Poems from the Heart of the House
A publication of work produced by
members of Mary Seacole House Poetry Group.
Poems by Cemille, Dorothy Carney, Jean Connor-Jones, Glyn Davies, Carl Holmes, Peter Jackson, Stephen Mensa, Paul Power and Nicholas Yin
A selection appears on this page.
The book of 64 pages is available from the Windows Project at £4.99.
The book also features work by visiting writers
Chanje Kunda, Eleanor Rees, Sabine Knapp, Tevor Gerard, Judy Mazonowicz and Love Phiri.
Mary Seacole House Poetry Group
Our poetry group has been meeting for three years now. We trust and relate to one another.
As survivors of racism, oppression and
mental illness we have pooled our thoughts together in this book, hoping to express ourselves and spread understanding; because young or old, rich or poor, anybody could be affected.
We have been fortunate enough to have had several poets from the Windows Project Writers Attachment Scheme work with us in the past year:
To show our appreciation we have included work by each of them; Chanje Kunda, Eleanor Rees, Sabine Knapp, Trevor Gerard, Judy Mazonowicz, Love Phiri.
A Rainy Day in Trabzon
It is raining again in Trabzon as always.
They call this country hot, sunny, exotic.
If only they (Western people)
could understand the reality of our lives,
It is always dusk here, the sun hardly ever shines.
Rows of hazel nut trees cover the light.
Black skies, a huge black fortress.
I feel closed in, trapped at the end
of the world: surely this
is the last place on earth.
It has rained for a week now.
I get outside and I'm covered in mud.
The politicians promise us -
"There will be no mud next year."
Endless, empty promises.
The rain comes into the house, day after day -
the hole in the roof, we cannot fix it,
we have no money -
The old mother-in law,
she writes to her ex-husband,
we call him the Old Colonel.
"Para Yok," he spits. After all
he has a new wife (33 years younger than his old wife).
It's just the Turkish way, my friend tells me.
The stone house is freezing.
We cannot afford wood for the fire.
We have to go out into the woods, in the rain
to chop them.
We are soaked, for we have no warm clothes,
and holes in our shoes.
Then we have to go to the water tap.
I fall in the mud, a Karabash (huge guard dog)
chases me over the fields, then pins me
against the wall.
I shout to my husband,
"Huseyin the Weasel" for help.
He is in bed as always.
He never listens.
The rain seems to flood the whole village.
Next month the snow will
start and we will be cut off for three months.
Life is hard, miserable,
"Where are my cigarettes?"
The Weasel orders.
I wish I could escape to Istanbul,
or Spain or Jamaica.
I just have to escape from this endless pain.
I run to the old woman's house next door.
She says to me,
"Child, there will not always be rain, have faith in
Allah, the sun will shine again, one day."
Dorothy (Dolly) Carney
My garden is up there in heaven.
It has beautiful flowers;
Pink, yellow and white roses,
Big bush tree roses.
One rose is called Dorothy,
Smelling strong - like Lily of the Valley.
The animals that I loved and lost
Are all there.
Snowy the white Persian cat,
Blackie, my mum-in-law's Heinz 57 dog.
Pooch, the abandoned German Alsatian,
And Max, the beaten stray of the same breed.
Nessie, the black and grey rabbit.
Sooty, his all black mate,
Pooch the second, Baby, Polo, the Golden Labrador,
And Whiskey, who came back, but is now all skinny,
Violets are outside the nearby church,
Their lilac colour standing out
As the lady holds them.
She's lost her children.
I comfort her; I know what she's going through.
I take her for a walk in the garden.
We hold each other's hands -
Lovely birds are singing;
Sparrows and butterflies come close
Trusting us both.
We walk among bluebells,
Swaying in the breeze,
Smelling of a sweet summer's day,
Of new mown grass.
The lady says she has to go, saying
I'll always love you -
Tell me dad that a part of me died.
I'll always love him,
Your loving daughter,
Half a crown each week
Barnston Dale Camp.
Seemed so far away -
how I looked forward to
my first holiday.
Afraid of being away from home,
yet in my heart I longed to roam.
Surely there's more to life than this -
buses passing my front door each day.
Oh! For sand and sea,
a ride on the River Dee.
What if I didn't have clothes to wear?
I started to sweat, worry and fret.
Money was scarce,
Mum had an empty purse.
I read the list again and again.
Pyjamas, raincoat, strong shoes.
Oh God? What will I do? But
Only have pumps. I wanted to go -
Be the same as the rest.
Hope they don't see the holes
in my vest and my socks.
Wish I could have
some cool cotton frocks.
I read the list again and again.
Wellingtons for the rain;
a warm top, a summer frock,
swimming costume and towels,
but ours are all torn.
Started to wish I'd never been born.
Then I wouldn't be scared, lonely and afraid.
But it's two and six a week
and then money to spend
and this list never seems to come to an end.
No money in the purse -
Oh God? what will I do?
It didn't say pumps, but shoes.
Mum pleaded with the Sturlas man,
"Give me a cheque for £20 if you can -
It's for my daughter, her first holiday."
"You're in arrears," said he.
"If you pay, then we'll see."
Moonfish swims at night
he glides along the waves
he moves towards the light
the sound of love he craves
Moonfish likes the day
he smiles and swims for life
he always knows the way
he forgets the pain and strife
Forever trapped in silence
I am on the outside again
looking through the mirror.
No one hears me
except the people in the mirror.
Trapped in this
I belong in the mirror
but how do I cross through the glass?
It was easy when I was younger.
Why am I lost again?
To walk through life,
this unreal reality.
It draws me deeper
drowning in the white light
and white noise
to a blank page.
An after image that stays
imprinted on my mind,
like a negative, a photo
I can't quite remember.
You think it's safe to go back in the water
& you think it's safe to go back in the water?
the water's always infested with sharks
the great white, the most dangerous
& almost impossible to catch
sharks swimming around the ocean
waiting for their prey...
I thought I might go out for a swim
but then I saw “Jaws” on TV
just when you think it's safe to go back in the water...
a new shark gets found
a faster one
a lighter one
or one that's been around
hiding in the deep
hiding while we sleep
one day waiting to rear its ancient head…
so I won't be swimming anytime soon…
maybe just a splash at the summer pool
& you think it's safe to go back in the water
don't bother, don't bother
No Parent Pete
I could have been sweet as a child
My father could have been a prince
or a king.
He could have been an astronaut
or a butcher selling meat.
He could have been charming, refined and discreet.
Discreet he was - he hasn't made himself known.
My mother could have been anything -
a fighter, a winner, confident and tall.
She might have known misery,
she might have known grief -
was she ever down and out, a vagrant or thief?
It's hard to self portrait,
to say who I am -
where do I fit in the universal plan?
Am I born of heroes, villains or stars?
and what supernovas and life on Mars?
I could be the centre of all that is known,
held in awe and respect by what we call the unknown.
I could be everything or nothing at all.
It's better not to know: I can be anything I want.
No one else knows, they can't say I'm wrong.
I could be born of the person
who wrote the best song.
Born of a person who got locked away
or the scientist who unlocked the code of DNA
I could have been born of Watson or Sherlock Holmes
Born of the person who invented the comb,
Born of an explorer who discovered a new land,
Born of a gambler who lost 50 grand,
Born of a great philosopher from ancient Greece,
Born a Nobel Prize winner who championed peace,
Born of Walter Raleigh, or Michelangelo,
Born of a person called John Doe.
In my mind I go round and round
looking for the answer
until I find
I walk along a path, only 3 foot wide -
tall, rusty red beech hedges on either side.
The path leads me on to a metal green door
which creaks open slowly and takes me once more
along a path three foot wide
tall rusty red beech hedges on either side.
The path leads me on to a metal green door
which creaks open slowly
and becomes and irritating alarm clock chime
that tells me to get to work.
If I had a cat I would stroke it.
If it was hungry I would give it cat food to eat.
I would keep it warm,
give it a bath when it's dirty, and dry it.
I would get its kennel ready for
it to sleep in, putting a cushion down.
Something soft to sleep on.
If it caught birds I'd report it
or take it to a cats' home.
I'd be scared if a dog chased it.
I'd scream and shout, or maybe keep still
in case the dog sensed that I was scared.
If the cat had kittens, I'd keep it warm
and find it a nice place to stay.
I'd take the kittens for walks
or I'd leave them outside the back to play
and find homes for them as they grew.
Me and my cat would be in Ghana
where we would have more space to run around.
I'd still feed him
my black cat; I'd stroke him
holding him in my arms,
thinking how lovely he is;
stroking his soft fur.
We are both smiling
as he looks at me
we are both amazed by each other.
Raindrops fall upon the ground,
flowers grow without a sound.
The sun shines high up in the sky.
How was it made? I wonder, why?
A warm wind blows to keep you cool,
nature's not anybody's fool.
Frogs hopping, fish swimming, birds flying,
horses running, we are working.
Ice cold water, drink it slow,
sun's going down, it's time to go.
Everything works together in life -
life's energy flows, life's energy grows.
We are all the same,
we are all part of god's game.