International Women’s Day

Poet Laureate

pexels-photo-261453.jpegTo celebrate International Women’s Day I asked you for your thoughts and inspirations. ENJOY! 

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POETS/POEMS – Recommended Reads

Rachel Curzon – Scan poem – highly recommended (Faber and Faber) – Michelle Diaz

Julia Copus any of her spectacular poems, just so very cleverly constructed but the form is always appropriate to the meaning. – Nikki Fine

Colette Bryce who I was lucky enough to do a workshop with last year as part of a local literary festival. – Penny Blackburn

Gillian Allnutt – Ode. I read poetry on my Sociology/Social Policy under graduate course. – Rachel Burns

Mary Oliver I’m reading more of her work and folding over the corners of so many favourite poems in each book…when I run out of post-it notes! I grew up in inner city Birmingham & moved to London at 18, and it’s only in my 40’s that I discovered nature and now understand what all…

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Two Poems in Canada Quarterly


Your child runs alongside you, her laughter
rises into the air like sea fret, it is raining
the sky milky grey, you taste salt on your lips
you stop, bend down to pick up a shell
you press the conch to her ear
What can you hear?
The roar of the sea.

You walk along the beach, drifters sift
through the driftwood of their lives
carrying crochet hemp bags
filled with smooth rocks.
Gulls soar through the air,

You teach your daughter
to sort the good wood from the bad
that the sea is neither blue nor green
that the rocks are neither rugged nor smooth
but somewhere in-between.


Red poppies in the field rattle around next to dog daisies
colours that bleed into each other as a train on the horizon

trundles along the East Coast Main line like a boy’s Hornby train
on a miniature track. A grouse is flushed from its hiding place

the disembodied cry rises like a wounded child.
The sky is flawless ― clouds look like a Simpson’s cartoon.

She sees him in the blue sky, the wheat fields there is no escaping him, the smell of his skin

his warm breath, her little boy laid to rest.

Rachel Burns is currently an Arvon/Jerwood mentee in playwriting. Poems shortlisted in competitions Mslexia, Writers’ & Artists Yearbook and The Keats- Shelley Poetry Prize 2017.

New Poem in Hobo Camp Review



The sky is a blank canvass

chalky-white lifeless

outside I can see slate grey

roofs of the neighbours’ houses

the village green

and the children’s swing frame

and the flowers are all gone

just the red berries on the juniper remain

reminding me of red cherry lip gloss

I wore to my first school disco

At Our Lady’s Immaculate

dancing with John- Paul

who last I heard joined the army.

I have the radio on in the background

and I hear the song


and I’m sorting out chapters

re-reading the words

my protagonist sailing her boat

out to sea- the white sail

buffering against the wind

the whole time fighting the tide

sailing the wrong way

the whole time fighting the waves

words disappearing like a blur from the page.


Jan in the snow – The Writers’ Cafe Magazine -Ice and Snow

Jan in the snow


It is snowing thick and fast on this lonely Thursday afternoon, and I miss you.

Snow lines the rooftops of red brick houses, white against an even whiter sky.


Trees spread their charcoal branches, thumb smudged on the stark winter page.

Children play, throwing snowballs. I hear their laughter through the frozen


window pane and I remember when we were both about nine, you

in your blue duffle and bobble hat. I was wearing a red hooded coat


throwing snowballs in the park, until our fingers were numb and our feet felt like blocks of ice in our wellingtons. Remember, the school bus got stuck


half way up the bank, the bus driver saying, it’s no use, you’ll have to get off.

A whole day of no school, making a snowmen until after dark,


two lumps of coal for eyes, orange peel for a mouth that you turned upside down

to make a frown, a stick for a nose because Mam said no when you asked for a carrot.


Food doesn’t grow on trees, she chased you out of the kitchen, cuffing you

around the head until your ears went red. You cried like a baby.


We loved every crystalline flake of it. The next day it melted away.

You stood disappointed in the blackened slush, shouting, no, no, no.



The Herald- Poem of the Day

Sightseers, 5th December, Poem of theDay


We visit the same haunts every year

our children’s lives marked


by brightly coloured pins

in the Ordnance Survey map.


Charting stumbling toddler years

to teenage angst, until they disappear


from camera view, exams taking hold

and later preferring to travel


further and wider, backpacking

across Europe, sleeping in hostels


cooling their heels on the InterRail car.

Yet when we travel, we carry


the memory of the children

they once were, through city trails


across familiar landscapes, the hillsides

the beaches, the hundred acre woods.


We hear our children’s laughter

in the grounds of ruined castles


running up the steep steps on cliff walks.

Voices shouting over crashing waves.


We stand on high bridges

looking down over the edge


awed by the sheer drop.

It is as if they have never left us.


We are sightseers still.

‘Documentary’ published in Here Comes Everyone



Watching a Paula Rego documentary

the abortion paintings haunting

more than sexual exploitation

the girl squatting over the bloody bucket

waiting- for what?- the horrors

of the voyeur’s imagination

the mind stripped bare- like the drawer

of knives in Larkin’s poem

saying out loud

what everyone already knows.


She says she can’t hear.

Will you listen for her?

You say yes.

Published in Nina Lewis’ Worcestershire poet laureate, remembrance-anthology

A Memorial

 Purple heather on a windswept hilltop

of the northern Pennines.

We tread carefully, lifting our boots knee-high

thighs aching with the effort

of all that heather. We watch for black adders

who slither effortlessly out of our way.

Animal corpses litter the ground.

We walk downhill past a burnt out croft,

blackened timber and rubble are laid out

in the sign of the cross. We walk along

the remnants of a stone path

and come across a seat, a memorial

to a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

His death like silence on the moor

heather in full bloom, purple as a bruise.

We sit with his name cast in iron on our backs

as the sun sets blood red over our heads.









Travelling from Durham to Southend

the row last night


below the surface.

Furrows like frown lines

spreading across barren fields.


We join the M62, past Ferrybridge

Eggborough, and Drax

chimney stacks billowing

out industrial smoke.

The three kids in the back

are we nearly there yet?


You snake the car behind a HGV

on a hiding to nothing

as the back of the lorry reads


I watch a magpie, peck at roadkill

fiddling the radio dial to find a song


that isn’t about being in love.

You blame me, the fault is all mine

as I arranged to travel

on a fucking bank holiday.

We pass the arsehole

that cut you off in the fast lane.


His flash car in the layby

with a blown out tyre.

You say, not so smug now.

Arthritis tightens its grip

on my spine. I tell you to stop

to pull over at the Welcome Break.


– but you drive on and on.

You never understood pain.

A Frank Sinatra song plays on the radio.

I imagine a yellow taxi cab, skyscrapers.

Are we nearly there yet?

I lie to our daughter, not long now.


The back seat erupts

as the two boys fight

over who is taking all the space

– then a loud bang from the rear.

You keep driving as if oblivious.

I say. Did you hear…?


It’s the car next to us

your voice is unsteady.

We pull off at a service station

and you phone Green Flag

I don’t really care- after eight hours

I’m glad to be out of the car.


One hour wait turns into three.

The smell of greasy food

makes me nauseous.

I buy the kids Burger King

counting coins from my purse.

We sip coffee, people come and go


I’m reminded of Eliot

his women, talking of Michelangelo.

A young woman in a dog onesie

wags her tail. A little girl

eats noodles that fall like worms

from her plastic fork.


Later Green Flag arrives.

I can’t fix the brakes

bank holiday everything closed.

The mechanic loads

our car onto a tow truck.

He tells us, I normally recover wrecks.


It’s after midnight

a thick white fog descends

as the temperature drops to below zero.

The little one asks. Where are we going?

The driver, not used to conversation

doesn’t answer.


Arriving at the Depot we fling

what is left of Christmas

(cake and presents) into the hire car

and set off blind. I punch

the destination into the sat nav.

The roads are utterly dead.


The headlights illuminate white fog

into something beautiful

like a scene from an old romantic

black and white film.

We take a slip road onto the London Orbital

towards Southend


– suddenly you swerve

and that’s when I see him

caught in the headlights

a Snowy Owl

like a sign, like a message

from the gods. You stop


– the Snowy Owl perched

in the middle of the slip lane


and I want to weep

as he stares straight at me

with his unblinking amber eyes.