has no need
for ghosts, the wind spins
its own scary stories, crowds
eyes, ears, pushes like echoes.

The wind takes things:
scarves, hats, breath, tears.

It wants umbrellas,
it wants to want.

It finds hollow,
invisible footsteps
to fill, to howl
into gauzy flesh,
lace curtains
with no windows,
see-through bones
and weightless bodies
made of grey racing
across the sky.

Vron McIntyre

Vron is a member of Nottingham’s DIY Poets Collective, and performs regularly at open mics. Her work has been published by DIY Poets, Poetry & Covid, anthologies Geography Is Irrelevant and Spirit Of Fire&Dust. Her debut pamphlet Random Trail was published by Big White Shed in 2021. https://linktr.ee/vronmcintyre

In awe of rubber bands

With that heightened sense that everything has meaning,
even the things that don’t, skating close to the line
between inspiration and madness, even rubber bands
become charged with significance.  I keep finding them
in my path, like magic, as if the sacred universe
that now includes branches of Office World
along with stone circles and the beauty of nature,
is speaking to me in its own language, leaving clues
for me to decipher. They mean I am on the right track,
keep on doing what I’m doing, this is the right way to go.
Also, put it in your pocket, you might need a rubber band. 
At times like this life is studded with odd synchronicities,
clustered together, after a fallow period, awe and mystery
invoked by something as ordinary
as the postman’s stretchy leavings.

Beady Eye

She has a secret deep inside
all the stars and all the galaxies
run through her hands like beads
                                – camp fire chant

sunday supplements scavenged,
cut, torn into long wedge shaped
strips, wound round knitting needles
wide end first and glued to make
a multicoloured oval with a hole.
when dry, varnished, painted, slid off
to become a bead, ready to be strung

lump of rock, chunk of clay or amber
carved to suit, moulded from paper, plastic
anything.  Seeds, stones of fruit, small shells,
rosaries strung to pray or play,
counting beads, abaci, beads to tell the time
or day, or time of month, or moon
bead as eye, as many eyes

the beads, all the beads,
rippling, cascading through her hands.

A Polytheist Encounters Gods

              after Alan Pelaez Lopez

I saw God the other day driving the number 28 bus,
city bound, she got out and lowered the ramp
for my chair, said the exercise was good for her.
She drives that route often.

God walks this way most days, delivering post
or drives the ambulance for disabled kids.
God brings parcels, prescriptions, thin crust pizzas
with black olives, red onions and pineapple.

God takes a photo these days so we don’t have to sign
runs nimbly back to the van, tightly scheduled.
On Tuesdays God empties the bins, sending our rubbish
to the communion that awaits it elsewhere.

God likes washing windows and trimming hedges
when the weather’s fine.  At night God moonlights,
laying tarmac with the fires of hell.  Maybe God
will fill in our potholes.  We should pray.

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