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Showcase: The Homeless Poet + The River + Interloper Our Marriage + In Winter

Edited by Palak Tewary

Dear Readers,

Today, I’m sharing a diverse array of pieces that speak of the multifaceted nature of our existence. Each contribution opened a lens inviting me to navigate the delicate dance between reality and perception, unveiling how each experience has shaped my understanding of the world.

It’s my hope that this compilation sparks contemplation and resonates with the complexities of today’s world,  fostering a deeper appreciation of the emotions that define our shared journey.

Keep appreciating!


First up, is The Homeless Poet by Leslie Sheills. With just a few words, Leslie manages to delve into depths of the harsh realities of life, serving as a poignant reminder of the insurmountable challenges we face in today’s world. Yet I feel there is capacity for hope and that the human spirit is resilient.

The Homeless Poet

He was there every day, sitting on the pavement next to the cash point, often nursing a paper cup of coffee in his grimy hands. The people of the polite cathedral city would drop a coin into his hat and hurry on, redeemed. That day I had time to spare and, not wanting to patronise him yet again, crouched next to him. His hair was sparse and too long, his head domed. Behind his grizzled beard there was an intelligent face with high cheek bones and pale blue eyes. I asked if he had a bed tonight, knowing there was nothing I could do if the answer was ‘no’, but we chatted about the weather for a while. His voice was low, his speech courteous, his accent faintly cultivated.

We met in this way several times during the week. I would ramble away, he would listen patiently. I told him I wrote a bit, hoping to coax out some of his history, but he didn’t respond, just stared with those pale eyes into the distance. I spoke about the curse of political correctness and its stranglehold on creativity, but his distant stare just intensified. Then one day, as I got up to leave, he pressed a crumpled piece of paper into my hand. It was a sheet torn from a school exercise book, with writing in thick pencil. In the warm comfort of my car, I opened it and read…

Do not as you have breath presume to think
that you as free man may express your thought.
In this world of frantic rectitude, the growing stink
of burning books foretells your words will come to nought.
They will come for you, as they came for me.

I came to look for him in his usual place the following day, but he was gone. I waited the whole day. I never saw him again.

© Leslie Sheills, 2023


With this second piece, I invite you to appreciate the fleeting beauty of moments that often slip through our fingers, escaping our attempts to capture them in words or images. Ray Miles celebrates the ephemeral through The River and I feel this is a call to savour the richness of the present and recognise that some experiences are meant to be felt rather than preserved.

The River

I walked along the dusty riverside footpath on yet another sunny day, until I found the perfect spot for my sketch. I sat down with my pad and pencils and began to draw, the brim of my hat shading my eyes. The river flowed lazily along.

On the far side the willows dipped down, the leaves hanging like long green fingers trailing in the slight current, while the near bank was overhung with tufted grass, interspersed with docks, cow parsley and marigold. The water voles looked out shyly from their concealed burrows in the reeds, mayflies flitted across the surface and water boatmen skipped around in the margins over the greenish blue water.

Suddenly, there was a flash of iridescent blue which burst from the far bank like a shot from a gun. A shape blurred past, diving headlong into the water, a few ripples spreading across the surface. Half a minute passed by and then the kingfisher rose from beneath the water, victorious, like a champion bearing a silver trophy. A small fish was clamped in his beak, wriggling and squirming in a desperate fight for survival. But he had his catch and would not be letting it go. In a blaze of blue and orange, he flew triumphantly back to his perch and consumed his meal.

I smiled to myself and closed my sketchbook, knowing that I could never capture the glory of that moment. The birds sang in the woods and the river continued its languid journey.

© Ray Miles, 2023


Within this challenging narrative, Interloper Our Marriage (acoustic schwannoma), a powerful undercurrent emerges: the redemptive force of love. It stands as a testament to the transformative power of human connection, illustrating how love can serve as a potent force capable of overcoming even the most formidable challenges.

Interloper Our Marriage (acoustic schwannoma)*

An ocean inside a shell
its intensity, like the drumming in his head
thoughts waver around its edge
capturing his attention, trapped by a noise
it’s a phantom:                his secret island
more than a storm in a teacup battered by his brain
a battle below the surface versus the outside world.

Under water, the man is disappearing –
loss of sound mutes his expressions
waves reverberate dulling what we’ve had
everything has been quartered
like conversations and time,                 but love
and being loved is more than a way of hearing
it’s what will save him from drowning.

*brain tumour

© TAK Erzinger, 2023


Eithne Cullen explores the role of love as a protective force in In Winter, shielding us from the negative influences that may seek to infiltrate our lives. It unfolds as a narrative of resilience, emphasising the profound impact of love in creating a sanctuary where positivity can thrive and negativity is kept at bay.

In Winter

In winter, love is cloth keeping out the wind, all the weathers and the storm. It’s a bright dance that shakes the foundations of conviction that things change and become fluid – a present, pretty pickle.

It makes you feel that you have received rare, special gems and inherited a large fortune against a backdrop of facts and houses in fine, flimsy fettle.

In winter, feel free to tell your friend a secret – love means you can protect yourself. Someone said Names will never hurt me and we remember that as we slow to a stop and never feel ground down but tough – and when they spoke their words of Dutch and Latin with their raunchy elasticity we were lifted by the words Don’t you just hate it when people call you strong? But we didn’t, we loved it.

© Eithne Cullen, 2020


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here

Hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Spotify for Pocasters.


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