The Commons Falls Silent – Kathryn Alderman

The Commons Falls Silent

The Politician lists this year’s killed women
we count what we care about
offers up their names as though each
is a guttered flame trying to re-ignite.

The Honourable Members listen
in silence to the phantom pleas.
Some weep, imagine them as fireflies
wafting through dusty light shafts
to petition their MPs. Others
practise forbearance, think
of sponsored victuals and banter
in the Terrace Bar, nod appropriately
awful business –.

The names stack, form a coalition,
occupy vacant benches to demand
a yearly reckoning for killer men,
for them not to wander unattended,
for ring-if-you-feel-murderous helplines
perhaps, or tabloid scoops re-purposed
Femicide’s a Men’s Issue Shock!

Year on year their insistence soars and falls
on the living, and the living slough
them off like old woes. Year on year
their numbers swell and overrun
The House. They count their worth,
the answer is silence

Kathryn Alderman is widely published in magazines, anthologies etc., she’s read at live events e.g. the Cheltenham Literature and Cheltenham Poetry Festivals. She’s an ‘ancient’ Masters student of Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, working on her first pamphlet. Twitter: @kmalderman1    Insta: k_m_alderman   

Life-Cycle of the Cry – Kathryn Alderman

Life-Cycle of the Cry

She cried like a baby they say
as though grief should grow up
fold tears to one neat tuck
of the handkerchief.

A parlour assistant, professionally grave, mouths
I’m sorry
draws navy velvet matinee curtains
and presents

the shock of the familiar –
your face with you not in it
chill to the touch.

Much of you was silence.
Now you burrow into its inky balm at last

and I squall like a slapped infant
testing new lungs.


Kathryn Alderman was an actor before starting a family. She won Cannon Poets’ Sonnet or Not (2012) and is published online and print including: Amaryllis, The Cannon’s Mouth, Eye Flash Poetry Journal, I Am Not a Silent Poet. She Co-Chairs Gloucestershire Writers’ Network. 

Chashitsu – Kathryn Alderman


*Japanese Tea Room

The grown-ups will talk in long whispers today
and I must play with Little Green Geisha.
Aunty M switches on the chashitsu lamp
and slips next door with two steaming cups.

Green Geisha folds her camellia parasol and bows.
She lays out rice straw mats,
draws back paper shoji panels and enters
the tiny house. Her shadow gathers tea flowers,
heats water over fired charcoal
and warms the flowers to bloom.

She brings me a tea bowl painted with owls.
I bow, take it with the right hand,
cup it with the left and twist it two quarter turns
to the right; this is the Way of Tea.

Green Geisha kneels back to watch me sip at the rim;
the amber mist, a drift of jasmine on the tongue.

Next door, two silhouettes framed in the shoji’s glow;
the glint of spoons on china,
murmurs, now just beyond hearing.

The proverb on the chashitsu scroll says –
the speaker may be a fool but the listener is wise.
Green Geisha’s eyes narrow and crease,
she presses a finger to her lips.


Kathryn Alderman was an actor before starting a family. She won Cannon Poets’ Sonnet or Not (2012) and is published online and print including: Amaryllis, The Cannon’s Mouth, Eye Flash Poetry Journal, I Am Not a Silent Poet. She Co-Chairs Gloucestershire Writers’ Network.