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Alison Binney

How to conquer nature

Know the sparrow is your enemy:
you cannot prosper with his beak in your grain.

Rise up, raid nests, gather pots and pans,
ladles and spoons, clatter the branches bare.

Take aim with rifle and slingshot.
Drum at the rooftops until the weary

drop from the sky like rotten leaves.
Consider, as you leap forward,

if you’d rather eat parent or child.
Stop your ears to the song of locusts.

The title of this poem was influenced by the slogan of Chairman Mao’s Four Pests Campaign: ‘Man must conquer nature’. Part of the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s War on Sparrows began in 1958 and is now deemed to have been a significant factor in causing the Great Famine, which killed an unknown number of Chinese citizens, thought to be in excess of 45 million.

Alison Binney is a poet and English teacher from Cambridge. She has been published in magazines such as ‘The North’ and ‘Magma’, and last year she had poems long listed in the National Poetry Competition and Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize. 

Twitter: @AEBinney.

Lydia Unsworth

The Best of Both Worlds
After Middlefield by Ian Waites

Stick the car around the back. Silent greens, daisies growing heads now the football has stopped. Originally the absence of corners was so we did or did not need to put our foot down. Whichever means there is no need to stop. I don’t drive. Can’t say I really understand the way the pedals differ. Smooth curves of computer-game track. By the age of one, an average child can say vroom and rev its little heartfelt engine. I’ll stay here for the bike lanes. Hours of sunlight. Dubious corridors of since- knocked-down blocks of flats. You think an idyll is a safe space? Tucked away in your hidey-hole traffic jam, radio on, swearing at the neighbours, the government, spreading around any old cliche, whatever you’ve got. It’s nobody’s fault, this architecture, we tried to design it, but everything we try to tame tends resolutely to where it was not.

Alice Bailey

What Are You Going To Do?

Here we are.
At this moment in time our earth is slowly dying.
Pollution in the air,
It’s killing innocent animals for our own wrongdoing

Plastic ending up in the ocean,
People arguing instead of acting ,
It’s such a commotion.
It will soon be everlasting.

Cut down,
Trees harmed but meant
Forced to the ground,
Are we finally content.

If we act today,
Trees will grow,
We’ll have another day,
Another day to show.

Alice Bailey is eleven years old – she is our youngest contributor and we are delighted to welcome her to the Village.

Gillian Byrom-Smith

Present Time

A story, a nightmare,
a tale; make believe.
Cities tumble and fall,
fire consumes forests,
water drowns fields;
rot sets in.

Old worlds topple,
brittle reeds break.

Not a drop to drink,
not a crumb to eat;
no longer stories from
far off places,
faces on t.v. screens.

Old worlds topple,
brittle reeds break.

It’s happening here,
it’s happening now.
It’s the time we’ve waited for,
it’s the time we’ve feared.

Old worlds topple,
brittle reeds break.

Our hands have moulded
and made,
created and cast.
Our hands have destroyed
and devastated,
crushed and cracked.

Old worlds topple,
brittle reeds break.

Birdsong bursts,
stars shine bright,
water runs clear;
silence reigns,
the meek rule.

No bullets,
no guns,
no enemies to kill;
just the Earth fighting back.

Gillian spent many years working in bookshops, before becoming a published poet and performer. She has had her words used as song lyrics by rock bands, classical musicians and was commissioned to write a libretto as part of the Benjamin Britten Centenary celebrations. Her work has been performed at festivals and concerts throughout Britain and most lately in Albania, Turkey and New Zealand. She was invited to write and perform a poem for the 21st Anniversary of the Bridgewater Hall and contributed her work to Hull City of Culture. Her poems have appeared in several publications and she is preparing a second volume of her poetry for publication.

Website –
Twitter – @gillbyromsmith
Soundcloud –

M. E. Muir

My Mother the Sun

retires, wrapped in a rosy
belt of Venus.
Losing her loving warmth
I am shadowed in silence.
No violas bed me,
lullabied only
by absence
to isolate
in a darkening segment,
homed alone,
as the waters rise.

I never learned to swim
in the pool at North Berwick.
Only my eyes, salted
to serve as orphans
tell me things
I wish I did not know.
I hear the words
I do not want to hear.
through another night
I wait again
with my companion

M.E.Muir is a Scot living in London, former teacher and business consultant, whose work has recently been published in online and print magazines eg Dawntreader, Dempsey and Windle, The Curlew, Carillon, The London Grip, Morphrog, Ink Sweat and Tears, Porridge, and of course The Poetry Village.

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