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J. S. Watts

Looking For New Words

I am looking for new words,
words that do not drag their bags behind them,
do not walk in the footsteps of their own echoes.
I want words that set themselves alight,
scattering each and all they contain
to the circling winds of memory.
Words as fierce as fire-dyed chrysanthemums,
as strong as drums.

We are searching for new words,
words of truth and resonance,
putting others first and themselves after.
We are tired of words so spun and moulded
they split on politicians’ tongues,
equivocating with themselves in the delivery.
Words as fresh as fragile daisies,
as compelling as drums.

This world needs brave new words,
words of hope and promise,
offering refuge and compassion,
the soft rising light of humanity.
Why condone words barring the way,
proffering hard silence instead of welcome,
speech spitting torn petals of poppy and marigold
like the driving drum beats of war?


J.S.Watts is a poet and novelist. Her books include: poetry –  “Cats and Other Myths”, “ Years Ago You Coloured Me”, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” and “The Submerged Sea”, and novels – “A Darker Moon” and “Witchlight”. Her new novel, “Old Light” is due out in 2019.


Tim Taylor – Two Poems

This week, to celebrate the launch of Maytree 003, we are delighted to feature not one but two poems by Holmfirth based author, Tim Taylor. The two poems have been chosen because one made the cut and the other, sadly, didn’t. We still believe, however, that The Cowrie Shell deserves a greater audience and we are delighted to be able to feature it in the Village. Personally I really like the Cowrie Shell but unfortunately we just couldn’t make it fit in the collection – the tough choices of poet and editor! So now we like to think of the Cowrie Shell as the hidden track of Sea Without A Shore and it’s only right that we feature it alongside the key track in the pamphlet. Pioneer holds the clue to the title of the collection and inspired the choice of cover art which features the painting, Changing Light by Saltaire based artist, Paula Dunn.

You can purchase Sea Without A Shore on-line from our own Village Shop or, if you’re anywhere near Holmfirth on the 2 July, direct from Tim at his forthcoming launch event at Holmfirth Library.

The Cowrie Shell

“Just chuck ‘em in the skip,” she said
as if each object in that box
were not once part of me:
attached by long sinews of stories,
fed by flimsy arteries
through which a child’s heart
once pumped them full of meaning.

The box took them when life moved on.
Now lifeless, so I thought
but peeling back the cardboard
I could sense the gasps for air.
Each object in its turn cried out;
the child in me woke up
and would not let them go.

Among the marbles and the model cars
I found a cowrie shell: smooth, mottled,
exuding still the faintest smell of salt.
“You remember me,” it said
– that holiday in 1969”. I felt
a flickering of what seemed like recall.
I dug deep for that memory,
found it rotted by the years.
I steeled myself, obeyed
the pitiless reminder:
“you cannot keep them all.”

Not quite big enough to be an ornament,
if fitted better in a smaller hand.
I put it down: out fell a single grain of sand.


Humans made me
with exquisite care, but then, in fire
and violence, thrust me far away.
Obedient, I spied on giants,
sent my postcards home.
No more: their Earth
has long winked out of sight,
their Sun – a dot among its sister stars.
I am silent now: my masters
cannot see or hear me,
nor I them. Still, I travel on
bringing their message
to anyone in this infinity of black
who might yet care to see.

There being no one
I have found a purpose of my own:
to navigate this sea without a shore
to ride its tides, explore its nothingness,
to understand the nature of the void.
It lends perspective:
One day – not far away
by the eternal standards of this place –
humans, their Earth and all trace of it
will have folded into time.
Except for me: I travel on
bearing their image on my side
until swallowed by a star
or by the end of everything.

(Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter, lost contact with Earth on January 23, 2003. It is now thought to be 11 billion miles away. It carries a plaque with pictures of a man and woman.)


Tim Taylor is a Holmfirth based author who has previously published two novels. Sea Without A Shore is his debut poetry pamphlet. Visit our shop here

Image: Changing Light by Paula Dunn. Found out more here

Karen Dennison

Little Compton

I’ll stash the old cassette, that soundtrack you made me,
in my heart. I’ll rest my heart on the bench
of stone in the terracotta chapel where we sat
in its circular silence, read about a monument to love.

I’ll shrink the chapel down
so it fits on my palm, tie it to a rock, row a boat
out to the Surrey lake. As I reach out, offer the chapel
to its waters, its skin will shudder and break, then heal

the wound it makes. The little chapel will sink
to its bed and years of lake will rock my heart
to sleep and my heart will dream of your music,
unspooling from its tape.

Karen Dennison won the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition in 2011 resulting in the publication in 2012 of her first collection Counting Rain. Her second collection, The Paper House, was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in Spring 2019. Karen is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

M. E. Muir


Listen to science talking

excitable helium
inhabits this exo-planet

meta-analyses do not prove nothing
and nothing is never zero

identity waits floating
on a string held by a little girl
who runs ahead of us

she is looking for recognition
in far-off space

exo-planets transit Nasa’s K2
trying to tell us who we are

the red balloon carries her further
into our own identity over borders
where our envy builds

we trip up    running to catch her
wondering who on earth we are

I stretch for the balloon
but the string escapes me

I only want to be her


M. E. Muir is a Scot now living in London, former teacher and business consultant, some of whose work has recently been published in Dawntreader, Carillon, Morphrog, The Curlew and The London Grip.


Gerry Fabian

Heavy Footsteps

We sat after hours
with the drinks
getting warm and watery.
Alcohol gave
the conversation
dramatic purpose.
A kid,
just standing,
said, ”Staying alive”.

The cold stares confused,
then frightened him.
He was right, though.
When everything else
is sliced from the bone,

we want to be so much more.
We heap it
with dreams, desires, hopes,
promises and fiction.
It is so top-heavy,
it falls despite itself.
We knew that.
But the kid knew it too,
and he was
so damn young.


R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor.  He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. His web page is  He is the editor of Raw Dog Press His novels, Memphis Masquerade , Getting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense, are available at Smashwords and all other ebook publishers. His first book of published poems Parallels is available as an ebook and as a paperback at all major bookstores and on is his second book of published poems, Coming Out Of The Atlantic .

Rehan Qayoom

After Faiz

No it is not that the allure of the sun’s stilettos
That bedazzle the eyes
Or that the wiles of the dawn-breeze-route-beguiling gait
That roast the heart when in it reflected
Can no longer emerge in the elegance of another
Nor is it that beauty and love and desire
The rituals of Courtly Romance, the tradition of Chivalry
Have no role to play at the midnight masquerades
But that we live in this perpetual city you and I
Uninvited to the carousels
Nor hearing the horn-blow portending doomsday
What sempiternal taverns do this Muse and I haunt
In which none can hear the tumult of the revelers
Let alone catch the glass-heart shatter


Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally.  He is the author of About Time and other books.

Sue Bevan

I See You

I see you
a toddler
running towards me
arms open wide
eyes taking in
the whole world outside
that small body of yours.
I pick you up
lift you up
in a hug
in a humungous hug
as you cling to my neck
your nose snuggling down
deep under my hair
taking in the familiar of me.

And I see you there
first day at school
sleeves way too long
for arms to grow into.
You stride through the gate
not looking back
but tumbling along
best friend beside you
giggling large
no need to wave me

And I see you now
the teenager tall
there at the disco
‘Don’t make me!’
‘You must go.’
Gawky and long
no notion of where
you should place
those legs
those arms
fully grown
but somehow
you get the girl anyway,
grooving away
no sweat.

And I see you
there with your lover
tentative hand
taking tentative hand
strolling the beach
sun-kissed lips
and the salt of the waves
dry on your skin.
New love in the air.

And I see you
first day at work
walk amongst skyscrapers
briefcase in hand
fear and excitement marrying well
in your grown man’s form.

I see you.
I see all of this
I see all this for you.
And more.

Much more.

But today I watch.
Your chest being pumped
inhale and exhale
inhale and exhale
your leg
the size of my wedding band
wrapped ’round my finger,
a tube feeding milk
I’ve expressed before dawn
in a room with the other
so utterly
exhausted mothers.

‘Prem mums’ they call us.
We are the ‘prem mums’.

I watch
as the nurse rolls you ever so tenderly
ever so
ever so
ever so tenderly
fitting you there
in the palm of her hand,
a bag and a quarter
of sugar,
one thousand
two hundred
and seventy six
of you.

I watch with ‘the mother’s stare’
hour upon hour
the thread never breaking,
not even a moment
when we’re not attached.
So early
so early.
So nearly not here.

But you are.
And I am.
And I sit
and I watch
and I see.

And I see you.


Sue Bevan is an award-winning Welsh playwright, poet, essayist and blogger. Mum’s The Word won the last Drama Association of Wales International One Act Play Competition, and her 4* award-nominated An Audience With Shurl has travelled from The US and Cape Town to Prague, Sweden and Edinburgh.



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