A Pandemic Poetry Partnership

Today I’m delighted to host not one but two jointly composed poems from Barrie Kemp and Francis McDonnell, fellow members of Poetry-ID, from their recently published collection A Pandemic Poetry Partnership.

A Period of Lockdown

5.4.20 12.4.20 : Italics – McDonnell, Plain – Kemp

Let me compare this to a time of war
Of courage, of cowardice, in days of yore.
When battles were won and lives were lost
And there was a great economic cost
But we’re all now enlisted unlike then
They enemy unseen and yet within.
Confined to our houses, barges, and flats
Should we be scared of our far-roaming cats?
We pray for Boris – on oxygen now
Wet with sweat, on his brow
And Raab becomes the primus inter pares.
We shall have to listen to what he says
The Queen’s speech inspires us to do our part
Praise the NHS! Our nation’s heart!
Give thanks to our local heroes
Those holidaying are now our zeroes
Don’t picnic though the weather’s nice
Stay at Home! Is the daily advice.
When walking keep two metres apart
To always achieve this is quite an art
So far science does not recommend face-masks
For those being selfish at the supermarts
So grab those eggs for Easter Sunday
For the virus doesn’t mean God’s gone away!

Springtime For Aspies in Covidland

29.7.20 – 19.8.20: Italics – John, Plain – Paul

For most people Covid causes a fright
But for Aspies it’s a time of delight
Time for less social communication
That can lead to personal confusion
And what little they have is more online
Which is easier for them so they’re fine
Time to concentrate on obsessions
Be it birds, stamps, or calculations
Or maybe doing up some property
Or having ideas in astronomy
Aspie is often linked to XY
But there are girls who identify
Composing and playing music delights
Many an Aspie on their indoor nights
Many with a tell-tale ‘spiky profile’
Join ASPIE club with a knowing smile
For being with like minds soothes the soul
And is no doubt a worthwhile goal
For we all want to be accepted
And our Aspies are not excepted

The Covid outbreak and subsequent Lockdowns saw bursts of national and international creativity whilst most of the world’s population stayed at home, to reduce the spread of the unknown effects of the virus. In the case of McDonnell and Kemp, two poets based in Luton, Bedfordshire, it was less of a burst and more of a trickle.  Their topical and insightful poems were composed by ’email correspondence’; twice- or thrice-weekly exchanges of rhyming couplets that gave rise to sonnet-length and beyond poems.  Often humorous, sometimes sad, but always at the quill-cutting edge of poetical journalism, their exchanges lasted for over a year.  The collection of seventeen has been published under the title ‘A Pandemic Poetry Partnership’ by Kindle Direct Publishing (ISBN 979 835 597 5692)

Village Voices

I’m proud to be part of a new anthology, Village Voices, published by Maytree Press and compiled by Kathy Trout (see my previous blog post!), the indefatigable chairperson of Marsden Community Poetry. The anthology contains over 100 poems with a wide range of styles and themes, and also some fine artwork. In the words of Michael Stewart, Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield: “Poems that span across age and time, encompassing the local and the global. Such a range of expression, and yet the poems in this collection are united in their energy and innovation; each poem encapsulating a feeling, a moment, an experience, with precision and aplomb.”

I thought I’d share this poem of mine from the anthology:

Chief Executive

How brave, how strong he is, they said,
unswayed by sentiment, never scared
to take the hard decisions.
And when I saw the carnage that he left
– careers ended with a word,
communities gutted and left to die –
I too could only marvel how he
steeled himself against such pain.

But as I came to know him, I could see
he has no need to do so.
Each round of cuts, each sacking
leaves no mark on him, except a
little smile of satisfaction,
having trimmed the bottom line.
He feels no pain that’s not his own,
knows no value that is not for him.

He lacks a sense most of us have.
I might feel sorry for him, but
he is fortunate in his deficiency:
others must fight to bend the world
around their disabilities.
His lets him blunder round it unperturbed:
a blind, deaf man, driving his bulldozer
through crowds of screaming people.


If you wish to purchase one or multiple copies of Village Voices (it is a 190 page book for £12) please email Kathy Trout at marsdencommunitypoetry@gmail.com

Every Breath You Take

I’m pleased to host a piece of flash fiction here today, from fellow Meltham Writer Kathy Trout.

Every Breath You Take 

Thick immovable mucus blocks his lungs, every breath-take an oxygen-lack nightmare. It’s a heavy burden for an 8 year old lad, yet he remains cheerful, sociable and loves to play ball in the garden.

He’s admired for his upbeat attitude, a comedian, always playing the fool, wants to be on TV.

His mother fantasises he’ll break the pre-ordained, short-life-towards-death rule. The pharmaceutical giant refuses an NHS deal; treatment costs are prohibitive.

“Throw me a lifeline mom, I want to be a Lifesaver”. The ball is the best she can do. She cries. 


Kathy Trout is Chair of Marsden Community Poetry.  Her favourite food is marmalade, and her favourite place the jungles of Belize.

Meeting my Guitar

Time to post one of my poems on here, I thought. This one combines two of my great passions: poetry and guitars. A bit of background. When my Mum sadly passed away in 2020, I decided to spend some of my inheritance on building my dream guitar. I went to luthier Martyn Booth in Suffolk who made for me an instrument that was everything I could have wished for and more. It will also serve as a lasting memento of my Mum: into the the headstock of the guitar is set a bird brooch that she was very fond of and wore whenever she went out.

This poem (recently published in the anthology Changes, by Hammond House Publishing) sums up my feelings on taking possession of the guitar.

Meeting my Guitar

I saw the timber: flesh of fallen trees;
the parts, of humdrum plastic, nickel, wire.
I did not watch the hours of work, the art 
that breathed into these dead things an essence
of the maker, implanted grace and purpose,
made them something more than an artefact, 
neither inanimate nor quite alive.

Seeing the flame that flickers in the wood 
reminds me of the smiths who worked with fire
to conjure metal out of stone, creating 
from it objects steeped in power and meaning.
I sensed the thread that joins that craft and this: 
the gift – hard-won, jealously protected –
of binding matter to a human will.

Possession brings responsibility. 
This instrument entrusted to my care,
for all its beauty, is yet unfulfilled.
It has a voice, but it can never sing alone. 
Now I too feel the craftsman’s burden:
am I worthy? Are these plain hands equipped
to free the music latent in its strings?

To a School Class

Today I am very pleased to host a poem by Hans Sahl, translated by Dennis Tomlinson, from the recently published book Hans Sahl in Translation.

The original of this poem was written by the German-Jewish author Hans Sahl (1902-93), who escaped from Nazi Germany in 1933 and eventually found refuge in the USA. He carried on writing poems in his native language. ‘To a School Class’ addresses young German people who have grown up after the end of the Second World War. 

To a School Class

Dedicated to the pupils of Butzbach

You, who were born
to forget,
what do you know of the madness of people?
The lawn you lie down on
doesn’t tell you how many of us
perished there,
the hand you shake doesn’t reveal
it could be the hand of a murderer,
not worthy of your greeting.
Our existence has for you already become a legend,
our suffering a rumour from yesterday.
But in the songs of the banished
and in the rustling wind
as it leafs through pages of a burnt book,
we’re telling you what happened
when the cock crowed for the third time.

Hans Sahl 1970

Translated by Dennis Tomlinson, in Hans Sahl in Translation, ed. Anne Boileau and Dennis Tomlinson, Independent Publishing Network, 2023.  Information about this recently published volume can be obtained by writing to hanssahlit@aol.com.

When a Password is Unloved

Today I'm delighted to host this poem from Owen Townend.  

When a Password is Unloved

When a password is unloved
it becomes unfathomable.
A mist descends over its digits,
letters de-capitalise,
symbols shift,
losing all character(s).

A password feels unloved
when log-in is extended,
taken for granted,
security abandoned
in steady broadband.
Left for dead.

When a password is unloved,
its user must be reminded
to verify their care,/
protect the connection
and to never forget
the error of their ways.

For when a password feels loved
it's strength knows no limit.

Owen Townend is a writer of primarily short speculative fiction inspired by thought experiment and wordplay. He lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK and is a member of the Huddersfield Authors’ Circle. Owen is currently working on a series of Western novella.

Website: https://huddersfieldauthorscircle.co.uk/portfolio/owen/

Twitter: @mrpondersome

Laptop pic@ mikemacmarketing. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0,

Visit my Blog

As readers of this blog will know, I like to host other people’s work alongside my own poetry, prose and news. I’ve decided it’s time to put out one of my periodic invitations for guest pieces.

If you would like to share a poem, a piece of flash fiction (up to 500 words) or an extract from a novel (again, up to 500 words) on this page, send me an e-mail to tim.e.taylor@talk21.com.

I prefer to avoid explicitly promotional posts, but of course you should also provide the readers with some information (preferably in the 3rd person) about yourself and your work, and let them know of any recent publications and/or forthcoming events (up to a further 200 words). Links to websites, bookshops and social media are also welcome. Finally, it would be good if you could provide a picture to accompany the piece – could be an image that illustrates it, a book cover, or a picture of you (or both).

I’m happy to host up two two guest pieces a month, alternating with my own. First come, first served. I look forward to hearing from you!

Golden Boy

Today I thought I’d share this little poem.

Golden Boy

He was the best of us, we thought:
there was a glint of magic in his eyes.
While we would hide our hopes
in veils of self-effacement
he was serene in certainty.
His words would glisten as he spoke them.
Upon the finely sculpted features of his face
there bloomed a sheen of destiny.

It was too much for him. When he was found
there was no lamentation, only disbelief.
His face, despite its stillness
wore that same gleam of promise even now.
How strange, unsettling to discover
he was a shell,
polished shiny by the sand
and sucked empty by the ebbing tide.

This Falling Rain

I’m delighted to post this rondeau redouble from Vincent Johnson today. The poem made it to the second round (top 12%) of the prestigious Bridport Prize last year.

This Falling Rain

Could I love you like I love so much this falling rain,

or like the gentle earth, or sun now clothed in cloud,

and could I love you like this summer wind, again

unveiling Phoebus’ splendours hid beneath his shroud?


My furnace, stoked with passion, sings your name out loud

and burnishes a gilded banner that acclaims

your radiant beauty coursing through my blood.

Could I love you like I love so much this falling rain?


It seems I could … but first I must be sure we could sustain

this love, and understand what lies beneath this flood

of all you seem to be, to feed our roots ingrained,

and fed by gentle earth, and sun now clothed in cloud,


to grow into some great tree, standing high and proud

enduring for centuries, whose branches maintain

shade for all who need protection between our boughs,

where they could love us like the summer wind, again


seeking shelter from life’s storms in this, love’s domain,

while tempest gales are raging though our steadfast crown;

and as the clouds are swept away, the dying winds again

unveil your many splendours hid beneath your shroud.


Is who I see the real you revealed? … a shining crowd

of qualities that makes me swoon? I take my pen

and write this dedication, so now avowed,

our loves my twine together, and you then might claim

that you will love me just as I love falling rain.


I’m conscious that it’s been a while since I posted any news about my own writing – time to rectify that! I am currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, focusing on my science fiction project, which is taking up most of my time and energy at present. I’m enjoying it a lot, but there isn’t anything significant to report at present – all the assessment is on a single project at the end of the course. You can read a taster of my project here, though: https://timwordsblog.wordpress.com/2022/10/09/light/

However, I am still writing poetry and sending it off, and there are a few bits of news to report. Firstly, I thought I’d post this poem, which recently won a small competition on the Poetry Nook site:


The station was too far to walk.  Too late!
I curse the cold and ask why Waterloo
in March is such a hostile place.
The rain is stronger now; it traps
the neon glare and brings these dirty
streets an unaccustomed sheen.  I huddle
in my coat and think of home: hot food
and soft sheets cosseting my skin.

Two sentries guard the road ahead;
two old men, hunched and withered,
hurling riddles at imagined foes.
Words tumble formless from their broken
mouths; I hear them smash like raindrops
on the path and wonder who threw out
the shells of these rain-blasted minds
and called them sane.

Finding no coin, I brave the crossfire
of their bleak, reproachful stares.
The rain rebukes me, angry wind
assails and savages my limbs.
They watch me pass, eyes vacant, lifeless
and through I hundred wounds I bleed
my shame
– that I have somewhere warm to sleep tonight.

In other news, I have two poems, Sphere and Star in issue 9 of WayWords (themed on Space) https://www.writersworkout.net/waywords

I also have two poems, Meeting my Guitar and Metamorphosis, in the forthcoming collection Changes, to be published by Hammond House at the end of this month. https://www.hammondhousepublishing.com/online-store

Finally, (slightly old news now!) my poem Celebrity was in the December issue of Lighten up Online

Watch this space for news of Village Voices, an anthology from Marsden Community Poetry, soon to be published by Maytree Press.