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Ten years

On 1st December it will be ten years exactly since Jenny suddenly became severely ill. Ever since that day ten years ago, she has been unrelentingly acutely ill. She comes very close to death every day. It is a horrific life for her.

She tries to do something different each year to mark the anniversary of her becoming ill. In previous years, she has written about her illness and how it affects her, about why M.E. research is so poorly funded and last year she wrote a list of her Favourite Things.

This year she has come up with the idea of #PoundsForPoems to raise money for M.E. Research UK. The idea of #PoundsForPoems is that for every new poem of Jenny’s (published below) that you enjoy reading, you donate a certain amount to M.E. Research UK via Jenny’s fundraising page that has been set up for this purpose. For example, if you like 5 of her poems, you could donate £1 for each poem, giving a total of £5. But obviously, feel free to donate as generously as you are able.

Due to the severity of her illness, it has taken 5 years for Jenny to gradually write the 20 new poems below by painstakingly tapping out the words with her thumb on the touchscreen of her iPhone. These are ALL of the new poems that she has written since her poetry collection Rainbows in my eyes was published in 2009.

We hope that #PoundsForPoems will have raised lots of money for M.E. Research UK by 1st December so that she will have something to celebrate on her 10th anniversary of becoming ill.

High quality M.E. research is catastrophically underfunded and is desperately needed. The lives and futures of patients like Jenny depend on research being done. Eventually, we hope for a cure to be found. In the meantime, patients are acutely suffering and some are dying.

So without further ado, we proudly present the launch of Jenny Rowbory’s new collection of poems, entitled ‘Then the whispers started’. Get donating:



All the following poems are copyright
© J.K.Rowbory 2014 – All Rights Reserved
No part of these poems may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the author.



Song of my heart
The art gallery
Returning to St. Felix
Look up
The Cosmic Pied Piper
It started as a whisper
X marks the spot
They did not know
Netball: Wing Defence, WD
The depths
Good Friday
The dead star
The diamond tower
If I were to cry
The beast
The ancient place
Then the whispers started


Song of my heart

A miniature person inside my heart
sings of pencil sharpener shavings
and climbing branchy trees,
of digging sand boats on Frinton beach
and hatred of peas.
She sings of teddy bear weddings
and imaginary worlds,
of penny sweets
and rainbow swirls.
She sings of joke shop spiders
and football in the park,
of water pistols
and Murder In The Dark.
She sings of ice-cream van jingles
and medals on Sports Day,
of swapping stickers
and the sinking sand at Blue Anchor Bay.
She sings of frog welly boots
and jumping in puddles,
of blackberry picking
and netball team huddles.
She sings of making clay dinosaurs
and coming top of the class,
of waving at people in traffic jams
and trying to avoid baths.
She sings of surprise parties
and school Bonfire Night,
of water flumes
and the best paper aeroplane in flight.

This miniature person’s voice
resonates out with every beat.
This is the sound that my heart makes.
This is the song of my heart.


The art gallery

That single word from my lips
freezes time
and all of the people in it.

I wander, weaving mesmerically through
the suspended human bodies,
viewing each person
and the pose in which they have been frozen:
the motionless expressions on their faces,
the halted gestures and actions
of their statued bodies.

I walk over land and water
to see each exhibit,
touching the temple of each head
to read their thoughts and feelings,
to watch their lives play like a film in my head,
to search their souls.

Eventually I finish.
I have viewed the entire human race.
I travel back to where I started and
two red buttons are before me:
one of them unpauses humanity from its stasis,
the other detonates the whole Earth.

I press the button on the right.


Returning to St. Felix

As the red brick front entrance
arches into the cloisters,
everything is familiar and yet unfamiliar,
the same and yet not the same,
the air dense with memories
and with the heady scent of silent echoes,
of ghost voices, smiles and laughter,
the flagstones still warm and sweet from
our long-gone hurrying footsteps.

Each corridor and stair,
each classroom, bannister and wall
hum with the happenings of the years,
with all they have witnessed.
I press my palm to each one,
the electricity of the past
buzzing up through my arm
to slam my chest
with a lightning voltage of emotion.
The weight of time
since my hand was last touching this exact spot
is heavy,
its tug sharp and strong and sad.
I resist its pull
so that I am not sucked through the wormhole
from the present into the past,
a vortex that only exists in this place.
For they say that it is not healthy
to clutch ancient history
so closely to your heart
or to hold it in your mind
as freshly as if it happened yesterday.

So I wrench myself away
and let myself see that
Change has been busy here.
It is not the place I once knew.
The school is slicker and renovated
but there are no remnants of
our unique presence,
our warmth and fun,
our hijinks and happiness;
our glory is forgotten.

And yet,
this place was once home;
it has a strange hold over me still.


Look up

They watched her swing across the night sky,
using the stars like monkey bars,
propelling herself across the black.
Their feet were cemented to the ground;
all they could do was watch,
straining their necks backwards
trying to glimpse her
as she swung across the night sky,
using the stars as monkey bars.


The Cosmic Pied Piper

There’s a sweet music
on the breath of the wind
dancing in and out of earshot,
sometimes louder, sometimes faint,
an irresistible calling, tugging,
as if being drawn towards a kiss.
Can you hear it?

There’s a sweet whisper
in the quiet place,
a static tingling stillness
tickling the ears of the soul,
a soft tender nudging
as a gentle wave caressing the sand.
Can you hear it?


It started as a whisper

It started as a whisper:
a rustling in the trees,
a murmur in the streams,
a stirring of the bees.
The trees passed it to the birds
and the streams to the fish,
the hummingbirds beat their code
with their rapid wingbeat swish.
The howler monkeys heard
and hooted their echoing calls,
sounding out over treetops
and deafening waterfalls.

The silverbacks beat their chests:
a signal to one and all
to gather for a council,
every creature large and small.

Each of them felt it,
every one on edge,
so they sent a toucan off,
having made him take a pledge
to decipher what it meant –
this whisper in the wind that stirred
restlessness as it went.

So off the toucan soared and raced
high above the jungle,
honing in on the sound
as it grew from a whisper to a rumble.
It burgeoned from a rumble
to a loud engine roar
as trees shook in the distance
and then fell to the floor.

Our toucan circled in,
for a closer view,
but it was chaos, thunder and metal
into which he flew.

Limp, he fell to the ground,
trying to transmit the warning
with his final wheezing whisper.

It started as a whisper…


X marks the spot

“X marks the spot”
croaked the tall man with a large shovel
to the sweaty, sticky group of experts
all hunched over their maps.
Only the young girl didn’t have one
so she strained on her tiptoes
to peer over the fat lady’s copy
but it was quickly snatched away
(“You wouldn’t understand anyway”).

Off each person strode,
into the island’s jungle,
all going their separate ways,
all interpreting the strange maps differently,
leaving the girl standing alone.

A soft-white butterfly danced around her;
as it flew away she chased it
through the undergrowth,
leaping over a fallen tree,
until it disappeared at a gentle waterfall
but no matter – she threw off her shoes
and sploshed happily through the cool stream
until she sprang out into the open
onto a grassy outcrop overlooking a winking ocean.
Looking down at the sparkling drops on her wet feet,