Creatrix 29 Poetry

June 2015

Poetry Selectors: Peter Jeffrey OAM and Flora Smith

Submissions Manager: Jan Napier

Web Layout: Gary De Piazzi


D Barnes

Life is a moment in time

Rosie Barter


cradle moon

Grandma Phoebe

Kaye Brand

Sonnet For Maurice

Coral Carter

I was told words are my friends

Sue Clennell

Under Martin Sharpe’s Wing

Gary De Piazzi

Beating Back The Memories

Derek Fenton

The Font Of All Wisdom

The Commuter

Margaret Ferrell


Rosalind Franklin

Dawn Service

Kevin Gillam

and then Nana

gifts for cloud

G. McGough


Mike Greenacre

Between My Teeth

Fast Food Wrappers

Julia Gross

Three Divers

White Bones

Ruari Jack Hughes


Ross Jackson



Tricia Kelly

Finding Face

A.R. Levett

Ode To An Era Of Blue Skies


Rosemary Longhurst


Meryl Manoy

Olden Days

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

makeup on midland line

Jan Napier

Accessory The Facts

Poets And Strays

Kitty Niemann


Francis Richardson


Empty Church

Flora Smith

the lost language of rain

L.A. Smith

The Connoisseur

Traudl Tan

not just yet

Gail Willems

Dementia Of The Housewife


Helen Doran-Wu

Industrial Tomatoes


Book Review by Kevin Gillam

“The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” by Danny Gunzburg


Life is a moment in time


fisherman –

entreat the universe
you whirl her ebb
dance her tune, like the fish

spinning on your line

surging silver in sapphire seas
twists flying, a life/death battle

hooked on a line pivots

an electrified game fish, unyielding

for the battle for existence

you, fisherman

you are like quicksilver that melts

flows to lie quiescent

the sea is your combatant’s veil

the bored deckhand

checks his watch; just over five hours

and the mêlée

is over

time is life

nothing lives forever

murmurs a youthful deckhand

Ask the electrified game fish
arched, glazed-eyed, dying

Nothing stays forever
save time eternal





Me? Still a girl.


Though in the gilt-framed oval mirror

someone slack-jawed and cracked

looks back.

Do you see me as I do?

Or is your heart as blind

as mine is enduring

in its ambivalence.


We do not speak of our past.

I have put up the gate.

Keep it locked.

Admit you like a short-term guest

into the neat parlour of my heart’s mansion.

You’ve been tidied away.

Letters in a shoebox from hip strangers.

Black and white photos from Delphi,

Cairo, Barcelona, Jaipur, Tehran.

Dried roses.


The ring.


Better to forget me I say,

deaf as I am to your knocking.

But you insist on persisting, grinning,

yellow-toothed through the key-hole.

Rosie Barter

cradle moon

fine lick of moon

a boat

a grin

a cradle for my lust

it was September then

that same new moon

when you flew to her in Vienna


left me on the edge

in love with honey and lies

and that memory of you

a blond-haired boy

in a black-tarred schoolyard

who cared one humid day

when a softball cracked my head

as I drank from the tap

laid your cool hand on my temple

asked are you alright?

left your imprint in memory

like some kind of saint


forty years on when we met as lovers

you warned me of your lies


long sentences of silence came

before the postcard of Klimt’s Kiss

mailed in Vienna with her

too gentle to disappoint

longer still between the telling

of absentee truths


it took an age to let go

to see that cradle moon

and not you

Rosie Barter

Grandma Phoebe: 1915 Bunbury


She hovers,

half-turned away behind the privet,

caught flitting

by the slow old Kodak shutter.

Even blurred she’s a pretty ghost,

trim waist, neat ankles, henna curls.


Off to one side, a spry man,

twirled moustache, shorter than her,

in waistcoat, cravat, gold fob.

Much older, he prays

for this Irish seamstress

to become his bride, God willing,

he being Greek and unworthy,

alien to this drab, savage land.


He waits. He hopes. He watches.

He does not know

that in her belly

my father already ripens.

Rosie Barter



Sonnet For Maurice

Perpetuity of love and motion

Not unlike the perennial roses

Not unlike endless perfumed lotion

Today this unique occasion poses

The rose, symbol of adoration, love

So reflects your quiet nurturing calm

A colourful old world and well-worn glove

Spreading joy, ease, comfort and soulful balm

But you can also be the thorny rose

Bewitching, exquisite shape, climbing high

The wind of destiny changes and blows

Yet always your optimism is nigh

Rose oils blended, captured over time

Unite our lives and love in fragrant rhyme

Kaye Brand


I was told words are my friends. Just let them come down as a shower or pour thin, spin from somewhere high and crawl through the brain, down muscle, tissue, tendons and bones to wriggle out of my hand into marks before becoming a howl across my tongue through my stretched wide lips in cold globs or hot metal sprays.

from above to within to without

It is what I must do having been given the gift. I must write down what I am given.

Unleash. Unfetter. Unknot.

Lately, I feel someone behind me and it could be they are not kind, could be they want to hurt the caged. The words are supposed to open gateways, expose tiny doors, like praying hands together, then open like a book. They are supposed to move around and play with me, play with each other.

Can you see this? Do you see? See it, damn you! See it!

But the lock remains and all that is said is not here, something else calls, a little bit of dark in all of the light. It looks comforting, arms of glass, glint, crack to splinters, my spin has stopped and the beep goes on without me. The flowers are sharp and dry and hard, dust does not remember.

So where are you words from the word playground?

My address is still the same —



Coral Carter


Under Martin Sharp’s Wing

TT.O. is the last pop artist

left over from when art blew out

like bubble gum,

hair was feral,

and purple dated pink.

He nests in numbers.

Was murdered in a former life

scratching an equation on the path

instead of heeding the soldier.

Doesn’t really belong to square root Melbourne,

more Luna Park,

more cocky on shoulder.

Light on his feet,

all the king’s horses

won’t take the jazz

from his cello.

Sue Clennell


Beating Back Memories

A little girl beating the ground

fills echoes with rhythm.

The clash of one on one

where triumph is unknown

and ache sits deep.

A tear shaped too easily

by memories that butt against a wall

finger the finest crack until

the held builds beyond retention.

Dumps its weight

with an exhalation of anger

to transform ghosts into pumped arms

and clenched fists.

Find vent in the transferred rise and fall

to expend another ragged breath.

And as the dedication of each beat wanes

there is a sensibility that finds favour

in the softening of her shoulders

to release the shudder in each blow.

Shift the set of her features to dainty

and smother the demon with seductive tones.

Swaps the black garbed winter for summer

until the etched memory loses its jagged edge

and the world rotates once more

foreign to a little girl

beating the ground.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi


The Font Of All Wisdom

I hang around the water fountain

and I’m so, so, too cool for school!

Don’t ask me to climb a Maths mountain.

I hang around the water fountain

and I don’t like all this countin’

and dunno why some say I’m a fool.

I hang around the water fountain

and I’m so, so, too school for school!

Derek Fenton

The Commuter

If I should die think only this of me;

that there’s some corner of the Underground

that’ll be forever charge and ticket free.

In that rich earth, a gentle rumbling sound,

a dust, which London Transport made of me;

suited, I thought, to ease of getting around

with the Telegraph resting on my knee

and an idyllic journey homeward bound.

And think this heart, all worry shed away

instead of too many passengers, less,

where to everyone a seat is given

no matter what the time of night or day,

and laughter, learnt of friends, and gentleness

in hearts, at peace, under a London heaven.

Derek Fenton

With apologies to Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”.





After visiting the Jack Vettriano Retrospective at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland December 2013


Your eyes first take in colour, crisp and clean-edged.

As you stop to look, the mind is engaged,

mood created.  Questions come to the surface.

This is narrative realism, but not all is revealed.

Paintings here evoke the sinister, erotic, joyful and more.

He tells stories.  Look closer, stories within stories.

Confesses to stealing from the masters:  discover a nod

to Cadell; the honesty of Caravaggio and Courbet;

perhaps Toulouse-Lautrec’s bold simplicity. Light

and shade make figures more real and tangible.

Mystery still before you, puzzles which might

be solved:  imagine these figures coming to life

for there is a cinematic quality about the work,

reminiscent of Hollywood and its perfect people.

The paintings are on loan from private collectors

around the world; several famous names appear.

On video, listen to the artist, speaking with new

confidence, touched and honoured by this retrospective.

Whatever detractors say, the exhibition attracts thousands.

Take a last look at vitality, emotion and the intrigue of stories.

Artists have disturbed and baffled over centuries.

This one has held on to belief in himself.

He dances to a different rhythm.


Margaret Ferrell




Dawn Service

Standing in silence in the dark

Crowds of people young and old

Silence Dark Silence

A child’s cry a bird warbles

Echoing through the still silent air

Silence Standing Staring

Sentinel towering tall over all

Standing in wreaths of remembrance

Silence Stooping Silence

Sunlight glows on the crowd

Brings colour to the people

Shapes Standing silent

The Last Post at dawn

A prayer for soldiers fallen

Silent voices calling Silence

Rosalind Franklin



           and then Nana


its Jaffas that pull me back, aged three,

taken to Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour,

on a cloudless April day to meet Nana

off the boat, Nana from England on the

Oriana, Nana just a word, not breath or

flesh or scent yet, younger brother in

monkey straps for fear of falling into water,

older brother and I in Sunday best,

the great hulk of ship berthing, ropes being flung,

horn sounding, streamers, and Mum crying out

and pointing “there’s Nana!”, me staring into the sea

of faces lining the deck, gangplank into place

and then inside, in the great Hall, squeals of delight,

tears and kisses, camera flashes, and Nana

in pill-box hat, short Nana, perfumed Nana

reaching down to me, lifting me, and then Nana

with a box of Jaffas, one each of us three,

me intoxicated on just the scent

Kevin Gillam

            gifts for cloud


somewhere beyond lights are on                       lights are going off

where road and thought conspire    moon and Blackwood seeping

between a kitchen chair and unbreathing                           don’t go

yonder, no, but you do, off amongst tuarts                                 are

lights replaced by creed?             you, book fallen, sit where lights

are not needed for word                                       laminex table, on,

on, letters not scrawled now, skin chilled and clammy              are

lights swaddling you? the kindling stacked, though heat and lights

are but gifts for cloud                         medals, marches, all beyond,

gone to where the Blackwood eddies and pools                    not be-

ing, not even that                           last call for fluorescence, where

off-going are lights                on aren’t lights, beyond where-some

Kevin Gillam



This is no longer mine

To hide, secret, ignore.

The written word I’m told

The inner me explores . . .

And since the words are written

Do they forever make me whole?

Or, by confession driven

Berate my very soul –

For someone else must

Bear my cross

So still I can’t be free

Unless my sin I must confess

To One who loves yet me.

  1. McGough 


Between My Teeth

Dentist visits as a child

were always tinged with fear –

the foot-long needle you’d

feel from across the room,

the gangster masks they’d wear

and the electrified instruments that

turned your mouth into a

construction site with ‘no escape’.

I was in my eighteenth year when

the dentist announced that my

wisdom teeth should be plucked

from me as forbidden fruit, but

rebellious itchings arched my mind

for battle – having discarded guidance

on smoking, drinking & sex, this

was another ploy to disarm me.

With father-like regret, he warned

I’d have difficulty pronouncing

some words in later years, so I assured

him ‘I’d see about it then’, feeling

I’d beaten the bastard – everyone knows

how dentists throw out lines to reel you

in to extract those expensive monsters,

to see you approach manhood, incomplete!

And now I wonder, if he, in old age

remembers the crowding of growing years

and the cocky style I watched my front

teeth bend inwards, leaving me to blow a

hybrid ‘s’ through my side teeth…

and if, in The End, he’ll be waiting for me

with a well rehearsed grin: “Open wide,

ya little bastard, or I’ll punch them in!”

Mike Greenacre

Fast Food Wrappers

The first one south of the Swan

was Kentucky Fried, a

king Neon sign standing

as a statement that

a New Age Eatery had

come to town, almost

a mental barrier

to our normal lives –

tradition a constant silencer

of young desires,

like a forbidden word.

It’s Finger Lickin’ Good’

suddenly became a catch-cry

of childhood interaction

at school and on the

playing field – ‘with 16 Herbs

and Spices’ you knew you

were getting the best deal.

Hungry Jacks in Melville

was a new teenage adventure-

-land of American Burgers

and young girls waiting

for a stranger with a whopper

to take them with the fries

that jingle running wildly

through our minds: “It takes

two hands, to han-dle a

whopper!” …

Sounds good, but it was

never an easy play, long hair

and jeans an expected dialogue

that more-times than not, came

unstuck between the jokes and

kisses and unzippings in-between

Mike Greenacre


Three Divers

The sea shines black this morning

no sun rays penetrate the deep

where predators lurk

Three divers, out beyond the reef

hunting in a pack

safety in numbers

A dark fin breaks the surface

Julia Gross

White Bones

White bones rise up to the surface

on a dry dusty track

piled in a stupa

a seven storey stack

white bones, refuse

dumped in a ditch

white bones

beneath our feet

procession of tourists

tramping across the killing field

Julia Gross




The town swelters.

Out on the edge, wind is lifting.

In the town heat wraps around everything;

the sense of waiting is palpable.

Untethered longings are held in cloying stasis.

The wind is twitching, uncertain.

A window crashes down in its slats;

a car splutters into movement and elbows down the street.

The heat oozes from pavement and walls of buildings.

The wind gathers its skirts.

There are no billboards in this town;

surreal in the strangeness of unadorned walls.

Streets numbered rather than named.

Scurries of dust lift uncertainly, collapse.

The bus enters.

The town can’t be bothered.

Staggering down the street like a drunk reaching home;

gives up in front of the low-roofed pale-faced motel.

Motley passengers alight to appalling fever of air.

The town is comatose, abeyanced.

They wade through the viscous atmosphere;

spill through the door into the air-conditioned foyer.

Arrival declares exhaustion, no guarantee of survival.

Loitering, the town sits on its haunches.

The grinding of arthritic gears states the bus’s intention;

leaving without regret, definite about the going.

They’re marooned, stranded in each other’s company.

Silence calls downright from the town.

The people are alone.

Somewhere animals cry as animals must.

They sit on their beds, walk to the window and stare;

the space beyond the room answers in emptiness.

Together and apart, all thought cascades inwards.

Moonlight mills around, diffusing/confusing.

They’ve hauled their lives up the crater walls;

carried hopes and ambitions to the cauldron’s base.

Fallen in a heap of cobbled unease and hesitance.

Contradiction pounds softly at the door.

Tomorrow is a plan for reconnection, a time for promises;

it should be all that’s needed to reassure bindings.

But tonight’s needs reach out to blank desire.

Townsend resonates in stilly silence.

Ruari Jack Hughes



Glitter freckles the riverside,

summer gushing uncorked champagne.

A purring launch scatters the stars.

Choppy water slaps a refrain;

sun a topaz on the tide as

glitter freckles the riverside.

From a yellow ochre villa

a European car descends,

the purring launch scatters the stars.

Lemon light sheen on surface,

spars of trees sighing on the bends.

glitter freckling the riverside.

Plunging darkness, the water tars,

heightens the lustre of glimmer,

a purring launch scattering stars.

Somewhere else blows your golden hair

a gilded garden growing there,

a purring launch scatters the stars

glitter freckling the riverside.

Ross Jackson



Six A.M.

in shadow

the top half of a tattoo shop

the bottom half in sun

glinting on the front step

a bee on the lip

of an empty can of cider

a woman passed out

beside spilt chips, seagulls

flying in from a long way off

Ross Jackson


Finding Face

Flavour Face

Rapid changing  proliferating

One needs to know

Is it yes or go

She blinks an eye

Wets her lip

Turns askance

And I, and I

I mellow

I melt into tallow

It was just a face

Just a face

Never again to land upon my heart

Where rainbows lie gathering dust

Just, yes just

A face gone late

Saturated to the point of knowing

Never slowing, always glowing

The mirror looking, lens so small

A quiet, dreaded wonderland

Tricia  Kelly


Ode To An Era Of Blue Skies


In childhood

we peddled heli-cycles through block worlds

raced hedgehogs through pixelated landscapes

beat goons through hate-filled streets.

During our teens

we mastered martial artists’ combos

powerslid Hornets around fossil-filled canyons

rode genetically engineered dragons to destroy towers.

Throughout our twenties

we sailed ships across pirate-filled skies

sped passengers around billboard-laden cityscapes

reported news in rhythmic dance steps.

But in our thirties digital amusement requires

repetitive quests through drab environments

gunning down hyper-realistic enemies

fucking then killing prostitutes.

This adult entertainment

makes us reach for yellowing computers

our modern entertainment systems

becoming dusty mausoleums.

  1. R. Levett



A worn colouring book

pages tattered and torn

shades scrawled beyond

outlined figures and places.

When she means so much

it’s hard not to let her scribbles

caked as they are

colour my thoughts and feelings.

  1. R. Levett



a sonnet

How do I hate age? Let me count the ways:

It adds lines and limitations, repays

With interest the debts of youth (with fees)

So energy’s o’erdrawn, all assets seized.

The glow of youthful skin is gone these days

Tresses of chestnut hair now whites and greys

Aids needed now for eyes, ears, hips and knees

And each limb aches which once moved free, with ease.

The rolling years have added sags of flesh

Which fall and flab and fold in gross excess.

Memories hang heavy, tasting of regret

For deeds not done, while errors linger yet.

Firmness of form and purpose, both are lost

Yet I remain, racked, wrecked, to count the cost.

Rosemary Longhurst


Olden Days

Too heavy to lift single handed

old tall uncrystalline glass

with frothy delicious milkshake

redolent of the days past.

In those days a milkman delivered

with horse and cart he would come

clip –clop you would hear him so early

as to your back door he’d run.

A billy you left with a note

to tell him how many pints

he’d ladle it out of his churn

then off next door he would sprint.

Another clip-clop some hours later

the baker came with fresh bread –

the newly baked loaves – what aroma –

not sliced but crusty instead.

The fishmonger also would call

with basket full of his catch

he’d fillet them in the wash-house

dhu-fish or mackerel or sprats.

Our poultry man weekly delivered

a fowl plucked ready to roast

for our Sunday dinner as usual

before we drove to the coast.

The green-grocer’s truck displayed produce

the season’s vegies and fruit

a set of old scales with some weights –

he used his head to compute!

Before all our houses had fridges

we used ice-chests in their stead

the iceman would put a large block in

the top which was lined with lead.

The grocer’s shop stood on the corner

you’d phone your order – he’d say

“ and when would you like it delivered?”

He’d come the very next day.

Well now it has gone the full circle

these changes suit us just fine

delivery still door to door but

you have to order on line.

 Meryl Manoy


makeup on midland line

she is a matisse, monet

in the way she dabs her

face to make up a mask

representing how she


. train wheels squeal in

to motion & lotion is

applied to hide ravages

time enshrines: age in


. she smooths grooves

to deflect & invoke an

illusion of youth, even

though she is young her


. skull as parchment she

writes a poem upon her

face, stroking into place

phrasing so eloquently


. an iPhone mirrors back

what her brushes attack

, lacquer a factor in her

arrangement of attractor

: self-portraiture

is a craft that arcs her

eyelashes as her eyes

spark, admiring the art

of self construction she


Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM)


Accessory – The Facts


Ode to an old bag

I was her favourite

she always kept me close.

We went everywhere together.

My lady couldn’t keep her hands off me

adored the feel of  my soft golden skin

touted my elegance  and class

to all of her envious friends.

Oh I was high maintenance alright

much admired and sought after

but well worth it.

In me she had everything she needed

I was open when she needed me to be

but shut up at a touch.

Alas     age has undone me

another has taken my place by her side.

I am empty     discarded       no longer desired.

Left hanging around a door knob

I am coming apart at the seams.

Jan Napier

Poets And Strays

On unsigned crossroads poets and strays

long in black   too far alone

garnish winter with cayenne

swig the blue wines of Serbia

recoil from luminous scorpions

ginger up stanzas savoured in cellars

stuff them in burlap and hawk them

on streets afire with  join the dots tail lights.

Nobody buys so the tumbleweed speakers

drift underground pens held like carving knives

at Christmas tables      ready to dissect    strip

bare rebuffs       relish their  hunger.

Jan Napier



I shall seek the snow white beach

for shells the sea has kept from reach

And place those treasures from the sea

next to a photograph of thee

The snow upon the ground is pure

But I, the cool north pole, endure

To seek the softest snow on high

To cool your brow, as tired you lie

And early stars that light the night

I shall steal and place them bright

About you as an aura glows

That lights the darkest place you go

‘Forget-me-knots’ in pink and pale

Shadows cream, of love’s detail

Will be laid down – on where you sleep

To dream sweet dreams of ME, my sweet

Kitty Niemann


Things: March 19th


William Carlos Williams said

poetry is about things:

those trees out there

waiting for the sunset

to silhouette them

about the decal

swinging from a red ribbon

of three so different cats

stirring slightly

although there is no breeze

about the pen-ink drawing

of my hero Ibsen

whose March birthday

is tomorrow

watching me

It is about

my next faceless woman

emerging from grey clay

looking down

at what may be a child

and Updike words

which say: watch this

I am showing you

in this book: these

battered wondrous things


Frances Richardson


Empty Church

In an autumnal country town

stepping from an annual fair

to clean mustiness; a glow of polished wood

Here again, this time

there will be that old feeling

This time, here again

Cathedrals, churches, minsters

bend ancient styles in stone

Only Dioceses and roads have different names

Always the expected pleasure

elusive hope – as usual

This time, this time

The same savoured chill

that breathing silence

hymns seeping from stone walls

Images of saints

whose colours alter – slightly

raise similar scars for inspection

Straight-laced footsteps echo

from familiar tiles

to a pew, the provided hassock

sometimes a long raised plank.

One sits with silent sigh

That one day, this time

Frances Richardson


the lost language of rain


We had forgotten rain,

spoken so long

the language of drought

and dams run dry

that words are gone;

damp, sodden, soaked

all we have left in that dialect.

We remember these:

a huge lusting after rubber boots,

the wickedness in puddles,

coming home in rain,

clothes smelling like draggled cats.

Mum cross. Rubbing us down.

That and the hot cocoa.

Now memory does not serve.

We fight umbrellas,

morphed from furled familiars,

open them against the wind.

Exhausted birds

flung from migration’s mind map,

they flap ungainly on landfall.

This rain is another language.

Flora Smith

First published in the anthology Amber Contains the Sun 2008, by Quintessence.


The Connoisseur


I knew exactly what he sought

in those convoluted corridors

when he asked: Where on earth is SHE?

Where among the scores of pale virgins and scarlet whores

and other saints and sinners the world ignores

as they head for that enigmatic smile everyone adores?

Where could he find the Mona Lisa by da Vinci?

I knew exactly what he sought

in those convoluted corridors

when he asked: Where on earth is SHE?

Laurie Smith


not just yet

this retired citizens’ choir

has members not exactly young

mostly women, fewer men

all either white or grey on top

faces life-lined and age wrinkled

one even in a wheelchair

so totally courageous!

all singing Greensleeves – happily

cautiously I peer around

my goodness! I should not have come

not a place to have some fun

these people are all old !

embarrassed I try to look polite

hoping no-one would suspect

such disparaging thoughts

crackling in my head

would they not think

the same of me

that I look old

while they feel young

to dye one’s hair as many do

is only part of the taboo

of hiding or disguising a reality

some of us don’t wish to see

just yet

Traudl Tan


Dementia Of The Housewife   

The everyday has swallowed the chance

to walk through murals cut thin with sunlight

at the crossroads wind music grabs at elbows

steers duty to duty    blocks of time fall    stick

disintegrate    leave a bag overburdened with home

freedom has picked her up    plays for a time

she has evidence in colours and a tangle of voices

hooked in flesh and dreams

staring into her thoughts she slips away

Gail Willems



a string puppet charting space

in ocean spanning flight

dip and weft of wing

as sunlight slips the western sky

graceful galleon on ocean air

deaf angel in a celestial game

in your beat and strum of wings you rig the sky

fill the void    feed quiet hunger

show the world that here for a moment is harmony

Gail Willems


Industrial Tomatoes


At work

Everyone sits

I sit

You sit

All day


Ill defined threat

In chairs that encase our very being

Posture correct

Emotions taut

Bright and glamorous in our frocks and lipstick

We spit out our work

And are spat out at the end of the day


Unloved by human hands

Raw and rotten on the inside

Picked and plucked till we fall

In pain

To the physio, the pub, the pills

But the holidays

Oh, the holidays

Sitting with wine

By the beach

Breathe slowly



Toes wriggling in the sand

Fingers caressing rocks

Aqua blue waves cresting


Smashing waves

White foam rushing

Frothing on the sand


Wind in my hair

Smell of salt

Secret passages in my mind





Helen Doran-Wu


Kevin Gillam’s Launch Speech


“The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop”


by Danny Gunzburg  



Danny Gunzburg is a master of rhythm. He’s also fairly adept at spinning a pretty wild simile or zany metaphor. And additionally, he possesses a particular knack for empowering a series of lines with emotion, be it frivolous love or deep felt yearning or joyous bouquets of hope. Put these three elements together – strong rhythm, punchy imagery and deep-felt emotion and you have, of course, song lyrics. And its no accident that Danny’s initials DG rhyme perfectly with BD, those of Bob Dylan.

This afternoon I’d like to take you on a bit of a journey, a small wander if you will, a tasting plate, a serving of poetic tapas as I dip into “The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” and share with you some of its wonderful moments.

Let’s begin with rhythm. Listen to these first two stanzas from ‘Her Name’:

She came to me in mirrors,

the silence of her skin,

I gave my heart to doctors,

to stop the rot within.

I gave my heart to windows,

I gave my heart to pales,

I sold my soul to boat men,

who fly without sails.

The very sense and combination of “mirrors” and “windows” and “skin” creates its own bounce, but here the rhythm and drive of the lines invites us on the journey, beckons us to jump aboard. And Danny’s use of repetition, here in the lines “I gave”,

“I gave” also generates this rhythmic mantra. And in ‘Song to Her/Song to Him’, listen to the fourth stanza:

She takes you where the vision sings

of caterpillars, birds and kings,

and if she sees you one more time,

you’ll write a poem made of wine.

Again the heart-like thump within each line is so very palpable. Not to mention the linking up of caterpillars, birds and kings. Wonderful! And a third rhythmic example,

From ‘My Love’:

So if you want to tell her

that loving is a sin,

and nothing made of whispers

can ever hope to win,

then write her twenty letters

but post them in the rain,

then turn away forever

and watch her love again.

This and many other poems in the collection demonstrate a real attention to the prose-like pull of poetry and the potential that rhythm has in leading the reader along each line.

But for me, the truly stand out singular feature of Danny’s writing is these fantastic similes and metaphors! Who would have the audacity to think up and combine such disparate elements? Here, from ‘Stephanie Poem’:

Stephanie, I do believe you are a gentle witch and you

stumble across your spells like a Persian cat would fall into a vat

of lemonade.

I had coffee and a doughnut with you but our conversation

was so sparkling that (even) the doughnut took third place.

Stephanie I’m sure your voice is softer than an aeroplane made entirely

from wool……

And in ‘Rainbow Poem’, a veritable cornucopia of descriptions of love:

Love is an ancient God that looks slowly in the

mirror, wise and sacred….

Love is an ancient God who walks on carpet

and leases a flat, a 70’s shag-pile bonanza beauty….

Love is a ball-park figure with high interest rates and low

premiums, an ice-cream pudding in a kindergarten side-show.

Love is a petal in an 18 wheel fork truck…..

Sometimes these images aren’t so driven and are more the opposite – very sly and oh so subversive. In ‘To Claire’ we close with the following lines:

Take me once again in the armchair of your smile.

You are the princess of the golden harmonica.

When you wink, the earth slides into holy rapture.

I’ve come here to be closer to prayer.

No one saw you dancing,

but I saw you dancing.

This combining of seemingly unconnected events, items, customs and ways of thinking has such an up-lifting effect upon the writing, startling the reader, beckoning us to read each line again.

There is throughout, also, a deep emotional tug to the writing, a weight, a gravitas of feeling that creates grounding and intensity. The final poem in the volume, ‘The Small Dark Hallway’, is imbued with some very succinct, supple and subtle thoughts.

The small dark hallway

of my mind is lit only

by a shy candle.

Small in that she

speaks to no one.

Dark in that only

the sky can know.

Of course, not all poems have such a degree of ponder. The final section of ‘And On A Moonlit Stage’ is an excellent example, where the intent is more playful:

We took our love to suns that burn a million fires,

that run where madness runs and satisfies desires,

and to a lake-less hill where destiny runs crazed

we took our modest fill of loving most amazed

and on a sunlit stage where attitudes run brief,

we saw our bodies rage, we took our mad relief.

And all of these emotions are very much linked with the now, the moment, the very stuff of what we all live in and live for and share. These two lines, from ‘I Walked’:

But winter made me silent,

and summer made me crave,

amply demonstrate the undeniable link between the cerebral and the scenic.

“The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” is a real tour-de-force in lyricism and rapture. This is a heartfelt and well crafted body of writing. And so , it is with great pleasure that I declare “The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” launched.