9 Poets + 3 books = Ho3

Tessa Berring

photo :Nick Patrick





 She slops her thighs in the sorry little moat

and longs to be a dappled carp,

but God gave her legs

like soft heavy scissors.

 I am finding things to talk about

like fish and scissors and my legs.

 Once I did a quiz:

 What is your favourite part of your body?

 My legs.

 You are ready for anything!

I don’t know why I said legs,

I don’t know why...


Jane Bonnyman

photo : Rowan McMillan



The smell of moth killer in the hall,

the standard lamp, the wooden floor,

the giant mirror with my face,

the back of your head, your voice.

I dig my hands deep into my coat,

searching for odd crumbs, words

so used to the dark they might not survive

the dance in air, the giddy leap for light.

I try them once and know they won’t make

half the distance between us now.

They mingle with the gathering dust,

settling soundlessly. You don’t see them

as your fingertip sweeps the bookshelf,

                  brushes their presence from the wall.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill

photo :Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

On seeing Iran in the news, I want to say


my grandmother was called Nasrin, 

that she died two years ago in Tabriz

and I couldn’t go to say goodbye,

that she knew nothing of power,

nuclear or otherwise. I want to say

that the fires for Chahar Shanbeh Suri

were built by the hands of our neighbours,

and as children we were taught to jump

and not be caught by the flame. I want to say

my cousin Elnaz, the one born after I left,

has a son and two degrees in Chemistry, 

and trouble getting a job. I want to say

that the night we swam towards

the moon hanging over the horizon

of Caspian Sea, we found ourselves 

kneeling on a sandbar we couldn’t see,

like a last gift. I want to say

         I’m the wrong person to ask.

Logie Fielding

photo : Elizabeth King

Whole Naked Man


In my kitchen, there is

a whole naked man.

Complete, unabridged –


lurching, primitive,

an early form of pale flesh,

bristle and paunch.


He moves upright

on two hind legs, as if

still a novel stance;


yawns, arches his back

like a beast.

Strange animal grace –


I can’t help but think

civilisation a mistake.

This is enough.


He is swaying gently

by the sink, hands sunk


to washing up.

Pippa Goldschmidt

photo : Bob McDevitt

The Sun is not where you see it


Close, now,

to the top of the mountain.

The map’s fingerprint of contours swirling around me.

I am transmitted to satellites

forever falling.


Light scrambling free from the Sun’s surface

takes eight minutes to get here

time enough for the Sun to move a handspan

and dodge me

time enough to eat my apple

and send the core of its remains

looping away in the curve

I have learnt to predict from the books.


I must be precise in my steps.

The edge of that path’s just a foot width away.

‘Attempt this route only in good visibility’

instructs the guidebook


but right now the Sun is invisible.

Nalini Paul



Colour is a flame that you hold

in the mind,

it is the eye that looks back

without asking.


When the flame is in the hand

it becomes something else:

you hold it to the mirror



That mirror might get darkened

when the flame is too bright,

so the object in your hand keeps

you right.


When you walk into a forest

or along the riverside, each leaf

reminds you that landscapes are alive:

their dimensions give you breath.


When you gather leaves towards the death

of the year, pumpkins, clementines

and crepe paper appear:

orange glimmers

of long-ago laughter.


Orange is the leaf

just before its most intense,

the shade that falls in waking

to the flame.


Katie Ailes

Phot : Perry Jonsson



The museum display says dominoes only hold

potential energy when they are still



which is to say that the fall

slaps them into letting go


which is to say that you and I have been holding

each other at a thumb’s distance for a long time,


afraid to know how much power we could have

should we touch

and how much it would cost


to spend it

Katy Ewing

Photo : Tim Ewing

Friday Morning


You know the news already in your belly,

prepared for the worst

as if that helps.


Belief’s a funny thing; believe in yourself,

believe there can be justice, believe

or lose the race.


Just as in love you have to risk yourself,

give yourself - know that a protected heart

is stranded and alone -


you had to build this better future

as solid as the ground

or lose the possibility of getting there,  

accept this sorry lot.


So now, the counts all in, the numbers told,

you want to cry. Gut-punched by fate,


heartsick, undone.

Iona Lee

Photo : Maddie Chalmers

Love Me Not


Bones are the constant beat.

But, breaking,
entangled in roots they curl.




Spinning a slow spiral
up my spine.




I am sprouting sorrel,
blooming just below my collar-bone.


Remind me not to pick at petals.
“Does he love me?
Love me not?”


Love me,
love me not.



For my bones are the constant beat
and they will grow their own garden,
not wait for someone
to bring me flowers.