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A Facebook friend wanted some crowd-sourcing help for a piece she was editing. Her query asked readers to end the sentence  “When you think of lard …?” My answer was: “When I think of lard I think of Wiltshire lardy […] 

The Journey

The Journey  by Mary Oliver One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice– though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug […] 


This poem is for anyone who has ever sat through a Shakespeare play and found it too long. Purgatory by Maxine Kumin And suppose the darlings get to Mantua, suppose they cheat the crypt, what next? Begin with him, unshaven. […] 

Subway Rush Hour

Subway Rush Hour by Langston Hughes Mingled breath and smell so close mingled black and white so near no room for fear. Hughes published Subway Rush Hour in 1951 part of “Montage of a Dream Deferred”.  In “My Early Days […] 

Art and Treason: War Crimes and Responsibility

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual […] 


Coming by Philip Larkin On longer evenings, Light, chill and yellow, Bathes the serene Foreheads of houses. A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the deep bare garden, Its fresh-peeled voice Astonishing the brickwork. It will be spring soon, It will be […] 

Sea Fever

Here’s another wonderful old chestnut: Sea Fever by John Masefield I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; […] 

Before Disaster

“Fool and scoundrel guide the State.” That’s true enough. In the early 1930’s when this was written speeding traffic on a Californian freeway was still something new and probably pretty scary to many. Just as the rise of fascism was […] 

Stalin’s Heirs

Stalin’s Heirs by Yevgeny Yevtushenko Mute was the marble. Mutely glimmered the glass. Mute stood the sentries, bronzed by the breeze. Thin wisps of smoke curled over the coffin. And breath seeped through the chinks as they bore him out […] 

Timothy Winters

If you went to school in the UK anytime in the last sixty years then you will probably be familiar with this much anthologized poem. Timothy Winters by Charles Causley Timothy Winters comes to school With eyes as wide as […] 

Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars)

Muriel Rukeyser wrote this in 1968. Read it and tell me it doesn’t feel like she is writing for this moment in history.  How many mornings recently have you been “more or less insane” as the news pours out of […] 


What an intriguing idea: Reversing time to see your younger self moving forward in time as you move backward. What if everything that’s happening here has a reverse reality in an anti-world? Mueller’s poem plays with this idea of opposite […] 


Thaw by Edward Thomas Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed The speculating rooks at their nests cawed And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flowers of grass, What we below could not see, Winter pass. Thomas wrote all his poetry […] 

Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School

Not a very effective way to get children to love school and enjoy math. But looks like it was an excellent method for teaching subversion, resilience and resistance to authority. Good work Miss Moran. Trouble with Math in a One-Room […] 

A Local Train of Thought

There’s a comfort in routines and familiar sounds. Some towns have a noon whistle. If you’ve lived near a school or a factory you’ll know a routine. If you’re close to a children’s playground you can tell the time of day […] 

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