Leytonstone Arts Trail Poetry at the Friends’ Meeting House, 2018

It’s all over for another year! Very many thanks to all poets and poetry-lovers, audiences, and of course Ciaran for hosting the second Sunday.

We decided to publish here some of the poems which were read this year.

Barry Coidan


I heard this morning’s blackbird
it took my breath away
his sweet voice so light and clear
dissolved away the day

I heard this morning’s sunrise
tiptoe across my room
to kiss your still closed eyelids
with dawn’s dewy perfume

I saw this morning’s dawning
it took my breath away
you smiled and started yawning
to greet this pleasant day


Be careful to whom you offer advice

Death’s there in the corner
impatiently drumming the table top.
“What’s the hurry?” I ask.
Usually I’d leave well alone
 But tonight I’m feeling lucky.

Death gets up from the table,
looks me straight in the eye.
“What’s it to you?” he asks
“Tired of living?”
I stare into my pint.

“Lost your tongue have you?”
I can see he’s not happy.
“I wasn’t being sarcastic. Honest.
Fancy a pint?” “Thanks” he replies
I order him a pale ale.

Over our drinks he tells me
He’s pretty stressed out.
“I’ve a daily quota to meet
And it’s not getting any easier
Especially nowadays.”

He said he’d worked in the trenches.
“That was the life!” he smiles
“They died in droves – brilliant!
just like in the good old plague days.
Now, modern medicine has killed all the fun.”

“Couldn’t you start a pandemic or
Something. A nuclear war!
The omens are pretty propitious
What with Trump and all.”
He drains his glass and leaves. 

I think “How  rude!
After buying him a drink
And trying to cheer him up.”
Just then the sirens start up
And my skin begins to blister.


Eithne Cullen


Why is it that…
though it is years since I left school
          home with a handful of paintings and a bad report
          when I thought “could do better” was a compliment
          and “Jack in the Box” an endearing praise
and some time since I stopped working as a teacher
          seeing them off site and saying happy holidays
          scared they’d forget all they’d ever learned
          in the six weeks of freedom to do as they pleased
and my kids no longer mark the ends of terms
          they’re working all year round now, poor old things,
          they don’t invite me to hear them play in concerts
          and never call me in to see their work, these days
and respite from washing uniforms and PE kit
          shoe bags, book bags, plimsolls, pens
          sewing name tags on things they’ll lose anyway
          Sunday nights “is all your homework done?”
Why is it that…
          July screams “holidays!” to me?
Wimbledon ennui sets in…
          except for strawberries and cream…
          and travel agents bump their rates
          and paddling pools spring leaks
and here I am with Alice,
          with his mad hair and streaky eye liner
screaming “School’s out for summer!”


Chris Lord

the motorway

in which you feel it’s a river but realise more a linear safari
park. articulated families file slowly in slow lane trunk-
to-tail. past push herds in hundreds, wildebeest, wild
beasts of all kinds. pushing on are all. lay-bys hide big
cats: wound-up cheetahs, lions hunkered behind the hard
shoulder. and if we’re lucky, children, we might spot the
vultulance (or ambulure), too flesh-full to fly, heaving itself
to hospital with its roadkill, slowly wailing, futile, urgent.