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Dollis Hill HouseMark Twain, who stayed a summer at Dollis Hill House in 1900 said, “I have never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit's throw of the metropolis of the world."

This is my take on Gladstone Park.

A green haze shimmers over tennis courts and goal posts.
I cross the emerald fields to a crack-crack sound of ball against bats
feeling tiny tremors of worms beneath my feet,
and then a goods train rumbling through Dudding Hill Junction.
I witness the last vestiges of “Gladstonbury" - 
a full nappy, shards of glass, and a pink metal bangle.
Gladstone Park is a microcosm of the Universe enjoying more of itself.

The banner says, “We haven’t stopped fighting!”
across the boarded doors of Cricklewood Library on the periphery.
Makeshift bookcases are storage boxes with polythene flaps
containing books that, by rights, should be inside the library.
After all, the people are paying to keep this building empty.
I take my pick to higher ground, to William Gladstone’s old house.
But the walls of Dollis Hill House have been brought down,
because it’s cheaper to run to ruin
the local spaces serving a community function.

IMG 8253I study the foundations. Rooms are strewn
with grass and feathers and floor lights that
light it up at night like a mini Acropolis.

But in my mind I rebuild the cafeteria;
a ribbon curtain keeps out the flies,
the lofty counter, the ice cream freezer behind.
Would you like cornets or wafers?
We’re a family of six, we need a big block of Cornish
with wafers - I can still taste them.
Now only one wall has survived the devastation:
a glassless window gazes over the abandoned bowling green -
not much left for the old or young generation.
If Gladstone stood here, he’d see the steel cradle
of Wembley Stadium.

Why did I return to Gladstone Park?
To show the London Plane trees how I’ve grown.
They remember when the little slope to the playground
would tire me out. My limbs are longer, everything is much smaller now.

But where is the witch’s hat, the see-saw and the roundabout?
Health and Safety has put paid to risky Pleasure Grounds.
Just the squeaking swings remain and new adventure walkways -
loops of creaking chains traversed by kids in hi-viz jackets
who don’t care if rust is falling off the railings.

VanGoghsTreesThe Plane trees have grown too.
In summer, their topmost twigs overarch the playground path
to become a green cathedral: flying buttresses
of branches and leaves entwine above my head.
Only synapsing clouds and the sun glancing off a steel slide
is higher than this living edifice.

I return to Gladstone Park to say hi to Ken Livingstone,
a local resident walking his Golden Retriever.
“Sorry you lost the election,” I said.
Sorry I didn’t vote for you, I meant.
I didn’t vote for Boris either. My first choice was, like Gladstone,
a Lib Dem, they’ve been so good in Brent.
But second choice Ken is resolute,“More time to spend with the kids,” he said.
Like Gladstone’s house was burned, then razed to the ground against Ken’s wishes, the careers of politicians somehow end in ashes.

In the environmentally devised long grass area I stumble
onto a butterfly path, rising wings flap darkly
against tall, swaying, sun-scorched rye,
small dogs hide from calling owners,
a young woman with hair bleached white
sunbathes in a black bikini, a zip divides her assets.

Gladstones windowI spy all this glorious Gladstone Park life,
then rest awhile against the trunk of an oak tree.
I want to bond, to meditate and gain strength.
But, always the restless one,
I float on the breeze to Dollis Hill and back again.
The sun sets west over Wembley.
A sea of fire spills across a petrol-blue sky
to rise again over a minaret near Willesden Green station.

Careful not to tread on dusky bees in clover.
I see myself a solitary bee in Gladstone Park without my family.
And like a bee, I’m attracted to the high-walled flower garden,
nosing yellow roses just as sweet as white or crimson.
I hone in on marigolds, two-faced pansies, spiny cupped flower
heads of thistles the colour of the Aegean.
I follow my spirit and find my way back home.


(c) Sam Burcher


Let’s spend the night on vampire strings

with eerie beckoning violins

in the abandoned symphony hall,

gold leaf flaking off the walls.


Velvet seats all folded now

in empty circles, vacant stalls,

warm red cushions fade to rust,

worn out curtains turned to dust.


No more curtsies, no more bows,

sold-out concerts, one night shows,

shivering shadows in the wings 

spend the night on vampire strings.


Restless spirits weave vapours round,

tracing music's once-loved sound.

Forgetting encores and applause,

vampire strings screech and gnaw.


Cobwebs hang from balconies,

transparent fading memories:

yearning, calling, rasp and soar,

the vampire strings screech and gnaw.


Inviting screams inside your head,

a searing song of the undead:

yearning, calling, rasp and soar,

the vampire strings screech and gnaw.


 (c) Sam Burcher


The day we nearly drowned at Cable Bay,

our spirits stood above the waves

and something in your voice said stay.


It started out so innocently,

a skinny dip at sunset haze,

the day we nearly drowned at Cable Bay.

Cable Bay
The waves were black, but they were calm

until the sea began to rage,

and something in your voice said stay.


Tumbling fast, my head skimmed rocks,

saltwater streamed from my face

the day we nearly drowned at Cable Bay.


I scrambled, cutting knees and shins,

you trod the swell with frightened grace,

and something in your voice said stay.


The wind dropped, you drifted safely in,

and say my bloody cuts will fade,

the day we nearly drowned at Cable Bay,

and something in your voice said stay.


© Sam Burcher 


The familiar street suddenly so fearful.

Cars and people move out of time,

traffic lights are Martians under blackening skies.

The universe is suspended, and for a moment

I see raindrops on my shore.

A violet-blue hurricane blows through 

my eyes, stopping a tear or two.

Inside, my lungs are spluttering for breath.

Heart races, nervous twitches

as I pretend to read the paper to the world outside.

Turner's painting stands out on the page

I fix on a sunset vision of Margate

my calm restored and thirsty spirit slaked.


My calm restored and thirsty spirit slaked,

I fix on a sunset vision of Margate

Turner's painting stands out on the page

as I pretend to read the paper to the world outside.

Heart races, nervous twitches.

Inside, my lungs are spluttering for breath,

my eyes stopping a tear or two.

A violet-blue hurricane blows through,

I see raindrops on my shore.

The universe is suspended, and for a moment

traffic light are Martians under blackening skies.

Cars and people move out of time.

The familiar street suddenly so fearful.


 (c) Sam Burcher 2017



© Sam Burcher

Lindas School of Life ED2


© Sam Burcher


Uncounted Time 1 flyer

Sian Thomas

Millbrook West, Ashdown Forest, 21st May

by Sian Thomas
On the A22 the lorries shake.  It’s feisty here,
not like Sussex: a stopping place, anonymous;
a place for passing crimes, stealing cars.
I force myself to leave mine
to the march of someone’s stereo;
its bass nods in the sorrel, the last bluebells.
This is and isn’t Forest.  It’s an odd bit: it’s got traffic
in its ears, cigarette butts, suspicious tissues.

Read more: Millbrook West, Ashdown Forest

3rd June 2017

“You are part of the very weave o silken thread,” Rainer Maria Rilke

waterloo festival 1On the day of the Writing on the Wall festival at St John’s Church, Waterloo, heavily armed police officers patrolled the train station. Within hours Britain’s latest terror attack had claimed innocent lives at nearby London Bridge. Amidst troubled times and with the currency of care and consciousness as their starting point, living Poets are asking the important question, how can poetry save the planet?

Caduceus Journal's poetry Editor Jay Ramsay gathered the influential speakers together at St John's, each one prefacing their talk with a poem of choice. Giles Hutchins, business leader and author of The Illusion of Separation and Future Fit got the ball rolling with Rilke's Sonnet to Orpheus, who is entreated to be transparent, transformed and aware of the bigger picture. Giles does not doubt that this is the hour of humanity’s reckoning, a moment to rejoin the hands of science and spirituality. He said timeless wisdom and long understood deep interconnectedness and sacredness replaced in the West by materialism and reason is causing separation and increasing fear, anxiety and individualism. A poetic way of being in the world of harmony, compassion and wisdom is the ground on which we now must walk.

Read more: How Can Poetry Save the Planet?


All I could hear was the voice saying to me:

'‘Your fear is a wall you must overcome and ultimately bring down.

To tear down this wall is your calling,

to challenge the fear instilled in you by others,

and not to let terror overwhelm you, no matter how small you feel.   


This wall was sent to test you,

but you must prevail

to scale it,

and break it down,

brick by brick,

and rebuild your house.’


 (c) Sam Burcher 2013  First Published in Garland, Flowers of Spirit (2013) and Caducues Magazine (2014)

For the women…Saving the Arctic by Jay Ramsay

women climbing the shard2

The very thought of it

could make your palms sweat.

Sheer dizzying ascent of glittering hot glass ice!

Scaling it, this monument

spire of spires

bared under a Godless sky

pyramid of Mammon

where only corporations rule…Pharoahic

summit sheared off like a knife

tip snapped to skeletal scaffolding…

Read more: Shard