Committed writers dedicated to working together to produce excellent poems, short stories, drama, life writing, and creative non-fiction

Why not contact us for more details about our small, mutually supportive monthly meetings? Don't be shy. No need to be brave!

Sheila 01823 67 28 46

Valerie 01884 84 04 22

Tuesday 11 December 2012


The clock struck ten.
Shadows flickered like memories on the wall.
She downed her glass, then poured another;
gazed mutely at the fire, the shards of glass,
the spilled wine darkening the carpet by the chair,
his chair, still dented by his warmth.
"I'm sorry," she whispered to no-one.

© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Monday 10 December 2012


Mysterious signs requiring
sharp perception of senses.
Transient shifts open for
interpretation - though elusive.
Light – air pressure – sound –
gentle smell – colour - movement -

a soul’s breath, the sigh of a tree,
papery kiss of a leaf falling-
harvested for memory,
transcendent as a moment
passes, fleeing capture.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

Create an (atmosphere) ...

5.00pm: Las Canteras Beach – Isleta – Las Palmas

Carlos scooped up the change from the cuenta of the last of the late lunchtime diners.  It would be quiet now until nine o’clock.  This was the part of the day he liked best.  A little cooler, it was when the half- board tourists would stroll along the paseo before having their hotel suppers at an hour unthinkable to the Spanish. 

He looked beyond the stone benches - where a guitarist had played softly for the last half hour - along the curve of the bay towards the volcanic hills behind.  The sun would set soon.

His attention, though, was drawn to a man and a woman leaning against the railings above the beach.  They were kissing with the intensity of new lovers, cleaving to each other, oblivious of a girl who skimmed past them on roller blades, swerving to avoid a bronzed, silver haired couple in matching white trousers and t-shirts.

The lovers were in their late thirties, he judged - his age.  She was a little plump in tight pink tracksuit trousers and her blond hair revealed dark roots; his hair was thinning from the front and he wore sunglasses which reflected the determination in her face.  Their kissing and clutching and stroking had a desperate quality to it – as if by holding each other so closely love would not slip this time.  Little lower than angels, mused Carlos.

He waved to a fellow camarero, turned towards the kitchen and once again thought of his wife in Cuba.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved


Oh tribal African; is this your face
Strong and powerful
Does it depict your Race
This special image to portray
A stern & knowing expression
Below hair that is lately grey

© Kenneth Campbell
All rights reserved


Rail pumping stations were constructed every three miles from Exeter to Starcross. Beneath the leading piston carriage hung a 15ft long piston, with small wheels outside the pipe that opened and closed an iron and leather-flap valve. The piston entered the end of the pipe and pressure from the atmosphere pushed the piston up the pipe.

© Kenneth Campbell
All rights reserved

This Place Has No Atmosphere

God was bored.
He’d left nothing
to His imagination.

He’d created himself out a job;
when the serpent saved the day,
(which God - being God - didn’t admit).

Now, Adam had someone to blame for everything;
Eve had someone who’d always need her.

So, God declared, “Let History begin.”

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Friday 7 December 2012


I'm always watching
on the web
for shoes,
small and attractive
but I have to have
four pairs the same
because I'm
an arachnid      

© William Botley
All rights reserved 

The Shoes

Her Cinderella shoes,
had tiny, black suede straps.
Her dress, full-skirted, midnight-blue, set off
the marquisate which sparkled at her neck.
Fragrant in Soir de Paris,
she seemed an angel to my childish eyes.

After her death, I wore her French lace stole
and glassy shoes.  Gained compliments.
It was never the same.

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Thursday 29 November 2012

Strategies for Writing

 In honor of Anne Lamott, here’s a tips list summarizing, very briefly, some of the points she makes in her terrific book on writing, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
  1. Write regularly, whether you feel like writing or not, and whether you think what you’re writing is any good or not.
  2. Give yourself short assignments. Keep it manageable so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  3. Write sh**ty first drafts. (I’m not being prissy about the word choice, just don’t want to get hung up in spam filters.) Don’t expect a piece of writing to flow perfectly out of your fingers on the first go. Of all the points she makes, many people seem to find this one the most helpful.
  4. Let the Polaroid develop; in other words, observe, watch, listen, stay in the moment, until you understand what you want to write about.
  5. Know your characters.
  6. Let the plot grow out of the characters.
  7. If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don’t ever bother finishing…it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately. You need to put yourself at their center, you and what you believe to be true or right.”
  8. Figure out ways to jam the transmissions from Radio KFKD, the interior station feeding doubts and criticism into your brain. Especially about jealousy of other writers.
  9. Have pen and paper ready at all times. (She always carries an index card.)
  10. Call around. Ask for help.
  11. Start a writing group.
  12. Write in your own voice.
  13. Being published brings a quiet joy, but it doesn’t transform your life, and eventually you have to write again.
  14. “Devotion and commitment will be their own reward.”

Tuesday 13 November 2012


Edges curled, grey
with age and mould.
The valley at the base
of the toes, reflecting
the lift and push of
each tarsal, working in unison
undulating sculpted into this
battered old man’s shape.
The lip of the heel sucked in
towards itself, gnarled, splayed,
as his personality pushed and forced
the leather into its own coffin.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

Phnom Penh

               A shoe, small, dark-stained
               crawls up between the burrowing roots
               beneath the tree
               where music once shrieked on
               and on to kill the screams;
               the pits, some empty wounds, some not yet pits
               where shoes now tread on hardened earth
               and jutting bones;
               a shoe, emptied of despair, begs remembrance.
© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Monday 12 November 2012

“I don't mind your showing me your legs... it's a pleasure to make their acquaintance”

The mean streets were still dark with something more than night. 

He had done his research, like gumshoes do - mostly in the apartments of tall blondes.  Killer heels were history; wedges and braided sandals were to die for. 

 Jack Slipper set up his stall, lit a cigarette and waited.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved


Creativity of my mind; whispers in my ear
 Inner thought provoking image
Brush strokes I can’t hear
Eyes focused on the picture; a serious task in hand
I’m working to achieve an image
Of this desert sand

Kenneth Campbell
© All rights reserved


Watch them on the pavement; watch them in the Park
Fashion window shopping; even in the dark
Trainers in the playground; thick soles used to hike
Some are for fashion; whilst Runners use a spike
Special ones for dancing; others used to walk
Some are achieving fitness, but many merely talk

© Kenneth Campbell
All rights reserved

A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do

They fought to the death over the flowers. 
Mother said red carnations were unlucky. 

Selina said “Who’s superstitious?”
We compromised

for the Processional
agreed ‘Queen of Sheba’.

Behind me the congregation
gasped their pleasure.

I turned, lifted Selina’s veil  
as she whispered,

“Girls who wear red shoes,
don’t wear knickers.”

Sophia Roberts
© All rights reserved

Friday 9 November 2012

An ending - William's Story

I was aghast. "But their roots are anchored at least inches, perhaps feet into the cliff; I, however, am balanced on top of it. In THIS wind.  Anyway, there’s too much windshake.’
            As though to emphasise this, the neck flap of my anorak gave me a stinging slap in the ear, then followed with a volley, as I struggled savagely to clip it in.
            ‘Nonsense,’ she says and thrusts the camera at me.
            I point and shoot.  A desperate move this as I have to temporarily release my white-knuckle grip on my trekking poles, (all right walking sticks).
            ‘My turn,’ she says and we swap places.  I’m safe in the niche now.  As the wind howls with extraordinary force, she wobbles.  I reach to steady her.  She steps back...
            Oh bugger!  She’s....regained her footing as lightly as a prima ballerina.
            ‘Ah-ha,’ she says.  ‘Your face made the perfect picture.’

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Friday 26 October 2012


Ascending the steep cliff path was a group of older folk. The women in the group seemed to me to be weary; there was also an expression of fear in their faces. The childlike expressions portrayed on the faces of their men-folk put me in mind, first of Valium and secondly – probably because we were on a National Trust footpath – of the National Trust’s luscious Celtic Mead honey wine that I enjoy.

I stood aside on the inside of the track lest one of the group grab me and drag me over the edge.

When the group had passed I was left with no choice other than to continue on my way: ‘Is there evidence of a fault line?’ I asked myself. My fertile imagination was taking hold …my inner thoughts were accelerating into imaginary drama. I visualised an obituary column of the weekly local newspaper and I could even hear my Solicitor clearing his throat before going on to read my Will in his predictably demure tone, so suitable for such an occasion.

In the meantime my partner had marched on and it was only after an anxious few minutes had expired that I stumbled upon her waiting for me in a niche of the cliff.
 ‘There are some nice wild flowers here…shall we take a photo?’

I was pleased with her observation, but dumbfounded by her suggestion, and it took several seconds to re-gather my thoughts before I replied:  ‘…but their roots are anchored at least inches if not several feet deep into the cliff!’

‘…also, what about the wind?’  I continued, hoping that the tone of my voice did not betray the extent of my anxiety, for I was very frightened; yet my partner’s demeanour seemed so relaxed about our situation.

As if nature was trying to emphasise the danger we were in, the neck flap of my anorak slapped my ear several times before I managed to clip it back. Unfortunately, this manoeuvre meant that I temporarily let go of my walking aids; whereupon my thoughts became ever more far fetched.

Was it my fertile imagination or the bloodymindedness of my feelings that induced an image of my partner in the hands of one of the older folk who had ascended the path behind us? Whatever, I was beggared if my thoughts would camouflage my approach to the task in hand.

© Ken Campbell
All rights reserved

William’s Story

Ascending the steep cliff path came a group of older folk, the woman, eyes glaucous with fear, faces etched with weariness; the men, possibly fuelled with a heady mixture of Valium and Nat Trust wine, bore grins of mad schoolboy excitement. I stood aside on the inside of the track, lest one of them suddenly clutch at me and drag me over the edge.

When they had passed it left me with little choice but to continue, which I did, meanwhile examining the path carefully for evidence of it actually developing into a fault line, which could of course lead into a short paragraph in the obituary columns about subsidence and misadventure

The scene arose before my eyes. The reading of the will.

Somebody: "Did he leave any last words?"
Solicitor, "Er yes," – clearing his throat – "Eaaaagaaaroooooghhhh!"

Meantime my partner had marched on. I finally shambled upon her waiting for me in a niche in the cliff. "There are some nice wildflowers here," she said. "We’ll have a photo!"

I was aghast. "But their roots are anchored at least inches, perhaps feet into the cliff; I, however, am balanced on top of it. In THIS wind." As though to emphasise this, the neck flap of my anorak gave me a stinging slap in the ear, then followed with a volley, as I struggled savagely to clip it in. A desperate move this as I had to temporarily released my white-knuckle grip on my walking aids, or trekking poles, (all right walking sticks).  

Back at Dontyoubuggersdaretouch Towers (Tudor manor house with Victorian ‘improvements’) Edith’s hands fumbled over the controls of her walkie-talkie:
“Billiard Room to Control, do you copy, over?”
Static is followed by Cynthia’s query about visitors fiddling with the cue ball.
“No, dear – Control – we have a situation.  At the cliff.”

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

If you had looked

If you had looked
through the bars
under the layers
inside the box
you would have found me.
seeking release.

If you had looked
you would have caught
fragile glimpses
whispering fun
great purpose
bright energy

Look now
bars gone
layers melted
box recycled
I can see you,
can you see me?                                                                                  

© Liz Redfern
All rights reserved

William’s Story

Behind me I saw a group of older folk climbing the steep cliff path. The women, eyes glaucous with fear, faces etched with weariness; the men, possibly fuelled with a heady mixture of Valium and Nat Trust bee wine, bore grins of mad schoolboy excitement. I stood aside on the inside of the track, lest one of them suddenly clutch at me and drag me over the edge. It also gave me a chance to rest and breathe deeply to control my impending panic attack.

When they had passed it left me with little choice but to continue. My mind was still racing with worst case scenarios of plunging to my death through some fault line in the path that could mysteriously appear at any moment.  I was already mentally writing my obituary and hearing the will reading. Of course the world would be a lesser place without me and they would be outraged on my behalf because the sign about possible subsidence had been removed by vandals the week before.
The scene arose before my eyes.

"Did he leave any last words?"
Solicitor, "Er yes," – clearing his throat – "Eaaaagaaaroooooghhhh!"

The imaginary cry brought me back with a jolt to the cliff path and I noticed my partner further up pointing to some wild flowers.  I could hardly hear her above the wind, or maybe I was choosing not to. My selective deafness had always been a handy defence against her instructions. Her gesticulations and general pointing was suggesting I photograph the flowers for her. I could immediately see that meant I would have to clamber down into a niche below the path.  

I was aghast. "But their roots are anchored at least inches, perhaps feet into the cliff; I, however, am balanced on top of it.  In THIS wind?!"  To emphasise the wind and my terror, the neck flap of my anorak gave me a stinging slap on the ear, followed swiftly by a volley.  I struggled savagely to clip it in. A desperate move as I had to temporarily release my white-knuckle grip on my trekking poles (all right walking sticks).

Then the cliff scene suddenly became a metaphor for my whole life. Blown around, terrorised, waiting for fault lines to swallow me. The wild flowers drew me in and as I leant forward towards them I heard a shout `oh bugga` through the wind as she fell from the cliff.

© Liz Redfern
All rights reserved

Journey's End

       "Oh, really!" she exclaimed contemptuously. "So slow, and now ... here!"
       She thrust the camera at me, stepping forward. I recoiled. She lurched, gasped. As she floated down, her coat billowing eagle-like about her, a wail spiralled up, faded - and died.
      Far below on the river a green hat eddied, then sank.

© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Grandiose ideas arrived for him with the wine

We talked about his work
- the nightmares and fisticuffs that inspired it -
which meant so much to us at the time

(which had been, I’d like dinner
which became long walks, shores
beaches, standing on the stones).

didn't know they’d been great
moments.  Sometimes.
Well, terrible sometimes.

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Tuesday 25 September 2012

The Dentist?

         I am really scared, scared of me, why?
                  I`ve not done this before
       Which one is it, it looks like rain today
I hate the numbness, numbness in my heart again
  What a really cold fish fish tanks make me smile

© Liz Redfern Sept 2012
All rights reserved

It's how you ask the question

Where are you from?
New Zealand
Where they have koala bears?
No, that`s Australia
Where they filmed Lord of the Rings?
Where the All Blacks come from?


Where are you from?
New Zealand
Oh that`s interesting, which part?
Is that where they had the earthquakes recently? That must have been awful. Were you personally affected?
Yes, I lost my house and my husband.
Well actually, he died 3 days later, with a heart attack brought on by the stress of it all.
I was determined to come over to England for my niece’s wedding. You see we had planned to come together, and I knew he would want me to, even though I had never travelled this far on my own before.
We planned to do it together you see.

© Liz Redfern 9/12
All rights reserved

The Letter (with apologies to the Bard)

With dread anticipation,
I seize upon the letter.
Am I soon
to shuffle off my mortal coil?
I think of graves and worms and epitaphs
and how to tell the family.

But no!
It states:
‘All clear!
You lie within the acceptable range.
You’re normal.
You will not need to drain
our slim resources further.
You’re nothing special at all.

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Wednesday 12 September 2012

The Letter

Two pregnant letters clattered onto Julian’s doormat. 

The first contained a heavy sheet of creamy bond; in restrained paragraphs a solicitor expressed condolences on the demise of an unvisited aunt and congratulations on being her sole beneficiary.

The second - flimsy brown - held a print-out of his test results...

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved


           The bottle blinked out from the crevice where the tide had dumped it. As I gingerly eased the paper out
           it pulped into a mish-mash of dying half-words:
                                                       ...OS...   ...MUDA...   ...ber 194...
                                                       ...uck...   torp..o...   ...feboa...   ...inki...
           I hovered, frowning. High up in the rocks, children's laughter rang out like church bells.

© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Sonnet (extract): Al Dente

          Alas! Thou art gone, my loyal, incisive friend,
          wrenched from thy bed like a boulder from the earth;
          thy mordant strength that succoured me from birth:
          I mourn thy loss, thy violent, bloody end.

          No fairy crown atones for thy decease.
          Thy life's work done, now may thou rest in peace.
© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Felled by Lassitude

It was a dream.
No vaulting ambition,
just a late flowering
of homely joys, small treats,
warm comfortings.

Hope sung, gleaming
like an iridescent orb
fine spun as gossamer
caught on the wind.

Yet crushing fear crept in
and fractured every shard.
So felled by lassitude
of chances lost
I lie, regretting.

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Medical Care, circa 1955

I tried to make Dad understand
That glasses thick and shaking hand
Did not inspire much confidence
In Dentist Dave, and I was tense.

But Dad, whose teeth were mostly false,
And in the war had seen much worse,
Exhorted me to, ‘Just be brave.’
He was a friend of Dentist Dave.

Twenty-two injections later
Mum was angry with my pater.
She called the Doc, he ordered bed
And morphine for my aching head

And bleeding mouth.  Then for a week
I saw strange visions, couldn’t sleep,
Missed everything.  What can I say?
I dread the dentist to this day!

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved


...I hope you are well began his boarding school letter; lack of imagination prevented better. A pompous reference to …yours of the 31st ultimo was satisfactory in its day, but would now be treated with dismay. His love letters were dire, yet recent emails most definitely inspire.

© Kenneth Campbell
All rights reserved

The whole thing is awful

            but by far the meanest
            is a visit to the dental hygienist
            last year we had the clumbsy Swede
            but now the harvest's gone to seed
            to kick the gang man's greedy caper
            has driven the burly Niss Croatia
            to drop the hoe
            and grab the scraper

© William Botley
All rights reserved

“Please, Mr. Postman”

When my father shared the handful of old letters
I’d hoped to find just one
that would sweeten a side of my mother
deeply soured by resentment

Only later, when the radio
sang a song, from a time when
I’d discovered love,
was I folded back,
restored to myself again.

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Love Letter

Tender blue lines curl,
horizontal weight of symbols
depress the surface of paper,
knife rips through sticky seal,
in danger of pulling a word apart.

Spread and flatten the folds,
greedily eat meaning,
vacuum up, memorise,
put it in my eyes,
again and again –
inhaling into my heart.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

Friday 31 August 2012

Cherry Picking (with my daughter, aged five)

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man … It’s not fair. 

Cheer up.  Next year, sometime, never; this year...  Baby, gypsy, queen; lady... And you’ll go to church in a carriage, wearing satin.

But, I want to marry Mr. Bridle.

Why? He’s not rich.

He’s my dentist.  He’s a tooth fairy. 

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Wednesday 15 August 2012

A Visit to the Dentist

“I'm afraid this means root canal work,” the dentist said.

“Good,” I replied.

Her china blue eyes widened.  “Of course, I’ll try to make you as comfortable as possible.  There will be an additional charge, though ...”

“It’ll be worth it.”

It was. 

All I felt was my heart beating.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

The Dentist

Memories of the metal contraption
entering my soft, vulnerable mouth
grinding up inside my brain.
Tightening to brace each
rhythmic sear of pain. 
Captured, tortured.

Sixty years pass and the
fear is coffined in my veins
in spite of the jolly Glaswegian man,
who is so kind and whom I cannot understand.
© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved


‘Is it Painless you have come to see?’
The Receptionist’s expression is one of glee
Painful eyes are focused on my jaw
Observing closely whilst I close the door
‘Please rinse’, are the words I hear him say
When his injection comes into play.

© Kenneth Campbell
All rights reserved

The tailor’s daughter

Overcome by the pleasant lassitude of a warm summer afternoon, hers was a condition of indolent indifference. 

Francesca climbed up and into the hammock.

She was not inclined to sew a felled seam, the raw edges flattened, turned under, and stitched down.  

The old man could repair his own trousers. 

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Felled by Lassitude.

The lecture begins at eight.

An atonal voice dredges facts and figures through my head, fudged, unfocussed. As the bee bumbles on I fidget until words morph into palms whispering on far-off shores; soft sand cushions my rump and sea-sirens sing alluringly...

I drift.

It's 9.30. I am awake. And alone.

© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

The Three Strangers

She sips her coffee, peering askance. He lowers his book, stares. She smiles provocatively. He looks away, eyes vacant, bored. 

A pretty blonde steps up. Glass quivering in mid-air, over-spilling, he ogles. She slows, grinning. He half-rises. 

"Salut cherie," she breathes, sweeping past him into the arms of her beloved. 

© Sheila Rogers 
All rights reserved

Felled by lassitude...

The post-coital Bond stroked the honey-coloured shoulder of Gretcha Legova, an oligarch’s plaything.

His encrypted iphone buzzed.  Reminder from M of Punitive Equality Realignment Values training (PERV) following strained diplomatic relations with the Swedish Ambassador, Astrid Bonk.

Pouring champagne, he texted back: Regret, tied up.

Then the bomb went off.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

Felled by Lassie, chewed

B Wing, Holloway Prison 

I was so sure I had got away with it. The planning meant his murder went like a dream, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I was caught, outwitted, brought down by the long haired legend, the criminal shame of being felled by Lassie, chewed! 

© Liz Redfern
All rights reserved

Friday 25 May 2012

Death of the Neanderthal

Eons ago,
a windswept beach,
three strangers, enemies,
watched, in awe and dread,
as darkness fell at noon.

Beseeched restless spirits,
battle-lost, for light.

When light returned,
sliding across veined pebbles,
they linked arms and vowed a peace.
Sincere enough. 

Yet peace conceived in fear
can never last.

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Friday 18 May 2012


The midwife tells Father a new life has begun

A farm; a family; mystique and sun

A land interspersed with villages named Dorps

Vultures seen hovering over a dead Zebra’s corpse

‘Fireworks’ is the horse Father has bought

His purpose is to hunt Jackal… a popular sport

Lions feed before sleeping under a tree

Savannah stretches as far as an eye can see

At night the Crickets chirp; in the day the People sing

In the distance Church bells are heard to ring

The bush is alive with insects and wild game

There’s nothing in this Country that stays the same

The picture is Africa; the decade 1940s

Long before the fight with Mugabe’s forces

© Kenneth Campbell 2012
All rights reserved