Hi All

Have you bought a 2018 diary yet?  If so, please make a note that on Thursday 25th January I will be hosting a very special Open Mic evening (from 6/7.30) in Stanmore Library.  The theme will be the Holocaust as it is the time of year for Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Please bring poetry you have written or that you have read - we normally each read four or five poems.

November has been an incredible month for poetry.  You all upped your game, perhaps inspired by Remembrance and Poppies and I was truly sorry to have only been able to choose two winning poems, one for Barnet and one for Harrow.

However, you have the opportunity to read a few of the other entries here as well as the winning two poems, by Alan Tremeer (Harrow) and Howard C Lambe (Barnet).


A tall white monolith hewn from stone

In remembrance of many who didn’t come home

To ‘The Glorious Dead’ the words inscribed

Lest we forget the reason they died

Politicians and veterans every November

In somber ranks, stand and remember

The fields of conflict where poppies grow long

From Flanders and Passchendaele, to the Somme

Remember the war against Fascism too

Their lives sacrificed for me and for you

Today intolerance, hatred more war

It’s not the world my dad fought for

Remember and learn to live in peace

We’ll run out of poppies if war doesn’t cease

THE FRONT     by Howard C Lambe

Guns blazing the sky’s all red

Lying here amongst the wounded and dead

Shells exploding around my ears

Trying hard to hide my fears

Mud and water up to my knees

Cold and hungry, I’m afraid I might freeze

Then comes the order to go ‘over the top’

Running and stumbling I must not stop

Soon to reach the enemy’s barbed wire

Relieved to know I’ve avoided their fire

One last push and we will be in their trenches

Hand to hand fighting us with the ‘Frenchies’

It is all over and we have gained a few yards

Tomorrow we go again, it will be twice as hard

Exhausted we rest, gather and regroup

Desperate for food and sleep but there’s only soup

Will this ever end and will I see another dawn?

Will I live to tell or must my family mourn?

What a waste of life this awful war has been

So many men lost forever, never again to be seen

Dedicated to all those who fought and those who fell in the Great War 1914-1918


We all wear poppies and remember

The soldiers who fought during wartime

For their country, and yours and mine.

A poppy I wear to remember hence

Someone who was a soldier in every sense

The country was dividing and in turmoil

We were on the wrong side of the soil.

As fear for our lives haunted us

We had to leave with nothing but ourselves.

He promised to guard the house

Until we could retrieve our possessions.

Alas arrived the day when a letter came

''Sir I am sorry I can guard no more''

We got our things but do not know

The fate of the brave man, our friend.

He dared to stand against his own kind

Fear for his own life never in his mind.

He was truly the 'unknown soldier' of his time

In my eyes he will always shine.

THE YELLOW POPPY by Jeffery Edmunds

The yellow poppy grows in

shallow corners. Its projections

out of the dust surprise you

It likes the tough Yorkshire


Shaped and hardened, it won’t

grow in a southerner’s garden.

Windblown and resilient, in

true Yorkshire style, the yellow

poppy grows where it will

A sentinel against grey sky and

green, sheep-shorn dale. A little

light on a dark day, when the

sun appears, it shines in delicate,

bright array

When you come to recall dark

days of war, under the red bloom

and copy, remember also those

who didn’t return to the land of

the yellow poppy….


The people of today and of yesteryear gather in spirit

A brief contemplation of the shadow the past casts

Remembered in stillness and silence

The years of devastation, destruction and loss.

The noise of war emptied from the world's ears

The aggression of the past repeats this year.

International appeasement looming as before

My heart fears the coming wars and prays for us all.

The balance of life shouldered on a few 

The wisest of decisions to be made

Casting our minds back to the ballot box

We decided, our future sealed in the heavens above.

To find happiness in days ahead 

For before long the silence will likely end. 

WIPERS LAND 1917 by Ian Herne

In the Salient called Wipers* a million men** died,

In cavities called trenches, mud dimmed their eyes.

The Great War was the story.

It was never about glory.

Cloth hall folded, old boys scolded,

Medals with poppy-red stains, horses with no brains.

In the cavities hip flasks glow,

brighter than the sun on snow.

The mornings in Wipers never had light.

Keen eyes missed this terrible blight.

The senses need energy, always want hope.

Tyne Cot has marked graves lining the slope.

And it was slippery and it was dire,

The army with no voice, or even a lyre.

Wipers, Ypres, Passchendaele deep.

Now millions have gone to the land of the sleep.

The Salient took bodies and threw them away,

They now sell bullet necklaces cast from the clay.

Men make money from misery; it is a given.

Why doesn't life offer more than a midden?

* Wipers was the name given to Ypres by British soldiers.

** A million troops from the German Empire, Britain, France, Belgium and

combatants from Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa

perished in the mud of Ypres.



POPPIES by Laurie Jameson


It’s hard to quite grasp the enormity of what went on before

On the day so long ago that Great Britain found itself at war

Men and boys, all volunteers, rushed to join the colours

All queuing to sign up and fight; fathers, sons and brothers

It’ll all be over by Christmas, better join up while you can

Teach them not to mess with the likes of an Englishman

Give the Hun a thrashing and each one a bloody nose

He’ll soon run for cover and we’ll give a cheer as he goes

It didn’t quite work out like that and though we won the war

Our poor soldiers paid the price with all their blood and gore

Untold thousands lost their lives in the war to end all wars

Wasn’t true of course, Hitler soon tried to even up the score

But in nineteen eighteen we dared to hope it might be true

The Hun had come so very close to doing what he’d said he’d do

Sadly today there are nations still fighting senseless wars

But they’re pretty small potatoes to what went on before

The poppy is a small remembrance of all our soldier’s lives

We cannot but imagine the sorrow of their families and wives

So watch the remembrance service and think of all we owe

To all those men who laid down their lives in that war, so long ago

So when you buy your poppy and they pin it on your coat

Wear it with pride and try to swallow the lump that’s in your throat




Before you go to bed tonight,

to sleep in your comfort zone,

Just think of those who fight for us,

so very far from home.

And in the morning when you wake,

I hope that you will pray,

for those who give their lives for us,

to live another day.

Inspired by pictures from Afghanistan

of soldiers at rest and sleeping.      



Fields filled with countless poppies blood red

Covering the ground where many died

It was so horrific that so many had to give up their lives here

So brave they were when from the enemy they fled

It's impossible to count the many millions of tears so many have cried:

Standing in this place I soak up the atmosphere.

I can almost hear the sound a hundred years ago when guns were roaring

The cries of soldiers in anguish and pain

This chills me to the very bone

As I know the death toll is soaring

Blood and mud are mixed together by the relentless rain

I can hear practically every moan and groan.

Today we recall each life by wearing a poppy blood red

We think of the ultimate sacrifice - for us they gave their lives

We honour them by recalling their names

I for one will never forget those countless dead

Who left behind parents, siblings and wives:

On and on goes that long list of names

and now for something completely different …………


Poppy chatters non stop,  wide eyed and sweet
Purring, trilling. Paws gently patting my face
Tactile and friendly. So soft, so complete
Hope gave her to me. She has her place

My husband died recently  after years of pain
I'm feeling a tad  lonely, you understand,
Grief comes unexpectedly,  again and again
Hope has provided a helping hand.

I'm fixing  my soul with a   furry friend
Who puts up with my  winsome mood
This little tabby cat,  helps  my heart to mend
Hope  seeks out friendships,  not solitude

Poppy  is a rescue cat, travelled far and wide.
Wanting  love and support. I gave her mine
No longer frightened sick, needing to hide
Named Poppy Hope Cohen.  Now she's fine.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that the name of regular contributor John Clarke is missing.  John entered the competition from the outset and always came to the Open Mic sessions.  In recent months he even joined the Jewish Poetry Society and was a popular and talented member.

I am deeply saddened to tell you that John recently passed away and he is going to be very missed by many people.

I would therefore like to end this blog with a poem which John would have surely entered for next month’s competition with the subject being The Gift.


By John Clarke

The first talent God gave to me

Was an IQ of 150

I would have thought oh, thank you God

If I had not been seen as odd

A heads up would have done the trick

But I thought that I was quite thick

Realisation came far too late

But still half-wits wanted to debate

I had a special empathy

With their feelings coming to me

Prickly sensation, pressure on head

Turbulent wave of things unsaid

I realised that a true psychic

I was just an intuition trick

Picking up so much more data

Makes predictions somewhat smarter

The gift of creativity

Is something of great value to me

Have a joyful month and I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Chanukah or simply Seasons Greetings.