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Memorable Events

Sponsored by Poets House directors—Janice Fitzpatrick and James Simmons—I attended the international poetry workshop at Poets’ House in the summer of 1993.The directors and all participating poets were glad at the effort that inspired me to travel all those expensive miles. I was young, naïve and spoke imperfect English.

James Simmons wrote in a recommendation letter, thus:

“…but he is committed to the English Language and everything he writes shows true imagination wrestling with experience and language to produce something unexpected and interesting. Difficulty with English combined with a good mind have often produced dynamic results in the English written by Irish and Indian and African writers.”

For three weeks I wrote and studied poetry under distinguished Irish and American poets. I was particularly inspired by Professor Sherod Santos who, by then, ran the PhD programme in Creative Writing at the University of Missourri, Columbia. Others who stirred the spirit of poetry in me were Derek Mahon, Greg Delanty, Medbh McGuckian and the two Poets’ House Directors---Janice Fitzpatrick and James Simmons.

Other than the above facilitators, my creative spirit was also enlivened by other participating poets. These poets came from Japan, USA and Ireland.  I studied their poems and learnt how they wrote and, since 1993 to date, their poems have never ceased to inspire me. The following are the poets and their poems, published in a summer 1993 Poets’ House anthology and which I have held in high regard and safely kept to-date! 


 A cloud over the lough, a wind,

A shower: news in the Sahara,

He said, but not news here.


We were extracting meaning

From facts of history

And talked about the weather:

Safe, but requiring strength

I do not always possess.


Time was yesterday

then the pendulum stopped:


The Thracian favourite

rides through memory

waking the banshee.


The farmer’s spirited cows

escaped this morning into the spring

bucking wildly, embracing

air, - space and time.


On the lake the little people appear

with white beards and earlocks.

Tilly Losch raises her arms

in front of the mirror,

her hands ready to dance.


The two ancient trees in front of the house

whisper ‘til late at night,

when Alexander’s horse

charges into the forest:

the white cats are hiding,

their litters censored.


She just couldn’t handle

that much freedom,

the American writer had said,

and I had wondered

what this new liberty was

the needed so much practice.


Nothing is ever lost:

some hand is forced

to catch it, some cell

retain it, and slowly,

slowly the tender pendulous clock

begins to count again

purloining meaning from life.

Copyright©  Sabine Wichert, 63 Vauxhall Park, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 5HB





 The busy morning, spilling rain

Most beautifully, is shut out

From autumn into late autumn

By the housebroken mirror.


The rain with its misleading radiance

Sounds as if it were starving

For the pre-season springtime

Of poetry’s exterior shelter.


The wind colours your voice like corn:

Evanescent flower scent,

Permanent leaf scent,

Tomorrow, they become all fruit.

  Copyright © Medbh McGuckian C/o Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast BT9AW



One of my eyes is watching the foxglove

Borne on a tall spike,

The other is watching the blonde girl

On the red mountain bike.

In a dream everything is, or can be, exquisite,

You’re never sure, who or what, will visit.


In the beer garden ‘enjoy’ is the motto

It’s my own little grotto.

The forty thieves are drinking at their leisure.

Like Aladdin, I have such wonderful treasure.

The water below me is still, it’s not a stream,

Holland’s a fine place to dream!


Now the blond girl crosses the stone bridge

Walking towards the town square,

She’s laughing and moonlight is on her hair.

She rests one hand on the shoulder of prince Hal

The other she points to the white flowers

Rising from the dark canal.

One slender foot she dips in the water

Which was still,

The other plays at being a Dutch windmill.

She’s flowing with the stream

And Holland’s a fine place to dream!


I seem to have known her all my life

A voice inside says could this be your wife?

We run along a cobbled street

There’s curiosity on every face we meet.

Prince Hal, floating in the ether

Softly playing his guitar, trying to get

Beneath her.

Playing a timeless tune,

For us, for himself and for his mistress

The moon.

If lose these friends I’ll feel a deep loss

If I wake up, I’ll turn and I’ll toss.

The water below me is still, it’s not a stream

And Holland’s a fine place to dream.

Copyright © Kenneth Mcphee, 18 Highfield Drive, Kelvindale, Glasgow G120HF. 041 334 2101.




We have the time

Wind it up inside your life

And the wound will end

I swear, no worse, no memory scar.

Allow the sides to bind together

Flesh around healing forms itself better

Erase itself to stay forever

Bound into the life of mind.

You will not need to open again

I say remember mind yourself

And that you are the wounds

I want, you will find.

Copyright © Daragh Carville, 62 Rue de la Glaciere,75013 Paris.


 Tracks of land lie fallow

while rivulets of water

penetrate each microcosm

where the inhabitants live unconcerned.


No ears to hear

no eyes to see;

primeval instincts sufficient here.


Clods of earth sifted

to free-flowing flour,

aereated resolutely

hour by hour.


Copyright ©   Barbara McLoughlin 4 Annaghdale Place Tandragee Road, Portadown,County Antrim.



And then the lights

Dimmed, and our talk

Flickered and went out.


Profile adjacent,

Arm-rest separate,

Corner-eye awareness of

Composing face

Finger-tip meeting

Curious trembling

Lip-parted breathlessness

Penetrating dart.

 Copyright © Caroline Johnston


He Remembers

 He remembers fourteen like it was yesterday—

The summer he was in New England.

The thunderstorms sound like hurricanes to him now.

The thunder becomes the sound of house splitting

All the way to the foundation. The rain blowing

Across the front porch is the water which came up over

His bare knees. The lightning, flashing under the hems

Of the shades, ignites the memory of the power lines

Which sparked in the blank darkness of the city.

Maybe between the white-hot glittering of electricity,

He knew this was what he wanted to remember:

The numbing sound of the wind,

And the black storm surge which washed in under the doors.


                                                     Copyright © Unknown poet



 I met a joking philosopher

Tripping along the way

His face grave and merry

And the smile in his eyes was gay

I asked the cause of his merriment

And what he found funny in life

He said he found all the answers to the questions

In bed at night with his wife

I met him again year’s later

When the children had gone from the fold

He had renewed his search for reasons

As his body became frail and old

But he knew that he would not find them

Unless the spirit came to his aid

So he prayed for the grace of belonging

To the house of truth God made.

 Copyright © Jim Deeney,89 Sutton Park, Sutton, Dublin 13, Ireland. 323712



 He dances in a field- gold stubble after harvest-

Moon burning orange- colored light bulbs

Strung between trees- hot sweetness of night.


He dances alone- his white sash- his gold head-dress,

His pale blue shirt- his solemnity,

A head above the trestle feasting tables.


Guests dresses in new clothes

Bring gifts, wishes, celebration,

The breaking of bread, music, laughter.


Fullest moon- memory of the boy- palpable in his absence-

Drifts like an eclipse across its face.

Copyright © Joan Newmann, 30 Rathlin Road, Ballycastle, County Antrim, BT546AQ,  02657 62695


Some poets prefer to doss in a railway station

But when I come to London I like to go

Straight to Richmond Hill

Because it stimulates my imagination.

I can’t feel so poor

When surrounded by all that verdure.

So, when it’s getting dark

I seek the alcove in the park.

In the terrace gardens my resolve hardens!

If I hear a foot-step or a rustle

That may be a midnight muscle,

I’m ready to spring like a mad thing,

Out of the khaki sleeping bag.

My rolled-out sleeping bag.

Eventually I wake in the trumpet dawn

And put my shoes on.

No fanfare rings out, there’s nobody about!

My money I haven’t lost

So how much does a real english breakfast cost?

Just then, the sun raises an eye-brow in the cotman sky

Warming the cold marble eye

Of a maiden in pearl-round pool.

Caressed by lilies and silent as a rule.

I know she’s lovely but I keep my cool.

Why gush like a green fool?


Now I sit down on a seat and stare at my feet.

‘For Elizabeth summers who cherished this place…’

While reading the bench plaque

Someone taps me on the back.

A gentleman who looks like an Egyptian

He says, “Were you reading the inscription?”

He grinned like the Cheshire cat

Said his name was Shane Maclysaght.

His amber eyes were flecked with grey

They shone when he had something to say.

I was used to suspicious northern eyes

So this chap was something of a surprise.

Poplar tall and very thin

Would he disappear and leave behind his grin?

Rackham oaks whispered above my head

And foxgloves nodded in a flower-bed

We talked for while,

Me and the needle from the Nile.

I told him I was writing a poem

About the pharaoh Akhenaten;

Shane said he saw a statue of him

Last summer in Manhatten.

Ancient Egypt intrigued me profoundly,

If it came to mummies I knew them soundly.

Not for nothing had I consulted experts in dark suites,

Not for nothing had I browsed through esoteric books.  


                           Copyright © Kenny


My sons inherited her,

The doll

My mother had made

For her daughter.

They liked to play catch with her.

She rode on their trucks

Beeping and hollering,

He snarly red yarn head bobbing.

I don’t they ever noticed

The small embroidered heart

Under her blue flowered blouse

That said “I love you”

She was mostly ignore

At the bottom of their toy box,

A boring secondary toy.


Expect for one night

When cranky with sleep

They each of them wanted

To take her to bed.

They fought on the stairs

Yanking her cloth arms

Pulling and shouting

She’s mine, she’s mine,

Until the whole soft body tore

Bleeding cotton batting in white gobs.

No way in the world to fix her

Look what you boys have done now.


It was almost uncanny,

The way she flew through the air

And always made a soft landing.

                                      Copyright © Diane Moon Sautter, 833 Lakewood Lane, Marquette MI 49855, U.S.A


 Georgia State Road 121

After Joan’s first round of chemotherapy, I run away:

rusty live oak leaves and pink sasanqua petals whirl

under my tires- a local gust swooshes from yard to road.


That’s Belleville. Fall, and the sun’s shinning. Down

the road past feed lots and union farms- county roads cross

where I don’t need to look to know nobody’s there.


The engine echoes against the low-buttressed bridge

over the boggy Altamaha as it pools and writhes toward

the sea islands. I think she’ll be all right if


 my fears and I are somewhere else: I close my windows

and follow the road. In Surrency, the next farm town,

the train station’s faded red; the tar paper roof glistens


with mica, shading four worn woods steps. A woman drowses;

her left arm cradles a sleeping Great Dane. The Seaboard

Coast line stopped years ago. The air’s warm now;


noon dust floats undisturbed under the red light. Spanish moss

hangs over brown yards and still square houses. I stop

for coffee, call the hospital: pink petals rest under porches.

                                  Copyright © Devan Cook,  106W. 7th Av,#9, Tallahassee Floridah 32303, U.S.A. 904-222-2807



 The harbor’s arm cups the shallow water

as if might grasp this moving, elemental

form. Sand washes and out- rock worn by water

into something that cradles the sea. Portals


Of change, a sea – change through which transformation

into anything else is possible. Now the sea

is a desert and eels, snakes- all gold horizon

and burning sand, heat walls waving visibly.


Prospero is on the rock ranging again. Ariel

is a voice in the distance enchanting

the wind now that deserts returned to sea. Shells

lie on the sand by the harbor whispering


 her song to cool his mind- so rocks and sea

turn into elemental cradling, change, hyperbole.


                                            Copyright © Janice Fitzpatrick-Simmons, Poets’ House, 80 Portmuck Road, Islandmagee, County Antrim


For The Hidden One

Intricate green, a glistening of needles,

Aromas of pine in the afternoon sun,

Great rookeries of shrubbery shinning,

The branches with exploding cones.


The bristling tree mounts its wishes on the air,

A shock of energy, one seed made explicit

In the green wonder of its thundering presence,

A splat of pine ratcheting against the stars


In scrolls of tracery laced on my ear,

A warble of bird babble intensifies vision

A hidden bird I cannot find whose

Casual melody frenzies the tree.


All in thrall in my eyes and my ears,

Piney tree is hanging on this singing

For one moment suspended

Its pure pleasure mutually created.


The answer lies in dreaming says the bird,

This mirage of tree dynamic in the head,

This quirk of song prismatic in the heart,

Even the god’s hiding holds promise.

                                                                 Copyright © Diana




It’s not dirt that offends

But noticed dirt. Shame

is a fingertip grazing dust,

a thumb in spittle.


For those stone Victorians

modesty is all: they strip

Behind boards, scaffolding,

tatterdemalion PVC.


pigeons exiled to rooftops

trade rumors and watch

the sandblasters come and go

like guards on a boarder,


or like quacks to a sickroom

whispering in Latin,

staking their careers

on a last-ditch recovery


when they will throw open

the door on their healed

Lazarus, a figure

like this resuscitated


Peer, so white it’s as if

his excema of soot

and birdshit had all along

been hatching marble.


Now he’s as proud as the father

of an heir to the business.

He models a suit of snow

on a granite catwalk.


The rest wait in their watchtowers

while attendants bring

Abrasives and nostalgia

And mud on their boots.

                                                        Copyright ©Martin Mooney,  75 Portmuck Road, Isladmagee, County Antrim, Northen Ireland


They started with a clear blue sky,

And a spotted cow, startled in mid-air

Over lumps of bright green.


Robert painted a twisted road.

It twisted right through Catherine’s tree

And flattened Mathew‘s cow.

Michael made Lorries and cars

With policemen stopping them.

Colin was drawing at his desk.


Bridget wanted yellow for flowers,

But the yellow had changed to sickly green.

The red was orangey-pink

So she made houses instead

With holes for the windows

Colin was cutting things out.


Christopher smeared black on the houses.

He said the people were dead.

Bridget tried to make flowers

On the houses with brick-colored paint

But the black was still wet and they went

All smudgy at the edges, and Colin


Climbed on the table with a brush

And the paste and he bumped

Bridget’s arm so the paint

Dripped across Robert’s road,

And Christopher said,

“Pity it’s not a proper red”.


Then the bells went, and miss Macauley

Poured all the colours into one big pot,

Green-purply-brown and she said,

“That’s lovely children. What a lot

Of helicopter! Let’s all count

Colin’s helicopters!”

                                                                                       Mary Taylor,  27 park Road, Belfast BT7 2FX. Tel: 648810


Watching you, watching them

Made me see the policemen’s guns

For the first time.

All my life they’d carried them

Why hadn’t I noticed?

A child raised in the foot- hills of Black Mountain

I share with you, not darkness, but the light

Of shankill, Springfield, Falls.

Having embraced its pain

I knew its hope.


It wasn’t when men with burning torches

Razed our neighborhood houses to the ground

That brought me fear.

Nor later waking up blown full across the room

By a five hundred pounder

Still asleep in my pyjamas,

Till daddy shook me conscious

Thinking I was worse than sleeping.

Not even when the marksman took a pot shot at my car

From the roof of the R.V.H

(Hospital roofs are great vantage points for killing)

How did he miss?


It was when you gazed upon my city

And thought it tense

I felt the pain.

For then I saw the world’s misunderstanding

I feared others, not yourself, might pick conclusions

Out of hats, fashionable, millinery made in France or Hong Kong

Designer tailored to suit the occasion.

You weren’t wrong, not right either

Today we shared truth.

For we moved among the people

Unafraid, and unashamed to care.


I’d like to keep you a little longer

For we are much the same

The Big Apple and Belfast,

Both bites of Eden

Two different fruits from the same tree of disobedience

Friendship innocent and short

Must we say goodbye?

Yes, we must, I know

For it’s only in letting friendship go

That we can hope to keep it.

                                          Copyright © Hilary McDowell,  c/o P.W.A.Department, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church House, Fisherwick Place, Belfast BT1 DW - Northern Ireland.



 Silence drifts like a speck of dust

Harried by an invisible wind pat scattered

Cemeteries along the road from Paris to Calais


Hillsides dotted with white

Picket fences guard soldiers

Buried where they fell.


The size of the simple, white markers never varies.

Some tracts suffer one, or two, small crosses,

Other, thirty or more;

Some plots, a single pinprick on a page,

Others, look like the word war in Braille.


Willow trees brush against ordinary clouds,

Much like the ones in Washington, or Montana.

Poppies and daisies meander undisturbed

By half-buried helmets and rusted rifle.


I drive along this peaceful road,

An expanse of pastoral serenity,

See French farmers genuflect

Each time they plow

Around these hallowed plots.


It’s hard to imagine how it was—

Fertile land raped by shell holes,

A sky filled with exploding clouds,

Blown clear of birds,

Poppies wilting from the stench of fear,

Mud forgiving sins.


The wind in its blindness

Reads each named cross,

Fingers poppies like yellowed

Pages in history book.

 Copyright © Arlene E.Paul,  4312 NE 40th st. Vancouver, WA 98661


 Immigrant Smoking In The USA

Outside the airport on an overheard walkway

Amidst the cold, dry, summer night

Smoke pours, whiffs, then dissipates

As I inhale on a cigarette of dreams


Below the walkway a fire is nesting

Resting, anticipating, red light turning

While policemen and firemen are conniving to themselves

Maybe to put out the flames of burning desire

A better life, a nicotine escape

From a distance grievances

Of a third world dampness


Beside me, three fellow country men speak

Also burning pencils between their fingers

Attempting to trace their destiny in the sky

But I hesitate to enter into their conversing

And instead puff on deeper thoughts

Of things yet to come


Eventually thy leave

Then the tobacco stick between my fingers chars down

To a brown filtering reality

Better left in a nearly-filled ashtray

Of burnt –down desires and nicotine escapes


The policemen wave goodbye

The firemen pack-up

A job well done perhaps or a false alarm

I walk towards the inside with the hope to someday

See the smoke of dreams

In the land of milk and honey, amidst the cold, dry, summer night

Up amongst the clouds


Copyright © Maurice Gaerlan




We root ourselves into the earth

Each hand is five-petaled

Let your palm open to the sky

We are in full bloom.


This morning

One life returned to the ground

Truth is a piece of quartz quarried out just now

Feel its blood beat

Vibrating and seething

With your very fingers.


I want to cry out

To shake the shore

The moment in which

Words split open

Out of their refined, impermeable shell


Men’s voices deepen night

Welling up into our circle

As a stream of warm, thick blood

Women sing, too

Clattering ores of sunshine

A myriad of butterflies float between light and dark


Today in this kingdom

One pulse of fellow creatures stopped

Bite every given minute of life

Our souls are gasping and hollow

From inside the wall of our flesh


We lift up our voice in song

Our melody is borne on a breeze above us

It looks down the emerald ravine far below

And finally

Reaches a lucid spot in the sky

The color which transcends all

An eye of Lapis Lazuli.

                                                         Copyright © Miho Nonaka, 1-57-4 Kinugaoka  Hachioji-shi,Tokyo 192, Japan. 0426360018


No Title

You complimented me with your chaos,

said I was pretty and then looked over

my shoulder as though the curve of my neck

was the sighting on a shotgun. I felt

privileged, like Napoleon’s dark war horse,

a Josephine of other purposes.

I would lean across the table, perhaps

indiscreetly, and whisper this to you,

“Use me like a knife, whet me like a stone,

and cut the sinews of this frail order,

to all the much grander laws of physics.”

You would laugh of course, “what could grander

than gravity? That organized falling

into place. Everything heavy settles;

stones in the sand; activists to law firms,

two heads side by side, imprints on their pillows.

“You, my friend, are too light,” you said, “to make

a knife of. A skilled surgeon like myself

would wish for a metal far more tempered.

I would wear you dull within the hour”


                                                               Copyright © Heather Wood, 77 Portmuck Road, Portmuck, Islandmagee, County Antrim  BT403TP, Northern Ireland.



The sea is the marriage we ferry through.

From inside we can feel the sway of the ocean,

the effort of diesel against it, the twin screw.

You balance finely, in the ships saloon,


before a huge mirror and its acolytes,

the round portholes. They are outer moons.

Faithful schooner, it has ferried day and night

So many passengers and their reflections


in the wide mirror, even the smaller ones.

This night we take a reading from the astrolabe.

Notes get written in secret, verbs and nouns

in mirror-writing help us round the cape.


It’s the mirror keeps talking back to the sea.

Storms swell against the glass, year after year.

Your image against my own is steady

Yet. We make love against the ships mirror.


                                                               Copyright © Thomas McCarthy,Carrigbrack, Lovers walk, Monterotte, Cork City.




Some of us stayed forever, under the lough

in the guts of a Flying Fortress,

sealed in the buckled capsule, or dispersed

with odds and ends- propellers, dogtags, wings,

a packet of lucky strike, the instructor’s gloves-

through an old world of shells and arrowheads,

dumped furniture, a blind Viking prow.

In ten years or hundred we will rise

to foul your nets with crushed fuselage.

Our painted stork, nosing among the reeds

with a bomb in its beak, will startle you for a day.


                                                       Copyright © Frank Ormbsby, Belfast Academical Institute, English Department

This land unlikens me


I am unbalanced

with new accents my ears must rope around

eyes that measure my gaze


New scents are heightened

like the bird I want to be

Its flight grounds me

the wind willows through my skin


My shadow switches like a child

peaking behind a tree

It aims to accompany me


I walk through the air

breathing in out


it starts to rain

my footprints drip away


who will know I’m here

who will know I’m gone

                                                            Copyright © Cathy Graham, 77 Portmuck Road, Portmuck, Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northen Ireland. BT403TP


Spring Madness


What if snowdrops fell

And bluebells rang

And honeysuckled?

What if the primrose blushed

And meadows rued

The horsing around of the chestnuts?

What if dandelions

Roared all day

Would they become

The leopard’s bane

Or get up the nose

Of the sneezewort?

Well-even if the willow wept

Or Virginia crept about

And witchazel wreaked loosestrife

I’d still be the hero of this plot

If Rosemary



Copyright © Everlyn Mckittrick, July’93


 Puzzle Fruit

 The words and pictures can only

sting us to a momentary shame,

but why does atrocity shock us?

Man’s capability of inflicting

pain is not new.

The snapshot image could be an

old silently fading-yellow

photograph taken at liberty

from the album of history.

Yet, we react as though nothing

like this has happened before,

nor could ever again;

forgetting to return to the

shelf where we would learn

that each new era must address

the same old enemies.

Those involved cannot help

but remember everything.

Disparities which survive

their victims, re-inventing

themselves with each other retelling.

The tensile boundaries over

which they are powerless.

This jig-saw cohesion, fortified

with the resentment of

yesterday, hand feeds todays

fear for the fight


                                                               Copyright © Terry Cafolla, Poets’ house, 80 portmuck road, Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.



 Then and then and then.

I went back

to tend my olives

and almonds, wove

fine bleached cloth,

gathered the last of summer fruit.


Only once

did I dream of him,

his arm heavy

across me, hip warm

 against mine,


What was

aas what was

The salt of these

predictable waves

dries on skin.


The sun

continues to survive

her rise and fall

each day.

                                                                                       Bridget Meeds, 607 N.Tioga St. Ithaca NY 14850, U.S.A - 6072722173.



They lift away, hot air balloons and words.

The sky receives them, symbols of spent hours,

of time and death, the angst of little birds.


And still our ideas gather in their hordes

until, like stormclouds when they’ve loosed their showers,

they lift away, hot air. Balloons and words,


the jar of jellybeans a young girl hoards,

borrow illumination from the powers

of time and death. The angst of little birds


is a puzzle someone’s text affords-

whether they’re robins or just metaphors

they lift away, hot air balloons. And words


remain, bent serve all our several modes-

rhymes, rythms, dreams, romance the flowers

of time and death, the angst little birds.


The greatest poems are mightier than swords;

perhaps this will be said of some of ours.

They lift away, hot air balloons and words

of time and death, the angst of little birds.

                                                                    Copyright © Pamela Gillilan, Flat 1, 25 Caledonia Place, Clifton, Bristol B58 4DL- England.



Three o’clock in the morning

And you see something I don’t,

Something blond and ethereal in our waterbed.


Her wet hair waves like brown seaweed,

Like the mermaids we saw once at wekiwatchi.

Her breaths are beautiful and deep:

She inhales the glacial waters of the arctic,

And between breaths, her fingertips

Touch the thin plastic which divides you.


Divine mermaid you call her.

She slipped over the lip of a lifeboat

And into the dark, unloving sea.

Why is she here now? The stars’ reflections

Of that cold, November night glitter on her teeth

When she smiles at you. The smooth constellations

Of seventy years are revealed to you at a glance.

                                                          Copyright© Amy Palughi, 3310 West 7th St.#23 Hattiesburg, MS 39401 U.S.A. 601 261 3761




The sudden loneliness you feel

when the band plays

after the ball

and you are drowning

in a sea

of swaying bodies

waving arms

while in a kitchen

a child

watches a woman

stir tea-cloths

boiling on the range

scrub sheets white

on a wash-board

in the sink

her strong arms

bangled with suds

and all the while she sings

after the ball is over

after the break of morn

and later in the garden

you hand her pegs

until she hoists her line

of dazzling white

to sunny wind

a sheet slaps

a sudden shower

on your upturned face

and when you climb the steps

to the back door

behind you

she is humming still. 

                                                        Copyright © Brenda Sullivian, Kilmore, Streete, County Westmeath, Ireland.   043 85115.



 I am not exactly what I feel I should be

I should have been exactly what I don’t know

Maybe a hyacinth in the woods, to bear fruits

Or its boughs to put a lofty birds nests

I am not exactly what I feel I should be


I could be happy perhaps if I were a street boy

Disturbing the dust-bin lids, feeding out of them

Sit in the wynd, stretch out my hand for coin.

I am not exactly what I feel I should be


I know who I am: a tall codger engraving

White figure on the dark wall, sniffing chalk-dust

And reiterately talking himself out

Bending over to construct red lines on books

And carrying a bamboo for recalcitrance cases.


I sometimes look at my self: a desperate gent

In tattered trouser, brown sandals on my feet

On the rocks, drowned in the world’s inflation

Worried of what tomorrow would yield for me

Anyway, I am not exactly what I feel I should be.


Sometimes sitting here I see children dosing

Pieces of chalks lie on the table, a wooden duster

Wait below the dark wall, my eyes wandering

Exploring a nature corner, charts on the wall, tots’

Dizzy eyes, and then watching them, slowly, resuscitate.


I am not exactly what I feel I should be:

Teachers, pupils, come out and watch a renegade

See me unskin myself, filter through

Into the distilled world of poetry. I am not a teacher

I am now a poet- understand?


                                                       Copyright © Christopher Okemwa - P.O. Box 3956, Kisii, Kenya

The following two poems were written by the ten-year old, Anna, daughter of James Simmons and Janice Fitzpatrick-Simmons, and dedicated to me on 13th July 1993. She signed the paper on which the poems were written.


I Wasn’t Made For Water

The small engine powered boat sways from side to side,

as we all try to make a joke of my sea fright

The tall looming wall of the lonely, bird infested island, it is true are


but before I notice nature, I must take in the strong currant, the faulty

engine and the enormous and deadly jelly-fish with long wavy tentacles,

I look longingly back at land,

And wonder what it would be like to drown

I try to distract myself from the menacing water and I look up at the caves

And their dark, black menacing interiors,

And this sets off another fear

       Copyright © Anna, daughter to James & Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons



The dawn exploded behind it, outlining its figure,

And making it already more beautiful

Forever, still standing,

Steadfast as ever

Wholly true and full, as though one strong creature alive in its own.

      Copyright © Anna, daughter to James Simmons & Janice Fitzpatrick

Memorable Events

Top Awards

Year 2015

Burt Award (KENYA) for African Literature

Year 2006

Changamoto Arts Fund award.

Year 2002

Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry.

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About Okemwa

Christopher Okemwa is a poet, actor, dancer, playwright, story-teller, short-story and children’s writer. He has won several awards in poetry. Learn More.