SoundLines currently consists of 6 members co-founded by Jeffrey Loffman and Gary Michael Studley. The members write poetry that ranges widely in tone, rhythm and rhyme and covers subjects from the momentous to the everyday.
See Jo Field’s THE ANGLESEY LEG (Happenstance Press), Trevor Breeding is a prize-winner, Jeffrey Loffman’s BREATH-TAKING: A Geography (Lapwing) has received appreciative reviews (see Ink, Sweat & Tears), Gary Michael Studley’s
Is a prize-winner and his THERE IS ANOTHER WAY is available using the web-site www.soundlines.co.uk; Peter Sinden’s Blog has a significant following
and the artist Robert Marsh has been real crowd pleaser in the group’s readings at festivals and in LiveLit nights.





In the bath

she ponders Relaxation
and wonders when she lost the art.
Or did she never master it?
She can’t remember ever being tempted 
by pictures of those little suckered pillows 
tucked under heads of carefree women
feigning nudity in catalogues.

It’s not occurred to her to scatter candles
ranged about in coloured glass and lit
to cheer the bleakness of those tiles and mirrors.
She has no muzak piped into the steam,
she doesn’t buff away with any languid loofah
at flesh which ought
to hold its nerve-ends buried deep.

Experimentally she leans her skull
of rattling odds and ends like small sharp dreams
against the bath’s cold skin. Occipital froideur
leaks in to numb the scalp, surging 
through semicircular canal and lacrimal sac 
to eyelids effortfully clamped.

The aerial whirring of her brain observes
traffic congested in the rush-hour of the neck.
Each hard shoulder is a waste of cones,
slip roads at a standstill, a central reservation
with — oh oh — an accident.
She pulls the plug.


Jo Field


Is This The Poetry Bus?

The poets have small rucksacks and unnecessary hats.
Speaking with octogenarians they try
not to mention death. They’ve been told the human soul
packs the same weight as a nightingale
when they had believed it was insubstantial
as a wisp of breath.

They observe three cyclists on the pavement
outside the newsagent, adjusting lycra, watching
a towering girl, the Sun under her arm, clunk clunk
from the door on platformed boots. The cyclists
may or may not be poets, but they practise
pertinent similes behind her back.

A further poet puffs up in the nick of time
with wild hair, torn tights, bandaged hands
and the query which makes at least one other think:
I could get a poem out of that.


Jo Field



One-Man War

Jimi Hendrix plays The Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock, Monday morning, August 18th 1969

With surreptitious ease
one-man war 
declares itself
in squeeze-trigger beats
spirals into air
explodes in chords
from fingers straining
at the killing floor

soars
       shrieks
                 distends
                             fragments

pitches to shrillness
distorts to human screams
inseparable from
banshee wail of bombs
engages all enemies
(drums return small fire)
feeds back the lies
bombards with shock and awe

                                    rolls 
                             dives
                  tumbles
     implodes

craters lives wrapped
in some other flag
splinters the dream
scatters patriot songs
in shrapnel sounds
from sea to shining sea

the echo of each wire-strung note
begs America the beautiful
no more



                                                              The Bee House

                                               The middle air brick breathes in bees,
                                               sucks them into its waxed windpipe,
                                               spits them out like grape seeds granted flight.
                                               For 15 years the cavity has been their home,
                                               a storeyed comb built on generations
                                               of nurture and industry, thriving, sweet 
                                               and moist. Is that a damp patch in         
                                               the corner or the stain of surplus honey? 
                                               
                                               In the wall behind my wardrobe a bee generator hums,
                                               a pipe organ with tones I moderate
                                               by opening and closing the door.
                                               A strange fragrance clings to my hanging clothes. 
                                               When they scouted a cracked corner skirting                                                                                                           
                                               I awoke to bees skimming past my nose,
                                               watched them float in the room’s sunlight,
                                               dream-motes looking for a logical escape.

                                               In winter the wardrobe stops its organ notes;
                                               the air brick holds its breath;
                                               the wall is cold and quiet. 
                                               From the guttering I scoop handfuls of congealed corpses,
                                               damp and black and honey-textured,
                                               fit to mulch with the husks of summer bees
                                               swept up daily by the score,
                                               a concoction to sweeten the soil.

                                               By April the sun is striking warmth into the brick.
                                               I begin to wonder when they will stir,
                                               whether they will emerge in gasps of life
                                               or burst into a controlled and frenzied cloud
                                               to weave a fisted mitten clutching at a branch,
                                               a dark and glistening mass 
                                               clasping a queen kernel in its beating heart.  


Trevor Breeding



THE  THATCHED BARN

prompted by Samuel Palmer’s‘ A Barn with a Mossy Roof ’ (1828/9)

  

The poor gleaners of Kent scavenged fields,
eked out some kind of life, leftovers
modern farm methods did not gather.
By candlelight ‘Swing’ signed letters,
burnt barns; clumps of moss
charred darker, some a brighter orange.
Shadows sneak over the roof,
a crumpled thatch of grassy yellows.
Nearby beside rocks and scree,
stone walls with timbered doors
locked  - but when evening comes 
unbolt the door, fill the store!
Blood-red decay with earth tones
beneath ominous sky, wages are cut.
The hidden-away workers try
to make ends meet even now.
Wealden land houses all this.

Shoreham, where Samuel Palmer painted this, is close to those Kent villagers, near where the River Adur pierces the Downs, who were desperately driven by poverty and hunger.     The Captain Swing riots around 1830 started around there [Captain Swing: Hobsbawm & Rude, London, (1969 )p.190].


KUFANIYA

The title references Anjan Sundaram’s Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (London, 2016). This Rwandan word, according to Anjan Sundaram, relates to a Presidential policy of killing the government’s own troops and use of child soldiers for which “only several warlords have been prosecuted (p.143).” 

 
We return home like weeds on a path
keeping eyes front so not to see
‘The Watcher’ whose glare burns homes
whose persuasion enfolds us,
each child has shards of steel
to machete their dreams
                                                  for his sake

We live in blackness where hawks grab
prey, talons dart sharp as cameras flash
on invited crowds huddling around
‘The One’ whose portrait dominates,
while here a shredded uniform,
small as a child, joins the pile
                                                   for his truth

The hawks wing to bright facades
where the beautiful party,
while weeds are plucked out of sight,
we fear our footfall may leave marks
and, as lost children,
we too will be marked
                                                  for his benefice





Jeffrey Loffman


Mirrored

Before the mirror fell
before the key rusted on the hook
there was candle light to warm the glass
there was pale skin dusted
with perfumed powders 
and long hair brushed and parted
Unknown faces fabricated new expressions
immaculate as glass
their features set in seconds
fingers sometimes touching the surface
like kissing themselves

Make me fresh again sighed the aged
Make me beautiful sighed the maid
Make me look more like the General
Make my beard grow make me venerable
Make my eyes speak of my soul

‘I’m not looking in that mirror ‘
said the sinner

Practising a laugh
practising a smile
practising a cough
practising a kiss
practising a hat
a scarf or a fan
practising a cigarette 
or a movement of hands.

‘All is vanity’ said the Bard.
No-one was looking when it fell
its a mystery, all that history, and
every shard a tale to tell - 
for eighty years it served us well..

But ‘I’m not looking in that mirror’,
said the sinner.



Rabbits


A youth strides across the stage
Stroking a rabbit, the rabbit’s eyes are big and black
It has just been taken from a sack
Its heart almost explodes…
The lion dreams always of a bigger beast,
The cliff shakes the grass
Above the sky falling.

A naked mansion waits for news,
Down marble hallways the dust settles;
A youth spies another youth
Watching him from across the way
From a window on the same floor
Of a similar building;
He does not wave.
The lion leaps across the stage!
Or was he thrown?

The rabbits of Prague
Eat sausages made from grass and men
They suspended all contrition in 1942
Knowing they had a job to do
Jumped to it!
At last the Jews resume their joy for dancing
And they ‘jump to it’ too
Spared at last the ignominy 
of explaining themselves,
their bounce is greater now than even the Russians,
prouder than even the Greeks…

Waving flags only they can see,
they scatter the rabbits over the edge.


Robert Marsh