Editor’s Choice

Editors of the workshop magazine are asked to identify three favourite poems from their edition.

Nigel Kent, editor of OUP 198, selected the following poems. Congratulations to the poets.


White on white.  A paler shade, she
wore it,
not with pride.
A mask
of red, may well have proved
a truer place to hide.
White on white.  In drifts, it fell. Abandoning
the trip,
red boots discarded...
Perhaps we might
avoid this censorship.
White on white.  So crisp, so clean.
This sterile air offensive,
such purity should wear
red pearls,
where sanctions live - but none apply.
Jane Avery

Wilko at The Railway - Roxette
Called from the bar at the local pub
six years after the medics
said he wouldn’t be here
he owns the stage,
talks through the verse
and rolls back years
in the middle eight
with that toe-heel shuffle
and staccato charge
across the floor
the staring eyes
and machine-gun stance
guitar aimed at the audience
whose mobile phones are raised
as if to deflect the shots
while filming every chord
“Just another Sunday”
someone said
at the Railway in Southend,
as over forty years
are brought again to life
and somehow
there is magic on the stage
from the man who has the tricks
to get his business fixed.
Adrian Green

A Jug of Flowers

We picked nothing that mattered
but she was entranced
            We wandered the garden
looking   Pink was her favourite colour
She needed help to find stems
            that were long enough
It was hard for her to break them
She's gone back now
            to a stiff new uniform
and the first days in a classroom
Only the flowers are left
            the hydrangea  
partly battered by the wind
chive flowers with stalks
too tough to eat
            and a weed
which my book informs me is marjoram
In the small brown jug her flowers fade
I can't bring myself to pack her toys away
Jenny Hamlett

Julie Gilligan, editor of OUP 197, selected the following poems. Congratulations to the poets.

Always in my heart

They emptied the shed first,
I heard them breathing in my grandad's life
and coughing it out in vulgar jokes.
Suffocating his gentle tobacco with
their sweat and bacon rolls.
They carried his life away in a careless crocodile
of glue pots, door handles and towering jars of nails.
They dropped his treasured vase
and walked across the shards like so much rubble,
my grandma gummed to their boots.
After they had gone the shed was bare.
I said sorry to his shadow and whispered my love
to his favourite jumper, darned and abandoned on
the dusty floor.

Diane Schofield
The walrus and the elephant

While sitting on the sea one day
I heard a walrus sing
an aria of Don José
about the joys of spring.
He sang of bees and flowers
though all around was ice.
He sang for hours and hours.
It sounded rather nice.
An elephant flew past apace
trumpeting his woe.
“That song” he said “is out of place
and far too loud, you know.”
The walrus glanced at him and said
“It’s sad my heartfelt song
fails to move your trunky head
though I sing the whole day long.”
The walrus and the elephant
argued long and loud.
Their voices were so vehement
they attracted quite a crowd.
A carpenter who wanted quiet
told them to make peace.
“That walrus needs a change of diet
and then the noise might cease.”
He took the walrus from the group.
They walked off hand in hand.
to where a little oyster troupe
was dancing on the sand.
The rest you know, a saddish rhyme
of greed exploiting trust,
the commonest unpunished crime.
Alas, ’twas ever thus.

Barbara Cumbers
Impression of an autopsy

carcass split
groin to throat
to ear that takes
no note cage
and heart
as ribs are snapped
systems now removed and
drawn with skill apart are laid
out side-by-side black blood lumps
to slab as disassociating hands peel
mask from skull crack its crown then
pluck the person-kernel from its
seat anatomic bric-a-brac complete
the wagered weight's confirmed
rashered now examined slice by
slice in search of maggot death
that sucked life from this
meat left it cold and foul
mortician's labour done
the belly offal-stuffed
is stitched the
scrubbed corpse
hosed and dried
flesh made clean
hair made neat the
documented task's
complete now
shrouded white
the carrion's
to rituals
and tears
so worded-
earth may
strip these
bones of

Peter Meredith-Smith