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Must Read Poems for the Quarantine

All things poetry, from one nerd to another...

We face a long road ahead, and I truly believe that the arts are instrumental to people’s mental wellbeing in these difficult times. I have compiled below a selection of poems for you to peruse while you are tucked up safely at home. I have tried to select poems that fit the theme of quarantine; some may lift your spirits, and some are included to honestly reflect upon our current situation. I hope that the poems I have selected entertain you and help your day pass a little bit more peacefully.

Broad Bay I – Majella Cullinane

from Broad Bay, Majella Cullinane (Whisper of a Crow’s Wing, 2018)

Anxiety: Day 2190 – Kayleigh Campbell

  • from Keepsake, (Kayleigh Campbell, Maytree Press, 2019)

The Last Laugh – John Betjeman

-John Betjeman, Stressed Unstressed (ed.Bate and Byrne 2016)

The Cure – Nick Drake

from Staying Alive ed. Neil Astley…

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Wish by Katerina Neocleous

Jonathan Humble's Stuff ... a poetry blog

It is Tuesday morning and I’ve just abandoned re-building the dry stone wall that contains our front garden. I’ve also battened down the greenhouse hatches because Storm Brendan is threatening to throw a tantrum and my fingers have gone numb in a bitter wind.

Drying off a damp beard and changing out of soggy clothing, I am reminded what a fine body of men and women work for the GPO as the white jiffy bag I was expecting is delivered containing the debut collection of Katerina Neocleous, aptly titled Wishas I’m granted an afternoon of delight on such a miserable day.

DSCF6108 Wish by Katerina Neocleous

Katerina’s work is impressive. She is the poet I aspire to be.

From Burr to First Dreams the words held my attention throughout, each poem a delight, each line a joy to read.

In Burr we try to come to terms with feelings that…

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Julie Sampson

The Poetry Village

Narcissi in North Devon

Stranger-angels
gathering in your coteries
along the grassy hillocks and hedge-line banks
come from the eyrie of your under other worlds,
it’s your star-studded moment.

How you welcome me on my way
this stormy-day of wind-rage,
nodding encouragement
you wave breezily
like yellow-hatted Royals.

This is your path
way to find out who you are
we are your poem
moving your words along their way,
you call.

I came to you the wrong way round –
through the eyes of a wandering nomad poet,
noting your iconic status as golden textual hosts
and before that,
as floral Easter tributes in my childhood church.
I’d always known your story, but
there was disjunct between those who wrote your text
swayed by patriarchal ruse
and now
in this place

Her meadows
you make your annual resurrection,
beckon me to witness your lift from the abyss.
Today, through the…

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Homecoming

The Poetry Village

Homecoming

You lift our new daughter from the car
as I place the bags down and shout
for the boys. Our neighbour is already
upon you, leaving her garden
to fend for itself in the excitement.
And I watch the three of you from the window
seeing you wipe away a tear as you
speak her name out loud in the hope
that passing clouds will deliver
all the wishes you secretly made
and the sound of birds will remind you
of this day. The boys race to your side;
too young to hold me to account
with all the promises I ever made.

David Coldwell

Homecoming from David’s forthcoming collection, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

The Poetry Village will open for submissions again in March 2020. Follow us on social media to find out more.

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Between Two Rivers

Maytree Press

We are thrilled to announce details of a fairly secret project that we’ve had in the pipeline for several months. Between Two Rivers is a unique collaboration between poet, Nick Allen and artist, Myles Linley that will be published as Maytree 006 in September.

The book features fourteen new poems by Nick together with several colour reproductions of Myles’ wonderful paintings of the East Yorkshire landscape.

Look out for more news and a cover reveal very soon.

Talking about the project, Nick said:

‘The project between two rivers grew out of a long standing friendship between Myles and I that has involved a lot of curry and far too many nights standing at Fall gigs wondering which way the evening was going to go. When Myles moved to Beverley we started visiting places around Hull, especially on the waterfronts of the Humber and the Hull. We found we were talking…

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E.A.M. Harris

The Poetry Village

Don’t Break the Tea Circle

The room sweeps from front porch to back lawn.
The Chinese carpet grips billowing seats
guarded by gold brocade cushions; curtains
swagger at the windows. We stand, them and us,
a circle round a coffee table.
I arrange a smile, ‘Her end was peaceful.’ My smile
repeats in great-aunt’s lips, her eyes
spy on the carpet, ‘So thoughtful to come this way.
Do have some tea,’
passing the Doulton and silver jug. My feet
are killing; she could say ‘… a seat.’ We go on standing;
even the bump. ‘You could’ve phoned.’ Cousin with bump.
I drink. She sighs. An old quarrel wearies
round the chairs, but cushions and flounces are battlements.
No rest for the past.
Loose covers beckon, my skirt would blend,
but sitting is an armoured declaration. I stand.

There’s refuge in tradition: the weather glossed
with traffic jams and roads. We…

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Rachel Kerr

The Poetry Village

360 Degree Review

i

I got it verbatim,
what they all thought,
the rush of frustration
only just missing my kidneys.
The times they said nothing –
a growing ball of paperclips,
pay issues and early departures,
winding me with its momentum.
And before I knew it, the ducking
was done and I was floating
in pond weed, being professional.

I can push upstream
like this for a hundred more
meetings, from hare moon
to harvest, making it work.
Watch me. And if it should come,
the baying, the rope, the stake
on the platform, that day I will
step up and, in the fraction
of the second there will be,
I will raise my hand and point
and you will know me.

ii

Afterwards, she picked her sharpest kitchen knife
and sliced a perfect semi-circle, scooped out the contents
and, as if to dine, laid down her best pieces…

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Christopher Hopkins

The Poetry Village

The Empty Chapel of Your Eyes

With the dying
of the softest light,
the lamp light calls
to the north stars
as the caged bird
closed up
to the swallow-tailed will,

and somewhere
an hour or two in the light dust west,
colours
are compacting,
like a torch light pressed
hard against the pinkest skin.

The infra sounds
are climbing into bed
with us.
You rest our eyes
in your palm of solace,
as a candlelight vigil.
Skin is translucent
in the colour blue,
(here,
but not here).

The marble light reflection
in the chapel of our eyes,
doesn’t burn as bright
as burnt wings
or the jointed bones
of Orion’s frozen copse,
and like my body
powerless.
All of these heavenly bodies
are without spines,
without warmth.
There is no freedom in the cold,
like a star
in the glare
of the Sun’s accomplice,
that spoiling moon.
My love,

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Dick Jones

The Poetry Village

Morgan, Mulligan and Me

‘My Funny Valentine’
Art Farmer – trumpet
Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax
Bill Crow – bass
Dave Bailey – drums

There was
it seemed
a chance
after all

a chance
that in spite
of the thick
cat curve of

Morgan’s midnight
hair; the
electric green
surveillance of

those Cleopatra
eyes; the
devastating scorn
of that

elevated lip,
she might
just notice me
for all my looks

laughable un-
photographable.
A neutral party
told me late

one Tuesday
after lunch
and with all of
break before us
(this for the price
of my last
French cigarette)
that you had

a thing
a real thing
a kink for a
saxophone.

Where all
the other girls
had things for
a kiss-curl fall

or a hand
drooped limp
at the wrist
or a hip-switch

twist away from
the microphone
you favoured
the blue smoke

of a saxophone.
So it was…

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