Poem of the day

Hampton Court Shelter

by Lee Harwood

That hue of light you find on a summer afternoon

when a rain storm batters the gardens, stitches the heavy river.

Like dusk but not.


You and I in a room set with windows overlooking that river.

A room panelled with large mirrors, long smoky mirrors

whose foxed glass reflects our dusky selves, maybe our ghosts.

And inbetween – the window seats and views of a flowing

                                                               watery world.


That this 17th century pavilion, built for privacy and banquets,

could have been where voyages were planned, trade calculated

and profit, much profit, inbetween the laughter.


That the elaborate maze-like gardens that surround this pavilion

are where people wandered talking,

are where we will soon wander in a fine rain

unaware of anything beyond, caught in the moment’s delight


as we weave our way through the flower beds, the sunken   


the arched corridors of wysteria, pergolas of laburnum,

honey scented lime walks, our myths and histories laid aside.

Floating in any century, timeless, we romantically imagine.


If the myths were put aside, and we… ?

Would the mirrors be clear and glitter?  a rainbow

flickering on their bevelled edges?     I doubt it.


“So what are you going to do

with the rest of your life?”


21 February


by John Thomas

Crouching in my arms against this old army shirt,

    breathing the tin taste of my day's sweat, she

    says nothing and concerns herself with her pre-

    carious balance, the tightwire she walks from

    fleshcage to fleshcage.


This is her scene, and it is quite right among the

    bongos sounding through the wall,


John the Lush pounding bad riffs on a borrowed drum,

    splintered, frenetic, out on the slippery edge of



And up the airshaft sounding the toilet-edge vomit

    of a nameless drunk, Gallo tokay, you can puke all

    day, tired past dismay.


This is her scene, this quiet crouch within bad sounds,

    surrounded by her ten cent shoes and her yesterday's

    pants and her just-in-case jar of peanut butter, this

    crouch against my shirt with her nose in my sweat.


She is nervous on three bennies and has tentative soft

    fantasies about spooks and she will stay a little

    while if I don't hold her too tightly.


I have lived like a priest in this bare room three

    months and to have her here, a sad tired robin,

    well, I feel honored and a little incredulous.


Orange lipstick on my pillowcase and the smell of her

    in my beard are enough to make me hum in private, a

    luxury of long ago.


And if the poem fails it is not because her smile is

    not beautiful to touch.


20 February

Entering America

by Bill Manhire

19 February

Falling softly

by Julie Johnstone

18 February

from 'He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven'

by W.B. Yeats

17 February


by Elizabeth Burns

The fog that is like    but more rare

The wind that is like    but not so sharp

The sand that is like    but turns to mud

The hills that are like    but more peopled

The flowers that are like    but bloom earlier

The beach that is like    but more crowded

The summers that are like    but darken quickly

The air that is like    but not so sweet 


16 February


by Kelvin Corcoran

By the well of Thalmi, Ino my bride

come out of your house, come out in the night

with ship gods as well as land gods,

with bronze statues on the island

in the open air of Pephnos,

with the whiter than usual ants.


See the owls swoop down from the tower

on dark wires sure as death,

hunting in pairs back and forth

threading the night.


My mind empties around the tower

of Kapetanios Christeas and into the sea;

my old neighbour sings at night,

her imperfect beautiful voice

rises for no-one or the moon, Ino, for no-one

or the dark ocean wrapped around the world.


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20 February 2020
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