This poem sprang out of our ‘voices’ Poetry ID workshop at the end of February. Thanks to Luisetta for sifting that topic from the ether that evening.




The first time I heard your voice

it touched me so closely

I almost hung up.

Who was this stranger who spoke to me?

My voice hid in the business of practical detail,

peering out from behind the leaves

newly aware of its nakedness.

Now we converse, sometimes

cloaked in familiarity,

sometimes skin on skin.


Ríonach Aiken

Poetry on the Brain

Thought you might be interested in this research into the impact of poetry.

Ríonach Aiken


Ever since I saw the fascinating BBC documentary a few years ago ‘Why Reading Matters’, I’ve been interested in the impact that reading has on the brain and on human evolution. Liverpool University, whose research was originally featured in that film, has now conducted further pioneering research showing that reading challenging literature ‘acts like a rocket-booster to the brain’ and serves to ‘shift mental pathways, create new thoughts, shapes and connections’.

I was delighted (though entirely unsurprised) to hear that reading poetry, in particular, triggers self-reflection by activating areas within the brain’s right hemisphere associated with autobiographical memory and emotion, ‘causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences in light of what they read.’

“Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Professor Davis, who argues that…

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No Bells


A poem from our writing workshop last night. Thanks to John Gohorry and the group for coming up with the stimulus.

No Bells

Even though I know what ails me
I push on.
One foot,
then the other.
One short breath.
One more.

Fingers clench, gnawing at each other.
Even my toes curl and squirm.

Across the road, trees huddled
in their winter coats of ivy
fumble in their pockets
for the woodwind notes of pigeons,
a secret code to summon the lost.
Children’s laughter floats
and is swallowed by silence.

There are no bells anymore.
Everything real is melted down
to fuel the virtual.

It’s simple.
Just breathe.
One breath.
Then another.


Ríonach Aiken


This started as a totem poem, as per the recent workshop prompt. But following a trending item on Facebook about a radiophonic phenomenon called ‘chorus’ (explained by clicking on the title link), it morphed into this. Further key data is available via first this link and then this one.


this is Golf 4
Foxtrot Hotel Romeo
::: :::
unkey and float
your silence in the black
buoyancy of earthsong
plasma waves running
the spindrift of the radiation belt
hooting and skirling like
cosmic birds
listen through their wheeling and flocking
for that crouching island sentinel who’s listening too
through their wheeling and flocking
for one such voice as yours calling up the skywave
into the dawn
::: :::
this is Golf 4 Fox Hotel Radio
G4 FHR calling
and listening
::: :::
unkey and close your eyes
whistling electrons are
running the hoop of the earth
riding the chorus pipeline
through the van allens
tether breath and listen
to the whorl and whoop
of the great unmodulated voice
laughing out of nothingness
and back into an oblivion
unpolluted by your kind
slinging their prayers
across the ether
seeking witness
in their solitude
::: :::
and so you tether
until there’s only the sussuration
of your breathing and
the coil and arc
of that first

Dick Jones


This is my in absentia response to Gareth’s Totem Pole workshop:


Each face I carve will tell

a small part of the story.

Each animal will represent

a portion of the whole.

Each nose, each eye, each painted cheek

create a collage of confusion,

erected as a presentation

just for you.

It’s quite an ugly thing,

a mashed-up montage, formed of

half-ideas, splinters of memory,

in-jokes, unfulfilled ambition,

lips that are too big, birds with beaks

and wings out of proportion,

from some creepy animation,

drawn for you.

I didn’t mean to carve the pole this way:

it just grew out of what I am,

and all its inconsistencies

are reaching up to guide your eyes

towards the sky – above this bleak

and unforgiving apparition:

my carved, complex creation,

made for you.


my mother was a slut

who liked cute babies
and went on marches
to ban the bomb

her own mother
named her so
for leading men on
with her ration book stockings
and sooty eyes

I knew her
as a gentle woman
who never looked her father in the eye
nor my father
though she wasn’t shy

we drew on the walls
and bed sheets that hung on the line
that she wouldn’t mind
and she didn’t
as she worked on her taggy nails

my mother was a slut
her mother said
she liked me
and my sister
but most of all
she loved holidays
and men


to remember the geraniums

on the second floor window sill
you can’t rely on the rain
to keep them in the pink

the shadows of dealers
fade into the cracks

in the long victorian grass
an old bathtub is a roaring barbeque
kaszanka and chuchu on a stick

so I grab a pint
water the geraniums
from a hard London tap

figure that the next heatwave
could change everything

leaning further
I mimic a bow and arrow
and take out the next cyclist on the street