Sara L Russell
Founded Poetry Life & Times and edited it for 8 years. Have had poems featured on various websites including Artvilla, Authorsden and Richard Vallance's Sonnetto Poesia, which is now printed as a chapbook.
Founder of The Video Poets; have made a lot of video poetry recitals.
306 British & Commonwealth soldiers were shot at dawn for desertion in WW1.
Inspired by this fact and by BBC1's drama The Village
Good-hearted soldier marched away to war,
Sad-eyed mother and father watched him leave
To help a noble cause worth fighting for;
Or so the government had us believe.
Bereavements swiftly followed. He returned
For time on leave, a changed, embittered soul;
Troubled by death where distant fires burned
As month on month the shelling took its toll.
Mentor and loving brother, man of peace,
Such was this force of nature we once knew;
Now weighed down with all war's catastrpohes
So guilty to be of the living few.
Oh bitter hindsight, cruel hand of fate,
That says what we must do when it's too late!
I saw him walking back along the path
That headed to the seaport, bound for France;
So full of care, lost in the aftermath
Of bloody conflict, as if in a trance.
Then suddenly he stumbled to his knees
And crawled, down on his belly, cautiously
As though bullets were coming through the trees
As though to shelter from the enemy.
He raked the grass with darting, trembling hands,
His staring eyes were wide with urgency
His legs would not obey his brain's commands
His lips whispered a plea for clemency
I saw my love, he didn't see me there
Longing to save his broken soul with prayer.
Never was a more terrifying sight
Than naked terror, screaming from his eyes;
I still recall him staring, every night;
It haunts my dreams from dusk into sunrise.
I wanted to embrace him, stroke his hair,
To whisper words of solace from the Lord;
But sometimes prayer hangs on the empty air,
Sometimes we cannot rescue the adored.
Later I visited his lonely room
To find him on his bed, facing the wall.
He turned to meet my gaze, eyes full of gloom
As if no soul resided there at all.
I made him pray with me, for love Divine;
Heedless of God, he pressed his lips to mine.
I blush, I burn with shame, when I recall
I gave in to his kisses willingly;
He wanted heaven's solace not at all
But took his earthly comfort all from me.
So long I'd waited, through his years away,
Wishing to win his love through some kind deed
Now in his trembling grasp, too lost to pray,
I lay entranced by passion's burning greed.
When it was over, I looked at his face
He seemed to see some bright epiphany
Perhaps at last he knew our Saviour's grace
At last his breath came slowly; evenly.
He murmured something as I rose to go
I knew I loved him, but never said so.
I never said I loved him. With the dawn,
His doomsday clock was ticking down his hours.
I never said I loved him, I was torn;
For what love sanctifies, wartime deflowers.
Hindsight has pierced my heart with bitter thorns,
Trampled my dreams, stolen all future joy;
For in that worst of cataclysmic dawns,
I never said I love you to that boy.
I never even said a last farewell
Though warm kisses still echoed on my skin;
My silence tortures me, I am in hell
I burn in silent wars I cannot win.
The Redcaps came and took away my Joe.
I loved him; and now he will never know.
2007, revised May 2nd, 2013
How neatly northerly she points her tail,
With fluffsome front paws pointing to the south;
Whiskers point west and eastwards, without fail,
Each side of her benignly-smiling mouth.
She navigates from rockery to pond
And slyly measures distances ahead,
With whiskers poised, behind a ferny frond,
Waiting to stalk fishes, with stealthy tread.
A water pistol thwarts her cunning scheme,
Fired from the door with some accuracy;
And like one rudely wakened from a dream,
She leaps into the air, and bolts to flee.
But soon her equanimity returns;
She's back smiling at fishes, through the ferns.
inspired by the performances of Maxine Pearce & Nico Mirallegro in BBC1's The Village,
this is from the point of view of a mother to a son who has to go to war
Wherever life may send you
However far away
May light beings befriend you
Angels, to light your way
Four angels for protection
To guard the path ahead
Three more for introspection
To drive out fear and dread
May archangels placate you
And sanctify your dreams
May love illuminate you
However dark life seems.
Wingbeating high above you
To guide you on your way
The angels and I love you
A little more each day.
Every day was the same as the one before. She
Every day was the same as the one before. She
went to the cupboard and took out a box of Wheetie Krisps
went to the cupboard and took out a box of Kheetie Wisps
just to survive another morning shift, or so it seemed.
just to survive another afternoon shift, or so it seemed.
Why wouldn't Sam in Sales notice her? After all,
Why wouldn't Irving in the Post Room notice her? After all,
he was only a Trainee Executive; and she was good enough for him.
he was only a souped-up errands boy; and she was desperate.
Of course today, as with yesterday, he would simply walk past her.
Of course today, like yesterday, he would just run away.
The ground floor cafe queue never seemed to get any shorter at lunchtime
The sandwich trolley lady seemed to get shorter and shorter of sandwiches
The bistro down the road was no less crowded; the food was expensive,
The local pub's parrot kept screaming "TIME!" and the food was crap,
No-one ever spoke to anyone outside of their clique; it was just another working day.
No-one ever had any time to chat; it was just another pointless day.
And so the days went on. Until one day her reflection reached out and pulled her into the mirror.
And so the days went on. Until one night, her dream reached out and pulled her through the vortex.
To be Continued...
Like fragile bubbles, children fly
so swiftly as we set them free
between the earth and cloudswept sky
with colours swirling magically.
I watched my sweet boy go to war
so sad-eyed, in his uniform
his colours darker than before
like greying clouds before a storm.
Go carefully into the fray
beloved boy, return to me
all I can do is wait and pray
as once again, I set you free.
Inspired by a scene from BBC1's The Village, in which Joe (Nico Mirallegro) was about to return to
the front line in WW1 and his mother Grace (Maxine Peake) had been showing very poignant hints of
the fear she felt for his survival in the trenches.
Bring me celestial music of the spheres
Such notes as dance in colours in the mind
The shimmering of distant hemispheres
Where streams of rainbow nebulae unwind
Bright notes cascade in sparkling waterfalls
Light motes resound in echoes through the breeze
From secret gardens hid behind stone walls
Paradise plays enticing symphonies
Our earthly plane is rife with vexing noise
Cacophanies of thundering machines;
Barkings of dogs, vexed babies in full voice
keep us earthbound, locked into dull routines.
Reach for the headphones, cover up your ears,
Take in celestial music of the spheres.
Sara L Russell 6/3/13 16:18
Just look at him, sitting in the corner
Hogging the remote control
Seemingly so deaf but he can hear us when he likes
Leaves such a mess around the toilet bowl
Just look at him stagger to the boozer
Just because we've hidden all the booze
He remembers where to drink but can't remember where he lives
Maybe a nursing home will help him choose
Look at that poor old man sat in the corner
He had no visitors again today
He sings all the old songs but doesn't quite recall his name
And never seems to have a lot to say.
(inspired by William Shakespeare; and an eerie
floating drowned woman in the movie Titanic)
Adrift amid the bindweed, through the reeds,
Watching the sky with deep unblinking eyes,
She passes where the turquoise mayfly feeds,
Oblivious of all that swims or flies.
Red flowered chiffon billows to her hands
Open like water lilies in the sun,
Her skin's the colour of tropical sands,
Her russet hair shines bright as copper spun.
Fabulous jewels languish on her breast,
Rich spoils of love rendered useless in death,
Her parted lips make unspoken behest;
The rosy portal of her final breath.
Now all is cold where roiling passion flamed,
As jealous earth mourns what the river claimed.
Though the sky may fade,
your eyes grow dim and rheumy
and the sun lose its golden halo
I’ll still see you
I’ll carry a torch to
light your corner of darkness in the world
Though your voice may quake
and few may stop to listen
as you fight to convey opinion
I’ll still hear you
I’ll listen to find a
meaning through confusion in the words
Though most sound is quelled
and as if in sleep
your ears miss the sounds of morning
I’ll still speak to you
remind you of
who you are, both to yourself and those who care.
22/12/12 @ 21:21 pm
Out on a winter walk one day
you solemnly put an acorn into my hand.
Something in my head whispered
"Keep it safe
and he'll be safe".
I kept it to this day.
One candle on my cake,
burned into my mind's eye forever.
You took a photograph
to keep me in the picture.
My sister arrived in the world.
You took me to feed the swans.
she greeted us with screams.
I fled, covering my ears.
Mother told me the facts of life.
You kept well out of it.
A disco at the end of a long, quiet road.
You always drove me safely there and back.
You were judge and jury
of all boyfriends.
Year twenty three.
You gave me away
to the best boyfriend of all.
A montage of eras
replay in the bright lens of memory
till the year of the walk
and the acorn.
And I kept it safe
so you'd be safe,
only now it looks cracked and old;
not quite like an acorn
and you are not quite like you.
At what price does man find favour with God?
Down through the roiling clouds, from heavenly heights to earthly clay,
where scribes had written scrolls of doctrines;
down through old crumbling architraves, temples of cold ideals,
man spawned the Vengeful Word.
With rage of angels,
like effigies of gods, there sprang forth lords and hypocrites;
all claimed to speak for God.
Then, in the maelstrom,
came genocide of innocents, and hellfire fell like rain.
When does a tower become too tall for God?
Out of a clear blue sky came silver harbingers of doom,
where men were writing drafts and spreadsheets;
now crumbling down around them, swathed in hate-begotten fire;
spawned from a vengeful god.
No mortal angels
could save the ones who perished, caught above the line of flame;
while some below survived.
Yet, in the chaos,
sworn enemies in faith came out to save each other's fall.
At what price can man enter Paradise?
High above the minarets, the veiled dome of the sky
students look up with wistful longing;
yearning to be good radicals and cross the lines of fire
to reap heaven's reward.
Hate's vengeful angels
pretenders to the throne of God take many shapes and forms,
while moderates stay quiet;
and with their silence
give passive leave for lunatics to prate at heaven's door.
Rising like smoke from the eternal spring
Approaching with rose petals at her feet
Angel of hope sheds light on everything
Whenever life is bitter more than sweet
Within our secret gardens of desire
Fountains of sparkling passion locked away
Therein lies hope, forever to inspire
lest optimism ever goes astray
Age sometimes dims the dancing flame of hope
And drudgery weakens vitality
Darkness and sorrow sometimes interlope
Between us and our dearest fantasy
Yet human spirit finds a way to cope
As long as we find inroads back to hope.
SR 27/10/06 Revised 20/09/12
A nano-second window has arrived
Leaving me time for touching base with you.
It's dog-eat-dog, yet our puppy survived;
We thought outside the box, and simply grew.
We're all different, yet basically the same.
We can anticipate the market's needs,
And levitate to top dogs in our game;
Out-smart the opposition till it bleeds.
I'll text you vis-a-vis the status quo,
We'll throw some ball park figures in the air.
Let's keep it strictly on a need-to-know;
We'll have it all, and plenty more to spare.
So hold that thought until I've sorted things;
It's not over till that fat lady sings.
She stares into a pool reflecting midnight stars
A scrying glass of mystic mystery
A portal to dimensions where the brave may pass
Without a password or a golden key.
The shimmer of green oceans in the mind's third eye
Reflects a myriad of distant lands
A chalice raised; a sip that brings the lips to sigh
Wingbeating spirit hears and understands.
The trees are hung with lanterns giving amber light
The sky's festooned with stars in veils of cloud
Reflecting in her eyes. In decadent delight
She takes another sip and sighs aloud.
The light green potion lingers lightly on her tonge
Unfolding tastes of mint and aniseed
Promising deeper pleasure while the night is young
Where evening moths and fairies stop to feed.
The painted lady waiting in the wings
Now parts her lips to sing her lover's name;
She enters, arms spread outwards as she sings
Like some fantastic orchid made of flame.
She scatters fragrant petals in the hall
And yet more petals round the master bed
Her sweet song echoes like a linnet's call
Her swirling silks are edged withgolden thread.
Then comes a telegram from overseas
To say her love will not return again
The lady falls, still singing, to her knees;
Her heartbeat speeds, like wings beating in vain.
Such is the way of love made through a lie;
Like chloroform, to kill a butterfly.
How lovely is my dearest one in sleep,
A fair whisper of who he was before;
Silence has fallen in the castle keep,
Spring birds are singing; and he speaks no more.
How pale, my Romeo, by evening light,
How cold, these sullen lips I'm burning for;
The sunset burns with amber, warm and bright,
Blooms shine like lanterns; and he sees no more.
I kiss the pillowed tresses of his hair,
Caress his face, these pale hands I adore,
Such touches as would tell how much I care,
I kiss him softly; though he feels no more.
The dagger shimmers coldly in my hand
Bringing death's sweet release to my command.
15/2 /12 02:07
She's slipping through the loopholes in my prayers
Defying all attempts to wish her well
The world at large so little knows or cares
How many languish in a private hell
She's slipping through the system; what there is
And loopholes of what care there ought to be
She's teetering before a precipice
The endless chasm of the wait-and-see
A prayer is but an exertion of will
Sent drifting in the bright dome of the sky
Each one of many; some unanswered still
Some high priority, some drift on by.
She's slipping through the loopholes in our prayers,
Fading the hopes of everyone who cares.
For winter I wear black.
not one spark of colour
shall break my mourning for this
season of death.
It speaks of the way I feel inside;
the chill stab of sorrow, the darkness of hurt long concealed.
There will be no yellow
until daffodils appear;
no blue until the bluebells,
no pink until the cherry blossoms
scatter their petals
over the long-thawed land
to make way for the coming of the goddess of spring.
Black is the opposite of white,
of the flat white snow;
black's like a sheltered cave.
Let me hibernate in shadow
draw the curtains
close my eyes.
Wake me only when springtime finally arrives.
#YouAreBeautiful in my mind's eye when you are not before me;
shimmering like sunlit leaves after rain; your name is the breath of a mantra
#YouAreBeautiful I say; let no-one deny or despute it;
for those lips like the petals of roses and eyes all of langour and love
#YouAreBeautiful ; and all those who never will hold you
can simply behold you, with eyes deep in love.
Passiflora Petals flank my pillow,
Valerian's the pollen on my brow,
My thought flies where night clouds rise and billow,
and dream-ships sail with angels at the bow.
Marigold has deepened into nightshade,
twilight falls where nothing moves or sings,
twisted shadows flicker on the light shade,
Sleep Angel comes, on poppy-tinted wings.
Running water changes into voices,
stairs yield to the footfalls of the dead,
helpless sleep is running out of choices,
Sleep Angel wraps her wings around the bed.
Curtains stare with eyes that once were flowers
till their colours deepened into grey;
restless visions haunt the starlit hours,
Sleep Angel will chase them all away.