Berenice Dunford
Berenice was born in England and moved to Wales more than two decades ago. She writes poetry and prose and has had her work published in blackmail press, featured in Kensington and Norwood Writers' Group 2003 Retrospective and 2005 VoicePrint 1. She has also been published in an anthology, representing her town in a national competition.

Berenice runs the Bag End Poetry & Message Board, a poetry critique forum. Her blog and website are called 'grasshopper singing' and 'the poet at rest' respectively. She wrote her first poem at the age of ten, making the accidental but pleasing discovery that her thoughts put down in a diary looked like a "real" poem. Berenice currently lives on a tiny Welsh peninsula, surrounded by the mountains and the sea.

Annals of a square inch
(circa 1853 through to 2005)

In one inch squared, eyes open and close;
blink at sunshine, a toy cow or two,
at fragmented grass and far far hills.
They are briefly there and gone.
All has happened in a flicker.

Lids tremble

and open again, at stone
in near focus. They built a wall
around 1854; roofed it in late winter
and painted it pale.

Chip and chip;

hack away stone for a pinch of light.
By 1914, murmurs of war in distant towns
grope through the barricade,
repeated louder and louder

Oh my God.
What have they done?

Torn up and down grass and trees,
murdered herds, shattered sunshine.
Where green hung, in supposed eternal
shimmer, machines edge into and out of vision.
Monsters to move, to suck and gobble
an idyll dream. Bristle teeth sweeping
rain-stained and teary roads clean.

Question: Where are my hills?
Answer: In one inch square of memory. 

Poet or Player?

Silence lies across the stadium,
all eyes, ears
poised for the swish of air,
the rise and sweep of the ball though space.

All pause for the collective hisses of breath,
and drawn out ooohhhs
as our striker misses his run,
as he catches the sun,
glimpses his creation fleeing amidst eternity.

Anger falls flat upon the pitch.
Arms flap in despair.
Gloves slap against legs.
Slow clap of derision.

Player or Poet? Who can tell the difference, who can reach out with wood, believing it truly not to be tipped with ink? Black, viscous, oozing, drip drip onto worn out, scuffed grass. Echoingly resonant around the hushed stadium, all eyes, all ears poised, eager for the final swish of air and muffled thwack and sweep of leather through space. Pause for the collective intake of breath and drawn out ooh as the striker fails to run, as he catches the sun and glimpses his own creation hurtling towards eternity.

No man can catch this now. The words are out, the ink is scored, scribed into a blue paper sky. Strike on wood, his vision rebounding. Beyond those dreams angry voices rise and fall flat upon the pitch, arms flapped in despair, gloves slapped against legs, hands slowed-clapped in mockery. But our striker has not moved, will not move. He is out, out of reach, out of the game. He is where ever it was he wanted to be, where ever that was, what ever it was he would rather have been. A Poet? Or a Player?

Rose Garden.

At eighteen, you thought you had me
crushed within your grasp.
Early spring leaf,
fragile virgin green,
transluscent, unfullfilled.

At twenty one, you knew I was lost
falling from your fingertips,
still fragile,
I watched you sob,
held out my hand for you
and beckoned you come
before I dropped out of reach.

At forty five, we passed each other once more
in a world that was spring no longer,
gazed across our years
and remembered promises exchanged.

I wanted you then,
to taste what I had missed.
You called to me
above birdsong and wind
and bid me to come to you
before it was too late,
before autumn stripped the trees.

At forty five and one hour,
as I lay upon love stained sheets,
I heard a news vendor cry from the street below,
of how a plane to Mexico
dropped from the sky just a day ago.
I knew for us it was too late
and wept amid the petals of my rose garden.

i am courage
*to be read aloud and quietly*

you will find me
tying up my grief
knot one knit one
pink for a girl
blue for a boy
white for the innocent
black for the newly dead

you will find me
on your street corner
staring at you
chill blue in the face
wiping a finger
over my tears
offering them out to you

and if you have no street
you will still find me
in pieces of thread
in threads of grief
pink blue white black
what colour are you
never mind that

you will find me
i will find you

(dedicated to all who experienced London on July 7th 2005)


Today I am counting sheep.
One to eighteen in a
green field. Tomorrow
it will be Autumn and,
as Victorians did (and
the Edwardians after)
I will be counting leaves


fading green, yellow
brown and drop. If I
could find a conker tree
somewhere, I'd collect,
bake, vinegar-soak and
bash. Cracking knuckles. 

Do children still do that? Break
skin to score victory? Do they
swish and run through piled
earthy smelling leaves? Or rattle
sticks wet with rain-sweat against
railings put up by those
Victorians and Edwardians?

An hour or so after leaving
conker smashing,
leaf swishing,
stick rattling,

I saw what lay beyond.

Damp and steaming gardens.
Lawns framed by trees still
trembling after the last rain
to fall an eon ago. Misted
windows, with you woz ere
carefully traced on their panes,
set into bricked, pebble-dashed
and public toilet pink walls.

Who chose pink!

Disgusted by bad taste and
unable to return to
childhood, I resorted
to counting one field of
eighteen sheep and
one forest of infinite leaves.