If Smells are Insipid

If smells are insipid –
Then the landlady’s cooked supper
Lacks frankincense –
A pole-cat scent touches the ceiling;
The room is redolent with sour pork –

If streets are named after saints –
This crabbed avenue wears no halo –
After sunset the council-house tenants
Wear a wish-washed frown –
The children mostly look like pickled peppers
And the mothers are ill-flavoured lollipops –

If sounds mean sometimes melody
The ice-cream van gives me a concert
Per minute of discordant flats –
Jarring bells help sell a thousand icy treats
The driver-musician plays road minstrel
From morning into night –
As cheap cars and motor-bikes
Add noise to noise –

If idealism comes from an intellectual mind –
Only the ghost of my dream now walks –
I cannot view this scene with intelligence –
Only a troubled stare takes in the crowd –
My reverie is cornered like the fool –
And held in chains that no-one can undo –

If the pulse-beat of the city is its people
Alas, the heart of this city is flickering to death –
Only the sea snatches the wind
And blows it across the grey cement –
Only a restless gull shrieks discontent –

Occasionally the day seems
In possession of itself
Until the newsreader tells the time –
And I feel all the seconds lost –
The whole city is up-for-sale –
There’s an economy in selling cities
And tucked inside the Treasurer’s pocket
Are press-cuttings from the local press
Telling of the merchandise of souls –

If cheapness speaks of poverty and debt –
This booty is the grand prize –
A million untidy, unemployed people –
Walking in the rain –
Their resistance and my own –
To adversity in cities like this…
Is to enjoy the rain –
Receiving it from Heaven, then
Washing our hands of affection and favourite spots –
We are divorced from life –
Seclusion in our walk is all
I now respect!

Shänne Sands, Fidelity is for Swan (FootSteps Press 2010)

The Unseen

The Unseen

Here, unseen
My words fade into air,
Falling with autumn leaves –
Birds peck at their edges –
People walk over my words
Careless of what could be
Under their feet –

Nobody, not even I,
Speak the fallen words
Aloud, strangely the woods
Echo their meaning
Almost by love –

My words fall into rivers,
Where water-spirits sleep
Upon them, where small fish
Try to eat them –

My words swim with the ripple
Of cool streams –
Yellow irises protect them,
Unseen, here
My words mark their destiny –


From Night Song a selection of poems by Shänne Sands published by FootSteps Press. Find it here

Winter’s Fortune

When snow has settled on the ground,
Silence hangs all around,
But for my laughing and shouting
But for the snowballs I send dancing.
Winter’s Best!

With thick, wool mittens and new boots,
Warm head! Warm hands! Warm roots!
Sledges slipping over snow,
Faster than the fleet we go!
Raise my voice with the rest,
Winter’s Best!

But if your cold through and through,
Too poor and sad for snow’s sweet tune,
Blue hands! Blue nose! Blue feet!
Summer must be hard to beat!


From a series of children’s poems I write with my mother to be published later in 2018

Siste Viator

Stop Traveller –
Boredom evaporates desire
Even as fire burns itself to ash –
Your feet will touch and stay no longer –
Losing interest in maps and charts –
Peoples and their towns of historic value
Will nudge your boredom and at daybreak
You will take a look at castles plus churches
Then hurry to get some lunch with
Aching eyes from too much sun –
An irreparable damage to your heart
Makes you depart from all your longings –
Nothing holds the virtue that you’ve lost
And travelling become the countenance
Of lost truth –
Too many cities, too many days from Persia
To Peru, across to Samoa or Siam, through
Uruguay or Tunis, Romania and Venezuela,
Yugoslavia and all the lonely way back –
With postcards of Sarawak –
Words blow like a flag in your mind
Vestigia nulla retrorsum
You have left nothing behind –
Taken nothing away –
You will not return this or any day
For your footsteps left no traces
Backward or forward you remain
Only bored
A strange peace mocks the empty suitcase –
The day the traveller stops


Shänne Sands – from Fragments of Desire, FootSteps Press 2012.

On Reading Ben Johnson

I have loved faces silvered with gloom
Faces dipped into light stolen from the moon –
I have loved faces humoured by the sun
Flickered by sunbeams as the day has run.

I have loved backs like perfect trees
Straight and fi rmed to thighs and knees
And hands where fi ngers like fl owers
Sway away unpleasant hours –

I have loved eyes that shelter tears
Before they fall as fall the years
And merry eyes full of happy laughter
Eyes that sorrow cannot master –

I have loved voices that only echo right
I have loved voices heard in darkest night
Voices not deformed by angry lives
Voices free from vulgar thought or bribes.

I have loved lips that moulded rhyme –
Kissed the poets’ words from every time –
Even if furious demons invent my pain
I shall love all these again –

Shänne Sands,
from the selection of poems Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

The Return of Words

I had forgotten
Poetry is but words
Love, but kisses
Death, but a going cold
Of both.

I should have remembered –
Not allowed my emotions
To come to a standstill
On a damp day,
In some unwelcome town –

I should have lived –
A hundred words a minute –
And kissed you into a frenzy –
Long before death got in the way

Got in the way –
Of little rainbows
After slight showers
After green fields lost in mist
And after supper when it’s nearly dark –

I should have broken this curse
Of silence thro’ my mind –
Opened-up my brain and let in some light –
But almost before I was aware of Time
It had escaped –
Time had fled and I was
Wordless, kissless, and I saw death
Coldly lying in a ‘Rest-house’ –

Now words return –
Slowly, love, ah, such a
Heaven to hope for may
Open me up again –
I am not completely slain –
Way back in a dim corner of myself
Poetry is singing –

Words are ready for rehearsal
Away cold death –
Away feeble emotions –
Away you thousand torments of the bone –

I am capable again
To laugh and think –
Write and feel –
I’ve broken a spell
Of torture –
My brain is a mass of unwritten words
All laced with kisses, wine and friends –

Find me a pen –
Some paper –
And a second –

I shall leave you verses
To speak aloud – to shout from baths –
To quote above all havoc’s wreck –
To weep to and to dance –
Poetry is but words and words are free.
Run through the fields –
Fly, fly after me.

Shanne Sands from ‘Night Song’ the 4th selection of her verse 2011 FootSteps Press.

For JB

There is an ambience in my lover’s
Room which even in this stillness feeds my
Imagination, seeds the bed covers
With anticipated motion and lies
The f loor with nakedness, enticing sounds
Only our ears hear to reverberate
Around the walls, till energy abounds
And two bodies moist and insatiate
Taste the air, feed on eyelid closeness, cap
The rhythm of the turning earth and turn
In time around the sun like an hour wrapped
In living, which is able to affirm

That souls may kiss and minds like limbs entwine
And time decants like any other wine.


The Love Poems of Daniel Nanavati

Where Leaps the Flame

If this poem was an element,
It would be fire –
A million scarlet tongues
Would be its flame
Each hot flicker to proclaim
A martyr’s name.
Not martyrs of the Cross
They are re-born in stone
But martyrs of camps of hell
All unknown, un-named
Shall in this poem
Be crowned with flame
The atoms from each soul
Will fly the unknown tombs
Fire and flame raised from bone
Even beyond eternity –
Free to the outer-rim of space and time –
Sings the martyr’s cause
Now yours and mine.
Each name spelt out from fire
This poem not of desire, but honour
Mercy, love, where leaps the flame.

Shänne Sands

From ‘Moonlight of Words’


A sour-air hangs over this tower –
Bitter-herbs are brewed with poison as litter-bins
Hour by hour are filled with the dregs of power.
Stings of hatred burn against the people, winning
Only voices, millions endless millions ever lonely
Voices, in history’s pale indifferent winds of no-rejoicing
Only deep black whirlpools suck and spin around a stoney
Joyless humanity trying in desperation to hoist
Their battered souls above their votes, trying to care –
The world’s song is a marching-song against the wise –
Bare are the breasts of dying dreams and where
Skies are storm-torn and cruel, men tell lies –
Beware! Climbing the stairs of this tower –
The staircase narrows, spirals, suffocates by the hour –


Shänne Sands

For CK

So much of nature loves and loves so much
So much of nature loves and loves so much
May I love you? As the moon moves the sea
Timing tides and seasons without a touch;
As the sun sweeps the earth with the deep, free
Warmth of life; as the clouds bless the breeze to
Give it purpose and seeds seek the rain which
Moistens their growth to flowerhood. If you
Allowed I’d love you with a love as rich.
I’d be another moon, sun, clouds and seed
To your sea, earth, breeze and rain and we would
Love and from our love, a world we would feed
With happiness, if you but said we could.

The world’s turning, like a ballet dancer
Caught in her flight, waiting for your answer.

from The Love Poems of Daniel Nanavati\published by FootSteps Press


You know how I love to talk
About myself –
My ego is ulcer-ridden,
But I have organised my
Conversation to suit my moods –
I’ve worked for years to get where I am –
Many caught my kick on the way up!
I live now in the twilight of
Half-truth daring to tell no one
Too much in case I lose my mystery
And become like everyone else –
I am ruthless –
Well, you know that’s how one must be –
Nothing must stand in my way –
I have no compassion
For king or beggar –
I put puppies out in the coldest rain
And watch tears fall down
Lovely cheeks without wiping one away –
I am skin deep –
I last only for today –
If I stop for one brief moment and take a rest,
They will forget my quest
And my ego will become obsolete –
So I must rush, must haste,
Must pack my case and flee –
Towards the winds that beckon me –
But I see a threatening, impending doom –
Standing silent in my room –
And I struggle with my laces
To make my getaway –
Without looking back –
I hurry, hurry to any convenient station
To catch the eternal train
Back to where I started from –
There was the same doom –
And the train had gone!


Shänne Sands, part of Shadows and Realities a Dramatic Poem, in Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press.

On a Lock of Keats’ Hair in a Texas College

Poor dear Keats your hair, silken red-gold still –
As Leigh Hunt snipped that lock with kind respect –
Long ago, were you standing on a hill?
Your weak chest aching from pale love’s neglect –
As Leigh Hunt spied your glittering hair sun-bright –
And for us kept this strand of silken poetry –
With other poets’ hair, who fl ew like kites
Their thoughts across heaven to set us free –
Now, in a Texas college this relic stays
For American students to glance at –
Keats would not have understood their modern ways –
Their ‘sophistication’ would leave him fl at –
Beneath a Texas moon, no high Greek song is sung –
Keats’ red-gold hair is wound around an English tongue.

Shänne Sands, Moonlight on Words, published by FootSteps Press


You Would Understand Why

You would understand why –
Why lilac and Chopin go together –
Just before spring or after winter’s
Retreat back into the earth –
Our beginning and our end –

You would understand this –
This sudden sadness and lack of will –
When my body feels full-up with stones –
The bricks and mortar of a soul
Heavy with old places and faces;
Not to be loved again –

You would understand how –
How to fly across the rain
To a burning sun –
How to laugh wine out of green bottles
And break glasses into thousands
And thousands of happy pieces.

You would understand now –
All you refused to need before –
Before the floors were swept
With new bright brooms and our rooms
Were changed, our furniture sold
And out hearts broken because hearts
Always break –

Now it’s almost lilac time
The pubs are closed till ‘opening time’ –
‘Our’ books are waiting to be written –
Beneath this smile there’s a scar –
You would understand – the importance,
The importance of ‘emotional pens’

Lilac and Chopin before love-making
Or after a long journey and sleep –
Quick as a flash a fast car
Passes the window
Quick as a flash time leaves us old –

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves, published by Footsteps Press

You Are Not The River

You are not the river
I am not the mountain
We are flesh, we are blood.

You are not the universe
I am not the infinite
We are life, we are death –

You are not the rain
I am not the ocean
We are skin, we are bone.

I take your flesh
You taste my blood
Our bones and skin
Our life and death touch.

Then an ocean fills with rain –
Infinite is the river
And a mountain grows from us.

Shänne Sands, Fidelity is for Swans published by FootSteps Press

The Broken Clown

Really it was my child’s toy
Thrown on the floor –
With a grin knocked off in fun –
A leg half torn with stuffing
Weakly coming out –
A bright red nose bashed in –
A broken fool dim-sighted –
Shallow with absurdity –
Tomfoolery left on the bedroom floor –
Clown’s intellect was only to laugh –
Nothing astute could ever touch
That wide red gap of mouth –
Or straighten those hideous legs –
Bent with colour –
Broken in jest by my son’s rough hand –

Really it was you; There
On the grey lino –
You as a doltish clot –
Childish with silly pranks –
All your stuffing mere wool
To keep together heart and soul –
Inconsistent and dull –
From old sentiment
I’ll sew the broken leg up –
Replace the stuffing –
But its impossible to do
Anything with that gaping mouth
And those wide sad eyes –
Filled with mirth.

Shänne Sands, from her selection Fidelity is for Swans published by FootSteps Press www.footsteps.co

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