Before the Bridges Fell #15 : A Pond Full of Stars by David L O’Nan – poetry

A Pond Full of Stars

I just watched the sun fall into a pond full of stars.
The pond I’ve watched through all seasons.
Flooded and dried. Ducks and sticks. Depressions and deaths.
Marriages, births and dances. Full blooming trees to words that would have been better left unsaid.

I’ve watched snowflakes melt into the waters from a chilled air
From the windows of a broken house forced into gravitational shaking.
Sitting in Appalachia with dreams that couldn’t manifest into reality.
The house that fed me underground spirits into otherwise effete energies.

Stars form into broken tadpoles, swimming into two moons imagined
From a reflection seen from window to window. I could be in the flight
In that air. Hovering above the waters and seeing in the ripples whatever you wanted.
More stars? More dreams? More tears? More spirits? Pushing magnetic monsters away for good?

Let me sit another night and feel my completion through a pond full of stars.
Blind and deafen out the screams stained through the years, living in the walls.
The loves and the force, the bangs and the enlightenment of separation from overbearing wind.
Cracking the foundation if I will and shall fall one day to the pond full of stars and overlook this universe.
I could finally forgive the push and the abstract dysfunctions that removed me from your breath. 

Before the Bridges Fell #14 Fumbles Through the Cloverleafs (like Gerard Malanga) by David L O’Nan 

Before the Bridges Fell #13 : A Coffee Shop Chronicle by David L O’Nan – poetry 

Before the Bridges Fell #12: Radio Ghosts by David L O’Nan – Poetry

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Thomas McColl

with Thomas McColl:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences and biggest influences currently?

Thomas: I started writing – as in, writing with the aim of achieving some kind of publication – in my late teens, and was very much influenced by four poets I’d started reading at that time, namely Stevie Smith, Roger McGough, Adrian Mitchell and Philip Larkin, and all of these poets have each remained a big influence on me to this day. 

I don’t know whether it’s the same for other people, but when it comes to literature, music and politics, things that influenced me in my teens are the things that continue to influence me today. I’ve certainly broadened my horizons since the 1980s – and have changed (and hopefully matured) as a person – but the outlook I gained in my teens still definitely forms the basis of who and what I am. 

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?

Thomas: I don’t think there was any one pivotal moment – or, if there was, the memory of it has long ago vanished into the mists of time. I’m 50 now, and I wonder would I have been better able to answer that question at 25 but, knowing me, I probably wouldn’t.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?

Thomas: I wouldn’t say that I’ve received help with my writing, in the sense that I’ve never attended workshops or gone on courses. Maybe I’d have been better off if I had done things like that, who knows? I’ve always preferred, however, to simply try and work it out for myself – and I never show anyone my work while it’s in progress – and that’s what I’ll continue to do, for better or worse. 

Having said that, there are people who’ve helped me with my writing by putting me on at their event, or featuring me in their magazine, or publishing my book, or buying my book – and, while I’m hopefully giving them something too, all of these things are what help to keep a writer going through thick and thin, and I’ll always be grateful for that. 

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Thomas: I was born in London in 1970, but my parents moved up to Birmingham when I was two, and I lived there till I was 20. In 1990, I moved down to London to study History at the University of North London, and have lived in London ever since. I’ve had two collections of poetry published, and both of them feature many poems where London is the setting and/or subject, and London has certainly influenced my writing (and aided my development as a writer), whereas Birmingham’s never really got a look in, for when I left the second city in 1990, I really did leave it behind in every way – till recently, that is. Now that I’ve reached middle-age, I’ve started looking back a lot more and, finally getting inspiration from the city I left behind, there’s now, amongst various London poems in my current collection, ‘Grenade Genie’, a poem set in Birmingham, called ‘Nightclubbing in Brum, 1988’. I wouldn’t say the floodgates have opened, but where there’s one, there’s maybe more…

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Thomas: It remains a poem called ‘The Chalk Fairy’. It’s from my first collection, ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’, and is one of my shortest poems (and so worth reproducing below in full). It’s a poem that’s definitely moved people, and has ended up having a life of its own beyond the book it was first published in, having been widely anthologised and, on account of it being in the Shoestring Press anthology, ‘Poems for Jeremy Corbyn’, even getting quoted in the London Evening Standard:


Each night I traipse 
the streets of London, 
drawing chalk lines 
round homeless people 
sleeping rough.

I’ve found 
that, even in the early hours 
of Christmas Day, 
there’s no shortage of bodies 
to draw my outlines round: 
London’s one big crime scene 
every single day of the year.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Thomas: I do write to relax. Writing itself is very relaxing and therapeutic – writing admin, not so much. I never watch TV now – I haven’t done for years – and maybe that’s just as well for, with the rise of on-demand TV like Netflix, I’m sure I’d find so many series and films I’d love to watch and never get anything done. 

Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others? Or name or show a favorite piece of artwork if you are an artist.

Thomas: A favourite stanza from a poem of mine is this from ‘The Evil Eye’, which is taken from my current collection, ‘Grenade Genie’, and is about people’s obsession with posting about themselves on the internet (which applies as much to me as it does to pretty much everyone else)

Let’s face it, how can you stop?
It’s fame, albeit the tiniest drop – 
even if there's no-one who could possibly give a damn
about these selfies you constantly upload 
on to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Don’t you realise that you exist 
no more than you did before – less, in fact?  
You've made a pact with the digital devil,
not even to be an insect preserved in amber,
but simply an insect that's landed on a cobweb
stretched out directly in front 
of an amber signal on a traffic light –
and as soon as you're lit up no-one hangs around.

Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy? Favorite musical artists, influences, songs that inspire.

Thomas: I no longer keep up with what’s in the charts, though I do listen to music to unwind, bands that I was into in my teens, such as The Fall, The Damned, Killing Joke, Adam and the Ants, Kate Bush and Roxy Music, but never while I’m writing. I don’t understand how people can write while listening to music, but many say they do, including people who’ve written good stuff, so clearly it works for them, but their brains must be wired very differently to mine.  

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Thomas: I’m still actively promoting my aforementioned book, ‘Grenade Genie’. It came out in April 2020, just as the first lockdown in England was getting under way, so it never really got the start it deserved. Split into four sections – Cursed, Coerced, Combative and Corrupted – the book contains poems on subjects as diverse as Grenfell, the Iranian Revolution, the refugee crisis, the NHS, the end of civilisation, gorgons on Oxford Street, and not being able to remember anyone’s name! It’s available from the publisher, Fly on the Wall Press, here, or, if you want a signed copy, you can order it direct from me, here


Thomas McColl lives in East London. He’s had poems and short stories published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole, Bare Fiction, Rising and Fictive Dream, and has two collections of poetry to his name – ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’ (Listen Softly London Press, 2016) and ‘Grenade Genie’ (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). He’s read his poetry and stories at many events in London and beyond – including Landing Place, Celine’s Salon, The Quiet Compere, Birkbeck Writer’s Room and Newham Word Festival – and has been featured on East London Radio, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio WM and TV’s London Live. 

He’s on Twitter (username: @ThomasMcColl2) and Instragram (username: thomas__mccoll), and can be contacted via his website:

3 Re-published poems from Peter Hague

photo by Kym MacKinnon (unsplash)

Three of Peter’s poems first published in a now defunct literary magazine called ‘Anima’.  Issues 4 – 2017 and 5 – 2018

The Fish-Eye Lens of Death

You cannot see the world
without some form of distortion.
It wraps around your head mysteriously –
half of it unsure
and held only in memory –
it is a second gone by 
and anything can happen,
especially in that blind spot 
of unnecessary coordination.
You cannot see the world
from any other place than where you are,
even with technology –
certainly not –
that would always be suspect and unsure.
It would likely be awash with trickery and invention.
No, you cannot see the road behind your back,
or those leaving as you turn.
The world makes you nervous that way –
makes you squirm,
until you rest in the fish-eye lens of death.
Then, with closed eyes
you are blind to nothing.

©2016 Peter Hague

Walking on Water

If I could walk on water, would I be a fool 
to think it was more than just tears beneath my feet?
That kind of skill never leads to very much,
like magic – its praise is never quite complete.
It will always seem a trick to some
and you would never gain their trust.
A true messiah would be an ordinary man,
whose wisdom leaves such elaborations out –
especially potential feet of rust.
If I were walking on water now,
I would be standing in a similar room,
on a similar street, in a similar gloom,
with a similar, tear-stained carpet at my feet,
and the warm blood of my own grail
hidden in defeat. 
This carpet is a map of things to bear,
with ripples instead of wear and tear.
I could distract myself and dance with castanets.
I could allow fishermen in to cast their nets.
But I would probably move myself on then
and start the process once again –
to summon an angel with a single click…
or just to hang this dripping carpet out 
and beat it with a stick.

©2016 Peter Hague

Out in the Estuary

I have the mind of a swollen river.
It has become brown and dirty these days –
scrubbing at its banks with a rebellious message; 
whispering with insidious lips.
It keeps me awake and makes no sense – 
washing at the roots of established trees, 
but I will not sign up to being part of the sea. 
I am a river – and between these falling shores 
I have set myself free.
I will languish in mud and bide my time, 
with an old, broken boat and other debris.
I have an enlightened opinion of my rippling life 
and let it pass into the blur it must be, 
but I will not follow that dilution into the sea. 

I need no details of waves and tides 
and have come to a halt in a soothing sludge. 
I am the torrent of spring that never was – 
I have seen too much and blessed it by 
and I am frozen like Lot's wife – looking back 
at the fresh water of new beginnings, 
yet undeniably tasting of salt. 

©2016 Peter Hague

5 poems from “Gain of Function” by Peter Hague

Book Review: Peter Hague “Summer With the Gods”

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Peter Hague

Before the Bridges Fell #14 Fumbles Through the Cloverleafs (like Gerard Malanga) by David L O’Nan

photo from Gerard Malanga’s book Incarnations.

I saw you taking pictures of the birds, while the wind whipped around the skin of the street. The nude trees laughed and shook.

A newborn archetype for the devil developed out of the silver screen then became bleeding silkscreens and wonderful fumbling cloverleafs that ran through our feet.

Digest all this rain that falls from the veins of the sky. The corners of the 9 o’clock train stops looked like waterfalls from the orbs of your blackened eyes.

You help the dainty devil, you watch as he shrivels to the wheelchair, and the artistry soapbox he will sit. You read him poetry, he stares at the moon and forgets.

He forgets that he’s a wonder, he forgets he is the Dali, the Picasso of popularity and the silence and the underground all at once.

The invitation to the cesspool, where we dance in the cool. The amphetamines rule and we become angels vacuumed from the ledge.

Some say a little like Malanga, Others say the reincarnation of the myth. Worlds that altered. Worlds that bothered. And worlds that are magical and incensed.

We live now running scared. Feeling shaky and watching as the bullies become our brooms. They sweep us off, take the art we bring and burn it in their tombs.

Caught me as I fumbled over another cloverleaf, into the shadow of old saints. They preached Jesus to the mirror. And the mirror reflected waves of redundancy, slightly altered versions of me.

Take in each cloud and welcome it into the smoke. We weave in the beauty and the broken. Like fashion and death are one in the same.

Love is the party, the shame is the sullen. And the afterglow is the pulling the mussels from the machines. While the Cephalopoda watches us closely and hides all his ink.

Learning bravery from the scared little fish. Learning to be genius identical to his.

And we wonder for hours and hours if this disease is our final bliss.

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios: David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with EIC of Fevers of the Mind David L O’Nan

Before the Bridges Fell #13 : A Coffee Shop Chronicle by David L O’Nan – poetry

A Coffee Shop Chronicle

She was born in Houma with her
heart in Metairie.  She would die in
Bloomington or somewhere in between.

She’d drink vodka until 3 A.M. after
Saturday night excursions.  She had men
howling for her and laughing at watered down jokes.

She could play violin like Alice Hartoncourt,
with the beauty of the moonchild spirit.
She will walk right in our favorite coffeehouse
fashioned herself like a pagan hipster.

Through the spiderwebs and the mocha lattes,
I asked her to dance by the molding bookshelf
Full of Dharma Bums and the Slaughterhouse Five in line-after line.  
She stared at me wishing I was the death of the White Oak.

I wanted her heart to beat by mine just for a couple of breaths.
Holding in my choke while she tears up.
And I just want to wipe away the pain in her body, she forces me to give up.
The pain she relies on to slip in and out of the cool unscathed.

While my eyes were hypnotized to her, in love
She escaped into the arms of flight.

We remember the blue.
Like stains to a granite tombstone.
I’m an old man now
Polite and crazy, fizzled in the mist.
All of that coffee has left me hazy.
Has left my memories quite lazy.

At night I thought of her kiss, her knocking,
Her ringing, her breath with my name intwined.
A walk home through the brittle and nebulous past the hustles.
To walk in love and dying with the haunting cities decaying.

And I just remember in the coffeehouse we shared
Was hers for hers and mine for love. 

Before the Bridges Fell #12: Radio Ghosts by David L O’Nan – Poetry

Before the Bridges Fell #11: The Devil’s Beach Sonnets by David L O’Nan -poetry

Before the Bridges Fell #10 : Everyone is Kerouac by David L O’Nan – Poetry

Before the Bridges Fell #9 by David L O’Nan : Living in This Toxic Coalmine – poetry first on Icefloe Press

Before the Bridges Fell Poem #8 by David L O’Nan   “Those Hazels, They Slice” – poetry first published on IceFloe Press.

Poem #7 from Before the Bridges Fell: Scattered Christmas Garbage by David L O’Nan – poetry

Poem #6 Before the Bridges Fell by David L O’Nan : “They Are Running My Prints” – poetry

poem #5 Before the Bridges Fell : Fevers of the Mind to Inspire Artwork Series (2009) by David L O’Nan – poetry

Poem #4 “Before the Bridges Fell” by David L O’Nan Remembering Carol Andersen

Poem #3 from Before the Bridges Fell by David L O’Nan : “They Had Sadness in Their Eyes (like in Littleton)” – poetry

Poem #2 from Before the Bridges Fell by David L O’Nan :Black Jackets and Boneless- Poetry

Poem #1 from Before the Bridges Fell by David L O’Nan: Narcissism Taxi Cab Parades – poetry

Interview with EIC David L O’Nan with Anastasia Abboud on Grains of Sand : About how I write, my weird thoughts and a few of my revised Cohen Avalanches in Poetry Poems.

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