A thousand sailors

The writers of these poems are looking back and forth through time, analysing, enjoying and marvelling. Sue Haigh’s dog has been sailing and greets the seal.  Michael Murray leaves an unsatisfactory cityscape and sees moths. Mike Gallagher  documents a family interlude. This group of poems seem to have a coastal element, even the ones that do not, involving distance, a change of place. Catherine McDonald makes it simple, with a fisherman seeing a rainbow in the sea.

Like Eileen Carney Hulme the poets look out of windows, and see not one thing but contrasting recollections or insights.

What you see is what you decide to see.

Thanks to these five poets. To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.



Michael Murray

The top road at night, the street lights stop
half up the hillside; the sink-town sunk
in fog below. Stand there among cat’s eyes,
the camber of the road shining,
outside the town boundary,
that last fall of light.

Occasional cars, their eager white headlights,
wind down into it; red tail lights –
up all night arguing – drag home.
The town has squandered all,
it has rifled your accounts:
savings, pensions gone –
the fruits of a generation smashed there.
And has given you
unrealistic hopes,
wrecked relationships.
It is in the long cooling that words bring;
and a bald laugh’s quick quench.

When street lights end,
those tipped-up bowls,
strung along the hillside as if for a wake-
no christening, or wedding…
where they end, is blackness, waiting.
And you wonder, What was it
broke there, spilled itself? And, Will it let
you go into it, pass through?
How can it allow a light to show
out there where it is most complete?

And then you see them, moths,
as they flicker in; their home is out there:
watch them, they flicker away again.
And you want to follow them, be one of them.

Stand, 2013


life waits-2619266_960_720

Eileeen Carney Hulme
Life waits inside us

Like a Sunday morning
peeling back light
to find a winter sky
drowned by dull rain
and driftwood stars
gathered at the window,
you think perhaps
you should let them in
these damp stars, that once
you wished upon
on another Sunday, summer
huddled in the dunes
moulded skin to skin
to your midnight lover,
no, close the curtains
stop and think
how long it takes
for stars to dry out
to cease their drip, drip, drip.

from The Space Between Rain 2010 published by Indigo Dreams



Sue Haigh
Arctic Ocean meets Caribbean on Kinshaldy Beach in Winter.

For Lou, the dog who sailed to Scotland from the French West Indies and the seal who swam from the Arctic Ocean.

We are alone. except, of course,
for miles of frosted shore;
and cormorants on distant banks,
a benediction of wings
wedding sea and pearl-domed sky;
and oyster catchers at the edge
bobbing in prayer
for a thousand sailors, lost
beneath the crash of waves;
and Lou, his wild exuberance
etched in frozen sand.

an hour out we reach the fence
and the wind comes hard about,
hauls in sheets of rain
to soak our seaward side.
Watching, as if for us,
a shimmering form rises
from the sea, stares
his marble stare at Lou,
opens his silken jaw.
his mer-man song of long lament
drifts on drenched grey air;
yep – yep, yep – yep, yep-yep.  

Lou turns a dog-ear,
folds legs beneath him
echoes the call,                    

yep-yep, yep-yep, yep-yep.
blessings, Man, abu ye!
how was the journey, brother?
where’s your other shore?’
‘a thousand bone-chill miles away,
as the fish flies. And yours?’

‘Man, a hundred thousand more,
from Sainte-Marie Galente,
by Guadeloupe and Amsterdam.
and then a thousand yet.
well-met, Man, well-met!’


first appeared in Northwords Now and was used in artist Moira Buchanan’s “All Washed Up” exhibition in Irvine. (author’s image)


Mike Gallagher
(For Ethan)

You will not remember our special time.
Frail aunts recall that my grandad
played ball with me in Oghill bog,
shared sidecar reins through Finiskill
on the trot to Mohill mass,
and yet I do not mind the man.
Still, I know that somewhere deep
within, the music of place names –
Carrick, Drumshambo, Cloonbo, Gorvagh –
echo the whispers of that man in Oghill bog,
Paddy Reynolds. And so to us.

Your stay was short, mere setting down of roots.
First hours were fraught; you cringed
with fright at my approach. But patience
brings its own reward; next morning
my arms reached down, your hands reached up,
we shared a porridge bowl. Afterwards,
and twice a day every day, we shared
a garden bench, looked out from Renagown
on a big, big world. You, nine months old,
wary of the wary dog, gleeful when he rolled
on gravel path, wished that you could do the same.
I watched those eager saucer eyes absorb
primrose shiver, snakehead dance, the tulips’
gentle sway. I melted when they turned to mine,
all playful innocence, euphoric with the wonder
of it all. A sudden gust left me chill; body charged,
you sprang to meet it, exhilarated curls flying,
gurgled all the way indoors. And then,
on the very eve of your going, Nature itself
saluted one who so much pleasure gave;
we heard our first cuckoo of Spring,
the pheasant piped again in Sheehy’s field,
a swallow scout sussed out the nesting stall.

You will not remember our special time –
such joy sustains only the old. Still, one day
in your London home, you may take down
a dusty tome and find the music of these words
re-echo from that man in Renagown.

2011 video by Renagown Productions. Author’s image.  An audio version of the poem can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wIZgDLvjes


sea rainbow

Catherine McDonald
The Fisherman’s Spell

The fisherman winks
casting a spell over the shore
as he cuts his baited line through
a glimpse of a rainbow

Caught up in the surf
the rainbow breaks
and vanishes into the sea
washing all its colours away

the surf rolls back into the sea
the fisherman smiles

A glimpse of a rainbow
caught up in a moment of time

April 2009. published in issue 1 of the Lyric Poetry Magazine



The Timelessness of Stone

Thanks to the poets whose poems piled in after last month’s KPAI — keep them coming.  This has enabled me to produce another instalment in the middle of a rushed and busy month — what’s new, poets? And you relax and question, draw pebbles, write sestinas, make collages, wonder about the triumph of evil (Moriarty), and concentrate on the timelessness of stone. Thanks to Morelle Smith, Maggie Mackay, Stephen Mead, David Whippman and Joan Lennon.

To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

You may send your own images, otherwise I will find suitable copyright-free illustrations, which I quite enjoy doing.  Sometimes it is a challenge. Morelle Smith and Joan Lennon sent their own illustrations for their poems, as well as the collages from Stephen Mead.

I should add that Morelle Smith took the header photo we are using at the moment. It’s of fells near Kirkby Lonsdale, where a substantial stream comes out of a hole in the ground (in field , right foreground) and runs down to the River Lune. To me, that stands for continuous and timeless poetic inspiration. Thanks to Morelle.

See you some time in September.




Morelle Smith
Canal Street Café

The café is empty,
except for me, and the person
who brings me a mug of tea.
He is tall, speaks slowly
has a foreign accent I cannot identify
and an exquisite jawline.
Thick moisture on the inside
of the window.
When I run my finger over it,
water drips down the pane.
And outside, it is raining.
A newspaper lies on the table
next to me.
I am writing in my book
and the footsteps of the man
who served me
move slowly across the café –
measured steps I hear quite clearly
above the whiny chatter of the radio.
I’m just about to look up
when he picks up the paper,
walks back again
behind the counter.
I left most of the mug of tea,
not because it tasted bad
or I didn’t like the mug
or the radio station.
Or because the sound of the knife
being sharpened grated on my ear.
No, I left because I was late for
an appointment.
That’s why I didn’t drink the tea.
It had nothing to do with that
haunting jawline.

The Way Words Travel, UK Authors Press, 2005



Maggie Mackay
Picking up the Pencil

Your student hand pencils a heavy mark
on the white space. The stone’s grain
starts to show. Gleaned at low tide,
it smacks of salted beds of pebbles,
washed by North Sea currents and seaweed traces.
Light movements across the space calm your doubts.

Banishing Mrs Smuts you lose your school day doubts,
smudge, rub, blot a heavy line or loose mark,
stirred by the sense of Joan Eardley’s traces,
her footprints on that beach. Another line reveals a grain
of doubt which stops your hand. A second pebble
is a fresh challenge, a chance to stem the tide.

You walk Joan’s sands. Dreamtime… beachcombing at low tide,
your feet drawing faint surface lines. Those doubts
sting your fingers, blotting seal-grey patterns in pebbles,
like synapses in nerve cells. Your eyes lift to mark
the angled detail with smeared grooves of grain.
The room stills. You hear a pencil shift to leave its traces. 

You stare into the image, make traces
of an orange stone, crater blasted, eroded by the tide,
a volcano, bursting gigantic grains
across your sketch page. More fuel for your doubts?
Instead your fingers smear a rivulet to mark
the change of colour, a dark replaced by brighter pebbles.

Six on the table, a daunting huddle of pebbles,
battered by nature, revealing traces
of water, salt, their individual mark
you imitate with your tiring hand as the tide
of indecision grapples with those limpet doubts.
You falter. Not like you to let slip a single grain.

Your teacher intervenes with a grain
of insight. ‘Change your perspective on those pebbles.
Refresh your touch, flex your fingers, chase those doubts
down.’ You erase careless carbon traces,
the hesitating lines of an easy, potent tide,
run a fine and bolder mark. 

The grain of lines and traces take shape in this enlightening life,
as you view the pebbles, imbued with colour by infinite tide;
Your doubts slip away as enduring love of learning makes its mark.

The Lake – contemporary poetry webzine february 2014


Bring Color Back to Me -music swims back to me b and w merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
Bring Colour Back to Me
(above) from the  print zine, Color Wheel, 1990s



David Whippman

The Fall of Sherlock Holmes

Called from London, the Great Detective
travels first class. (He will answer for this
when the sink estates rise against Lestrade’s men.)
The famous sleuth looks as always
for clues and reasonable motives – jealously, greed –
but beyond his magnifying glass
the world is creeping up on him
and the pointless murders happen with  genocide speed.
With a final flourish, Moriarty is unmasked
but removes a second disguise. Underneath
he is something much worse
and  this time, he will win.

published by Snakeskin in 2013.



Joan Lennon
One More Happy Boulder

And if you must,
    then please,
        reincarnate me
I yearn
for the peace of prehistory,
the long slow swing
of years without name,
time marked only by
the occasional
of continents, or
the meticulous production of sand
        by hourglass.
Let me join in Scotland’s ancient
centimetric journey from the South,
where tall pre-fossil trees,
serenely stone now in a Glasgow park,
bifurcated greenly
in the soup-like warmth.
That is the journey
I would choose –
where no wrong turning troubled
and no one tired of travel
and there was no one.
Rock me gently in the arms of such
    a respite
        from responsibility.
One more happy boulder
amongst so many
     could do no harm.

Spectrum magazine, 1994


Black Rhino Poem merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
Black Rhino
poem published in 2007 on ListenandBeHeard.net

Ravaged by her treasure

Poems of the world and beyond, with Wordsworth’s sonnet to build round. Classical English Poetry has a drive from the sense of phrase that sometimes in contemporary work  gives way to the separate words. Language is a whole , as the world is a whole, and these poems both look at our busy world and look through it, just as Wordsworth wishes to be a quiet pagan again, or whatever it is he means: it’s up to us to interpret the poem.

Thanks to Tony Lewis-Jones, for his post-email connection of cities, and for reminding me to make a July KPA  post as I, too, floudered in my daily world — ravaged by treasure no doubt, as Gary Beck puts it in Bag Lady; and to Judith Taylor for her quirky start to a mundane working day and to Vivien Jones for a startlingly real haiku from Italy, and to Hongri and his translator for the longer poem about a world  behind ours. Dont forget to enjoy the  Chinese calligraphy below Manu’s  translation. The image with The City of Gold was supplied by the poet.

The idea now is that KPAI will continue to bring you a post every month, at any time of the month. It does depend on poets supplying their work and permission: any poems previously published (minimum three years ago) to which you hold the copyright.

email for poems, queries etc sally evans 35 at gmail dot com



Tony Lewis-Jones
Sun in Montreal, rain as usual in Bristol UK

Your loving email arrived today.
Love, you are a treasure
and your news is a delight
at any time. Your newest book
is out there in the World —
you fret like all authors over sales —
the margins beween success and failure
are as thin as ever.

There, the hobos hang out for a fix —
the Ghost of Slavery haunts our every action — 
and the gap between the rich and the poor
has become a chasm only a few can cross.
Soon maybe the city will burn again
with the feral anger of the streets —
but this being an English summer
currently, it just keeps raining.

first published on the Writers Cafe, USA 2012

worlsis too mch

William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

from Poems in two volumes (1807).

woman tramp

Gary Beck
Bag Lady

No longer young,
but not much older than me,
I have seen her often
in subway visions,
ravaged by her treasure
simmering in shopping bags,
her eyes the hunger of zoo animals,
with a wrinkled, worried face
that will not allow tomorrows

from Days of Destruction, Slurve Press 2009


Judith Taylor
The Dog Warden’s apprentice

Work yawns to take you in again,
reliable as the automatic doors
that wheeze and open into your face.
And through you go, telling yourself you’ll last.
You always do. It’s a shame, though, you’re so early:
you echo, crossing the atrium
alone, like somebody truly doomed.
Fortify yourself. Remember heartening things
you’ve seen – in the street, at the bus-stop;
from the bus. Think of the Dog Warden’s apprentice:
he was young and dark and slim and laughing wickedly
in the passenger seat of the yellow van as it passed.

First published Koo Press,  Earthlight 2006


Vivien Jones
Haiku after Florence

Thick dark chocolate,
roof-top of the Uffizi,
a sparrow underfoot

from About Time, Too, Indigo Dreams 2010



Yuan Hongri (China)
Translated by Manu Mangattu (India)

The City of Gold

Ah! Into a pleasant hallway of gold
Thou didst the crystal of the sky mould.
A shining City of Gold
Chanting unto me from far afield.

Into the golden gate I strode
A palace colossal to behold.
Without, a soaring Tower to dazzle
A towering wondrous Grand Castle.

It seemed to the past a billion years I travelled.
Perchance, a primal giant my eyes beheld;
In the breeze his sleeves fluttered.
A transparent golden Robe uncluttered;

The appearance was holy, hallowed.
With a sweet smile they bellowed
As tall as a mountain they loomed
But as light as birds they seemed.

Into a golden palace I sauntered
To regard the sacred giant
His body was like the Sun
Enveloped by a golden flame.

In the hall at the centre he sat
Where bloomed many a huge lotus
Some golden giants too were there
Sitting on the lotus flaunting a smile.

In that Grand Palace studded with gems
Hung an enormous mould of gold;
A mellifluous song lulled all along
Rumbling like thunder, causing concussion.

On the front wall I saw engraved
In a noble script, an impressive word;
Resplendent and magnificent, the whole palace
Was filled with fragrance – wonderful, intoxicating.

Clouds with golden wings
Were flying over: all a mirage
A blossoming thrice wonderful
Blooming in the garden outside the temple.

I saw a towering Castle
Like a mountain, upright in the sky
Brilliant design, gorgeous styling
As if God had built it Himself

Colourful gems shine like a mosaic,
A medley of all kinds of strange drawing;
A round gold tower
Like a forest stands in space.

A broad circular Gallery then I saw
Surrounded by the golden castle
Each column was as high as ten thousand meters
Carving out numerous exquisite images.

I walked into a great hall,
I saw some huge statues
Like a group of golden giants
Smiling unto me.

I crossed a huge arch
Into a golden hall
To see a huge picture
Hung on the hall wall.

Each portrait of a transparent flash
Could draw a Golden Paradise
As if a three-dimensional space
Magically unfolded before thine eyes

I heard a mysterious music
Which made my heart take wings
A huge picture of the holy girl
On a plucked instrument was manifest.

She sat in a huge palace
A giant circle around the ring seat
Every giant smiled and smiled
Curling around a golden flame

This girl’s elegant posture
Wearing a golden dress
Body shining like a huge halo
Resembling the head of a golden sun.

A huge palace like a fortress
Outside the temple was the endless Garden
Flying golden feather bird
The garden with its pavilions, terraces and open halls

A blossoming of the wondrous exotic
Giving out an intoxicating fragrance
Like a sweet girl
With her model of elegant charm

A sparkling waterfall
Circling along from the hill
As a crystal emerald
Haunting this amazing Garden.

A group of boys and girls:
Dressed in bright and colourful clothes
Some would sit and rest in the Pavilion
Some would walk in the flowers, in the game.

I saw a huge old man
Sitting in a red cloud.
Only a crane flew around
And there was a huge Phoenix.

Another city in the sky
Far from the golden light
At a grand chic
The sky stood in layers

I seemed to hear the call of the divine
The old man came leisurely.
He lifted a huge golden book
And a kind of novel language I heard spoken

I saw a great line of words
Like a row of golden giants
They turned into a ray of light, and,
Suddenly flew into my chest.

My body was sweet and happy
The moment turned momentous
The sacred old man stood beside me
His smile filled the air of the city.

I became a golden giant
Beckoned back to the golden castle
Then came a giant
Who smiled and called out my name

Our bodies were just as big
We were like twin brothers
And Lo! This huge golden castle
Seemed to belong to us.

All on a sudden I saw a vision
I too was a holy giant
In every palace in the city of gold
I too had left my glad imprints.

3.18 .1998






















































































































































 1998.3.18 北京



Time slowing down, time racing by

April escaped Keep Poems Alive.  Poetry has its own time, like life.  Our time sometimes slowing down, sometimes racing by.  Here are five fine poems to make up for the hold-up. There’s really as much about darkness in them as about time, yet this is the time of year when light comes back, and light is the subject (or the object) of poems about darkness.

Many thanks  to the wonderful, faithful poets, Tony Lewis-Jones,  Judith Taylor, Mavis Gulliver, Rona Fitzgerald and Tuan Hongra

To send poems, email sallyevans35@gmail.com — poems should be previously published at least three years ago – as long ago as you like — to which you hold the copyright.

Keep trees

Tony Lewis-Jones
Out of the Dark

All Winter, she rested up – she could not face
The all-embracing darkness. Then, as the snow cleared,
And rivers were in flood, she ventured out
And back into the World again. But nothing
Was the same – maybe the cold had penetrated
Too far into her this time.
And the Light
She saw so clearly previously, was somewhere else –
Though every so often she could glimpse its power,
From a distance, thru trees, reflecting on water.

First published Writers Café USA 2013


Judith Taylor
The Bower

The story was, the Queen of Scotland
loved this boxwood bower on Inchmahome

– but how much love would you feel, really,
for a gaggle of shrubs on a cold, windswept island
where you were kept waiting
three weeks, at the age of six
to be taken somewhere better?

Somewhere better’s the thing, of course.
We’d like to believe a tenderness for Scotland
– or a portion of it –
hung about the heart of that young girl
at the glittering court of France.

We’d like that
in the face of all the evidence

that to her, Scotland was lumber, nothing more:
her oldest family heirloom,
awkward, dark, and crudely made.
That it wouldn’t have broken her heart
if she had lost it. That she wasn’t glad to find it

all she was left with
when the husband died, and the big prize
slid from her pale, finely-manicured hands.
But kings and queens
had always worked that way: the story was

they loved their people better than anyone else did.
And people who think they’re loved
will wait around through almost anything;
will allow themselves to be traded on,
traded away, like chips in a game.

At any rate, the bower you see
is Victorian, no earlier.

A few old trees could not sustain the onslaught
of Romanticism – all that love
that came on the boat
in the early nineteenth century, needing souvenirs.
Step in, then, to imitation shade,

you lonely visitor.
Rest on the park bench
so thoughtfully provided.
And consider how the love is divided out
between the one who leaves – at least
until there is nowhere better left to go –

and the one who stays, all that time believing
their cheek once felt a kiss.

from Gutter 5, 2011

keep shadow

Mavis Gulliver

His world is literal.
Metaphors a mystery
he cannot comprehend.
Facts flood
from his wrongly wired brain.
Ten thousand books,
each read in an hour,
imprinted on his memory
are placed upside down to show
he has no further need of them.
Zip codes, dates and places
fill his head.
He can tell you the route
to almost anywhere
but cannot go alone
to the end of the street.
He recalls every tune
he ever heard, can pick them out
on the piano with fingers limited
in their flexibility.

Simple tasks elude him.
His father cleans his teeth
buttons his shirt
links his arm as they walk,

He does not know
that the fact he states
is pure poetry.

‘We share the same shadow.’

first published in Purple Patch, no. 119, 2008

Keep Dublin

Rona Fitzgerald
Dark Matter

Swaddled in obsidian layers, hunched, hidden,
wearing his world on his back. He never asks
for anything, searches the bins for waste.  

Sleeping in the air, under soft green bushes in summer
doorways in denuded winter, he spends the day walking
reciting Shakespeare, a fool or a king by turns.  

I once spoke to a woman who slept in the hallway
of the National Library in Dublin. She said the black
helped her to disappear, to care less, to be free.

First published in 2014 in ’Making Waves’ by New Voices Press


Keep flowers

Yuan Hongri
Translated by Yuanbing Zhang
Tomorrow In The City

Open your door
I will write the words of fire
On your snow-white wall
Draw a sun
In a forest of stone
Let blue rivers fly
My hands of the dream
Are a flame
Come from the hometown of the sun
I turned over many mountains of emeralds
On the forehead of time
Engraved my name
I’ll open the sun’s cage
Fly tomorrow’s pigeon
At the square of the sky
Let the colorized feathers
Bathe in the sweet sunshine



Ghosts and fears, Giants and galaxies

The Bronte family grew up on the Yorkshire moors

Angela Readman

My husband’s afraid of the Bronte sisters,
can’t sleep for picturing them, all of six inches tall,
icy hands tiny as snowflakes melting down his sock.

He knows they are biters, small things eat him up.
He can feel shiny nibs on his ankles, scratching
to write their names on his skin; his blood is ink.

Even if they’re not attacking, he hears them at night.
Here, wandering to his belly button to gather feathers
for their quilts, lifting a fallen eyelash to make a wish.

One day, he’s sure, I’ll place our underwear in a glass case,
take the excluder from the door and just let them in.
I’ll join them and he’ll have to look wherever he walks

because I’m so scary small. Just like that, a pen could
unpick his tendons like a stitch. Just like this, he may crush me,
see my bonnet, a bluebell leaving purple on his bare foot.

(published in The Scratching of Pens (ed: angela topping,
like this press 2014)



Merryn Williams

I sense her. She stands behind me but doesn’t know
how the book ends. Look round and she’ll disappear.
Reading over my shoulder, she seems puzzled;
1998? – that’s the wrong year.

Dead of night, and I’m in a room of the town house
she worked in. Her pens are dry, fireplace swept out.
A daddy-long-legs flops on the desk, attracted
by the steady glare of my anglepoise lamp.

And we’ve arrived at a hot Victorian summer,
1883 I think; magnolia shade
in the garden, hansom cabs, evil news from India,
and black-clothed strangers stopping at her gate.

I see you are reading my diaries, and letters
not addressed to you. The house-dog growled
faintly as I came upstairs, but it makes no difference,
locked doors and window-chains will not keep me out.

I too was a writer, and know the subject
is passive, unvarying, and can’t answer.
Whatever insult you throw, I can but take it;
all power is given to the biographer.

But why do you quote dates from the distant future?
And why may I not see the last chapter?

published in Psychopoetica, the poem is about Margaret Oliphant
KPA g alaxies

Hongri Yuan

The Huge Paradise
translations: Yuanbing zhang

The giants of soul flashing
have a pair of invisible wings
Can fly over the Milky Way in a dream
to those mysterious Kingdoms

Bring the words of the gods
Let the stonebe transparent and smile
Let heaven and earth revolve wonderfully
become a huge paradise




The Giant’s Song

Give me a mirror of heaven
let me see my tomorrow
Give me a pair of eyes of the gods
let me see the prehistoric city of giants

Oh , the golden country of legend
The angel garden above the clouds
Your soul bird returns from the outer space
Has carried the giant’s song for you



哦  那传说的黄金之国

KPA fearful 

Gary Beck


Fearful whispers of imagining
follow us down collusive streets
where people strike us
like stilettos,
eager to collect flesh.
Trophies are dear
to blind wanderers
blown through a hurricane world,
who slink in populated corners,
furred against northern nights,
thonged against southern days
and never cry beware
of fearful imaginings.

from the collection Civilised Ways

We Survive amid Chaos

Friends are finding this a tough time of year. Winter stretches on, spring beckons slowly. Illnesses major and minor and political troubles aside, it is slow going for many of us. We all know about fear and  not wanting to face up to what happens next, or of struggling to keep up a situation that by its nature has no permanence.

Gary Beck sets the mood of an ordinary day, actually quite cheery that builds up to a sense of pointlessness or disaster to come. In similar light is our awareness of ageing, as shown with some reality and humour in Merryn Williams’ poem.

Ian Blake gives us a more peaceful older figure in the retired professor, who has protected himself from chaos with his bookish routine appearances at the library.

We can be confused and filled with doubt in midstream, as when Vivien Jones asks What Time is it?   Somewhere, perhaps, there’s a philosophical answer to these unsettling questions of chaos, change and time.

Or sometimes the answer lies in stories, accounts of what has to be or has had to be, and how we overcome these situations. We finish with Sandie Craigie’s story-poem, To Make Ends Meet.

Because surviving is not very comfortable. Somehow we have to win.


Gary Beck

At the Shore

The sky is darkening,
faces in the sunset light
glow red.
The beach is quieting…
A lone kite soars higher than a gull.
Mother and daughter
dig the last sand castle.
A small boat races home,
urgent to beat the menacing dark.
The glowering pink sky
growls with the weight
of old sol going west.
A cool breeze
blows across the boardwalk,
WPA built in 1937.
Joggers and runners
pound the boards,
startling old ladies
with pink hair
and faded lace shawls.
Then evening slides in.
The sky succumbs to sullen red.
Another casual day ebbs away.
Darkness claims the promenade,
and thoughts of drink, dance and growing lust
propel the tourists to smoke-filled bars,
as the night cycle goes on
to some formless destination,
preparing adornments
before the final funeral.

from Civilised Ways


Merryn Williams
Getting Smaller

Light is drawing back from the corners of your room,
revealing less and less, and you hate glasses.
You carry the printed sheet to the window,
hold it at a distance.

You are my contemporary, or nearly,
yet you fumble, while I see clearly.
More than the odd line, or bag under the eye,
these are the signs by which I mark your ageing.

The little sisters who were to have been your bridesmaids,
grown up and with their own husbands.
Our jokes about our old headmistress
(how old now?), the receding line of birthdays.

That much time couldn’t have passed? But it has. I remember
lamps in my grandmother’s house, before our own age reached her.
We grew accustomed to them in the end, avoided
the glare of electricity.

Small, lightless rooms they had in another century;
low, sloping ceilings; tiny windows; daylight
filtered through diamond panes – how many
ruined their sight, reading or sewing by lamplight?

It goes and does not return.
Gradually, sky and sea are drained of colour;
the lumps of amethyst fade, the light
ebbs back. Your room is getting smaller.

Helicon Competition winner


Ian Blake

Twenty years have passsed since he was last
lecturing students. Twenty years retired.
Reverend Professor Emeritus still comes,
though, sadly, now no longer every day,
to push apart the gently creaking doors,
greet the librarian, hang up his shabby coat,
snick latches on his tired attache case
(leather-strapped, initials flaked and worn)
lift out ruled pad, black-ink-filled fountain pen,
remove the yellowing card reserving him
this desk, this book-rest and this shiny chair
which he’s inhabited for fifty years –
illuminate in immaculate miniscule hand
some lost dark corner of his scholarly land.

from Remembering Falstaff and others, diehard 2011


Viven Jones
What time is it?

I’m cooking scones,
twelve minutes in a hot oven,
time enough to hang out the washing,
or wash the dishes, or feed the cat,
or phone my son to say hello.

Seven hundred and  twenty seconds
in twelve minutes,
two thousand million, and counting, in my life,
the scones will change from raw dough
to lightweight delight  – and me?

The seconds have flown over me,
there must have been special ones
when I first heard Beethoven, fell in love,
my two moments of conception.
There should have been a bell.

There is a buzzer.
Hot, sweet smelling air announces
the scones are complete.
Out there in the cosmos,
does it matter that I am not?

from Short of Breath, Cultured Llama 2014


Sandie Craigie
To Make Ends Meet

You sit, demanding
the scullery table
its beer-stained
tear stained
scrubbed clean gleam
Images of a lifetime
reflect its waxed finish
every capsized cigarette
burns deep, the scars of toil
now strewn with paper which
mimics your crumpled brow
Yes….I see you now

A rounded back shows
shoemaker years
slender fingers grip tight
an indecisive biro
just for a minute
parting with pen you
twist nervously at
caustic soda fingers

To me, at this time
you appear older
the mocking sun enhancing
the colour of your hair
Perfect white….blemished
by a yellow streak which
follows the path of  a
nicotine-stained hand
and mapping your face

are many lines, I wonder
how many

I look to your eyes
those eyes that can
belie all, and
twinkle shades of
blue when you tease,
now shine in watercolours
and I want so much
to go to you, but
bite my lip, hold
back the tears,  sensing
time with logic older
than my years
This is your time

So I ‘Hud ma wheesht’
and leave…
try to let you tie these ends
ends that never meet

And even now
on looking back
I wish we hadn’t felt
the need to weep
in separate rooms

from Coogit Bairns (Red Squirrel)

We Stay International

Regardless of attempts to wall us apart, it remains one world for us poets, and here is a poem  from China translated into English in India. Hongri Yuan writes about celestial cities and ideas of creation, somewhere beyond our political worries. Back in medieval Europe, Copernicus battles with, could we call it pre-truth, as Vivien Jones dines with him in Ferrara. Morelle Smith’s Destination Uncertain is about how we hold on, through a night in an unknown airport that may or may not be metaphorical.

If we really can’t get out of the country, or even dont want to right now, then we still have the option of going to Wharfedale, via our poem by Lesley Quayle. Climbing: isn’t that another way of finding freedom, escape and hope?

The next Keep Poems Alive will appear towards the end of February. With the co-operation of poet readers, we are aiming realistically for two posts per month. To Keep your Poems Alive, please email previously published poems to sally evans 35 at  gmal dot com. They should be published at least three years ago, and you must own the copyright. Please state where the poem was previously published.


Hongri Yuan
Translated by Yuanbing zhang

The Giant’s Song

Give me a mirror of heaven
let me see my tomorrow
Give me a pair of eyes of the gods
let me see the prehistoric city of giants

Oh , the golden country of legend
The angel garden above the clouds
Your soul bird returns from the outer space
Has carried the giant’s song for you








哦  那传说的黄金之国





Al Brindisi.jpg

Vivien Jones
Dining with Copernicus
‘Al Brindisi’, Ferrara

Piercing the shadows of narrow alleys,
the dusk sun sneaks a low beam
onto a signboard – Al Brindisi AD 1345 –
yet another ‘oldest tavern in Europe.’

Banquettes, dark wine bottles
behind chicken-wire frames,
a wooden board with cheese
spiralled from mild to ferocious,
the waiters whisper and offer
only expensive wine.

My place mat, made of brown paper,
says that Tasso and Cellini ate here,
so did the student Copernicus,
who, seeing this same sky,
thought up earth-moving heresies.

So do I, walking slowly back,
seeing the full moon through
the open oval above a courtyard,
thinking of the curious Copernicus,
a moment’s dizziness may just
have been the angle of my gaze,
but it felt like the moon sucking.

appeared in About Time Too, Indigo Dreams 2010


Morelle Smith
Destination Uncertain

Destination uncertain,
so your story goes,
like an overnight traveller
in some foreign airport,
both weary and restless,
relaying desperate messages
of hopeful arrival and hopesless delays –
secure in your passage,
unsure, as a stranger.
you test the ground of your feeling
in case it turns to water,
and you wear it around you
to disguise or protect you
to keep out the cold
in this overnight stay
with the loudspeaker messages
of arrival/departure
and a sense of the movement,
the travelling, the journey,
and an eye on the clock
and an eye on the heart
the ticking and beating
the movement, the rhythm –
the blend of eternity
with the shuffling of minutes
like the card-deck you use –
and your sorcerer’s skill is the art
of the will –
and the ace in the heart.

from Deepwater Terminal, diehard, 1998


Lesley Quayle
Starbotton, Yorkshire Dales

Tonight the endless, neon strikes
of bar lights, the heat and pulse of crowds,
drive me from the city to still, poised silence
of fells. Here is blackness, impenetrable,
unfragmented, till the sky gapes, bears down,
delivers a pale and bloodless moon.

A shining rib of limestone creeps upwards
to the lead mines.  I climb halfway,
legs aching, gathered about by cold.
Far below, a long, grey quill of road
stripes the village, cottages hunker down,
withdraw beneath the  wings of hill.
No sounds.

A breeze exhales the fragrance of damp soil,
lets it drift like a rumour, then carries it away.
In the black grass a rabbit’s scoured out skull,
bleached by wind, glows like a small planet,
as if the world had rolled over, juxtaposing
earth and sky.

(First published Pennine Platform, also in Sessions (Indigo Dreams)

Dealing with Winter

Hello poets and poetry folk. Happy New Year (we say this till Burns Night in Scotland and today is the very date). Happy to announce Keep Poems Alive will continue this year but there will only be one or two issues a month unless submissions come quickly and often. I can do the postings weekly, as I did them for a year through August 2015 – 16, but I cannot also spend time soliciting your poems.

If you like Keep Poems Alive, and I know that some of you do, please help by sending, and also informing your poetry friends. You can submit several poems at once which will be spread out over various issues. You can even send me a book published over 3 years ago with the option to reprint from it. Anything, in fact, to keep this feasible. I will post near the beginning of each month and hopefully near the end of each month too. You can email me at sally evans 35 at gmail dot com. Postal address available via email.

Let us ease ourselves back. The Leaping Hare by Neil Leadbeater brings us into the year. Maureen Weldon’s poem is zany, but very sad, so we must face up to the sadness. Then Mavis Gulliver’s poem, set in winter, brings unexpected colours into a seashore sunrise. And – it is way out of copyright so why don’t we finish with a poem by our own Robert Burns.  Let us be brave and have the Address to the Deil.

leaping hare.jpg

Neil Leadbeater
The Leaping Hare

In open country
chances are he’ll be running.
Knowing the sound of every wind-shift
he’ll cradle his life in the rock-a- bye corn sticks
hind legs bunched for the big bolt forward
to spring over runaway ground.
Today, in the photograph
which I have called “Hare Leaping”,
he will take forever to complete one bound.

“The Leaping Hare” was first published in Red Herring (2001) – a magazine that was produced in Northumberland but has long since ceased publication.


Maureen Weldon
Mabel the Chewing Gum Girl

Born 1866, died 1870. Buried, Overleigh Cemetery, Chester.

In a place among the yew trees,
she lies,
always in her ruffle-neck nightie,
always on her head-ducked- dinting pillow.
I was a naughty girl
when I was four;
caught chewing, chewing gum;
ran to my nanny
who chased me round the rocking horse.
I, swallowed it.

Grief. Horror.
She did not remember
their tears.
Nor the four black horses
and top hatted men.
Nor the church bell tolling,
and all saying,
Sad, so sad.
And, What a shame.

Now far, far away
she dances with moonbeams,
and in the dawn,
laughs with the birds.

Published 2001 by ‘Never Bury Poetry’ Magazine. UK
Included in her Pamphlet ‘Earth Tides’, 2002. Published by Poetry
Monthly Press.


Mavis Gulliver

Winter sunrise

The sun, before it rises,
lights the sky.
A watercolour wash
of vibrant shades
suffuses clouds with red
and orange –
dyes the sea
to match.
Bound by the spell
but blinded
by increasing brightness
I turn to the west
where grass and trees
are blushing
and across the surprised sky
pink gulls

are flying.


In Earthlove 2008


Robert Burns
Address to the Deil
O thou! whatever title suit thee,—
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
Wha in yon cavern, grim an’ sootie,
       Clos’d under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie

       To scaud poor wretches!

Hear me, Auld Hangie, for a wee,
An’ let poor damned bodies be;
I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,
       E’en to a deil,
To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me,

       An’ hear us squeel!

Great is thy pow’r, an’ great thy fame;
Far ken’d an’ noted is thy name;
An’ tho’ yon lowin heugh’s thy hame,
       Thou travels far;
An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame,
       Nor blate nor scaur.

Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey a’ holes an’ corners tryin;
Whyles, on the strong-wing’d tempest flyin,
       Tirlin’ the kirks;
Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,

       Unseen thou lurks.

I’ve heard my rev’rend graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or whare auld ruin’d castles gray
       Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way

       Wi’ eldritch croon.

When twilight did my graunie summon
To say her pray’rs, douce honest woman!
Aft yont the dike she’s heard you bummin,
       Wi’ eerie drone;
Or, rustlin thro’ the boortrees comin,

       Wi’ heavy groan.

Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light,
Wi’ you mysel I gat a fright,
       Ayont the lough;
Ye like a rash-buss stood in sight,

       Wi’ waving sough.

The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each bristl’d hair stood like a stake,
When wi’ an eldritch, stoor “Quaick, quaick,”
       Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter’d like a drake,

       On whistling wings.

Let warlocks grim an’ wither’d hags
Tell how wi’ you on ragweed nags
They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags
       Wi’ wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,

       Owre howket dead.

Thence, countra wives wi’ toil an’ pain
May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain;
For oh! the yellow treasure’s taen
       By witchin skill;
An’ dawtet, twal-pint hawkie’s gaen

       As yell’s the bill.

Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse,
On young guidmen, fond, keen, an’ croose;
When the best wark-lume i’ the house,
       By cantraip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,

       Just at the bit.

When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
An’ float the jinglin icy-boord,
Then water-kelpies haunt the foord
       By your direction,
An’ nighted trav’lers are allur’d

       To their destruction.

And aft your moss-traversing spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkeys
       Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,

       Ne’er mair to rise.

When Masons’ mystic word an grip
In storms an’ tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
       Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brither ye wad whip

       Aff straught to hell!

Lang syne, in Eden’d bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,
An all the soul of love they shar’d,
       The raptur’d hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird,

       In shady bow’r;

Then you, ye auld snick-drawin dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
And play’d on man a cursed brogue,
       (Black be your fa’!)
An gied the infant warld a shog,

       Maist ruin’d a’.

D’ye mind that day, when in a bizz,
Wi’ reeket duds an reestet gizz,
Ye did present your smoutie phiz
       Mang better folk,
An’ sklented on the man of Uz

       Your spitefu’ joke?

An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,
An’ brak him out o’ house and hal’,
While scabs and blotches did him gall,
       Wi’ bitter claw,
An’ lows’d his ill-tongued, wicked scaul,

       Was warst ava?

But a’ your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce,
Sin’ that day Michael did you pierce,
       Down to this time,
Wad ding a Lallan tongue, or Erse,

       In prose or rhyme.

An’ now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkin,
A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
       To your black pit;
But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkin,

       An’ cheat you yet.

But fare you weel, Auld Nickie-ben!
O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken—
       Still hae a stake:
I’m wae to think upo’ yon den,

       Ev’n for your sake!

1784 I think

From a Distant Heaven above China

An intermediate posting before KPAI resumes properly in January.

These poems by Yuan Hongri are translated by Manu Mangattu, at the department of English, Aruvithura, India. We welcome these poems from two parts of the world not directly involved in our recent political upheavals in the West.


A reminder of our ongoing Robert Tannahill Poetry Competition, for poems in the English language and in Scots — the two languages in which Tannahill wrote. Your entries are invited. The competition is currently open, it can be entered internationally by internet and the closing date is 7 January. http://readrawltd.co.uk/tannahillpp.html


Here’s something else we’re promoting at the moment: A poem by the judge of the Tannahill Poetry Prize, Sally Evans, Anderson’s Piano has been lucky to stay in the kindle bestseller lists since the start of this month, so the least we can do for the publisher is remind you of it: http://amzn.to/2g6bAHD



Three Poems by Yuan Hongri
translations by  Manu Mangattu

Outside the Universe of Sapphire

Don’t you think the key is sweet
If it condenses into a diamond in solitude
And its song unlocks the portals to unseen gold?
You have discovered a new paradise!
Have the eyes of the juvenile once again
You have boarded the platinum ship
And the giants welcome you.
Set off! Outside the universe of sapphire
Explore the Kingdom of the Souls!!










出发吧  在蓝宝石的宇宙之外



Sweet Interstellar Above

The Time has come to blossom and flourish
In my garden the stars will gather
Each star is a singer
From a mysterious country.

The giant from the City of Platinum
Shall bring a bunch of stone-necklace
This then is a song of the soul
On the stylish sweet interstellar above.
















Distant Heaven

Often I have a foretaste of the future city of the giant.
The young giants in platinum Villa
The young giants in and out of the great mansion in platinu
And I’m one of them
In the body the sacred flame burns
On the head flickers the signs of zodiac
And the Diamond eyes glimpse the distant kingdom of heaven!






那年轻的巨人们 进出于白金巨厦







The Minstrel Part Two

We are still on sabbatical here, but to include a post for October I am continuing to Part Two  of James Beattie’s The Minstrel– see post in September for the first part. And  I start with the latter end of the poem, this most unusual ending of a long poem, an elegy. The rest of the section will be added later, to provide a copiable internet copy of Part Two, which I have not been able to find.

KPAI will resume in January and poems may now be sent to  this email, titling your emails KPAI or Keep Poems Alive. It is not too early to start sending. sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

Do not forget to enter our Robert Tannahill Poetry Prize competition, which is the reason we held over Keep Poems Alive, to give time for reading the entries without confusing them with KPA submissions. This is an international competition that can be entered from anywhere via the internet — substantial prizes for poems in the English or Scots languages, the languages Tannahill used.  Robert Tannahill Poetry Prize

James Beattie The Minstel Part Two


Of late, with cumbersome though pompous show,
Edwin would oft his flowery rhyme deface,
Through ardour to adorn, but nature now
To his experienced eye a modest grace
Present, where Ornament the second place
Holds, to intrinsic worth and just design
Subservient still. Simplicity apace
Tempers his rage: he owns her charm divine,
And clears th’ambigous phrase, and lops th’unwieldy line.

Fain would Ising (much yet unsung remains)
What sweet delirium oer his bosom stole,
When the great shepherd of the Mantuan plains
Fain would I sing, what transport stormed his soul,
How the red current throbbed his veins along
When like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Without art graceful, without effort strong,
Homer r aised high to heaven the loud, th’impetuous song.

Adieu, ye lays, that fancy’s flowers adorn,
The soft amusement of the vacant mind!
He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn,
He, whom each virtue fired, each grace refined,
Friend, teacher, pattern, darlingof Mankind!*
Her sleeps indust. Ah, how shall I pursue
My theme! To heart-consuming grief resigned,
Here on his recent grave I fix my view,
And po ur my butter tears. Ye flowery lays, adieu.

And thou my Gregory, forever fled!
And I am left to unavailing woe!
When fortune’s storms assail this weary head,
Where cares long since have shed untimely snow,
Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go?
No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers:
Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow,
My hopes to cherish and allay my fears.
Tis meet that I should mourn: flow forth afresh my tears.