Tongues & Grooves Portsmouth #WritingChallenge4

Maggie Sawkins, who leads local poetry and creative group Tongues & Grooves has unleashed a local #writingchallenge and they kindly let us publish the responses. This week’s challenge was – in Paul Klee’s words – to ‘take a line for a walk’. Borrow a line from the Maggie Sawkins’ poem ‘The Zoo Keeper’s Song’, to use as the first line of your own poem. Aim for 14 lines or less. 


The Zoo Keeper’s Song, by Maggie Sawkins

I could watch them for hours 

Esmeralda and Zola 

strolling up and down 

on legs as long as stilted circus clowns. 

With my daily offerings 

of lettuce, radish and grape 

I enter the enclosure 

run my hand over 

the primitive patchwork skin, 

watch how they flutter their eyelashes 

like two actresses 

in an old time movie. 

When I come back 

I want to be the leaves 

of the tallest trees. 

I want to be devoured 

by those magnificent tongues. 


Margaret Jennings 

When I come back 

I will be myself 

instead of this other someone 

I don’t recognise. 

When I come back 

I will walk on the foreshore, 

go crabbing with the kids, 

talk nonsense over tea and cake 

and fall asleep from the tiredness of it all. 

I will not weep. 

I will not bounce against walls 

like I have never done before, 

finding things to do, 

being useful, 

being helpful, 

being kind, 

with all its self-congratulatory glory. 

When I come back 

to myself 

it will be a whole other story. 


Suzanne Attridge

Until I met the child 

I did not know she lived. 

But, when I came back, she came too. 

I had heard calling, not sad, not lost. 

Just a Hey, I exist, can I come with you? 

How happy we were, when we came back. 

Shared jokes, and everyone said, 

You are the same.  We smiled, 

threw a knowing look at the sky, 

found a brackish pond in the wood, 

and paddled among the tiddlers. 

When I came back 

life was mainly like this. 

Once I used to worry so. This has melted away. 

Just a whisper to say 

How lucky I am now. 


Stacey Leanne Appleton 

When I come back 

‘I must go down to the sea again,’ 

so I’ll be a clam, 

in its own world, 

turning grit into pearls. 

I’ll turn my welcome mat around, 

so it faces out, 

on Broadmarsh beach, 

till the briny salt beckons, 

it’s magic hour! 

Slowly, I open up, 

I turn to the sunlight, 

its orange radiates on my face, 

and the shadows fall behind. 


Sue Shipp 

When I come back, 

I want to be the leaves 

unfurling fresh green from 

the bud sleeping the winter through. 

I want to dapple the woodland floor; 

host an aphid buffet; shelter the 

chrysalis where the butterfly grows. 

I want to turn russet, gold and red, 

fall from the tree with the lightness of a feather, 

break crisply beneath walking feet. 

And then, I shall sleep. 


Janet Ayers 

Like two actresses, 

each other’s supporting 

role, they tread 

the boards of 

the tired pier 

and sing along 

with the seagulls 

and laugh at 

the sunset, and 

hold on to 

each other, as the 

wind takes their 

breath away, they 

float off into the soft pink sky 


Eileen Phyall

With my daily offering 

I creep into the room. 

Today figs and freshly peeled oranges. 

Yesterday peaches were on the tray. 

I have to keep him happy 

With my daily offering 

To keep his rage at bay, 

To keep him happy. 

No simple story telling 

His senses must be satisfied 

With my daily offering. 

What shall I give tomorrow? 

The shelves are almost bare  

his appetite must be filled 

with my daily offering 

or he will rise and with his sword 

cut off my head. 

Which will become his daily 

Offering to his angry god. 


You can take part in the regular Tongues & Grooves #WritingChallenge over on their Facebook page and check out their website and Twitter, too.

Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay .


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