E. E. Nobbs, Melissa Lee-Houghton and World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. After an overwhelming response to my call for poems I am able post up work from a range of poets who have been touched in some way by suicide. To find more information about the day click HERE.

But for now sit back – read the first two poems and watch the film clip…

No one would ever call it suicide

& he didn’t either

but he kept working at the knotted
& punky blocked log from the fallen
worthless spruce, & he rammed
in the rusty, dented wedge, again — kept
at it — banged it with the butt end
of the old axe with the ash handle full of splinters

even when the heart pain struck him hard

— because the damned wedge
was jammed, again
& he wanted to finish
the job —

but couldn’t


E.E. Nobbs lives in Prince Edward Island and is the author of The Invisible Girl . Her day-job involves looking at insects through a microscope. Her still-too-quiet alter ego is Jonny Kane – Space Ship Captain. Follow their adventures at https://ellyfromearth.wordpress.com/ and @ellyfromearth

Love Smitten-Heart

I have bought a knife and I keep it
with me at all times. There is no-one I can call on
when the world turns black.

All night I thought of my cheated heart,
dead on the outside but very much alive in the middle.
I thought of how dearly I would tend to your dead body.

I have dragged people with me who need never have been dragged.
I have tethered people to my imaginary umbilicus.
I am dying cruelly in my love-smitten heart.

Coming out of Liverpool as the sun set
I begged my heart to stop but the train galloped on.
Everywhere I go and with whomever I leave myself wide open.

I write every poem as though it is my last poem,
expecting it to be my last. Often I’m duped into climbing down and living.
When I am unafraid then you really should worry.

I feel my eyes set deeply and painfully in my head.
Music keeps my empathy raw and lubricated, though I don’t care
that I am mortally pierced and will not survive.

I want my heart cold in a cold cage of a body in a cage.
I don’t imagine I will have the opportunity to regret it.
I have reached the very bottom darling and I know that you know it.

Because you won’t touch me I grow colder by the minute.
It is no-one’s fault that I am crawling around blind and dumb.
It is just my lot and I cannot find the strength or the cause to undo it.

So many empty beds.
Beds left alone and
beds climbed out of—your body still fighting the cold there.

I am going to book a hotel room in my own name.
The sun will come through the window when I am no longer there.
The sun will rise until it doesn’t.

The sun will set whether I rise or not.
Do the maths honey, nothing has ever been simpler.
There is constant pain I cannot manage and it won’t go away.

I call your number from the bench on the memorial park,
Pendle mounting fiercely in the background, and all the lights blinking.
Once there was a power-cut and I stared into the closed eye of the dark.

The police came this morning and threatened me.
They said nothing is so bad and they know what people like me do.
The policewoman went upstairs and talked to the kids.

We are all very unhappy because I am lost in the dark and although you call out to me
my sense of direction blind is limited and useless.
I dig down into my hole like a wounded marsupial.

I bring food to my lips and want it and as soon as I taste it I don’t want it.
I come to you to kiss you and hold you but as soon as you are in my arms I back away.
I play a song and half way through I run myself through silence.

The police woman said is there not somewhere else I can go, to someone else.
She said her mother had bipolar and she put her through hell.
I had to bite my lip and look in the other direction.

The policeman said I need to see a doctor, need to be sensible and take the medication
my doctor prescribes me, that Sunday mornings are not the time to ring the police.
My husband says bipolar disorder doesn’t stop beyond nine to five.

The policeman stands over me aggressively, says it’s just a blip
that if I go walkabout he will issue a high risk missing person’s report,
he uses the word ‘daft’ half a dozen times.

I can’t adequately describe my sense of abandonment, disappointment or the expectancy
of being let down. Mike liked my poem.
Mark liked the way I read.

I told Mike I am very unhappy.
Mike said it is very sad, but he enjoyed my company.
I kissed Adrian on the lips by accident.

I hate how my husband describes my suicide attempts, and how
the people who could help respond to them by being obviously unbothered.
I listen to him on the phone desperate and describing my suicidality.

I’d kiss him every minute of the day but it would make him sore.
I’d make him promises I can actually keep but they will become the promises I regret.
I need the freedom to go away and hurt

just go with the wave until it takes me out.
I survive on nostalgia and the promise of pain.
The pain is a plan where there is no real hope or vision of a future where I am not alone.

We all die, is what I want to tell them.
We all know this though grief is irrational and impossible and also unavoidable.
I won’t be able to hold you through it.

My half of the bed will remain cold and my face indented on the pillow.
Your bare back and its pains will crease and fold.
In the morning I will be a shadow barely touching your body.

Melissa Lee-Houghton is a Next Generation poet 2014. Her two collections, A Body Made of You and Beautiful Girls are published by Penned in the Margins, and a third collection is forthcoming for 2016.samaritans



E. E. Nobbs’ shed

cabin solarize

Everyone knows

that trolls are ugly with indeterminable
personality disorders & that

they cause trouble. I have a nest of them
living under the plywood floor

of my garden shed. I’m guessing
they’ve been coming out

at night & stealing sunflowers seeds
from the bird feeder.

My favourite trowel’s gone missing
and someone’s dug up the tulips.

But as long as they don’t
get into the house—start chewing

on computer cables, leaving faeces or
attempting identity theft—

perhaps we’ll be able to co-exist
somewhat peaceably…

eenobbsBorn in the decade of the last century when Elvis’s career was getting underway… And I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is where I’ve spent almost all of my life, as an “Islander”. The prize for winning the Doire Press Second Annual International Poetry Chapbook Contest (2013)  was the publication of my first poetry collection,  The Invisible Girl  which is available to order directly from me. It’s been a wonderful experience working with the great folks at Doire Press.

E.E. Nobbs

The Invisible Girl – E.E. Nobbs

Carolina Read reviews The Invisible Girl by E.E. Nobbs



E.E. Nobbs’s debut collection inspires us to notice things and events in our lives that makes for poetry that sits us up.   She opens with a sensitive but defiant voice from her childhood. In a beautifully crafted sequence, the theme takes us through the wonder and intimacy of growing up.

From the start, Nobbs’s shares her love of detail and the naming of things — drawing us in with all the senses to think a little deeper about times past.  The atmosphere in the poem “Jim”, for example, takes us straight to young farm life in Prince Edward Island, Canada:


…………….‘He’d hitch
Jet, the old gelding, to the turnip cart, go down
to the woods by the creek – hauling

spruce and white birch seedlings the whole morning.’

This collection gives us poems from a true nature lover, the type that walks the woods every day and heeds to coincidences.  They are articulated with a wonder to discovery and of wisdom that is rich in perspective.  Poems including “Childless in the City” and “The Oceans are Dying” expose a knowing of aloneness that contrasts with the yielding into relationships that “Elmira Sweetheart” and “Casablanca” speak of with uplifting, humorous sentiment.

Using a playful imagination to deal with difficult, often painful themes offers the reader a welcoming way of seeing things.   Whether this be dealing with age, garden slugs or enduring a Canadian winter – as in “Seasonal Affective Disorder”

‘Now it’s January.
I’m parched
wrinkled and
shrivelled.  Now I’m sprouting
shoots – pale, hard, red-eyed.  I’m etiolating
but I’ve nowhere to go…’

The poems keep returning us to this meeting place, where self meets other, be it ducks, sisters or universes – with the conundrum of the cohesion that lies between. There lies a tease towards a longing for things as they are and as they could be – as in the opening of “Rereading Anne of Green Gables” –

‘Anne Shirley!  Will you please come back for me?
Tragically, I missed you at the station’.

Throughout The Invisible Girl, readers are invited into this question of the ‘here and there’ and the ‘want and can’t have’ themes in their own experiences. Through observation of the natural world and our place in it, any sense of separation is cleverly dissolved without too much sentiment – a talent which Nobbs’s brings to her poems with a perspective that suggests to me how Emily Dickinson wrote about the world. This brings us to reflect upon the title of this collection, and how personal a journey we are taken on, whilst also noticing the poems she’s selected to be the first and the last –

opening with a canter into identity in “All I Want is a Pony, and”

‘Dad won’t say he doesn’t have the time
for this – a daughter he’s hoped
would manage better.
……………………………..He won’t sell
the pony, this time – and this time I will learn
to ride.’

and closing with a freedom and wonder to the Self in “Seaweed”

‘I am fronds of green-brown dulse
Plamaria plamata
— holding fast
stuck close on stone
You are flights of silver dolphins
Delpinus delphis
— swimming fast
faring out to sea

This collection is a marvel of wit and surprise. It guarantees to fill your senses with a curiosity for life from whatever age you so choose to be. It is a book which could well become a companion when I feel in need of an invisible friend.


Midnight On The Pond

The snag tree,
old punk spruce
— an owl’s nest,
empty inside —
makes no sounds
when it crashes oddly
down like a shipwreck’s mast;
it falls on his dream’s paper birch canoe,
which disappears as if
it never were, while the two survivors
treading water [ Why don’t they dive? ] wait
and watch for the missing third —
their mother
who won’t resurface.

They forget what she
told them once:

Look up.

A bird with moon eyes turning blue
flies off.


Buy the book here

About E.E. Nobbs: I am a poet. Born in the decade of the last century when Elvis’s career was getting underway… And I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is where I’ve spent almost all of my life, as an “Islander”. The prize for winning the Doire Press Second Annual International Poetry Chapbook Contest (2013)  was the publication of my first poetry collection,  The Invisible Girl  which is available to order directly from me. It’s been a wonderful experience working with the great folks at Doire Press.

About Carolina Read: I work as a specialist Physiotherapist in learning disability in the NHS (22 years). I integrate many healing streams of influence into my work and life,  from where I find my passion for words and their meaning arises. My greatest love is of the language that lives in all Nature, beyond our understanding and marvel.


December poems part 1: Derrick Buttress, Sharon Black, E.E. Nobbs

snowflake banner

Winter Fire

It snowed all through the night, unabated,
and a knife-edged East wind drove
mounting drifts hard against the door.
We hammered the last of the coal
to stoke a roaring fire as though
there could never be an end to
the bitter storms of winter.

We knew such reckless burning was foolish
when the fire sank, at last, to a splutter
of smoke and spark into the ash-filled pan.
‘It’s steal or freeze,’ Mother said and sent me out
to shovel through head-high walls of snow.
Inside a neighbour’s shed lay a ton of coal,
each lump big enough to warm up half a day.

I waded through ice-encrusted drifts
in a world buried under silence.
My guilt was as sharp as the wind
as I pushed through a hedge thinned by winter.
I crossed the neighbour’s virgin snow.
A frigid pair, winter was their element
so I stole their coal, hating their disdain for us.

In our kitchen coalhouse Mother’s eyes danced
like a girl’s. Shaking ice from my clothes
I shivered in the freezing porch,
surveyed my damning track from our door
and across the neighbour’s snow.
‘They’ll know it’s us!’ I cried, but Mother laughed.
‘God looks after his own! Pass me the hammer!’

And she gaily cracked the coal apart,
smashed the hammer down on it,
on poverty and his messenger,
the everlasting tallyman knocking on the door.

From Waiting for the invasion, Shoestring (2002)

Derrick Buttress

Derrick Buttress‘ poems have been published widely in magazines, including Magma, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House and Iota. Two television plays were produced by BBC 2 and several radio plays were broadcast by BBC Radio 4. His poetry collections are: Waiting For the Invasion (Shoestring) 2002; My Life As A Minor Character (Shoestring) 2005; Destinations (Shoestring 2009). A Memoir, Broxtowe Boy was published in 2004, also by Shoestring. Its sequel, Music While You Work, was published by Shoestring Press in 2007.



Artwork: David Barnes


Minus 12 on the back of a too-early spring:
next door’s kittens didn’t make it,
the peach bark’s split wide, an old ewe
out by Marquairès tunnel was frozen stiff
by the time the shepherd reached her.

Two days on, the hills hunch under a dusting of snow –
paths, dry-stone terraces, animal trails
suddenly revealedlike fingerprints during a forensics sweep.

The Mistral has been taken in for questioning.


Things Noticed While Walking in Snow

A single car’s tracks: two ribbons
unrolled on a cutting sheet.
Bird prints by a hawthorn bush:
a smattering of ancient Greek;
discreet scars on a marble beauty’s thighs.
A curtain of ice over bulging bedrock.
Your hand balled round mine.
Fields spread out like a bridal gown.
Power lines plotting perspective.

Through scrawled birches, two donkeys:
vigilant, freeze-framed,
the female’s bray muffled by the cold.
Your hands in your pockets, mine by my side.
An absence of words.
The river, giddy and gleaming:
a dark vein trying to resuscitate
the ghost of land.

And always the split duvet of sky, emptying itself over us
over and over
to cushion our fall.
Sharon Black

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in France. Her collection, To Know Bedrock, is published by Pindrop Press. She won the Ilkley Literature Festival’s Poetry Competition 2013, Grace Dieu Poetry Competition 2013, Poetic Republic Portfolio Prize 2012, The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2011,  The New Writer Poetry Competition (Collection category) 2010, TNW Poetry Competition (Single Poem category) 2009 and Envoi International Poetry Compeition 2009. Her website.

Artwork: Jenny Meilihove


Coming in from the barn after chores

The moon was full and it was cold
enough to make a crust on top
of snow that lay two feet deep or
more — an even sheet of white
across the pasture field between
the orchard and the maple hedge.
The crust was thick and held my weight.
I ran for hours over fallen stars.

Perhaps I almost flew.

this / split / piece
of firewood was once
a (live) tree
hornet’s nest, vacated,
sways from twig of leafless tree

. – time flies

leaves all fallen
off, de-tessellated
from twigs – leaving trees with no notes
to sing.

E.E. Nobbs

E.E. Nobbs lives in Charlottetown Prince Edwards Island, Canada. Snow and long winters play a huge role in her life, and she always keeps two hot water bottles handy – in case one springs a leak. She won the Doire Press Second International Poetry Chapbook Contest this year, and her chapbook The Invisible Girl (Doire Press, 2013) can be ordered direct from the author: ellyfromearth.



Artwork: Heidi Mallet