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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Am I on Mute? - Exclusive preview

The City of Sanctuaries workshop facilitated by Eileen Earnshaw, is going strong with some great work done by the group over the lockdown, the publication of which, is currently ‘in production’ as they say, so look out for what will be some very special offers on their poetry and prose booklet entitled ‘Am I on Mute?’ soon to be released.

Here is a selection of some of their work from the upcoming publication.

Noticing Autumn

Low morning sun skims across a tilting world.

Eye height light, sliced by tree branch shade

flashes strobe-like as I move.

Birch trees scatter a mottle of leaves,

paving the path with a patchwork pattern.

Like an open mouth with grass blade teeth,

the lawn prepares for a feast.

An orb web spider

perches head down in the gap

between a perishing rose bud and scruffy bush.

It twitches one leg, clings on tight,

It’s web like the skin of a drum,

played by the wind.

Bernie Jordan Autumn 2020


The tissue paper is stiff and crackles with age as I carefully unfold it.

Inside, is a hand, stitched muff, once held by my mother’s bridesmaid.

It is the palest lilac with deep purple bows, flanking each frilled side

And the satin material is embossed with silver flowers.

Lifting it to my nostrils, I inhale it’s scent, curiously acrid,

Perhaps a residue of a perfume worn long ago.

Tentatively, I slip my hands inside the muff, registering the feel of the cool silk lining,

And I recall the sepia wedding photograph of my parents.

How wonderful it would be to see them all again.

I stretch my hands inside the muff as if reaching out for them ,

And I slip into a reverie of past scenarios,

As shadowy images flit through my mind.

I wander through a half lit world

Where no one is recognisable, identifiable,

Yet I know them from their presence

And in my soul there is contentment.

Sometimes, a face is glimpsed, familiar, solid,

Then disappears, just as quickly,

But it doesn’t bring disappointment.

I am with people I cherish, trust and who care for me.

Unconditional love seeps through my pores, warming, consoling,

Lifting me from nostalgia for a time gone by.

As I regain consciousness, I ponder on my dream

And conclude that although gone, these people are with me in spirit.

Packing the muff away again, carefully, reverently,

I reflect on my present living family,

Hoping, dreaming that they too will be surrounded

By the same unequivocal, familial love that crossed time’s boundaries to me.



Don’t Move the Mouse *

Sharing this dugout with me

Is the mouse, beautiful, small,

Still, limp, lifeless, dead.

Oh! Don’t move the mouse

For she has my soul

Contained within her.

Short days ago she lived as I lived,

Ate my food with me,

Slept when I slept.

Cowered with me when the shells exploded.

Friend, confidante, comrade.

Now dead.

So please

Don’t move the mouse

© Ray Stearn 18th November 2020

A Dilemma

I hear it as I approach.

Intermittent. Muffled. Indistinct.

Almost silent, a snuffling and then a quiet sob

from the other side of the tree.

I dismount, and then I see her.

An old woman, all by herself.

White tee shirt, cropped jeans. Hiding

On a beautiful summer's day in the park.

She looks like my grandma.But she's not.

I can't put my arms round a stranger.

I should carry on. This is not my business.

But she could be someone's grandma.

Should I cycle past on the other side?

A bad Samaritan? She has not seen me.

I blurt out, "Are you all right?"

A stupid question. I know she is not.

She raises her hand to cover her face,

"Yes, fine thank you, "she says, lying.

And then she is quiet, waiting for me to go.

I have invaded her space, I have intruded.

I get back on my bike and move on with my life

I am fifteen. It is my birthday,

My first outing on my new mountain bike.

I ride off. I do not look back.

But the sun has disappeared.

Kathleen Proctor

Poems and Haiku Pam Spurling Bolton. *

The perfection Sparkling diamond beads

of an early morning cling

spiders web to the rain flattened grass

Pure silver threads by the hedgerow

Unbroken on the narrow country lane

An intricate lattice ==================

Glistening and swaying

On my prosaic Covid chrysalis

Washing line. Deaths head hawk moth emerges No happy ending

Now night-time lengthens

The oak leaf shades and rusts to brow

Summer is over.



Silence sings, the song lonely

heavy with nostalgia.

Aimlessly wandering, she

lingers by cars, vans,

drifts into the garden

passed shirts, tops, socks with holes

dreaming on the washing line

motionless, forgotten.

This is the world of nocturnes,

of hedgehogs and the urban fox,

of spiders weaving silver webs,

of winged death and scurrying life

whispering its stories.

Soon silence will retreat

fold the night into herself

sound and light once again

regaining place of dominance.

Eileen Earnshaw Autumn 2020.

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