(April 2002) Page 2

Tom Riley

Tom Riley is Chairman and regular host of East Grinstead Poets at his house. Born Liverpool 4/12/27, "not quite dead yet" he says. Eleven years in two orphanages, then first job (6 months) clog maker and boot repairer Scotland Road, Liverpool; last job (40 years) with the Civil Aviation Authority, mostly installation of long-distance Radar, all over the place. Education: basic elementary, but improved at Night School. Hooked on poetry and music at about aged 8 years.

Married twice; this one in it's 32nd wonderful year. Two children: 27 and 28.

Leisure interests: Cruising under sail (current boat Parker 21). Writing: poetry, adult and childrens’ short stories, (some adult stories and poetry published). Reading: especially Patrick O’Brian. Cross-country walking. Music: 40s big bands, classics (choral, Wagner, Delius). Art: Art Noveau, Art Deco. Drinking: Lots of red wine.

Mersey Blues
© Tom Riley

High on the wet windswept Northern Divide,
Where predatory Kites and Buzzards rise,
Seeping from the Mossed and granite scarred hillside,
Began a great commercial enterprise.

Daughter of Goyt and Tame from Pennine clough,
Once; sparkling mountain streams they used to be.
Mersey's parents, from heather purpled rough,
Start her remorseless journey to the sea.

Mem'ries only; of wide windswept moorland,
As by grey Greater Manchester she's caged.
Feeding from the industrial heartland,
Her figure spreading, prematurely aged.

Past the roaring banks of Fiddler's Ferry,
Home to commercial traffic, all too soon.
Past Runcorn, and Widnes' promontory,
Tide, backing and advancing with the moon.

Earth coloured home, to dab and conger eel,
Bosom, deep; and full tide the ships to rule,
She weeps when she; maternal pangs to feel,
Washes the feet of her child, Liverpool.

Her heart grieves for Liverpool of to-day,
Its warrens gone and streets near squeaky clean,
Benefit Agents culture now holds sway,
And not a thought for romance that has been.

Great fleets of ships, made landfall at her Bar,
Ocean greyhounds; funnels; one, two, three, four,
Belching black power to the clouds afar,
Straight stems, and counter sterns the beauties bore.

Now Tanker traffic trails it's oily smears,
And Packet sails, Republic's flag unfurled.
The odd Container Ship for Gladstone steers,
Stirring the muddy gateway to the world.

Merchant Princes rode the commercial wave,
Generating fortunes from Mersey trade,
Fortunes they spent, as though 'twere sin to save.
In city streets a noble heart they made.

Liver Building; the great bronze birds on high,
Facing prevailing gale with haughty mien
Frown down on the empty river, from the sky,
Wishing that busy times would come again.

Water Street and Dale's stone buildings lead
To Walker gallery, art's stately home.
The Picton library where all can read,
Adjacent stands, with pleasing leaded dome.

St. George's Hall in Lime Street's busy tide,
Quietly, awaits the assembly throng.
Lions, couchant, guarding every side;
Palladian splendour, host to speech and song.

Busy ferries, on Mersey used to sail
To Woodside, Seacombe and New Brighton pier.
Now, one lonely craft ploughs the circle trail
With tattered pop-songs stabbing at the ear.

Remembered days: on blacked-out city ways,
Girls; five abreast and arm in arm would stride
Singing the cheeky pop songs of war days,
No danger or attack, the shadows hide.

Now in the dark each doorway holds a threat.
The dream peddlers and muggers hold the street.
In park shelter where lovers used to pet,
Stained cast-off hypodermics snare the feet.

The Dingle and along the Cast-Iron-Shore
Where once adventure beckoned; faint it seems.
The rusting skeletons stand; mute and sore,
Of Central Governments misguided schemes.

Those rose red halls of trade that warm and grand
From granite quays of Albert Dockside rise.
Sink in the litter of Hamburger stand
As slow, unwinds, the spring of enterprise.

Now gone; the little dwelling terraced streets,
Front doors ajar on any summer day.
Sacrificed on dogmatic planner's sheets,
To living box and rampant motor way.

Gone is cobbled William Henry Street,
Fallen to Juggernaut and motor car,
Corner shops no longer attract the feet
Errand bound; for "Woodbines" addictive tar.

Gone are the mighty Clydesdale horses, fair,
Gone, "Kardomah," and Coopers' fragrant hall,
Where hungry child could fatten on the air.
Scents of linseed, tar, rope, beyond recall.

Closed on itself the dying city sleeps,
Dreaming of a "Beatles" rocking ditty.
Tho' native wit sometimes the life flame keeps:
They've cleaned, the heart and soul from the city.

Shaking her foam fringed locks in puzzled thought,
Mersey flows to estuarine exit.
Tiring, she leaves 'North Wall' and 'Brighton Fort',
And rests on Burbo Bank and Taylor's Spit.

Breakfast at Stornoway
© Tom Riley

Proud porridge, salt island in creamy sea,
Heather honey anointment, never wrong.
Rolls of Aberdeen wait, with scalding tea
Their silky texture to exalt the tongue.
The overture gone, now! the symphony,
Our plate, resplendent in hot greasy steam.
Rich blood pudding nestles in harmony
With fried Clootie dumpling, (a Glasgow dream).
Pork Links; warm, brown, offer their smiley sheens,
Bacon streaks round potato scones in fun,
All interstices filled with sequinned beans,
Two eggs atop, their chrome yokes yet to run.
Raising my tea mug ruefully I ken;
There goes a month from my three score and ten.

In Praise of Cami-knickers.
© Tom Riley

Silk tabernacle to life's mystery.
Graceful adornment of the form divine.
Epitome, of that lost history
When romance blossomed on roses and wine.
With slinky folds and lacy daring darts,
Your power could rouse the most torpid male.
Exciting product of the Nouveau Arts
In colours vivid, shimmering or pale.
Beautiful talisman of that lost age,
When there was a world left to discover.
Your shy picture adorned the fashion page
To tempt secret present from a lover.
Though fading now, for you my fires still burn;
Dear garment, how I long for your return.


Richard Vallance was born in Guelph, southern Ontario, Canada, on March 11th., 1945, and currently resides in Ottawa, the nations capital. A graduate of Sir Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloon, Ontario (H.B.A. 1968) and the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario (M.L.S., 1975), Richard is a professional University librarian, now on disability pension. Richards career as a librarian reached its zenith in October, 1983, when he won the prestigious Data Courier Award for Excellence in Online Papers ($1,000 U.S.), in Chicago, Illinois.

However, progressively aggravated alcoholism eventually forced him to retire prematurely, in September, 1991. Fortunately, Richard ceased drinking altogether in 1992, and has been sober now for a decade. While he did write some poetry during his "wet years", alcoholism severely blunted his inspiration. Creativity only truly blossomed in 1995. Since that time, he has written over 1,500 poems, most of them Sonnets, though he also specializes in both Haiku and the stricter, more traditional Japanese Hokku verse form. He has also composed numerous so-called "free verse" poems, and has published one book of poetry:

A Quilt of Sonnets: Forty Four Familiar Poems. Ottawa: Providence Road Press, 1998. 56 pp. ISBN 1-896243-7-x. [National Library of Canada]

Richard has been published on numerous occasions on some of the worlds best known poetry E-Zines, including, Poetry Life and Times (UK) and Autumn Leaves (USA). He also maintains his own bilingual international E-Zine,

Poetry in Emotion la posie smouvoir

and will soon be the editor of a new international Sonnet E-Zine, Sonnetto Poesia.

Richard is the Poetry Reviewer for Poetry Life and Times. Anyone, who writes poetry for Poetry and Life and Times, is cordially invited to submit any poem of 20 lines or LESS for consideration for review to:

[email protected]

Richard also moderates numerous Poetry Discussion Groups, the most notable of which are: 1. Describe Adonis [Shakespeares Sonnet 53] 120 members. Yahoos largest Sonnet poetry group by far. Here are posted historical sonnets, commentaries on sonnet writing, and sonnets by members:


2. Kawasaki Zen Haiku 90 members. Yahoos 3rd. Largest Haiku-Hokku poetry group, featuring links to historical Haiku Web Sites, examples of historical Haiku by such illustrious composers as Basho, Buson and Issa, and Haiku/Hokku posted by members, in any language they like:


3. Iliassia [Homers Iliad]. 61 members. Discussion group focussing on Homers Iliad, both in the original "Epic" Greek and in translation. Includes a repertoire archive of pictures, paintings, archaeological sites and cartographic information + maps:


My Carousel Home Page is: Poesie's laissez-faire Foire


  • 1. A Quilt of Sonnets: Forty Four Familiar Poems. Ottawa: Providence Road Press, (c) 1998 56 pp. ISBN 1-896243-07-x
  • 2. "Ŕ la belle inconnue (Robert Schumann)", in: Arts and Literature Review. Lakehead University. Vol. 1 (3), 1972
  • 3. "Chanson d'Auverge", in: A Ray of Hope. (c) 2000. 257 pp. pg. 129 ISBN 1-58235-559-2
  • 4. "Pow Wow", in: An Hour at Sunrise. (c) 2000. 313 pp. pg. 167 ISBN 1-58253-539-8

    Autumn Leaves [May/June, 2001] - and several of his poems will soon appear in Kedco's Millennium Dawn Anthology

    March 2002 - Nominee for
    The Poets Hall of Fame

  • Hands
    © Richard Vallance Jan. 18th.,
    (revised, Jan. 26th.), 2002

    A Resolution of the United Nations
    "To pass the Spring and Summer!"

    Primavera [1], dawn! You’re as good as gold!
    All nations North from Greece and Rome have passed
    one Resolution to shoo out the cold
    and spring on us Sun, Lumen [2], white, you’ve cast
    Upon its stage, as the scenery’s keen
    To canopy valleys and hills in teals,
    where buds "All Hail!", as breezy, sprout on boughs,
    And streams unfreeze as fast as Spring allows.

    Come on, Winter! Face it! You’re the has-been,
    Hah! Showers, April’s, spring May Day’s rosette,
    Flowers, on lawns, where orioles and larks
    May before long wing, summer’s songs, in parks,
    and folks, as they marvel at Orion, stroll,
    where it diadems their horizon, low.

    [1] "Primavera" [Latin and Italian] = "Spring"
    or in French, "le printemps"

    [2] Lumen [Latin] = "light"

    Her Last Adonis
    © Richard Vallance, March 17th, 2002

    Adonis in April, whose pensive gaze
    Has cast one small litotes glance from thoughts,
    Our adored Adonis, whose blonde hair strays
    On drafts, who pours him cold libation draughts?
    What shadows skiff aslant his lambent brow?
    What shadows lurk behind those sleepless eyes?
    What shades his hale nape haunting? Who'll allow
    This stag chase? Wasn't he caught out by surprise?
    No tears are here confessed. The only Priest
    He trusts is his own soul. She knew why she
    Had spurned his lovely lips, whose love, surceased,
    Now's snared him on the horns of love's despair.
    Who fell on his, no, your fair breast, your hair
    In lilacs foundered? Virgin, this was he.

    Its War!
    © Richard Vallance, March 2nd, 2002

    Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach

    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath

    for Anthony Walker

    Along New Zealand's wild rainforest shores,
    where crenellated fjords shake their walls
    against an oceans, what a battle roars
    for primacy, defying Austral squalls!
    You'd know this is a scene few tragedies
    can match: I've watched Homeric warriors flayed
    before the walls of lambent Troy, now razed
    to coals! Have you too not read of Wars played
    to dénouements where fierce tsunamis, crazed
    against death, declared on us, "It's war!", as though
    we'd plagued both lands and seas, and our disease
    had spread its scourge across our Earths tableau?
    Has anyone else come here to search out peace
    as rains are quelled by Sunsets Golden Fleece?

    Café au Lait
    © Richard Vallance
    August 3rd, 2000; revised, March 8th, 2002

    Café au lait on her table, a cool
    April's breeze flipped a leaf in her Paris Match
    as she sat deep in reading on a stool
    in partial shade, so engrossed she wouldn't catch
    you scrambling down still moist cobblestone stairs,
    although you'd hailed her (twice at that!) out loud;
    but set instead her mind on state affairs,
    sheer concentration in a lunchtime's crowd
    until your hands had touched her with, "Surprise!"
    as you came to offer her your flowers,
    carnations, what a sight for sorry eyes
    focussed not a moment on the showers!
    Was this some mirage or one's dreams come true?
    Never seen Paris in April, have you?

    A Theory
    © Richard Vallance
    Oct. 15th, 2000; revised, March 7th, 2002

    for Anthony Walker

    For summer's thoughts and summer's lucent days
    I've a theory. There's no replacing them.
    Forget it! Memories fogged in in bays
    make of our reflections echoed mayhem.

    Do you recall how our royal blue ship
    Promenaded down her boulevard blue,
    (doing knots, 10, as she gave land the slip)
    where she settled down to sail on straight through?

    We've ransacked stars and Perseid showers,
    Who've tried to escape our notice so far
    They seem implausible Alpine flowers
    in an alabaster jet black pearl jar.

    Our friends have all gone starry-eyed, surprised
    by everything in the gulf, islands
    in the sea *, wilderness no-one's apprized
    for diversities no one understands.

    * From the title of Ernest Hemingways Novel,
    "Islands in the Sea"

    [email protected]

    Notice: Our Resident Poet Jan Sand is recovering from an illness. So he gave me permission to use whichever poems I liked for this month. I picked out these three unusual ones below, from his large collection "Adverse". They are good examples of Jan's unique view of life and the universe.

    Get well soon Jan...

    Jan Sand in New York

    JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

    Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.

    To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.

    © Jan Sand

    It was sufficient for him
    To indicate height alone.
    To stretch steel and glass
    From pedestrian streets
    Upwards to the dominions of the clouds
    And thereupon permit permutations of colored air
    And the slow majesties of the sky
    To rub soft shoulders
    On his crystal disciplines.

    © Jan Sand

    The consequence of Wednesdays
    Parented by Tuesdays
    Enchained in turn by Thursdays
    That parse our times and lives
    Assigns the rigid order
    To package star events
    That nestle in our minds
    And join to make us whole.

    Birthdays and deathdays
    Stand resolutely planted
    In foundations of our soul,
    The anchors of the scaffold of our thought.
    From these string ropes of continuity,
    Hang bright colors out of gay events
    Suspend black rags of tragedy
    So that we run, along these lines,
    The finger of our memory
    To say, "Thus it was, and how." and wonder why.

    Over morning coffee, our ruminations push
    And shake the rigid past, the bottom line
    That says who we were and are and why it came that way
    Because one scalpel minute, one fractured second
    Of one assassin day.

    © Jan Sand

    You cannot squeeze
    Poetry from words.
    Iambic feet must stomp
    The pregnant juiceful
    Joyful globes to tread out
    Memories to tears, to bubbling streams
    Of giggles, spears
    Of flashing primaries
    To stain the world
    With grief veined with light,
    Bulked bulbous blacks
    Speckled with the silver
    Of reflection. The words
    Are hollow bowls
    To catch the vintage.
    There is here
    Fruit and acid bitterness.

    [email protected]

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