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Mary Buckley-Clarke Barbara Carpenter Francesca Heaney Phil Knight Dorothy Koenigsberger Joanna Lilley Sylvia Maclagan Daf Richards Ingrid Riley Charley Shaw Judy Stubley Gwynn Watt Carol Wolrich Writers
Cardinal Cox Anthony James Nigel Pretentious

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No chance to ripen before
rot sets in;
damage concealed beneath
delicate skin.
Flavour soured in the
fragile fruit -
too late to handle with care.

Grey mould takes hold
and, at last, the wound weeps,
poison released in decay.
Till a heart, the texture of
chiselled stone, is all that
remains to betray.


He would do it - explode this midlife crisis,
on the eve of his fortieth birthday.
Take a walk into no-man's land. Anything to escape
this grudging gloom, living in Dull Street.

The trouble was he'd always been unlucky.

A trudge to the off-licence with his wife's
last-minute list for tomorrow's party; cocktail
sticks and some more crisps - variety packs.
Celebrate? When all he wanted to do was cry?

The trouble was he'd always had bad timing.

He paused at the busy junction. For one
bated breath, he very nearly chose the new road
out of town. Then he went the way of all cowards
and shuffled to the safe place in the middle.

It's all right for you, mate. You're young.

Fixed on the traffic island, he was forced to wait
beside the war memorial; that concrete monolith,
forgotten by everyone until Remembrance Day.
The shell shock of seeing the names up close.

It's all right for you, mate. You're young.

James Harper, 18. Leonard Stevens, 19. And many more.
Roll-called around the edges. Often related.
And all taken from this undistinguished town.
Their epitaph worked in once-a-year words;

They gave their lives for our Freedom. Lest we forget.

A veteran too; Arthur Soames, aged 25. Captain.
There was a man in the off-licence buying champagne,
which he would drink at home with his wife tonight,
on the eve of his fortieth birthday.


A velvet day in November;
the estuary soft, as the tide
flows slowly and a fog cloaks
mildly. The sun is a gentle
friend, breaking through to
lay silver on the smooth water.
Brent geese feed on the
glittering mud, while gulls
glide soundlessly above,
and ships slide over the deep
channel, as if guided by an
unseen hand; too far off to
disturb this last refuge of calm,
in our franctic, fast-paced land.
And they want to build an airport
here and bring, night and day,
endless planes to scorch the
mist. So, fold up the quiet silk
of the lower Thames. Sleep,
while nature burns. Then,
when it's too late, weep
for a special place of peace
that will never return.

© All work copyright of Carol Wolrich.

CAROL's poems and short stories have been published by PEACE & FREEDOM PRESS, QWF, THE LADY, various anthologies, and on the Internet. Carol is from Benfleet, Essex.

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