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Top Ten Writers 2015 - United Press

Denise Stephani is one of the United Press Top Ten Writers of 2015. Denise is once again delighted to have been honoured with the recognition of her writing and poetry. Her poems will feature in a forthcoming compilation. Six can be enjoyed below.

Edinburgh in the Eyes of an African Ballerina

Edinburgh is a ballet set -

The castle lights up the skyline

Back in Africa I gazed at the painted theatre backdrops

Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella

Such beautiful settings are only possible in fairytales 

But no – Edinburgh has them!

A waltzing Festival City -

Millions flock to it each year

Enjoying the magical splendour

Bobbing and weaving in the streets

Goblins, bards and muggles

Gorging themselves 

On an endless stream of Creativity

Mad Parliament Buildings, crazy roads, parking nightmares:

Aggro warden-esses gavotte between cars

Skipping out tickets for no fault at all

Ignoring the underbelly of violence and addiction

A rocking, swirling unchecked salsa of sin

But my peaceful stage set is the Water of Leith -

I dance and twirl on this glorious nature prop

At the Temple of Hygeia, I curtsey in gratitude

A good place to move after the massacres of Africa

I kneel at the feet of the Goddess who heals

Elder's Eye by Leon Moodley

Elder's Eye by Leon Moodley

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Vagina Question

Hands up ladies –

Who secretly hates the word vagina?

Does the word ever give you a shiver up your spine, ha?

Something deep inside the psyche doesn’t like the name

We can sense that it’s all part of a dark, she-hater game


The word was coined by humans

Who don’t actually own this part

Why do they think the naming should be THEIR God-given art?


The word means ‘sheath’ or ‘sword holder’

It makes me feel quite sick

Why didn’t they simply announce:

‘You’re just a hole for my dick’


Pesky pontification

Noisy Code of Men

We don’t like it now

And we didn’t like it then


So if WE were to choose the tag

What would the new name be?

Power Flower?

Or Awkward Orchid?

Seems appropriate to me!

Nude by Leon Moodley

Nude by Leon Moodley

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Ga-nat and Ga-noo Two

Further Adventures of the Ishoo

(On ending war – or dealing with the elephant in the room)

So Ishoo ran home with a zip and a zoom,

Only to find the place as silent as a tomb,

It seemed that all had flown

Leaving the home a silent zone,

Just a wee note left by the phone:

“There was a moose in the hoose,

And we have gone to fetch a goose,

A goose on the loose will soon sort out that moose!”

Well as you can imagine - Ishoo turned puce,

And rushed back ‘oot the hoose.

There was no-one at home to hear the news of Peace,

Instead there was more war,

This time with meese and geese!

Ishoo proclaimed:

Unite tonight, don’t fight

There’s a lovely world in sight!

Mooses and gooses join up and blether -

Then shake hands, make friends

And go roll in the heather!

Noisy Geese!

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The Journey of the Butterfly

The Butterfly is a glorious creature to look up to when you need a ladder to get to a worm’s level –

Laid from the butt of mother butterfly

Cramped inside a tight shell at the bottom of the heap

Wormlet grows enough to crack the shell of the egg to get out

She stretches her legs and explores her world

But around her she sees the other worms being plucked by birds

She hides under a leaf in a branch hollow and watches the competitive fight for survival 

Big, ugly Beetle decides to keep our little she-worm prisoner in the branch hollow

So that he can sacrifice her instead

He taunts and pokes

Feeds her only enough to keep her alive 

Her whole world is dark and brown

 “There are more of us” she says 

We must gang together and rush out screaming

We want colour and joy – not this dark brown world! 


The plan works

The Beetles all fly off and hide in fear


Wormlet finds a quiet branch and transforms her outer layer into a safe cocoon

She connects to the Great Divine One

As her wings grow

Wormlet feels uncomfortable and cramped

The safe space is not enough 

She takes a deep breath and expands herself

Cracking open the cocoon

She eases herself out into the world

Spreads her bright rainbow coloured wings


Flutters them a little



Dancing in the sky

Spiralling above the glorious view

Singing Out wherever she goes

Inspiring others to Sing and Dance too


(From In the Wings – Trials and Transformation of the Alien BallerinaLetters to Mandela)

Monarch Butterflies
Monarch Butterflies (Wikimedia Commons)
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Desks and Fields for Shields

(Children in War – Memory from the Apartheid Regime Struggle)

I sit curled like a fern frond under my school desk 

I imagine I am protected by an overhanging rock

So deep in my day dream

That I can hear the soothing sounds of a whispering stream

Then I glance up

Rude messages are scraped into the wood

And a few love notes 

I pick at old gum with my compass

In my head I am digging for treasure 

My mind trick to escape

I dream about being on the beach eating an ice-cream

A big, ball-shaped orange lolly


The siren: three long, loud blasts

Teacher crawls like a cockroach out from under her desk

She scurries and prods us out of the classroom.

We file silently towards the field and at the exit we move faster 

We want to get out before the bomb goes off

We don’t want to be trapped in the rubble 

I think about the news on radio and TV 

It’s mad 

Like the Land of Upside-down

VERY SCARY for a girl-child like me


The siren: We are looking Death in the face 

I wonder what colour Death’s face is? 

And what language does he speak? 

What  accent?  Common or Posh? 

Or is he a she? 

What nationality? 

All  nations?

What faith? 

All faiths? 

And  race? 

And what about God? 

What does God look like?


As the bombs explode I think:

“They both work all over the world

Maybe they are mixed-race like me?”

(From In the Wings – Trials and Transformation of the Alien BallerinaLetters to Mandela)

Flag of South Africa
Flag of South Africa (Wikimedia Commons)

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Firthy Forth

I can tell you, for what it’s worth –

There is no dearth of mirth on the Forth of Firth

Kiddies gambol

Lovers stroll

In summer the beaches are hopping with fun –

Castles and picnics and nutters who run


And when digging the earth

(To tone up your girth)

There are smuggler remains -

Treasure chest gains!

Dig ‘tween the hillocks, scratch ‘neath the heather

Plenty to find if you look and don’t blether

At night, spooky caves and caverns that yawn -

But the bright sun comes up!

(They look tame in the dawn)


The lapping of Forth waves - a magical sound

Whispering sweet nothings

(And words quite profound)

After the rain, when the clouds move away

Give the stage to the rainbows – a startling display

Hot colour shines and sharp silver shimmers -

Revealing Fife’s soul

(Wee mystical glimmers) 

Satellite photo of Firth of Forth

Satellite photo of Firth of Forth (Wikimedia Commons)

Also see:-

United Press
Poets of the Year 2016

United Press Women Writers of 2014

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