Poem by Jan Dean

In the Moroccan garden


in the green shade

five tortoises


eyes shut slits

toes tucked

into shiny shells


when they wake

they are lumbering stones

their claws click

on blue tiles


their slow jaws

gently mash

pale lettuce


beside them

the fountain sings

like tiny glass bells

and the tortoises

dip their heads

and drink the music


Jan Dean

(From The Penguin in Lost Property; Jan Dean & Roger Stevens; Macmillan 2014)







Peony Wrongs



Is it wrong for a peony to bloom,

to bloom with petals red, stamen gold,

is it wrong?


Is it wrong for a peony to dream,

to dream of a poet so special, so fair,

is it wrong?


Is it wrong for a peony to love,

to love a dainty step, a silken verse,

is it wrong?


Is it wrong for a peony to mourn,

to mourn its own perennial passing, unfulfilled,

is it wrong?


Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

Previously published on Linkedin and the author’s blog, Grandy’s Landing

Poem by Maureen Weldon

I have left the past,
or so I thought;
yet it sits in every corner,
sits on my back.

Sometimes the long garden with a hammock
to swing in, to laze in,
near the sweet peas, near the roses.

Sometimes a white breeze
salty from the ocean.

It is Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales.

It is war-time, it is peace-time.

It is a wedding vow torn by the wind.

It is sitting around a table, laughing.

It is the dearest dead.

It is christening the baby.

It is like a cave,
or a pass through the mountain.

And always the still small voice.


Maureen Weldon


[ First published by The Passionate Transitory.

Also to be included in my forthcoming pamphlet MIDNIGHT ROBIN
to be published by Poetry Space Ltd. Editor, Sue Sims ]

Poem by Ira Lightman

Barrow-in-Furness, after de Campos

June 10, 2014 at 5:53pm


I’m scum and cheap like everyone you’ve met
Ain’t got it ideal but you ain’t got nothing.
If you say you do, when you’re like me,you’re lying,
If you say you’re a seeker, it’s cause you ain’t got it yet.

With a bit of a vision I love as is right.
Yet when I’m low that won’t get my agreement.
I get on, phantom-me of the moment
sozzled, now and then, in the spirit.

Like all I don’t believe what I believe.
Perhaps someone could die for the ideal
but, while I’m not-dying, I’ll read and speak.

Justify myself? I’m what we’re all to be.
Modify myself? To my own equal?
Hello, don’t start, oh heart of me!


Forces and gods, souls of science and belief
ya what? Your explication don’t explicate!
I’m sat on the pierhead, in a wine-butt,
and I don’t think more than I do on my feet.

Why should I cogitate?
Because I should, perhaps I shouldn’t?
Riverwater streams cold and dirt
I get on like it does, no less reprobate.

O universe, bundle of thread
patiently drawn out by a boffin’s hands
to leave all the bits of it separate?

Stop the thread’s exit…
What’s the game? Love? Having indifference?
For me, I stand high on the wine-butt.


Course,damned river, and lead to the ocean,
my indifference’s subjectivity
which leads to the ocean! Your presence, slippery,
holding in me, in my inner boffin.

A slug’s lot. To ride on the coattail
shadow of a donkey. To ride to live
to ride to give names, to what’ll never be active,
dying slapping stickers on a gail.

Capacious Furness, another three days
I’ve endured you, poor trapped engineer
of my very successful vistas…

Thereon, skedaddle myself and my sneer
(And your life will go on exactly as it was),
Anyone, at the train station, got a fag to spare…


The conclusion’s in the trash. It calculates
I’m shown vindicated, eulogized well…
My heart is an enormous pedestal
Where a freestanding squit animalculates…

The microscope of disillusion
finishing prolix over minutiae’s finesse…
I conclude pragmatic and useless…
I conclude theoretical, in confusion…

What theories are there for the touchy-feeler
The brain explodes like a molar
Through an emigrating beggar’s comb?

Clapping shut my notebook of pensées
I scribble my soft scrawl in grey
on the back of the envelope I am.


How long, Portugal, how long apart
We have lived! Oh but my soul,
This soul of uncertainty, never butch or cool,
Don’t bother yourself – you’re not right or sufficient.

I’m dreaming, closeted hysteric, in vain in a bend
of the River Furness, which bathes this locale
and only with irony is companionable –
I stall and he courses sufficient…

Sufficient? Yes, sufficient relatively…
Well, let’s round off with a distinction,
a subtlety, an interstitial between,
a metaphysics of sensation.

Let’s round off with this and everything more…
Ah, how anxiously human is the river, is the pier.




Paul Beech


She was sitting across the table, her back to the rain-spattered window, newspaper raised.  Two or three unfortunates, who’d entered the reference library seeking shelter, sat either side of her but in a different world.  It was a thin, Polish language newspaper, Dziennik Polski.   I had no clear view of her face but her dimpled cheek and auburn hair brought a single name to mind – Zafia.

But how could this be?


Never have I known eyes so expressive, a smile so radiant, a voice so gently teasing.  Zafia was our waitress at the Cornish hotel where my wife and I spent a week in the autumn.

One morning, the egg with my Traditional English Breakfast was over-done, bullet hard, just the way I like it.  I’d beamed my preference to her telepathically, I said.  Zafia’s hand flew to her mouth, her look of astonishment so complete it was comic.  Her colour rose as she failed to suppress a laugh.  I laughed too and all at the table joined in.  The dig in my ribs hurt.  “Act your age,” hissed Daphne, my wife.  “You’re old enough to be her dad!”


Cornwall, so rugged, colourful and poetic, was like nowhere we’d been before, and we loved it.

Zafia made our every meal special.  Maybe we made her every service special too.  We were amongst her last guests as she counted down the days to her own departure, her return to Kraków, her family, a new job in the media and her beloved myślinska sausages.  She confided to me that she always ate these sliced on rye bread.

I felt bereft on the coach home.  Still do really, though I try to hide it from Daphne.  I picture Zafia in Kraków, wandering beside the Vistula River or through the Old Town.  Does she ever think back to that dining room with green cloths on white covering the tables, a wall-length window presenting an often misty view of the bay below?  Does she remember Table 22 and the way our eyes would sometimes meet?


Two of the beery-smelling men at her library table had fallen to telling lewd jokes, perhaps assuming she wouldn’t understand.  The third dozed over Debrett’s People of Today.   But the rain had ceased its drumming now and the mucky-minded ones hauled up their mate to drag him away.

“Zafia,” I said at last, but there was no response.

I tried again: “Zafia.”  And this time the newspaper came down.

“My name is Wanda,” she said.

Wanda?  Her lipstick was startlingly red.  Otherwise she was so like Zafia, she had to be a sister.  Her eyes fizzed in amusement at my confusion.

“You are from Kraków?”

“Gdanśk,” she said.  Then, pointedly, with a little jerk towards the leaded pane behind her: “The sun, it shines…”

Her Dziennik Polski firmly back in place, I read the headline without comprehension before following the unfortunates out of the library and down the steaming street.




Copyright © Paul Beech 2014

Originally posted on the author’s blog, Grandy’s Landing