These poems may be suitable for secondary school/high school, A-levels and adult students of poetry. Beware that some poems cover difficult topics, so if you’re young or sensitive, perhaps explore these poems with someone alongside you for support.
Poem Written In The Dark
There are some bicycles chained by the river
That no one wants.
Chained to posts, rusted and forlornly
Their pride not quite gone.
They are like skeletons, in balls and chains.
At night they dream of dashing about river pathways
In mad ecstasy,
Ringing their once-shiny bells at sleepy ducks.
Perhaps they even fly,
Rising above the cold river and chimney-potted houses,
Soaring and swooping with glee,
Until they land back on earth with a slight bump.
That’s why, if you look carefully,
On some days you’ll see
They’ve changed their position, just a little.
But no one seems to notice.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 17-09-2011
Grave (The day before the Day of the Dead, 2013)
The shocking stillness of the graveyard
Bombards me, like cold arctic air.
I breathe in fear.
The old trees bend to hear
Grieving sounds that are barely there.
Grey, cold gravestones slowly
Sigh into the heaving ground.
How they died, how many cried –
Is forever covered up by their mounds.
Moss and weathering grind and entwine
The carved words into gentle extinction.
Here lie old and young side by side –
Their shocking or expected deaths nullified.
Some graves are demarcated with name and date.
They stand proud with nimbly trimmed rims
And carefully snipped flowers in tins.
Others are carelessly engraved only by time and fate.
They are untended, with long grass wilting
From the bitterness of being late.
Some have no stones at their heads;
They are the ones who remind us
We do not want to remember the dead.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 31-10-2013/07-09-2017
She’s a scurry
Her spikey tears
down her face
She’s a wreck.
Everywhere she tastes
bitterness and bile,
without a smile.
This defiled, riled,
She’s crazy, phasey,
lazy, my daughter.
she dies, she tries,
she fries, my daughter.
Is she free, can she
be, can she
flee, my daughter.
The world is filled with Them,
She gets caught, fraught,
Is she mad, bad,
sad, my daughter.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 20-09-2016
I’m not my parents’ daughter…
I can’t be.
They’re all rules and responsibilities,
Minding their Q’s and P’s,
Talking to grans and aunties,
Arguing over children’s tea…
I might cause them tears,
But I can’t be theirs,
‘Cos I’m just me,
Don’t u c?
Kathryn Rose Newey, 09-02-2012
I made a booking
for us to meet
again in a week.
But something went wrong
(as it does with computers
and in dreams).
It was for next Tuesday,
(That’s in 22 years).
Even in my dream, we were confused,
quiet and serious.
Would I still be alive in 2038?
And you, would you be dead?
Would you still be disabled?
Where would we be living, in 2038?
Or where would we be buried?
My eyes quickly opened quickly
in that uncomfortable
It woke me up, my dream.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 31-05-2016
Ode to a Bird
Today a large pigeon crashed into my kitchen window:
His flutter silhouette is still there – white-etched against the glass.
As I opened the door to see what made the bang,
He lay on the ground, amongst the plants, his neck throbbing;
Little green leaves and stems had already moved slightly to cover him.
Had I not heard the noise (like a shot),
I would not have known, or noticed him there,
Quietly dying, becoming part of the earth outside my door.
I touched his neatly folded wings,
And felt his lost life in his still-warm feathery chest.
His head flopped to the ground, and he closed his eyes,
Like a soft goodbye.
I thought he might still wake up,
So I wrapped his silken body in a cloth to keep him warm,
And took him from the earth where he had fallen,
Into my house.
There he lay, perfectly still all afternoon,
Safe – but too quiet.
Later I touched him – he had become cold and stiff;
Alas, he was gone.
That evening, a storm blew up, and afterwards,
There was a broken rainbow, arched across the sky,
Bright and beautiful, but with a piece clearly missing.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 05-10-2011
an overcast sky
eyes fall from the sky
to the wet tar road
where a dove lies
a thousand grey feathers
spread over the road
suddenly not there
when eyes were averted
silently gather all your feathers
little grey dove
Kathryn Rose Newey, 06-12-1983
What have we done?
In the desert of our minds
Did we not see the coming rotting?
Did we purposely avert our eyes from
The hacked faces of our sanity?
Are we not cultured, caring and complex beings?
Why do we make history from harmony and hatred?
Why do we act in-tune, intelligent, and inhumane?
Why do we gamble with gilded guilt?
Our Pandora’s Box is full of profits.
When we stumble and fall on our riches, in poverty,
Dust will cover our guns and mines and crops.
Will our tears wake the dead?
Dedicated to all African Elephants, alive and dead. There are 400,000 of you left alive, but your numbers are falling dramatically due to poaching, corporate greed and land grabs. May we wake up and let you be, before it’s too late.
Kathryn Rose Newey, September 2016
when the men come
the soft white wide black eyes
the silent white snow
where they fall
intact white coats
with expensive cot deaths
Kathryn Rose Newey, 17-03-2000
soft pink red blue wrinkled hide
closed silent eyes
when did you awake
your warm womb
cold metal plied
you lie tired
in your toilet bowl
baby you died
Kathryn Rose Newey, 22-03-2000
out of the ethereal
swirling smoke and
dying scrap-iron shacks
urinated dirt tracks
and chickens pecking
some malnourished trees
hang out of the ground
stick arms groping
by a single rope
how strong is a thin
how taut is a crude
will their parasitic
before the rope does
Soweto is a large township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, created during the Apartheid era to separately house black people from white people. Soweto is and was a hive of paradoxes – it is a place of both good and bad, poor and rich, happiness and sadness, love and hate, elation and depression, kindness and cruelty, music and madness, life and death.
Kathryn Rose Newey, 28-10-1987