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Showcase: Water Babies + Thames + Calibrating A Diamond

Edited by Jilly Henderson-Long

For my last March showcase, I start by returning to the theme of Mothers and Women. I hope you’ve enjoyed the beautiful writing I’ve found for you in March. It’s been a powerful month of words and works and we’ve celebrated Women’s History Month, Mother’s Day and World Poetry day. To me, these events in our calendar remind us of how our lives are made up of patterns and ideas, which sometimes allow us creatives to see and then communicate a sense of a much wider picture.

As I sign off, I’d like to share an example of this through my own writing. My mother was a huge inspiration to me. She encouraged me to read from a very young age and was so proud of my stories. Here is a little piece to commemorate that.

Water Babies, Inspiration And Poetry

I remember a beautiful edition of Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies my mum gave me for my fifth or sixth birthday. Full of colourful illustrations which fired my imagination no end, it was an abridged edition that was suited to my age. We read through it together time and time again. The characters really stood out: poor little orphan chimneysweep Tom, Mr Grimes his cruel master and two ladies with fabulous names I have never forgotten: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid. I’m almost positive it was this book that initiated my writing, because my first ‘book’ The Little Actress was written by the time I turned seven. Another wonderful book – it may even have been given on the same birthday – was a large poetry book with a green cover. It featured at least 30 poems specifically written for children. Again, it was beautifully illustrated, and it is that one, I’m sure, which planted the seed in my head that led to my love of poetry.

This all shows just how important parental influences are. When I was 15 and sold my first article (for the princely sum of three pounds) to a national publication, it was Mum who I ran to, clutching the acceptance letter in my hand and weeping tears of pure exultation. “I’ve done it!” I sobbed. “I’ve sold a story!” As she hugged my trembling body, her response was as cool, calm and collected as you can imagine. She said gently, “I always knew you would!” It’s almost a decade since she passed away, but when I recently rediscovered a manuscript written in 1990, I could feel her urging me to revive it. It’s now been completely rewritten and is doing the rounds of literary agents. I’ll let you know how it goes. So, thank you, Mum! Your unwavering belief in me and my writing is still with me, strong and inspiring, even as I get into the swing of retirement!

© Jilly Henderson-Long, 2024


The next piece is an amazing poem from Mary L Walsh. In keeping with last week’s World Poetry Day, it’s good to remind ourselves of the power of poetry. This is a truly creative response to the world around us, offering a multi-layer vision as only a poet can.


(written on the train from Waterloo to Teddington on a beautiful sunny weekend)

I see Battersea chimneys to my right,
in a gap through luxury apartments,
industrial steel girders stretch below tin roofs.
Their roots cemented in the earth,
I know the river is near
The winding Thames
wending its lazy way upstream to Oxford.
I can feel the pull of it.
This western end clean with yachts and rowing and champagne lunches.
Houseboats adorned with floral tributes.
Unlike the east, industrial brown
murky grey
with barges and lighter men.
Cockney calls and river steamer tragedies
and the sweat of the common people.
Flowing on
through estuary silt and marsh,
with high grasses and wading birds.
Boats leaning lobsidedly in the mud,
waiting for the tide.
Then the river breaks free of the land,
is filled with brine,
changing to brackish sea.

© Mary L Walsh, 2024

You can connect with Mary on Instagram: @marelwa60


To close my final Showcase, I’m featuring a powerful poem by Shane Chase. Written as free verse, it draws us into the world of pixelated shadows, contrasting this with the physicality of our real world. Cleverly written, it takes you by the hand and leads you onwards.

Calibrating A Diamond

Hey I’m calling again,
it’s about some amendments
(or updates) requested to support this.

I unfelt a message on your night stand.
I attached verbal flowers to your system of thought,
a daisy cutter in an email both private and confidential.

All decisions are frequently asked questions.

Please note that—

The times here are listed
as the given names for light, qualities of time. Types of beauty. 17:00
in the northern hemisphere. Blazing.

All you’ve ever known is laid out on a table.

A wooden egg, last month’s pay-slip, empty coffee cup
yesterday’s morning calligraphy at its end, (some fortune lost) sanitizer, and a Bic pen
running low—

I’m trying to live my life but keep on in yours.

So, if you forget to live, dial 3 and

we can accommodate that under Useful Links:
see the past voices of existence for reference.

All you’ve ever known are unfelt errors permitted on the moon,
poetry that is constantly fading in and out of conversation.
Conversations with tech support.

Dropping armfuls
from beds
of planes
in to the hands of single mothers.

Don’t we all pay for a little thing in the sky falling
to end the lives sitting quiet in this poem, where I forget to put a number.

Single letters requested me here
to accept all cookies
we know no other option, we are so hungry on
a 24-month plan.

With ones and zeros I scroll past a family in another time,
warmer than mine, a red desert curving to match the wind,
not too hot that we couldn’t connect without sticking, remember:

the oils will leak out of our bodies onto Formica bed frames in the future, we
can both hardly imagine a future anymore, by the way.

Hey I’m calling again,

it’s about some amendments recently made to your markets.
Please note that,
your dissembling self
has not been a successful cell of
by the normative standards

of term dates and Best Buy, expiration, or, in other words:
there was a movie I saw the name for
but did not see the thousands in its shadow.

You know, lives cast a shadow
when they’re carrying groceries home
after a war
and get erased anyway
just as a warning shot.

By the normative standards of today
I am already dead in the mouth where a shine of pixels sits
under my tongue, facts under hyperlinked comments
in an email
about some inquiry in your night.

To burn-in a little quality of time (or value) qualities of light I will
attach the cold pine river both public and inside us from last
summer, it’s wafer sized.

But if you wish to no longer receive these unfelt atoms in
clear liquid-crystal display
pools of light swimming
in related circles,
(interlocked trademarks and titles
including grief for this.) you can simply unsubscribe by
blood oath.

If you go too far into old language
and catch it in your throat one night on your phone like
now, as I have, just use the My Enquiries section of this
portal I’m opening to slip out of history.

It’s easy, just try it,
like this, here, I’ll show you,

Tearing the time away
from my room,
do not reply policy
by deprivation
or empty logic of strange position
as delicate as an insect’s wing, foreclosed.

The houses sat in my town still standing,
orange paper squares on doors till night equates everything
into black. The substance all becomes equivalent
in light subtracted.

Afflicting our loss, our loss of content.

* (line was used from John Ashbery’s poem Le Livre Est Sur la Table in his book, Some Trees).

(c) Shane Chase, 2024

Connect with Shane at their website:


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

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