Monday, 31 December 2012

Day Thirty One: 'The New Year Dance' by Margaret Holbrook

The New Year Dance
Kiss me now
before midnight.
Before the clock
chimes and
the last strains
of Auld Lang Syne
are heard.
Kiss me now
before the Old Year
and the band
have finished playing.
Kiss me now
before anyone else
has chance to,
before everyone
kisses and greets the
New Year while
holding fast to
soon broken
Kiss me now.

Margaret Holbrook

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Day Thirty: 'Winter' by Helen Addy


Ladybirds asleep under the bark of trees,
a newly minted moon keeping watch.

The sky rubbing itself raw,
bandaged with fraying clouds.

The tuck and wrap of scarves,
the pink itch of woollen layers.

Spiders skating on sinks,
lurking in hairy plugholes.

Cars bejewelled in white and silver,
the wipers' keen arc erasing the old year.

Helen Addy

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Day Twenty Nine: 'Cellar' by Charlotte Henson


Eight year old eyes strain to take in
a gas canister
a freezer
and a bed frame.

A draft,
and the smell of damp.
Small feet scale stone steps.

Behind, a click as dad switches on
a torch to light up the cellar,
shines it on the gas meter,
and tells me to watch my step.

Charlotte Henson

Friday, 28 December 2012

Day Twenty Eight: Untitled by Graham Sherwood

Summer’s vivid apple green silks and limes
have faded blandly to a memory,
and the bottled sages of autumn,
now prone underfoot, no longer crackle,
or laugh beneath our heavy boots.
In sodden maroons squirrels seek to rummage,
shunning the magpies chattered mockery,
shrill portents hiss bitter from the north,
tuned by the fingers of a stripped oak flute.
Only pearls of mistletoe await their hour,
to glisten moist above the Yule log’s flame.
Once warmed, dark corners peer
with heavy dormant eyes,
to bid the failing year farewell.

Graham Sherwood  

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Day Twenty Seven: 'Doll' by Jenn Hart

Abandoned now, by teenage revolt
Curls danced around her placid face,
Empty rose lips tarnished and worn.
Dusty flakes lay thick 
Over gingham folds; slowly saturated.
Eye lashes weighed with time's dirt.

Bright pools, stare on
Never aged. Sat politely beside
Broken Jack and his box.
To be glanced at briefly by a passer by,
Who's interest is to only leave behind
Another memory.

Jenn Hart

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Day Twenty Six: 'Wittenham Clumps' by Angi Holden

Wittenham Clumps

Boxing Day, and overfull with sweet roast turkey
sherry trifle, fruited cake, we craved the open sky
and ventured out to Wittenham, its grassy Clumps
still frosted in the afternoon. Hand-held we stumped
up Castle Hill, to find the ancient Poem Tree -
Tubb’s tribute to his landscape: Augustine’s monastery;
remains of Roman villas cradled by the winding Thames;
Cwichelm’s grave; the distant Ridgeway; Mercia’s bounds.
We traced his pen-knifed stanzas, gnarled and worn,
distorted by a century’s growth. Before we turned
for home, we took a photograph, just us, the tree, the sky,
where over-wheeled by rare Red Kites we paused awhile.
Unseen, beneath its bark, a beetled core. A summer storm
has swept it all away; now even words are gone.

Angi Holden

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Day Twenty Five: 'Eleven pm, 25th December' by Charlotte Wetton

Eleven pm, 25th December

A rich, warm fug of an evening,
food still spread.

The slow day weights us,
basted in luxury, we have everything.

I pull at the heavy curtains
slide open the doors

and I stop talking and eating and
step into sudden aloneness.

The night ripples over my arms
like cold water, lifting my hair

and I sink back, sink back, sink back
plunge softly into puritan stars

sky pours into my lungs
clouds smooth out my face.

Charlotte Wetton

Monday, 24 December 2012

Day Twenty Four: 'You Are Not' by Nathan Lunt

You Are Not

You are not a fragile flower, or a wilting winters bloom
That must be plucked and pressed between my pages,

You are not a crystal goblet
Into which I pour my subjectivity
Like wine for which you have no taste,
I know that you would sooner leap from pedestals and break
Then fill yourself with any definitions but your own.

You are not a painted portrait,
Oils cannot hold your shape and brushed break under the weight
Of trying to define your smile,
Canvases collapse in flames, and just a glance from you could
Shatter stained glass panes, and shake the Seven Wonders into rubble.

You are not a mint condition first edition,
Printing presses melt when asked to spell your name,
And laureates of great acclaim would shun such vast responsibility.

You are not a piece of poetry,
Even the most delicate intricacies of spoken word
Could never hope to capture but a fraction of your grace,
Stanzas stumble drunkenly across the page
And your disinterest causes sonnets simply to disintegrate.

For what you are, I have no frame of reference.
Left breathless by a beauty that seems effortless,
Rendered defenceless by a rebellious temperament that quite belies your tenderness,
If you had a need of me my love, then I would brave a hundred hoards of hellions,
And though I know you’d never need a saviour,
Maybe you could use a gentleman.

This is not a temporary sentiment.
How I feel about you makes all past and future feeling seem irrelevant,
And there is no exaggeration when I tell you that
You are my Everything. 

Nathan Lunt

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Day Twenty Three: 'That Time We Said We'd be Back on the 23rd' by Stephanie Chan

That Time We Said We’d be Back on the 23rd

Two days before Christmas, the field was two feet deep with frozen snow ---
of course he had to try and drive his van through it, never mind it was pushing twenty
it was still a four wheel drive: it got stuck the hour before he was supposed drive
us all home, as he phoned every tow truck driver within a ten mile radius,
the snow beat down again like a villain in a bad sequel: a casual, calculated fury.
By the time  he had finally run out of phone credit, every road leading out
of the village was most definitely blocked, by which time it was almost ten o’clock
in the morning, you had discovered a bottle of vodka in the sofa  and we
unanimously agreed  the only solution  was to start taking shots. 

Two days before Christmas we danced around the cabin stove to a beat
played on wine jugs and that one broken djembe, emptied expired
Kahlua into lukewarm milk, not knowing if we’d ever make it home,
then, not-caring as the outside world got reduced to silver silhouettes.

As we staggered outside to squat in the snow you pointed out the Big Dipper.
Our piss burning yellow pools into the whiteness, you said the slaves called it
the Drinking Gourd: a secret path that led North to where we were standing.

At some point he turned to me, said “Yeah, so I read your diary.
You’re a good writer. You shouldn’t be scared of me.”

I said “As long as you pretend this conversation never happened.”

And maybe that’s what Christmas has always been:
what is family but a millennia of motley combinations of heroes
and villains who would never meet but for the will of God,  
a mutual need  for warmth: fire and body heat.

Carpenter, virgin bride, baby, donkey, sheep.

The Awkward Girl, an Artist, the Guy with a Car.

Lying in the snow in rural Ohio.
Three drunk Kings on holiday, looking up at the stars. 

Stephanie Chan

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Day Twenty Two: 'Waking to Snowfall' by Vivien Foster

Waking to snowfall
The light was a white surprise
Coming up from the ground
Shadowless and the wrong way round.
Sun had not yet pulled its curtains,
Stayed in the shade, not looking at
The white palaces the clouds had made
Overnight while we slept.There were
Crystals on twigs,
Stalactites on rose hips.
There were mounds and layers
And puddings and tablecloths and carpets
Of whiteness
On every unsuitable surface.
A broderie anglaise of birds' feet
The only delicate decoration
In the frosty fancy
Until the first car churned a double wake
The silent length of the soon to be
Snowballed street.
Vivien Foster

Friday, 21 December 2012

Day Twenty One: 'Solstice' by Russell J Turner

The sun stands still within uncertain skies:
across the woods, and in the fields below,
old earth is swallowed up by trackless snow,
a barn owl circles, slowly on the rise.
There in the trees, the frost calls to the wise:
it tells of shadowed paths marked by the crow,
where we have deep and many miles to go,
to find our sleep before the fire dies.
Our sleep, in which we dream of bright spring days,
of walking through green meadows hand in hand,
as flowers blossom in a wild blaze
that drives the bitter reaper from the land.
But dreams are dreams, and winter still holds thrall,
while fire keeps its guard over us all.
Russell J Turner

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Day Twenty: 'Swithland Woods' by Karen Powell

Swithland Woods

I stumble over moss-draped slate
protruding like vertebrae
beside the flooded quarry
abandoned a century ago.
Just off the path a village
of toadstools from fairy tale pages
is sheltered by a holly bush;
an exoskeleton of spikes
protects each spine.
A squirrel spirals the blackened
outline of an alder tree.
I remove one red glove,
select a blackcurrant wine gum.
Losing our way has become a ritual.
My face is needle-cold.

Karen Powell

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Day Nineteen: 'Marriage Tea' by Angela Topping

Marriage Tea

Tea is a hug in a china mug
hot and strong, without sugar
and only the merest whisper of milk.

First thing in the morning
it is the kiss for sleeping beauty
brought to the bedside as the sky warms up.

It can be dressed in finer clothes
but the everyday chipped mug,
after all these years, is enough for me.

Angela Topping

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Day Eighteen: 'Unplug the fairylights before bedtime' by Matthew Stoppard

Unplug the fairylights before bedtime

Royalty wearing paper crowns,
amongst snapped crackers and sherry,
battled with burnt turkey thighs,
passing round sharper knives
and pointier forks in a cavalry charge of cutlery.

A kitten pawing baubles
near the balding tree’s stump
shook pine needles from its mane
taking a running jump into a box where
a urinating baby had laid.

Itchy knitwear smothered
a boy sneaking in from the garden
after shooting two robins
and the next-door-neighbour-but-one
with a GAT gun whilst out hunting a partridge.

Farts and reruns filled the air
and batteries from smoke alarms
powered a train chugging along
plastic tracks, beside skirting boards,
derailed by a tartan slipper.

Fairylights circling the roof
spat sparks, flames snaked
down the walls, each room
razed to the carpet in seconds,
doused with a giant glass of egg nog.

The fire engine from last year
gathering dust under bunk beds
was not needed, for the charred remains
of tenants asleep in the dolls house
were carried away by remote control ambulance.  

Matthew Stoppard

Monday, 17 December 2012

Day Seventeen: Untitled by Anna Percy

I have missed the snow
awoken in the dark to
the tinfoil noise of rain on
my dark blue window
I am wondering how many
snows are left for me
and think one day I will
have to explain snow
to small children who
think of it as a white mass
a malevolent presence that
stopped traffic and planes once
 and not feathery flakes that build
the relief these pills give me
from my ratcheting brain
and electrified nerves
gives way to a drugged sleep
from which I cannot wake,
I try, and steadily sink
and dream of my friend,
we are on a beach familiar to her
in my slumber I have taken away
her faculties and take her for ice cream.

Anna Percy

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Day Sixteen: 'Snowman poem written on a Sunday night' by Rob Auton

Snowman poem written on a Sunday night

I fell slowly to Earth
Quietly as to not disturb anybody
Just let me lie here
Quilting this field in my own way
The only way I know
All I want is quiet
To melt
You force me into a man
A carrot is screwed into my face
An orange is screwed into my face
You have gone wrong on my face HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

You correct my face
The face I don’t want
The face I don’t need
Then you leave

Rob Auton

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day Fifteen: 'Tattoo in Winter' by Kate Noakes

Tattoo in winter

Ink is frozen under layers of cloth
like a painted mummy in the permafrost
of the far Siberian plain;

stories suspended till spring,
though just once in a while, somewhere
unexpected, a Christmas party, say,

colour leaches into light, blood in snow.
Its wearer becomes shaman.
Give her the stick, let her speak.

Kate Noakes

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day Fourteen: 'Tapering' by Rachel Newlon

Ice hangs from rooftop.
prism of light scatters on
your face, looking up.
Rachel Newlon

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Day Thirteen: 'Seasons Jewels' by David Mountain

Seasons Jewels

Icy fingers etch the trees,
In winters delicate filigrees,
Frozen webs of gossamer
 And silver thread,
In seasons jewels, are spread,

Winter stars of diamond white,
Shine above suspended bright,
Interlaced though tree and bough,
Sparkling in the moonlight glow -
To glisten on the winter’s snow.

David Mountain

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day Twelve: 'Fog' by Nick Jarvis


When he said he would
move mountains for me, I
imagined him clearing
the path ahead stone
by stone. This morning,
I drew the curtains to
look for him returning
and instead of the
way forward
I saw nothing.
Nick Jarvis

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day Eleven: 'Christmas Fire, Christmas Fare' by Sarah L Dixon

Christmas fire, Christmas fare

I scrumple last week’s paper

into colourful splints

form a layer

above the metal grid

that holds the fire high.

I crunch bacon sandwiches, one second from burnt

as we open well-wrapped presents,

up-end stockings, stuffed with daftness

Kindling criss-crosses

firelighters crumble randomly

Turkey crown draped in bacon

slowly, secretly, browning under foil,

asparagus butter-laced,

roast potatoes, broccoli trees drizzled with gravy.

Our first married Christmas at Halstead.

Stockings, turkey, an open fire.

Sarah L Dixon

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day Ten: 'Initiation' by Katy Ewing


Moonlit frost
furs the night
in white and sparkle.
Cars creep to stillness,
tethered to the spot
in sandstone shadows.
Hard air bristles nostrils;
waters eyes.
Icy tarmac threatens
to break and bruise.
We teeter.

The golden doorway wants us;
beams us in to welcome warmth.

Around the table
fifteen writers
yield identities.
Frivolity flows
in gently bursting bubbles.
Minds dig over
fresh new beds of words.
The author’s voice
while opinions rally.
I silently scrutinise
and surely succumb.

Katy Ewing

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day Nine: 'The Artist's Commission' by Fiona Ritchie Walker

The Artist’s Commission
It was a wild December sea,
there was no light.
Seagulls sheltered on land,
spray filled the sky.
His hands bled
and this fine jacket on his back
was an old, ripped cloak
he pulled from the hook
before running to the shore.
She was never this beautiful
and she swore worse than the men,
but her hair was black
and the lighthouse beam that dim.
You will point her out with your cigar,
dinner guests will admire her painted calm.
I will buy potatoes,
perhaps cheap wine,
pay the rent.

Fiona Ritchie Walker