Roundel, Tonbridge – poems from Margaret Beston, Jinny McDermott and Val Pargeter


Based in Tonbridge, Kent, Roundel was formed in 2012. We meet twice monthly, on a Wednesday morning and a Saturday afternoon, to develop our skills, and critique our work. In September 2021, Abegail led a workshop for us exploring the epistolatory form. Some of the poems here are the product of that session.

Letter to an absent father from his daughter (unsent)

Where do I start after all this time?
Quality of paper is important, and the ink.
Did you know there’s a brand called ‘Distress’ –
better skip that one, you wouldn’t understand.
I’ll stick to ‘Diplomat’ – though less my style.
I prefer ‘Troublemaker’. I want to fill my pen
with oxblood, dragons napalm –
set the page alight with Rome burning.

I could choose caroube de chypre –
the colour of her eyes, or tenebris pupuratum
for those years you hid away, and her heart
was clothed in purple darkness. I’ll settle
instead for myosotis bleu, her favourite
flower: forget-me-not – or scorpion grass.

Margaret Beston

Margaret is widely published in magazines, the author of two collections and a pamphlet. She is the founder of Roundel http://www.roundelpoetrytonbridge.wordpress.com

A Letter to my Poet

You sit, brow furrowed,
while I, a silver ink-stained
nib, am poised.

With force we hit the paper,
letters, commas, full stops;
stanzas fill the void.

You, read the poem through,
mutter to yourself.

I, hope you’re satisfied,
wonder if this poem
will ever end, try
to stop the flow.

But you’ve become
accustomed to my ploy,
simply sigh then shake,

shake me until, exhausted,
I bleed black across the page.

When dawn begins to
creep around the curtain
your words weaken, cease…

Masterpiece complete.

Jinny McDermott

After many years in television production, Jinny retrained and worked as a counsellor for 20 years. Now, in a new phase of her life, she is enjoying writing poems, short stories and flash fiction.


My window looks out
on a bacchanal of October colours
their shades impossible to count,
waspish winds speed through branches
releasing a thousand yellow butterflies
that spiral and float weightless as astronauts.
On my radio, the elated cheers of NASA
as spaceship – target asteroid –
lands in Nightingale Crevice –
where not one bird will sing.
A telescopic foot stirs up dry dust –
primordial storytellers sealed in filters
to unravel a little more beauty
uplift our vision.

Rockets burn. Engines reverse.

No celestial mansions here, no borders, no gods,
a solitary gliding in spiralling circles of
black silence, graceful colours thrown up
from the dark side of the moon,
a sun floats in blackness.
The wonderment of a language
yet to emerge from this deep solitude.

A long re-entry before sliding back
………..into the richness of our flimsy earth.

Val Pargeter

Val has been published in Orbis, Ingenue, the Poetry Shed online poetry site, as well as in several anthologies. Her poems have appeared in collaborative exhibitions and anthologies with Roundel and a local art group.

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