2014. SWAN gathering at METAL, Southend.

Poems read by Tina Lawlor Mottram at the
SWAN gathering, METAL, Southend on Thurs 25 September 2014.

Organised by Audrey Snee and Estuary Publishing.

A wonderful evening of poetry, short stories, teenage fiction and Southend writers coming together to enjoy an evening of literary offerings. Thanks Audrey Snee and METAL for hosting.

Berger's Yellow Butterfly. Part of Open Studios 2014. Tina Lawlor Mottram.
Berger’s Yellow Butterfly.
Part of Open Studios 2014.
Tina Lawlor Mottram.


Compost Maker Supreme I am become
Hardly for want of it.
Seeps up on me from practice,
Of digging earth deep and chopping,
lopping bits off plants
and weeding.

None of Life’s other titles do I hold so dear
My PhD originates in the slimy underground
Accompanied by earthworms
maggots, slugs and snails and slow-worms.

Instead of whinging at the leftovers
Of a pinched, screwed up,
“Don’t want it, won’t eat it!” 6 year old face
I sweep it clean without remorse,
a plateful offering to my sacred garden shrine

Tree cuttings stake its corner
Lined it first with sticks and mown grass
Began to add the deadhead blooms
Sandwich crusts, crunchy egg shells
Pasta remains, beans on toast
Slug -eaten outside leaves of cabbage
Human shinned, dug-up nettles,
bramble roots and dandelions.

Feast for the slugs
Nourished by me, wind and rain
Nature triumphs once again

Verboten (Forbidden)

For Ann Lysek

‘There’s something we can touch!’ breathed Ann
arriving breathless, having torn up a flight of stairs to let me know.
We lived in Prague, had travelled long hours by train expecting jollity
and then while I searched for Wim Wenders in passing crowds of faces
Or even his Angel on a roof
We made our way through white pillars, survivors of the wars
That raged in this city.
Now immersed in the historic stolen remains from all Europe and further
we were grouped in the museum in Berlin.

Perhaps it was the hangover, truly memorable,
that made me so vulnerable to the whiteness of the shadows?
It may have been a lingering instinct from another Era long
buried in my mind, edging its way out
Confronted by walls of stolen tiles, Classical statues,
The history of the Conqueror and the Conquered.
My fingers twitched and ached to feel the forbidden stone
My eyes wished for treasures like this in my flat at home
All too aware of museum attendant’s eagle-like stare
Hawk like, silently shrieking ‘Don’t you DARE!’
While my head understood, my heart raced, my soul danced

The carrot from Ann was hidden in the basement
I couldn’t really believe the Germans had left a loophole
But there it was.
Deep, dark, cavernous, with unguarded walls and treasures
We smiled exchanging truth with eyes
And stretched out fingers, noses, hands

We left shortly afterwards, smugly, hardly stopping for much.
Outside the sunshine belied the cold past remains
And our guilty secrets.

The news at ten

Cycles of indistinguishable lives roll past on TV each night
I hide my face. Cover my eyes.
I cannot examine the monks peacefully in protest
against Burmese tanks
The charred remains of a boy on a Donegal farm
The daily carnage from Irak

These filthy acts of human struggles, one against another
for golden riches, non-lasting, illusionary, human power
and bodies turned corpses every minute of every hour
While people like me, appalled, yet drinking it in
We watch, we need our documentary daily dose
Of humanity against humanity on a colour box in our living rooms
Numbingly protesting from our armchair seats
in our centrally heated homes,
with full stomachs and bank accounts.
extinguishing hope in our souls
abandoning innocence in our lives
with our complicit do-nothing eyes.

I remember singing screechingly high
in harmony with nothing but the sound of reeds by rivers and
a sky that took away my breath
It still does, in the caverns of unrelentlessness
Along with
Bart and Homer, Tellytubbies and the news at ten.

Bio details
Tina Lawlor Mottram worked in design and publishing for years, including Collins Publishers, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the Royal Armouries, in the Tower Of London. Her poems have been published in anthologies by Urban Fox Press and the Rainham Poetry Group and she co-edited “Medway’s Little Treasures” – a book of poetry to read to children. “When the forevers become” was her first solo publication and Tina will read some poems from this at the SWAN event. Tina won a Lottery grant to produce “The Tree of Light – working creatively with longterm illness”, published in 2010 by themomentisnow! Tina has also worked as a correspondent for Medway newspapers. Drawing on years of experience of living abroad and allotment observations since her return to England, her poems reflect her life; artist, allotmenteer, mother and wherever possible, guardian of the planet’s green resources.