Poetry From The Bandstand 2013

Ice slides down the roof
Of the Replica Bandstand
But the thaw is real
The dog pulls her lead
When squirrels dance in the park
Tasting their capture
The bandstand revived
All people had to do was
Learn how to use it
The water would run
Clean through the city if it
Were not for humans

© George Wright 2013


Summer gathering, coming soon,
like the pale disc evening moon
when we walked the end of day,
along the boundary hedge of May.

Past backs of houses we were  led,
not crumbling bricks, Victorian red
but Purley white, smoothly rendered,
with garden lawns, stripped and tendered.

In the wild bank where we stood,
we heard of justice great and good;
where they hung the felons high
on land each parish could deny.

Swinging in the Surrey air
it could be said they died nowhere,
therefore right to mark the way
with tokens of the present day.

Who made the arrow straightened lane,
Celt or Roman, Jute or Dane?
The question now remains unknown,
above it dust of ages grown.

When some old remains were found
they left their mysteries in the ground.
Spearmen, upright, facing east,
Marching to some warrior feast?

On the grounds of Thomas More,
with stories of some new folk-lore.
The bones found here were of no battle,
just remnants of Victorian cattle.

The half-pint bottles no mystery,
but school cuts made by Mrs T.
On to a dell full of broken china,
Left by some demented diner?

By steps leading nowhere into the dank
a portal stone that spelt out Bank.
We walked through coltsfoot gilded grass,
old airport runways we did pass.

We ended on the Purley Way,
perfect end to a perfect day.
with no more tales for us to catch,
we adjourned for beers in the Foxley Hatch!

© George Wright 2013


October breathes heavily;
Leaves cascade on the exhale
Tossing and turbulent.

Rectangles of silk, red and blue,
Pirouette, prance and dance;
Bound to the earth by nylon thread.
Two youngsters presumptuously dare
To harness the wind’s might;
For their own pleasure,
Gusting and swirling.  Pulling
The teenager, straining to hold
Two insignificant pieces of cloth.

Black and white mongrel barks.
His owner amused, watches the wind
Playing the youths, run and dance.
Barking, barking, wanting to chase
His ball.  No interest in the kite,
Wants to play doggy games.

The army of leaves on manoeuvres
Scurry across the weathered grass.
Some stopped by man and boys,
Drop, pause  –  re-energised,
Swiftly follow their comrades
Impelled by the irresistible.

The youths arms are aching;
Flying a kite should be easy.
It wasn’t like this on the telly!

©Jean Wearn Wallace


Percolated through North Downs chalk
It rises beneath a Croydon Pub
No longer able to create the
Marsh around the Bishop’s palace;
It’s now confined to concrete pipe,
And culvert until it emerges
In Wandle Park’s ponds.

Also fed from Carshalton ponds
Merging to create the Wandle
No longer does it irrigate
The lavender fields of Beddington,
It accepts the clear water run-off
From Beddington Sewage works

Where once ninety Victorian mills
Vied along its 11 mile course,
Polluting and poisoning the waters;
Now it is a haven for wildlife; a green
Lung in the heart of South London.

One lasting legacy, it’s responsible for
Creating the unique taste of Youngs
Award winning Ram Brewery Beers
Before joining the Thames.

© Jean Wearn Wallace


The Wandle meanders silkily
between its new green banks,
chattering to itself over shingle
like a child making discoveries:
light and air, after long years in darkness.

The sky, like a make-up artist,
paints it with many and changing colours;
a dancing shine rides on its ripples
as confidently as the youngsters
skateboard in the park.

It doesn’t mind children throwing stones into it.

Plastic bottles and wrappers
are educational toys it can play with
and learn about the world.

It doesn’t resent its former imprisonment,
it’s just happy being free
and able to do what it has always done,
which is carrying on in its own sweet way,
faithfully going home
to the Thames and to the sea.

© 2013: Julian Van Hauson


But here I am.
More alive than ever.
And there is that
sharp bright scent of the marigolds.
The tiny shrewd face of the robin
watches me from the railings.
He is watching me.
For here I am,
folding my hands through the sunlight,
rinsing my hands through the summer dust,
hot and golden,
like sifting flour.

That feeling, that escape:
running away under a blue sky.
Can’t stop smiling.o
That turning left, not right.
Passing the doctor’s but not going in.
Getting off the bus but not going to work.
Not today, in the golden syrup of this
Which I am plunging my hands through.
Which I am washing my hands in.
For here I am.
More alive than ever.

©Sue Lewis

The River

seven months on
and each day since rising through those gates
I watch the struggle from a vomiting Croydon
dumping on you, in you, an old woman, you
from an undisturbed shut-away culvert grave
lying long in the stinking shame
of secrets you carried into your incarceration

or retirement, the expectation is no different
to  move the waste once more
in your flow to somewhere else
to rid Croydon of pollution

the red diesel is a mystery
for the red tape of officials
the poison flowing secretly
is a town emptying its veins
choking you as a blame

still you dance like a queen of calypso
in a sensual gyrating through the Park
everybody hear the news, people come
from Central Parade in New Addington
thru to the tennis greens of Wimbledon

sometimes careless thinking
leave behind a new scarring
used plastic bags, used nappies
beer cans, vodka bottles, the empties
roll drunkenly in through wildflowers
when idle-thinking thrown on the wind
mix in chicken bones
wrappers, fast-food leftovers
nighttime dares throw lifebelts in
and laughs dump in shopping trolleys

still your voice is a tingling laughing
enticing  Jack to romp with his reflection
where imagination stoops to listen to an old woman
wearing a long frock of shimmering blue dragonflies

in your reflection the passion of early morning is
delicate, sweet, honking sounds of visiting geese
silent looks of little owl from the weeping willow
and tiddlers soon come.

irma u-h 2013

This is Tiger Wall.

Crossbred and punctuated with leopard spots
With pythons overlapping adders and worms.
Webs of iron stretching to every floor.

A wet eyed house
An orange haired Celtic house
Bringing in the New Year at weekends,
Roaring songs of whisky.

This is a Bob Marley, Rastafarian music house;
Drifting Caribbean rhythm smoke though every pore,
Saxophones permeating the morning night.

This is a can’t get out of place
With poetry stairways and fresco walls,
Artists on every floor.
Where everyone knows each other
And knows not to ask their business.

This is a night-time house
With a black painted panelled door
Where the bell-push shouts – “Don’t Enter”
And the thud of flesh resounds
On the rain soaked stair.

Yes, this is a tiger house and these are tiger’s walls
Where the rent don’t get paid
And when the man calls they’re gone –
To the cafe- the park – to nowhere
Or never lived here at all.

© Ted Orr-Smith (2013)


The young fox on the edge of that bush
watching dogs stroll as the evening is closing
stretches out horizontally flush with the ground
so eyes across the distance just imagine him there

the leaves rustling in the autumn night
warn of a hedgehog ploughing the undergrowth
harvesting earthworms and luck, siding with him
blinds the eye of another hunter circling

a dancing head in the silence of the weeping willow
scans the nightscape and she waits
lady of the night, you holding a vole in your eye
knows he is leaving his riverside home tonight

out of deep night a ritual call
foxes to the park promenade
the curdling sounds rush me
from sleep to the window. I see

a lone fox step forward, back
in a waltz, a calypso, a waltz
and the river is the music
and night the bacchanal

the hours die slow, night pass
over to the multitude at dawn
the quarrelsome magpies call
above a restless barking

a man wakes, says goodbye
to his friend he shall see
nevermore, nevermore
it is four in the morning and time.

© irma u-h (2013)


In the park today I stepped back in time
rolled off the cover of sixty-five years
to a small boy again remembering days
here with mum, dad and my granddad

I walk with them along the river’s edge
in a sudden unkind feel to the wind
boats on the lake panic, the water fowl
minding only the mischief of small boys

I walk in Sunday memories on the bowling green
granddad in crisp whites always wearing proud
his scorings ever precise, the envy of Croydon
a vista of the Pavilion is perfection in green

I walk in days skimming stones on the river
when sometimes too close and in I fall
to walk home cold. The memories are chilly
as water I drank from this marble fountain

I see is still standing here, faithful, a
watcher of generations come, go, a keeper
of all I walked in today with my father
his father and the others in Wandle Park

Noisy newcomers wheel in green circles
in-between trees and the blue sky
parakeets reflecting change
in the years I did not come

© irma u-h (July, 2013)

A Minute in Victoria Square

A quarter past eleven in Victoria Square
Waiting for the 592.
Just me, then Long Hair arrives,
He owes me a pound but I’ll let it ride.

If it’s Friday, it’s empty, a Saturday’s a nightmare.
It’s the last bus to Newquay
And everyone (except me)
Are going to party!
(Except Long Hair – he’s going to Trevellas)

Today’s Friday – so it’s just me and Long Hair.
We don’t talk we just smile and acknowledge
(except when he borrowed the pound)
That took courage.
(We haven’t spoken since – just nodded).

So we stand around and shrug at the drunks
And smile at the ladies – who can’t stand on their heels
But they try to look special
As they wobble and chatter and swear.
(It’s all sophistication in Victoria Square).

The bus turns up and we spring into action.
He looks at me and points to the door…
This is bus etiquette at its finest –
I smile back and doff my imaginary cap
(And mouth thank you).

And that is a minute in Victoria Square
Waiting for the 592.
Just me and Long Hair
(what does he call me?)
Trying to get home to our homes in the country.

An hour on the bus (where nothing much happens).
I look at the darkness and distant horizons.
I don’t know what he does (he sits behind me)
But what ever we do we do it ever so quietly.

Benjamin Cusden ©June 2013


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