WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Fokkina McDonnell was born in the Netherlands and has lived in the UK for most of her adult life.  


Her poems have been broadcast, widely anthologised and published on-line as well as in magazines, including Orbis, Magma, The North, Poetry News, The Frogmore Papers, The Journal, Strix.


Competition successes include winning the 2012 RedPage Sonnet Prize. She has a special interest in haiku and tanka.


Her debut collection 'Another life' was published by Oversteps Books (2016). Fokkina blogs at




138 x 216mm


64 pages


£9.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-912876-22-8


PUB: 25/11/2019










Nothing serious, nothing dangerous


Fokkina McDonnell



“The strength of Fokkina McDonnell's second collection lies in her  command of an idiom sufficiently fluid and flexible for her to explore widely without any sense of strain: and her awareness of the ambiguities of language can accommodate the mildly surreal as easily as the acutely observed and felt.  


She weaves a pattern of recurring threads – family  and other relationships, a feeling for the natural world (a whole aviary, the sea, land creatures, a cornucopia of fruit) and locations from East Anglia and Manchester to Holland and China go alongside a keen  appreciation of artists, with paintings triggering a number  of the poems.  


Hers is a voice of light tones, but also measured  utterance: gratifyingly, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.”     Lawrence Sail




Ferry crossing


Two people sit at a table by an oblong picture window.

Sun lights up their hands which are curled round coffee cups.


The window is made of safety glass. There have been

announcements: location of lifebelts, life rafts, long

    and short blast of a horn.


While words are hidden at the obscure side of imagination,

other people are queuing for lunch or buying alcohol

    in the shop.


The folded hands are the back of playing cards, The Queen of Spades, operas, novellas, the shortest of short stories.


It’s not strange to see these cards turn into sea gulls.

A white ferry is a city where nothing is permanent.






One of these days I am going to forget

the tins of Dulux (Pashmina, Shade of Pashmina,

Sail White) that I left in that cellar.

I am going to forget the garden shed

that was once part of a purpose-built

animal compound or so the agent said.


One of these days, but it won’t be soon,

I am going to forget the foxes, two parents

stretched out by the pond to catch the sun,

three cubs playing close to the den

that Mike-next-door would fill in again and again.

Memories are tadpoles. Soon enough

the frogs come up from under the duckweed.

Their dark, unblinking eyes.




On discovering that their house had turned on them


crawling through the night, slippery snail,

he kept saying the word okapi

again, and again, a small mantra,

an electrical storm in his brain.

Okapi, the cousin or neighbour

of the Rothschild giraffe,

only sixteen hundred left in the wild.  

An okapi would have kicked off

against the metal bars,

but he warmed milk,

buttered a slice of bread.

At least he still had his greenhouse.

Leaving Czechoslovakia, 1964


When we reached the border

in her small red Trabant

our cases were lighter: the pleated dresses,

jeans we’d given to aunts and nieces;

our footsteps behind us on the mountain

where we walked with her family

up towards the border with Poland,

our plimsolls wet, our hair lank from drizzle;

sweet and savoury Knedlicky we’d eaten;

songs we’d sung, drunk on vodka,

already flown, small skittering birds;

the yellow Objizdka sign in Prague diverting us

into the path of a funeral, black plumed horses.

The border guards with their guns gather

around us as we try again to open the boot,

our stiff smiles telling us not to think

of the airmail letters for America

hidden under the back seat.




The twins have set up a tattoo parlour


Some say it was self-inflicted;

he was tired of his demanding job.

Cosmas says he lost the right arm

in an accident at sea. He asks

me to sign a short disclaimer.

Damian is upstairs doing admin.

Cosmas pulls out a handful

of small beetles, insects, dragonflies

from the pockets on his legs.

I find it hard to choose among

swirling grey wings, shuttling black.

I thought a swift or starling?

Cosmas looks doubtful. He can

do a crow from memory. Yellow

eyes, curved beak, he says,

plucky legs. I can only nod.




An angel chooses a chocolate


The chalky terracotta wall with mildew patches

has bled into her long, shapeless dress.

This woman mothered too many sons,

this would-be Saint of Obesity.

The single chocolate rests in her right hand,

shielded from the sun by the other hand.


Her neighbour in the blue dress offers

the square box to the angel, sitting

to her left on a wooden stool.

This woman has short hair, stocky feet,

late-afternoon ginger shadows on her chin.

She is the Madonna of Reassignment.


Stiff wings point forward like sails,

the angel’s nose is the beak of a hawk.

His wings and gown have turned

blue-grey. A long dusty road,

but he carries these shadows lightly

and points politely, with a bent finger.

9781912876228 portrait amend

Cover image "The Departure" by Graham Kingsley Brown, reproduced with kind permission of Elizabeth G. Brown © Copyright 2011, all rights reserved.